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B. Wright (Gloucester, UK)
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Oral-B Pro 3000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Pro 3000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Offered by EveryDay-Shop
Price: £48.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oral-B Pro 3000, 29 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was an upgrade from the Oral-B Professional Care 1000, which I have had for a few years now and seemed to be running out of battery. The Pro 3000 has 3 settings, daily clean, sensitive and gum massage (which pulses at regular intervals rather than rotating). It also has a pressure sensor that lights up when brushing too hard and a 2 minute timer. It is not immediately obvious how to switch between settings, but through trial and error I found that pushing the 'on' button while cleaning switches through them (once for sensitive, twice for gum massage), and holding down turns the toothbrush off.

Compared to the older model, the Pro 3000 feels like it is less powerful and doesn't quite clean as well because of this. While the sensitive setting (weaker rotations, but doesn't clean as well) is perhaps a welcome addition, I have not yet needed to use it. Speaking to my dentist recently, she also suggested that the gum massage is not much use and only worth using if teeth/gums are very very sensitive.

There are two areas where I think the Pro 3000 is an improvement though. Firstly, the battery life seems better (comfortably lasted the seven days suggested from brushing twice a day). This may be that my previous model is several years old and has lost its charge. The main improvement though comes from the brush head packaged with the brush. This is a '3D' brush head, slightly different shape to the usual uniformly flat brush heads on other models, and I found that it feels noticeably cleaner after brushing. Unfortunately there is only one of these brush heads included in the pack (though there is also a sensitive clean brush head too).

Overall though, I am not sure that the extra features justify the additional cost. The sensitive setting may be useful for those with particularly sensitive teeth, but I have found that the daily clean rotation is manageable on the whole and have not used the gum massage setting at all. I would suggest buying a more basic model and paying extra for the cross-action (or floss action on some packs) brush heads to improve cleaning.


Knitting Smitten: 20 Fresh and Funky Hand-knit Designs (Simple Makes)
Knitting Smitten: 20 Fresh and Funky Hand-knit Designs (Simple Makes)
by Jessica Biscoe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Knitting Smitten, 10 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a wonderfully visual book, with excellent shots of all of the projects and quirky little images scattered throughout. It offers a fairly broad overview of knitting with around 40 pages of 'knitting basics' at the start of the book. These cover topics from knitting kit and choosing yarns, then simple techniques (casting on/off, knit and purl stitches, all shown with picture tutorials) and some tips for beginners. Once the basics are covered, there's another 80 pages dedicated to projects, split into three categories: Knits to Wear; Knits to Share; and Knits for Your Home. Some of these are the usual things - cushions, hats, mittens, phone cases. However, there are a few more unusual (and potentially less useful...) things to make, like a bow-tie for a dog, a hedgehog paperweight and the little egg cosy caps that are shown on the cover. It's a good mix of projects, though some are certainly novelty items and won't be to everyone's taste.

This is a book that may appeal to the beginner knitter, with lots of small projects to take on, and suggestions for gifts to make. Instructions are clearly written and techniques are accompanied by a picture guide. However, the images are occasionally too small to see exactly what to do and a novice knitter with no previous experience might be overwhelmed by the amount of information in the early pages. But a knitter with some experience will find some new challenges and unusual designs in these 20 projects and it is a beautiful book to flick through too, with many high quality images to show off the projects.


The Moth: This Is a True Story
The Moth: This Is a True Story
by Catherine Burns
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars The Moth: This Is a True Story, 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is my first exposure to The Moth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the art of storytelling. It brings together people to tell their stories in front of a live audience.

The Moth: This Is a True Story collects together transcripts of 50 of these stories, grouping them together into very general themes, such as stories of war, love, or the generation gap. The themes are there to give some structure to the book, but don't really make any impact other than this. The stories chosen cover a huge range of emotions, they are all personal but touch on very human events and universal emotions. Many of them are incredibly moving, some are funny, some are harrowing. The book lends itself to the daily commute too, with each story coming it at around 10 - 15 pages. It's easy to read and always interesting, even if you do not know the speaker (as the organisation is based in New York, there were very few names that I recognised).

However, at times it feels that something is missing. The stories were told in front of a live audience first, and some of them really feel flat without the tone of the speaker and the reaction of the audience. Since picking up the book, I have gone on to listen to the podcast and it is more engaging, more enjoyable because you can hear the emotion of the storyteller, can tell when they are being sarcastic or flippant. This doesn't always come across on the page. It may be that the book would have benefitted from stories written specifically for the page, rather than spoken word transcripts.

It is still a wonderful collection of stories though, and there is something here for everybody to enjoy. Pick up the book, then download the podcast and enjoy.


Nikon Coolpix L820 VNA330E1 16MP Compact Digital Bridge Camera-blue
Nikon Coolpix L820 VNA330E1 16MP Compact Digital Bridge Camera-blue
Offered by SKYWISH
Price: £139.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nikon Coolpix L820, 10 Jan 2014
I bought this camera as an upgrade from an older bridge camera, and have been impressed with it, with one exception. The camera does very well with auto and presets (of which there are a considerable number), and offers all of the usual you'd expect to find (macro, fireworks, sports, dusk/dawn etc). There are also other features such as colour capture, where you can remove colours from the image before taking a photograph, and sepia/black and white. The images are of a very good quality, and the camera copes well in most lights, giving a warm and accurate reproduction of colours. The zoom is excellent and stabilisation works well to reduce blur on the images. There is also a zoom button on both the top of the camera and the side of the lens itself, giving the option of holding it in different ways depending on how you are shooting. The handholds are grippy and the camera starts up quickly, making it possible to capture a shot in a few seconds. The lens cap must be removed already when the camera is turned on though, otherwise an error message appears and the camera must be turned off and on again. In terms of size and shape, it is comfortable to carry, with a good weight to it, perhaps measuring around 4 inches across, and 5 inches with the lens barrel when the camera is off. There is no manual viewfinder.

However, there are very few manual features, meaning that anyone hoping to use this as an intermediary camera between point-and-shoot and a DSLR or other manual-heavy camera will not be able to learn the ropes. The only features that are available, within limited scope, are setting of white balance and ISO for a fairly wide range (at various points from 125 - 3200, though this must be done within the menu, making it a slow process to change). This is a serious disappointment, especially considering the overall quality of the camera otherwise, and means that it is particularly difficult to take photos at night as none of the presets allow for a longer exposure than 4 seconds.

The lack of manual features is why I have only given the camera 3 stars. In terms of quality of images and colour representation it is very good, but without the manual features it is only really a high-quality point-and-shoot. For this price it is reasonable, but there are probably more feature-rich bridge cameras available for those who are wishing to learn how to use a camera manually.


Waiting for Wednesday: A Frieda Klein Novel (Frida Klein 3)
Waiting for Wednesday: A Frieda Klein Novel (Frida Klein 3)
by Nicci French
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.25

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for Wednesday, 5 July 2013
Nicci French continues to write page-turners with the Freida Klein series, but this may be the weakest of the three, lacking the flow and intrigue of the earlier novels. Those new to Frieda Klein will want to start from Blue Monday as elements from the previous novels have an impact on this one - it does not really work as a stand-alone book.

When Ruth Lennox is found dead by her daughter, the local community is left wondering who could have killed such a perfect mother. Yet as DCI Karlsson picks apart the evidence, details of a secret life slowly come to the surface. Although Frieda is no longer involved directly with the police, she is pulled into the case by coincidence: her niece is friends with Ruth's son and she finds herself offering counselling to the children. Meanwhile something a patient has said to her is tugging at the back of her mind, setting her off on another path entirely, looking for a lost girl.

The snappiness of the writing is still there, and when it is at its best, it is still as thrilling as the previous novels but Waiting for Wednesday suffers slightly due to repetition. Karlsson is an interesting character, and his psyche is explored in more detail here, but his chapters occasionally turn into a police procedural, lacking energy as another stubborn interviewee refuses to co-operate. Frieda's, too, suffer similar issues as she finds her friends and Ruth Lennox's children continually taking over her house. One of the other things that feels absent is the sense of place: in previous novels, the shadows of London have hung heavy on events, an integral part of the story as Frieda walks the streets and chases evidence across the capital yet there is a feeling that these cases could have been anywhere in Waiting for Wednesday.

The novel occasionally seems slightly bloated, and as the cases draw to a close, it feels a little like it is too much of a coincidence that so many things are interconnected. Waiting for Wednesday does not add much to Frieda's character - she is still impulsive and prone to follow her gut instincts, still deeply private and wanting her own space - but the end of the novel provides what could be an interesting turning point for the series. Yet despite its faults and occasional stumbles, Waiting for Wednesday is still an enjoyable thriller and recommended for fans of the genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2013 9:10 AM BST


Disgrace (Department Q 2)
Disgrace (Department Q 2)
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Disgrace, 21 Feb 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Disgrace is the second Department Q novel, following Detective Carl Mørck as he tries to solve another cold case, this time the mystery of a brother and sister who were murdered twenty years previously. The initial suspects have become highly established in Danish society in the two decades since the close was closed, and Mørck suspects a cover-up. One of the group, Kimmie, has disappeared onto the streets of Copenhagen, along with potential secrets that can reveal the mystery, and the detective is determined to find her.

As with Mercy, this is a fast-paced and intriguing police procedural, quite dark at times. Light humour is again provided in the form of Assad, Carl's assistant. The pair's relationship is built upon from the first book, but Assad is still a mysterious character, evidently keeping his past hidden from his colleagues. As well as Assad, Carl has inherited a new assistant in Rose, who provides back-up in the office, researching links for the cases. It is written with the same jumps of time and scene that littered Mercy, but the plot is possibly more coherent in this second novel. Disgrace also benefits from a new translator, which helps to draw the reader in more successfully than the first book may have done, doing away with the Americanisms and putting forward a more coherent and conversational style instead.

Disgrace works well as stand-alone novel, but it is a great continuation of the Department Q series. While Mercy may be the slightly stronger novel, Disgrace retains the high standards that Adler-Olsen has set and fans will be incredibly happy with this instalment.


Sherlock Holmes: Hound of the Baskervilles
Sherlock Holmes: Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £12.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Hound of the Baskervilles, 20 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Hound of the Baskervilles is arguably the most famous Holmes story, and Derek Jacobi gives an excellent reading to bring it to life. The story is spread over 6 discs, with each chapter and end of the disc announced. This means that the listening experience is not always seamless as some chapters are split across discs. This is only a minor issue and Jacobi's performance is brilliant as he provides narration but also acts each character, accent and all. Occasionally his accent slips, but on the whole this is a brilliant audiobook which fans of the Great Detective will love.


Vampire Horror!
Vampire Horror!
by Various Authors
Edition: Audio CD

3.0 out of 5 stars Vampire Horror!, 20 July 2012
This review is from: Vampire Horror! (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This audio collection is somewhat let down by the choice of stories: all 4 tales are from the late Victorian period, and while the actors do their best to create energy, the language is at times stilted and archaic, with the stories rarely raising a chill. Polidori's 'The Vampyre' is long and becomes difficult to follow unless given the listener's full attention, and 'For the Blood is the Life' is slightly convoluted and self-indulgent (on the author's part, rather than John Telfer's). Yet the readings are still enjoyable, with Anthony Head giving a particularly good performance of 'Wailing Well', bringing out elements of humour in the story to juxtapose the horror.

The presentation of the set is also disappointing - the insert that accompanies the discs does is very small, including only brief profiles of the actors and authors (which are slightly longer), without any information about the stories themselves or the running times of the recordings. 'Wailing Well', although the shortest story here, suffers from being split over two discs, when it could easily have been put on to one, alongside one of the other shorter stories. A note for those who wish to put these onto an mp3 player - iTunes was unable to find the disc information so this may need to be entered manually.

Despite these problems, it is still a reasonably enjoyable listen, but it is the actors' performances that makes it so rather than the stories themselves.


The Taliban Cricket Club
The Taliban Cricket Club
by Timeri N. Murari
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.40

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Taliban Cricket Club, 30 Jun 2012
In The Taliban Cricket Club, Timeri Murari weaves a tale of hope, love and family around the obscure historical fact of Afghanistan's application to the International Cricket Council in 2000.

Rukhsana is a fiercely independent woman, frustratingly oppressed by the Taliban regime. She has had to give up her job as a journalist, to dress by the laws of the Taliban, and to have her younger brother as a chaperone whenever out in public. Yet she is defiant and tries to resist the laws as much as possible, even risking her life by writing under a pseudonym. The situation becomes even more dangerous when she comes to the attention of General Wahidi, a Talib minister at the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who seeks to take her as his wife. Escape is almost impossible, but hope comes from a cricket tournament organised by the Taliban, where the promised prize is a trip to Pakistan for a week of training. Rukhsana's love of the sport, grown when at university in Delhi, makes her the perfect coach for a team, and she gathers her family around in an attempt to train a winning team and get out of the country.

Murari is excellent at depicting a war-torn Kabul and the oppression of the regime that left citizens paralysed with fear. Despite the setting and subject though, this is not a violent book; while there are some set pieces of violence, these are subtly and sympathetically used, and are not gratuitous. Instead, this is an optimistic and hopeful novel with a gentle humour about it, with a mixture of romance and adventure. It is a tale of enduring love and devotion to family, yet never becomes saccharine. It is an uplifting novel that has a soft feeling of nostalgia that evokes long days playing cricket, and makes a great summer read.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2012 10:01 PM BST


The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
by Karen Thompson Walker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.64

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Age of Miracles, 25 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Age of Miracles (Hardcover)
The Age of Miracles is based on a wonderful premise: Suddenly and inexplicably, the Eart's rotation begins to slow and days draw out, first by mere minutes, then eventually hours and days. The world is in chaos as everybody tries to come to terms with these changes, adapting their sleeping patterns and life styles to the turning of these new 'days'.

It is narrated by 11-year-old Julia, who recounts the first few months of the disaster alongside the changes in her everyday life, such as moving to high school and finding her first love. It is here for me that the problem lies: this is a coming-of-age story more than it is apocalypse fiction - at times it feels like the Slowing (as it becomes termed) is merely an after-thought tacked on to Julia's tale. The author writes well, is subtle and gentle with the narrative, but sadly the scope is too narrow. The concept is an interesting one but the reader only sees Julia's immediate world and how they are dealing; it works as a microcosm for the wider world, but there is a nagging feeling that more could be done with the idea. Considering that the end of the world sits alongside growing up and finding love, it feels at times oddly hollow and emotionless.

As stand-alone concepts, the two plot types would work very well, but unfortunately I did not feel quite like they melded together here - the coming-of-age elements outweigh the Earth's changing climates. It is well written, sometimes with a beautiful turn of phrase and subtle appreciation of imagery, but I am left disappointed with the whole. Given a broader view or a more considered integration of the disaster, this could have been an excellent book, but sadly it is only a solid read.


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