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Simon McMahon "Film Buff" (Chelmsford, Essex, UK)
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"Torchwood": Asylum (BBC Audio)
"Torchwood": Asylum (BBC Audio)
by Anita Sullivan
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing and a little bit dull..., 26 Aug 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a big fan of Audiobooks and plays and a big fan of Torchwood. So when Torchwood came to radio on "Big Bang" day I tuned in and rather enjoyed it (that was Lost Souls). So I was looking forward to hearing Asylum. Sadly I was sorely dissapointed.

I should point out that if you have read the Synopsis on Amazon (which is copied from the back of the CD case) you will know what happens for the first 70% of the story. Not a good thing in my opinion, the blurb should be a teaser, this one sums up the majority of the story! But perhaps that says more about the frankly non-eventful tale than anything else.

As others have pointed out, Jack and Ianto barely appear in the story at all, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but fans of the two should be aware of this. The story really focuses on Gwen and Andy (the PC from the TV Show) and their relationship with the mysterious young girl. And here we have the major failing of the story. There wasn't really a sense of great mystery. The girl appears through the rift, so we know she's not from around these parts as soon as she appears. The explanation of who she is and where she came from were a bit... well, dull I'm afraid. Maybe I was expecting too much after the recent Children of Earth. There's a bit of a twist, but it's on the predictable side.

The actors do an excellent job as always, none of them seem to have the trouble some actors face making the transfer to radio. But in the end the material they're working with lets the play down.

The 45 minutes shot by and when the end theme started to play I actually fast forwarded, expecting there to be something after the credits. Alas there wasn't. I was left with a feeling of "Is that it?". And that's a crying shame.

I'm going to try the other Torchwood plays as I have heard good things about them. But for those looking to dip your toe in the Torchwood audio world... start elsewhere as I fear Asylum may put you off!


BaByliss 2285U Curling Wand
BaByliss 2285U Curling Wand
Offered by Topnotchsales
Price: £39.80

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Curltastic Curling Wand!, 21 Aug 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
(Please note: This review is written by my lady partner, Stef!)

I've tried to curl my hair in various different ways using rollers, heated rollers, hot sticks and other curling tongs but I found this to be the quickest and easiest way to get wonderous curls. Rollers take too long, some heated rollers are hit and miss, my hot sticks are pretty good and produce a nice tight curl, but you have to leave them in for about 30minutes and I've had a few issues with other curling tongs.

My previous curling tongs had a clamp to hold your hair at the bottom then curl, this always left a strange line at the bottom of my hair...the plus side (and I guess selling point) of these curling tongs are that there is no clamp! You simply wind your hair round the tongs from the root to tip, hold it there for a little while (maybe 10 seconds, if that) and tah dah! There's a nifty "cool tip/end" which lets you rest your fingers (holding the ends of your hair) without burning them. A single black glove is also provided to stop/decrease the chances of you burning your hair winding hand.

I quickly got the hang of this product and after having them for only two weeks I decided to take it with me on a studio vintage/pin up photo shoot I had booked one weekend. I had to do my own hair for the shoot and this seemed to be the quickest, simplest and most effective way of curling my hair into a vintage 50's style. Now, I have very very limited hair styling experience and these curls came out a treat, I even managed to get a Rita Hayworth style front slight quiffy curl...lovely!

I would recommend this product to anyone who wants quick and gorgeous curls in their hair. Just whack in a bit of hairspray and you're set for the day! My photo shoot was about 7 hours long and I only did my hair once at the beginning...then the curls lasted all evening too! Great curling tongs, I'll be curling my hair a lot more in the future!


The Strain
The Strain
by Chuck Hogan
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good start? Only time will tell..., 25 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Strain (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was a book I was really looking forward to. I think Guillermo Del Toro is an incredible film maker with a magnificent imagination so I was intrigued to see his take on a staple of the horror genre. The vampire. He of course tackled this subject before in Blade II, though he was working within an existing universe on that occasion his creative stamp was definitely on it.

Maybe my expectations were too high. But I must say I was dissapointed... I won't go into the details of the story. Needless to say it's trying to give the vampire myth a modern spin by introducing the idea of vampirism as a virus. However, aside from a few ideas there isn't much here that feels new. The characters are a fairly generic bunch, the hero with an ex wife and a kid he loves, the wise old man who knows all about the vampires, the crazy goth rock star who gets infected and feeds on his fans. As for the vampires themselves, well I've already mentioned Blade II and if you've seen that many aspects of these vampires may well seem familiar...

There are however, glimmers of interest, enough to have kept me reading. The scenes where the vampire stalks the concentration camp is fantastic and eerie. I also enjoyed the stoic rat catcher and there are some great scenes featuring the infected which seem written to be filmed (and as others have said, I suspect this is the ultimate intention).

The vampire fiction market is incredibly oversaturated, whether it's film or book, yet there is definitely room for innovation (the wonderful Let the Right One In for example). Does The Strain achieve such innovation? The short answer has to be no. However, this is the first book in a trilogy and there are just enough interesting concepts within this first book to make me come back for more. I just hope that next time those little bits of innovation aren't surrounded by so much standard fare.


The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1) (Demon Trilogy 1)
The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1) (Demon Trilogy 1)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A little too formulaic for my liking..., 16 April 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I struggled with this I'm afraid. As other reviewers have indicated this really does start out as formulaic as you can get. Why on earth do fantasy authors have to rely so much on the idea of a character staring out in a small village or farm with no idea of their "destiny"?

Unfortunately I never got to finish this as I found the generic aspects too offputting.


BaByliss 2034U Pro 230 Radiance Straightener
BaByliss 2034U Pro 230 Radiance Straightener

5.0 out of 5 stars Beats the competion!, 16 April 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sadly my hair is a little on the short side to benefit from this product! But my girlfriend, who has used several different hair straightners in the past is chuffed to bits with these.

They're faster at heating up than others she's used, and she has found them to be far more effective at straightening her hair. They seem to be quicker at straightening her hair (which is medium to long in length) and certainly save time in the mornings before work.

On the whole she would heartily recommend these to anyone looking for quick and efficient hair straightening. Though she did point out that she hasn't really used the steam function as she hasn't really needed it!


Uno Card Game
Uno Card Game
Offered by EnjoyToys
Price: £1.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic and enjoyable for all ages!, 16 April 2009
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Uno Card Game (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's not much more I can say about Uno that hasn't been said hundreds of times by other people here. I've been playing Uno since I was knee high to the proverbial grasshopper and have always loved it!

What I will say is it's one of the few games I enjoyed as a kid that I still love as an adult. Having recently had an "Uno Wars" evening with some good friends (and plenty of cocktails) that lasted well into the early hours all I can say is that this is great fun for people of all ages... it can be a real giggle if your mates are up for it!

Enjoy!


The Genesis Secret
The Genesis Secret
by Tom Knox
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating ideas... let down by a so so conclusion, 16 April 2009
This review is from: The Genesis Secret (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As someone who is fascinated by ancient history and archaeology I found the concepts the "Genesis Secret" deals with pretty interesting. Not to give too much away but it looks at ancient events that influenced the writers of the Bible and the impact this might have on modern civilisation if it turns out to be true. The book is filled with colourful descriptions of various locales of the middle east and you can tell the author is very well travelled!

As is typical with such tales our good guys find themselves caught up in a race against time against a group of ne'er do wells. And as such a book, with the interestung concept of "What was the real story behind Genesis" at it's centre it's an enjoyable romp. However, you should be warned.As others point it does contain some very graphic scenes of torture which did feel very jarring. I for one think was probably the intention.

But part of me couldn't help feeling that maybe some of this was a little extreme for the type of book and the audience it is aimed at. I also question the inclusion of a lengthy racist rant in the crudest possible terms later in the novel. By the time this occurs we already hate the bad guy and it felt out of place and unnecessary. In fact it made me feel slightly uncomfortable. It almost feels wedged in in a bid to be "edgy".

Overall then I'd say a good first novel. Some nice original ideas for the most part well exeuted but he scenes of violence are certainly jarring and you should be prepared for these.

I should also point out, this is what I call a "Google Book". There's so many ideas contained within that you'll find yourself Googling terms contained within to find out more about them!


A Fraction of the Whole
A Fraction of the Whole
by Steve Toltz
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing design concept, great story..., 18 July 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At first I thought the idea of splitting one book into three physically seperate physical books was a bit of a gimmick. And in fact, perhaps it is. To me such marketing gimmicks are often a sign that a publisher feels something is lacking. However, in this case such gimmicks are not needed.

This is a fascinating tale of life and love set in Australia. Both desperately funny and desperately sad in equal measures. Others have discussed the story better than I can, but I must say that I have recommended this to as many people as possible. There are elements in there that will appeal to everyone.

Also, on a practical level, the fact that it's in three parts makes it much easier to carry around!


The Grin of the Dark
The Grin of the Dark
by Ramsey Campbell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.08

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Started with such promise..., 20 Mar 2008
This review is from: The Grin of the Dark (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
... but ended in confusion.

Simon Lester is a film reviewer with a reputation left in tatters after writing for a controversial magazine. He's given a chance to make a come back with a book about one Tubby Thackery, a silent film star who was in essence black listed, a comedian who, rumour had it, caused at least one person to die of laughter...

As Lester explores the life and work of Thackery he begins to experience unsettling events that make him question his sanity. And here's the issue I had with the book. Lester's descent into the realms of insanity are not handled as well as they could be. We as readers know from relatively early on that something more is going on, and by 200 or so it feels as if something more should have been revealed to us.

Someone else has mentioned that Campbell excels in giving us glimpses and hints. When done correctly (see Lovecraft's work) this can be a highly effective method. But here it feels clumsy. From relatively early in the book we begin to get glimpses and hints thrown heavily at us in every chapter... but the pay off just isn't big enough... at least in my humble opinion.

That's not to say this is a bad book. It's not, it just never quite manages to fulfill its potential, and to me, falls short of the mark, which is a shame as the subject matter is fascinating...


These Are The Good Times People
These Are The Good Times People
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £10.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great summer album..., 20 Mar 2008
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I haven't heard anything from the Presidents of the USA since way back when they released Peaches... but I thought I'd give this a go, and boy am I please I did...

If you're after feel good rock, then this could be for you. Though I must admit it did sound very 90's to me, I found myself transported back to the summer of 96/97. Whether that's a good thing in a band or if it's a sign of stagnating evolution I couldn't say... the fact it I just really enjoyed the light funky rock on this album...

This is an essential summer album, great to listen to on days when the sun is shining, and when it's not it still manages to summon up that summer feeling.


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