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G. Hill "grahamthill" (Sydney, Australia)
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The Spy Who Loved Me
The Spy Who Loved Me
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spy Who Loved Me, 27 April 2010
This review is from: The Spy Who Loved Me (Paperback)
As this is one of the later books in the series, I found this to be an interesting take on Bond. It is the only book written in the first person from the perspective of another character; the heroine. Bond doesn't even appear until we are well in to the story. The heroine's character had enough to keep me interested and I was waiting to see how Bond would fit in to the dynamic of the story as it unfolded. The end of the story is also a novel one as a character previously unseen and unheard gives an assessment about the type of man that Bond probably is.

I have read that Fleming wasn't happy with this story. Whether that is because of the reaction to it (which was negative), or because he was genuinely unhappy with what he produced is hard to say. Either way it is not the best in the series. There are some holes and times it does have a rushed feel to it. But approach it as something a bit different to the other Bond books and you'll be satisfied with the result.


Beat The Devil's Tattoo
Beat The Devil's Tattoo
Price: £9.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Shoe gaze masterclass, 27 April 2010
This review is from: Beat The Devil's Tattoo (Audio CD)
First, this is not a return to Howl as other reviews have pointed out.

Good points - they have stayed true to their lazy, sleazy guitar sound with interesting lyrics to force home the track. Sticking with the formula on BRMC, TTOOYO and Baby 81 the opener has their typical drawling guitars all over it, and the second track is a little more up tempo. They have also included this sound with a more traditional sort of soul feel on a number of occasions, maybe this is where the Howl comparisons have come from.

Bad point - I really only have one. To me the end of this album really tails off in to a depressing mood at the end. Their sound can be sexy, it can have a kind of defiant attitude or it can be melancholy. Instead one this one it drops off in to some depressing areas. Whilst listening to it for the first time, my wife came home and asked me what the suicide music was. It was hard to disagree. Apart from that it's a solid album and definitely one that fans will enjoy.


Redbelt [DVD] [2009]
Redbelt [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Max Martini
Price: £4.00

0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laughable, 8 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Redbelt [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Genuinely one of the worst films I have seen in a long time.

How Emily Mortimer and Chiwetel Ejiofor found themselves in this I have no idea. The main plot is not subtle or clever; it is loose, has too many holes and leaves too many questions unanswered. The actual ending is as ridiculous as the rest of the films contrived coincidences. The `Joe' sub-plot is completely unnecessary and the time spent on this could have been put to better use on Mortimer's character. The fight scenes at the end are poorly edited and make no impact. To top it off there are some horrible performances, especially Alice Braga and the actress playing Joe's wife. And what on earth was Tim Allen doing in this?

It was all bizarre. I just laughed at the end as I couldn't think of anything else to do.


What Just Happened? [DVD]
What Just Happened? [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert De Niro
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £4.64

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much happened, 18 Dec. 2009
This review is from: What Just Happened? [DVD] (DVD)
All the ingredients of a good movie are here. Great cast and a central figure exposed to all the workings of Hollywood. After the first 30 minutes every element is revealed and not too much happens after that. Each element needs more time to develop but the running time of the movie doesn't allow this to happen. So some pieces are left open ended, while others are rushed to a conclusion.

I liked De Niro and I thought he did well with what he had. I also liked Catherine Keener in a different role for her. I would have liked to see a bit more of her.

The whole thing has potential but really goes nowhere.


Bruno [DVD]
Bruno [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sacha Baron Cohen
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.27

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not as clever as Borat, 24 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Bruno [DVD] (DVD)
It's obvious from an early stage that the film, Bruno is far more contrived than Borat. Actually the whole movie felt a bit formulaic. But I'll give him some credit as there were a couple of scenes where I still don't know whether they were staged or were not.

The interview scenes weren't as funny, it's already been done and far better than these ones. And a couple went a bit too far in my opinion. Also it seemed to me as well that he picked some easy targets in this one. You don't need to go on a hunt with a bunch of guys from the southern states of America to know that they will be disgusted by an openly gay man. You could just as easily find sections of society around the world but southern America is obvious.

I did laugh but not as much as I should. There is nothing subtle about Bruno and it is more an exercise in pushing the boundaries of vulgarity, rather than a look at social behaviour. This might have actually been better if it were filmed as a straight up comedy film with fixed scenes, rather than the documentary style relying on the reactions of other people.


Island
Island
by Aldous Huxley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Island, 11 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Island (Paperback)
I find it hard to review this book. It stimulated a lot of thought for me but I question whether it is a great novel. What starts as an interesting viewpoint on an alternative society ends with almost a lesson about the way the world should live. There really is not much of a story after the mid point. We know the central characters history and a little about the other characters. From then we read more about the Palanese way of life and the story does not develop.

On a positive note some points raised that have become more relevant over time, particularly regarding ecology and sustainability. And it is clear that the intention of the society is a peaceful and harmonious one.

One interesting debate would be as to whether the Palanese way of life represents a utopian society. To me there were some disturbing elements - the use of a drug to induce an open mind (this is their view of an open mind and isn't questioned). The children are categorized and almost institutionalised in to the Palanese society leaving little room for development of supposed missing skills. Also we have a society where children are not disciplined by their parents, if they have an argument they go to another set of parents. Some of the ideals contradict each other.

But does it make for a great book? For my tastes the main character, Farnaby is on the periphery throughout and in the middle third he might as well not be there at all. When we revisit his past I thought some elements were a bit clichéd. The looming threat of big oil companies is the thread that keeps the story moving along and it serves as the vehicle for the conclusion. Characters on the `evil' side are not developed and I was left to make assumptions. In the end I didn't really care that Pala was finished, it was inevitable from page one. As was Faranby's final transformation (again finally realised by drug taking).

So I can't say that I enjoyed it as a great novel, but it gave me much to think about. On that basis I give it 3/5.


The Rachel Papers
The Rachel Papers
by Martin Amis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did I miss something?, 28 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Rachel Papers (Paperback)
I found this to be little more than a typical story about a young adult. The central character is unlikeable but I suspected this was done on purpose so didn't have too many issues with that. The main issue is that everyone around the central figure is almost ignored, especially Rachel. What do we know about her at the end of the story that we did not know when she was introduced? Hardly anything. So it was hard for me to relate to his growing feelings for her. You would think that for such a diligent diarist this would become clear.

The one moment I really enjoyed was during his Oxford interview when he was finally exposed as someone lacking any real substance or feeling towards his chosen area of study. Apart from that I found it pretty average.


Deadspawn (Necroscope, Book 5)
Deadspawn (Necroscope, Book 5)
by Brian Lumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Finale, 1 Oct. 2009
This final book in the series is a fitting conclusion to the adventures of the Necroscope, Harry Keogh. The underlying tone of this book demonstrates perfectly the ominous threats lurking at every turn, including the threat from Keogh himself.

I really enjoyed this one, and it would have been the best of the five had it not been for the last section. As a previous review has stated, it is a little rushed and there does seem to be an effort to tie up loose ends with almost every significant character from the series. Also there is somthing about the conclusion of the hero's story that I did not like.

One slight disclaimer, this one is certainly not for kids! There is some freakish sex and violence here.

Still I give it 5 stars. It really is a page turner and a book (and series) I would happily recommend.


Deadspeak (Necroscope, Book 4): Deadspeak No. 4
Deadspeak (Necroscope, Book 4): Deadspeak No. 4
by Brian Lumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Necroscope IV, 23 Sept. 2009
This fourth book in the Necroscope series finds us back in more familiar settings than book three - entirely back on Earth. But the subject matter remains the same and is a continuation in the saga.

Deadspeak is enjoyable but I did not find it as engaging as the first three in the series. There is definitely a darker tone in this one which lends itself nicely to the problems faced by the central character. The good points are that some characters from previous books are brought back and utilised in a constructive way, and there is more emphasis on future events rather than using the past to explain plot lines.

On the down side I found Deadspeak lacking the fluid style from the first three books. Some events are given a slow build up, others (and arguably more important events) are given less time. Without wanting to spoil, first I wanted to know more about Harry's eventful exit from Starside. Second I found the final showdown very rushed and lacking the magnitude which was promised in the build up and would have been justified given the villain's strength.

I look forward to book five and the conclusion of this series. Some plot lines are revealed by Deadspeak and they should make it an interesting finale.


The Source (Necroscope, Book 3)
The Source (Necroscope, Book 3)
by Brian Lumley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Bring on the next one......, 21 Sept. 2009
For me this book marked a slight landmark from the first two in the series. While they had an element of fantasy I thought that this one took it a step further - almost literally into another dimension. That being said the character development and fluidity of the story is not lost. We continue to learn more about the Wamphyri in each book and we hear references back to some of the talents inherited by characters in the first two books. Everything links together beautifully. Also impressive to me is how Lumley is not reluctant to consistently kill off some important characters, and re-introduce some that we thought we would not see again. The only minor criticism I could make would be that some elements of this story were telegraphed from a long way out. But that would be almost impossible to avoid if you know the first two books. Apart from that this is another excellent chapter in the series. I'm already in to book IV.


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