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plnodwyer

plnodwyer
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Member since: 12.11.2011

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      16.11.2011 22:46
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      The last part in an incredible story of a fictional Irish hero

      In the third and final book in Roddy Doyle's 'The Last Roundup' Trilogy we see an aging Henry Smart return from the United States after years spent searching for his wife and two children. Found almost dead in the desert by Henry Fonda, Henry is taken back to Ireland to be John Ford's 'IRA consultant' (Irish Republican Army) in the making of his new film, The Quiet Man. We are also introduced to more notable figures, as in the previous two books 'A Star Called Henry' and 'Oh, Play That Thing', these including the film's stars Maureen O' Hara and John Wayne as well as Henry Fonda and other notable Irish figures and characters from the previous books.

      As Ford's IRA consultant, Henry has the opportunity to visit his wife's family home and other such places but quickly discovers that the place he fled in 1922 is very different to the place he returns to twenty nine years later in 1951. As filming of The Quiet Man continues Henry becomes more and more annoyed with Ford, as he feels the story being told is not his, and soon he parts ways with his film star acquaintances.
      After years of hardship Henry is old beyond his years and trying to settle into a 'normal' life he becomes a caretaker at a Dublin school and a gardener. However, having read the first two books in this trilogy it should be obvious that Henry Smart cannot have a normal, run of the mill life. He soon reminds the staff of the school of his soldier past and is then enlisted into the Provisional IRA as a spokesman, one of the boys from the GPO in 1916. Given the arrangement between Henry and the Army council, he is very unlikely to tell them his very minor role during the famous Easter Rising. From this we are introduced to more famous figures as well as the return of the infamous Ivan Reynolds, by now a notable and respected politician.

      Henry's place in the history of Ireland would surely have been cemented, that is if this was not a fictional novel. But Roddy Doyle has not disappointed in this great fictional narrative, and ends the trilogy (easily my favourite series of novels), and it is easy to believe while reading this, that is a memoir of a forgotten hero, or more likely someone who has just been written out of the history books. The narrative deals with the identity that Henry chooses for himself and the identities which have been forced on him his entire life. It is also concerned with how Ireland has been portrayed by everyone from Ford to the modern day politicians. Much like Henry's place in Irish history, this too is a work of fiction.

      I would seriously recommend this book to anyone, but unlike many other series, you really should read the first and second book before diving into the third. That's not to say that this book does not stand alone, as it does, but by reading all three we follow Henry from even before his birth to his late (very late) years, and really develop an understanding of him. I just feel that it's a much better read if read with 'A Star Called Henry' and 'Oh, Play That Thing'. It is a great novel as well as great look at Ireland's twentieth century history.

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        13.11.2011 16:12
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        Will leave you wanting more

        A Star Called Henry is the first book in Roddy Doyle's 'The Last Round Up' trilogy and follows the amazing story of Henry Smart. Born in the Dublin tenements in 1901 the series follows more than a century of Irish history through the life of Henry. This first book deals with the first twenty years of Henry's life, from the turn of the century to the beginnings of the Irish Free State. It deals particularly with the struggles faced by Henry, an alcoholic mother and a father who worked as a doorman at a brothel, as well as the poverty, death, violence and hatred which surrounded them on a daily basis.

        Henry is forced at an early point to accept responsibility for his younger siblings and his mother, once his father is forced to go on the run after committing another murder. The relationships between Henry and his younger brother Victor, and his grandmother are particularly strong in the book. We are also introduced to many historical figures including Michael Collins and James Connolly as well as many other notable and well known names.

        Henry Smart is of course a fictional character but he is expertly brought to life through Roddy Doyle's excellent writing style. It is easy to believe when reading this that it is a memoir or diary of such a young caught up in the turmoil of Dublin and Ireland in the early 1900s. It is very fast paced but an easy read and difficult to put down. And thankfully followed by another two books, 'Oh! Play that thing' and 'The Dead Republic', which do not disappoint.

        I would recommend this book to anyone, whether it's just for something to read or to get a less academic history of twentieth century Ireland.

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        13.11.2011 13:58
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        Recommend it to everyone

        The Complete Maus, consists of two volumes: I My father bleeds history and II And here my troubles begin. It is a graphic novel, drawn in black and white and written in English. There are some other languages used but these are subtitled.

        It is written and drawn by Art Spiegelman, a Jewish- American cartoonist, and the son of a Polish Jew who survived WWII and Auschwitz. The story shows Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, Americans as dogs and other nationalities as other animals, all the characters are drawn identically, only distinguishable by the clothes that they wear. It recounts his father, Vladek's tale from the time he met his mother, Anja to when they were reunited after liberation. At the same time the story is intercut with the present day as the father recounts his experiences and in order to deal with the fraught and troubled relationship the two men now share.

        Despite its troubling subject matter it is quite easy to read. It took me, a slow reader, less than two days to complete. I just didn't want t put it down. The illustrations are simple but effective and the dialogue seems as true to life as possible, especially as most of it is being recounted more than thirty years later.

        Maus, deals with this subject matter, the Holocaust, war, death and survivor's guilt in a way that simply has not been done before and gives a better account then will be found in a text book and a truer account ten that found in most movies and other such things. Even for those who wouldn't consider to read graphic novels, this is not a children's picture book. It is a heart-rendering story, and familiarity with the story or any sense of disenfranchisement or desenisitivity will be shocked out of you.

        I would recommend it to anyone with any interest in twentieth century history as well as art, literature or graphic novels and comics. It is a superb example of historical biography and should be read by all history students as well.

        It is the only graphic novel to have won the Pulitzer Prize, which it did in 1992, and has shown that this genre of writing is not just about superheroes. It is widely and critically acclaimed, and can often be found in collage libraries. It is also ranked highly in Time's top ten list of graphic novels (#4). And deservedly so!

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      • Hama Digi-Klear / Photo Accessory / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        12.11.2011 17:29
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        A brilliant tool that every photographer should have

        The lens-pen is a tool, taht all photographers should have in their bag, which is used to clean dirt, grime and smudges as well as finger prints off lenses and filters. The Hama Digi-Klear features a brush, which can be retracted back into the pen in order to keep fraying at a minimal. There is also a small pad, which is protected with a cap when not in use. This of course stops either the brush or pad from getting dirty.

        The brush is very soft and will remove any loose dust particles. Though you are advised to use a blower to remove these, but the brush will do the job just as well. The pad is for smudges and dried fluids such as water and rain. By pressing lightly on the pen and making small concentric circles the smudges should be completely removed. This is aided by a chemical concealed in the pen's cap. This will eventually run out but this is such an inexpensive and useful tool, purchasing another isn't a bad option.

        The digi-klear works perfectly on the camera's LCD screen and viewfinder, as well as with other electronics such as phones, especially touch-screen phones which are smudge magnets. Its best to use it only one small screens and glasses etc. as that chemical won't last forever.

        Hama is a third person company but that shouldn't turn anyone off, this really is a great product and not just for camera owners, as it works perfectly in cleaning the screens of other electronic products, such as mp3 players, handheld games consoles and phones, especially touch screen phones, which are smudge magnets.

        The lens-pen works perfectly but a blower and lens cloth are always good to have for cleaning as well and with the digi-klear make little work of keeping lenses, filters and screens dust and smudge free. It really is an inexpensive must have tool. You should have no problem finding these online for only a few euros or pounds

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      • Nikon D3000 Body / Digital Camera / 11 Readings / 7 Ratings
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        12.11.2011 16:37
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        Great beginner or learner camera

        I have had my D3000 for about a year now and I am still as taken with it now as I was when I first bought it. It is a great camera for an amateur or beginner photographer who wants to do more than just take snapshots. It is very easy to use, including a guide mode which talks the user through most of the aspects of photography, while the manual modes are very intuiative for the more advanced user. However the advanced user may expect a better performing camera, as it only has only 12.2 MP resolution and the kit lens, 18-55 mm isn't the best performing lens. However the camera can be used with almost all Nikon and Nikkor accessories as well as Tamron and Sigma. Any F mount lens will work with this camera so any lenses used with older cameras or nikon film cameras are compatible. The camera also also the user to do great amount of in-camera editing including making an image look as though it was shot with a tilt/shift lens (minature model like images). And even for an SLR it is quite light weight and easy hold and handle.

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