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Chef! (UK)

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The Log Book: Getting The Best From Your Woodburning Stove
The Log Book: Getting The Best From Your Woodburning Stove
by Will Rolls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.95

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a book - it's a money saving investment, 3 Dec. 2014
If you have, or are thinking of acquiring a log burner, then you will need several things. Matches, kindling, fuel... and this book.

I can't commend this book highly enough. From choosing the right sort of log burner for the space it's going to fill, to boffin-pleasing equations about heat available per cubic metre of wood, this book covers pretty much everything you would need to know about the joys of wood burning stoves. Refreshingly brief, unpatronising and totally devoid of waffle or jargon, author Will Rolls crams stacks of really useful advice into logically ordered chapters, in under 100 pages. Want to know what kind of trees produce the best fuel? Answered in here. Most efficient way to get the fire up and running as quickly as possible? Need an equation to work out moisture content of your green logs? Also answered in here, along with even the most basic and practical questions of best places to find cheap, reliable fuel sources (his best hint: go to a pub with a log fire, buy a pint and ask the landlord. Brilliant)

Since acquiring this book, I have taken a much less lackadaisical approach to using the wood burner. I'm now far more selective with the wood I burn (no more lumps of random wood with unidentified varnishes on them) to creating a much better storage area for drying out next year's fuel pile. Perhaps most insightful of all is the long term care of the wood burner. I had no idea that heavy metals and salts would be such a problem in unsuitable fuels, and would corrode the flue at a horrifying speed. Following the advice in this book will save you time, hassle and money in every aspect of using your log burner, so get it now if you haven't already got it. Or if you don't have one, get it for someone else who has a log burner and revel in burning wonderful aged ash logs together, basking in their superior BTU output and slight smugness of new found knowledge. Or just read it anyway; it's quite an interesting and easy read in its own right.

Icewind Dale - Triple Pack (PC DVD)
Icewind Dale - Triple Pack (PC DVD)

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty average fare, 6 Dec. 2007
Out of all the games that Black Isle has released, the Icewind Dale series is arguably the weakest. The biggest problem is the characters - they just don't come to life. You create a party of custom characters for the adventure, but as such they have no lines of dialogue, no interaction... essentially you are playing non-characters. Whilst Planescape Torment thrust you into the role of The Nameless One and allowed you to recruit some very complex characters to your cause, and Baldur's Gate gave you a bit more scope over the details of your class, IWD basically gives you no incentive or reason to care about your character or any other members of your party (other than keeping them alive so you don't have to reload). As a result, the feel of the story is paper thin compared to BG and PS:T, with no squabbling, romance and duelling between your party members, and not a trace of a mystery concerning your protagonist to solve.

Another reviewer said that most of the problems are resolved by combat, and this makes for some very dull portions of the game. There are too many dungeon crawls, with some uninspired quests along the lines of "fight this lot, kill boss, steal magic item" ad nauseam.

Still, it's a series not without merit. Some of the artwork for the locations is very pretty and picturesque. Although it can become a drag in places fighting through hordes of monsters, figuring out new tactics and methods to defeat them all can prove a brain-teaser in its own way. I just wish they'd emphasised a bit more on telling a good story and fleshing out the characters.

It's worth a look if you're wishing to complete your Black Isle collection, otherwise stick to Baldur's Gate and Planescape by these developers.

Planescape Torment - White Label Range (PC CD)
Planescape Torment - White Label Range (PC CD)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lost treasure, 6 Dec. 2007
This was released by Black Isle in the interim period between the much more commercially successful Baldur's Gate series, and it passed many people by, me included. Having only recently got a copy, Planescape: Torment wipes the floor with every other RPG I've played. Rich in imagination, it has thousands of words of beautifully evocative text and dialogue, brilliant characters, an epic, moving story and is quite wonderfully bonkers in places (like the "pregnant" street that needs to give birth to some houses) and all without a single RPG cliche in sight. The atmosphere is fantastic too - it really gives off the feeling of being stuck in a twisted, hellish dustbowl of a reality, with corruption and betrayal lingering in the corners of Sigil.

The story revolves around The Nameless One, who is your character to guide and develop through the game. Set on the bizarre city of Sigil - a labyrinth of portals both real and magical - and its surrounding lands, you must gather The Nameless One's memories and unravel the mystery behind his past - he is an immortal who keeps getting killed, but by unknown assailants. I don't want to give away any more than that though, as it has one of the most compelling stories of any game I've played, though the ending had me in a turnoil of emotion; surely a rarity in the gaming world...

Along the way, you'll meet dozens of complex and vivid characters, and the best parts of the game come through in the interaction with them - the wisecracking, guilt-ridden Morte; Vhailor, the indomitable paragon of Justice; Ignus, the insane, burning wreck of a man; Deionarra, the ghost of a former companion... all of these people and more jump out of the screen as truly great literary characters leap from the page. There are some complaints to be levelled at this game, mainly that the combat situations are a little dull, but then this is an RPG that is breaking all the rules and veering away from churning out yet another staid dungeon hack. This truly is a game that rewards time and careful consideration, and never once patronises the player's intelligence.

This is almost certainly a contender for the greatest RPG of all time, if not the greatest game of all time. There are so many reasons that this game has received the praise it has, and it's almost a crime that it didn't sell very well.

No World For Tomorrow (Deluxe Edition) (Clean) (CD/DVD)
No World For Tomorrow (Deluxe Edition) (Clean) (CD/DVD)
Price: £23.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite there, but close enough, 25 Oct. 2007
This is the second half of the fourth and final part of C&C's mammoth space-prog-rock epic, which is meant to be the last section of the story with the first being released some time in the future. Confused? You should be.

Trying to make sense of the complex story aside, this continues much in the same way as its predecessors, though is somewhat lacking in the 'epic' stakes. There isn't really a towering, monolithic track on this record that stands out in the same way that "In Keeping Secrets" or "Welcome Home" do on previous albums. However, it isn't without its fair share of good tunes. "Feathers" sounds reminiscent of Bon Jovi/Bryan Adams melodic rock, "Gravemakers and Gunslingers" kicks as much behind as its uber-cool name suggests and is quite possibly the best song Iron Maiden never wrote. The first single, "The Running Free" is a bit simplistic, but "Mother Superior" returns to the melodic Bon Jovi-esque power ballad.

Overall, this is a worthy collection to the Coheed and Cambria canon, although as a supposed climax to the overarching story it is somewhat subdued - in many ways its predecessor sounds more like a closing act. I'd give it 3 and a half stars if I could, so I've rounded it up to four. It is still well worth a listen, though it does seem to be missing its battle-cry...

Fear of a Black Hat [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Fear of a Black Hat [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by M and N Media US
Price: £46.11

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, and not just for hip-hop fans, 14 Sept. 2006
Follow the adventures of N.W.H and laugh [...]!

This movie is often described as "Spinal Rap", and rightly so. True, it is pretty much Spinal Tap remade scene-for-scene with hip-hop instead of heavy metal, but it is just as funny. The song parodies are brilliant - I'm not much of a hip-hop fan and don't know a great deal about the genre, but all the groups and rappers they lampoon are all instantly recognisable. It's full of brilliant jokes and scenes (Tasty Taste's gun collection scene is hilarious - like Nigel's guitar collection in Spinal Tap, but with firearms), and the songs are really well written and very funny, such as "F**k tha Security Guards", and "Guerrillas in the Midst".

Great music/comedy film, and not just for die-hard fans of rap. If you liked Spinal Tap, you'll love this.

Command & Conquer: Classic
Command & Conquer: Classic
Offered by marxwax
Price: £17.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Blast from the past!, 16 Dec. 2005
I recently reinstalled this game, and had forgotten just how awesome it was for the time it was made, and even though the graphics now look really cruddy and dated, the gameplay is undiminished. I've played a number of games from the C&C franchise, and I still rate this as my favourite. The storyline is excellent and compelling. Set about twenty years into the future, it pits the UN Global Defence Initiative (GDI) against the huge terrorist organisation the Brotherhood of NOD. You can complete the game as either side, essentially giving you two games in one! The war is fought in both Europe and Africa over control of an alien substance called tiberium, which can be collected and used to create weaponry (but is harmful to your soldiers, bursting them into flames.)
With inventive mission settings, ranging from infiltration and assassination to all out tank battles. Each mission is introduced with FMV (remember that?!) briefings and cut scenes. The game is also complemented with some awesome weaponry, which is introduced to the player in stages. Each side has weaponry unique to its arsenal. GDI forces generally have larger, more powerful stuff, such as the awesome mammoth tank and A-10 tankbuster, whereas NOD have cheaper, faster and more "unethical" weapons, such as the nasty flame tank, and later even nuclear bombs! This is a fantastic game of soldiers, especially when you play head-to-head with mates!
Anyone who likes awesome gameplay and is not put off by dated graphics will love this classic game. By the way, the soundtrack totally rocks as well!

Alien Blood [DVD]
Alien Blood [DVD]
Dvd ~ Francesca Manning
Offered by FREETIME
Price: £4.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite possibly the worst movie ever made, 16 Dec. 2005
This review is from: Alien Blood [DVD] (DVD)
Anyone wishing to see this film should not attempt to do so unless they're slightly masochistic. I've seen a number of truly awful horror/sci-fi B-movies over the years, and this has to rank as the worst one I've had the misfortune to witness (yes, it's even worse than Halloween 3: Season of the Witch). The script is awful, the acting worse, the special effects look like they were done on a BBC Micro. And the plot is non-existent - something about a blonde French woman and her child, who are being chased by unnamed villains across some moors to a house with some vampires in it. There's no logic in anything that happens in any scene. For example, the two protagonists randomly kill a waiter, then a farmer, all with no explanation. All throughout is a running gun battle between, well, it's hard to say who it's between since none of the characters are introduced or explained. It really is hard to describe how truly atrocious this film is. If you're really curious and wish to waste 3 quid and 2 hours of your life seeing this abortion of a movie, then go ahead but don't say I didn't warn you. I only managed to finish watching it through sheer morbid fascination, like watching a car crash in slow motion.
A masterclass in how NOT to make a movie: the absolute antithesis of "Citizen Kane". Avoid.

Live At Woodstock
Live At Woodstock

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic live recording, 11 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Live At Woodstock (Audio CD)
Having disbanded the original Experience line-up, Hendrix was looking to put together a new band in order to afford him the opportunity to widen his musical scope. Although the expanded new group, the Band of Gypsies, are a little ragged round the edges, this is one hell of a performance from the main man. This is Jimi on top of his game, in total command of his axe and leaving every other player in the dirt whilst casually chatting to the audience of thousands between tracks. From the brutal "Voodoo Child" to a typically incendiary "Purple Haze", this whole album rocks. It also contains one of the most talked about pieces of music in the history of popular culture - his rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner". Thousands of words have been written about the cultural significance of this sonic burning of the Stars and Stripes over the years, but its power remains undiminshed and still gives me the shivers every time I hear it. An historical moment in the history of popular culture and a totally mind-blowing concert, it's a crime he's not still alive today.
Five stars, you won't hear many concerts as good as this one.
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Bongo Fury
Bongo Fury

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant live album, 3 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Bongo Fury (Audio CD)
Rock's mad scientist and Dadaist extraordinaire team up for the first time since 1969's "Hot Rats" and deliver a totally manic, freeform, and above all, entertaining live record. The opening track "Debra Kedabra" hurls round so many musical hairpin bends it's hard to keep track of what's goin on. Every track on here sounds so fiendishly difficult to play one can only listen in awe of the skill of this incarnation of Zappa's band. It's mostly led by Zappa's overdriven guitar and the Captain's demonic growling, but with various flashes of horns and keyboards clashing with insane time signatures. It isn't without the humour which often comes with Zappa, such as in "200 Years Old" (a "celebration" of the USA's 200th birthday), or the gloriously bonkers Beefheart psycho-rant "Man with the Woman Head".
It's a shame then that such a great collaboration should have ended in an acrimonious split, leaving these two childhood friends barely speaking to each other. However, it is still a great record, despite the tensions, and contains the moment in which Zappa sealed his reputation as a guitar-wizard to equal Hendrix, in the sublime "Muffin Man".

Morrowind Elder Scrolls 3: Game of the Year Edition (PC)
Morrowind Elder Scrolls 3: Game of the Year Edition (PC)
Offered by TnsDealsUK
Price: £14.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 7 Aug. 2005
Not since Ultima 7 has there been an RPG of such staggering scope and detail that I've said "wow" out loud to my computer screen. It's hard to know where to begin, except that this game is huge, beautiful, compelling and very well thought out. Bethesda have created a world with such history and intricacy it's easy to get lost in it for hours at a time. There's far too many aspects of the game to talk about, as it encompasses an island of about 10 square miles, loads of towns full of people, a ridiculous amount of quests and loads of factions to join. One could write thousands of words on the merit of this adventure game, so just order it and see for yourself.
There are a couple of problems though. For example, almost every wild animal you come across attacks you, the combat is insanely boring, and the spell system is a bit of an anti-climax, as you typically only end up using a few spells out of thousands.
Yet these are only minor complaints in a game with so much to offer. One of the features which I enjoyed the most was the inclusion of books to read, which cover many subjects from the history of the people to silly stories and plays. I heard somewhere that there was enough text in these books to fill a 300 page novel! The longevity of Morrowind, especially with the add-ons, Bloodmoon and Tribunal (both of which are excellent) means that you won't get bored of this one in a hurry. Until of course Oblivion comes out....

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