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C. C. Coleman "Tonstant Weader" (London, UK)
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Halo 2
Halo 2

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite up to expectations - but excellent nonetheless, 5 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Halo 2 (Video Game)
It took me quite some time to get used to the changes from the original Halo. I think that this made me like Halo 2 less, at first. Now that I've played it considerably more, I like the game considerably more, too.
The change in tactics forced by the changes in weaponry combined with new (and more aggressive) tactics employed by your enemies make for a very different playing experience. I expected to just be able to wade in on Legendary and kick some ass, but after 3 hours and only 4 checkpoints attained, I revised my expectations downwards. This game is much harder than the original on Legendary. Possibly even too hard to really be enjoyable. The balancing on Heroic is sublime, however. If anything, Bungie have been even better able to create the sensation of being a commando with this game that I thought they did so well with the first. The dilemma facing you as you decide whether to go with the dual weapons or with the weapon/grenade combo is enough to make you hit the pause button while you work out the best tactics. Plus, ripping an Elite's shields to shreds with your dual SMGs is a real thrill.
The only real downside I see to the new game over the original is that this one feels much more linear. I loved the early Halo levels where you could zip around in a warthog or banshee and try some radically different approaches to key battles. So far, Halo 2 is herding me down much more tightly-determined paths, while at the same time not always being obvious about where to go and what to do next. This just feels arbritrarily difficult to me, and detracts from some of the enjoyment. Then again, I haven't encountered anything quite as tedious as the Library in the sequel, so I'm not going to gripe too much about level design.
As far as the multiplayer aspects go - wow! I can't imagine how Bungie could have done this better.
All in all, a great game and well worth your hard-earned cash.


Life of Pi
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of brilliance, 18 Nov. 2002
This review is from: Life of Pi (Hardcover)
I'm not normally a fan of Booker-winning novels, but this one is an exception for me. Yann Martel has distinguished himself with one of the best books I have read in a very long time. Having read the blurb, I was curious to see how the author would manage to sustain interest in a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat for an entire novel. As has already been mentioned, there is quite a lot of novel that is NOT set on the lifeboat, but at all times the author does a magnificient job of maintaining the taut, exquisitely crafted prose.
This book hasn't changed my thoughts on God, nor (as has also been mentioned here and elsewhere) is it clear exactly why it should. However, in light of the harsh criticisms recently levelled at Rabbi Sacks over certain aspects of his book, Pi's views on God and religion took on even more meaning for me.
Inventive and beautifully written, this is a wonderful book, and well worth more than one reading.


The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors
The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors
by Robert Ritter
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, concise guide to correct usage, 4 Nov. 2002
Wonderful!
Perhaps I'm especially dim, but I find myself using this book a lot. I'm not sure, but I don't think there is anything this book really gives you that a good general purpose dictionary (like the SOED) wouldn't, but it is a very quick way to answer questions on correct usage and spelling of difficult or contentious words. For example, it reminds us that Lake Windermere is a tautology, which I think is just great.


The Autograph Man
The Autograph Man
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad novel, but not a good one, either., 4 Nov. 2002
This review is from: The Autograph Man (Hardcover)
I was always pretty ambivalent toward White Teeth. I thought that her first novel mostly showed Smith's potential more than it demonstrated any full-fleged literary brilliance. The Autograph Man was, as far as I could see, Smith's chance to shine. The idea behind the book is reasonably original and the writing in this book is good insofar as the language flows well and it is pleasant to read.
However, the characters in this book are awful. Smith has gone to a lot of trouble to develop the main character's background, but goes on to do nothing with it. For the most part, the characters in the novel were superficial and plastic, and I just couldn't bring myself to care about any of them, least of all the protagonist. I could possibly be persuaded to accept that he is a typical morally bankrupt and jaded Londoner and thus not given to ethical qualms or emotions were it not for the fact that the autor makes a half-hearted attempt every now and again to make Alex seem at least slightly human.
A number of potentially meaningful themes are looked at in this book, especially death, fame, and religion. The author doesn't so much examine them as give them a cursory glance before leaving them aside in favour of a few more clever literary references. The characters in this novel do, and have done to them, a number of really significant things that just don't seem to affect them in any way. Nothing they do seems to have any consequences.
Finally, as with White Teeth, this book ends with a whimper, and really leaves the reader wondering just what the author DID with all those pages that came before the conclusion.
By all means borrow a copy of this book, but save your money and don't buy it.


The Financial Times Guide to Strategy
The Financial Times Guide to Strategy
by Richard Koch
Edition: Paperback

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A practical guide to raising profits, 28 Oct. 2002
Yet another excellent business book from the FT imprint. This book is focused on giving managers the tools they need to produce appropriate strategies at the level they will be most useful - right at the sharp end of business, where the company meets its customers.
The practical sections of the book look at business strategy from a business unit and corporate point of view. The corporate strategy section is (understandably) less hands-on and more theoretical than the business unit section.
If you are in need of a quality business strategy and are looking for the right tools to helo you elucidate it, you need read no further.
However, if you are not in such a hurry, the final two sections of the book are well worth reading. They cover, respectively, strategic thinkers, and strategic concepts, tools, and techniques. These sections of the book provide a good 'crash course' in strategic theory, and are a great jumping off point to learn more about specific areas in greater depth.
All in all, a great resource for managers in need of a practical strategic toolkit.


The Definitive Business Plan: The Fast-track to Intelligent Business Planning for Executives and Entrepreneurs (Financial Times Series)
The Definitive Business Plan: The Fast-track to Intelligent Business Planning for Executives and Entrepreneurs (Financial Times Series)
by Sir Richard Stutely
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.99

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthwhile Update, 19 Feb. 2002
Having read the first edition as well, I can happily say that this book's title is pretty accurate. It is a comprehensive and practical guide to the business planning process as a whole.
Concise and pertinent explanations, well laid-out, and very helpful. I've been writing business plans for internal projects for years, and I still found much to learn from this book now that I'm preparing a plan for a new venture.


The City: Inside The Great Expectation Machine:  Myth and Reality In Institutional Investment And The Stock Market
The City: Inside The Great Expectation Machine: Myth and Reality In Institutional Investment And The Stock Market
by Mr Tony. Golding
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't go unnecessarily blind into equities investing, 7 Nov. 2001
Golding has done a thorough job of explaining the unseen influence and sometimes-conflicting allegiances of analysts in the City. I read it at the same time as I was watching the spectacular self-destruction of Autonomy's share price, and I found the book to be especially relevant in light of those events. Although not quite as sensational a shocker as some of the advance publicity hinted, this book is well worth a read for private investors in UK equities, or CEOs of newly minted public companies.


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