All Reviews A-Z

Here is a thing which I will plan to update each time I add a new review. This should make it easy for anyone who is sufficiently depraved enough to enjoy what I write and craves more. There isn’t a huge amount yet, but I do have a tonne of reviews written years ago for IMDB which I haven’t posted here yet, along with all my other Album reviews for Amazon. This list will grow. For now, click on anything you like!

Movie Reviews

2001 Maniacs – Tim Sullivan

300: Rise Of An Empire – Noam Murro

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Ana Lily Amirpour

A Hard Day – Kim Seong Hun

A Mighty Wind – Christopher Guest

A Nightmare On Elm Street – Wes Craven

A Tale Of Two Sisters – Kim Ji Woon

Aftermath – Elliott Lester

After The Silence – Fred Gerber

Airwolf – Donald Bellisario

Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Declan Lowney

Alien – Ridley Scott

Aliens – James Cameron

Alien 3 – David Fincher

Annihilation – Alex Garland

Arachnophobia – Frank Marshall

Assault On Precinct 13 – John Carpenter

Attack Of The Adult Babies – Dominic Brunt

August Rush – Kirsten Sheridan

AWOL – Sheldon Lettich

Bad Lieutenant – Abel Ferrara

Bait – Kimble Rendall

Bangkok Dangerous – The Pang Brothers

Baskin – Can Evrenol

Battle Royale – Kinji Fukasaku

Beavis And Butthead – Mike Judge

Beetlejuice – Tim Burton

Bedevilled – Jang Cheol-soo

Benny And Joon – Jeremiah S Chechik

Big Driver – Mikael Salomon

Big Trouble In Little China – John Carpenter

Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey – Peter Hewitt

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Stephen Herek

Birdy – Alan Parker

Black Coal, Thin Ice – Diao Yinan

Blair Witch – Adam Wingard

Blood Father – Jean Francois Richet

Bloodsport – Newt Arnold

Bodyguards And Assassins – Teddy Chan

Body Shots – Michael Christofer

Body Snatchers – Abel Ferrara

Braindead – Peter Jackson

Brooklyn Rules – Michael Corrente

Brother – Takeshi Kitano

Bruiser – George A Romero

Cam – Daneil Goldhaber

Cannibal – Manuel Martin Cuenca

Carne – Gaspar Noe

Chasing Amy – Kevin Smith

Chasing Sleep – Michael Walker

Cockneys Vs Zombies – Matthias Hoene

Come And See – Elem Kilmov

Commando – Mark L Lester

Conan The Barbarian – John Milius

Cronos – Guillermo Del Toro

Cursed – Wes Craven

Cyborg – Albert Pyun

Dark City – Alex Proyas

Dark Tide – John Stockwell

Dawn Of The Dead – Zack Snyder

Day of The Dead – George A Romero

Daylight – Rob Cohen

Dead Snow – Tommy Wirkola

Death Sentence – James Wan

Death Wish 2 – Michael Winner

Demons – Lamberto Bava

Desperado – Robert Rodriguez

Dial M For Murder – Alfred Hitchcock

Die Another Day – Lee Tamahori

Dirty Pretty Things – Stephen Frears

Disturbia – D.J. Caruso

Dobermann – Jan Kounen

Dogma – Kevin Smith

Donnie Brasco – Mike Newell

Don’t Blink – Travis Oates

Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – Stephen Herek

Double Impact – Sheldon Lettich

Dr No – Terence Young

Dream Warriors – Chuck Russell

Drug War – Johnie To

Dumb And Dumber – The Farrelly Bros

Dumplin‘ – Anne Fletcher

Eaten Alive – Tobe Hooper

El Mariachi – Robert Rodriguez

Escape From Sobibor – Jack Gold

Escape Plan – Mikael Hafstrom

Embodiment Of Evil – Jose Marins

Everyone’s Hero – Christopher Reeve, Colin Brady, Daniel St. Pierre

Evil Dead – Fede Alvarez

Extinction – Miguel Angel Vivas

Final Destination – James Wong

Final Destination 2 – David R Ellis

First Blood – Ted Kotcheff

Fist Of Fury – Bruce Lee

For Your Eyes Only – John Glen

Freddy’s Dead – Rachel Talalay

Freddy’s Revenge – Jack Sholder

Freddy Vs Jason – Ronny Yu

Frenzy – Alfred Hitchcock

Frenzy – Jose Montesinos

Friend Request – Simon Verhoeven

From Russia With Love – Terence Young

Game of Death – Bruce Lee/Robert Clouse

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwaite

Goldeneye – Martin Campbell

Goldfinger – Guy Hamilton

Goodnight Mommy – Veronika Franz/Severin Fiala

Grave Encounters – The Vicious Brothers

Grave Encounters 2 – John Poliquin

Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron

Halloween – John Carpenter

Halloween 2 and 3 – Rick Rosenthal/Tommy Lee Wallace

Halloween 4 – Dwight H Little

Halloween 5 – Dominique Othenin Gerard

Hard-Boiled – John Woo

Hard Target – John Woo

Hansel And Gretal – Yim Phil-Sung

Heartbreakers – David Mirkin

Heli – Amat Escalante

Hellboy – Guillermo Del Toro

Hellions – Bruce Macdonald

Home Alone – Chris Columbus

Horrible Bosses – Seth Gordon

Ichi – Fumihiko Sori

Ichi The Killer – Takashi Miike

Into The Mirror – Kim Sung Ho

I Really Hate My Job – Oliver Parker

It’s All About Love – Thomas Vinterberg

Jaws – Steven Spielberg

Jaws 2 – Jeannot Szwarc

Jaws 3 – Joe Alvez

Jaws 4 – Joseph Sargent

Jurassic Park – Steven Spielberg

Ju-On Black Ghost – Mari Asato

Ju-On White Ghost – Ryuta Miyake

Kickboxer – Mark DiSalle/David Worth

Kids – Larry Clark

Kill Bill Vol 1 – Quentin Tarantino

King Kong – Merian C Cooper/Ernest B Schoedsack

Kingdom Of Heaven – Ridley Scott

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

Leatherface – Maury & Bustillo

Leon – Luc Besson

Lifeboat – Alfred Hitchcock

Last Action Hero – John McTiernan

Live And Let Die – Guy Hamilton

Loaded – Alan Pao

Lost Highway – David Lynch

Macbeth – Orson Welles

Manuscripts Don’t Burn – Mohammed Rousalof

Milius – Joey Figuero

Mother’s Day – Darren Lynn Bousman

Mouth To Mouth – Alison Murray

Mr And Mrs Smith – Alfred Hitchcock

My Soul To Take – Wes Craven

Never Sleep Again – Daniel Farrands/Andrew Kach

Night Of The Demons – Kevin S Tenney

Night Of The Living Dead – George A Romero

Nowhere To Run – Robert Harmon

On The Road – Walter Salles

Origin: Spirits Of The Past – Keichi Sugiyama

Outrage – Takeshi Kitano

Out Of The Furnace – Scott Cooper

P2 – Frank Khalfoun

Peacock – Michael Lander

Perdita Durango – Alex de la Iglesia

Perlasca – Alberto Negrin

Pieta – Kim Ki Duk

Police Academy 1-7 – Various

Pontypool – Bruce McDonald

Predator 2 – Stephen Hopkins

Priceless – Pierre Salvadori

Problem Child – Dennis Dugan

Project X – Nima Nourizadeh

Q: The Winged Serpent – Larry Cohen

Raw Deal – John Irvin

Rear Window – Alfred Hitchcock

Red Heat – Walter Hill

Red Sonja – Richard Fleischer

Resident Evil – Paul WS Anderson

Resident Evil 2 – Alexander Witt

Return To Oz – Walter Murch

Rhapsody In August – Akira Kurosawa

Ring – Hideo Nakata

Ring 2 – Hideo Nakata

Ring 0 – Norio Tsuruta

Rings – F.Javier Gutierrez

Rogue – Greg McLean

Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room 237 – Rodney Ascher

Rope – Alfred Hitchcock

Rosewood Lane – Victor Salva

Rubber – Quentin Dupeiux

Rust And Bone – Jacques Audiard

Sabotage – David Ayer

Scream – Wes Craven

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World – Lorene Scafaria

Seul Contre Tous – Gaspar Noe

Shanghai Kiss – David Ren/Ken Kernwiser

Society – Brian Yuzna

Someone’s Watching Me – John Carpenter

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days – Marc Rothemond

Staunton Hill – Cameron Romero

Still Walking – Hirokazu Koreeda

Street Trash – Jim Munro

Stripes – Ivan Reitman

Suicide Club – Sion Sono

Sukiyaki Western Django – Takeshi Miike

Survive Style 5 + – Gen Sekiguchi

Tag – Sion Sono

Ted – Seth MacFarlane

The 39 Steps – Alfred Hitchcock

The Art Of War – Christian Deguay

Thelma And Louise – Ridley Scott

The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock

The Boss Of It All – Lars Von Trier

The Craft – Andrew Fleming

The Crow – Alex Proyas

The Detective – Oxide Pang

The Devil’s Rain – Robert Fuest

The Driver – Walter Hill

The Empress And The Warriors – Ching Siu Tung

The Evil Dead – Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead 2 – Sam Raimi

The Fifth Element – Luc Besson

The First Men In The Moon – Nathan Juran

The Gate – Tibor Takacs

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Mamoru Hosoda

The Green Inferno – Eli Roth

The Grudge – Takashi Shimazu

The Guest – Adam Wingard

The Happiness Of The Katakuris – Takashi Miike

The Hitcher – Robert Harmon

The House Of The Devil – Ti West

The Idiots – Lars Von Trier

The Innkeepers – Ti West

The Isle – Kim Ki Duk

The Kings Of Summer – Jordan Vogt Roberts

The Last Exorcism – Daniel Stamm

The Last Exorcism 2 – Ed Gass-Donnelly

The Last House On The Left – Wes Craven

The Man From Earth – Richard Schenkman

The Mannsfield 12 – Craig Ross Jr

The Night Eats The World – Dominique Rocher

The Pact – Nicholas McCarthy

The Red Squirrel – Julio Medem

The Secret Life Of Pets – Chris Renaud

The Storm Warriors – The Pang Brothers

The Stranger – Robert Lieberman

The Tortured – Robert Lieberman

The Visit – M Night Shyamalan

The Wailing – Na Hong-jin

The Witch – Robert Eggers

The Windmill Massacre – Nick Jongerius

Train To Busan – Yeon Sang-ho

Triangle – Hark Tsui/Ringo Lam

Troy: The Odyssey – Tekin Girgin

Twins – Ivan Reitman

Unbreakable – M Night Shyamalan

Universal Soldier – Roland Emmerich

USS Indianapolis – Mario Van Peebles

Visitor Q – Takashi Miike

Wake In Fright – Ted Kotcheff

Way Of The Dragon – Bruce Lee

We Are What We Are – Jim Mickle

We Are Still Here – Ted Geoghagen

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Wes Craven

Wolfcop – Lowell Dean

Yellowbrickroad – Jessie Holland/Andy Mitton

You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsey

TV Reviews

Are You Afraid Of The Dark

Back To School At 35

Breaking Bad

Friends

Game Of Thrones

Gladiators

Neighbours

Saved By The Bell

Strike It Lucky

The League Of Gentlemen

The Walking Dead

Wolf Creek

Wreslemania 34

Music Reviews

11 – Bryan Adams

18 Till I Die – Bryan Adams

3 Feet High And Rising – De La Soul

7800 Farenheit – Bon Jovi

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

A Night At The Opera – Queen

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Accessories – The Gathering

Afterwords – The Gathering

Air – Agua De Annique

Aladdin Sane – David Bowie

Bedtime Stories – Madonna

Blaze Of Glory – Bon Jovi

Blood, Sweat, And Tears – Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

Blue – Joni Mitchell

Blur – Blur

Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel

Bounce – Bon Jovi

Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams

Closer – Joy Division

Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Conan The Destroyer Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Crush – Bon Jovi

Destination Anywhere – Bon Jovi

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Disclosure – The Gathering

Dumb And Dumber Soundtrack – Various

Entroducing – DJ Shadow

Erotica – Madonna

Evita – Madonna

For Sale – The Beatles

Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Stevie Wonder

Get Up – Bryan Adams

Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – Incredible String Band

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Have A Nice Day – Bon Jovi

Heaven Or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins

Help! – The Beatles

Heroes” – David Bowie

Hey Stoopid – Alice Cooper

Home – The Gathering

How To Measure A Planet? – The Gathering

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

I’m Breathless – Madonna

Into The Fair – Bryan Adams

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Joyride – Roxette

Keep The Faith – Bon jovi

Ladies Of The Canyon – Joni Mitchell

Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized

Let It Be – The Beatles

Lets Dance – David Bowie

Life’s Rich Pageant – REM

Like A Prayer – Madonna

Like A Virgin – Madonna

Lodger – David Bowie

Look Sharp – Roxette

Low – David Bowie

Madonna – Madonna

Music! – Madonna

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

Mandylion – The Gathering

Manic Street Preachers Live In Belfast – Manic Street Preachers

Miles Of Aisles – Joni Mitchell

My Fair Lady Soundtrack – Various

New Jersey – Bon Jovi

Nighttime Birds – The Gathering

Night On My Side – Gemma Hayes

On A Day Like Today – Bryan Adams

Our Favourite Shop – The Style Council

Pearls Of Passion – Roxette

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Pin Ups – David Bowie

Pretender – Jackson Browne

Pure Air – Agua De Annique

Ray Of Light – Madonna

Revolver – The Beatles

Rubber Soul – The Beatles

Savage – Eurythmics

Scary Monsters – David Bowie

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

Sleepy Buildings – The Gathering

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

Song To A Seagull – Joni Mitchell

Souvenirs – The Gathering

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Spirit – Bryan Adams

Station To Station – David Bowie

Surfin Safari – The Beach Boys

Tattooed Millionaire – Bruce Dickinson

These Days – Bon Jovi

The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

The Roads Don’t Love You – Gemma Hayes

The West Pole – The Gathering

The White Album – The Beatles

Tori Amos Live In Belfast – Tori Amos

Transformer – Lou Reed

Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

True Blue – Madonna

Urban Hymns – The Verve

Waking Up The Neighbours – Bryan Adams

With The Beatles – The Beatles

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

You Want It You Got It – Bryan Adams

Young Americans – David Bowie

Youth Novels – Lykke Li

Book Reviews

1000 Zombies – Alex Cox

Atmospheric Disturbances – Rivka Galchen

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Dinosaurs – Navigators

Fang Of The Vampire – Scream Street

Japan Day By Day – Frommers

London 2008 – Time Out

London Free And Dirt Cheap – Frommers

Paris 2009 – Time Out

Play With Colours – The Happets

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein

The Devouring – Simon Holt

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Invention Of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt

The Mayan Prophecies – Gerald Benedict

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Undead – Kirsty Mckay

Atmospheric Disturbances

*Based off a free copy provided by Amazon – by it here

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I was drawn to this both by the Hitchcockian blurb and the reviewer comparisons to Murakami, but when you make comparisons to two of the greatest, chances are you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Similarities to the film-maker and the author are lip service at best, and non-existant at worst. There are moments of course, but these are more from the overall plot and idea rather than anything specific in the contents. I’m sure there is an engaging plot here somewhere, but it’s so crushed under the weight of science, ideas, ideals, and pseudo-philosophical talk about nothing that you feel that you’re unwrapping a diamond ring style box only to find a ‘screw you’ sign inside.

The story opens with a man whose wife has lately vanished, but who has apparently been replaced by a loveless doppelgänger. Instances of the past relationship are seemingly just as loveless. Details dribble in concerning a plot which revolves around a good old fashioned crazy patient and a secret conspiracy-type quest. There is a journey, both literal and figurative, and eventually twists are revealed. It’s more a Cronenberg style approach showing a descent into madness through ploys and devices but it somehow feels even less engaging than this description.

Galchen is a clever woman- in fact she may be the smartest woman in the world, but most importantly she wants to tell us this. She has clearly spent at least 5 years in school learning things such as languages, sciences, and geography. Not many of us can say that. Under my cleverly veiled wit I’m sure some of you will have noticed that I’m making fun of the author’s approach- there is little or no attempt to hold a hand out to the reader and say ‘I’m in charge, follow me and I’ll reward you’. Rather, the approach is ‘ I am your teacher, I am better than you, what I am saying is Gospel (not that you’ll understand it) but it doesn’t matter anyway because you are an inferior sub-species’. So it seems.

The fact that this is written as a dissertation rather than a novel is what truly killed the experience for me. Each chapter has a cryptic teaser and usually a hypothesis, list or some other scientific device which has no place in a work of fiction. I kept reading, expecting this novelty to stop or at least make a positive impact, but with each passing page, with each deeper step into nowhere, I felt like I was back in the GSCE triple science room copying notes from a blurry overhead projector while a bored, suicidal, and probably drunk teacher read porn from behind steamed up glasses. If these memories spark a flame of desire in your soul, then by all means pick up this masterpiece and enjoy, or if you think you need more intelligent books in your collection then give it a go. For everyone else drawn to this for the same reasons that I was, there is no Hitchcockian suspense, wit, skill, or bravado, nor is there the gifted, lyrical storytelling or off-beat characters and bizarre fun of Murakami.

The Happets – Play With Colours

*Originally written in 2011 based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy here
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My daughter is still too young to read or even be very interested at looking at a book for too long, but it is never too early to let your child get used to the idea and touch of a book. In that case a book should be bright, colourful, and preferably have something extra to spark and hold their interest. Play With Colours (The Happets) meets all of the criteria- the wrigi is big and bold, and the illustrations are very colourful. As for the added extra, we have a felt/cloth poking from each page which the child can feel, tug,and squeeze. Each page depicts a different character, each character is colour coded, and each pop-out cloth matches the design of the character it represents so your child can learn to understand colours and matching.
Once older your son or daughter will want to know what the words mean and what the story is. At the moment my daughter likes to watch my mouth when I sing, but will only stay on my lap for a page or two of reading, even with a variety of funny voices employed. This book basically gives a description of each character and their favourite things, all linked to their core colour. Whatever the character says they like, such as a blue kite, will be shown on the page so you can point at each item and repeat what it is. Each page then is a repeat of the one before, but with a new creature, colour, and likes, but each description ends with a fun ‘THAT’S ME!’ which you can shout together.
My only warning is that the book seems to be made of extra tasty paper- my daughter loves to chew this one more than any other, but once that phase passes this will be a great book to share. For reading time that is, not tea time.
Have you read this book? Let us know in the comments!

Book Reviews – The Maze Runner – James Dashner

*Note – originally written in 2009 based on an unpublished advance copy provided free by Amazon.

The Maze Runner is another in a recent run of teen oriented novels which will likely be adapted for the big screen. Presumably the first part of a wider story it is full of intrigue, action, and suspense, and most importantly does not treat the target audience like a fool. There is violence, there is gore, there is an invented slang bad language so that censors and parents do not worry, and there is a rich heritage of novels which this pays respect to without simply foraging for ideas, from Lord Of The Flies, to Battle Royale. The book is set in an unspecified, dystopian future. A boy wakes with no memory of who he is and finds himself brought by a lift to a massive enclosed town called The Glade. He is the latest in a long line of boys who it seems came to the mysterious place the same way, though none of the other people seem interested in helping or answering him. He is expected to follow their rules explicitly, but as more strange events begin to occur our hero sparks a revolution which could claim or save them all. Their town has been around for quite a few years, most of the boys have spent a large part of their lives there and none of them can remember anything from before. They have arranged their society in a strict fashion with rules, jobs, and a government which is all they have to protect them from disorder and from the horrors which lie outside. The town is surrounded by a Maze which must only be investigated during the day – at night it becomes infested by half machine, half animal creatures known as Grievers which will hunt and kill remorselessly. Their only hope of escape lies in solving the maze – unfortunately the maze has a habit of shifting and modifying itself every night.

Aside from the Lost like mysterious plot, the author creates a good amount of suspense – there are many cliffhangers and set-pieces which ensure we will begin the next chapter to see what happens. Like Thomas, we only know so much and we have to follow him blindly to work out the answers to mysterious questions – why is everyone so afraid of the maze, who created the Grievers, why do certain characters hate him, how can they escape and what will they do if they can? Dashner has a gift for suspense, his characters are bold, his writing is swift and clever, and the plot is engaging thanks to the many teasing questions and revelations. As I read the book I felt it would be better suited to a high budget kids TV show, although as children’s television is in a sorry state it would be unlikely that anyone would ever take a gamble on something as expensive and probably controversial as this. The episodic nature of the book would ensure kids of all ages would be tuning in every week – I certainly would if the direction and acting were sound. As it stands this is a rip-roaring read which should capture any young reader’s imagination and leave them heartily anticipating the next installment.

Navigators – Dinosaurs – Book Review

*Originally written in 2011 based on a free copy provided by Amazon

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a book like this. My childhood was filled with books on animals, the more ferocious the better and preferably with a few gory pictures thrown in. My favourite topic, as seems to be the case for the majority of kids, was dinosaurs – I collected the magazines hoping to build my own T-Rex, I watched the Ray Harryhausen and Doug McClure movies, and I read as many books as possible on the subject getting lost in the pictures and the world presented within. Now that I have children of my own on the way I think that I may get lost once more.

Since my childhood we have had 3 Jurassic Park movies, various high-tech dinosaur tv shows, and a host of books with more detailed artwork and analysis. As I said it’s been a while since I’ve looked at anything like this so all I can judge it against is my own memories. The first thing to notice is the size of the book – it has A4 style pages and is almost presented like an annual. The hardcover coupled with the quality of the paper should mean many years of under the cover reading will not harm it. The front cover depicts, simply, the word ‘Dinosaurs’ in all it’s inviting glory with a sampling of the beasts in the surrounding spaces. The rear cover’s selling points are that they present all the facts that the kids want to know as well as stunning 3D artwork to bring the animals to life-like never before. Forgive my stupidity for thinking the images were actually 3D and could be enhanced with specs. Looking inside comes the first disappointment then when the 3D is actually just ‘zoomed in close-ups of various parts of the dino’s body. The second disappointment comes soon after when you realise the book is quite small – only 48 pages. For 10 pounds and for the exterior size I would have expected more.

Luckily though, those are my major qualms, and while the rather boring, school like text and information, and the lack of some of my personal favourite dinosaurs are notable annoyances, I can’t really mark down the book for such things. Each page is generously spaced, with handy foot and side notes (with interesting weblinks) and floating info capsules as well as the main text, mostly watercoloured over the artwork so as not to spoil the picture. The text is informative, list names of animals, parts, places, and covering all the important areas from feeding to the time periods. Rather than being an A-Z of the creatures though, or being split into sections covering say air, land, and sea, or herbivores and carnivores, each double page focuses on one area which one (sometimes two) dinosaurs used as an example of said area. So we get a two page spread called Egg Mountain which focuses on the laying of eggs and the protection of young, using Maisauras as an example, followed by a section called Pack Attack in which a pack of Deinonychus attacks a Tenontosaurus in bloody glory.
While reading about the creatures is one thing, seeing them is another and thankfully the artwork here is stunning. The creatures are beautifully rendered in high detail and set against (something which is usually ignored) a dedicated, realistic backing landscape. The double paging works wonders, leaving plenty of room for action shots and giving an impression of their size and terrible beauty. These should be more than enough to spark any child’s imagination. Land, sea, and air are covered and parents shouldn’t be concerned at the gore content- there are only a few shots of eating and killing and they are not gratuitous.

This book gives a strong overall history of the dinosaurs, starting with their discovery and working chronologically through their existence until the final section which tries to explain the reasons for their extinction. We get an index, glossary, and ‘find out more’ section at the end. This may be either a useful introduction to the animals for your children, or as another collection of pictures for hardened fans to salivate over. I would have prefered more information on individual types, and the information given isn’t too complex, but that’s just me. I’m not sure if it is worth the full price when there are other similar offerings on the market, but if you can get it cheaper you will have a happy kid.

Frommer’s London Free And Dirt Cheap – Book Review

*Note – Review originally written in 2010 based on a free (and dirt cheap) copy provided by Amazon
The Frommer’s Guide To Living Free And Dirt Cheap in London is based on a simple and useful principal- to explain how you can cut corners, save time and money, and experience many of the sights and sensations of one of the World’s most expensive cities without breaking the bank. Being an infrequent visitor to London means I like to pack as much into each visit as possible, and this lightweight and inexpensive book provides many tips, offers much advice, and suggests some alternatives that you may not have thought of. Basically the guide is a more informal and reader friendly version of the Time Out and Lonely Planet guides and offers the same information in a more digestible manner while also telling us of some of the lesser known museums, hotels, bars, and attractions. Of course all the main sights are here- those places which you cannot afford to miss but offers some simple ways to cut costs, although the main focus is on free galleries and sights which will also be less busy. In that sense this book is great for those who have seen all the A-List attractions and now wish to explore the lesser known monuments of history and more curious corners of the massive city.
The book is split into simple sections such as Sleeping, Eating, and Shopping, and into sub-sections like Hostels and Car Boot sales. Well written and informative this also contains useful maps of the various areas of London, opening times for many attractions, and a few itineraries to follow if you are short on inspiration. Although most will continue to go for the big, reliable tourist brands this is an interesting and handy guide for the more adventurous.

Book Reviews – The Christmas Pocket Bible and Disney Classics SIngalong

*Note – both reviews were written a few years ago based on free copies provided by Amazon.

The Christmas Pocket Bible: Every Christmas rule of thumb at your fingertips (Pocket Bibles)

The Christmas Pocket Bible makes for a good stocking filler or pre-Christmas present; a read in the nights running up to the big day can heighten the seasonal festive feelings, while browsing through the history, the copious lists, interesting stories, and other assorted details is an ideal and relaxing way to spend the aftermath of a stomach bursting Christmas meal. The book is informative and interesting where it explains the often wacky origins of our traditions, and on the flip side it can inspire new traditions for your family, ideas for the holidays, and ways to improve or adapt your Christmas. The book is laid out in the fashion of an encyclopedia, so rather than read from front to back you can simply dip in and dip out. At the moment the book is fairly cheap- good value for the amount of information on offer here. Well written and researched it reminds me, if anything, of QI – the show and the books. There is a gentle humour and some articles seem to enjoy delving into the stranger side of our cultural past. Overall this provides a decent and leisurely way to pass some time over the holidays.
I’ll echo what most other people have said about this book and CD combo – good book, average cd. The book has solid, thick pages with vibrant artwork depicting scenes or people from 6 Disney classics. As is to be expected from Disney, the colours and characters are second to none, endlessly charming, and will spark the imagination of many a young fan. If I have any complaint about the book it’s that some are sparse, but I assume that is so that the lyrics are easier to read. Additionally, I don’t think we need the copyright info and song credits on each page – they could have been together on a final page – but that would be mere nitpicking.

Onto the CD – I have no problem that these are not instrumental versions, in fact I prefer the full vocal backing. However, the vocals are not from the movies in some cases which takes away from the experience, at least for a hardened Disney fan like myself. I imagine this wouldn’t be much of a problem for the younger listeners. My main complaint is the song collection, featuring two songs from Winnie The Pooh which I don’t think anyone has ever heard, and one from 101 Dalmatians, which is hardly known as one of the strongest musically in Disney’s catalogue. There are a wealth of songs and films to choose from, so it seems odd to pick 3 relatively weak songs when the likes of Aladdin and Beauty And The Beast are left out. Naturally this is personal preference, and again I’m sure that the kids won’t mind. There are plenty of other cd/book combos and you can always buy movie soundtracks.

So overall this is a good, cheap product which is a bit different from the usual selection of fairy tale cds. Kids and adults alike can singalong and relive some classic Disney moments like Simba’s courting and King Louie skipping over his own arms. The last time I attempted to relive that particular moment and skip over my own arms, it ended up with a quick trip to casualty, two weeks of agony, and a lifetime of embarrassment, but it was all worth it for 8 seconds of hilarity.

Amazon Vine Freebies – September 2012

A decent month for the bambino as I was able to get her another book, but a better month for some other folks who were offered more than 1 Sony Vaio. Anyway, enough of the bile, here’s what I got below, along with my reviews:

Remington R7150:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008H0L1FI/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

Firstly, forgive anything I write that exposes me as a noob- I have rarely used electric face shavers and have never used a Rotart shaver before. I’ll get the obvious out of the way first- It’s Remington,so you can be sure that the quality will be high. If you’re a Remington man then this is another strong product which will keep you a user of the brand, but if you are a fan of the competition I wouldn’t say there is anything here which would entice you away from your preferred brand. It looks great- sleek, black, smooth, the handle, weight, and shape ensure ease of use, and the LED screen showing your remaining minutes of charge is a neat touch. The stand at first seems a little flimsy and makes the set appear top heavy, but it does the job nicely. Charging takes roughly an hour and a half for an hour’s return, but generally I just plug it in when I have
time to charge it, leaving it on charge for half an hour-that usually gives me another few weeks before the next charge (I don’t mind building up a layer of stubble). The sound when shaving is actually very quiet which surprised me, and the package comes with a tidy bag for keeping the razor out of view if you worry about such things (or for taking on trips obviously).

So, I first attempted to use this on my face after a week without shaving; for me that’s standard as I don’t mind looking like a grizzled Eastenders extra. Foolish me though, as the second I pressed the Rotary against my face it felt like a thousand wasps had landed on my face, sat down, plucked out a thousand individual hairs, and then stung me. I thought I was doing it wrong, so I flattened my skin as much as possible and tried it again gently, this time with largely the same result except with the added bonus of me punching the wall and jumping about like Rumplestilskin. Assuming it was broken, I then had a play around with the pop up razor attachment on the back. Hallelujah! This little
monster got to work straight away, mowing down armies of hairs and leaving my face looking alluringly zebra like. My brain kicked in and I realised that this razor should not be used on massive growths of hair, but on a daily basis to keep hair at a Jack-from-Lost equal level. Determined not to use an old school razor, I continued with the pop-up, giving my face a good once or twice over before switching to the main attraction. From then on, all was good, and no more walls were fisted.

Since that exciting first attempt, I’ve been using the Razor more regularly- it is comfortable to use but doesn’t give anywhere near as
close a shave as a 49p plastic razor would, but that’s fine with me as I don’t mind some hair on my chinny chin chin and facey face face. I still use the pop up for my Rapunzel-esque sideburns and for more accurate coverage around the ill placed mole on my neck. So, all in all this is a great razor if you are going for the modern, stylish, not quite clean shaven look, but you should look elsewhere for a truly close shave.

Noisy Animals:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Noisy-Animals-Igloo-Books-Boards/dp/1848176058/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350467896&sr=1-3

Noisy Animals continues the series of brightly coloured, button-bashing books from Igloo. Having been previously impressed with their Old Macdonald four button book, Noisy Animals is an original tale accompanied by a new set of animal sounds to experiment with. The noise level on this book seems to be slightly less than on Old Macdonald; if anything that is an improvement as Old Mc’s sounds were perhaps too loud (especially after 100 presses in a few minutes).

The original story sees a farmer discovering that a pig is missing (at feeding time!) and so he makes his way around the farm to try and find Mr
Pig. Over the course of the four double pages you will meet the various farm animals depicted on the cover, and you and your child can press each button when one of the animals appears. There are more words on each page than there was on the Old Macdonald book, so this may be a step up for your child when they are starting to read. The noises are realistic enough, and the sound doesn’t suffer too badly from that cheap, echo tone that some books of this type do. The artwork again is suitably bright, the animals are plump (and possibly succulent), and everything has that smiling, charming quality which is so inviting and infectious- most children will happily sit on your lap for a few read-throughs before getting bored. My (at time of writing) 21 month old daughter is more interested in lift-the-flap books at the moment when it comes to reading time at night, but through the day she prefers pressing the buttons on this book and flicking through the pages herself. She is past the page eating stage, but the pages here are nice and thick and would take a good amount of suckage to damage. All in all,this is another winner from Igloo, and considering the price for these books, I may have to pick up another few!

Fujisan:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1612184251

I haven’t read or reviewed this yet, but as I love all things Japanese, I’m sure this short story collection will get the thumbs up from moi.

Amazon Vine Freebies – August 2012

This month I missed out on a video baby monitor which is something my wife has wanted for some time now. As is typical with Vine Thursdays, I am prepared in the morning to hit Amazon at 8 pm, but after finishing work, putting bambinos to bed etc, it usually slips my mind; at 9pm it will suddenly pop back into my head but by that time the electronic goods are gone. Nevertheless, this month I have received some decent stuff:

Philips Wet and Dry Epilator:

Luckily this was still on my list when I logged in- it’s not something we desperately need, but we’ll be able to put it to good use.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B008PPPJWG

Humf And The Big Boots:

This is a ‘touchy feely’ book for young kids (physically that is, none of that mental touchy feely stuff…) based on the furry character Humf, whose highly popular TV show I have never heard of. AT first glance the book seems bright and fun, but only some of the pages have touchy feely bits which seems strange, especially considering that there only are about 6 pages.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0857800167

Old Macdonald Book With Sounds:

This is the tale of Old Macdonald told with bright colours and interesting animations. Four buttons accompany the book which, when pressed, play the sound of a duck, a horse, a pig, and the Old Macdonald song. These sounds are quite loud and while my daughter enjoys pressing them, she isn’t at the stage yet to actually sit and listen to me read the story.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1848529651

Dinosaur Sounds and Pop Ups:

This one looks great with wonderful drawings of the various ‘famous’ types of dinosaurs, land, sea, and air based. The selling points are that each page pops up in glorious 3D, with long necks and fangs stretching out towards you. As you turn each page sounds are played based upon what is happening on the select page- these sounds are incredibly loud but are atmospheric and give a strong imaginative impression of the scene depicted. Again, be careful with the age group as the pop ups look as if they would tear very easily, and if your child is a grabber then the long neck of a Sauropod woudn’t stand a chance.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dinosaur-Igloo-Books-Sounds-Pop-Ups/dp/0857347527/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346421082&sr=1-9

Amazon Vine Freebies – April 2012

April was a more exciting month, although I did miss out on an MP3 player of some sort. My picks this month:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0072EJIRS : A BT cordless phone with answer machine. This looks quite snazzy but I haven’t set it up yet. Most of the reviews are positive so far.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005VTGBNA : A cover/stand for Kindle- ok as a cover, a bit silly as a stand.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0470908262 : Frommer’s Guide To Japan. Loads of guides and info and a map- excellent!