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M. Harrison
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Fellowes Health-V Easy Palm Glide - Graphite
Fellowes Health-V Easy Palm Glide - Graphite
Price: 22.05

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally got used to it now., 17 May 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using this for two weeks now, every day, and I've totally got used to it. It's weird at first; you rest your wrist on the little pad thing, which moves smoothly around the mouse mat which it is attached to. It feels awkward and strange at first, but now it feels natural. And it holds your wrist in the optimum position for preventing RSI.

The only problem with it is that you need to set the tracking speed of your mouse to fast, as the area of the mat available for your mouse to move about in is relatively small (especially if you have a large monitor) - and the wrist rest makes it a bit annoying to keep picking up the mouse and putting it down again to access more screen real estate. But if you're OK controlling the mouse finely, on a fast setting, you'll be fine, and if you've had, or are worried about, RSI, it can't help to give this a go. Do give yourself time to get used to it, though.


A Life in Frocks
A Life in Frocks
by Kelly Doust
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty... vacant, 2 April 2011
This review is from: A Life in Frocks (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Goodness me, this is an insubstantial book. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised - fashion isn't, after all, the most intellectual of subjects - but it's certainly possible to write intelligently about it. I suppose I was hoping for something like India Knight's 'The Shops': not enormously taxing, but entertaining enough. Sadly, and despite the pretty packaging, this is a self-indulgent and ultimately very shallow look at another woman's wardrobe - and without beautiful writing or vast amounts of wit to bolster its lack of real content, I've no idea why anyone would be interested. Sorry.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2013 10:05 AM GMT


On Being: A scientist's exploration of the great questions of existence
On Being: A scientist's exploration of the great questions of existence
by Peter Atkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A persuasive, if controversial, personal credo, 27 Mar 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a beautifully written, short book which is very accessible even for those of us without scientific training. Peter Atkins believes that science has the potential to answer every question about the nature of the universe that it is possible to ask - that even those questions science currently struggles with will, one day, be answered clearly and indisputably. Largely I believe him to be right, especially where he talks about the limits of religion in understanding reality; I do feel, though, that he should give more room to philosophy, which is asking larger questions about the universe than I think he perhaps believes it to be. However, the fact that he is not combative and rude, like Dawkins, makes his arguments a lot more palatable than they would otherwise be. A great read.


Faulks on Fiction (BBC Audio)
Faulks on Fiction (BBC Audio)
by Sebastian Faulks
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 19.87

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but I wanted a little more from it, 23 Feb 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love Sebastian Faulk's novels and looked forward to listening to this enormously. However, I'm afraid I don't agree with everything he says in his work of criticism, Faulks On Fiction.

Firstly, his assertion that literary criticism has recently focused entirely on the author and has left aside the actual contents of books. Is this really true? David Lodge, Malcolm Bradbury, James Wood, Harold Bloom - are they all picking over the details of novelists' lives? No, they are not. So I'm not sure who he is thinking of here, although as a sleight of hand to justify the project and drum up a narrative of its own it works well enough.

Secondly, his division of characters into heroes, villains, snobs and lovers seems much too facile - and I was shocked, like many others, at how few female characters he thought worthy of being called a hero. Of course, he had to make a selection, but what a vast number of important books he must have failed to read to come up with his list.

I also kept wanting him to go into things in a little more depth. For example, when discussing snobs, he fails to really explore the reason why snobbery is such a useful trait for novelists to give their characters - namely, that it opens up distance between what the character thinks of the world and what the reader can see to be true, and in that distance the novelist can create all sorts of interesting effects while paying the reader the compliment of allowing them to see things more clearly than the character does.

Having said all that, this audiobook version is beautifully and clearly read by actor James Wilby, who doesn't intrude too much upon the text (or into your head), and book groups and some general readers will enjoy this accessible tour through some of their favourite characters from fiction.


Remington MB4110 Beard Trimmer Stubble Kit
Remington MB4110 Beard Trimmer Stubble Kit

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neat and clever - but will it last?, 15 Feb 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a sleek, smart trimmer with a clever guide which can be 'dialled up' or 'dialled down' from 0.4-5.5mm to give shorter or longer stubble, depending on your preference. It's easy to operate and feels good in the hand, and there's a basic foil shaver head included too (not as good as a dedicated electric razor, but useful enough now and then). It's also great that they have supplied a USB charger as well as a standard plug charger, making it ideal for travel.

However, the plastic clips that attach the micro-setting comb to the titanium blades are plastic and, due to the design (you have to pull them out to remove the comb - say, to shave a very precise line or in a hard-to-see area) it feels as though they could easily snap off - at which point you would need to source a whole new comb.

A sturdier clip attachment would inspire more confidence in what's otherwise a clever beard trimmer.


A Book of Britain
A Book of Britain
by Johnny Scott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 50.00

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A handsome gift for conservatives (with a big AND little 'c'), 15 Feb 2011
This review is from: A Book of Britain (Hardcover)
A great book for tourists, traditionalists, hunt supporters, homesick expats and Tory voters, A Book of Britain is beautifully produced and with some lovely photographs. Personally I could have done without all the references to the author's huge country estate and his childhood nanny ('Nanny Pratt'), and a little more in the way of up-to-date research and analysis; much of the text is of the misty-eyed "isn't Britain just supah, and don't we miss the good old days of riding to hounds" type. It's also been stretched and padded out somewhat, with several cases of repetition - for instance the chunk of near-identical text which appears both on page 19 and 319. Other than that, great production values, but likely to appeal only to a certain type of reader.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2014 8:17 PM GMT


The Canal
The Canal
by Lee Rourke
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.02

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting debut, 9 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Canal (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Published to little fanfare, but garnering a great deal of word-of-mouth attention since, Lee Rourke's The Canal has really divided opinion. The Guardian awarded it its 'Not the Booker Prize', jointly with Matthew Hooton's Deloume Road, but many have struggled to fully engage with its flat style, near-anonymous two characters and ugly setting.

Firstly, Lee Rourke must be commended for attempting something truly different, and the bravery of that, for a first-time author, cannot be overestimated. This is also a true novel of ideas, of which there are precious few published these days, and all credit to him for his ambition in ploughing his own furrow in a marketplace sadly dominated by commercially driven fiction.

However, for me the problems with The Canal were more to do with its execution than its ideas. Its weakest point is its dialogue, which is a shame, as in a two-hander such as this it must be strong enough to hold the narrative together. Nobody says things like 'I fear you may have mistaken me for another person'; nobody says 'technology dominates a large part of our relationship with the exterior world' (or not unless they are giving a seminar). And by including every 'er' and pause ('...') Rourke also continually breaks the fourth wall, reminding you that you are reading a passage of dialogue instead of allowing you to properly enter into the fiction he is creating. All this creates distance; I don't know if that was perhaps the intended effect, in some very postmodern way, but it reduces the impact of the story enormously.

Rourke is obviously a fan of Michel Houellebecq, as he makes clear in his dedication, and his novel has drawn inevitable comparisons with the work of the French author and filmmaker. In fact there is a lot of clear water between the two, but I can see how some admirers of Houellebecq's style might also appreciate this debut novel with its themes of boredom and disconnection, and its refusal to differentiate between the mundane and the momentous. In fact, whether or not you find 'The Canal' fascinating or pretentious depends rather on your opinion of Houellebecq, himself another 'love him or hate him' author.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2012 11:35 PM BST


Remington EP6030 3-in-1 Epilator, Shaver and Precision Trimmer
Remington EP6030 3-in-1 Epilator, Shaver and Precision Trimmer

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not painless but totally bearable - and efficient, too, 4 Jan 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First things first: epilation isn't painless. I don't think any method of depilation where you pull the hairs out by the roots is. However, it's only a gentle sting and is totally bearable - on the legs, at least. I think most women would be able to cope with it very easily.

I hadn't tried an epilator for about 15 years, and was pleasantly surprised by how much easier, quieter and more efficient they have become - or this one has, at least. There are two speeds (faster is better) and it whirrs away, plucking the hairs without even leaving the skin red. If you do find it causes temporary redness, simply use it last thing at night.

Best of all, it seemed to remove all (or almost all) the hairs - the last time I tried an epilator it left many behind, or simply broke them off, leaving slight stubble to appear the next day. There's none of that with this one: you have to go over the same area a few times to catch them all, but it totally does the job.

The unit itself is solid and well-made, though personally I dislike the decorative curlicues, which also appear down the sides. The on/off switch has a central 'lock' button which has to be pressed in order to slide the switch; this seems a little fiddly and unnecessary - and potentially something which could fail further down the line.

It comes with a bag, charger, exfoliation mitt (to use in the shower to prevent ingrowing hairs), a basic shaver attachment and what I thought at first was a precision trimmer, but is in fact a precision epilator (I can't help but think a precision trimmer would have been more useful). There is a freephone helpline, which is a nice touch.

The instructions say that use during pregnancy should be avoided, which is something to note. All in all, though, this is an efficient and bearable method of hair removal. Recommended.


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
by Elisabeth Bailey
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, fascinating and humbling, 5 Dec 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an absolutely wonderful book. Struck down by a mystery illness, for months on end Elisabeth Tova Bailey's world is reduced to what little she can see from a horizontal position as her strength slowly fails. A tiny snail, living at first on a pot of violets by her bed and later in a terrarium, entrances her and leads her through her illness to a lyrical meditation not just on the life of a mollusc, but on the noumenon of all living things and on what it is to be alive.

She writes absolutely beautifully, with humour and without self-pity, but what pulls you through the text is not just the fascination with which she imbues the life of a snail, but your desperate, growing wish for her to get better and for her own story to come to some kind of positive conclusion.

This is an enchanting and lyrical book with a scope much more vast than its humble subject-matter would suggest; only a mind as agile and creative as Tova Bailey's could take flight so beautifully from so little. Highly recommended.


The Death of King Arthur: The Immortal Legend (Penguin Hardback Classics)
The Death of King Arthur: The Immortal Legend (Penguin Hardback Classics)
by Peter Ackroyd
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good... but not great., 24 Nov 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Peter Ackroyd is marvellous: fact. Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur is marvellous: fact. Le Morte d'Arthur could do with a modern, accessible version by a well-respected historian: fact. So why doesn't this quite work in the way one would hope?

Don't get me wrong, it's very good - but it lacks Ackroyd's usual flair. It feels somehow dashed off; desultory in places, even. Passages that could have sparkled with alliteration or assonance, that might have danced off the tongue with clever vocabulary and wit are flat, sometimes repetitive. As a result, the story doesn't quite come to life.

If you're after an accessible version of the original Arthur legend you'll find this more than does the job, but this is Ackroyd we're talking about, he of Albion and London fame, of the vast and comprehensive historical knowledge and breathtaking ability to make connections and bring the past to life. The Death of King Arthur feels like something he did in between other projects, and without really putting his heart into.

It's still better than it would have been in nearly any other hands, but not as good as I wanted it to be.


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