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Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain)
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Braun MQ300 Hand Blender, 550 Watt, White/ Grey
Braun MQ300 Hand Blender, 550 Watt, White/ Grey
Price: £25.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Practical and long-lasting hand-held blender, 26 Mar. 2015
This is the slightly more powerful version; there's a 450W one available which is a chunk cheaper and will work fine for most soups / smoothies, although you may need the extra power to liquidise more substantial foods.
I've been using an earlier, 400W version of this Braun blender for over a decade and it's still going strong, which is slightly amazing given that I'm not exactly gentle with kitchen appliances...
I have heard of the motors burning out but there have been no such problems with my one; perhaps you need to be careful not to over-strain the mechanism by trying to chop or blend too many solid items. Anyway; mine is used two or three times each week to prepare soups and smoothies, and with fruit and cooked veg it works brilliantly. The instructions recommend that you use the blender in short bursts, and shake it to free off any lumps that form, and this method has been very effective.
The unit separates into two halves for cleaning, so you don't need to put the electric motor part anywhere near water (just wipe it over with a damp cloth). The actual mixer attachment section can be immersed but you do need to make sure that it has drained fully, as it can end up containing water. The 'blades' can be spun in either direction to release any jammed food, and to share the wear-and-tear on both sides of the blade. The standard attachment is great for blending / mixing, but I wouldn't recommend using it for chopping - there are plenty of additional, tougher attachments which you can buy to chop raw veg or meat. There are also whisks and other attachments - it can be very versatile, although the costs start getting high if you buy lots of different attachments. I haven't needed any, to be honest, so it would be worth giving the basic set-up a go before splashing out on extras.

I much prefer using a hand-blender like this instead of a food processor, which seems to involve a lot of mess and additional washing up. The hand-blender can be used in the pan or mixing bowl, without needing to get anything else dirty. Brilliant!
8/10


Braun MQ100 Hand Blender, 450 Watt, White/ Green
Braun MQ100 Hand Blender, 450 Watt, White/ Green
Offered by Tribal UK
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Long-lasting and practical hand-blender, 26 Mar. 2015
I've been using an earlier version of this Braun blender for over a decade and it's still going strong, which is slightly amazing given that I'm not exactly gentle with kitchen appliances...
I have heard of the motors burning out but there have been no such problems with my one; perhaps you need to be careful not to over-strain the mechanism by trying to chop or blend too many solid items. Anyway; mine is used two or three times each week to prepare soups and smoothies, and with fruit and cooked veg it works brilliantly. The instructions recommend that you use the blender in short bursts, and shake it to free off any lumps that form, and this method has been very effective.
The unit separates into two halves for cleaning, so you don't need to put the electric motor part anywhere near water (just wipe it over with a damp cloth). The actual mixer attachment section can be immersed but you do need to make sure that it has drained fully, as it can end up containing water. The 'blades' can be spun in either direction to release any jammed food, and to share the wear-and-tear on both sides of the blade. The standard attachment is great for blending / mixing, but I wouldn't recommend using it for chopping - there are plenty of additional, tougher attachments which you can buy to chop raw veg or meat. There are also whisks and other attachments - it can be very versatile, although the costs start getting high if you buy lots of different attachments. I haven't needed any, to be honest, so it would be worth giving the basic set-up a go before splashing out on extras.

I much prefer using a hand-blender like this instead of a food processor, which seems to involve a lot of mess and additional washing up. The hand-blender can be used in the pan or mixing bowl, without needing to get anything else dirty. Brilliant!
8/10


Sniper Elite
Sniper Elite
Dvd
Price: £3.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy third-rate action flick, 26 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If ever there's a good argument against turning games into movies then this is it.
A battle of wits between two enemy snipers, set on an alien world, could have been brilliant.
Instead it was a very badly disguised 'metaphor' for American intervention in the Middle East. The aliens were arabs, plain and simple. When the humans killed people it was to 'protect and defend' but when the aliens did the same, they were 'murderers'.
That type of naïve simplicity could've been forgiven if the action had been gripping, or if the human-alien interactions were interesting. But this was just third-rate shoot-em-up with two-dimensional characters plodding through a predictable storyline.
Not sci-fi by my standards.
3/10


Inherent Vice [DVD] [2015]
Inherent Vice [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Jena Malone
Price: £12.25

4.0 out of 5 stars When weird is wonderful, 26 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Inherent Vice [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
This gloriously shambolic, rambling psychedelic mess of a movie brilliantly captures a slice of 1970's beach-bum life, mixing it with all the black paranoia of hard-boiled noir. The result is a delight, a film full of true-to-life observations and social commentary, and even some fairly substantial insights into human relationships.
It would take an extremely determined viewer to make sense of all the tangled plot lines and unravel the whole confused mess of an investigation - but that's the whole point. This isn't a film which is intended to be entirely understood. It's a film you're meant to experience, just like the time / philosophical period it represents. Don't sweat the details, just grok the fullness...
And while you're at it, revel in the wonderful performance by Joachim Phoenix (apparently channelling Wolverine's facial hair). He totally nails the character of the smart-ass stoner, the deliberate drop-out; the so-called loser who somehow keeps coming out on top. Likewise, huge plaudits for Josh Brolin as the seemingly straight police detective who, in keeping with the times, is just as mucked-up as the next man. Owen Wilson was also probably born for his role and played it to perfection.
This is definitely not a film for the easily-appalled. It features non-stop drug use, steamy sexuality, violence and all kinds of quirky language. The soundtrack is a stunner, too.
Inherent Vice also succeeds in transferring the essence of an era and a lifestyle onto the screen, and doing it with considerable style. Far more successful than the Rum Diaries a couple of years back, although not a movie for people who need certainty, clarity or straight-talking.
8/10


The Disappeared (Fredrika Bergman)
The Disappeared (Fredrika Bergman)
by Kristina Ohlsson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.79

4.0 out of 5 stars A substantial Swedish police procedural, 23 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A solid Scandinavian police procedural, set in urban, modern Sweden, ‘The Disappeared’ is not your typical melancholic Nordic noir. The writing is plain and accessible; the style is matter of fact and occasionally straightforward to the point of being clumsy. But the author has constructed an intriguing mystery, one which successfully kept me involved throughout the lengthy story.

It features a densely-woven murder mystery spanning several decades, with the core plot enhanced by the ongoing and convoluted private lives of the investigating team of detectives. Where the previous book had been overwhelmed by (to me) tedious details about mundane failing marriages and personal pregnancy angst, here the back-story is usefully employed to add heft to the puzzle and meaning of the mystery. It helps that the author uses a nifty device – a subsequent investigation of the investigation – to chop up the timeline and ratchet up the tension.
Here, the plot follows an investigation into a newly-discovered body of a young woman who died a couple of years ago, but it rapidly expands to draw in a bewildering array of different characters; a famous author convicted of killing her husband who hasn’t spoken since; a university professor accused of raping a student; a young lad with every motive for the recent murder… but who is hard to connect to the older bodies which soon follow the girl’s out of the ground. It’s a complicated tale but one which makes satisfying sense when you reach the conclusion.
My only real criticism is that too many of the detectives become embroiled in the case on a personal basis. There are two staggeringly huge coincidences which defy the laws of nature – and, sure, they ramp up the drama, but just one of them would have been hard to swallow.
There's more comments on the plot and characters over at murdermayhemandmore.net

Solid, but not astonishing. A good book to get engrossed in at an airport lounge which will last a long-haul flight.
7/10


Good People [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Good People [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ James Franco
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £12.30

2.0 out of 5 stars Good People? Bad movie, 23 Mar. 2015
This is one of those low budget indie movies which tries hard to be street-smart, sassy and stylish. The pitch had some promise: squeaky-clean American couple try to mend their broken hearts by starting a new life in London. Run into debt; seize a stash of dirty money, are pursued by the law and two sets of warring gangster tribes out to settle scores.

Except none of it holds up to any sort of scrutiny. The heart-of-gold sidelined but straight copper immediately breaks every regulation and the bounds of credibility while fulfilling every cliché. The badboy cockney mobster agrees to pointless meets to handover cash, resorts to kidnapping and extortion – when he’d simply have snatched the cash back on the first encounter. The only interesting character is the French gangster, new in town and infuriated that his growing reputation has been damaged. But the storyline is so chopped around that his involvement rapidly loses credibility – as does the fact the no one notices him cruising around in his discreet (not) Jag.
The finale, which pitches amateur good guys against professional crims is as predictably silly as you might expect. The epilogue – featuring swag from the original heist, which somehow didn’t get taken into evidence – is even more ridiculous.
We watched to the end, but it was a very only 93 minutes…
4/10


The Judge [DVD] [2014]
The Judge [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Robert Downey Jr.
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping drama on a human scale, 23 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Judge [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
With actors of a lesser stature than RDJ and Robert Duvall this film could have been nothing more than a soppy, schmaltzy, sentimental mess. Instead they play an age-old story note-perfect; the return of the prodigal (wise-ass) son to his Hicksville home which he couldn’t wait to leave all those years ago.

The plot may not be exactly original but the script is a stunner, gifting Downey Junior some wonderful sequences of sardonic soliloquy. The writers also know just how to spice the pot with a creative sprinkle, like the cine-film obsessed, vulnerable younger brother, the neat twist involving Downey’s old girlfriend and her attractive, college-age daughter, and the core plot – the judge of the title, played with aplomb by Duvall, may indeed have deliberately killed someone. He doesn’t know. And we don’t know. And nor does the prosecution lawyer – a fab appearance by a very dapper Billy Bob -- but he believes he can get a jury to convict on a murder charge…
We expected this to be a time-filler, a pot-boiler; an in-flight kinda movie. Instead it turned out to be utterly compelling, a superb character piece, full of tension and intrigue and more than a little emotional involvement. A very nice surprise.
8/10


Montana [DVD]
Montana [DVD]
Dvd ~ Adam Deacon
Price: £6.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Druglords in London (and nothign to do with big sky country...), 22 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Montana [DVD] (DVD)
This is an entertaining Brit gangster movie which gives Nordic noir star Lars Mikkelsen a chance to play an action role, as an older assassin who's tracking down the Serb killer who murdered his family.
So on one level it's a pretty straightforward revenge movie - then Mikkelsen becomes the mentor of a young streetkid who has also fallen foul of the Serbian ganglord, and the film veers towards a gangsta rap version of Karate Kid. The plot isn't ragingly original but it is delivered with some style and snappy dialogue - the corrupt cops in particular have a mean line in demon banter. (Most parents will wince at the fairly extreme language throughout, but that's kinda part of the story...)
The storyline wraps up well, the central performances are strong, and while there are moments which stretch credibility (like the body count which is probably more murders than London sees in an entire year), it's an enjoyable and not entirely predictable film. There are also a couple of stand-out moments of filming - look out for when Mikkelsen confronts his old enemy, and how his transition into the room is handled.

Better than you might expect for an indie flick made with restricted resources. The cast interviews are interesting, too.
8/10


Hotties Firewood Logs - 2 x Packs of 10 Hotties (20 logs)
Hotties Firewood Logs - 2 x Packs of 10 Hotties (20 logs)
Offered by Waterproofs UK
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful (and recycled) alternative to wet wood..., 22 Mar. 2015
Very good heatlogs (but this is a v expensive way of buying them. If you get them in bulk then you can find them at £6 or even £4 per pack of 10 logs). Much better than most wood for raising the temp of a fire, and help to warm a room quickly.
They're physically quite small, ideal for smaller log-burning stoves, and burn around two hours. If you close down the air flow, a couple of logs can keep a fire 'in' for the night.
Produce very little ash so low on mess. They only 'flame' for a short while, and then glow like coal. Unlike some heatlogs, they don't expand massively when burning so don't put pressure on the side of a stove, or 'grow' out of the grate.
They are very susceptible to damp however, so should only be stored in a dry place. Keep them in their plastic wrap until the day you intend to burn them.
Useful product if you have somewhere dry to keep them.
8/10


Run All Night [DVD] [2015]
Run All Night [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Liam Neeson
Price: £12.25

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hitman on the run, 19 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Run All Night [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
Another high-quality action-thriller from Liam Neeson, this time bouncing off Ed Harris who also gives a powerful performance as the aging NY mobster with a wayward son.

Neeson plays Jimmy, once the go-to guy for wetwork with a long list of backstreet assassinations to his name. Now he's an old dog; drunk for most of the time, estranged from his adult son, barely tolerated by the new generation in the Irish-American gang but with strong bonds to his old boss. Then a series of incidents throws him into conflict with his old partners -- and threatens to wipe out his whole family.
The result is a non-stop, smarter-than-average chase movie. It's got a lot in common with 'Road to Perdition' and even draws on similar themes to 'Long Good Friday', but the similarities didn't stop us thoroughly enjoying it. There are some notably interesting characters - like Price, the 'unstoppable' contract killer brought in to finish the job. And the obvious physical problems of an older protagonist are both acknowledged in the script and neatly sidestepped by using younger characters for some of the more demanding sequences.
It has moments of risible over-the-top action (the cop killing car-chase and then the building exploding seem a trifle unlikely), but these are pretty well balanced by Neeson's typically gritty performance and the suitably noir ending.
Some of the stunt cinematography is impressive, too. I really enjoyed the way New York City was front and central, part of the thread of the film.

Not an intellectual challenge, but very entertaining.
8/10


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