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Cymro (North Wales)

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Hell's Angels (Penguin Modern Classics)
Hell's Angels (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Hunter S. Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it then, 19 Aug. 2015
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First read it in my student days. Loved it then, love it now. Well-written.

The Richest Man in Babylon -- Six Laws of Wealth
The Richest Man in Babylon -- Six Laws of Wealth
by Charles Conrad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.97

1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 19 Aug. 2015
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Eight pounds for nineteen pages of claptrap!

Siberian Education [DVD]
Siberian Education [DVD]
Dvd ~ Arnas Fedaravicius
Price: £44.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Film That Just Falls Short, 17 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Siberian Education [DVD] (DVD)
This almost made me want to give it five stars (it's first here) but it wandered too much and eventually drifted to a somewhat unsatisfactory ending. The plus points were big ones - the setting seemed authentic and if it wasn't authentic then it was certainly atmospheric. The acting was sound all around although I was a little unsure of Eleanor Tomlinson's portrayal of the unfortunate Xenya, or maybe it was the character herself who was not too cleverly written in. I find all "coming of age" movies enjoyable for some reason and this one definitely began as one of the best until it steadily lost it's head start. The boys' adventures were enjoyable and the grandfather's homilies and rules were a good line on which to thread the story, despite being delivered in an almost unintelligible accent like almost all the characters' lines. The gradual breakdown in the relationship between the two boys, Kolima and Gagarin was absorbing to watch although many of the other characters did not develop very much. It's a very violent film but the violence is well within context.
All in all, a film which sets a cracking pace and which is generally absorbing and entertaining but which just sort of falls short eventually.

Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe
by Norman Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing the Losers' Story, 24 Dec. 2012
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"History is written by the winners" (attributed to Churchill, quoted by the author).
Norman Davies' purpose, though, is to try to switch our view of European history from this over-worked angle. He points out that "Things are never quite as they seem". Historians, he claims, tend to write history from the perspective of countries still in existence who, by definition, tend to be the winners.
He attributes this in part to his Welsh ancestry and I have to declare my interest here (as if my pen name above is not enough!) as I too get excited by the stories of the forgotten nations, including my own. (We Welsh were never a nation I know but we still have our own history). In fact, the second chapter is about the ancient Welsh/Celtic/British kingdom of Alt Clud which once straddled south-west Scotland and north-west England and, thus, from this close to the beginning, I was hooked.
The author is immmensely knowledgeable and the forty five pages of references at the end are testament to the depth of his research. Don't argue with this guy unless you, too, are a professor in this field! The main criticism from one who does most of his reading at bedtime is that concentration levels have to be maintained at a high level in order to absorb this fascinating but complex group of "lost" histories. There are fifteen chapters which cover European history from the fall of the Roman empire to the fall of the Soviet one. All areas are covered with the lost nations of central and eastern Europe being particularly well represented as the book moves on, allowing the author to comment liberally on the rise and fall of the Muscovite/Russian/Soviet empires.
So much of Europe has been divided almost arbitrarily by the powerful that it is fascinating to see maps and to read about the old nations which were based more perhaps on original ethnic movements and which, beneath the veneer, still exist; how Catalonia-Aragon (Ch.4) with its bullfights for instance, still straddles the eastern borders of France and Spain.
There is a further point to all of this for, as these nations have now disappeared so too, argues the author, will existing nations, even our own. After all, where are the "Big Nations" of Yugoslavia or the USSR now?
Where, in fact, will the United Kingdom be in hundreds of years' time? If you are English you may be perplexed and even unsettled by this prospect. You may even be a little angry; the sun may have set on most of those farflung red areas on the map but surely it will blaze forever over the coast of Pembroke or over the Western Isles? Better read this book through to the very end then. Norman Davies' epilogue, "How states Die", may well be the most intriguing section of the whole work. Read it and re-think the future as well as the past.


Peter And The Wolf [DVD]
Peter And The Wolf [DVD]
Dvd ~ Suzie Templeton
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Atmosphere, 28 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Peter And The Wolf [DVD] (DVD)
The music is familiar. The story is also well-known. It's about a kid who gets out of his garden and meets a wolf, isn't it? It's for young children to learn about the instruments in an orchestra, right? And wasn't it the theme many years ago for a children's TV programme called "Zoo Time"?

Hmmm. It is, I suppose, all of these things but if you are thinking of buying this DVD for your little kids then think again. This film is for you, the adult, or maybe for older kids with an artistic bent or an interest in serious animation.

This DVD is all about the original folk story. It is about atmosphere. There is violence (although nothing like the level of violence described elsewhere as "gratuitous"). There is an unrelentingly bleak background and a steady dripfeeding of fear and struggle. Peter is a lonely boy whose only friends are a duck and an injured bird he has rescued. Their joyful games on the ice beyond the gate offer a brief respite, cut short by the duck's demise in a scene which is definitely not for the very little ones. Peter's sadness and indeed all of his emotions are beautifully portrayed by the animators. In fact, everything is beautifully portrayed from the Russian countryside and the ramshackle house where Peter lives with his grandfather to the ratlike starving wolf and the sinister bully, Peter's other enemy whom Peter eventually captures in the same manner as he captures the wolf.

The music is a treat as expected and the animation works seamlessly with it to create a real masterpiece. If you think animation is all about the Simpsons or Spongebob (and nothing wrong with either of them) then watch this film and see how animation can also be true art. OK, I may be waxing a little lyrical here but spend a tenner (pounds sterling) on this and raise your expectations as to what animation is about. I am not an expert on the genre and if I say that the only other short animation piece that comes close for me would be Raymond Briggs' "The Snowman" then I am sure the cognosceti will sit back and sneer.

Let them. This is a bloody good film. So there.

On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does
On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does
by Simon Garfield
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Good Read from this Author, 13 Nov. 2012
Simon Garfield's "Just My Type" Just My Type: A Book About Fonts was one of my favourite reads of recent times. This one is also good but is possibly a little less consistent than "Just My Type". Maybe it's just a personal thing but some of the middle chapters dealing with British Empire builders (Stanley etc) became a little pedestrian at times.
But, that's the negatives out of the way. The general tenor of the book is entertaining, knowledgeable and often humorous. Of particular interest is the final chapter on mapping the brain. This subject, an interesting variation on the book's standard theme of terrestrial mapping is rich in potential and must surely be under consideration by the author and his publishers as the subject of a complete new work. In essence, this tailpiece is a study of how brain mapping is pushing the boundaries of our understanding how we think and feel. With humorous backward glances at the old pseudo-science of phrenology, Simon Garfield describes how we are exploring the hidden corners of our brains in much the same way as we once explored the unknown corners of planet Earth, by travelling there and by mapping what we find.
There are also excellent chapters on the ancient maps and mapmakers, the creators of the A-Zs and on the mapping of our neighbours in the Solar System although I would have liked to have read more on the stories of the national mappers such as the Ordnance Survey, Michelin and so on.
There is so much more to be said on the whole fascinating subject of mapping and this book can only be a taster, one for the "interested, knowledgeable reader" rather than the professional cartographer. But that is what it is meant to be of course. The bonus would be the inspiration it may give for the "interested reader" to go on to become a professional cartographer. It is certainly capable of doing that.
Buy if you enjoy general knowledge presented in a readable format, and especially if you simply like maps.

The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer [DVD] [1938]
The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer [DVD] [1938]
Dvd ~ Tommy Kelly
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I thought., 2 Jan. 2012
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Bought this for use with my students who have learning difficulties. They were interested in the Mark Twain reference when it came up on Google recently. I could not find anything other than this rather old film that looked like it would have any authenticity. My main worry was the language which I thought would be somewhat stilted for modern students.
I was surprised at how little this bothered them. In fact, I think it opened up a whole new window. For its age it is produced in a surprisingly good colour format (there may be a more technical way of putting that, I'm sure). The stories resonate with any group of youngsters and maybe this is what held their attention.
As a DVD for general viewing I suppose it's age is against it unless films from that era are your interest. I would be unsure of its value for less compliant students than ours but I enjoyed it !

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