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A. R. Schmit "Dutchman" (Cardiff, Wales)
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Witcher 3 Wild Hunt
Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of genius, 10 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Witcher 3 Wild Hunt (Video Game)
I've been playing adventure games since Lords of Midnight on the ZX Spectrum. I've done most of the classics, series including Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Bioshock. Well, this is the best computer game I've ever played.....by a country mile! First of all, the story is compelling, enhanced as well by the best voice acting I've seen - not only the main characters, but even the NPCs that only have a line or two in the whole game. The game makes you care about the characters, and they're real and complex, not game stereotypes. Geralt himself is a truly believable character, and the sorceress Yennefer gets my vote as the best game character I've ever encountered. But there are many more in this game that would be contenders. Then there's the world, which is stunningly beautiful...and absolutely huge! How many games do you stop playing for a few minutes just to watch a sunset? It's also a complex, living world. I spent an hour in the city of Novigrad ignoring all quests and just having a look round, listening to conversations and seeing what people were doing. The main story is compelling but many reviewers have pointed out the quality of the side quests, which are always so much more than 'go there, collect that' or go there, kill that'. The choice you have to make throughout are not simply 'good choice' or 'evil choice', they are complex and often difficult, and may have later unforeseen consequences. All of this makes the world seem incredibly real. The soundtrack is great. too, particularly in the Isles of Skellige. This game gets just about everything right. It's had its fair share of bugs (but regular updates have corrected them) but I don't care - I would only care if one prevented me playing the game entirely, as I'd suffer withdrawal symptoms. I've completed the game but I still go back to do other side quests and just experience the world, it's that good. Oh yes,and then there's the in game card game,Gwent. Most of these types of games I just find irritating, but this is addictive in itself and, like everything else, it has some purpose, as a couple of quests have it as a central pillar. When you look at the press reviews of this game, they nearly all rave - I've yet to see any review which has any major criticism. Nothing in life is flawless, but as computer games go this comes pretty close.


Origins: The Art of John Jude Palencar
Origins: The Art of John Jude Palencar
by John Jude Palencar
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful..., 16 July 2014
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It's a bit tricky writing a review of an art book, as art is such a matter of personal taste.One thing that is important is the quality of the materials, and this book is of good quality with decent sized reproductions. After that, it's about the art itself. The book is, after all, nearly all pictures.I think John Jude Palancar is a wonderful artist and there's no way I can give this anything other than 5 stars. Have a look at his work on the internet, and, if you like it, get this book - you will love it. If it's not your cup of tea, then steer clear. One minor quibble I have is that the text is mostly a biography of the artist, which is fine, but I would really have liked some information on his painting technique - his pictures have a very 'textural' quality and how he achieves this with acrylics is a miystery. Nevertheless, that's a monor issue. Every single picture here is a wonder, and this is my favourite art book of quite a number that I have.


Sandman The Dream Hunters SC
Sandman The Dream Hunters SC
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A delight, 19 Dec. 2013
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I bought this because I love the art of Yoshitaka Amano. However, the story is captivating - a sort of modern fairy tale, well-written and emotive. This book tends to be classed as a 'graphic novel' but the style is nothing like a comic - it is simply a story with a lot of illustrations. Neil Gaiman is an established writer (he wrote the stories on which the hit films 'Stardust' and 'Coraline' were based) and this book was well received by critics. I'm not entirely sure what my expectations were for this, but they were certainly exceeded - I have now bought two more copies of the book to give to friends.
One word of warning, though. There is a 2010 reprint which is comic book style and is illustrated bt P.Craig Russell. With all due respect to his work, I don't feel the artwork compares with that of Amano in this edition (from 2007), and I prefer continous narrative to the comic style. Others may disagree, but it's important to check which version you are buying.


Worlds of Amano
Worlds of Amano
Price: £17.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing artwork, 14 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Worlds of Amano (Kindle Edition)
Reviewing aty books is a bit tricky - there is so much personal taste involved. If you like the work of Yoshitaka Amano, you will love this. He's a bit like a Japanese version of Arthur Rackham, and the artwork has a fantasy theme. Some of his published work is quite 'sketchy' but the works in this book are intricate, detailed and beautiful. Considering the hardback version of this book goes for over £100, the Kindle proce is an absolute bargain. If you like (or think you might like) this style of art, this is very highly recommended.


Doctor Who - Series 3 Vol. 3 [DVD]
Doctor Who - Series 3 Vol. 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Offered by Gifts R US
Price: £3.18

5.0 out of 5 stars The one to buy, 14 Jan. 2013
Since it returned to TV with Christopher Eccleston, Dr. Who has been one of the most consistently entertaining series on any channel. Occasionally, there's a dud (originality is always a risk) but at regular intervals there are episodes that are works of genius. Normally, if a DVD has 3 episodes on it, you can guarantee that at least two out of the 3 will be of a very high standard. I don't buy all the DVDs - I tend to pick ones where I know that at least one episode is outstanding. I bought this one because of 'Blink' which many people (including me) think is the best episode ever.This is more horror than sci-fi. Never mind Dr.Who, I think this is one of the finest pieces of TV drama I have seen. The concept of the 'Weeping Angels' (which surely everyone knows about, now) is sheer brilliance. David Tennant does not feature much, but if you're going to hand over an episode to someone else, Carey Mulligan is not a bad choice!
Although 'Blink' is a wonder, the two-parter Human Nature/Family of Blood runs it close. Again, the genre swings more towards horror than sci-fi. A good plot, superbly acted, the episode is deep and emotional. Dr.Who has wonderful comedy touches, but I think it is at its best when it moves towards the dark side, and at its weakest when it goes too far down the comedy, 'whacky' route. These 3 episodes are really dark, so much so that they may make unsuitable viewing for young children. I cannot think of any DVD in my film and TV collection that provides more entertainment. If you love Dr.Who, then you must already have it. If Dr.Who has never appealed to you, this is the DVD that will surely convert you.


Sherlock - Series 2 [DVD]
Sherlock - Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 6 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Sherlock - Series 2 [DVD] (DVD)
I saw both series of Sherlock on TV and found them compulsive viewing. I didn't really like the idea of bringing Sherlock Holmes into the present day, but once I saw one episode I was hooked. I didn't get the DVD of series 1 for quite a while, but saw it at a bargain price and got it. I watched it though in two sittings and after watching the first two episodes I immediately went on Amazon to order series 2. It didn't disappoint (I knew it wouldn't, as I'd already seen it on TV). Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are just superb as Holmes and Watson, and Andrew Scott as Moriarty is one of the best villains of all time. The plots and dialogue are clever but there is also a wonderful strand of humour running through each episode. One of the most entertaining TV programmes I've ever seen and one I'll watch over and over again.


Dragon's Dogma (Xbox 360)
Dragon's Dogma (Xbox 360)
Offered by StockHut™UK
Price: £9.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure why I love it, but i do..., 22 Jun. 2012
The trailers for this looked really good, so I bought it expecting a Skyrim-like experience. For the first few hours of gameplay, I thought I might grow to hate it. The story didn't progress, the characters made inane comments in some sort of medieval English, and you seemed to take ages to get from A to B. The pawns that accompanied you had no character or personality. If you got killed or failed a mission and wanted to re-start, you often got taken back a long way and had to walk miles to get back to where you were. The world was beautiful, though. I persisted for a while because I'd just spent nearly forty quid on it, and gradually I came to love it. I'm still not sure why, though. The story still hasn't moved on much, I can move about a little quicker if I spend large amounts of money on 'ferrystones'and the missions still seem mostly to consist of 'get from A to B and kill stuff on the way'. Verbally, the pawns are still annoying, but I've dressed and equipped my main pawn and I'm starting to feel attached to her, and regularly changing my other two companions for pawns created by others is strangely satisfying. And the world is still beautiful. And the combat is really good. The enemies you have to fight are sometimes spectacular, and the level of difficulty and complexity is just right, so that there is always a challenge and different ways to meet it. It's no Skyrim but it's strangely compulsive, possibly because you can change it over and over again - you can change your pawns, your equipment, your class, your main pawn's class and so on. It's far from faultless, but it's still great fun.


Sepulchre
Sepulchre
by Kate Mosse
Edition: Audio CD

3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's better if you read it yourself, 17 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Sepulchre (Audio CD)
I bought the audio CD of Sepulchre to play in the car as I travelled on a long journey across the UK. The story is OK, and I did find myself at one point sitting in my car in a car park waiting to see what was about to happen. I have read Labyrinth and I don't think this is as good, but it's entertaining nevertheless. The problem with the CD is Lorelei King. She has a VERY strong American accent, which really grates after a while. What's more she is inclined to go into an over-the-top and rather streotypical French accent whenever she encounters a French WORD, let alone dialogue spoken by a French character! Nearly all the characters in the story are French, with a couple of Englishmen and just ONE American. It would seem much more appropriate to have a French person reading the book, as they would have a much more natural French accent. So, the book I would consider recommending to a friend, but not really the CD.


Mixed Media Mosaics: Techniques & Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles Beads & Other Embellishments: Techniques and Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles, Beads and Other Embellishments
Mixed Media Mosaics: Techniques & Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles Beads & Other Embellishments: Techniques and Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles, Beads and Other Embellishments
by Laurie Mika
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful but niche, 14 Mar. 2011
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Personally, I think this is a wonderful book. Lauri Mika produces artwork, jewellery and boxes using polymer clay, and they are beautiful. The techniques she uses are well explained and clearly illustrated, and it really makes you want to get up and start creating. So, why not 5 stars? That's a good question, really, because my instinctive reaction was to give this 5 stars. However, it needs to be made clear that the sort of artwork Lauri Mika creates is actually quite unusual. If you want to create mosaics using polymer clay, then this is absolutely the book for you and you will not be disappointed in any way. But it's probably not for everyone. Have a look at the work on the cover. If that really stirs you and you would love to be able to make something like that, then buy this book! There is one minor criticism. The techniques are very 'hands-on', i.e. how to produce the tiles, with examples, but not really principles, of how to put them together. The author's composition and use of colour are excellent, but she doesn't actually explain this at all. Just put together a collection of tiles you have made in any old order and the results probably won't look as good as hers! The colours she uses in a piece are of different hues and values, yet they integrate together really well. That requires an eye for such things, and the book does not explain this. But to some extent this is nit-picking. If you're prompted to buy this book, then I'm absolutely sure you'll enjoy it.


Key to Drawing with Imagination
Key to Drawing with Imagination
by Bert Dodson
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: £19.98

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of genius, 7 Jan. 2011
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I receieved this book today, and I've just sat down with a cup of coffee for half and hour and browsed through it, and I just have to write a review. I have a load of books on art technique, and this is completely different from any art book I've ever seen. It doesn't really deal with HOW to draw, more about WHAT to draw, and in ways that will create true art. It is inspirational, because it shows you how to inspire yourself. The whole of the first chapter is devoted to doodling - giving ideas as to how you could develop simple doodling into a work of art. I've never seen doodling in an art technique book before! The suggestions look great fun, and this sense of fun runs through the whole book. It inspires you to create your own individual style but gives you lots of ideas to stimulate that creation. If you want a 'drawing techniques' book, this isn't it - but there are hundreds of books out there that deal with basic techniques. I think the concept of this book is a work of genius, it's unique and exciting. Now, Mr.Dodson is a professional artist, and other artists are also featured in the book. They clearly have a lot of technical skill and if you try some of the more complex ideas suggested, your results may well not be quite as good as the examples shown. But, even so, I bet you'll enjoy the process of doing them! For those seeking inspiration to draw, I cannot recommend this book enough.


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