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Taliesin_ttlg (Lancashire, UK)

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Tacwise. Cable Tacker. CT60. Data Cable.  Satellite Cable
Tacwise. Cable Tacker. CT60. Data Cable. Satellite Cable
Price: 26.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Does all that it is meant to, 28 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What can I say it’s a cable tacker, it does what it is meant to do. It’s easy to load, easy to use and worked on the (phone) cables I had to secure. The locking switch is very stiff but, in some respects, this is positive as it makes it more secure.

For someone with more professional needs it might not be the best but for someone with occasional domestic cable securing needs it is bob on.

The Fourth Bride (The Blackstone Vampires Book 4)
The Fourth Bride (The Blackstone Vampires Book 4)
Price: 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Back, with Drac, 16 Jan 2014
When I read Carole Gill's The House on Blackstone Moor I was taken with the fact that she wrote a very gothic prose but merged it with a nastiness to her primary character that was reminiscent of Clive Barker.

This is the fourth book of the series, but whilst it uses the characters of Louis and Rose as a jumping off point the book itself concentrates on a new character, Dia, a young woman cursed from birth to be the fourth bride of Dracula. It is a brave move, certainly, tying her series into that of Stoker's masterpiece and, in many respects, it is a natural fit as Carole Gill has always had Satan as the source of vampirism and has tied in Dracula's education at the Scholomance with another mainstay character Eco.

If I had a criticism, however, it is this. The author writes a fantastic victim and this worked so very well in the first book - when the primary character was human. With the primary character being a vampire I was less comfortable with the "female victim". It was ok when under the thrall of Dracula (or another powerful vampire) and I could accept it but I was less comfortable with the vampire being the victim of human men too. There was an in-built layer of misogyny and I would like to see the author write a strong female lead, one who isn't the victim and doesn't need rescuing by a man (vampire or human). That is, perhaps, for another book.

That criticism aside (and I hope it is taken as constructive) this was more rounded as a book than the third volume and took an interesting route by attaching itself to the Dracula mythos. 7 out of 10. Note the review was first published on my blog Taliesin meets the Vampires and was based on a complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

Vampires Romance to Rippers an Anthology of Risque Stories
Vampires Romance to Rippers an Anthology of Risque Stories
Price: 1.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Vampires and Sensuality, 31 Oct 2013
This is the erotica companion volume to the anthology of almost the same name. This review was originally published at my blog, Taliesin Meets the Vampires and it starts with a critique of the introduction by Bertina Varney as, unfortunately, it was filled with aspects that I felt were inaccurate, misinterpreted or I simply did not agree with.

If you are interested in that detailed critique you can read it at my blog but, generally, I think what exasperated me about the introduction was the perception that vampires are now erotic exclusively because of female writers. Certainly there are many female authors who write vampire erotica (and paranormal romance) but there are male writers also. Nor is the subject matter/sub-genre the province of the female heterosexual; there are volumes of vampire erotica designed for straight and gay men as well as straight and gay women (and all points in between). In short I felt there was too narrow a view.

Following the introduction the volume moved to an essay by the first author, J.B. Stilwell. I actually thought this would have made a better introduction and found it delightfully insightful. Not so much Stilwell's next entry into the volume, a novel excerpt entitled "Hot Dark Comfort". Not that there was anything intrinsically wrong with it but it was exactly the same excerpt that was published in the companion anthology with an added sex scene. Given that the two anthologies are related I thought that a unique piece would have been more appropriate.

You will see from the Amazon blurb that it mentions a bonus story by BellaDonna Drakul that would "scare the pants of you". I was very much taken with the story submitted in the companion anthology by Drakul and again found myself enthralled by her prose, as she weaved a fascinating tale of a vampire artist and his macabre method of creating his masterpieces. It was not erotic (I suppose it helps fulfil the ripper aspect of the main title) but it was certainly evocative and, for me, was the highlight of the volume.

Some of the stories were more erotic than others, and the word "cooch", used in one story, must list as the most un-erotic noun used to describe the female genitalia ever. "The Making of Marea" by Scarlette D'Noire was a tale of being turned and was, perhaps, less erotic but it was certainly interesting - especially around the power plays described - and I would very much like to read more of the story. Conversely Emily Walker's "One Night with the Vampire" was excellently written as a piece of erotica but the story was a tad flimsy. I specifically want to mention Cinsearea S' story "Love You to Death" as the author eschewed the "hunk" trope and used an emaciated corpse to excellent and sensuous effect.

The overall volume was smaller than the companion piece but, that said, none of the stories were actually poor and the prose was more consistently solid. Worth reading, especially for BellaDonna Drakul's story.

Vampires Romance to Rippers an Anthology of Tasty Stories
Vampires Romance to Rippers an Anthology of Tasty Stories
Price: 1.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exploring a spectrum of the vampire genre, 20 Oct 2013
Anthologies are a strange beast. In many respects we have grown past the anthology subject being simply "vampires" but, because of the breadth of the genre, we have now a market for anthologies that look at an aspect of vampirism.

Vampires: Romance to Rippers tries to step beyond this by presenting vampire stories from a spectrum, from the romantic to the violent, and this is an interesting take. However just the spectrum choice might leave some readers cold at one end of the spectrum and others cold at the opposite end - though it may also serve to broaden the tastes and experience of other readers.

What left me, personally, slightly cold was the inclusion of a lot of excerpts from larger works. Don't get me wrong, I have submitted an excerpt for publication myself, before now, and in this volume there was one particularly excellent one I'd like to point out later in the review. However, the trouble with excerpts is that you often feel that you are in a larger story (which, of course you are) and so you get less of the self-contained exciting vignette that, to me, showcases the skill of the short story writer. However, this anthology contains some well received stories (by me) but also some poorer ones and I will touch on one or two of each.

Unfortunately the anthology began with probably the two stories that left me coldest. Karen Dales The Guest had the interesting setting of a Buddhist temple but really did feel like it was just a smaller part of a greater whole. The story seemed to want to build a mood rather than tell an interesting tale and, on a personal taste level, I didn't like her prose.

This was followed by two pieces by Elita Daniels. Her essay about why she enjoys reading and writing about vampires was, I felt, out of place and - frankly - somewhat patronising as she kept repeating phrases such as "what's not to love" and "who wouldn't want a piece." It felt like I was being told why I should like vampires, rather than her explaining why she did, and the essay had a feel of a blog article more than anything. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the prose in her excerpt from her Guardian series, but it was probably at the most romantic end of the spectrum and her vampires were (almost literally) defanged - a strange move from someone who enjoys writing about vampires to try and make them as human normal as possible. There was mention of institutions that newly turned vampires were taken to, though I do not know if her series expands on this as a focal piece. I feel she has a whole story there, a story of despair and pain set within that small stage, with the vampire as the victim, without the paranormal romance stuff getting in the way.

On the other side of the coin the excerpt by Kurt Kamm from his Code Blood was stunning and is the excerpt I mentioned earlier. Excellent prose introduced a (not supernatural) character who was disturbing and fascinating at the same time. Markus is an albino with a love of the macabre and, as we meet him, he has just made off with a woman's severed foot from the scene of an accident. The excerpt was so good that I stopped reading (I was on a train at the time) whipped out my smart phone and ordered the full novel.

I was very taken with BellaDonna Drakul's "Forgotten immortal", a tale in which hallucinatory narcotics leads Benedikt Emory on a quest to resurrect a dead vampire, whose essence has spoken to him during a vivid trip. The story was neatly self-contained, had the kick in the tale that gives a short purpose and the evocative prose painted a German Expressionist landscape in my imagination.

Touched the Sun was another excerpt, this time by Laura Enright. Though an excerpt, her full book - To Touch the Sun - takes place in modern Chicago (so her author's note informed). This is a flashback to a turning and is set in the trenches of the First World War. The setting was nice, not totally unique as it is a setting that Baltimore: Or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire extensively used, but if there was some familiarity in the setting and the imagery of the vampires scavenging across No Man's Land, that was where it ended and this was its own beast. I liked the idea of the mix of feral and sentient vampires in this.

So, all in all, a pleasing enough anthology the perhaps straddles a spectrum a little too broad in such a vast genre. I would perhaps have fewer excerpts and there are, as mentioned, a couple of entries that are weaker than others (though that has much to do with taste). However it is certainly worth your time. This review was first published at my blog, Taliesin Meets the Vampires.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
by Holly Black
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous vampires in a cold, cold world, 9 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In her acknowledgements Holly Black states "This book is a love letter to all the vampire books I read over and over growing up". Then she lists a veritable "who's who" of vampire literature and as you read the Coldest Girl in Coldtown you can really tell that the statement was true for the book shines with the author's inner love of the genre, you feel that she wrote the book out of enjoyment rather than cashing in on the vampire gravy train.

Set in a world where vampirism has not only come out of the closet but spread as a plague we don't see the expected post-apocalyptic landscape but a world where humanity walled the undead into various cities and left them to their own devices. A world where life goes on and the activities of the 'caged' vampires have become mass entertainment. Any vampire captured (if not killed) and anyone suspected to be cold is placed in a Coldtown, forbidden to leave (except certain uninfected who happen to have a special marker, tokens worth a fortune). Cold is the name given to the vampire infection, a description of the coldness that spreads through the body, along with the hunger. A human can - with much pain - get through the infection (it takes roughly 3 months of agony) but if they succumb to drinking human blood and they will die and be reborn vampire.

But what to say of the book itself? The prose is engaging, the characters believable in the world created, though they could stand further rounding in any subsequent series, and the vampires themselves are dangerous - a refreshing aspect in a YA publication. The idea of youths eager to enter Coldtown, willing to offer themselves up for a shot at immortality reflects the popularity of the genre. The world built will stand much exploration, if the author choses to do so. I for one hope she does.

The Returned
The Returned
by Jason Mott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A look into hearts and minds, 24 Aug 2013
This review is from: The Returned (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I noticed this book I assumed it was connected to either the French movie Les Revenants or the subsequent TV series of the same name. The TV series was released in the UK as the Returned and the movie re-named (from They Came Back) to fit in with the series.

Now the film and the series have somewhat different rules. The film saw the dead return, emerging from the graveyard in which they were buried. In the series the dead seemed to just appear. There were a limited number of the revenants in the series, all of whom had died in the last forty years, and the phenomena seemed constrained to a specific location. In the film all the dead had died within a ten year period and it was a worldwide phenomenon.

This book is unconnected to the film or series but has a similar premise. The dead are returning and no-one knows how. The event is worldwide, many of the returned died a considerable time before (in one case over a hundred years), they appear (how is never explained) randomly - so a young boy who we follow in the story, Jacob, appeared in China and was then brought to his (now elderly) parents in the USA by the International Bureau of the Returned. The living (or True Living as they start to be known) can tell if someone is Returned on sight. As more and more return the story looks at the differences in reactions between various people, positive and negative, as the World Governments begin to treat the Returned as something less than human.

The story, in some respects, is thus a little thin as we are more looking at an exploration of character, their reactions and emotions. This made it, for me, a fascinating book as Mott juxtaposed the events in the small town of Arcadia against individual stories, touched in brief, around the world.

In this the dead can die - one young boy dies of an aneurysm for the second time - unlike those in the film and series. They seem hungry but sleep little.

As I say, this isn't connected with the series or film in any way that I can tell, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is an interesting book. Do not read it looking for answers, however, Mott is as vague as to the cause of the event in this as the series is in its own right.

Case Logic Journal Folio for Nexus
Case Logic Journal Folio for Nexus
Price: 9.21

1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the cost, 24 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I already had a case for my Nexus, which cost me 1/3 of the asking price for this case (via e-bay) but the elastic that held the case shut was beginning to fray due to normal wear and tear.

This case was meant to be the replacement but is wholly inferior. The nexus clipped into the previous case, it slips into this. The clip unit then allowed a 360 degree revolution of the device within the case and thus it could be stood in case, via the standing ruts, in any of the four planes. This case only allows the device to be stood on one plane and the described "multiple viewing angles" are on that single plane and number two angles.

The ruts used to stand the device are altogether too shallow and thus it fails to stand with any feel of stability.

Altogether a second-rate product compared to many, cheaper cases.

Netgear ReadyNAS 102 2 Bay Network Attached Storage (No Disk)
Netgear ReadyNAS 102 2 Bay Network Attached Storage (No Disk)
Price: 99.72

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the description carefully, 24 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is going to be a holding review I'm afraid. When I saw this come up on vine I quickly pressed send me the product. For those not on Vine you have to understand that the electronic goods go so quickly that you have no time to think... had I spent a little longer looking at the product I'd have seen "no disc" in the name; hence the title of this review, which is more an aide-mémoire for me than an instruction for readers of the review.

Of course, having no disc means that the you have to add your own - the unit takes two - and I do intend to get a couple of discs (as I can afford them) as the idea of a backup data storage unit that raids as well is something I want to realise.

However I do find the idea of shipping a product at the price asked, without a disc, a little ludicrous. I have a WD My Book 2TB External Desktop Hard Drive (USB 3.0/2.0) unit already and, whilst new discs can't be added and it is only a single disc unit, it was considerably cheaper than this NAS unit, plugged in and played and is doing all I need it to (bar raid).

When I get the discs I will update this review with my thoughts. In the meantime this gets a mid-score as I have to give a score but think that netgear should be shipping these with a little a small capacity disc included.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2013 12:16 AM BST

Cole and Mason 16-Jar Filled Hudson Herb and Spice Rack Carousel
Cole and Mason 16-Jar Filled Hudson Herb and Spice Rack Carousel
Price: 45.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Matter of Style, 22 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With this herb and spice carousel it all comes down to a matter of style. You can buy spice racks, here on Amazon, for less money so it depends what you want.

This 16 jar carousel looks and feels classy, the spice jars are refillable (as you would expect) with pour and sprinkle settings. The names of the herbs/spices are printed on the lids (making them a tad difficult to see on the bottom half of the carousel). The carousel itself feels robust and is constructed when you open the box. Not only does that mean it is a case of removing packaging and then placing in the kitchen it also probably does add to that robust feeling.

So, it is a stylish kitchen implement. There are cheaper (and, to be fair, more expensive) herb carousels and spice racks out there but it is robustly built and a nice kitchen addition.

Russell Tovey Reads Black Beauty (Famous Fiction)
Russell Tovey Reads Black Beauty (Famous Fiction)
by Anna Sewell
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One for my wife, 18 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A confession; when this came up on Amazon Vine I ordered it not for myself but for my wife, for whom the Anna Sewell classic novel was a staple from childhood. So, whilst I am writing the review, the detail for it I have got from her.

Russell Tovey is a household name and he does not let the listener down, offering a fine, acted reading of Black Beauty. The book itself is, of course, a classic. It is also disturbing in places with scenes of animal cruelty and whilst the novel is truncated, many of the darker aspects of the book remain. The dark aspects might make the story one for children who are that little bit mature, perhaps, and may prove upsetting for younger listeners. However, as well as being designed for adolescents it is also going to be of interest to those adults who read the book in their youth and remember it with fondness.

If there is a problem with the recording is the fact that the novel has been abridged. Whilst shortening the length for the younger listener (and whilst the abridging was well done) many listeners would, I am sure, prefer to listen to Russell Tovey narrate the unabridged version. A small gripe but, nevertheless, worth listing.

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