Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher)

Being a fan of The Witcher game series I decided to give the stories, written by Andrzej Sapkowski, a try, and I can say right from the start that I wasn’t dissapointed. The book contains a series of short stories, following our main character, Geralt of Rivia. There’s a main story in the background, that gradually unfolds, but this is really focused on the short stories, and they are all entertaining.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Witcher series, it follows Geralt who is a Witcher, a monster slayer who travels the country slaying bizzarre and interesting creatures. Witchers are taken from a young age and mutated, giving them supernatural abilities which aid them in their job.

If you’ve played the games, then you’ll be used to Geralt’s personality, and this is one thing that absolutely shines throughout the book. There were moments that had me laughing out loud, and other moments where I really found myself feeling sorry for our protagonist. Throughout the short stories I found Geralt becoming more and more likable, to the point of rocketing to one of my top favorite characters from any book!

He’s no longer disillusioned with grand ideas of being a hero and that theme is captured fantastically well throughout.

If there’s one blemish on this otherwise fantastic read, it’s that the writing occasionally feels a little odd. I’m not sure if it’s just the style, or the fact that this is a translation, but I couldn’t help but find myself having to re-read parts, correcting them in my head as I read. It’s not a huge issue as it doesn’t crop up much, but there are a few niggling little abnormalities that crop up.

After reading this I can say with absolute certainty that I’ll be checking out the next book. I didn’t really expect much, but I can certainly see where the games get their fantastic story telling moments from. If you’re a fan of The Witcher series, or just fantasy books in general, this is definitely worth giving a go. I absolutely loved it from start to finish!

Review: Snugg Surface Pro 3 Case

I picked this up after getting my Surface Pro 3 and I’m glad that I did. The case looks and feels great and offers enough room to fit the Surface with all of its accessories attached (keyboard and Surface Pen)

At first I was concerned that the case wouldn’t fit right considering it was advertised as having room for the Surface and its keyboard. However its a great fit, not overly large like some other cases I tired. This was made for the Surface, not just a generic case that fits everything ‘around’ that size.

There’s a second pouch on the back of the case for slotting papers or other slim devices in and on the front there’s a business/credit card sized slot.

The case is basic, but looks great and feels fantastic.

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Review: Surface Pro 3 Type Cover

So, this is one of those essential accessories that Microsoft Surface users will want with their shiny tablet/laptop hybrid. It’s advertised as being a must have, something that transforms your tablet from just being a tablet, into a fantastic portable laptop. The question is how well does it do that?

I’m in two minds about this keyboard. On the one hand, it is a must have, there’s no denying this, but it’s not a great keyboard and it’s definitely not good value for money. The form factor and design is spot on, and the ease in which it attaches and detaches from the Surface makes switching between tablet and laptop an absolute breeze.

The keyboard is thin and flimsy though, it flexes far too much which can make lengthy typing a pain. The key spacing is also a little odd, with there being no real gaps between keys which will lead to a fair few duplicate key presses.

I love the fact that you can either lay the keyboard flat, or, by using the magnet it can clip against the Surface’s lower screen so that it sits at a slight angle. This makes typing easier, but unfortunately the dreaded flexing kicks in.

It was also a nicer design choice to allow users to decide if they want to clip the Surface pen to the keyboard or not. In the box you’ll find a pen loop which has a peel off stick tab. You can then decide if, and where you want to attach the loop and store your pen. This is good if you don’t want to use the Surface pen as it means you won’t have a random loop attached to your keyboard. However the loop has dropped off a few times now.

One thing that is very hit and miss is the trackpad. Now you could forgive Microsoft, considering this is attached to a touchscreen device, but a good trackpad makes all the difference. Unfortunately this isn’t a good trackpad. It’s ok, but it seems intermittent. Sensitivity seems all over the place, responsiveness isn’t spot on, and within a few days the finish around the trackpad had started to wear down.

Speaking of finish, I love the cyan! I also really like the feel of the keyboard, but the material does get dirty and worn down very quickly. I’m not convinced that this will last very long which is very disappointing.

So is the keyboard worth it? Well, yes and no. If you have a Surface Pro 3 then you will probably find yourself benefiting from this accessory. Just be aware, it’s not good value for money and it’s not really very good, with far too many flaws. Fingers crossed Microsoft will bring us a better keyboard dock style accessory later down the line. For now, this is what we are left with.

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Review: Kinps®20000mAh High Capacity Fast Portable Charger

This is an absolute beast of a portable charger, there’s no getting around that. The first thing that struck me was just how heavy this thing is, especially in comparison to other batteries I have reviewed that offer a similar or larger capacity.

Once I got over the weight, I was able to see all of the good points this battery offers. It is sleek, and not overly large considering the capacity. Three USB ports allow for charging of multiple gadgets on the go, and charge times are fast.

Charging the device up requires a micro USB charger (the cable is included in the box) Also included in the box is a little carrying bag which is soft and can be used for cleaning the device. It’s worth noting that this battery has a glossy finish and will attract finger prints, so using the case as a cleaning cloth is a must.

With such a large capacity I was able to keep both my phone and tablet charged on the go. I received multiple full charges and was more than impressed by how long this device lasted. It will definitely come in handy for those on the go and who won’t have access to a mains charger for lengthy times.

For the price you cannot go wrong with this portable charger. It’s heavier than others I’ve tested but it’s also cheaper. When it came to actual functionality this battery performed as well as other more expensive portable chargers, so I would definitely recommend this device.

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News: Amazon Prime Music UK

Are you an Amazon Prime subscriber or thinking of becoming one? Well good news if you are as Amazon has just launched its music streaming service in the UK!

Subscribers get access to unlimited access to over a million songs, all of this ad free. Not bad when you consider the other benefits users get by being a Prime subscriber which include:

  • Watch over 15,000 movies and TV episodes with unlimited instant streaming.
  • Borrow one of over 500,000 titles per month for free on any Kindle device with no due dates.
  • Unlimited One-Day Delivery on millions of eligible items.
  • Get unlimited, FREE One-Day Delivery on millions of items
  • Unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive.

Check it out: Amazon Prime Music

Review: DBPOWER HD 720p Wireless Endoscope 8.5mm 2 Megapixels

Now here’s something I never thought I’d own. When I received this item to begin my review I couldn’t really think what to do with it, but after putting my mind to it I came up with all sorts. The first thing was to locate my stylus that I lost down the side of my leather arm chair. I’d been hopelessly searching for the stylus for a while, but I wasn’t really sure where it had gone. Now armed with my new toy I was able to locate the missing stylus and finally retrieve it! Score one for my new endoscope.

Upon opening the box up you’re greeted by something that looks like it’s jumped straight out of Half Life. The orange and black design looks pretty good and the plastic finish actually feels nice and is easy to hold. In the box you’ll find the unit itself, software for use on a PC, a carrying case, and clips to hold your mobile device in place. Please note there are no batteries included which can be a pain if you don’t have any around the house, so make sure you grab some when you order this, you will need 4x AA.

Putting the unit together is easy and I was surprised that the holster to fasten a mobile device to the unit could house even my Nexus 6, which is a massive 6 inch screen. So any of you out there who have moved over to large screened phones won’t have to worry about size being an issue!

Once it is all up and running you will need to visit the App Store or Play Store, depending on whether you use Android or iOS. Download the WiFi Endoscope App and you’re away and ready to play. The app is easy and simple to use and gives you the option of recording video and taking photos, saving these to the mobile device which can come in handy later. This is not just a view, but lets you save the video for later use!

Quality wise, the images look good and with the added torch function on the endoscope you don’t really have to worry about low light. The camera is also waterproof (although the units body is not) which comes in handy if you’re exploring drains etc.

So is this worth while? Depends if you need it I guess. I personally didn’t think I would, but once I got my hands on the device I found plenty of uses for it. If you are after something like this, then you can;t go wrong here. The quality is great and the ease of use is fantastic. Worth checking out!

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Review: 1byone® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

I was sent this product to offer an unbiased review and I was pretty excited to see how this keyboard and trackpad combination performed. I’ve been keeping my eye out for this sort of product for a little while now to combine with my Nvidia Shield Tablet so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review this product. So, did it live up to what I was hoping for?

The Good

  • Stylish and slim
  • Keys feel good with no skipped presses
  • Micro USB charging
  • Good battery
  • Function keys for Android and Windows
The Bad
  • No grip for the bottom
  • A little too slim, flexes when typing
  • Trackpad sometimes stops working for a few seconds

The keyboard is very easy to pair with your device, literally hold the function key and the C key and then search for the keyboard in the bluetooth settings on the device you wish to pair with. Within only a couple of minutes of unwrapping the keyboard I was paired and ready to play.

It’s comfortable to use, with keys that feel great to type on. They offer a good click and are adequately spaced unlike some portable keyboards that have a plushy and cramped feel to them. My only criticism of typing on this product is that due to the keyboard being so slim it does seem to flex a little when in use.

Moving onto the trackpad is a slightly mixed bag. On the one hand it works straight off the bat with Android and offers something closer to a laptop experience on your tablet. The trackpad is large enough to use for browsing, but it does feel a little cramped, but I suppose that’s to be expected. The one thing that really let the mouse side of things down was its tendency to either lag or just disappear entirely for a few seconds. However, it performed well enough that I didn’t need to carry a portable mouse around with me.

The design of the device is great. It’s slim, lightweight, and the keys fill up pretty much all the space on the device, giving the user a great typing experience. However, the biggest flaw with this product is in the design. It has four rubber nubs on the top, obviously to help protect your tablet screen if its faced down while in your bag, however it doesn’t have the same nubs on the bottom. It does have four, very tiny and recessed slivers of rubber in each corner on the bottom.

The issue with this design flaw… Well if you type on a smooth surface it causes the keyboard to go sliding all over the place. In the end I had to seek out some form of rubber to stick on the bottom of it because out of the because the keyboard was just too slippery to use on a smooth surface. It’ not the end of the world, but it does require some additions in order to be usable.

So in conclusion this is a pretty good keyboard, especially at the price range. Are there better keyboards out there? Of course there are, but you’ll be paying extra for that. If you’re after something to combine with your tablet for some on the go use without paying a premium then this is going to cover everything you need.

Yes it has its flaws, but for the price being asked you can’t go wrong.

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ATH: Webisodes Incoming

While everyone is being patient and waiting for the second book in the A Thousand Hearts series I’ve decided to fill in some of the gaps with a weekly ‘Webisode’. Basically these will be short snippets that take place between book one and two. Hopefully these will satisfy peoples hunger as I finish off the second book.

Speaking of the second book, things are coming along well. I’m going to get a deadline sorted and I’ll post the update once I have a date. Look forward to sharing the first glimpses of the story with you all this coming Friday!

Review: TaoTronics® Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Stereo Headset Earphone

The TaoTronics Bluetooth headphones are pretty impressive, especially when you consider the relatively low price. I used mine while on the rowing machine and also jogging and found that they stayed in my ears despite the movement. They are very small and compact and the wire isn’t long which really helps to prevent them from getting tangled.

When i first opened the headphones up I was dubious of the design. They are small and the only thing in place to keep them in your ears is a small rubber hook that fastens snuggly inside of your earlobe. My first impression was that they would slip out of my ears the moment I started to do anything, leaving me wishing that there was a clip to go around my ears, however, as mentioned above, they never slipped out of place during exercise.

The other thing that left me dubious at first was the small rectangular control box on the right earphone. It has volume controls, play and pause controls, microphone, and also a charging port. At first I thought the box would add too much weight to the right earphone, causing it to pop out of my ear, but somehow it remained fixed in place.

They are small, compact, and stylish, never slipping out of place making them very well designed for sports and exercise. The question is how do they sound?

Well the quality is pretty good, beating my Apple earpods which will hopefully give you some idea of the quality. At their loudest volume the earphones didn’t lose quality and my only complaint is that the bass isn’t great. However both music and voice quality is spot on and I really can’t complain.

Would I recommend these headphones? Definitely! For anyone who is after light weight and compact sports headphones that also offer good sound quality these are worth checking out. Despite my first impressions and fears, these headphones performed beyond my expectations which was a pleasant surprise.

Please note I was sent this product to test and offer an unbiased review.

 

 

Second Chance Available Today

Morning all! Well today is the launch day for my short story Second Chance. It was originally a nanowrimo project that I’ve worked on and takes a different path to my normal writing, focusing on a supernatural romance genre. The blurb is below and if you like the sound of it then give it a read.

After her near death experience, Hannah’s life will never be the same. She is the only one who can see James, the man who saved her from certain death with his own life. 

Unsure if she is losing her mind, Hannah sets out with James to discover the truth, seeking to understand why he hasn’t moved on. However, something is coming for him, or so they think. 

In what soon becomes a race against time, Hannah finds herself desperately searching for a way to help James, reluctantly falling for him with each passing day, even though she knows it can never be… 

Grab it at:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MX7O3L0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MX7O3L0

Second Chance Banner.001

Omaker Brilliant 10000mAh

This is a great portable battery, offering plenty of backup charge. There’s plenty of juice for all of your gadgets and the two USB ports really help this battery to stand out a little from the competition, offering the ability to charge multiple gadgets on the go.

I used this with my iPad and iPhone and had no issues at all charging either. The charge times were fantastic, offering a very speedy recharge time.

There’s a handy wave like LED battery indicator that shows off how much charge is left in the battery, helping to prevent you from getting caught out. The micro USB port for charging the battery is a welcome addition meaning that you won’t need to seek out different cables.

Now for a bit of an odd feature that I never expected to find on a portable battery is the torch. It’s not on the top of my ‘must have’ features, but I must admit it comes in handy for those odd occasions and it is a very bright torch.

The device itself is relatively light weight and feels nice to hold. It has a matte finish, helping to prevent finger prints and also stopping it from sliding out of your grip.

All in all this is a fantastic portable battery. The two USB ports and the torch help it to stand out and when combined with the large capacity you can’t really go wrong!

Please note I was sent this product to test and offer an unbiased review on.

 

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The Remaining: Aftermath Review

Book Title: The Remaining: Aftermath

Author: D. J. Molles

Introduction

After reading the first book in the series I was pretty much hooked, desperately needing to crack on with the next book. As soon as I finished with the first, I downloaded Aftermath onto my Kindle and got reading, enjoying the changes that have been made in the second book.

Style

The style is very similar to the first book, descriptive and following the point of view of our main character, Captain Lee Harden. What I really enjoyed about the second book is that it covers a wider group of characters and really begins to flesh out the world while keeping the suspense and fantastic story telling alive from the first.

Characters

I briefly touched on this above, but there are a lot more characters in the second book, rather than having a singular focus on just one and a few extras. I felt that this really helped to develop the story with the addition of some interesting secondary characters. In the second book we now have a villain, a whole new group of survivors and a fantastic post apocalyptic world for them to explore.

The one thing that I did find disappointing about some of the characters was that there were some clear ‘going to die’ ones, the same as you get in a horror movie, their only purpose is being hollow and getting eaten by the monsters. They are few and far between, but when they show up they remain true to their genre.

Plot

So the last book ends with Captain Lee Harden discovering Camp Ryder and the next has him setting off on a journey with a small group to prove he can be trusted. Th plot is simple but effective, developing as the characters set off on their journey. What I really enjoyed is that Captain Lee Harden is now exploring an established area of survivors, figuring things out as he goes. The introduction of our villain, Milo, also really helps to mix things up a bit.

Conclusion

All in all this is a good book. I enjoyed it, not as much as the first, but still more than most novels of this genre. If you’ve read the first, then you wont be disappointed by what Aftermath has to offer, so check it out and see for yourself!

Free eBook on Amazon Day 2

Well it’s the second day of my free promotion running on Amazon and so far things are going well. Seems to be plenty of people out there who like the look of my book.

Yesterday I almost made it into the top 1000 on Amazon which is a nice start. Today I’m hoping to break into that top 1000, so please share this post and let’s sky rocket the book up there 🙂


Thanks for your help, and if you haven’t picked up a free copy yet, then get downloading.

Free eBook on Amazon!

I’ve recently opted in to Amazon’s KDP Select programme and this weekend is the first promotion! So what does that mean for everyone? Well it means you can grab yourselves a copy of my first novel, A Thousand Hearts – Rebirth, absolutely free of charge! The promotion will last until tomorrow evening so spread the word. Would love to power through the Amazon rankings this weekend.

Hope you all enjoy!


Check out the blurb below:

For some, death is the end. For others, such as Michael Nolan, death is only the beginning. Reborn into a world unlike any he could have dreamed of, Michael is thrust into The Guild—an elite squadron of supernatural beings. They are the guardians of the modern world and the only thing standing between peace and chaos.

Struggling to come to terms with the loss of his previous life, and to understand his new powers, Michael is forced to adapt quickly when The Guild is betrayed and comes under attack from within.

With time against them, Michael and his allies set out to discover the identity of the traitor before The Guild is destroyed and the world is left unprotected. However, when the one person Michael loves becomes a target, he is left with a difficult decision…

Should he defend the woman he loves or stand by his allies?

A Thousand Hearts Competition

With a recent little push from Amazon, A Thousand Hearts – Rebirth, has begun climbing in sales once again. So I decided to support Amazon’s efforts by running a promotion/competition myself. The more shares, and visibility we can get the better!

For anyone who shares or helps spread the word your name will be entered into a prize draw. The winner in the UK will receive a signed copy of my book, A Thousand Hearts – Rebirth, and the winner outside of the UK will win a free copy in eBook format.

I’ll be running this campaign over the weekend, drawing it to a close and announcing the winners on Monday 19th. So to be in with a chance to win, just share, reblog or repost this message and let’s get as much interaction as possible.

Thank you so far to everyone who has supported my first book launch, this weekend I’m really driving to get the book into the top sellers league!

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JOPR68G
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JOPR68G
Paperback – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebirth-1-A-Thousand-Hearts/dp/1497411483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400138623&sr=8-1&keywords=shaun+dowdall

Rebirth – Where to buy

So my first novel has been out for a little while and it is beginning to hit new store shelves, both virtual and physical so I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of where you can pick up my book!

eBook Format

Amazon USUK
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Apple iBooks
Google Play

Paperback

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Amazon TV Fire

The new Amazon TV Fire is an intriguing bit of kit. It’s a set top box, but a pretty powerful one, one that represents Amazons first step into gaming.

Alongside the TV Fire, Amazon also announced a controller to go along side their device, and also a new in house games development studio. They’ve had some top talent from within the gaming industry joining their team and this could spell the start of something very interesting.

For me it’s not the media capabilities that interest me, but the fact that a large brand such as Amazon has put their money behind a product that will act as a mini Android gaming console. The media stuff has been done before, and in fairness so has the gaming, but with the resources Amazon have available this could be the beginning of something very interesting.