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dwaas76 "dwaas76" (London, UK)

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Sweeney Todd or The String of Pearls (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural)
Sweeney Todd or The String of Pearls (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural)
by Thomas Peckett Prest
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes your skin crawl, 20 Jan 2008
Like many other people I'd vaguely heard about Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Along with a vague idea of the plot that name and nickname was more or less the sum of my knowledge, so when I saw this book I picked it out on a whim.

And what a result: this book is a fantastic little horror story. It starts off with a foreword giving background information about the story's origins and the circumstances of it coming out (serialised in so-called 'penny dreadfuls'). It's a very interesting read, and the only complaint I have is that the writer presumes you know the entire story, and thus gives out spoilers. If you're totally new to Sweeny Todd I'd advise you to skip it and read it after you've read the main story.

The main story is told from different angles, mainly focusing on either the people trying to catch the barber, or on the barber himself. I found the bits about the 'bad guys' *much* more interesting - the 'good guys' seemed a bit bland and boring. There are a few side-tales, some of which pad out the background of the story. Quite a few others were probably only meant to let the series go on to another week in the original, and feel a bit out of place now its in book format.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the book was written long before forensics existed as we know it now. This leads to the plot becoming a tad unlikely (even surreal) in places. If you've read stories from this era before you'll be used to it, but people new to it should be ready to put their disbelief to one side when they start reading.

The weaker bits and the spoilers in the foreword drop my rating to 4 stars, but it's an enjoyable book that can genuinely creep you out.

MySims (Nintendo DS)
MySims (Nintendo DS)
Offered by CD DIXIE
Price: 9.95

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but it's been done better by others, 6 Nov 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: MySims (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
The reviews of this game were pretty good, and I bought the game of the strength of that. While I am not horribly disappointed (and it did keep me occupied for quite a few hours) I don't think it's quite as good as the reviewers claim.

It's a charming game: you're a Sim who moves into a resort town that is slightly down-at-the-heels. The general idea is to make the town the most popular resort around, and there are various activities you can do to boost the town's rating. There's things such as fishing, designing clothes, decorating your house, different sports...all quite varied. So there's a good mix of mini-games, the graphics are cute and it's less 'minute-by-minute' planning than the usual Sims games (which I find a relief).

It's also a very slow game. I found it quite frustrating to have to start from the beginning every time I wanted to catch a fish or swing a racquet. Surely they could just ask whether you wanted to do the same thing again? Talking to people takes a while, and does get a bit same-y. I found the menus quite ungainly, requiring a mix of stylus and touchpad to get things done.

None of this would be a total blocking point if it weren't for the fact that a game that improves on those points actually exists. "Animal Crossing: Wild World" overlaps this game by about 90% with regards to activities and cuteness. However, it doesn't have the same downsides: it's faster, less clunky to navigate and a bit more fun.

The conclusion: MySims is adequate enough, but I would recommend it only if Animal Crossing was completely unavailable for some reason.

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey ( XPLOSIV PC DVD ROM)
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey ( XPLOSIV PC DVD ROM)

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Example of the worst kind of adventure game, 13 Aug 2007
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I bought this game with high hopes - the storyline and screenshots looked great. Well, as I found out looks are all Dreamfall has going for it. The storyline is paper-thin and incredibly unengaging. The graphics are rather nice, but the game is ludicrously easy - it tells you pretty much exactly what to do every step of the way.

This game is great for people who want to be lead through a story step by step, anybody else should steer well clear.

The Scramble For Africa
The Scramble For Africa
by Thomas Pakenham
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.79

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable bit of African/European history, 21 Feb 2005
Thomas Pakenham's book is an exhaustive account of the exploration and colonisation of Africa during the 19th century. This is of course a very wide subject, but he manages to pull it off very well. Pakenham manages not to descend into a litany of dates, but really tells a proper story with all the interesting details included. My only complaint is that he does spend more time on the British activities than on some of the others which are equally worthy of attention. It's only a minor niggle however, and definitely not a reason to hold off buying the book. Overall it is a well-balanced book that doesn't try to assign blame to one or the other party.
This part of history is neglected in European history lessons, which I think is mostly because a large part of it is quite embarassing for modern readers. The arrogance and blatant disregard for the original inhabitants of the continent is breathtaking at times. On the other hand, this book left me amazed that any of the European powers had empires at all. The sheer scale of incompetence, back-stabbing and bloody-mindedness is astounding...sometimes you can't see how they managed to get anything done at all. It does make for a good story, and I'd recommend the book to anybody with an interest in African or European history.

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars {fill in any superlative here} book!, 31 Jan 2005
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend, and I have to say she did me a massive favour: I absolutely adored this book.
The story is a bit complicated to explain. It is the story of the relationship between Henry and Claire, written from both their points of view. Henry has a disorder which means he sometimes jumps backwards and forwards in time. This means Claire first meets him when she is six, but he first meets her 20 years later.
Sounds complicated? It is and it isn't. In the beginning it's a bit difficult to get your head round what has and hasn't happened yet, but you pick it up surprisingly quickly. It helps that the book is divided into sections that begin by giving Claire and Henry's ages in that segment. Of course, sometimes Henry is two different ages...but I don't want to give away too much.
The book is a love story, but, partly due to the unusual premise, it isn't a "soppy" book. Henry's disease is treated in such a way as to almost make it seem like a 'normal', existing disease. It is of course central to the story but it doesn't turn the book into a sci-fi/fantasy either.
I would definitely recommend it to absolutely anybody, even to people who don't usually read love stories (I'm one of them) or books involving time travel and that sort of thing. Buy it now!

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
by Gil Courtemanche
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting but brutal, 23 Dec 2004
This story takes place in Kigali (Rwanda) at the start of the civil war (for want of a better phrase). It is told from the viewpoint of Valcourt, a Canadian journalist who has made many local friends there. He has fallen in love with the country, and with a young woman, Gentille. He describes the events leading up to the massacre of the Tutsis from a personal point of view. In the introduction the author states that it is a lightly fictionalised story, and that most of the names and incidents described really did happen.
Despite of this is not a history book, and so it doesn't detail the events you saw on the news in a logical fashion. This book is all about human emotions: love, friendship, anger, hatred, apathy. This makes it an incredibly powerful book to read: it is one of the few books that has actually made me cry.
I would recommend this book to anybody, whether they have a particular knowledge of Rwanda or not. The story really makes you think about people and what they are capable of, both in a positive and a negative sense. Just don't read it on public transport (as I did) as people tend to look at you rather oddly!

A History of South Africa (Yale Nota Bene)
A History of South Africa (Yale Nota Bene)
by Leonard Monteath Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.19

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thorough but dry, 8 Dec 2004
I wanted to learn more about the history of South Africa and this book seemed just the ticket, especially as the blurbs on the cover said it had a good literary style. Perhaps I was expecting too much from a mere 296 pages (excl. indices etc.), but I was really disappointed by it. The book reads like a long list of Government Acts, with some statistics thrown in for good measure. There is practically no reference to the 'human' aspect of SA's history. It seems that the writer is trying so hard not to be judgemental that all emotion has been stripped from the content.
If you like your history books to be like schoolbooks you should have a field day, otherwise I'd steer clear.

Silver Side Up
Silver Side Up
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 3.99

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rock album that should be in everybody's music collection, 22 Nov 2004
This review is from: Silver Side Up (Audio CD)
I bought this album because I liked "How You Remind Me" and Chad's voice on "Hero". I rarely buy an album on the strength of one single, but I'm extremely glad this is one of the exceptions to the rule. Most of the CDs that come out these days seem to be made up of at least 50% "filler" tracks, but there is nothing like that to be found on Silver Side Up. The mix is good in both subject matter and in the actual music.
I am not particularly into rock as a genre (I tend to listen to a bit of everything) but I would recommend this CD to any of my friends. Nickelback may be grouped with all those alt-metal bands mainly followed by teenagers, but this CD rises above attempts at such classification.
I bought the other Nickelback albums, and although I do really like "The Long Road" I don't think any of them match up to this one. This truly is one of those "must have" albums.

Iron Coffins: A U-boat Commander's War, 1939-45
Iron Coffins: A U-boat Commander's War, 1939-45
by Herbert Albert Werner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tense and claustrophobic, 26 Aug 2004
I bought this book more or less randomly to make up one of those Amazon 3 for X deals, and I'm very glad I did.
Werner's writing is solid and descriptive as he tells of his actions during WWII. He was in the U-boot arm of the German navy, and his stories make fascinating reading. His style is very functional, almost stark, but he conveys the excitement, tension and drama of submarine warfare very well. You can't help but root for the submariners, even though they were the 'bad' guys. On the one hand that made me feel 'disloyal' to the Allies, but on the other hand it illustrates that not all Germans were evil Nazis...some were just soldiers doing what soldiers do. It is said that 'victors write history', and for that reason alone I think it's good to read books like this, just to keep things in balance. Besides that, it's a cracking adventure with lots of narrow escapes and daring escapades.
I've always wondered what it's like to be underwater in a metal tube with no windows, and this book definitely shows that you have to be pretty darn brave to do it! Definitely worth reading, even if you're not into 'military' type books.

Cube [DVD] [1998]
Cube [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Nicole de Boer
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 8.86

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thinking person's horror movie, 2 Aug 2004
This review is from: Cube [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
When some friends recommended this film to me and I saw the cover, I thought it was going to be some terribly low-budget horror flick with ketchuppy fake blood all over the place. A story about some people trapped in a maze didn't seem too original to me, especially when I read that it was booby-trapped.
It took less than 10mins for the first of my preconceptions to be shattered (I can't say too much, it would spoil the fun). Things only went uphill from there. The acting was way above the level I expected, and the director really kept up the suspense.
This is in fact a thinking person's horror movie, and it helps if you're good at maths too. The 'top level' story will satisfy any horror movie buff, but the substory makes it interesting for others as well.
An excellent movie, which I think has been undervalued, underrated and underpromoted.

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