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P. M. Fernandez "exilefromgroggs" (London)
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Mool Deluxe Cat Scratching Tree/ Post Activity Centre with Hidey-Hole/ 2 Viewing Platforms and 2 Comfy Bed, 130 cm, Brown
Mool Deluxe Cat Scratching Tree/ Post Activity Centre with Hidey-Hole/ 2 Viewing Platforms and 2 Comfy Bed, 130 cm, Brown
Price: 49.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than previous ones, 14 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is our third attempt at a scratching tree. Our three cats are quite large, but they aren't excessively active or vigorous. However, the previous two have ended up wrecked in fairly short order.

This one seems better. I suspect it's the fact that it's not too tall, and the middle platform is well supported, so none of the individual struts have too much load placed upon them. The different cats inevitably like different parts of it (the youngest likes the "baggy" platform, the boldest, oddly, likes hiding in the box), and their interest waxes and wanes. But this has done what we wanted it to more effectively than earlier trees.


Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing
Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing
by Karen Nelson-Field
Edition: Paperback
Price: 16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into a new medium, 14 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We've fiddled in our house with blogs and YouTube videos for some years, and have often wondered what it is about certain videos that captures peoples attention, and makes them "share-worthy" (while being thorough participants!). This hasn't just been because we wanted to grab people's attention ourselves, but also because the internet is just the latest platform for viral marketing, a phenomenon that has helped to make brands cool for decades (I'm sure we can all think of adverts and so on from when we were growing up that captured our attention and put their brands in the front of our heads).

This short but carefully researched book offers analysis of what it is that makes viral videos effective, in terms of both capturing attention and marketing. It's of interest to anybody who would like to know what's going on with these videos, and what makes them effective. It is probably a key reference book for anybody who wishes to make this sort of video part of their marketing strategy.


The Private Blog of Joe Cowley
The Private Blog of Joe Cowley
by Ben Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay - but there is stiff competition, 11 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Joe Cowley is a modern day Adrian Mole - trying to deal with the realities of the early years of the 21st Century (texting, blogging and so on). However, whilst the book was good for a giggle, whereas Townsend's creation at least felt as though he was struggling to come to terms with a socially complex world, I was never really very convinced that Joe had an awful lot on his horizon beyond his own issues. That's not a bad thing in itself; there is a definite need for teenagers - especially perhaps boys, who frequently struggle with reading and apparently have few books directed towards them - to know that they are not "on their own", and that they can make it through. But it does feel a bit limited.

More significantly, once you look beyond the sort of fiction that simply reflects a teenager's own experiences back at them, there are some really outstanding works of children's/young adult literature, and I would really struggle to recommend this over them. Patrick Ness, Suzanne Collins, John Green, Veronica Roth .... All have more to say about the human condition, all write more gripping stories. This book will do you no harm, but I'd generally start with one of them rather than this, and having started there, would there be any point in coming back to this?


Small Business Marketing For Dummies
Small Business Marketing For Dummies
by Paul Lancaster
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Where do you start?, 31 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The fact that you have a brilliant business idea, and even that you can get the business off the ground, doesn't mean that you know how to market it. In fact, it's quite likely that if you are good at the entrepreneur side of things, you won't be so hot at marketing. So where do you start?

This book is a comprehensive introduction to marketing. It won't take you to degree level, but it will give you a grounding in it that is orientated towards starting up or developing a small business. To borrow from the books 'foolish assumptions' section, the book assumes you market a small business with a tight budget and no staff; you're baffled by the new options available; and you're looking for greater success and don't know what path to follow.

In addition to traditional marketing and branding, the book of course looks at online marketing, and the use of social media as marketing tools and interactivity. Also, very significantly, it looks at how you convert customers to loyal customers - marketing isn't just about the stuff you do, but about what you are like as a business. The book won't make your business into a surefire winner - but it is a very helpful reference to stop you from making silly mistakes and becoming an unnecessary business loser.


Dettol Complete Clean Green Apple Floor Wipes 15 Pieces (Pack of 3)
Dettol Complete Clean Green Apple Floor Wipes 15 Pieces (Pack of 3)
Offered by san direct
Price: 8.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Do what you expect of them ..., 21 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
... without leaving the surface slippery, or smeary, and without disintegrating when you place heavy demands on them. The fragrance is pleasant, and it's a fairly effective way of getting the floor clean and hygienic. They are probably quite pricey compared to "Shop's Own Brand", but not extortionate.

So ... yeah. That's about it, really!


Hotel Tycoon Board Game
Hotel Tycoon Board Game
Offered by Gadget Grotto
Price: 21.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting gameplay, 21 Dec 2013
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Hotel Tycoon Board Game (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, we gave this a good play-test, and it was fun. The hardest part was putting it all together beforehand - and even then, the results weren't entirely satisfactory (hence the lowish score for durability).

The game-play is broadly like Monopoly, and the objective, similarly, is to bankrupt your opponents. However, it's much faster. The claimed 40 minutes may be optimistic, but other than the stalemate situation where you end up with two players pretty much balanced, it all comes to a head fairly quickly. Whilst with Monopoly, I disliked the game because of the sheer brutality towards other people that is really necessary if you set out to win, with this game, it's pretty clear that a lot of the outcome is down to luck, and there can be quite large shifts in the balance of the game even fairly late on. Consequently, it feels lighter and more fun throughout, and have the steel capitalist grinders underlying it in the same way.

There is a definite shift in how the game runs. To start with, there is a definite advantage in throwing a 6, to get the bonus throw. But as the game goes on, it's only a matter of time before you dread the dice coming back to you.

So quite good fun, and not too complicated to learn. I can't imagine it would end up as a family favourite - being limited to four players doesn't help in that regard - but certainly an alternative to sitting separately playing computer games or watching TV.


Darwin's Doubt
Darwin's Doubt
by Stephen C. Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.49

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Careful and reasonable, 25 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Darwin's Doubt (Hardcover)
Having studied sciences at university, I've always looked for a more substantive scientific approach than well-meaning people around me were prepared to offer in discussing questions of origins. By this, I don't simply mean those people who plugged God into the gaps of their knowledge, but also those who made up "just-so stories" to explain the way in which the incredible complexities of biological systems "must have" just appeared as a result of natural processes. So I have been interested in the debate about Intelligent Design (ID) for probably around 15 years, since I first came across Darwin's Black Box. There are some books that don't do the discussion of ID any favours - that effectively present it as "creationism in a tuxedo". However, the most significant ones don't - they make a careful, thought-out case for a requirement of intelligent agency.

Meyer's previous book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design looked at the initial appearance of life. This new book moves on to look at the origin of complex animal life - specifically at a geological moment referred to as the Cambrian explosion. In a geologically insignificant time, huge numbers of new biological forms appeared. This was mysterious at the time of Darwin, and represented a challenge which even he recognised. The mystery has only deepened with the passing of time, and no attempt to explain it has been generally regarded as successful within the community of evolutionist scientists.

Meyer describes what took place, and explains how the Cambrian explosion is not simply a question of new body forms, but more significantly a staggering increase in biological information, encoded in the DNA and structurally within the animal forms that appeared. The materialistic processes that have been offered are simply not capable of generating the additional information required in the timeframe in which they appeared. What we observe in biological systems, he argues, is what in any other context we would have no problem with describing as the product of design.

One of the charges frequently thrown at proponents of ID is that "if this was science, then it would be in the journals" - so why isn't it? You don't have to read very hard between the lines to see. The commitment of the scientific establishment to materialism when it comes to discussion of origins has already resulted in the use of political (rather than scientific) machinations to exclude ID from consideration - there is a determination to ensure that the possibility of design is not just refuted but kept off the table. Is "Darwin's Doubt" science? Does it make a case? Well, it's as careful and well-structured as any scientific paper - and if there is no substantive refutation, then it will represent another brick in the increasingly solid edifice of Intelligent Design.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2014 12:49 AM GMT


Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain
Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain
by David Crystal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Sounded good - was better, 14 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, I love language books. While I'm here, can I recommend ... no, I can't, sorry. And I rate David Crystal very highly. Maybe it's a misapprehension, but I got the impression over the course of studying English language that he's one of the key communicators in this area. The Stories of English is an outstanding book on the development of the English language, as long as you can deal with the tiny writing. The Story of English in 100 Words covered similar ground in a format recognisable to the Radio 4 audience who made the "100 Objects" series into a classic. So that was enough to get me interested.

What David and Hilary have done in this book is explore some of the same ground in a different way. They have travelled the country, exploring the locations that were associated for many reasons with the development of the language - thus tying together English, history and geography. I'm engaged by any interdisciplinary approaches to things, so another catch for me. And, rather than this being an isolated and abstract book, readers are given directions to the places. You can find out about Isaac Pitman's Bath - the Peterborough of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shakespeare's London ....

The historical notes are accompanied by travelogue type entries and photographs, and the writing is fluid and easygoing. This is an outstanding book - an ideal present for anybody who is interested in exploring and in the English language, very easy to dip into, but also very informative to read as a whole. Strongly recommended.


Compact Oxford Russian Dictionary
Compact Oxford Russian Dictionary
by Oxford Dictionaries
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Usual high standards, 4 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As one would expect from the company that produces "the world's most trusted dictionaries", this is a high quality work. The language used is derived from a corpus - in other words, it is based on language as it is actually used. That means there are plenty of translations of idiomatic phrases. This is very useful for people who are working with the other language "for real", rather than in the classroom.

Additionally, there are comprehensive notes on grammar, an information section on language use in texts and the internet, and useful cultural sections.

I guess this ought to be obvious, but please note that this is not a suitable substitute for a phrasebook. All the Russian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet - so if you can't read Russian letters, it won't mean much to you. This even stretches to the phrase finder. Realistically, it is pitched at people who are already learning the language rather than people with no knowledge of it.


More Than This
More Than This
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Another remarkable book by Ness, 1 Oct 2013
This review is from: More Than This (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's very difficult to add to the blurb without including plot spoilers, so I don't think I'll try. A boy drowns - and after he dies, he wakes up, alone and naked. Where is he? And why? And, for that matter, why did he drown?

Ness crafts a fine story from this starting point. I genuinely didn't know what to expect. Ness has already shown himself able to productively push the boundary of children's literature, and I wasn't sure what the book might suggest. It would be fair to say that it will be considered controversial by some people, but it is a positive and exciting story, and much tighter than the good but over long Chaos Walking series.

Children's literature has a voice for the 21st century. And his adult writing is pretty sharp too.


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