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J. M. Johnson

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The Imitation Game [DVD]
The Imitation Game [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Cumberbatch is just right for the role, 19 July 2015
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This review is from: The Imitation Game [DVD] (DVD)
Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of Alan Turing is one of his better roles to date. He plays the character including all Turing's foibles with an intensity that leaves the viewer in no doubt about the torment Turing must have endured, and the awkwardness of the man comes through very clearly. Cumberbatch is just right for the role due to his sensitivity as an actor. Always watchable, and I recommend this film as an absorbing and intriguing story that requires full attention without demanding it.

Wolf Hall [DVD] [2015]
Wolf Hall [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Damian Lewis
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved every minute, 19 July 2015
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This review is from: Wolf Hall [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
Loved every minute of this, particularly the understated acting of Mark Rylance in the main character part. He is restrained and insightful. I've always liked Damien Lewis as a brilliant actor and he plays Henry VIII to perfection - all believable characterisations, the story is fascinating and the bitchiness among the women surrounding Henry's court is full of intrigue. Can't praise this highly enough. Watched it on TV and then bought the DVD to send to someone else. One of the BBC's best costume dramas ever, in my view.

You Really Are Full of Shit, Aren't You?
You Really Are Full of Shit, Aren't You?
Price: £1.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits the funny bone, 16 Jun. 2015
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One thing I have noticed about books written by Karl Wiggins (and I’ve now read quite a few) is that although he uses the same wit as a stand-up comedian at very frequent intervals in all of them, each book is unique. One book does not read like another one he has written. He can write about any and every subject and make it as fresh and original as if he had never written anything else in his life. He hits the funny bone every time with unnerving accuracy, pointing out the absurdities in life with intelligence and humour. It’s a lethal concoction adding up to books that are not easy to put down. He is very successful at it. As a fellow author, I hate the b******d.

Readers, on the other hand, will love another helping of irreverent humour, but they should be warned - this book also contains poignancy, insights from someone who is far more clever than he seems, and good writing. It's not all about causing hoots of laughter on every page. Wonderful.

ADDIS Step Stool, Metallic
ADDIS Step Stool, Metallic
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 8 Oct. 2014
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Brilliant. Strong, sturdy and doesn't tip unlike some step stools. Highly recommended.

No Easy Day
No Easy Day
by Mark Owen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.60

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Easy Day, but an easy and enthralling read., 8 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: No Easy Day (Paperback)
Having read a number of books about British Special Forces I wanted to learn more about the US Navy SEAL teams and this book provided not just background information but an insight into one of the most important Special Forces assaults in history. It is an excellent read from start to finish. From the point of view of a reader, disregarding the significance of the operation described, what struck me most is that even though Operation Neptune Spear is one of the most famous events with an outcome known worldwide, the tension is conveyed so well that the story keeps the reader gripped to the end. As a first-hand witness account of the unfolding drama it doesn't get any better than this, and I feel the book will be an important document in its own right.

There are two authors, which is common for the military biography genre because, as `Mark Owen' (pseudonym of the SEAL team member) points out, the temperament of a soldier, especially anyone in the Navy SEALs, does not take readily to pursuing a passive lifestyle so it follows that they don't sit around much writing, simply because they would prefer to do something else. There's nothing wrong with having a second author on board to create an outstanding book based on personal recollections.

Like most books about Special Forces and other military operatives this one follows what seems to be a tried and trusted format: the first pages put the reader firmly in the middle of the main action (in this case the assault on the compound housing Bin Laden) and then it takes a step back in time to let us know the background of the Navy SEAL teams as fighting units, the progress of Mark Owen through the SEALs to the elite of the elite, SEAL Team Six (DEVGRU) and then a blow-by-blow account of the days leading up the assault itself, the climax of the book.

Despite the familiarity of the format this book is exciting. It is written without any self-serving arrogance or posturing. Modest and honest, as an insight into the US Special Forces community of Navy SEALs undertaking one of their most important missions to date it is enthralling. I found all of it fascinating, especially comparing the SEAL teams with those of UK Special Forces, the SAS (Special Air Service) in particular. As far as selection and training are concerned the professionalism, the competitive nature of striving to achieve the ultimate in excellence and keeping it at that level, and the teamwork, are very similar. The arduous selection and training process is lengthy (around six to nine months to start with) in both cases and the nature of different phases of training creates similar levels of expertise.

This is one of the most modern books about Special Forces I have read so far and if I had to choose one word to sum up the attitudes of these men it would be `adaptable'. They have to be prepared to think on their feet, to alter their responses according to changes in the circumstances in which they find themselves and as this particular story unfolds their adaptability is tested to the limit. When the SEAL teams made their assault on the compound they did not know what kind of resistance they would meet or what outcome they could expect, and even after weeks of careful planning they could not know in advance how the operation would pan out.

Most of the work of Special Forces is covert and involves weeks or months of patient surveillance of targets in hostile terrain before operations like Neptune Spear are put into action. As I write this in October 2014 Special Forces from the US, the UK, and many countries from around the world, are deployed in Iraq and Syria facing an enemy whose barbarity knows no limits. Special Forces and intelligence operatives are the first line of defence against foes such as Islamic State. Their work brings the kind of danger on a daily basis that most of us hope never to see in our lifetimes. If captured, they know they face horrific torture and the most brutal death their captors can devise yet they carry out their duties regardless. Over and over again I have been humbled by their courage and dedication. They are not saints or supermen/women and most would never think of themselves in those terms, but I am grateful we have such people in our midst. They carry out tasks the rest of us are ill-equipped to think about let alone contemplate putting into action.

No Easy Day is, in its own quiet way, a tribute to the remarkable bravery of the many men and women involved in Special Forces and intelligence work. Most of what they do remains untold and their achievements go unrecognised by the public. This is a rare opportunity to see their work close up.

The Porn Detective
The Porn Detective
Price: £1.25

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A state of denial, 11 Sept. 2014
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I understand this is the first of Stevie Turner’s novels – she has written others such as ‘No Sex, Please, I’m Menopausal!’ and ‘A House Without Windows’ and ‘The Pilates Class’.

This is the first time I have read anything by this author. As other reviewers have pointed out, the book is not a voyeuristic tale about pornography. Instead, it takes us on a journey through one woman’s experience of living with a husband who is addicted to sex and porn, over a time span of twenty-five years of betrayal, hurt and forgiveness repeated many times like a movie loop, yet the author makes it intriguing as the story gradually unfolds.

The word ‘naive’ has been used to describe the main character, Frances Andrews, who forgives her husband repeatedly from a time somewhere perhaps in the early eighties to twenty-five years later. For me, this book is not about someone being naive but in a state of denial, which is an altogether more insidious and difficult mental state to deal with.

In the early eighties in the UK it was difficult to quit a marriage that showed signs of ‘something wrong’, but much more than that it is difficult to reconcile the caring person one sees every day with the deceit that goes on elsewhere in the marriage, in a life that seems otherwise normal. Many people do not want to believe that the person they love can be capable of such treachery and the act of forgiveness becomes part of the denial process as excuses are made in an attempt to retain that part of the marriage that is wholesome.

The subject is dealt with well in my opinion and the story takes an unusual turn that keeps the reader’s interest. I will be looking out for more novels by Stevie Turner.

Foreigner In My Own Backyard: A Satirical Memoir
Foreigner In My Own Backyard: A Satirical Memoir
Price: £2.39

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Foreigner insights and humour, 10 Sept. 2014
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Travis Casey writes in such an accomplished and light-hearted style it is hard not to enjoy reading his books. Where his subject matter could become serious, he uses satire and wit to lift the tone. Some chapters are laugh-out-loud funny and others had me smiling and chuckling.
The book covers his transition from an American living in the UK (land of Uck, as one bemused US citizen called it – United Kingdom, or Britain as most people know it) to his travel back to his birth land and his family. Casey spent a long time in the UK and married a Brit so his change of residence has not been easy, from the beginning of his attempts to get his wife, the long-suffering Wendy, the correct entry requirements for the US. The beginning of the book relates the kind of irritating bureaucracy that annoys most of us – but it is done in such an amusing way the reader is left smiling in disbelief at the antics of ‘jobsworths’ (as in ‘It’s more than my job’s worth to help you’) and the frustrations of red tape regulations.
As a Brit I was fascinated by insights into the American way of life in Minnesota and Casey’s portrayals of his family and the adjustments everyone had to make to live together amicably. What comes across very strongly is that despite the physical and emotional difficulties inherent in their new roles as carers/dependants, the bond of love and care within the family is an unstoppable force that overcomes all obstacles. The tale is ultimately one of upliftment and affirmation of life that makes this book endearing, enlightening and a thoroughly good read.

Other parts of the book cover subjects such as a comparison between US and UK health care systems, the practice of giving service tips, obesity, the justice system and racism – but just when you think the chapter is becoming serious there’s that quirky, satirical humour again to lighten the mood. A delightful, fun read with some serious comments put forward along the way. It shows off Casey’s talent and confirms that he is an author to watch because I have no doubt there is more to come from this intriguing author.

Marware Vassen Kindle Cover, Purple  [will only fit Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle (5th Generation), Kindle Touch (4th Generation) and Kindle (7th Generation)]
Marware Vassen Kindle Cover, Purple [will only fit Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle (5th Generation), Kindle Touch (4th Generation) and Kindle (7th Generation)]

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for reading comfort as it protects the Kindle from ..., 19 Aug. 2014
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Great for reading comfort as it protects the Kindle from scratches. The cover is strong and the Kindle fits perfectly inside it. Would recommend this to anyone looking for a hardwearing Kindle cover.

Vax C89-P6-B Power 6  Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner
Vax C89-P6-B Power 6 Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner

2.0 out of 5 stars Problems with product, bad customer support, 19 Aug. 2014
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Bought this as a second vacuum cleaner as I was impressed by the first. On receipt of this one the first thing that happened was the telescopic tube would not stay on the hose, on using the vacuum cleaner the tube fell off as the connection was so loose and could not be tightened.

Rang customer services and was treated with a confrontational style and rudeness, and for that reason I have given two stars for this cleaner and would not recommend Vax to anyone else. I would say, look for a different manufacturer. The customer 'support' is atrocious.

Dogshit Saved My Life
Dogshit Saved My Life
Price: £1.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karl Wiggins at his best - again!, 16 Aug. 2014
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If I were to go travelling this is the book I would take with me. Or any comedy book by Karl Wiggins, like 'Grit', or 'Calico Jack', or 'Shit My History Teacher Did Not Tell Me' because his brand of humour appeals to me. He has superb comic timing. Like most writers in the humourist and anecdote genre, Karl has an acute observation of people and their foibles. His books would banish the tedium of waiting at any transit point, and have me laughing on a journey so much the other passengers would be curious as to what I was reading.

I love Tom Sharpe's books. Karl's humour is different and equally funny. For example, reading this book I laughed at his tales of the time when he was a waiter, and of his trials at his workplace. Similar stories told by other writers might be amusing but not have me laughing aloud. There is a wonderful tongue-firmly-in-cheek chapter about `how to be a good Christian', which had me rolling. Karl's talent lies in the way he narrates his anecdotes and thoughts; he crafts his words to convey humour in a manner that equals the comic timing of Tom Sharpe.

Other chapters deal with subjects as varied as `One star reviews' which I think ought to be compulsory reading for any aspiring writer, and guardian angels, Pilgrim Bandits (you'll have to read the book to find out what that's all about), Indian takeaways, cave diving, Tube travel, and so on. Karl brings depth to each one that comes from his astute observations of human nature and his extensive travelling and working all over the world.

My views about his humour will not be shared by everyone - Karl polarises opinion in the `love him or hate him' style. However, to quote from this book, 'I write to entertain, but that's not who I am'. The same can be said of any comedian - it's an art they use to entertain, one which Karl is good at and in which he deserves every success. If you already know and love his books this one is a must-have. If you haven't read any of his books before, you're in for a treat!

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