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Reviews Written by
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England)

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High Citadel
High Citadel
by Desmond Bagley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a great adventure story, 14 April 2011
This review is from: High Citadel (Paperback)
I first read this book fifteen or so years ago and even then it was old (it was first published before I was born, in 1965). I recently came across the book in a charity shop and thought I'd have another read as I remember it being an exciting and enjoyable story.

It was - and is - and I was glad to read it again. Like many books written decades ago, parts seem a bit old-fashioned, such as the portrayal of women (one character, whose name we know, is often referred to as `the girl'). I also found it interesting to read a book written at the height of anti-communist feeling as the story has a thread running through it of trying to thwart a group of communists who are trying to take over a South American country; the communists are portrayed like animals, not humans, and they are the worst thing that can happen. The European view of communism just doesn't feel like that now and the portrayal seems a bit over-the-top.

What's great about this story is the variety of characters and the situation in which they find themselves - stranded high up a mountain after a plane crash and threatened by an armed group of communists. The way in which the motley group of plane passengers arm themselves to fight back is brilliant, as is the description of a group of three making their way across a mountain pass in appalling weather and with hopeless kit. There's a lot of action and excitement in this story which is always gripping.

I did feel that the author was less successful in characterisation. We meet a variety of different people and they are convincing but the way in which they change isn't always so. There is a rather stereotypical ridiculous American chap and there are a few plot events which feel a bit too unlikely (the theft of a fighter jet, for example) but overall I really enjoyed this story and felt it was a little out of the ordinary compared to lots of action books.


The Snowflake
The Snowflake
by Jamie Carie
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable novella, 12 April 2011
This review is from: The Snowflake (Hardcover)
I hadn't realised when I picked up this book that it was an `inspirational' story - which is the American term for Christian literature, I gather. When I realised I wasn't too confident I'd like the story - my British mentality likes certain things to be kept relatively private and faith is one of them. I've read a couple of `inspirational' novels before and they've been toe-curlingly in-your-face about Christianity with characters behaving most weirdly - they would have made me run a mile in real life.

`The Snowflake' wasn't like that, fortunately. There's a thread of faith running through the story but it doesn't go overboard and people don't behave bizarrely; instead, it's a backdrop to their lives as they try to survive in what is a hostile and frightening part of the world.

The story is set in 1897 during the Alaskan Gold Rush. Our heroine, Ellen Pierce, is travelling with her brother, a violent and controlling man, to stake out their claim. However, the steamship they are on gets stuck in the ice and a small group of passengers decides to try to walk to Dawson City rather than spend the winter on the boat. Led by Buck Lewis, the sort of chap one clearly wants in a crisis like this, they set out on the two week march. Not all goes well on this march, and when the bedraggled group finally arrive at Dawson there are still problems to be overcome.

I particularly liked the unusual plot direction when Ellen arrives in Dawson and her rather singular new friend. I was expecting rather more disapprobation about the behaviour and life choices of some of the characters in the book but the author seemed to have an understanding of human nature, of loneliness and more. Although a romance, I felt that side of the story was actually secondary to the message about people and their worth and the need to drive away loneliness. I enjoyed reading about life in Alaska and the variety of people one might meet.


Redstone SAD Light Box - 10,000 lux - Medically Certified to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder - Day Light Therapy Lamp
Redstone SAD Light Box - 10,000 lux - Medically Certified to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder - Day Light Therapy Lamp
Offered by Cyber Checkout
Price: £44.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but buzzy, 10 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was pleased by the size and convenience of this SAD Light Box. It's free-standing or can be hung on a wall and we've tried it in several different rooms (it's currently used to help illuminate jigsaw puzzles we are doing in our lounge).

I don't really know if it's made any difference to my general wellbeing in winter but I have noticed this gives me a headache if I have it on too long. Why? Nothing to do with how much light it gives out, it's a problem with its buzzing. When you first turn it on it's fairly quiet but after about half an hour it's got a fairly noticeable buzz which gets right up my nose. I turn it off at that point.

Overall it's still been a good light, and my husband can cope OK with the buzz. This may also be just a small batch of them as my in-laws bought one of these and it's much quieter. The irritating buzz has meant I only award this four stars, but I still think it's good value.


Ladies Mucker Easy Close Stable Yard Waterproof Soles Wide Fitting Boots Wellies
Ladies Mucker Easy Close Stable Yard Waterproof Soles Wide Fitting Boots Wellies

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great boots for winter, 10 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In an amazing stroke of foresight I ordered these boots a few days before the huge snowfall at the end of 2010 which ground most of the UK to a halt. They arrived just in time to be my dog-walking boots, keeping my feet toasty warm in the snow. Unlike my wellies (in which my feet always got freezing cold) they have a good tread on the sole so weren't slippery in the snow either.

There's lots to like about these boots - I like the bright red colour for a start. As previously mentioned the neoprene liner is warm. Initially when I put the boots on I feared they were too tight but they must have relaxed a bit as they were fine after a couple of walks.

A slight niggle is that when sliding your foot in you have to hold the inner liner else it gets dragged down into the boot with your sock. I also find that they don't do up quite tight enough around my legs for full walking comfort unless I tuck my trousers into them (which looks decidedly uncool) or wear welly socks. But overall I've been really happy with them and they've kept my feet happy through weeks of snow.


Lindam Easy Fit Plus Safety Gate
Lindam Easy Fit Plus Safety Gate

5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, 10 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I wish I'd bought this before. I borrowed a baby gate from a neighbour when I got my new puppy and the gate was really annoying, kept falling over and that sort of thing. I persevered, thinking that a decent (read: better) baby gate would be expensive.

In the end I got so wound up by the other gate I decided to buy a new one. The Lindam gate had good reviews and was cheap so I gave it a go. I wish I had sooner as it's been brilliant!

It has a good, snug fit (initially it doesn't line up and you can't work out how it's going to squeeze into the gap, but it does) and has always been totally secure, even with two dogs jumping up at it. It can open and close either direction or both. It's got a good, snap-shut locking mechanism.

Bad points? Well, both my husband and I have bashed our knees on the sticking out bit that it clips into when going through the gap. The gap is reasonably narrow so it's hard carrying things through, but that's a minor niggle. Overall this has been really useful.


Grave Illusions (Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter Book 1)
Grave Illusions (Jess Vandermire, Vampire Hunter Book 1)
Price: £1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacking something, 9 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For a book which was free on Kindle, it's hard to complain about anything. And there is a lot to like about this book, particularly the setting within a special police force which deals with vampires - and is led by one.

Jess Vandemire is a vampire whose priest brother has enabled her to keep her soul and to fight for the goodies. When she recruits John Brittain, a cop with problems in his past, she doesn't realise quite how he is linked to the new, powerful vampire who seems to be growing in power and evil.

I found the pacing a bit varied with long sections where not much seemed to happen, then suddenly we'd skipped forward a week or so. The initial scenes between Jess and John were good but later scenes seemed a bit forced. I also found the fight scenes between the baddies and goodies not always convincing.

There were a few interesting plot elements, such as John's history coming back to bite him (metaphorically, anyway), but I found the resolution of the book slightly lacking (it's the start of a series, I believe). For a book that didn't cost me anything it was a reasonable read but I think if I'd paid for it I might have been a bit disappointed.


Black Apple Shaped Silicon stand Holder for Apple iPad [Electronics]
Black Apple Shaped Silicon stand Holder for Apple iPad [Electronics]

5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 9 April 2011
This is a simple, lightweight and basic item but it's excellent. I was impressed by the low price (I see it has gone up by 35% since I bought it, however) and decided to give it a go - and it's something that I use all the time with my iPad when it's out of its case.

It holds it at a great angle for reading (I use it to hold the iPad on the breakfast table whilst I read the newspaper over my cereal) and is secure enough that you can type on the iPad whilst it's in the stand - as long as you don't wallop it. In portrait mode it's a bit more wobbly but hasn't yet fallen over.

I bought the red version and it's a bright, cheery colour. It's an excellent accessory which I am happy to recommend.


Red Apple Shaped Silicon stand Holder for Apple iPad [Electronics]
Red Apple Shaped Silicon stand Holder for Apple iPad [Electronics]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 9 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a simple, lightweight and basic item but it's excellent. I was impressed by the low price (I see it has gone up by 35% since I bought it, however) and decided to give it a go - and it's something that I use all the time with my iPad when it's out of its case.

It holds it at a great angle for reading (I use it to hold the iPad on the breakfast table whilst I read the newspaper over my cereal) and is secure enough that you can type on the iPad whilst it's in the stand - as long as you don't wallop it. In portrait mode it's a bit more wobbly but hasn't yet fallen over.

I bought the red version and it's a bright, cheery colour. It's an excellent accessory which I am happy to recommend.


Sigma PC15 Heart Rate Monitor
Sigma PC15 Heart Rate Monitor

4.0 out of 5 stars Good gadget but complex menus, 9 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm glad I speak German. When I received the Sigma HRM it took a while to work out the menus - the instruction book was useful in some ways but not always entirely clear. The HRM was set to German language out of the box so, after accessing some of the less-used German vocabulary in the dim-distant reaches of my memory, I managed to get it speaking English.

It's a nice, reasonably compact watch with a clear, readable display. There are a few niggles with it - for example, whilst recording HR you can't get it to just tell the time. It beeps when you enter various zones (you can set these zones manually or let it calculate them for you) but the beep is very quiet. I also found it took a long time to get a signal from the chest strap and it often drops the signal; my Garmin HRM that goes with my bike computer doesn't suffer from this, but then is coded to my Garmin unit whereas the Sigma is uncoded.

The unit gives you max and average heart rate figures when queried which has been handy, although I prefer the downloadable information from my Garmin so I can see exactly what I'm doing. There's a bicycle mount for the Sigma which seemed good but my husband, who fixed it to his bike, thought it might damage the strap of the Sigma if it were used like this too much.

Overall we feel this is a very good value-for-money item, costing only slightly less than just the strap I bought for my Garmin GPS. However there is a steep learning curve with the menus. Viel Glück!


Accessory Agents AA4SOC2M 4 Socket 2M Individually Switched Ext Lead
Accessory Agents AA4SOC2M 4 Socket 2M Individually Switched Ext Lead

5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 9 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an excellent value item which I wish I'd bought before. Although basic (it has one red light to tell you the mains power is on to the extension lead, but no individual light on each socket to tell you whether it is on or off) it does exactly what it needs to. The 2m length seems long enough for most uses - I only wish it was a six-way rather than four-way socket as I'm already finding I'm running out of room for all my phone/iPad/battery chargers...


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