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M. D. Rathbone (Runcorn, Cheshire - UK)
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Journey Through the Solar System: The Wonderful World of Simon Abbott
Journey Through the Solar System: The Wonderful World of Simon Abbott
by Simon Abbott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 4.79

3.0 out of 5 stars A Bright, Fun, Factual Book - But Perhaps Limited Appeal?, 27 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A nice colourful book with simple explanations that do enable the book to work for the target audience of 6+ but unfortunately it probably works only for ages 6 to 8, as my four year old daughter quickly lost interest in it once she had flicked through the pictures and my 9 year old read it in a few minutes and is already into more detailed fact books from the library and hasn't felt the urge to pick it up again. But I enjoyed it and picked up a few interesting facts from it!


Practise & Learn: French (Ages 9-11) - with vocab CD-ROM
Practise & Learn: French (Ages 9-11) - with vocab CD-ROM
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Practical exercises in a puzzle style and good layout, 27 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a practical exercise book designed for children to work through at their own pace with specific chapters devoted to colours, numbers, etc. It has been put together in a clever way to motivate children as it is more in the style of a puzzle book or problem-solving book rather than a static question-and-answer style of book which quickly loses the interest of the reader. For example there is a word search and a crossword and good use of colours to help with presentation.

Even though it is targeted at the 9-11 age range my 8-year old daughter happily worked through it. She has been doing basic French at school so that was clearly an advantage. As it is a 'practice and learn' book then if a child has no previous experience of working with French then they may find it difficult to pick up and go through.


Wheels on the Bus Singalong
Wheels on the Bus Singalong

4.0 out of 5 stars Just a CD, but good value if that's what's required!, 3 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At first glance of the product page I was expecting this to be more than a CD so just to emphasise that this product is just an audio CD in a standard jewel case, there is no physical book and no words. All that is included as part of the packaging is a track list. The `singalong' definition is simply that - you sing along to the CD!

However, it contains 30 childhood classics, there are very few `fillers' or obscure tracks. My four-year-old daughter loves this CD already and knows many of the songs from nursery or the local library so she immediately started singing along and making up her own dances!

The total running time is 46 minutes which is also good value for a single CD, although some of the songs are the shorter versions most run to full length. For example, I'm sure I remember more verses to `Wheels on the Bus', whilst with others I can't be sure how long they should be... how many animals does Old MacDonald REALLY have on his farm?


Pocket Oxford English Dictionary
Pocket Oxford English Dictionary
by Oxford Dictionaries
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.69

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect dictionary for every-day use, 3 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This review refers to the eleventh edition (published 2013) which comes eight years after the tenth edition and now contains over 120,000 words and phrases with definitions. This latest edition includes more than 100 new entries such as `app' and `cybersecurity' and modern revisions of at least 100 more traditional words such as `shortcut' and `tag'. This is one the many ranges of Oxford Dictionaries and the `Pocket' version is aimed at every-day use in a portable format.

Not exactly `pocket sized' as it contains over 1,100 pages (and the hardback format adds to the weight) but slightly smaller than an average novel in terms of height and width at least (about 18x12cm) and it really is just the dictionary itself so no waste of space for long appendices, grammar or explanatory notes. It you just want a modern dictionary simply for spelling and definitions then there is no doubt it performs that task.


Does Spelling Matter?
Does Spelling Matter?
by Simon Horobin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I was expecting..., 18 Jun 2013
This review is from: Does Spelling Matter? (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Horobin takes us through the history of the English language and its spelling, from the regional variances that started the inconsistent approaches and constant `battles' to standardise, through the many times since where the English language has adopted words from Latin, French, Greek and how attempts at spelling reform were only partially implemented which actually added to the confusion! I appreciate much more now how phonetics and pronunciation have influenced the written language and that continues today. It's true that the book does fall short between being a true academic reference book and casual light read but perhaps that may give it broader appeal? The constant references to the phonetic / spoken English would probably make the book work better as an audio book as I found it hard going to get those sounds into my head and understand the application in each case. The references back to the ancient alphabets and characters is also hard going, especially as there are few reference tables to help with a quick look-up (only a phonetic symbols list). So I did find it a tough read through the middle sections which explore beginnings and revision. However, the book certainly ends on a lighter note with the final chapter considering current factors influencing spelling, such as electronic and social media. So, not quite as light a read as I was expecting but informative all the same.


British Language & Culture (Lonely Planet Language & Culture: British)
British Language & Culture (Lonely Planet Language & Culture: British)
by Elizabeth Bartsch-Parker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Light-hearted pocket guide to British slang and cultural references, 18 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A very small pocket book clearly aimed at the foreign tourist coming into Britain but still a humorous and light read for those of us already living here! Perhaps too much of an obsession with slang and swear words (probably not safe to let any young and/or sensitive family members get their hands on it) and certainly not a book to take too seriously or to rely on for a comprehensive academic guide to the English language. The kind of book you would take on a short journey to pass an hour or so is the best way to describe it! The layout, use of colour, drawings and clear chapter structure makes it easy to dip in and out of or flick through quickly. It is basically broken down into eight sections (short history, sport & entertainment, speaking English, slang, living life, regional variations, eating & drinking, regional languages) with a 'wordfinder' at the back.


Queen's Gambit
Queen's Gambit
by Elizabeth Fremantle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging and vivid tale of Tudor England, 16 April 2013
This review is from: Queen's Gambit (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A novel which expertly blurs the edges between historical fact and fiction set in the short period of 1543-1549. It could have been so easy to fill the book full of historical detail, facts and figures however what we get here is, in essence, a tale that is engaging and dramatic in its telling. At the centre of this is Katherine Parr. Many of the characters around her are indeed real, although their own stories and the parts they play in Katherine's life are sometimes exaggerated - but the author makes no apology for that, indeed she comments that "Queen's Gambit is a novel and as such all my characters are fictions".
At the beginning, with no heavy back-story to wade through, we are immediately transported to the moment of the death of Katherine's second husband and the events that will have a lasting impact upon Katherine throughout the novel. The pace of the novel is lively and entertaining as the author paints a vivid picture of Tudor life. The initial descriptions of Henry VIII are almost comical at times, for example when she describes "his minstrel's doublet stretched around his girth, straining at its laces; it reeks of desperation". But we are also afforded sympathy, even pity for Henry at this late stage of his life.
The difficulty with a novel such as this is that you do have to set the historical context and the author has a difficult balancing act in terms of how much knowledge she assumes the reader will have, or needs to have. Initially, there are perhaps too many scenes of exposition where the characters recall recent events amongst themselves purely for the reader's benefit. But this does help to develop some of the minor characters. Indeed it is the minor characters that provide the richness and depth in the novel. Dot Fownten, for example, the Queen's maid, finds herself in situations that are Dickensian in nature and the context of her life, her background and her ultimate fate is truly engaging.
A thoroughly entertaining and well written tale of Katherine's rapid rise and how fragile that status is, so equally showing how far she has to fall, if events and fate conspire against her.


Philips DCM2055 Micro Music System
Philips DCM2055 Micro Music System
Price: 99.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neat, compact and lightweight with decent sound... and just a few niggles!, 17 Dec 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Good points:
- Compact and light, takes up a very small amount of space and is quite solid and sturdy.
- Great sound quality, good thumping deep bass which really works well.
- The remote and controls in general on the unit are easy to use and the ipod/iphone docking facility is simple; my seven year old daughter immediately started using it for her ipod and loves that it doubles up as a charger too!

Niggles:
- No DAB radio
- Vertically sliding CD door is ok once you get used to it, but initially it is very clumsy as it does not retract far enough to fit the CD directly onto the `clip', you have to partly slide it under the over-hang and it takes a bit of practice. If the door would slide up just an extra couple of centimetres it would make all the difference!
- Shame that just as I get my first ipod/iphone docking station then Apple go and change their connector size! So this docking facility is not directly compatible with any Apple device that has a newer `lightning' connector.
- The clock is a nice touch however it is barely visible in a lit room and just about visible in a completely dark room.
- The `time-out' after a few minutes when you have a track on pause is a little annoying. Very eco-friendly as I'm sure it's there to save power, but very annoying if you need to answer the door or phone and then come back to find the unit has gone to stand-by! Also it does not have a memory feature so you can't continue from the point you were at once you power the unit back on.

Despite the niggles, it is a welcome addition to the house and works well for the whole family in the dining room neatly tucked away in one corner. We love the clear, crisp sound it delivers.


Made In Heaven (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Made In Heaven (2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition)
Offered by Dirty Deals UK
Price: 10.59

4.0 out of 5 stars An album pulled together from a variety of times and places, 3 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite the fact that this album contains a re-working of already-known songs from various sources ("Made in Heaven" and "I Was Born to Love You" had first appeared on Freddie's 1985 solo album "Mr Bad Guy", "My Life Has Been Saved" was a 'b' side from "The Miracle" era, "Too Much Love.." had been done by Brian a couple of years previously and "Heaven for Everyone" first appeared on Roger Taylor's solo project with "The Cross" in 1988 on their "Shove It" album) it actually works very well as a collection of new and old.

The re-working of "I Was Born To Love You" is excellent as it is given a rocky, up-beat tempo and Brian and Roger are obviously having a ball playing along to this under-rated song but it is the newer material that really stands out. "You Don't Fool Me" is a top tune with a nod back to the "Hot Space" days but with a lively, modern feel, thumping bass line and excellent guitar work. "Mother Love" will send a shiver down your spine as you can hear, feel and sense the emotion and energy in Freddie's voice despite his failing health at the time he recorded it.

The purpose of the 2011 'Deluxe Editions' (putting all cynical marketing, profit-making, blood-from-a-stone comments to one side) is to give a bonus 'EP' of rare or previously unreleased tracks which compliment the original album. In the case of this last album it was always going to be a difficult choice of what to include as the Queen 'machine' has rolled on continuously since this album was compiled and there have been endless tributes, re-mixes, collaborations, live concerts, solo projects, etc. So in the end they have played it safe and included only the two b-sides and edited single version of "Heaven for Everyone" along with an alternative mix of "A Winter's Tale" on the 2nd disc (the 'EP'). As a result there is nothing really new or unheard here. Even the various remixes from the multi-format single release of "You Don't Fool Me" have been ignored. It is interesting that the 1989 version of "My Life Has Been Saved" is included (it was originally the b-side to "Scandal") as is an early demo of the Freddie solo track "I Was Born to Love You" from around 1984. It's a shame then that this logic was not extended to include either version of "Heaven For Everyone" from Roger's band "The Cross" (the 1988 album version with Freddie's vocals or the rarer single version with Roger doing lead vocals) or Brian's solo version of "Too Much Love Will Kill You". It would have been equally logical to include a demo and/or official version of Freddie's 1985 solo track "Made in Heaven" which was re-visited here in the same way as was "I Was Born to Love You". In the end I think the choices are as lazy as they are random so you end up with a bonus disc which is neither complete nor of much interest.


A Kind Of Magic [2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition]
A Kind Of Magic [2011 Remaster: Deluxe Edition]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 14.82

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queen at their Peak, 3 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
DISC 1 (The Album)
"A Kind of Magic" was probably the peak of Queen's studio-based highly-polished era of the 1980s/90s and blew me away when I picked up a copy upon its release in 1986. 'Classic' may be an over-used word these days, but just listen to the album over and over again and songs such as "A Kind of Magic", "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "Princes of the Universe" will still sound fresh and such is the skill in the production of the album and its multi-layers that I STILL hear something different in each track even today! That is certainly clearer again in this newly remastered re-release. Gone is the diversity, pomp and tempo change of yesteryear, but here is a rock group at the peak of their output again out-classing the music of the moment (having seen out glam, punk, disco, Queen were now taking on the new romantics). A number of the songs featured in the film "Highlander" or are based on themes from the movie, but this is NOT a soundtrack album. There is such amazing energy in songs from "One Vision" to "Princes of the Universe" and warmth and emotion from well-crafted songs such as "Friends Will Be Friends" and "One Year of Love".

DISC 2 (THE 'EP')
The purpose of the 2011 'Deluxe Editions' (putting all cynical marketing, profit-making, blood-from-a-stone comments to one side) is to give a bonus 'EP' of rare or previously unreleased tracks which compliment the original album. In the case of the later albums it was always going to be a difficult choice of what to leave off as there are any number of tracks that could have been included when this was the time when remixes, extended versions and instrumentals were so popular and the marketing machine started to kick in with 12" singles, picture discs and alternate single versions a-plenty.

So we actually get a few rare tracks on here, including some early versions of "One Vision" / "A Kind of Magic", a couple of single versions and a live track. Not bad. But, three 'bonus' tracks were previously included on the original CD album release and only two of them are included this time around, meaning for most people that you have to keep hold of your original CD to hear "A Kind of A Kind of Magic". Also, the EP fails to gather up all of the additional material that exists commercially in other formats, namely:
- One Vision (Extended version)
- Blurred Vision (b-side)
- A Kind of Magic (Extended version)
- A Dozen Red Roses for my Darling (b-side)
- Friends Will Be Friends (Extended version)
- Who Wants to Live Forever (Single version)
- Pain is so Close to Pleasure (Extended remix)
- The Prize (Instrumental)
Given that the rare (and incomplete) 12" Collection album is long deleted then that leaves quite a number of vinyl records to hold on to for completists! In addition, there are the other versions of existing tracks and unreleased tracks produced for the Highlander movie which still lack an official release.


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