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Phase Line Green: The Battle for Hue, 1968
Phase Line Green: The Battle for Hue, 1968
by Warr
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Right There On The Front Line, 20 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Warr's writing style is not very practised. He is at times repetitive, confusing, occasionally cliched. This book needed a stronger editor and more maps.

But . . . it puts you right there on the front line with the Marines of Charlie Company, fighting street by street, house by house. Warr is not reflective of the wider context of the conflict, nor particularly of his own life, as other Vietnam writers are. But in many ways that's all to the good: this is a gripping read with no side-tracking. It details a few days of urban warfare in early 1968, as US Marines attempted to take back one section of the Citadel in Hue that had been over-run by the North Vietnamese, inching slowly forward across streets known as "phase lines" in the battle (each assigned a different colour).

You get a complete and bottom-up view of real warfare, warts and all: the bravery, the regrets, the stupidity, the dumb luck; the sights, the sounds and the smells. I can think of no better book to place you right in the thick of the action; far more so than the supposed classics like Dispatches.


Then We Came to the End: A Novel
Then We Came to the End: A Novel
by Joshua Ferris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Hilarious, But Engaging and Thought-Provoking, 15 Jun. 2008
Our expectations should not be (mis)guided by the cover quotes. This is not laugh-out-loud hilarious. But it is consistently wry, amusing, insightful and thought-provoking. The first-person-plural/"we" voice is unusual but it ultimately draws us right into the workplace and its cast of sharply-drawn characters and events.

More than that, what is this book about? It's about work - the activity that takes up more of our lives than anything else. This book has three messages. What actually happens at "work" is the mirror-image of the corporate view - productive work is the periphery, not the centre; it's what we fit into the cracks between our gossip and snacking and intrigues and romancing.

Since we spend more time with our work colleagues than with our families or our friends then, instead of resenting and denigrating them, why not celebrate them and all their strange little ways?

And a life of office work comes to an end in a hundred different ways, some of which we can choose for ourselves, and some of which we cannot.


Mountain Bike Guide, North Midlands: Manchester, Cheshire and Staffordshire
Mountain Bike Guide, North Midlands: Manchester, Cheshire and Staffordshire
by Henry Tindell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Country Walks By Bike, 3 May 2008
The problem with "mountain biking" is that it means different things to different people. If, for you, it means getting into some nice countryside with good views and navigating your way round on roads and tracks - like a country walk only on two wheels - then this is the book for you.

If, instead, mountain biking means singletracks and berms and jumps and trying to find ohmygodi'mgoingtoofastandgoingtohitthattreeanddie downhills, then you should look elsewhere. I'd recommend either Vertebrate Graphics' Dark Peak and White Peak Mountain Biking guides or, better still but covering fewer routes, the individual maps from Finders UK in Knutsford.


Skiing and Snowboarding: Everything You Need to Know About the Coolest Sports: A Complete Introduction to Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and Snowboarding: Everything You Need to Know About the Coolest Sports: A Complete Introduction to Skiing and Snowboarding
by Rosanne Cobb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Shallow and Basic, 24 Mar. 2008
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This might do OK as a complete beginners (i.e. not skied before) basic, introductory overview. But it is otherwise too broad and/or too short, so that any individual topic is covered too briefly. This is compounded by the attempt to shoehorn both skiing and snowboarding into a single book of just over 100 pages. As an example, details on how to actually ski, from snowploughs to carved turns, is covered in just two pages. A better (and cheaper) choice, including DVD guide, is Warren Smith's "Go Ski".


Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 4000
Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 4000

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better Products Available, 11 Mar. 2008
We've been using the Microsoft 4000 for several months. It was easy to set up, works OK (e.g. not had any problems with lag), and some members of the household really like it, particularly the young and easily-impressed who think it's great to have innumerable extra function buttons and sliders on their keyboard even though, in practice, they hardly ever use them.

Personally, I have a set of niggling problems with it:

a) The left Shift key is the same size as an ordinary letter key, and there's a backslash key between it and the "Z". For touch typists that's a real pain - you keep missing the Shift key.

b) The keys are really clunky in size and action.

c) The integral and unadjustable wrist rest is a pain if you don't like its size or material.

d) The mouse movement, even when set on maximum under Windows, is too slow and limited for my liking.

e) It's a socking great beast of a keyboard, taking up a lot of room on the desktop.

After much research including the various Microsoft and Logitech models, my own recommendation is the Belkin F8E846uk
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 6, 2008 3:10 PM BST


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Much Better Than The Competition, 11 Mar. 2008
I set four criteria for a wireless keyboard and than spent quite some time comparing Belkin, Microsoft and Logitech models.

a) Extensively-used keys to be a decent size (because I touch type). Belkin scores well here; particularly it has a "proper"-sized left Shift key; something that most other UK-layout wireless keyboards sacrifice (absurdly so in the case of some Microsoft keyboards). Note many of the pictures of keyboards you see on packaging and on Web sites are of the US layout and are not what you actually get when you buy in the UK.

b) Nearly-flat profile for the keyboard. Belkin again is good with a small angle. Note it does not have legs underneath to adjust the angle.

c) Low-profile keys. Belkin's have a nice quick and fairly-quiet action, unlike the clunkers you get on most Microsoft and Logitech boards.

d) Small overall size. Belkin doesn't grab most of your desktop space - around 6 by 16 inches (and less than an inch high). Yet again many Microsoft and some Logitech keyboards fall down here.

I've been using the set-up for around a month and had no problems e.g. with lag, and not yet had to replace batteries. I bought this version with the larger mouse (there's also a mini-mouse version) - no complaints - it has good ergonomics, movement and button responsiveness. Set-up was quick and easy, and it's all working with the USB-stick type RF receiver about one metre away from keyboard and mouse.


Belkin Wireless RF Keyboard and Mini Wireless Optical Mouse, USB
Belkin Wireless RF Keyboard and Mini Wireless Optical Mouse, USB

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Ahead of Competing Wireless Keyboards, 11 Mar. 2008
I set four criteria for a wireless keyboard and than spent quite some time comparing Belkin, Microsoft and Logitech models.

a) Extensively-used keys to be a decent size. Belkin scores well here; particularly it has a "proper"-sized left Shift key; something that most other UK-layout wireless keyboards sacrifice (absurdly so in the case of some Microsoft keyboards). Note many of the pictures of keyboards you see on packaging and on Web sites are of the US layout and are not what you actually get when you buy in the UK.

b) Nearly-flat profile for the keyboard. Belkin again is good with a small angle. Note it does not have legs underneath to adjust the angle.

c) Low-profile keys. Belkin's have a nice quick and fairly-quiet action, unlike the clunkers you get on most Microsoft and Logitech boards.

d) Small overall size. Belkin doesn't grab most of your desktop space - around 6 by 16 inches (and less than an inch high). Yet again many Microsoft and some Logitech keyboards fall down here.

I've been using the set-up for around a month and had no problems e.g. with lag, and not yet had to replace batteries. I bought the version with the larger mouse - no complaints - it has good ergonomics, movement and button responsiveness. Set-up was quick and easy, and it's all working with the USB-stick type RF receiver about one metre away from keyboard and mouse.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2008 3:28 PM GMT


The Sportswriter
The Sportswriter
by Richard Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Putdownable, 16 April 2007
This review is from: The Sportswriter (Paperback)
Woven into events in the life of Frank Bascombe - the said sportswriter - over one Easter weekend, we have a tale of losing and then finding yourself as a nearing-middle-aged male. The language used has been carefully, even beautifully, chosen in places but clever craftsmanship is not enough.

Critics have found Ford's writing "elegaic" - but that can translate as "ponderous" at times, with interminable introspections leaving this reader desperate for some forward motion in the plot; soldiering on only with gritted teeth.

Quite likely the book - as a celebration of the life of an "ordinary Joe" - works better for a US than a European audience. Many of the cultural and geographic references were lost on me. The claim that Ford "finds the transcendent in the mundane" didn't hold water - all he seemed to manage to find was the mundane.

In a book that tries ultimately to be about hope, the tone for the bulk of the story seemed misanthropic. We are richly, if indigestibly, drawn into seeing the world through Frank's eyes but this lacks the warmth to really make a connection.


Little Face: Culver Valley Crime Book 1
Little Face: Culver Valley Crime Book 1
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather Disappointing, 7 Feb. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this on the strength of its reviews but was somewhat disappointed. It's undoubtedly a personal thing but I just couldn't make the parts of the characters fit together: the hard-as-nails, chain-smoking female sergeant who then turns out to be a Cambridge arts graduate; the tightly-wound, neurotic detective constable - a Woody Allen-type if ever there was - who then turns out physically to be something of a lumbering giant; the different personae of the husband, David. As for the main character, I kept willing someone to give her the big slap she so richly deserved. Added to the plotline, this all gave a sense of a just bit too much unreality. So . . . I read it, it passed the time, but it will now be passed along to the Oxfam shop rather than recommended to a friend.


Winter in Madrid
Winter in Madrid
by C. J. Sansom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Holiday Read, 2 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Winter in Madrid (Paperback)
The front cover implicitly compares this love-story adventure to Carlos Ruiz Zafon's "The Shadow of the Wind". They might be in the same league but, if so, Sansom is Aston Villa to Zafon's Man U. There isn't the human warmth or richness of Zafon's story, and a number of elements feel slightly contrived - most novels have rather unlikely events but here they clunk a bit. It was also irritating that the working-class co-heroine was made acceptable to middle-class sensibilities by announcing that she was training to be a doctor.

Nonetheless, this rattles along fast enough to keep you wanting to read more. It's an interesting insight into a shadowy corner of European history that most of us won't have thought much about. And it lifts itself above the crowd by flirting with broader themes - atheism and religion; fascism and communism; the "what if" of Spain's entry into WWII - and by conveying the lasting damage that war does to individual lives.


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