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Art Vandelay (West Yorkshire)

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A Man With One of Those Faces (The Dublin Trilogy Book 1)
A Man With One of Those Faces (The Dublin Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fast-paced story with plenty of jokes, twists and action, 22 May 2017
A fast-paced story with plenty of jokes, twists and action. I raced through it in a couple of days and enjoyed every minute of it.

*** Fast-paced writing
My favourite thing about the book was the pace of the writing. Each chapter is short, gets straight to the action and moves on to the next scene quickly. It’s closer to the way films are told rather than a novel, which I liked. Every scene has a purpose to be there and there’s a good mix of action, humour and intrigue to propel you along through the story.

*** An intriguing story
Without giving too much away, the story is about a guy that stumbles into a lot of trouble that he can’t deal with. It’s a crime caper sort of novel, but there’s a nice balance between humour and action. The stakes are high but there’s always time for a humourous aside in the middle of the action.

These kind of books can often have a fairly predictable storyline, which is used as a framework to hang the jokes from, but the story really is interesting and unpredictable. Coupled with the short, punchy chapters it left me constantly wanting to read “just one more chapter” and staying up much later than I should to read on.

*** Part one of a trilogy
I finished the story feeling satisfied that this specific story had been told and all various subplots had their loose ends tied up, but it also felt like the story took place in a living and breathing fictional world, so I’m keen to read the next instalment.

The characters are well fleshed out and I want to know more about what they get up to. I don’t know much about the next two books in the story but I’ve enjoyed reading this book, so look forward to see what happens next. Some sequels feel a bit tacked on to the original but I’ve got a feeling that there’s still plenty of stories to tell about Paul, Briget and the rest of the people they know in their little corner of Dublin.

***Overall opinion - 85 out of 100

This isn’t a book that will change your life, it’s not classic literature and it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a fun, fast-paced and funny story that will keep you entertained for every minute that you read it. The writing is similar to Colin Bateman with a dash of Roddy Doyle. The Dublin setting makes these comparison’s easy (or perhaps lazy) but the humour, pace and easy-reading make for an entertaining story.

Mermaid Tail blanket knitted/crochet w fish scales (blue)! * CASTLE & KEEP * handmade, soft and warm, for adults & kids! - 190cm X 90cm
Mermaid Tail blanket knitted/crochet w fish scales (blue)! * CASTLE & KEEP * handmade, soft and warm, for adults & kids! - 190cm X 90cm
Offered by Castle & Keep

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely, chunky-knit blanket that will keep you warm on a winter’s night, 12 Sept. 2016
This is a great quality product, that’s both practical but good to look at too! The fishy style is quirky and gives the wearer a distinctly mermaidy look. The material is the kind that feels nice to wrap yourself up in and keeps you nice and warm.

The knit is designed to a look a bit like the scales on a fish and the wool is the chunky kind, so it feels almost like it’s been hand knitted by a relative even though it’s made by a company.

The promotional images don’t make it clear, but there’s a slit in the blanket that makes it easy to get in and out of. I was worried that I’d have to climb in from the top and pull it up like a sleeping bag with the zip stuck, but it’s actually split about two thirds of the way down, which means you only have to slot your feet in for the last couple of feet.

The blanket is huge too, there’s plenty of space to get your legs right in and pull it up to your chest. It’s very comfortable and looks pretty too!
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AEDILYS Sport Action Camera 2inch Video WIFI Camera 12MP HD 1080P Sport Camera with Waterproof 170° Wide Angle Lens,Wrist 2.4G Wireless RF Remote Control +32GB Card +Carrying Bag (Black)
AEDILYS Sport Action Camera 2inch Video WIFI Camera 12MP HD 1080P Sport Camera with Waterproof 170° Wide Angle Lens,Wrist 2.4G Wireless RF Remote Control +32GB Card +Carrying Bag (Black)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quality action camera with everything you need to get started, 10 July 2016
Length:: 8:41 Mins

The camera works really well, takes good quality video and stills and is a lot of fun to play around with.

This bundle includes everything you need to get started and means you're ready to start recording videos within seconds of opening the box.

The camera itself is very similar in design and function to the Go Pro cameras. I've used a Go Pro for some projects at work and there was very little difference between the two cameras. In fact, this model is slightly easier to navigate as the extra button on the side means the controls are a little bit more intuitive.

I've been impressed by the quality of the recordings I've made so far. In low-light there's quite a lot of noise that enters the frame (dark speckled areas) and the colour balance goes a bit funny - this is the same for all action cameras that I've seen though, so not a specific criticism of this device. In good lighting conditions, the quality of the video is really good and I was impressed by the vibrant colours the camera captures.

The instructions are short but cover everything you need to get going and makes it easy to dive straight in and start using the camera.

There's loads of useful stuff included, so I'll not mention everything, but here are some details on the most useful bits and pieces.

- Waterproof housing: Very similar to the Go Pro, feels sturdy and I'm confident that it will keep water out
- Skeleton frame: Very useful alternative housing for the camera which leaves the power and HDMI ports available, meaning you can attach the charging cable while shooting long time-lapses, so you don't have to worry about the battery running out
- Mounts: I've not fully worked them all out yet, but there are loads of different attachments, which can be combined in a variety of ways to suit your needs
- Case: There's so much stuff included that it's a bit of a struggle to organise it all within the case but it just about fits in. I really like being able to store everything together in a cushioned and sturdy feeling box.

***Remote control ***
I wasn't expecting a lot from the remote control to be honest, but it works really well. Without any messing around with settings or complicated instructions it works as a remote shutter for the camera. There are two buttons, one for video and one for images, you press the corresponding button and it does exactly what you expect straight away. A nice bonus and genuinely useful if you've set up your camera in a position that makes it tricky to get to the buttons.

This was another pleasant surprise. The EZ iCam on Android was easy to link up with my camera and once it connected I could us it to live preview the camera image and perform some basic controls on the camera. It's not something I'll use loads as the little screen on the back of the camera does a good job, and the remote control works better than the app as a remote shutter, but it's still useful to have.

I delighted with the quality of this little camera and have had a lot of fun playing around with it. The variety of accessories bundled together makes this a great way to get started with action cams and means you can jump straight in. There's very little difference between this camera and the far more expensive Go Pro equivalent, the footage it produces is great and the interface is easy to pick up. I'd recommend this product to anyone interested in action cameras.

Yes Please
Yes Please
by Amy Poehler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, entertaining and insightful, 7 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Yes Please (Paperback)
I’m a fan of Amy Poehler’s work but I don’t know all that much about her. It was enjoyable to get to know more about her life and back story through reading this entertaining and light hearted book.

The writing style is breezy and the subjects covered vary quite wildly. It’s an eclectic mix and there’s not always a lot of obvious reason for things being included. She’s an entertaining person to read but I don’t think writing in longform is her strength. In fact it felt at times like a series of blogpost and essays mushed loosely together into a book.

Even though the sections don’t fit together all that well it’s always interesting to hear her take on the subject, whether it’s motherhood, improv, award ceremonies or having famous friends. She’s got a down to earth way about her that makes reading this book feel like a friend telling you about what they’re up to.

My favourite section of the book was probably the bit where she talked about an offensive sketch her did a while ago. She admits that she got it wrong and it was good to see the behind the scenes factors that led to an off colour joke about a disabled person. It’s nice to hear people admitting when they’ve got things wrong and talking about what they’ve done to try and make it right.

It’s a good book, funny in lots of places and can be read quickly, which I think is a sign that it’s written well. It’s not a classic but there’s plenty of good stuff in there and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Amy Poehler and her work.

Raspberry Pi Model B (512MB RAM, UK Model)
Raspberry Pi Model B (512MB RAM, UK Model)

5.0 out of 5 stars A really impressive bit of kit, 9 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great piece of kit. It doesn't look like much when you get it out of the box but I found that there was plenty of help online to get things up and running.

I've not done a great deal with mine yet but I've got one SD card running the Rasbian OS which is reminds me a little of Windows 95 but that's because I've not really had a lot time to dig into what it can do. The other SD card I use for XBMC gets a lot more use. XBMC started out as the media player for the original Xbox console but works a treat on the version customised for the Raspberry Pi.

I use mine for playing music and videos through my TV. I don't really know how it works but I can control the device using my TV's remote control, which is really handy. It also has some apps you can install to stream some content from the internet, things like TED Talks, YouTube and loads of other stuff that I don't really need.

I wish I had more time to get deeper into the programming side of things. I've read up on some of the tasks people have done and it's possible to get quite a lot out of these machines even though they aren't all that highly specced.

One thing I should add is that you'll need to get some bits of kit in advance before you can get a Raspberry Pi working. Luckily I had all I needed lying around already but you'll need:

*A HDMI cable (you can get these from pound shops)
*A power cable (most Android phones and Kindles work off the same kind of attachment, I'm using an old phone charger)
*An SD card (you can then download your chosen operating system onto it or you can buy an SD card with it already preloaded)
*A keyboard/mouse set up (I already had a wireless keyboard with tracking pad which worked as soon as I plugged in the USB transmitter)

You might also want to get a case which will cover up the circuit board but I haven't bothered with this and it's working fine.

So to sum up, it's a really impressive bit of kit and you can do as little or as much as you like with it.

The Bonfire of the Vanities [1990] [DVD]
The Bonfire of the Vanities [1990] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Price: £5.44

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible casting leads to classic novel turning into a turkey of a film, 9 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Tom Hanks is too nice a guy to be believable as Sherman McCoy, the big shot "Master of the Universe" Wall Street trader. Bruce Willis has the acting ability of a wet sponge, and the urbane journalist he's supposed to be playing never really works. Melanie Griffiths can't quite get her accent right and at times looks like she's in an entirely different film to the rest of the cast.

It's not just the casting though, the whole production is a complete mess. You can read the full story about the film in the excellent book "The Devil's Candy" by Julie Salamon. It covers the fine details of exactly why such a widely acclaimed book didn't translate to anything more than a turkey of a film.

I'm giving the film two starts rather than one because of the excellently crafted opening scene. It covers a drunk Bruce Willis staggering through to an awards presentation in one continuous tracking shot. It has a similarity to a similar scene in Goodfellas and is probably better from a technical standpoint. In fact I'd have been a lot more satisfied if I'd have turned off the DVD at the end of this scene.

The Devil's Candy: "Bonfire of the Vanities" Goes to Hollywood
The Devil's Candy: "Bonfire of the Vanities" Goes to Hollywood
by Julie Salamon
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Great account of the dirty business of making a Hollywood film, 9 July 2014
A fascinating insight into how Hollywood movies are made. Julie Salamon gets incredible access into the process of the making of the Bonfire of the Vanities film and doesn't pull any punches. I'd go as far as to say that nobody involved in this project comes out of the book looking well. Even Tom Hanks, seemingly among the nicest people in the world, is portrayed as being a bit disinterested in the project (although he comes across a lot better than Melanie Griffiths and Bruce Willis).

I watched the film shortly before reading the book and read the Bonfire of the Vanities novel a few years ago. I'd say it helps with the enjoyment of this book to have seen the film and read the novel that its based upon but not essential. The author does a good job of setting the scene and you always feel close to the various aspects that go into making a film.

It was fascinating to read how the production went over budget, the stars behaved badly and the executives squeezed the director as the costs spiralled out of control. Reading this book has given me a greater understanding of how easy it is for projects that start off with the best intentions can ultimately lead to films that are rubbish.

Everybody Down
Everybody Down

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing talent and a great album, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: Everybody Down (MP3 Download)
This album falls somewhere in between rap, poetry and a spoken word novel. There's something fresh and genuine about the way Kate sings and it really grabs you. There's a grimy kind of honesty to her songs which ground them in the real world but at the same time there's a redeeming kind of hope that comes through too.

I'd heartily recommend this album and also, once you've listened to it, her Brand New Ancients book too. Then try and catch her at a live performance too.

The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness
The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness
Price: £9.49

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the workings of the human mind, 9 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this book after hearing the author was travelling with the England football team to the World Cup to help them with their mental approach (he's also worked with Liverpool FC and Ronnie O'Sullivan). The book is an easy read, which offers practical advice and provides some useful methods to live better.

One of the best and worst things about the book is the way that it takes complicated ideas and puts them into very simple metaphors. The idea of the Chimp and the Human is a neat summing up of many deeper psychological approaches to understanding the human mind. This is useful as it makes it easy to understand but it also means there's not a lot of depth to the explanations. I could pick out bits of neuroscience and Freud in there but only from things I've read before.

I'd recommend this book if you've got anything in your life that you'd like to improve, and who doesn't? By the time you've finished reading you'll more than likely have a better understanding of yourself and also the people around you. You can't say that about many books.

Untouchable [DVD] (2011)
Untouchable [DVD] (2011)
Dvd ~ François Cluzet
Price: £5.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't really see how anyone could fail to enjoy this film., 3 May 2013
This review is from: Untouchable [DVD] (2011) (DVD)
This is a French film about a wealthy disabled man and the relationship he builds with a rough and ready carer. Not the Sean Connery fronted action romp (which was a remake of an earlier film by the same name). Don't let that put you off though. It's really good.

I didn't really know what to expect when this film arrived. I don't really know why it was I'd put it on my rental list and was none the wiser when I put the disk into my player. As you can see, the cover is a picture of a man being pushed in a wheelchair, flanked by lots of gushing praise.

I didn't even know that the film is in French with English subtitles. Not something that particularly bothers me. In fact I'm finding that I prefer foreign stuff these days as it forces me to properly pay attention to the screen, rather than getting distracted my mobile or some other sort of gadgetry.

Odd couple

The protagonists are a quadraplegic aristocrat and a young man from the projects of Paris. The story starts with Driss becoming Philippe's carer for reasons that are completely inexplicable at the time. He's rude, scary looking and only went to the interview to prevent his benefits being stopped.

As the film plays out you start to understand why it is that Philippe chose Driss to take care of him. He's sick of carers who constantly fuss over him and wanted to be looked after by someone who doesn't feel sorry for him.

Being a good carer

That's not to say that Driss isn't a good carer to Philippe. In fact the two form a bond with each other that transcends each other's backgrounds and leads to some incredibly warm and tender moments as well as some very funny moments.

Driss is more curious than compassionate about the medical problems he helps Philippe deal with and treats him completely as an equal. To the point where he actually forgets about Philippe's disabilities all together, such as the failed attempt at a high five and trying to hand him a phone.

Good taste/ bad taste

There are a lot of jokes in the film but I never felt that they were in bad taste. This was partly down to some excellent writing but mainly because of the great performances from the two lead actors. It manages to find the humour between a disabled man and his carer without ever feeling like it's making fun of serious illnesses.

I couldn't really put my finger on why it wasn't offensive, but I think it was mainly down to the jokes focusing on how blunt and inept Driss was as a carer. There was never anything approaching the sort of nasty jokes a film like this could have mistakenly veered into, it always remained warmly entertaining.

Nothing much happens

It's fair to say that is full of high octane action. The story progresses as a nice gentle speed and gives you time to get absorbed in the strange world that both characters come from. So when I say nothing much happens, it's sort of a compliment. Having said that, the film opens with a car chase scene which sort of gives the wrong impression of whats to come but it's actually a flash forward and the context of the chase is explained as the story progresses.

Omar Sy

Driss is played by Omar Sy and I have to say that he's the best thing about this film. His comic timing is awesome and he has a kind of presence on the screen which makes it possible to swing between humour and poignancy. It's worth watching the film for his performance along.

Rating - 5 stars

I think five star reviews get bandied around too often but in writing down my thoughts on this film I think it's impossible to really give it any other kind of rating. It's exactly the kind of film that there should be more of and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

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