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J. Brand "jbrand" (Somewhere else)
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The Lacuna
The Lacuna
by Barbara Kingsolver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.17

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to the Poisonwood Bible, 24 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Lacuna (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Poisonwood Bible is probably Barbara Kingsolver's best known book and, prior to this, the only book I have read by her. So based on that I had high expectations of this and yet it fell short of those expectations. The characters were difficult to empathise with and not memorable, there is something wrong with a book when the reader needs to hop back to a previous section to see who people were. After half a book of not really caring about the characters it was put aside as I really didn't care enough about the characters to see what happened. Disappointing and I may pick it up again in future but nowhere near as good as the Poisonwood Bible.


What the Best College Teachers Do
What the Best College Teachers Do
by Ken Bain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.65

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the corresponding students book, 24 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This appears as half of a matched pair of books, the other being "What the best college students do". Unfortunately this is not nearly as good. There's nothing actually wrong in here but it's all a bit staid, old fashioned and americanised and most of it's advice is fairly obvious. Possibly useful for those of us who have to lecture but are not experienced in lecturing but otherwise it's difficult to see much of a market for it (I would hope most trained teachers would already know what this book tells them)


What the Best College Students Do
What the Best College Students Do
by Ken Bain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and much better than the corresponding What the best ..., 24 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Excellent and much better than the corresponding What the best college teachers do. It's a little bit americanised with the insistence on referring to college when in fact the advice is fairly universal and while it falls into the "self help" category which so often has some appallingly obvious books this does offer some useful advice.


Philips LED Spot Bulb, Dimmable (GU10 5W) - Warm White
Philips LED Spot Bulb, Dimmable (GU10 5W) - Warm White
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Philips make possibly the best LEDs available, 23 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It is possible to get cheaper LED spotlights but they are not worth the saving. Cheap LEDs are prone to flicker and not so well constructed. Philips LEDs are as good as you can get, albeit they cost more. Almost identical in size to the halogens they replace (so no problems with getting them int the light fitting), no flicker, fast start up, mechanically well made. The one issue with LEDs, which almost all LEDs are prone to is a harsh light but this is at the warmer end of the scale and alleviates that as much as is possible with current LED technology.


Gutenberg's Apprentice
Gutenberg's Apprentice

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating historical novel but how much was fictionalised?, 23 Nov 2014
This review is from: Gutenberg's Apprentice (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a book that I found fascinating but which may not appeal to everyone. Nominally very simple it is a historical account of how Gutenberg comes to print the first bibles and the technical descriptions and background to the politics of the printing are excellent. Where I found it slightly flawed was in the constant nagging question of just how much fiction had been added to the historical account of Gutenberg. OK the characters of the apprentices and Peter in particular are fictional inventions, a useful device to allow a historical account to told as a story, but are there any other fictional inventions which I wasn't aware of. This is one of those books where having read it I now want to read another version to see how much truth there was in the first account.

So technically brilliant and excellent if read as fiction but it falls between two camps in being a historical account and fiction.


Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Price: £11.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Low energy but "warm" and being philips it's reliable, 18 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
LED lamps have come on in leaps and bounds recently and Philips are probably among the best (I had some anonymous Chinese ones recently and they were worse than useless).

This example? well it is a "warm" light (which means it's colour rather than how hot it gets) so it's good in living rather than working areas and has no perceptible flicker which cheap units are prone to. It has a broad face on it rather than a single point light so it's less annoying should you happen to glance directly at it. The only downside is that it is a spot light and has a rather narrow beam so if you just use a few then you might find it leaves dark areas that need infill lighting against which they would be ideal for that infill lighting.


Great GizmosHydraulix - Mini Cherry Picker
Great GizmosHydraulix - Mini Cherry Picker
Offered by lucybooksell
Price: £3.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly fun educational toy, 7 Aug 2014
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I bought one of these from the Glasgow Science center (which means the one I bought was overpriced) after a visit with my five year old son there largely because most science toys seem to be aimed at an older age range. This seemed to be simple enough that he could help build it, understand at least the ideas involved and not so flimsy as some of the other younger age bracket toys. It ticks all those boxes and ticks them well. OK it's not exactly durable engineering but at this price point did you really expect that? and like a lot of these toys half the idea is that if you can build it and understand it then even if it does break you can repair it or even understand enough to build a better version.

The only thing I'd say was wrong is that the glue they provided in the kit wasn't sufficiently sealed and had dried out but that's such a trivial thing to fix it's barely worth mentioning.


TCP LED GU10 5 Watt LED Spotlight, White
TCP LED GU10 5 Watt LED Spotlight, White
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars is it really a 50W replacement?, 3 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On paper this should be a near exact replacement for a 50W halogen light but in use the example I had didn't seem to be as bright as the halogens I replaced. According to the figures this is 330 lumens compared to about 385 lumens for the halogens I swapped out. A small difference but nonetheless the bulb seemed noticeably less bright then either the halogens or philips LEDs I have used elsewhere. This does seem to be quite common with a lot of led spot lights, my experience is that led spots need to be at about 6W or more to match a 50W halogen. Another point against it is that the light fitting is slight larger than a standard halogen spotlight. That makes them harder to fit in some cases but may improve there lifetime as a larger unit may have better cooling. Obviously with an expected 25000 hour life that's not something I can test.

On the plus side the light is a lot less harsh than some led spotlights and these units are a lot cheaper. So I am using these in living areas where I don't want a harsh light and philips 4000K led spots in kitchens and studios where I want a strong light. So overall recommended for living areas but not working areas and check the size will fit your lights before getting too many of them.


Can Science Fix Climate Change?: A Case Against Climate Engineering (New Human Frontiers Series)
Can Science Fix Climate Change?: A Case Against Climate Engineering (New Human Frontiers Series)
by Mike Hulme
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A weak argument for a valid conclusion, 28 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book presents a reasonable conclusion but reaches it through a weak argument. In a nutshell the conclusion is that technological fixes for climate change are a bad idea. Nothing wrong with that conclusion, after all it would be difficult to find anyone who would reasonably argue that it's not better to avoid a problem rather than fix it after things have gone wrong. What's wrong with this book is that Hulme's argument is not an argument but an assertion masquerading as an argument. He is far too prone to asserting something in one chapter only to then refer to it in a later chapter as something he has shown or even proven. He may have asserted it, it may have been a reasonable assumption and there may be good evidence to agree with that assumption but he has not argued that it is true and certainly not proven his case.

His conclusions may be valid and it is certainly better to avoid the problem rather than to try and fix it afterwards but his argument is weak.


Guitar Theory For Dummies: Book + Online Video & Audio Instruction (For Dummies (Sports & Hobbies))
Guitar Theory For Dummies: Book + Online Video & Audio Instruction (For Dummies (Sports & Hobbies))
by Desi Serna
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Not a theory book and not for dummies but excellent nonetheless, 28 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
One of my major gripes with any product is if it does not do "what it says on the tin". In that sense this book fails because it really is not aimed at dummies and it is not a theory book and yet I'd still say this is excellent. What this does, and does better than most guitar tutorials that I have seen is present theory combined with practical application. Don't expect to learn much from this without a guitar in your hands but with one this is a great practical way to get to grips with theory. For example a lot of theory books will cover the concepts of keys, tonics and scales and in principle they are easy enough to understand this extends the theory with a few practical examples and a list of popular music that will give examples.

The only real complaint I have with this is a tendency to use too much simplified notation and tablature rather than staff notation but that's so common in guitar music that it's something I've come to expact rather than criticise.


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