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hfffoman (Kent)
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Finish All in One Max Original Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Finish All in One Max Original Dishwasher Tablets (Pack of 74)
Price: £20.00

3.0 out of 5 stars There are better options, 1 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I compared this with the Finish Powerball Quantum Max, and also with Sainsburys tablets (which are a lot cheaper).

I found this slightly better than Sainsburys but the clearest conclusion was that the Powerball Quantum Max was the best of the 3. It gave me a better clean on 30 minutes at only 45 degrees than the others gave on a much longer wash. (The others improve with temperature but high settings use a lot of energy).

If you have a lidl near you, the Lidl W5 All in 1 is another option that I would recommend in preference to this.

If you want to get this one, please bear in mind that lemon cleaners can damage china. Finish does an identical product without the lemon.
If


Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Price: £12.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noticeably better than two other types I compared it with, 1 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I agree with the review of Persephone and recommend reading it. I also (courtesy of Amazon Vine) had the chance to compare this with Finish Powerball all-in-one max and I also happened to be using Sainsburys as my base comparison. I found this one noticeably better than both the other products. This is consistent with Persephone's test as I always use a 45 degree wash. Using the Sainsburys tablets it took me a 2 hour wash and I still got bits of food stuck to plates and cutlery and the shine was poor. With the Quantum Max I got a better wash on a 30 minutes setting. That is an impressive improvement.

Unlike Persephone I found the other Finish product not as good as this. I couldn't get such a good wash on 30 minutes, making it cloer to the performance of the Sainsburys tablets.

A little tip: I confess that the first time I used it I painstakingly unwrapped the shrink wrap cellphane covering the tablet. When I read the instructions I realised you are supposed to leave it on.


Involuntary Witness (Guido Guerrieri Novels)
Involuntary Witness (Guido Guerrieri Novels)
by Gianrico Carofiglio
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A well written black-and-white courtroom drama, 28 Feb. 2015
The problem with nearly all courtroom dramas is that they are too black and white. The good and bad parties are clearly signalled to the reader who derives satisfaction from seeing the lies of the bad parties gradually exposed until truth, and the good parties, prevail. But it is a cheap satisfaction. A few courtroom novels surpass this and create a nuanced, genuinely fascinating read. To Kill a Mocking Bird is perhaps the most famous example although it is still quite black and white. An excellent one you may not know is Snow falling on Cedars by David Guterson (in case anyone is interested, I expand on this point in my review of it). I also strongly recommend An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, a truly fascinating read and all the better for being historically accurate down to almost the last detail.

Involuntary Witness falls in the black and white category and I can only recommend it as a light read. However, it is well written, it has the advantage of being written by a judge and it does bring an extra dimension, albeit it a modest one, in that the reflections of the narrator on his life and the characters around him are witty and thoughtful. The Italian setting adds a bit of spice. I will probably read the sequel.

A solid 4 star recommendation.


The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics)
by Oscar Wilde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A contrary view, 25 Feb. 2015
Oscar Wilde's writing is renowned for its intelligence and wit. I found it so irritating I couldn't finish the book.

The first problem for me was the pompous chatter of pompous people who have never done a day of work. For some reason, it is wonderful to read Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and many others writing about people who fall in the same category, but Oscar Wilde's characters were, for me, dull and annoying.

A bigger problem is the famous Oscar Wilde wit. Every few lines we meet a comment which at first glance sounds pithy, witty and wise. After a while I found that most of them were not clever and wise but over-clever, contrived and pretentious. So that you can judge for yourself, I have copied below a sample of such comments. To avoid bias, I have taken them in order, starting at the beginning and including the ones I thought were genuinely good.

If you are tickled by these quotes, you may enjoy the book. If you share my opinion of them, I strongly recommend reading something else.

"there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about"

"beauty ends where an intellectual expression begins"

"Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration"

"There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction...The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world."

"the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties"

"Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know"

"I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible"

"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things"

"she is a peacock in everything but beauty"

"You like every one; that is to say, you are indifferent to every one"

"I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects"

"I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else"

"genius lasts longer than beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves...the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value."

"Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love:"

"Each class would have preached the importance of those virtues, for whose exercise there was no necessity in their own lives"


The Signature of All Things
The Signature of All Things
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Sensitively written but ultimately dull, 25 Feb. 2015
This isn't badly written. it gives a sensitive portrait of the heroine's life and describes her world - 19th century botany, competently. Unfortunately, after the interesting beginning, I found it dull and, as it proceeded, more dull until I stopped reading just over half way through. It contains little dialogue to enliven it and what dialogue it does contain is in a ponderous style which is anything but enlivening. Maybe people did have dull lives and talk ponderously in the 19th century but the great 19th century novelists managed to make them interesting.

For those who disagree or think they might disagree with my verdict - and of course you are very welcome - I would make a couple of observations:

It gives a strong perspective of the problems of a woman suffering from the combination of emotional deprivation and intellectual brilliance. I like that combination. The book also has a mystical angle which may suit some readers more than others. The title is a reference to a real mystical book which can be bought on Amazon.

The theme of the emotionally deprived woman scientist is dealt with much more richly in a couple of other novels. These are The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams and Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Both are delightfully multilayered as well as entertaining.


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3.0 out of 5 stars Original, oblique, witty, intelligent - but declines badly towards the end, 20 Feb. 2015
This is both a crime caper and a comic round-the-world romp. It tells the story of a man’s life from 1905 to 2005 and beyond and at the same time gives a clever, witty (and often ridiculous) angle on various historical events. The man’s story, and the manner of the telling, are also clever, witty (and often ridiculous).

I agree with those who compared it with Forrest Gump and Any Human Heart (I would add New Confessions, also by William Boyd). At its best this one is as good as William Boyd though Boyd’s novels are consistently enthralling to the end and generally plausible, unlike this. (Sorry, I can’t agree with those who thought the story was plausible - it obeys the laws of physics and is reasonably faithful to the laws of human behaviour but overall it comes across as neither plausible nor intended to be).

If you have read other reviews, you will have seen that the book contains two interleaved stories: Allan’s life up to age 100 and Allen’s life starting on his 100th birthday. I prefer to make a further division and I will use this to explain my mixed views of the book:

1. The story up to his 100th birthday I found interesting. It seems to be well researched into 20th century history and shows an oblique and irreverent view of international affairs. This is where the writing is at its wittiest. I loved the joke about Nixon though unfortunately the author seems to have worried it might be too subtle and went on to explain it.

2. The story from Allan’s 100th birthday until about a week later, I found entertaining both in the events and the writing style. There is a refreshing childish logic in the explanations and in the frequent unexpected turns of events. It didn’t make me laugh but it made me smile many times.

3. For me the book peaked with the event which, to avoid spoilers, I will call “sit and don’t sit”. After that it became too ridiculous for my taste. The next major plot twist was of “fairy-godmother arrived and they all lived happily ever after” proportions and from that moment to the end I couldn't get interested in the people or what happened to them. The problem was perhaps that the story accelerated as it proceeded. Early on, circumstances developed slowly, allowing time to savour their delicious peculiarities and that is where I most enjoyed the reading.

Overall, it had an original, refreshing feel and I would have given a stronger recommendation but for the last quarter


East of Innocence (Daniel Connell 1)
East of Innocence (Daniel Connell 1)
by David Thorne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable thriller, 18 Feb. 2015
This is the story of a lawyer caught up with various criminals and lowlifes in his hometown near Romford. I read it as comprising three layers. One layer is a regular thriller in which the bad guys make the Krays seem like saints while the good guys suffer from self-doubt, depression and emotional trauma. Another is the hero's reflections on himself and those around him. The third layer is a little portrait of the stratum of society occupied by the Essex underworld. It is this last that I found most impressive. The dialogue captures their manner to perfection (with perfectly placed f words in nearly every sentence).

Taking into account a couple of unconvincing plot moments, this is a 4 star book. If you like audiobooks, I would recommend the audible version which is superbly read by Rupert Degas who probably deserves a lot of the credit for how well the dialogue came across.


The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle): 2
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle): 2
by Patrick Rothfuss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A combination of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, 14 Feb. 2015
If you liked the first book (Name of the Wind) I would strongly recommend continuing with this one though I agree with the comments by some other reviewers that a few passages are drawn out far too long.

If you haven't read the Name of the Wind I would strongly recommend reading it first. Here are my comments on it which apply equally to this one:

Imagine Harry Potter with most of the fun and wit removed, and set in a fantasy world with a well developed lore and an epic sense of foreboding.
Imagine game of Thrones centred on one character who is coming of age and has to contend with poverty and prejudice while he studies magic, though in this case at a university instead of a school. That combination is The Kingkiller Chronicles

As an adult reader I found it entertaining though I thought some of the teenage relationship conversations were written for a lower age than the rest of the book.

If you are into audio books, I would strongly recommend the audible version. Rupert Degas turns it from a good read into a brilliant listen.


The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle)
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle)
by Patrick Rothfuss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A combination of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, 14 Feb. 2015
Imagine Harry Potter with most of the fun and wit removed, and set in a fantasy world with a well developed lore and an epic sense of foreboding. Imagine game of Thrones centred on one character who is coming of age and has to contend with poverty and prejudice while he studies magic, though in this case at a university instead of a school. That combination is The Name of the Wind.

As an adult reader I found it entertaining though I thought some of the teenage relationship conversations were written for a lower age than the rest of the book.

If you are into audio books, I would strongly recommend the audible version. Rupert Degas turns it from a good read into a brilliant listen.


Blue Horizon (The Courtneys)
Blue Horizon (The Courtneys)
by Wilbur Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining yarn but nothing more, 12 Feb. 2015
The popularity of this and his other books shows that he writes entertaining yarns. If you are looking for something original or well written, there are better options. I am not above reading teenage adventure stories. For instance I loved the Name of the Wind and the Mortal Engines series, but this one felt too cheap and childish, even for me.


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