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R. McDonald "rossmcdonald2" (Southampton)
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Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-01
Rapesco Stapler, Heavy Duty Stapler Zero-01
Price: 24.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Despite not getting off to the best start as I managed to staple my thumbs together ..., 17 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite not getting off to the best start as I managed to staple my thumbs together trying to work out how to open the staple tray (hint: you press the black button on the back), this is an excellent sturdy desk stapler, and one of the best I've ever used. It has a stylish and striking design, and as my early experience shows, not lacking in stapling force. I would highly recommend this as a worthy accessory in any workplace.


For Your Eyes Only and Other Stories
For Your Eyes Only and Other Stories
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars Five secret occasions, 24 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although three of the stories in this collection lent their titles to the Bond series of films, the stories are completely unconnected. The five tales here go a long way to fleshing out Bond as.a character, exploring his past, his morality, and his aspirations while stretching the format beyond what is found in the novels (I also found them to be slightly better crafted and written than the novels, though obviously that is very subjective).

It's interesting to consider just how far the original Bond stories are receding into the past now, with social attitudes that seem to belong in the Victorian era, wartime references aplenty, and cultural references that seem increasingly distant.

Still the tales are definitely enjoyable, and Samuel West does a great job as narrator, especially as the scope of these stories means that he gets to cover a wide range of characters. Quantum of Solace is my favourite, with an unusual format, emotionally charged, and an interesting character study, with several twists in the tale.

Overall this collection is definitely a worthwhile insight into the literary version of 007 and what makes him tick.


Cyberlink PowerDVD 13 Ultra (PC)
Cyberlink PowerDVD 13 Ultra (PC)
Price: 69.99

3.0 out of 5 stars blu-ray playback software, 20 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you are looking for software that will play back commercial blu-rays on PC, your options are extremely limited at present (this and WinDVD seem to be about it). PowerDVD is a straightforward blu-ray player with additional features that you will probably ignore if all you want from it is to watch movies on your pc. I did appreciate that it was optimised for Touchscreen as I use it on a touchscreen laptop, and that it has some potentially useful tablet integration and ultraviolet features. This ultra version also supports playback of 3d blu-rays. Those features aside, this product does what I want (the playback quality is very good, as you'd expect) and does it competently enough that I am satisfied with it.


Resilience: How to Cope When Everything Around You Keeps Changing
Resilience: How to Cope When Everything Around You Keeps Changing
by Liggy Webb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful reference, easy to dip in and out, 26 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a relatively easy read on techniques for dealing with change, broken up into ten short chapters ('Looking after yourself', 'Cope well with conflict') etc. that are easy to dip in and out of. These are broken up with personal stories from the author, exercises and even a playlist of '20 best survival songs'.

On the whole it's relatively superficial and doesn't go into a lot of depth, and some of the advice varies from the insightful (understanding of different personality types) to the should-be-obvious (good diet and plenty of exercise are good for you). That said, it is surprising how easy it is forget the obvious when dealing with the kind of pressure this is intended to help you cope with, and it certainly doesn't hurt to have this to hand as a useful source of ideas.


Goldfinger
Goldfinger
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 15.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The Midas Touch, 16 April 2013
This review is from: Goldfinger (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After Blofeld, Goldfinger is probably the most notorious Bond villain, and this also happens to be the book that forms the basis for the most celebrated of the early Bond movies. In that respect, it's interesting to reflect that some innovations, such as the per-credits mini-adventure, were here in the book all along, and that changes made in the screenplay (the early death of Tilly Masterson, the expansion of Goldfinger's master plan) were more or less all improvements.

The book itself is fairly good for the most part - Goldfinger is a well-drawn character (though his portrayal ventures into the ridiculous a little too often towards the end) and a blow-by-blow account of a game of golf, which is a centrepiece of the book and the film, just about outstays its welcome. It's very much a product of its times as well, not only in its social attitudes, but just try to imagine the closing chapters happening in an era of modern airport security..

The I've given it four stars, is Hugh Bonneville. He reads it with just enough gravitas to sell it, but also just enough wry humour to acknowledge the fact that if you give it any thought the whole thing is ultimately pretty silly. As with the other actors chosen to read these books, it seems they made the right choice for the particular material. So if you want to experience Goldfinger the novel, this is a pretty good way to go.


Casino Royale
Casino Royale
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars How it all started, 16 April 2013
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Coming at this fresh, as someone familiar with the films but not at all with the books, I was surprised by how closely the film adaptation resembled the book of Casino Royale, including it's strange three act structure (the card game, the chase, and then a long contemplative ending which here ultimately sets up the antagonism between Bond and Smersh)

Bond is introduced here as a ruthless and calculating character, but is also thoroughly developed through interior monologue. The prose is generally fine, though it's when describing things that Fleming must have had direct experience of - food, drink and the French locale in which it takes place, that it really comes to life.

Dan Stevens is also fine as the narrator - he seems a good fit for Bond's character as introduced here - cold, suave and aloof, and he captures the accent-less voice of the mysterious villain Le Chiffre, and keeps things interesting and pacy throughout. All in all this is a great way to experience the first novel in the Bond series.


On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Audio CD

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Bond stories, brilliantly narrated, 16 April 2013
David Tennant is a good choice for this, one of the best of all Bond stories. Not only does Bond have to spend a good portion of the novel impersonating a Scottish aristocrat, but the time he spends in Blofeld's alpine allergy clinic gives Tennant an opportunity to apply his skills to a whole range of accents. Most of the time, however, he brings a sense of melancholy and gravitas befitting the novel's introspective tone, and which also helps in selling some of it's more ludicrous plot points.

Fleming's passion for food, which doesn't really come across at all in the films, is the subject of some of the more vivid descriptive passages (and of the villain's plot), and it's interesting to hear Bond's internal monologue as he contemplates a future in retirement, and his thoughts on marriage.

Highly recommended.


200 Pasta Dishes: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Ideas
200 Pasta Dishes: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Recipes and Ideas
by Marina Filippelli
Edition: Paperback
Price: 2.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Colourful, easy recipes, 16 April 2013
I have a few of the Hamlyn series at home, but this is one that I keep coming back to. It offers a wide range of easy pasta recipes that are easy to follow and quick to prepare following a quick supermarket run. The recipes generally still work if you want to substitute ingredients or need to improvise to use up leftovers, so this book also works well as a launching point for new ideas. The colour illustrations for every recipe are a nice touch, and with over 200 of these you won't run out of new dishes to try any time soon.


Philips GoGear Spark SA2940/02 4GB Colour Display 1.5" MP3 Player
Philips GoGear Spark SA2940/02 4GB Colour Display 1.5" MP3 Player

4.0 out of 5 stars Great little MP3 player, 16 April 2013
The Philips GoGear Spark is a great MP3 player for the price, featuring a colour screen that displays your album artwork as well as the menu controls. The sound quality is great, and although it's chunky by mp3 standards it's still small enough to fit in a pocket while running.

The only downside is the way that you skip tracks and select functions by rocking the whole bezel - although its solid enough, this never feels particularly intuitive, and it can be a bit too easy to skip through tracks by mistake (at least, when the player isn't locked). While this is no iPod killer, it is a very good product for those who want a colour screen and some bells and whistles.


Creative Sound Blaster Axx 20 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone for iPad, iPhone, Android, PC or Mac Devices
Creative Sound Blaster Axx 20 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone for iPad, iPhone, Android, PC or Mac Devices
Price: 152.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Bluetooth wireless speaker, 23 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The SB-Axx 20 is a multi-purpose, highly portable and space-saving device which functions as a wireless bluetooth speaker, a hands-free kit with two microphones, or simply a straightforward computer speaker. Out the box, there is the speaker tower itself which fits securely onto a round base, and it connects to a PC via a USB cable or the mains using an adaptor. There is no setup involved and no need to install any software, although there is a free app and control panel software for customization if you wish. Bluetooth connection is handled simply by holding down a button on the back. The touch sensitive and multi-coloured buttons are clever with the exception of the somewhat clunky volume control bar.

Its main purpose seems to be as a wireless bluetooth speaker and while the design is mostly impressive, the sound quality is not great. As could be expected of something so small, the warm bassy tones are relatively lacking, and since it is a tower, with the speakers stacked on top of each other, there is none of the promised "innovative" stereo effect. On the other hand, it can reach seriously impressive volume levels if needed.

Where the device really shines is a hands-free kit for your phone or tablet. The quality of the microphones is excellent and the "noise control" and especially the very unique "in focus" feature work really well. Overall, an impressively-designed and space-saving gadget that fulfils multiple purposes. If only the sound quality could match a more traditional speaker setup!


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