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A Star Called Henry
A Star Called Henry
by Roddy Doyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Star Called Henry, 2 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Star Called Henry (Paperback)
This is a well-written novel that paints a vivid picture of late 19th/early 20th Century Dublin. Doyle clearly did his homework before writing this and various historical references within the novel show evidence of considerable research. However, these historical references have a tendency to become rather intrusive. At times I do get the impression that Doyle was more concerned with inserting historical references than with crafting an engaging story. The references to real-life figures can be confusing too.

For me, the primary drawback of this novel was its central character, Henry Smart (Jr). The first problem with the protagonist is that he is utterly charmless. At no point did I care what happened to him or those close to him and I did not feel that he had any redeeming features whatsoever. It's fine having a murderous psychopath as a central character, but there needs to be something about them that retains your interest in them (take Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone as a case in point). Henry just didn't do that for me. Not to mention the fact that the character of Henry is simply unbelievable - a barely pubescent kid in his early teens, with ladies falling at his feet at every turn, killing and maiming through sheer brute force? Come on. For a novel that is otherwise full of grit and honesty, this just isn't a credible characterisation. Considering what he achieved with "The Woman Who Walked into Doors", it surprises me to come across such transparent characters in this novel.

That being said, I like the way Doyle writes. The dialogue is authentic and engaging, and parts of the novel (especially those involving the protagonist's father) are very enjoyable. I couldn't decide whether to award this novel two stars or three, so I rounded up to three.


Supergets® HTC Wildfire S G13 Black PU Leather Case, Screen Protector and Polishing Cloth
Supergets® HTC Wildfire S G13 Black PU Leather Case, Screen Protector and Polishing Cloth

4.0 out of 5 stars I guess you get what you pay for., 13 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This product was very reasonably priced - that's why I've given it four stars and not two. It's a snug fit for the phone, it feels nice and the magnetic flap is a nice touch. The problem is the plastic on the sides. I've had it no longer than three weeks and there are already bits breaking off it. Also, the hole that's designed to give access to the volume button on the side of the phone evidently hasn't been checked to make sure that it's in the right place. It also might have been sensible to design the magnetic flap so that it wouldn't block the headphone socket.

Slightly shoddy design in places, but it does the job (ie. protecting the screen and shielding it from most knocks and drops) and it's quite cheap.

EDIT: I notice that a lot of people have mentioned that their case came with a screen cloth, a screen protector and a stylus. Mine had the screen cloth and screen protector, but no stylus (not that I ever would have used it).


Creative Labs Zen Sleek 20GB MP3 player
Creative Labs Zen Sleek 20GB MP3 player

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reliablilty at it's finest, 4 Feb. 2007
I got my Creative Zen Sleek in November 2005, so I've had it for over a year now. I've been using it for at least an hour a day, 5 days a week during the time that I've had it. I have had no problems with it, whatsoever. None at all. Zero, zilch, none.

Compare this with an iPod. I don't know anyone who has had an iPod that has lasted for more than 6 months without having a single problem with it; this clever little thing has lasted over a year and I'm still using it regularly.

So that's enough said about reliability, what about the rest? As I'm sure you've figured out by now, the device holds 20GB (approx!!) worth of music, mine only holds about 18.6 apparently, but you get the idea. That's enough to house most people's whole record collection, and then some. My record collection amounts to over 3,000 songs and I've filled about 15GB, but please note that the vast majority of my music is on there at a high bit-rate (192kb WMA to be precise). Most people who use WMA will probably store their music at 128kb or even 64kb, but that's at the expense of the sound quality. This means that some people could get in the region of 15000 songs on ther Zen Sleek if they wanted to. That's one beastly record collection.

However, WMA files do run the battery down quite quickly compared to MP3. I get about 6-7 hours of battery life from my Zen Sleek, which is fine, given that I only use it for about an hour or so at a time, but it depends what you want to use it for. If you're just listening to the radio or if most of your music is stored as MP3, you will probably get a longer battery life out of it.

The sound quality is very good, but the advanced sound EQ is a bit of a waste of time in my opinion, as it only hampers the sound quality. The same goes for the Bass-boost, which totally ruins the sound - don't use it.

The earphones that come with the device aren't great, but there no worse than the ones that come as standard with an iPod. They lasted me just over a year before the plastic covering the wire began to wear and I spent about £[...] on a pair of Sennheiser in-ears, which are much better.

The player is also very easy to navigate - although you should probably set the Touch-Pad sensitivity to "low", as it can be a bit unusual at first.

Overall, this player surpasses the iPod in all areas (it even looks better, as it doesn't get covered in scratches) and I would recommend it to anyone.


Deloused in the Comatorium
Deloused in the Comatorium
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £5.66

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A track-by-track review of De-Loused in the Comatorium, 4 Feb. 2007
Track 1 ~ Son Et Lumi�re: This is a sort of introductory track that leads into the first song on the album. I won't rate it individually, as I would consider it as part of track 2, so I'll take it into account when I rate that one.

Track 2 ~ Inertiatic Esp: The drums at the end of the first track lead into this one, which has heavy rock roots and an intense rhythm. This is the first Mars Volta track I ever heard, which was a couple of years ago now, long before I actually got into them. 9/10

Track 3 ~ Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of): Craziness at the start, then it calms down a bit and seems to have as many moods swings as a teenage girl with schizophrenia. 8.5/10

Track 4 ~ Tira Me A Les Aranas: According to freetranslation.com, the title of this song means "it throws me to them tricks". As you can tell, I don't know Spanish. I won't rate this, as it's just an interlude.

Track 5 ~ Drunkship of Lanterns: Some vibrant percussion accompanying the guitars. The seemingly improvised bridge part after 2 minutes is a nice touch. The chorus in the second half of the song is excellent, along with the "Come on down, hit the ground" bit. I think those are the lyrics, sometimes it's nearly impossible to make them out, not that they're that important. 99% of them make no sense at all (especially the bits in Spanish!). 8.5/10

Track 6 ~ Eriatarka: Starts off with drums, a bit like the second track, then a more laid back guitar takes the lead. Gets more exciting as it goes on. 8/10

Track 7 ~ Cicatriz Esp: Quite different to the live version that I review a couple of weeks ago. Starts the same, but goes along a different path (ie. less weird and shorter than the live version, still a bit weird at one part though). A good chorus. 8/10

Track 8 ~ This Apparatus Must be Unearthed: A bit of a crazy song, really good guitars though. 8/10

Track 9 ~ Televators: I think this one was a single. Probably the only Mars Volta track that could conceivable have an acoustic version made of it. Strange, creepy lyrics, eg. something about "half-eaten corneas". There's a weird bit at the end which reminds me of the sound effects from Dragonball Z (not that I ever willingly watched it of course) 9/10

Track 10 ~ Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt: An odd name for a song, but that doesn't stop it being their masterpiece. Like Cicatriz, this is on the live album too and also has a different sound. Maybe a bit more restrained in this version, but it works so well. The lyrics are pure psychedelia, they make no sense to me at all, but that doesn't matter, the music's awesome. I've listened to this song a ridiculous number of times on my MP3 player lately, and listening to the same song over and over is very unlike me, so it must be good. (Maybe my German exchange partner's habits have rubbed off on me ). Yes, it is good. The prolonged calm before the storm towards the end is unexpected and a touch of pure musical genius. I love that bit, reminds me slightly of the Stone Roses. Perhaps giving it half a bonus mark will put my mind at ease so I won't have to keep listening to it all the time. 10.5/10

Track 11 ~ Ambuletz: The UK Bonus track. Weird, basically. 7/10

Average Track Score: 8.5/10

Originality: Really original and refreshing. It's a revival of psychedelic rock, mixed with a hint of Led Zeppelin and bags of musical talent. How anyone can make music that sounds so good is beyond comprehension. 9.5/10

Variety: Their exciting heavy rock style is punctuated by moments of weirdness and improvisation. It's not quite what you would call "cross-genre", it's more of a genre to its own, which happens to be an amalgam of influences from certain parts of the musical world. 8/10

One of my favourite albums of the 21st century so far.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2010 8:22 PM BST


Love Travels At Illegal Speeds
Love Travels At Illegal Speeds
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Graham Coxon - seems to be sussing out this mainstream punk business, 4 Feb. 2007
Track 1 ~ Standing on My Own Again: The first single off the new album. I didn't like it at first, but it's grown on me a lot. A fairly repetetive guitar riff carries on through this track, but it all fits together well. 8/10

Track 2 ~ I Can't Look at Your Skin: Simple and upbeat, bits of this track remind me very slightly of The Clash, even though Graham Coxon sounds absolutely nothing like Joe Strummer. It's a bit obvious listening to the first half of the track that he's going to stick a guitar solo in somewhere, he always does with this type of track. 7/10

Track 3 ~ Don't Let Your Man Know: Similarly upbeat and punk-influenced. Has a solid bass-line and a decent chorus. 7/10

Track 4 ~ Just a State of Mind: One of the few slow tracks on the album, with a chorus that sticks in your head. There's a good little bridge after the chorus, or maybe that's actually the chorus... who knows... 8/10

Track 5 ~ You And I: I think this is his next single. A happy-sounding song, with a similar sort of simple guitar pattern to the previous tracks. 8/10

Track 6 ~ Gimme Some Love: A good intro, leading into a good punk rock track. A very simple, catchy chorus. One of the better tracks on the album. 8.5/10

Track 7 ~ I Don't Wanna Go Out: The highlight of the album. If you like the Arctic Monkeys, you'll definitely love this track. It's a similar style, but much better than any track Arctic Monkeys have recorded. Great guitar riffs throughout and bridge towards the middle of the track is excellent. My brother pointed this track out to me when he bought the album as the best track Coxon has recorded and I think I might agree with him, it's certainly on a par with "Freakin' Out" (From "Happiness in Magazines") and "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" (From the "Golden D" album). 10/10 Best of 2006 in my opinion

Track 8 ~ Don't Believe Anything I Say: An acoustic guitar accompanies this track, there's not really much to say. It's not the most exciting track ever, the chorus isn't bad though and the guitar solo livens things up a little bit. 6/10

Track 9 ~ Tell It Like It Is: That whole repetetive strumming thing that comes up in the verses of this track is a bit too common in this album and the previous one. The track goes somewhere at the chorus though. 6/10

Track 10 ~ Flights To The Sea (Lovely Rain): The second slow track of the album, with an acoustic guitar, bass and some drums, and a couple more instruments that chip in here and there, a flute for example. Coxon goes for some fairly high notes in this one and - although he sounds like he's straining a bit - he gets there. 8/10

Track 11 ~ What's He Got: Sounds similar to half the other tracks on the album, both in sound and pattern (ie. verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus x2). 6/10

Track 12 ~ You Always Let Me Down: A bit different, with an organ that comes in now and again. Definitely one of the album's better tracks. He just seems to let himself go a bit more in this track than the ones that sound "samey". 8/10

Track 13 ~ See A Better Day: A slow track to finish the album. I like this track. 8/10

Average Track Score ~ 7.58

Originality: Given that this album is quite similar to his previous one, and it is a more mainstream sound than he used to have, it's not going to score particularly highly. He definitely has a punk sound in his recent albums, whereas his earlier albums were a lot more experimental. 5/10

Variety: Too many tracks that sound too similar to each other. At least he does manage to throw a few slow tracks in there. It seems as though Coxon has gained recognition as a solo artist with his two most recent albums, but that has come at the expense of a great deal of variety it seems. 5/10

Overall, a good album and well worth the puchase if you liked "Happiness in Magazines", but expect to hear quite a few filler tracks.


FIFA Football 2004 (PC)
FIFA Football 2004 (PC)

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars better gameplay, spoilt by inaccuracy, 19 Dec. 2003
My anticipation of FIFA 2004 was that of cautious excitement, after the disappointment of FIFA 2003, the saying "once bitten, twice shy" was very relevant. EA Sports made their fans quite a lot of promises, some of which were fulfilled, others were not. Thes included a revolutionary off-the-ball system, deeper tactics and player attributes and a career mode, in which fans of lower division teams could lead their team to success (finally some luck for Darlington F.C.!). I will come to these features later.
To begin with, the graphics have improved a little, not much, but it is noticable. It's just little things like players' kits getting dirty during a match, and better detail of players' faces. Much of the commentary (provided by John Motson and Ally McCoist) is taken from FIFA 2003, and that commentary is very good compared to that of most football games. However, the new commentary is often very inaccurate. John Motson once described my beloved Darlinton as being arch-rivals of Wimbledon F.C. and similarly of Doncaster, which certainly isn't true. He also seems to have great difficulty in pronouncing the name "Wainwright", he says something that sounds like "Skrupskriss". Don't ask me why, I really don't know. Overall, the general atmosphere of the game is pretty good compared to such rivals as Pro Evolution Soccer.
Now what about this off-the-ball system that the critics have been raving about? Well, it takes a lot of practice to master it, and you'll occasionally wonder why you bother, but once you have really got the hang of it and know how to work it into your game, it will come in very useful. I think this feature was mainly designed for the PS2. The dual analog pad would work much better with this feature, i feel.
With FIFA 2003, I don't think I will be met with much argument when I say that the realism of the gameplay was somewhat lacking in presence. Players were often very unresponsive to the commands of the "12th man" (or woman as the case may be) and frustration was commonplace. FIFA 2004 generally feels much better to play, with more realistic tackles, shots and set pieces. There is, however, still some unresponsiveness (is that a real word?), but much less than in its predecessor. It looks like EA Sports are trying to make up for the under-par gameplay often shown in its releases and they're making a better job of it than I had expected.
I am very glad to see that it is now possible to control clubs in the Nationwide League, something which the game has lacked in previous titles. Whilst most of the real players are included in the game, EA Sports do not appear to have made any sort of a reasonable attempt at accurately defining their positions or their skills. Some players who left Darlington months before the game's release are still at the club in the game, and all of the players they signed during the summer have also been left out. This has spoilt the experience, somewhat. One of the biggest disappointments is, once again, that the Creation Centre has been omitted from the game. Surely if they are going to make the lower division players so inaccurately, they should include a tool with which the gamer can rectify these mistakes. With any luck, a Creation Centre will be available to download in the near future. In Career mode it is a little too easy to sign premiership quality players with a 3rd Division team, often seeming rather unrealistic. Overall, Career mode is a good feature, but EA Sports need to work on it and make more of an effort to get it right next time.
There are one or two less important things, which I am going to mention. It's good to see the return of "Training Mode", which you can use to perfect your set pieces or even to have a training match, perhaps to practice working the off-the-ball system into your game, or just to mess about and make as many malicious fouls as possible. Either way, it is a welcome addition to the game.
There are much more songs, or "Trax" as EA Sports call them, most of which, to my taste, are pretty lame. There are some good songs included in the game, however, "Red Morning Light" by "Kings of Leon" being the best of them. For some reason beyond my knowledge, only about one minute of each song is played, before the next one starts. I would much rather hear the whole of "Fools Gold" by "The Stone Roses" than just the intro. Most people are unlikely to be too bothered about this, however, so I won't say any more on it.
A free demo of Total Club Manager 2004 comes with the game, and allows you to test the new "Football Fusion" which lets you play your matches from Total Club Manager on FIFA 2004. I expect it is a very useful feature for those who have both of these games, but to be honest, I am not at all tempted to buy the full version of Total Club Manager.
This is, clearly, a vast improvement on FIFA 2004, and I am enjoying the game more each time I play it, having disliked it to begin with. I was tempted to give the game 4 stars, but there are far too many inaccuracies to warrant this. I would recommend this, especially to Nationwide League fans, but do not be misled by the so-called improved tactics and management. For the management side of things, I am happy sticking with Championship Manager.


Delta Force 1 (PC CD)
Delta Force 1 (PC CD)
Offered by Atronica
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK online...not so OK on single player..., 13 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Delta Force 1 (PC CD) (Video Game)
This game was clearly built for online gaming rather than the single player. But even online it can get quite annoying. The single player is none other than abysmal. The AI is shockingly terrible and it poses no challenge whatsoever, even to an inexperienced gamer like me. The graphics are also nothing to boast about and the way that the soldiers move is unrealistic.
Online, this game can be alright, but it is ruined by cheats! The game also tends to lag a lot and this seriously messes up the gaming experience.
This game is cheap, however, so if you want something to do when you're bored I wouldnt discourage you from buying Delta Force, but dont expect to get too drawn into it.


FIFA Football 2003 (PC)
FIFA Football 2003 (PC)

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He Shoots........ ohh he hits the post, 6 Nov. 2002
When I heard about fifa 2003, and its supposed vast improvemnts on its predecessors, I was very excited. And yes, much of the game has improved quite a lot, but WHY did they have to get rid of that fun feature of creating your own players and teams. On the previous FIFAs, I used to make teams of me and my friends, but I was quite, well very, disappointed when I bought the game and discovered that this option wasn't available. Another thing which confused me was this new set piece model. It's a lot more compicated than the old one, and i now see David Beckham booting a free-kick in a scorable position, 20 metres over the bar, and thats when I press the "shoot" key when the pointer's over the green bit (you'll see what I mean if you buy the game). And what really does my head in, is that now, for some reason, there is just one button for heading the ball, so you get no choice at all on how you want your player to head the ball, and that doesn't seem to work most of the time anyway.
However, not everything has changed for the worse. The graphics are now, comparatively, fantastic, and every player who you would recognise in real life, you would recognise in the game. One example is Ruud Van Nistelrooy, he is instantly recognisable, as his face and hair are spot on. Edgar Davids now has his protective glasses, and they even took the time to get Beckham's hair absolutely right (but no doubt that'll be out-dated 10 times over by next month by his ever-changing hairstyles).
Another interesting feature, now, is that you can choose whether the two competing teams are wearing their home or away strips, so now you don't end up with strip-clashes, or the home team wearing their away strip.
And now, for those people who like to sit back and admire their fantastic work, EA Sports have added a new, interesting feature which shows the highlights of the match at the end of your match, so you can admire that 40-yard screamer time, and time again. The game is now presented in a very TV-style way, you will notice this by the match highlights and the arrows which appear during set-pieces to say how many yards out you are, and the corrosponding team badges that appear at that teams end at kick-off.
They have also added a brand new game mode called "Total club Championship" in which you can pick one of Europe's top 20 clubs, and play a tournament against the other 19, but im yet to try out that game mode.
I wouldn't say, on the whole, that the game-play has improved so much in this version compared to the others, but if you want it so as you can play a game with all the updated transfers that have taken place over the last year, and the brand new graphics and features, then I reccomend that you buy it.


Carmageddon TDR 2000
Carmageddon TDR 2000

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most ENTERTAINING racing game ever, 22 Oct. 2002
This review is from: Carmageddon TDR 2000 (Video Game)
I was VERY encouraged to buy this game when I had played on the demo. The graphics, were, compared to most other games at the time, fantastic, and the detail put in to car damage was unbelievable. I also liked the absolute funniness (is that a word??) of this game. You come across pretty entertaining power-ups and weapons, such as zombie flame-throwers - which you use to burn those green-blooded zombies to a crisp - and a power up which turns your car into solid granite, or turns the suspension in to jelly.
There are a wide variety of odd-looking, but fun to drive cars, which you can buy if you can blow them up in a race that is, one of which is basically a hamster-wheel with a couple of axes stuck on the side, and another fine example of a car is a mining truck, which is about x50 the size of any of the other cars in the game.
The missions which you will come across during this game, are also very fun and well thought out, you have to do things like, forming road blocks, and laying mines and all sorts to stop gang leaders in their tracks, or planting bombs in sky-scrapers so as they will collapse and give you an ideal ramp to use to jump spectacularly over the city walls and in to the next level.
There are an interesting selection of environments in this game, such as Hollowood - an area complete with a stunt track, and a somewhat stereotypical wild-west scene. There is also a place set in the Australian Outback, where you can go wild running over quite cute zombie - wallabies and llamas. Thankfully, there is also a Free-Driving game mode, which lets you race (or, of course, go on a mad killing rage) without the pressure of that annoying time-limit. There are 3-ways to win a race in Carmageddon TDR 2000. You can either: complete all of the laps (that's the boring way) you can waste all of your opponent's cars, or you can simply kill all the zombies. GREAT FUN. A must buy, for any fun loving, gore loving gamer.


Hitman: Codename 47
Hitman: Codename 47
Offered by FUN-N-MORE
Price: £4.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Im sure that's not legal in this country!, 15 Sept. 2002
This review is from: Hitman: Codename 47 (Video Game)
Hitman:codename 47 is probably the most realistic game i have EVER played. It combines stealth with tactics in almost every mission. There are lots of brilliant weapons and other handy little gadgets, which get you through the game. You can do lots of fun illegal things like planting car bombs, assassinating gang leaders and drug lords, or you can just go crazy with a minigun and kill every innocent by-stander in sight. The only down-side to this game is that you will fail all your exams, because you didn't revise. You will be too busy playing on this game!!


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