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FinBurst Running Belt - Fits EVERY iPhone and Cell Phone - The Best Waist Pack for Athletes Around the World
FinBurst Running Belt - Fits EVERY iPhone and Cell Phone - The Best Waist Pack for Athletes Around the World
Offered by FinBurst UK
Price: £17.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I needed, 8 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is perfect for carrying phones, keys etc while running - something I've struggled with in the past as I've found armbands etc hard to use. It's much lighter and thinner than I thought it would be - I was expecting more of a bum bag and was pleasantly surprised. It would fit all phone types and stretchy enough to go round a small water bottle - although I'm not sure how comfortable that would be to run with.


A Lovely Way to Burn: Plague Times Trilogy 1
A Lovely Way to Burn: Plague Times Trilogy 1
by Louise Welsh
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly atmospheric, 21 Sept. 2015
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I have a thing for dystopian fiction, and I also love a good crime novel. Louise Welsh’s new novel, ‘A Lovely Way to Burn’, is a mash up of these two genres and so was always going to be hit in my book.

Stevie Flint is horrified when she discovers the dead body of her boyfriend, Simon. But having reported it to the police, she’s immediately struck down by a debilitating flu-like illness. When she recovers, she emerges to find that people across the country are being struck down by a mysterious, and in most cases fatal, sickness known as the ‘sweats’. It soon becomes clear that people are dying in droves – and there’s nothing that the doctors can do.

Despite everything that’s going on, Stevie is determined to find out what happened to Simon – and when she finds a package addressed to her hidden in Simon’s flat, she is convinced there’s more to the story.

When it becomes clear that Simon has been murdered, the devastation unfolding around her means that there’s no one left who cares or who has the ability to help. With death and crime at every turn, the police are understaffed and overstretched – struggling to carry out the most basic service and to cope with a national emergency. There’s quite simply nothing they can do.

Stevie soon realises she doesn’t really know very much about Simon, or his work as a doctor. As she begins to delve deeper into his life, it’s clear that someone will go to great lengths to stop her from finding out too much. Despite this, Stevie clings on to her desire to get to the truth. It becomes a crutch and a way for her to navigate the changing world around her, even if it does even up leading her into even greater danger.

This book is very different to the majority of the apocalypse-style novels out there. The majority of the plot Stevie’s attempt to solve a murder in a world where everyone is scared, sick or dying. That means that as well as the threat from the people trying to stop her investigations, there’s the added threat that comes from a world when law and order is breaking down completely. The setting of London is also both familiar and threatening at the same time. Combined, this all adds up to a brilliantly atmospheric and tension-filled mood.

But while the fact that people are dying and society is falling apart helps to ramp up the danger factor – the main focus of the story is Stevie’s investigation into Simon’s past. As a result, it sometimes felt like there was a bit of a disconnect between the two main themes as they vied for attention.

It’s a good start to the series though and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 30, 2016 2:24 PM BST


Motherland: A Novel
Motherland: A Novel
by Jo McMillan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight into life on the other side of the Berlin Wall, 9 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Motherland: A Novel (Hardcover)
Growing up as the only child of the only communist in the Midlands town of Tamworth, Jess has felt like she’s ‘different’ all her life. When her mother, Eleanor, gets the opportunity to spend time in East Germany over the summers, her and Jess jump at the chance. Living in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), they begin to feel like they’ve found a place where they finally fit in.

While in Tamworth, Eleanor was the butt of every joke, in East Germany she is valued and appreciated. When they meet Peter, a widower, and his daughter Martina through the party, it seems like the final pieces might be starting to fall into place. But it soon clear that the Party comes first, and personal relationships that don’t meet with approval from the top are forced to come second.

Jess is the main character – we see through her eyes and are heavily influenced by her views. Despite this, the character that I emphasised the most with was Eleanor. She clearly has incredibly strong beliefs and a tireless commitment to a cause that she believes in completely – even when she’s spit on, ground down and disappointed. Her steadfast commitment to her values doesn’t even waver when her chance at true love is whisked away by the party. I admire her for sticking to her convictions through thick and thin, but can’t help but think that she’s choosing a life that doesn’t necessarily lead to her being very happy.

Jess is also a great character – she’s observant and witty – and as a result of her mother’s strength of faith in communism, she a true believer herself. The negative attention that’s come her way over the course of her life, the only time she’s ever really able to feel her true self is when she spends her summers in East Germany. But if soon becomes clear that the party might not be all she thought it was.

Martina gave a really interesting insight into what life was like for young people growing up on the other side of the Berlin Wall. Despite her fleeting presence throughout the book, she acts as a constant reminder that there is a darker side to every story, and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. While Jess is dreaming of defecting and running away to live in the GDR, Martina is quick to remind her that she, as a British citizen, has a freedom that she doesn’t have. She longs to travel beyond the Eastern Bloc and to see England, but as a GDR citizen at this time, this simple dream isn’t something that she could possibly dream of achieving.

I did enjoy reading this novel, but for me it felt like there was something missing. Since then, I’ve discovered that it was originally intended to be a work on non-fiction, based on the author’s real life experiences. I think that some traces of this are still evident in the finished novel. I wasn’t sure what the core messages were that the author wanted us to take away – and I also think it may have needed a little something extra to make it a bit more exciting. That said, the author goes into huge detail about the intricacies of life on the other side of the fence during the Cold War, and it gave a really fascinating insight into an area of history that I’m ashamed to say that I know relatively little about.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 30, 2016 2:24 PM BST


Nickel Plated Hand Engraved Pet Tag, Luggage Tag, Child id Tag, Key Tag (20 mm)
Nickel Plated Hand Engraved Pet Tag, Luggage Tag, Child id Tag, Key Tag (20 mm)
Offered by Paradise Pets
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 18 Aug. 2015
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Excellent product, great value and fantastic service. These are small enough to fit perfectly on the collars of my two kittens and they look great. They arrived incredibly quickly and perfectly engraved with exactly what we'd asked for. Couldn't have really asked for more.


Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden quests, secret societies and books - all brought together through the power of modern technology, 3 Aug. 2015
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When unemployed graphic designer Clay takes a job working nights at Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, all he wants is a job. But it soon becomes clear that the bookstore, and its enigmatic owner, are more than they seem.

As well as the traditional books you’d expect to find in a bookshop, there’s also a second set of books – written in code and hidden away from the eyes of prying customers. Throughout the quiet night shift, an assortment of people occasionally hurry in to borrow one of these books, whilst returning another. Clay’s role is to note down what book is borrowed with a description of the borrower, but not to ask questions.

Inevitably, Clay starts to wonder about what this strange collection of people are up to. Finding the codes unintelligible, he and his friends instead draw on their technological skills to help track the pattern of borrowing in a way that they can understand. Unwittingly, he soon uncovers a clandestine literary society working to decode the mysteries around a centuries’ old secret.

It’s hard to say more without revealing too much of the plot, but this is actually one of my favourite recent reads. There’s not much not to like – hidden quests, secret societies and books, books and more books, all brought together through the power of Google and modern technology. It’s basically like a more literary version of a Dan Brown novel that’s been written just for book enthusiasts.

It perfectly contrasts the old and the new. There are people who believe that by bypassing years of work in a few computer strokes, Clay has ‘cheated’ and shouldn’t be allowed to share his knowledge – that this knowledge is only valuable if you’ve really worked for it and that Clay and his friends are devaluing the books themselves. In contrast, there are others who embrace a new way of tackling an old problem and see technology as enabler that will help them to achieve their overall goals.

It’s all about combining the old and the new in a way that works for all – something that strikes a chord in our modern world of e-readers, blogs and the like.


Thrive 100% Natural Cat Treats (Flavour: Fish 15g)
Thrive 100% Natural Cat Treats (Flavour: Fish 15g)
Offered by VetnPet
Price: £2.75

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great treat, 31 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My cats are obsessed with Dreamies, and I thought I'd shake it up with something different. They loved these. The smell got them really excited, although they missed the point a little at first and started jumping on them and throwing them up in the air. When I persuaded them to try actually eating them, they couldn't get enough. I had to break them up a little for my 7-month girl kitten though, as they were a bit too big/tough for her little teeth to handle all in one go.


Teapigs Liquorice & Peppermint Tea 50bag
Teapigs Liquorice & Peppermint Tea 50bag
Price: £10.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great taste, 29 July 2015
Great tasting tea and makes a nice change from just peppermint on its own. The liquorice means that it's quite sweet making it perfect for after lunch at work - and meaning it's slightly easier to resist the biscuit tin.


Camille: Book Three of the Brigade Criminelle Trilogy (Verhoeven Trilogy 3)
Camille: Book Three of the Brigade Criminelle Trilogy (Verhoeven Trilogy 3)
by Pierre Lemaitre
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not quite on the same level as his previous work, 29 July 2015
This is the third novel in a series from Pierre Lemaitre focussing on Camille Verhoeven, a detective with the French police, of which I’ve only read one – ‘Alex’.

When Camille’s lover, Anne, is caught up in what seems to be a jewelry store robbery gone wrong and left with horrific injuries, he immediately breaks all the rules to take on the case. But what seems to have seen a simple robbery soon takes a more serious turn, as the perpetrator sets out to remove all witnesses who could tie him to the crime – including Ann.

As he attempts to keep Anne safe, Camille’s attempts to hide his involvement with her from his colleagues grow more and more frantic. He comes under increasing scrutiny from his team and his senior officers, threatening to derail his career and destroy his friendships. Despite this, he preserves on regardless, throwing caution to the wind as he grows more and more desperate.

Interspersed with Camille’s attempts to solve the case, we have some pretty creepy insights into the mind of the man he’s pursuing – who is clearly unhinged, dangerous and hell bent on stopping Camille in his tracks.

As the novel progresses, we soon see that Camille doesn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, and that the person behind the events at the jewellery store may be closer to home than he thinks.

While I really enjoyed reading this book, I didn’t feel it had quite the same impact as ‘Alex’. Whereas that novel was about one particularly difficult and brutal case, with the police facing a ticking clock to add tension, this is much more of a personal story focused around the trials and tribulations of the central character, Camille. We get a more of an insight into his character, his emotions and how he thinks. Because of this, it’s a much narrower focus and for me, it felt like it was slightly slower to get off the mark.

Because of this, it took me a little while to really get into the story. But the pace soon picked up and there were plenty of twists, turns, drama and action to help to drive the plot along. I also liked the regular switches in viewpoints, as despite having an insight into the minds of both main characters, it gives them both the space to know things that the reader doesn’t.

All in all still a good read – but if like me you’ve already read and loved ‘Alex’ you might be slightly disappointed!


After the Fire (Maeve Kerrigan)
After the Fire (Maeve Kerrigan)
by Jane Casey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.74

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explosive new installment in a great series, 24 July 2015
A fire rips through the top two floors of a tower block, leaving three people dead. One of the dead happens to be the controversial right-wing MP Geoff Armstrong – one who has no business being in those flat that night, so far from home. Of those who made it out before the blaze took hold, a young boy is separated from his mother, an illegal prostitute flees the scene with nothing but the clothes on her back and a child from one of the block’s more dubious families suffers horrific burns.

To make things worse, it soon becomes clear that the fire is arson and Geoff Armstrong may not have jumped to his death to avoid the flames – he may have been murdered. With such a high profile death, the force are under increasing scrutiny and pressure to get to the bottom of the situation as fast as possible. But with any number of motives, potential suspects and possible intended victims, narrowing down the search is an enormous ask.

Against this background, our protagonist Maeve Kerrigan is battling her own demons – not the least of which is working with her brash and abrasive senior colleague, DCI Josh Derwent. Her home life is a mess and when her long term stalker steps up his harassment, Maeve reaches breaking point.

Despite his overbearing persona, the friendship and working relationship between Maeve and Derwent has been slowly developing throughout the series. After events of the last novel, Maeve is suffering more than she wants to let on. When her behaviour grows more reckless and she’s out of options, it’s Derwent who steps up to help her deal with the situation once and for all. Despite the fact that he’s still as abrasive as ever, he proves that under the brash exterior, he’s someone that Maeve can count on. But as the stakes get higher, events take a dramatic and life-altering turn.

This is the kind of detective novel I like – it has some great, strong central characters, some interesting cases and a good, solid ongoing backstory to tie everything together. This book has a darker feel to it than some of the earlier novels, as Maeve’s social life goes up in smoke and she’s left with only Derwent to confide in. That relationship in itself is interesting. He’s overbearing and a bit of a bully, but also sometimes charming. As a friendship, I like it, but I hope that it doesn’t slip into romance further down the line, as this could make for a very different dynamic.

You don’t have to have read the other novels in the series to enjoy this latest offering from Jane Casey, but it does help, especially as one of the threads running through this novel is one that’s been gradually building throughout several of the previous books.


Stone Rider
Stone Rider
by David Hofmeyr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dystopian, action packed, futuristic western, 16 July 2015
This review is from: Stone Rider (Paperback)
Life on Earth is tough and fraught with violence. Pollution has destroyed the quality of the air people breathe and there’s an ever-present threat of radiation. For those on the ground, the only options are to live their life working in the mines or to become a rider, risking their lives as they take to their bykes and compete, racing to win a one way ticket to the mysterious Sky Base.

When fifteen year old Adam enters the Blackwater Trail, he knows that the majority of the riders won’t return. The landscape is unforgiving, the obstacle courses are booby-trapped and people will do absolutely anything to win, including taking out their fellow competitors. Soon enough, he’s teamed up with the dark, enigmatic outsider Kane and Sadie Blood, daughter of one of the most powerful families in town. Together, the three of them take on the course and battle every impediment hurled in their way, hoping to escape their lives for something better.

Adam as a main character is really interesting. He’s lost everything and everyone around him and he has nothing to lose. Despite this, he’s determined to hang on to his humanity. He refuses to join one of the ruthless motorcycle gangs and he can’t resist taking one of the more vulnerable kids in the race under his wing, despite knowing it will probably hinder his chances. He also baulks at the idea of resorting to violence to take out his competitors. As the race goes on, this resolve is tested to extremes, and it seems impossible that he will come out the other side as the same person who went in.

The setting was amazing and I could perfectly visualise the dusty, gritty, desolate desert scene. The author was inspired by old Western’s, and there’s a definite feel of the Wild West running through the book – lawless and unpredictable and the perfect breeding ground for long-simmering feuds and epic showdowns. I loved the opening scene. You can practically see the dust rising from the wheels, feel the heat of the sun and hear the byke engines revving. All it needed was some iconic theme music.

That said, I would have loved to have a bit more world building. I really wanted to know what had happened to the world, what was happening elsewhere on the planet and what exactly the deal is with Sky Base. As a reader, you’ve got to ask yourself what kind of place Sky Base really is, if the people who gain entry there are some of the most ruthless and dangerous that Earth has to offer. There’s going to be a sequel though, so hopefully we’ll get to explore the world that David Hofmyer has created in a bit more detail.

From the second that the race kicks off, it’s pretty much non-stop action to the finish line. The three main characters face opposition from all sides, and there’s rarely a moment where they, or us as readers, can take a break and breathe. It’s a dystopian, action packed, futuristic western, and while there are some aspects of the story and characters that could have done with a bit more development, it was a compelling and gripping read.


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