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Reviews Written by
Mr. D. J. Read (Alnwick, Northumberland United Kingdom)

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by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Letdown for the fans, 29 May 2007
This review is from: Cell (Paperback)
Okay, I'm not the biggest Steven King fan in the world, but when I do take the time, money and effort to read one of his novels the least I expect is to be scared. This book fails to deliver in that sense. Not at any point did I feel spine chilling terror, or even milder fear. For me, that means the book fails as a horror.

Onto the novel itself. It is basically an apocalyptic vision, set in the modern day, in which a virus carried on radio waves turns all mobile phone users into 'phone crazies'. The protagonist, Clay, caught in the middle of the chaos as these crazies rampage over Boston, wants desperately to find his wife and estranged son. He joins up with a number of other survivors, such as Tom and Alice, and make their way north.

They observe the phone crazies, as they evolve from blood crazed lunatics, to a telepathic flock, with some quite remarkable powers, and try to herd up the remaining 'normies'.

I feel that King is trying to make a point, albeit obscure, about reliance on modern technology, or its propensity to be detrimental to mankind. He tries to draw allusions that now the 'normies' are insane, which smacks of 'I Am Legend'. Indeed, I think he has borrowed a number of ideas from that particular, and far superior novel.

In short, there is nothing remotely scary, nor anything original in these pages. His writing style really struck me as painfully basic. I never felt any empathy with any of the characters, and as for the ending.....the standard S.K disappointment. Except in this case it doesn't turn out to be a monster, it just leaves so many questions unanswered.

The Twelve Caesars
The Twelve Caesars
by Gaius Suetonius
Edition: Paperback

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accesible and interesting, 12 April 2007
This review is from: The Twelve Caesars (Paperback)
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure why I bought this book. But I'm glad I did, it proved very readable and very informative. I had no knowledge of the Caesars prior to reading, and this certainly hindered my understanding of this work.

The fact that it is written by somebody who actually lived under the reign of the final Caesar he discusses (Domitian), it gives a unique view that modern history cannot compare with. However, this also lets it down slightly. For instance, Suetonius has a habit of talking about omens and portents in great detail. Because he has written in the age, he writes with the superstitions of the Romans as well.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that each emporer had myriad omens dictating that they would become emporer, and in many cases predict their death. It is far more likely, of course, that such things were contrived after the events to preserve the integrity of the soothsayers.

I did struggle with the politics, and the political structure, and found major gaps in certain parts of the novel. For instance, when dealing with Julius, it never actually says when he became emporer, and often such events of major import are brushed over. Some emporers, especially Vitellius and Titus were almost mentioned in a brief aside, with the clear focus on the more famous characters. I am aware that their reins were shorter, but very little detail is given. It is also very thin on the ground when it comes to discussing foreign campaigns.

What it did do, is paint these as actual people. He portrays Claudius as weak, and unduly influenced by freedmen and his wife. The things he says about Tiberius are truly shocking, and as for Gaius and Nero.... no wonder the Roman empire fell into civil war and bankrupcy.

Apple iPod Shuffle 1GB - Silver
Apple iPod Shuffle 1GB - Silver

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's....good enough, 29 Mar. 2007
This is good as a compact, little mp3 player. But if you want to listen to specific songs you will often find you have to spend a few minutes just clicking through the songs to get the one you want. The battery lasts forever, the memory is big enough for 1000 (ish) songs, which is about 5x as many songs as I own. Echoing the lad before me, the headphones are pitiful, and fall out if you go for a run about every two seconds.

Of course, you get exclusive access to i-tunes. But I have been singularly unimpressed with i-tunes. For one thing, the library is not very good. I could not find 'changes' by 2pac, or a whole host of other songs I wanted. Not only that, but i-tunes are encrypted, so you cannot use them with other mp3 players etc. While this is understandable, you may as well download from a different site, and get tunes compatable with any other mp3 players.

ByteStor 4GB USB  High Speed "Dataferry" Flash Drive
ByteStor 4GB USB High Speed "Dataferry" Flash Drive

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable, not remarkable, 27 Mar. 2007
I mean, at the end of the day, its just a flash drive, they all do the same thing, there is very little to seperate the market. You basically pay for the memory you want, though for the word documents I use it for I will never even nearly excede 512MB.

But there was a small problem with this particular gadget. The plastic bit which I imagine is intended to attach to a key ring (thats what I did), is quite flimsy. In fact, mine came clean off, and it is a good thing the device was in my pocket of I would have lost it, and some chancer would have got all my work. Not only this, but it exposed the inner circuits, and I could see this being a problem with its long term durability.

If you buy this, bear this in mind. Mine still works, but I would prefer a different flash drive.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 18, 2011 3:37 PM BST

Sony PS2 Slimline Console (Black) (PS2)
Sony PS2 Slimline Console (Black) (PS2)

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain, 27 Mar. 2007
With the advent of the playstation 3, with its rather hefty price tag, suddenly the price of this once similarly overpriced console has taken a bit of a nose dive. And this is obviously good for the consumer. It is also evdience of the overpricing of Sony with the latter console.

The PS2 is now the same price as its American counterparts. Yet the PS3 is over £100 more. They justify this by such excuses as the highr price of doing business.

Basically, Sony do not think people will be sufficiently interested in its former console anymore. Yet why wouldn't we be? For £90 you can have the console with the widest selection of quality games today (because, of course, you can use those old PS1 games). Some of the later games are of such quality that they are equivalent to the new games on its successor, remember graphics aren't everything.

As a personal recommendation, I would buy this and watch this space. Invest £90, and the discount which is the standard on PS2 games, and watch the price plummet on the PS3. It is not selling well, and the price is the main factor.

Sony PlayStation 3 Console (60GB Premium Version)
Sony PlayStation 3 Console (60GB Premium Version)

30 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As usual, Europeans shortchanged, 26 Mar. 2007
As British gamers, we have become accustomed to being overpriced. Ever since the days of the 16 bit consoles, we have always paid a premium. Why is this? Surely the export costs, duty, things like this do not add upwards of £100 on every console imported.

Now, it seems, the European versions of comapnies such as Sony and Nintendo, think we have been brainwashed for so long that we will accept these extortionate prices. And that is precisely the problem, people will pay, and then the next generation console will likewise be overpriced. So the vicious circle goes on. U.K gamers will feel the pinch in their pockets, and the lucrative companies will be laughing all the way to the bank. Couple this with the fact we have to wait upwards of a year for this piece of kit in the first place and we begin to see that we are getting a very raw deal.

That said, this is an extraordinary kit. But, lets face it, at this price people are going to be buying the 360. The playstation 3 is already playing catch-up in terms of software, with inferior games on the market and developers struggling to make full usage of the capacity of the console. So far, the games have been truly unremarkable. Look at it this way, the playstation 2 is available for sub £100 now, and the more recent games on that are as good as the new releases on this.

Personally, not being free of financial constraints, I am effectively priced out of this console. It looks like I may finally invest in a PS2 though.

Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan [2006] [DVD]
Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sacha Baron Cohen
Price: £1.45

3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sacha Baron Cohen Police, 26 Mar. 2007
With the demise of Ali G, we find his alter ego reincarnated for the big screen. I was certainly hoping for an improvement on Cohens last outing, which didn't really make a successful transition.

So...Borat. For me, watching this does indeed make me cringe. It certainly takes some bottle of the part of Cohen to carry this off, but sometimes you almost want to sink into your seat. The structure is lacking to the point of non-existant, which discredits the plot. This is like jackass from the point of view that it is a series of comedy scetches strung together, with the a flimsy plot-line.

Personally, I never liked Borat. But I imagine if you do, you will find this hilarious. The character has come on leaps and bounds, and is now even more outrageous. It is a good film to watch if you don't want to exercise those braincells, a harmless bit of comedy that will be raise a few chuckles.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Edition Box Set) [DVD]
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Edition Box Set) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood
Price: £13.99

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trilogy Police, 26 Mar. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Lord of the Rings is a superb trilogy. Do be warned you're looking at 10.5 hours before you even begin to delve into the extras. But you really should make the effort. Such a fantastic insight into film making by a master of the art. The extras truly set the standard for al D.V.Ds, and no films before or since have matched the depth and insight.

What I would like to touch on is the value for money. These were £30 a pop when they were first released, and they were reasonable value for money then. Now you can get all 3 for less than £25? Buy this now if you don't have them, don't miss out.

I know there was a successive version released of each D.V.D, but again, they are about £20 each, and they really don't add anything to these versions. If you ask me, stick with these, and let's leave the newer version for the obsessive collectors.

What more can I say? Get your wallet out!

Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare
Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare
by Philip Short
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but overwhelming, 22 Mar. 2007
Admittedly, having not lived at the period when the Khmer Rouges were in power, I knew nothing of the regime. All I had was a kind of hazy image of some blood thirsty dictator in Cambodia who was rather nasty.

So it was that I came across this book quite by accident, and thought, why not? I've always had a thing for history.

Initially, and I'll be honest, I found the book a daunting prospect. It was not so much the length as the cramped writing packed into each page, the myriad personalities, not helped by the fact that they change their names every five minutes, the number of organisations and the political situation at the time. And that is my main fault with the book. You are treated to a wealth of information. It comes so fast, and so detailed, that often you are only left with a vague impression, as you have to kind of filter the relevant information. But then, surely that is a fault of mine. As a serious historian it is the duty of Short to provide all the information, and this he does.

I also found that Short kind of brushed over certain subjects. For instance, when exactly did Sar become the Central commitee secretary? When did he make the step from a mediocre student in the Cercle Marxiste to his extreme vision of Communism? Why did Vorn vet end up in S 21?. Some quite major incidents are mentioned almost carelessly, while Short goes into depth about such irrelevant things as Sihanouks tour of the Khmer Rouge sites.

What I do like is the portrait it paints of the CPK, not so much as a totalitarian regime, but as an ideaoligist state, driven by international subterfuge both in the form of a U.S, bombing Cambodia to a pulp to cover it's own withdrawl from Vietnam, and China, eager to stop Vietnamese expansion.

I was impressed with how it portrayed the culture of lies and secrecy that would prove the regimes undoing, while also concentrating on the lives of ordinary Khmers, forced out of Phnom Penh to join collectives. It left me with a good notion of where Pot failed, why 1.5 million people died, at all levels, from top officials detained in Tuol Sleng and massive starvation on the ground level.

One thing I am glad, that I was not born in 'democratic' Kampuchea. I seriously advise this book if you seek a good understanding of Cambodia at this time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2012 11:11 AM GMT

The Queen [DVD] [2006]
The Queen [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Helen Mirren
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.37

6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DVD Police, 22 Mar. 2007
This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Mirren won an Oscar performance for this, so it would be rich of me to criticise her acting. But like so many films that appeal to the academy, the focus is squarely on the acting and not the film itself. These films turn out to be 'art nouveau', and as such very drab.

This is no exception. It portrays the Queen as she and the monarchy are, that is, an outdated institution which hang onto what tiny vestiges of power they have left. The film focuses on the fall out from the death of Diana, and the monarchy as it comes to terms with the new role.

So we have a film which deals with issues close to the heart of many Brits today. Personally I am anti-monarchy, and I get the feeling that the director was too, portraying the Queen as outdated, stuck in the past and rather secretive.

Sure if you are a critic, you may appreciate this, god knows I've heard too many rave reviews about it. I just can't understand it. For me the Queen came across as cold and detached, and one has to wonder if this actually reflected reality.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 12, 2013 7:46 PM BST

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