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Terry D "tdawson735" (UK)
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Stardust [DVD] [2007]
Stardust [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Michelle Pfeiffer
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.42

4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful fairy tale let down by the ending, 15 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stardust [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I thought it would be a good idea to read the book, watch the video a few days later and then review both versions of the fairy tale. The following comments apply to the video, the Kindle version of Stardust has been reviewed separately.

`Stardust' is the story of a young boy (Tristran in the book, Tristan in the video) who promises to bring Victoria, the girl he's wooing, the star they've just watched fall beyond the Wall, into the world of Faerie. It will be her birthday present.

The star turns out to be a beautiful young lady, knocked out of her celestial orbit by a pendant carelessly thrown by the ruler of Stormhold. He's on his deathbed and the kingdom (presumably the world of Faerie) will go to whichever of his remaining sons, all addicted to fratricide, manage to retrieve the pendant.

Along the way, Tristan and the injured Yvaine (a pretty name for a star who's suddenly found herself in Faerie!) encounter a number of Witches (of various persuasions and with various agendas), a Unicorn and a Cloudship (with a motley crew straight out of `Pirates of the Caribbean') that floats around in the clouds catching lightning bolts. There's also, of course, the two surviving Princes of Stormhold...

The visual effects are extremely good and the continuity of the story is significantly better than the book - probably because, in the video, the storyline is simpler and, along the way, Tristan and Yvaine meet fewer characters.

Unfortunately, the level of special effects and visual gimmickry at the end of the video are overdone and questionable in the extreme. I also found the storyline change at the end of the video unsatisfactory; the only improvement I could find in the last few minutes involved Tristan's former - precocious - girlfriend Victoria and her new fiancé.


Stardust
Stardust
Price: £5.69

4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful fairy tale, 15 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stardust (Kindle Edition)
I thought it would be a good idea to read the book, watch the Stardust video a few days later and then review both versions of the fairy tale. The following applies to the book, the video is being reviewed separately.

`Stardust' is the story of a young boy (Tristran in the book, Tristan in the video) who promises to bring Victoria, the girl he's wooing, the star they've just watched fall beyond the Wall, into the world of Faerie. It will be her birthday present.

The star turns out to be a beautiful young lady, knocked out of her celestial orbit by a pendant carelessly thrown by the ruler of Stormhold. He's on his deathbed and the kingdom (presumably the world of Faerie) will go to whichever of his remaining sons, all addicted to fratricide, manage to retrieve the pendant.

Along the way, Tristan and the injured Yvaine (a pretty name for a star who's suddenly found herself in Faerie!) encounter a number of Witches (of various persuasions and with various agendas), a Unicorn and a Cloudship (with a motley crew straight out of `Pirates of the Caribbean') that floats around in the clouds catching lightning bolts. There's also, of course, the two surviving Princes of Stormhold...

It's a delightful story spoilt by the occasional lack of continuity and, perhaps, by the number of characters Tristan and Yvaine meet along the way.

Despite this, the book - as with most good fairy tales - has a `happy ever after' ending. I found the conclusion (despite the precocious behaviour of Tristan's former girlfriend Victoria) far more satisfactory than the decidedly overdone/gimmicky ending of the video.


Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful story of man's inhumanity to man, 12 May 2015
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This review is from: Heart of Darkness (Kindle Edition)
Written in 1899, Conrad's struggle with English - he was Polish and only learnt English in his early 20's - gives `Heart of Darkness' an atmosphere that is both enigmatic and ambiguous.

The relatively short book (116 pages on the Kindle edition) is the story of Marlow's steamboat journey into the primitive interior of East Africa and the near-endless problems he encounters as he attempts to bring the ivory trader Kurtz back to civilisation.

Marlow is told that Kurtz, in trading with the indigenous African cannibals, has acquired large quantities of ivory for the faceless Company that employs them and, in the process, has become some form of God in the eyes of the natives. Marlow, however, discovers someone who is raving incomprehensibly, close to death and seeing visions; Conrad's portrayal of Kurtz's final enigmatic words - `the horror! the horror!' - are a damning indictment of the brutalising and morally unacceptable effect the Company's activities.

After Kurtz's death Marlow, utterly disillusioned by his experiences, returns to Europe and, in the story's final twist, takes some of Kurtz's letters and papers to Kurtz's fiancée. After the meeting Conrad leaves us to decide whether Marlow, as a person, has changed fundamentally - or whether he's simply someone who has lost his illusions.

`Heart of Darkness' is, quite definitely, not the easiest of books to read (thus the four stars) but, 100+ years after it was written, remains a powerful and atmospheric study of man's inhumanity to man.


The Cove
The Cove
by Ron Rash
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Uncompromising and skilfully written, 6 May 2015
This review is from: The Cove (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just over 100 years ago - on May 7, 1915 - a German U-boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania with the loss of 1,198 lives, including 128 Americans. The incident was to become an iconic symbol in military recruiting/conscription campaigns as an unprepared America (with a peacetime army of less than 200,000) built up its military strength so that, by August 1918, the country had deployed nearly 1,500,000 troops in Europe.

Ignorance, prejudice and hatred of everything connected with Germany was rampant in a small isolated town in North Carolina, a town that could easily have been the setting for High Noon. Ron Rash tells a powerful story of the impact of this intolerance on the lives of Hank (he lost his right hand in France) and his sister Laurel as, towards the end of the war, they attempt to rebuild their isolated farmstead a few miles from that nearby railroad town. And then, one afternoon, Laurel comes across the mysterious and destitute Walter - he can neither read nor write - skilfully playing a flute, his only other possession a knapsack.

As Walter's background slowly emerges, as he helps Hank and becomes increasingly close to Laurel, the depth and extent of the bigotry surrounding them becomes more and more apparent.

The characters, particularly Laurel Shelton and the egocentric recruiting officer Chauncey Feith, are drawn with a skillful fluency; the ending compelling and yet, in retrospect, strangely inevitable.


The Ego's Nest (City 5)
The Ego's Nest (City 5)
by David Charters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, light-hearted and funny, 2 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Author David Charters has a quirky sense of humour and clearly knows his way round Investment Banking and the Square Mile. Having faked his own death, David Hart - his main character - has `returned' from the dead complete with several billion pounds (or perhaps dollars - not that it matters) he'd stashed away prior to the meltdown of the banking sector and the unfortunate demise of his original Investment Bank.

His original clients (serious players at the very top of the international criminal fraternity) had been highly impressed with Dave's ability to convert the proceeds of their operations (a.k.a. money-laundering) into legitimate investments. As a result it's not surprising they almost insist on investing upwards of a hundred billion dollars into Dave's new banking operation. Global domination starts tomorrow...

But, with Dave, there's more to life than simply making his impossibly large fortune even larger. Dave enjoys enjoying himself (champagne, recreational drugs plus a near-infatuation with one highly intelligent, powerful and independent girl) and, in the process, making good use of that impossibly large fortune.

It's also, as a group of black American Rap artists discover to their cost, a bad idea to upset Dave - especially by allowing one of their `lady' companions to pick a fight with the `lady' companion of one of his dinner guests. A few days later, the police discover £1,000,000 worth of Class A drugs in the apartment the Group are renting. No, don't ask...

You can while away several enjoyable hours with `The Ego's Nest': just don't expect too much.


Chains of Command
Chains of Command
Price: £2.73

3.0 out of 5 stars A fragmented story with far too many acronyms, 30 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Chains of Command (Kindle Edition)
As a US Air Force Captain with experience of flying B-52s and FB111 fighter-bombers, Dale Brown is considered an authority on everything connected with air warfare.

But, as I read `Chains of Command', I found myself sympathising with the refusal of the American President (and First Lady) to accept a standard National Military Command Center Situation Report: the amount of abbreviations and acronyms they contain "would throw these Ivy League grads into a royal tizzy". Despite that excellent advice, Dale Brown insists on including page after page of jargon that, to the average reader, must be meaningless. For example:

"He set the right side MFD to the NAV Present Position page, checked that the update mode was in RADAR, then pressed the ENTER FIX Option Select Switch. The reverse video on the ENT FIX legend went out, and the FIXMAG readouts went to zero, indicating a successful position update. Mace switched his right side MFD from the Present Position page to the SRAM Air page and placed the Bomb Data page on the left MFD."

Got it?

If you can brush aside this gobbledygook, you'll probably enjoy finding yourself strapped into the cockpit alongside the pilot, fighting G-forces as the air-to-air combat around you goes haywire. Despite that plus point, the storyline (to say nothing of that so-called chain of command) is disjointed whilst, with one possible exception, the characters are poorly developed and lack believability.

Overall credibility - OK, not Dale Brown's fault - isn't helped by the fact that `Chains of Command' (written in 1993, set in 1995 and reviewed in 2015) deals with an attempt by a fictitious Russian president to annex the Ukraine and restore the territorial integrity of the old USSR.

Fortunately, when the very real President Putin had similar ideas in early 2014, he avoided the use of low yield atomic weapons.


The Rosie Effect: Don Tillman 2 (Don Tillman series)
The Rosie Effect: Don Tillman 2 (Don Tillman series)
Price: £3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Crashed and burned, 28 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I suspect that Graeme Simsion may have gone along with a suggestion from his publisher that, since The Rosie Project was a successful, light-hearted and amusing story, he should write a sequel.

Yes,`The Rosie Effect' is a genuine sequel (it couldn't be read as a stand-alone novel) but lacks the humour, originality and sparkle of `The Rosie Project'. Professor Don Tillman is now a social misfit with his original and highly amusing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder replaced by a total inability to understand how society - and relationships - actually functions.

His arrest for taking (for whatever the reason) a fixated interest in young children enjoying themselves in a fenced off New York playground isn't amusing whilst his evolving relationship with Lydia, the social work assigned to decide if he's a potential child molester, is close to the absurd. The idea of hiding the problem from Rosie - and, at meetings with Lydia, pretending the pregnant Sonia is Rosie - could have been developed into something genuinely funny. But, sadly...

Don's relationship with Rosie, his friends and with his academic colleagues lacks the sparkle of `The Rosie Project' whilst the finale, in which the authorities see our potential child molester as a potential 9/11 terrorist, approaches the ridiculous.

`The Rosie Project' - I genuinely enjoyed it - deserved those five stars.

Perhaps I'm missing something but, to me, `The Rosie Effect' barely merits two stars.


Digital Thermometer Easy Use for Home Use
Digital Thermometer Easy Use for Home Use
Offered by DK Medical Supplies
Price: £2.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value, 26 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
No frills, no gimmicks. Does exactly what it says on the box: gives you your temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.


The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1 (Don Tillman series)
The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1 (Don Tillman series)
Price: £3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, light-hearted and extremely funny, 25 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Don Tillman is a Professor of Genetics - and a textbook example of someone suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Don knows there's something about him that women find unappealing; he also finds it difficult to make friends and, typical of people with OCD, has an above-average intelligence.

Everything about his life is meticulously ordered and precisely scheduled. There's even a Standardised Meal System which not only simplifies shopping but has almost zero waste and produces a planned and nutritionally balanced diet. For his new project - The Wife Project - Don needs a scientifically valid questionnaire that will filter out (amongst other undesirable groups) time wasters, vegans, smokers and religious fanatics.

Then Rosie walks into his life...

Rosie is highly intelligent, extremely attractive - and with dyed red hair. But, when it comes to meeting the requirements of The Wife Project questionnaire, Rosie is obviously an utter and complete non-starter.

As the relationship develops - as, of course, it must - The Wife Project (now almost solved) is taken over by The Father Project. Brought up by her mother Rosie is uncertain about her true biological father. To a geneticist like Don the solution is utterly straightforward: since the men in her mother's life are easily identified they simply need to obtain DNA samples (from wine glasses, toothbrushes and hairbrushes) that can be compared with Rosie's DNA...

It's extremely obvious and extremely simple - and with hilarious consequences.

Read and enjoy; it's a well-written and genuinely funny book.


The Lieutenant's Lover
The Lieutenant's Lover
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and skilfully written, 24 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The opening chapters of this powerful novel are set in 1917, in the months after the Bolshevik revolution swept aside the autocratic regime of the Tsars when Misha and Tonya, the son of a now discredited family and a young nurse from a peasant background, are thrown together. Their world falls apart when Misha is conscripted into an army battalion and, during the subsequent Stalinist reign of terror, Tonya is denounced and sentenced to 10 years in a Siberian gulag.

Fast forward to Berlin in 1945, to a destroyed city partitioned by the victorious Allies. Misha, having escaped from the Russian army, is trying to build a life for himself among the ruins whilst Tonya, transferred from the gulag into a punishment unit and fluent in both Russian and German, finds herself utterly sickened by the highly sensitive material she is translating for her political masters. Harry Bingham deftly takes us into a murky and skilfully described world of espionage - and into a search for a relationship that should have ended 27 years ago.

`The Lieutenant's Lover' is a powerful and evocative story of that relationship - and how, across Europe, an equally ruthless dictatorship so nearly replaced the horrors of Nazism.


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