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Winged Monkey "Winged Monkey" (London, UK)

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Fashion E-Mall TPU Super Classics Hard Case/Skin iphone4/4s Team Logo Suit for (Bruce Lee)
Fashion E-Mall TPU Super Classics Hard Case/Skin iphone4/4s Team Logo Suit for (Bruce Lee)

3.0 out of 5 stars This case is beautifully printed and looks great, 28 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This case is beautifully printed and looks great, but it cracked immediately from a very short drop - perhaps six inches. If it hadn't have been within 24 hours of getting it, I'd probably have given it another star. If it had lasted even a couple of months, I might have given it five.

The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai
The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai
by Barbara Lazar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A strangely empty 12th-century rehash of Memoirs of a Geisha, 1 May 2015
A feisty but innocent Japanese girl is plucked from the bosom of her simple rural family to become the plaything of rich and powerful members of a high society beyond her ken, where even her fellow victims cannot be relied upon. And so begins the marvellous page-turner Memoirs of a Geisha. Oh, and so does Barbara Lazar's weirdly thin The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai.

To be fair to Lazar, the story template is fairly universal and her narrative does differ from Arthur Golden's. Alas, so does the quality. Beyond the opening scenes, where fifth daughter Kozaisho's place in her rustic family is nicely pinpointed, one gets very little sense of the 12th-century Japan setting. Lazar suggests that the upper classes are full of backbiting social gossips, for example, but never do we see even a glimpse of it. All the characters are uniformly paper thin, and there is a love interest so ridiculously noble, even 18th-century romantic novelists would deem him unrealistic.

Perhaps I'm doing Lazar a discredit, and this is merely an accurate recreation of the navel-gazing writing style of 12th-century Japan. The Tale of Genji is sitting on my bookshelf, and I'll know better once I've read it. However, to a modern reader, this makes for a flat, thin and colourless read.

The Riddle of the Sands (Vintage Classics)
The Riddle of the Sands (Vintage Classics)
by Erskine Childers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nautical but nice, 27 Mar. 2015
How wonderful that a novel more than a century old should still feel so fresh. The urbane narrator, Carruthers, stuck in London amidst dreary Foreign Office work and missing his social high life, jumps at the chance of escape when an old acquaintance, the idiosyncratic Davies, invites him for a yachting holiday around the Baltic. However, there turns out to be more to the invitation than the civil servant first realised, as he discovers that Davies is desperate to find out why he was nearly led to his death by the seemingly friendly fellow yachtsman Dollmann off the German coast.

Thus begins a peculiar mystery, filled with occasionally rather technical information about charts, tides and sand banks. It is to Erskine Childers' credit that, despite the nautical jargon and - to modern readers at least - a rather sedate pace, he nevertheless makes his novel thrilling, steadily building the tension throughout. The camaraderie between Carruthers and Davies is also nicely developed, although a romantic angle involving Dollmann's daughter and Davies is rather weakly portrayed. Nevertheless, as a thriller, The Riddle of the Sands has aged beautifully, and undoubtedly would warrant a full five stars for anyone with a particular interest in sailing.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Nice case, with vivid colours that seem to be surviving. Unbelievably prompt delivery too.

Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who said Christmas had to be merry?, 11 Jan. 2011
This review is from: CHRISTMAS (Audio CD)
Nobody does downbeat quite like Low. Little Drummer Boy sounds like you're listening to it from the depths of a ketamine-induced trance, while the drawn-out glassy vocals of Blue Christmas appear to belong to some forgotten David Lynch movie soundtrack. These spaced-out, slightly chilly tracks are too bleak to be to everyone's taste, but they represent the perfect antidote to anyone who has spent the past four hours pushing through crowds of shoppers to the strains of Wizzard and Slade.

However, for anyone who feels the need for a little seasonal joy, the opening track, Just Like Christmas, is a sparkling gem, full of tinkling notes and heart-achingly sweet lyrics. One of the best Christmas songs by anyone, ever, and it alone justifies an extra star.

The Glass of Time
The Glass of Time
by Michael Cox
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some of the most predictable plotting I've read in years..., 25 Jun. 2009
This review is from: The Glass of Time (Hardcover)
Each book should be judged on its own merits, not how it stacks up against its predecessor, but Michael Cox has dug his own grave by writing a direct follow-up to his highly readable debut novel, The Meaning of Night.

The action takes place around 20 years after the previous book as Esperanza Gorst takes on a mission to infiltrate a great lady's house by posing as a maid. I won't give too much away of the plot from here though, as you'll guess most of it as you go along. I'm struggling to remember a more predictable story. You'll spot every "twist" and "revelation" at least 20 pages ahead. Oh, and the central romance is highly unconvincing which, when you consider its importance to the tension of the plot, means you're left with a damp squib.

On the plus side, some of the Victorian gothic touches are nice, and it's pleasing to see the end of the story begun in The Meaning of Night but, in all honesty, I'd rather I hadn't bothered.

Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony (PSP)
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony (PSP)

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but oh-so-shallow, dungeon crawler, 7 Dec. 2006
I nabbed this on import because I liked the look of it in previews, and thought the characters and hack'n'slash action sounded interesting.

After a nice intro, which is in the increasingly common PSP format of loosely animated comic book stills, you get to pick one of three characters: a brutish half-giant, a slinky elf and a spell-throwing wizard. Then, it's up to you to wander around a fairly large gameworld, taking on quests given to you by NPCs (non-player characters) and collecting loot, gold and experience to power up your chosen character.

For the plus points, the game looks and sounds great, with plenty of different environemnts and bad guys to tackle. Most importantly, the way the characters level up is fun. You can choose traits to concentrate on, such as strength is you choose the half-giant, agility for the ranged-weapon specialist elf and mind for the mage. You can also select a support character to follow your main player around, and these will often compensate for your character's weakness or simply provide good support. Thus, the mage can get a golem to do all the close-quarters fighting, or a lap dragon to boost his stats, that kind of thing.

There are also plenty of quests, lots of things to collect and you do get a sense of your character becoming more powerful as you continue. The, admittedly all too infrequent, cut scenes are good and there are individual storylines according to your chosen hero, which is nice.

On the downside, the load times are dreadful. In game, it's not too bad, but every time you enter a new scene, you can resign yourself to strumming your fingers for a minute or so, which can be a pain when you only wanted to visit the village to sell all your loot and free up a few carry slots.

The quests are also very simplistic, basically calling on you to do little more than travel from one place to another, kill a certain number of things, then return to a particular NPC. And as for the NPCs, don't expect very much interaction. Either they give you a quest, or they say the same things almost every time you see them. They often have some voices on the soundtrack, but what they say bears little or no relation to the text that comes up, so the programmers may as well have not bothered - it just remidns you what you were missing.

Finally, the action itself gets a bit repetitive after a while. Essentially all you will do is hit the same few attack buttons again and again. It's fun for a while, but it quickly palls.

This all sounds a bit downbeat, but it really is fun to play, once you get your head around the loading times. Sure, it's repetitive, but you will probably stick with it long enough to complete it at least once. Still, I imagine that's as long as most will play it so, if you hang around long enough, I'm sure it will start to pop up in second-hand bins. But that doesn't mean it's not worth playing.

Up All Night
Up All Night
Price: £1.48

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Golden Touch is only on one track, 26 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Up All Night (Audio CD)
I guess I just don't get it; this whole ramshackle London music vibe that the music press are slavering over at the moment. This is a decent album, full of listenable tunes, but it rarely rises above a kind of shabby charm. If you'd never heard of the band before and someone put this record on, you probably wouldn't notice it in the background until Golden Touch came on. And it's a cracking tune, so you should notice it. But there's nothing else here that should get you particularly excited.

Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow
by Thomas Pynchon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.14

110 of 131 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like climbing Everest without oxygen., 26 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Gravity's Rainbow (Paperback)
Looking at all the besotted reviews on this page makes me feel like a Philistine or irredeemably stupid, but I just cannot warm to Thomas Pynchon. I feel compelled to justify the 2-star rating by pointing out I'm not casting any aspersions on the quality of his work, just pointing out how much I did not enjoy reading it.
Gravity's Rainbow could perhaps be best described as Catch 22 meets Naked Lunch, as written by Saul Bellow. It shares a lot of the best qualities of those bright lights in American literature: it's wildly inventive, outrageously seamy, intelligently written and often wickedly funny.
Unfortunately, it also shares a lot of the flaws. It's hugely incoherent and the beautiful language meanders through mammoth sentences across a dozen ideas without ever really binding them together. You feel that if there is any sense to be had, it remains stuck in the author's head. This is in spite of the fact he seems to have poured his every wild thought onto the page as it occurred to him. It's beautifully written, but it's a mess. It's like someone gave you a box of extremely expensive chocolates but left them in the back seat of the car and they all melted together.
I had to wade through every page to the bitter end. In fact, I read half a dozen other novels in the meantime purely to provide myself with a break. It was like stopping for oxygen while climbing Mt Everest. Hey, it's nice to say you reached the top, but was it really worth the frostbite?
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2013 11:23 PM GMT

The Straw Men
The Straw Men
by Michael Marshall
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another stylish and witty made-for-cinema thriller, 16 Aug. 2002
This review is from: The Straw Men (Hardcover)
Having enthusiastically devoured the output of Michael Marshall (Smith) over the last five or six years, it would be fair to say that I approached The Straw Men with not a few preconceptions. It has become customary to expect a plot with more twists than a corkscrew in a tornado, involving characters whose mysterious, dark and traumatic pasts will only gradually become revealed to the reader through the course of a sharply funny, imaginative and occasionally graphically violent novel. I am pleased to confirm that The Straw Men pretty much comes up to scratch then, and confirms MMS's reputation as one of Britain's most stylish thriller writers. Perhaps my only gripe might be that I feel that, in departing from the science fiction genre, MMS has also abandoned the wilder realms of his imagination and thus slightly damaged his capacity to savage his readers' expectations. Nevertheless, The Straw Men will keep you gripped, amused and slightly off-balance right until the end.

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