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Arynth (London, England)

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Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad Mini 1, 2, 3 - White UK QWERTY Layout (Not Compatible with iPad Mini 4)
Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad Mini 1, 2, 3 - White UK QWERTY Layout (Not Compatible with iPad Mini 4)
Offered by Trusted-Goods
Price: £31.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great battery life, beautiful case, 13 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a sturdy, beautiful accompaniment to any iPad Mini (I've been using mine with the white iPad Mini).the top of the keyboard is white plastic, but the shell is the same beautiful brushed aluminium as the ipad itself. It looks great, but it does mean it's advisable to have a secondary case for keeping your iPad secure in your bag.

The keyboard has a swinging hinge for normal use, but also has a magnetic strip area for keeping your iPad in place, perfect for laptop/desktop use or for keeping your iPad on your nightstand, while watching a film.

Aside from that, there's not much to say - the iPad has the usual shortcuts to the home screen, for volume control (which I *love*) and for search. This *won't* replace all touch elements on for the screen. You'll still need to interact with some apps in the usual ways - for example, I've noticed in the Facebook app that you can't press 'Enter' or 'Shift + Enter' to send messages, so you'll still have to tap the 'send' button on the screen. This isn't a problem with the keyboard but it's a notable device limitation.

Aside from that, I've found the battery life to be very impressive - better even than my Brydge (for my regular iPad) . I generally get several days moderate usage out of a single charge.

If you're looking for an iPad Mini keyboard, then you've found it.

The Colour Of Magic: (Discworld Novel 1) (Discworld series)
The Colour Of Magic: (Discworld Novel 1) (Discworld series)
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Fantasy Classic, 6 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have taken an age to get around to reading The Colour of Magic. I first bought it well over a decade ago and I couldn't find myself getting over the first few pages. On a recent holiday, I thought I'd make a concerted effort and finally, *finally* read it.

It was brilliant. A page-turner from the beginning. Pratchett is a master of language, analogy and subtle sarcastic humour. References to other works of fantasy, pop fiction, science, sci-fi and philosophy/religion are prevalent throughout the work.

You just have to put aside all expectations and let your imagination be set free and carried along with the adventure, following failed-wizard Rincewind and bumbling tourist Twoflower across a disc on top of four elephants atop a Turtle. It's a magical, fantastic ride.

Some of my favourite turns of phrase:

'Being Ymor's right-hand man was like being gently flogged to death with scented bootlaces.'

'[the] sour beer was not so much purchased as merely hired for a while.'

'Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the discworld. Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant 'idiot'.'

'Rincewind tried to force the memory out of his mind, but it was rather enjoying itself there, terrorizing the other occupants and kicking over the furniture.'

'[The colour of magic] was the undisputed pigment of the imagination.'


The North Face Men's Etip Glove - TNF Black, Large
The North Face Men's Etip Glove - TNF Black, Large

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flexible and touch-sensitive, 4 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These gloves were exactly what I needed. I found myself in the recent winter air popping out for lunch-breaks and having to head back in far too early because of the freezing cold. I bought these so I could stay out a while longer and keep using my devices. To that end, they worked well.

I've noticed some have said that these gloves won't quickly warm your hands - no, they won't. They're quite close-fitting which should be seen as necessary for anything where dexterity is important, so if you're looking for very warm mountain gloves then these won't help. But if your hands are warm to begin with, then these will help keep them warm.

Note that these gloves only have touch-sensitive skins on the index fingers and thumbs of each hands, which may leave you frustrated if you're used to using all fingers on your iPad. I haven't noticed much in the way of wear on these (as other reviews have noted) but I am not a heavy user. These are strictly for lunchbreak and commuting use.

The only negative of note in my experience is that the fingers with the e-tips don't fit quite as closely as I would like which lead to having to readjust the gloves from time-to-time - this likely due to the difference in fabric between the material of the glove itself and its e-tips.

Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War
Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, The West and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War
Price: £5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, good read but ultimately unsatisfying, 4 May 2013
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This work covers the final few years of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom - the decline and eventual fall of the losing side in a civil war that claimed millions (perhaps dozens of millions) of lives in 19th Century China. As the author points out, that at the time of the contemporaneous American Civil War, the Chinese losses excelled more than the entire population of North America.

The author makes it clear from the beginning that his aim is to cover the fall of the Taiping, rather than provide a comprehensive account from its birth to its death - the term 'Autumn in' is a reference to a Chinese historical term for the final years of a reign. This isn't unusual in History; how many books have been written about specific periods of the Second World War or the reign of King Henry VIII? The trouble is that so much History has been written around those periods (in English) that you can almost assume a knowledge of the various contexts surrounding the subject, which naturally lends itself to deeper reading. Most casual amateur historians will not have a deep knowledge of Chinese history or an understanding of Qing politics preceeding the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom as well as the events following it. So what we have is an assumption of knowledge of context, though this probably does not exist in the audience for this book. This could have been fixed with a short(ish) summery of events - perhaps a few chapters - either side.

Aside from that problem, the work is well-written. Platt focuses on three narrative strands: the heavenly cousin, Hong Rengan; the Qing Scholar-General Zeng Guofan; and the various meddlings of Western powers and their 'filibusters'. The work effectively reads as a combined biography of Zeng Guofan and Hong Rengan - the Heavenly King (Hong Xiuquan) is barely mentioned and you could be forgiven for thinking that the great Taiping General, Shi Dakai, didn't exist. There are along the way snippets of analysis about the impact of the war, but the focus of this is on the history of great persons. This also has the effect of an oscillating narrative. Vast swathes of interesting event narrative (and, again, context) are summed up in mere paragraphs, while page after page is spent on detail of military movements, hard to follow for the casual reader without an understanding of Chinese geography and history. It also has the odd effect of reading in part like popular history interrupted by a military historian's PhD thesis.

Perhaps the greatest problem of the work is its almost complete lack of analysis of the implications of the Taiping rebellion. Platt pays lip service to it with reference to the obliteration of the Jiangnan region and how Sun Yatsen was from time-to-time referred to as 'Hong Xiuquan'. There is a conspicuous absence of its contribution to the Chinese civil war of the 20th centuries or the warlordism preceding it in 1910s-1920s China. This is a shame and I think that the author could have a great deal to contribute in that area.

If you are familiar with the Taiping period and are looking for more concentrated works in English, then add a star and get reading. If you are just starting to broach the topic, then I suggest you focus on primers or some of the more general works.

Samsung M3 Slimline 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive - Black
Samsung M3 Slimline 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive - Black
Price: £76.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best portable external HDD I've owned, 26 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've gone through somewhere in the region of three dozen external HDDs over the past 5 years, at least a dozen were portables. This ranks among the best, if not the best.

It is silent, very light (particularly given that it is 1TB) and *extremely* cheap. This is the best you'll get, certainly for the price, until Solid State drives become significantly more affordable.

The drive also appears quite stable. I tend to take quite good care of my drives having experienced some failed drives in the past - I'm looking at you Seagate - so I bought a cheap carry case for this.

I use it mostly with my Mac but I also connect it to my TV from time-to-time without hassle. I haven't tested this as a Time Machine unit, though I'm thinking of purchasing a second just for that. The USB 3.0 is blisteringly fast and has made backing up a breeze.

The only real negatives is that the top (and bottom) of the case, while looking like metal, are plasticky. This doesn't detract from the look of the drive (which is beautiful), but does make me worry about its sturdiness. The other negative is that the USB 3.0 cable that comes with it is pretty short - not ideal.

Aside from those minor niggles, this drive comes highly recommended.

The Strangled Queen (The Accursed Kings, Book 2)
The Strangled Queen (The Accursed Kings, Book 2)
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb follow up to The Iron King, 14 April 2013
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I bought this after devouring the Iron King a day before release and finished it on the same day. It picks up following the death of Philip IV and explores the relationships between three key characters - the new king, Louis X, Marigny and Charles de Valois - and a large cast of other players shaping the conflict. It's in this novel that Martin's comment in the Forward to the books that 'The Accursed Kings is the real Game of Thrones' really becomes apparent. Duron is master at quickly creating excellent, deep characters you root for, even if you know what might happen to some of them, having studied the period.

The book flows incredibly well and Druon comes into his own interjecting into the narrative his own observations , recognising that the reader may be familiar with the events and taking a moment to dwell on a shared sigh at a tragic period of national history. The English nobles take a back seat in this book and the focus is entirely on events in France amid the Marigny-Valois power struggle. You will pick your own side in this, albeit with the support or condemnation of a tutting Druon.

If you've read The Iron King and liked it, buy this immediately. If you haven't yet read The Iron King, go buy it and read it. If you didn't at all like The Iron King, then you're probably a little mad but you might still want to give this a chance. This is an essential addition to any historical fiction collection.

The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, Book 1)
The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, Book 1)
by Maurice Druon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what historical fiction should be, 14 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is absolutely brilliant. Full of well-written intrigue and three-dimensional characters who spark your interest upon introduction, The Iron King focuses on events of the later reign of Prince Philip IV ("The Fair") of France and sets the scene for what feels like an epic saga exploring French and English history.

I originally bought this off the back of the recent recommendations by George R R Martin. I've taken those with a healthy pinch of salt because historical fiction tends to be a mix of the terrible, the excellent and the mediocre and I've encountered plenty of terrible, well-recommended books. I'm so glad I gave this a try. The parallels between this and some of the greatest works of fantasy are clear and it's obvious as to how this provided inspiration to Martin. It helps that the period Druon is writing in is full of intrigue, war, civil strife and international conflict.

If you're a fan of history, historical fiction or fantasy, you must read this.

World Without End (The Pillars of the Earth Book 2)
World Without End (The Pillars of the Earth Book 2)
Price: £5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to par with Pillars of the Earth, 12 April 2013
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World Without End was not a terrible read but it was at times hard work, unlike its predecessor Pillars of the Earth. The microcosm of Kingsbridge created in Pillars is replicated here, some two hundred years later with new generations of characters. There are the offshoots of the Builder family and Jack and Aliena from the previous novel and it does for the most part feel like it fits seemlessly with the original world. Follett does a great job of setting the scene and creating distinctive believable characters and a myriad of interesting subplots which he tries to tie together.

Its greatest weakness is its banality. For all the drama created, nothing really happens. People grow up, nothing's fair, then they die. Yes, that's true but did I need 1,100 pages of stomach-churning dialogue and extremely awkward sex scenes to appreciate that? Everything that should be a climax in this book is turned into an anti-climax. Each and every subplot ends unsatisfactorily *and the endings don't feel natural*. If you're going to shoe-horn an ending on to the end of several hundred pages worth of writing, make it something that's worth the slog!

Despite that, I did find myself growing attached to some of the characters and their potential. The world is interesting and the book interests more with its various historical elements than with the political intrigues which make up the bulk of the drama. If you were a fan of Pillars, buy it. You'll enjoy it. If you weren't a great fan, you might want to give this one a miss.

Untouchables: Dirty cops, bent justice and racism in Scotland Yard (Bloomsbury Reader)
Untouchables: Dirty cops, bent justice and racism in Scotland Yard (Bloomsbury Reader)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable. Distressing. Shattering. Excellent., 4 April 2013
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Buy and read this book, which has been reprinted in 2012 and is now available on the Kindle.

The authors of this tome, Gillard and Flynn, have done an astoundingly good job. It represents the culimination of years of research, interviews and dozens of cases. The book follows the course of several stories of victims, clean police officers, 'supergrasses', corrupt officers and broken families woven together in an often-thrilling always-compelling matter. This book reads like the plots of the best crime films you've ever seen put to paper. Unbelievably compelling. If you have faith in the Met and its ability to police itself, this will shatter your misconception. If you've been eagerly following the hacking saga, then this will make the perfect compliment.

It's truly fearsome how these officers (varying in levels of seniority) have been able to act, stich-up, mislead the public and parliament and get away with it time and again. So many unsolved cases. Too many families desperately trying to search for justice. Too many unanswered questions.

If this was a work of fiction, it would be extremely compelling. The fact that it's woven from truth is horrifying. You must read this book.

I Can Make You Hate
I Can Make You Hate
by Charlie Brooker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miserable. Cynical. Funny., 1 April 2013
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This review is from: I Can Make You Hate (Hardcover)
Charlie Brooker fan? Great, go buy this book.

Not really familiar with Charlie Brooker? He's one of England's best writers of the last decade, exploring everything from gaming to politics with acerbic wit, a knowing self-loathing misery and a rich vocabulary. This is essentially a collection of his articles and short transcripts from his work from 2009 - 2012.

It serves as a marvellous retrospective. He dips into what was hot that week or month either on television or happening in the world. This is where the weakness lies and it's the biggest problem with any of Brooker's work. You get the impression sometimes that he's writing for the sake of a deadline, so some of the tracts feel like hastily-written odes to the mundane. "I've got a deadline coming... what shall I write about? Come on brain! Oh, that's it! Brains." 800 words later and he's set. I guess I'm trying to say that at times he's like a comedic Stephen King.

He writes, at the beginning, that it's best dipped into here or there. I read it from cover to cover - the edition I've read has 404 pages, which I'm half-sure is a geeky in-joke - in one go and found it enjoyable and compelling. Some of the articles are stronger than others and there are probably two or three you'll want to skip but this is very much worth a read.

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