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Reviews Written by
P. A. Broome "fwumpbungle" (Midlands, UK)

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Watcher (The Shining Ones Book 1)
Watcher (The Shining Ones Book 1)
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel that Shines for all the Right Reasons, 20 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One of my biggest bugbears with modern genre fiction, is the lack of characterisation. These books succeed where others fail because they get that essential component right. We're presented with a protagonist that we actually care about - and one who doesn't make a series of dumb decisions for no reason other than to progress the plot - which makes the situation she finds herself in all the more absorbing.
The writing is punchy and evocative and presents the action in a very cinematic style.
There are some really fresh ideas present as well, which turn the established formulas inside out; and back to front.
In a world awash with sub-standard efforts, these books have something special - and I look forward to following them through to their conclusion.

No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars One Word Review: Ouch!, 23 Jan. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You may be looking at the other one star reviews here and thinking "it can't be that bad, surely?" Well I certainly did, and after trying this shaver a couple of times now I can confirm that it's every bit as bad.

Actually working up the confidence to use it a second time took a lot of gumption because the first time of using it left me not only with a neck just as stubbly as when I started, but one that was also bright pink and sore to the touch. The instruction manual even seems to concede the ineffectiveness of the product: " is recommended that you use your new shaver daily for up to four weeks to alow time for your beard and skin to become accustomed to the new shaving system." Well, I'm sorry, but no. I value the health of my skin too much to subject it to any more torment.

To be avoided.

Photography: The Whole Story
Photography: The Whole Story
by Juliet Hacking
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.56

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection (...but not quite 'The Full Story'), 28 Dec. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Let me preface this review by saying that I have a lot of books that profess to being the purveyors of the 'history of photography', and some do a better job than others of conveying the story. This particular volume warrants a place toward the top of the pile purely because of the time and space that is given over to the analysis of each 'chosen' photograph.

The book is ostensibly split into five eras - covering 1826 to the present day - with each era getting its own chapter. Each chapter opens with a look at the techniques and technologies prevalent in each 'era', and then there's a selection of 'signature' photographs (some well known, others more obscure). Each photograph is given a double-page spread of analysis - also including details about the photographer, magnifications of certain elements of the frame and really quite insightful artistic interpretation. As such the book manages to strike a fairly good balance between portfolio, reference book and technical guide.

My main criticism of the collection is that, because of the structuring of the 'five eras', three fifths of the book is given over to photography prior to 1945 - with the final chapter in particular (stretching as it does from 1977 to the 'present') skipping over a lot of very influential photographers and photographs.

MovieBox: Photographing the Magic of Cinema
MovieBox: Photographing the Magic of Cinema
by Paolo Mereghetti
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for the Cinephile Photographer, 28 Dec. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are photography books that offer inspiration, those that offer technical advice and then those that just offer nothing more than sheer delight - and this one falls most firmly into the latter category. It's a truly wonderful collection of movie related photography gathered from across the history of Hollywood - with a great mix of promotional shots (some iconic classic shots you'll have seen time and time again, but also some relatively obscure ones too) and behind the scenes candid photos (both on set and off the clock).

The selection of on set photographs in particular do a great job in conveying the artistic skills of the cinematographer into the still format - some of those moments that may be fleeting on the screen when printed on paper still manage to stand up and enthral the eye. And it's not just about the 'stars' either, some of the best candid shots show the directors interacting with the actors on set or working in solitude in the edit suite.

My one criticism would be the slightly misleading nature of the title - this isn't an all-encompassing look at 'cinema', as there is very little in here from anywhere outside of Hollywood (other than the obvious greats: Bertolucci, Kurosawa, Truffaut, etc). But I suppose such a release needs to appeal to the biggest market, and if you can overlook some of the oversights then there will still be plenty to surprise you in here.

The whole thing is wrapped in a great hard box cover, and would grace anyone's book shelf. If you love both cinema or photography then grab a copy now.

30-Minute Vegetarian
30-Minute Vegetarian
by Rose Elliot
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Food, But a Long 30 Minutes Needed..., 22 Sept. 2012
This review is from: 30-Minute Vegetarian (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Recently I've found that my diet has been getting more and more vegetarian, both due to the rising cost of meat and my increasing concerns about animal welfare - so I've been on the look-out for a decent vegetarian cook book that would help me to prepare some novel, tasty food on a good budget and preferably in next to no time. Enter the '30 Minute Vegetarian' from one of the most acclaimed vegetarian cook book writers, Rose Elliot.

I've only tried a handful of the recipes to date, but they certainly haven't disappointed in terms of flavour - and I also haven't had a problem getting hold of the ingredients (which I've had with some of the more 'ambitious' books out there). In fact my only quarrel with the book is the '30-Minute' claim. Maybe I'm just a rubbish cook, but just the preparation for most of the recipes I've attempted from here takes me more than the 30 minutes... Still, I'm sure I'll get faster on subsequent attempts.

Whether you're a full on veggie (or even vegan), or a carnivore looking to tighten the belt on your weekly shopping budget, this book is chock full of tasty recipes. And speaking as a man with a very sweet tooth, I have to give a special mention to the pudding section (an area which is unusually neglected in vegetarian cook books), some of the sweet recipes in here have me salivating just thinking about them.

Eat Your Veg: More than a vegetarian cookbook, with vegetable recipes and feasts
Eat Your Veg: More than a vegetarian cookbook, with vegetable recipes and feasts
by Arthur Potts Dawson
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Made Me Look At Veg In a Whole New Way..., 22 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For me cook books generally fall into two categories: those that I use on a daily basis and those that I read more for inspiration. 'Eat Your Veg' falls soundly into the second category - it's a great book, excellently packaged, but when I sat down with it to plan a meal I couldn't really pull together a full menu. It seems like putting the focus on Vegetable-based meals (but not vegetarian) has resulted in a lot of wonderful starters, snacks and lunch options - but not much in the way of nice big filling main courses. The authors seem to be going for the 'feast' approach - lots of little courses - rather than the traditional three course meal, which is fine but I like to keep things simple when I'm cooking more than one thing.

Having said that I still think this will become an important book in my foodie library. I like the sections based around particular 'skills' (such as 'Mash', 'Roast', 'Gratin', etc), and no recipe in the book is overly complicated (most having between 6 and 10 ingredients). The photographs are gorgeous, and pervading the whole book is the author's love of that most under-appreciated of foodstuffs: the vegetable.

The whole concept of a book based around vegetables, rather than vegetarianism, is a novel one - and I will definitely be trying most of the recipes in here in time. Although I'll have to call on other recipe books to augment these when I'm planning that dinner party. But if soups and salads are your thing - then there'll be plenty in here that you haven't tried before.

SMS Audio SYNC By 50 Cent Over-Ear Wireless Headphones - Black
SMS Audio SYNC By 50 Cent Over-Ear Wireless Headphones - Black
Price: £274.93

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pamper your ears, and spoil your senses, 24 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nobody could be happier than me that people have finally realised there's only so far you can go in realising fine audio reproduction with in-ear headphones - and the fact mobile personal headphones are finally getting the attention that only used to be spent on studio models is one worth celebrating. I've avoided wireless headsets up to this point, probably more from ignorance than for any other reasons - how could you possibly transmit high quality audio through the ether? No, surely a wire was required for quality representation of the sound?
Well, apparently not. The sound I get from these headphones is exactly the same whether I use the included cable (very handy to have this option should you be hammering the built-in batteries on a long journey!), or whether I'm using the wireless dongle plugged into my iPod in the next room.
As for that sound 'big' doesn't even begin to capture it - the high ends are resonant (but not painfully so), and the bottom is very solid (and you even have the option of boosting the bottom end by pressing the THUMPP enhanced bass button - which is basically like installing a subwoofer in your skull), while the mids are given lots of room. And the 'room' is the thing you will notice the most, moving from an inferior set of headphones to these, all of that space that engineers work tirelessly to introduce into a mix is represented perfectly.
I listen to a wide variety of music (from rock to ambient; jazz to rap) - and I have yet to find anything that doesn't sound great with these.
The noise cancelling isn't the best I've experienced, unless you crank it up loud then you will still hear the odd bit of external noise - but personally speaking, if I'm walking down the street I still like to be able to hear the odd car horn!
Comfort-wise these are possibly the best set of headphones I've ever worn - although they're fairly heavy, they hug your head with affection, with the cushions creating the perfect seal over your ears. They certainly look the part as well and will adjust to most head sizes (speaking as one with a fairly large head!)
The included carry case is a suitably lush addition, which will certainly help you to justify the cost to yourself as it sits on the shelf - and the inclusion of all the necessary power connectors and cables is a nice touch.
The headphones and the dongle (which plugs into your audio source with a standard 3.5mm jack) need charging separately - either over USB or using the plug - with the headphones charging from empty to full in about 2 hours, and the dongle around 1.5 hours. This should then give you about 17 hours solid usage (a figure which I've found to be roughly accurate, if not a little conservative). And as I mentioned, if the battery should run out while you're out and about you still have the choice of using the included cable to use them as conventional wired headphones.
In conclusion this is a great set of wireless headphones that offer an incredible lush sound, and look great (both in and out of their carry case). They may be pricey, but I think the build quality and the sound quality justify that price.

Wenko 105000100 Toilet seat Aurora  variable plastic mounting, Plastic  Thermoplastic, 37.8 x 46 cm, White
Wenko 105000100 Toilet seat Aurora variable plastic mounting, Plastic Thermoplastic, 37.8 x 46 cm, White
Price: £14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fine, if you don't want to sit on it..., 24 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wouldn't normally feel compelled to write a review about something so mundane as a toilet seat - but I'm doing this for the benefit of others who feel a decent toilet seat is a basic everyday requirement and not a luxury.
This seat is made out of plastic. Not only is plastic, but it's particularly cheap plastic. It bends significantly when you sit on it (and I'm not a heavy man). Basically, you may as well sit on the rim of the toilet and not bother with this seat - because once you sit on it, that's where you'll end up anyway.
I guess it's my own fault for trying to save some money - and in this case the principle of a false economy is unavoidably true. When it comes to toilet seats, it appears that you get what you pay for - and what I got when I paid for this lightweight effort is totally uncomfortable, unsupportive and, well, unusable really.

A New Breed
A New Breed
Price: £13.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bright new force in British blues rock, 2 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A New Breed (Audio CD)
Not to be regionalist or anything, but it seems to me that the recent revival of the live blues scene in the UK has been somewhat dominated by a glut of bright young things hailing from the South and the Midlands. Given the historic tradition of Northern rhythm and blues - particularly in the late 50s and 60s when the genre was first being reappropriated by the British working class - the lack of quality young blues bands and artistes from these regions breaking out and making a national impact has been disappointing (Newcastle's Mitch Laddie being one of the few exceptions that springs to mind). But one band that are well on the way to redressing the balance are Manchester's Snakewater. After a lengthy wait, their debut album proper has finally been released, and it's a cracker.

The band have teamed up with legendary rock and blues producer Chris Tsangarides for this album (indeed, he rated the band so highly that after working with them in his studio, he signed them up and has released this album on his own Dark Lord Records label). Recorded over just one weekend in Tsangarides' Dover studio, the album perfectly captures the sound and energy of Snakewater - with front man Bobby Grant's guitar pushed to the fore and firing on all cylinders, the rhythm section epitomising the driving hard rocking blues backroom powerhouse that came to define british blues rock once upon a time.

Given Tsangarides history with the late great Gary Moore, it's hard to not think of the man from time to time whilst listening to A New Breed - especially given that Bobby has made no bones of revealing the huge influence that Moore has been on his own playing - but the album and indeed the band are strong and talented enough to survive such comparisons. The track `Same Mistake' on here seems to be Bobby's unashamed direct tribute - the recurring melodic riff bearing many of the Moore hallmarks, the song slowly evolving into an epic and immersing hard rocking ballad, resplendent with a soaring mighty sustain-filled solo. If one man's sublime use of the Wah Wah pedal were destined to drive Jim Dunlop sales to new highs then it's Bobby Grant's. He doesn't only make his guitar talk, he makes it sing, cry and shout "Hallelujah!" from on the highest highs.

The overdubs are few and far between - there is no barrage of layered guitar tracks or synth padding, and there doesn't need to be, because Bobby wrestles such a huge sound from his Les Paul that really one track is all you need. Ben Streets also deserves to be hailed as one of the UK scene's bright new drumming hopes, his work here ranges from the subtle to the downright indecent. He shows perfectly that a good drummer does more than keep the time, he (or she) pulls the strings and pushes the buttons directing the song toward its highs and pulling it back from the brink when required.

Bobby's voice has also come a long way since the first time I saw the band live, back in 2009, his confidence in his vocals has allowed him to truly open up and by doing so he has discovered a plaintive, down-to-earth, unabashedly British voice, which is just frayed at the edges enough - at times actually bearing similarities to fellow North-Westerner Ian Astbury. While it may not be the most `acrobatic' on the scene, his voice is perfect in the context of the power trio.

The band's hectic gig schedule over the last few years has finally seen them starting to get the grassroots appreciation they deserve, and in A New Breed they have the storming studio album to back them up. This is an essential purchase to any lover of blues rock, particularly fans of the likes of Moore and Bonamassa, and make sure you go to see the band live when you get the chance - you wont regret it. Three of the best young musicians out there combining to make one of the best bands. To quote the final, tongue-in-cheek, lyric on the album: "Ain't no escape from the Snakewater blues..."

(review originally written for The Midlands Rocks)

Mr Stink
Mr Stink
by David Walliams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It's Not Dahl, But It'll Do..., 21 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Mr Stink (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Quentin Blake cover may evoke those classic Roald Dahl children's books that we all have on our bookshelves, but Walliams' is certainly not professing to being the second coming of Dahl. His writing style is far skimpier, and aimed at a slightly younger reader - but he does possess a certain amount of talent when it comes to captivating the imagination of a child.

The story features all of those things that children love - stinky things, irritating siblings, posh parents, school-based shenanigans - and while it will win no awards for innovation, it's at least entertaining and affectionate from start to finish. In short, it's the kind of story that would have worked really well on Jackanory (were it still on air) - and it works all the better if you imagine Walliams' voice in your head as the narrator. My 9 year old niece loved it, and I can see why.

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