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Reviews Written by
Robin White (Ashcott)

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Offered by Tartan Tweeds Ltd
Price: £15.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Too small for its primary purpose., 17 Jan. 2015
Far too small. The slots for the cards are minuscule, meaning that they're a pain to get in and out. It's also small enough that it's bending my credit card -- what's the point of a card holder too small to hold cards? Also don't appreciate the huge 'Harris Tweed' logo on the front. Tacky.

Gusti Leder nature "Alex 17" Genuine Leather Large Shoulder Satchel 17 Inch Laptop Holder Cross Body College Uni Office Bag Unisex Brown U23
Gusti Leder nature "Alex 17" Genuine Leather Large Shoulder Satchel 17 Inch Laptop Holder Cross Body College Uni Office Bag Unisex Brown U23

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really poor finish and build quality, 30 Mar. 2014
The bag itself looks great, no qualms there, but there are serious issues with the quality of the finished product. The shoulder strap does up with a buckle like a belt and if there's anything even remotely heavy being carried (a laptop, or some notebooks, this bag's primary purpose) then the buckle will occasionally come undone. It's honestly about once a week that this happens and so far nothing's broken.

This alone wasn't enough to make me stop using the bag, I've just been careful with how I use it, but now it's Spring and I've started wearing lighter coloured trousers and this bag stains them every time without fail, meaning I have to pre-wash and leave them to soak overnight or I'm left with really ugly stains on nice clothes. The dye in the leather has obviously not been sealed -- I realise that the bag is supposed to be 'rustic' but that's a little ridiculous. I won't be using the bag any longer as there's just too many issues. Massive disappointment and I can't recommend that anyone purchase it, regardless of its good looks.

The Pagan Lord (The Last Kingdom Series, Book 7) (The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories)
The Pagan Lord (The Last Kingdom Series, Book 7) (The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories)
Price: £6.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, yet still enjoyable, 28 Sept. 2013
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Bernard Cornwell has long since established himself as a figure on the British literary scene and with good cause. His Sharpe novels, the Warlord Trilogy and the Starbuck Chronicles are as good as historical fiction will ever get, gripping, endearing, enlightening yarns which I find myself re-reading once a year.

Unfortunately the Saxon stories generally fail to live up to the billing of his earlier works, showing promise at the beginning of the series but ultimately petering out to become, as of right now, just sort of good. Ish.

That the Pagan Lord feels limp around the edges is undeniable, leaping from one dissatisfying set-piece to the next, offering tantalising glimpses of glory before welching out, offering not nearly enough meat, enough depth or enough grit. The whole affair feels rushed where it should be drawn out to the point that even the battle sequences, which are Cornwell's bread and butter, feel largely unsatisfying, with one notable exception towards the novel's climax.

The Pagan Lord is an enjoyable read, for sure - Cornwell is a master story teller and he's lost none of that knack. But one almost feels that with his latest offering the great man has lost a little bit of passion for the character, for the setting, for the story and is now doing his best to rush to the tale's hasty denouement. And it is that lack of passion which separates the novel from the outstanding and places it firmly within the realms of the 'not bad'.

Uthred will almost certainly march again and I look forward to that moment as much as I look forward to Cornwell's output every year. One can only hope that the author discovers a fresh love for the character before that inevitable next installment comes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2013 1:05 PM BST

Stranger in a Strange Land (Hodder Great Reads)
Stranger in a Strange Land (Hodder Great Reads)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Simultaneously beautiful and awful, 29 Mar. 2013
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I first read Stranger in a Strange Land whilst at uni studying English Literature and could not have been more scathing at the time. It is, if I'm honest, not a fantastically written book. It feels vain and could have done with the services of a decent editor, yet on re-reading it strikes me as being not only somehow much better than it did on first reading but also a wonderful commentary on Middle America and stinging satire of the twentieth century.

It could still do with a decent edit, but is in turns wickedly funny and incredibly honest. Heinlein doesn't shy away from the misogyny of the times and of his characters (which could be a reflection of Heinlein himself) but is quite open with his views on gender politics, which go deeper than may first appear. At the very least, if you've any interest in literature then it's guaranteed to make you think - this really is a book stuffed full of ideas.

First time around, I quite honestly don't feel like I 'got' it, to use a phrase I dislike. Hopefully I do now, but we'll see - I look forward to one day reading it a third time to find out.

The Ruins of Mars (The Ruins of Mars Trilogy Book 1)
The Ruins of Mars (The Ruins of Mars Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £3.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent, enjoyable, promising., 29 Mar. 2013
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An enjoyable premise and a strong writer's voice keep this book going, even at a couple of points where I felt it might be beginning to falter. I agree with a couple of other reviewers when they say they wished it had ended in a different place - for me the cliff hanger felt a little too set up, but I've got to say I'm keen to read the follow up, which is the most important thing with the first novel in a series.

I don't know enough about this branch of science to comment too much on the accuracy, but certainly nothing felt too ridiculous and the writer obeys what for me is science fiction's most important rule - live within the rules you've established. Absolutely worth a read, especially at the current price.

Comic Strip Bath Robe
Comic Strip Bath Robe
Offered by Gadget Grotto
Price: £29.99

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's comfortable too., 29 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Comic Strip Bath Robe (Apparel)
Quite often when purchasing this sort of item, I find that the quality is neglected in favour of the novelty value - the Marvel messenger bag for instance is awful quality and looks set to fall apart if you put anything heavier than a paperback inside, but this is top notch. It's very comfortable, the material is good quality and I can see it lasting a long while. I love wearing it around the house, even if my girlfriend wishes I didn't. If you're into your Marvel products and need a bath robe then it can't be bad - makes a decent gift for the nerd in your life too.

Beginning theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory 3rd Edition (Beginnings)
Beginning theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory 3rd Edition (Beginnings)
Price: £8.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Eminently understandable, 21 Oct. 2012
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Breaks down the basics of literary theory into easily readable pieces and makes the process of digesting them far simpler than I worried it might be. Was incredibly helpful when going through my undergraduate degree and now that I'm looking at going back to university to begin post-grad and need to refresh my memory, it's coming in very handy. Easily the best theory book I've come across - all of the others I owned at uni I've sold, but not this one.

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Kate Wilhelm
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic novel, 4 Oct. 2012
I'm afraid I can't comment too specifically on the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the science, but I can say that I tore through the book at a ridiculous pace, once I'd started I couldn't put it down. It's a highly evocative tale of mankind attempting to cling to its individuality amid a world-shattering chaos, in which clones have been bred to ensure the survival of the human race. The anonymity of many of the characters, who themselves are supposed to be mirror images of each other, was clever and it's a book I imagine I'll enjoy even more on a second reading. My girlfriend, who's not the sci-fi nerd I am, enjoyed it very much also, so I wouldn't be put off by the genre!

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7inch Tablet - White (8GB, WiFi, Android 4.0)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7inch Tablet - White (8GB, WiFi, Android 4.0)

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not going to make you look cool on the train., 1 Oct. 2012
It's not an iPad - it doesn't have the shiny apple on the back so you can look hip whilst you use it on the train. But here's what you do get.

The tablet is the size of a paperback book and the weight of a hardback, though it's significantly thinner, as you'd expect. The seven inch screen is a decent size and I'm glad I didn't end up paying the extra sixty or so pounds for the 10.1 inch version.

Straight out of the box it was ready to go - mine had half battery life, so I decided to charge it to full regardless, but you could play with it as soon as you left the shop if you wanted. It had headphones and I also bought a bluetooth keyboard/case, as I'm not a huge fan of typing anything longer than a URL on a touch screen. The battery life itself is decent - if you've got wi-fi off you can stretch it out for a day, though if you're draining the battery with wi-fi and watching movies then you're looking more at four hours. I use the Kindle app on mine and it'll go all day.

As for the apps, you're relatively spoiled for choice. The Play store (which is the new name for the Android store) is full of useful apps and plenty of games, I picked up maybe a dozen in the first week. You've also got many preloaded onto the device, movie players, e-readers and the like, though I've downloaded realplayer and the Kindle app to replace those. I enjoy the quickoffice app, which is essentially a portable Microsoft office, though I've only used it for documents and not for spreadsheets etc. App wise, I'd suggest that the selection easily matches that of its Apple competitor.

Setting up a wi-fi connection is easy (as easy as hittng the 'settings' button and following the on screen directions) and the connection quality for me is generally sound which is impressive as our local broadband (I'm currently in South East Asia) can be very poor. I'd imagine back in blighty it would be even better. I use the bluetooth connectivity to send items back and forth between my laptop and my tablet and to connect to my wireless keyboard and I've never had any problems.

This would appear to be the same as my keyboard, though I picked mine up from a Samsung store here.

Sharon Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus N Tablet GT-P6210 P6200 Case | Cover | Stand with Integrated Silicone Bluetooth Keyboard (black)

The screen is fantastic quality, great resolution and watching the odd movie on a long bus journey isn't a problem. The speakers aren't sensational, which I think is to be expected from such a small tablet, but the headphones in the box are decent quality and you can generally hear very well. I've found the touch screen to be responsive, though still not quite so intuitive as my girlfriend's iPad.

Overall, I love the 7-inch Galaxy - fantastic piece of kit which fits in my pocket and goes some way to replacing my laptop, though the old girl's not obsolete yet.

1356 (Special Edition)
1356 (Special Edition)
Price: £4.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb historical fiction, 1 Oct. 2012
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Contrary to the numerous one star reviews which I was surprised to find on here this soon after publication (which upon reading, would appear to be based solely on the e-book's publication cost - not a review of the book at all) I found 1356 to be an absolutely cracking piece of historical fiction. I very much enjoyed the Grail Quest series of a few years ago and this was very much a continuation in the same vein. Thomas of Hookton, now Sir Thomas, leads his band of Hellequin through France, before being charged by the Duke of Northampton to find La Malice - the sword of St. Peter. On the way he makes his share of new enemies and friends and we're treated to glimpses of glimpses characters from Thomas' previous bloody jaunts around France.

The pacing is spot on, the writing is superb and as ever, the battle scenes, particularly at Poiters, are sensational and I ate this book up within a couple of days. Vintage Cornwell, which I'm sure I'll re-read before too long.

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