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Paul B "-pb-" (UK)

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Dr Christian's Guide to Growing Up
Dr Christian's Guide to Growing Up
by Dr Christian Jessen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great starting guide, 10 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When is it a good time to talk to your children about sex? It's a difficult question and, I suppose, different for everyone, but at least this Guide to Growing Up can help.

Dr Christian's presence on the front of the book probably seeks to reassure parents more than it does appeal to kids. For those who know the TV doctor it's a case of the book following his friendly and straightforward approach within the pages.

The contents are presented in a modern and appealing way to teenage and pre-teen children. Certainly there will be those who want their 9-10 year olds to learn about growing up and sex early on, the latter category being the more thorny issue. While it would be nice to have a book that deals with puberty and growing up without the sex issue, they do go together and it would only lead children to ask further questions, so this book provides about 4 pages on sex, dealing with sex itself, STIs, Pregnancy and Contraception. They are written in a frank but sensitive way that works to explain the basics but may be too much information for some parents to want to share with the younger age bracket.

There is also a page on sexuality, dealing with straight and gay relationships, which just goes over the feelings someone may have as they grow older. It doesn't go in to any details, but reassured teenagers that they are not alone and should find someone they trust to talk to.

It may be a thorny subject, but at least with this book you know that when the time comes to have 'that' conversation you can back it all up with the help of Dr Christian.

Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss
Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss
by Mandy Sutcliffe
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Bedtimes, 10 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Belle and Boo is a beautiful book, both in terms of the story itself and in the wonderful art that appears on each page.

The story follows a simple bedtime routine - bath, brushing teeth, sorting out the dolls and so forth. But Belle's rabbit Boo doesn't want to go to bed. It all leads to the sleepy girl and her rabbit finally being tucked up in bed and falling asleep, perfect for reading to children who need to wind down at bedtime!

The language used and the short sentences on each page add to the relaxed feeling of the story and automatically creates a tale that relaxes children while still remaining interesting. Perhaps this is also down to the pictures, which are simple but wonderfully coloured, adding to the magic.

The author, Mandy Sutcliffe, both wrote and illustrated the story, which is perhaps why both text and illustration work so well together.

Overall a wonderful bedtime book for young children.

Brabantia 29 x 16 x 21 cm Digital Kitchen Scales
Brabantia 29 x 16 x 21 cm Digital Kitchen Scales
Price: 26.12

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tips the Scale, 21 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having a smallish kitchen, these scales really suit us. They're very compact and have a hole at the back to hang up with a hook (we hang ours below the cooker hood with the utensils.

The scales look pretty smart with a stainless steel coating which is easy to clean and a large round display that is easy to read when weighing. As they are compact, the scales do require smaller bowls for measuring so that they don't obscure the screen, but having made a large cake using them, they're fine for most day-to-day cooking tasks (not that we make cakes every day, but you get the idea!), it's just something to note if you tend to use larger mixing bowls.

As with most digital scales, these let you use any sort of container and you can set the weight to zero after placing the container on the scales, then choose to measure in lb, mg or even fluid ounces (though mostly we tend to do liquids in litres and ml anyway).

So, functional, stylish and compact too, nothing bad to say about these.

Sony BDPS4100 Smart 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Sony BDPS4100 Smart 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Offered by Luzern
Price: 75.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Designed in Egypt?, 21 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first thing you notice when removing the new Sony BDPS4100 from its box is the shape. Eschewing the usual flat rectangular box, Sony have obviously had some sort of revelation and have created this strange looking device. The thin slab is topped off with a slight rise on the right hand side that forms into a pyramid shape. It's a talking point, yes, but it probably won't go with anything else on your home cinema set up.

The other thing to note about the external casing, other than the handy front USB port and clear display, is that the top is semi-transparent, giving it a black-blue hue and allowing you to see some of the internal gubbins at the same time.

That USB port, and the one on the back, allow you to both store BD-Live content (the extra stuff that connects to the internet on your Blu-ray disc) and play video, picture and music files from a wide range of file types. This has been very handy on previous Sony blu-ray players I've owned and its no different here, with decent playback and a good menu system to find content.

Playing Blu-rays provides a very clear and colourful picture. This will obviously depend on your TV set but with my Sony 3D TV it seems to be slightly better than my previous 3D Blu-ray model (also a Sony).

Speaking of 3D, the player lets you both view 3D movies and creates pseudo-3D for 2D content. The 3D effect for 2D content works some of the time, but at others it can look like a pop-up book, with obvious layers. Still, it's a nice option to have.

The device is fairly quiet, with a faint whirring at times, but nothing too noticeable or out of the ordinary.

Internet content is a strong point here, with Sony adding Netflix to their SEN content this year. This means you'll be able to watch Netflix, Lovefilm, Youtube, Crackle and more Sony content on the device, though you will either need to connect via Ethernet or buy a Wireless adaptor that slots in the USB slot. I have mine set up with Homeplugs and it works perfectly.

Overall, the strange design may put some customers off or make them more likely to buy this device, it's a personal choice. The underlying hardware, though, is faultless.

by Jacqueline Wilson
Edition: Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars A great audio version of Queenie, 14 May 2013
This review is from: Queenie (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just for clarity (and because Amazon still insists on lumping books, kindle editions and audiobooks reviews together) I'm reviewing the audiobook of Queenie.

Queenie is a story about a girl, Elsie Kettle, living with her grandmother just prior to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. They both end up contracting TB and are separated, with Elsie having to deal with life in a children's hospital where she feels isolated and alone.

That is until she meets a kind nurse and a cat called Queenie and things soon start to look up, but the coronation is coming up and Elsie desperately wants to be able to see it.

As with other Jaqueline Wilson stories, Queenie is full of humour and real life situations which children can relate to. Written for pre-teens, the audiobook of Queenie actually feels as if it could appeal to a much wider ranging audience and the wonderful reading of the story brought the character of Elsie to life.

My 8 year old daughter was happy to sit and listen to the story and now wants to read the book as well.

Netgear FS208-100UKS 8 Port Fast Ethernet 10/100 Mbps Switch
Netgear FS208-100UKS 8 Port Fast Ethernet 10/100 Mbps Switch
Price: 8.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Extra Ethernet Connections, 2 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds that half of their internet enabled equipment requires a wired connection and a Router can only usually provide 4 Ethernet outputs, so what do you do?

An Ethernet Switch is a great answer to this issue and requires absolutely no technical skill. All you need to do is plug in an Ethernet cable from your Modem/Router to one of the ports and then use the rest of the ports to supply internet via more Ethernet cables to any device that requires internet.

Even more useful, if you have a Homeplug/Powerline installed which only has one Ethernet out port, use one of these devices to give you another 8 ports to supply wired internet to your equipment.

This particular Netgear Switch comes with a nice looking white box with green LEDs on the front to show clearly where data is being sent and a power cable. There are, unfortunately, no spare Ethernet cables included, so it's worth ordering a few Amazon Basics cables (they're all pretty good in my experience) at the same time.

Brief instructions are included with a pictorial representation of the connections you will need to make, but it's all very simple and 5 minutes later it should all be installed and working.

Honestech nScreen Deluxe
Honestech nScreen Deluxe

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't even do what it says on the tin, 23 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Honetech nScreen Duluxe is designed to allow you to use content from your PC/Mac or Smartphone/Tablet on a TV.

In the box you'll find a rather nice looking white box, a power cable, HDMI lead and Composite cable for TVs that don't support HDMI, plus an Ethernet cable. Also included is a quickstart foldout guide and a short guide for downloading the free app for iOS and Android.

Trying this out on my Netbook, which has no CD drive, I had to resort to downloading the software from the website, but this was easily achieved and installed fairly quickly.

The device itself is either connected via WIFI and its own WIFI network or through the Ethernet cable. I first used the Ethernet cable but soon took it back out and resorted to WIFI as it was easier to connect this to the Netbook.

Once connected, you can see your screen on the PC. The display seemed to lag behind my keypresses and actions, though and the picture quality when playing a video wasn't fantastic. It also presents and issue with being unable to use the internet when connected to the device, which is pretty limiting in this day and age. The bigger issue here, though, is that you can get a far better connection by buying a long HDMI/DVI or VGA cable (depending on what you laptop/netbook supports) and just using that for a crystal clear picture and perfect connection. Yes, it's far from wireless, but it does the job.

I've also tried this out on my iPhone and Nexus 7, both worked in a very similar way and let me use a very small number of videos and files depending on their format. Nothing else is output to the TV. In this respect the Apple TV (Cheaper and with more options) is a far better choice for iOS users and there are cables or similar WIFI devices for Androids.

I'm just not impressed with this device's quality or usefulness and therefore will advise against a purchase when there are better options out there.

Swissvoice BTouch Cordless DECT Telephone with Answer Machine/Bluetooth and Touchpanel - Black/Silver
Swissvoice BTouch Cordless DECT Telephone with Answer Machine/Bluetooth and Touchpanel - Black/Silver
Price: 92.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice featured touchpanel phone, 22 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This DECT phone from Swissvoice comes with with bluetooth and touchpanel technology and a flat touchpanel on the base so that you can take and make calls without the handset.

Using Bluetooth, you can manage all your calls on a single telephone, taking calls from both mobile and landline while leaving your actual mobile handset to charge or putting it somewhere where there is a better signal in low signal areas or homes with blackspots (like mine).

In addition there's a built in 25 minute anwerphone that you can set to take messages of varying lengths, which is useful to limit length of each message in order to store more messages.

In the box there is the base unit, made to look as sleek as possible using one long piece of shiny black plastic and containing a small screen, touch keypad and volume controls. The base until has two sockets; one for power and one for the phone line (some phones now come with both in one). The handset is made in a similar design, as one long, sleek and smooth glass-like panel, similar to a smartphone but much longer and thinner. The touchscreen keys are easy to use and spaced nicely, though obviously you don't get the same tactile feedback from them.

The handset takes a special rechargable battery, worth noting if it needs changing later, as it will require a special order. The battery requires charging for around 16 hours to get to full power the first time its used, so you'll need to wait this long before putting in numbers or using the phone for the first time.

Both screens are monochrome but the 7 line display is clear and the base until has some nice graphics to show when a call or message has been left, also giving the number of calls and messages received. Having a monochrome screen rather than colour means that the handset can last longer without recharging.

The handset lets you copy over 1,500 contacts from your mobile phones, which are stored in a separate section of the phone book. Annoyingly, there doesn't seem to be a way of copying these over to the phone's main phonebook, but it's easy enough to choose one or the other when scrolling through names, even though the handset defaults to the phone's own phonebook using the quick keys. The only thing I'd have liked to have seen would be a way to copy names and numbers from other phones or to have a better way to input these, as it's a little fiddly when you have 100 or so to enter.

General use is pleasant, but there are some odd decisions in navigating through the menus on the base unit that make finding a number to dial slightly more awkward than it should be. The handset is easier, using the same quick find for contacts as most smartphones. Voice is very clear, as with other DECT phones I've used, and really benefits from the digital signal.

Overall, the Swissvoice is a nice looking phone with some useful features for both business and those looking for a handset free option. It looks equally good in the hallway or on a desk.

Secret Kingdom: 1: Enchanted Palace
Secret Kingdom: 1: Enchanted Palace
by Rosie Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 2.86

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun bit of fluff, 18 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Another book that my 8 year old daughter reviewed for me.

She found the story to be funny and full of adventure and magic, but sometimes a bit silly.

It reminded her of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, which she recently watched on TV, as they went through the wardrobe too.

She liked the characters, who were all girls, and there were loads of different magical creatures like faries and mermaids involved.

Overall, a 4 out of 5 because it was a little 'silly' at times.

Five Children and it
Five Children and it
by E. Nesbit
Edition: Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic well told, 18 April 2013
This review is from: Five Children and it (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
E. Nesbit's great story is retold here in this excellent reading from Lynda Bellingham, the actress you may remember from the Oxo adverts. At Home with the Braithwaites and Trial of a Timelord.

Lynda's voice perfectly fits the tone of this magical book and any child with an active imagination will have a great time listening to the story of 5 children and a sand fairy called Psammead. In parts it recalls Nesbit's Railway Children in the relationship of the children, but is certainly a lot more fanciful.

The main plot is driven by wishes which almost always go wrong and this leads to some obvious but still funny outcomes.

While the story is now pretty old, it still retains all of its charm and with an excellent reading is another great CD to have in the car for long journeys.

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