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Content by JD
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JD (England)

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KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy, Large
KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy, Large
Price: £9.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Great toy!, 24 Jan. 2014
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This is great fun for my dog to bash around the place and it keeps him nicely entertained and motivated to bash it about in pursuit of the treats inside. It's very robust too and very hard, so likely to be resistant to chewers. I got the large one which, for a medium/large sized dog, seems to be perfect.

Only word of caution is move anything fragile off the floor when their playing with this. If they're anything like my dog, he gives this thing a serious battering about when trying to get the last of the biscuits out!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Price: £3.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice, but missing a few somethings, 26 Jun. 2013
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I did really enjoy this book and naturally, it's presented in a usual Gaiman-esque melancholic manner and at times, is down right depressing to read through. It captures through some rather wonderful prose, the mysterious and haunting experience of the unnamed 'hero' he gets wrapped up in a strange other world via his meeting with Lettie Hemstock. It nicely blurs the boundaries between what's real and what's not, such as the Hemstock's pond, which is also an ocean, which also fits into a bucket.

And therein, partly, lies the small something that is missing in this book. The other world, and indeed it's engagement with our world, is hinted at, dabbled in, but never fully explained. Whilst this does add to the sense of mystery, it leaves you wanting to know so much more about it. You get to the end of the story and it feels like many of your questions just haven't been answered and you're left feeling as baffled as the boy is by the end of the story.

On top of this, you can't help feel that this is 'Coraline' for grown-ups (minus the button eyes). The similarities between the monster of the piece and Coraline's Other Mother are very close, but I can't help but feel that this is entirely the point of this story. Perhaps each tale is a different view into Gaiman's world where all these creatures come from?

Still, I did enjoy this book, even though it left me feeling I wanted so much more from it. The ending certainly sticks with you and I'll be reading it again in the near future as I suspect there's a lot more to discover in there.

The Night Watch: (Night Watch 1)
The Night Watch: (Night Watch 1)
by Sergei Lukyanenko
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, 28 Feb. 2013
This book was recommended to me by a friend who described it as 'A nicely strange bit of Russian fantasy' and she was spot on with that! I shan't go into the plot here (that would spoil it) but what you get is a Cold War style stand-off between the forces of good and evil on the streets of Moscow.

The story telling is spot on and the 'hero' of the piece, Anton, is a window into the morality of the situation as powerful Others play political games and struggle to maintain an uneasy truce between themselves. The good guys do bad and the bad guys do good and somewhere in between lie a range classical 'monsters' - such as the rather civil family of vampires that live next door to Anton - and us poor humans who are secretly influenced by everything that happens in the world of the Others.

The characters are all fantastic (Olga being a personal favourite) and the storytelling is first class. Some of the Machiavellian tactics employed are quite startling and beautifully fed to the reader, and the intricacies of the truce are nicely captured through a thick layer of bureaucracy that would make even the most fastidious of governmental officials wince at the implications of their actions.

Definitely recommend this one and I must say I'm excited to get stuck in to the rest of the series!

The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chonicle: Book 1 (Kingkiller Chonicles)
The Name of the Wind: The Kingkiller Chonicle: Book 1 (Kingkiller Chonicles)
Price: £5.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 14 Feb. 2013
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I was on the look out for a new fantasy book and decided upon this one based on the excellent reviews it was given. Turns out that I really didn't enjoy it and I confess to having abandoned it half way through as I couldn't put up with any more!

The start is excellent, and the promise of demons, the enigmatic 'Kote' and the superstitions of the village folk making for an excellent scene setter. Sadly though, this doesn't last for long and pretty quickly it drifts off into seemingly irrelevant meanderings through the childhood of 'Kvothe', who is apparently some legendary figure although you're left to simply take the word of one character on this because there's no other evidence of it in most of the story!

It really does feel like the epic opening has been completely forgotten and instead, you're taken into what is a super-clichéd journey through a childhood tragedy and into his time at the 'University' to study magic. It's when he arrives here that the clichés really spill out and you are constantly reminded of similarities to the tales of another certain 'boy wizard'. Believe me it's all in there - the feud with a teacher, the arch enemy in the form of Ambrose, a little posse of friends.

Plus Kvothe is a wonder child too, seemingly able to do anything he sets his mind to with near perfection levels of achievement resulting from each endeavour. It therefore becomes very tedious (and dare I say it again, clichéd) that he spends much of his time lamenting over tutors and his aforementioned arch enemy. All of this is conducted against the backdrop of him being penniless so you can expect endless worries about funding his education which, unsurprisingly, he always seems to manage somehow or the other.

And it was at that point I drew the line on this one. Sure, there's some interesting stuff in there, such as the sympathetic magic system, and fans of Skyrim will recognise a certain injury Kote claims to have sustained. But sadly, the rest of it is just flat out tedious and dull.

I rarely give up on a book but when this one felt like it had become nothing more than a slog, leaving me lamenting for the excellent start, it was time to close the cover on it and put it away.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC DVD)
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC DVD)
Offered by filmrollen
Price: £2.47

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak plot, lazy design, 30 Nov. 2012
I decided to give this a go after more or less giving up on WoW for a long time. I now wish I hadn't really bothered. Sure the new world is pretty and the music is nice, but the plot lines are very weak and ultimately, Blizzard slips into its model of lazy game design, relying on repetitive daily quests to fill up your playtime.

There are plots you get involved with, but Blizzard has dropped the heavy handed 'phased' approach that Cataclysm brought in favour of a more subtle mode of story telling. The result of this is that NPC conversations occur around you which is quite nice, except that if you head off to your next quest, you miss all the details. It's a nice concept, but it ultimately feels completely un-engaging and I lost the thread of all the plots and quest chains long before I'd finished them. They simply aren't very good or told in a good way.

There are some nice bits in there. I enjoyed the quests to build up your own farm, but once you've done those and gotten your farm as big is it can be, it ceases to be anything other than another grind of repeatedly planting and picking seeds. There are also some stupid bits such as pet battles - basically Pokemon in Warcraft and utterly out of place in a fantasy game. These feel like nothing more than a cheap knock-off of a time sink.

The biggest failure comes when you hit max level and the tide of daily quests begins. Not only do you have to grind dailies, run dungeons and raids to gather badges, you have to grind dailies to earn reputation to be able to spend those badges. It is, quite frankly ridiculous, and yet another example of Blizzard throwing out lazy content to try and keep people parting with their subscription fee once they hit the level cap.

I was disappointed with Diablo 3's model of making people basically replay the game to get longevity out of it and that laziness has now well and truly landed in Warcraft. It feels like Blizzard has simply run out of ideas and will throw out cheap tricks to keep people's subs coming in. Barring a radical shift in how they do things, they will not be getting any more of my gold, that is for certain.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2014 8:08 AM GMT

Price: £2.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystifyingly Beautiful, 7 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Jagannath (Kindle Edition)
This is an exquisite collection of short stories. Each one is strange, surreal, mysterious and beautiful and without fail, by the time you reach the end of each tale, you're left wondering just what it was you passed through. The writing is simple and elegant and conveys the real feeling that you are being given a very intimate and private glimpse into the haunting realm in which these wonderful stories exist. The characters you read about are so well conveyed that you find yourself 'hooked' onto them and to be truthful, I really cannot remember reading a book where in a few simple pages, I felt so engaged with them all.

These characters, their stories and the world they live in will linger in your mind long after you've finished reading and as has been said, one pass is not enough - as soon as I finished, I started over again! It really is a rather special feeling to take a few steps into the unreality of this book. The trick is remembering to come back out again. I very much look forward to seeing what the future holds for this supremely talented author!

Wool (Wool Trilogy Series Book 1)
Wool (Wool Trilogy Series Book 1)
Price: £1.99

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down, 31 July 2012
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Given the glowing reviews for this one, I was very keen to see what must be a wonderful piece of science fiction. Sadly, I was left somewhat disappointed. There is no doubt Mr Howey has a very rich and vivid writing style as his intricate details of who the characters are and what they're doing drip from almost every page.

But therein lies the problem. So much effort is placed on this that the actual plot itself is almost an after thought. When it surfaces it is, at best, very predictable and stepping back from the lavish writing style you realise that this story is effectively a series of rich vignettes which, when strung together, deliver a very weak plot. The ending in particular is something of a mess, where everything is dismissed and dealt with in a few pages. It feels very much like the author didn't quite know how to end the story and so just rambled on until it all sputtered out. It's almost as if he got himself confused, as is evident from some poor proof reading in the last few chapters with errors creeping in - for example Juliette stressing that she hasn't heard from her friends in 'silo 17' when she herself is in silo 17, the others being in 18.

As said, I wanted to like this one, especially as it seems to have gone down so well. But for me at least, this is a very bland offering.

Omron M2 Basic Blood Pressure Monitor
Omron M2 Basic Blood Pressure Monitor
Offered by Activecare Online
Price: £25.67

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 5 Mar. 2012
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Bought this after reading the good reviews, but as has been said, the supplied cuff would barely fit a child. I ordered the larger one and carefully followed the instructions for taking a reading. In the space of three days of trying, I got one reading out of the thing. All the rest were endless errors, with the instructions providing no real help to work out what was wrong.

Also, this machine inflates the large cuff to the point of pain! I have bruising on my arm from my last attempt and it has burst blood vessels in the skin. The cuff was fitted as per the instructions, but this thing just kept on inflating till I had to rip it off.

Afraid this thing was a complete and utter waste of money and far from being able to measure blood pressure, it sends it through the roof because of all the problems trying to get it to work!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2012 5:31 PM GMT

Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC DVD)
Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC DVD)
Offered by Hauseinkauf
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so good, but falls far short., 26 Jan. 2012
I so wanted to like this game, but after playing through my 30-day free trial (yes people, it's an MMO and therefore needs a subscription) I'm really bored with it.

It's very well put together and there's lots of dialogue and story telling to be had. The trouble is, none of it is particularly good and very quickly becomes tedious. The voice acting is decidedly ropey in places too making me want to re-roll a character just to get away from some of the lines my character was coming out with!

You are also 'rail roaded' through the plot with little chance to deviate or even explore about as you want. You are constantly shepherded along with access to areas of the map controlled by red and green walls in accordance with the current bit of the plot you're in. This feels very, very frustrating especially when, for example, you can only get into your room in a Cantina when the plot lets you.

You do have the choice to make light/dark side choices as you work through the plot, but they don't really seem to make any difference to thing. The fact you do have those choices is a nice touch, bringing a single player aspect to an MMO, but if they don't do anything, is there really a point?

Crafting in game is awful! You don't actually make anything yourself as crafting is handled by 'crew skills' - in other words, your companions are dispatched to gather and craft by your selecting an option from a list. There are some skills that let you 'gather' but otherwise you're left feeling completely detached from the whole process. It doesn't feel like I'm the one making anything.

Coming from playing lots of MMOs, I like the fact that I'm free to play my character how I see fit, giving them a voice and RPing them how I see fit. The rigid storytelling and scripting in this game means you're left clicking mouse buttons and someone else will respond - the actor reading the line. It's not my puppet I'm playing with, it's someone else and that really doesn't suck me into the game one bit, sadly.

Despite all this, I do know friends who absolutely love it, but for me, it really doesn't work. It could've been so good, but Bioware's story telling mechanics just haven't converted to an MMO arena for me.

Price: £2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down, 9 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite taking every precaution I could fitting this thing, one of the cut-outs (for the camera and microphone) had somehow detached on this thing when it was packed making it impossible to install correctly. Of course I didn't realise this until I'd begun installing it, so no way to now return it. Ah well...

For what it's worth, it did seem to work quite well when it was on, but I did find it dimmed the brightness somewhat.

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