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Reviews Written by
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom)

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Price: £11.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Progress from "Progress", but still some catching up to do to reclaim their past glories, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: III (Audio CD)
Since their comeback I've become something of a Take That fan, but their last album, "Progress", was a huge drop in quality for me. The issue there was the overbearing presence of Robbie Williams, who seemed to take over the record (and the live show), turning it more into a Robbie album instead of a Take That album, and the songs on that collection just weren't as good as before. Thankfully his return was just for that album - the cynic in me also thinks it was perhaps just to raise his own profile once again, as he followed it almost immediately with his own solo record and tour. When "III" was announced it was also the moment that Jason's departure from the band was revealed, so how would things be this time around as a three-piece?

It starts promisingly with the great "These Days", similar in many ways to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky", and for a while the record follows a dance template. It's all very up-beat, but something has gone a little awry and it feels like a collection of solo songs rather than "band" songs - each track seems to have a single vocalist and the others are hard to detect. That said, the songs are almost all very good, the only dud for me being "Give You My Love" sung by Howard Donald. In fact, the best tracks in my opinion are sung by Mark Owen, never my favourite singer in the band, and "Into The Wild" is by far and away my favourite. Also worth a mention is "Believe", one of the bonus tracks, again sung by Mark. Another bonus track, "Amazing", seems to be Gary's attempt at writing a Beatles song, and sadly it fails.

So are they any good as a three-piece? It's a consistent album, but I do miss the variety of the likes of the "Beautiful World" and "The Circus" albums, which had a real mixture of sounds. This seems heavily inspired by the sound of "Progress", but for me does it a whole lot better. I can imagine it being enjoyable live, with one of their trademark huge productions, but it's a shame there's no "Patience" or a "Rule The World", although the closing (of the "main" album) "Get Ready For It" pushes all of the anthemic buttons.

All in all it's a good album and thoroughly enjoyable, but not a great one. Maybe when Jason comes back for their 25th anniversary he'll bring that missing ingredient with him.

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity Tracker & Sleep Wristband - Black
Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity Tracker & Sleep Wristband - Black
Price: £69.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not a fitness enthusiast, but for a long time I've wondered just how far I walk each day, and how well I actually sleep. I bought one of these as an Amazon "Black Friday" offer and it quickly became my latest obsession.

The box contains the Fitbit flex - a rubbery wristband with a small "chip" inside it which can be removed if you'd prefer to carry it in your pocket for example - along with a smaller wristband, and a charging dongle of sorts into which the "chip" is inserted whilst the other end plugs into a USB socket on a computer or your mobile phone charger. You'll need a Bluetooth device of some sort - a phone, a computer, or a tablet - to configure it. I used the Android and iOS apps, both of which are very similar in terms of look, feel and functionality. The initial configuration is a matter of installing the app (or visiting the website if you're using a computer), firing up your Bluetooth, and the app will find your Fitbit. Create a Fitbit account, and that's pretty much it. Within a few minutes I had the band on my wrist and I was away.

Via the website you can set goals for number of steps walked each day and so on, and while you're on the move you can use the app to document what you've eaten, how much water you drink, and if you do any specific exercise activity such as swimming, cycling and so on. The rest of the time the Flex sits on your wrist and records what you get up to. You don't need to keep your Bluetooth switched on on your phone, and you don't even need your phone to be nearby, as the data gets stored inside the Flex until you choose to download it by opening the app and enabling Bluetooth on your phone. You'll see statistics and, if you tap them, graphs showing how you've done, and if you meet your target number of steps you'll feel the Flex vibrate on your wrist - a strange sensation every time it happens, but neither audible nor noticeable to those around you. You can even use this feature to set "silent alarms", programming your Flex to vibrate at a set time which can be useful as an alarm clock that won't disturb anyone else, or - craftily - if you're going somewhere and want to leave at a certain time you can set the Flex to remind you to do a runner and nobody will ever know, as you've not been constantly checking your watch.

In operation the Flex is rather minimalist. The product image shows a line of white lights, but these are only visible if you tap the Flex. The lights show how close to your daily goal you are - five lights means you're there. It's comfortable to wear, easy to remove and adjust, and there are no sensors or catches to irritate your skin.

As for the sleep tracking, it's fascinating! When I go to bed I tap the Flex repeatedly for a few seconds until two of the lights are displayed, and that's all that is required to tell it you're in bed. Wake up the next morning, tap the Flex a few times again until it vibrates and the lights come back, and if you look at the app you'll see how long you were asleep, and the graph shows sleeping time in dark blue, restless time in light blue, and awake time in a pinkish-red. Okay, so it only classes restless as when you move your arm, and it doesn't rate the quality of your sleep, but it's still addictive. Incidentally, if you forget to tell the Flex that you're going to sleep you can manually log your sleep via the app, and the graph is still displayed.

Battery life is good, and if you disable "all day sync" (where it constantly tries to send Bluetooth data) it lasts even longer. A charge normally lasts about five days for me. The app tells you your current battery level.

All in all this is a great little thing even for those of us who don't choose to go running.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Price: £2.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Small but perfectly formed, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Monument Valley (App)
Short and very sweet, this is a wonderful game. Easily completable in an hour - probably less - it's reminiscent of those MC Escher paintings where people walk up endless staircases, or water flows uphill.

You play a little girl in a strange landscape, and your task is to progress through these ten environments, sometimes moving parts of the structure, occasionally avoiding bird-people who stalk around the pathways, until you reach a goal at the end of each level. It sounds strange but it's simple to play, just a case of tapping where you want the girl to go, or dragging items such as totem poles or handles around. Throughout there is gentle, calming music, and there's nothing to offend or shock at any point, so it is safe for anyone to play.

A small, but perfectly formed game. I loved it.

The Sins of the Father (Clifton Chronicles Book 2)
The Sins of the Father (Clifton Chronicles Book 2)
Price: £2.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same entertaining fluff, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After recently reading book one of Jeffrey Archer's "Clifton Chronicles" saga I bought the second book, hoping for more of the same, and I wasn't disappointed.

As with the first book, this is a fast-paced, easy read, where the good are saintly and the bad are just evil, and as you suspend disbelief the pages fly by in a blur. It's shorter than its predecessor, so it doesn't sag quite as much as that one, but the story here was a little less interesting than the first for me. As before, there's another huge cliff-hanger at the end, and once again I immediately found myself buying the next book in the series, despite promising earlier in the read that this would be my last book in the saga.

Entertaining fluff on the whole, but hugely entertaining fluff at that.

Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles series Book 1)
Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles series Book 1)
Price: £3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, easy reading, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The second Jeffrey Archer novel I'd read, and the start of his epic "Clifton Chronicles" family saga.

As you'd expect from Archer, it's a fast-paced, easy read, and the pages fly by. If I'm honest I'd admit I found the second half of the book not quite as interesting as the first, but I continued and have since bought (and read) the second volume of the story, and since then the third too, so it must be good.

The story revolves around a few central players, and each part of the book sees the story through the eyes of one of these people. There are frequent surprises, and regular "oh no!" moments when the plans of a character are thwarted by the acts of another. It's all very stereotypical in a way as the good people are saintly, whilst the bad are just plain evil, often in a rather cartoonish way, but it's entertaining hokum nonetheless. Of course, the whole thing also ends with a massive cliff-hanger too.

If you're looking for something entertaining, easy to read, and which will probably suck you in to the whole series of books, this is a decent offering.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
Price: £4.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 8 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A confession. I'd never heard of Viv Albertine, nor was I familiar with the music of The Slits, and when I bought this book I did so off the back of the many excellent reviews I'd read. Would I enjoy the autobiography of someone I knew nothing about?

It's an excellent book, told in shockingly honest prose (there were times I winced!) and it's utterly compelling. The first half tells the story of her childhood, youth, and her time in The Slits. Famous names come and go - Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten, Mick Jones to name but three - and it's hugely entertaining, if often bleak. The second half focuses on life after The Slits, through Viv's attempts to have a child, her faltering fortunes, cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the often harrowing story of her marriage to a man who initially sounded perfect. I know this sounds depressing, but the way Viv tells the story is superb, and by the end I felt as though I wanted to give her a hug and thank her for writing this excellent book.

One of the best things I've read in 2014.

The Strange Library
The Strange Library
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Far from his best, but it's pretty, 8 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Strange Library (Hardcover)
As a Murakami fan I couldn't wait to read this but sadly it's hugely disappointing. It's a lovely looking thing, a small, thin hardback book (think of the old "Ladybird" books from childhood) with a library ticket pocket stuck to the front and nice illustrations and typography inside. That beauty however is only skin-deep, as this is definitely one of Murakami's lesser short stories, and the whole thing is easily readable in fifteen or twenty minutes. The tale itself is nothing remarkable, and as soon as I'd finished it it was forgotten. In case I missed something I read it again the next day, just to check, but my feelings were unchanged.

If you're a Murakami collector you'll buy it of course, but if you've never read his work before this won't give you the slightest idea of what all the fuss is about. Far from his best work.

Bosch HBM13B251B Bosch classixx built-in double electric oven
Bosch HBM13B251B Bosch classixx built-in double electric oven
Offered by washking ltd
Price: £779.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great oven with a couple of niggles, 1 Dec 2014
Our old oven was starting to misbehave so we decided to buy a new one. After looking at a few reviews online and seeing this model in a shop, we bought it (from a local retailer, I confess.)

It's a handsome thing, its two doors easy to use (they hinge down but don't slide inside as some others do) and the two ovens are a really good size, the lower one being the biggest and easily spacious enough to hold our trusty stone casserole dish which we use for so many dishes. Three wire shelves are provided and can be used in either of the ovens - we have two in the bottom one and one in the top. The smaller oven can be used in three ways. Firstly it can be used as an oven which only heats from above, or as an oven which heats from above and below, or it can be used as a grill which has three heat settings (low, medium and high). A grill pan - without a handle - is provided and can be used at different heights in the top oven for fine tuning of your toast preferences!

Speaking of the grill pan it is billed as a "universal tray". This is one of my favourite features of the oven as it can be used as a grill pan, or also as a "drip catcher" in either oven, so if you're cooking which has a chance of boiling over you can use it to catch any spillages rather than have them fall onto the bottom of the oven and get burned on. The tray is large enough to fill either oven from front to back.

Both ovens also have internal lights, which is also a plus. Our previous oven only had a light in the main oven.

Controlling the oven is easy. The three knobs control (left to right) the mode of the top oven (grill, top heat, top & bottom heat), the temperature of the main oven, and the temperature / grill setting of the top oven. The three knobs pop out when required - simply push the knob when it is in the "off" position to pop them out or back in again. They cannot be "hidden" when the oven is in use. Other settings, such as timers, are set via a touch sensitive display in the middle of the fascia, and the clock (illuminated in red LED) displays minutes and seconds until your dish is ready, provided you set the timer.

How does it cook? Well we haven't had a bad meal since getting the oven, and we've cooked a variety of dishes in it. It's also easy to clean, or at least it has been so far.

As for the niggles, some have commented that the touch sensitive control panel is a little too sensitive, but we've not had any problems with it. The main niggle others have mentioned, about which we agree, is that when the timer is set the "beep" is extremely quiet. We can just about hear it in the next room, but it does seem very low, and doesn't appear to be adjustable. Two solutions: buy a cheap kitchen timer if you feel the need, or do as we do and when you set the timer work out what time it should be ready, then pay attention to your watch or a clock near where you are.

All in all we're delighted with this oven.

Lid Sid Saucepan Lid Lifter 2 Pack
Lid Sid Saucepan Lid Lifter 2 Pack

5.0 out of 5 stars Handy little things, 1 Dec 2014
Like many others we've suffered in silence from pans that boil over, and the pan that boils over the most is the one in which the potatoes are boiling away, and as a result the hob gets trashed and needs a vigorous rub-down with "Hob Brite" afterwards. We've tried perching pan lids in such a way that steam can escape, but as soon as our backs are turned the lids slide back into their homes and the tell-tale hiss and burning smell from the kitchen moments later tells us that the worst has happened, and out comes the "Hob Brite" once again.

Thank heaven for Lid Sid! The box contains two of these rubbery gizmos, and they hang over the edge of the pan, keeping the lid slightly raised. As others have said they work better with pans that don't have a "lip", but our pans are all lipped and they still work OK, albeit with the "Sid" being on a slight angle. As the box contains two you can use them on two pans at a time, or have two on a single pan if you prefer. They're sturdy little things, work well, and are a bit of fun, if slightly overpriced for what you get.

CĪROC Snap Frost Vodka 70 cl
CĪROC Snap Frost Vodka 70 cl
Offered by 31DOVER
Price: £29.25

5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely tipple, 4 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a bit of a vodka fan and over the years have tried various varieties, my favourite being Grey Goose. Ciroc was a new name to me but after reading several favourable reviews I thought I'd try it and see if it was as good as I'd heard.

First impressions are excellent. The bottle is lovely, an unusual shape with a blue bottom and a large blue "ball" of sorts protruding from the front. Once the foil was opened and the top unscrewed (unlike Grey Goose this has a screw top rather than a cork) I poured a small glass.

The taste is smooth with a pleasant aftertaste and the familiar vodka "burn" in the chest. Unlike some other vodkas this is perfectly good to drink on its own, and it actually seems a shame to use it as a mixer. It isn't flavoured though, so it doesn't cause any problems when mixed with coke, lemonade or fruit juices like cranberry.

All in all this is up there with Grey Goose for me. A lovely drink, but definitely one to save for "best" rather than using it every day - it's too nice for that.

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