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John Fraser "John" (St Albans)

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A1CS 9.2" DUAL-CORE Economy+ v2 Android Tablet PC - ANDROID 4.1.1 JELLYBEAN - 1GB RAM - HDMI - DUAL CAMERAS - Capacitive 5-point Touch Screen
A1CS 9.2" DUAL-CORE Economy+ v2 Android Tablet PC - ANDROID 4.1.1 JELLYBEAN - 1GB RAM - HDMI - DUAL CAMERAS - Capacitive 5-point Touch Screen

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, 3 Jun. 2013
Okay - fact is the main reason I wanted this was for my four-year-old daughter. I'd had an ipad on a contract job for a while and she intuitively enjoyed playing with it. There were so many options - she could watch TV on it, paint pictures, play games, solve puzzles and so on and so on. But I'm not about to fork out over £250 for the piddly 7' inch ipad let alone the £300 for a 9" inch version (and I'm a big Apple fan - I'm writing this on my six month old iMac which I totally love.) So, this, after much research, looked like the best option. Coming in at under £90, I hoped it would offer a bargain version of the ipad experience. And it does exactly that, rather admirably.

Warning - the initial start up page looks like tablets might have looked if they'd been branded in the 70s. That said, you only ever see it for about 5 seconds. And the default homepage is frankly icky. But once I'd downloaded some familiar apps, got rid of the default browser and changed the wallpaper (to, I must confess, an apple-alike version) I felt much more at home. So far, so good. No problems with wifi, or with anything crashing. The build quality seems okay. It's not as satisfying or as classy as an ipad, nor as immediately intuitive, and the touchscreen swiping isn't as smooth. But it's apples and pears, frankly and I'm only £80 or so down, rather than several hundred.

The fact is it's a total bargain.

Alone Aboard The Ark
Alone Aboard The Ark
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £8.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyousness, 9 May 2013
This review is from: Alone Aboard The Ark (Audio CD)
I spent most of 2011 addicted to The Leisure Society's first album, The Sleeper, and was a tiny but disappointed by its follow-up Into The Murky Water. It was good but not great. However, this album is a total triumph. It has a lot more going on, musically, that previous albums, with Nick Hemming indulging in flourishes of electric guitar and effects pedals, and Christian having a lot of fun on his electric piano/organ. There is also a wonderful harmomic relationship between the fiddle and flute parts that shows how wonderfully clever their arrangements are. It's hard to work out who the influences are as they blend them so effortlessly, but there are hints of the Beatles (McCartney more than Lennon), the Byrds, and weirdly, on occasion the Wonder Stuff (and I mean that as a compliment). There is no filler, but the Sober Scent of Paper and All I have Seen are standouts for me. I saw them at the South Bank a few weeks ago and there were just wonderful. Full of joy and good vibes.

PS And you should totally download the EP Out of the Murky Water, not least for the beautiful dreamy instrumental "Weir Road".

Here I Am: The story of Tim Hetherington, war photographer
Here I Am: The story of Tim Hetherington, war photographer
by Alan Huffman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the horrible fascination of war, 9 May 2013
I read about this in the Sunday Times a few weeks back and immediately bought a copy online. It sheds light on the life of a complex, inspiring figure, in a moving and compelling way.
Here I Am tells the story of Tim Hetherington's professional life as a war photographer, glossing over his early years in a few leaps and bounds and focussing on the 1990s until 2011, and his time documenting conflict in Liberia, Afghanistan and, fatefully, Libya.
There's something about staring through a viewfinder that creates a distance but at the same time an intimacy, and this book does a wonderful job of exploring that boundary. Tim saw himself as a storyteller rather than a reporter, and that sense of his wanting to find a truth really shines through.
The book wrestles with pretty uncomfortable subject matter looking at the complexities of Tim's persona that make him - and many of his fellow photographers - inured to the dangers they place themselves in, daily testing the limits of fate, occasionally feeling almost invincible. I have a close friend who is a photographer and, though he's never done anything as extreme as Tim Hetherington, I've always been amazed by a certain fearlessness to his nature that this book goes some way to explain. That said, it also dispels the idea of war photographers as reckless thrill-seekers and shows that in Tim's case, there was a purposefulness to what he did and how he went about it, and a deep humanity too.
It also poses some pretty discomforting questions about our relationship - as readers and news junkies - to the subject matter that Tim and his fellow photographers risk their lives to bring to our attention.
For anyone interested in the mind of a photographer - and in reading an inspiring and ultimately tragic story - this is a must.

Hung Together: The 2010 Election and the Coalition Government
Hung Together: The 2010 Election and the Coalition Government
by Adam Boulton
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight, 6 Dec. 2010
I'm a bit surprised by some of the other reviews posted below. I know Adam Boulton can be a bit bullish onscreen, but I found this book illuminating and considered. He (and Mr Jones of course) write well and it's hard to imagine that there are many people in a better position to get an inside look at what really went on behid the scens at Whitehall. One way or another this is a great book to read if you want a knowledgeable, witty political analysis of how the coalition was formed, along with plenty of inside info on the key players - and some occasionally hilarious anecdotes.

The Courage Of Others
The Courage Of Others
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A serious grower..., 6 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Courage Of Others (Audio CD)
The Courage of Others is a fantastic album. While i can understand come people finding it a difficult listen, especially after the comparatively hook-laden Trails of Van Occupanther, there is much richness therein. Granted, "Fortune" is the only variation tempo-wise (though I think we'd struggle to call it "upbeat") and the rest of the album is has a fairly plodding and unrelenting rhythm. And It's fair to say that, had I not been such a fan of Van Occupanther, I may not have given it the time I have. But after several months of listening now, I've found that its its rewards are deep and moving. It's a properly emotionally engaging experience: occasionally bleak and depressing, at other times uplifting and hopeful.

I'd urge anyone that enjoyed Van Occupanter to keep trying with this one.

Jesus on Thyface: Social Networking for the Modern Messiah
Jesus on Thyface: Social Networking for the Modern Messiah
by Denise Haskew
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literally THE best possible present for Jesus's birthday!, 12 Nov. 2010
I heard about this through a friend-of-a-friend and had seen the facebook site and twitter feed. And though the online stuff was funny I wasn't prepared for how consistently clever and laugh-out-loud the book would be. Simply, it tells the story of the New Testament but with a seriously well voiced facebook-style narration in the form of status updates (mainly from Jesus) and comments from "friends" like the disciples, Herod or even Satan on one or two occasions.
It's a simple idea but works brilliantly. Just the idea of Jesus saying *lol* is enough to get me going.

For those of us whose knowledge of the New Testament is based upon half-forgotten Sunday School songs or readings of "Bible Stories for Children" when we were six years old, it really brings back the detail too - I can't help but feel that the authors must have seriously researched it.

I'm generally a bit disappointed by what people tend to refer to as "loo books" - more than often they're just a thin idea spread out over 100 or so pages - but this one really delivers. It reminded me of two things - first, there are obviously echoes of the humour of The Life of Brian, but secondly the tone of the Airplane films - each time you look at a page you see something new and hilarious.

And i don't want to spoil it for you but the Mohammed gag at the end is priceless.

The Alternative Hero
The Alternative Hero
by Tim Thornton
Edition: Paperback

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostaligic and believeable, 24 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Alternative Hero (Paperback)
I've just emerged from a few days in the world of Alternative Hero and must share my experience!

I always like the idea of music novels but to be honest, am often disappointed by one shortcoming: a fictional band, on the page, all too often feels, well, like the stuff of fiction. Successful music acts rely on charisma and stage presence and a PR machine for us to believe in them - take it all away and they're just a bunch of people with a bit of talent who can play instruments and carry a tune. (Not always even that - eg. Ocean Colour Scene.) Though Ian Banks arguably came close with Espedair Street, all the fictional bands I've encountered fall short of believability - their song titles always sound clunky and the bands' names never quite rung true.

So, what I'm trying to say is that in Alternative Hero, Tim Thornton has arguably created the most believable, charismatic, yet deeply real and human band you'll ever read about: The Thieving Magpies. In fact, there is now part of my mind that is everso slightly convinced that I saw them at Reading in 1993. And didn't I once own their first album?

I could also bang on about the fact that it has a great plot, some incredibly adroit descriptions of the 90s indie music scene - particularly the festivals - a very likeably complex narrator in the shape of Clive, and a surprisingly satisfying ending. But mainly you should read it to find out about the best band you've never heard of.

One question I'd love to know the answer to though: who are the Theiving Magpies based on, I Wonder? Stuff like this keeps me up at night...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2013 5:06 PM BST

Ordinary Thunderstorms
Ordinary Thunderstorms
by William Boyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

84 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scorcher!, 8 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Ordinary Thunderstorms (Paperback)
I'm not what you'd call a longterm fan of Boyd - in fact, I've only ever read Restless, his last novel, which I thought was great - but I saw him on BBC 4 talking to Mark Lawson over the weekend and was immediately moved to buy this, the new one. And the fact that I've already finished it says it all! It's such a joy to read a thriller (and this really is an out-and-out thriller) that's written by someone who actually knows how to write.

The premise, of an innocent man on the run from an unknown adversary, is hardly new, but is incredibly compelling. And his evocation of London's underbelly is so real you almost smell the stench. It also includes a wonderful cast of characters: policemen and crooks, sinister scientists, lowlifes and and prostituets and a hugely real and believeable hero (a rare thing in a good thriller) in the shape of Adam Kindred.

The story has some extraordinary ingredients - as though Charles Dickens, John Buchan and John Le Carré decided to get together and pool their talents - and is so well constructed and propels the characters along as such a zip, that it arguably betters Restless for sheer fizz and verve alone.

In short: good, high-quality reading pleasure of a sort I've not experienced in a long time!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 27, 2009 7:16 PM BST

Trumpton: The Complete Collection [DVD] [1967]
Trumpton: The Complete Collection [DVD] [1967]
Dvd ~ Brian Cant
Offered by red_priscilla
Price: £29.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy!, 8 Sept. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub!"

If you can't remember those hallowed words, then you didn't have a childhood!

Ahem... Back to the review. Well, I've watched this a few times with our young daughter, Liza and while I was concerned that the total lack of plot - by which I mean virtually nothing happens during the whole episode - she's as mesmerised by it as I am. So engaging and innocent. It's a total joy.

I bought the Camberwick Green, Mr Ben, Bagpuss and Flumps sets at the same time... now all I need to do is disconnect the TV, hook up the DVD full-time, and Liza need never endure any of the tosh on Kids TV these days. Nostalgia rules!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2009 12:15 AM BST

The Lives of Others [DVD] [2006]
The Lives of Others [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Martina Gedeck
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.31

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 8 Sept. 2009
Where to start?

The acting? Remarkably intense and believable. Each of the characters, each of them flawed in some intrinsic way, wins over our sympathy and understanding. The performances just knock your socks off. Ulrich Muhe's role, in particular, as HWW 20/7, is a triumph. You can imagine Kevin Spacey (and I've nothing against Kevin Spacey - he's a fine actor) playing the same role and getting it everso slightly wrong.

The cinematography? Breathtaking. An abundance of Eastern Bloc Brown (which should be a Dulux colour, really) helps create a brooding, melancholic backdrop throughout. And some of the scenes are a wonder to behold: people glimpsed through car windows, silhouetted behind a shower curtain, shuffling from door to door, smoking at the edge of a party, climbing into a menacing limousine - just going about their everyday business - has never been so mesmerising.

The plot? Well, not wishing to give anything away, the way in which a deeply depressing and troubling period in history is explained and made real as the plot develops is chilling and moving and everything great cinema should be. And to take us to an ending that gives us such a feeling of hope and promise after such harrowing events is a masterstroke (and doesn't in any way, feel like a compromise.)

Overall there's an intensity to the film-making that makes one wonder why it is that US cinema seems incapable of producing things of a similar quality.

One of the best films of the past 25 years, arguably.

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