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Paul Tapner (poole dorset england)
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Nevernight
Nevernight
by Jay Kristoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Church of death, 27 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Nevernight (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Jay Kristoff, Writer of the popular 'Lotus War' series of fantasy novels, begins a whole new series. With a very different setting.

This book runs for six hundred and forty three pages. It has an introduction. Thirty five chapters then two epilogues. And it's divided into three parts.

This is the story of Mia. A very legendary assassin.

It contains strong language and violence and adult moments, so it isn't suitable for younger readers.

It doesn't say anything on it about being a series or trilogy. But the end does leave a lot open. And does actually make it clear that there are two more volumes to come.

Which it can do, because as the introduction explains, this is Mia's story being told, by a writer, after her time. This is quite an interesting narrative device because the writer makes that clear via various footnotes. Some of which can be almost as funny as similar in Discworld books. Although some are quite long and they do come close together at times, especially early on. So sometimes it does feel like it's disrupting the narrative.

But they do even out in due course. So you do get used to it.

Mia is a girl who survived her family being betrayed and killed. Got taken in by a wise old man who taught her a lot. And now she's out to get into a legendary school for assassins.

All of which may sound familiar.

The narrative, post the introduction, does take a while to settle down. Because you have flashbacks in italics and current scenes in normal type. And in the first chapter there's little time between them. So it does take a bit to get used to things. However, it doesn't spend as much time as some might on filling in her past. But still tells you all you need to know about it. So it gets moving very nicely.

The first quarter, when she's looking for the school - admission isn't easy - is really quite involving stuff, introducing one important supporting character over the course of it, and the two really do work so very well together, with a superbly written relationship. The setting intrigues. There's no map or cast of characters, but this place with it's rather Roman empire style of leadership and military is interestingly different.

Once at the school, despite it being a pretty interesting setting, it does start to feel as if it's becoming a bit more conventional for a while. Mia has friends and rivals and hard lessons to learn, and it moves along steadily doing all this for the middle section. Which is very good still, but doesn't feel quite as fresh and involving as the opening.

But in due course, you realise the writing has known exactly where it's been going on all along. The final quarter does twist and turn and startle and surprise. And will make you gasp a couple of times. And curse that you didn't pick up on certain little things. All of which leads to a very decent climax.

And the promise of much more of the same to come.

Ultimately a very good read that does manage to take an original look at certain things. Roll on book two.


The Loneliness of Distant Beings: Book 1 (Ventura Saga)
The Loneliness of Distant Beings: Book 1 (Ventura Saga)
by Kate Ling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Soul mates in Space, 27 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A science fiction novel for young adult readers. Recommended reading age would be thirteen and up, thanks to some mild adult themes.

It runs for three hundred and fifty eight pages, and is divided into thirty seven chapters.

It is billed as being the first in a series, although the story as a whole is pretty much complete and self contained. But it does leave some room for more at the end.

Lead character, who narrates things in the first person present tense, is Seren. Teenage girl aboard a generation ship. A starship designed to travel from one star system to another. And since the journey takes so long, those onboard exist simply to keep the ship going. Whole generations will be born, live, work and die before the ship reaches it's destination. A star system from which humanity has detected a seemingly alien signal.

Seren and her classmates are at the age when boys and girls are pair bonded. Partners are selected for all, and having children is desired.

Her whole life is mapped out for her. But she's feeling that she wants something more. Something different. And when she meets fellow teenager Dom, sparks fly. It's a wholly forbidden love....

This does all the science fiction very well, presenting a believable environment quickly and never throwing enough information at the reader to leave them adrift. It does have a very powerful metaphor at it's heart. Who hasn't dreamed of shaking off the way life is, and getting what they think they desire instead? To do that though, the narrative has to make sure it's characters are sympathetic. And here it does pretty much succeed as well. You're never quite blown away by things and desperate for things to work out for Seren, but it does leave you very interested and wanting to see how it all goes.

There is some clever plotting as well in how it deals with certain things going on shipboard. And it does some really great characterisation with one member of the supporting cast in particular, as they show there is far more to them than actually meets the eye at first glance.

An involving last sixty pages approx does lead to a decent finale.

A good bit of science fiction and a decent read. It does leave you wanting to see what book two will bring.


The Hawkweed Prophecy
The Hawkweed Prophecy
by Irena Brignull
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Born to be Queen, 27 Jun. 2016
This review is from: The Hawkweed Prophecy (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An urban fantasy novel for young adult readers. Ideal age would be thirteen and up, thanks to some mild adult references and some violence. But it's good enough to be enjoyed by older readers also.

It runs for four hundred and twenty six pages. It has a prologue and thirty seven chapters.

It's not billed as being a trilogy or a series, and it is pretty much self contained. So if there will be more to come remains to be seen.

It's the story of two girls from two very different worlds.

Ember comes from a world of witches. She lives with a coven. Who are aware of a prophecy about a child being born to be Witch Queen. There are those in the coven who are desperate to make sure that the Queen is who they wish it to be. Ember isn't very good at magic, and doesn't really fit in.

Poppy is a girl who lives in our world. She and father have moved to a new town. Leaving her mother behind. Poppy really doesn't fit in. Can't make friends. And gets followed by lots of cats.

When she and Ember meet, their worlds will never be the same again. Especially not when a boy called Leo then comes between them..

The prologue of this is a bit of reading you have to work with, because it does rather suddenly throw a lot of information at you, and jump around in time. So there's a lot to be taken in. You might be left wondering how readable the book will be.

But suddenly, once we've been introduced to both main characters, it clicks. And then becomes something it's very hard to put down. Because once the two meet, it's a superb story about friendship. A beautifully written one that feels so very realistic, and makes you feel so much for the characters. As they grow and change because of it. And have to deal with so much that comes their way. It really does leave you desperate to see how it will turn out for all concerned.

The plotting is pretty clever as well, as it does develop nicely throughout, and do things that will make you reappraise what has come before. Especially the prologue.

Ultimately it's also a story about belonging, and finding your place in the world. It does work superbly well at doing that.

An excellent and very involving read, thanks to being such a great character drama. So if we do get to read more about these characters, count me in.


The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage trilogy)
The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage trilogy)
by Brian McClellan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Field Marshal's return, 27 Jun. 2016
Third and final volume in the 'Powder Mage' series of fantasy novels, which mix 19th century style warfare with magic.

The series began with Promise of Blood: Book 1 in the Powder Mage trilogy and this, being the final volume in the trilogy, and with nothing to bring new readers up to speed, is not a good jumping on point. So new readers start there.

Regular ones, read on.

This volume runs for five hundred and seventy seven pages. It's divided into fifty three chapters. It picks right from where book two left off. And it does bring the story, and the series to an end.

Tamas has, against all the odds, gotten his troops back. But he isn't pleased to find what awaits him in the capital. The political situation there needs to be dealt with. But there's a war to be won first. Which won't be easy, since it's not clear who he can trust.

The book does rather focus on the front line fighting for bulk of the first half. But as with the first two volumes, the writing and the prose are really good indeed. And it's a very easy series to get back into quickly even if it's been a while since you read book two.

Nila in particular stands out here out of all the characters, as she gets a great character arc and some superb development as she comes to terms with her new abilities. And has to face up to some interesting personal choices also.

The plotting is very nicely done, because once it does get back to the capital you see where this has been going all along. And everything pulls together very nicely indeed. For a finale you won't forget in a hurry. Not least because it has done enough to make you care about these characters and what happens to them, so their various finales will stay with you for a while.

A satisfying end to an excellent series.


Papermate InkJoy 550 RT 1.0 mm Medium Tip Retractable Ball Pen - Black
Papermate InkJoy 550 RT 1.0 mm Medium Tip Retractable Ball Pen - Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Black ball point, 27 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A ball point pen. It comes in eight different colours. Including black.

The top and the clip and the very end are silver. You push the pen out by pressing the silver top. And you can put in a refill when it runs dry by unscrewing the silver end and then putting it back again once the change has been done.

The main body of the pen is plastic and quite sturdy, and given that it's wider than that part of a biro, it's surprisingly much easier to get a grip on. Thus it turns out to be easier to hold and a bit smoother to write with. If your handwriting isn't great, then this comes as a pleasant surprise.

There seems to be something stuck over the end of the pen when you first get it, but that can just be pulled off and it will then write fine.

A decent product, and one that makes me inclined to go ball point rather than biro in future. Refills are sold separately


Archie Americana Series Volume 10: Best Of The Seventies Book 2
Archie Americana Series Volume 10: Best Of The Seventies Book 2
by Various
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Disco, inflation, and the spirit of 76, 23 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Another volume in the series of trade paperbacks that collect various stories from Archie comics by decade. In this case, a second volume of those from the 1970's.

This runs just short of one hundred pages. It follows the usual format for them in having a contents page, which does list the issues all the stories came from. A one page introduction about the decade, in this case from famous DJ Hal Lipson.

And then fifteen stories from the time. Plus a pin up.

As ever, the stories are very much products of their time, as Archie and his supporting cast deal with things ranging from the popularity of Kung Fu and Disco, concern for the environment. And the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976. Among other things.

All the stories are good strong ones. None are necessarily laugh out loud but all raise a smile and some raise a very hearty chuckle. And as ever with this series, it's fascinating to read something that is so very much a product of it's time.

Another fun collection for Archie fans. Of all ages.


Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation
Doctor Who: Big Bang Generation
by Gary Russell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

2.0 out of 5 stars The pyramid problem, 22 Jun. 2016
An original Doctor Who novel. Telling an all new story for the Twelfth Doctor which hasn't appeared before in any other medium.

The book runs for two hundred and thirty six pages. It's divided into fourteen chapters.

Usually these books are suitable for readers of all ages, but be aware this one does have a few mild adult references.

As ever with these the Doctor is perfectly written with dialogue you can imagine Peter Capaldi saying on tv. Clara, though, doesn't appear in this.

It's part of a trilogy called 'the Glamour chronicles' involving the Doctor and a mysterious object. But the trilogy is such a loose one that you can read them in any order without missing out.

The book does feature Professor Bernice 'Benny' Summerfield. Companion to the Seventh Doctor in original novels of the nineties. And who has gone on to have a long life herself in other books and audios. There is enough information here though so that those not familiar with her character won't be confused in the least.

The story sees Benny's latest archaeological expedition, to a mysterious old alien pyramid, cause a big problem. Making it appear in Sydney in 2015. And if she and the Doctor can't get inside and deal with it, the whole universe might be doomed..

This book, unfortunately, is a bit of a mess. The first chapter begins with a very vague conversation, where you're not entirely sure who the participants are or what's going on. And then it introduces lots of characters for seemingly very little reason very quickly.

The first third of it is involved in setting up a lot of plot strands. As a result, the Doctor is absent for far too long from it at times, and you do miss him when he is. It also adopts a light tone, trying to be a fun caper. But it's never as funny as it thinks it is, which makes that annoying..

Whilst it does pull things together a third of the way in and actually get the plot going, the tone doesn't improve.

There are, though, occasional very strong character moments some of which are superbly emotional. But they only lift the mood every so often.

The wrap up is perfectly decent. But it doesn't make you care much about the characters or the plot as it goes along, and frankly it's a real chore to read. Which is a shame.


Spongebob Squarepants - Season 8 [DVD]
Spongebob Squarepants - Season 8 [DVD]
Price: £8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Spongebob year eight, 9 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A four disc collection of all the episodes from the eighth season of Spongebob Squarepants.

As with all the other season collections of the show, you get the opening credits just at the start of the first episode on the disc. Then the end credits for all at the end of the last one on the disc.

Episodes are as follows:

Accidents will happen.
The other patty.
Drive Thru.
The hot shot.
A friendly game.
Sentimental sponge.
Frozen face off.
Squidward's school for grown ups.
Oral report.
Sweet and sour squid.
The googly artiste.
A squarepants family vacation.
Patrick's staycation.
Walking the Plankton.
Mooncation.
Mr. Krabs takes a vacation.
Ghoul fools.
Mermaidman begins.
Plankton's good eye.
Barnacle face.
Pet sitter pat.
House Sittin' for Sandy.
Smooth Jazz at Bikini Bottom.
Bubble troubles.
The way of the sponge.
The krabby patty that ate bikini bottom.
Bubble buddy returns.
Restraining Spongebob.
Fiasco!
Are you happy now!
Planet of the Jellyfish.
Free samples.
Home sweet rubble.
Karen 2.0.
InSpongeiac
Face Freeze!
Glove World R.I.P.
Squiditis.
Demolition doofus.
Treats!
For here or to go.
It's a Spongebob christmas!
Super Evil Aquatic Villain team up is go!
Chum Fricassee
The good Krabby name.
Move it or lose it.
Hello Bikini Bottom!

Some of these episodes may be familiar from the other Spongebob dvds, that just have a handful of episodes on them.

Most of these are the usual eleven minutes long, with some exceptions.

Twenty two minute long ones are:

Frozen Face off.
A Squarepants family vacation.
Ghoul fools.
It's a spongebob christmas!
Hello Bikini Bottom!

There's the usual type of plots for the show, although the balance of those is a bit slanted this time around in favour of Krusty Krab/Plankton stories.

A Squarepants family vacation is an overlong and not that funny episode, but the rest of the season is of a high quality. Especially 'It's a Spongebob christmas!' which is done in stopmotion rather than the usual style, and features the long overdue and welcome return of Patchy the Pirate.

The dvd has no subtitles.

The only language it comes in is English.

And there are no extras.

There's some surprisingly black humour in 'Are you happy now?' which parents might have to explain.

So that does let it down as a product ever so slightly, hence the four stars. But it's still a good box set all in all, with lots of fun for Spongebob fans. Of all ages.


Golden Son: Red Rising Trilogy 2 (The Red Rising Trilogy)
Golden Son: Red Rising Trilogy 2 (The Red Rising Trilogy)
by Pierce Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Rage and rebellion, 8 Jun. 2016
Second volume in the Red Rising trilogy of science fiction novels. The story of Darrow, rebel in a future solar system with an imperial structure and class system.

First volume in the series was Red Rising. This volume isn't really a good jumping on point, so new readers should start with that book.

Those who have read it, read on.

This volume runs for four hundred and forty two pages. It's divided into four parts, and further into fifty one chapters. There's a guide to the class system plus a cast of characters at the front. Before a one page prologue.

As with the first volume, there is a fair bit of violence and some adult moments, so it's not suitable for younger readers.

This volume picks up with Darrow now well established amongst the very people he seeks to destroy. But he's not the only one with plans, and he finds himself having to adapt. Just how far will he go to get what he wants? and what will it cost him?

To say this volume is epic would be an understatement, because it gets through an awful lot. Has a large number of set pieces. Really opens up the setting and moves the story along an incredible distance. And leaves everyone involved in a very different place at the end. The sheer scale of all this really is very impressive.

At times, though, it is a bit much to take in. The huge cast of supporting characters means the list of them does come in handy. And the prose, not being overly descriptive, is all a bit too easy to skim. That and the scale and all that's going on with all these people does mean you really do need to focus on this in order to keep up.

And yet there does come a point, towards the end of part three, when suddenly you are desperate to know what is going to happen next, and this does become a real page turner. You will remain desperate to know what happens, thanks to this not being the end of the story, and thus it ending on the aforementioned big cliffhanger.

So writing wise this just isn't quite a five star piece of work. But there is an awful lot to admire about it anyhow. And it remains a very good series.

To find out how it ends, read Morning Star: Red Rising Trilogy 3 (The Red Rising Trilogy)


Doctor Who Main Range 211 and You Will Obey Me (Big Finish Doctor Who)
Doctor Who Main Range 211 and You Will Obey Me (Big Finish Doctor Who)
by Lauren Yason
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For sale by auction, 31 May 2016
A new Doctor Who audio story. First in a new trilogy of these that focus on his arch enemy the Master. And involve the latter causing trouble for the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors.

This release features the Fifth Doctor. Without any companions. The Master is played by Geoffrey Beevers. Who played him onscreen in tv story 'The Keeper of Traken' and quite a few audios since.

It's a stand alone tale. It doesn't require you to have heard anything else in order to understand it. And it doesn't [seemingly] lead into anything else either.

There are four episodes, complete over two cd's. They run from twenty five to thirty minutes in length [approx].

The story sees the Doctor arrive in a sleepy little town where an auction is taking place. One lot on offer is a grandfather clock. Which is of course far more than it seems. The Doctor's TARDIS picked up this one's distress call. It seems that the Master arrived there over two decades ago. And has now passed away.

But what was he doing in all that time?

The Doctor isn't the only one who'd like to know. Many people whose lives have been effected by the Master are closing in...

Although this is the Doctor without companions it does establish - rather cleverly - where this fits in with his televised adventures. It does also do some excellent establishing of time periods as well.

The first episode has some very intriguing set up that hooks you from the off, really wanting to know what's going on here.

Episode two does pull a nice surprise in subverting your expectations early on, but then is a slightly frustrating one to listen to. Because it feels as if it's constantly hovering on the verge of a major revelation, without quite getting to it. But in the end, it does move up a gear late on.

But this then clicks in part three by becoming a character drama. And a very good one at that. The focus of the episode isn't on whom you might expect. And it's all the stronger because of that.

There's a lot going on in the final two parts, so you need to keep your attention focused. It's all very clever and well written and making you reappraise earlier things. And all leads to a pretty decent wrap up.

Ultimately one of those releases that just isn't quite a five star story, but has lots in it to recommend, so it's well worth a go.

There's just under seven minutes of music from the story on the last track of disc one.

A trailer for the next in this trilogy on the track on disc two after the end of part four.

And just under fifteen minutes of interviews with cast and crew on the tracks after that.


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