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R. Keech (Berwick upon Tweed, UK)

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Sony PlayStation Vita WiFi Console Tearaway Bundle with LittleBigPlanet & 16GB Memory Card
Sony PlayStation Vita WiFi Console Tearaway Bundle with LittleBigPlanet & 16GB Memory Card

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 20 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Had overlooked the Vita until I needed one as part of an in-laws survival kit this Christmas! This pack is ridiculous value for money (£150 at time of purchase), comes with two outstanding games (digital downloads, not physical copies). Better yet, it comes with a 16GB memory card too which is plenty to store a bunch of games on! I'm a playstation plus member, so the same day the system was delivered, I had downloaded 6 games onto the system by lunch time! All at no extra cost!!

With Vita's PS4 connectivity too, the future looks bright for this tiny wonder!

We Wish You a Merry Chris
We Wish You a Merry Chris
Price: £13.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas isn't Christmas without this, 20 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This album goes into the CD player in my car in November and doesn't come out until January. It's amazing from start to finish. You won't hear another Christmas album that's this good (including Take 6: He is Christmas, which is a distant second place).
Like harmony? Like Christmas? You'll love this. Get it bought.

The Last of Us - Left Behind  [Online Game Code]
The Last of Us - Left Behind [Online Game Code]
Price: £11.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality not Quantity, 20 Feb 2014
If you played and loved The Last of Us, this DLC is almost certainly for you. It gives you a 2 and a half to three hour campaign that fleshes out a lot of Ellie's back story - in that Naughty Dog way. Filled with subtlety and silence, the story develops as you play - rather than just through endless cutscenes. Its a beautiful story well told and definitely adds something to The Last of Us canon and lets you see a different perspective on some of the events of the main game.

At £12, it is arguably expensive for the amount of time it takes to clear, especially if you think you'll only play it once. However, I've cleared it twice already with a third attempt on the hardest difficulty still for me to do! It is pretty challenging, even on hard mode - let alone survivor. The meat of the game is about exploration and character development though, so if you're looking for all out action - this isn't it.

My advice would be actually DON'T buy this DLC - buy the Last of Us Season Pass instead (! With that you'll get all the multiplayer DLC (some already released, some yet to come) AND you get this Left Behind DLC with it for free anyway!

If you're not playing The Last of Us online, I strongly advise you to start! It's unique and fantastic- not like any other online experience I've had! Also makes this DLC extremely good value for money!

At the end of the day - a book can be 1000 pages, a movie can be 4 hours long, a game can give you 30 hours of play time. But if they're rubbish - you're not going to finish them, you're not going to read or watch them again. A 3 hour campaign may well seem short, but you're going to back to it again and again.

A Dance With Dragons: Part 2 After the Feast (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
A Dance With Dragons: Part 2 After the Feast (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You can still warn people without trashing the book!, 3 Jun 2012
Hey there, this book has 35+ 1 star 'reviews' of the book - that are nearly ALL the result of poor research coupled with misleading advertising! Yes, this IS just the second half of the 5th book in the Song of Fire and Ice series by George RR Martin.

If you already bought book 5 'A Dance with Dragons', don't buy this as you already own it.

If you bought Dance with Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust - then DO buy this as it's the rest of the awesome story.

There you go, fair warning - without trashing the book.

Home Again
Home Again
Price: £3.99

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just my opinion, but..., 19 Mar 2012
This review is from: Home Again (Audio CD)
I have been kind of surprised by the mixed reaction to this album - I was particularly surprised by the amount of reviews on pretty much day one of the release. I like to spend a bit more time listening before I form an opinion, hopefully to provide a more rounded view.

Anyway, having spent the last week with Michael (figuratively speaking) I am glad to say that I'm very, very impressed. There has been real attention to detail when it comes to creating a collection of songs that would sit happily alongside a number of classic early 70's soul albums.

Its clear right from opening the CD case that Michael Kiwanuka's 'Home Again' album is heavily influenced by classic soul; the case has been put together to look remarkably like a record sleeve and is peppered with photos that feel like they were shot in the same era. Thankfully this attention to detail and homage to soul legends like Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye etc. extends beyond the artwork and straight into the music.

The opening track 'Tell me a Tale' is a gorgeous song full strings and a smattering of horns that could have come straight from a Curtis Mayfield tune. Though still has a unique sound of its own, instrumentation is perfect. Michael Kiwanuka's vocal delivery brings Marvin Gaye to mind, smooth and soulful, with just an edge of pain and suffering.

Highlights come thick and fast through the early tracks. Notably, the third song 'I'll get Along' has a beautiful melody and the vocal is marvellously supported by the fluttering of flutes that is very reminiscent of Bill Withers. This song is immediately followed by one of the mellowest songs on the album 'Rest'- Which is so laid back, it can't help but calm you down, help you relax and put you in a contemplative mood with its simple rhythmic strumming and soft melancholy sound.

Similarly mellow and stripped back is title track 'Home Again' which is beautiful in its simplicity. This song lets you really appreciate the supreme talent housed in Michael Kiwanuka's voice, as there is little accompaniment beyond a solitary guitar for much of the tune.

Stand out songs for me in the second half of the album have to be 'Bones' which has a wonderful flavour of late 60's soul, especially in the chorus, along with the sad and soulful 'I won't Lie' and the astonishingly haunting final track 'Worry Walks Beside Me' - which is currently my favourite song on the album.

If you enjoy a smooth and mellow soulful sound and have, as I do, an affinity for 70s soul - there is a very good chance you will enjoy this album. If forced to throw a criticism at this wonderful album, I would have to say (though very much based on personal preference) there is a very slight under-reliance on horns. However, this is only even made slightly apparent by how good the horns are when they are present. It could just as easily be the fact that either a) I love horns a bit TOO much or b) Michael Kiwanuka knows how make a variety of gorgeous sounds, wants to share them all with us and understands that sometime less is more.

Love it!

Charlie and Lola: I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato
Charlie and Lola: I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato
by Lauren Child
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding on a variety of levels!, 3 Mar 2012
As the first of the Charlie and Lola books, 'I will not ever never eat a tomato' has to be one of the most read childrens books in our house. My son loved the pictures, colours and sound of the story before he could talk. His response to the story was always so positive - we found ourselves reading it most evenings. However, once he could specifically ask for it, this became every evening without fail, for some time!

Any parent will tell you this is not uncommon - children lock into books and love repetition - the big '5 star' difference here is that I enjoyed reading it every night too! As my son developed his speech and understanding, they way we read the story developed too. He now 'reads' (like Lola - from memory) along with me - regularly shouting out his favourite parts about not eating tomatoes!

Similarly, the benefits have not been just his involvement with books. The story revolves around Charlie having to feed his little sister, a very fussy eater, her dinner. Lola doesn't like anything - particularly peas, fishfingers, potatoes, carrots and of course tomatoes - so Charlie must find ingenious ways to convince his sister to try the different foods. For instance, peas become 'green drops from Greenland' and are 'incredibly rare' peaking Lola's interest in the food.

This has worked an absolute treat with feeding time for my son too - he wants to try all the food Lola eats!

This book actually and easily promotes a healthy diet and a healthy mind, with beautiful, creative and very colourful artwork!

Can't recommend it enough!

Arrietty [Blu-ray]
Arrietty [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Price: £17.49

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous film!, 15 Feb 2012
This review is from: Arrietty [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Firstly, lets just get this out there, this is a beautiful film - Studio Ghibli's insistence on its artists drawing everything instead of relying on computers to do the work, really shines through. It gives the film a (typical for the studio) old school look, whilst compromising nothing in the quality of the animation. Colours are bright, textured and stunning from the foreground to backgrounds - just amazing!

Secondly, the film itself. Having been a long term fan of 'The Borrowers' (Mary Norton's book on which the film is based) and, more recently, a big fan of Studio Ghibli - I got to approach my viewing from two different angles.
'Arietty' is based upon only the first Borrowers book (although there are nods to subsequrnt novels 'The Borrowers afield' and 'The Borrowers afloat.) And whilst there are some subtle changes, the core of the story remains intact.
Arietty is the only daughter of Pod and Homliy Clock - who are Borrowers, tiny people living beneath the floor of a country house. They 'borrow' things from above the floorboards that the humans won't need or miss (aside from the odd sugar cube anyway). The story takes us through Arietty's first trips 'borrowing' with her father, Pod. During the borrowing, Arietty is seen by one of the big people, a small boy named Sho who has been sent to the country to recover from an illness (similar to the book). This prompts the Clock family to consider moving away as, once seen, the Borrowers feel they are in danger. However, Arietty doesn't quite see things in such a black and white way and secretly befriends the boy.

The story from here, which I won't spoil, follows very closely to the book though some things have been streamlined and the film does introduce another character who doesn't really feature until the second book - but all of this is done with care for the original stories and assists in creating a little more watchable drama for the Clock family.
I saw the dubbed Blu-Ray version and thought the voice acting was excellent, though a little jarring at first with pretty much all British voice talent (Olivia Colman is fantastic as Homily) - though there is also a US dubbed version that I was expecting - I was quite glad of the british accents once I got used to it. The voices also helped create an unusual blend of something that looked so Japanese whilst simultaneously being quintessentially English!

I also felt this film sits comfortably alongside other classics from the Studio (Spirited Away, Howl's moving castle, etc.) and was handled with a lot of due care and attention to fans of both the studio and the stories. A lot of the small changes have been made to keep the focus of the tale on Arietty, it is very much her adventure we experience (such as when she is seen early on by the boy, in Mary Norton's version it is actually Pod who gets seen). For this viewer - I thought it really made the narrative flow well and thus my enjoyment of the film increased! I'm sure some Mary Norton purists would disagree (although the few I know are lovely people and point out this is the tale of 'Arietty' not 'The Borrowers').
Highly recommended for Boys and Girls of all ages!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2012 5:43 PM BST

Game of Thrones - Season 1 [DVD] [2012]
Game of Thrones - Season 1 [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Sean Bean
Price: £13.10

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, on every level., 13 Feb 2012
Where to start? Beautiful scenery, diverse well rounded characters, and more twists than a bag of pasta.

I started watching this series with absolutely no knowledge of the George RR Martin books from which it was written. I had nothing invested in these characters beforehand, no preconceptions and, other than having seen an advert for the series before the launch of sky atlantic, no hype to live up to.

Right from the first episode I was hooked. It was fantasy as I know and love, but something was different? The way these characters spoke, behaved and reacted to one another felt so much more real! There is no posturing, no grand prophecies filled with foreboding, etc. Though not completely original, it seemed to be avoiding a lot of cliches too.
The real lynch pin(s) of this first series have to be the brilliant Sean Bean, who plays Eddard Stark - Lord of Winterfell (one of the seven kingdoms in which the series is based); along with the similarly superb Mark Addy, who plays Robert Baratheon - King of the aforementioned seven Kingdoms. For a show that has no real clear 'good' or 'bad' characters, these two really stand out early on. However, as the series progressed - I started to find all the accompanying characters just as compelling.

The story, deep and complex as it is, revolves around a variety of Houses or Families as they struggle to maintain the balance of peace in the lands whilst simultaneously struggling for the power of the iron throne (upon which Mark Addy sits). After the untimely death of his right hand man, King Robert (Addy) calls upon his friend Ned Stark of Winterfell (Bean) to join him at his court as the hand of the king. A reluctant Stark agrees to join him and slowly begins to uncover threads of conspiracy, deceit and possibly murder that he tries to piece together while the King drinks, eats and enjoys the company of ladies other than his wife.

No one family or House is painted as the House the viewer should support (as one reviewer wrote: the characters are all painted in shades of grey; some more grey than others). Interestingly, as you get to know the various characters a good number become firm favourites - even when their ultimate goals are directly opposing. Game of Thrones reminded me very much of The Wire in this way; you find yourself wishing for impossible outcomes as for one favourite to succeed, the other must fail.
Aside from the King and his hand, there are a number of other quality characters that emerge as the story progresses. Much has been made of Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister - and rightly so. The Imp, as he is so called, is the comic relief, sharpest wit and unsung hero at different times. Relative newcomer, Kit Harrington, shines as Jon Snow - the illegitimate son of Ned Stark; also Alfie Allen continues to impress as stark's ward, Theon Greyjoy.
However, I feel I have to make mention of the incredible talent of one Jerome Flynn - yes THAT Jerome Flynn, as in "Robson and Jerome". He plays a relatively small part of Bronn, a hired sword in the company of Tyrion Lannister. A lot has been said of Peter Dinklage, but I feel its the quality and chemistry of his AND Jerome Flynn's characters that make for the most memorable scenes.

I was eagerly anticipating season 2 of the great epic, until my EVENTUAL realisation that this series is based of the Song of Fire and Ice series of books (sorry long term Martin fans!!!) and have promptly gone and bought the first 4 books in the series. I am at the end of the second book so far and it has me very excited for April when the second season comes to the UK!

Highly recommended series, my favourite TV show of the last few years! Let's hear it for Jerome!

Metal Gear Solid HD - Collection (PS3)
Metal Gear Solid HD - Collection (PS3)
Price: £15.42

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Nostalgia, its got me (re) hooked!, 11 Feb 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This is a beautiful mix of old and new for me. As a huge fan of the PS2 titles MGS2 and MGS3, I was looking forward to revisiting those titles in shiny new HD. As for Peace Walker, having never played it on PSP, it was all new to me! So I opened the box expecting a 2:1 ration of old to new.

However, I must say I have been impressed beyond all expectation. Starting with MGS2: This game is just as amazing ever - the visuals look fresh and crisp; new yet familiar. Loved this game the first time and have been equally impressed on my return visit. A steady framerate and seemingly improved sound helped keep a very old game feeling like it still had a place on current generation platform.
This brings me to MGS3. This game has probably impressed me the most of the 3! Unless you were lucky enough to get hold of a copy of the now very rare (and expensive) Snake Eater:Subsistence, you have probably only played the flawed masterpiece original MGS3 (or not played at all). The new free roaming camera and GORGEOUS HD visuals of this PS3 version make this feel like a completely different - and much superior game. The game just seems to flow better - and once you get past the lengthy opening and have access to your weapons etc. the game just opens up and feels amazingly current - seriously, it feels more like playing a current PS3 game than it does a PS2 Classic. Thoroughly recommended on the strength of this game alone!

Which bring us to PeaceWalker: A very worthy entry into the Metal Gear universe - and though you can sort of tell this game came from a PSP game when looking at the backgrounds in some blander areas, overall the graphics are just as stunning in HD as the other two games (though they are NOT in 1080p as was previously rumoured, all games play at - a still impressive - 720p). The controls have been well adapted to the PS3 pad (as PSP only has one analogue stick, I was VERY glad of this) and the gameplay has all the elements of classic metal gear PLUS the added bonus of creating BIG BOSS' army as you progress (very different, very addictive!). I can't talk of comparisons to PSP version, as I never played it - but I was sort of glad to have new content in a Classics collection.

Feeling very much like the ratio of old to new has shifted to 1:2, I am heartily impressed with the MGS collection HD. If, like me, you're sitting on the fence with this game feeling like you've seen it all before - I say go for it! MGS3 remake alone is worth the money!

Samsung UE40D6100 40-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 3D 200Hz LED SMART Internet TV with Freeview HD
Samsung UE40D6100 40-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 3D 200Hz LED SMART Internet TV with Freeview HD

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, very impressed., 31 Jan 2012
Have just bought this TV, upgrading from a Sony Bravia 32" LCD TV. I must say, having read fairly positive reviews I had high expectations - thankfully ALL of which were met or surpassed. Even its design has left me very impressed! Excellent quality, stylish yet sturdy stand for a TV that is amazingly light and incredibly thin!

Image quality is fantastic, bright colours, good contrast (blacks are VERY black) and incredibly smooth - even on standard definition sky. DVDs also look amazingly good on this TV.
I did have some worries from other reviews about the sound - however I have found it to be excellent, it fills the room and has good depth. There are a number of preset options for sound and picture, but also a lot of scope for personalising these settings too. (I have found the MUSIC preset on sound to give the best out of the box balance, but can be fine tuned to taste)

Having seen the series 6 and series 7 models running side by side, there is very little between them in terms of picture quality, clarity, refresh rate etc. However, there are some features missing from the series 6 model that could be a deal breaker for some, utterly irrelevant to others.
Firstly, though they are both SMART TVs that have a lot of features accessible via the internet (as well as access to LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, etc) this model requires either a wired ethernet connection OR a wireless adapter (which you can currently get for about £17.99).
Secondly, the 2D to 3D converter. If you dream of watching Eastenders or endless re-runs of Friends in 'mock 3D' then this is not the TV for you as this feature is not available.
However, on the subject of 3D, should you wish to watch or play games that are designed to be viewed in 3D - I have found this TV to make an excellent job of this!
Running through a PS3, games optimised for 3D (Uncharted 3, Batman Arkham City, etc) run beautifully. As do 3D Blu-Ray movies. I have been utterly convinced by this TV to jump on the 3D band wagon.
The glasses aren't too pricey either. Whereas other TVs seem to be charging £70 - £80 per pair, there are pairs of glasses for the Samsung models for around £15 a pair (batteries included!) Which means that its not out of the bounds of realistic that I could actually have friends over to watch 3D movies!

Another fear I had had, that wasn't made clear in any reviews I had read was connectivity. It is true that this TV does not have a SCART connection (which troubled me and my antique digibox), HOWEVER it comes packaged with a simple converter that works superbly. This plugs into a separate socket on the TV and not one of the 4 HDMI ports the TV boasts. It also has connectivity for either an RGB Scart OR Composite cable.
What does this mean in terms of practicality? Well, put it this way: I have a PS3 (HDMI), Nintendo Wii (composite) and Sky TV (SCART) plugged in currently. I still have 3 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports and LAN port to be used periodically. (Only downside is I can't plug my SNES in without unplugging Sky, but now I'm REALLY showing my age).

A heartily recommended piece of relatively affordable tech! Looking to jump into 3D, but don't want to spend £1000s? Look no further than this!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2012 12:40 AM GMT

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