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Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom)
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Cole & Mason 165 mm Dark Wood Morley Crank Pepper Mill, Brown
Cole & Mason 165 mm Dark Wood Morley Crank Pepper Mill, Brown
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Rolls-Royce of pepper mills!, 21 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Wow - this is the Rolls-Royce of pepper mills! Our previous mill - also a Cole & Mason - was an acrylic model, shaped like a "normal" pepper mill, and after over ten years of faultless service disaster struck when the top section split into two, so a replacement was sought.

As soon as you open the package you know that this is a quality item. It's big and sturdy, but not as heavy as you may think. The lower section is a solid piece of wood and comes already filled with good quality peppercorns, and the upper part is a steel rotary handle with a wooden knob, and a "P" is marked on the metal to indicate that this is a pepper mill (a matching salt mill is available, presumably with an "S" on it). Underneath the mill there is a sturdy plastic wingnut of sorts which allows you to change the coarseness of the pepper, from big flakes - which we like - to a fine powder, which is sometimes better for recipes where you don't want the pepper to be visible in the final dish. To refill the mill, you simply pull the metal section upwards and pour your peppercorns inside, then push the top back on.

This mill feels as though it is built to last, and in operation it is almost effortless, and quiet. Okay, so cheaper mills are available, but this is a quality piece of kit, and on top of that it looks great too.


Nyctophobia
Nyctophobia
by Christopher Fowler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.89

2.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best, 20 Oct 2014
This review is from: Nyctophobia (Paperback)
I'm a big fan of Christopher Fowler's work, but sadly this book was a huge disappointment.

Callie and her husband move into Hyperion House, an impressive Spanish house built against the side of a cliff, and their lives seem to be perfect. Husband Mateo travels a lot with his work, but Callie loves the house and sets out to discover as much as she can about its history. The house is staffed by a sinister housekeeper and a gardener (whose tongue has been cut out), and they seem unwilling - or unable - to tell Callie what they know. Callie is intrigued by the fact that the rear of the house, the side built close to the cliff, is locked up, and the housekeeper claims not to have the keys for this part, yet Callie sometimes hears noises from the other side of the doors, occasional cries, and at one point a spool of cotton disappears beneath a door and an unseen hand pulls it inside.

It's a slow build, rather too slow in fact, and when the story turns towards darkness I found it didn't chill me at all - for this reader it was a horror story free of horror. It also all felt rather silly. Would somebody really buy a house having only seen half of the interior? Would a person like Callie who happily uses her laptop and mobile (all Apple, as with almost every book these days - it seems no other hardware manufacturers exist in the world of fiction) really not think of performing a Google search on the name or the history of the property, and instead rely on people getting back to her or producing dusty manuscripts? It also felt rather clichéd - the aforementioned sinister housekeeper and gardener, the missing keys that actually aren't missing at all, the characters who plead ignorance but then turn out to have known the secret of the house all along, and so on. Finally there were also a number of proofreading errors in the book, such as a reference to "cyprus trees" (cypress, surely?) and a scene where a group of women are dancing to "Katy Perry's 'Telephone'", which I'm sure was actually by Lady Gaga.

All in all I found it a frustrating, and sadly rather tedious read. I really wanted to enjoy it, but instead I found it hugely disappointing, which is a great shame as Christopher Fowler is one of my favourite authors. He can do so much better than this. Sorry, Christopher.


The Quarry
The Quarry
Price: £2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Bitterly disappointing, 13 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Quarry (Kindle Edition)
I'm sorry to say that Iain Banks's final novel was for me one of his most disappointing. The story focuses on Kit, who lives with his father in a house close to the edge of a huge quarry. Kit's father is dying of cancer, and before he goes a number of his old friends from university visit in order to find out what happened with a video tape they filmed back in the day. Kit's father tells them it has been destroyed, but has it? The friends stick around, everyone bickers, and the book rumbles on for 385 pages.

I loved Banks's "ensemble" novels such as "The Crow Road" and "The Steep Approach to Garbadale", where he worked with large casts of characters, but "The Quarry" just didn't work for me, and none of the characters were likeable in any way. I really wanted to enjoy this book, for it to be a grand hurrah of a novel for Banks, but sadly I found it tedious and frustrating. Far from his finest, and such a shame he died soon after finishing this book. The most disappointing book I've read in 2014 unfortunately.


The Shock of the Fall
The Shock of the Fall
Price: £3.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it!, 13 Oct 2014
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This is a strange but excellent book, telling the story of Matthew Holmes's life in his own words (and pictures). Matthew suffers from a mental disorder, and as he is telling his own story his attention wanders, so the structure is fragmented, and initially I found it a difficult read as I didn't have a clue what was going on and for a while I considered leaving it unfinished, but I continued, and as the book goes on everything comes together beautifully. I don't want to say too much as I'm wary of spoilers, so I apologise for the vagueness of this review, but it's a superbly written book and is constructed in a novel way, with occasional sketches in the text, different fonts and layouts, and it helps to paint a picture of the chaos inside Matthew's mind. A superb début novel.


The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures
The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures
Price: £4.19

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a mixed bag, 6 Oct 2014
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I was a huge fan of Louis Theroux's TV shows and when this book appeared at a knock-down price on the Kindle I snapped it up. Each of the chapters sees Theroux revisit some of the subjects of his shows in order to catch up with them and see what has happened since they last met. Because of this it's more likely to be of interest to those who saw the original episodes rather than complete newcomers, and additionally there isn't an overall theme - unlike, for example, Jon Ronson's books - so it does feel a little scrappy. Having said that, it's an enjoyable read, if a bit of a mixed bag with some of the encounters being more interesting than others - just like the TV show, really.


The Humans
The Humans
Price: £2.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable but enjoyable, 22 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Humans (Kindle Edition)
This was a very strange but quite sweet book. A mathematician solves an apparently insoluble equation and immediately dies, his body being taken over by an alien sent to kill him as the answer to the equation will apparently cause terrible repercussions for his species. The alien is then tasked with killing the mathematician's family, but slowly he begins to learn about life on earth, and what it is to be human.

It's quite a short book - I read it in a single day on holiday - and easy to read, but ultimately I found it a little underwhelming. It's all rather predictable, and although enjoyable I hoped for something more, and didn't find it as moving as some of the other reviewers. All in all it was an entertaining read, but I hoped for more.


Becoming Johnny Vegas
Becoming Johnny Vegas
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A total surprise, 22 Sep 2014
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I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. I've always enjoyed watching Johnny Vegas on TV but surely an autobiography - a long one at that - would be pushing things? Thankfully it was a hugely enjoyable read.

The book is the story of Michael Pennington, better known as Johnny Vegas, and how he developed from childhood to his first successes on the Edinburgh Fringe. He's often startlingly honest, and there were occasions where I was surprised he'd had the guts to put some of the stories into print. It's also funny, often hilariously so, and by the end I was viewing Johnny / Michael in a different light, the man we see on TV being a character rather than a human being.

Yes it's long, and some may find it boring. Yes, it's very "northern", but he grew up in St Helens so what else could it be? And yes, the interruptions by the hypochondriac Johnny (printed in a strange font in the paperback and hardback, but just rendered in a slightly larger typeface on the Kindle so not as easy to pick out) are a little tiresome at times, but they're few and far between.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the only negative thing I can say about it was that the Kindle formatting wasn't great regarding the "Johnny" interruptions.


Crying With Laughter: My Life Story
Crying With Laughter: My Life Story
Price: £4.68

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, warts-and-all autobiography, but a little disappointing, 22 Sep 2014
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I've recently read several autobiographies written by "old" celebrities, and was really looking forward to this as I've always enjoyed watching Bob on TV. Sadly I didn't find it as entertaining as the majority of the reviewers on here. It's an enjoyable read but I don't think I laughed at all, but it did raise a few smiles.

It's quite a "warts and all" tale, and Bob tells several stories which I did find quite surprising, and he often paints himself in an unfavourable light. As with many autobiographies however you can't be entirely certain as to how much is true, how much has been embellished, and how much is completely fabricated. The non-linear structure will be distracting for some, and it did feel a little over-long, but all in all it was an enjoyable read, just not quite as entertaining as I'd hoped it would be, especially after reading all of the reviews.


The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 2)
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike Book 2)
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Galbraith / Rowling, 22 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Earlier this year I read Robert Galbraith's "The Cuckoo's Calling" and found it thoroughly enjoyable. In Galbraith's (really JK Rowling's) second Cormoran Strike novel she maintains the standard set with the opening instalment in what looks likely to be another long-running series.

Following on from the events in the first novel, private detective Cormoran Strike is enjoying an increase in business thanks to his success with his previous case. This time around he is called upon to find a missing author who has vanished soon after delivering a bizarre and libellous manuscript to his publisher. Together with his assistant Robin, Strike faces a race against time to solve the case, and things get extremely grisly very quickly.

It's a thoroughly entertaining story and more than anything else I loved the relationship between Strike and Robin, and also her fiancé who appears in a few scenes. Admittedly, the final resolution to the case does come as something of a surprise, but many novels in this genre are like that really.

All in all this was a highly entertaining read, and I look forward to the third instalment in the series.


BISSELL Homecare Emergency Spot Cleaner 3698E, 275 Watt
BISSELL Homecare Emergency Spot Cleaner 3698E, 275 Watt
Price: £117.70

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clumsy householder? You need this!, 21 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This really surprised us as it actually worked better than we expected! We're a little bit clumsy and often find we spill things onto our carpets, such as food and drink in the lounge and kitchen, and toothpaste & mouthwash in the bathroom, and over the years we've tried carpet cleaning sprays, foams and powders, all of which claim to work wonders but the reality isn't so impressive. This however really does seem to do the business.

It comes in a fairly large box and the first impressions weren't great, as a long cable and a shorter ribbed hose with a large nozzle stretched from the unit itself and I envisaged it being the kind of thing I'd stick in a cupboard and find tangled amongst everything else every time I wanted to use it. However, the box contains three plastic clips which, when inserted into the main unit (it's easy to see where they go) hold the power cable in two easy-release catches, and the ribbed hose winds around the base and is gripped firmly at the rear of the device. Once everything is wrapped away it takes up only a small amount of space and is easy to carry, if a little heavier than I expected. The product specification here says it weighs 7 kilos, but this includes two trial bottles of cleaning solution.

It's simple to use. The instructions are brief and easy to follow. One side of the unit has a clear plastic tank for dirty water, and the other holds the water and shampoo. The water tank has two sets of markings - one for small stains and one for larger areas. Fill the tank with hot water (from the tap) to the relevant mark, then add the Bissell shampoo and finally top it up to a third mark with the booster solution - the two solutions are available from Amazon and elsewhere. Plug the unit into the mains, switch it on, and you're ready to go. The nozzle has a trigger which, when pulled, squirts the water and shampoo onto the carpet. Spray the area to be treated, leave it to soak in for a few minutes if you feel it needs it, and then you use it a little like a vacuum cleaner. It's quite noisy, especially as you will be kneeling close to the unit when you're cleaning your carpet, but as you scrub and squirt the shampoo onto the carpet you can see it shooting up the tube and into the dirty tank, where you can see just how much muck is being sucked out of the carpet. After a little while the dirty tank gets full, and the suction stops, so you switch the unit off, take the dirty tank out, remove a rubber plug from the top, and tip it down the sink, then once replaced you're off again.

This isn't a device you'd use to clean the whole carpet - the water tank is too small for that and it would take forever - but the product is clearly marketed as a spot cleaner. We used it on a couple of spills, plus on two grubby areas of carpet that the aforementioned sprays and powder cleaners had failed on, and they've come up really well and there's a vast improvement. For the price, and the portability of the unit, this is a little cracker. We're delighted with it.


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