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J.I.S. (UK)

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A Walk Across the Sun
A Walk Across the Sun
by Corban Addison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Good start but falls away, 22 Dec 2014
This review is from: A Walk Across the Sun (Paperback)
Started off at a cracking pace and I thought it was going to be a real page turner, but it became a bit tedious before the story picked up again then became a little predictable towards the end. After all these characters had been through, at the end I felt as if I should know them better than I actually did. There were a couple of times when my credulity was stretched quite thin - the resilience and determination of the characters not being matched by their actions in the storyline. People falling asleep when they are pumped with adrenaline and poised for an escape attempt just doesn't ring true.


HHhH
HHhH
by Laurent Binet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1.0 out of 5 stars This is not the story of an assassination, it is the assassination of a story., 30 Nov 2014
This review is from: HHhH (Paperback)
The story of these two brave and dedicated young men and of the people who helped them has to be one of the most inspiring to come out of WW2. This book is an insult to their memory. Never have I seen so much such self-indulgent pretentious claptrap contained between two covers. From the title (which doesn't follow from the German) to the lack of page numbers to the endless vacuous drivelling of the text it fails as a novel and it fails as a history. It is simply a collection of research notes (without the benefit of reference sources) coupled with the mental meanderings you would expect to find in the secret diary of a dysfunctional teenager. The best thing I can say about this book is that it is excellent for lighting my log-burner.


The Undesirables
The Undesirables
by Dave Boling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and dull., 13 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Undesirables (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed Guernica and couldn't wait to read his next work... until I started reading it. In a similar vein to Guernica the book focuses on a major conflict and tells the story of its effect on several individuals living through it. All similarity ends there. The storyline and the writing were so dull I kept losing the will to turn the pages and only the hope that it must improve soon kept me going. It was a hope that wasn't fulfilled. I am reasonably familiar with South Africa and the history of this conflict and found that the book offered nothing new and if anything, the picture it painted of the conflict and the conditions of the camps were not as harrowing as some of the histories I have read. Overall, desperately disappointing.


The Midwife of Venice
The Midwife of Venice
by Roberta Rich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Like wading through mud, 10 Nov 2014
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
My principal gripe with this book is the complete lack of pace. From being summoned to an acute and urgent case, it is a mere 30 pages before we actually reach the patient, the last four pages being devoted to the journey by gondola in the dead of night, which adds absolutely nothing to the story. It is stuffed with historical detail on midwifery and Jewish culture, whether it is accurate or not I am not qualified to say, but I didn't find it particularly convincing, just very annoying as it detracted from what happening. Some of the events of her husband's story show a complete lack of understanding of what was happening in the Mediterranean at the time. Lack of pace is fine if the writing sparkles, but this has all the sparkle of cold baked beans on toast.


Distant Thunder
Distant Thunder
by T D Griggs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, 11 Oct 2014
This review is from: Distant Thunder (Paperback)
A gem of a book - it was like reading Wilbur Smith as he used to be with unexpected twists and turns and an absolutely solid storyline. There were a few points when the dialogue was more like a history lesson, but nevertheless interesting and totally forgivable in such a fine story. The atmospheres of Victorian India, Vienna, England and Egypt were all spot on and very convincing. I only wish more books were like this.


The Great Train Robbery: The Untold Story from the Closed Investigation Files
The Great Train Robbery: The Untold Story from the Closed Investigation Files
by Andrew Cook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry as Dust, 23 Dec 2013
This is the first Andrew Cook I have read and I am very disappointed. His research is impeccable and extensive, but what he has singularly failed to do is to edit the primary sources into a readable form. From the very start there are huge chunks of verbatim witness statements, many of which contain totally irrelevant and deadly dull information. The reader is confronted with so much minute detail that it becomes difficult to follow, and unutterably uninteresting to read. Without a reasonable overall idea of what happened I would have found it very difficult to follow the investigation as detailed in the book.
As many readers may not be familiar with the 60s, a little bit more background and context from the author would be very useful. There is some attempt to put police actions into context of the times in that he explains that unauthorized house searches, fabrication of evidence, etc, were not at all unusual, but this is fed to the reader piecemeal fashion, rather than just setting the scene at the start. Similarly, things like "ticketed" phone calls are not explained yet they figure highly in the investigation. For anyone more familiar with the computer age, they may find it difficult to understand why things like fingerprint comparisons took so long in the 60s - again, there is nothing from the author to guide readers who weren't around in the 60s.
All in all, a little more from the author and fewer copies of witness statements would have gone a very long way.


Sword and Scimitar
Sword and Scimitar
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 25 Aug 2013
This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Paperback)
As an avid fan of this period of history, I was delighted to find a Simon Scarrow novel set around the Great Siege. However, I found the plot line very contrived. As a novel, it seemed to fall between two stools - neither a particularly engaging story with the siege as a backdrop nor a particularly engaging account of the siege. The true horror and barbarism of the events and the abject suffering of the local population didn't come across and I think the story is weakened as a result.

Overall, I far preferred David Ball's novel "The Sword and The Scimitar" which has characters from both sides and story lines involving knights, commoners and Turks and far more historical detail but presented in novel form.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2014 2:52 PM BST


The Monster's Lament
The Monster's Lament
by Robert Edric
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.34

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull and tedious, 12 July 2013
This review is from: The Monster's Lament (Hardcover)
This is the first Robert Edric I've tried and it will be the last. After 50 pages of some of the most tedious and utterly pointless dialogue I have ever read, I knew next to nothing about the central characters and absolutely nothing about the main plot. The next few chapters showed no sign of improvement so I stopped reading.


Coupling: Filthy Erotica for Couples
Coupling: Filthy Erotica for Couples
by Sommer Marsden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.28

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars About as erotic as a used condom!, 5 Feb 2013
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Buyers beware - this book is not written by Sommer Marsden, it is edited by her, only 2 of the 13 stories are actually written by her. The standard of writing in this collection varies widely but much of it is very poor, bordering on dreadful. The stories all seem to follow the same pattern and after a short set-up they plunge into rampant sex/mild SM/light bondage with plenty of Anglo-Saxon vernacular to describe the action. It's rather like watching a badly made blue movie where the storyline is "Boy meets girl, boy screws girl" or a variation on that theme and where everything looks contrived and faked and not in the least erotic.

If you like in-your-face written pornography and aren't too fussed about style this is for you, if you prefer something a bit more subtle, which to me is what erotic implies, save your money and buy something by Anais Nin.


The Holy Assassin
The Holy Assassin
by Luis Miguel Rocha
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Awful book, 28 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Holy Assassin (Paperback)
I gave up after about 100 pages. The style is dreadful, with constant lecturing intrusions by the author, along the lines of "...we need not concern ourselves where the man had come from, suffice to say that he was there..." As for the plot, a Philadelphia lawyer would be hard pushed to unravel it.


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