Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Perhaps I didn’t enjoy this book as much as recent reads because I read it on my Kindle (using my eyes!) as opposed to listening to the audiobook. A slowish start that picked up pace towards the end. I found it a little dated, think of it as the reading equivalent to watching old episodes of Star Trek or Lost in Space. Good idea for a plot although the ending came very quickly (in fact it finished when my Kindle said 93%)

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Outlook Premium mail service from Microsoft – first impressions

A while ago I heard that Microsoft was looking to bring custom domains to Outlook, understandable as trying to pick an email address if you have a common name is a bit of a nightmare (I was lucky I beat another Rob Butler to mine but it didn’t stop him trying to open dating accounts etc using my email address, but I digress…)

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I received an invitation from Microsoft to sign up for their Outlook premium service.   The price will be $3.99 a month (unless you have an Office 365 subscription) which is comparable to professional email hosting services – although the support and service isn’t comparable in the least (more later)

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I clicked on the link and setting up seemed to get off to a good start.  Microsoft has partnered up with GoDaddy to give you a free domain (no option to transfer in) but this is only provided for the first year then you seem to be on your own. This didn’t bother me as I chose to bring over my own email address currently hosted on Google Apps (free).

The setup talks you through the settings you need to change (although not how to do them – fortunately I know how to change my DNS/MX entries) to get the service up and running.  So far so good.

Once you have verified your domain you are asked to pick a single email address that you will use.  Don’t transfer over any domains if you use multiple addresses before the @ – you’ll lose them.  Also don’t let Microsoft register a domain if you want to use it for more than just email as this doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment either.

I chose my address and was told it was available – a relief as I can’t change what goes before the @ sign as I’ve been using this email address for years now.  This is where it started to go wrong.  When I try to complete setup I’m told helpfully that something has gone wrong and to try again.  There is no indication if this is my problem or Microsoft’s – and no-one to turn to for help (other than an online forum manned by enthusiasts)op3

This is where I’ve left the service.  There is now no option to go back and use a different custom domain with my outlook.com address and nobody to turn to for support so I’m stuck.  This doesn’t feel like a pilot programme to me but a very early alpha.

The premise might be good for someone who already has an Office 365 account so is getting a little extra value from their subscription, but it is a long way from competing with professional hosting companies who charge a similar amount for a vastly superior service.

I’ll post an update if I ever get this working, in the meantime I’ve reverted my settings so that my mail goes to the excellent (and well supported) Google Apps.

Review: Blake's 7: Lucifer: Revelation

Blake's 7: Lucifer: Revelation
Blake’s 7: Lucifer: Revelation by Paul Darrow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was bought this book (and the first in the series) as a gift being a long time fan of Blake’s 7. I thought it would be interesting to know what happened after the series ended.

To be honest this isn’t the best of books. The pace of the book is extremely quick with very little time given to character development or the subtleties of telling a story. The story just goes bang bang bang through the plot, written like an essay by a school pupil.

I also found much of the plot unbelievable (if you can find Sci-fi unbelieveable) as everything is fixed with a bit of stealth mode and Orac’s vastly improved superpowers. Orac is no longer in character with the rude arrogant Orac we know from the TV series and Avon has lost the hidden humanity he displayed in the TV series.

Disappointing – on the basis of this book I won’t be getting the last in the series…

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Review: End of Watch

End of Watch
End of Watch by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A return to form and writing from Stephen King that we’ve come to expect. I enjoyed the first two books in the series (King is an excellent story teller) but both books were setting the scene for this book. As I always say for his books, King is an excellent story teller and he builds detailed and believable characters.

As the book unfolds you wonder how our modern world can make sense of a serial killer that kills by entering your mind and talking you into committing suicide. I thought I knew how the book would end, and despite changing my mind several times as I was reading the book I was wrong about the ending.

What more can I say about the book – it’s a Stephen King and this time he got the ending right.

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Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Somehow I’d managed to get into my forties without having read this book or even to have much of an idea of what it was about. I’d escaped it as a set text and it was only a special offer on Audible that made me look again.

So what did I think of the book? I have to say I loved it – I’m soppy, I’m sentimental and I have a strong sense of right/wrong and these are strong themes in the book. I loved the characters (even the names of the characters) and I thought the story telling was excellent. Having read the book I can see why it has been put in front of so many GCSE students.

All I can suggest is that you read the book for yourself and see what you have been missing 🙂

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Review: Good Girls Don't Die

Good Girls Don't Die
Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As with most of the books I consume I listened to this on Audible and apart from a few dodgy accents, the quality of the narration was very good.

The story was very engaging with realistic characters and a story line that drew me in and kept me listening. As with the best story telling, the author adds back story to the main character that makes her seem more believable and which is threaded in to the story line throughout the novel.

The author puts you in the mind of the detective as she follows up on leads and tracks the suspects. The novel is written from a female viewpoint (fortunately the lead character is female) but doesn’t have an overly feminist agenda so this shouldn’t put off male readers. Little details are pointed out and there are plot twists and turns as the book progresses, although many of these are predictable because you know you are only half way through the book!

I’m a suspicious character by nature so I’d suspected the serial killer but then again over the course of the book I’d suspected several of the characters as many had a motive for killing young women. There are enough twists and turns to keep the story moving and the book doesn’t feel drawn out or too long.

I found out that there is a sequel to this book and it impressed me enough to want to read it! That’s why I gave this book 5 stars 🙂

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Review: Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this story on audiobook so I could listen to it on my way to and from work. The quality of narration is excellent and on a par with other Stephen King audiobooks I’ve listened to.

The story is cleverly written to link into the previous novel in the series being a direct sequel. If you hadn’t read the previous book you wouldn’t be at a huge disadvantage reading this one as King fills in the gaps and brings you quickly up to speed.

The story starts in the past and flicks between past and present as it sets the scene for the story and introduces the characters. Gradually the plot picks up steam and the pace starts to increase, and it isn’t until more than half way through the book that the link to the previous book in the series becomes clear and the characters meet.

I enjoyed this book but there isn’t a lot to it compared to some of King’s other novels and once again the ending is a bit of an anti-climax. I’d still recommend this book to others but I hope that King’s next book has a little more of the supernatural in and a better ending 🙂

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