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Quiverbow (Kent, England)
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I'm Travelling Alone
I'm Travelling Alone
by Samuel Bjork
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Norwegian Good, 28 Mar. 2015
This review is from: I'm Travelling Alone (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Holger Munch (a relative of Edvard Munch, he of 'The Scream') used to work in a murder unit in Oslo until it was shut down and he was sent to a virtual backwater of the country. Star pupil of the police college, Mia Kruger, was also part of the team but now lives in isolation on an island in one of Norway's many fjords. (She was one of the reasons the team was dispersed.) As far as both were concerned, that was that until the body of a six year old girl is found. Hanging from a tree. The old unit is reformed and Munch has to persuade Mia to join him, but she has plans of her own. Looking at some photos he has brought along, she notices something and agrees to help. Then another body is found.

The subject matter might not be for everyone but it certainly doesn't detract from the excitement. There are plenty of characters involved and we find out quite a bit about the lead ones. The tale also throws up a number of red herrings, which have their own narratives, and makes you wonder who is actually involved and whether the main players are connected in any way. (As an aside, why do the main protagonists always have demons to exorcise? Aren't there any detectives that live a normal, happy life?)

Why did Mia agree to rejoin the team? Will she carry out her previous plan? Where do certain environs fit in with what is happening? Why do the perpetrators(s) taunt the police with cryptic clues when there's a chance of being caught? Is there really a Norwegian word for 'plonker'? The outcome is akin to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it but it makes sense. Considering the detectives are all hardened, experienced operatives, there's very little swearing here and for that, Bjork is to be commended.

Nordic crime novels were never top of my reading list. In fact, I would avoid them but since reading one, it's something I rather enjoy. Maybe it's the locations or maybe it's Samuel Bjork's style as, bar a few, all the chapters begin with someone's name. Then again, maybe it was the strange absence of swearing that made this pleasurable. His first delve into the genre has not only increased my enjoyment and knowledge of Nordic crime writing but also expanded my knowledge of the environment.

This is the first book to involve Munch and Kruger.


Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain
Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain
by David Crystal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's only words..., 10 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
David and Hilary Crystal certainly know their subject. Both have written extensively and been involved in the history of English for many years. Their current book is something of a departure from those that went before. Whilst it mentions the language of Old English and Middle English and how some of it evolved into what we know today, this not only delves into the people who were behind the movement of bringing language to the masses, but also their heritage.

Starting in Kent in 449 at Pegwell Bay (where there's a fine reconstruction of a Viking Longship), it's followed by Caistor in Norfolk and the discovery of the first known English word, Raihan, carved on an ankle bone (though how anyone managed to extrapolate that from the runes isn't explained). Next up is a place called Undley Common in Suffolk and the first recorded sentence. And so on until the final chapter on University College London and its study on grammar.

Now, it might sound like a bit of a travelogue because that's what it is. It's an archaeology book that puts the emphasis on places to visit and things to see that just happen to involve words. In fact, it's just as interesting for those who have no curiosity in English as a language, as many of the buildings and artefacts mentioned will be intriguing to followers of English history. Battle Abbey, Cerne Abbey, Saint Margaret's Tower, Canterbury, The George in Southwark will all appeal to a wider audience than any book on language would, though if it encourages those readers to investigate the linguistics then it's more than done its job.

There's even helpful, in-depth directions at the end of each chapter.

One point of interest the authors seem to have missed out on is in Chapter 20. After a fire, the Tabard Inn was rebuilt and renamed in 1681 as Talbot, of which nothing now remains but "the name lives on in Talbot Yard". The original name also lives on in Tabard Street, Tabard Estate and Tabard Gardens, all just around the corner.


Dettol Power and Fresh Citrus Zest Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Dettol Power and Fresh Citrus Zest Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Price: £10.47

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 99.9% dead?, 7 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is supposed to kill 99.9% of those 'orrible, nasty bugs but unless you're Kim and Aggie from 'How Clean is Your House' with one of those machines that measures the amount of surface bacteria, you won't really know. Suffice to say that this spray appears to do the job. Spray it on, leave it for a while, them rinse or wipe it away.

It's available in three 'flavours', so to speak; pomegranate, green apple and citrus zest, the last of these, for some reason I certainly can't think of, being more expensive.


Revlon PhotoReady Primer, Shadow and Sparkle - 2.8 g, Metropolitan
Revlon PhotoReady Primer, Shadow and Sparkle - 2.8 g, Metropolitan
Offered by L4RGE
Price: £6.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eye eye, 2 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The one in charge reviewed this (for obvious reasons). I just transcribed it to make it readable.

This is nice and compact and, unlike a few others I've used, the colours are the same as what you see. Once applied (not with a trowel as he suggested), it does seem to last late into the day, which is a plus. My skin isn't sensitive to it and because there's a sparkle to it, it's probably more appropriate for an evening out. It's a decent price, too.

Now men take notice of me when I go out, so it's not just the make-up that sparkles (but don't tell him that).


Ultrasport Telescopic Bicycle Bracket for 1 to 2 Bicycles - Black
Ultrasport Telescopic Bicycle Bracket for 1 to 2 Bicycles - Black
Price: £74.61

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On a bicycle rack built for two, 25 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Bicycles. They might not be big but they do take up a fair amount of floor space in a shed or garage. So how is that problem overcome? With some form of bike stand, that's how. And Ultrasport have a two-bicycle, floor to ceiling telescopic bracket that's just the job.

This is a three section pole, two of which are height adjustable, that comes with two metal brackets onto which you hang your cycle. A rubber plate screws into ceiling, line up the pole with this and make adjustments so the top fits tight onto that rubber plate. Then turn the outsize knob on the base to secure it. (You can screw the bottom plate to the floor.) Tighten all the screws with the supplied hex keys and that's that. Those metal brackets are attached to the pole, two hooks are screwed onto the brackets and because the weight of a bike isn't spread evenly, you can slide them [the brackets] left and right to get them in the correct position, as you can with the hooks. Though the top plate doesn't have to be screwed on, what you need to know is that whatever material your ceiling is made of, it has to be flat.

So, does it work? Yes. It's light, easy to install and looks and feels sturdy enough though I do have some reservations. I always think things like this should have a tripod base just in case, and I'm not too sure about the levers that stop the sections from sliding into each other; they never seem secure. My car bike rack uses a similar system and I always worry that it's not as assured as it could be. Much better would be a bar that you slide though the poles, though thinking about it, that wouldn't work because of the adjustable height. There must be a better method, if only to ensure the customer is at ease, but it's always advisable to keep checking things to make sure they're tight, so on that score it will do its job.

After four days with the bikes having not been touched (it's been raining too much and the wind has been 'aggressive', though I have taken them off and put them back just to make sure it can be done easily), it's still in situ, so maybe my initial thoughts were unfounded.


Samsung UE48HU7500 48-Inch 4k 3D Smart LED TV
Samsung UE48HU7500 48-Inch 4k 3D Smart LED TV
Offered by Tvsandmore
Price: £1,009.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look through any window, 25 Feb. 2015
An Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, eh. What's the point of that if there isn't anything to watch that's in UHD? First of all, there is, albeit just 'Breaking Bad' and 'House of Cards' on Netflix. Whilst those two shows might not be everyone's cup of tea, it all has to start somewhere. With the uptake of 4K televisions starting in earnest, Sky will undoubtedly have a box out at some point, Amazon are joining in the fun, an equivalent Blu-ray player is on the horizon and the terrestrial companies will eventually start broadcasting in the format. Whilst big televisions are more conducive to watching UHD, not everyone can have a 65 inch monster in their front room, which might necessitate watching it from across the road, so for those with limited space, this 48 inch beauty (the minimum size screen you can get away with) from Samsung fits the bill nicely.

Aesthetics:
Previously, I had an old HD ready (whatever that's supposed to mean) Toshiba 32 inch with a really wide bezel but this is virtually all screen with the thinnest of edges. Many might think the jump in size makes a huge difference but it means the width is just 10.5 inches more than that Toshiba, something I found surprising as it looks far bigger than it actually is. The black edging has a brushed silver border mirrored by the stand, which, apparently, is known as an Aero stand, and though it may sound silly, for many it may be a big selling point. It's part of your furniture, so it has to be pleasing on the eye, which this undoubtedly is. It's a shame it's fixed when other Samsung tellies incorporate a swivel stand. The blue light on the bottom edge can be turned off or any one of three other options.

Connections:
Loads! Three HDMIs and three USBs sit either side of an optical socket and a 'One Connect', below which is a pair of satellite inputs and one for an aerial. These are side facing, whilst on the same panel facing outwards is a fourth HDMI (ARC), SCART, headphone, LAN, and component connectors. A bit more on the 'One Connect' box. It's a box that is used if and when Samsung upgrade anything, which they have already done with their new range for 2015. Future proof for want of a better phrase. I have my television on a cabinet but if you wall mount, this box will make it easier to access the connections, though you will have to buy it separately. Something for everyone then.

Picture:
Outstanding! There is a caveat here though. Yes, you can get your new telly up and running in ten minutes but there is a wealth of options for getting the picture to your satisfaction. Believe me, it'll take a while to calibrate the settings to get the best picture possible but it will be worth it. HD channels and Blu-ray discs look so much better than on a 720 or 1080 screen but Standard Definition (SD) doesn't show that much of improvement. Then again, would you be buying this telly if you didn't have access to HD? (Note that depending on your preferences, some picture options might not be available.) Also, you can have different picture settings for different sources, which is handy as a signal from a Sky box may very well demand a change to that from a Blu-ray disc, etc.

In addition to these wealth of settings, there is a dedicated football mode, which has it's own button on the remote. Now, you might think it will be useful as it's supposed to add a realistic element to make you think you're there. It doesn't. What it does do is make the screen so garish as to be a danger to your retinas. Keep well away.

Sound:
Due to the thinness of the bezel and the TV itself, there's not really anywhere to include anything resembling decent speakers but the sound is still okay, if lacking on depth and bite, but I found voices to be particularly clear. Compared to the demonstration room in your local AV shop, furniture, flooring, size of the room, positioning, etc. all make a difference to how everything sounds direct from the telly. If you don't have an external sound source, as with the picture, play about with the audio until you get something you like, though you will eventually need a soundbase/soundbar/5.1 system to make the audio worthwhile.

Remote:
You get two. One standard remote and a smart one that incorporates a touch pad, voice activation (which the kids and neighbours think is impressive - and yes, the computerised voice does comment if you say a rude word, which you know you will) and a pointer for use with the interaction option, something which acts similar to a Wii controller. I find this one easier to use than the standard remote. I also have a Samsung Blu-ray player and have paired it with this and Sky, so I only need one to control all three things. There's an included IR extender, which you place by whatever other box you want to control. The issue with this telly (and any other) is that the IR sensor is on the bottom, which means any soundbar higher than around two inches might impinge on the beam. Why they don't place it on the side or top is something I've never managed to work out.

If you're unfortunate to mislay either of the two remotes, bottom right behind the screen as you look at the set is a four-way joystick that will duplicate all the commands. It also acts as an on/off switch.

Smart:
The 'Big Six' are all here (ITV Player, BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Netflix, Amazon, and Demand 5), and I counted, at the time, another 482 available apps, but as the memory capacity is 1,005MB, you might not be able to download them all. The set will also update the firmware when first turned on (mine had version 1027 but it updated to 1030), which might take a while depending on your connection, but you can use this time for perusing the manual. The nice thing about this, is that it doesn't take you out from what you were watching but places a row of tiles on the bottom of the screen. You can also watch telly and surf the web (or whatever) at the same time. Compared to my Blu-ray, this is far easier and quicker to use.

3D:
Let's be honest. I didn't get this for its 3D capabilities and neither will you but I'm not sure there is a UHD telly that doesn't have this feature. Samsung use the active system and though it works, there isn't really much broadcast, so you'll have to depend on Blu-ray discs if you're big on 3D; just be grateful you're not having to pay extra for it. You get two pairs of glasses that need to be fitted together then paired with the telly. There's an option to play 3D in 2D, which somewhat defeats the object.

Conclusion:
A brilliant picture (once you get the settings to your satisfaction) with great looks. It might seem a lot to pay for a television but it's not as if you change it every year. Don't loiter thinking the price will be reduced further, as you'll end up not buying anything. Bite the bullet and explain to the one in charge that she can watch all her favourites as never before. As the boss of this house said, "It's just like looking through a window." This set justifiably sneers at any other similar sized 4K televisions from other manufacturers. Fantastic value for money.

Pros:
An alluring design.
Superb picture quality.
Impressive upscaling of Blu-ray/DVD
Easy navigation of content.

Cons:
No full paper manual, though it is available through the TV.
The wealth of settings and options might be too much for some.
Football Mode is pointless.


A Killing Winter
A Killing Winter
by Tom Callaghan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's the story? (Warning: gory), 18 Feb. 2015
This review is from: A Killing Winter (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Recently widowed Detective Inspector Akyl Borubaev is called to the murder of a woman. Expecting her to be one of the local Bishkek prostitutes, she is too well dressed and attractive for that profession. Not only that, it's a murder more brutal than he has ever experienced. She has been sliced open and, even to this tough detective's horror, a foetus left in her womb. No wonder the young uniformed officer with him vomited. Borubaev, finds out her identity and realises he's in something rather deeper than he anticipated.

This is Tom Callaghan's initial foray into the world of novels and is the first in a planned series involving the battle weary and hardened DI. Whilst the premise isn't the least bit original (you can change the names and settings but corrupt officials remain the same), it's his use of literary tropes that conjure up [sometimes too] vivid images. Images such as "...another door, this one half open and as tempting to enter as an old hooker's mouth" and "...a skirt short enough to delight a gynaecologist...", transporting you to the strange, desperate land of Kyrgyzstan, does the trick.

It's the first two chapters, if not the first few pages, that tell you the author, a frequent visitor to the country it seems, has come up with a corker of a narrative, which is threatening enough to know that, for all it's geographical beauty, you'll think twice before planning a trip there. (Any reader not in possession of a strong stomach should be wary of the second chapter.) You can sense Borubaev's resignation when the body count begins to escalate. He might not be a squeaky clean cop, but, unlike all the others, he's not in anyone's pocket.

In some ways, it's a depressing read in that the nation 'stans of Central Asia appear to place so little value on life, their own included. Those who live the wrong side of the law being murdered is one thing but the innocent is another matter. Another corpse? Only the family will grieve. No one cares? This is a very violent read and maybe some of Callaghan's descriptions of that do get out of hand, but it's a good one for all that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2015 1:37 PM GMT


Hidden
Hidden
by Emma Kavanagh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Ready or not, here I come, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Hidden (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In July 2012, I reviewed a book also with the title, Hidden. Let's hope this one is better than that.

Charlotte (Charlie) Solomon is a crime reporter for the Swansea Times who finds herself involved in a situation involving a nutter with a gun who is hunting through the wards of a local hospital. Imogen is a psychologist who is also in the same hospital because her young niece is ill. Why is this man in this hospital brandishing a gun? Who is he looking for? There is also the mystery of a body found on the hard shoulder of the M4; a body Charlie recognises as a former schoolmate. A coincidence or a connection?

Unusually, this starts with the aftermath of the unknown man with a gun going postal in the hospital and is viewed from the first person perspective of Charlie. Actually, the book is split into chapters concerning four involved individuals, with Charlie and the gunman (referred to as 'The Shooter') being given the first person position. We're also told the time frame leading up to the event itself. Think of it as an episode of Columbo, which always began with the denouement.

Author and former police psychologist, Emma Kavanagh, has come up with a decent paced psychological thriller that had me guessing wrongly about who the perpetrator is (and believe me, you'll chase after the red herrings too). The metaphors and similes conjure up strong word pictures, especially the ones about the depressing, hopeless Mumbles council estate inhabited by equally depressing, hopeless people. Though it sometimes flits between time frames within a chapter, and it might be a bit confusing to begin with, though you do get to learn about the characters, it doesn't detract from a subject matter where all the main players appear inextricably intertwined.

It's a shame the outcome appears slightly rushed and we don't really get to know the reasons behind the finale, though it is hinted at within the narrative. Those final few pages will explain why you thought there were errors in the continuity and names. I did, so will you.

Is this Hidden better than the previous novel with the same title? Yes.


Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser Spray 750 ml (Pack of 3)
Price: £8.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Let us spray, 11 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There isn't a lot to say about this. The blurb claims it kills E.coli, Salmonella, MRSA, Rotavirus and Flu virus(H1N1) and as no one in this house has contracted any of those, it obviously works. It's not a cleaning spray; it's a cleansing one for use on your work surfaces (which might not necessarily be in the kitchen) to get rid of any nasty germs. I received the original 'flavour', but there is a lime and mint one available too.


David Jones
David Jones
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.71

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Behind the times, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: David Jones (Audio CD)
Prior to being cast as a Monkee, many people may be unaware that Davy Jones had a [unsuccessful] singing career in the USA., though you [now] know he did because you're reading this. Four sides of three singles he released in 1965 were added to by seven other songs (all recorded the same day) to produce an LP. Other than a brief showing by one at #93, none of these singles did anything, and the LP died, peaking at #185. (It was released in the UK in 1967.) With those two missing sides added as bonus tracks, now you can decide for yourself whether that chart showing was appropriate.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? A soft shoe shuffler single that was his sole chart 'success' encouraged producer Hank Levine to make this album.
MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE I'M A LONDONER. In all honesty, this is a bit of a mess. He tries a 'Mockney' accent (and fails) but during the spoken middle, his diction and clipped tones is more Hampstead than East Ham.
PUT ME AMONGST THE GIRLS. Written in 1907, this has a slight change of lyrics but the same 'plinkety plink' backing of the preceding two. It's one of the better performances here.
ANY OLD IRON. To anyone in America who heard this, the vernacular of the song would have been bemusing. Interrupted by a Herman's Hermits style solo.
THEME FOR A NEW LOVE. A forerunner to the sugary talking songs he recorded with The Monkees. "You're so much like a kitten I hold in my arms" and other equally banal lines makes it all pretty vomit inducing and he should have steered well clear.
IT AIN'T ME BABE. This was issued as a single in the UK in 1967 and is a mere sop to contemporary trends. It isn't that bad, but neither is it great. It's swamped by a jangling backing but it's the best song on this CD.
FACE UP TO IT. A marching tempo heralds a song about a man telling his ex girlfriend she's made a mistake (well he would, wouldn't he). The singing is a bit strained at times.
DREAM GIRL. Back to the 50s, which is why it failed in '65.
BABY IT'S ME. A jolly tune that was the B-side of that UK single, which bounces along quite nicely spoiled by the backing vocals that can't produce a northern accent.
MY DAD. A bit saccharine but a nice tune with appropriate lyrics.
THIS BOUQUET. Another fair to middling song and it's surprising no one else seems to have covered this. A winner for Valentine's Day.
TAKE ME TO PARADISE. The first of two bonus tracks and is in the wrong key for Jones. It's far too high.
THE GIRL FROM CHELSEA. The second bonus track is a bit more contemporary.

With the 'British Invasion' still in situ and with his English accent, surely it had to work. The problem Jones faced, apart from not being blessed with the best voice, was that this was aimed at the same teenage audience as the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc. The trouble was, the 'Cor blimey, Guv'nah' choice of songs was now so dated to be obsolete compared to the giant musical strides those groups (and others) were now taking, so didn't have a snowball-in-hell's chance of achieving anything other than instant oblivion. The day of the cardigan wearing, clean cut, neat hairstyled, anodyne 'Bobby' singers was well over but it seems the producer didn't realise that.

However, half a century on, and listening to it in a different light, it comes over as quaint even though it was well past its sell by date when released. (There was a brief reprise of vaudeville in '67/'68, so some may claim he was ahead of the times. He wasn't.) For Monkees fans (and there are those that buy everything, and I mean everything), this is an essential purchase as it's doubtful you'll find a vinyl copy anywhere. If, like me, you already have that, it's still indispensable to your collection.


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