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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
by Paul Fraser Collard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First novel and with a focus on the Crimea, 4 Sept. 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

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bin-lid shaped bin freshener, 4 Sept. 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

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compact speaker, excellent for travel, 1 Sept. 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.


U.S. History For Dummies
U.S. History For Dummies
by Steve Wiegand
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Limited introduction to US history, 1 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
US history gets the Dummies approach in this book which charts the history of the United States from, well, before it became the US, right up to the present. The early years get rather shorter treatment though with less that 20 pages on pre-European settlement to the early seventeenth century. In marked contrast, and perhaps more suited to a current affairs or US politics book, US 'history' from 2000 covers four chapters and close to 50 pages. Moreover the book seems to be largely aimed at an internal US market, especially for students, which impacts on the viewpoint the book takes. There's not much on US history and the world apart from a very US-focussed viewpoint. So some problems with this book for a non-US market where some issues would benefit from a different emphasis. This even comes down to the breakdown of chapters where the Cold War and its end doesn't really feature with chapters on 'TV, Elvis and Reds Under the Bed', 'Camelot to Watergate' and 'No Sex, Please, I'm the President.'

On a more positive note the book follows a straightforward chronological approach with each chapter broken down into many (too many?) subsections. There's the usual Dummies emphasis on remembering key facts and issues, and there's a good bibliography. It's a substantial book as well stretching to 400 pages.

Overall though, I can't help feeling there must be better ways of cramming for US history. I'm a fan of Dummies books but in this instance I don't think the book quite works. As a result three stars.


Tacwise 181ELS Electric Nail Gun
Tacwise 181ELS Electric Nail Gun
Price: £65.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faultless low-cost electric nail gun, 30 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a relatively low cost electric nail gun. It has to be plugged into the mains, no battery option available. It handles brad nails (nails that come in strips for easy loading a little like replacement staples for a stapler) from 15mm to 35mm. The gun is designed to work with soft and semi hardwood. Putting nails into brick walls will not be successful although it will work with plasterboard walls.

The nail gun is light and easy to use as long as you have access to a suitable power socket or extension lead. It kicks a little in use which isn't a problem. Most notably it is extremely load in operation but again not a problem. Using in wood it needs a bit of practice to get the gun to shoot nails completely in - without the need to use a hammer to push the nail home. It is possible though. I find it particularly useful for smaller nails where it's very difficult to hold a nail in place using a hammer.

The gun comes in a large, very robust, case.

Strongly recommended. Five stars.


McAfee Total Protection 2014 - 1 User -1 Year (PC)
McAfee Total Protection 2014 - 1 User -1 Year (PC)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Installation problems, 30 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not the most exciting of products to purchase but pretty essential for Windows machines. I'm not convinced there's much difference between anti virus software and McAfee seems as fine as any. Except when I try and install their products. In this instance this Total Protection 2014 pack comes with a CD. I don't have a CD drive for my laptop. No problem as the instructions printed on the inner packing material say that the software can be installed over the Internet. However no internet link is provided. Looking at the McAfee website I could not find mention of the Total Protection software. After I Google search I managed to find a download link and downloaded the software. There appears to be no where to enter my product code however. McAfee when I ask it to manage my subscriptions simply take me to a page to buy the software. So at present I have working anti virus software but only for 28 days when the month's free subscription runs out. Who knows if then a window will open allowing me to enter a registration code or I will just be taken to a link to buy it, again!

Why do McAfee make everything so complicated. Two stars only.


Cafe Pod Nespresso Compatible Intense x(Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods)
Cafe Pod Nespresso Compatible Intense x(Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods)
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair to good taste and low cost, 29 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've tried a range of different coffee pods for my Nespresso machine now that Nespresso itself no longer have a monopoly on production. While these pods, like other alternate brands, are made of plastic rather than metal, they work very well in my machine. They fit perfectly, puncture easily, and produce good coffee.

On the coffee, this is a more generic blend than others in the CafePod range. They are made from beans from several South American sources. Notwithstanding this, using good Arabicas beans, the taste is robust but not bitter. Marginally I prefer the single-source coffees by CafePod but these are pretty good and well worth a try if you're looking to save some money compared with Nespresso's own pods.

As is the case with other pod systems there's a lot of waste especially as the pods come in their own individual airtight bags. From Amazon you get four boxes each containing 10 pods.

Recommended.


CafePod Nespresso Compatible Arabica Colombia (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods)
CafePod Nespresso Compatible Arabica Colombia (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods)
Price: £9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good flavour, fits Nespresso machines, and low cost, 29 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Columbian Arabica coffee pods designed for use with Nespresso machines produce outstanding coffee whether used for a espresso or as a base for a latte. The coffee is rich and strong - excellent for an espresso - and also holds it own in a latte.

The pods are significantly cheaper than Nespresso's own pods and are now available as Nespresso has been forced to end the monopoly it held on producing pods. They are arguably made of poorer quality materials than Nespresso pods - plastic rather than metal - and come in individual sealed bags which might suggest that the pods are not fully sealed from the environment as Nespresso pods seem to be. As a result you can't store them in a pod holder. Nonetheless the most important thing is the coffee taste which CafePod deliver.

For other non-Nespresso pods I've experienced problems getting the machine to puncture them but no problems with these. They fit in the machine well and work very well indeed.

For clarity when you order this product you'll get four boxes each containing 10 pods. Like Nespresso, there's an awful lot of waste produced especially as only the cardboard box is recyclable, not the pods, film covering, or bags.

I'll be buying these pods in future and recommend you give them a try.


JACKYLED® 4-Pack Original Super Bright Epistar Chips MR16 6W Dimmable Day White LED Light Lamp Bulb 6W 12V if you want to have dimmable function , please use DC 12V transformer Driver for dimmer
JACKYLED® 4-Pack Original Super Bright Epistar Chips MR16 6W Dimmable Day White LED Light Lamp Bulb 6W 12V if you want to have dimmable function , please use DC 12V transformer Driver for dimmer
Offered by JACKYLED (All items shipped from UK)
Price: £22.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright LED MR16 bulbs, 29 Aug. 2014
Inexpensive LED MR16 lights that are brighter in operation than others I’ve seen. While LED replacements for GU10 halogen bulbs now seem to be fit for purpose I’ve had a problem with finding suitable MR16 bulbs. These lights offer a practical solution. They are bright and seem to be well constructed. I like the white light effect from them. With a 6000k colour rating they offer a daylight like brightness with no yellow effect.

The bulbs use only 6w of power, can be dimmed, exactly match the size of traditional halogen bulbs, and are predicted to have a 50,000 hour life. Overall these bulbs are hard to better, especially when the low cost is considered. Little to fault so five stars.

Note that a complimentary bulb was provided for independent review purposes.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2014 1:58 PM BST


Carte Noire Espresso No 9 Intense 10 Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 8)
Carte Noire Espresso No 9 Intense 10 Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 8)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good value but for me only a fair coffee blend, 29 Aug. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's really good to see the Nespresso monopoly of coffee capsules coming to and end. I'm a big fan of Nespresso machines compared to other pod-based systems. Nespresso keeps things simply - no fancy drinks such as a caramel latte or iced tea of the kind developed for other machines - just simple coffee and, with my machine, the ability to make a latte with fresh milk.

These particular capsules are supposed to have an intense flavour. I'm afraid though that they didn't have the kick I'd expected and I'm not wild about the taste. This may just be down to my personal preference of course. The problem with this pack of eight boxes, so 80 capsules in total - is that if the taste is not good for you you've another 79 capsules to get through. Before buying these from Amazon therefore I'd suggest buying a single pack to check you like them.

The Carte Noire capsules are about 30% cheaper than Nespresso's and cost cutting might account for the flavour. It's definitely evident in other ways though. The capsules are plastic, not metal, and they are not pre-perforated. I've found as a result that they may not be fully pierced and this can result in hot water not correctly passing through the capsule resulting in weak coffee.I could live with this more if I liked the blend better.

Finally, Carte Noire have gone packaging crazy. The boxes are pretty large and each capsule is in its own sealed wrapper. So the capsules take up a lot of cupboard space and produce a lot of waste.

I'll be trying other Carte Noire blends but am reluctant to wholeheartedly recommend these specific capsules. So a cautious three stars.


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