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Jernau Gurgeh (Leeds UK)

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Kitchen Confidential
Kitchen Confidential
by Anthony Bourdain
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story of life in professional kitchens., 29 April 2008
This review is from: Kitchen Confidential (Paperback)
Like so many people working in kitchens Bourdain came to it as a last resort, down and out. Through luck, coupled with occasional ambition and judgement he found a crazy world into which he fitted and could thrive.

This warts and all tale of his life in food has something for everyone. His passion for food from a first oyster in France to his restaurant Les Halles will please the foodies. The tales of mayhem in the kitchen will be familiar to anyone who has anything to do with professional chefs. The tales of drug use/casual theft and assorted other incidents just add colour and depth.

Most of all this is a book by someone who loves what he does and the bizarre subculture of the professional chef. I attended a reading by Bourdain in a provincial English city. He read a chapter "What do you know about me?" then paused and suryeved his applauding audience. He then pointed to a dozen people in the small crowd, one by one, and said "You're all chefs". And he was right. Every one of them.

America: Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon
America: Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon
by Joe Queenan
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly hilarious, 29 April 2008
Hilarious. Queenan decides to examine the worst of American popular culture. Then he finds something unwelcome happening. He gets hooked.

His journey from CATS through Phil Collins and Kenny G to Las Vegas and beyond are hilariously chronicled. No target is safe, from Danny Glover movies to Geraldo Riviera and Virginia Andrews novels. All with biting wit

You don't need to get every single reference. You'll get all the important ones. And its truly sidesplittingly funny. Whether its comparing the Incans to Greg Norman or comparing the cast of 'The Breakfast Club' to a list of speakers at the Nuremberg rallies he remains in total comedic control. One of the few authors who can make me laugh out loud in public places.

The Diamond Throne (The Elenium)
The Diamond Throne (The Elenium)
by David Eddings
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious fantasy with a great sense of humour, 29 April 2008
David Eddings presents us with a great fantasy series. In a world based loosely on medieval Europe we have a single church with power that rivals that of kings and princes. Four orders of Religious Knights are their military arm. Intermingled with the politics and maneuvering of such a situation we have good old fashioned magic, gods interacting with their worshippers and a healthy dose of good and evil.

Sparhawk, a Pandion Knight returns from a 10 year exile to find young Queen Ehlana deathly ill, magically entombed and set to die within a year unless a cure can be found. Cue political maneuvering, magical interventions and plenty of action as Sparhawk quests for a solution, discovering as he goes that there is far more to the situation than meets the eye.

Its a page turner with a great background world, a decent premise and some instantly likeable characters. It avoids the slightly formulaic approach of Eddings earlier work. Plots are subtler, solutions cleverer. What really sets it apart though is the humour that permeates it throughout.

Hopjoy Was Here
Hopjoy Was Here
by Colin Watson
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another sly dig from master satirist Colin Watson, 29 April 2008
This review is from: Hopjoy Was Here (Paperback)
Another swipe at middle England from understated satirist Colin Watson. At first glance the Flaxborough novels are detective stories about a market town in Eastern England. Upon reading them they become a loving critique of British social pretensions and foibles, all quietly observed and tolerated by Inspector Purbright.

In this instalment MI6 man Hopjoy has vanished and Purbright seeks to discover whether he has been murdered by spies, a jealous husband or has faked the whole thing and disappeared. Featuring the regular cast, including Sergeant Sid Love and introducing Mrs Bernadette Croll. Particular highlights involve a hairstyle sure to delight Star Wars fans and a forensics expert who out CSI's CSI. All from 1962

The Cat Who Came In From The Cold
The Cat Who Came In From The Cold
by Deric Longden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cat lovers adore it, others should try it, 29 April 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A funny book about one man, his blind wife and the cats they accidentally adopt one by one.

With anything less than a 5 star rating I seem to be going against the crowd here. It's a funny heartwarming animal tale but nothing near the gold standard of James Herriot. If cosy animal tales are your cup of tea then you'll love it. If you've ever been a cat owner you'll at least smirk at it, no matter how cynical you are. If you don't fall into either of those categories then its a good unchallenging light read but a little twee and contrived.

However whilst it is not perfect, the humour should make it an enjoyable experience. Worth a try

Luci in the Sky
Luci in the Sky
by Chris Fox
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the worst book ever written, 29 April 2008
This review is from: Luci in the Sky (Paperback)
This may be the worst book ever written. I constantly had to remind myself that some editor decided to spend money on buying this and publishing it.
The author omits no detail in this ludicrous techno espionage thriller. Our narrator is a former stealth pilot and currently the top industrial spy in the world. A Playboy model blackmails him into assisting her steal her revolutionary new AI/antigrav microchip back from an evil corporate suit who turns out to be her father. Sound bad? you haven't even begun.

Fox suffers more than most from male object envy. We cannot be told that his hero drives a sports car. We have to have the details from the hand stitching on the leather dashboard to the grade of oil used in the engine. Never one to do things by halves our star cannot walk to the kitchen. He has to stride across a cold marble floor imported from Tuscany, pausing to admire the seventeenth century mirror on his wall etc...

The basic plot is laughable, the obsession with unnecessary boastful detail clogs the writing and the action is too unbelievable to engage the imagination.

Possibly the worst book ever written

Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command (Nintendo DS)
Warhammer 40,000: Squad Command (Nintendo DS)
Offered by rockaway-records
Price: £24.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great turn based combat for fans and newcomers alike, 23 Mar. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First, know what you are buying. This is a turn based strategy game with a squad of six units (usually men, occasional extras like a tank or a speeder) completing a series of missions. In most you work your way accross a map encountering enemies along the way. This is not Dawn Of War for a handheld.

What it is, is great fun. Every decision could be the one that lands you in trouble. Should you duck and cover or race ahead to see around the next corner? Spend those last action points on moving behind a wall or take a long range shot at a chaos cultist? If you're a Games Workshop fan then there is enough detail to satisfy you and the turn based approach is far closer to the table top games that inspired it than Real Time Strategy versions. If you are new to the world of Warhammer then don't despair; the units and weapons are easy to grasp and great fun to use.

The game is not perfect though. I bought my DS seduced by its unique stylus control system. Sadly, it isn't much good in this game. Using the D-pad and other buttons is far easier and more intuitive.

The destructible landscape is good to a point but it does mean that with enough heavy weaponry you can just crawl accross some maps blowing up everything that crosses your path, be it enemy or building.

Finally in an ideal world I would like a greater choice of races/units but must face reality. This is still a handheld with limited screen size and functions when compared to a PC. With a squad limit of 6 SPace marines make the obvious and most adaptible choice. By selecting the right secondary weapons you can arm them for close combat or long range fire fights. What is missing is any kind of individual unit progression. Given that every mission is linked through the storyline I would like to see units gain experience as they go, gain more HP or AP maybe. it would make losing a trooper that much more significant if you had spent five missions beefing him up first only to walk into a missile. Chaos Gate had such a system ten years ago and was until now the best Warhammer computer game ever made.

Well worth your time despite a few minor flaws

Transformers: The Game - Autobots (Nintendo DS)
Transformers: The Game - Autobots (Nintendo DS)
Price: £14.50

7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible control system ruins game, 23 Mar. 2008
I got this recently and can only warn others not to make the same mistake. The game may have a good storyline, It may have interesting levels, It may be truly engaging. Sadly you will never find out because it is crippled by a control system that makes it almost impossible to direct your character around the map.

The camera swirls around as you move rather than stay centred on one spot. Sure it looks good but it means you cannot climb the stairs ahead of you as aiming for them with the d-pad leads you off to one side. You have to constantly jockey the camera back and forth with the L and R buttons to keep looking ahead. In combat this means you must press at least three buttons at once just to turn to face and target your opponents.

I can see what the developers were getting at. On a PC you can use a mouse to look in any direction (Quake etc) whilst using keyboard buttons to perform multiple tasks. Even top down games like NWN allow you to spin the camera to check out the surrounding areas. Trying to allow this level of control on a handheld was a nice idea. It does not work. Six buttons and a d-pad give limited options.

Stick to playing this on some platform with an analogue control such as a mouse, a joystick or the analogue joysticks on a PS gamepad

Bill Hicks Live: Relentless [DVD] [2006]
Bill Hicks Live: Relentless [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Bill Hicks
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: £8.47

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The VHS version was better, 23 Jun. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bill Hicks was a hilariously funny man and if you haven't come across his stuff before then this will blow your socks off. From UFOs to the debate between drugs and alcohol to the Kennedy assassination and the first Gulf War, nobody is safe from Hicks anger and wit. If you're already a Hicks fan then ignore this DVD and go out and find yourself the VHS version of this show.

Its not the recording quality that annoyed me although it is bad. The producers have put a disclaimer on the start of it explaining that a copy of this performance was hard to find and the quality of one chapter in particular is poor. I don't care if it looks fuzzy, an overweight bespectacled Hicks prowling a dark stage with a microphone is not visually stimulating even in the best definition. You buy it for his material and delivery, not his choice of turtleneck.

What does spoil this DVD is that its a different and poorer performance of the same show released in the 1990s on VHS. Both were recorded at the same comedy festival but clearly on seperate nights. The material is similar but lacks some of the punch, some jokes are toned down or missed out, Hicks is not on the top of his game. Why the producers could not remaster the VHS version I don't know. Enough people seem to own one. If they're really stuck they can borrow mine. But I'd like it back afterwards so I can enjoy a master at work
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2013 3:08 AM BST

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.98

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universally applicable, 25 April 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Surfacing (Audio CD)
I've never been the greatest music fan. Sure there are tracks I like, singles I like, but I've never been one to follow a particular artist through thick or thin. In my first year at University in the UK I met a Canadian from Vancouver who had more CDs than I had ever seen in one place at one time. In his collection I found this album and quickly went out and bought my own. His obsession with VW cars I have forgiven, the introduction to the Onion I have elsewhere acknowledged, my lifelong addiction to this album I now admit.

I don't know what it is. Other singers have equally great voices, other musicians have similarly great ability, other lyricists make you ponder as much. There is just something about this album that I love. Whatever mood I am in, from bleak recently dumped depression to uplifting joy, I can play this album and it is appropriate. I like other tracks by Sarah McLachlan and own her other albums; tastes change and other artists come and go but no matter what I listened to last this album is suitable next.

You may be looking for a detailed analysis of musical metre, verse structure or beat arrangement. I have no idea about any of these things (and may have made at least one of these up). What I can say is that this is a superbly personal album from a female singer songwriter that has touched me from the moment I first heard it almost a decade ago, and continues to thrill, excite and sustain me to this day. Give it a try. Then buy all your friends a copy.

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