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A. Rose (Devon & Menorca)
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Asus X401A 14.1-inch Laptop (Black) (Intel Celeron B820 1.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, LAN, WLAN, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit)
Asus X401A 14.1-inch Laptop (Black) (Intel Celeron B820 1.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, LAN, WLAN, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit)

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slim, Light & Speedy, 30 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Notebook is the neatest, lightest and fastest I've had the pleasure to use. I'm not very technical but I've set up and used around a dozen different computers and laptops and use them daily. By not being technical I mean that I know this Notebook is quicker than others I've used but I don't know whether it's the 1.7GHz processor or 4GB memory which makes it quicker, or is it just because it's new and uncluttered - they all seem fast when new.

The box arrives with adequate packaging so not much chance of damage in the post. The setup was straight forward with the usual selection of language, username, password etc., all simple but best to make a note of usernames and passwords as you go along. One little annoyance is that you have to accept the terms of License for both Windows 7 Home Premium (need this to run the thing) and Bing Bar (don't need or want it). Bing can be uninstalled later but irritating that it can't be unselected at this early setup stage. After selecting the time and date, restart the Notebook and it's ready for use.

The Notebook comes pre-installed with a feature called `Instant On' which is a fast boot up feature. It's the first time I've come across it but it's probably quite common now. The feature gives a choice of performance or battery saving mode and shows the number of day's power it has to resume in each mode. This basically means that from sleep in performance mode the Notebook will open up quickly to your previous working state for the number of days indicated when you close the lid. For comparison, quickly looking at mine it shows 13 days for performance mode and 193 days for battery saving mode so it uses very little battery power when sleeping.

The main positives are -

- Very slim. This is ideal for the businessman/woman who doesn't want to lug extra baggage around as it would fit in a large handbag maybe in a bubble wrap envelope.
- A battery with a long life, much more than I've experienced before.
- A keyboard that doesn't let dust and crumbs into the machine's insides.
- Weighing in at only 1.8kg this is a serious consideration if travelling through airports.
- Webcam, speakers and microphones come as standard so you can Skype straight away.
- A quiet fan - don't hear it even in a silent room.

Not many serious negatives but a consideration just the same -

- No CD/DVD drive. I've not yet needed it but I'm sure I will soon.
- A lack of USB ports, plug in a mouse and you've only one more to play with although there are other ports - (2-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC), Mic-in, Headphone-out, Line-in, VGA, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, RJ45, HDMI)
- Pre-installations to uninstall - Bing Bar, McAfee Antivirus, games and other Asus software you may not want.
- The keyboard spacebar doesn't always register (another reviewer has also mentioned this), I've never had to insert so many spaces at the end of typing as I have with this keyboard.

I've found this Notebook a pleasure to use, looks good, very slim and modern good quality and excellent value for money - thoroughly
recommend.

EDIT ONE WEEK LATER - The keyboard does some strange things when typing - jumps to the top or bottom of a page, opens a link or doesn't type where you expect it to. This maybe because the touchpad is very sensitive and I don't realise I touch when typing but in normal operation it is a nuisance.

The other BIG ANNOYANCE is that I had stopped (or at least for the time being) nuisance or cold callers on my home phone. After registering this Notebook with Asus it was a required field to put a telephone number in - one week later I have now slammed the phone down on the fourth caller - this is more annoying than any of the other little niggles, I hate my mealtimes and bath times being interupted by cold callers. I am amazed that when I worked I was not allowed to give any personal information to anyone but now it seems that companies have opened up a market stall and sell our personal information.


Tempest
Tempest
by Julie Cross
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Time Travelling For Young Adults, 26 Oct 2012
This review is from: Tempest (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a fast paced, intriguing fantasy story for teenagers/young adults. It is fantasy but the explanations and secrecy between the children adds a very real feel and you could almost believe that Jackson really does time travel. The time travelling can be a bit confusing to follow at first but all the chapters have the date and often the time at the heading so keeping the dates in mind as you read helps make things clearer.

The main three characters are very likeable and with a love story centred around Jackson and Holly it very much reads like The Time Traveler's Wife for children. Adam is the geek who helps and advises Jackson through his hapless travelling and with him having already met Jackson before he meets him (yes, it can be confusing) it is a very mysterious and intriguing book.

I can thoroughly recommend this book as a gift for a reader of age around twelve upwards. The sequel, out in January 2013, is Vortex (Tempest)


Soul Beach
Soul Beach
by Kate Harrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Thrilling for Young Adults, 26 Oct 2012
This review is from: Soul Beach (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Moments before Alice is leaving to go to her sister's funeral she checks her emails and is absolutely amazed and dumbfounded by the last one in only a few moments ago, from the very sister whose funeral she is attending.

Meggie, Alice's sister, was a well known celebrity (of the Xfactor kind), so Alice thinks it's some sort of hoax, that someone's hacked into Meggie's account and is playing a sick trick on her. Not being able to get this out of her mind she follows the link on the email and is directed to a beach which appears so real and the colours so vibrant that it's almost 3D. From here we meet Meggie and her friends, all who are dead, and Alice begins to sort their problems in an attempt to `set them free' from this boredom on their paradise island which seems to be a sort of limbo before `heaven'.

I found the story totally captivating and was absorbed into the dead carrying on living theme. It's quite well written and flows very well. My only disappointment is that Alice only sorted the problems of one of Meggie's friends because this is the first in a trilogy and we've got to read the next two books to find out about Meggie and her friends deaths.

A great start to a trilogy and I wouldn't hesitate in buying this and the next two books for a teenager. Book number two is Soul Fire (Soul Beach) and book three is Soul Storm (Soul Beach)


What I Did
What I Did
by Christopher Wakling
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Thing Leads To Another - In A Bad Way, 24 Sep 2012
This review is from: What I Did (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From the synopsis and most other reviewers I think you get an idea of what this book is about so I won't repeat too much of that. This story is told or narrated from the viewpoint of Billy who is six years old, obviously intelligent, he physically and vocally goes off at tangents and adores wildlife and David Attenborough. Billy sees most of his young life as either like the game of chess he is learning (can do/move here, can't do/move there) or like the food chain he's learnt from Attenborough programmes (prey, being chased, hiding etc). Billy's game of running from the prey (his father in the park) and trying to take cover (between parked cars) ends up with a frantic father, Jim, smacking and shouting at Billy for not stopping when told and nearly getting run over. A passer-by intervenes and Jim loses it, shouting and swearing abuse at her. Then starts all the family problems because within hours two ladies from social services are at the door.

Billy is, or was until that point, a normal kid with grazes and bruises on his little body from an active outdoor life but doctors and social services, with the aid of Billy's wonderfully colourful language, decide he is in danger. We, the reader, can see both sides of the story, not just the bruised little boy whose language is misinterpreted so much that a graze from climbing over a wall is seen as father hitting him with a brick, and because we can see both sides I found I felt very sorry for the parents whose home life and marriage were being wrecked by, in the main, a misunderstanding. I'm not belittling this very serious issue but in this instance, because we do see both sides, Billy is not at risk but his father taking the stand he does doesn't help their family's situation.

There are some amazingly funny phrases and situations, mostly from Billy's imaginative mind and nearly right but different meaning words - copulating for co-operating to name but one.

If you have read Room and didn't like it because of the `telling the story by the child' then don't be put off this book. Same style of narration but this is so much better.


On The Island
On The Island
by Tracey Garvis Graves
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Enjoyable, 11 Sep 2012
This review is from: On The Island (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As many other reviewers have said, this is a very quick book to read. There's no building up to the place crash, it happens within the first few pages so immediately interest is high and the pages keep turning. It's written from the perspective of both Anna and T.J. in turn with good sense and adult emotion coming from Anna (the tutor) and teenage language and physical feelings of `down there' coming from T.J. The inevitable happens when a male and female are forced together on a tropical island alone but the big moral issue is the age gap and tutor/pupil relationship.

This really is a great story told in simple terms and definitely worth a read.


Dare Me
Dare Me
by Megan Abbott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oblique, 11 Sep 2012
This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the second book by Megan Abbott that I've read, the previous one being The End of Everything which I found very enjoyable, so I felt I knew her writing style enough to give Dare Me a try but unfortunately I didn't get on too well with it. This is a book set around teenage cheerleaders and would appeal very much to the teenage American audience. I admit that my teenage years are in the dim and distant past so I'm probably not `with it' as far as teenage likes/dislikes and language are concerned, but I do read many teen and young adult books and feel I am experienced enough in that category to be fair.

I found the language incomprehensible at times with use of grammar that just didn't make sense and words I'd never come across before - like I said, written for the American teen audience. I was a bit appalled by the amount of drinking by the teenage girls (four years underage), the smoking by Coach around the girls, the girls drinking and partying at Coach's house and the number of times these seventeen year olds drove vehicles when absolutely drunk. We're talking teacher/pupil here and these things just shouldn't happen - setting examples etc., not to mention the law.

I'm not even sure whether the cheerleaders and their coach were friends, enemies or even had lesbian affairs because the writing is so ambiguous and unclear that at times I wasn't at all sure of the meaning of what I'd just read. There are lots of mind games being played mainly between Beth and Addy, Addy and Coach and Coach and Beth giving a triangle of pulling, pushing and playing each off against the other which did give a feeling of mystery and intrigue. Language problems aside, the story was really quite a good fascinating murder, lies and who did it.

Not the most enjoyable young adult book I've read but if you are quite good at ciphers and can read between very ambiguous lines it's not too bad either.


The Beginner's Goodbye
The Beginner's Goodbye
by Anne Tyler
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Letting Go, 6 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Beginner's Goodbye (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A lovely gentle and absorbing story of the dearly departed ghost of Dorothy staying with, or rather returning to, her loving husband, Aaron. Written in a totally believable way, this is a really enjoyable story with characters that have a normality about them which has the effect of making you feel this could happen to me or someone I know. Although this is a book about bereavement and how Aaron's friends react after his wife's death, it is not a hugely sad or morose story and is more of a deep love and missing his best friend. I didn't quite expect the ending to be as it is but does show how time, if not quite heals, does allow a person to let go and move on.

Anne Tyler is a Pulitzer prize winner and writes in a very confident and accomplished way and is a real pleasure to read. If you like this or similar stories The Guardian Angel's Journal and My Name is Memory are also great reads.


The Mistress
The Mistress
by E.S. Purnell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Pretender, 25 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Mistress (Paperback)
I love a good mistress story and this goes one better in that neither woman knows of the other - yet.

In a nutshell : Muriel works as a translater and meets Franz who is German, speaks impeccable English and is a pilot. Franz lives in Germany with childhood sweetheart Rebecca and has no intention of giving her up, so when things start going well with Muriel he sets up home with her in Belgium. Both Muriel and Rebecca accept Franz's working hours without question and Franz manages to have his cake and eat it ! Rebecca works as a scientific researcher and has found the elixir which not only stops aging but reverses it, so as Franz and Muriel age with grace and wrinkles, Rebecca looks stunning and young. All the way through the book there is a mystery stalker of Muriel in Belgium and Franz in Belgium and Germany. This all adds to the intrigue and the answers all comes out at the end. There is much anticipation throughout the book of when and how Franz is going to be caught out and whether this is by Muriel or Rebecca.

The book is intelligently written and should certainly not be labelled chic-lit. Although it is a mistress style story there is much more depth, detail and intrigue to give the reader a richer experience. I notice two other reviewers have said that the philosophising was tedious and drawn out, to balance the criticism a little I can say that I came to enjoy the philosophy and thoughts which were usually very informative, thought provoking and gave a more full and in depth view of a given situation. Ms Purnell beautifully plays with language and words and obviously has a mind which knows structure and grammar of several languages which puts me to shame. If you want a quick read with nothing to think about then give this book a miss, however, if you want an enriching read of quite a complicated and twisty story then this is one to curl up with and enjoy.


Belkin Verve Tab Folio Kindle Cover, Purple (fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch)
Belkin Verve Tab Folio Kindle Cover, Purple (fits Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle and Kindle Touch)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Touch Cover, 31 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not sure whether I should review this Belken cover on its own merits or compare it with the custom made one supplied by Amazon so I'll do a bit of both.

This Belken cover is attractive in colour, lightweight and has an easy feel in the hand. The Kindle fits perfectly within the four elasticated corners and I've given it a bit of a shake and it feels very secure. The front cover has a slim pocket, possibly for a cleaning cloth, and folds over and fastens with a magnetic strip. The sides are not particularly protective and the bottom (as with the sides and top) is left open for access to cables and buttons on the Kindle.

Compared with the custom made cover supplied by Amazon - the Kindle fits very snugly within a strong plastic base of the Amazon one whereas the elasticated corners of the Belken seem a bit cheap and chunky. The Amazon cover gives good protection to the sides but the Belken leaves the Kindle a bit exposed. The Amazon cover doesn't stay closed, it easily flaps open in a handbag whereas the Belken has a magnetic fastening. Colour and texture is personal taste - Amazon is subtle and smooth, Belken is brighter and textured.

If you want a (slightly) cheaper cover for your Kindle Touch then the Belken is a good fit and is perfectly adequate. However, for just 6GBP more I would rather have the Amazon custom made cover where the Kindle fits into a moulded base giving all round protection.

SMALL UPDATE - I have had this for just under a month and the front cover has become slightly warped !


Lone Wolf
Lone Wolf
by Jodi Picoult
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, 29 July 2012
This review is from: Lone Wolf (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Some Picoult fans have said that her last two or three books weren't as good as her earlier ones, I've enjoyed them all but can assure you that Lone Wolf is excellent and just as good as her early books and written in a similar style.

This on is set within a divorced family with a re-married mother, Georgie, and brother and sister, Edward and Cara. Cara lives with her father, Luke, after Edward left the family to live in Thailand which Cara believes is the reason for her parents divorce. The book starts with a devastating car crash in which Cara pulls her father from the car, they are both taken to hospital, Cara with shoulder injuries while Luke is on life support and in a vegatative state. The big issue if this story is whether Edward, estranged from his father for six years, or Cara, a minor, should have the final say of whether or not to switch off the life support machine. There are many other issues and side issues within the story as a whole, just as you would expect from Picoult and all the way through we have chapters from Luke giving a wonderfully descriptive and informative life he has had with wolves, including integrating himself into a wild Canadian wolf pack for two years.

The end, as we have grown used to with Jodi's novels, packs a punch which we are not expecting and makes the reader re-think what you may already have made your mind up about. Excellent, much recommended.


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