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A. M. Attwood "Offcomer" (Westmorland, England)
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Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
Price: £6.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended reading for the philosophically curious., 22 April 2015
Other reviewers have commented on the technical detail in some of the early chapters, and they raise a valid point. However, Dr Lane has a problem - the origins of life can only be understood bio-chemically, because that's all they are: chemicals. They are also very complex chemicals.

It could be argued that the first four chapters should have been expanded to give more detail, and to help non-scientists to navigate the proteins, amino acids, binding agents and other biochemical marvels that populate the early history of life on Earth.

He is very honest about where the gaps are, and when the gaps are huge, he gives his preferred account of things. This makes for a completeness and narrative arc in the story of life which hangs together very well.

I bought this book because I wanted to know more about some of the topics - particularly the origin of life and DNA. I also wanted a summary of the latest scientific thinking on consciousness. I found it very illuminating on the first two topics, but very much out of his depth on the Hard Problem of consciousness. Dr Lane gives a reasonable summary of where neurology's recent discoveries have led us in terms of brain function, but in my opinion he fails in his own stated aim of trying to sketch what a solution to the Hard Problem *might* look like. For me, the question of consciousness is one of the biggest unknowns in the whole universe - how can a few pounds of grey matter be responsible for the "I" in "I think therefore I am"?


My Way (Live At The Royal Albert Hall)
My Way (Live At The Royal Albert Hall)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Rythmic, well sung and only marginally self-indulgent., 22 April 2015
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Everyone should have at least one version of this in their music library. Robbie Williams may not be as good a crooner as he thinks he is, but he knows how to work an audience, and that is the strength of this recording: it's live.

This is a great sing-along version (the Albert Hall audience sing the punchline), and as such I can recommend it.


Peer Gynt
Peer Gynt
Price: £10.40

5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumphant Curiosity of Delights, 22 April 2015
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This review is from: Peer Gynt (Audio CD)
I can't imagine that you are going to stage a performance of Peer Gynt in Norwegian, so I assume you're a music lover.

If you are only familiar with the two suites from this music, the full set offers a whole chocolate box full of little gems. It's hard to listen straight through, so I find myself coming back to it and trying bits again, and going for the nutty caramel ones - my favourites.

The playing and sound are superb and wring every drop of drama from the music. Peer Gynt has a status in Norway comparable only to Hamlet, but because it was new when Grieg wrote the music, he was able to tap straight into the drama and create music of passion and scope. Too often this is played as if it were a concert showpiece. Played like this, all through, as drama, we hear something not otherwise available.

As I said, a curiosity, but highly recommended.


The Great Gatsby [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
The Great Gatsby [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £6.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Stunning start, but overblown, overlong and over here., 22 April 2015
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The first twenty minutes or so of this film are stunning - right up to the end of the first party. After that, it drags so badly we couldn't be bothered and switched it off.

The film is visually and musically a masterpiece of cinema, and the acting doesn't disappoint, but the director treats Fitzgerald's novella as a Tolstoyan epic, and it's not. Lightness of touch, and 40 minutes less, would have made a big difference.

Borrow this from a friend, watch the first bit, then go to bed. That's my advice.


Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity Tracker and Sleep Wristband - Black
Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity Tracker and Sleep Wristband - Black
Price: £64.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robust & Reliable, if slightly limited., 22 April 2015
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I bought this for my wife, to replace her Nike Fuelband. We bought the Fuelband because it was the leading product at the time, but things have moved on a lot.

If you are looking for a showerproof, reliable step-counter with a long battery life (1 week) and a good interface to a smartphone app, then I can recommend this product. Other products offer a lot more, but are either intrusive or expensive. This tracks walking - and does it well - but that's about it. For other functionality, look elsewhere.

The app uploads to a Fitbit account, and has great stats to keep you motivated. The set-up is simple and so far there has only been one glitch, easily sorted.

*Weaknesses: the strap is terrible to keep fastened. After two weeks of it falling off, including a night spent in the office car-park, we invested in little silicone bands which hold the two ends together. Highly recommended.


Brahms: Serenades
Brahms: Serenades
Price: £9.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Magical Musical Tour of a neglected By-Way, 22 April 2015
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This review is from: Brahms: Serenades (Audio CD)
You could argue that this is a cash-in, given the publicity surrounding Chailly's recordings of the Brahms symphonies. Certainly, this is not the greatest music, but Chailly approaches it very much on its own terms, and achieves wonderful results.

These are curious works. There is both tremendous variety and a sense of limitation. It would be all too easy to listen for echoes of the later symphonic style, but that is to mistake what Brahms was trying to achieve. This music isn't going to keep you rapt with attention, stopping whatever you were doing to listen rooted to your chair. But, for a magical musical tour, I can thoroughly recommend it.

I don't have other recordings to which I could compare this account, but I will say that Chailly makes the Gewandhaus Orchestra sound as if they're having a ball. You will, too.


Jack Wolfe, Paranormal Investigator
Jack Wolfe, Paranormal Investigator
Price: £0.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable due to formatting errors, 22 April 2015
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If you're thinking of buying this book, which may be very good, then check the formatting first. On my Kindle, the entire text was underlined. This is a basic error and should not be allowed. Unfortunately, it was too long after purchase for me to get a refund.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2015 8:04 AM BST


Cake Decorating Sugarcraft Modelling Tools Kit 8 Pieces Pink
Cake Decorating Sugarcraft Modelling Tools Kit 8 Pieces Pink
Offered by LTZmart
Price: £1.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for all budding sugar workers., 13 Feb. 2015
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<This review is based on feedback from my wife. She's the baker...> These tools are well made but light - ideal for all detailed sugar work. The level of flexibility and control can turn a complete novice into a potential artist. They really are that good. They are light and, so far, indestructible. Despatch & arrival v. prompt.


Passaggio - Einaudi By Lavinia
Passaggio - Einaudi By Lavinia
Price: £7.13

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Einaudi in a new light., 14 Oct. 2014
If you don't like Einaudi's music, I doubt you'll be interested in this - but if you do, I can thoroughly recommend it. Some of the works are transformed completely, others are hauntingly familiar - like the dream of a tune, changed into something ethereal.

You do lose the dynamic range of the piano, and occasionally it's a little easier to tune out and forget the music is there, but the balance of sound and silence gives depth to this music which I would not now want to be without.


Draper 48934 600 mm Flat Dust Mop with Extendable Handle
Draper 48934 600 mm Flat Dust Mop with Extendable Handle
Price: £16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal for big spaces with hard floors., 14 Oct. 2014
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We've just had an extension which gives us a 38ft long sitting room/kitchen/diner with a tiled floor throughout. This dust mop sweeps all before it, quickly & easily. The adjustable handle is a real boon too - what would be long enough for me wd be too long for my wife. We take it in turns to sweep up...


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