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Lark (North Coast of Ireland)
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The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies 3)
The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies 3)
by Pittacus Lore
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior recent science fiction, 16 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great piece of recent science fiction, while it could appear to be a little formulaic, following the pattern of exceptional or super powered individuals familiar from comics, novels and films like the X-Men seeking to survive, evade and sometimes fight back against their foes, it does this very well. The style and pace are good, making for a page turning read, I am aware this is part of a series but I read and enjoyed this as a stand alone novel, so I believe anyone else could likewise.

I dont believe I would be wrong in charactising this as one of those young adult or adolescent reads which is aimed at a broad spectrum readership, that's to say adults can or its hoped will read and enjoy it too. As such it is a success. Its as good as many of its rivals and the villainous elements are exceptionally well done, not over the top and not cardboard cut out baddies either which you're just bidding your time with until the heroes succeed in knocking them down.

Something which is possibly more of a personal thing, the series such as Divergent or Hunger Games, which are great reads (better than the movies), can be easily decontextualised in a manner which is no good, younger readers perceive all authority or authority figures as the illegitimate authoritarian villains of the piece, there's less potential for that sort of thing with this novel, or the series for that matter, I think if you are considering buying it for a younger reader. The heroes are sort of intergalactic refugees who are living independent, low profile, assimilated lives and their foes are genocidal intergalactic war criminals hunting them down. Recommended.


TaylorHe 15.6 inch 15 inch Laptop Skin Vinyl Decal with Colorful Patterns and Leather Effect Laminate MADE IN BRITAIN Vintage Drawing Great Wave
TaylorHe 15.6 inch 15 inch Laptop Skin Vinyl Decal with Colorful Patterns and Leather Effect Laminate MADE IN BRITAIN Vintage Drawing Great Wave
Offered by TaylorHe
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great way of personalising a laptop, 16 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These prints are effectively massive stickers to be placed upon the laptop and trimmed around the corners to fit.

I think its an excellent way to personalise something you own, this is one of my favourite art prints and I had it as a poster for all of my days as a student at different universities.

The best way to apply it is gradually peeling the sticker onto the laptop because otherwise you will end up with bubbles beneath the surface or crease which you need to try to iron out, which isnt easy. Although those are issues with applying it rather than the product itself.


Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else
by Chrystia Freeland
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read about the uber richies, 16 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an interesting book, it has a contents, index and the chapters are well laid out, about the right length for the established pace and the narrative manages to be interesting throughout.

The introductions does a good summation of the book itself and you will be able to tell from reading it whether or not you want to proceed through the book itself, despite this being the point of an introduction not every book and certainly not every book of this kind can manage that. Freeland clarifies that she wishes to provide an account which is not simply a kind of magazine piece on the lives of the rich and famous but which also takes into account the wider implications for politics, economy, society and the world of there existing a plutocracy or plutonomy.

The basis for there being a plutonomy, are memos circulated within the world's key finanical institutions the that effect, the conclusion is that the economy or social structure is neither pyramid, nor diamond shaped but has become like an hourglass with the uber rich at one end and the rest of the population catered for at the base. So growth markets are those tailoring to either end, roughly stated yachts for one and pound stores the other.

I am not sure that, while decrying the negative consequences of the plutocrats and the plutonomy that Freeland makes much in the way of suggestions for restructuring the economy or society, her explanation as to how the status quo came into existence is fine, the outlining of the negative consequences likewise but beyond a sort of appeal to the ethics of responsibility elitism there's not much. I know that will turn some readers off immediately so I mention it, on the other hand there's not any of the hackneyed thinking that the eve or advent of a social upheavel will provide all remedies.

Personally I liked reading this book to see the total and absolute disconnect that there is between people of different, very different, social classes but also the sorts of similarities there are too. Attitudes to taxation for instance, I thought it was shocking that there are people who are considering their tax bill with a willingness to pay whatever is asked provided they could keep the second mansion, yachts and private staff, that's so far removed from anything in my immediate life or experience but then I know the same sort of thinking does exist in a more modest frame, when taxes threaten a mortgage repayment, car ownership etc.

I consider this to be much more a work of journalism or a lifestyle magazine piece, the social commentary is in the background rather than the foreground, although its not tagged on as an afterthought or in order to calm any qualms about reporting on enviable and sometimes obscene inequalities of wealth. Recommended.


Dr Bloodmoney (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Dr Bloodmoney (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PKD's post-apocalypse novel, 29 May 2014
This is a great post-apocalyptic novel by PKD, fans of PKD will recognise a number of themes familiar to his writing, such as strong character driven narratives, an "inner space" focus and protagonists challenged by being unsure of whether or not the external world matches with their perception of the same, unsure whether their judgement is impaired or trustworthy.

In contrast to a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, such as The Road or its ilk, PKD manages to produce a very optimistic piece of work and I have always thought that his characters are fully rendered, his writing being very humanistic, they usually are not flawless but presented in a "warts and all fashion". As other reviewers have said this can lend itself to considerations or reflection about good and evil in each of the characters. What it does make for is a great read, the style and pace of writing is great and it is a page turner.

This is not a PKD book which I would have known by reputation prior to taking it up and reading it and perhaps it is less well known, which I think is a real shame, it was as enjoyable as the other books which I like a lot, such as time out of joint, cosmic puppets, our friends on frolix 8. Like all those books there are themes and ideas which would be the stuff of an entire book by itself by any other author but which PKD manages to weave as simply one strand among others.

Recommended.


Random Acts of Senseless Violence (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Random Acts of Senseless Violence (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Jack Womack
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diary of the doomed and destitute, 22 May 2014
This is another great addition to the sci fi masterworks, although it sort of reads more like brutal realist literature to be honest, the themes dealt with include urban decay, class struggles, racial tensions and social crisis and it is all told from the first person perspective of a twelve year old white girl who has received a diary for her birthday.

I was reminded of another sci fi masteworks when reading this Flowers for Algernon while reading this because the narrative style is similar, it is a diary format, driven along by the protagonist and charting a change in their character as it does so. Only while Flowers of Algernon's protagonist develops from learning disabled to genius and back again the protagonist in Random Acts of Senseless Violence develops from middle class to a murderous street speaking lumpenproletarian. There are other subplots or story arcs to do with developing sexual identity and self-acceptance which I thought were done well and handled proportionately and also with good characterisation, the author's character doesnt at any point break out into erudite updates much more mature than her chronological age. The descent into street speak is done well too, it can be a little grating and bothered me to read it a little but not so much that I was deterred from reading but it does not occur suddenly and keeps a pace with what I imagine is the transformation of the protagonist's character from what she was to what she is becoming.

I really felt for all of the characters in the book, none of them are one dimensional and the author was pretty unflinching in dealing with what I felt would be logical conclusions or their individual fate. Its possible to draw out considerations of how the social attitudes of each of them had been formed or their responses to events as they unfolded. Interesting, to me at least, was the extent to which some of the attitudes of those who were already on the bottom of the social hierarchy resembled those who clearly were not, their relationships may still have been one of exploitation by the corporate overlords but they shared a world view, that was clear, it also worked to their advantage as I believe it would.

This was reflected in the behaviour which gives the novel its title, while from the perspective of the injured party, our protagonist, and the character most "displaced" by events, their behaviour was perfectly logical (and I would suggest a consequence of the class struggles going on around them even if they wouldnt know to call it what it was) from that of their friends it wasnt. Its possible to speculate that the friends took what had happened to the protagonist and their family as "just one of those things" which they'd been experiencing all along and expected, run of the mill, not an affront warranting avenging violence.

Other people have commented already upon how this supposedly dystopian novel does resemble the world today, I think that can be an exaggeration, it reflects parts of the world I'm sure and possibly something more perrenial, the "bad parts of town" and unsympathetic social divisions have always existed in one shape or another. One thing I will say is that this author does a great job of bringing it into print. The mix of doomed innocent and menaced experience is compelling to read. Recommended.


The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage
The Obamas: A Mission, A Marriage
by Jodi Kantor
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revealing account of presidential life, 19 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an enjoyable account of presidential life, revealing how politics in America operate in a manner accessible I suspect to a broad range of readers and not just the politically interested or those interested in the Obamas because of their possible celebrity status.

If there is one questionable thing about the account, however, its that the author manages to portray Barack Obama as being characterised by more naivety upon entering the white house and taking up office than I found credible or believeable. I'm sure that performing such a role is something that its difficult to prepare for, especially when there are such diverse expectations and the role itself is so pivotal domestically and internationally but it is also something that I'm sure was a long, long time in the making, resulting from very deliberate planning and hopes.

I think this book will appeal to a broad readership, as I have said, not just politicos or I suppose "fans", and I would class it as being as informative as it is able to entertain and engage with humour. The author manages to succeed in creating a good pace and balancing the serious with the amusing asides. Recommended for fans of biography.


The Returned
The Returned
by Jason Mott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 19 May 2014
This review is from: The Returned (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having read the back cover introduction and the publishers note to the reader I was looking forward to a different perception of death not involving vampires, zombis, the walking dead etc.

However, I was disappointed with the book, what was a brilliant idea for a novel became a laborious read with a lot of boring unnecessary detail and it appeared that the author was unsure of how to end the story. There is a possibility that I prefer stronger first person narratives or dialogue driven reads at the moment which spend more time upon character development to progress plot but I think that a reader who enjoys lots of detailed "landscaping" or "backdrop" would find this disappoint too.

It did not feel entirely necessary and instead read more and more like the intention was to bulk out the text before the conclusion. The result, for me, was that I got tired with the book despite being really interested in its pretext to begin with and the book wasnt able to recover its initial appeal.


Punishermax: Homeless (Punisher Max (Quality Paper))
Punishermax: Homeless (Punisher Max (Quality Paper))
by Jason Aaron
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story telling is brilliant, I was a little disappointed with the art work, 16 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As it says in the concluding note from the writer they were at pains to present the punisher as aging in real time in this book, confronting younger and more menacing, meaner bad guys with every villain they took down, this is brilliant and probably does address the thematic elephant in the room when it comes to the Punisher really well, ie his mission can not end/he has a death wish. However I did not like the way this translates into the art, overall its really good but switching between the gristled and aged present day Frank Castle and the youthful volunteer in Nam Frank I found an annoyance as a reader. Although there may be a certain respect in which I like the "Punisher as phantom menace", the shadow haunting criminals type of idea, like in Naked Kills.

One thing this volume has going for it, in a really big, big way, is that it does present the Punisher as every inch the damaged human being, that is human, all too human, in the way that Garth Ennis reinvented the character, mostly for the better, but unlike Ennis' more one dimensional psychopath Frank is portrayed as the soldier, family man etc. etc. I've always thought that it should be possible to do this without recinding his anti-hero rather than heroic status. I know that there has been some debate about what some of the flash backs to the life as a family man and subsequent death in the park sequences mean, ie that Frank may have unresolved guilt issues about not valuing all of the family equally or hoping some of them would survive while others died, I dont know and I dont think its that pivotal to the plot either.

This is one possible "concluding storyline" to the Punisher saga, and especially to the Punisher versus nemesis characters, such as Bullseye and Elektra, though its got to be said that they are the Punisher Max universe versions of each, writ less large than in their own publications, one of whom meets a pretty unceremonious end, in fact there is more than one such sequence in the book. Similarly the King Pin, another Punisher nemesis, perhaps THE punisher nemesis is a different character altogether from the one in the earlier Marvel universe when the Punisher locked horns with him in battle bus vs. battle van chase sequences with Mircochip and a rag tag team of supporters to assist.

I loved the way in which Nick Fury plays a role too and he was the perfect character, especially the Marvel Max Nick Fury, to reflect that Frank Castle/The Punisher's story is an abjectly depressing one when you think about it. That is something which I think it is only really possible to do with the Frank Castle as characterised in this story as opposed to that of Garth Ennis. There's nothing really depressing about the more one dimensional psychopathic Punisher's storyline, in which his family's death is more a pretext to unleash the beast that's been there all along waiting its day (as suggested at the end of the Punisher in Nam storyline Born). Fury's contemplation of what The Punisher's mission has amounted to or the difference its made is a good aside too, a little more than the usual or hackneyed, "man who can never rest" idea which I think is solidly played out (it featured in the NES and arcade video games) and the prospect that there could be such a thing as "vigilante uprisings" I think is something which has been abscent from the Punisher universe, inexplicably so given that even the DC Batman comics, and Dark Knight movie, have considered the possibility of copy cats or imitators before now.

If you are a fan of the earlier comics, for all their faults, and a critical fan of the reinventions and reimaginings or reboots by other writers, as I am too, I think this is another book which will appreciably add to the expanding story of Frank Castle. If you are new to the Punisher altogether, well, it is a self contained story, however, it would be better I believe to start with the stories and seperate books which preceeded this one. Its not that I dont believe it wouldnt be an enjoyable and engaging read I just imagine it would be a very different experience because there are at least three major characters, one of which is featured shockingly briefly, whose backstory, context etc. you'd kind of be guessing at.


The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science Bad TP
The Manhattan Projects Volume 1: Science Bad TP
by Jonathan Hickman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really great original idea, 16 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a really great original idea, which is something I appreciate in comics.

The over arching theme and plot is one of the adventures of a cabal of mad scientists, centering on the english speaking world and the US, featuring scientists who will be familiar to the reader as those who actually were involved in the real manhattan project which produced the atomic bomb which was used in the war with Japan.

Although instead of it being the Manhattan Project singular it is plural, there are many projects being undertaken, and it is set at the finish of the war so their are of course rival projects from other nations, the zen powered portal which operates on the suffering of "death buddhists" is such a crazy but brilliant idea for instance, and the kidnap and co-opting of nazi scientists is also a plotline.

This volume essentially introduces the character cast for what I suspect will be a series which will run and run, each of the scientists, two of which are definitely not what they seem at all, and all of which have little or no redeeming qualities with perhaps one exception, although given the overarching theme of real mad scientists I suspect more revelations about the more apparently "good guys" in later volumes. There is one other very briefly featured character who seems to be a good through and through guy, well from the perspective of humanity at least, but he sort of is a little like a Star Trek redshirt, doomed to die before he has a chance to be wicked (or much else).

However while the book is full of beginnings and presents some cliff hangers or points up possible future story lines, ie there's mysterious characters who say little but make an appearence and disappearence, there's people exiled who could return, that sort of thing it is a volume in and of itself and reading it does not feel like its a long advertisement for the next episode (like a graphic novel version of back to the future two).

I loved the artwork and I loved the quotations which started and finished "chapters", recommended to fans of good comics, sci fi and mad science!


Reusable 100 use toastabags Gold Twin Pack
Reusable 100 use toastabags Gold Twin Pack
Offered by Red House Direct
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick and easy toasties, 10 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are a great job for making toasties quickly and with none of the mess that I associate with other sorts of toasty makers or using a grill to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

You just make your sandwich, put it into the pocket and then post the pocket into the toaster, its a good idea to pay attention the first couple of times until you discover the setting or time to use to get your preferred browning of the toast or you end up with some very black toasted sandwiches.

Reuseable and easy to clean (any cheese which leaks into the bag is easily removed and shaken out of it once it has been allowed to cool). A great idea for students, busy people or anyone who likes to make a toasted sandwich at their convenience.


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