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HeavyMetalManitou
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The Lizard
The Lizard
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 18 April 2016
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This review is from: The Lizard (Audio CD)
I've owned this on cassette since it was first released, but it's such a perfect album that I recently bought the CD too. It had been a few years since I'd listened to 'The Lizard', but it has stood the test of time. Listening to the CD blasted through my big feck-off hi-fi system was a revelation. The riffs are epic and timeless, the melodies sublime, the vocals perfect, the overall composition and musicianship accomplished and then some. It's a shame that this album is best known for its surprise US hit single 'Love Is on the Way'. That's not a bad song by any means, but it gives a false idea of what this album's really about: huge riffs, soaring melodies, aggressive vocals and the forging of an entirely new genre of metal, which goes by the name Saigon Kick.


Daughter of the Drackan: Book One of Gyenona's Children
Daughter of the Drackan: Book One of Gyenona's Children
Price: £2.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 18 April 2016
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There are several reasons for giving ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ a five-star rating. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it introduces a main character who is female and strong, vulnerable but fierce, lost yet ever-determined to discover the meaning in and of her existence. This is important. Kathrin Hutson's creation Keelin is a healthy role model of independent womanhood. Literature needs more of this. For too long, too many stories have portrayed women as weak creatures, incapable of overcoming their own adversity without a man (often a variation of the hackneyed ‘knight in shining armour’) to help them along. Hutson goes some way to overturning this unrealistic stereotype.

A feral child, Keelin was born of human but raised by drackans. She is no damsel in distress. She’s a wild thing in charge of her own destiny: a healthy feminine archetype. (I recently wrote a piece about the damaging messages contained in many religions and fairytales. I explained the harm they’ve done – especially to females – and suggested ways of righting those wrongs. Keelin is the literary embodiment of my argument that women are not damsels in distress, but strong individuals capable of carving their own path and knowing what's best for them.)

I’ve long been fascinated by the phenomenon of feral children, having read many accounts of their existence in the wild. Most of these were short reports that dealt in known facts with little or no exposition, but in ‘The Dogs of Winter’ – one of my favourite books – Bobbie Pyron tackles the true-life tale of a Russian boy adopted by wild dogs, fleshing out the unknowns beautifully from her own imagination. So ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ struck a chord in me straight away, with its similar tone, albeit in a fictitious context with drackans in place of dogs. In terms of subject matter, I was hooked from the start.

There’s not much else I can say about the story without giving away spoilers. The main character/narrator Keelin is a sublime mix of fragility and ferocity. In her dealings with humans, she refuses to accept their illogical and unhealthy behaviours and practices. This endeared her to me all the more. Keelin doesn’t pander to human stupidity or weakness. That’s another healthy aspect of her nature.

As far as the story goes, it’s a metaphor for life: Keelin has an innate drive to find out about her ancestry, her identity and her purpose. So the crux of Keelin’s story parallels many others (one that springs to mind is Douglas Adams’s ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ – another of my favourite books – in which a giant supercomputer was built to answer the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything). But Hutson's tale is so original, and narrated from such a different perspective, that it’s in a world of its own. It has joined the ranks of my favourite books. Deservedly so.

Crucial storytelling. Iconic main character. Highly recommended. Roll on the sequel.


Ink Jet Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for Epson - T1281 Black
Ink Jet Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for Epson - T1281 Black

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are three main things to consider when reviewing ink cartridges. (1) Are they recognised by the printer they're meant to be compatible with? (2) What quality is the colour? (3) How much ink does the cartridge contain?

My Epson BX525WD printer recognised the cartridge's chip, charged the ink and was ready to print within a few seconds.

With the printer set at 300 dpi, the quality of black print on glossy photo paper is near perfect.

The volume of ink in the cartridge is 5.9ml.

Does what it says on the packet and as a bonus is made from recycled materials.


Learning to be Wild: Raising Orphan Grizzlies
Learning to be Wild: Raising Orphan Grizzlies
by Charlie Russell
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 17 July 2015
This book documents Charlie Russell's life raising orphaned grizzly cubs in Kamchatka with his wife Maureen. Both story and photography are astonishing. The plucky cubs grew up seeing Charlie as their father, a role he filled by encouraging them to be independent, to fish, to be their true wild selves, much of which is captured beautifully in pictures. The unspoken theme of the book is transformation through fearlessness: Charlie walks fearlessly (and respectfully) with bears in their domain, while the cubs grow into fearless adults by their human father's side. Absolutely life-affirming.


Fear Factory Men's Demanufacture Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Fear Factory Men's Demanufacture Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Price: £12.85 - £18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Manufactured, 6 July 2015
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High-quality print on a top-quality shirt.


Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin in the Middle Taiga
Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin in the Middle Taiga
by Sylvain Tesson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical, Beautiful, Philosophical, 6 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The most fascinating non-fiction book I've ever read. 'Consolations of the Forest' tells of Sylvain Tesson's six months in the Siberian Taiga, deep in unspoilt wilderness. His writing is evocative, his thoughts philosophically incisive. The Taiga's vast landscape and wild creatures humbled Tesson. His prose is poignant, observant, often funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always full of wonder. If you feel a connection to nature and wild places, Tesson's words will resonate in you. If you enjoy solitude, you'll enjoy reading about the adventures of one man who lived as a hermit, survived it and wrote about it masterfully.

Life-changing.


Skyclad Prince Of The Poverty Line T-Shirt, XL / Extra-Large
Skyclad Prince Of The Poverty Line T-Shirt, XL / Extra-Large

5.0 out of 5 stars Skyclad!, 6 July 2015
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Beautiful artwork on a top-quality shirt.


Behind Blue Eyes: Love Reign O'er Me
Behind Blue Eyes: Love Reign O'er Me
Price: £2.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Fleetwood Mac Meets the Anti-'Romeo and Juliet', 6 July 2015
In a refreshing change for what is ostensibly a love story, the two main characters - introverted vocalist Ian and Daddy's girl Sarah - are not conspired against by others. Quite the opposite: family and friends are universally supportive of their relationship. It is the protagonists' own fragility, insecurities and emotional wounds that act as obstacles to a happy, functional relationship. With so many novels recycling the 'poor us - the world is against us' cliché, it’s excellent to read a story that turns that tired blueprint on its head, making characters accountable for their own actions rather than blaming cruel forces of 'fate'. The book is largely an observation of two people facing their inner demons and growing as a result. Despite their difficulties they have inner loci of control, and recognise that they are in charge of their own courses. Again, refreshing. Too much literature portrays weak characters who are manipulatable due to external loci of control. Ian and Sarah own their weaknesses, striving to overcome them throughout breakups and band in-fighting reminiscent of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac.

The love story is set against the backdrop of Canada’s late ‘70s music industry. Characters are so well realised that I frequently felt like reaching into the story and slapping them for their actions or non-actions. If I hadn't cared about the story, it couldn’t have generated those reactions in me.

On a less serious note, inadvertent euphemisms abound in the book. More than once I was in stitches laughing at unwittingly filthy phraseology. Check this out for a classic: 'She pouted as he fiddled with her kettle and poked around her cupboards for the teabags.' If you think that's the pinnacle of euphemismagnificence, think again. How about this? 'Ian rose and Sarah watched him put a log in the hearth, where a young fire burned...He sighed as the flames began to lick the fresh log, and he nudged the wood with an iron poker.' Taxi for Mr Freud.

This is an original story which follows a uniquely Canadian path (not that there's anything wrong with that).


The Supermodel and the Brillo Box
The Supermodel and the Brillo Box
by Donald N. Thompson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Art is a subjective topic, more so than most. As the saying goes, one man's trash is another's treasure. This book provides fascinating insights into the arena of art valuation and the hype that causes certain work to become commercially valuable. Why is one piece of installation art - which most people don't consider art at all - valued at millions while some paintings widely considered masterpieces are valued at next to nothing? One thought that popped into my head often as I read was, 'I'm in the wrong career. Art's where the money is.' The book educates and irritates in equal measures, the abrasion coming from the realisation, 'That piece of work isn't actually worth that much - it's a big scam, like the emperor's new clothes, and just like that, many folk are in on it.'


European Building Construction Illustrated
European Building Construction Illustrated
by Mark Mulville
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Does What It Says on the Cover, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For anyone with an interest in building design, including fans of 'Grand Designs' and 'The Renovation Man', this is an intriguing book. The wireframe diagrams are clear, the prose concise and coherent. I'm not interested in the legalities of construction, but the book covers them comprehensively anyway. I'm more interested in the aesthetics and mechanics of building, which are articulately explored.


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