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Sid Nuncius (London)
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Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3)
Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3)
by Ben Aaronovitch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely enjoyable, 30 Mar. 2015
Just to add my voice to the chorus of praise for this book (and this series) - it's immensely enjoyable.

It is a load of old hokum really, of course, but it's very well written and takes itself seriously enough to be an involving and exciting read, but not so seriously that it gets all ponderous and self-regarding. The narrative voice of Peter Grant is very engaging, there is a decent number of good laughs and there's a lot of very interesting stuff about the history, architecture and infrastructure of London, all delivered in a readable, enjoyable form.

I think this series is a real pleasure: exciting, humorous and engaging but with some real content to mull over, too. Very warmly recommended.


Sound Intone Ip950 Adjustable Stereo Noise-cancelling Headphones with Microphone Over-ear Earphones Stylish Earbuds for Cellphone Smartphone Iphone/ipad/laptop/tablet/computer/etc. Headsets (white)
Sound Intone Ip950 Adjustable Stereo Noise-cancelling Headphones with Microphone Over-ear Earphones Stylish Earbuds for Cellphone Smartphone Iphone/ipad/laptop/tablet/computer/etc. Headsets (white)
Offered by YOUISEE
Price: £21.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Good value headphones with very good bass, 30 Mar. 2015
These headphones were sent to me for review by the manufacturer and I think they have good comfort and sound. As I write they cost well under twenty quid; they represent excellent value at that price and I have given them five stars on that basis

The headphones are nicely packaged, the design is good and they seem well made and robust. They have a neat, simple design and fold up conveniently for transport. They are light and very comfortable in use, with good padding on the earcups. The headphones grip tightly enough to be stable without excessive pressure on the ears and I find them comfortable for several hours use. They provide a reasonable sound seal although the shape of my head means that the bottom of the earcups doesn't quite make contact with my ear so some sound leaks in and out.

Connection is via jack lead only. The lead has a small control unit with the usual pause/play/skip and receive/end call functions which works fine. Sound quality is good - especially at this price. I was especially impressed with the bass, and middles are very strong too which makes them excellent for rock, pop and the like. I find the treble a little weak and it lacks real sparkle and crisp articulation so it sounds OK but a little muddy in places, especially in orchestral and large choral classical works. However, if this isn't a consideration for you, these will do very nicely - as examples, classic rock like the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter sounds great and the deep, rolling bass in London Grammar's Hey Now (one of my standard tests of headphones) really comes through well. Volume goes too loud for my comfort with no audible distortion, so if you want to blow your head off with a blast of a favourite track or two, these will respond very well.

Overall, I think these are excellent headphones for the price range. They aren't really high-end quality, but they're very good for everyday use and the bass response is very good. If you're looking for a reasonably priced set of headphones with good sound, especially in the bass, these will do you very well.


COOLEAD®Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter Radio Adapter Handsfree Car Kit with Hands-Free Calling ,Car Charger for iPhone 6 6 plus iPhone 5 5S 5C 4S 4 iPod Touch iPad 2 3 4 ipad mini Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 S2 Note 2 3 MP3/4 Player Samsung HTC Smartphones Cell Phones
COOLEAD®Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter Radio Adapter Handsfree Car Kit with Hands-Free Calling ,Car Charger for iPhone 6 6 plus iPhone 5 5S 5C 4S 4 iPod Touch iPad 2 3 4 ipad mini Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 S3 S2 Note 2 3 MP3/4 Player Samsung HTC Smartphones Cell Phones
Offered by COOLEAD
Price: £12.14

4.0 out of 5 stars A good unit which needs a few minor improvements, 29 Mar. 2015
This is a good unit which was sent to me for review. It has a couple of flaws but overall it's a compact and very handy little device which plugs into the lighter socket of the car and gets on with the job.

The unit has two basic functions: to connect a phone or music player to your car stereo by transmitting an FM signal to the radio, and to act as a USB charger. The USB charging facility works very well, with two output ports. You have to provide your own leads, but it works fine.

In order to play sound through the car stereo, select an unused frequency on the radio (and make it a preset), then tune the unit to that frequency. The unit will broadcast the music or phone call to the radio and it will play through the car stereo speakers.

Phone and music connection is via three inputs: Bluetooth, AUX jack and USB stick. Bluetooth is fine; pairing is simple and connection is solid. Music played at pretty good quality and hands-free phone calls worked well, too. There are clear Accept and End Call buttons on the front of the unit and it has a built-in microphone. These do the job, although the mic does pick up a lot of ambient noise because it's not very close to your mouth, of course. Nonetheless, it is a perfectly good unit for Bluetooth connection and hands-free calls.

Jack and USB connection were more problematic. In order to get the unit to recognise the AUX input (using the supplied lead) I had to disable Bluetooth on my phone, turn everything off and start again. This may not be a problem for many people, but my car stereo has no AUX input, so I do want to be able to connect my (non-Bluetooth) mp3 player via this unit and all this fiddling doesn't make it easy. I found the same with a USB stick, although this isn't something I will use much, if at all.

The volume, skip and pause/play controls on the unit aren't really practical in a car. They are tiny, hard to see and on the left side of the unit which in a right-hand drive car makes them pretty inaccessible. I didn't find this a problem because I controlled the volume using the cars' own controls and music on my phone or mp3 player, but you may want to be aware.

Overall, I'd say this is a good unit which needs a few minor improvements but, especially if you just want a combined car charger and device to connect via Bluetooth to your car stereo for music and hands-free calls this will do you very well.


Beethoven: String Quartets Op 18, Nos 5 & 6 /Quatuor Mosaïques
Beethoven: String Quartets Op 18, Nos 5 & 6 /Quatuor Mosaïques
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent series, 28 Mar. 2015
I think all three discs in this series of Quatuor Mosaiques recording of the Op.18 quartets are excellent, and I am glad to see them reissued and easily available.

These are Beethoven's earliest quartets and as such often don't attract as much attention as the Rasoumovsky Quartets or the towering masterpieces which are the Late Quartets, but they are very good indeed. Beethoven's String Quartets contain some of his very finest music, in my view, and his genius is well in evidence here. These are in many ways still in the tradition of Haydn and Mozart, but bear Beethoven's distinctive stamp; the fire and passion, for example, as well as lyrical beauty, the introduction of a scherzo rather than a minuet and trio in some quartets, and so on. These may be early works, but they have a maturity and depth of content which makes them far more than just juvenilia - and they are a joy to listen to, as well.

I already have excellent recordings of these quartets by the Alban Berg Quartet and the Takacs Quartet, but I think these may be my favourite. Quatuor Mosiaques are a period instrument ensemble who play with very limited vibrato and this, combined with the warmth of sound from their instruments gives the music a roundedness and inner glow which suits it very well. They are superb musicians, technically impeccable and with an understanding of both the music and each others' playing which makes these performances something very special, in my view.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three discs in this series. They are all superbly played and recorded and very nicely presented. They stand very well alongside the Mosaiques wonderful recordings of Haydn and Mozart, and I recommend them very warmly indeed.

(I would also strongly recommend the Mozart and Haydn sets, by the way:
Haydn: Quartets Op 20 / Op 33 / Op 64 / Op 76 / Op 77 / 'Seven Last Words From the Cross'
Mozart: String Quartets /Quatuor Mosaïques )


Beethoven: String Quartets, Op 18 Nos 2 & 3 /Quatuor Mosaïques
Beethoven: String Quartets, Op 18 Nos 2 & 3 /Quatuor Mosaïques
Price: £16.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent series, 28 Mar. 2015
I think all three discs in this series of Quatuor Mosaiques recording of the Op.18 quartets are excellent, and I am glad to see them reissued and easily available.

These are Beethoven's earliest quartets and as such often don't attract as much attention as the Rasoumovsky Quartets or the towering masterpieces which are the Late Quartets, but they are very good indeed. Beethoven's String Quartets contain some of his very finest music, in my view, and his genius is well in evidence here. These are in many ways still in the tradition of Haydn and Mozart, but bear Beethoven's distinctive stamp; the fire and passion, for example, as well as lyrical beauty, the introduction of a scherzo rather than a minuet and trio in some quartets, and so on. These may be early works, but they have a maturity and depth of content which makes them far more than just juvenilia - and they are a joy to listen to, as well.

I already have excellent recordings of these quartets by the Alban Berg Quartet and the Takacs Quartet, but I think these may be my favourite. Quatuor Mosiaques are a period instrument ensemble who play with very limited vibrato and this, combined with the warmth of sound from their instruments gives the music a roundedness and inner glow which suits it very well. They are superb musicians, technically impeccable and with an understanding of both the music and each others' playing which makes these performances something very special, in my view.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three discs in this series. They are all superbly played and recorded and very nicely presented. They stand very well alongside the Mosaiques wonderful recordings of Haydn and Mozart, and I recommend them very warmly indeed.

(I would also strongly recommend the Mozart and Haydn sets, by the way:
Haydn: Quartets Op 20 / Op 33 / Op 64 / Op 76 / Op 77 / 'Seven Last Words From the Cross'
Mozart: String Quartets /Quatuor Mosaïques )


Beethoven: String Quartets, Op 18, Nos 1 & 4 /Quatuor Mosaïques
Beethoven: String Quartets, Op 18, Nos 1 & 4 /Quatuor Mosaïques
Price: £12.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent series, 28 Mar. 2015
I think all three discs in this series of Quatuor Mosaiques recording of the Op.18 quartets are excellent, and I am glad to see them reissued and easily available.

These are Beethoven's earliest quartets and as such often don't attract as much attention as the Rasoumovsky Quartets or the towering masterpieces which are the Late Quartets, but they are very good indeed. Beethoven's String Quartets contain some of his very finest music, in my view, and his genius is well in evidence here. These are in many ways still in the tradition of Haydn and Mozart, but bear Beethoven's distinctive stamp; the fire and passion, for example, as well as lyrical beauty, the introduction of a scherzo rather than a minuet and trio in some quartets, and so on. These may be early works, but they have a maturity and depth of content which makes them far more than just juvenilia - and they are a joy to listen to, as well.

I already have excellent recordings of these quartets by the Alban Berg Quartet and the Takacs Quartet, but I think these may be my favourite. Quatuor Mosiaques are a period instrument ensemble who play with very limited vibrato and this, combined with the warmth of sound from their instruments gives the music a roundedness and inner glow which suits it very well. They are superb musicians, technically impeccable and with an understanding of both the music and each others' playing which makes these performances something very special, in my view.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three discs in this series. They are all superbly played and recorded and very nicely presented. They stand very well alongside the Mosaiques wonderful recordings of Haydn and Mozart, and I recommend them very warmly indeed.

(I would also strongly recommend the Mozart and Haydn sets, by the way:
Haydn: Quartets Op 20 / Op 33 / Op 64 / Op 76 / Op 77 / 'Seven Last Words From the Cross'
Mozart: String Quartets /Quatuor Mosaïques )


Richafort: Requiem - Tributes to Josquin Desprez
Richafort: Requiem - Tributes to Josquin Desprez
Price: £11.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best, 27 Mar. 2015
I agree with much of what E.L. Wisty says in his very good review here: this is a good disc.

I must say that I don't share E.L.'s view of the King's Singers overall. I know they have gone in for some rather frivolous stuff over the years, but they have always been a very fine ensemble and when they perform serious music they usually do it very well. I shall always be grateful to them for introducing me to Josquin's stunning 5- and 6-voice chansons, for example, and their recording of Nymphes nappées remains one of my favourite 3 minutes of music anywhere Renaissance: The Music of Josquin Desprez.

And having declared my position, I think this is good but not great. They music is wonderful, and Richafort's Requiem - his tribute to Josquin - is a truly great work, in my view. It is based on Nymphes nappeés, so this ought to be the ideal version for me, but somehow it doesn't quite capture the depth or the sheer beauty of the polyphony. Intonation is impeccable and there is good balance, blend and fluency of line but somewhere it just lacks the real profundity of tone and of spirituality which shines so wonderfully through the recording of this work by Cinquecento Richafort: Requiem (Hyperion: CDA67959).

There is much here to enjoy and some rare and lovely motets which I am glad to have. It is a good, interesting and well recorded disc, but if you are looking for just one recording of Richafort's Requiem, I would recommend Cinquecento before this. That is a real stunner and is one of my most treasured recordings, and for sheer depth and quality leaves this some way behind.


Sirens Of Song
Sirens Of Song
Price: £5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Sirens Of Song (Audio CD)
I agree with the rave reviews here: this is an excellent, hugely enjoyable album.

Jools Holland and the Orchestra are on excellent form throughout, with really classy, often virtuosic playing which drives these songs superbly and makes them glow and shine. The orchestrations are excellent and the sound is a real joy.

The singers on this album are all very good. For me, it's Ruby Turner, Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and KT Tunstall who really shine, but there's nothing weak here and if you like this material you'll like this album. It's performed with respect and joy by classy musicians and it's a pleasure from start to finish.


Handel: Trio Sonatas Op.2 & Op.5 by Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr (2009) Audio CD
Handel: Trio Sonatas Op.2 & Op.5 by Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr (2009) Audio CD

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous set, 25 Mar. 2015
This is a fabulous set. Handel's chamber music is far less well known than his vocal and choral works or than his wonderful concerti grossi but it is delightful and of the highest quality. Packed with Handel's genius for melody and harmonic invention, it is among of the best of Baroque chamber music in my view, and these trio sonatas contain some of the best of it.

The performances here are terrific. I have had sets of Op.2 by Sonnerie and Op.5 by L'École d'Orphée for years. Both are excellent and I have loved them dearly, but this set is at least their equal and I may even prefer it. The individual musicians are all outstanding: Richard Egarr and Pavlo Beznosiuk both now have high and well-deserved international reputations, and Rodolfo Richter, Rachel Brown and Joseph Crouch are just as good here. There is an effortless virtuosity about the ensemble and they play with a wonderful poise and understanding both of the music and of each other, bringing out all the subtleties and moods of this varied music and it is simply a joy to listen to. The recorded sound is rich, intimate and beautifully balanced and the presentation and notes are very good.

I am sorry to sound gushing, but I really think this set is something very special. It has given me a huge amount of pleasure and I recommend it very warmly.


Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You: A Guide to the Universe by Marcus Chown Published by Faber & Faber (2008)
Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You: A Guide to the Universe by Marcus Chown Published by Faber & Faber (2008)

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent non-specialist account, 24 Mar. 2015
This is a first-rate book. If you're looking for an account of the current state of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity which is accessible to a non-scientist and takes you from the basics through to most recent developments, this is for you. It is easy to read, but doesn't fudge issues or patronise and has real intellectual weight beneath a thoroughly good-humoured surface. Marcus Chown has been one of our best scientific writers in journals like New Scientist for many years and has already written several really good books. This is well up to standard and I recommend it without reservation. A cracker.


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