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A. J. Russell "Andy Russell" (UK)
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On Thin Ice: Breakdowns, Whiteouts and Survival with the Ice Road Truckers
On Thin Ice: Breakdowns, Whiteouts and Survival with the Ice Road Truckers
by Hugh Rowland
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.70

2.0 out of 5 stars Poor execution ruins good potential, 8 Oct 2012
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Having watched Ice Road Truckers, I purchased this hoping Hugh would put some flesh on the life of a trucker that is only hinted at in the TV series. Sadly, this book seems to have been rushed out to cash in on the success of the show. It's not long enough and the publisher has tried to compensate for the lack of depth by double spacing the text and printing in point 14 font. Never have I sped through a book so fast. However, my main bugbear is in the quality control. The authors have seemingly not proof read their own book, and the mistakes even passed the publisher unchecked. Too many times are the same facts churned out. Yes, we know about the ice cracking. Yes, we know about the bow wave created by the moving truck. You don't have to tell us six times. Then there are just blatent errors: we're told that Hugh's truck is a 1999 edition and then in the very next sentence it has aged a year to a 1998 edition. It's a shame because Hugh has obviously led an action-packed life that is of interest to the casual reader but this account is a real let down. Watch the DVD, avoid this book.


The Rise of Endymion (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
The Rise of Endymion (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
by Dan Simmons
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A satisfactory, if not satisfying, conclusion to the Hyperion Cantos, 17 Jun 2012
Dan Simmons wraps up his Hyperion Cantos with this final instalment and it turns out to be a mixed bag. For every high there seems to be a low. Before I get into specifics, let me state that this is still a very fine book that puts many other sci-fi novels to shame but Simmons never manages to reach the highs he did so consistently with Hyperion and The Fall Of Hyperion.

There are some genuinely astounding moments both in terms of writing style and storyline here: Simmons' environmental description is exceptionally good and allows the reader to form a very specific idea of the locations he envisiged when he was writing the story. Similarly, the major plot events are both highly original and gripping, making you really root for the central characters and develop a strong opinion of the various agencies at work.

However, there are negatives, and some of them are detrimental to the point of spoiling an otherwise fine conclusion to the Cantos. First - and not necessarily spoiling the whole experience - is that the ending is signposted from very early on. This isn't as bad as it sounds because the fun is in the journey; how we get to that conclusion. Related to this is the length of the story; it is overly stretched out over 700 pages and there is simply no need. While the sections that really drive the story forward are outstanding, there are also vast rafts of pages where simply nothing happens. Simmons could easily have cut over 200 pages from the story with no adverse effect on the story and it would have given a little more urgency to the characters' journey, both physical and emotional.

The characterisation itself is written and developed with real heart and I cannot stress enough how well he has done to maintain their base emotional state without uncharacteristic traits creeping in. The journey we go on with Aenea and Raul is both heartfelt and saddening with a real sense of melancholy underlying the whole relationship.

Secondly, we come to my major bugbear with this story. The whole religious rhetoric that runs through the entire Cantos - but which is much more prominent in The Rise Of Endymion - really degenerates the reading experience. I'm not religious myself but this isn't the reason for my criticism. It's that it's just wholy unneccesary in the context with which the story is written. There are reams and reams of religious dialogue that serve no purpose other than to slow the story down. Even Aenea breaks out into zen-like Buddhism on a couple of occasions. Clearly Simmons has some bone to pick with Christianity and much perfers the ethos of Buddhism but he shouldn't have introduced this concept/opinion into the Cantos as it simply has no place here.

Regardless of these criticisms, please do not be dertracted from reading this as it is a nice conclusion to the Cantos. I also wouldn't advise reading this without reading all three previous parts of the Cantos either as you WILL get lost in all the references to previous events. As a few previous reviewers have stated, there are a few plot lines that are not brought to a satisfactory conclusion but tying up all the loose ends doesn't leave any room for the imagination so I'm not overly concerned about that.

In conclusion, read, enjoy, and if necessary skip the sections with the religious rheteric.


Crop Circles: Signs, Wonders and Mysteries
Crop Circles: Signs, Wonders and Mysteries
by Steve & Karen Alexander
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great photos - bad rhetoric, 7 May 2012
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The photographs in this book are about as good as you're going to get with the crop circles subject. They are full colour, large reprints and handily organised into category by design type. However, the author's introduction and prose is biased, unproven and devoid of interest. The idea should have been to supplement the photos with some background information to help the reader to understand the various patterns; but the style of writing is bordering on moronic. Do yourself a favour: buy the book, marvel at the photos, just ignore the text.


Out Of Town (The Remixes)
Out Of Town (The Remixes)
Price: 7.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out Of Town (The Remixes), 13 Feb 2012
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I tend to find remix albums something of a conumdrum: they invariably contain formulaic club mixes and the odd dub and are generally nothing to write home about. This - however - succeeds in managing to remain faithful to the original whilst adding an extra dimension to the record. Some of the popular tracks from Out Of Town are covered more than once but for once it really doesn't matter; the whole thing works as one long record.

I always liked North Shore the most on the original and it is treated to two wonderful mixes here (or four if you count the included instrumental versions) with the Max Essa remix particularly stunning. Gambarra likewise is well covered but it is the other tracks that stand out here: the mix of Paloma is sensational and Ray Mang's Under The Stars is a personal highlight.

This genre is well-trodden and each artist usually ends up emulating one of the better known "chill out" artists. However, Cantoma has created a sound all to themselves, weaving into their record elements of Chicane, Zero 7, Jon Hopkins and even Shakatak. Overall, a well worked album that compliments the original.


Hed Kandi - Beach House
Hed Kandi - Beach House
Offered by b68solutions
Price: 9.75

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beach House finally dies a death, 7 Jun 2010
This review is from: Hed Kandi - Beach House (Audio CD)
Well, what can I say? Beach House has been deteriorating for a few years now and has finally given up the ghost. There is nothing on discs 1 or 3 that can hold a light to anything on BH 0402 or 0403, barring the great latin-threaded Sinfonia Della Notte (and even this is severely chopped down from the near 7 minute Afterlife club edit, which is an inexplicable decision.) No Snooze, no Solu Music, no Kaskade, no Fac 15. Quite frankly, I'm disappointed it's come to this.
Why the three stars? Disc 2 is a solid mix with some great tracks, especially those by Myomi and Mambana. But it's just a re-hash of tracks that have already appeared on (numerous) Hed Kandi albums, including the Beach House series. If you're new to Beach House, it may be worth a look for disc 2 alone but for seasoned BH fans, download the full version of Sinfonia and don't bother with the rest.


Sony NWZX1050B X Series 16GB MP4 Walkman with WIFI
Sony NWZX1050B X Series 16GB MP4 Walkman with WIFI

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great sounding Sony Walkman, 25 Aug 2009
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First off, if you want a multi-media player, go and buy an I-pod touch. If, however, you want your music to actually sound good, then you've come to the right place. The player improves on previous models by allowing you to tweak the sound until it suits your tastes with the 5 band equalizer and various sound enhancement modes. One word of warning though: despite some reviews to the contrary below, I found the bundled cans poor at producing a rounded sound with overly harsh highlights and midtones that sounded like the music was being played in a tunnel. Go and buy some Shures or Sennheiser 300s - the difference is phenomenal. Build quality is fantastic, feeling solid and sturdy in the hand and the addition of the hard buttons on the top allow you to change tracks and pause whilst inside a pocket. The OLED screen is bright and crystal clear. Only gets 4 stars because you'll have to rip all your music again if you weren't using WMP to start with.


The Very Best Of Level 42
The Very Best Of Level 42
Price: 5.67

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm, nice but not complete., 8 Oct 2001
It's a great compilation of some of their greatest hits with the highlights being Running In The Family, Children Say, Something About You and Lessons In Love. However, where are Kansas City Milkman, Weave Your Spell, Turn It On and Almost There? The inclusion of these early songs would have made this the greatest compilation on Earth. As it is, it's a great intro to Level 42 but you'll have to delve deeper to find some of their best material.


All Summer Long - CD1
All Summer Long - CD1

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blimey! Turn down the bass., 3 Oct 2001
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This review is from: All Summer Long - CD1 (Audio CD)
Having heard the album version of All Summer Long which was blinding I purchased this single for my Chris Rea collection. The radio edit is (obviously) shorter than the album track but, bizarrely, the fantastic mid-track instrumental has been cut in favour of stitching together all three verses. Also rather odd is the fact that while the rest of the music flows along just as before, the bass has been amplified incredibly. It might just be cause I have a good stereo, but I find I'm cranking down the bass every time I play it. As for the other two tracks on here, they're rather lame "dance" versions that have taken the very essence out of the track that Rea intended to be there in the first place. If you own "King Of The Beach" leave this alone, 'cause, while it's a great song, you'll end up playing the album version much more.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 28, 2009 12:21 AM GMT


Under Your Spell
Under Your Spell

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They've done it again - with some style, 2 Aug 2001
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This review is from: Under Your Spell (Audio CD)
Okay, so we all knew that the new cd was gonna be good, especially with the individual band members having worked on their solo projects and bringing their new sounds into the fold. The album opens with an upbeat track and soon settles into the recent Shak sound. It might just be me but I thought track 3 "The Squizzle" was slightly odd, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was. Everyone was talking up track 5 "Under Your Spell" but to be honest, while it's still a brilliant song, it's outclassed by some later tracks. In all honesty (I'll probably in the minority here) I think "Tahitian Nights" and "Night Time" are the best tracks on the album. I just thought it was a bit odd they were placed so far down the track listing at 8 and 9. A more mellow and sophisticated sound sees us through to the end of the cd. I may be sad for saying this but I think track layout is important and I believe Shak's got it pretty right with this album, as each burst of upbeat funkiness is calmed by some slower-tempo jazziness. It took a few listens before I could form an opinion of "Under Your Spell" and the more I listen the better it sounds. Oh and check out the percussion on "Changes" - fantastic. You won't be disappointed buying this album.


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