Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now
Profile for Jolly Roger > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Jolly Roger
Top Reviewer Ranking: 10,658
Helpful Votes: 204

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Jolly Roger "book lover" (Burntwood, UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
pixel
Worst-case Scenario Ultimate Adventure : Everest!: No. 1
Worst-case Scenario Ultimate Adventure : Everest!: No. 1
by David Borgenicht
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff., 22 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for my nephew last Christmas and he was delighted with it. When he was finished with it I had a go and I was delighted too. A nice gift for younger readers or for those adults with fond memories of choose-your-own-adventure books. The added bonus that these books have been written with input from experts in the fields they cover, and are thus something of an educational tool, just makes it all the better. I now have no worries about dropping my nephew off into hostile environments. Something I have considered often.


GrandGadgets ® Electric Healthy Popcorn Maker 1200 Watts Midnight Black
GrandGadgets ® Electric Healthy Popcorn Maker 1200 Watts Midnight Black
Offered by GRAND GADGETS
Price: £15.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Need a healthy snack? Make one., 22 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great little machine. Makes a bowl of popcorn in a few minutes, no mess no fuss, and is ideal for people looking for a way to make a low calorie snack. I had a version of this machine years ago which died when I used it too long and it overheated (I was trying to pop those last few kernels), something which won't happen with this model because it has an automated cut-off. In a show of good thinking this happens just as the last few corn kernels pop, so clearly someone sat down and timed it.

All in all this is a surprisingly good item for the price and I'm perfectly happy with it.


How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country
How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country
by Daniel O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.56

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, fun read (not for kids!), 22 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I enjoyed this book immensely and while the premise is clearly just some silly fun the details contained within, about the presidents lives and actions, are fascinating. The chapters are also quite short (3-4 pages each) so it's easy to read a couple of chapters before bed each night and still have the book finished in about a week.

If you fancy learning some history without feeling like you're having a history lesson then this is the book for you.


Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
by Daniel Falconer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another jewel for the collection, 22 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For anyone that can't bring themselves to read the lengthy reviews of others I supply this condensed version: Quite simply an amazing artbook, perfect for Lord of the Rings fans and lovers of fantasy artwork, and very, VERY much worth the price. For those who'd like to read more, read on...

Anyone who has already bought a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit artbook will already know both the quality and style of this book. While I maintain that I would have preferred the books to be portrait format rather than landscape, so as to better fit in with my other books, I must admit that the Hobbit artbooks do look very nice.

As to the interior I was more than pleased when I first flicked through the pages. As ever there are the stunning location designs; moody forests, soaring mountains and towns and villages that frankly make you want to pack your things and move there this afternoon. Gus Hunter's image of the Ancient Dale is easily worthy of gracing anyone's living room wall, right next to Eduardo Pena's picture of the same. What I'm saying is that there isn't just rough design work, as you'd expect from concept art books, but gallery-quality art too.

The Orcs get a nice section to themselves this time around as there are three characters in particular that play a major part in the film. Once more the designs show a lot of thought and consideration behind why the Orcs would dress the way they do or have what they have. At the heart of it I would say it's this fact which gives the work from Weta's art department so much life and realism. Things have a reason for being there, not just because they look cool, but because there's a history and a story to everything. If a creature is shown wearing a fur hide then someone, somewhere, has thought about where it came from and how the wearer came to possess it.

There is also a decent chunk of the book dedicated to Beorn; his home, his lands and, of course, the man himself. This is where we find a lot of the John Howe and Alan Lee sketch work and I'm not sure I've ever wanted a timber framed house more than I do when I look at it. They should go into business with Ikea to make a range of Middle Earth flatpack wooden houses. As ever it's not just the big picture that warrants attention but, again, it's all the little details. Things that you might not even notice when watching the film, such as the chair backs, a hand-carved chess board, archways and mantelpiece ornamentation, which the artists focus upon to make the world a living, breathing place.

But by far my favourite section of this book is the Mirkwood Elves. Forget what you know about glamorous High Elves with fine clothes and ornate buildings. What we see here is considerably moodier, darker and more menacing, yet still with the signature Elven grace and elegance. A fine balancing act for the artists to accomplish. While there is much in Middle Earth that I wish I could see with my own eyes, Mirkwood is not one of them. The images found here will leave you in no doubt that it is a hostile place and even if there weren't elves to contend with then you'd still do well to heed Gandalf's advice and 'stick to the path'.

Mixed in with all of this is the usual cornucopia of costume designs, interior and exterior building sketches, the always reassuring pencil work of Alan Lee and John Howe (which some might say is worth the price of the book alone), superbly realised tools, weapons and other sundry items and, if that weren't enough for you, there's even some work involving a dragon.

In truth there's too much amazing artwork here to talk about it all and still do it justice. Suffice to say that it is all a treat for the eyes and imagination. The work doesn't so much show you the world of Middle Earth as invite you to the table with it. This book is a must-have for any Lord of the Rings fans and lovers of fantasy artwork. Buy it and be happy.


Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
Chronicles: Art & Design (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
by Daniel Falconer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good continuation of the LOTR artbook collection., 11 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a busy little book. Every page is crammed with so much art there's hardly a spare millimetre of blank page anywhere so in terms of pictures per pound this is already a savvy purchase. Anyone who has bought any of the concept art books for Peter Jackson's original LOTR trilogy will be pleased to see that the layout is much the same as those other titles and will be even more pleased to see a continuation of the art style as Alan Lee and John Howe are back in charge of art direction. Fans will no doubt be thrilled to see their distinctive sketch art adorning a Tolkien adaptation yet again.

The character and monster designs, as well as the environmental concepts, are all very inspiring and I can't get enough of the attention to detail. I would even go as far as to say that the character design, in particular, is superior to the original trilogy work, especially the works of Nick Keller and Paul Tobin. Anyone out there who needs some inspiration for a character in a fantasy setting would be well satisfied with this book. Another name I will be looking out for in future is Gus Hunter whose conceptualisation for the battle between Dwarves and Orcs from Thorin's past I would pay handsomely to own as a framed print.

As you would expect from a special effects house such as Weta there is a great deal of attention to detail and this is well represented in the book. There is enough weapon and armour designs to fill a virtual armoury fit for an army and any little tools, gadgets and props carried by the characters are included.

There are, however, a few niggling gripes. Firstly the book has been produced in landscape format, rather than portrait so it doesn't sit so well on the shelf next to my other books. I would have appreciated it if the book had been made like the other LOTR concept art books, not just for the sake of my shelving aesthetics, but also so that it fit better with the books that had come before. As a lover of art I don't often ask for stagnation in design and production but as a collector I appreciate continuity.

There is also a fold out recreation of Thorin's map, attached to the inside front cover and attached to the back cover is Bilbo's burglar contract. Both are nicely made and stylish but they aren't perfect. The map has the invisible writing, visible only under the correct moonlight, which has been done with glow-in-the-dark lettering but sadly it is clear as day in normal daylight. Do I expect too much? Maybe. Do I know anything about producing luminous lettering on a stylish Dwarven map? No. But was it the first thing I thought when I saw the map? Yes. Which is a shame. As for the burglar contract it has been made a little too small and is difficult to read. Not impossible, just not easy. Again, a quick caveat; You might have the eyes of a hawk and therefore not have any difficulty reading the writing. I, sadly, do not and therefore do. However it is worth stating that it's nice to see them at all.

So who could possibly want to buy this book? This hardly needs stating but fans of Tolkien will eat this up and love every second of it. Lovers of concept art and fantasy art will also fall in love with this book, as I have.


The Art of Thief
The Art of Thief
by Paul Davies
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £26.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Concept art gold., 6 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Art of Thief (Hardcover)
My review kind of got away from me a little bit so I shall add this as a mini review for those who don't like long winded opinions of the over opinionated. Quite simply this book is brilliant. Exceptionally good art, a well made and presented book and a subject matter that is naturally fascinating to explore. If you're a fan of concept art books then treat yourself without any doubts that this is money well spent. There. If you want to know more then you'll just have to read the rest.

With 'The Art of Thief' Titan publishing has brought together all the elements of their best works to make their finest concept art book yet. Stylish, minimalist front cover? check. Succinct yet still remarkably informative text? Check. Clear demonstration of the iterative design process? To a decent extent, check. Oodles and oodles of gorgeous art that will have you flipping through the book time and again? Double check.

If you already own any of the Titan concept art books for games (Assassin's Creed 3&4, Titanfall and the Halo art books are titles I particularly highly recommend) then you will already be familiar with the format of the book. Just larger than A4, hardback and around 200 pages (191 in this case) and with every page full of top quality artwork. They are the masters of making concept art books and this time they have distilled all that experience to create a superlative offering.

But what about the art itself? As you would expect for a big ticket item such as Thief Eidos have not been stingy with the art department budget. The artwork is top tier material and a real beauty to behold. Obviously, given the nature of the game, it is predominantly dark and moody and the artist's ability to create a real feel for the world they've developed is spectacular. Indeed, you get a very clear feeling of just how much the city itself is a character. With misty Victorian-style streets and architecture, grim dockside warehouses and piers, depressing slums, vaulted ironwork structures, candlelit cathedrals, red brick sewers and disgustingly opulent mansions this is a living breathing world of decay, corruption and misery. And I love it. The art perfectly captures the mood and essence of the game. Being a stylised version of a Victorian setting there is also all of the gadgets and machinery which needed to be designed and I would describe this as Steampunk lite. Lots of brass, cogs and steam but without going fully down the road of Steampunk. It's more functional than stylish and that's completely appropriate given that The City doesn't foster frippery.

The chapter on characters is nice and comprehensive although I would have liked to see more traditional 2D work. The artists use CG a lot and it's not my favourite kind of work but they do it so well that I certainly don't object to it. Lot's of interesting faces and costumes on show, here, as well as items, weapons and devices. There is a good selection of the many different civilian faces you can expect to see as well as some truly fantastic work on the City Watch guards. There are also a couple of other factions at work in The City which I won't go into detail naming or describing, suffice to say that their look and design is equally impressive.

Garret gets a chapter all to himself and it has to be the most expansive exploration of a main character I've ever seen. There's costume details (right down to the different types of cloth and leather on different parts of his body), gadgets and weapons, a remarkable amount of close detail work showing specifics such as hands and eyes, detailed sketches of how Garret would move and operate things and a plethora of sketches showing all the different stances he would employ holding a variety of weapons. There's also nice colour work showing how non-lethal and lethal take-downs would work and, as though all of that weren't enough, just some stylish pictures of Garret for getting a feel of the character. Like I said, expansive.

There is also a chapter on 'Loot, Puzzles and Props' which needs no further explanation. A case of 'does what it says on the tin'. Although I will say that this is where the best of the fine detail work can be found. From personal items to specific objects which are found at certain locations. There is a nice stonework chess table and benches which I will have made for myself and placed in the garden just as soon as I win the lottery.

To round all of this off there are a number of other interesting pieces which can be found in the background of the game. Wanted posters, strange artwork which will be on the walls of the rich and mighty and which matches their character perfectly and embossed metal sign work, the really mundane stuff which is vital to make a place believable. Things like 'WAY OUT' signs and door plaques. That's how thoroughly this game has been visualised. There are also a couple of maps which are fun to look over.

In summary I have to say that I can't recommend this book highly enough. Sure it's a work of dark, grim pleasure but it is excellent work, perfectly presented and a real gem for concept art fans. Lovers of dystopian visions, Victorian inspired cityscapes and well realised settings would also recognise this as a title worthy of note.


The Art of Battlefield 4
The Art of Battlefield 4
by Martin Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, if limited, concept art., 5 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It has been said that producing a top of the line FPS these days is more like creating a movie than a game and that is exactly the impression I got when I first flipped through this book. The similarity between The Art of Battlefield 4 and some of my movie concept art books is really quite striking. And that's not a bad thing. In fact it makes the works of FPS concept art saleable which you wouldn't have imagined prior to COD shaking up the genre.

But at the end of the day this is concept art for a not too distant future first person shooter and as such it limits the kind of conceptualisation that is required. When the game is seen almost entirely, save for the occasional cut-scene, from the perspective of a gun barrel then the majority of what you need to design are levels and action sequences. And that's what we have here and that's why it's only four stars. The range of artwork is naturally limited by what is needed from the art department and so this book is almost entirely about locations, the various levels you progress through as you play the game. But this is a minor gripe and one that I only feel the need to point out in case people buy this book expecting something more than explorations of possible map designs.

Thankfully the range of locations gave the art team plenty to work with (Shanghai, a naval battle, a prison, to name a few) and what we have is quality art, not just functional scene setting but mood setting as well with all the detail you expect from a team trying to visualise a living, breathing, and even dangerous place. I especially like the work for the intro level, set on the outskirts of Baku, Azerbaijan, with it's excellent depiction of dereliction and infrastructural rot. The art is so good and so well researched that it actually makes me want to go to some of these places.

Aside from location art there is a short section of character design at the beginning, although design might be an overstatement since it's just a selection of finished work rather than a look at the design process, but it's good, functional material. Also interspersed throughout the book is the cinematic styled artwork showing what will happen in the scripted cut-scenes and there is, because of how these games are now, quite a bit of it. Again, that's not a bad thing but if you haven't played the game yet then it might be something of a spoiler (but then if you're reading a concept art book you've only got yourself to blame!).

The book itself is very well made, a large format hardback, the kind Titan Books makes so well, and you certainly won't feel disappointed with the production quality. Titan make very, VERY good concept art books. There's a little less commentary from artists and art directors with this book, compared with others from Titan, but I feel that's probably because not much of the art needs explaining. It's a very modern world setting so there's nothing exotic that needs clarification or original concepts that need defining so, again, the work on show is, in a way, limited simply by what was required for this title. That being said, what descriptions and explanations are included are informative and interesting.

So who would want to buy this book? Concept art collectors, like myself, and fans of the franchise might be interested if they're particularly keen. People looking for reference material for their own projects could also find this book a goldmine if they're going for a modern world setting. But if you're not one of those people then I think you would have to be a real fan of location art to get full enjoyment out of this book. As I said it's a bit limited in scope, but that's really no fault of the book, it's just a reflection on what was required. Overall, I am definitely enjoying it.


The Art of Titanfall
The Art of Titanfall
by Andy McVittie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meeting high expectations, 24 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Art of Titanfall (Hardcover)
There are some art books which you can't help getting excited about. Concept art for a game featuring an alien world, giant mech suits, spaceships, free-running, and all the additional material to support such a setting, definitely ticked all the boxes for me. The fact it was being published by Titan Books, my favourite concept art publisher bar none, gave me cause for relief and raised expectations even higher. The only problem then being my own over-hyping of a product which then can't possibly hope to deliver. I've done it before and it leaves me dissatisfied with the product through no real fault of the publisher. I am pleased to say, however, that this is not the case here.

Titan must have a genie working in the back office somewhere to keep producing work of such quality. And it's a quality that you can see right away before you even open the front cover. The minimalist design of the exterior, giving pride of place to the art, is exactly what's called fort when you've got a picture which tells you what the book is.

Inside the book the layouts are just what I like to see. Plenty of art, descriptive text to go with most of it but never enough words to get in the way, and lots of full page and two page spreads. It's also nice to see more of the development of ideas this time, an improvement on certain previous books and something a lot of other publishers don't bother with, seeing the iterations of a design to show you what could have been as well as what eventually was.

This book features the concept art if Iain McCaig (who worked on the Star Wars prequels), James Paick (another favourite of mine), Bruno Werneck, Steve Burg, Paul Christopher, Matt Codd, Harrison Fong, James Oxford and Manuel Plank-Jorge. Some names in there you might recognise and others worth looking out for in future because they have produced work of exceptional quality and have managed to make old ideas look new with a modern polish. I don't envy anyone who has to design original looking starships or robots and I think it's fair to say that the concepts here aren't really changing the shape of science fiction in these areas. They simply give them a damn good make-over and the result is impressive.

I feel more could have been made of the character design section but it's not so lacking that I'd knock the book down a star, especially when there's so much of the other sections to enjoy. I especially liked the environment concepts which really give you a good sense of the mood and also make this far-away sci-fi world very easy to relate to.

In summation I think it's safe to say I'm enjoying this book immensely. The art itself is the kind of work you can stare at for hours and, I know, will inspire other creative types who appreciate this genre. The design, layout and production quality of the book is also first rate.

So who'll want to buy this book? Fans of the game, probably, but mostly lovers of concept art (who will think Christmas has come early) and sci-fi geeks like me. At £20 (£20.99 at time of writing) I would say it is definitely worth the money and I would happily have shelled out £30 for a book of this caliber. Just don't tell Amazon that.


Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Board Game
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Board Game
Price: £25.71

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic game of deduction, 8 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this game as a birthday present for my dad, a great fan of all things Holmesian, and it's been a great success. The co-operative nature of the gameplay makes this the perfect game for families/friends who are too competitive (and therefore dare not sit around a monopoly board together) but it also just makes for a nicer evening. While it is possible to play in separate teams my dad, brothers, nephew and I just played as one big team trying to solve the clues and it kept us entertained for several hours per case, each one just right for an evening.

The quality of the game is also superior. Each of the ten cases is contained in its own glossy 'magazine' format booklet and is accompanied by a broadsheet style two-sided newspaper with stories that might relate to the case but which are mostly just contemporary filler. A neat feature of the newspapers is that editions from earlier cases may actually have articles which give clues to later cases so making sure to give each newspaper a thorough read is a must. There is also a map of London with hundreds of houses/locations which are numbered and a directory booklet which lists all the people who can be found at those addresses. It's really a very well produced game.

Furthermore each case is more than just one case. There is the main case (which gets you the most points for solving) but there are also other mysteries which need solving which can bag you further, those less numerous, points.

The reason I have docked the game 1 star is simply that some of these cases can be just as bafflingly hinged upon a minute detail, which requires the absolutely correct interpretation, as you would expect to find in a Sherlock Holmes story. On the one hand that makes the game more true to it's source material but on the other it can make it damned hard to solve which is, of course, the point of the game. It's also fair to say, I feel, that on at least one of the cases the secondary questions, also relating to a triple homicide, and which only scored an additional 10 points each, was really the bigger of the two cases. What I'm saying is that sometimes the conclusions can be slightly frustrating. This does not detract too strongly, however, from the fact that the preceding several hours had been a lot of fun.

I shall be looking to see if there is an expansion pack containing more cases for this game and it there isn't then I shall be writing to the makers requesting one. All in all I think that's about as positive a result as the designers could hope for.

In short an ideal game for Holmes fans, team players and lovers of deductive mental exercises.


The Other Nineteenth Century
The Other Nineteenth Century
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent anthology, 16 Dec. 2013
This outstanding collection of stories is a real treat for those who enjoy an elegant and 'old world' flavour to their fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have recommended it often.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10