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summer resolution - to read more and stop buying books until I have read what I have

Reviews written

since 24/05/2014


The Last Juror - John Grisham 12/08/2017

Warm in mississippi?

The Last Juror - John Grisham My latest read was this one from John Grisham which I picked up from a local charity shop for 50p. Basic Plot: Willie Traynor, the new owner of the local newspaper has his first major story as a murder is committed in the small town of Clanton in the district of Ford County, Mississippi…… At the trial some suspect the perpetrator will simply get off as his family have money and have, in the past, bought the jury and the judge…… Traynor reports the facts of the case and the aftermath and the circulation swells but will justice be done and will Traynor manage to stay alive….? What I thought of it? I have to say that this, for me, is not the best John Grisham book that I have read but that could be that I have a slight aversion to books which are written in the first person. This does not mean that it is badly written or a poor story – it is well written and the story as a whole is a good one. I would just have preferred it to be in the third person. The novel, for me, dragged on a bit at points and some things written about were really irrelevant to the main plot but nor were they sub plots. It did, I suppose, help set the scene of the local area but going on about all the different churches Traynor went to for me added little if anything to the story. However, the court cases are well written and the events after the trial do have some suspense to them. It is set in the 1970s in a small town in the deepish south in the USA whilst there was still aspects of ...

Bosch Tassimo T40 10/06/2017

Better coffee in an instant (almost)

Bosch Tassimo T40 I was recently given this tassimo machine as a gift and since then have used it at least twice a day and it has pretty much replaced my use of instant coffee. It is about as quick as making a cup of instant, probably quicker, and the results of the coffee pods I have tried taste far better than instant. I have to confess doing a full filter coffee does taste better but you can’t have everything. The box it came in only contained the machine I do think putting a selection of pods in as a starter pack would have been nice but no real problem. Mine is in black – I don’t know if other colours are available but going from the picture there is. Despite it being a gift I do know how important price is in these reviews so I found it on a well known online site for £76.50 but elsewhere for up to £120. I’m not sure I would have spent £120 on it but knowing now how good it is the £76.50 price is reasonable. Now Tassimo refers to the things you put in the machine as 'T-discs' I refer to them as pods and so have called them pods in this review Setting the machine up: Firstly you need to locate the cleaning pod – this is in a slot behind the water tank. This is a convenient place to keep it so you don’t lose it or accidentally throw it away. If you do you can buy a replacement from the tassimo website. In the instructions you are told to flush the machine out 4 times using the hot drink cycle. This is done by putting the cleaning pod into the machine and pressing the button allowing ...

Mr Mercedes - Stephen King 11/04/2017

In the style of Columbo

Mr Mercedes - Stephen King I used to read Stephen King novels quite regularly but I went off the horror genre and stopped reading his work. Still I knew this wasn’t of the horror genre and when I saw it for £1.50 in a local charity shop thought I would give it a go. My copy of it is a standard size hardback and is 405 pages long Basic Plot (taken from the first few mini chapters): Unemployment is a big issue and a jobs fare offering 1000 new jobs is going to be popular. Even before it opens many are in line. Unfortunately some will not survive until it is supposed to open…. Bill Hodges, the lead investigator into the unsolved incident which occurred at the jobs fair has now retired and is feeling lost, depressed and thinking about using his loaded gun one last time….. Hodges receives a letter, goading him about his failure to catch the ‘Mercedes killer’ Hodges now has a purpose again and decides to investigate the crime one last time outside of the police. Can Hodges finally catch his man before it is too late? What I thought of it: Just to let you know right from the off set, the novel is written in a Columbo style story in that you are told early on who committed the crime so the fun of trying to work it out yourself is lost. However, you are left with the cat and mouse style story of the detective trying to figure it all out and it is a psychological thriller. The characterisation of the main characters does work well with the detective shown as someone who has let himself go since ...

The Complete Open All Hours - Series 1-4 (DVD) 29/01/2017

one of the best

The Complete Open All Hours - Series 1-4 (DVD) This stated out as an episode in a series called seven of one – all seven programmes were different but all stared Ronnie Barker. Of these seven episodes two were made into full series. Open all hours and Porridge. I have always felt that to call Ronnie Barker a comedian simply does not do him justice. He is an excellent character actor who can play both straight and comedy roles with equal success. This is the full set of the 4 series of this BBC comedy which also includes the original pilot episode. I bought this set about a year ago as I had rather a lot of vouchers for a certain online store. At the time it cost me £8.00 new – which was a bargin. Cast/Premise: Set in a Yorkshire town around a typical (or atypical – depending on your view) corner shop run by Arkwright, a miser with a stammer who has only two loves – money and the local district nurse. Arkwright will stop at nothing to get those who come into his shop spending – even bend the truth or frankly tell lies to get them to spend big. Other than running the shop and chasing the nurse Arkwright is determined to turn his Nephew, Granville, into a skinflint just like him as well as stop him having any fun at all. This is just the main cast Arkwright (Ronnie Barker): owns and runs a small, rather dingy, overpriced corner shop where all who entre will be encouraged if not forced to spend. With his man eating till and miserly ways when he gets hold of your money it is unlikely to see the light of day again. ...

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) 21/01/2017

new year - new phone

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) I received this phone via my network provider when I upgraded my contract. In the past I have used windows phones but as some of the apps I would like to use are not available on the windows store. This phone uses the android operating system so I can get the apps I want, even though this is only one or two of them. The phone is a good size with a screen of 12.5 cm (5”) and weighs about 135g which fits in my hand well. The phone also has a good sized internal memory of 8GB but part of this is taken up by pre-loaded software so the total available to use would be lower than this. The phone does come with a data card slot so this can expand buy using one of these. Although it is available in a number of colours I opted for the black case one. Set up: The micro sim card was easy to fit as was the battery. The charger is the standard micro USB style charger which most smart phones now seem to use. The plug part has an earth prong which slides up and down which will help with storage. I gave the phone an initial charge of around 8 hours before I started to add any phone numbers etc. I couldn’t work out how to transfer my contacts from my old phone to this one by linking them so it was the long way round of re-entering them. However, this did give me the opportunity to cull those numbers I haven’t used in a long time. For the phone lock setting you can select from a ‘pattern’ which I suspect is one of those things you trace your finger round dots on the screen; a code number ...

Doctor Who - Meglos (DVD) 19/01/2017

Not the best story

Doctor Who - Meglos (DVD) My latest trawl through old series of Dr Who came up with this story in the last series to star Tom Baker in the lead role. It was originally broadcast in 1980 in 4 25 minute episodes. I have always like Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor who is a bit like a high school science teacher who is perhaps a putter sort of a full golf bag. Brief Plot: The Doctor has been invited to visit the planet Tigella, they are having problems not only with the source of their power, a strange dodecahedron, but also with the squabbles between the atheist scientifically minded Savants and the fanatically religious Deons. A strange cactus like creature, Meglos, wants the dodecahedron but just how is he/it going to get hold of it and more to the point, why does he want it? Problems are stacked against the Doctor – can he find out the secrets behind the dodecahedron before it is too late? What I thought of it? Whilst Tom Baker has always been my favourite Doctor here he does put in a good performance in the part and along with Lalla Ward as Romana, Bill Frazer as the rather grumpy space pirate General Grugger and Jaqueline Hill as the High Priestess, Lexa try their best with what is a rather poor story and a script which is not on a par with many other stories staring Tom Baker. It is worth noting that in her role in this story Jacqueline Hill is the first, as possibly only, person to have played a companion to the doctor (she played Barbara Wright alongside William Hartnell's doctor) ...

Strip Jack - Ian Rankin 26/12/2016

Rebus No. 4

Strip Jack - Ian Rankin This is the fourth Inspector Rebus novel and whilst it is a good story I didn’t think it was as good as the first three but more about that later. Basic Plot: Gregor Jack MP has been caught by the press with his trousers down in the local knocking shop during a police raid but just who tipped the press off and got Gregor to go there….? Gregor’s wife has also gone missing and has not been seen or heard of since the story about her husband hit the front pages…… Can Rebus find out just who is trying to discredit a well-liked and popular MP by tipping off the press about the raid and find Gregor’s wife? To DI Rebus something about this whole matter just doesn’t smell right……. What I thought of it: Whilst this is a stand-alone novel it is lacking the characterisation of some of the main characters as these have been dealt with in earlier novels. I this novel there is a continuing development of Rebus’ private life and those of the other officers but it is the characterisation of the characters that are new in this novel which is handled well. Whilst, at first, we do not get all the details about them they are built up steadily through the novel. This helps as it does not bore you with lots of back story all in one go and allows the reader to build a better impression of each character. The main plot works well as a story and the insight into the police work within the novel has been well researched and is not overly dramatised as it is in some novels. Whilst this rarely ...

Tales Of The Unexpected - The Complete Series (DVD) 05/10/2016

A 70s/80s classic

Tales Of The Unexpected - The Complete Series (DVD) I have selected this as a film only review as there are no special features on the discs. I remember growing up in the 80s and hearing the haunting theme tune to this series which was one of my mum’s favourite series after being sent up to bed. Whilst not being allowed to watch it myself when it was originally shown, as my mum believed it wasn’t suitable for children, in the late 90s I saw a few repeated episodes and have to say that I probably agree with her when it comes to one or two of the episodes where as others you would probably see worse on EastEnders. Still having a good amount in vouchers built up for a certain online retailer I bought the box set. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it is now on sale on the same site for £39.95 which for 2800 hours of entertainment isn’t bad. This set contains 19 discs covering all 112 episodes My thoughts: The first two series, and some episodes in the third and fourth were mainly based on stories originally written by Roald Dhal – who started out writing this type of story for magazines etc before becoming better known as a children’s author. The third series and on is where other writers were responsible for the stories the episodes were based on. Many episodes in the first three series are introduced by Roald Dhal and it starts off all cosy and warm as he introduces the tale with an open fire in the hearth next to him well cosy and warm the stories are certainly not. Whilst they don’t go into the shock horror ...

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes 30/08/2016

a skin wiper

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes I tend to have a pack of cleansing wipes on the go as they are more convenient when traveling than bottles of cleanser and cotton wool. These tea tree ones from the body shop were my latest purchase. I tend to use a tea tree cleanser so I thought that these would be ideal and decided to give them a go. The pack cost me £5 for 25 wipes which is a tad expensive but I have seen more expensive ones on sale. The wipes: The wipes themselves come in a soft plastic resalable pack and it is easy to open and reseal so the remaining wipes do not dry out although I’m not too sure how long the stickiness of the resealable label will really last. The wipes are a good size at 21 x 16 cm and are slightly damp but not so wet that you need to dry your face after using them. The smell is slightly medicinal and there is a slight hint of tea tree but perhaps a bit chemistry lab like for some. The wipes are a good quality and do not fall to bits in use nor are bits left all over my stubble. Removing one from the pack is easy enough and they are not all folded up together so you don’t end up pulling out two or three at a time which is an advantage. Considering the price I feel a better closure could have been used but the label works. According to the back of the pack the wipes are good for 3 months after first opening the pack but I doubt that if in regular use they will last that long. Results: The front label does say that they are suitable for blemished skin and as I suffer from the ...

At Risk - Patricia Cornwell 25/08/2016

Back to the charity shop for this

At Risk - Patricia Cornwell This is the first Patricia Cornwell novel which I have read and frankly it does not make me want to read any more. However, I know that this novel did not feature her usual running character so this may have been a departure in style. I bought this novel from a local charity shop for 50p. The title promised much but delivered little. Basic Plot: Winston Garano (Win for short) a Massachusetts state investigator has been recalled from his course on the latest forensic investigation methods in order to lead an investigation into reopening an unsolved crime from 20 years ago. Just why does Monique Lamont, a Massachusetts D.A. want this crime reopening and why insist Win investigates it? What is in it for her? What I thought of it: Frankly I feel if Patricia Cornwell was not an established author with a good fan base I think this novel would have been returned with the standard publishing house rejection letter. To say it is poor would be an understatement. The novel appears to be two separate stories which are very badly linked with threads so weak that a good sneeze would break them apart. The novel started out slowly, as some novels do, with some of the characterisation and the setting of the scene of the unsolved crime being reopened but the slow pace continued for much of the novel and there was virtually no building of suspense which made it a page turner only in the physical sense of having to turn the page to continue reading. There were few plot twists and those ...

What do you think of the Olympic Games 2016? 17/08/2016

once every 4 years

What do you think of the Olympic Games 2016? Now you don’t have to be very old to remember the Olympic games of 1996 where Team GB had its worst performance and only won one gold from the ever reliable Redgrave and Pinsent. Since then, mainly from the national lottery funding, money has poured into sports things have improved and at the time of writing we have had our best overseas performance in a games with 50 medals. So where has this money actually helped? Well the big one is probably track cycling as this has been the third or fourth time in a row where Team GB has dominated the velodrome. In London 2012 we had the French convicting us of using ‘magic wheels’ so I just wonder what excuse they will try this time? Even the USA team, who claimed that by changing the side the chain is on makes them go faster appears to have come to nothing. Gymnastics, well in the past Team GB were there just to make up the numbers but since 2008 we have seen this pick up and this time two golds in individual apparatus finals. Swimming has always been a bit hit and miss but signs of improvement here as well the same can be said of the diving team. I remain rather underwhelmed by our track and field athletes with the odd exception such as Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jess Ennis-Hill I feel they have promised much and delivered very little. The money has also helped provide venues many if not all are open to the public and if the Olympics inspires more people to take up sport then that can only be a good thing for the future ...

Catch Me - Lisa Gardner 13/08/2016

going out with a bang?

Catch Me - Lisa Gardner This is the first novel by Lisa Gardner which I have read and I will read another by her. Published by headline it is 372 pages long (my hardback edition) it cost me £3.99 from an online book discounters but price on dust jackets is £12.99 Basic Plot (from the first two chapters): Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant has a fear, a fear that she will be killed on January 21st….. D.D. Warren a Sergeant detective in the Boston police homicide department, is on the case of what looks like a serial killer but is then asked to investigate a crime which has not yet happened by the victim of the crime who is not yet a victim. Can DD really take this seriously…..? It is already the 17th January - the clock is ticking….. What I thought of it This is a well written novel which at first appears to be three different stories which begin to intertwine and link together as the novel goes on. The way it is written does give the impression that the story could actually happen. The police work involved in the case(s) is reasonably well portrayed but perhaps there could have been a bit more detail in this area. The main characters are well rounded and there is enough given to give the character back story without boring the reader. Charlene Grant is shown as someone who is tough but still afraid of the 21st January coming round. She is someone who has three or four different plans, at least, for everything. The character of D.D. Warren is perhaps a little lighter but this is due to it ...

Scold's Bridle - Minette Walters 06/06/2016

be sure your secrets will come out

Scold's Bridle - Minette Walters This is the first Minette Walters novel which I have read and picked it up for £1.50 from a local charity shop. Walters does not use a single detective or villager in her novels and each one is a stand-alone story so the order you read them in is of no real importance. INFO A scold’s bridle is a device from the middle ages consisting of a cage which would enclose the head and a protrusion which went into the mouth pressing down on the tongue so preventing the person from speaking. It was, more often than not, used to stop women nagging but also on those suspected of witchcraft to stop them 'casting spells' Basic Plot (from first few pages so not to give too much away) Mathilda Gillespie, the most disliked woman in the village of Fontwell has been found dead in her bath with her wrists slit. Suicide is suggested but something just doesn’t fit……. …..The scold’s bridle on her head, decorated in an elaborate way. Mathilda’s doctor, Sarah Blakeney, knows she could not have done all that by herself…… …..but who would want this unpleasant woman out of the way and why put the scolds bridle on her......? What I thought of it Although the novel does start off with the apparent suicide of Mathilda it does not take long to work out (a few pages to be honest) that something more sinister has happened. After all why would she be wearing a scold’s bridle decorated with daisies and nettles if it was suicide? After a slow start the pace of the book does pick up as it goes along and ...

Head in the Sand - Damien Boyd 11/04/2016

a quick very light read

Head in the Sand - Damien Boyd This is the second Nick Dixon novel in the series and it is a vast improvement on the first. I bought it on my kindle as I was going away for a few days and decided I needed a few quick reads whilst I was away. Basic plot: A severed head has been found in the sand bunker of a local golf course and this sets off a chain of events which means that it is a range against time to find out who committed the crime before the body count rises…. With unsolved cases with the same MO are uncovered can these possibly be linked? Is it the same person who has committed this most recent crime or are they now after a copy-cat killer? Can they really all be linked to the same tragic event dating back the 1970s? Time is against him can Dixon find out who is behind the crimes and keep those who could be next safe….? What I thought of it: I would classify this novel as, at best, an ‘Agatha Christie – light’ type novel. In that it is easy to read, not overly contrived or complicated but not up to Christie’s standard of plot lines and twists. However, this is only his second novel and so there are still improvements to be made in Damien Boyd’s writing. There are not many chapters in this book but going by my kindle version there are a number of chapter breaks where, if you need to, you can put the book down for a while. I did read this novel, in a couple of evenings which is all I wanted for a holiday read. Whilst the character of DI Dixon is fairly believable I do feel the novel centres ...

Fitbit Flex 15/03/2016

A tracker to get fit(ter)

Fitbit Flex bought my Fitbit flex in the middle of February to help me to keep a check on how many steps I have been taking and also trying to tailor my diet to my needs (I’m not a fitness fanatic – honest). The device cost me £65 on offer via the online shop of a well-known ‘chemists’ chain. The flex came with two wristbands, the Fitbit ‘chip’, a charger and a small dongle thing you use to sync it on your laptop if it does not have Bluetooth. The wristband in mine is a sort of steel blue colour which isn’t my favourite colour but that is only a minor thing – it was the only colour boots had in stock at the time. Now this review needs to be split into two parts the device its self and the downloadable app and website. The Device: The two wristbands are a sort of flexible neoprene like material which is designed to be worn for long periods of time without irritating the skin. So far I have been wearing it almost 24/7 and have had no problems with it. The closure is a type of double bar which fits into the slots on the band. This holds securely and is unlikely to come undone. The Fitbit chip fits into a compartment on the underside and this is easy to put in and take out. What does this tracker do? The tracker can be used to track how many steps you have taken and also active minutes. Now it is recommended that you take 10,000 steps each day and this is the present target on the Fitbit and when you hit this target it vibrates to tell you that you have got to it. You can change the ...
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