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C. Reynolds "Chris Reynolds" (London, UK)

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The De Vere Code: Proof of the True Author of Shake-Speares Sonnets
The De Vere Code: Proof of the True Author of Shake-Speares Sonnets
by Jonathan Bond
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Load of tripe, 29 Oct. 2011
This book was handed out free to me at the first night showing of Roland Emmerich's "Anonymous" film. I should say that despite the book's main text being just over 100 pages, this book is beautifully presented, with very high production values which would account for much of the high price. Unfortunately, that's probably the only thing this book has going for it, as the content is nonsensical.

The entire book revolves around the dedication to the Sonnets: "To the onlie begetter of these insuing sonnets Mr W.H. ..." Mr. W. H is identified very unconvincingly as Sir Henry Wriothesley, he picks out words from dedication that spell out "These sonnets all by ever the forth" (sic - Bond holds that "forth" is a pun on de Vere because if you add a "u" to get "fourth" and translate it into Dutch you get "Vierde") and then by endless futzing around with putting the letters of the dedication in literally every possible size grid, Jonathan Bond picks out words pretty much at random. He eventually assembles the sentences "Let rosie lip poet ape own to espie oft Wriothesley Henry Pro Pare Votis Emeriter Ever" (NB The Latin words do not form any sort of sentence in Latin).

That's it. That's the sum evidence presented in this book. Needless to say these sorts of books presenting supposedly hidden ciphers have been coming out for years, and with enough rearranging of letters, messages saying whatever you want can be found in just about any text.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2012 10:09 AM BST

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
by Peter Ackroyd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully constructed, but ultimately rather empty, 7 April 2009
The first thing to get out of the way - this book is beautifully written and the reconstruction of early 19th century literature and manner of speech has nothing that feels out of period (although it does feel rather easier for a modern reader to read that a genuine novel of that period would, as Ackroyd shys away from using too many 19th century idioms). Ackroyd has been writing these period literary novels for years now, winning many plaudits, and this one is as well done as you would expect.

Unfortunately, I found the plot rather uninteresting, as for the most part it was content to repeat the basic plot of Frankenstein, but relocated to London and with the addition of a cast of famous writers. A huge amount of incident and explanation is added in - where Mary Shelley's Frankenstein refused to explain how the creature was created, here pages are devoted to detailed explanations of the processes involved. Many chapters are also devoted to incidental occurrences - Frankenstein going to revolutionary meetings, going to visit friends and so on. Scenes like these, not directly necessary to the plot, add colour to the narrative, but it felt like there were too many of them, and as a result the plot feels too loose and baggy.

Even more unfortunately, the book ends rather abruptly with a huge twist, which makes no sense, and I found rather annoying, because I had considered the possibility earlier on in the book but had to discard it due to some of the events that occurred. I even tried going back and re-reading some of the scenes (when Frankenstein and the villagers go out in the marshes tracking the creature and the scenes around this) to see if they made sense in the light of the twist - they didn't.

Voice of our Shadow (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
Voice of our Shadow (FANTASY MASTERWORKS)
by Jonathan Carroll
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 18 Jan. 2009
This book is very much made up of two halves, and a very disappointing ending. The first half (or more accurately first two-thirds) contains no fantastical elements whatsoever, being an examination of the emotional journeys of the three main characters as they deal with love and guilt. This part of the book is almost flawless; the emotions feel real, there's a real connection and likeability to the main characters, the setting of a wintry Vienna is beautifully described and evoked.
After a tragedy, things take a sudden turn when fantastical elements are brought in: ghosts in this case, which are often the supernatural creatures of choice to represent guilt. This part of the book, though still good, felt less real to me because of the fantasy elements, and I felt less able to sympathise with the emotions of the main characters when they tried to deal with the supernatural than I would have had they just been dealing with guilt which is what the supernatural events were a metaphor for in the first place, so I think the choice to bring in magical realism worked to the detriment of this part of the book. Maybe if there had been an element of the fantastical all the way through it wouldn't have felt so strange.
Finally, two pages or so from the end, the book breaks out a massive twist that invalidates the emotional journey of two the characters, and suddenly means that the rest of the book must be seen as a endless series of supernatural events which don't make any sense in context, especially considering their perpetrators. This ending seems to have been put in solely to end on a sudden horrific note, but it really soured the ending for me, as if Carroll didn't know how to end it. I read an interview where he talks about never knowing what will happen to his characters as he writes to create a feeling of uncertainty, but it would be probably have been better if he had at least had a basic plan of where the characters should end up, to avoid messes like this one.

Judge Dredd: Goodnight Kiss (2000 AD Presents)
Judge Dredd: Goodnight Kiss (2000 AD Presents)
by Garth Ennis
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly entertaining but far from Ennis' or Dredd's best, 2 Oct. 2008
Of all Garth Ennis' extended runs on characters (Dredd, Hellblazer, Hitman, Preacher, Punisher), Judge Dredd is for me his weakest by far. The stories come from early in his career and in a lot of ways Ennis is still learning how to tell a good story. However, unlike Hellblazer, another of his early works, where the occasional clumsiness did not obscure the brilliant wit and invention that made so many of those stories so much fun, most of his Judge Dredd stories revolve around Dredd being incredibly tough and killing lots of people. This is occasionally taken to ridiculous levels - Dredd's killing of two BILLION people in the previous story is mentioned in this one, and in this story Dredd survives being shot several times in the side and crucified without food and water for seven days after which he tears himself free and continues to wander around killing bad guys with no apparent loss of strength or stamina. Things like this take away from the believability of the character and make it difficult to feel any tension.
Compared to John Wagner, who created the Dredd character and wrote Dredd before and after Ennis, Dredd's character under Ennis loses the subtle black humour and obsession with the law to the point of monomania, what humour there is over-the-top and Dredd's character is interchangeable with many other comic book tough guys who kill at the drop of a hat.
Despite all the negativity above, there are good points about Ennis' work on Dredd, and Goodnight Kiss is far from his worst. It tells a mildly entertaining story with lots of over-the-top Ennis violence.
In summary, if you've read a lot of Dredd and want more, you should pick this up - mediocre Dredd is still better than 90% of comics out there. If you're new to Dredd then I would recommend buying one of the Judge Dredd collections by John Wagner instead.

Pandora's Star (Commonwealth Saga)
Pandora's Star (Commonwealth Saga)
by Peter F. Hamilton
Edition: Paperback

21 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and overlong, 19 Nov. 2007
Definitely a curate's egg of a book, in the proper sense of it being rotten but excellent in parts.

Some parts of the book are very exciting and inventive, but between these parts are long stretches of rather irrelevant writing that could have been cut. This book could have been rewritten at a half or third of the size. I've never read a book by Hamilton before but I'm astonished that his editor allowed a book of this size to be published. In response to other reviewers that it needs to be this size to allow a proper space opera feel and development, it really doesn't; there are too many extraneous characters, miscellaneous adventures, and parts of the book that have little or no impact on the overall plot.

Most characters and settings are well defined, although there is the odd bit where Hamilton really drops the ball - I'm thinking particularly of a Yorkshireman who turns up on an ice planet in the far future, but still comes out with cliched Yorkshire sayings like "where there's muck there's brass". A very minor annoyance overall (he only takes up a couple of pages), but the sort of thing that really takes you out of the story, and typical of quite a few moments in the book that seemed silly and unintentionally funny.

I read 700 pages at normal reading speed, but after ploughing through 34 pages of introductions of more characters and boring political machinations, I decided to just skim through the rest of the book. I'll probably skim through Judas Unchained as well, because I am genuinely interested in how the plot plays out, I just don't want to spend a big chunk of my time reading over 2000 pages of mediocre prose to find out.

I'm sorry to give this book one star, but I can't in all honesty rate a book that I didn't want to finish properly any higher. The real disappointment is that if this book had been half the length, I might have given a three or four star rating, and I would have been excited to read the next book.

PS. Other reviewers have praised the realism of this book, but to be honest, it's a soft to very soft sci-fi, and doesn't have much more realism than Star Trek or Star Wars (impossible technology in wormholes, FTL drives, magical-seeeming alien technology, and some uses of this technology that appear inconsistent). This isn't a criticism - I have enjoyed sci-fi that was far sillier than this, but I just wanted to note this in case any other readers mind this sort of thing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2014 6:31 PM GMT

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