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Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton)
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The Crimson Ribbon
The Crimson Ribbon
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Civil War Drama, Jan. 5 2015
This novel is set during the Seventeenth Century during the reign of Charles 1. The English Civil War is ravaging the land as Parliament and its Model Army take up arms against the King.

Ruth Flowers, our heroine, and her mother live in the Fen Country of Ely and are part of the household of Oliver Cromwell. Ruth's mother is not just a servant she is also a healer and midwife. When a much deformed baby is born at a confinement she attended she is denounced as a Witch and hanged. With Cromwell away fighting, his wife fears for her family's safety if Ruth remains in the household so her Mother-in-law arranges for her to go to London to work for an old friend.

The journey itself is dangerous with thieves and Vagabonds on the roads but Ruth makes friends with Joseph Oakes and they arrive safely in London, although there again, things do not go smoothly and Ruth has to move on again.

This is an interesting and accurate story of the life of ordinary people in the Seventeenth Century and the enormous impact that the superstitions and morality of the day had on their lives. It is gripping in part and in Ruth Flowers the author has developed an appealing character whose fate the reader quickly comes to care about. My criticisms would be there is too little on the actual Civil War, although the death of the King is well handled and Cromwell as a character is not sufficiently developed. The claims for Ruth's parentage also strike me as a bit spurious.

However, a good read nonetheless and the pace does not disappoint.

Kyasi Authentic TouchHide Tote-iPad Air Saddleback Brown
Kyasi Authentic TouchHide Tote-iPad Air Saddleback Brown
Offered by Kyasi Canada
Price: CDN$ 40.25

5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Price for a Good Looking Case, Dec 29 2014
This is an ideal cover if what you are looking for is something light which does not add significantly to the bulk of the iPad. It is very nicely made, with even stitching around the outside. Although faux leather it does give a very good impersonation of the real thing and from its appearance nobody is going to know the difference. I would judge it to be very smart and will look the part in a business meeting.

The fit of this case is very good and Kyasi demonstrate their faith in their product by offering a lifetime guarantee which is very unusual for a case of this type. Overall a very good price for a very good looking case.

This was kindly sent to me so that I could test it in order to write an objective review.

Kyasi Gladiator Glass Ballistic iPad 2 iPad 3 or iPad 4 Clear - 1 Tempered Glass Screen Protector
Kyasi Gladiator Glass Ballistic iPad 2 iPad 3 or iPad 4 Clear - 1 Tempered Glass Screen Protector
Offered by Kyasi Canada
Price: CDN$ 40.25
4 used & new from CDN$ 41.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Effective, Dec 29 2014
In the past I have found screen protectors a bit hit and miss in terms of positioning them, in managing to eliminate annoying air bubbles and also in terms of the protection which they afford. However, this worked like a dream. It was very easy to position the protector on the iPad by working from the position of the cut outs for the camera and control buttons. Given the rigidity of the protector I had no difficulty in fitting it bubble free and neither should you provided you so not let any contaminants come near the sticky surface and you clean the face of your iPad thoroughly.

Once fitted, I would judge the touch screen to be just as reactive as it was before, which is certainly not always the case with protectors. It seems very tough and I would think provides a high degree of protection against accidental damage. Once fitted it was not obvious that it was on. Overall this is a nice quality product and very effective.

I was kindly sent a sample of this in order to test it and write an objective review.

Kyasi Paris Laser/Pen/Stylus Combo - Rubber Tip 3-1 ULTRA stylus -Premium- Red
Kyasi Paris Laser/Pen/Stylus Combo - Rubber Tip 3-1 ULTRA stylus -Premium- Red
Offered by Kyasi Canada
Price: CDN$ 40.25
2 used & new from CDN$ 12.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Designed for Three Functions, Dec 29 2014
This is an attractive item which combines three different functions – a laser pointer, a pen and a stylus suitable for anything with a touch screen. It comes nicely packaged in a black box which also contains the three tiny cell batteries to power the laser. The pen I have is a nice bright red colour, which rather usefully makes it difficult to mislay!

The writing pen is black ink and has a nice smooth flow when writing. The stylus works very well on my iPhone and iPad and is much better than the cheaper pens I usually use for this purpose. The end is microfibre and seems very responsive. Incidentally I found it hard to spot the stylus initially, but to access it you just need to pull the bottom section of the pen firmly and there it is!

I thought the laser was excellent. I tested it indoors over about 30 feet and the red beam showed up clearly in the target area. I have no doubt its range is much further than that. It has kept our cats amused for hours as they chased after the spot.

Overall this is a very well designed pen, which has been well thought through. It performs each of its three functions very adequately and I am pleased to recommend it.

This item was kindly sent to me in order that I could test it and write an objective review.

URBAN ARMOR GEAR Case for iPhone 6 (4.7 Display), Orange
URBAN ARMOR GEAR Case for iPhone 6 (4.7 Display), Orange
Price: CDN$ 32.79
7 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effective, Dec 17 2014
I have seen and tested a number of iPhone cases. Some are rather more cosmetically attractive without being too effective whilst others increase the weight you are carrying around, either due to their battery boosting abilities or just because of their construction. However, this impressive little beast suffers from none of these vices. Constructed from a strong composite material, it weighs in, unbelievably, at just one ounce!

Being moulded, the gaps for the camera, charging point etc are in exactly the right places so as not to impede operation. The screen protector supplied with the case is similarly designed with gaps for the camera and operating button and applies to the screen very easily, again unlike some so called screen protectors I have used. One day Apple are going to start supplying phones with toughened screens, but you see enough with cracked screens at present to understand that this is a real problem currently. However, meantime this case and screen protector will provide adequate protection and the small lip on the case is a useful feature which provides an extra measure of protection for the screen.

Aesthetically this is a very tidy case which looks good as well as protecting your iPhone without significantly adding to it’s bulk. Neither does it intrude on the screen in any way which, again, some other cases do. Overall this a very good iPhone case and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

This was kindly sent to me to test and write an objective review.

iPhone 5 Wallet Case - Holds 9 Cards - Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather - Tan - Quickdraw by Huskk
iPhone 5 Wallet Case - Holds 9 Cards - Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather - Tan - Quickdraw by Huskk
Offered by HUSKK Canada
Price: CDN$ 65.00
2 used & new from CDN$ 65.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Attractive And Effective Premium Case, Dec 17 2014
I have tested a fair few iPhone cases, and in terms of appearance and practicality, many fall short of the ideal. However, I have been really impressed with the Huskk which has no apparent faults and is a really smart design. It is a shell type case which encases the back and sides of the phone. It is made of a hard, rubber type compound and has cutouts for the charging point, camera etc. Hence the problem often encountered with leather cases, where the holes are not in quite the right place, is avoided.

The leather on the back, apart from providing an added layer of protection in case of dropping, looks really attractive. Stated to be made from Italian leather, it looks, feels and, indeed, smells very good. Again this is in contrast to cheaper imitations, many of which are clearly not authentic leather even if claimed to be so. There is a slot in the leather for credit cards or money, but capacity is very limited and I would personally not put more than one or two items in it for fear of stretching the leather.

I have not tried it, but I would imagine this case is effective if dropped as the compound it is made of has a little give in it, which will provide some shock absorption. Ideally I would consider adding a clear cover over the screen to protect against scratching or possible cracking which is something iPhones are rather prone to.

Overall this is a top end case, well thought out which will add a certain something to your iPhone. Certainly not the cheapest, but basically you get what you pay for.

Interlude
Interlude
by Rupert Smith
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from CDN$ 6.60

5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Novel, Dec 6 2014
This review is from: Interlude (Paperback)
Helen, a housewife with two young children, becomes interested in her genealogy. To be specific her paternal grandfather, who her parents have not spoken to for many years, but who has achieved past fame as an acclaimed novelist. Intrigued by the wall of silence and hostility she meets from her parents she sets out to meet Edward Barton and is quickly enrolled as his future archivist.

As Jenny delves deeper into her grandfather's papers she starts to uncover skeletons which make most family's scandals fade into insignificance as secrets emerge covering the preceding three generations, and the revelations get bigger and bigger. She comes to understand just why her parents are so reluctant to talk about their own parents and why they are so distant towards her. Meanwhile Jenny has plenty of drama unfolding in her own life to deal with.

This is an impressive novel and the narrative switches between Jenny in the present day and Edward talking through the medium of his diaries. It certainly seized my interest from the start and does not lose momentum throughout. More than anything else I would say that this was an unconventional but very intense love affair which transcends both the accepted customs and, indeed the laws of the period in which it is set. Highly recommended.

The Other Shakespeare
The Other Shakespeare
Price: CDN$ 4.52

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting and Authentic View of a Woman's Options, Dec 1 2014
This novel purports to take up where Virginia Woolf left off in questioning what would have happened had Shakespeare been born a woman. It focuses on William's older sister, Judith, and her struggles to become accepted as a playwright in the theatre of the Sixteenth Century.

The story begins with her as a child writing plays for her brothers and sisters to perform in the woods during the summer. William is her constant companion and soulmate as they are growing up and as anxious as Judith to perform if not write! Judith has taught herself reading and writing as unlike her brothers she nor her sisters are allowed to go to school.

Sent to service in London, Judith falls in with Leicester's men, a troop of actors who perform in the local theatres. She writes many plays (which the reader will recognise) but the leader of the troop refuses to let her join the players and is disinterested in taking up her plays for performance. Meanwhile back at home the family have gotten into debt, from which her mother has arranged for them to be extracted from by an arranged marriage for Judith.

Judith's future is bleak. Even beloved William appears to think she should give up her ambitions and turn to traditional marriage as the only way forward. The moral seems to be it was tough being a woman with non traditional aspirations in the Sixteenth Century.

The novel is well written and the main characters are well developed - from Judith's pious mother to her lover. It provides an interesting and authentic view of a woman's options in this period and the reaction of one strong and ambitious woman to them. This is a good read if you enjoy historical novels and I would recommend it.

A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014) Paperback
A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014) Paperback
by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Sharing Julia's Journey, Nov. 29 2014
Julia is.a successful patent attorney in New York when she starts hearing voices, well to be more exact, one voice, that of a woman who is constantly questioning her. Initially she does exactly what most Americans would do under similar circumstances which is book an appointment with a psychiatrist. He, naturally, prescribes pills. However, encouraged by her close and non materialistic friend Amy, she then travels to Burma to see her half brother, U Ba in her search for answers.

What follows is Julia's quest to discover her true self as she and U Ba travel around this beautiful country gradually unravelling the mystery of her inner voice. This is a sequel to a previous successful book, set ten years previously. However, I was not aware of this when I started reading and this is very much a standalone story.

This is quite hard book to categorise and I was not at all sure how I really felt about it for quite a while. However, towards the end, as Julia begins to see things clearly, the reader also appreciates how it all fits together. This is not a spiritual book, although there is a fair measure of the Buddhist outlook on life within its pages. This is all about Julia looking at her own life and coming to realise what is really important to her. It is a journey which I appreciated taking with her and which I would recommend to others.

Brothers in Blood: Cato & Macro: Book 13
Brothers in Blood: Cato & Macro: Book 13
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Saga, Nov. 28 2014
This is the latest of Simon Scarrow's tales of the Roman heroes Prefect Cato and Centurion Macro. In this saga they have been sent to Britannia. They, and their much depleted men, including the feared Blood Crows, have the rather ignoble task of guarding the baggage train. In reality they are seeking the spy who has been sent to ensure Emperor Claudius' final conquest of the tribes of Britain does not succeed.

Their task within the Roman army leads them into many tough situations, dealing with Caratacus and the well fortified British tribes. Even once he is defeated Caratacus refuses to give up and escapes to raise the Brigantes, supposedly allies of Rome against the tribes.

Cato begins to smell a rat when the Brigantes' Queen is deposed by a faction of her people. Where did the silver necessary to buy their locality come from? Cato and Macro have to fight hard battles before they can even begin to solve that mystery and hopefully put an end to Claudius's problems-in Britannia at least.

This is a riotous romp and if you have enjoyed the escapades of Cato and Macro in this author's earlier novels I am certain you'll enjoy this latest offering. Even if you are new to Scarrow this is still a very enjoyable stand alone novel but one which I feel sure will send you to seek out more of his excellent writing.

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