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Stevos (United Kingdom)

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Forager (Forager - A Dystopian Trilogy Book 1)
Forager (Forager - A Dystopian Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £2.23

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Find, 28 Dec. 2014
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Forager is the type of book that I wouldn't ordinarily pick up, but, conversely, it is the type of book that I like.
It's set in a post apocalyptic world, based in Australia, and told through the eyes of 18-year old Ethan Jones. Ethan's role in his society is to forage in the wasteland for metal and any other useful items that can be scavenged from the remains of the old world.

It reminds me of the type of book that I read quite a bit of at school - and if that sounds like a criticism, it isn't. I'd read several books set in a post holocaust world when I was a teenager (Z for Zachariah, Empty World, The Day of the Triffids etc) and that's partly why I haven't read one for a while. But I'm glad to say this one stands up well against them. It's well written, it deals with some harsh themes although manages to remain age appropriate (no swearing) and it has believable characters in a dramatic setting. It also has an eye catching cover.

For me, Triffids is my favourite of the genre and one that, from what I have seen, most recent books seem derivative of (substitute zombies or vampires for triffids). That's another reason why I haven't ventured back to the post-apocalypse world of late. But I'm glad to say Forager gives readers a breather from what has probably already become a cliche of the genre, and tries to ground events with as much realism as possible.

There were times where, for me, some of the dialogue seemed a bit out of keeping in comparison to the teenagers I know. But then the point is that the teenagers of the forager world have to become adults faster than they should - and it is a very different world - so maybe that's an unfair criticism.

To sum up, it's a page turner, with lots of twisty plot elements and `make you think' themes. Give it a go.

Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books (Let's Get Publishing Book 2)
Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books (Let's Get Publishing Book 2)
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good advice based on facts, 2 Jun. 2014
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I would strongly recommend Let’s Get Visible to any author, self-published or published, if they are serious about promoting their book.

The important point to state about this book is that it is not a series of promises about making an author a bestseller, it is an explanation of the science behind how Amazon sells a book, ie Amazon’s algorithms.

In other words, this book explains the things that you, as an author, need to know if you’re using Amazon to sell your books — and why you need to know it. As with any ‘system’, the more you understand how it works, the more you can use it to your advantage.

Gaughran isn’t offering cheats here. He’s not telling you how to game the system. But he does explain why the Amazon recommendation engine works as it does, why your book will (or won’t) be included in the various Top 100 lists, the importance of choosing the right categories for your book, and all the other information that you need to know in the order you need to know it.

He doesn’t blind you with science, it’s all written in plain English.

It’s probably best read after you’ve read his first book, Let’s Get Digital, which explains all the things you need to do to get your book ready for release.

Solo: A James Bond Novel
Solo: A James Bond Novel
by William Boyd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £4.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Off Target, 29 Jan. 2014
I haven't read a James Bond book since I bought Casino Royale in 2006, several months before the film came out. It was one of the few Bond books that I hadn't read.

In my teens I went through the John Gardner novels, and of course I remain a great fan of the films.

So why was I approaching Solo - William Boyd's Bond book - with some trepidation? Boyd is a well-known, respected author, who no doubt has a passion and understanding of Bond and his faithful readership.

In part, because I haven't really got on with other Boyd books. Ordinary Thunderstorms and Restless left me underwhelmed. And so it proved with Solo. I liked it, but it didn't rock my world, or even slightly sway it.

I will start off with what I liked.The overall plot is good. It's 1969 and Bond is sent to the African country Zanzarim where civil war is raging. The southern part of the country, Dahum, have declared independence and it's rebel militia are having unlikely success in fending off Zanzarim troops.

Bond's orders are to destabilize Dahum and end the rebellion in order for Zanzarim troops to reclaim the land.

The rights of the `rebels' to their independence is never really questioned - as is consistent with Bond's character. He's a `blunt instrument' working in Her Majesty's interests after all. So we get what we might expect from a Bond book - the goodies against the perceived baddies.

The period setting works well (amusingly, at one point Bond has to return all the way back to his Chelsea flat from Scotland just to get his contacts book. No handy computers/cloud storage to speed the plot up here!), and the African setting is painted convincingly. There's a real sense of place, and with it, the bare jeopardy of that harsh terrain.

There's also an interesting Bond girl in the form of Blessing Ogilvy Grant.

So what you get is a quick, easy read, and a fun Bond adventure.

Now for what disappointed me.

Am I being unfair, or is the writing slightly lacklustre? Bond's characterization, for example. Obviously, we get to hear Bond's inner monologue, but I don't think we need it punctuated with "Bond thought" after every sentence.

Within the opening chapter, you get:
"It was like opening a door to his childhood - so much of his past crowding in on him today, Bond thought..."
Then a few lines down:
"'How do you know it's my birthday?' Bond just managed to keep the surprise from his voice, he thought."

Yes, we know Bond is thinking that. If this type of reference were few and far between, then I wouldn't have noticed it. But by the time I was 50 pages in, it was leaping off the page.

If Bond isn't thinking something, he's telling himself.
When Bond meets Blessing, obviously he's attracted to her (Bond thought). But no, he must stick to the mission, he told himself.

And should Bond forget the things he's thought, and told himself, he has to remind himself! He reminds himself he's a secret agent at one point. Perhaps Boyd is aiming for additional realism and Bond is getting forgetful now he's age 45! Maybe he should write reminders at the back of his contacts book. Just don't let him anywhere near Q's gadgets.

The other problem for me is that I find it hard to write about Bond without drawing parallels to Lee Child's literary creation - and rival to Bond as the man other men want to be, and women want to posses - Jack Reacher. JR is arguably a more interesting (or at least written more interestingly) protagonist. And it pains me to say that. As it also pains me to say that in a straight fight between the two, Reacher would win hands down. After reading numerous Child books, Bond seems a bit feeble by comparison. Although to be fair, Reacher does possess mental agility bordering on clairvoyance, combined with such incredible physical strength that I often wonder if he's actually one of the X-Men. So maybe that is not a fair comparison to draw.

Then there's the villain, Kobus Breed. Even for a Bond book, this villain is painted so caricature-evilly that its hard to take him seriously. In terms of threat, scale, charm and villainy, he is not in the same class as Scaramanga or Goldfinger. It is because he is so obviously `the evil villain', that the possibility of questioning the rights and wrongs of sabotaging the revolution does not exist. He is bad, therefore Bond must defeat him. The consequences of breaking the rebellion are never addressed. As I said, it's simply goodies vs baddies.

There's also a side... well, not plot, but side interest. At the beginning of Solo, Bond meets a woman called Bryce Fitzjohn; fancies her; thinks about her a lot and tells himself a lot of things about her; reminds himself things about her; has his way with her; and then disappears. You're left wondering how she'll be woven into the overall plot. Well, I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that she isn't, and that's just frustrating.

Overall then, it's enjoyable, but nothing to get too excited about [Steve told himself, firmly].

The Ghostly Grammar Boy (The Dusk Duo Book 1)
The Ghostly Grammar Boy (The Dusk Duo Book 1)
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining book for teens and fans of ghost stories, 24 Jan. 2014
The Ghostly Grammar Boy takes us into the realm of the TV series Ghost Whisperer, and I think it's fair to say that if you enjoyed the exploits of JLH, then you'll love Ms Thompson's heroine too.

The premise is that 16-year old Canberra High School girl Fiona can see and talk to ghosts. She is a twin, although her sister Ella died when they were age two. Ever since that moment, Fiona has been able to talk to her sister, have a relationship with her, and all the while see other ghosts too.

Ella kick-starts the plot when she asks Fiona to help her ghostly boyfriend - Chris (recently deceased). There is the suspicion that Chris's stepmother (subcategory: wicked) might have had Chris killed and may also be planning a similar fate for younger brother Alan.

As soon as Fiona begins her investigation, so begins a number of interesting twists, turns, ups and downs, encompassing wicked stepmother Sharelle, the school stud Shane, mean girl Carly, and the band of Fiona's (perhaps too numerous to keep tabs on) friends.

I think the biggest positive about the book is the main character herself. Fiona is likeable, realistic, and a good plucky heroine. Carly, meanwhile is a good nemesis (if perhaps falling into the category of genre trope), and Shane provides an element of sexual interest for Fiona (and also threat).

The only slight negative, and it is purely my opinion, is that the end felt a bit too overcooked. The denouement all happens in one room, and it encompasses about 15-20% of the book. Revelations are repeated, some of the characters stop sounding like normal teenagers and resort to mad-scientist style threats. I kept thinking the entire last quarter of the book needed a bit more of a polish to do justice to the set up.

It's probably fair to say that I don't fall into the target readership of The Ghostly Grammar boy (and generally it's not really the type of book I go for), but the fact that I enjoyed it means that it's appeal goes beyond it's intended teen audience.

Overall it is a fun book with an engaging central character, and plenty of breathing room to develop into an enjoyable series.

I received this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Take Back the Night [Clean]
Take Back the Night [Clean]
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool as ever, 8 Nov. 2013
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JT still has the style, the moves and the songs. This and Mirror show a definite return to form. What do the horns say?

Gone Girl
Gone Girl
Price: £1.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the perseverance, 8 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Gone Girl (Kindle Edition)
I found Gone Girl to be a game of two halves (to borrow from both a sporting metaphor and the idea of game-playing within the book). When I started reading it, I really wasn’t sure if I liked it. Usually, if I struggle with a book, I’ll give up. With Gone Girl, I persevered and I’m really glad that I did.

There are no spoilers in this review, I’ll only talk about the story in general terms.

Chapter 1 comprises a bit of an info-dump. I found myself lost in various timelines and backstory, which didn’t seem like an auspicious start. What follows over a number of subsequent chapters is very little in the way of action. Instead there are a lot (a huge amount) of observations on relationships which, while incredibly well observed, felt like the author was using the book to show off her wit and insight.

But, as the tagline says, there are two sides to every story. I plugged on with the book until I got to the 40% mark on my Kindle (one of my friends was reading it at about the same time and gave up long before), and then it just lit up. My patience was rewarded, because there was a pay-off to all that had gone on before.

I think it is fair to say that neither main character is particularly likeable, but they are very interesting. You do engage with them, get infuriated by them, and you feel compelled to find out what happens to them.

Without wishing to sound too poncey, Gone Girl is very meta-textual. It draws attention to itself as a story in its own right. At the same time as trying to immerse you the reader in its fictional world, it also reminds you that what you are reading is a story. “So what?” you ask. Well, I don’t want to say too much else on the subject because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

When I downloaded Gone Girl, I had no idea what it was about, I had no preconceptions at all, and that is the perfect way to enjoy it. You just read and see where it goes.

I wanted to write this review because if, like me and my friend, you consider giving up after the first few chapters, persevere because Gillian Flynn has created a memorable, clever, exciting thriller that will stay with you after you’ve finished it.

How Not to Write a Novel
How Not to Write a Novel
Price: £6.64

4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Helpful Checklist, 13 April 2013
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This book contains some useful "don'ts" when constructing your novel. On the face of it, they seem like common sense. But when I came to think about them and relate the checklist to my own work (which I'd done a first draft of), I was horrified to see that I had fallen foul of more than one.

I think the problem is that, when writing a book, you have several problems to solve. It's all very well coming up with a decent plot, but you have to build scenes up in the right order, get a consistent tone, make situations believable, and continually drive the story forward. Now sometimes that can be difficult. There are some very easy (and, to be honest) lazy fallbacks.

This book points them out and tells you why they are a big no-no.

I'm glad I wasn't too proud to buy it and use it.

Death in Paradise - Series 1 [DVD] [2011]
Death in Paradise - Series 1 [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Ben Miller
Price: £6.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Paradise, 13 April 2013
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When I first saw this programme trailered on BBC1, I had no interest. There are just so many cop shows on telly, all looking for a different angle, and my heart just sinks when I see something that looks like it's just following a well trodden path.

I therefore didn't watch series 1. I have to confess, it was my parents who got me into the programme during series 2. I didn't expect to like it but it is great! So based on that, my wife and I bought series 1 on DVD.

Ben Miller and Sara Martins are just brilliant, but so are the supporting cast. It really is the characters that make this series, but the storylines themselves are clever, entertaining and funny.

Having seen series 2 first, I would have to say that it is better than series 1, but that's not to take anything away from this release. I loved every episode, and it is great to see Miller/Martins relationship develop throughout the series. There is great chemistry between them and it makes the series very watchable.

Perfect to watch on a Sunday night.

Doctor Who: The Dæmons [DVD]
Doctor Who: The Dæmons [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Price: £6.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Re-Mastered, 13 April 2013
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The Daemons (where's the symbol to combine the a and e?) is often held up as a classic example of good 70s Doctor Who, and I am in full agreement. It has all the usual ingredients:
* UNIT family at the top of their game;
* the Doctor both stern and tender;
* lots of action; and
* the Master both suave, evil and likeable.

The occult framing device works well, as we get to see the Doctor's unswerving belief in science pitted against the villagers embracing devil worship.

Personally, I always felt the Daemons lacked something. I'm not even quite sure what it is. Perhaps the plot meanders just a bit too much... And yet I love The Sea Devils, which I'm sure the same accusation could be levelled at too.

I find myself agreeing with Terrance Dicks (in one of the extras) that the ending isn't totally satisfying.

The extras are all good, and the picture quality is excellent. Definitely worth buying.

HP CN637EE - 300 - Print cartridge - 1 x black, yellow, cyan, magenta - 200 pages
HP CN637EE - 300 - Print cartridge - 1 x black, yellow, cyan, magenta - 200 pages
Offered by Cartridge King
Price: £18.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Good price, reliable vendor, 13 April 2013
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Not much to say. It is just printer ink after all. But the price is the best that I've seen, and the vendor was reliable. What more can you ask? Well, actually, yes one thing. There is a shipping cost, naturally. But you would think that if you bought multiple items (ie several of these cartridges) then they would all ship together. But no, there's individual shipping for each one. ??? Seems odd and is obviously not so cost effective.

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