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EMAN NEP

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Flowers for Algernon
Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 13.87
39 used & new from CDN$ 7.33

5.0 out of 5 stars YOUR EYES WILL BE GLUED TO THE PAGE . . . AND LOVE IT., Dec 31 2002
This review is from: Flowers for Algernon (Hardcover)
I had heard many great things about this book so I decided to hunt it down and read it. I started reading this book the day I got it and once I started I was hooked. The pages fly by so fast! One second it seemed that I was on page 37 and the next thing I know I'm on page 172. There's only a hundred pages or so left, may as well finish it.
So what was it that made this book so addicting? The story is simple enough: A retarded boy named Charlie Gordon wants to learn to "reed" and "rite". But no matter how hard he studies, he doesn't seem to get anywhere, but the scientists are surprised at Charlie's eagerness to learn.
There is a mouse named Algernon and the scientists have done something to the mouse to make him smarter, to solve complicated mazes. Algernon gets smarter . . . alot smarter. Now, what if the same thing could be done for Charlie?
This is only the beginning. There are many many flashback scenes in this book that reveal Charlie's past. Some of the dialogue (especially when Rose and Matt are fighting) is superb because it sounds so natural. I've read some 75,000 pages worth of books and the character development in this book is among the very best I've ever seen.
I could say more, but let the story speak for itself.
Very very rarely do I read a book in one sitting--this is one of those books.

Signet Classics Prugatorio
Signet Classics Prugatorio
by Alighieri Dante
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars DEEP AND MOVING, Dec 28 2002
When I read "Inferno" I read the John Ciardi translation, so it only made sense that I read "Purgatorio" by the same translator. As I like poetry I definitely like the fact that his translations rhyme even if several liberties have to be taken with the original text. Sometimes, though, it seems as if the translator is more concerned about rhyming than getting the point across. However, as Ciardi points out, Dante is very deep and challenging. Translating is difficult. Translating the "Divine Comedy" and making it rhyme while still making sense is harder still but Ciardi does an admirable job. There are quite a few tercets that are absolutely wonderful to read.
The Purgatorio details the journey of Virgil and Dante as they go up Purgatory. If there is one thing that I like about Dante, it is in the way he thinks, which appears very logical. In Purgatory, one sees that one starts at the very bottom, which shows humility. This of course, makes perfect sense, since these souls are approaching God. I particularly liked Dante's reasoning behind "The Proud". In life, they walked around with their noses held high, thinking highly of themselves. In Purgatory, they crawl under the crushing weight of huge boulders, making them humble and bringing them "back down to earth."
Each Canto starts with a very helpful synopsis of what follows. After that is the Canto and after that are the footnotes. It is extremely beneficial to know some mythology and Italian history beforehand, but the footnotes at the end will fill in the many gaps for you, that is, if you have the patience to read them. If you're still confused about what all has gone on, the section at the very end entitled "How to Read Dante" is very helpful, a nice way to finish the book.
This book, like its predecessor, can be very challenging and tedious. But, as Virgil and Dante find, though the road is rough so are the riches that much greater when they finally come to journey's end.

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition [Old Version]
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition [Old Version]

4.0 out of 5 stars XP IS BETTER THAN ME, Dec 25 2002
XP loads up much faster. It (so far) appears to be more stable. At least I can run multiple programs without having to worry about the computer crashing or a blue screen of death. I don't like the new START menu, though. All Windows ME owners should upgrade.

The Thief of Bagdad [Import]
The Thief of Bagdad [Import]
DVD ~ Conrad Veidt
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 164.62
8 used & new from CDN$ 29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FORGOTTEN FANTASY, Dec 23 2002
This review is from: The Thief of Bagdad [Import] (DVD)
While I'm waiting for the crowds of people to see "The Two Towers" to die down, I happened to come across this movie at the video rental store.
A childhood favorite.
If they had a list of the top five fantasy films, "The Thief of Bagdad" would HAVE to be up there. I would feel pained if it weren't.
The movie is about Prince Ahmed and his quest for the Princess that he loves. But in his way is the evil Jaffar, a man of power and also a sorcerer.
But Prince Ahmed has a friend, Abu, that helps him get out of prison and promises to help him find his Princess. However, Jaffar casts two spells on the pair. One blinds Prince Ahmed. The other turns Abu into a dog. That's all I'll say concerning the plot. The plot starts in the present and goes back to flashback scenes, finally catching up to the present and then moving on.
This is one of those movies that proves you don't need lots of special effects to make it good. The magic carpet is believable (notice how it casts a shadow on everything as it flies around). The genie looks a little fake at times, but this was made in 1940, too. Some of the backgrounds are obviously painted or little more than models.
Despite all this, the actors (and the dog, don't forget the dog) give 100% performances, creating characters that are immediately likable. The storyline, too, is so fresh and original that it's nearly impossible to not enjoy watching, wondering what will happen next.
In an age where special effects often take center stage it's nice to see a movie whose soul is in its charm.

Ys:Book One [Import]
Ys:Book One [Import]
Price: CDN$ 27.28
14 used & new from CDN$ 12.62

3.0 out of 5 stars YS? YES. GOOD? NO., Dec 23 2002
This review is from: Ys:Book One [Import] (DVD)
If you've never heard of Ys (pronounced "ease" with a heavier "s" sound) all you need to know is that it was an RPG back in the days of the SNES (and perhaps earlier). The game was never a smashing success, at least, not the way that Zelda and Final Fantasy were. However, the soundtracks to the Ys games (especially the orchestrated ones) are among the best in the RPG world.
I have never played the games all the way through, but from what I can piece together, this 4 episode DVD is trying to follow the games. This is why I thought the movie was so lacking. It was too slaved to formula. Talk to somebody about next destination, go there, fight boss, get book of Ys, repeat.
Obviously, the animation is low-budget and the acting isn't all too good either.
I primarily bought this DVD to see if it would feature the soundtrack from the Ys games. Yes, it does. Sometimes orchestrated, sometimes not. Still, they never play a song all the way through, which is sad, because like I said earlier, the Ys soundtracks were awesome and would make some EXCELLENT movie music. This movie particularly likes to use "First Steps Towards Wars" (one of the best Ys songs), but they never play it completely through.
There is some humor in this DVD. Two scenes come to mind. The first one is in episode one. Adol is forced to work for this guy that'll help him get to Esteria (Ys). One of Adol's odd-jobs involves carrying a live cow on his back. Absolutely hilarious. The second part is a line of dialogue in episode four. "There's a head on your head!" Adol says to his friend who is running from a bunch of cow-demons.
There is also an outtakes feature in this DVD, not all of them are really funny. Most of them deal with character name pronunciation problems and slurred speech. There are a few gems, though.
This DVD is really for younger audiences, although the rating of 13 and up says otherwise. The violence really isn't that bad.
For those that remember the Ys games, I recommend that you pass on this DVD and purchase the Very Best of Ys soundtrack, containing songs from various Ys games.

The Stars My Destination
The Stars My Destination
by Alfred Bester
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 4.27

4.0 out of 5 stars COPYRIGHT 1956, Dec 21 2002
Keep that in mind as you read this book. Think of all those bad SF movies that you see on American Movie Classics--the ones with bad plots, cardboard robots, flying saucers, our generals planning to nuke the aliens away.
In this novel, welcome yourself to a world where people "jaunte" or teleport from a known point A to a known point B. Where World Wars are replaced by devastating Solar Wars. Nukes are still implemented, but they're about to be overshadowed by an even deadlier creation, known as PyrE. It is little more than a few elements mixed together, but it detonates when triggered by psychokinesis (you think and it happens, in essence, you're God). People see with infrared eyes. Mars is slowly changing its atmosphere so that its inhabitants can breath oxygen. Infants can use telepathy. Religion is outlawed, resulting in Cellar Christians.
Welcome to the year 2436.
All of the above plays a part in the story in some way or another. But the real heart of the story deals with a man named Gully Foyle, who has been floating alone in space for 170 days. A ship comes by. Gully signals it. The ship obviously sees him. But it does not rescue him. Thus is born within Gully a seed of revenge that will grow as the pages fly by.
The book has its slow parts, but the book overall manages to overcome that fact. What I like most about this book is Bester's attention to detail. For example, when he details the history of "jaunting", he mentions the many different ways that it has changed the universe. Diseases spread like wildfire. People can leave towns, states, countries, at will, whenever (and I thought the Arizona border patrol had problems). To me, these minor details are what brought Bester's universe to life.
One can not deny that this book was highly influential in the field of SF. The playful use of words at the end and the illustrations would be an element that SF authors like Harlan Ellison would use in his short story "The Region Between".
I wouldn't consider this book to be the "greatest single SF novel" as Samuel Delany would put it, but it is definitely a classic. Kudos to Bester and his novel. For jaunting the SF field forward.

Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Widescreen Edition)
Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Hayden Christensen
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 78.00
34 used & new from CDN$ 1.55

3.0 out of 5 stars A BIT OF A LETDOWN, BUT STILL SATISFYING, Dec 13 2002
There are several problems that I've been noticing in the newer Star Wars movies. None of these problems are amended in Attack of the Clones.
1) First of all, I can't stand how reckless and lucky these Jedi are. Anakin in Episode 1 ACCIDENTALLY finds himself in the enemy spaceship, hits the fire button and blows it up. Here, we see Obi Wan jump suicidally out of a window and catch a droid of some sort. Shortly after, Anakin stops his flying car, and jumps over the side, without even looking below, and, wonder of wonders, just so happens to land on the roof of the vehicle with the assassin inside. Look, I understand that Jedi's are powerful and all, but in this movie, George Lucas has made them too much like gods, too much like cats that always land feet first and eight lives too many.
2) Secondly, I've noticed that with these newer Star Wars movies, the quality of dialogue has taken a dive for the worse. We see Yoda, but Yoda doesn't say a single memorable thing for the whole movie. Gone, his wonderful wisdom is.
3) The acting is terrible. Poker-faced Padme nearly gets assassinated twice and acts as if it were no big deal.
For all those flaws, I like Attack of the Clones MUCH better than the Phantom Menace. FINALLY, we start to see the story coming together. You'll see the poorly acted relationship between Anakin and Padme. The death of Jango Fett and the beginning of Bobba Fett. The birth of the Stormtroopers. The birth of the Republic. The start of the Empire. Palpatine's power (thanks alot Jar Jar) and his last-second refusal to get rid of it. The creators of the Death Star. And, of course, the beginning of the Clone Wars.
Whatever failings this movie has, you'll feel rewarded at the end. When you see several divisions of stormtroopers marching into primitive Star Destroyers, you'll feel satisfied, not to mention anxious for the next episode.

Book Of The Dun Cow
Book Of The Dun Cow
by Walter Wangerin
Edition: Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars ANIMAL FANTASY "DUN" RIGHT, Dec 13 2002
This review is from: Book Of The Dun Cow (Paperback)
Go back to cat-hell Fritti Tailchaser. Run back to Redwall little mice.
I really didn't think I'd find something that would even come close to rivaling Richard Adam's Watership Down, but here it is. For one, Wangerin Jr. has excellent character development. Chauntecleer, the Wee Widow Mouse, Pertelote, Mundo Cani Dog, John Wesley Weasel--you'll come to readily recognize and love all of these characters.
But what I liked most about this book was the fact that it had more fantasy in it than similar books like Tailchaser's Song, Redwall, and even Watership Down. There's the evil Wyrm within the earth. When I read about Wyrm, I instantly thought about Uroboros, the World Serpent. I read about Cockatrice, an evil amalgamation of rooster and serpent--and thought about the twisted animals described in the book of Revelation.
When I read good fantasy novels I feel like I'm watching a movie. As is usually the case, certain scenes I read become especially vivid. One such scene that I remember dealt with Cockatrice sitting atop his Terebinth Oak, while beneath him were several thousand eggs, waiting to hatch forth serpents. It made me think of the movie Aliens for a second. Another interesting scene in the book was where Chauntecleer and Pertelote are walking through a battlefield--at night--and they stumble across a dead deer.
Unlike some fantasy novels I've read, the last battle in this book is very satisfying. Let's just say that Wyrm makes the Sandworms of Dune small in comparison. Another thing that I like about this book is that good guys do die and DON'T come back. I'm sorry, but I hate books where the good guys come out unscathed. This book is very original and refreshing, full of stuff to spark your imagination.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
84 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE, Nov. 23 2002
Compared to the vast majority of fantasy novels, The Golden Compass is a thorn in the side of redundancy. This, however, does not mean that this book is excellent, though, and unfortunatley.
Philip Pullman creates an alternate universe that is not all too different from ours. If I were to place his universe in our timline, I would say it fits the WWI era best, the big giveaway being the existance of zeppelins.
One of the biggest additions to this universe, though, is the existance of daemons, or one creature that is linked to one human. The daemon can talk and take the form of about any animal, but they normally prefer one form over all others. The human and daemon may seem very seperate, but once you read the chapter entitled "The Silver Guillotine", you'll realize how much the one needs the other. That chapter contains one of the most powerful scenes in the book, but you won't get to it until you're more than halfway through.
Which leads me to my biggest problem with this book. It's original, yes, but dreadfully slow, especially towards the beginning. Thinking back, all I can recall is the awkward meeting with Lord Asriel, Oxford, and heading north while trying to stay away from Mrs. Coulter. The character development, I must admit, is above average, but the plot suffers as a result. However, once I got to the part entitled "Bolvangar", the book started to pick up to a proper pace, finally coming to an end that reminded me of the end of the novel Hannibal by Thomas Harris.
If it weren't for the fact that the ending was somewhat satisfying, I would have rated this book less, but even as it stands, I really didn't find it all that exciting. Take your Alethiometer and ask it about a better book, I'm sure it'll come up with something better.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
84 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE, Nov. 23 2002
Compared to the vast majority of fantasy novels, The Golden Compass is a thorn in the side of redundancy. This, however, does not mean that this book is excellent, though, and unfortunatley.
Philip Pullman creates an alternate universe that is not all too different from ours. If I were to place his universe in our timline, I would say it fits the WWI era best, the big giveaway being the existance of zeppelins.
One of the biggest additions to this universe, though, is the existance of daemons, or one creature that is linked to one human. The daemon can talk and take the form of about any animal, but they normally prefer one form over all others. The human and daemon may seem very seperate, but once you read the chapter entitled "The Silver Guillotine", you'll realize how much the one needs the other. That chapter contains one of the most powerful scenes in the book, but you won't get to it until you're more than halfway through.
Which leads me to my biggest problem with this book. It's original, yes, but dreadfully slow, especially towards the beginning. Thinking back, all I can recall is the awkward meeting with Lord Asriel, Oxford, and heading north while trying to stay away from Mrs. Coulter. The character development, I must admit, is above average, but the plot suffers as a result. However, once I got to the part entitled "Bolvangar", the book started to pick up to a proper pace, finally coming to an end that reminded me of the end of the novel Hannibal by Thomas Harris.
If it weren't for the fact that the ending was somewhat satisfying, I would have rated this book less, but even as it stands, I really didn't find it all that exciting. Take your Alethiometer and ask it about a better book, I'm sure it'll come up with something better.

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