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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England)
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This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial
This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial
Price: £8.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial, 27 Dec 2014
This is an incredibly moving and well written account of a murder trial, which I found utterly gripping. On a September evening in 2005, Robert Farquaharson was driving his three sons – Jai, Tyler and Bailey – back home to his estranged wife. His wife, Cindy, had admitted that she no longer loved him and that she wanted him to move out. Later, she had begun a relationship with another man, but Robert seemed unable to move on. Although Cindy was eager that he should be involved with his sons, he resented her living in their house, while he was forced to move in with his father. He resented her getting the better of their two cars, while he had to rely on second best. He resented another man having influence over his children. The couple had been separated for less than a year when, on that evening – Father’s Day – Robert Farquaharson drove his car off the road and straight into a dam. Did he, as he claimed, have a coughing fit, which caused him to black out and lose control? Why did he flag down a car and ask to be driven to Cindy’s house, before calling the emergency services? Why did he leave his children to drown?

This is a very important book, which says a lot about the legal system (events happened in Australia, but much of what the author says is pertinent in any country) and also about why we seem to hear about so many tragic cases of divorce leading to the murder of children. The trial opened in 2007, in the Supreme Court of Victoria, but it was not clear cut. The author is present to witness the first trial, appeals, and a second trial, before a final decision is made on the father’s guilt or innocence.

During this book, we learn of the Court characters and personalities – of evidence, the family of the defendant and that of the mother of the children. Sometimes the evidence is bewildering (for three days, for example, there is a discussion on tufts of grass, leaving the jury confused and bored) and often the jury respond less to evidence and more to their sympathy, or otherwise, with the witness giving evidence. Over time, both the author and some of those involved – most notably the mother herself – will change their opinions about what happened that night and of the guilt of the father. The author muses not only on the guilt, or otherwise, of the accused, but of what could possibly have led to his actions that night. This was a tragic read, but written with sympathy and respect. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.


Swinging Blue Jeans
Swinging Blue Jeans
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swinging Blue Jeans, 27 Dec 2014
This review is from: Swinging Blue Jeans (Audio CD)
This was the Swinging Blue Jeans first UK album, released in 1964. Although they were very much part of the Merseybeat scene, the Swinging Blue Jeans were not managed by Brian Epstein and found their recording deal through HMV records. However, they were very much a part of the whole Liverpool scene; playing many times at the Cavern and other clubs and halls along with the Beatles, the Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers and other bands of the era, as well as playing in Hamburg. The group was founded by Ray Ennis and Les Braid and, also like the Beatles, were signed to a recording contract in 1962. Although their first single, “It’s Too Late Now,” only just made the top 30, their next record, “Hippy Hippy Shake,” was a huge hit – as were follow up singles, “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and You’re No Good.” Sadly, they just missed having a number one and, like so many other Merseybeat acts, their chart success ended by the mid-Sixties. Still, the band continued to tour, with Ray Ennis only recently retiring from playing live.

Released in November, 1964, “Blue Jeans A Swinging” runs for little less than half an hour and contains the following tracks:

1. Ol’ Man Mose
2. Save the Last Dance for Me
3. That’s the Way It Goes
4. Around and Around
5. It’s All Over Now
6. Long Tall Sally
7. Lawdy Miss Clawdy
8. Some Sweet Day
9. It’s All Right
10. Don’t It Make You Feel Good
11. All I Want Is You
12. Tutti Frutti

The album contains a good range of covers, including many rock and roll songs from the fifties. However, “It’s So Right,” was written by band members Braid, Kuhlke, Ellis and Ennis and there are two songs by Bruce Welch and Hank Marvin of Shadows fame – “That’s the Way It Goes,” and “Don’t It Make You Feel Good.” Although the majority of the tracks are fast, there are also some slower songs, such as “Save the Last Dance for Me.” This is a good album and a good insight to the sort of music the Beatles, and their contemporaries, were playing live in the early Sixties. The Swinging Blue Jeans are often overlooked, but they were a good live act and this captures them at the height of their success.


Amazon Fire Game Controller
Amazon Fire Game Controller
Price: £34.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazon Fire Game Controller, 27 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a Wireless Game Controller, for use with the Amazon Fire TV. One of the reasons I decided to get the Amazon Fire TV was so my son could play his games – especially Minecraft – on the television, rather than on my Kindle Fire. If you are interested in using Kindle Fire TV for games/apps, then it is worth investing in this. The controller has auto sleep, so it saves battery life. You can track progress, view leader boards and use the controller as a remote for the Kindle Fire TV However, it is certainly not as responsive as controllers on other games system – my son says it is fine for Minecraft, but for faster games, he finds that it is not as quick as he would like and sometimes freezes . A good addition to the package and essential if you want to use it for games, but it could certainly be improved.


Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV
Price: £64.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazon Fire TV, 27 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Amazon Fire TV (Electronics)
At the end of this year I found myself in rather a dilemma. I have always been an Amazon Prime member and have found the free postage has always made it worthwhile. However, now that you are tied in to the Prime Instant Video package, I was unsure whether or not to renew my membership as I am not a great TV/movie fan and would not get much use out of it. Having weighed the pros and cons of Prime, I decided that I would like to retain my membership, but needed some other way to make the Video package work. Amazon Fire TV seemed the logical way to utilise the package, so that my family could enjoy it – without them hogging my kindle fire in order to watch programmes!

Like all Amazon products, this was simplicity itself to set up. You simply connect the box, set up WiFi and it then asks you if you wish to register this to your Amazon account. The whole installation took minutes and, once it was working, then everything that was on my Kindle Fire automatically appeared on the Fire TV menu – apps, games, etc. There are lots of useful touches here – voice recognition, the remote control is fast and does not need direct line of sight to work, plus my children are entranced by the ‘flinging’ of content from the Kindle Fire to the television.

My children enjoy playing games and there are a vast amount of programmes to watch, both free and paid. You can set up parental controls to make sure your children do not download anything you need to pay for, if they are too young to understand; or just to give you peace of mind. As well as TV, movies and games, there is loads to explore – from BBC iPlayer to music, Netflix to YouTube. You need to get a game controller if you want to utilise the games and apps, but it is worthwhile. I shall certainly keep my Prime membership now, as this is a fun addition to television viewing and I believe this is the best to way to utilise Prime Video.


Really Giant Posters Princess Palace Colouring Poster by Amanda Loverseed - GIANT Size: 100 x 75cm
Really Giant Posters Princess Palace Colouring Poster by Amanda Loverseed - GIANT Size: 100 x 75cm
Offered by Really Giant Posters Ltd
Price: £9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Giant Posters - Princess Palace, 26 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This really is a 'giant' poster and absolutely packed with detail. There are lots of different pictures available, but this is a 'Princess Palace,' and has everything you might hope to find - from carriages to ballgowns. The paper is good quality and my daughter has really enjoyed colouring in this picture, which she then hopes to put up in her room as a poster. I would just say to keep the cardboard tube it is packed in, so you have somewhere to put the poster when it is not being used and to keep it safe. These are a really good little art project for children and helps keep them entertained.


Head of a Traveller
Head of a Traveller
Price: £3.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Head of a Traveller, 26 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the ninth novel in the Nigel Strangeways series, by author Nicholas Blake (pen name for Cecil Day-Lewis). This book was published in 1949 and follows “Minute for Murder,” which saw Strangeways at the end of the Second World War, widowed after his wife had been killed in the Blitz. Oddly, considering what a large role his wife played in earlier books, her death rarely got a mention in “Minute for Murder,” and she seems completely forgotten about by this novel.

Nigel Strangeways is staying with a friend in Oxfordshire, when they visit poet Robert Seaton. Seaton lives in a beautiful house with his second wife Janet, children Lionel and Vanessa andan odd servant called Finny, while artist Rennell Torrance and his daughter, Mara, live in a converted part of the building. The house is actually the former family home of Janet, who is proud of her ancestry and a cold and haughty woman. In fact, the entire family seem ill at ease with each other and their focus seems to be Robert - the man his wife refers to, reverently, as “the Poet.”

Strangeways returns to London, but is contacted a few weeks later by his friend, who informs him that a headless body has been found upstream from Seaton’s house. When his old friend, Superintendent Blount, becomes involved, Strangeways is persuaded to visit the Seaton’s again. In fact, he actually moves in to the house to study Seaton’s manuscripts. Rumours abound about the family and their involvement with the body. Strangeways discovers that a man was seen walking through the woods shortly before the body was found – could he have been Robert’s elder brother, long feared dead? Also, what is the involvement of Finny and how is he related to the family? Now, it has to be said that Finny is a dwarf and the way he is referred to in this book jar with modern sensibilities. I do try to accept that books written in different eras obviously found behaviours and language acceptable that we now don’t, but some of the language does make uncomfortable reading.

Overall, I did not find this the best of the Strageways mysteries and not just because of the character of Finny and the way he was viewed by some of those in the book. However, one of the interesting strands of the storyline concerns Robert Seaton as a poet. Obviously, Cecil Day-Lewis was a poet himself and the way he views the importance of Seaton’s work is very interesting to read. However, the motive for the murder, and the victim, was fairly easy to spot and generally the storyline was quite simplistic – while the characters in Seaton’s household were not particularly sympathetic. I have liked the mysteries featuring Nigel Strangeways so far and, even though I did not enjoy this as much as earlier books in the series, I will certainly read on.


Listen...
Listen...
Price: £5.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen..., 26 Dec 2014
This review is from: Listen... (MP3 Download)
Although Billy J. Kramer was born in Manchester, he was very much part of the Merseybeat invasion of the charts in 1963. Managed by Brian Epstein and benefiting from songs written for him by Lennon and McCartney, which gave him a string of hit singles in the early Sixties, his career had sadly peaked by the middle of the decade. That is not to say that he did not continue to perform and, in fact, he recently recorded a new album, “I Won the Fight,” released in 2013 and well worth a listen. This, though, is his first UK album – released in 1963 and later released in the US with the title, “Little Children,” and a slightly different track listing.

In 1963, Kramer had three top five singles, including one number one, so it was time for an album release. This album contains fourteen tracks:

1. Dance With Me
2. Pride
3. I Know
4. Yes
5. The Twelfth of Never
6. Sugar Babe
7. Da Doo Ron Ron
8. It’s Up To You
9. Great Balls of Fire
10. Tell Me Girl
11. Anything That’s Part of You
12. Beautiful Dreamer
13. Still Waters Run Deep
14. I Call Your Name

This album suffers from the lack of hit singles, although Kramer, like the Beatles, followed the idea of not ‘short changing’ the fans, but putting songs they already owned as singles onto their albums. That was laudable, but leaves us with an album largely full of ballads, with a few, rocking cover versions. There is one Lennon/McCartney song, “I Call Your Name,” and also a very interesting – for Beatles fans – song, “I Know,” which is credited to George Martin and Bob Wooler, the DJ at the Cavern. I recall reading the fascinating biography of Bob Wooler, by Spencer Leigh, “The Best of Fellas,” and reading about his song writing aspirations, so I was really interested to listen to this.

The US version of this album, cleverly uses Kramer’s hit singles, to make a much stronger album, featuring:

Little Children
Da Doo Ron Ron
Dance With Me
Pride
I Know
They Remind Me Of You
Do You Want To Know A Secret
Bad To Me
I'll Keep You Satisfied
Great Balls Of Fire
It's Up To You
Tell Me Girl

George Martin often double tracks Kramer’s vocals and later the singer admitted to being intimidated by both the studio and the producer, so possibly his vocals suffered through nerves. Overall, though, this is a good listen - with a nice mix of ballads and rockers and some enjoyable tracks.


Murder Will Out
Murder Will Out
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder Will Out, 25 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Murder Will Out (Kindle Edition)
As Agatha Christie is my favourite author of all time, I found this mystery, which features her as the sleuth, irresistible. All Agatha wants to do is concentrate on writing her new novel, when neighbour Sylvia Ettridge calls to ask for her help. Her godson, Robert Sayer, is curate at the vicarage and there has been a murder there. Robert’s friend, Cecil, who was staying at the vicarage has been found poisoned and Sylvia seems to think that Agatha can solve the crime.

Agatha is not a willing participant in this view of her as a detective. However, once she begins to investigate, she finds that she is drawing conclusions which lead her to the killer. There are lots of possible suspects, and a plot worthy of a Christie novel itself – with mysterious graves, long lost legacies, links to a clinic in the East End of London and motives which include both love and greed…

If an author uses real people into their novels, it is important that they treat the subject they are writing about with respect. Agatha here is one that lovers of her novels will recognise and there are lots of lovely bookish clues about future plots and characters, as well as hints about her life at the time – from the beginning of her writing success to her husband’s obsession with her royalties. At times, I found the sheer amount of characters a little confusing to follow, but this was a fun read and I would certainly read the next in the series – and hope there is one.


Wendy Quill is Full Up of Wrong
Wendy Quill is Full Up of Wrong
by Wendy Meddour
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wendy Quill is Full Up of Wrong, 25 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the third book in the Wendy Quill series. I will admit that it is not a series I am familiar with, but it looked like something my seven year old daughter would enjoy, so we decided to give it a try. This book contains three stories, “Wendy Quill and the Slightly-Squished Lady,” “Wendy Quill is Full Up of Wrong!” and “Wendy Quill and the Diary That Wouldn’t Stay Shut.”

The stories are full of very large type, lots of exclamation marks, capital letters and illustrations – so, even if they are fairly long, the text is broken up in such a way that it will not feel daunting to even struggling or reluctant readers. I am a reading mentor and I am always looking for books which will tempt children who struggle with reading, so this was interesting from that point of view.

Wendy Quill is a little like other characters my daughter is fond of, such as Clarice Bean or Daisy (‘and the trouble with…’). Like them, Wendy means well, but seems to find herself constantly getting into trouble. For example, when Wendy ‘slightly squishes’ a lady with her bike, she runs away, even though she knows it is the wrong thing to do. However, she eventually admits what she did and the problem is solved. However, this is not saccharine sweet, but both realistic and funny. It explores dilemmas that children face – owning up to the consequences of their actions, breaking rules, lying or ‘accidentally’ reading a diary which doesn’t belong to you…

My daughter really enjoyed these stories and read the book in an afternoon. It kept her amused and I am sure that she will be asking for the earlier books, as this certainly held her interest.


Pac Man Glossary Heath Change Mug
Pac Man Glossary Heath Change Mug
Offered by Venture Blue
Price: £8.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pac Man Heat Change Mug, 25 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a fun little mug, which begins as a plain, black mug with only the logo and changes when you pour in a hot drink to reveal a whole host of little Pac-Man characters . It is not suitable for the microwave or dishwasher, so be aware of that. Also, it is probably medium in size; so not suitable if you prefer a larger mug for your drinks. However, as a novelty item, it is nicely made and packaged and, as long as you don’t mind the fact that the mug is not large, it is easily large enough for a standard cup of tea/coffee.


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