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Reviews Written by
Darren Simons (Middlesex, United Kingdom)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Tacwise 140EL Electric Stapler/Nailer
Tacwise 140EL Electric Stapler/Nailer
Price: 26.38

3.0 out of 5 stars I must admit I was happier with the manual version, 17 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I must admit I was happier with the manual version. By the time you have the extension lead sorted (the cable it comes with is hopelessly short), made sure everyone is out the way, done a final check before switching it on at the mains, done the stapling, reversed all the above, you could have done the job manually and be sitting down with a nice cup of tea. I've used it for a couple of projects, but I felt with the manual I had better control and it's just less hassle.


Tacwise. Cable Tacker. CT60. Data Cable.  Satellite Cable
Tacwise. Cable Tacker. CT60. Data Cable. Satellite Cable
Price: 24.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a disappointment, 17 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having previous reviewed the Tacwise 1153 Combi Cable Stapler and found it to be superb, I was interested to see how this more "specialised product" compares.

As background these staplers are for stapling cables to skirting boards wtc, with rounded staple heads for the cable to sit in. CT-45 and CT-60 staples are 6.3mm and 7.6mm wide respectively (which are able to pin down cables of up to 4.5mm and 6mm diameter cable respectively). You can get various leg lengths (ie. the length of the side of the staple that goes into the wood) - anything from 8mm to 14mm seems standard.

My experience was negative but there is a caveat. Let me cover the caveat first... if you want a cost effective solution for stapling CT-60 staples then this is great. It works, it's lightweight, it's easy to use. But I don't like it...

I have two objections which relate to how it compares to the Combi stapler mentioned above:
- At the time of this review, this stapler is more expensive than the combi. That's odd given the combi can handle both CT-45 and CT-60 staples, whereas this one only deals with CT-60
- The build quality is a bit rubbish to be honest. It feels very plasticy especially compared to the combi.


Little Owl's Orange Scarf
Little Owl's Orange Scarf
by Tatyana Feeney
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still not a hit, 16 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Little Owl is given an orange scarf which he doesn't like. He tries to get rid of it, and eventually gets one he does like. It's a nice and simply story for young children with basic illustrations featuring only a couple of colours.

Having found Tatyana's previous book, Small Bunny's Blue Blanket, to not be a hit with my daughter aged 3, I was interested to see how much of a hit this would be. Nearly aged 4 now, my daughter wasn't really interested. She prefers the rhyming stories of Julia Donaldson, and brighter / more colourful illustrations of other books. On reflection I think this book is more suitable to be read to 2 year olds, rather than the age range 0-5 as suggested.


Diamonds (PRS - Polity Resources series)
Diamonds (PRS - Polity Resources series)
by Ian Smillie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get into, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am generally a fan of these types of books - 180 pages on a topic I don't know much about written by an expert on the subject. Although some of it was interesting, I just couldn't get into it. I found I enjoyed the first chapters (covering the geology/history, supply and demand blood diamonds) but lost interest a bit therefter.


Belkin Grip Power 2000mAh Rechargeable Battery Case for iPhone 5/5S - Black (MFI Approved)
Belkin Grip Power 2000mAh Rechargeable Battery Case for iPhone 5/5S - Black (MFI Approved)
Price: 51.89

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not without faults - UPDATED, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This device claims to double to life of your iPhone battery without needing to connect to mains. I tested this on an iPhone 5 with a recently replaced battery and indeed got from 5% up to about 95% so as near as doubled as I could ask for.

The principle is simple - iPhone batteries are simply not good enough in terms of how much charge they can hold, and if like me you need to charge more than once per day, an alternative is needed. This extra (and as a result quite bulky) battery makes up a case which the iPhone slots into, via two connected plastic frames. Once in, the headphone and charger sockets at the bottom are no longer accessible, but the rest is. Actually, the mute switch is very hard to get to. Instead, a micro-USB socket appears on the back, and the headphone is accessible via a small extension block (provided).

When charging, the phone does get hot, and I believe the case itself seems to drain the main battery quicker than I would expect if there was no case.

For me this has been really useful. I recently did a business trip to Europe for the day. Rather than charge disappearing by the time I got to the airport for my return flight, I was able to recharge the phone (by pressing a button at the back) and I got an extra couple of hours to watch a movie and check some emails.

The problem is, though, there are faults. It is bulky and takes up too much space in a pocket. I had wanted to use this occasionally - ie. charge it and plug it in for days I would be busy - however, opening and closing the case is a pain and I keep thinking I may break it. The headphone socket is a pain - because I initially planned to use it for occasional use, I lost the headphone adapter early on. Now I put the plug into the phone as far as I can, and use the ridge from the earpiece (standard iPhone headphones) to push it in... it works but not great. It does get hot when charging, and I sensed it drained the battery when not in use somewhat.

Overall, it is useful, but it does have its faults.

UPDATE: I've also realised recently that when connected with the case, you can't connect to eg iTunes on your PC. You have to remove the cover and use the standard iPhone cable. I suspect this is due to the "exterior" connector only being about power... it is a real pain so I've docked another star.


Spree
Spree
by Michael Morley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-stop action, 15 July 2014
This review is from: Spree (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
According to Wikipedia, a spree killer is someone who kills two or more victims in a short time in multiple locations. This compares to a serial killer who will often have "downtime" between kills. FBI Special Agent Jake Mottram is the head of the FBI Spree Killer Unit, responsible for finding sprees and stopping the death toll increasing. He is suddenly faced with a spree unlike any other, and if he fails to work it out quickly, there will be more deaths.

To make it a bit more interesting, his girlfriend Angie Holmes is a psychological profiler and has her own view of what is going on. Add some tension of a domestic nature and there's lots going on, all along a fairly easy single track narrative.

This book is end-to-end action with very short chapters forcing the reader to reject any notion of putting the book down. One more chapter of 4 pages suddenly becomes another 100 pages read! I enjoyed the book immensely although I didn't see the twist in the middle coming at all!


Spain: What Everyone Needs to Know
Spain: What Everyone Needs to Know
by William Chislett
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Spain A little rose tinted and too focused on the current, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Any book with the sub-title "What everyone needs to know" is asking for trouble, as it of course depends on what the reader wants to read. I was interested to get a narrative on the history of Spain over the past 200 hundred years with an informed view from the author of where the future lies. This book does deliver a not, but not really that.

The first three chapters take the reader through the history of Spain from 711 to the transition to democracy after General Franco, up to 1982. Rather than a narrative it is a series of questions and answers which I actually quite enjoyed - when there was a question I was not particularly interested in I skipped to the next one. It was well written, interesting, and the chronology of questions worked well.

However, the second half then described in more detail the successive governments since then and for me are just too detailed. It would have been far more interesting to expand on that first section in my mind.

Having read the book and reflected, I think the image painted is a little less than impartial. Little is said of Gibraltar, the impact of sport (notably football) - I certainly don't feel the book contains everything I want to know hence the loss of a second star.


Staedtler Karat 2420 C36 Oil Pastels - Assorted Colours (Pack of 36)
Staedtler Karat 2420 C36 Oil Pastels - Assorted Colours (Pack of 36)
Price: 15.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant colours, 18 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These oil pastels provide (given the right paper is used) the chance to make beautifully coloured pieces of art. An oil pastel is basically halfway between a pastel and a crayon, and for me it has been fun to experience a new form of art. With 36 colours, there is plenty to work with and each are carefully wrapped on a sturdy box.

The only problem really has been the final outcome, but that's my fault, not the pastels!


Jolla Sim Free Smartphone 16GB
Jolla Sim Free Smartphone 16GB
Price: 279.84

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Different because it can be, 18 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I consider myself a power user who is happy getting to the nuts and bolts of what makes up products and software to get it to work the way I want. From that perspective I was delighted when I was given the opportunity to review this phone.

The basis of this phone is "We're not Apple. We're not Android. We've done things better. Take a look". At a price point which exceeds many better specified Android phones that's a claim which needs to be validated to justify this product. Sadly for me, it just doesn't like up to the hype.

In terms of the device, resolution is okay but nothing special. The touchscreen does seem quite scratch resistant though which puts it ahead of Apple in my mind. The phone is quite thin but not very ergonomically designed in my opinion. Battery life seems quite poor actually, with the battery seeming to go dead within 48-72 hours with no use. Sound is okay, and everything does work. However, you have to spend a bit of time getting use to the interface which is all based on gestures, swishes and that sort of stuff.

For me, this product is different for the sake of being different, and there is a market for that. However, to seriously compete in this space there needs to be more:
- On price, you can spend less on a better specified Android phone (and I didn't like the weird back cover which can have different moods ??)... it's a cover, sorry, that's lost on me
- On interface, why be different? Yes it will make it harder for your partner to access your contact list or emails but it makes it harder for you too
- On apps, this does support Android apps indirectly, which once again begs the question... why not go the whole hog and use it natively.

There are people who will use this phone and say it is fantastic. For me, it's a solution without a problem and for the money I'd stick to the mainstream.


The First Rule Of Survival
The First Rule Of Survival
by Paul Mendelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but a little overhyped, 18 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In The First Rule of Survival, Vaughn de Vries is troubled with guilt for not finding three missing boys from several years earlier. Suddenly the case is back in the spotlight and de Vries is there to put the pieces together with or without the support of his colleagues.

There are a number of parallel threads to this book, some good some unnecessary:
- First and foremost is the core child abduction storyline. I won't go into detail of what happens here but you can imagine from what I have already described that child abuse and false imprisonment is central to the book. There is nothing graphic in this regard which may put off some readers
- A key thread is how the police has changed from white only to black majority and perceived differences in terms of execution of duties vs perception of execution of duties
- There's a British intelligence officer who helps with some intelligence but I find the character a bit of a pain as it's too abstract
- De Vries is regarded as old fashioned, and the senior management would like to be rid of him. He also drinks too much and his wife has left him.

There's a few twists, some very good characters, and yet despite enjoying this book I can't say I look back at it finding it very memorable. I think the author has tried to be a bit too clever, whereas focusing on just the police force and the main crime storyline would have been better. Some of the pages also had to be re-read a few times to make sense, but I cannot really give a reason which I found this.

I will definitely read more books by Paul Mendelson.


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