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Mark Loughridge (Letterkenny, Ireland)

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LEGO DUPLO LEGO Ville 5649: Big Farm
LEGO DUPLO LEGO Ville 5649: Big Farm
Offered by PANDY
Price: 64.86

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Duplo farm - a good set to add to your collection, 22 Oct 2010
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Duplo set contains panels to construct a barn (floor, walls, doors, roof etc), 3 people, 6 animals, a tractor, a pully, a milk trailer and hose, 4 fences and one or two other pieces. It is essentially a toy farm in which you build the barn yourself (with a certain amount of freedom as to the design).

My experience of Duplo is that children with healthy imaginations can play with it for hours, creating their own story and fun, even up to age 7. It provides a brilliant outlet for a combination of role play, construction, imagination and creativity.

As I see it, this toy would be an absolute dream for a child who is familiar with the workings of a farm and has an idea how they'd like to run their own farm, albeit on a smaller scale. The imagination of such a child would be at a definite advantage with this set. A less rurally-informed child might have difficulty knowing how to keep the story going once the barn was built and the animals housed.

This toy would also come into its own if the child already had a boxful of Duplo pieces, to expand the possibilities of creative play. This would mean they could design more elaborate buildings, which is always a fun aspect of Duplo. Any Duplo set is a bit limited in and of itself, and this one is no exception.

(Incidentally, the Dora Buildable House in Duplo is excellent for creative building construction - again with an extra box of plain pieces - although I can't currently find the Dora house on Amazon for some reason?)

Do you need this toy if you already have a toy farm? I suppose the 'build it yourself' aspect makes it slightly different, although on the minus side the animals have funny Duplo bumps on their backs which make them less realistic!

By the way I gave 5 stars for durability because in my experience Duplo pieces rarely break, but if they do (or if you lose a significant piece) Lego customer services are more than happy to post out a replacement piece free of charge! I think that's a great service, and it has brought a smile to a little face in our house on a couple of occasions.

All in all, a good addition to an already colourful Duplo collection.

Yes Prime Minister: Series 1 Prt. 1 (BBC Audio)
Yes Prime Minister: Series 1 Prt. 1 (BBC Audio)
by Jonathan Lynn
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 12.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great pieces of comedic realism!, 21 Oct 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm just about old enough to remember watching this when it was on TV the first time around. I didn't appreciate it as much then as I did later when I read the diaries, and all these years later again, I find it even better.

The CDs contain the soundtracks to the first four episodes in which Jim Hacker, the new Prime Minister,stumbles bumblingly, and yet not so bumblingly through political life. It is brilliant political satire - at least I hope it is satire, although I fear that it isn't! The quality of the dialogue is such that you dont miss the visuals - except in one place, yet it doesn't detract much even there. In many ways the most interesting feature is that although nearly 25 years have passed. little seems to have dated - other than the smoking ban issue - which has an extra comedic edge in a retrospective way now.

If you have even the slightest interest in politics - and I have to admit that mine is fairly minimal - then this is for you.

If you have any interest in sharply written comedy, then this is for you.

Well worth having.

Looking forward to getting the rest of the series.

AmazonBasics Universal Case for Small Electronics (Cameras, Mobile Phones, GPS Units) Black 9.2 x 15.5 x 2 cm
AmazonBasics Universal Case for Small Electronics (Cameras, Mobile Phones, GPS Units) Black 9.2 x 15.5 x 2 cm
Price: 3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice item, although not exactly neat, 16 Sep 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a handy little bag, slightly padded, with a drawstring to close, and a carabiner (D hook) on one side for attaching it to a belt etc. I find the case slightly long for my camera or ipod, and too big all over for a phone. As long as you're not wanting the bag to be as neat as possible, this is a nice little item. The slightly shiny material would suggest it could be fairly waterproof, although the opening at the top would obviously allow some water in! The carabiner is a useful addition.

Searching for Schindler
Searching for Schindler
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AUDIOBOOK - A great story, brilliantly narrated, 18 Aug 2010
This review is from: Searching for Schindler (Audio CD)
For those who loved the film Schindler's list this is a must read/hear. It is Keneally's own story of how he came across the story of Schindler. It fills in much of the background, and not having read Schindler's List/Ark, I really enjoyed this. The book also covers the story of the film being made - another fascinating drama in itself.

I listened to the audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant narration - the reader does many of the accents of the characters from different nationalities. I listened to it on holiday and found it hard to put down - often wandering around the cottage with my iPod - stopping and replaying bits for my wife to listen to. The 9 hours certainly didn't seem like it.

The story of Schindler itself is fascinating, but Keneally lost this listeners interest for a while when he digressed into his own life as an English Professor in the gap between the book coming out and the film being made. In some ways the book seems to forget if it is the story of the search for Schindler, or the story of Thomas Keneally.

But in the overall context of such a great and fascinating story, this is a minor gripe (although it costs him a star)

I would almost recommend the audio version (bar the price) above the written version for the narrator's ability.

Anger: Escaping the Maze (Resources for Changing Lives)
Anger: Escaping the Maze (Resources for Changing Lives)
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent booklet - puts its finger on the problem, 18 Aug 2010
How do you find yourself reacting to things not going your way? Whether it is plans falling through, or traffic delays, or irritating people, or..... the list could go on.

Although this booklet is brief, Powlison gets to the heart of the matter - which is the matter of the heart. And specifically he pinpoints how all wrong anger can be traced back to pride in some form or other. This is immensely helpful because it means that you can recognise the real problem and start to kill pride before anger rises.

The booklet falls into two parts. The first part deals with 3 common lies concerning anger:
1. My anger is something inside me (as opposed to me acting)
2. It's ok to be angry at God
3. My Biggest problem is anger at myself

The second part of the book deals with a pathway out of anger and gives a series of diagnostic questions which will help the reader immensely.

It has to be said that this is only a 28 page booklet, and not a whole book on anger. That being said, it is a well packed, and immensely helpful 28 pages.

Well worth reading and giving to others.

Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love
Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God's Unfailing Love
by Jerry Bridges
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A key book for all Christians to read, 16 Aug 2010
Does God accept you more on your good days or on your bad days? The subtitle of Jerry Bridges' book gives the answer away - yet so many Christians live as if God's love for them bobbed and fluctuated with their obedience.

This is one of those books that should be more widely read than it is. Bridges navigates with wisdom between the twin pitfalls of legalism and license to show how the Christian's life is shaped not by endless laws, but by awesome grace. Yet he manages to do what other writers have failed at - that is, he doesn't turn grace into an excuse for a sloppy approach to sin in the life of the believer.

This book will help you see that, despite the all of the effort you anre called to put in to living the Christian life, you are still totally dependent on God for living the Christian life.

Bridges also shows how a desire to live a life pleasing to God can become corrupted and can become a tyranny of rules and regulations and judgmentalism. He shows the freedom that the Gospel brings. The subtitle sums it up - "Living Confidently in God's unfailing love".

Important reading if you are going to make progress, not being led by your emotions, but rather have your emotions led and fed by God.

How People Change
How People Change
by Timothy S Lane
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.72

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to change your thinking and help you grow, 15 Aug 2010
This review is from: How People Change (Paperback)
This was my book of the year a few years back. This is a book about change in the Christian's life. Few books have made me see how much sanctification still needs to be done as this one did.

Paul Tripp and Tim Lane leave you nowhere to hide. That might sound frightening, but it's not so much a book that deals with specific sins, but one that exposes the patterns of the heart. And more importantly they show how to deal with them. The authors frank openness about their own failings and how they dealt with them, or failed to deal with them, is extremely useful.

The most telling point for me in this book was that my sin is always as result of what is inside of me - circumstances or pressure may bring it to the surface, but it always comes from inside me. This leaves you nowhere to hide, but at the same time provides a target to aim at, and a way to make progress.

Tripp and Lane have written a deeply helpful book because they base it on a biblical framework for seeing sin and dealing with it. This means you can see the roots and pull the sin out by the roots rather than simply chopping the tops off for it to sprout again.

Well worth the read - but note - very similar in content to Tim Chester's 'You can Change' which is equally good.

KitSound KSDJ DJ Headphones Compatible with iPad 2, 3, 4, Mini, iPod, and iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5 - Black
KitSound KSDJ DJ Headphones Compatible with iPad 2, 3, 4, Mini, iPod, and iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5 - Black
Offered by Electric Blush
Price: 25.99

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sound, great value, 7 Aug 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been looking for a pair of over the ear headphones for some time. Sometimes the little in-the-ear earphones just don't fit the bill, so I was delighted to get these.

I use them mostly when listening to my iPod - to a variety of material, from audiobooks, to classical music, to rock music, to sermons, podcasts and lectures. In all genres I've been pleasantly surprised at the quality and warmth of the sound. It is clear, and crisp.

The design has been well thought through.

They are fairly big and chunky - which is about as close to a criticism as I'll get. The extra bulk on the headband can sometimes cause them to slip a little when you tilt your head back or forward. My wife thinks I look like a sports commentator. A little more design attention in this area would have got the extra star.

Having said that they have a clever fold up design, which makes them a little easier to transport. And the chunkiness gives them a good study feel.

The earpieces themselves are on a spring-loaded swivel - which is probably of more use to DJs than the average user.

The jack is 1/4 inch, which unscrews to reveal a 3.5mm jack - very clever and useful for iPod users. They nearly win the missing star back for this feature alone!

Since I'm using them with my iPod, I find the cable more than adequate length. Any longer and it would be a hazard.

Great sound, well made, great price - well worth it.

Humility: True Greatness
Humility: True Greatness
by Joshua Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.21

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to read and re-read, 6 Aug 2010
There are two ways to fight pride, one is to thrash about and lop off every branch and twig and leaf as they sprout. The other is to preach the gospel to yourself, and to cultivate humility in the soil where pride wants to grow.

This is where CJ Mahaney's book comes in. It is not so much a treatise on pride, exposing it with surgeon-like precision, although he does do that in places, rather it is about cultivating humility. This is a key distinction to remember otherwise you will look for the book to do something that it isn't seeking to do. I took me a while to realise this!

The book is divided into three sections.

In the first section he makes us stand before God and shows us how foolish pride is, and how much God detests pride. For me one of the key statements in the book was the definition that pride is contending for supremacy with God. This strikes like an arrow to the heart when you use it, as Mahaney suggests, instead of "Lord, forgive my pride", "Lord, I was contending for supremacy with you, forgive me."

In the second section on greatness, he looks at how true greatness is seen in the servant Saviour. It is here that Mahaney displays what he has shown in his other books, that the answer to our problems is to keep Jesus Christ central. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily.

It is however the third section that receives the most attention. Here Mahaney gets down to the nitty-gritty of practical humility. The list of suggestions range from the theological (Reflect on the wonder of the cross), to the practical (Begin your day acknowledging your need for God) to the humorous (Play golf and laugh a lot).

He has suggestions for how to begin each day, and how to end each day. One of the most challenging for me was under the heading of "Avoid Cosmic Plagiarism". In it he urges that we give God the glory for success in our lives, and throughout the day intentionally 'transfer' all glory to him.

The pursuit of humility isn't a solo effort. In fact it best grows when we water other people's plants! In other words, seek to identify and encourage graces in others. Mahaney rightly suggests that this is something we don't do enough of, within the church, within marriages, and within families.

As well as giving to others we need to receive from others, specifically, humility grows in the soil of correction. Mahaney quotes Paul Tripp, "Our own self perception is like a carnival mirror," therefore we need to invite and welcome the input of others.

These two chapters are key because they highlight a much-needed lesson that Christianity isn't a solo effort. It is a community effort. Professor Donnelly has said, "The word 'saint' does not occur anywhere in the New Testament in the singular. It is always in the plural." We have privatised our Christianity too much, and Mahaney's book is a helpful corrective because it sets this grace in the context of the church.

The two closing chapters deal with responding to trials and passing humility on to our children. This final chapter is first-class. In it Mahaney gives powerful counter-cultural lessons in teaching children what true greatness is. As a father this was something I had never thought of before as being a specific goal, and Mahaney's suggestions were timely and useful.

Mahaney strikes you as a man who writes only what he himself has found useful. These are his own practices, tried and tested by one who journeys on the road to humility. However it is more than just one man's ideas, throughout the book Mahaney grounds what he says in scripture.

Although the book is relatively short, and very easy to read, yet it will take time to read, and re-read. And it will bring profit and beauty to your Christian walk.

Basics for Believers: Putting the Gospel First
Basics for Believers: Putting the Gospel First
by D. A. Carson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Covers the basics without being basic, 6 Aug 2010
Wow! - don't let the title put you off this book. How often in the Christian life do we need to be reminded of the basics? I heard Carson say at a conference recently that he would far rather be writing something to feed the souls of believers than refuting error and dodgy doctrine. And here he does it. Carson covers the basics without being basic. This is warm and nourishing, and at the same time searching and challenging.

`Basics for Believers' is a study of Philippians. There is near enough a chapter for each of the four chapters of Philippians, but it is not a book to be read a chapter at a time, much less the whole book in one sitting. It is a book to be read slowly - each chapter is split up into sections and I found that each section had enough meat in it to provide food for thought for each day.

Carson's writing is packed full of biblical wisdom and insight. This is a cross and Christ-centred book, which will give you a deeper appreciation of the transforming power of the Gospel. His two final chapters on `Emulate worthy Christian leaders' and resolutions to help us never to give up the Christian life are particularly good.

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