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P. G. Harris
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Rovtop Desktop Cell Phone Stand, Cradle, Dock For all Android Smartphone, iPhone and More, up to 5.5 Inch, Accessories Desk - Silver
Rovtop Desktop Cell Phone Stand, Cradle, Dock For all Android Smartphone, iPhone and More, up to 5.5 Inch, Accessories Desk - Silver
Offered by Jakuton-EU
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful, 7 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, this passes the William Morris test by meeting the first criterion but not the second. This wins out over another stand I bought recently in two key factors. Firstly it has non slip feet on the bottom. These stop any tension in the charging chord from making the thing spin round inconveniently. Secondly it is suable with smart phones with the charging socket in both side and bottom.

But boy is it ugly. A not very well finished lump of aluminium is not aesthetically pleasing.


CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle - Acai, 750 ml
CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle - Acai, 750 ml
Offered by MMP Living
Price: £13.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's just a bottle - why is it so good?, 4 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not quite sure why I like this product so much. It is pretty common knowledge that we all need to drink plenty of water, probably more than feels normal. That is a pretty easy thing to do right? Get a receptacle - mug glass, cup, one of myriad different (and cheaper) water bottles than this, and drink from it.

That is all very true, but it doesn't alter the fact that I find myself drinking more as a result of using this bottle, possible reasons are.
- I can have it on my desk, wherever, with no risk of knocking it over
- it is so ridiculously convenient, just grab and drink
- I am used to, and like, the bite valve - I use camelbaks a lot for outdoor activities
- it is a good shape which fits my hand well
- it is a good capacity, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, one in the evening - 2.25 litres
- the loop in the top is easy to hook a finger through when carrying other things
- the mouthpiece folds down to keep it clean when out and about.
- (really shallow) it looks pretty cool

I guess it all adds up to that undefinable concept - a good piece of design. All of the individual elements come together to create something that just works.

When access to clean drinking water is a luxury for so many in the world, I feel a bit guilty to rave so much about a first world product like this, but I'll go and donate the same amount to water-aid, and give this the thumbs up.


Oenbopo Universal Samdi Wood Phone Desktop Stand Dock Station Holder Bracket For iPhone 6s 6 Plus 4.7" 5.5" 5S Samsung Note5 4 3 S6 S5 HTC LG(Phone Holder White)
Oenbopo Universal Samdi Wood Phone Desktop Stand Dock Station Holder Bracket For iPhone 6s 6 Plus 4.7" 5.5" 5S Samsung Note5 4 3 S6 S5 HTC LG(Phone Holder White)
Offered by oenbopo
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of anti-slip feet is a problem, 4 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for use with a smartphone, and it has two main problems. Firstly it is too light with no form of grip on the base. This means that it slides around, and if there is any stiffness in your charging cable, it twists about and it's difficult to get it to sit exactly how you want it. Secondly I have two smartphones, my personal one and one supplied by my employer. This is fine with the work one, where the charging socket is on the side. It is not so good on my own phone where the socket is at the bottom.


The Love of the Game: Parenthood, Sport and Me
The Love of the Game: Parenthood, Sport and Me
by Mark Chapman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.55

4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly amiable, 3 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On the TV and radio Mark Chapman comes across as a highly amiable broadcaster, a sort of next Generation John Inverdale without the dodgy views. His presentation of the BBC's NFL shows has been excellent, especially because of the chemistry with the expert pundits.

I therefore admit I was predisposed to like this book, and was not disappointed. It is a good natured account of Chapman's relationship with his children, primarily his interaction with them through sport. We get the early years of endlessly kicking a ball and deliberately losing, children's football with its pushy parents, the unknown territory of a girls' gymnastics class, swimming galas, right up to the point where at least one of his kids is ,to his delight, showing genuine promise.

While generally light hearted, there is a definite edge there as well as Chapman struggles with his doubts and fears. Is he becoming a pushy parent himself? When in charge is he trying too hard not to favour his own kids, only to end up treating them badly. Why can't he just let them enjoy themselves rather than analyse what they've done?

Overall however,this is an entertaining book, prompting reasonably regular snorts of laughter. It is definitely has the style of a journalist's writing, even down to the way he crafts some of the jokes, especially in the early chapters.

I started by comparing the author to John Inverdale. Perhaps there is a better comparison. When I was younger I had a book written by a famous northern broadcaster which detailed his sporting relationship with his father and son. It was called something like My Sporting Life. In this context, maybe Mark Chapman is closer to Michael Parkinson.

One last thought - how on earth did he find time to write it - the fellow is seemingly never off the TV/radio.


Telefunken 50 inch Smart 1080P Full HD LED TV with Freeview Play (Supports On Demand Catch up TV) (Amazon Exclusive)
Telefunken 50 inch Smart 1080P Full HD LED TV with Freeview Play (Supports On Demand Catch up TV) (Amazon Exclusive)
Price: £349.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear, it's broken, 2 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm terribly sorry, I can't review this as when I came to open the box the screen was completely shattered.


Charlotte Brontë: A Life
Charlotte Brontë: A Life
by Claire Harman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small time, but in that small, greatly lived this star of England, 31 Jan. 2017
Claire Harman’s wonderful biography of Charlotte Bronte is in turn inspiring, heartbreaking, illuminating, fascinating.

For inspiration one only has to look at the first page of the bibliography facing the final page of the Coda and read the list of novels written by these three amazing women. Books of incredible emotional power torn from their own experience by women who refused to accept what society offered them. Books which proudly take their place amongst the genuine greats of English and indeed world literature.

The heartbreak comes from the cruel hard lives of the Brontes, lives from which the tragedy of the death of siblings was rarely absent for long. Charlotte’s own tragedy is exacerbated by the fact that she was the one left after the deaths of Emily, Anne, Branwell, and two elder sisters.

I have only ever read the novels before and not really learned about the authors. The most striking revelation to me (although I now learn it is well known) is the incredible fantasy world which the three young girls and their brother created and used as the setting for hundreds of stories over decades.

The fascination comes from the way in which Harman seeks to demonstrate the intensely biographical nature of the novels. The life of a governess, brutal schools, the wildness of the moors, male violence were all absolutely part of the Brontes existence and the Harman painstakingly connects real life events to fictional happenings. Chief among these, and portrayed as a defining time in Charlotte’s life, was her period spent working in Brussels and her relationship with Constantin Heger, which inspired two novels, Villette and The Professor, and contributed a number of scenes to Jane Eyre.

Looking as a whole, this autobiography provides a wide perspective on Charlotte’s life, starting with the birth of her father in 1777, and ending with a discussion of the treatment of her legacy up to the opening of the Bronte museum in Howarth in 1927. In discussing a life of so much sadness, Harman creates a wry smile by ending the book on rather a good joke.

One of the other things which struck me very strongly is that Charlotte Bronte’s biographer is, herself a very good story teller. One of the great joys of this book is that it tells a very good story (if one full of sadness) and tells it very well.

My one real complaint about the book is completely unfair. This is a biography of Charlotte Bronte, and succeeds at that brilliantly. But it is only one part of the real story. I found myself wanting to know more about Ellis and Acton Bell. Here Emily is a peripheral force of nature, portrayed almost as the personification of Wuthering Heights, but that is all we really learn about her, other than through a Charlotte tinted lens where, once more fascinatingly, she is the heroine of Shirley. Then there is Anne, quiet, retiring, lesser Anne, but Anne who wrote a novel as stunning as the Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

I laughed, I cried, I resolved to go back and re-read the novels.


Selection Day
Selection Day
by Aravind Adiga
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Searching for identity, 18 Jan. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Selection Day (Hardcover)
Manju and Radha Kumar live in the slums of Bombay/Mumbai with their overbearing and sometimes violent father, Mohan. Mohan has a vision for his sons, that they will be professional cricketers, and not just that,that they will match and surpass the greats, Tendulkar, Shastri and Gavaskar. To foster their greatness, Mohan enforces a strict regime of practice, diet, and clean living.

When both are spotted by talent scout, Tommy Sir, and taken into a development programme financed by wealthy dilettante Anand Mehta, it seems that Mohan's dreams are to be fulfilled. However things start to unravel when it becomes clear that the greater cricketer, not his favourite, Radha, but the younger and smaller Manju. However,while Manju is extravagantly talented, he isnot at all certain that he wants to dedicate his life to the crash of leather on willow. He is fascinated by science in general, and by the forensics of CSI in particular. When he makes the acquaintance of the wealthy Muslim fellow pupil, JA, a further world of sensuality is opened to him.

At its basic level, Selection Day is a coming of age story set against the background of filial competition. It is the story of Manju's journey from unquestioning acceptance of his father's direction and his brother's superiority, to a position where he is developing his own identity and questioning the very fundamentals of his existence. Does he even like cricket. As a story of adolescent growth and sexuality in a sporting context, it has similarities with Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas.

Selection Day is about a wider search for identity than Manju's. It is about a search for an Indian identity. Tommy Sir, typifies a post colonial world where the British influence remains strong, whereas Anand Mehta leans more towards a brasher American spirit. This fight for cultural ascendancy is also experienced by Manju and JA who are tempted away from cricket to play baseball with a group of street children.

Selection Day is very much a post-modern novel, refusing to provide a tidy denouement, and leaving much in the air at its ending.

Overall this is an interesting, evocative novel, but not one with which I felt massively engaged and I the end,the very postmodern-is made it a little unsatisfying.


Vinyl Me, Please: 100 Albums You Need on Vinyl and Why
Vinyl Me, Please: 100 Albums You Need on Vinyl and Why
by Please Vinyl Me
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Pin a beard on it and call it Quentin, 27 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
To plaigirise and paraphrase Blackadder, this is a book so hipster-ish, you could stick an exquisitely trimmed beard on it and call it Quentin.

It is a coffee table book,designed for dipping into, and is beautiful to look at, but it doesn't hang together coherently. There is absolutely no explanation of why one must own these albums ON VINYL, as against download, CD or magnetised sea otter. Oh perhaps if one is a hipster one wouldn't be so stupid as to even ask that question, it's obvious. Then, interspersed through there are cocktails which are meant to go with some of the records. Again,there is no explanation, but then perhaps I'm a dinosaur to expect one.

There is no real common theme amongst the albums, which is probably to be expected given the large number of contributors. Overall the feeling is of an American weighting, it is after all written primarily by Americans, and towards funk, and hip-hop, with a smattering of indie and AOR. It is a book of lists, and there will always be disagreements, but how a list of vinyl you must own can exclude Dark Side of the Moon is beyond me.

Finally the writing style is pretty pretentious, and what most of the writers are pretending to be is either Rolling Stone circa 1969 or NME circa 1977. That popping noise is the sound of it disappearing up its own fundament.

I may actually have completely missed the point here. In the foreword, the editor hopes for an end to irony (no chance,pal,not from this side of the pond at any rate). Is this perhaps an ironic comic masterpiece? Nope? Thought not


The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed
by Ursula Le Guin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World Turned Upside Down, 26 Dec. 2016
This review is from: The Dispossessed (Paperback)
On a desert planet in the Tau Ceti system, 11 light years from earth, a crowd stands outside the wall of a spaceport. Right from the first page of the Dispossessed, Author Ursula Le Guin gives the reader a fantastic image, the wall is a wall around the planet Anarres, cutting it off from the rest of the universe, it is also, to Anarrestis, a wall around the universe, keeping it out. This, however, is not a prison wall, it is a low wall, a self imposed barrier keeping the anarchists of Anarres separate from the rest of the galaxy.

The crowd have come to witness/protest against the departure of physicist Shevek, to the sister planet, Urras. Urras is a world of warring nation states, where the unbridled capitalist country to which Shevek travels fights proxy wars in smaller weaker countries against its communist neighbour.

Shevek is researching revolutionary physics of time, and the book, like his studies, simultaneously, through alternating chapters, describes the past which brought Shevek to this point, and his future on Urras.

The Dispossessed is very much a novel of its time. The societies Le Guin describes are basically worlds of seventies technology with a bit of space flight thrown in. It is also a critique of seventies geopolitics, with the planet Urras fighting the Cold War. On Anarres, a sort of non-authoritarian Cuba, Le Guin explores the practical implications of her own anarchist sympathies. Much science fiction is actually a retelling of human history, or an exploration of the present. Often this takes the form of yet another sterile retelling of the American War of Independence or the Napoleonic Wars, but Le Guin is at the opposite end of the scale.This is an enormously intelligent work and it is this intelligence which prevents it from becoming dated, despite the portrayal of technology. While the author's sympathies lie with the Annaresti, their society isn't a utopia, despite the goodwill of the majority it is threatened by the egos and avarice of the few. Equally, while fiercely critical of the exploitation, inequality and sexism Shevek encounters on Urras, LeGuin recognises the energy of the society.

As a highly political work, the Dispossessed inevitably has strong resonance today, particularly today at the end of 2016 as much of the world waits with trepidation for the inauguration of Donald Trump. Urras feels like a pre-counter culture US, a materialistic, misogynist world, one viewed with nostalgia by the populist right.

Le Guin's personal beliefs are probably encapsulated in a single phrase at the end of a chapter late on in the book when Shevek questions the importance of his work and asks to "Weigh it in the balance with the freedom of one single human spirit". Perhaps even more than a defence of political anarchy, this is a broader cry against the tyranny of the mob and the conservatism of ageing. Once again we hear echoes of 2016 in a denunciation by the mob and led by conservatives of supposed intellectual elitism.

The place of the Dispossessed within the science fiction canon is a fascinating one. It gazes across the political spectrum to Stranger in a Strange Land, contrasting anarchism with libertarianism. Shevek's experiences on Urras make the book a descendant of Brave New World. In its exploration of the geopolitics of the 1970s, it has similarities with Dune, which at its heart is a book about the Oil Crisis. Finally, and, I thought the same after reading the Left Hand of Darkness, Le Guin was a huge influence on Iain M Banks and Ken Macleod.

After finishing the book, I read an article which suggested that Le Guin had been dismissed in some quarters as a"soft sci-fi" author. Now I like big hi-tech as much as the next geek, but this is work on a completely different level, more intelligent, more profound,more ultimately satisfying. I have to say that the more as Sci-Fi I read (and I've been reading it for more than 40 years) the more I feel that women writers are far more likely to engage the grey matter. While in the world of nerds, the Sad Puppies campaign for hard,non-politically correct SF, put me in the camp with the happy kittens, please.

Finally, I have to say that both the title of the book, and its Diggers in Space theme had me singing Billy Bragg in my head.


From the Source - Japan (Lonely Planet from the Source)
From the Source - Japan (Lonely Planet from the Source)
by Lonely Planet Food
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Takes no prisoners with the ingredients., 19 Dec. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is halfway between a travelogue and a recipe book, and will probably end up on the coffee table. It takes the reader on a culinary tour of Japan, and takes a take no prisoners approach to the recipes. These are absolutely authentic Japanese recipes with absolutely authentic Japanses ingredients. If you live outside a major city without ready access to such things as ikura (red salmon roe),Korbut (edible kelp, konku saba (fermented mackerel) or sushi quality tuna, there are very few recipes you'll be able to attempt. That said the book is still a pleasure,beautifully photographed, and one can always imagine the tastes and textures


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