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Michelle Knight (UK)

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Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope [LIMITED EDITION GOLD VINYL]
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope [LIMITED EDITION GOLD VINYL]
Price: £29.44

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible manufacturing, ruins the record., 12 Jun. 2016
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Horrific. The manufacturing quality is horrendous, as pictured. Also, the recording is muted and bland. There's no oomph, no excitement. Daytime TV could cause a stronger emotional journey than this piece of rubbish. Didn't even get as far as the second record.
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Plantronics RIG 500 Stereo PC Gaming Headset
Plantronics RIG 500 Stereo PC Gaming Headset
Price: £34.60

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars these are surprisingly good. I did get the vented version later on, 23 May 2016
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For the money, these are surprisingly good. I did get the vented version later on. There is a surprising degree of clarity in the sound and a fair chunk of detail. The padding and closed back does up the bass a bit, but that's to be expected. The mic performs well for internet conversations, but on Audacity I was getting a noise trace; so great for gaming but expecting to do voice over work with this, is an unfair expectation. The flip to mute is a lot more natural, but even though it takes further for the hand to travel, it's still quicker than fiddling around with an in-line control panel and finding the mute, before you sneeze. Doesn't replace a quality pair of cans for serious music listening, but it's very good value for the money.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2016 8:16 AM BST

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Picture Disc) [VINYL]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Picture Disc) [VINYL]
Price: £23.50

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible noise on the record and comes in nasty plastic sleeve., 23 May 2016
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Length:: 0:45 Mins

The first thing you're going to need to do, is get the records out of the horrible plastic garbage that they come in, and in to decent paper sleeves. This review will be update later, when I've listened to the recordings... but to send vinyl out like this, is appalling.

Changed to 1 star... Have started playing the Rey disk and the noise and crackle is unbearable and unforgivable for a record that is supposed to be of this quality. I'm more than ten minutes in and a repeated crackle is sounding from the hair above Rey's left ear and just keeps sounding on every cycle. I believe it is either a manufacturing problem with the picture disc, or it's an issue with the plastic sleeve

This is going back.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2016 8:52 AM BST

Life with an Autistic Son
Life with an Autistic Son
Price: £2.24

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books I believe everyone should read., 8 Nov. 2015
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There is a balance between the time we spend living, and the time we spend learning. In the forever busy lives we lead it is tempting to avoid learning the things we think we will never encounter. Autism is probably on that list of things to learn about, only when it becomes necessary.

It is estimated (WARNING - These are the conservative figures) that one in every 88 children in the US has autism. In the UK the figure I have found is 700,000 which, is roughly one in 99, but in reality the ratio seems to be considerably higher. (I've read all sorts of figures) As well as the children, you're likely to come up against the parents. (Some sources - https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/conditioninfo/pages/at-risk.aspx - http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2011/05/how_many_really_people_have_au.html )

The truth is that autism is something that we are almost certain to encounter. Society as a whole, is only now starting to get to grips with autism and the surrounding issues. There are ground breaking people like Rising Tide in Florida, that started a business to fit the positive traits of autistic people, in to a job they excel at. Society is starting to think differently; but it will clearly be a long haul. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VULKzVZCso0

Although nothing can prepare you for meeting and working with someone who is autistic, this book is a beautiful starting point. B's dad uses his typically British sense of dark humour to ensure that the read isn't too heavy, but at times he really does open his heart up and you see the pain, hardship, shattered dreams, strain and outright heartbreak that bringing up B has had on the family. (and he is holding back.) But he also highlights the pure joy that B brings and reflects on how B's differences have made him re-think himself and his own relationships in the world at large.

'Be patient, say the books. Be consistent, realistic and controlled. And I am. Most of the time. But I’m also tired and sad, worried and drained. I don’t want to feel this resentment towards my son. I don’t want to wake up feeling like this.'

He began this journey as an anonymous blog; but those things can be difficult to read if you weren't in there from the start. Bringing this out as a book bridges that gap and makes the whole thing more accessible. There are a few grammatical errors in here and because he is an English teacher, I'm tempted to say B- for editing; but an A+++++ for effort. (I think he'd get the funny side.) Five stars. Excellent read; highly recommended. If ever people leaving school to enter the big world of work, were given a pile of books on their way out the door; for my money, this would be among them.

Among the more beautiful passages...

'A very sweet moment occurred recently when B was playing a game called ‘Stickman’ on his brother’s Kindle. The game invited him to ‘Tell his friends’ he was playing, and in return two bonus levels would be unlocked. Of course, by ‘tell your friends’ it meant tell your followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook (B may be very IT savvy but he does not yet have a Twitter or Facebook account). B did not understand this social networking feature, so instead he came to me, sat on my knee, and (at length) began to describe the game he was playing. When he was done, he said, “Now I can have two bonus levels”.'

A Table In Berlin
A Table In Berlin
by Mark Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars He set himself a difficult task., 14 Oct. 2015
This review is from: A Table In Berlin (Paperback)
Davies set himself up with a mammoth challenge. A lot of characters in a relatively short book, and a chunk of them introduced at the same time and being, "active," together. He set the bar really high for himself. No wonder he didn't achieve it for me.

Davies opened with a cracker of a buy-in in the first chapter, but it was like smelling the caviar as it passed under my nose, only to be left with the day old potted mackerel on my plate. (Actually, I hate fish, full stop, but that's neither here or there.)

In the beginning, I had serious problems with the jumping around, which lasted until about page 90. "All right then. Where shall we sit?" she asked. "Over there," said Isabelle impishly. "That table over there, by the wall. The one with the man underneath it." - That was, strangely, the same man who in the previous segment had managed to make it to the table, refuse a towel for his wet hair and, being a vegetarian, had ordered moussaka. Well, either he had made it to his seat OK, or he ordered his food while being under the table. So you can see why I was getting confused. And then he ended up underneath another table where he had then kicked his pen. *sigh*

It was also annoyingly switching between describing the lead character in first and third person, which just added a little olive oil to the rope of sense, as I tried to grip it. I was about two thirds of the way through the book before I worked out that the subheading, "E minor," actually denoted a switch to first person. Not that the knowledge helped much.

Davies is pretty good with the one liners and made me chuckle in quite a few places with his quick-fire quips, but even as some of the story line was starting to make itself known, the book was loosing me. Some of the quips started failing to make sense and the names were starting to merge.

Now, not all books end with a happy ever after. Some end with people going their own ways. Some end with death, but the sniff of a new dawn. Some end with loose ends that are never tidied up, but so long as they are left for a reason that resonates, then I'm happy with that. But you know that disappointment you get when a lead character endures an adventure and then wakes up in bed (which isn't what happens here) ... that's the feeling I got from too many co-incidences and situations that just weren't wrapped up properly ... and again, there are so many people in here and so many interwoven sub-stories that I was never going to get a decent mouth full of any one flavour on my pallet.

Davies comes over as a skilled writer with a quirky sense of humour. I just think that he tried to do too much, with too many people, in too short a book. Reading the short explanation at the back, of how the book came to be, I whistled low to myself and thought, "You set yourself a difficult task here, mate."

Taming Tigers
Taming Tigers
by Daisy White
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars when the skin of the ripe fruit is peeled back and you want time to slow down so that you can savour all the sweet juices and em, 5 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Taming Tigers (Paperback)
The story is definitely a breath of fresh air. White's travelling seems to have given her access to cultures and traditions which are outside my usual reading, while staying on this planet and in this time zone. It was a very welcome change for me.

The book blurb at the back gave everything away, while giving nothing away; if you know what I mean. The way things were panning out, I thought I had the whole thing stitched up by the end of chapter two and was getting a little blasé; so when the sucker punch came, I was completely unprepared. White took me on a journey that I wasn't expecting, with flashes of education and mysticism that were mostly wrapped up at the end.

So, where was the star lost? Time. You know when a story gets to those all important moments, when the skin of the ripe fruit is peeled back and you want time to slow down so that you can savour all the sweet juices and embed them in to your memory ... unfortunately, it doesn't happen here. In fact, it sometimes speeds up. Near the beginning when the two protagonists have an emotional argument, it seems that flips are done from one sentence to the next and the juicy bits are dried up in one quick suck of the fruit. There were also time slips. For example, on page 53, the protagonist is facing the day turning in to night and had a flash back to her mother teaching her survival skills. Then, the sun is beating down on her bare head as if it was suddenly mid day. I found myself asking questions of what happened during the night? How did her training help her with this? I was knocked out of my comfortable groove.

Conclusion; a refreshingly different read. White missed some opportunities to wow me, but it was a story with twists that I didn't see coming.

The History & Arts of the Dominatrix
The History & Arts of the Dominatrix
Price: £4.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Top read. Thoroughly enjoyed., 15 July 2015
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This book does a first class job of telling us the story of the Dominatrix and stating, on paper, what many of us already know but have avoided openly acknowledging. There are more than ten pages of references in there, particularly in the historical sections. I have hardcover 906.

At the end of the day, the Dominatrix of the last few centuries has existed as a profession, to satisfy the clientelle who wish the service. It is a human demand that is probably baked in to our natural blueprint; as evidenced by the societies before the Abrahamic religions, that ran on those same principles. There is solid argument that these services also exist because of the un-natural restrictions placed on us by our, "binary thinking," societies; thus creating the un-balanced psychological states from which we need release, and hence the need to turn to extra services to redress that balance, away from societies judgemental eyes.

This work will probably be among the books that society as a whole, considers, when it justifies to itself the further removal of organised religion from our governance.

There is the question of the future of the Dominatrix, however. Society is taking the much stronger step of re-defining beauty; one of the very weapons of carnal desire that the Dominatrix relies upon. We may yet see the Dominatrix separate from the fetishistic and return to the core of emotional dominance. Cultures are changing, and the Dominatrix will have to change with them. After all, with corpral punishment now banned in schools, how many years will remain before people stop seeking the schoolboy scenario; or once India abandons the caste system, for example.

The way I see it, the core facets of submission and dominance are not unique to the sexes. It is merely that the patriarchal society has painted female submission and male dominance as normal and to be accepted; while the converse is to be rejected.

These traits, however, exist within us all and I foresee a future where dungeons contain Dominant and Dominatrix, working side by side, for the benefit of their clients of either sex, who wish to exercise various facets of their natural personalities.

At one point in chapter 4, one submissive was quoted as saying, "I would try my best to bury my desires, to pretend they weren't there, but it inevitably would pop up and I would feel guilty, then I'd try and push it back down again. But you can't, you know? It's part of who you are, a part of your identity and being. ... So eventually I told my wife. I was terrified and expected her to want to leave me. I expected the worst, and broke down and cried several times, explaining it all to her, how it started, how it affected me. And surprisingly she was actually really understanding. She's not interesting in whipping me or wearing leather herself, but she's ok with me seeing a Dominatrix professionally, as long as it stays within those confines, and I tell her when I'm going." - He was lucky, I guess. Not everyone who, "comes out," to their partner manages to get such a response and works a way forward with their other half. But I think understanding is generally improving as the years roll on.

As chapter 5 recalls Dumas' words, "Marriage is a chain so heavy that it takes two people to carry it - sometimes three."

Spouses frequently detect something, "not right," in their partner and on the occasions that this imbalance is outed, the spouse may not only aquiesse to them attending a Dominatrix (knowing that sex is not on the menu) but sometimes conspire with the Dominatrix themselves to guide their own spouse's treatment at her hands. There are many complexities to human relationships and this book does an excellent job of laying them as bare as possible within the confines of just short of three hundred pages.

This book is a cracking read which introduces the reader to things they very likely weren't taught in history class, and exposes the other side of power control in a responsible, researched and factual manner. Be prepared to see the occasional picture that might upset you; not on the nudity part as I think the only thing I ever saw was breasts ... but in terms of the bondage and more extreme power exchange that is depicted here and there. But then, a book like this should only ever be approached with an open mind.

Top read. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It should be required reading for anyone who is in a position of control concerning the censorship of our society.

Here are the links to my chapter reviews...
First -
Second -
Third and Fourth -
Fifth -

The last word to the author herself in a small section of her afterword..

Having spent much of the last four years in the "underworld" of Dominatrices' dungeons, and the dark and artificially lit interiors of museums and libraries, I have finally drawn to the end of my journey documenting the history and arts of the Dominatrix.
After all that I've learnt about their world and their practices, the Dominatricies have lost nothing of their mystique. I have great admiration for these highly independent, talented and free-thinking ladies who have made domination their professional craft occupation.

For the Sins of My Mother
For the Sins of My Mother
by Marie Therese Rogers-Moloney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.11

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars we can be the most beautiful, generous souls, 13 May 2015
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As humans, we can be the most beautiful, generous souls. We can also be the most selfish, hurtful, cruel beings to ever walk the earth. Only in our turn-of-the-century world are we starting to pick apart the, "What will the neighbours think," attitude that has been the cause of people doing some really damaging things; the wrong things for what we thought were the right reasons. We have also used religion as an excuse to do bad as well as a drive to do good. Welcome to the human race.

The blurb in the book already explains the foundation of Marie Therese's story, "In rural Ireland in 1950, a respectable widow has an affair with a visiting stranger." I'm spoiling nothing for you there.

Marie's account of her life is event-driven; but those with empathy will be able to feel the words and emotions behind them. The struggles that Marie has detailed here records the harshest of pain and anguish almost in the lightest of forms. Almost like Michelangelo saying of the Sistine Chapel, "Oh, it was something I knocked up before lunch." Read slowly, and read deeply, is my advice when picking up this book.

Marie doesn't paint herself as an angel. She also accounts for things like the scrumping and the other things that used to be done in defiance of the rules imposed. Overall, however, her heart is good natured and the book details how this was taken advantage of in her life by making her feel guilty; but finally she reached breaking point and her ambition drove her forward.

Chapter one deals with the orphanage and was the most difficult to read as it jumps around a bit. I couldn't get hold of a common thread; which was understandable as so many threads collided in that one major chunk of life; which one to pick?! The rest of the book continues chronologically and factually, with peeks here and there into the anguish and heartbreak.

A very tight line has been walked between exposing the difficulties of her life and also being respectful to those still living. Not all misfortune was at the hands of others and fate dealt a nasty card or two as well, all of which Marie battled with.

It is accounts like these that serve as a beacon for us to remember that no institution must be beyond firm inspection, that no belief system justifies the mistreatment of children, that mental abuse and guilt are weapons that can be wielded by someone regardless of their physical ability.

In all, this book will remain in my collection and I will read it every few years, as a reminder as to what we are capable of, both in darkness and in light, and that inner peace is a goal worth striving for.

Incorruptible (The Push Chronicles Book 3)
Incorruptible (The Push Chronicles Book 3)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, a satisfying read, 31 Mar. 2015
Book 3 of the Push Chronicles. You know that on the journey form A to B, that B is, "The good guys win." However, a few things throughout the chronicles have seen me ask myself, "Just who, exactly, ARE the good guys? How do you define good?" and what does, "Win," mean when applied to a series like this? Did everyone manage to get together and live happily ever after in the new universe? Did everything undo, and if so how did the previously pushed manage with, "normal," life again? Did a new universe trigger with a fresh whiteout going forward possibly starting a re-run of the whole chronicles? Or ... something completely different? What about all the innocent lives lost? After all, "lives were at stake," throughout!

It is only now that my colleagues have stopped looking at me funny whenever I've taken the chance to state, "Lives are at stake!" at work. Well, that's what superhero and fantasy stuff is all about, right?

On top of delivering the conclusion, there were loads of other loose ends to tie up, not least Reaper, McKenzie, the military and the citizenship on top of Indie's love interest. So ... Mr Garner ... no pressure then! :-)

With book three done, I have to say that I've enjoyed the tale.

The same things gave me problems, however. Namely keeping track of the large number of people involved in the Push battles and also more non-communicated stuff with characters communicating somehow outside the realm of the reader.

"Mind, get ready and keep tabs on Gerald's mind." Before she could object, I raised a hand. "I know you can't get in there right now, either him or reaper, but I think you will be able to soon. You know what to do from there." ... I thought, "Uhhhh.... what does she know what do to?"

Let's cut to the chase here. To bring superhero work to the printed page is a difficult task. Characters with super powers, unfamiliar cybernetic enhancements, psychic skills, etc. are difficult enough to describe to the reader as it is. When you bring loads of them together in to a fast paced battle, it would take an extremely gifted writer to carry that off to a five star read, so Garner has actually done well, in my personal opinion, to stay this high. Sure, book 1 was a borderline 3/4 for me, but it was a worthy start to the chronicles.

I do think that The Push Chronicles would do better in another medium, but I'm probably going to surprise some people by saying that comic strip/graphic would not do this justice, as the written word has achieved a depth that static illustration doesn't really have available.

Let me expand on where I am here. I think I own most of the first Spiderman DVD series, but not the second. I also haven't bothered with the new Superman films and the only time I'll pick up the Avengers is when friends throw their DVD's away to upgrade to BluRay. They just don't have the depth; they feel cheesy and shallow. What Garner has created is a world and characters which are plausibly real. I can see the Chronicles as a series of films or, at the outside,animation or an FPS computer game where, in major boss battles, the player also has to control the team as well as themselves. The visuals of being able to see the host person inside the pushed character really adds some depth and, lets face it, our games industry has stagnated also in recent years.

It is unfortunate, given the state of our entertainment houses these days, that the chances of this happening are slim. However, as more of us turn off the spoon fed, regurgitated garbage, there is hope that eventually those industries stop gazing at their own navels and look at works like Garner's Chronicles and take note. Fingers crossed, eh?

Indefatigable (The Push Chronicles Book 2)
Indefatigable (The Push Chronicles Book 2)
Price: £2.21

4.0 out of 5 stars A definite improvement, 23 Mar. 2015
Book 2 of the Push Chronicles showed an improvement on book 1. The first action scene was easier for me to follow and I enjoyed it. Garner had slowed things down and better described the scene. However, when more characters were involved in later battles, I lost focus again and had to skip chunks.

It also came unstuck for me when there were things that went beyond the physical and once more dealt with issues a true superhero fan would have latched on to. eg. "We need a constant unbroken field." "Ah," the Indian psychic intoned. "Yes, I will make it happen." "Zounds, now I grasp yon intellect," ... I felt like sticking my hand in the air and saying, "Um, excuse me ... er... I don't! Can someone... um..."

Garner goes further here and takes the occasion to venture deeper in to the soul of humanity, starting to delve in to what we are and the reasons why we mostly fail to become who we could really be. While it is possible to opine that action is better suited to the drawing board, ventures of the soul definitely carry more weight when executed by a more traditional press, and Garner doesn't waste the opportunity to use the written word.

Yes, there were still a very few grammatical/spelling errors and odd words which were out of place, but that is nothing to be ashamed of and only provided the very occasional jar; certainly not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the book. This is definitely a more solid four star than its predecessor.

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