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Prestige Cartridge TN-241/TN-245 Toner Cartridge for Brother HL-3140CW/HL-3150CDW/HL-3170CDW - Assorted Colour (Pack of 4)
Prestige Cartridge TN-241/TN-245 Toner Cartridge for Brother HL-3140CW/HL-3150CDW/HL-3170CDW - Assorted Colour (Pack of 4)
Price: £51.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, just awful. The black was smeary and ..., 15 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Awful, just awful. The black was smeary and then went almost immediately to the palest grey you can imagine, which is incredibly hard / impossible to read. I am going to have to replace it with another more expensive cartridge, so my attempt to save money by buying this product has backfired.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The end is dire, 31 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Gone Girl (Paperback)
It's a feat of writing - a long story with lots of twists and turns, which is very readable. The language is a little flowery in places and the book is longer than it needs to be, but it still makes for a very good holiday read.

The problem is that the end is dire and completely unbelievable. Much of the book's success lies in its ability to make the unlikely seem real. The end just feels fake and takes readers for fools.

It would have been better to have ended on one of the cliffhangers near the end, thereby giving the author time to come up with a sensible conclusion to an otherwise worthwhile story.


Lunch Drunk Love
Lunch Drunk Love
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 20 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Lunch Drunk Love (Audio CD)
Bowling for Soup straddle pop and rock better than anyone else deemed `pop punk'. They understand the key to pop is a catchy tune. They don't worry about appearing more credible to rock fans than to pop fans - they have happily written for Disney and children's TV - and make sure they are having fun whatever they're doing. They have always worn their broad musical influences on their sleeves and this new album includes references from Culture Club to Poison. It includes a faithful and sensitive cover of an Edie Brickell song, which works better than it sounds.

This continues recent Bowling for Soup albums in being a bit less punk and bit more pop. It takes a couple of listens to realise that the lyrics are, if anything, better - wittier and more autobiographical - than ever. But there is still a handful of songs (Couple of Days, Envy, Right About Now) that would sit easily among their earlier work. For me, it compares well with their most successful albums from the first half of the 2000s and I rate the album better than their last two (Fishin' for Woos and Sorry for Partyin'). They are both excellent, but this is more consistent and works better as a single package. The only thing I don't like about this new album is the couple of places where the joke is on other people - BFS are usually best when taking the mickey out of themselves rather than others.

If you're new to the band, this is as good a place to start as any. And, as you explore the back catalogue, you'll uncover one or two references in the songs here (compare Envy to My Hometown, for example).

In response to the odd review that focuses on song names and criticises the band for choosing this album title, it was actually chosen by the band's fans via an online poll. Your target is misdirected. Perhaps the album was written for them not you.

Other BFS fans will disagree, but I am pleased they have finally stopped adding different versions of perhaps their weakest song, Belgium, to the end of every album...


Instructions for a Heatwave
Instructions for a Heatwave
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Start elsewhere, 18 Sept. 2013
Maggie O'Farrell is my favourite modern author. When she's good, she's wonderful. She wields the English language very sharply, ensuring it says exactly what she wants. Time after time, I have read a sentence by her and thought how brilliantly and accurately it captures a particularly perspective. She is observant and perceptive (though occasionally a little pretentious). Her writing resonates, at least with me.

Yet this book is very far from her best. It does, in the main, have the usual mastery of language. But the story is all just a bit pointless. Threads are set running which do not lead anywhere. It's not a plot spoiler to say the novel is about a man's disappearance: it says so on the back of the book. Beyond that, there's not a great deal of plot to spoil - it reminded me a bit of Ali Smith's There but for the in that regard. The main threads of the story are left untied. There is room for a sequel or an additional chapter at the end, though I'd rather see the author spend time writing something wholly new instead.

The most frustrating aspect of all is the period setting. The story is set in 1976, a particularly hot summer in Britain. But little that happens, apart from the weather, roots it in that year and you might mistakenly forget (as I did repeatedly) that it is not set in the present day. Indeed, the whole thing feels as if it has been written with a contemporary backdrop and then changed at the last minute via a sprinkling of references to the 1970s.

According to the disappointing postscript, that wasn't the case as it says the author was aged 4 in 1976 and wrote the novel because a particular image of that year kept appearing in her mind while trying to write a different novel. There is also a disappointing and self-indulgent series of poor quality black-and-white photos at the very end, which add nothing of value and feel like throwaway holiday snaps.

Maggie O'Farrell is wonderful. Compared to her generally high standards, this novel is average. Not terrible, just distinctly average.


Pilot Capless Medium Retractable Fountain Pen with Gold Trim
Pilot Capless Medium Retractable Fountain Pen with Gold Trim
Price: £169.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware, 11 Aug. 2013
I have owned this pen since Christmas (though not bought on Amazon). The nib on my pen is incredibly scratchy - much worse than any of my other 15 or so fountain pens, some of which are much cheaper. It has been 'fixed' once to no avail - I was told I must have dropped the pen (I hadn't) and it was just as scratchy after the repair. I returned it to Pilot in June, as instructed, but two months on they still have it and they have not given me any update on what is happening except, when I have chased them, I was told one of their 'Directors' has the pen. I still do not know when or if I shall get it back or whether I have a lemon or if they are all faulty. Either way, beware that Pilot UK do not seem to give a good service.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2014 9:36 PM BST


True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory Nation
True Blue: Strange Tales from a Tory Nation
by Chris Horrie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but unenlightening, 20 Mar. 2013
This is an entertaining book in places but it is also deeply flawed. It's well-written, easy to read and pretty funny. But there are three problems.

First, its key goal is to get to the heart of the Conservative Party and it comprehensively fails. There is an entertaining chapter on a Ukip conference, one on an agricultural show and another on the Country Landowners' Association. But going to the conference of a different political group and attending events with no party political affiliation is an unconvincing way to get to the heart of a political party. Another example is the bizarre chapter tacked near the end on Dagenham Town Show. It starts by claiming there is little Conservative activity in the town and then ignores party politics until the very end, when it states the procession was led by a Labour councillor. What this says about Conservatism is anyone's guess.

Secondly, the book is one long exercise in taking the mickey. It's a bit cruel, though not offensively so, to the various people - usually blameless - that the authors meet. In a way, that's part of the fun. But after a couple of hundred pages (let alone the full 248), it is wearying as the authors come across as supercilious and infantile. They will always have a cheap dig at someone, even over their appearance or dress, rather than say anything nice or enlightening. Their scattergun attack on virtually everything they see eventually becomes ridiculous, such as in the final chapter when they condemn the children's lunch boxes at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home, for having pictures of animals on them rather than superheroes "that kids actually like". This particular example is a reflection of a broader disdain of the countryside - one chapter ends by revealing their "enormous pleasure" on spotting the road sign back to London.

Thirdly, the authors start with a pre-determined view of what constitutes Conservatism and then try to force the things they see into this worldview, even when they patently don't fit. There's an unintentionally funny moment when one of the authors says something homophobic to a group of Conservative activists and is disappointed to find they are embarrassed and refuse to reply in kind. Instead of taking this at face value, he assumes they must secretly think he's gay - though with no evidence whatsoever. (As other reviewers have noted, the authors are also obsessed with race but the thoughts on this don't really go anywhere. At the Dagenham Show, they refer with apparent disappointment to a group of local people who watch some Bantu dancing with "no real racial reaction.") In the end, the book is at least as much about the prejudices of the authors than any prejudices that might or might not be held by Conservative activists. The final chapter gives the game away when it defines those who visit Chartwell, and whose views are surmised from how they look, as "Conservatives" irrespective of how "they cast their vote at election time". In other words, we'll define Conservatives however we wish and then claim our book is about them.

Ultimately, the authors' desire to make fun at everyone else's expense means they fail to explain what Conservatism means in modern Britain. If you want to read an amusing (but inconsequential) book taking the fun out of politics, do read it. If you want to learn something, not so much.

One final point: the book is credited to two authors but it's written in the first person and the views of one of the authors is only expressed second-hand and occasionally. It's not totally clear what that person thinks.


Marti Pellow Sings The Hits Of Wet Wet Wet & Smile
Marti Pellow Sings The Hits Of Wet Wet Wet & Smile
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.92

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg, 20 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of those remakes by the original artists (or at least the original singer). It works in parts, but not in others. Wishing I Was Lucky is funkier and Angel Eyes is an interesting reinterpretation. Love is All Around is less good than the Wet Wet Wet version, as is Sweet Little Mystery, and With a Little Help from My Friends is awful - bombastic and full of vocal tics. If you're looking for a Wet x3 greatest hits, I'd buy one and avoid this - though completists will still want it. Notably, it's not nearly as consistent as other similar re-recordings, such as Spandau Ballet's one.

This is not a comment about his songs that also appear on Smile as I have never heard the originals.


Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania: A Romanian Story
Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania: A Romanian Story
by William Blacker
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 30 Oct. 2010
I agree with the other reviewers of this book - it is a brilliant, moving account of the author's time in rural Romania. He brings the characters to life and clearly cares very deeply for the country. Although I know Bucharest much better than rural Romania, the story rings true to me. It is also, as befits a journalist, very well written. I read it rapidly and was sad to come to the end - always the signs of a good book.

The only reason I have given four stars rather than five is that - occasionally - the author is a mite patronising. He records the modernising of Romania in very one-sided terms, as if everything new is bad and everything old is good. That is perhaps an easy thing for an outsider like Blacker, who never seems to have money problems and could have returned to the UK at any moment, to say.

Given the political backdrop to the book, I would also have liked to have read a bit more of Blacker's views on Romanian politics. The lauding of pre-revolutionary peasant life needs, in my view, to be balanced by some information of the horrors of the pre-1989 regime. After all, that was the thing that stopped the modern world intruding for so long.

I recommend reading it alongside Carmen Bugan's autobiographical Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police. Bugan tells how, when the country's leader went hunting, she and other schoolchildren were forced 'to sing at the top of our lungs so that comrade Ceausescu and his friends would hear the song of the happy peasants.' (page 231)

But, overall, this is a brilliant book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2014 1:19 AM GMT


I'm Your Fan
I'm Your Fan
Price: £4.72

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brlliant, 13 Dec. 2008
This review is from: I'm Your Fan (Audio CD)
This album is pure gold. Some people might think it is for people who don't like Leonard Cohen's voice but who nonetheless recognise his skill as a song-writer. Personally, I think he is great and I think this album is great so it need not be one or the other - Leonard Cohen fans can like this album too, as it is full of sensitive but different interpretations of his songs. My favourite track is probably Avalanche IV sung by Jean-Louis Murat in French, which is quite brilliant. I agree with other reviewers that the Nick Cave version of Tower of Song does not add much, though Nick Cave fans might still enjoy it and there is another better version of the song on the album too. The House of Love version of Who By Fire is not as bad as other reviewers suggest - not the most memorable track, perhaps, but not a bad way to start the album. I have two other albums of people singing Cohen's songs but neither is a patch on this one. At 18 tracks, this is a long album with little duff material. Unlike other compilations, I find I come back to it time and time again and it has helped me to discover some interesting artists.


Super Crunchers: How Anything Can Be Predicted
Super Crunchers: How Anything Can Be Predicted
by Ian Ayres
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Persuasive, 19 Sept. 2008
This book is not as poor as the previous reviews suggest. It offers a persuasive account of the potential of mass numeric data in coming to better (evidence-based) decisions. The book shows that, on many occasions, the hard data is a better guide than human intuition or even human experience. But it also, quite rightly, points out that numbers are fallible - the outcomes depend on the formulae they are squeezed through, for example.

The most annoying aspect of the text is that it is way too long. Like so many other American books of this ilk (e.g. the Tipping Point, Blink, The Paradox of Choice), it is a 'one-idea book' that would have worked just as well as a lengthy article. There is no need to stretch the idea out to fill a whole book.


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