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Friarofdoom (Ilkeston Derbyshire United Kingdom)

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The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic: 25th Anniversary Edition: "The Colour of Magic", "The Light Fantastic"
The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic: 25th Anniversary Edition: "The Colour of Magic", "The Light Fantastic"
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Discworld Lite, 19 Jun. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not so keen on these two books in their novel format. I've always felt Mr.P took a couple of Discworld attempts before really getting into his stride. My real dislike though is Rincewind, the only character in the whole of the disc I really found annoying.
I suppose that helps in my being quite happy to see the stories in a different style.
These are very well illustrated & capture the spirit of things nicely. I found it refreshing to have a new perspective instead of just a retread of the same old.
The humour remains & it's always interesting to see someone else's angle. I felt too that the illustrated format, although losing a lot of detail & nuance, made up for this by improving the pacing & moving things along a fair old rattle.
In a perfect world Terry would have overseen an illustrated version by Josh Kirby...I miss his jacket artwork almost as much as the yearly excitement of something new from the disc. An embuggerance indeed.
If you can't bear the thought of someone fiddling about with the Stories then fair enough, stick with the originals. If you fancy a different viewpoint that will bring a smile & keep your interest, you could do a whole lot worse than this.

Dewalt DT7935QZ SDS Plus Drill Bit Set (10-Piece)
Dewalt DT7935QZ SDS Plus Drill Bit Set (10-Piece)
Price: £29.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Better Bits, 19 Jun. 2017
No doubt about it, these ain't cheap. The question is as always with branded tools, am I getting my monies worth or just a prestige name?
I have a much cheaper set of SDS bits that I have used for some time but my hammer dril gave up the ghost recently & I bought a decent one that proceeded to flatten the heads on all the bits I used.
I decided to give these a go & I have to say they are well worth the investment. If you've a good quality SDS+ drill then these will help make the most of it. I read reviews on quite a few sets of other cheaper but supposedly still quality manufacturers & was surprised by how many had complaints of bits that were bent. These are all hefty & very well engineered in Germany.
If you are just doing the odd bit of hammer driving then consider something cheaper but if your walls look like Swiss cheese because you're always drilling or you have a project to tackle then consider this as an investment. They really are very good.

America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s
America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s
by Judith A. Barter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History as Art, 28 May 2017
This book is based on the exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2017.
A relatively small exhibition with only 20 paintings, it was nonetheless very informative & linked carefully to produce a fascinating narrative. To be honest I would have missed a lot of what was being said by the art if it hadn't been for the audio tour, (the usual cheap headphones & little mp3 player device) this served to explain much & made a good exhibition excellent.
This book goes further with many supporting works of art & a much more detailed explanation of both the works being shown, the artists & America in 1930's.
It makes a refreshing change to see an honest look at what was happening in the USA & includes a small but interesting collection of black history that crosses between slavery & a struggle for education & independence.
There is a lot to enjoy here with some classics from Hopper, Wood & O'Keefe etc to lesser well known but excellent artists & works that fit in well to the collection overall.
My copy is a paperback so I can't say about the Hardback, (oddly enough there were no hardback copies at the RA so you might want to make sure that's what you're going to get if it's important to you).
It is well bout & on very good quality paper for a paperback. There are many additional supportive works & some B&W photographs of the artists too.
The Writing is clear & easy to follow & goes much further than the exhibition itself without overly complicating the discussion.
The reason for losing a star is that, having seen the originals, it can be seen that 5 or 6 of the paintings shown here are lacking in vibrancy, they appear a little drained of colour & somewhat flat.
For me this isn't a deal breaker & the book remains very good but it is the one point that lets things down just a little in an otherwise well presented package.
Ultimately if you are interested in either American history or the art of this era then this represents a very worthwhile package that, the one caveat accepted, is well worth buying.

The Heart of What Was Lost: A Novel of Osten Ard (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn)
The Heart of What Was Lost: A Novel of Osten Ard (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn)
by Tad Williams
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old friends & new enemies, 7 Jan. 2017
Despite having originally having had no intention of returning to his much loved world in which the Memory, Sorrow & Thorn 'Trilogy' was set, Tad Williams has finally listened to the many fans who have for so long been hoping for more.
The original stories have become favourites among fantasy readers and were written in the old fashioned 'classic' style that Tolkien was so famous for.
Williams wove his stories well & gave his own imaginative direction to such well worn fantasy staples as fairies, dragons & hero's.
With such a large & loyal fan base and his reputation for a near perfect trilogy at stake there was a lot to lose by returning to the world of Osten Ard.

'The heart of what was lost' would seem to be a scene setter for the upcoming 'Last king of Osten Ard' series that starts later this year. It focuses on a very narrow part of this world and a brief moment in it's history. With the war against Ineluki over, the Northmen, led by Duke Isgrimnur, pursuing the defeated Hikeda'ya north in the hope of preventing them from reaching their home in the far North, the mountain fortress of Nakkiga.

This book describes the skirmishes that take place and introduces a few new characters. In truth there is little of Isgrimnur, a firm favourite from the original trilogy, and really concentrates more on the Norns and lays bare some more of their history & character.

There is a real sense once this is read of the story being moved rapidly along so that the new trilogy can begin without too much preamble and with some new directions to take without the need for too much explanation.

What a pleasure to return to Osten Ard, even if only briefly, and to find that Williams has kept his ability to excite, fascinate & surprise. This does not feel stale & neither does it waste time. This really whistles along & is a great appetiser for what is to come.

The loss of a star is because this really isn't a stand alone book. It is difficult to see this making much sense without having read the previous four books. This does little to explain what has gone before and really is a bridge to the next trilogy. If you've read the other books & enjoyed them then this is definitely for you, if not then get yourself a copy of 'The dragonbone chair' & get stuck in.

My one regret here is that I first read the dragonbone chair after all 4 books had been released & so was able to make my way through them without having to wait for them to be released. I am also somewhat cautious as I had to wait year by year for the 'Shadowmarch' series, (very enjoyable) & the 'Otherland' series too, (superb, right up to book 4 which was dreadful. A real disappointment).

It's a great time to be a fantasy reader. Patrick Rothfuss will surely finish his great 'Kingkiller' series at some point? China Mieville has another one on the way & now a much loved world is being opened to explore even further.

Brooklyn [Blu-ray]
Brooklyn [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Saoirse Ronan
Price: £7.93

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls Flat on it's Face, 24 April 2016
This review is from: Brooklyn [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
A nice young Irish woman gets given a rare opportunity to start a new life in 1950's New York, goes there, makes new friends & meets a nice young Italian man.
Nothing too complicated & some nice understated performances. Ronan does a very good job as the unsure but determined Eilis, missing home but slowly falling for man, (Tony) & city in New york.
There are some good peripheral characters in Julie Walters B&B owner along with some fun residents & the family of Eilis' object of affection have bags of character & potential too...and sadly that's where it all goes wrong, missed potential.
Just as we are drawn into everybody different stories and wait to see what happens something draws Eilis back to Ireland and she completely ditches her previous commitments for a cruel & selfish fling. What was a likeable and strong character becomes unlikeable & shallow.
All those interesting people she met in New York? Who knows? Certainly not screenwriter Nick Hornby who dumps absolutely everybody & every other plot line completely. No idea what happens to Eilis' New York companions, her job, Tony's family or anyone or anything else we have spent over an hour being introduced to.
Even on her return to her home there was room for depth with some interesting characters to learn about but that opportunity is also squandered, especially her mother.
You can tell it's all going to fall apart when, with just 35 minutes to go, the entire storyline gets turned on it's head. There simply isn't any time to see everything through to any sort of conclusion & so we are left with a pathetic ending of 2 minutes of Ronan talking platitudes and explaining how everything is going to be alright instead of a return to everyone we've been introduced to so we can see how they get on or add some depth.
This could have really had some depth and Ronan certainly seems up for it, but she is left high & dry with an unexplained left turn and no time to finish everything off in a way that makes any sense.
This is enjoyable for well over an hour, (thus the 3 stars) and is then left to fall to bits and concludes with a rushed & lazy ending.
Bit of a shame as the potential was there but just not worth it in the end.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2016 9:18 AM BST

SONOS PLAY:1 Smart Wireless Speaker, White
SONOS PLAY:1 Smart Wireless Speaker, White
Price: £180.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Little Speaker, 23 April 2016
Having done a lot of research we decided to go for a pair of play 1's.
Out of the box these are weighty & have a feel of quality about them. Setup is very straightforward, just follow the instructions as they scroll along and you'll be up & running within 10 minutes. We use an iMac and iTunes but also 2 Amazon accounts & Bandcamp.
If you are more interested in radio or Spotify than your own collection then you could go for quite a few other, cheaper options.
If you're an audiophile then lets not waste time arguing whether these will compete with your separates system, no of course they won't but these are all about the best possible compromise for wifi speakers in places like the kitchen or conservatory etc.
If you just want a decent sound & ease of use then these are a worthy, if a quite costly, option. I would say especially costly as to get the best 2 in stereo for a main system is a bit of a must. For extra room sounds like kitchen or bathroom then the mono sound from one of these is easily good enough.
The sound is surprisingly weighty, not subwoofer levels but a low end that often makes it's presence felt without swamping everything in a muddy bass. The detail retrieval is really excellent, these seem happy with everything I've tried so far, chart, classical, all sorts of e-music & even audiobooks. Nothing has tripped them up so far.
Volume levels are more than adequate for medium sized rooms. For having some mates round and playing away in the background these are in their element. They don't seem to distort & seem unflappable. They look very smart, you will need an electrical socket nearby as each one is mains powered.
If you use iTunes then you should go into 'manage' on the top menu & click on 'update music library now' whenever you wish to add everything you've added new to iTunes. This only takes a few minutes.
Click on Amazon in the Sonos app. & you'll be guided through a very quick setup.
You'll need to put Bandcamp into 'add music services' on the app. Again just follow the set up directions to access your account.
A small point worth noting is that while the phone app. is fine, it is a bit basic. However the tablet app. is superb, a full track listing + volume & artwork. It looks great & works beautifully. If you have more than 1 speaker you'll be prompted as to whether you want a stereo pair or to place in separate rooms, (this can be quickly changed later). Name the room each speakers are in & you can you can use them individually & control volume levels for each speaker separately.
I have read all sorts of negative reports on these but have to say I have had no problems. They have never struggled to connect to our iMac or tablets. iTunes set-up is not the nightmare many would have you believe. Amazon is also a doddle.
There is are no inputs here so wireless only. They also have no off switch, they go into standby when unused for a while.
The one drawback is price, which is pretty hefty & that includes all the peripherals like stands & brackets which are horribly overpriced. You can get cheaper non-official extras much cheaper.
I was expecting hair pulling frustration & 'acceptable' sound but these have been a joy to both set up & use.
These are a great idea well executed. Easy to set up, easy to use & a very well balanced & enjoyable sound. Well worth a try & especially if you're looking to a multi-room set up.

Hailo 8040-707 XXL Step Ladder 7 Deep Safety steps, 150 KG
Hailo 8040-707 XXL Step Ladder 7 Deep Safety steps, 150 KG
Price: £79.49

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars German Reliability, 23 April 2016
My old Hailo Step Ladder is 11 years old & looking a bit the worse for wear so I've decided to replace it.
After doing some research I decided on another Hailo. As we live in an older house with higher ceilings I've gone for a taller ladder.
This is pretty tall, allowing for work at 3.25M.
It made a pleasant change to see a company that was producing good quality products years ago is keeping it's standards up! This is a well made item that inspires a bit of confidence in the user.
To be honest if you are young and don't need the plastic tray at the top then the normal Hailo steps will save you 15 notes & work just fine.Hailo 8140-701 L40 150 kg Capacity Aluminium Stepladder (7 Steps)However I am now 50 & although not yet a wobbly old coot am still grateful for the extra few centimetres the wider steps provide. It really makes a difference not just when ascending & descending but when working from a step. They are ribbed to help increase grip & help reduce the ache you can get in your feet when standing for a while on a step ladder.
The tray seems a bit of a gimmick, ( & I suspect that a bit of money is saved by using plastic at the top of the ladder instead of aluminium!). In truth though it turns out to be very useful in practice, it has hols for screwdrivers, a larger hole for a hammer & the tray itself holds quite a bit, say a few lightbulbs or screws & raw plugs etc. It also has a bucket hook.
The steps are very steady & well made. Some have said the top step that locks the ladder opens but I've not experienced this.
For general indoor & occasional outdoor use this is excellent & easily recommended but for professional outside use perhaps not so much as I suspect that the plastic tray will not take constant clobbering.
You can also buy different feet from the standard ones that are supplied. One set for the gardenHailo 9948-101 Easy Clix Interchangeable Feet Garden Set 1 and another for use on wood/tiled flooring Hailo 9947-001 Easy Clix Interchangeable Feet for wood Set 2. The reviews are favourable but a set of either takes this to well over £100 which I feel is a bit excessive.
If you live in a standard modern house then these may be a bit bigger than you require for indoors use. Take a look at the 5 step option or if you're vertically challenged like me then perhaps the 6!
All in all these represent good VFM & come with a full 10 year warranty. Well worth considering.

Elementary - Season 3 [DVD]
Elementary - Season 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jonny Lee Miller
Price: £11.76

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Year, Another Masterclass, 29 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Elementary - Season 3 [DVD] (DVD)
The previous two seasons of Elementary were surprising to say the least. That the seemingly ridiculous idea of a modern Holmes living in New York was surely just pandering to the hoped for American audience & a female Watson played by Lucy Liu just a nod to political correctness?
Sometimes it's great to be wrong. The whole set-up worked and alongside a near perfect Holmes portrayal by Johnny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu held her own and brought a depth & vital counterbalance of a magnitude I've never seen before in a Watson.
That this was continued without letup for two long seasons was amazing, that it has continued into the third no longer surprises.
As usual the first few stories are the weakest but are really only there to draw the viewer into the characters & their world.
With Watson moved out Holmes decides he needs another protege and so Kitty, a young woman with some attitude & dark secrets, who soon becomes part of the elementary universe.
Once Kitty is included the series begins to find its legs and the programme does what it does best. As much as I love Jeremy Brett & Co's version, (still the best of the 'classic' versions for me) this has so much depth that I can't think of another Holmes that comes close. I enjoy the BBC modern version but it's a one man show & for me season 3 jumped the shark.
Here all the main characters are just so well written & acted. Unlike any other version Elementary may have convoluted plots for Holmes to solve but it messes with it's main characters so much that they become the main reason for watching.
Kitty is a sad person and you care what happens to her, the captain remains the voice of reason even when his own daughter is involved but most of all Holmes & Watson are put through the wringer time & again. In the end the are seen atop the roof of their brownstone looking shellshocked & exhausted. Has the inevitable finally done for Holmes?
Johnny Lee Miller maintains a vice like grip on his Holmes, but again we see growth & emotional advances but he still remains a dangerous creature. Liu stands tall next to the storm of Holmes & counterpoints his personality with her own strong & opposite attitudes although, inevitably, Holmes is now having as much effect upon her as she does upon him.
Season 4 has begun in the US but I'll wait that long year until the DVD comes out again. Pity there's no blu-ray.
If you've not seen any then start at the beginning and enjoy. The plots, the full use of the city and even the music chosen are perfect.
Not one for the stuffed shirt Holmes fan or the traditionalist, this has drug, sex & violence themes.
None of the first three seasons are better than the others, this is simply consistently excellent. That it takes over 9 months to film is not surprising.
Once again Elementary offers over 16 hours of superbly acted, scripted & directed, (Liu has a go on one episode & delivers as expected) television.
Highly recommended. Enjoy!

The Art of the Lord of the Rings (60th Anniv Slipcase)
The Art of the Lord of the Rings (60th Anniv Slipcase)
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.59

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expect Different, 9 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The release of The Art of the Hobbit 4 years ago was a welcome delight. As well as plenty of detailed information the fold-outs & colour plates were excellent. It was a quality release, right down to the heavy matching slipcase.
I was expecting the same here but the art of LOTR is not at all the same.
It comes in the same size format & with a good quality matching slipcase & it is printed on the same heavy paper.
The first clue comes with the weight,this volume is over 100 pages bigger than the Hobbit one. You might feel that with LOTR being so much bigger it would be but the actual artwork, book covers aside, for the three original volumes was minimal.
So what do you get here? The vast majority of artwork here is hand drawn maps & sketches. From Tolkien's first handwritten draft of the lettering on Balin's tomb to 'the second map of middle earth'. Most are pen & ink or pencil with the occasional colouring, (such as the excellent sketch of Dunharrow).
There are many detailed notes & descriptions, 1st, 2nd & 3rd draughts. Remember the 'Book of Mazarbul'? I'd forgotten the name but it's the tattered manuscript found in the chamber in Moria. Tolkien went to great lengths to produce, not just the writing, but the effects of it being torn, burned & covered in blood. Really it's here that what this book is all about really show's itself. Tolkien didn't just sit down & write a few books, he used his knowledge of language, history & fable to carefully create a world that was both like ours own & completely different at the same time. If you're a fan you know this anyway but this book gives an insight into that process. The painstaking attention to detail that so often included small sketches . Often these details are obscure or just hinted at. A letter from Aragorn to Sam was felt to be unwanted eventually but Tolkiens 3 page draught is here.
We get to see much of Middle Earth visualised here and it is amazing. At first it may seem like a collection of dull scribbles & quick drawings but closer inspection reveals a wealth of detail & builds a respect for the author's dedication & just how vast the world he saw was.
The art of the Hobbit appealed to all with it's lighter text & superb colour plates but this release is surely aimed more at the Tolkien student, one who wants to take a closer & more detailed look. It's not really as suited to the casual 'flick through' as the previous release.
The two volumes sit together nicely and look great on the shelf but, like the Hobbit & LOTR themselves, they are ultimately very different.
This is a darker, more intense & less easily accessed book that requires greater concentration & appreciation for depth.
In the end though this is the release that shows Tolkien's processes & aims. We get to share a little of his knowledge & frankly, even at this early stage of owning this volume, feel a greater fondness for his work and am left wanting to pick up 'The fellowship..' once again & re-immerse myself in the world of Middle Earth & it's wonderful characters.
Surely as good an effect as you could hope for from this excellent book?

Briwax HOIL1000 1L Hard Wax Oil
Briwax HOIL1000 1L Hard Wax Oil
Price: £27.55

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Suitable Alternative, 29 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had been using Danish oil on beech kitchen sides for some time but have never been fully satisfied with the results. It needs re-applying fairly often & will leave patchy results more often than not.
I was therefore looking for something with a longer lasting finish but didn't want to use varnish.
Hard wax oil seemed to offer the solution. In truth I chose Briwax simply because it was the only hard wax oil that offered Prime delivery & I wanted it the next day.
Preparation needs to be done properly & you need to take the surface back to the original wood. No oil or wax residue or you'll get an uneven finish.
I used a palm sander and as usual there was a vesuvius like mess all over the kitchen but I'd either taken everything out or used dust sheets. Just be prepared to spend some time cleaning up everything after sanding & before applying the wax to avoid particles settling onto the surface.
I applied the 1st coat using a 2 inch soft paint brush but you can also use a small roller too.
As I applied the oil I quickly removed any surplus that pooled after applying. At first it looks as if you've not put on enough nut this is only the first coat and on this initial application an even finish is your main aim.
I allowed a day for this to harden fully before applying the next coat. I was more careful to avoid over applying the oil as I didn't want to have to remove too much. I loaded less onto the brush & used longer more deliberate strokes in applying.
Wet it didn't look great but once it had dried any uneven or patchy seeming areas disappeared and the surface looked uniform & smooth.
The finish looks somewhere between oil & varnish. It can be buffed up to restore its shine and is much harder wearing than Danish oil.
Two coats are fine for a kitchen side but for a floor I would think you'd want 3 to allow for wear & more frequent buffing.
This leaves a very nice finish and is pretty hard wearing too.
It's not the easiest to prepare for or to apply and you'll need to concentrate carefully when actually working with the oil to avoid over applying.
All in all if you're after an alternative to thinner, more frequently applied oils then this is a good choice that seems to offer a longer lasting solution.

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