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Iams Dry Cat Food Adult Hairball Chicken 2.55 Kg (Pack of 3)
Iams Dry Cat Food Adult Hairball Chicken 2.55 Kg (Pack of 3)

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the trick!, 19 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Our cat did not take to this product immediately, but now seems to have got used to it. It does the job. However, I think that in this very hot weather dried foods are less appealing. Make sure that your cat has access to plenty of water (not milk!) both due to the dried/compressed nature of the food (Unalterable), and the heat (right now, as I write).


Great Mountain Days in the Pennines
Great Mountain Days in the Pennines
by Terry Marsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly memorable, 19 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The word 'memorable' is used in the description of this book. It's a good word, and a good description of what this Cicerone guide delivers. However, as I have indicated in other reviews of this size and type of Cicerone offering it is yet another 'false' guide. You would never consider actually taking this item anywhere with you - except perhaps in the car! It's just too nice, too big and too 'arty'. I suppose you could photocopy the required sections. More of an armchair walker's book than an actual walkers' - So why is it not on my coffee table? Why do I flick through the pages drooling? Why do I give it 5 stars? It's because of the excellent choice of walks, the excellent prose and excellent photography motivating me to actually do them!


A Private Little War
A Private Little War
by Jason Sheehan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good - but you might still not like it, 19 Jun 2013
This review is from: A Private Little War (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Very good - but you might still not like it

This is the first novel of a food critic, so I did not read the first pages with a high level of expectation! However, the basic premise is strong, the prose gallops along at a good pace and you start to care (a bit) about the characters.

The blurb on the book makes a comparison with Catch-22, which holds up very strongly; enough for me to worry that this is in fact a Sci-Fi pastiche of that very novel. There has been a Sci-Fi pastiche of almost everything but this already, so I'm pretty impressed that Jason Sheehan has found a gap in the pastiche market!

His `hero' Kevin Carter is almost as annoying to both his friends and his readers as Yossarian in Heller's Catch-22; - as needy, and as bloody, but rather more blood thirsty. Personally I could not help despising him, his entire gang of interstellar air mercenaries and everything about them other than their choice of kit. These guys fly World War I derived bi-planes; Camels, Spads, Fokkers, etc. It's all done to save money, to prevent escalation of technology on backward planets, to smuggle easily `under the radar'. It's a great concept, which is delivered with panache, intelligence and wit. (Incidentally why were they not given Albatrosses, the best all round planes of that conflict? In fact, why copy an actual plane at all? But, there you go, it's just a novel by a food critic.)

Catch 22, Like M.A.S.H, is widely reckoned to be about the Vietnam War more than the actual war it purports to represent. I do wonder whether this book is also really a `Vietnam' offering, taking the line that all wars are the same, all mess everybody up totally, etc. (I hated this presumption in Heller's Catch-22. Fighting Nazi Germany was NOT a pathetic waste. Neither was saving part of Korea from what we now know to be one of the most repressive regimes of modern times. Vietnam, however.......) Like me, you will probably find the ending quite clichéd. If you have ever watched Platoon, or Hamburger Hill, or Aces High, or All Quiet on the Western Front, ad nauseam. Still, it's a super idea, well-executed. It's just that I can't accept that such a bunch of sociopaths AND psychopaths could actually function in the first place! My ability to `suspend disbelief' was often compromised in other ways too. The final straw was the addition of a `Colonel Kurz' type character, a la Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. Too far, too derivative, to clichéd - except I rushed to read it, devoured the action sequences and loved the planes. So, you may love what I balked at, and will probably love what I did too.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2013 3:33 PM BST


The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 3)
The Mongoliad (The Mongoliad Cycle Book 3)
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many cultures/authors spoilt the broth!, 23 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Don't believe the 5 star reviews! Don't assume that Neal Stephenson or Greg Bear actually wrote a single word of this fan boy failure of a committee trilogy. Pity me - It's Book 3 I'm railing against! What a slog. Here are my issues:

- Writing in committee will never catch on, because it doesn't work
- A bunch of re-enactors and martial artists have been allowed to write under a better banner than they deserve, warping it's style and impact. They know a lot about how a blade is used, but not on human flesh (thankfully!); and lack the gifts of a Cornwell, Abercrombie or Gemmell when making things up
- Religion. 1241 is made to be like the year 241! Or perhaps 941? The only paganism left in Europe by that time was that of the Prussians, not left overs from Classicism and Norse mythology. So, ironically, the only ACTUAL pagan beliefs current on mainland Europe in 1241 are ignored in favour of made-up tosh
- Anachronistic language eg `input'. No they didn't have laptops!
- The assassination team story moves at a much slower pace than the other strands - boring
- There is no grasp of whether it is meant to be historical or fantasy. I plump for the latter due to the tenuous grasp of the actual events, how military orders worked or medieval combat. NO, NO, NO, - there is and was no such thing as 'Western martial arts'. (I'm not denying that martial training existed, just that untrue and juvenile nineteenth century conceptions of Eastern martial arts have any bearing in other cultures and societies, particularly past ones. The only one I might give room to is quarterstaff fighting - and you see SO much of that in modern sword fetish nonsense.)
- Why does something called The Mongoliad have so little from their perspective? Just some tedious whelp trying not to get murdered while happening to be good at everything? (Some 'role player' let loose authored that bit, I suspect.)

Sorry you had to get to Book 3 to find all this out - but you probably suspected as much a book (or 2) ago.


Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages
Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages
by Guy Halsall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful summation of what we don't know about Arthur!, 12 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I will not bore you with the full-blown review that this book really deserves. (I will just bore you with the following!)If you are a fully-paid up 'King Arthur Nut' this professsional historian's go at things is bound to irritate, antagonize, or even demoralise you. If you are a Romantic by nature you may well end up a bit disappointed. If you are a coldly scientific academic you WILL be able to find holes in his argument. Personally, I think this makes it an outstanding book!

I was drawn to the 'World of Arthur' by the familiarity of Guy Halsall's name in wrgaming circles - and of course the name Arthur. When I realised that it was a serious analysis of what we do and don't kow about the period, I was hooked. Halsall is essentially a sceptic, not a revisionist. He is not trying to mark out personal territory with provocative theories as his equivalent of pissing on trees. He is not even trying to cash in on the King Arthur industry per se. Rather, he is providing a toolkit to an intelligent reader, to enable an evaluation of things for him or herself. This is not to say that he entirely resists injecting the work with his own theories. The Bibliography is superb and the bit at the back on sources and use of sources really eye-opening. It does, however, clarify that in, say, Chapter 10, that the source of the ideas in Halsall 2013 is - Halsall 2010! Actually, both you and I can probably live with his own speculations, since they at least derive from academic discipline rather than an overdose of nationalism or tesosterone.

Maybe it would be better to call this a set of skeleton keys rather than a toolkit. These keys do not quite fit in my humble view, but they do open doors. I learnt a great deal about 'black earth' in urban sites, British names with dog in, Saxon names with wolf in, Gildas' preaching style, perceived ethnic identity, the history of archaological thought, and so on. You will not go short of wit, insight or information here.

I must finally draw your attention to the great similarity betwen Mr Halsall's approach and that of early Liberal theology.It was very good at clearing the field, but not so great at producing a later crop in that field. Textual criticism 'discredited' every single early New Testament text and all eye-witness claims, no matter how well-attested.It was a case of 'goodbye Matthew, Luke and John'; Mark not the amanuensis of Peter, and Paul either a dangerous bandwagon-jumper or a much later commentator. Then, naturally - goodbye Jesus. Halsall is so offended by the Arthurian fundamenalists that Arthur also has to go, once he has ripped the guts out of Gildas, Bede et al. It is not insignificant that Halsall actually calls himself a 'romantic Arthurian agnostic'. Our current society puts a high status on the 'scientific' over the mere 'literary'. This means that, for now, archaeology will always trump text. Before long, the wheel will turn once more. There is always the touching expectation that the archaological record will continue to expand, while the textual one is finished. I anticipate some long-lost document being found in the lining of some boring missal......

I am now starting my re-read.


Lonely Planet Paris (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Paris (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars The best current Paris Guide, 10 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Straight away I must declare my preference for both Lonely Planet style and format. All my many travel guides would be LP by preference. You may wish to drop a star if it's not your thing, or you just don't care! (For other purposes I rate Michelin next, followed by Bradt and Blue Guides equal third). Of course there are exceptions where a particularly good team works on a less well-known country or area. However, there is no more crowded space that a Paris guide. Most make the error of being too small. The approach, I assume, is that they will be taken as an adjunct to romantic weekends. I think this is a big mistake, since Paris is pretty easy to get to for a lot of people, and always a great place for repeat visits.

I have been more often for work than leisure, having made 8 visits in the last few years where I had opportunity for site seeing. What leaps out about this book is that there's still plenty to see! It gives equal weight and merit to the less visited areas like the Marais, and a very useful detachable city map in a pocket at the back. It's still quite a lot less chunky than some of their guides, but does not seem to sacrifice usefulness. I am eager to try out some of the newer hotels and restaurants highlighted. Personally I am torn between 'cheesy Paris' and 'unknown' Paris. I want to see and experience the Paris of American films, instant recognition and nineteenth century glory. But I also want the surprise of the unusual. This new guide copes with both in my view.


Donald Featherstone's Tank Battles in Miniature Vol 1 a Wargaming Guide to the Western Desert Campaign 1940-1942
Donald Featherstone's Tank Battles in Miniature Vol 1 a Wargaming Guide to the Western Desert Campaign 1940-1942
by John Curry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A super blast from the past, 10 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Donald Featherstone bestrides the Wargaming world like a tweedy, cardigan wearing Colossus. I have always loved his work, his style and his appreciation that real men bled and died. Of course, he saw some of that bleeding and dying himself.

John Curry has done us all a service by re-publishing a number of out-of-print titles by Mr F. The one in the same series on the Italian Campaigns has been by my side for 20 years. I would give that 5 stars. Why the difference? This one looks like a print-on-demand item, which is not made clear in the blurb. It happens to be well done, with pleasing front cover artwork, but means that the photos inside are not well-reproduced. I'm prepared to accept that loss in return for the great content, but it makes the rather hefty cover price a bit hard to bear. I paid the same for each 500+ page, art paper, large size Stackpole Combat History as I did for this little book.


A Red Sun Also Rises
A Red Sun Also Rises
by Mark Hodder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.73

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shows potential, 10 May 2013
This review is from: A Red Sun Also Rises (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If this novel came out in 1900 it would have been a sensation! It's faster paced than HG Wells and contains better ideas than Jules Verne. However..... in 2013 it's a bit of a mishmash. In many ways the author plays it straight. The book is not full of ironic commentary, knowing winks to the modern world, deliberate anachronisms, etc. That is to be welcomed and allows a reader to get really involved in the adventure.

I found the first half really well-done in a Gothic 'steam-punk' kind of way. It was atmospheric, drew the characters well, and gave some meaningful motivation for their coming behaviour. There is some kind of choice in what happens to them. They are not like say, 'John Carter of Mars', just flung from one event to another, having the adventure done to him rather than by him. The early encounters with the cultures of Mars are well-drawn and show Mark Hodder at his best. I can see why he previously won the Philip K Dick award.

The second half is a different matter. The 3 stars above are based on 4 for the first half - and 2 for the second. First half is steeped in what has gone before in early Sci Fi, but is still fresh. Second half is derivative pastiche. The hero, Aiden Fleischer, even ends up in exactly the same bind as John Carter! First half has a disciplined plot development. Second half is all over the place. As a film it might work, since the second half lurches from set-piece spectacle to set-piece spectacle, followed by the messy Edgar Rice Burroughs style ending.

If you are already a fan you will not be put off. If you are unfamiliar with early Science Fiction and its sub-genres you may just take it as it comes. If you have spent most of your life on a diet of the best, you will be left slightly hungry.


Combat History of German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 653: In World War II
Combat History of German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 653: In World War II
by Karlheinz Munch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonder of a book, 30 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I cannot understand why such a great item deserves any less than full marks:
Price - fantastic
Photos - many many unique ones, often provided by men who served in the unit
OOBs
Copies of numerous memos
Plans of all armoured vehicles used
Colour illustrations ditto
Combat History - as promised!
Diaries
Movement and campaign info
Personal and medal info

At EVERY level this book is fantastically good. It is well thought out, pulls disparate material together intelligently; - useful for reference, useful for historians, useful for modellers and wargamers, just VERY VERY useful; the best spend at the price point I have ever made on a military books - and I have hundreds.


Scholl Express Pedi Electrical Hard Skin Remover
Scholl Express Pedi Electrical Hard Skin Remover
Price: £19.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says in the blurb!, 30 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don't have hard skin on my feet, but my wife does! Here is her reaction to this product:

PROS
- Good safety features, with electric cut out if used too roughly on those poor little feet!
- Noticeably smother skin after only a couple of uses
- comfortable to hold and use
- Conforms to the roll of the foot well
- Cordless (but see below)

CONS
- reliant on batteries, no mains or recharge
- Gets gummed up.
- No second roller head provided
The last 2 points are particularly relevant since it looks like the head could need replacing quite frequently.

My wife actually said that it deserved 4 stars for one-off functionality but only 2 for long-term usefulness.


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