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Mr. T. COLEMAN "Jesus freak movie geek" (Coventry, UK)
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Alpen Light Lemon Drizzle Bars 19 g (Pack of 5)
Alpen Light Lemon Drizzle Bars 19 g (Pack of 5)
Price: £6.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Just ok, 20 Feb. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My wife and daughter really liked these. For me, although I really like lemon as a flavour, I found the lemon here to be quite artificial -almost like a well known cream cleaner! So a mixed response from my family


In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence
In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence
by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, though little academic examination of the special relationship, 5 Dec. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Rhodri Jeffereys-Jones' book focuses on the Anglo-American special relationship in terms of intelligence services. Beginning by looking at how these services began from separate origins and developed their close relationship, he also looks how the political special relationship has negatively effected the intelligence relationship (taking Gulf War 2 and the falsified claims of WMDs - as well as the illegal outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative - as his jumping off point). It makes for an interesting read, though a little academic in tone which may. It be to everyone's tastes.


GCSE French Interactive Vocab Tester - DVD-ROM and Vocab Book
GCSE French Interactive Vocab Tester - DVD-ROM and Vocab Book
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Good vocab refresher, 12 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got this, not as a GCSE student (I took my French GCSE 16 years ago) but as a refresher tool to help me improve my French vocal alongside Michel Thomas' beginners French CDs. The software is easy to install and Mac compatible (it was up and running on my iMac in minutes). It's easy to navigate and in no time at all I was using it to learn and then organise tests for myself on basic vocab groups (such as colours). You can have the computer speak the words out to you, and then arrange for it to test you on particular items you want to learn. Over all it's a well structured programme, and will supplement my other efforts to improve my French nicely. Similarly, I expect this would be a valuable revision tool for GCSE French itself (which is of course what it is intended for, though as my example shows it's uses go beyond this to a wider audience trying to learn or improve their French).


Boris Starts School
Boris Starts School
by Carrie Weston
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Amicable but forgettable kid's book, 12 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Boris Starts School (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got this as my 4 year old was about to start school, so I thought this would be a good way of exploring the experience of starting school for the first the with her. However, the story focuses more on how the new kid is an outsider because he's different from his classmates, until the time when he comes to save them from bullies. In this sense, its message is more about accepting diversity in individuals (which is great and important) and less about starting school (which is what I was after). It's still a good storybook and well illustrated, and could be used as a jumping off point to discuss difference with your kids - but in terms of a normal experience of starting school I think it's less useful.


64 Zoo Lane: Georgina The Giraffe
64 Zoo Lane: Georgina The Giraffe
by An Vrombaut
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but unmemorable children's book, 11 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got this for my daughter as we enjoy watching "64 Zoo Lane" on CBeebies together. The drawings are good, and in the same style as the cartoon, and the "feel" of the book is in keeping with the TV show as well. It's a fairly entertaining short read, and my daughter does enjoy it, - however it lacks any enduring charm and rarely get's read (Dr Seus is more of her thing at the moment, which is endlessly charming and benefits from being read again and again). It also ends fairly suddenly. Over all it's ok, and comes out now and again


Django Unchained (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2013]
Django Unchained (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [2013]
Dvd ~ Jamie Foxx
Price: £8.00

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performances, blisteringly violent and very, very funny, 18 Feb. 2013
Tarantino appears to have fallen out of favour in recent years, with Death Proof [DVD] and Inglourious Basterds [DVD] (2009) drawing mixed reactions. However Django Unchained may just be his most accomplished film so far, and here's why.

Tarantino has always infused his ouvre with movie-loving, geek-pleasing genre nods, and Django is no different in this regard. The crash zooms, washed out pallet and well trodden narrative arc of the avenging (anti) hero all smack of classic Westerns by Sergio Leone et al. There are cameos from Franco Nero (the original Django from Django Newly Re-mastered Region 0 [DVD]) and special effects maestro Tom Savini. So if you like this kind of filmic meta-referencing (which I do), it's right up your street.

The film is also very, very funny, in a jet black gallows humour kind of way. It's also astonishingly violent, which is again a Tarantino trademark. However whilst some of the violence is overly balletic, such as the shoot outs in the final 30 minutes, there are also moments of poignant sadism which occur mostly off camera (mandingo fighting, dogs released on slaves). The effect of these horrifying scenes are to make a subject we are all familiar with - slavery - visceral and freshly appalling. It also provides a clean moral through-line in the movie's narrative, as it is these acts of abject horror which propel the central characters to unleash vengence on the perpertrators with some of the more cartoonish violence which follows. It's this perhaps more intelligent handling of violence which seems to mark a more mature Tarantino than has previously been displayed.

On top of this the performances are universally excellent, though particular mention must go to an absolutely stellar turn by Christoph Waltz as the bounty hunter who gives Django his freedom. Waltz won his Oscar for playing the pitliess Colonel Landa in Inglourious Basterds [DVD] (2009), and here he is even better (if that were some how possible), playing his character with wit, charm and a kind of nuanced humanism which really is the beating heart behind the hyper-realised world around him. He's just won a Bafta for his performance, and odds are on he'll walk away with his second Oscar from a Tarantino movie this coming weekend too.

In summary the films shifts gears in tone superbly well between laughter, horror and poignancy. I was wiping the sweat from my palms during the violence one minute, laughing up-roariously the next, and swept up in the moral mission of the two main characters. It is everything Inglourious Basterds [DVD] (2009) should have been, and marks a more mature and profound kind of Quentin Tarantino movie. Long may he keep making stuff of this calibre.


Zombie Apocalypse! (Mammoth Books)
Zombie Apocalypse! (Mammoth Books)
by Stephen Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A swing and a miss for zombie "found footage" compilation, 12 Aug. 2012
So I'm interested in zombie mythology and love found footage as a stylistic device, so in theory this novel should have been right up my street, being a compilations of diaries, blogs, tweets, phone transcripts etc that document the end of the world, zombie style. Unfortunatey it's a great idea badly executed. The writing is uneven, and tonally the novel is all over the place. One minute it's profoundly moving pathos (the old lady stuck in the tower block reflecting on her life; the teenage girl in love whilst the world falls apart) and at other times it's badly misjudged absurdist comedy (zombie pop song lyrics; minutes to board meetings gone wrong). There's also a nasty streak of flagrant mysogony running through a number of the entries, where women are referred to in passingly derogatory ways or as wafer thin sex things. The writing is also very patchy, with some (well, a small amount) being very accomplished and others lacking any sense of authentic voice or characterisation. I guess that was always going to be a risk in a compilation, but I did feel this could have been so much more if only the bar had been a little higher. Disappointing.


Scream 4 [DVD]
Scream 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Neve Campbell
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £4.85

2.0 out of 5 stars Reboot or rehash?, 29 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Scream 4 [DVD] (DVD)
The first two "Scream" movies were important to me: they came out when I was in high school and sixth form respectively, and so I was roughly the same age as the protagonists. Plus stir in the (then fresh) post-modern meta-cinematic self-referential humour and you have yourself a couple of hit films which revitalised the horror genre.

The problem for all involved in this fourth-quel is that whilst time - and the horror genre - has moved on in the last 10+ years, the central premise here has remained stubbornly the same. Yes, there are some window-dressing updates to make this more relevant to todays audience (cue references to torture-porn, internet streaming and Twitter) but these are superficial baubles hung from the same old skeleton: teens terrorised by masked killer(s) who just love their scary movies. And frankly, this is wearing more than a little thin.

There are some interesting ideas in the last 20 minutes around celebrity culture, and at least one decent twist, but frankly the rest of it is rather dull. There are also massive problems with tonal consistency, with ill-judged gags juxtaposed against some pretty sadistic violence (the grotty head-stab with Bruce Willis joke a case in point). The film doesn't know where it's a horror or comedy, and doesn't work as either. Also just be aware that despite the 15 rating this film is equally as bloody as it's predecessors.

In summary it's a film we could have all done without. Craven and Williamson really need some more strings to their bow, as the whole meta-horror schtick is dead and buried now. Thumbs down from this Scream fan.


The Tourist (Blu-ray Double Play)
The Tourist (Blu-ray Double Play)
Dvd ~ Johnny Depp
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £6.79

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull as dull can be, 17 Feb. 2012
"The Tourist" is a throw-back to old-school, Bondesque thrills: glamerous people in glamerous locations doing exciting things. At least that's what it's billed as. In delivery, the film is one of the dullest, most turgid pieces of non-cinema I have seen all year.

Firstly, let me say that I am a fan of director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. His Oscar winning The Lives of Others [DVD] [2006] is an absolute masterpiece: if you have not seen it, stop reading this review and go and watch it now. However, everything that made "Others" great is resolutely absent from "The Tourist": instead of a beautifully told story with tight script and under-stated performances, we have a cliche-riddled, lumbering regurgitation of tired tropes and decade old ideas. The whole thing is just so completely insipid I really cannot fathom how Donnersmarck was behind the camera on this one.

I guess the counter-argument to all this is that "Tourist" is meant to be a skin-deep spy movie, but we need to remember that after the Bond-reboot of Casino Royale [2006] [DVD] [2007] and the excellent The Ultimate Bourne Collection [Blu-ray][Region Free] audiences demand a higher quality of film making in this genre. Indeed, the above films manage to take superficial spy premises and inject them with heart, soul and hummanity: three things completely lacking here. Instead, these characters are almost universally bloodless with very little in the script to commend them to our sympathies.

In short, this is tosh of the highest order. I don't mind my escapist thrills: I just excpect them to be well made. And this is not.


Black Mamba Boy
Black Mamba Boy
by Nadifa Mohamed
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Passable, populist "ethnic" fiction, 16 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Black Mamba Boy (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The title of this review might rise a few hackles, so I want to elucidate my position from the outset: I in no way denegrate or look down on fiction from other ethnic traditions. In fact, I actually quite like it. Khalid Hosseini has, in The Kite Runner crafted a fine parabolic story of redemption which also goes deep into an Afghan mindset, and is all the better for it, and there are plenty of other authors who similarly take the reader to worlds and worldviews which they normally wouldn't get to visit (that's the beauty of fiction, right?). However, with Black Mamba Boy my feelings were that this novel existed due to the current appetite for this type of fiction, without in itself being much to write home about itself. There are some interesting (but not that interesting) fingerprints of magic realism, but the novel essentially doesn't grip or involve in the way that great fiction should. In this sense I feel it's more jumping on the current trend without adding substantially to the body of work in that genre. I found it tepid.


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