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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Hornby R2784X RailRoad BR 4-6-2 'Mallard' Class A4 00 Gauge Steam Locomotive
Hornby R2784X RailRoad BR 4-6-2 'Mallard' Class A4 00 Gauge Steam Locomotive
Price: £89.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 23 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One of the best known steam locomotives, the 4-6-2 Mallard engine in BR livery from the 1950s instead of the pre-nationalisation LNER blue. This really is a fantastic model. Although it's part of the Hornby RailRoad range which basically means that it features fewer details, this detailing is pretty impressive nonetheless. The engine name and number are well applied as is separate railing and pipework. As a result although Hornby recommend the model for children age three and above in fact it needs careful handling to avoid parts falling off. I think it would start to be suitable for children at least twice that age. Strangely whilst the engine itself is of very high quality the tender seems poorer with flexing in the plastic superstructure and less convincing detail.

The engine is DCC 'fitted' so ignore the section of the Amazon description that suggests it's not. The model has a built-in Hornby R8249 Loco Decoder V1.3 NMRA Compliant DCC Accessory and was easy to add to my setup. Hornby's Digital Command Control system allows multiple engines to run on the same track, each individually controlled. You'll need one of the Hornby DCC controllers to take advantage of this - the Hornby R8213 Select DCC Control Unit or Hornby R8214 Elite DCC Control Unit - or run the Hornby R8144 RailMaster for PC Model Railway Control System on a PC. The engine will run on a standard setup as well however.

Overall, for the price, nothing to criticise here. An excellent locomotive.


BRITA Maxtra Water Filter Cartridge 15 Pack
BRITA Maxtra Water Filter Cartridge 15 Pack
Price: £55.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look at all pack prices, 14 Sep 2014
Take a look through the prices for all pack sizes working out the price per filter. The larger packs are not always better value by any means (both in terms of price per filter and total cost). I've found six filters for £2 each and packs of four costing more than packs of six!

Necessary product which works well but is a bit like buying petrol...


The Maharajah's General (Jack Lark)
The Maharajah's General (Jack Lark)
by Paul Fraser Collard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and repetitive, 12 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd hoped that I'd find Paul Fraser Collard's second book more satisfying than his first. I was certainly sufficient interested to read his new novel. As in the previous book we follow Jack Lark a common soldier who through deception becomes an officer in the British military. It's a bit of a risk of using the same plot in two successive novels - and I do hope there's not a third in the wings.

As with novel one, I felt there was too much concentration on battle seems, and really the blood and guts bit of this, and not nearly enough on recreating the experience of the British in India. At no point did I feel that I was gaining an understanding of life in India in the mid-nineteenth century. I'd almost suggest that the battle scenes are created to draw attention from a lack of historical research, or a writing style that doesn't lend itself to rich narrative. As a new writer I would have thought the author would have many potential scenarios for books but a second rehearsal of the same plot is really a bit desperate.

Overall three stars and should Jack Lark appear again I won't be searching him out.


Business Networking For Dummies(R) (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance))
Business Networking For Dummies(R) (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance))
by Stefan Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome networking, 12 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I know that Dummies books are supposed to make complex topics easy but this book perhaps goes too far. Much of the content I found pretty obvious and superficial. Largely the focus of the book is on networking at events specifically created for networking. I'm more likely to need to network at conferences or after meetings and didn't find the book much help here. What would have been useful is a more detailed discussion of social media, particularly developing a Twitter following, but all of this is very much peripheral to the books main concerns. The author says this book should be dipped into. I didn't find much incentive to do so and having read much of the book didn't feel I'd network better than I would had I not read it.

A disappointing three stars.


Station Eleven
Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non linear, amateur dramatics, apocalypse novel, 12 Sep 2014
This review is from: Station Eleven (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Somewhat to my surprise this novel didn't really work for me. I didn't find the the post-apocolypse travels of the Symphony particularly interesting and nor did I like the organisation of the novel switching between pre and post apocalypse worlds. Some of the links between key characters were interesting but for me didn't strengthen the story much. The keeping of the museum of pre-apocalypse artefacts at a provincial airport struck me as bizarre. Clearly most other reviews think this is an excellent book so I'm in a minority but on completion of the book I'm at a loss o think why others think it so outstanding. Three stars paying heed to what others think but probably close to two for me.


Jura Impressa Z9 One Touch TFT Coffee Machine, Chrome
Jura Impressa Z9 One Touch TFT Coffee Machine, Chrome
Price: £2,424.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant bean to cup machine, 12 Sep 2014
Very nearly the most expensive stand-alone bean to cup coffee machine you can buy for the home market. As you would expect it does produce excellent coffee. I prefer milk-based coffee products and here the machines excels with a guaranteed quality, and automatically produced, cappuccino. Lattes are equally easy. All milk drinks can be produced without the need to move the cup.

Almost all settings can be adjusted to meet your own requirements including the fineness of the ground beans, water temperature, coffee strength, amount of water/milk etc. The LCD screen is a nice addition to the Jura range.

I guess the test of a fairly specialised piece of kitchen equipment is how long you use it for. This is my second Jura and both were used every day without fail. Plus remember that the machine can also produce hot water - so I now never use my kettle - plus hot milk. It's not just coffee.

If you're in the minority, like me, who think the price is not insane, thoroughly recommended and 5 stars.


Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Red Laser Pointer Pen
Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Red Laser Pointer Pen
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: £19.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent quality presentation aid, 4 Sep 2014
It's really nice to come across a product where considerable thought has been placed in its design and its been constructed with quality materials. Both apply to this Bolse wireless presenter and laser pointer.

Good design because the highly portable Presenter (similar in size to a rather thick ballpoint pen and designed to be carried in a jacket pocket) is simplicity itself. It has four clearly marked buttons three of which work with presentation software such as PowerPoint. Two move either up or down through slides and a third has multifunction capabilities allowing active windows to be cycled through or web links in a presentation to be opened. The fourth button operates a high power laser printer. The design is also brilliant as the dongle that needs to be plugged into a USB on the PC or laptop being used for the presentation is built in securely to the top of this pen-like device. The presenter also comes in smart secure packaging, with the AAA battery needed to operate it, and clear instructions and illustrations for use.

Good quality is carried through from the packing materials and instructions to the materials used to make the Presenter. It's got a brass body, a smart silver and white finish, and feels solid and robust in use.

I've tried the Presenter with both Windows 8.1 and OS X using PowerPoint for both and Keynote for the Apple OS. It works fine with both.

If you're looking for a good quality Presenter with laser pointer at a really good price you won't go far wrong with this. Five stars.

Note that this product was supplied for the purpose of an independent review.


The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
by Paul Fraser Collard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First novel and with a focus on the Crimea, 4 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A fair to good first novel which follows the adventures and misadventures of Jack Lark and his later impersonation of an officer, in England and then in the Crimean War. The book is very readable and if not a page-turner certainly keeps the readers interest. The main focus of the book, and most chapters, are devoted to the Crimean campaign, and particularly the lead up and progress of the Battle of Alma. To be honest I found the earlier pre-Crimea sections more interesting. In historical fiction I really like sufficient detail to 'feel' like I'm there. Although there are attempts in this book I don't quite see that detail. The battle scene is very bloody but to an extent I felt this was almost a substitute for historical reality. The post battle section is fairly brief so again the impact of death and disease associated with the Crimea didn't come over well. The 'historical note' is noticeably briefer than something from Cornwell, Kane, Igguilden etc might include with one of their books.

All that said, there's a second book in the series The Maharajah's General (Jack Lark) which I'll try. So that's quite a good recommendation. My one concern about the second book is that it seems to follow the premise of the first in the impersonation of a dead officer. We'll see.

Worth a try if you like historical battlefield novels and want to support a new author.


Brabantia Perfume Your Bin Air Freshener - Starter Set
Brabantia Perfume Your Bin Air Freshener - Starter Set
Price: £4.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bin-lid shaped bin freshener, 4 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A bin freshener to neutralise smells seems like a good idea and having a Brabantia bin with a motion sensor automatic lid (which I like) I was keen to test this new offering from the company.

I quite like the design of the replaceable freshener holder - it looks like a Brabantia bin lid. The holder should be fitted to the bin lid, which the instructions say should be clean and dry, and then left for 24 hours to ensure it's securely attached. No problem with this and after 24 hours I added the freshener capsule. Only one is included in this starter pack (replacements can be bought in packs of three for under £4). The capsule has a foil covering over a plastic breathable membrane which when removed allows the scent to slowly release. I found it slightly fiddly to fit the capsule - which needs to be aligned using a guide hole - and a fair amount of pressure was needed to close the 'lid' of the holder. Partly I wasn't particularly keen to touch the membrane. The scent fluid doesn't sound pleasant with various warnings of avoiding contact with eyes, skin and clothing! Plus you shouldn't drink it either! It will also kill your fish...

It's now installed and is meant to last for four to six weeks. There's no discernible smell but it may be that it is designed to neutralise bin smells rather than overpower them with another smell. For the moment it seems fine and I'll advise in a month or so on the freshener's longevity and anti-oder power. For now a cautious four stars.


AZATOM® Droid Black - Powerful Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker - Dual 5W driver and Woofer - iPhone 6s - 6 - 5s - 5c - 4s - Android. Deep Powerful Bass - Designed and Developed in the UK - Auto reconnect - Long life battery upto 15 Hours of Music
AZATOM® Droid Black - Powerful Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker - Dual 5W driver and Woofer - iPhone 6s - 6 - 5s - 5c - 4s - Android. Deep Powerful Bass - Designed and Developed in the UK - Auto reconnect - Long life battery upto 15 Hours of Music
Offered by 4 COOL TECHNOLOGY
Price: £49.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compact speaker, excellent for travel, 1 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a smart, compact, inexpensive, bluetooth speaker. It should connect wirelessly to any phone or tablet supporting bluetooth 4.0 technology - translated, any device no more than two or three years old. The manufacturer suggests that the battery life will last for up to 15 hours. I've only charged the speaker a couple of times but this seems realistic. Charging is via a USB and whilst a USB cable is supplied there's no charger packaged with the speaker. As a result you'll either need to use a spare charger of charge it from a PC or laptop.

I'm using the speaker exclusively when travelling on business. The small size is a major factor for me therefore. I'd have liked the speaker to come with a carry case but kit doesn't, although you can buy a specific one at AZATOM® Droid Carry case - Black - Full Protection - Custom fit - Original - Travel case, but at further cost. Using in hotel rooms, as expected, I haven't had problems with bluetooth dropout. The sound quality is good, a little too much bass for my taste but I mainly listed to voice radio stored as podcasts on my phone or tablet. For this the bass makes voices a little muffled. I'd imagine it would be fine for listening to music though. The volume levels are impressive reflecting the size of the speaker and is markedly louder than either my phone or tablet speakers. This is exactly what I needed.

Finally the speaker was extremely easy to set up. It just requires pairing with your bluetooth device(s). It copes well being paired with more than one device.

So little to dislike. I've dropped a star as it doesn't come with a carry case or charger. Otherwise strongly recommended.


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