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J. Smith "toon_james"

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Under the Dome
Under the Dome
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Under the Spell, 5 Dec 2013
This review is from: Under the Dome (Paperback)
I confess that I attempted to read Stephen King novels as a teenager and didn't really get on with him. My memory is full of page after page of graphical descriptions of someone getting a blister - basically I was turned off.

So why did I pick up almost 900 pages of his work? To be honest I was curious if my 'attitude/tastes/whatever you want to call it' had changed since my younger days - and this story looked different from the usual ghost/demons/clowns that I associate with King.

I am so glad I picked this up - other reviews say that it isn't his best, but I could not put it down. I was expecting the story to span years, or to get bogged down in gory detail - meaning I would loose interest (again) and wander off to another author - but hundreds of pages were read without realising it, thanks to the blistering pace and outstanding writing.

Basically, despite putting my marriage at risk (turn that light off style confrontations with my wife!) I didn't want the story to end - well I did because I wanted to know what happened, but I wanted it to continue. Well worth a read.


World War Z [DVD]
World War Z [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Price: £5.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprised by the quality, 20 Nov 2013
This review is from: World War Z [DVD] (DVD)
I was worried about this film for no other reason than I am a fan of the book. Like others, I was worried that the scale of the storyline would be sacrificed due to the screenplay following a single character, leading to a decrease in the drama, which didn't really matter as everything would be about the gore.

Thankfully this is not the case. Yes there are a few 'Hollywood' moments - unlikely escapes etc - but the storyline (inspired by, if not a true reflection of the original novel)is relatively strong.

Other reviews have commented on the lack of gore - yes I did notice this - but to be honest I think World War Z is a better film for it. If you're a fan of the novel, zombies or just looking for a few hours entertainment this is worth a look.


The Crow Road
The Crow Road
Price: £6.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, 3 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Crow Road (Kindle Edition)
I have to admit to going through the emotions with this book. Not because the story is heart wrenching, but due to the manner in which the story is presented. I started the book with an element of excitement, before getting about a third of the way through before wondering what the point of the story was. Nothing appeared to have happened, but then the 'main' story thread appeared - a disappearance - and I began to read on with a new sense of anticipation. This wavered as the book progressed, but was then reignited as the mystery element was resolved, but then what remained of the book (approximately 50 pages) ambled along to nothingness again.

Various reviews have mentioned the narration mechanism (if I can call it that), the story jumps around from present day (1990(ish)) to when the main narrators father was a child. The narrator also changes, with the story switching from the first person to the third person - all of which can be very confusing if you are not paying attention. Although this mechanism did enable the pace to be maintained and also plays a key role in making you think about the work you are reading (I won't spoil it, or attempt to show my ignorance by publishing what I thought!)

Overall I am glad I stuck with this book as the resolution, and point being made by the author, were interesting. I do agree with other reviews that this book was about 200 pages too long - the sections detailing the geological history of Scotland or the mechanism for transferring data from those old floppy disks which were the size of a DVD box to a 'modern day' computer added nothing to the story and often read like they had been copied directly out of an encyclopaedia - the editor should have been harsher.

Basically stick with it. Although if this is 'Banks finest novel' as the quote on the front of my copy proudly boasts, I don't think I will be rushing out to read anymore of his work.


Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain
Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Read this NOW, 17 Jun 2013
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Two men, in their pants (yes you read that correctly) stand at Lands End and have to make their way to John O'Groats. Nothing new there then, been done - but they are not allowed to spend any money along the way.

What follows is an amazingly heart warming (and genuinely hilarious) trip from one end of the UK to the other. Personally I feel my faith in 'broken Britain' has been restored!!!

Simply brilliant - buy it NOW!!


The Drop
The Drop
Price: £0.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Switch brain off and action, 17 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Drop (Kindle Edition)
This book reads like a low budget action film - but I don't mean this in a negative way. Sometimes I just want to read nonsense action and 'The Drop' kept me turning the pages at great pace as I raced towards the end. Once I decided to read it as a piece of pulp fiction, rather than the gritty, crime drama it is marketed as.

I do question the comments made about it being 'gritty' and showing the 'darkside' of Newcastle as I believe that there is no real sense of place in this book (I have lived in Newcastle for over a decade and know the city well so I believe I have some right to comment here) - simply mentioning areas of the city and occassionally having the characters go 'off to the match' does nothing more than enforce a one dimensional stereotype - these (often) comic reminders that we are in Geordieland actually take something away from the story.

Likewise the use of language was also hampered by the same lack of thought - the main character is very well spoken for the majority of the book (as are many of the 'gangster' style hardmen), but then the author appears to remember that the characters are supposed to be from the North East and slots in a sporadic sentence containing the local twang. Again this just looks like an afterthought of someone who has written an OK crime capper and suddenly decides that his unique selling point (or even target audience) are from 'up North'.

Overall I am pleased I read this book, it was easy reading and worth putting in the time, although I won't be buying any of the other books in the series.


THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE (The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 1)
THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE (The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 1)
Price: £0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Bosh meets Morse in Asia, 7 May 2013
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I picked up this book after seeing the tag line 'Michael Connelly with steamed rice', being a big fan of Mr Connelly I was keen to discover a new author who had been likened to him.

What I read was a decent paced thriller which kept me engaged until the final page (and then into the preview of the next book in the series).

The main character, Sam Tay, is interesting. He is plunged into a Connelly style thriller but, unlike the tough Bosh, Tay can be likened to Colin Dexter's Morse as he has a more obvious 'considered' approach to police work (where Morse ponders over opera and a pint of real ale, Tay spends time reading and smoking whilst 'thinking'). I found this an interesting 'twist' on the American style thrillers I have read.

This novel kept me entertained, naturally there was nothing new or profound here (not sure what other reviewers were expecting) but I read it for entertainment and that is exactly what it provided. Mr Needham, please tell me there are more Sam Tay 'adventures' in the pipeline.


Skyfall [DVD]
Skyfall [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by EagleDVD
Price: £10.25

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bond or Batman?, 28 Mar 2013
This review is from: Skyfall [DVD] (DVD)
This is (in my opinion) the second worse James Bond film EVER (just infront of Die Another Day for anyone who is wondering).

The plot is confused - let us remember that this is a reboot of the series, only 2 films ago Daniel Craig recieved his 00 designation, so for the opening half of the film to imply that this isn't a reboot (i.e. Bond is world weary etc) was plain silly. The villian was poor (both in criminal intent and reasoning for taking certain courses of action) and the action, lacking and in many aspects pointless.

However it was the ending of the film that really annoyed me as it appeared that the writers were using a recycled Batman script - manor house in the country, butler (OK game keeper), secret caves under the house, broody hero reflecting on the death of his parents - need I go on?

Basically Skyfall removes Judy Dench as M and brings back Q and Moneypenny - all of which could have been done in 10 minutes of a much better film. Adds nothing to the series, apart from perhaps a nail in the coffin.


Ward 19 (A Parva Corcoran Suspense Thriller)
Ward 19 (A Parva Corcoran Suspense Thriller)
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of promise, 27 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The cover and the blurb promise a deep thriller, but it fails to deliver. 3 stars means (according to Amazon anyway) that it was OK and I think I would be unfair to have given this 'book' less.

Basically it's a thriller with only a couple of characters one of which being the lead detective (so it ain't her doing the killing folks!)and it's fairly easy to work out 'who done it' out of the remaining couple of characters - the why is interesting - but beyond that there is nothing here (apart from a sly dig at Dr Lecture) which isn't a rushed following of a well used formula.

Not bad for a quick read, but not something I would happily advise people to spend money on - I got it on a free promo.

Will I read more by the same author? Probably if free but not going to pay if this is the standard.


Arlo and Jake Enlist
Arlo and Jake Enlist
Price: £1.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun space opera, 4 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If Benny Hill directed a 'Carry On' film based on the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy - this would be a good start for the screenplay. Non brain taxing fun from an author who clearly loves sci-fi and has created an interesting alternative world.

Being billed as the first in a series means there are more on the way - good news.


Santa Pet (Parody of Santa Baby)
Santa Pet (Parody of Santa Baby)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it now, 16 Dec 2012
With the world now listening to the same Christmas songs that have graced our radios and stereos since time began (or worse waiting for the x factor winner to release their rubbish). Its amazing to hear a group having fun with a Christmas classic. Great song from a talented duo.


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