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Carmine the Wolf "carminethewolf" (UK)

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Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia's History
Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia's History
by Catherine Merridale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

5.0 out of 5 stars As formidable as the Kremlin walls themselves, 27 Aug. 2014
Excellent potted history of the most iconic building in Moscow and a great jumping-off point for those interested in delving more deeply into parts of the country's history that are covered here briefly and yet with an informative treatment.


Janod - 06520 - Wooden Toy Kitchen
Janod - 06520 - Wooden Toy Kitchen
Price: £65.70

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing parts and a company that does not seem to care, 15 Jun. 2013
= Durability:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
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Upon receipt of this product, I opened the packaging to find that the screws essential for assembly were missing. The instructions make no effort to quote the size of these, and so purchasing a replacement is therefore almost impossible. I immediately contacted Janod, the company responsible for manufacturing the product through their website, and thus far have heard nothing from them despite repeated attempts to make contact either for a replacement of the missing screws or even the measurements that the instructions are lacking. I do not know if the lack of response from the company is on account of their being based in France and my message being written in English, but I feel that no contact in these circumstances, and when I am left with an expensive product that has been rendered useless by no fault of my own, shows a distinct lack of customer care on their part. Beware of ordering this or any other product from Janod, because they do not seem interested in making good the errors that occur with their products.


Midnight at the Well of Souls
Midnight at the Well of Souls
by Jack L. Chalker
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars One Soul, Many Bodies, 2 April 2013
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This is a Science Fiction novel that really shows the reader the age in which it was written and features many cliches of the genre that have become almost comical over time. The idea of the progenitor race and their fall from the pinnacle of technological perfection and into terminal decline is almost as stock as the character of the jaded loner of a space captain who serves as the main protagonist. There are conspiracies, hidden agendas as well as an innocent who both needs to be rescued and find her own voice and Chalker even manages to cram in the almost obligatory twist at the end to wrap it all up.

But don't make the mistake of reading this or any other titles in the Well of Souls series in the hope of a cutting edge piece of SciFi. Instead read it for the fact that Chalker creates in this and the sequels an enduring story that genuinely has a heart and makes the reader actually care for the fate of the characters after their various fates are decided by the Well of Souls itself. The alien species involved are often bizarre and make little sense outside of the world in which they exist, but the story is told with a genuine vigour and chugs along at a rate which will make up for many of the other failings.

It won't take long to read this title, but by the time you're finished you will most likely have discovered one of the lesser known gems of the genre.


The Belly Of The Bow: Fencer Vol 2 (Fencer Trilogy)
The Belly Of The Bow: Fencer Vol 2 (Fencer Trilogy)
by K. J. Parker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.60

2.0 out of 5 stars And the point of that was?, 23 Nov. 2012
I began reading K J Parker with the pretty much superior in every way possible Engineer Trilogy and only started to dip into the back catalogue when there was nothing new to get hold of, and the Fencer Trilogy and The Belly of the Bow makes me very much wish I had not done so. Where the first volume was pretty turgid in terms of the plot and characters, with long and often overdone passages of techincal spiel on either siegecraft or the confused notion of "The Principle", the second is even without the logical structure of the first.

My assumption is that the Loredan family are supposed to be a lineage of sociopaths who are presented in an effort to cut against the tradition of heroes and villains in fantasy literature, but unfotunately Parker was not good enough at the art of characterisation when these books were written to make them come across as anything other than a collection of unpleasant bullies, exploiters and even feckless goons at different stages in the narrative. After having spent the entirety of the first volume being shown Bardas as the unwilling voice of reason and his siblings Gorgas and Niessa as the manipulative swines behind so much human suffering, what I suppose is meant as the twist at the end of the book comes as a surprise akin to a lump in a vital organ rather than as a moment of revelation.

Not wanting to drop spoilers, but at the same time thinking that the supposed climax might simply be too much for some readers, I will say that there seems to be little logic or motivation onto which one can sieze to explain what Bardas Loredan apparently chooses to do of his own free will at the end of this book. I can only presume that Parker is aiming to make some obscure point about the nature of human life and putting a price upon it, but the fact that what happens simply happens and the character responsible then walks away without a word of guilt or recrimination makes the entire thing seem to be a glotrification of the act and nothing more.

Read it if you have to, but I really fail to see the point.


Space Gods Revealed
Space Gods Revealed
by Ronald Story
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Von Daniken Revealed, 26 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Space Gods Revealed (Paperback)
If you have any interest in the art of critical thinking, then there's very little chance that anything written by Eric Von Daniken has seemed either credible or scientific to you, but it's always nice to know that there are books out there that show people feel the same way. Ronald Story's efforts here are short and to the point, but they demonstrate with nothing more than straight forward common sense and honestly researched conclusions, just how much fudging, obfuscation and downright misrepresentation of the plain facts there is in the claims that the oddly famous Von Daniken has made over the course of his career.


The Nitpicker's Guide for Deep Space Nine Trekkers (Star Trek)
The Nitpicker's Guide for Deep Space Nine Trekkers (Star Trek)
by Phil Farrand
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Actually a guide to half of DS9..., 15 Jun. 2009
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As with the guidebooks to TNG, this one for DS9 falls foul of the fact that while the content as far as it goes is top notch, the title is somewhat less than honest about what you're actually getting. Farrand's guidebooks to TNG had six series in one volume and the seventh and one movie in another, which unbalanced the series and likewise this one suffers from being written after the first four series of DS9.

Whether Farrand felt that there was enough material to fill one volume and intended to cover the final three series in a second (which sadly never emerged) or just rushed this volume out to capitalise on the success of the first remains a mystery, but the quality of commentary and anal nature of the scrutiny the episodes are subjected too are up to the high standard of the TNG volumes.

Despite the fact that the later series were never covered, this is a very nice title for a fan of DS9 to own.


The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers: v. 2 (Nitpicker's guides: Star Trek - The Next Generation)
The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers: v. 2 (Nitpicker's guides: Star Trek - The Next Generation)
by Phil Farrand
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More like an appendix to the first volume..., 15 Jun. 2009
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After reading the first volume of this series there are a few things that really should be made far more clear about this follow up. While the first volume was something of a whopper with six series of NTG covered in some fine detail, this feels more like the scraps that were left over rather than a continuation of the same.

What you get is the final series of TNG and the movie Generations treated the same way as the first six series in the first volume, which is good, and a rehash of the material in the first volume with the observations of fans rather than that of the writer, which is not so good.

This disparity rather unbalances the idea of this series as two volumes when in fact what you actually have is a solid first volume and a distinctly wobbly second one.

Think very carefully if intend to buy this, even more so now that it's out of print and people will be wanting to sell it as rare.


Northlanders: Sven the Returned v. 1 (Northlanders 1)
Northlanders: Sven the Returned v. 1 (Northlanders 1)
by Brian Wood
Edition: Paperback

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard as Iron, Hot as the Smith's Furnace., 28 Jan. 2009
I stumbled upon this volume by chance in a comic store when I was browsing and based upon the quality of the artwork, the reasonable price and the subject matter decided to take a gamble and buy it on impulse. I was rewarded with one of the most original, well researched and satisfying experiences of reading a graphic novel I've had in a long time.

Rather than focusing on the Norse tradition of Viking raids on unfortunates in Europe, the reader is instead treated to a view of the complex society that existed amongst a people who have been maligned as barbarians for far too long.

Ranging from Byzantium to the Faeroe Isles, the tale follows Sven, a dispossesed warrior returning to his home to reclaim what he see as his birthright and take revenge on those who cast him out.

But rather than a raving berzerker, Sven is a cultured man who disdains the customs and religion of the people he was forced to leave behind. This allows the reader to see the Norse through the eyes of one who understands them but does not apologise for the flaws in their habits.

Read this if you want a violent, gritty, bitter but ultimately insightful and inspiring tale of betrayal, revenge and humanity.


Color of Rage
Color of Rage
by Seisaku Kano
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of Mice & Men...with blood & guts, 29 July 2008
This review is from: Color of Rage (Paperback)
This manga was a new experience for me, the first series written by Koike that was not illustrated by Goseki Kojima as in the cases of Lone Wolf & Cub, Samurai Executioner and Path of the Assassin. Instead here the artwork is that of Seisaku Kano, described as a pin-up artist as well as an illustartor of manga.

In many ways this is a good thing for he sake of the storyline due to the fact that the emphasis is on the character of King and his struggles to understand and survive in a land where he seems to see little but strange customs and arbitrary cruelty as a part of everyday life. Kano's more modern style adds to the speed and energy of the tale where Kojima's lent diginity and poise to the tales they told together from the point of view of native Japanese characters in the past.

The rules and customs of Japanese society are put under scrutiny when seen through the eyes of the mighty King and Koike makes his usual observations about injustice and those who allow it to endure. King struggles both with the fact that he cannot be accepted in Japanese society and the fact that his friend George, a man born and raised there, can be so at ease with what he sees.

There is more than a little of the feel of Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men in the way that the pair travel together, King with his great strength and George keeping his unusual friend safe in a world he does not understand. But in the end King is a highly intelligent everyman who contrasts with George's good-hearted but jaded character well.

There is a large amount of sex and violence thrown in here, but the plotlines and moral dilemmas are strong enough to steer the manga away from mindless gore and titilation.


Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade [DVD]
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hiroyuki Okiura
Price: £10.00

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious Storytelling, 25 Jun. 2008
If there was ever an anime title to dismiss once and for all that animation is either sickly disneyesque children's tales or depraved tentacled devil worship from Japan, then this is surely it.

Jin Roh keeps its feet firmly on the ground and deals with the realities of policing and politics in the modern world far better than anything Hollywood or US tv series might have to say on the matter.

The plot is intricate, the characters are believable and the outcome is never certain until the very final scene of the film. Forget rubbish like Mission Impossible and watch this instead.

Perhaps the only negative thing I can say is that it's taken nearly a decade for the title to be released in the West. With the interest and demand for quality animation and the popularity of Japanese series, I find this astonishing.


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