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Paul Tapner (poole dorset england)
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Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven's Shadow
Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven's Shadow
by Anthony Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars The true story of the Hope Killer, 7 Nov 2014
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A fantasy novel. First in a trilogy. Map at the front. Appendices at the back.

Divided into five parts. Each of which are divided into shorter chapters.

Being the start of a trilogy there's naturally a lot left hanging at the end.

What if anything makes this stand out from the pack?

It's the story of Vaelin Al Sorna. Whom we first meet, in a chapter in italics, via a man called Vernier. In an opening chapter that grabs right from the off thanks to the quality of the prose, you learn a lot about the world of the story and Vaelin himself via judicious exposition. And Vernier slowly becomes drawn to the man. To find out his tale. As he is released from imprisonment to go and fight a duel.

After this the narrative tells Vaelin's story and how he got this point. Jumping back to when he joined a military like order when he was a child. Initially it feels a bit frustrating to get away from the time point of the first chapter. And we are on familiar territory - young hero joins military order makes friends with other recruits and is tutored by gruff but wise and kindly masters - but again, the quality of the writing does grab.

As does the hero. Because Vaelin is a likeable and very sympathetic character from the off.

Gradually, as things steadily progress, a much bigger picture becomes apparent. There's villainy In the shape of a Monarch who is believable in how he knows how to play the games of power. A great setting. Some very well drawn supporting characters. And hints of even bigger things going on.

The narrative is almost entirely focused on Vaelin throughout, and thus it holds you tightly.

Also managing to keep some good developments right to the last.

A big, rich, and very involving read. A really good debut, and a book that does stand out in a crowded field thanks to quality writing. If you another series to get hooked on, it's worth a look.

There's some violence, a couple of bits of strong language, and some mild adult situations.


Betty & Veronica: Prom Princesses (Archie & Friends All-Stars)
Betty & Veronica: Prom Princesses (Archie & Friends All-Stars)
by Dan Parent
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Prom season, 7 Nov 2014
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Archie comics have been running for a long time now. The story of 'typical teen' Archie Andrews, from the small town of Riverdale. Well meaning and accident prone, he's caught in a love triangle with best friends nice girl next door Betty and spoiled vain rich girl Veronica. Always having reflected the spirit and mood and trends of the time, Archie comics are an American institution.

As are high school proms. The time every year when teenagers worry about what to wear and whom to ask out. And if they will be asked out. Also when Betty and Veronica worry about which of them will get to go with Archie.

This is a slightly larger than normal paperback volume which reprints several stories from various Archie titles of the past ten years. All involving proms. The planning. And the event.

There are seven different stories, some of which are longer than others. All find something different and original to do with the subject. All have eye catching and colourful art in the Archie House style. All will make you smile. Some have laugh out loud moments.

All do good things with the characters, as they all learn a few life lessons over the course of the story.

Another fun read for Archie fans. Of all ages.


Doctor Who: Paradox Lost
Doctor Who: Paradox Lost
by George Mann
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Time parasites, 7 Nov 2014
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An original Doctor Who novel. It tells an all new story for the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory, which hasn't appeared before in any other medium.

The book runs for two hundred and thirty eight pages. It's divided into fifteen chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue.

As with the rest of this range, it's suitable for all ages, and captures the lead characters perfectly, with dialogue that you can imagine the actors saying.

The story takes place in London. At two very different times. In 1910, when strange monsters are lurking in the city. And the only person who stands against them is retired secret agent Professor Archibald Angelchrist. And in 2789. When strange experiments have had deadly consequences.

As a result of which, London of then is under threat. If the monsters can't be stopped, the human race is doomed...

Although the plot isn't anything entirely out of the ordinary, It does hold the attention thanks to some decent writing. And shifting back and forth through the two time periods. What also helps is that the action is seen almost entirely through the eyes of Rory in some chapters, and Professor Angelchrist in the others.

The former is written so very well in character as to make it possibly the best of all his appearances in this range. It allows him to work through his feelings for the way he lives and the people he does it with very nicely. And the latter is a truly marvellous and very original creation. Very much written as a man of his time and of science as well.

All of this makes the book click, because it really makes you care for it's characters.

There are time travel elements of the plot that are clever without being too confusing, and an epilogue that will stick in the mind for a while. For the right reasons. All that makes it a very above average entry in this range.


The Doctor's Tale (Doctor Who - The Early Adventures)
The Doctor's Tale (Doctor Who - The Early Adventures)
by Marc Platt
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the bleak midwinter, 29 Oct 2014
A new Doctor Who audio story. Second in a series of these entitled 'The Early Adventures.' These use a mixture of narration and full cast drama in order to tell a story for the First Doctor.

This one is an entirely stand alone story, and you don't need to have heard any others in order to get into it.

It runs for four parts, spread over two cd's. The first three run for thirty two minutes [approx]. The last runs for thirty eight.

The story features the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki. William Russell and Maureen O'Brien, who played Ian and Vicki on tv back in the 1960's, reprise their roles. They also share narration duties. The latter can switch from reader to reader at the drop of a hat, but it's something you get used to so quickly, you don't notice.

The two also do the voice for the Doctor and Barbara respectively, with other parts played by other actors.

This, like several first Doctor stories on tv, is what they call a 'pure historical.' A story where there's no science fiction other than the TARDIS, as the time travellers find themselves caught up in history.

And main characters disappear for at least one episode.

The bit of history here is the rule of England in 1400. When Henry the Fourth has usurped the throne. Richard the second has been deposed. And a ruthless Archbishop deals harshly with any would be rebellion against the new King.

Would be rebels include Geoffrey Chaucer. Whom Barbara is a huge fan of.

With Chaucer missing and Richard's young queen needing help, the Doctor and friends naturally get involved. Danger awaits. But history must not be changed...

Sound design and music is always a particular strength of Big Finish audios. Never more so here, as this one really is the kind of thing you could listen to by the fireplace with the curtains drawn and the heating turned up. The atmosphere of winter in the middle ages is amazingly good.

This is a story that takes a while to get going, although the quality atmosphere and acting in the first episode does carry you along nicely. It's not till midway through part two that it really starts to move, and then steadily picks up pace, as the Doctor and his companions find themselves in typical pure historical story scrapes, meeting some real people and getting into danger along the way.

The aforementioned Archbishop is a superb and very human villain. The aforementioned young Queen is also a very strong character, arrogance hiding vulnerability.

This does sideline Barbara and the Doctor for a bit of the narrative. Although that is in keeping with the style of the tv show of the time when actors got time off, it does somehow feel that it detracts ever so slightly.

And for the first three parts, the time travellers are observers rather than driving any action.

Part four, though, despite being the longest, is also the strongest. Feeling perfectly paced despite the length, with some wonderful character moments, and bringing everything to an excellent conclusion.

This is enough to inspire you to go to the history books if you don't know much about this period of English history.

This is just not quite a five star release, but there's an awful lot to admire in it, and it's well worth a listen.

In particular for one moment in part two, which is one of the best first Doctor audio moments ever. You'll know what I mean.

There's a trailer for the next early adventure on the penultimate track of disc two.

And just under six minutes of interviews with Maureen O'Brien and William Russell on the final track. An interview that is slightly dated by clearly having been recorded well before November 2013, as you can tell by a few references in there, but is still a very good one anyhow.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2014 6:08 AM GMT


Godzilla [DVD] [2014]
Godzilla [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dawn of the monsters, 27 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Godzilla [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Director Gareth Edwards made Monsters [DVD] [2010]. A low budget movie with human interest in a world of strange creatures.

So now he gets to play with a bigger budget as Hollywood has another go at bringing a classic movie monster back to the big screen. In the hope he'll do a bit better than Roland Emmerich.

Genuinely inventive opening titles hint at strange things having gone on during atomic testing back in the 40's and 50's.

Then in the Philippines in 1999, two scientists [Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe] find signs of something big having been unearthed..

At the same time in Japan, American Engineer Joe Brody [Bryan Cranston] lives there with his family, while he and his wife work at a nuclear plant. Seemingly married to his work, when an accident happens his life and that of his son Ford are changed forever.

This is quite an involving and effecting set piece.

Fifteen years later, Ford is now in the military, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson , and married with a young son. When the actions of his father take him back to Japan, a monster emerges. And the fight is on to save millions of lives.

This does succeed in one aim. This is better than the 1998 version. It's all played totally straight and serious never trying for any of the humour that did. All the characters are down to earth and totally believable.

So as a picture of ordinary people being caught up in big world shattering events, it's also totally effective.

It does take a while to reveal it's monster, and a lot of it does take place at night. So visibility in certain scenes could be a bit better. But the reveal is well paced and the first looks we get at certain things are pretty pretty awesome and well directed.

Some more decent set pieces follow.

But where this does fall perhaps into the same trap as what came before is that whilst it's a decent enough human drama, there's perhaps not enough of the title character. Cities are smashed. There's good dramatic action as people deal with it, but the monster is only on screen every so often.

Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe do end up having to spend most of the team just staring in shock and awe. David Straitharn is pretty good as a military commander. Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are pretty likeable as the central couple. But most of the human characters, whilst convincingly ordinary people, are all rather bland. They're believable characters, but never have a great impact.

Script wise in addition to set pieces It does manage to keep some things back for later on. And coming back to the old theme of man being helpless in the impact of nature, it works very well in that respect.

A good monster movie all in all. And definitely a better one that the 1998 version. But not quite one that will stick in the mind for long. Nevertheless, it's definitely worth a look. A sequel is on the way. Which hopefully will learn some of the lessons from this, and give us a monster movie to remember.

The disc has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English, Castilian Spanish, Hindi.

Subtitles: English, Castilian Spanish, Danish, Finnis, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish.

The disc begins with a very short advert for a Godzilla graphic novel, which can't be skipped but only last for a few seconds. And a generic trailer for ultraviolet, which can be skipped via the next button the dvd remote.

There are just two extras, both short featurettes:

A whole new level of destruction. Eight minutes about some of the set pieces in the film.
Ancient enemy: the M.U.T.O.s. Six minutes about the design of the monsters.

As with most featurettes these days, they are short but interesting anyhow.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2014 11:35 PM GMT


Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3)
Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3)
by Ben Aaronovitch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Under the city in the snow, 26 Oct 2014
Third volume in the DC Peter Grant series, an urban fantasy/police procedural series of books about a man who works for a special section of the Metropolitan Police who deal with the seriously weird.

This series has built up a bit of backstory by now, so new readers might struggle a little to get into this. They should start with the first book Rivers of London: 1 instead.

Regulars readers of the series, read on.

This volume runs for four hundred and eighteen pages. It's divided into nine parts, and twenty nine chapters.

There is some violence, and some strong language.

The main thrust of the story sees Peter involved in the investigation of a murder, the body having been found on the tracks at Baker Street tube station. Magic appears to have been involved.

In the meantime, a character from an earlier book returns. The folly now has another resident, thanks to the events at the very end of book two. The hunt for the faceless man goes on. An FBI agent is getting involved. And the snow is coming down...

It's the mixture as before. And if you enjoyed the first two books, then you will not be disappointed. The new dynamic at the Folly works very well. There's some very nice descriptive writing at times. And the focus is almost solely on the main plotline, although the hunt for the Faceless Man does get a look in. And develops very nicely.

One lingering question is also indirectly answered.

Also as with earlier books, there may be times when it doesn't feel as if much is happening, but everything does move along very nicely, keeping the main plot and everything else going well.

You will learn a few things about the city from this.

Ending with an interesting final scene, it's another enjoyable read in a very enjoyable series.


Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow [DVD] [2014]
Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Price: £10.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alien groundhog day, 19 Oct 2014
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This is a science fiction/war/action movie which is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the novel All You Need Is Kill albeit it with name changes.

It's a complete and self contained film and not the start of any series of trilogy.

The film starts with a quick expositional montage, showing the start of an alien invasion of Earth, and the fighting that followed.

Then we meet Major William Cage [Tom Cruise]. On the eve of a major human offensive on alien occupied territory, he's been doing great PR work highlighting the efforts of soldiers who use hi-tech battlesuits, in particular tough lady warrior Rita Vrataski [Emily Blunt].

Cage isn't keen on the prospect of joining the fighting. But he finds himself forced into it. And promptly dies in his first battle.

Only to reborn, right back at the moment when he found himself forced to fight.

Stuck in a time loop, dying again and again, desperate to find out why, his only hope might lie with Rita. And the only hope for the future of the Planet Earth might lie with both of them....

Yes, it's groundhog day. With aliens. But beyond that one similarity, this film has more than enough individual touches to make it worth the five star rating.

A very good performance from Tom Cruise. Who convincingly portrays a man who grows and changes as a result of all he experiences.

A very good performance from Emily Blunt, convincing as a tough lady soldier.

The acting plaudits don't stop there. Bill Paxton threatens to steal the show as a tough and sardonic Sergeant. The actors playing the rest of his squad don't get much screen time by comparison to the major players, but they do enough to make their characters fully rounded and make you want to see more of them.

The directing is superb, with the early invasion sequences and the resulting battle being visually stunning.

There's an excellent amount of very good humour.

And the plot has enough twists and turns to keep moving things on to the next level when required, and to keep surprising the viewer as well.

Plus it Has some excellent location work in London.

This is an entertaining blockbuster. It's a hugely entertaining movie experience, and it's well worth five stars.

The disc has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English, Castilian Spanish, Hindu.

Subtitles: English, Castilian Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish.

It begins with no trailers at all, jumping straight to the main menu when loaded up.

Extras:

Just two featurettes.

Weapons of the future: All about the armour and the weaponry of the movie. This runs for eight minutes.
Creatures not of this world: All about the aliens and how they were brought to life. This runs for five minutes.

The former is very good and worth a watch. Although epileptics beware a sequence of flashing images during it.
The latter is quite good but a bit too short to make an impression.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2014 4:48 PM GMT


Lego Batman: The Movie - DC Super Heroes Unite [DVD] [2013]
Lego Batman: The Movie - DC Super Heroes Unite [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Jon Burton
Price: £4.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vote for Lex, 18 Oct 2014
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This is a sixty eight minute long film featuring a Lego version of Batman.

It was actually released prior to the recent 'The Lego Movie.' So it has no connection with that, and the version of Batman in there, other than the fact that it's Batman done in Lego. This take on the character is a little different.

It's based on a recent Lego Batman video game, and uses scenes from that with some all new footage in order to turn it into a movie.

Set in Gotham city, the story sees Lex Luthor teaming up with the Joker, as he needs his help with a dastardly scheme. Batman is the only one who can save the day. Although there might just be help available from other heroes if he wants it...

This is a Batman movie suitable for all ages [although epileptics and those who are bothered by flashing images might have a problem with one bit]. Lots of characters, both heroes and villains, from DC comics get a look in. It plays the tone of them and the whole thing just right, allowing humour to come from the characters and the way they interact.

Particularly fun are the ultra confident and affable Superman, and the perhaps not quite as ready as he might think he is Robin.

It's good some good action sequences, and yet it doesn't just string things out in between those. There is a good and solid plot here, which doesn't reveal everything right away.

The score does use music from the 1989 Batman film, and Superman: the movie. All of which does feel a bit intrusive and distracting at times. But that's only a minor complaint.

It also has a decent moral message that is quite subtle and never hammered home. All in all, this is a lot of fun. For Bat fans. Of all ages.

The disc has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English, German, Castilian Spanish, French, Italian.

Subtitles: English, Castilian Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Italian.

The disc begins with a trailer for the video game, but you can skip it via the next button on the dvd remote.

There's a decent collection of extras:

Building Batman: A decent and quite inspiring fifteen minute documentary about stop motion animation with Lego.

A two minute long Lego Batman short. Which is a bit inconsequential, but nicely done.

Three cartoons from various DC comics cartoon series. 'Triumvirate of Terror' and 'Sins of the Star Sapphire.' Two episodes of the fun Batman teaming up with other heroes show 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold.' These two are not available on any other dvd.

Same with the third cartoon, 'Overdrive' an episode of 'Teen Titans Go'.

There's also five short lego DC comics superheroes movies made by those who entered a contest to make one. All run no more than two to three minutes. And are all very good.

Plus the box contains the usual flyer with website address and code to download a version of the movie to a digital device.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2014 10:14 PM BST


PRO PLAN Cat Wet NutriSavour Sterilised with Chicken in Gravy 10x85g (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pouches)
PRO PLAN Cat Wet NutriSavour Sterilised with Chicken in Gravy 10x85g (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pouches)
Price: £29.96

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sachets to savour, 18 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nutri savour is wet food for grown up cats. It's chicken in gravy with some fish.

It comes in a sachet, of the normal size for this kind of thing.

There are ten sachets to a pack. Each pack being a larger cardboard box.

And there are four packs in the thing as a whole. Thus there are four boxes, and forty sachets in total.

My cat devoured the first dish full she had a in a matter of moments. So it will clearly more than satisfy her.

And since there's forty sachets of the stuff, it will keep her going for quite a while.

A very good product.


The Lost Stars - Imperfect Sword (Book 3) (Imperfect Sword 3)
The Lost Stars - Imperfect Sword (Book 3) (Imperfect Sword 3)
by Jack Campbell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Phoenix rising, 15 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Third volume in the 'Lost Stars' series of military science fiction novels.

These are a spin of from the 'Lost Fleet' series by the same writer. Take place in the same fictional universe. And do occasionally intersect with that series.

So this is not really a good jumping on point for new readers unfamiliar with any of that. They should start with the Lost Fleet book one.

Regular readers, read on.

This volume runs for four hundred and fifteen pages. It's divided into fifteen chapters.

And although there's no cliffhanger ending as such, there's clearly a way to go with the series yet.

At the start, Midway is bracing itself for a Syndic attack. But there's trouble brewing in a nearby system also.

To protect itself, Midway will have to deal with that. Syndic attacks. And enemies within.

But the Syndic are a long way from being finished, and surprises for the Midway rebels await..

The first third of this is mostly Midway based, and mostly involves space battles and events on the Midway flotilla. Whilst the writer has done a lot of this before, the battles here are pretty involving and exciting, and do allow some great development and action for the characters involved in them.

Then the bulk of what comes next involves events in the other system, which does split the narrative. Giving Drakon more of the action here, and only coming back to Iceni every so often.

The latter does though get some good stuff, going down one interesting road as regards politics that raises some interesting issues. Drakon's side of the story does get into some action that is as good as the first quarter of the book, and does really grab you at one point in particular.

Although it then goes into more familiar character interaction as people discuss the war and the new order, this all remains very readable indeed. The volume then concludes by giving some interesting hints as to what will come next. And keeping you on tenterhooks about the fate of two individuals.

All of which makes me eager to read book four, which will be out next year.

This is a good continuation of an entertaining series.


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