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Andromeda Descendent (Tarn Vedra)
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Treasure Island
Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edition: Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic adventure, 3 Nov 2013
This review is from: Treasure Island (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had forgotten just how good a story Treasure Island is. I know why I had forgotten: It's been ripped off so many times that elements of it - the pirate with a wooden leg, a parrot screeching "pieces of eight", and so on - immediately bring up negative associations, but it's important to remember that all of this was actually new and original to readers of the time. What's more important though, is that the adventure of Jim Hawkins does not follow the standard pattern of many lesser pirate stories, and it still seems unique and exciting today.

This audio reading is abridged to fit on one CD, so if you're really familiar with the full story you might know where the edits are. It's been a long time since I read the full story, so I wasn't able to pick up on what paragraphs or detail might have been sacrificed for time, but there were a couple of occasions where the story seemed to move ahead just a bit too quickly. I don't know if this was down to Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883 or editor Neville Teller in 2013, but to my mind the whole story seemed just a little shorter than it should have been. Maybe I'm wrong on this and the edits were minor after all, but if the original story could have been a 2 CD reading unabridged, then perhaps that's how they should have done it.

For the most part, Luke Evans cannot be faulted on his reading, although his parrot impression is terrible and he manages to ruin what is supposed to be a chilling line at the end of the story because of it. My only other complaint is that I didn't like the cover art. I don't think anyone, child or adult, is going to look at that and think "this looks like a good adventure story". Put that to one side though, and this is a very good audiobook that fathers and sons (and maybe mothers and daughters too) will enjoy. Seeing as this version seems aimed at younger children, I think five stars is the fairest score, but maybe take one star off if you're thinking about getting this for older children who may prefer the unabridged original.


Logitech F310 Gamepad
Logitech F310 Gamepad
Offered by Jeremiah Deals
Price: £18.11

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good analogue response, but the triggers let it down, 24 Oct 2013
This review is from: Logitech F310 Gamepad (Accessory)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Logitech F310 gamepad, at fist sight, appears to be a cross between standard Xbox and PlayStation controller layouts. There are two analogue sticks in the PlayStation position, a directional pad, four action buttons in the Xbox A, B, X, Y layout and colours, two triggers, two shoulder buttons and four mode buttons in the centre of the pad. It is wired with a USB connector and (because it has no batteries) is very lightweight.

When you plug it into the PC for the first time, the software is automatically detected and installed. You can then test all the inputs and sensitivity by opening up Control Panel and clicking on Controllers.

The feel and response of the analogue sticks is very good, and there is enough resistance not to accidentally activate the click buttons underneath when you don't intend to. A good test of analogue stick buttons is how easy it is to activate them with the sticks at maximum angle, and I found it just as easy to do this as when they're in the home position.

The directional pad feels a little loose when you rest your thumb on it, but it is just as responsive as those D-pads that need a little more pressure, so I got used to that quick enough. The action buttons are quite flat at the top, and I'd prefer them more rounded, but they seem to bounce back reasonably well (though not near as well as the Xbox controller).

The shoulder buttons are ideal, and they beat the standard Xbox model hands down, but the shape and small size of the triggers presents this controller's one major letdown. It's way too easy to go for them and find yourself either:

a) pressing down on the hinge part, twisting your finger ever so slightly
b) pressing it dead centre but too much resistance makes any repeated presses within a short time uncomfortable; or
c) pressing it too far down and trapping some of the skin of your finger between the trigger and the plastic.

It's not a bad controller, but I can't use it for prolonged periods of time because of this issue. If the trigger buttons were improved, then it would be something I'd happily recommend to others.


Me To You 8 x 9-inch Tiny Tatty Teddy Photo Frame
Me To You 8 x 9-inch Tiny Tatty Teddy Photo Frame
Price: £10.71

5.0 out of 5 stars "Tatty", but not tatty, 24 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You couldn't get a more charming photo frame for baby photos than this one. The picture is a really nice scene with Tatty Teddy and friend, some bunting, balloons and birthday cake. There are three holes for displaying photos: An oval (75mm by 55mm), rectangle with rounded corners (55mm by 80mm) and a square with rounded corners (40mm by 40mm).

There is a hook for hanging it and a pull out stand. Three easy swivelling clasps hold the back part in place.


Dymo Labelmanager wireless PnP Label Maker
Dymo Labelmanager wireless PnP Label Maker
Price: £109.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A label writer suitable for small (or large) business use, 21 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I use a Dymo label writer at work when labelling and assigning equipment. Whilst it is very good, it doesn't do half of the things this one does - it's really impressed me, and because I've had fun testing it, I now have lots of labels stuck over things at home that don't really need it!

The Label Manager can be plugged into a computer using the USB cable that is included in the box, or shared amongst several computers wirelessly. You can use several label heights (6mm, 9mm, 12mm, 19mm, 24mm), and there is a 24mm x 3m white label cartridge included in the box. The USB cable doubles as a power cord and plugs into a charging plug with USB connection. The battery unit is removable and comes already charged, allowing you to get into your label designing right away. Plug the device into the PC and the software will load automatically, allowing you to set out your labels on-screen before you print them. The instruction booklet is very good at explaining how to do all of this.

What's really good about the Label Manager is how adaptable it is. You can write one line, two lines or three lines one above the other (depending on what label type you're using). The size changes automatically to fit. You can use any font you like, include symbols and there is also a screen-capture option which allows you to select part of a picture and include it (in monochrome) on your label. Don't expect too much from that though, as although it looks great on screen, it comes out a bit like a faxed image or a photocopy of a photocopy. It's still obvious who you're looking at with photographs though, so it's a really good option to have. Where this excels is the quality of the text, which is really sharp, even with handwriting style fonts. The machine even cuts the labels for you.

When the label writer at work needs replacing, I'm getting one of these. This one isn't making the journey to work with me though - it's staying right at home with me!


The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The game real life train drivers probably dream about, 16 Oct 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After finishing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, I bought The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and now, 48 hours later, I have done most of the side quests and defeated the final boss. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and wish to tell you why I found it so much fun to play.

First things first - this was released long before the 3DS, so there is no 3D effect, but that's okay because this game features the cartoon Link seen in the Wind Waker and its DS sequel Phantom Hourglass (or, to be accurate, a descendent of that Link). The perspective is mostly a nearside top-down 3D, apart from the sections featuring what may well be Hyrule's first ever passenger train (I haven't played all the games yet, having only recently rediscovered the LOZ games on my return from Xboxland).

As in Ocarina of Time, Princess Zelda is not your standard helpless videogame princess. The story sees her become a spirit only Link can see when a traitor from the royal court steals her body so that an ancient demon can use the power of her lineage to re-enter the world. Now in spirit form she accompanies this time period's current Link incarnation on a quest to defeat the demon and restore the spirit tracks (mystic railway lines connecting the villages of the kingdom's forest, snow, ocean and fire lands), which have disappeared along with Zelda's body. Zelda can possess various types of metallic robot-like guards that inhabit dungeons and, using the stylus, players can guide her actions by drawing paths for her whilst also controlling the actions of Link. The stylus is an integral part of the control mechanism, controlling Link's movement, sword attacks and a whole host of familiar tools and gadgets (bombs, bow and arrows, boomerang, whip and magic wand). The dungeons are imaginative, full of puzzles to solve, and can take a long time to complete - so if you go into one, make sure you have the time to complete it.

As dungeons are solved, more and more railway tracks become accessible, allowing Link and Zelda to visit many different villages with unique and interesting inhabitants. My favourite encounters in the game were with my old friends the Gorons, especially because their signature music from Ocarina of Time plays whenever you meet them. Riding the train is possibly as much fun as you could ever have on a videogame train - surely only the real thing is better - and you actually get a strange feeling, odd as it sounds, that you are actually a train driver as you control the speed, the points, the whistle and, believe it or not, a cannon! Various enemies will try to attack the train from time to time, so the cannon comes in very handy! Side quests often involve villagers wishing to travel to other places, and you have to keep them happy by obeying speed and whistle signs and preventing the train from getting hit by enemies, otherwise the villagers jump out and you are not rewarded.

Music is always a big part of Zelda games, and the music in this game is really catchy; it sticks in your head and you may find yourself humming the "riding the train" theme whilst in the middle of a meeting at work, or in the school assembly! Interactive music is an even bigger part of Zelda games, and having a microphone in the DS / 3DS means that when you are required to play a tune on the "spirit pipes", you do so by blowing into the microphone and moving the pipes with the stylus.

There are a large number of mini-games that will earn you heart containers or treasure items you can either sell for rupees or trade in for a wide range of customised train parts (visual only, these do not affect armour, speed, etc).

The difficulty level can't be altered, but all boss encounters are learning experiences - if you fail the first time, you will usually make it on the second or third attempt, as you learn what attacks work and form a strategy. The end of game boss battle has so many stages that you are unlikely to do it first time, but when you do complete it, you feel a great sense of accomplishment.

I don't think it's possible for Nintendo to ever make a less than perfect Zelda game, and am really glad I bought this. I may have finished the game, but I will return from time to time for a visit.


Philips AquaTouch AT899/16, Wet and Dry Fully Waterproof Shaver with Flexing Heads
Philips AquaTouch AT899/16, Wet and Dry Fully Waterproof Shaver with Flexing Heads
Price: £49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but feels incomplete, 10 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a nice solid 3-ring shaver. No fuss, no gimmicks, no cleaning or charging stations - you get the shaver, charging cord, clip on head cover and a little brush to clean out the catch compartment.

It does wet and dry shaves and so far has given me a nice clean shave used along with foam and not cut me once. The catch compartment opens up easily at the push of a button.

Laugh at me if you will, but I'm so used to shavers coming pre-charged out of the box that for a couple of seconds I worried that it might be broken! I charged it overnight, so am not sure how long it took to charge.

It's a shame there's no sideburn trimmer, and I only realised how much of a problem this was when I had to go and get another shaver out the cupboard just so I could finish the job. Without this it feels incomplete to me, but as far as its main purpose goes, it does it well.

If you register the shaver you get an additional 1-year guarantee.


Mansfield Park (Audio Go)
Mansfield Park (Audio Go)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Audio CD

3.0 out of 5 stars PR disaster, but AudioGo in general still good in my book, 10 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price, who comes from a large family who are poor but have rich relations, to whom she is sent to live with. She is not treated all that well by her cousins because of it, but finds a secret love interest in her older cousin Edmund. Over the course of the book there's a fair bit of drama, and Fanny is courted by the wealthy but selfish Henry Crawford.

Frances Barber does a reasonable job of reading the first three discs, although it's not as good as Lindsay Duncan's reading of Pride and Prejudice for AudioGo in my opinion. Disc 4 was faulty and would not play at all in any of my CD players. Looking at the other reviews on here, I'm not alone in that and I think there has definitely been a bad batch. I'm going to have to get the novel and read the missing part, because if the company do have replacement discs, those who have the review copies are going to be last on the list. I accept that and won't be asking for a replacement, as I don't want anyone who has paid for it to miss out. It wasn't the only technical fault, as an earlier disc started skipping like a vinyl record, and Frances Barber's voice suddenly and alarmingly turned into something that resembled a demon in the throes of a simultaneous hiccup and scream.

As I had to read the other reviews before writing this, so that I could see if anyone else had received a dud Disc 4, I'll comment on some of the other points raised. Yes, gaps do appear in places they shouldn't, breaking the flow of passages, and yes a chapter list in the inside sleeve would have been welcome. If I was reviewing this audiobook CD set on production line quality it would a very low score indeed, but I'm going to leave this out of the equation - after all, if AudioGo had known about this they would not have let review copies go out because doing so has been an obvious PR disaster.

I have to tell you this though - I've had over 20 audiobooks from AudioGo and this is the first major problem I've had. I'm not going to beat them up for it.

Having said that, reviewing this solely on the discs that do work, I am scoring this a middle of the road 3.


Alistair McGowan Reads The Jungle Book (Famous Fiction)
Alistair McGowan Reads The Jungle Book (Famous Fiction)
by Rudyard Kipling
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading of an absorbing story, 10 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Rudyard Kipling had a talent most authors would give anything for today - the talent to write stories that appealed equally to adults and children. The Jungle Book is such a story. The tale of Mowgli, a young Indian boy raised by the wolves, and his adventures in the two different worlds of animals and humans, learning from each but never quite being able to fit in with either, is timeless and utterly absorbing.

This hour-long version of the story moves seamlessly from one chapter to the next, as Mowgli goes on a series of adventures, learns some valuable lessons, and eventually must face the inevitable showdown with Shere Kahn the tiger.

Kipling's original Jungle Book featured additional stories that did not feature Mowgli, and if you're already aware of that then the fact this is labelled as "abridged" will not surprise you. Maybe someone with more knowledge of the full Jungle Book can answer just how much of the Mowgli story has been edited for the sake of letting this flow, but if there is editing then it is done very well.

A big pat on the back must go to whoever commissioned the talented Alistair McGowan to do the reading. He knows how to make characters come alive, and he does an excellent job of it here - so much so that I can still hear the voices in my head three days after I listened to the CD. I could happily listen to him read the full unabridged versions of the First and Second Jungle Books.


The Pocket Scavenger
The Pocket Scavenger
by Keri Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the found object twilight zone, 3 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Pocket Scavenger (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like quirky books, and I like to be creative, so this book - The Pocket Scavenger - caught my eye with its intriguing publisher's description. If you were to sit down and read every word in this book, it wouldn't take long, but that's not its purpose. After a few short introductory pages, which introduce you to the idea of the scavenger hunt and explain how letting yourself be open to random chance can help you be more creative, you find yourself turning page after page of target objects - 72 in all - and, for every page, you need to find, draw or photograph something of that description. The descriptions are purposefully vague, and include the mundane, the abstract and the odd:

Some examples: Postage stamps; nine circles; a piece of moss; a part of something you ate; a used tea bag; a piece of a puzzle; something orange; a pencil rubbing of a gravestone; a fortune from a fortune cookie; a stain that is green; something left by an animal; a piece of origami; several plastic items of different colours; something curved; something from a construction site.

The next stage is to turn the book upside down, turn randomly to a page, and follow the suggestion printed in a red strip that now runs along the top of each page. The suggestions are even vaguer and more varied than the items on the scavenger list. For example, make it white, do something really fast without thinking; turn into an island; squirt ink; rub surface with dirt; do something strange; add a grid; make it political; lose the item; ask a friend what you should do; it's a hat.

Finally, stick the object onto the respective page and write something about it. It sounds crazy, and - as the book is at pains to point out to you - the results may not always be interesting, but it's up to you and your imagination to make something unique.

Having said that, the suggestions (as you can see from some of those I've listed above) have great potential for making a decomposing and unhygienic mess, and it won't be long before the book is too full to be able to add much more than about 10 to 20 things. Reader caution is advised, and it's perhaps better NOT to add your name, address and map of your local area as is advised in case you lose it, lest someone actually find it and you find yourself having an awkward conversation trying to explain yourself to the neighbourhood busybody. I'm joking of course - it's just a bit of fun, and no-one has to actually take it seriously enough to do some of the more crazy things suggested (don't worry, Auntie Maude, your jigsaw puzzle and your pet rabbit's droppings are safe, and I won't be making a rubbing of Uncle Terry's gravestone and turning it into a hat).

I've had some fun pointing out some of the crazier things you can do with this book, but I've already started doing some of the tasks. I've made an elastic band political (don't ask me how), I've turned a sweet wrapper into a monster, I've made a post-it note into five signposts; I've chopped up a cable tie (yes, that wasn't a very good one), and now after I post this review I'm going to print it out and... I'm looking the next stage up right now... "draw in the same direction as the wind"... er... okay, I can't connect that up at all so I'll try again... "make it REALLY funny".

*sigh*

Everyone's a critic.


Funtime Gifts Crystal Puzzles London Bus
Funtime Gifts Crystal Puzzles London Bus
Offered by Iziss
Price: £7.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're all going on a...., 1 Oct 2013
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Don't let the simplicity of the shape fool you into thinking this is a five minute easy puzzle. It's suitably tricky, and therefore great value for money. The finished model looks good and you can add stickers from a sheet to decorate it if you choose to.


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