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Reviews Written by
Kenneth F. Mcara "Kenneth F. McAra" (Dundee, Scotland)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

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Peugeot Tahiti Duo pepper + salt mill Spring 15 cm
Peugeot Tahiti Duo pepper + salt mill Spring 15 cm

5.0 out of 5 stars Classy pieces, 20 Feb. 2012
There are a number of different variants on this set, but the mechanism is the same, all that really changes is the colouring. These are salt and pepper mills which sit well in the hand and are efficient and effective when grinding the contents. There's a different mechanism in each of them and it is possible to alter the fineness of the grind by loosening or tightening the nut at the top.

I was surprised to find that Peugeot have been making this kind of item -along with motor cars - since the 19th Century, but really like this...and they look great!

Expensive but classy.


The Inspector McLevy Mysteries: Behind the Curtain & A Voice from the Grave (BBC Radio)
The Inspector McLevy Mysteries: Behind the Curtain & A Voice from the Grave (BBC Radio)
by David Ashton
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The darker side of Victorian Edinburgh, 1 Feb. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a 2-CD set of 2 x 45 minute episodes from this radio crime drama series.

Loosely based on a set of real-life memoirs by a Victorian policeman, McLevy: The Edinburgh Detective, these dramas are all written by David Ashton, who also appears as an actor in both episodes.

The first episode, "Behind the Curtain", plays out like a minor Poirot story and I was beginning to wonder why this series had become so popular that a television adaptation is being considered. The second tale, however, "A Voice from the Grave", is much better, with a more interesting story featuring aspects of the earlier lives of some of the main characters. It also brings out the deft touch for humour that the marvellous Brian Cox, who takes the title role, can display when given the chance to do so.

Further research show that these are the first two episodes of Series 3, and that there have been 5 series of 4 episodes broadcast so far. Other episodes available on CD include Mclevy: Servant of the Crown & the Picture of Innocence (BBC Radio Crimes). The author, David Ashton, has also written 3 books involving the characters, beginning with Shadow of the Serpent (Inspector McLevy 1).

A good listen, particularly the second episode. There is little in the way of sound effects to muddy the dialogue, and although there is occasional use of vernacular Scots from time to time ("hunkers", "houghmagandie"...) these are readily understandable in context and should not put off potential purchasers.


The Silence [DVD]
The Silence [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ulrich Thomsen
Price: £7.17

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hid Sommer Murders..., 23 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Silence [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a magnificently understated and underplayed drama based on the the book Silence by Jan Costin Wagner. A 1986 murder, and a suspected parallel murder 23 years later are national news. The film shows the ripple of little tragedies caused by these acts. We see the mother of the original victim and her attempts to shake off the past. The original murderer and his "accessory" are rediscovered 23 years later and gradually drawn together after the second killing. The recently retired detective who investigated the original case forms an unlikely alliance with a repressed policeman who is trying to get over the untimely death of his wife, and we see the strain that the second disappearance has on the family of the girl. There are also some unlikely and unexpected ways in which these characters interact with each other.

Don't expect a Hollywood-style treatment of the original book, or indeed a neat ending. The flaws in the characters are all too apparent and the whole piece is held together by fine acting, beautiful camera work and subtle, insistent music which enhances the drama rather than drawing attention to itself. In many ways this is everything that The Lovely Bones [DVD] should have been.

The only extra on the review disc is the trailer for the film. For those to whom it matters, the film is in German with (American) English subtitles, peppered with the occasional "Jeez" and "Heck". This, however, is a film which is well worth the effort of following text as well as listening and watching as the drama unfolds.

Highly recommended.


LUGGAGE SCALE
LUGGAGE SCALE
Offered by eoutlet-uk
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Use with caution, 18 Jan. 2012
This review is from: LUGGAGE SCALE (Personal Care)
This lasted us for a few holidays, then broke.

It wasn't particularly accurate, and was also difficult to use with heavier pieces of luggage. We found that it tended to underestimate the weight of these larger items, which is not ideal when heading home and trying to avoid charges for excess baggage.

We'll be trying a different make next time.


Fellowes Powershred P-35C Cross-Cut Personal Shredder with Safety Lock
Fellowes Powershred P-35C Cross-Cut Personal Shredder with Safety Lock
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two cheers, 17 Jan. 2012
P-35C is a decent shredder, but there are a few points which stop this being a cast-iron recommendation:

* It is almost impossible to see how full P-35C's bin is getting. The first clue is when the lid begins to rise and the power cuts out. A wire mesh bin would help!
* P-35C is not too keen to shred credit cards, even within a very narrow, defined area. Also, unlike other shredders, there is no separate receptacle to collect the shredded plastic - it just goes into the same bin as everything else.
* finally, it has a tendency to gum up when labels are involved, and if something gets stuck over the sensor then you'll never get it off again - no more setting to Auto and then just feeding through paper when you need to...

A good price - just a little bit disappointing.


Coltan (Resources)
Coltan (Resources)
by Michael Wallace Nest
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and accessible primer on 3rd world economics, 16 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Coltan (Resources) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The least accessible part of this book is the title. Unless you know what "coltan" is - and I didn't - you wouldn't have a clue what it was about. Unfortunately, the cover doesn't help.

Once you take the plunge, however, Michael Nest has put together a gripping account of the rise in importance of coltan/tantalum and how this mineral - vital in the production of modern mobile phones - has caused inequity and violence in developing countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is a wealth of research behind his work, but the information is presented accessibly and the more esoteric aspects can be found in the notes at the back of the book.


Laplink PCmover Ultimate, 3 licences (PC)
Laplink PCmover Ultimate, 3 licences (PC)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't work!, 14 Jan. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This application sounds like the ideal solution to a perennial problem - shifting files, programs and settings from an old PC to a shiny new one.

I tried several times to use this but it steadfastly refused to work on my system (Windows 7). I couldn't even get to the stage of accessing the old PC and trying to transfer files and settings. It simply wouldn't install properly and after several attempts at online suggestions for fixes, gave up.

Totally useless for me, I'm afraid. I'll be transferring stuff on a pen-drive instead.


Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage Adventure)
Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage Adventure)

4.0 out of 5 stars Raiders of the lost scrolls, 14 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For the first 48% or so of this book (according to my Kindle) this was pretty hard work. I didn't like the protagonist particularly, he seemed virtually indestructible - escaping from all tight corners in the equivalent of a single bound - and there was far, FAR too much chat. However, this picked up in the second half, although there was still far too much theorising for a book of this "rollicking adventure" type. Dietrich has certainly done his homework on the pyramids, as well as certain aspects of mathematics, but he can't help himself telling us more than we need to keep the tale moving.

And this is a classic quest to find something important/secret/significant... Think Indiana Jones - Raiders Of The Lost Ark - Special Edition [DVD] crossed with National Treasure [DVD] [2004] and Sahara [DVD] set a couple of centuries ago. The 'McGuffin' is a seemingly ordinary medallion, which turns out to be the key to secrets which have not been seen for millennia. Everyone wants it and yet Ethan Gage, ordinary all-American boy, crack-shot, tomahawk wielder and erstwhile sidekick of Benjamin Franklin (no less) becomes its guardian and takes it with him, accompanying Napoleon on his invasion of Egypt.

Whilst you may eventually have to suspend your disbelief a little too far (keeping track of the number of famous people Gage just happens to bump into and leave with a favourable impression, for example) there's a pretty good time to be had here in this slick page-turner. Lots of gratuitous sex and violence too, which is slightly out-of-keeping with the 'Boy's Own' tone of the rest of the book.

If you just can't wait for more of the same, the ending sets us up for the sequel - The Rosetta Key (Ethan Gage 2) - and there is yet another adventure which follows this, The Dakota Cipher (Ethan Gage 3).


2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey
Price: £5.67

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine transfer for magnificent soundtrack!, 13 Jan. 2012
This review is from: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Audio CD)
This is, finally, pretty close to the original soundtrack to Kubrick's film, including the 'Overture'. Previous issues did not have the correct version of "Also sprach Zarathustra" - at the time, Decca were convinced that it would not do their street cred much good to be associated with the film and ensured that Karajan's name did not appear in the end title credits. Subsequently, a different verion of the piece appeared on the first issues of this album (which is included here as a bonus track, for those who are interested).

Almost everything else is as you would wish it. The transfer is good, but some of the reprises of pieces are missing and - although the correct edit of the first section of "The Blue Danube" is used - to cover Floyd's journey to the space station - the second part - completing his journey to the moon - is missing. We don't hear the end of "The Blue Danube" until the segment for the end titles, and (for better or worse) this does not feature the clumsy edit used in the film.

Fine music from one of the greatest films ever made - with a bonus track of most of HAL's dialogue!

Turn down the lights, turn up the volume and revel in the dramatic music.

Alternatively, get 2001 - A Space Odyssey [Blu-ray][Region Free] and do the same!


The Smile Sessions
The Smile Sessions
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £23.52

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ***The SMiLE Sessions - Double CD***, 12 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Smile Sessions (Audio CD)
The album that nearly was...

Listening to this remarkable music directly after Pet Sounds you can see how Brian Wilson was developing his music and pushing boundaries, using klaxons, farmyard sounds, hammers, saws and whistles as integral parts of the music-making. The Beatles wouldn't get as experimental as this until "Revolution No.9" on The Beatles: The White Album and then would retreat - as the Beach Boys did - to much more basic fare.

Whilst there are some unusual items here, there are some wonderful tracks, some of which took several years to appear in any form after the original cancellation of SMiLE in 1967. "Our Prayer" is a beautifully performed, wordless, 'a capella' track to open the album with, and in this version of the album it also introduces the final piece, "Good Vibrations". Other standout tracks include "Wonderful", "Wind Chimes" (both of which suffer a number of indignities on Smiley Smile/Wild Honey), "Surf's Up" and of course "Heroes and Villains" in a much longer edit than the earlier commercially released version.

As others have pointed out, the basic album is in mono whilst (some of) the extras are in stereo. We have to hope that Brian Wilson can summon the energy and enthusiasm at some point in the future to supervise a stereo mix of the tapes - although he apparently prefers mono because of hearing difficulties. Musically it is a really interesting album, with lots of different styles in the melting point. (If you are looking for another we're-having-a-great-time-surfing Beach Boys album, then look away now!) As well as variety, some musical themes appear in more than one track, which helps to tie the album together. As noted above, "Our Prayer" appears in more than one place. Some of the themes from "Heroes and Villains" bleed into "Plymouth Rock" and, excitingly and unexpectedly, "Child is Father of the Man" resurfaces at the end of the gorgeous "Surf's Up".

Brian Wilson re-recorded these pieces in 2004 as Smile but these original recordings (which he claimed in his darkest moments had been destroyed) feature fresh-voiced Beach Boys who turn in marvellous performances. Try the compilation of their unaccompanied backing vocals on the CD1 extras as an example of just how good they were at that point.

It's not for everyone, so listen to the samples here before you buy... and SMiLE!


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