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Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
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On the Steel Breeze
On the Steel Breeze
Price: £6.29

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit slow, 29 Sep 2013
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I did not find this that gripping. I think the scene setting was not up to his usual standard. I never once felt that sense of wonder that many of Reynold's previous novels evoked. Characters were OK. I regret that I bought this on the strength of previous great works, and wish instead I had opted for the free first chapter because I would have saved my money.


Neptune's Brood
Neptune's Brood
by Charles Stross
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas on interstellar economics, 28 Sep 2013
This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Hardcover)
Charles Stross is the first author I have come across who has written a story around the possibilities of interstellar economics in a non-FTL universe, and which feels based in real economic principles. He explains that where star systems are light years apart - slow currency which is uber-valuable is vouched for via third parties. The result is that one hundred slow dollars is equivalent to a million fast dollars in the local currency. But transfers are slow and there is a feeling of the old "when the boat comes in".

Set several thousand years after Saturns Children, Humanity has been restored as 'fragiles' but the protagonists in this novel are inheritors of the AIs in the first book. The plot is convoluted but revolves around the possible interstellar scams and lost fortunes inherent in a system where money can take centuries to arrive via two or more different keys.

This is what makes the book so gripping. The feeling that this is a real economy. The characters are fine, nothing special, bt it is Stross' universe that is the real character.


Evening's Empires
Evening's Empires
Price: £4.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a big fan but I liked this, 22 Sep 2013
This review is from: Evening's Empires (Kindle Edition)
I remember the first Paul McAuley book I read, Four Hundred Billion Stars. The gigantic concept as related through a Human protagonist blew me away. After that I found his writing disappointing. I just could not get engrossed. A couple I just binned (before Kindle). Despite promising starts every story I read seemed to fall flat.

Evenings Empires I loved and I really could not put it down. The tale is set in a crumbling solar system where millions of habitats from Mercury to the Kuiper Belt have been abandoned and those that are left trade and squabble. McAuley passes over advanced but ruined and pillaged technology like a peasant living in th ruined forum of Rome. His protagonist Hari has escaped from his hi-jacked family trade ship and now must find out why he is being hunted across the system.

Deceit and double deceit bring back reminiscences of Eric Ambler's spy fiction of the fifties and sixties. Even the most loyal of companions has a motive that might conflict with Hari's attempt to ransome those of his family who may (or may not be) left alive.


The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection
The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection
Price: £5.69

5.0 out of 5 stars What a nice surprise, 1 Sep 2013
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The Avram Davidson Treasury is a collection of Davidson's best work as judged by and commented on by about twenty well respected SF and Fantasy authors. On first reading I skipped the commentary on each story. Mainly becasue all the tales were so damn good that I could not wait to gorge on the next story. But also because the commentaries contained some real spoilers.

Put that aside. I will get to them at some time. It is the tales that Davidson tells. I had read the odd Solar Pons story. A tribute Davidson wrote about Holmes and Watson. I had also encountered his 'The Other 19th Century". Which is a collection abut a Middle European empire of the late 1800s.

But I really was taken with the writing style and content of Davidson's work in this book. If you like O'Henry or Runyon then you are likely to like this style.


A Dirty Job
A Dirty Job
Price: £4.31

3.0 out of 5 stars OK But not as good as Lust Lizard, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: A Dirty Job (Kindle Edition)
Moore has a touch of Terry Pratchett and this can be likeable. He writes great characters and funny moments. However sometimes he writes a bit slowly and this is the case with dirty Job. I enjoyed his analysis that all human progress was not down to brave and assertive alpha males but their less endowed but cleverer cousins beta man. The concept of a junk store man discovering he has to pass on items of junk because they are special and at the same time prevent the items falling into the hands of the dark ones who live underground, is entertaining. But the idea of many agents of death not being organised, and in fact specifically forbidden t do so did not hold water. All in all a fine read but Moore has done better.


The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike)
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike)
Price: £2.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Average Read, 29 Aug 2013
With over 980 reviews I guess my one won't be noticed. Cuckoo's Calling is an OK book. Very reminiscent of the TV series Hazel. Small time down at heels private eye given a big case. Nothing wrong with that. It's been done with varying degrees of success since Raymond Chandler and before. It has also been pastiched and lampooned, and sometimes I thought that this book was poking fun. There were characters with odd names and stereotypes flitting in and out of the story. The private detective somehow has has endless contacts in the official police services. His counter-terrorism expertise somehow makes him an expert on domestic burglaries. However the book was mildly entertaining and would probably do for a plane of a beach so nothing really wrong. Just not that original or gripping.


Bowl of Heaven
Bowl of Heaven
by Gregory Benford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.45

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor show, 20 Aug 2013
This review is from: Bowl of Heaven (Hardcover)
Ringworld fans will recall Louis Wu musing on the idea of controlling Ringworld's sun and moving the entire structure out of Known Space and avoiding the galactic core exploding. Niven and Benford have taken the idea of moving Ringworld and made a very uninteresting book. The Bowl is Ringworld with a lot of superstructure to allow the star to be use as a jet. There the interesting bits end.

The builders are not that effective and seem to slip up when dealing with Humans. One definition of a Mary-Sue character is when the opponents lose fifteen IQ points. QED.

The Human crew of the Earth starship have little to differentiate them and, as another reviewer said, they merged into one. The Aliens really were not that alien and the remaining crew on the ship seemed not to spend too much effort trying to communicate with the Bowl's owners.

All in all, not a great story.


Build Your Resilience: Teach Yourself How to Survive and Thrive in Any Situation (Teach Yourself: Relationships & Self-Help)
Build Your Resilience: Teach Yourself How to Survive and Thrive in Any Situation (Teach Yourself: Relationships & Self-Help)
by Donald Robertson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow and Not very practical, 6 July 2013
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If you are looking to help or coach someone, or are looking for ideas to improve your own response to challenges then I suggest you look elsewhere. There are very few do-able tasks in this book. The exercises, if they can be called that, are often just vague suggestions. They are not very well written either, so I found I often re-read paragraphs to try to understand what the author was saying. If, on the other hand you are looking for a more academic view on the psychology of personal values then this is the book for you.

The first third of the book is all about personal values and discovering what you aspire to be and admire in others. Not much use if you are advising a friend, dealing with a job loss or divorce, or coping with relationship or work problems. The style is also a bit dry. There are some ideas in the book, but they are deeply hidden and I would suggest that its difficult style might make it less useful in a crisis.

The book is slow and will almost certainly not help with coaching anyone through a crisis. By half way through I still could not work out what this book had to do with resilience since it was all about living ones life in accordance with core values. I really could not see a parent at their wits end turning to this book getting any use from that. Finally, core values are all great if one has the luxury of them. But most people are happy to make it through another day.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2013 7:52 PM GMT


The Long War (Long Earth 2)
The Long War (Long Earth 2)
Price: £3.49

7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not very good - returned for refund, 21 Jun 2013
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The Long Earth had some sense of wonder in it. A well established sci-fi concept of parallel worlds. The protagonists allowed the reader to feel a sense of exploration. The Long War is just boring. There really is very little in terms of characters or plot to drive this tale onwards. No humour. Gave up by quarter of the way through and asked for a refund.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.46

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but expensive for what it is., 20 Jun 2013
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The Ocean at the End of the Lane is fairly entertaining. There are very strong shades of Terry Pratchett's Granny Weatherwax, even down to speech patterns and mannerisms. The story is in genre of Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors. References to a larger and greater world, or existences parallel to our own. It is told retrospectively by the narrator recalling his childhood experiences with a strange family in the Sussex countryside. Like many Gaiman books it does engage the reader and, although the tale is very simple and could be aimed at young children, it has enough adult content to be satisfying.

The book however is quite short, more of a novella and for what it is I think the price tag is dear. Something the size and depth of American Gods would justify this. But not an hours read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 21, 2013 9:48 PM BST


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