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Reviews Written by
Matthew Millington "vikingmatt" (Norway)

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Phoenix Squadron
Phoenix Squadron
by Rowland White
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A long journey, 29 April 2009
This review is from: Phoenix Squadron (Hardcover)
Phoenix Sqadron is a very readable account of the Fleet Air Arm's mission to support the threatened colony of British Honduras, now Belize. It also aptly describes the politics surrounding the use and existence of our carrier fleet, the fleet air arm and the history of Belize. The British Honduras 'incident', along with the Falklands conflict, clearly had serious implications for todays carrier fleet.

Where the book falls down is in its sensalisation of the actual mission, and the consequences this has for central american security. The aim of putting two strike jets over a foreign land hundreds of miles away would certainly have had an effect in terms of showing the flag, but the book never really tells us how close the invasion of BH came to being a real event. Once the jets make a visit, the storyline petters out and one wonders if a simple fly-past could have been so effective.

As for the mission, the details are well laid out and the skill, courage and dedication of all involved is easy to see. That being said, this mission lacks the cutting edge of the Vulcan raid on Port Stanley. Whilst the mission required clever planning and logistics, hard work from the ground crew and skill and professionalism from the pilots, this is what they are paid for and trainned to do. The book makes the whole episode sound like a life and death struggle, but at no point were the pilots over enemy terretory (except 5 minutes in Cuban airspace), and no weapons were carried or fired. The fly past occurred over a friendly city, with a runway available if needed. Challenging, yes! Achieving the impossible - hardly.

In an attempt to sell the story, the author goes OTT with the superlatives. It is a shame as this is a story that few know about, and one that show cases what our military forces can and do achieve.

The Ghost
The Ghost
by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No ghosts in this book, 25 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Ghost (Paperback)
Did I read the same book as the people who gave their reviews on the back cover. I suspect not. This is not the suspence filled page turning that I expected. Indeed, nothing much really happens until about 200 pages in, and then the excitement level only just reaches "interesting". A huge disappointed from a talented author. The only saving grace as far as I can tell is that we are introduced to the world of ghost writing - not something most of us know much about. That being said, I can see why this book was reduced in price on the bookshop selves.

The Moscow Option: An Alternative Second World War
The Moscow Option: An Alternative Second World War
by David Downing
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.99

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but heavy going, 3 April 2008
An interesting scenario, but I got blogged down in the very detailed descriptions of individual units fighting a series of very detailed battles. Not quite what I was expecting or looking for, but the concept has potential.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2009 9:56 PM BST

An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper-class Idiots in Charge
An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper-class Idiots in Charge
by John O'Farrell
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As interesting as history gets!, 28 Nov. 2007
Good book this, which i would heartily recommend to others. Very entertaining and thouroughly interesting. Whilst the author himself admits that many of the facts in this traul back in time may be somewhat 'off the mark', I am sure that most of the facts and figures bear some resembelance to what actually occurred all those years ago. The whit and humour is well balanced with a well structured chronological breakdown of how Britain came to be. The best reason for buying this book is the writing, which makes this 500 page history lesson easy to run through. Perfect for holidays, travel or just something to read when on the loo.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [2006] [DVD] [2004]
Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [2006] [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Edward James Olmos
Price: £9.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity, 31 Oct. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Since its inception the new Battlestar Galactica has been a breath of fresh air. This series is mind blowingly good, and is without doubt the best sci-fi on the market at present. Series 1 was brillant, and series 2 pretty much maintained the level of excitement (despite a few filler episodes). Series 3 starts well with the human escape from New Caprica, with the first 4 episodes given over to nothing else. Some of the scenes in these first shows, particularly episode 4 when Galactica jumps back, are worth buying the series for alone.

However, the problems with series 3 emerge once the fleet is back to together and on the road to Earth. Life on Galactica is pretty much as normal, whereas we get a new view of life on a Cylon basestar. This is where things go wrong. For a species of machines, the Cylons are given over to some very wierd and emotional human responses. The whole storyline starts to fall apart as the credability of the Cylon actions lessens. When the series started, the Cylons were cold and unscrupulous machines. Now we are supposed to believe that they have souls, that they dream, that they believe in God(s). Oh come on! What is the point in being a machine if you fall for all the 'human' propoganda. It is one thing to question your programming, another to become another being. Think of DATA om StarTrek (next generation). He certainly has cause to question his origins, but he never stopped being an android, and his credibilty remained throughout the series. Not so with our Cylon adversaries.

And so we move on to Baltar and the Cylon 6. It has always been a bit wierd when 6 pops up in Baltar's mind whilst he is having conversations with others. Now in series 3, he appears as her imaginary friend. It confuses the plot and make the whole thing ridiculous.

Throughout series 3 the search for earth continues, but never really goes anywhere. There is no real progress, and it is not certain that the fleet have actually gotten closer to their goal at all. Add to that several very dodgy episodes (one almost entirely in a boxing ring), and series 3 really doesn't cut it.

Of course, the writers and producers come up with the goods in the last couple of episodes, and there is a twist at the very end which is likely to make series 4 much better TV than series 3. All in all, the show fell of the rails in series 3 (perhaps partly due to its uncertain future). lets hope it finds its way back for the grand finale.

Final Impact (Axis of Time Trilogy)
Final Impact (Axis of Time Trilogy)
by John Birmingham
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twists and turns that'll make you "what if", 5 May 2007
A 21nd century carrier battle fleet gets sent back in time and thrown smack into the middle of WW2. based over 3 books (Final Impact being the finale), this is a compelling story that can be analysed for hours on end.

I found the first book, Weapons of Choice, is a whirlwind of activity, so much so that it can be very confusing, which is perhaps the purpose. Book 2, Designated Targets, takes us one step further, whilst Final Impact is a fitting end to a great concept. I found this last book the most interesting, although it ends up being a fairly straight forward 'war novel' after a while.

By splitting the story over 3 books, John Birmingham is able to follow a realistic timeline, with several months or years between each book. Saying that, this creates gaps in the story which aern't always explained, and characters dissappear during the 'time off'. Regardless, the plot is easy enough to follow, and quite gripping at times.

I cannot help but think that the author has used the 1980 film, The Final Countdown, starring Martin Sheen and Kirk Douglas (where the USS Nimitz gets transported 40 years back in time to the eve of the attack on Peal Habour) as a source of inspiration for his books, although the axis of time trilogy is much more detailed, and includes a broader spectra of activity, from naval to special forces, with the srory told from many different sides.

Despite being occassionally confusing this series of books is to be recommended to all those interested in alternative history.

Space Race [DVD] [2005]
Space Race [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Richard Dillane

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fitting compliment, 21 April 2007
This review is from: Space Race [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
This DVD box-set (3 disks) is a fitting compliment to other series of a similar topic, most notably Tom Hanks' "from the earth to the moon". Space Race is 50% documentary, 50% drama. The story is narratated when needed, but also able acted out. The four episodes each cover an important step in the Race to Space, and I found the entire 'production' interesting and entertaining. As for quality, it's made by the BEEB, so the standard is excellent as always. The historical accuracy of the series is also bound to be spot on. It is only a shame that the series ends so quickly. I bit more depth and a longer timeline would not have ruined this fine series, although I accept that the actually APOLLO landings are covered many times elsewhere. Why the BEEB have chosen to use 3 disks instead of 2 is uncertain. Eposides 1 and 2 fit nicely onto the first disk, but eposides 3 and 4 have a disk each. Some sort of marketing ploy perhaps, but I just got frustrated about having to change the disks between each episode.

Overall, a good protrail of the first step in the frantic race to the stars. It makes you think what we could achieve in this world if similar resources where given over to other worthy projects.

Brian Lara Cricket 2007 (PC DVD)
Brian Lara Cricket 2007 (PC DVD)
Offered by Retrotrader68
Price: £19.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising start, 11 April 2007
I received my Amazon copy of Brain Lara Cricket 2007 yesteday, and installed it immeadiately. The first challenge is to bypass the software problems on installation, such as experienced by another reviewer of this game. It appears that those of us with DELL computers have to download a patch in order to make the game work before we even start. Fortunately the Codemasters website was easy to find and use.

I have not played cricket on a pc before, so this was all new. The first stop then was the training school, and I quickly made it through the bowling and batting lessons (about an hour). I decided to play a 20-20 game after this rather than progress with fielding lessons, and I already knew enough to enjoy the game. Playing on the easiest of easy levels I was anialated by the A1 in just 11 overs for about 60 runs. Not to be dispirated I tried again, and this time comfortably beat the A1 with room to spare - without even knowing how to catch.

The game is very playable for anyone who understands cricket, and I enjoyed the challenge. Performance wise I am operating a new pc with 2 GB RAM and a fancy graphics card so everything worked well. The menus are not very intuative, but with trail and error, you find your way eventually.

I am looking forward to spending more time with the game, and may even try some on-line games later on. I only hope that the A1 is a more challenging opponent when the difficultly level increases, although reading over reviews I was worried that I may already have the whole thing cracked. That would be seriously dissappointing.

Battlefield 2 (PC DVD)
Battlefield 2 (PC DVD)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £6.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top draw!, 17 Mar. 2007
A very, very good game!

I don't know if you can ever call a game truely "life like", but BF2 is very impressive regardless. Single player is a bit of a non-event, but Multiplayer is brilliant. Play on your own, or as part of an integrated command structure. Either way, you'll be hooked.

When I purchased this game, my PC wasn't really upto it, and I had to be patient and wait until i upgraded my hardware. Trying to play the game with below par specs is a mugs game, so make sure you have what is needed.

Once the hardware was improved, the whole experience has been fantastic. The gameplay is just excellent, and although there are only a limited number of maps each has its own character and thousands of corners, hills, hiding places and ambush traps.

When you first play, you'll be confused by the menu screen. It is fairly complicated, and you'll need to spend time trying out the various sides. Saying that, the amount of information that is available, incl. personal states, game info., and comparative date, is well worth rumaging through.

You'll need to 'patch' your purchased copy of BF2 with the latest upgrades and software mods. This is fairly straght forward if you follow the tips, although it can take a while since the files are big.

I also have friends who are struggling to get on-line due to firewall issues.

You can start training for on-line battles in the single player mode. But better yet, why not go into multi-player, open your own map and then practise to your hearts content with all the tricks and toys at your disposal without getting shot at. Certainly this is a good way to learn how to fly jets and choopers.

This game has become a type of religion to some, and you can quickly tell who is playing 24/7 since there are some exceptionally good pilots out there, as well as great commanders. If only we all had that much time. Saying that, it is fun to watch your own progression as you win awards, medals and promotions along the way. One thing that is quite scary is the stats. page which amongst other things shows how many hours you have played for - ouch! is it really THAT long......

Enjoy. You will.

A Piano in the Pyrenees: The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains
A Piano in the Pyrenees: The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains
by Tony Hawks
Edition: Paperback

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good effort, 2 Feb. 2007
Tony Hawks is a fine author of light hearted 'travel books'. He has certainly been around in his time, and his latest adventures to the Pyrenees provides an entertaining diary of his experiences.

This book not does have the same comic content as when Tony made his pilgrimage around Irland, but then draging a fridge around the Emerald Isle is hard to follow. Saying that, there are still a lot of light hearted moments.

I share some of Tony's experiences, being another Brit who has moved abroad, and this makes many of the stories in this book all the more relevant to me as a reader. Getting used to and accepted into a foreign culture is no easy taks, but Tony jumps in with both feet. It is pleasing to see that he is more than willing to make a fool of himself through his use of the French language and other English eccentricities - a must if you are truely going to fit in.

A good read. Pleasant, interesting and witty.

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