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Lendrick (London)
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Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish (Viewpoints)
Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish (Viewpoints)
by Lesley Riddoch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what it seems, 5 Aug 2014
Heralded as an argument for Scottish independence in reality this is more of a collection of essays on various aspects of Scottish political life and an argument for grass roots politics, with a vague case for independence tagged on the end. It's an interesting read in parts as social commentary, but rambling and not well written, indeed at points it's really not clear what point is being made. Riddoch clearly distrusts Politicians but makes no coherent case as to why those in Edinburgh would be any better than those in London.


To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750-2010
To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora, 1750-2010
by T M Devine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dry but fascinating, 3 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
TM Devine is serious historian and this is a serious history book, strong on facts and reasoned analysis, not so strong human interest stories or polemic. You get a wealth of facts about emigration from Scotland the product of extensive research, with some measured and mostly cautious commentary. As such is can be quite hard going at times if you are reading out of general interest as I was, rather than because you are studying for an exam. For all that though I found it mostly fascinating revealing a whole side of the country of my birth that I was mostly unaware of.

Devine takes a themed rather then chronological approach with chapters on the Church, the military, the role of women etc. which I found a little frustrating as it sometimes made it difficult to see the bigger picture and how these different themes intertwined.

My main problem with the book though is the almost dismissive handling of the highland clearances - something that I think Scots would see as central to any Diaspora. Devine clearly believes their importance is overplayed and devotes only one short chapter too them. He is clearly dismissive of the John Prebble view of Highland history, which informed so many Scots including myself. But frustrating never really fully engages with the debate, and when he mentions the clearances later in the context of recruitment to the army seems to contradict his earlier claim that they only occurred in the islands. I have no doubt he has an interesting case to argue I just wish he had made it more forcefully. .

Overall though a book anyone with a n interest in Scottish history should read.


Mustard Seed Screen Protector for Apple iPhone 5/5S
Mustard Seed Screen Protector for Apple iPhone 5/5S
Price: £8.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever but pricey, 18 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
How attractive this is to you will depend on how tricky you find it to apply screen covers to phones. On a smallish phone like the iPhone the frame arrangement feels a bit of overkill, tough it does apply the cover well. The cover itself is thicker than some I have used, and feels like it will last - which it needs to given the price of the thing.

Can't really fault the product, it's a matter of whether you want to spend that much on one screen cover.


24: Live Another Day [DVD] [2014]
24: Live Another Day [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Kiefer Sutherland
Price: £24.50

3 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A lazy attempt to get some more money out of a tired franchise., 2 July 2014
I greatly enjoyed S1 & S2 of 24 but stopped watching when it switched to Sky. Now having Sky thought I would give this a go particularly as its set in London.

I made it through an episode and a half before switching off. What was once an innovative series seemed a collection of cliches with paper thin characters; Kate the "brilliant but impulsive CIA field operative" seemed a watered down version of Carrie Mathison from Homeland, Chloe O'Brian has morphed into a copy of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Only Jack Bauer keeps the whole thing going and he isn't on screen enough. The dialogue is dreadful with one particular bad scene involving the villain and his moll being the final straw.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 17, 2014 11:34 PM BST


By Blood
By Blood
Price: £4.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing meditation on identity, 22 Jun 2014
This review is from: By Blood (Kindle Edition)
I knew Ellen Ullman for Close to the Machine about her life as a programmer. This though is very different a psychological thriller of sort set in 1970s San Francisco. with not a computer involved. To reveal to much about beyond the plot summary in the blurb would spoil it I think. So suffice to say it is a book as much as anything about identify - what is it that makes us what we are. There are no answers here but Ullmans elegant prose and subtle story telling will draw you in. It's perhaps a little long and the main characters in some ways sketchily drawn, in particular the narrator remain an enigma the whole way through. But it is I think a book that will have you thinking about it long after you have read the final page.


Why Marx Was Right
Why Marx Was Right
by Terry Eagleton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly turgid, 20 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Why Marx Was Right (Paperback)
As the blurb on the back of the book says with "capitalism shaken to its roots by major crisis" now is the right time for a clear minded reappraisal of Marx. Unfortunately this isn't it, in fact reading the glowing reviews on the back of the book and here I am left wondering if they are about a different book.

Firstly the book doesn't directly address the current financial crisis , rather it seeks to refute 6 common objections to Marxism. To be fair it starts reasonably well in arguing that Marxism remain relevant as long as capitalism exists. But even then I found Eagletons style tortuous and with a strong an element of preaching to the converted.

The final straw for me was chapter 4 which addresses the criticism that 'Marxism is Utopian', the short answer to this is that Marx actually says very little about what a 'Marxist society' might look like and certainly doesn't have a Utopian view of human nature. Eagleton though takes 40 pages of turgid prose to tackle this including a diversion on whether on not stoats have politics(!) and the incredibly tortured metaphor that "Emancipatory politics inserts the thin end of wedge of the future into the heart of the present"

At the end of that chapter I gave up. Part of the problem is I think that as Eagleton is a Marxist the criticisms of Marxism he refutes are often straw men and consequently his refutations facile. Thing is I'm broadly sympathetic to much of the substance socialism but the approach and writing style here I found unengaging and unconvincing.


Arrow T50X TacMate Heavy Duty Stapler
Arrow T50X TacMate Heavy Duty Stapler
Price: £26.61

4.0 out of 5 stars Seems like it does what it should, 20 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not lot to be said about this really, it only does one thing but does it well. Simple to use, powerful enough to put staples into wood. Caveats, well I have only had it a few weeks and not used it a lot so I can't vouch for its robustness. It comes with a few staples to get you going, I haven't tried to source more yet but assume they are pretty standard

If you are looking for a domestic DIY stapler this should do the job.


Estates: An Intimate History
Estates: An Intimate History
by Lynsey Hanley
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potted history of social housing, 18 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A declaration of interest first, like Lynsey Hanley I grew up on a council estate, and unlike the author I have actually studied social housing history at college.

Estates for me falls uncomfortably between two stools, it's part popular history, part personal memoir / polemic. If you know little or nothing of the history of social housing in the UK it's probably reasonably informative, though needs treated with caution as this is a very personal take on that history. If you are reasonably familiar with the history you wont get any new information or great insight here.

As a personal memoir it surprising lacking, we get a little about her early years outside Birmingham, but not a lot. For a book dubbed an 'intimate history' what's most noticeably lacking is the voices of the residents of those estates, people for whom Ms Hanley seems to have a curiously ambivalent attitude to.It doesn't help that I found her prose plodding and un-engaging, it's a book that cries out for some photographs and some more inspired presentation of information.

Overall its disappointing if worthy.


Case Logic Backpack for 10-15 inch Cadence/Tablet - Black
Case Logic Backpack for 10-15 inch Cadence/Tablet - Black
Price: £10.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent bag with a few annoying flaws, 14 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having just been given a tablet by work to use alongside my laptop this bag was tempting and my old one looking rather tatty. I have been using it daily as my work bag now for about 3 weeks.

It feels well made looks smart with some unobtrusive logos & piping. Capacity wise it doesn't leave a huge amount of extra space once day to day necessities are in their but it is more than big enough for day to day use. The section for the tablet is a nice touch and works well keeping your tablet safely separate from the rest of the contents. It reasonably comfy to carry on a commute.

Problems?
There is no flip over strap to hold the laptop in place, hence it tends to flop around. The bag isn't designed to stand up, so will fall over whenever you put it down.

Inside the main section is a mesh pocket useful for cables etc, while backing on to that in outer section are slip pockets for pens, glasses case etc. Good ideas, but as they are both at the top the net effect is to make the bag top heavy (adding to the falling over) and means that thing that slip to the bottom of either section are hard to see / get at.

The small external pocket is supposedly for a mobile phone - you would only keep it there if you want it nicked, handy spot for my work pass though. The phone goes in the 'secure' pocket on the back.

Two large mesh pockets for drinks, who carries 2 drinks bottle to work? Would have been better if one was canvas rather than mesh so not revealing what is inside.

Overall I am going to persevere with it but a few adjustment would have made it a much better bag. I suspect there are better bags for the money.


Homeland - Season 1 [DVD]
Homeland - Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Damian Lewis
Price: £9.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly inconsistent, 14 May 2014
This review is from: Homeland - Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
With the plaudits thrown at Homeland I came to it with great anticipation. Its origins in 24 are apparent early on in the style of the scenes particularly where the CIA are involved, however it seems to aspire to something more serious with a slower and more thoughtful pace. Trouble is in the end that only helps to highlight the ludicrousness of the plot.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The good things first, Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison is a revelation at least for those of us who last remember her as Juliet. A really out standing and mesmerizing performance combining great strength an vulnerability. Less surprisingly Damian Lewis is good as Nicholas Brody the marine who may or may not have changed sides (at least until the ludicrous nature of the script lets him down at the end). But it's very much a two person show with the supporting cast not rising above caricature despite some tedious attempts to generate interest in one characters marriage.

It's the script that the main problem, a kind of war on terror update of Manchurian Candidate, it has real potential, but it can't really decide whether to play it as a taught political thriller or a deeper more emotional story. In the end we get neither. The pace is a times frustrating slow, yet the plot sketchy. While I found Brodys motivation unconvincing.

Finally like too many modern drama series it fails to deliver any sort of satisfactory ending, being more concerned with setting up Series 2. In fact the end of this feels more like a season mid-point. I wont be rushing to see what happens next.


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