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L. Osborne (London, UK)
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The Sacrifice (The Enemy)
The Sacrifice (The Enemy)
by Charlie Higson
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More excellent writing as the plot thickens, 29 Sept. 2012
I've been waiting for this book for almost a year! It's the fourth in Charlie Higson's "The Enemy" series, and I got hold of it the day after it was published. The previous three books have been outstanding, and I had high hopes that this one would be great too.

The series is a post-apocalyptic tale of London following the outbreak of a disease which turns all adults into flesh-eating zombies. Disparate groups of children and teenagers struggle to survive in a very hostile environment. This fourth book moves the plot of the series on significantly, developing characters and revealing some dramatic changes in the nature of the world and the behaviour of the zombies. As with all the previous books in the series, it's action-packed and extremely gory, with plenty of body parts getting slashed, crushed and eaten - it's not for the faint-hearted.

The thing that really impresses me about the series overall is the complexity of the characters involved, and how their groups interact in a world without mobiles and the media. Not all the characters feature in every book, but they all get linked together somehow. The author is an incredible master of suspense as well - there's a cliffhanger ending to The Fear, the previous book in the series, but The Sacrifice doesn't deal with it! Towards the end of the book, you can see that it will probably feature prominently in the next one in the series, but that's a long time to keep the fans waiting...

I think this is easily just as good as the previous books, although perhaps in a different way - The Fear was notable for some fantastically well-described (and quite horrific) scenes, but this book is more plot-driven than the others, really moving things on from the initial chaos of the earlier books. I'm left really intrigued as to how it will turn out, once again.

The language used is fairly simple, as the book is aimed at a young audience, but the author doesn't shy away from complexities in plot and characterisation. There's a lot going on here, and there's so many little details to take in that really work well - it's going to be really interesting to see how it all unfolds. Dialogue is particularly good - Charlie Higson has a middle-class background, but he certainly writes youthful London slang pretty well, and populates the novels with a wide range of characters from different backgrounds.

Really, really good, as ever, and I can't wait once again for the next book in the series. And please, can someone make some films out of these?


Eirelan (Saga of the Latter-Day Celts Book 1)
Eirelan (Saga of the Latter-Day Celts Book 1)
Price: £3.77

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, very poorly executed., 25 Sept. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I saw this book mentioned by a friend of mine on Facebook, and it looked like just the sort of thing I love - it's set in a distant post-apocalyptic Ireland, which has become a tribal society in an era after the "Age of the Machines". It's the first book in a series. I got it from Amazon as a Kindle download, and read it on my phone. The reviews on Amazon are positive, so I had high hopes.

Oh dear. Let's just say I'm never going to get the time I spent reading this book back again. It has a number of very serious faults.

For a start, this book is far, far too long. The dead-tree version runs to a whopping 780 pages. Length is fine if the content justifies it, but to be honest most very long books I've read just seem poorly edited and contain a lot of extraneous fluff that can be cut out. This book is easily at least twice as long as it needs to be, with huge amounts of stuff that just needs cutting, because it (a) states the bleeding obvious, (b) doesn't drive the plot forwards or (c) describes things in detail that don't need describing. It makes for a seriously slow and plodding read. Each chapter begins with a piece of poetry, a letter or a journal entry that just doesn't need to be there and they got really tedious to read after a while.

Loads of things get over-described or mentioned far more often than they need to be. A typical example goes something like this...

Character A thinks to himself: wow, what an amazing sunset. I'd love to write a poem about that. Character B asks character A: what are you thinking about? Character A replies: I was just thinking what a great sunset that is, and how I'd love to write a poem about it.

Gaah! Things like this break the "show, don't tell" rule and make huge sections of the book twice as long as they need to be.

Apart from the length, there's a lot of issues with the writing style. The author has attempted writing in the literary style of the epic saga, but the language is an untidy and clumsy mixture of several different idioms. It goes from formal to informal and back far too frequently, and makes use of words like "sans" and "sotto voce" several times that just jump out and jar very badly. The dialogue is a mixture of PORTENTOUS and NOBLE and EPIC, and contemporary modern English, and is very wooden and stilted. In places the author attempts building Irish accents into the dialogue, and it's just dire, almost as bad as Hagrid's dialogue in the Harry Potter books.

There's far too many Americanisms in the text, such as people in small Irish towns describing distance in terms of "blocks", and use of words like "sidewalk" for pavement and "cot" for camp bed. These are never used in those contexts in British/Irish English and a lot of this stuff reeks of poor research.

All the characters have ridiculously over-the-top cod-Gaelic names which are hard to read, and many of them are seriously annoying and two-dimensional. The cast of characters is also far too big, with too many people named and described in detail who are in one brief scene that is not central to the plot.

The post-apocalyptic side of the story is hinted at and not ever gone into - it just seems like bit of a lame plot device to allow the author to write a hackneyed story based on a typically over-idealised view of Irish culture and history. Just about everyone in the story goes about being noble and high-minded and poetic all the time, and it's just not credible.

On top of all of this, a lot of the book (far, far too much of it) descibes life aboard warships in mind-boggling technical detail using technical terms that no non-sailor will understand.

I could just about forgive all of this - just - if the plot was any good, but it's not. The author shows some promising ideas but at evey turn ignores them or fails to do anything beyond the blindingly obvious. It's clear that the book is setting up a series and that some of the things hinted at will be developed in the sequels, but I very much doubt I'll ever read them. I wanted to finish this book, because I wanted it to be good and hoped it would end well, but it had too many loose ends and I don't want to read another book this long if it's going to be this bad.

Avoid.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 27, 2012 9:44 PM BST


The Fear (The Enemy)
The Fear (The Enemy)
by Charlie Higson
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Increasingly brilliant series, 16 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Fear (The Enemy) (Hardcover)
After being really impressed by the first two books in this series, I was itching to read this one - I ploughed through it and read it all really quickly.

I think this is easily the best book in the series so far, and it strikes me as an outstanding piece of horror writing for young people - but, like Harry Potter, I can see it's going to appeal to people way beyond the teen demographic. I enjoyed it at 37, and a five-star review on Amazon was written by a 55-year-old.

It gets increasingly gory as the army of caniballistic zombies begin to organise themselves and increase the terror on the streets. Meanwhile, more groups of surviving kids emerge, and other groups we've already met begin to interact. The first two books feature an almost entirely different cast of characters, the second book beginning a year before the first, with the events at the very end of the second book linking things together. This third book for most of its length focusses on people from the second book, with those from the first introduced later on - it draws together the separate plots of the first and second books really well, and sets up a pretty impressive cliffhanger ready for the next book. Shame I'll probably have to wait about a year for it!

The way that each book describes some of the same events from different points of view is very clever, and a lot of things become clearer as you read on, such as how each character gets to be where they are. In the process of the book, lots of characters, DogNut in particular, have to deal with mistakes - and DogNut's mistake leads to some potentially gruesome consequences - but that's the cliffhanger, and we'll have to see what happens next. I suspect quite a lot of blood might be involved. :)

There's more to be seen of a tyrannical leader, David, and his attempts to manipulate and cajole others into doing his bidding. He's turning into a seriously scary dictatorial figure, and the psychology involved in this is well treated and encourages readers to ponder the nature of power. One group absent, which I hope will be picked up on later, are the ones who founded a new religion and decided to hole themselves up in St. Paul's Cathedral. I'd love to see what happens with them.

Some of the scenes in the book are just brilliantly described, and create vivid (and sometimes very scary) images in your head. The Collector's den is certainly something I'd like to see on the big screen - these books seriously need to be made into films. Any directors reading this? Go on!

Superb read. For someone like me, who loves a bit of post-apocalyptic horror, it was unputdownable, and I really can't wait for the next one - The Sacrifice, due out next year.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2011 9:07 PM BST


Kidzlabs - Pin Hole Camera Age 7+ - Childrens Science & Educational Kit Toy
Kidzlabs - Pin Hole Camera Age 7+ - Childrens Science & Educational Kit Toy

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun, but needs a lot of patience!, 11 July 2009
This kit is very easy to assemble, but it does take a bit of patience to use and get good results out of it. It takes normal 35mm film, and I've found an exposure time of about 5 seconds does a good job at taking a good photo.

The images have a strange ethereal and ghostly effect to them, and I really enjoyed the results. Beware when getting the film processed, though - the images are not evenly spaced on the film, which makes getting them printed or scanned rather difficult. Try and take films to a pro lab rather than a high street one hour lab.

Great fun if you fancy something a bit back-to-basics and experimental.


Pentax K-m + 18-55 mm DAL Digital SLR and Lens Kit
Pentax K-m + 18-55 mm DAL Digital SLR and Lens Kit

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely camera, brimming over with features, 11 July 2009
I've been after a DSLR for some time, having used digital compacts and film SLRs, and I spent some time thinking about what I needed. As I had an old Pentax ME Super, I felt drawn towards a Pentax DSLR as their compatibility with old lenses thrashes all the other manufacturers hands down. Practically every Pentax-fit lens ever made can be used with this camera (albeit with a few small limitations).

Pentax have really done a good job with this one. It's small, well laid out, easy to use, and full of features. You can stick it on auto and let it do everything for you, or dig deep into manual functions and settings and play around to your heart's content. There are literally millions of great lenses out there at good prices, and the thing runs off AA batteries for ease of use - and is very economical with them as well! I've had my first set of lithiums in there for nearly a month and they're still going strong!

It misses off a few of the features more advanced photographers might want, and I'm not completely convinced the kit lenses are all that good, but as it works with my old lenses that's not a problem. But...as a first foray into the world of DSLRs, I'm really, really impressed, and it's given me a new enthusiasm for photography. Highly recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2009 2:16 PM GMT


John Adams Bio Clock
John Adams Bio Clock

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun. :), 30 Nov. 2008
= Durability:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: John Adams Bio Clock (Toy)
Unlike the other reviewer, we had no trouble at all getting this clock to work and soon had it running off bubble bath! It didn't last all that long though, so some experiments will be tried with other substances. Easy to put together and lots of fun, although it's quite flimsy so make sure you buy it for a child that can cope with less-than-very-robust toys.


Nikon Pronea S  APS 240 Camera
Nikon Pronea S APS 240 Camera

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple to use and very, very capable, 15 Oct. 2008
I got my Pronea S for peanuts - APS film never really took off and has been much derided, but technically I think it's a great product, and this camera is one of the best designed for APS film.

It's simple to use, but very flexible and has plenty of shooting modes. You can use a very wide range of Nikon lenses on it - I'd recommend a good prime lens for best results. The bundled zooms are OK, but have a fairly slow maximum aperture.

The results from this camera are excellent - every shot is well-exposed and pin-sharp. It has a few limitations, but generally it's a great all-round camera. Unfortunately, choice in APS film is pretty limited these days, but if you shop around you can find enough choice to make mid-roll change useful.

Best thing about this camera is the data recording on the film. I get my shots put onto CDs at the time of processing, and the data is put on to the scans as EXIF info. This enables me to tally up the data from my GPS unit and geotag the pictures before putting them onto Flickr.

Running costs for APS can be high, but the cameras are so cheap it doesn't matter. Highly recommended.


Watching: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1987]
Watching: The Complete First Series [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Emma Wray
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.42

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as good 19 years on..., 18 Mar. 2006
How time flies! This was one of my favourite programmes as a teenager, and I really enjoyed it back then. I was pleased to see the DVD release, and keen to see the show again to see if it had aged well.
It has!
Unlike a lot of sitcoms, the characters have some real depth to them - beneath the surface, there are moments where Brenda seems quite vulnerable, especially towards the end of this first series. You can't help but like Brenda and Malcolm, despite everything, and the whole thing draws you in and raises lots of smiles and laughs.
Well acted by a great cast, with a sharp, witty script, it's only dated by some fairly grim 80s fashions, and I have to say I never liked the theme tune, but other than that...go see. I too hope that further series are released, and it's good to see everyone here being positive, as it must boost chances of further releases.


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