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R. Loughins

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Masters of Battle: Monty, Patton and Rommel at War
Masters of Battle: Monty, Patton and Rommel at War
by Terry Brighton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.00

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable account of three famous generals, 21 April 2009
First, let me say that if you have a good knowledge of the Second World War, there is little information (about the war in general) in this book that you don't already know. That aside though, I don't believe it was the author's intention to provide such a book, but rather to compare the leadership styles of the war's three most famous generals. And in that respect, I think he has done an excellent job.

From their early careers until their deaths, Brighton analyses the strengths and weaknesses of all 3 generals, in addition to looking at what they were like as people rather than soldiers. The book clearly show's Patton's aggressiveness, Rommel's genius, and at long last, Monty's ability to make excuses for the numerous mistakes he made. In that last respect, the book really singles Monty out for criticism, but in my opinion, this is long overdue. So be warned - if your an admirer of Monty, you probably won't enjoy this book. However, I found it an enjoyable book to read, and I came across several new and interesting facts about all three generals that can quite easily change an opinion regarding each personality.

Bremshey Ambition Rower
Bremshey Ambition Rower

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointed, 2 Mar 2009
This review is from: Bremshey Ambition Rower (Sports)
I chose this rower after reading several good reviews, but unfortunately I'm a little disappointed with what I've ended up with.

To give Amazon it's credit, delivery was fairly quick, with little less than a week taking place between order and delivery. But when I went to assemble the machine I was a little surprised by the lack of workmanship in the product. For a start, the plastic casing at the back was half hanging off, with one of the screws completely threaded. Furthermore two of the bolts were damaged, which were fortunately replaced easily enough. The roller that the seat is set on, feels a little unstable despite tightening everything around it. In addition to this, the button at the back of the computer to change temperature from C to F has broken off and the button to change distance from M to KM doesn't seem to work.

Also, there is obviously something wrong with Bremshey's computers (I noticed another reviewer commenting on this). On my old rowing machine I was averaging 1.20 minutes per 400m, but on this I'm averaging 3.40.

As for performance, however, I can't complain. There is very little noise and the 8-tension settings should be suitable for anyone using the machine.

To sum up, all I'm disappointed with is the workmanship, so if you get lucky with this, you've got yourself a good rower.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2009 10:59 AM GMT

The 13th Valley
The 13th Valley
by John Del Vecchio
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, realistic and at times, philosophical, war novel, 5 Jan 2009
This review is from: The 13th Valley (Paperback)
First and foremost, this is not one of those gung-ho, I love America, full-of-battles war novels that we are all so used to reading. It is instead an extremely well written, realistic account of an infantryman's war. It describes the boredom, the exhaustion, the fear and of course the camaraderie that nearly all soldiers experience in the field. I found the battle (or skirmish) scenes extremely well written once you adapt to Del Vecchio's style of writing. It makes you feel that your there with the characters experiencing everything that they're seeing.
The characters themselves are diverse, exciting, and more importantly, realistic. Del Vecchio tries to show that the soldiers in Vietnam came from all sorts of backgrounds, with different political outlooks and personalities. He does this superbly by making the characters ask each other about the rights and wrongs of the war, and the causes of conflict, in an almost philosophical way. It's debatable whether soldiers in combat would have discussed this as much as the book suggests, but it nevertheless provides something different in a war novel and you find yourself thinking about the questions posed long after you've finished reading the book.
The only regret I have about this book is that I never read it sooner. Highly recommended!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2011 7:25 PM BST

The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1
The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.): 1
by Joe Abercrombie BA
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start but still enjoyable to read and worth the purchase, 19 Dec 2008
To be quite honest, I was a bit hesitant about buying this book after I read a lot of reviews stating that it was bland, boring and long-winded. However, although its a bit slow to start, I would definitely not use those words to describe this book. Rather, Abercrombie has done an excellent job of bringing out the characters (which I'll not go into since there's plenty of other reviews describing them) and creating a good and exciting storyline which will make you want to buy the next installment. The first book of a trilogy is probably one of the most difficult to write, since the writer has to set the scene as well as create as much action, adventure, and excitement to ensure the reader buys the next installment. I think Abercrombie has done this and done it well. Therefore, please try not to take much heed of those describing it as a 'boring' book, because it is far from it and is well worth the purchase.

The only negative aspect of the book is the lack of a map. Some say you don't need this for a fantasy book but I would disagree. I like knowing where various places are in relation to others, and to get a sense of distance the characters have to travel. In addition to this, Abercrombie's world is probably not as epic as that of other writers, such as Martin, but its still exciting and I'm hoping the next two books will elaborate on the scale of this new fantasy world.

Battlefield: Bad Company (Xbox 360)
Battlefield: Bad Company (Xbox 360)
Price: 7.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun and definitely worth buying, 11 Dec 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Having been a big fan and player of Battlefield 2, there was simply no hesitation in buying Bad Company. And I wasn't disappointed. For once Battlefield have created a good single player environment with its own storyline which also helps you get to grips with the controls with everything playable in the game. The single player campaign is not particularly long and I think I completed it in a couple of days, but its still great fun and I wasn't disappointed since Battlefield always was a multiplayer game.

And as for the multiplayer, well I haven't stopped playing it since I bought the game, which is saying something since I can get bored with some games very quickly. The choices of player/weapons is pretty much the same as BF2: Recon, Specialist, Support, Demolition, and Assault. You start off with very basic weapons but once you start ranking up (which thankfully is a lot faster than BF2) you have the option of unlocking better weapons. The vehicles are again fairly similar to BF2 - Tank, APC, hummers, buggies, helicopter - with the one exception of not having fixed wing aircraft. Some maps are fairly big, with some quite small, but its still bigger than most of the maps in COD4, which means you can actually flank your enemy instead of running straight into him as you seem to do in COD.

If there was one negative aspect of the game, it is the lack of game types you can play. There is only one game type where you are either attacking or defending gold crates from your enemy. No longer is there a capture the flag type of game which BF2 was all about. I suppose you could say the good thing about the attacking/defending gold crates game is that everyone is forced into attacking one area at a time, which can make the game pretty intense at times.

So all in all, this game is definitely worth the purchase, mostly because its great fun to play. Please don't listen to these people calling it 'the worst game they've ever played'. That is simply a load of rubbish. The type of people that call it crap are the type that get annoyed because you can't just chuck grenades everywhere and hope that you kill someone. The maps are too big for that. They are also the type that are too stupid to understand the concept of flanking. Contrary to what these people say about BF, you can't just jump into a tank and blast all round you. The fact that snipers now have laser designators means that it is now quite easy to destroy tanks.

Trust me, if you like shooters, you'll like this.

Word Of Honour
Word Of Honour
by Nelson DeMille
Edition: Paperback

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 3 Dec 2008
This review is from: Word Of Honour (Paperback)
I bought this book following the strong ratings it received from previous readers, but I'm a bit perplexed about how it did get such strong reviews. It's not a bad book but in no way can I call it outstanding. The book starts off well, then gets a bit boring in the middle before picking up a bit at the end, and then I was very disappointed with the final ending. It's like one of those films that just ends and your left in the cinema waiting for the next scene.
Nelson Demille's writing style is very easy to read and understand and at times you don't want to put the book down. BUT only on very few occasions. The story is very sporadic in excitement and the plot is fairly weak. A good plot is one that causes surprise once the final outcome is reached, but I can't say that I was surprised even once throughout the book. Some readers have pointed out the morality issues in the book, but compared to other books on the vietnam war, even this is fairly weak. I'm just left wondering what the point of the book was and how anyone found this "unputdownable" in the words of one reviewer.

Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
Offered by Gameline GmbH.
Price: 12.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better than Vice, not as good as San Andreas, 13 Nov 2008
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
I've had GTA 4 for about a week now, and quite frankly, I'm bored of it already. In fact, I almost feel guilty that I've only completed about 40% of the game, but its too much of an effort to even turn on the console. I remember buying San Andreas the day it came out and playing the game solid for about a month. It was fun to play and there was so much to do, so if I had some free time, I looked forward to playing it. I can't say the same for GTA 4 unfortunately. In fact, in my opinion its a step down from San Andreas, although it probably is a bit better than Vice. There's less fun, the missions are extremely repetitive and after a while you just get bored with everything about the game. People have said that the game is realistic, but believe me its not, and others have said there's more stuff to do, but again thats a load of rubbish. Not only is there very little new about the game, but there's less stuff to do than in San Andreas. What the hell happened?!!! Now if your a GTA fan reading this review, then there's no point in me telling you not to buy it, because you will. I'm just sharing my opinion on the whole matter. Unless the game somehow picks up, all I can say is that the people who rated this as 5 star must have very very boring lives. Its the only reason I can give for someone that finds this game fun and exciting. Waste of money!!!

Korean War (Pan Grand Strategy Series)
Korean War (Pan Grand Strategy Series)
by Max Hastings Sir
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and written, 8 Nov 2008
In my opinion, a good historical non-fiction is one that doesn't read like one. In other words, the historian doesn't bore you with pointless details and fancy words, which you need to consult a dictionary to understand. This is one such book. Hastings provides an excellent chronological description of the Korean war without concentrating on one particular aspect for too long, with the exception of degrading MacArthur. But then this is wholly justified because I personally think the guy was an idiot. People talk about his heroic deeds in the second world war and then at Incheon but the reality is: he left his men to rot and die on the Philippines; he simply used brute force in his reconquest of the Pacific without using any fantastic new tactics or strategies; and Incheon could have been a major disaster if the North Korean army had been larger and better equipped. He got lucky however and people now call it a masterstroke.

Anyway, enough about MacArthur. Another good aspect about the book is that it doesn't concentrate on one particular issue. It deals with everything including the military tactics employed during the war, the experiences of both soldiers and civilians, and the political reaction from governments and civilians across the world.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What happened?, 8 Nov 2008
I really don't know what to make of this book. Compared to the previous 4, I found it extremely disappointing and in fact I found it hard to read at times. Compared to the previous books where I was sometimes reading 5-10 chapters at a time, I could only manage to read one chapter before setting it down. There's virtually no action or gripping story lines until the last 150 pages, which for a book 850 pages long, is quite pathetic. The fact that Martin states that the next book will concentrate on the characters left out in this one, makes me even more annoyed, because it means that all the effort reading this one, wasn't even to build up the next one. Needless to say, I will be buying the next installment as I'm sure everyone else will. There's no point reading 5 books of a series and not finding out how it ends. Question is, does Martin know himself when it will end or has he lost himself, which this books seems to suggest.

You may get the impression that I'm trying to run Martin down here, but I'm not. The other books were masterpieces and his imagination is unparalleled. It's just that he set such a high standard with the previous books, that one was bound to fall below that standard, and I believe this is that book. It is still better than some of the other rubbish out there however.

Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest
Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre in the Teutoburg Forest
by Adrian Murdoch
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good enjoyable read, 1 July 2008
Although only one chapter of the book is actually dedicated to describing the battle itself, I still found this to be a fantastic read. In my opinion this is largely due to Adrian Murdoch's writing style - not dry and acamedic (like some other books on the subject), but instead, it is easy to read and is clearly intended for the non-expert.

Murdoch gives an excellent general description of the situation prior to Teutoburg, in addition to a more focused analysis of what the main personalities were doing up until then. After the chapter on the battle itself, he has written a few chapters about the immediate aftermath as well as the consequences it would have in more modern times.

Although I was a little disappointed regarding the lack of detail for the battle itself, Murdoch explains why he couldn't provide more - it simply comes down to a lack of information from ancient sources. I therefore think it's a little harsh to give him a lower rating based on this fact alone.

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