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The Burning Room
The Burning Room
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You want to be a good detective? Go out and knock on doors", 25 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Burning Room (Hardcover)
Good old Harry Bosch. Literally. He's good - very good - but he's in his sixties now, no hiding away from that, and it must be a challenge for his creator to bring out yet another tale that Bosch has to carry on his shoulders alone. Because that's the Connelly style, really - Bosch is on every page, and it all works so smoothly and so comfortably. From the very first page, it's like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers. Just snuggle up and enjoy.

If truth be told, this isn't a rivetting story. Interesting, of course, but not one to set the pulse racing. Bosch has a new partner in the form of rookie detective Lucy Soto and at the beginning she is - in her spare time - trying to find out who caused a fire in an L.A. daycare centre some 21 years earlier, a fire that she survived as a seven-year-old but which took the lives of several people including young children. Meanwhile the case that she and Bosch are officially working on is the murder of a Mexican musician who had been in a coma for some ten years. So while the shooting of Orlando Merced may have taken place long enough ago to be classified as a cold case - which is the type of crime that Bosch specialises in - the actual death happened only a few hours before this story begins. It's therefore something of a stretch to the imagination to learn that the two crimes have a connection, although that's what does tend to happen in crime fiction it seems. The only thing Bosch and Soto have to go on is the bullet from the late Merced's spine, and somehow that's enough for an investigation that traverses several regions of California and beyond. There isn't anything else to the story however; no sub-strands or multi-layers, this is the sum total of what it's about.

That's nothing new for anyone familiar with Harry Bosch novels. The first one was published more than 22 years ago and The Burning Room, officially the 19th in the series, has that faintly familiar feel to it in being an arguably lightweight story made good by the magnetic appeal of Harry Bosch who has to be one of the most engaging characters among the hundreds that have appeared over the past two decades. As ever it's hard to picture Bosch in sharp focus, hard to tell if he's tall or short, thin or fat, hairy or bald; he's just 'Bosch', a kind of everyman creation that will appeal to women and men in equal measure. So yet again he successfully carries the tale, and while it feels slightly unexciting I felt a little sad to have finished it, wishing that there were another few hundred pages of the same stuff. Or another unread Bosch/Haller tale to pick up immediately afterwards. As ever, we'll have to wait until next year.

In the end I wouldn't place this at or near the top of the Connelly portfolio. I still believe that his best work was in the 1990s and indeed Connelly still gives the impression that he is more fascinated by the 1990s than the fourteen years we have had since. Hardly a novel of his goes by without at least a mention of the LA riots in 1992, and he even has the confidence (some might say arrogance) to refer to past Bosch cases that formed parts of his novels from that era. When Bosch tells Soto an anecdote about one of his former partners, it's not a surprise to see him talking about Jerry Edgar, from many years past. This isn't up there with the likes of The Last Coyote, The Black Echo or The Concrete Blonde but it is still very good to read, absolutely won't disappoint Connelly fans and is likely to get newcomers to this author going through that superb back-catalogue of his. Not a classic, but not to be missed either. Connelly is still right up there with the best of them.


Philips LED Light Bulb (E27 Edison Screw 6W A60) - Warm White
Philips LED Light Bulb (E27 Edison Screw 6W A60) - Warm White
Offered by Mercato Factory
Price: £8.02

4.0 out of 5 stars How many Viners does it take to review a light bulb?, 24 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At least 46, as of today's date. Since we have a couple of bedside lamps purchased in France with screw fittings, I thought I'd give this Philips LED bulb a try. One thing that's rather difficult to verify is the manufacturer's claim of a life expectancy of 15 years, having used it for only a few weeks. The two notables about it are its weight (a bit heavy) and the positive fact that it does not suffer from light-lag, in other words it's at its best almost immediately. I'm also a bit sceptical as to the other claim Philips make, that being the saving of at least 80% in terms of energy consumption. It's another element to its specification that's hard to prove or disprove.

It's well made as befits a rather pricey light bulb, the value will be realised if it really does last until 2029. I may not last as long as that myself, so forgive me if I'm unable to update this review in fifteen years' time.

It's rather hard to love a light bulb so I'll give it 4 out of 5 for being liked.


The Medea Complex
The Medea Complex
by Miss Rachel Florence Roberts
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst thing with pages in it anywhere, 13 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Medea Complex (Paperback)
"Miss" Rachel Florence Roberts' collection of pages, The Medea Complex, is without doubt the worst book you can buy on Amazon.
At the time of writing this review, it stands in the Amazon UK Bestsellers Rank at No. 549,505 which seems to flatter it in a most misleading way because this of course suggests that there are only 549,504 books that are more popular. This is absurd and calls into question the integrity of the Amazon ranking system. Things are slightly more credible in the USA where the current ranking is 864,163.

By buying this I took one for the team and as a result believe that anyone with the ability to read should NEVER have to be subjected to this equivalent to literary excrement. I beg you, don't let my selflessness be for nothing and heed my warning. This is the worst book ever written.

If this book is the most horrific thing the devil can come up with, I think humanity is safe from the threat of hell.

There are so many things wrong with this book, I decided to keep notes so I could present them in an orderly fashion, with quotes to back me up. I don't want you to take my word for this novel's horridness, I'm going to let Miss Roberts speak for herself.

The opening line is "What I really want to know is how the bastards did it". Well what I really want to know is why anyone would want to read this drivel.

"This is possibly the rudest thing to which I have ever borne witness" is another quote from Page One. Well, this is not possibly but definitely the worst thing in my life to which I have ever borne witness.

"I'm contacting the police" is written by the person claiming to be an author (still on P1 by the way). Well the same thought crossed my mind after reading this object which for reasons difficult to explain is offered for sale on Amazon in a section called "novels". So I did. The police called round at about 10.30pm and, after flicking through the pages, completely understood why I called them. WPC Crawley said - and again, I quote - "This is criminal. Were you actually charged 99p for this?", while her colleague Detective Inspector Yates unexpectedly lost all control and started beating it repeatedly with his truncheon.

Moving on to spelling and grammar - and still on Page One remember - "The thieve won't be too hard to find" is just a sign of the awful standard to come. The writer presumably thinks thieve is the singular version of thieves. The irony is not lost on me; I believe the writer has stolen 99p from me by way of gross misrepresentation. I had taken note of eulogies such as "captivating", accolades such as "moving" and commendations such as "extremely well written" and made my decision based on these overviews among others similar to them. So I have to say that I regard the person ultimately responsible for The Medea Complex as a thieve.

When will people learn never to trust their SpellCheck without verifying it's the word they meant??? There are, in total, 11 instances of Roberts using the wrong word, and believe me, each one is funnier than the last. And we're only just moving on to Page Two.

Example:-

".....nothing of sufficient prominence nor irregularity informs me of my whereabouts". Poor old SpellCheck won't know the mistake here, because "nor" (the wrong word) and "or" (the right word) are not spelling errors. Of course, writers with ability and creative talent delegate tasks such as this to proof-readers, but it is very evident that so such service was carried out here, on any of the pages. No ability or creative talent is on display either, it must be said.

Not only is this the worst book ever written, it's also the worst-written book that nobody will ever read - those being the fortunate ones to make the prudent decision of not buying it.

THE MEDIA COMPLEX is the perfect example of everything that's wrong with publishing in today's world. Anyone with the notion - whether they have the talent or not - can "write a book", but to unleash this mess on an unsuspecting world is an act of dreadful negligence if not sickening cruelty. It may in fact be the first book to cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder all on its own. And then we wonder why no one reads anymore. Why should they? If this is the kind of stuff they're being subjected to.

There was a time when writers had to learn to WRITE before they could get published. Now, all you need is a laptop and you've got yourself a book. Talent - who needs it? Skill - what for? Learning to write? Are you kidding me? All you need is 500 email addresses and Bingo! You can create 500 sock-puppet Amazon accounts and 500 glowing reviews.

It's enough to make aspiring writers want to give up seeking legitimate publishing contracts. Please don't. Just be sure to write better than this woman. It won't be difficult. The Media Complex would make for a more entertaining read if it was written backwards in Swahili, in invisible ink.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 15, 2014 11:59 AM GMT


The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Station to Station, 11 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Rachel is the girl on the train, and she's an unemployed, recently divorced alcoholic who is getting the train because she used to work in London and that's what she does. The whole framework of her life has collapsed and she has no idea how to put it back together again, and this is her way of treading water. Rather than paying attention to her own life, she creates a story around the lives of a couple whose house the train passes, and who coincidentally live on the street where Rachel used to live with her ex-husband. I think anyone who has ever commuted regularly will know the idle speculation that goes on as you become familiar with snapshots of other people's lives, so this way into the story really appealed.

And then the woman from the couple, Megan, disappears, and Rachel thinks she has information relevant to the investigation because one morning, as the train passed Megan's house, she saw her kissing a man who was not her husband.

But, Rachel is a thoroughly unreliable narrator. Not only does she have blackouts after drinking, but she's been behaving a bit crazily towards her ex-husband,Tom, and his new wife, Anna. The police have multiple reasons not to trust her, but Rachel is a bit obsessed with Megan and she won't give up. It's as if she wants to protect the fantasy life she's created for her, so she starts her own investigation.

There are some good twists to the tale. It works as a thriller and also as a character study of someone who has fallen pretty far down the ladder and might just be on her way back up. Rachel isn't entirely sympathetic but somehow, Megan's disappearance gives her something to seize onto. Seeing it through offers her some sort of redemption, even as she continues to screw up any remaining friendships along the way. She's also not the only unreliable narrator; all of the characters are hiding something and so the reader's understanding shifts as Rachel starts to piece together the truth and her own part in it.


CorelDRAW Home and Student Suite X7 (PC)
CorelDRAW Home and Student Suite X7 (PC)
Offered by DynamicSales UK
Price: £61.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously fun, 29 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Feedback here comes from one who has never used any kind of graphic software before but who has a genuine interest in learning and creating in this particular field.

Used with a laptop (Intel i7 4710MQ 2.4GHz Windows 7) it downloaded very quickly and was ready to go. First thought: OK now what? In my case I wanted to find out how I could edit an image and completely transform it. This was easy enough and Corel should be complimented for their as-you-go user guide which generally holds your hand through most and probably all processes, telling you what it is, what it does and how you can do it. I do think that despite this, complete beginners like myself will struggle amid the infinity of options and while it has proved to be fun, I have barely dipped my toe in the waters of its creative abilities. Having been given a deadline to post a review (which expired yesterday) I am offering minimal critique as I really need several months to really get the hang of it. I hope to be able to update this review when I know more and can offer more useful feedback.

I think this software will suit beginners and experienced users alike. If anything I expect to like it more in the future than I do now, because I have yet to experience or even understand its full capabilities. But even at this early stage I like it, it's just a little overwhelming for the complete novice but I sense that this can be overcome by plain old practice. An unreserved thumbs-up from me, but in fairness I have yet to learn what CorelDRAW Home and Student Suite X7 can really do.


Leifheit Pegasus Maxx 81650 Clothes Airer
Leifheit Pegasus Maxx 81650 Clothes Airer
Price: £49.11

5.0 out of 5 stars This is TALL !, 28 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm sure the first thing that most people will say when they take this out of its box and open it out is "Blimey - that's tall". Well, that's what I said anyway. We already have a heated indoor clothes airer but this Pegasus jobbie dwarfs it in every direction.

It's relatively strong, too, more so than others that we've had in years past and which always seem to bend somewhere. This isn't made of titanium exactly but it does give the impression that it will last longer than most.

Its 1.28 metre height enables the owner to use it for hanging things like trousers, dresses and XL/XXL garments that might otherwise not really be suitable for standard-size airers. It does inevitably take up a fair bit of space but you can't have it both ways. So to offer the capacity and space such as the Pagasus does it will need to be large.

The overall drying length is 18 metres which sounds impressive and it is just that. There are some holder clips too (for small items) which have proved useful when the dryer has been placed outside in windy conditions.

The manufacturer claims that this dryer is rust-proof and although it's too soon to verify this, I would doubt that rust will ever be a problem during its life-time. The quality of the product is clearly better than the cheaper dryers we have used in the past and this goes a long way towards justifying its price, a price which might raise an eyebrow at first but I am now of the view that it's good value as it will probably last twice as long as smaller airers of half the price.

There's even a three-year guarantee, and to quote Tommy Cooper, you can't say fairer than that, then.

In summary this is an excellent clothes dryer for use both indoors and out, it's easy to fold flat to a width of 55cm, and with an 18 metre line length it will accommodate a lot of clothing.

Can't fault it really!


Remember, Remember
Remember, Remember
by Lisa Cutts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Nee-nah, 24 Oct 2014
This review is from: Remember, Remember (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This second book in the DC Nina Foster series is supposedly a taut and gripping police procedural crime novel. When Nina returns to work after recovering from a near-fatal injury (which took place in the previous novel), she's supposed to be keeping her head down and work her way slowly back to full fitness. Before long she uncovers crucial new evidence linking a historic train crash to a current spate of heroin-related deaths. Once again, she's back at the centre of a complex case which brings her face-to-face with a network of criminals who will stop at nothing to protect their empire.

The publishers claim that Lisa Cutts gets right to the heart and front-line of modern policing and to an extent that's a fair boast but the writing style seems rather amateurish and reads like a diary at times. There's a sense that the author has adapted some real-life experiences and has tried to turn them into a piece of contemporary crime fiction but having read this on the back of a new novel by Michael Connelly - whose debut 22 years ago was miles better than this story by Lisa Cutts - I could not help thinking that in the world of literary fiction there are tryers and there are achievers and 'Remember Remember' is a commendable effort but is totally lacking in style or characters to engage with. For me it was neither taut nor gripping - just another okay CF novel that will be hard to remember a year or even a month from now.

Meanwhile I do wonder if the leading character 'Nina' was named after a speeding police car....


Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent (The Father of Lies Chronicles)
Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent (The Father of Lies Chronicles)
by Alan Early
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, everything else fast and exciting, 11 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although this story takes a while to get into, I kept at it and ended up not regretting it. The first 30 pages or so are all about the background history of what happened before the story begins, and now having finished what turned out to be an exciting page-turning story it seems strange to recall how bored I was early on. The good news is that as soon as the ACTION began, I was hooked.

Arthur Quinn, a shy, ordinary boy from Kerry, moves to Dublin with his father, Joe Quinn, due to a work offer in the Metro Station there. When they have moved, everything is easily settled and they are introduced to the neighbours from across the road, one of whom Arthur befriends : a girl called Ashling who is the same age as him. Joining the same school as her, Arthur is introduced to a boy in their class called Will, and although Arthur dislikes him at first the three of them eventually become good friends and the threesome works well.

Joe Quinn is part of a team working underneath the ground at the metro station, drilling into the depths of a river that the Vikings had once sailed through. Arthur's class takes a school trip to the station to do some research about their school topic. This is where the action begins. Will wants to investigate the underground in detail, and sneaks down the ladder through the entrance; with great reluctance, Ash and Arthur follow him down.

It's a mistake. Curiosity gets the better of them, and in their foolishness, fate turns back on them, and they are swept (quite literally down the river) right off their feet and into some very dangerous places. All manner of twists and turns occur after this scene, things turn weird just as they think their lives can't get any stranger.

Viking gods of Asgard are written into the story, which are often parts of Arthur's nightmares, but Arthur's biggest nightmare is yet to come, with the Trickster God on the loose to DESTROY THE WORLD, Arthur is the only one believed to be capable of destroying him.

This story is eventful and enjoyable, but I can't quite give it five stars because it doesn't quite have that memorable OOMPH that could have been added. However, the storyline is excellent and so is the writing, with a balance of detailed description and realistic dialogue. Told in the third person, the book describes characters' personalities clearly and convincingly, capturing the right effect to give the book what could be called its silver lining.

I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who likes to stick their nose into a suspenseful, action-packed novel. Age suggestion: Boys and Girls of about 10 to 14.

Thank you for reading!

SKY (aged 11)


Veet Infini'Silk Pro IPL Hair Removal System with Precision Facial Attachment
Veet Infini'Silk Pro IPL Hair Removal System with Precision Facial Attachment
Price: £224.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Die a follicle, 9 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Veet infini'Silk Pro permanent hair *reduction* System is lighter but larger
than I had expected, and it looks a bit like a ray-gun or a barcode scanner.

The package includes the device itself, a cord with UK plug, two cartridges (one for the
face, one for the body) and an instruction manual. I highly recommend reading
the instruction manual first because this device does not work on naturally dark
skin tones and it can depend on the colour of the hair.

It is quite straightforward to set up, it doesn't rely on battery power, when
you want to use it, you only have to plug it in and then it is ready to use. The
skin must be freshly/recently shaved, clean and dry and free from any
moisturisers and it cannot be used on tanned skin or skin that has had recent sun
exposure. In the manual it has a "Skin Test" for the first treatment, it tests
the skin colour to choose which appropriate energy level is required and if no
"abnormal" discomfort was experienced, then you will have to increase the energy
level.

I have only used this device a few times as the treatments have to be spread
apart, I experienced a little more discomfort compared to other reviews, I
didn't read the full instructions properly and I had found a burn on my arm
after using it there. When the button is pressed, you will hear a "pop" sound and the
flash will occur at the same time, the skin may irritate a little but will
mainly feel warm. The flash of the device is also extremely bright and the
manual insists to keep this away from eyes. Luckily, the flash only occurs if it
is in contact with the skin, so don't worry if you accidentally press the
button. Also this device may not be used if the user has a medical condition and
cannot be used on any areas with tattoos or permanent make up. It is also
advised that you should not treat the same area more than once per session, as
it can cause some adverse effects.

Overall, based on the first few uses, it is quite simple to use, but probably is
best suited to those with lighter skin tone. I would say that it should be described
as a permanent hair reduction device rather than a permanent hair removal device.
The Veet Infini'Silk is deceptively simple to use and it is easy to forget just how
high-tech it is, and how careless or casual use could actually cause physical harm.

I will add more detail in a few months when I have a full and complete experience.

------------------------------------
(Written by my 14-year-old daughter)


Spree
Spree
by Michael Morley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A whole lotta killing going on, 8 Oct 2014
This review is from: Spree (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In "SPREE", a man goes on a killing rampage in Los Angeles and he is pursued by Jake Mottram of the FBI, who heads the SKU or Spree Killer Unit. There is a distinction between a spree killer and a serial killer, you see. Mottram's love interest is FBI psychological profiler Angie Holmes who plays more than a bit part in the investigation of a serial rapist.

With nearly 180 very short chapters - most just two or three pages long - this never flows as freely as I wanted it to. There's no doubt that it's eventful and there's very little in the way of padding, but the chop-chop style isn't one that I personally found appealing. The characters are drawn well, the story's good but the way it's written (or laid out) is a constant frustration. The British author's background is in TV production and the novel Spree suffers, I believe, from a screenplay-like style that jumps quickly from one scene to another in ways that reminded me of soap-operas like Eastenders. A crime fiction novel is (or should be) different as a reading experience from a screenplay. Almost every chapter is interesting, but then it stops abruptly. Some readers might like this rat-a-tat method because it does keep a sense of 'action' going, but I personally think it could have been a better idea to have had half as many chapters of twice the length; the number of pages would be the same but it might flow better.

This criticism is exemplified in one of the spree killings, which, given that such things happen all too often in America, has the potential to really shock and disturb. But to squeeze such a horrific event into three pages undermines its impact, and gives it a near cartoon-like impression. Again, this is a good idea for a story but not executed as well as it could have been.

Despite these constant irritations I still quite enjoyed reading Spree, my lasting impression though is that it is a wasted opportunity for something much better.


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