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since 29/08/2002


Heresy - Parris, S. J. 22/10/2014

An Italian Heretic Helping Defend The English Throne

Heresy - Parris, S. J. With my new found commuting time I’m always looking out for new books and it was that need for something to read that brought me to S.J. Parris’s series of novels revolving around 1580’s London and her lead character Giordano Bruno. I actually started my discovery of the series with the 4th book, Treachery, however having read and thoroughly enjoyed that I went back and bought the other three books in the series, starting with this the first and our introduction to Giordano Bruno in Heresy. The year is 1583 and having escaped a life as a Monk Giordano Bruno has fled to England to escape the Catholic Inquisition. In order to fund his new life in England he has agreed to become a spy for the Queen’s spymaster and help to inform of any Plots against her majesty or the Protestant religion recently returned to England. Bruno is sent on an undercover mission to Oxford to expose a Catholic conspiracy but finds himself compelled to investigate when a series of religiously themed murders occur within the college he is staying. We first meet Giordano Bruno in his monastery in Naples some 7 years earlier and start to get an understanding of what drives him. He is an interesting character and the whole story is told from his perspective. I really enjoyed the way that Parris, real name Stephanie Merritt a journalist with the Guardian and Independent, writes from the characters perspective. We find out the twists and turns of the story through her lead characters eyes and I really found ...

61 Hours - Lee Child 19/10/2014

Has Reacher Met His Match

61 Hours - Lee Child With an hour and a bit train journey to work twice a day, I have recently found myself ploughing through books at a very high rate. One of my recent reads was to reacquaint myself with Lee Child and one of my favorite fictional characters Jack Reacher, in the 14th book in the series. This is also meant to be the next book to be turned into a big screen adventure with the rather ill cast Tom Cruise and therefore I was keen to read this before it gets the Hollywood treatment. I was keen to see what trouble my favorite ex-military cop would be getting into this time. As Reacher wakes up in the middle of a bus in South Dakota as it skids to a halt in the snow, little does he know that the next 61 hours of his life will have such a huge impact on the sleepy town of Bolton. The local police clearly have more on their plate than one crashed bus and soon Reacher finds himself in the middle of their problems. Asked to help out and lend his expertise to the case, Reacher puts himself up against a Mexican Drug Lord who seems to be controlling the local community and is trying to have a key witness in a case against one of his dealers killed. Only Reacher and the local Police can stop him but even they seem to have someone working against them from the inside but can Reacher work out who it is before it’s all too late. This book takes a slightly different format to the other Lee Child books I’ve read and counts down the 61 hours from the bus crash to the end game between Reacher and ...

The Marine 3 - Homefront (DVD) 30/12/2013

Perhaps One Marine Too Far

The Marine 3 - Homefront (DVD) Over the years a number of wrestlers have tried and failed to make the move into main stream movies, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker to name just a few. That is of course until Dwayne Johnson, better know to WWE fans as The Rock, successfully transferred his talents to the big screen. This coupled with the organisation behind WWE moving into film funding has seen any number of current Wrestlers given an opportunity to star on the big screen and from this movie series such as The Marine have been forged, of which Homefront, a straight to DVD offering is the latest instalment. Whilst home on leave from the army Sgt Jake Carter is finding it hard not to be too over protective of his sisters. They have had enough of it and insist he backs off a little but when his younger sister inadvertently witnesses a murder and is kidnapped. Now Carter must use all of his training as a Marine to get her back safely and ensure that the militant group that have taken her and her boyfriend don’t have a chance to cause them any harm. The film comes from director Scott Wiper, who also includes former WWE project The Condemned amongst his short film CV. In fact Wiper also picks up a co-writing credit but he doesn’t really do anything special with this movie, not that his script really allowed him too. The direction, the special effects, the acting, well in fact everything about this movie screamed straight to video release. A lot of the acting felt forced and the director seemed ...

Alex Cross (DVD) 20/12/2013

Don't Cross Alex Cross

Alex Cross (DVD) It is probably fair to say that Alex Cross is best known for his starring role in James Patterson’s crime thrillers. Over the years though he has found a couple of the more interesting cases turned into big screen adventures and in the first two of these, Along Came A Spider and Kiss The Girls, the lead role was taken on and superbly portrayed by Morgan Freeman. Now it seems that Hollywood’s money men have turned their attention to stories involving a younger Cross and as such the baton has been passed to Tyler Perry and having enjoyed the other two films I was interested to see how this one panned out. A serial killer appears to be targeting a number of wealthy Business people in Detroit and as Alex Cross and his team get close to finding out his identity, he starts to make things personal. Having to put his feelings to one side Cross still needs to catch his target before he strikes again and whether driven by revenge, hatred or simply his moral duty Cross vows to catch the man known to the police only as Picasso. The film comes from director Rob Cohen, who also brought us The Fast and The Furious and also xXx and therefore I actually thought it had potential. Despite his history of fast paced, high octane action films I thought that Cohen may have been able to pick up the mantle of this series of films and run with it. Sadly though that wasn't the case and whilst the special effects and action segments worked really well, the crime thriller element of the story seemed to ...

Jack Reacher (DVD) 19/10/2013

A Man Who Works Outside The Law

Jack Reacher (DVD) If you've read my previous reviews on a couple of other Lee Child novels you will already know that I am quite an avid fan of his books and in particular his main character Jack Reacher. So when I heard they were going to make a film from one of the books I knew I had to see it. There was a slight disappointment in the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher as he is the exact physical opposite of the character that appears in Child's books. That however didn't put me off the film and with all thoughts of his suitability put to one side I was keen to see how Cruise would portray Reacher. A former US Army police man, Jack Reacher is now a hard man to find, mainly because he doesn't want to be found. So when an ex Army sniper is charged of 5 counts of murder following a shooting spree with his rifle ask for Reacher to help with his case the legal teams and police don't really know where to start looking. Luckily for them Reacher has seen the accused on the news and comes to make sure he is found guilty. As he helps with the case the evidence all seems too perfect and Reacher begins to believe they have the wrong man but now he's got to prove it and also uncover who is behind this elaborate plot. The movie adaptation of Lee Child’s novel is written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie who also wrote and directed another film I enjoyed, Way of The Gun back in 2000. He has changed a number of aspects from the original movie, such as the location for the shootings at the start and ...

Dark Shadows (DVD) 15/12/2012

A Dark Shadow On Vampire Comedies

Dark Shadows (DVD) With the Twilight saga bringing Vampires back into the mainstream it has almost brought about the introduction of new genres of films for the nocturnal creatures. Prior to the Twilight movies a Vampire movie was designed to scare the viewers, however by bringing in the romantic element it has brought about a number of new movies in different genres, where Vampires are no longer creatures to be feared, something that would perhaps have Dracula turning in his coffin. One of the more recent outings is in the Tim Burton directed Dark Shadows, it's a remake of a classic American Tv show from the 1960's and Burton has put a comedic twist on the original drama and having enjoyed the majority of his movies I was quite looking forward to this film. Having crossed the wrong woman in 1772, Barnabas Collins goes from being a thriving business man in Collinsport, Maine to being a hunted outcast following a spell cast by Angelique Bouchard who places a curse on him making him a Vampire. Fast forward two centuries and Barnabas is freed from his captivity by a group of construction workers. Now finding himself in 1972 he returns to his old estate to find his descendants have fallen on hard times and his beloved estate has fallen into disrepair. Having returned to a different time Barnabas discovers a lot has changed, except for one thing, Angelique is still in Collinsport and still wants to be with him but will he rekindle their relationship or has someone else caught his eye. As with all ...

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (DVD) 16/11/2012

Abraham Lincoln - Disappointment Giver

Garmin Edge 800 04/09/2012

Riding On A Garmin Edge

Garmin Edge 800 Over the last couple of years as my participation in sports such as Football and Cricket has dwindled slightly, my desire and drive to get on my bike has increased significantly. In fact it’s now at the point where I’ve signed up to do London to Paris in a couple of weeks’ time. As a result of this new found sense of purpose, or perhaps stupidity, I’ve also had to increase my recreational riding and put in the hours training. To aid with this process and to give myself a guide, I thought it best to invest in a piece of technology to help me and to that end I went and bought a Garmin Edge 800 from Wiggle, my new favourite online store. What Is An Edge 800 The Garmin Edge 800 is effectively a GPS device for use on your bike. It keeps a track of where you have ridden, can store directions of where you want to go and keep a track of vital information such as speed and heart rate. The reason the Edge is so special though is that it is the first touch screen GPS device available to cyclists and having debated the benefits of buying this over say a Garmin Edge 500, I felt the range of features this offered far outweighed the difference in price. There are various different packages available for buying your Edge 800 starting from £244.75. In The Box Either the base model at £244.75 you get the Garmin Edge 800 unit, which is about the size of a rather chunky mobile phone. You will also get a quarter turn bike mount and the basic map package for navigation. There are bundles ...

Life in a Beautiful Light - Amy Macdonald 29/08/2012

And All I See Is Life, Life In A Beautiful Light

Life in a Beautiful Light - Amy Macdonald Having been inspired as a 13 year old to pick up her Father’s guitar having heard Travis at T in the Park, Amy Macdonald has really come a long way. Of course it shouldn’t really be a surprise as she was playing coffee houses and pubs around Glasgow as a 15 year old. It showed a level of commitment to music by the Bishopbriggs born artist as she has channelled her desire and passion for music and now with the release of this her third album she really seems to be making a name for herself. After making a relatively slow start to her career back in 2007, her debut album has now sold over 3 million copies, which is quite an achievement. She then went on to record and release her second album A Curious Thing in 2010 and it has so far racked up an impressive 1 and a half million sales prior to the release of Life in a Beautiful Light in June this year. Following on from the Inspiration by Travis to pick up a guitar in 2000, Amy still counts the Glasgow Indie Rockers as one of her major musical influences. In addition to Travis she also draws a large amount of influence from The Killers and The Libertines to name a few. From listening to her music there is a sense of Indie rock there, but she also veers slightly towards a more Scottish folk sound, particularly with the strength of her accent reflected within the music given her sound a traditional Scottish feel. She opens her third album with a very purposeful and quiet sound bite that leads into a more upbeat guitar and drum ...

Bridesmaids (DVD) 27/08/2012

You're Like The Maid Of Dishonor

Bridesmaids (DVD) With certain films there seems to be a build-up of expectation that will ultimately leave you underwhelmed when you finally get around to seeing it. That is certainly a sentiment that applies to 2011’s Bridesmaid’s. It’s a film that seemed to generate a lot of positive press and just about every review for it was a glowing recommendation of the latest Hollywood generated, Wedding based Romantic Comedy. I don’t normally allow myself to get caught up in the hype around films but this time I did and when Jen bought it a couple of weeks ago I was actually keen to watch one of her many Romcom’s, obviously I must have had a fever. Always The Bridesmaid For Annie life is proving to be quite tough, she’s just lost her business , her flatmates are weird, she’s in a relationship with a guy that won’t commit and now she’s just found out her best friend has gotten engaged. Now she has to put on her happy face as her best friend Lillian wants her to be Maid of Honour and she faces tough competition for the role from Lillian’s new friend Helen. From here Annie has to do all she can to make sure her best friend has a wedding to remember but the harder she tries to compete with Helen, the more disastrous things become. A Little Predictable The film is director Paul Feig’s big screen debut and sees him move from perennial TV show director to the Hollywood big time and in truth he didn’t really do anything wrong. He created a movie that flowed along nicely and with the use of the right ...

Duplicity (DVD) 25/08/2012

Oh Please, I Smell Like A Rental Car

London 2012 (PS3) 29/07/2012

Going For Gold, But Missing Out

London 2012 (PS3) With every major sporting event the inevitable rash of “official products” hit the shop shelves from lunch boxes to t-shirts and of course not forgetting the official computer game as well. In a slight change to the norm however the “Official” game to accompany London 2012 is not brought to us by the masters at EA Sports, but instead is the handy work of the team at Sega. Having played the previous Olympic game, Beijing 2008 and with this one being the home Olympics it was really a no brainer that this would become part of my PS3 game collection. What’s Good About The Game? The game actually boasts a number of positive aspects, which slightly outweigh the negatives as there are certainly a few of those too. The first thing that really stands out about London 2012 is the graphics; it looks a lot sharper than Beijing 2008 did. The detail that has gone into recreating the settings and giving the gameplay an impressive aesthetic appearance has really worked well for Sega. There is a sense of realism and the settings make the gameplay far more enjoyable because of these details. The colours used are sharp and vibrant making London 2012 a really enjoyable game as a result. They also seem to have gone to a lot of effort to improve the actual gameplay, gone is the tremendous effort of button bashing and in its place a more enjoyable method of control that requires a good rhythm rather than a simple pounding of the controls. The days of Daly Thompson Decathlon are gone and the ...

Observe And Report (DVD) 11/03/2012

Reported As A Crime Against Comedy

Observe And Report (DVD) Having recently watched Paul Blart – Mall Cop, we then came across Observe and Report. It was made around the same time as Paul Blart and seemed to have a very similar premise and with Seth Rogan in the lead role I thought this might be pretty good. The premise sounded a lot darker though and I was sure that with Rogan and a darker style of comedy this would be slightly better than the Kevin James penned Paul Blart. Despite all of this, I had read a number of bad reviews on the film and so I sat down to watch it with my expectations as low as possible, but was it worth it? Observing The film stars Rogan as Ronnie Barnhardt a mall cop with a burning aspiration to become a full time Police Officer. The problem is that Ronnie is Bi-polar and on medication to control his feelings and that will severely affect his chances of joining the force. The mall has been struck by a robbery and appears to have a serial flasher on the loose and the manager calls in a local Police detective to help Ronnie to close the case. The two clash and end up on a collision course as Ronnie tries to push through his dream of joining the Police. Didn’t Really Work It’s the first time I’ve come across any mainstream work from director Jody Hill and based on this I think and hope it will be a while before he is given another chance. As both writer and director he has to take the blame for just about everything that’s bad about this movie. The script is slow and at times cringe worthy and whilst I like ...

Philips PT 715 /16 /17 Power Touch 19/02/2012

Getting Closer To a Close Shave

Philips PT 715 /16 /17 Power Touch If there is one part of my male grooming routine that I hate, although it’s not really that much of a routine, then it would be shaving. The time and effort it takes has always been a source of discussion between Jen and myself, she’d like me to do it more often, whilst I just can’t see the point unless I have a meeting at work or a special occasion. Of course this is a state of mind that has developed over the years due to the lack of decent equipment to be able to shave with. The problem is that wet shaving takes too long, especially early in the morning and I’m yet to find an electric shaver that ticks all of the boxes and in fact when I received the Philips PT715 as a gift I thought that maybe I’d be able to have my mind changed. My Problem With Electric Shavers The biggest problem I have with Electric Shavers has to be the quality of the shave. Prior to receiving my latest shaver I’ve found that none of the electric devices I’ve had previously have delivered a shave anywhere near as close as I would like. I’ve always found that they leave small stubble patches and even miss hairs completely. It’s not like they’ve been cheap razors either with my previous two being first a Remington and then a Braun, but neither have sold me on the concept. Couple with this a poor battery life and all in all I’ve been largely unimpressed by Electric Razor’s. Giving Philips A Try With the above in mind I am always slightly sceptical about a new Electric Shaver, but I was willing to ...

Cirrus 17/02/2012

A Nice Novelty

Cirrus We were looking for something to get my Sister in Law when she graduated from University last summer. She was about to embark on a year away from home first in Greece and currently in the Alps and we wanted to get her something she could take with her. That’s when we came across the Cirrus digital photo key ring. Having seen how good her one was we ended up buying one each as well so we could have our favourite photos with us at all times. The idea of having a way to carry a few of our favourite photos around on our keys was actually quite appealing. The key ring itself is about 75cm high, 50 cm wide and about 15cm deep with a screen that measures in at just 1.5 inches. It does mean that it doesn’t feel overly chunky in your pocket and is actually quite discreet. There is also an option to use this as a neck chain and the appropriate alternative fixings are included within the box. Personally though I’m not really one for wearing necklaces and for that reason the Cirrus takes pride of place on my keys. In order to put pictures onto the Cirrus it comes with a USB cable and the key ring has a port on the side to plug into to both transfer content and charge the devices battery. The Cirrus boosts 8MB of memory, which for such a small device is quite impressive. Each of the photos has to be 128 x 128 pixels and with the 8MB memory this means you can get around 120 photos onto the device. There isn’t any additional scope to add additional memory, which feels a little like a ...
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