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LJG Carson (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

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Of Mice and Men (Penguin Modern Classics)
Of Mice and Men (Penguin Modern Classics)
by John Steinbeck
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Of Mice and Men" - one of the great American classics, 31 May 2005
"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, possibly his most recognised novel, was published in 1939 and has delighted adults and school children alike right up to the present day. Proving popular in schools, it has been a novel on the GCSE exam board for years, the reason being that this novel has a lot of controversy and surprising depth.
George Milton, small and resourceful, and Lennie Small, large and simple-minded, are two men with an unlikely friendship. They arrive at a working ranch near the town of Soledad in the hope that their lives may move on since the events that forced them to flee their hometown of Weed. But trouble is never far behind. The friendship hangs in the balance and George must decide how long the pair can keep running.
School pupils who are reading this novel for GCSE should count themselves lucky. This is simply a fantastic novel.
Each page is rich in symbolism ad recurring themes of dreams and loneliness. The fact that this novel was written in times of great prejudice and that racism was almost an instinct then is reflected in Steinbeck's writing very clearly in everything the characters say and do. The story harbours many fascinating and unique characters, each with a story to tell and it is these people that really bring the story to life.
As the title of this review suggests, "Of Mice and Men" is, in my opinion, one of the top American classics along with novels such as "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. This is a definite must-read. There is much to cherish here.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Offered by GameExplorers
Price: 10.50

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The State of San Andreas is at your feet!, 27 May 2005
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is the follow up to the exceeding-popular GTA3 and Vice City and has proved that the series is stil one of the best in gaming history.
Briefly, you take control of CJ who has travelled back to San Andreas from Liberty City when the news of his Mother's murder reaches him. To make matters worse, CJ has been framed for homicide and his old hood is falling to pieces. It's time for CJ to take control of this seedy state.
Firstly, San Andreas is much the same as Vice City and GTA3. Same controls, same quality of graphics, same general feel. Fans should feel right at home!
The game looks amazing! The controls are pretty easy to get to grips with but the game is not without its fair share of challange. CJ can run, shoot, drive up to a hundred vehicles, punch, kick, swim and much more.
The state of San Andreas is massive, complete with three cities and many, many tiny towns, villages, hamlets etc. It even has a countryside and a desert in between the three cities! There is no where you cannot go in this game. It is actually quite overwhelming to be given so much freedom in a videogame.
What makes even more popular is its radio stations with hit records playing as you drive to your destination. The playlists are good and upbeat, really setting the mood with tunes like "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Express Yourself". The radio stations do not come without their fair share of rude, crude, very adult humour. Watch out for the MATURE rating, parents! Street folk and other characters have quite a potty mouth on them so best beware if easily offended. All that said, the game still remains very "tounge-firmly-in-cheek".
Rockstar Games and Rockstar North have brought us yet another GTA success, one that threatens to be the most popular yet! There's so much to do and see, you'll spend hours upon hours playing. Looking for a laugh, maybe blow off some steam or trying to shock your parents speechless? San Andreas is your answer!

Silent Hill 2 (Special 2 Disc)(PS2)
Silent Hill 2 (Special 2 Disc)(PS2)
Offered by Shop4World
Price: 18.21

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...In my restless dreams, i see that town...", 21 May 2005
"Silent Hill"
This is the sequel to the original hit survival horror videogame and is the second in a series of four. Silent Hill 2 has had spines tingling everywhere and is considered to overthrow the scares of the famous Resident Evil series.
James Sunderland has been in mourning for his late wife Mary for the past three years, living a seemingly pointless existence. Until a letter arrives. From Mary. She is apparently waiting for him in their "santuary of memories" in the town of Silent Hill. On arrival, James realises it will be a lot harder to find Mary, if she IS still alive, than he first thought and finds himself in a constant nightmare filled with eerie noises and monsters lurking in the shadows. Dark secrets await if you brave into the darkness of Silent Hill.
This is a fantastic game in the sense that it is incredibly atmospheric. The designers have used a balance of music that'll get the adrenalin pumping and stark, eerie silence.
The graphics are brilliant and realistic. James will brave into areas looking so nasty, dark and spooky, you immediately want to turn and run, yet they have their own kind of charm. They are disturbing and use the trick of suggestion in various places, such as bullet holes in a wall or a nasty bloody trail leading behind a locked door.
The monsters, much like the game itself, are not standard survival horror creations. They have vaguely human forms yet are twisted, bloody and emit chilling cries that break the silence.
As for the gameplay, Silent Hill has a selection of melee and firearms and none are particualrly hard to use. The combat is not particularly difficult. It's in the puzzles where the challange really lies, yet most of them are mainly "the right combination of numbers unlocks the door" puzzles.
Silent Hill 2 has a fair bit of challange but people will be playing through this game for its dark storyline, character development, the spooky locations and its ability to genually frighten. Be warned. This game is not for the timid.

Kill Bill, Volume 1 [DVD] [2003]
Kill Bill, Volume 1 [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Uma Thurman
Offered by 101Trading
Price: 1.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Roaring Rampage of Revenge!, 7 April 2005
It's been a while since Jakie Browne, but Tarantino is back with his first of two revenge flicks "Kill Bill" and let me tell you something, they are HOT!
When a female assassin (Uma Thurman) decides its time to leave her profession, marry some guy and concieve her child outside a world of blood and massacre, her ex-lover and boss, Bill (David Carradine) takes the news badly and sets out, along with his band of assassins (Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Foxx and Micheal Madsen) to put an end to the wedding and take care of The Bride once and for all. Refusing to die, The Bride rouses from a four year coma and begins to write up a death list for those who betrayed her.
This is pure Tarantino. Only he could blend genres of Spagetti Western, kung-fu, anime and japanese samuri flicks together to produce one of the best films released in 2003. There is never a dull moment in this movie. You will be gasping in all the rite places as Uma slices her way through "The Crazy 88", you will find yourself literally on the edge of your seat as you watch the tense showdown with O-Ren Ishii in eerie silence and you will be gagging to see the concluding chapter of the story. The cast deliver strong performances, wicked dialouge dripping in dark humour and many impressive stunts. The fast pace of the film is accompanied with a killer soundtrack that you will never forget. The only problem with the film, which is quite disappointing, is that is really all you get on the DVD, apart from a "making-of", trailers and two music videos of the
5,6,7,8s. Deleted scenes? Director's Cut? Hello?

A fantastic and thrilling movie which is definitely up there alongside the other Tarantino classics. A word of advice: Never deprive yourself of movies like this.

The Stepford Wives: Film Tie-in Edition
The Stepford Wives: Film Tie-in Edition
by Ira Levin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.88

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Striving for Perfection?, 4 April 2005
So here is the acclaimed novel of "The Stepford Wives" by author Ira Levin. The book is now a cult classic and has inspired several tv imitations and two Hollywood movies, the most recent staring Nicole Kidman and Glenn Close. It is even part of the english language!
Semi-professional photographer Joanna Eberhart and her family exchange their bustling city life and move to the peaceful suburbs in the town of Stepford. Everyone seems pleasant enough but Joanna wishes the women were a little less preocupied with the household chores. Is Joanna and her new friend Bobbie Markowe the only ones a little disturbed by this behavior? Will they ever be able to escape the dark and shocking truth behind the smiling faces of the Stepford Wives?
This is a definite must-read for anyone and everyone. It is funny, emotional and chilling in all the right places. Some people may say the book is slow to get some kind of point across but I think Ira Levin has written the novel very well, gradually building up the disturbing secrets of Stepford as Joanna find them. That's called "suspense", people!
The book is a little sketchy on the real truth behind Stepford though - you'll know what i mean when you read the book - and insteady merely hints at them, leaving them to the reader's judgement and imagination to work on.
Overall, it's a great achievement for the horror genre although it is a different kind of "horror", a more subtle and realistic horror revealing a few home-truths about men and women and strong feminist views.
This is an original and chilling novel that also shows that the dark and haunted manor is not the scariest place to be. Moving to Stepford, anyone?

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slip into the parallel world of the Wind Up Bird, 24 Feb 2005
From one of Japan's most famous authors, Haruki Murakami, the novelist of "Norwegian Wood" and "Sputnik Sweetheart", comes one of his more well known stories - "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle".
For thirty-something Tokyo-bound man, Toru Okada, life couldn't get much worse. He leaves his job in law. The cat runs away from home. The disappearance of his wife Kumiko soon ensues. But life is about to get a whole lot worse...and a whole lot stranger. What is the significance of this bad luck? Why does the "hanging house" seem to be calling him? Has it all got something to do with the wind-up bird, that is always heard but never seen.

This novel takes the word "surrealism" to a whole new level! Never have i been so perplexed and confused by a book composed of tales of misfortune and journies of the soul, all fitting into one man's life. But neither have i been so intrigued by such mysterious book. Strangely enough, this is definitely one heck of a page turner, even though the story will throw most readers and the puzzle pieces of the "wind-up bird" tale will be uncomplete by the story's conclusion. The answers are there. You just have to look for them.
It's hard to describe the book in a few words - "surreal", "compelling" and "mystifying" spring to mind - but it goes much deeper... It is a tale of deep emotions of loneliness, love, loss, hatred and of dreams and visions, fulfilling some unknown purpose.
The book features many weird characters, but have their own unique charm, be they good or possibly evil. Murakami goes into great depth with these people, which i love.
Sharp as a hawk's eye, Murakami sets the story is crystal clear backdrops of the Tokyo streets, with endless roads and topless buildings. It seems so real. So vibrant.
Looking for a short book with simple charcters and plot, you are looking in the wrong place. If you prefer something very different that you can be pensive about and will send emotions skywards, pick up "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" now. You will be haunted forever...

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