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Reviews Written by
Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw (Midlands, UK)

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Pro Evolution Soccer 5 Platinum (PS2)
Pro Evolution Soccer 5 Platinum (PS2)
Offered by marxwax
Price: £6.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just treading water till PS3?, 13 Jun. 2006
Pro Evo 4 was such a small improvement on Pro Evo 3 that I vowed not to waste £30 on version 5 as soon it came out.

My judgement proved sound.

Pro Evo 5 maintains the lead as the Best Football Game Ever, but if you're at all good at Pro Evo 4, there's no reason to buy it - unless you're a Wigan fan.

Because all that has changed is players move slightly more realistically (momentum is a big factor), opponents are more cynical (shame!), and as a result the game as a whole is a little bit slower. If you're any good at Pro Evo 4 you'll find nothing to challenge you here - I went straight into winning games at level 5.

What is most disappointing is that, other than incorporating the new entrants into the leagues, there are no new teams. And those hoping to recreate the World Cup will be disappointed to find there is no Ghana, Togo or Trinidad & Tobago, while the structure of the competition also prevents you having the winners of group B play the runners up in Group A.

I hate to give this game less than 5 stars but £30-40 is simply too much to pay for an updated teamlist. Even in Platinum release £12 still seems steep. I'm saving my money for the new Playstation in the hope that the extra muscle will allow Konami to do something extra.

The Autumn of the Patriarch (International Writers)
The Autumn of the Patriarch (International Writers)
by Gabriel García Márquez
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading - but not his best, 13 Jun. 2006
I've read and enjoyed many of Marquez's books, and would easily rate him as one of the best living writers. But if you want a place to start with Marquez, don't start here.

The Autumn of the Patriarch is an experiment in form. Here Marquez eschews the use of paragraphs (or, more accurately, each chapter consists of one paragraph which can last for aroud 30 pages), and can go for pages without a full stop.

What's more, the narrator seems to change even within the same sentence, moving from "I" to "he" to "we", while the information presented (you guess) comes from a soldier, a lover, a mother, the patriarch himself.

The result of these techniques is that as a reader, you relax into the book, worry less about what is being said and who is saying it, and instead let the imagery wash over you, resulting in an almost impressionistic experience of a life, rather than a story as such.

But there lies the weakness. There really isn't much of a story here, no beginning, middle and end. There are the usual fantastic elements of a Marquez novel - miracles and disasters included - but little sense to it all. That may be the very point, and in that it is successful, but as a reading experience this just isn't as enjoyable as his other books, and as a stylistic technique Jose Saramago does it better.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two alternative universes for the price of one, 1 Mar. 2006
This is the fourth or fifth Murakami book I've read, and quite easily the best after Norwegian Wood.
The book switches between two stories: a wonderfully curious and imaginative adventure through an alternative future-now Japan (Hard-Boiled Wonderland); and a mysterious exploration of a walled old city (the End of the World). The two stories eventually connect in a way that causes a wonderful collision of thoughts and questions in the reader's mind, but I won't give anything away by saying anything more.
Like all good dystopias, this is thoroughly well thought-through and researched; Kafkaesque comes to mind, as does Alice in Wonderland. But this is married with Murakami's postmodernist bent and a feeling that he's having as much fun as you are. Very enjoyable, totally escapist, and you'll want to dive back into this world once you've left it.

Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers (Inside Technology)
Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers (Inside Technology)
by Pablo J. Boczkowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential contribution to OJ literature, 1 Mar. 2006
One of the best pieces of research into online journalism I've read (with possibly one of the dullest covers).
Boczkowski spent time in the online newsrooms of three newspapers: the New York Times technology section; the Houston Chronicle's Virtual Voyager project; and New Jersey Online's Community Connection inititative. Whether by design or accident, the sample conveniently crosses three different types of online journalism - the transferrence of print to online; experiments in multimedia storytelling; and user-generated content.
Rather than adopt a strictly journalistic theoretical framework, Boczkowski draws on media theory, technology theory, and organisational theory to produce an analysis that steers refreshingly clear of the technological determinism that normally characterises writing on online journalism (e.g. the "citizen journalism will make all journalists redundant" hype).
In conclusion, Boczkowksi questions the assertion of Gieber (1964) that news "is what newspapermen [sic] make it":
"the news in the online environment is what those contributing to its production make it [...] at least two transformations appear to distinguish the production of new-media news from the typical case of print and broadcast media: the news seems to be shaped by a greater and more varied groups of actors, and this places a premium on the practices that coordinate productive activities across these groups. This, in turn, seems to influence the content and form of online news in three ways. The news moves from being mostly journalist-centred, communicated as a monologue, and primarily local, to also being increasingly audience-centred, part of multiple conversations, and micro-local.
"[...] studies of print and broadcast newsrooms ... have tended to focus on the work of editors and reporters ... it is reasonable to speculate that at least four additional groups of players may be having a growing degree of agency in new-media news production. First [...] two newsrooms, the online one and its traditional media counterpart [...] Second, advertising and marketing personnel [...] Third, technical and design personnel [...] Fourth ... users appear to shape what is seen as newsworthy, who gets to communicate about it, and how it gets covered.
"...Becker (1982) coined the expression "art world" to refer to "all the people whose activities are necessary to the production of [works of art]" Much as art is not only the product of artists, news in the online environment ... may be what emerges from "news worlds"" (p183-184)
A welcome contribution to the literature, and one we should be building on.

Bad Company: Bk. 4 (Best of 2000 A.D.)
Bad Company: Bk. 4 (Best of 2000 A.D.)
by Jim McCarthy
Edition: Paperback

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book four of the series, 4 Feb. 2006
This is book four - the Krool Heart - of the series that sees Danny Franks transformed from raw recruit to war hardened member of Bad Company. It's as good as you'd expect from Peter Milligan, who went on to produce some excellent stuff for DC.

The Day of the Triffids
The Day of the Triffids
by John Wyndham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pageturner that poses countless questions, 28 Jan. 2006
Forget all the mental images you may have of this book; forget the film; in fact, forget men-eating plants altogether. Because this book is not about any of those things.
What it is about is hard to pin down. About how thin the veneer of civilisation is; about the dangers of global weaponry; about how different people would react to an apocalypse; about how society itself is best organised, or why societies are organised the way they are. What is certain is that, at various points in reading this book, you are forced to ask yourself questions to which there are no correct answers. And that is the mark of truly classic fiction.
What's more, this is a terrific story, impeccably told. A true pageturner that had me desperate to know what happened next, and yet wishing it never to end. And enough twists and turns to pack it full of incident. I'm now off to read Wyndham's other works, but I recommend you buy this now.

Shadows Of The Pomegranate Tree :
Shadows Of The Pomegranate Tree :
by Tariq Ali
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling story simply written, 28 Jan. 2006
This tale of a muslim family facing the 'reconquest' of Spain by the Christian rulers is a compelling read that combines a number of threads, as we follow the idealistic oldest son, the hero-worshipping younger son, and a number of particularly strong female characters, in their reactions to the threat of forced conversions.
The reactions vary, and are treated without judgement, in a style that is surprisingly plain and without hyperbole. In some ways it would be good to have a more vivid picture of this little-described age of Moorish Spain, but the clarity leaves the story to force itself through without being muddied. An enjoyable story that makes you seek out the sequels.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2010 12:38 PM BST

Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your Baby
Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your Baby
by Melinda Blau
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good stuff buried amongst the padding, 9 Oct. 2005
This book is roughly 20% useful, 20% rubbish, and 60% fluff. The advice here is useful, occasionally a little too prescriptive (although compared to many books, this is quite relaxed), but padded out with far too much waffle.
It can be summed up as follows: give your baby some activity after a feed, and they'll sleep longer.
But that, of course, isn't enough reason to buy a book, and so Hogg (or her cowriter) cleverly structures it into the 'E.A.S.Y.' system, with a chapter each devoted to eating, activity, sleeping and 'your time'. There are also Cosmo-style quizzes such as 'what type of baby do you have' (tip: skip to the descriptions and decide yourself), and other catchy acronyms.
This is all interspersed with brand-building stuff about her Yorkshire background and her Nan's wisdom, which I'm sure the Americans love but which grates very quickly.
But a quick scan-read will give you a number of helpful tips such as burping the baby *before* you feed as well as after; placing the new nappy underneath the old one when you're about to change it; and not trying too hard to stimulate your new baby with fancy toys (which actually overstimulate them and make them cry) when actually they're quite happy to stare at a piece of cardboard for half an hour, or, in my case it seems, gawp at my face while trying to keep their head from bumping into my chin.

Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
by Nelson Mandela
Edition: Paperback

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be taught in every school, 29 Aug. 2005
I'm not normally one for autobiography, but this book goes beyond autobiography - it is, in short, a history book, told by a man who lived through, and eventually made history, during one of the most incredible periods of the last century. It is also one of the most amazing stories you'll ever read.
It is one thing to be aware of the existence of apartheid; it is quite another to know and understand its history. Schools generally don't teach histories like this, and that's a terrible shame, because these stories are hugely relevant and useful to our political awareness today.
It is unbelievable, for example, to think that as recently as 1993, black people were not allowed to vote in South Africa. But it is equally amazing to read how a whole political system can be changed - how a government can effectively negotiate itself out of power, when it knows it can no longer sustain an unfair system.
Twinned with this political history is the forgiveness, wisdom, humility and understanding of a man who stands as a true example of what it costs to stand up for your beliefs. Truly inspiring.

Expensive Shit / He Miss Road
Expensive Shit / He Miss Road

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That mind-blowing moment, 3 Jun. 2005
It happens so rarely: you get an album by an artist you've vaguely heard of, with no expectations of any kind. But as you listen to each track you start to become more and more excited, thinking, "How could I not know about this man? How could I not have heard this music before? And where can I get hold of more of this stuff?"
ES/HMR is an amazing collection of songs that I've since found out are classified as "Afro-beat" but which are really very difficult to classify. Funky, rhythmical, but also quite jazzy in places. Talking Heads' Remain In Light album is an obvious comparison. Lyrics often don't arrive until 5 minutes into a song, and while the songs can run to 10 minutes or more there's more than enough to justify it, with building keyboard and rhythmic guitar the main attraction. The two title tracks are the best but overall this is a hypnotising collection of songs that deserve the widest audience.

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