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Picky reader (England)

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The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope)
The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope)
by Ann Cleeves
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Diverting but a bit confused, 17 Jun. 2015
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This is a long book, and the story, as well as the way in which it is told, is a bit of a tangle, with a lot of criss-crossing relationships between the characters, the time line and the order of the narrative, so although I read it over the course of a week or so, the story did at times become more confused than I think was intended, and because it darted back and forth, it is impossible to go back to find elucidation. That said, it is highly descriptive of its characters and place, not just a plot line, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series in order (I have read The Glass Room previously).


A Short History of England
A Short History of England
by Simon Jenkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive yet brief, 17 Jun. 2015
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Excellent run through 1500 years of history with just enough information at each stage and quite a few amusing or telling comments. Occasionally, there are paragraphs that are a bit obscure or open to doubt, but overall the book is a first class explanation, taken at a gallop. The epilogue, where Simon offers his own view of the country's progress through this great sweep of history, shows a great journalist and editor's mind at work (but don't cheat by reading it first!).


Wacom ACK20501 Bamboo Stylus Nib Set (Pack of 3)
Wacom ACK20501 Bamboo Stylus Nib Set (Pack of 3)
Offered by UK Surplus Central Ltd - Dispatched Same Day If Order Received By 14:00
Price: £5.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Job done., 17 Jun. 2015
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My wife uses the stylus all the time. The original nib eventually split and this replacement did the job in 30 secs. Job done.


AmazonBasics 7- to 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper / CD / Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket
AmazonBasics 7- to 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper / CD / Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket
Price: £54.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good item and better than its predecessor, 10 Mar. 2015
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This seems to be a robust item, better built than its predecessor that came from the High Street for a similar price some years ago. The main difference is that while both are cross-cut shredders, this one is worthy of the name as it delivers small confetti-like particles rather than short ribbons of paper. The only minor niggle I have noticed is that the safety design of having a fixed flap above the input mechanism means it is slightly harder to push a sheet of paper into the works and trigger the start mechanism, but on the other hand, the mechanism is safer as a result.


R Strauss: Ein Heldenleben/Four Last Songs [IMPORT]
R Strauss: Ein Heldenleben/Four Last Songs [IMPORT]
Price: £8.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely alternative to the usual first choice, 30 Sept. 2014
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I spent a long time wondering which version of the Four Last Songs to buy, having particularly studied the detailed review of 20+ versions on the Internet in "Curmudgeon's Corner" (which is pretty negative about most of them, and gives only limited praise at best), plus any other reviews I could find, and listened to some extracts on line.

I was also aware of the very high reputation of the Jessye Norman/Kurt Masur/Leipsig Gewandhaus recording, from which I already had the last song (Im Abendrot) in a compilation CD, and no doubt that will remain a favourite for most people.

Having plumped for this version, however, and given that most of Curmudgeon's comments, though often amusing if spiteful, are well beyond my recognising in the music, I do find Arleen Auger and Andre Previn have put together a beautiful, gentle rendition that captures the moods I believe were intended.

The last few bars of Im Abentrot in the Jessye Norman version remains unforgettable for me, as they seems to be given even longer to fade away on a final puff of air, but the violin solo in the third song (Beim Schlafengehen) from Previn and the Vienna PO is sublime, and the whole piece goes together well.


The Goldfinch
The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

3.0 out of 5 stars she reads a great deal of well-written stuff, 30 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Goldfinch (Paperback)
My wife needed this for her book group, but she tells me it is hard going and she doubts she will finish it as it is also very long. That said, she reads a great deal of well-written stuff, so I reckon this probably is harder than most to make headway with.


HP 300XL High Yield Black Original Ink Cartridge (CC641EE)
HP 300XL High Yield Black Original Ink Cartridge (CC641EE)
Price: £24.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Second time lucky, 16 Mar. 2014
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On fitting the new cartridge, the first in a new printer after the original free one ran out, it didn't work, and the printer reported that it failed its self-test. The printer had already reported it was a genuine cartridge when I first put it in, so I could be confident it hadn't been a fake, and the other diagnostic tests like cleaning the print heads didn't do any good.

I checked the HP website for advice on what to do and was advised to check the printer warranty on-line before calling them. The HP warranty checker said the printer was out of warranty from a date before I had even bought it (it was only a month or two old), and when I did it a second time to double-check, it came up with an even earlier date. On this occasion, although usually buying things through Amazon, I had bought this one from John Lewis to get click-and-collect, so I called them. They were very good and having established that it was still well in warranty, they put me straight through to HP customer service (no queue!!).

Two HP agents spent about 30 minutes on the phone, first trying to understand why the warranty was showing wrongly on their website when it was right on their screens (it was corrected afterwards, though!), and then asking me to go through various checks and tests on the cartridge before finally agreeing that the new cartridge was faulty, and agreeing to send me a new one.

This was a Friday afternoon and I was told the new one would come by UPS, but it would take four days. I pointed out that when they had supplied faulty product, which is almost certainly a pretty rare event, they should be able to replace it overnight. Anyway, I was given a tracking number and warned not to try to track it for a couple of hours until it was in the UPS system.

Some hope! The tracking number I was given was (and is) not recognised by UPS, it must be an internal number used by HP, so that was a waste of time. But on the Monday morning, UPS sent me a proper tracking number by email, and by that evening they had actually collected the cartridge from HP and associated it with the address label which they had proudly told me earlier had been printed that morning.

The cartridge itself came from an HP fulfilment centre in the French Alps, and was routed via a nearby UPS depot, then Lyon, then somewhere near Paris, then Walsall, then Dartford, and finally delivered to me in rural Kent, on the fourth working day (Wednesday). That cartridge worked fine.

I do understand hub and spoke logistics networks, but this was ridiculous. We all know the printer manufacturers make their money on the ink, not the printers, and generally they are reliable. But on the very odd occasion when it goes wrong, they need to be a lot zippier about smoothing over the problem, otherwise we may as well take a chance with the other end of the market and save ourselves some money. And I reckon it might pay HP to look again at the relative pros and cons of how they deal with this situation regarding a prompt replacement service, as the current approach will not be the cheapest and is locking in poor customer service.


HP 300XL High Yield Tri-color Original Ink Cartridge (CC644EE)
HP 300XL High Yield Tri-color Original Ink Cartridge (CC644EE)
Price: £26.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Fine, 16 Mar. 2014
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Does the job, what more is there to say. There is always a question whether original ink is worth it, but the extra cost per page for normal printing (I do not print photographs) is pretty modest.


Philips Sonicare HX6731/02 HealthyWhite Deluxe Rechargeable Toothbrush
Philips Sonicare HX6731/02 HealthyWhite Deluxe Rechargeable Toothbrush
Offered by Megga Distribution
Price: £129.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Improved, 16 Mar. 2014
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I've used Sonicares since they first came out over 15 years ago, and this one is at least my fifth. This model no longer works on the previous magnetic link between handle and brush and is more energetic in its brushing in consequence. The extra 2x15 seconds at the end for whitening are super energetic and they have made a good difference to stains after a few weeks, used once a day.


The Snowden Operation: Inside the West's Greatest Intelligence Disaster (Kindle Single)
The Snowden Operation: Inside the West's Greatest Intelligence Disaster (Kindle Single)
Price: £1.15

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that needs to be read, 16 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Given the general lack of concern with which the Snowden episode (and its second chapter at Heathrow) were greeted by the general public, this book offers a rejoinder by way of explaining the level of damage that has been caused and which will probably never be fully recovered. It should be enough to put sensible people off the smug pontificating we get from the Grauniad and its followers. Utterly contemptuous behaviour, especially when the same gang shriek to high heaven anytime they think their "privacy" has been infringed. They don't deserve the good government that they claim to be pressing for (whether we get it is another question).


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