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Reviews Written by
Roman Clodia (London)
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Untouchable
Untouchable
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Edgy and fabulous, 22 May 2015
This review is from: Untouchable (Kindle Edition)
This was a one-sitting read for me: edgy, intriguing, well-written and gripping.

Stella is an escort, high-class and expensive – and her bedside reading (Edgar Allan Poe rather than EL James), her stints on a rape hotline, and her ex-best university friends tell us that there is far more to her than the usual clichés of women in the sex industry. When a colleague of hers is killed, Stella finds herself caught up in a tangled web of corruption and greed – and questions over whether to see a man as a rescuer or an assailant.

Marsh has written a fabulous thriller here which is also dark, violent and intelligent. Beware, the tone is not coy about Stella’s work, but the sex isn’t gratuitous either. I don’t want to give away anything further about the plot which would spoil this for other readers – suffice it to say I started this mid-morning and finished it the same day. Highly recommended.

(I received a review copy via Netgalley)


The Sudden Departure of the Frasers
The Sudden Departure of the Frasers
Price: £3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tense and intriguing, 21 May 2015
Christy and Joe can't quite believe it when they manage to buy a huge and beautiful house in sought-after suburbia - but, increasingly, Christy is drawn into the secrets and mysteries of their new neighbours: why won't anyone speak of or to the man next door... and why, exactly, did the Frasers leave their house so suddenly?

This is a tense and intriguing page-turner of a novel which is told alternatively and in a then and now timeframe by Amber Fraser and Christy. Candlish wisely doesn't go down the route of either the supernatural or the melodramatic, but manages to ramp up both the mystery and the tension via the everyday and it's not till about three-quarters of the way through that we see where the plot is going.

Despite this admirable restraint, there are a few niggles: I sometimes found it difficult to believe in this little outer London enclave where people seem to only socialise with their neighbours. The plot also depends, to some extent, on these huge, beautiful and expensive houses having walls of paper so that couples who have mortgaged their souls to live in them can hear their neighbours speaking, sighing, and listening to the radio - and no-one finds that irritating or unusual in the book.

Despite a few niggles, though, this is a gripping, twisty, page-turner of a read: recommended.

(I received a review copy via Netgalley)


Death and Mr Pickwick
Death and Mr Pickwick
by Stephen Jarvis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long, baroque and Dickensian, 21 May 2015
This review is from: Death and Mr Pickwick (Hardcover)
Despite all the Dickensian qualities of this book, the novel it reminded me of most was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Do be aware that this is long and requires patience as it meanders towards where it's going: much like The Pickwick Papers which itself relies on its picaresque quality for its fame.

Jarvis writes a kind of Dickensian pastiche but with a modern sensibility and I would suggest that it helps to make sense of this if you have at least an outline of Dickens' life and Pickwick itself.

Asking questions of the status of fiction and 'truth' this is a game-playing book in lots of ways, but also one with a tangled story in which we can become embroiled. Recommended for fans of Dickens and Victorian pastiche.

(I received a review copy via Netgalley)


You Are Dead (Roy Grace series Book 11)
You Are Dead (Roy Grace series Book 11)
Price: £7.79

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A sadly tired plot, 21 May 2015
This is my first Peter James and I'm disappointed to say he's probably not for me. For a series which is so popular I was surprised at the pedestrian narration and the seen-it-all-before nature of the plot. Another misogynist serial killer targeting young women? Another sociopath with a troubled childhood?

Sadly, I'd spotted the baddie the moment he thrust himself into the story and the supposed twist of his 'friends' was very transparent. Even the ending is a tired cliché. So the plot is a bit Silence Of The Lambs, a bit Psycho (which gets a name-check) and treads very (very) well-worn ground.
Even the tag-line 'U R Dead' doesn't seem to make any sense, and the notation feels very out of place for the mid-80s before we even had text-speak.

Long-time Grace fans may well have a different view but sadly I found this a plod - sorry!

(I received a review copy via Netgalley)


Philips GC3810/20 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 150 g Steam Boost, 300 ml, 2400 Watt, Blue
Philips GC3810/20 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 150 g Steam Boost, 300 ml, 2400 Watt, Blue
Price: £32.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Steamy!, 20 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is lighter than my old steam iron and heats up faster so is excellent for quick emergency ironing. The vertical steam function is also brilliant for steaming clothes to freshen them up on a hanger and really does cut dry-cleaning bills.

The water container is relatively small so I'll be sticking to my larger steam generator iron for full loads of ironing but this is a brilliant addition for when you just need to press or freshen something up quickly before wearing it.


Strolling Through Rome: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Eternal City
Strolling Through Rome: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Eternal City
by Mario Erasmo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The creme de la creme of Roman guidebooks, 17 May 2015
When I next visit Rome, this is the essential book I'll be taking with me. I know Erasmo's scholarly book on Roman death but here he's writing for a popular tourist/visitor audience and manages the crossover admirably. All his depth of knowledge is here but underpinned by his passion for the city, and a lovely witty yet erudite approach.

This offers a range of mouth-watering walking tours through the city focused by area or by time period: I can't wait to do the Renaissance Rome tour for example, and found Erasmo's commentary full of wonderful facts that really bring the city to life.

There are maps and a brief selection of photos but this is primarily a textual guide: given Erasmo's position as a Classics professor this is certainly much more detailed than your average guide-book and may well prove just as enticing to armchair travellers.

(I received a review copy via Netgalley)


Paper Mate 300 Black Gel Pen (Blister of 2)
Paper Mate 300 Black Gel Pen (Blister of 2)
Price: £1.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Great everyday pens, 17 May 2015
These write very smoothly with a nice dense black colour. The rubber bit where you fingers lie make this comfortable to hold for lengths of time, and the transparent bubble means you can see as the ink runs down. The clip on cover stays on so no leaking in your bag - perfect everyday pens.


Murad Environmental Shield Advanced Active Radiance Serum 30 ml
Murad Environmental Shield Advanced Active Radiance Serum 30 ml
Price: £79.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luxurious serum, 16 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a gorgeous serum (as it should be for the price!): it comes out of the pump container like a light cream but then transforms into something more like an emulsion and sinks invisibly into my skin. Like other premium serums, it's designed to be worn under a conventional moisturiser and is light enough to be layered without my skin feeling overloaded.

As for performance, I've been a dedicated serum user for some years now and this is certainly as good as anything else I've tried - but the less you've looked after your skin, of course, the more effect this is likely to have.

There's no getting away from the fact that Murad products are expensive: this both looks and feels like a high-end luxury product - the packaging is clean and professional, there's a light scent, and I've been able to use it around my eyes without any stinging or reaction. If you can afford it, this is gorgeous.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2015 3:06 PM BST


Philips DVT2700 Voice Tracer Digital Recorder with Speech Recognition Software and 2 Microphone Stereo Recording
Philips DVT2700 Voice Tracer Digital Recorder with Speech Recognition Software and 2 Microphone Stereo Recording
Price: £62.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Track down the online user manual to get the most out of this, 16 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This hasn't had great reviews: it's more complex to use than it looks and to optimise your use you really need to track down the online manual as the package comes only with an obscure picture-only 'quick start guide' that explains nothing. There are a huge range of different settings that you need to navigate to control voice quality, volume, recording mode (i.e. conversation, meeting mode, lecture mode, dictation etc.) and all the other variables. Even working out how to increase the volume is a bit of a haul but once sorted this works well.

That said, the Dragon software is a mess: I have a clear, unaccented speaking voice and do a lot of public speaking for my job - but Dragon couldn't understand me and turned out complete garbage. That may improve as you have to prime the software for it to understand you but I'm not sure I can be bothered. If, though, you need to record conversations, meetings, make a note of your own thoughts and ideas, or record lectures and talks then this works fine - just remember that you need to switch the device from, say, dictation mode to lecture mode to set up the microphone properly.

It's disappointing that this takes 2 x AAA batteries rather than being rechargeable - and the lack of a user's manual to explain the non-intuitive buttons is an issue that Philips ought to sort. Others may well have more success with Dragon than me but based on my experience if you want this primarily for the speech-to-text function then be prepared for a lot of hard work. As a straightforward voice recorder, though, this works for me - 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.


Digi4u® 10W POWERFUL Portable Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speaker,Support FM Alarm TF USB For iPod MP3 iPhone Tablet PC(iPhone 6 plus 5S 5C 4S iPad air 2 5 4 3 iPad mini 2 Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 Note 4 3 Tab 2,3 LG G3 G2 Sony xperia Z3 Z2 Nexus 7" 10")
Digi4u® 10W POWERFUL Portable Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speaker,Support FM Alarm TF USB For iPod MP3 iPhone Tablet PC(iPhone 6 plus 5S 5C 4S iPad air 2 5 4 3 iPad mini 2 Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 Note 4 3 Tab 2,3 LG G3 G2 Sony xperia Z3 Z2 Nexus 7" 10")
Offered by UK Digital Bay
Price: £18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Sleek, classy, excellent sound, 16 May 2015
I was sent a free sample product for review and think this is one of the best portable wireless speakers I have tried. It looks very sleek and classy, and performs exceptionally well in this class. The sound in crisp and clear even when listening to opera and classical - the volume is good with sufficient bass for a portable speaker, and audiobooks work very well.

I especially like that this has an inbuilt clock/alarm clock so is perfect as a bed-side speaker. It comes with a connecting cable which allows you to plug in non-Bluetooth devices too and has an FM radio.

Just 24cm x 6cms x 6cms this packs a sound punch way above its size and current price.


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