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Frattonlad (Portsmouth, United Kingdom)

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Grifter's Game (Hard Case Crime)
Grifter's Game (Hard Case Crime)
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Punchy and pacy, 12 Jun. 2015
Like many others, I suspect, I came to the Hard Case Crime series via Stephen King's Joyland which I have ad on my reading pile for some time now. I thoroughly enjoyed that book and was inspired to have a look at what else was available in the series.

Lawrence Block is a new name for me but I will definitely be reading more of his books. This one is a short, punchy wild ride. Following a small-time grifter who falls for a beautiful woman, the book takes several unexpected turns and the short, staccato sentences mean you are whisked along at a real pace.

Written in 1960 and issued several times under different titles (according to Block's own fascinating Afterword) the characters inhabit a similar world to Carella, Meyer and co. in ed McBain's excellent 87th precinct novels. Of course the difference here is that we are seeing things from the wrong side of the law.

I won't reveal the plot but I can say that this is a great read and I am planning to get more Block for my summer holiday. I can't offer a better recommendation than that.


Ratworld
Ratworld
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Be dragged though noise and melody, 11 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Ratworld (Audio CD)
Hookworms sent me.

I should explain; I snagged this on the strength of a Hookworms Tweet suggesting it was worth a listen. Although MJ guests on this I was unaware of his involvement until after I bought it. That's how switched on I am.

Anyway, the route to purchase is unimportant, the sound is crucial and Menace Beach definitely have their own sound. Naturally there are snatches here and there where their influences show through but I won't lumber them with those millstones in this review. You'll know them when you hear them.

Unlike Hookworms there are no extended workouts here, just a series of short guitar-led songs which duck and dive through noise and melody dragging the listener along over rough and smooth. The vocals of Liza Violet are sweet and engaging, particularly on the sublime Blue Eye, for me the stand out track. The contrast with Ryan Needham's base growl is never more apparent than on the preceding Lowtalkin'. It's easy to see why this aggressive burst of sound was a single.

This is a pretty accomplished album. How much MJ's involvement helped the sound I don't know but I do know that I am very much looking forward to what comes next. I would really like to see them live too.


Snare Lustrous Doomings (Record Store Day Exclusive) [VINYL]
Snare Lustrous Doomings (Record Store Day Exclusive) [VINYL]
Offered by nagiry
Price: £14.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as being there... but close., 6 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've seen of Montreal several times now, their stage show is something to behold. Naturally that is absent on the vinyl but there is a sumptuous booklet containing some pretty cool images of the band in concert included in this lavish double set recorded in San Francisco.

Those lucky enough to get this RSD2015 edition will be rewarded with orange and yellow discs which do look fantastic. They sound great too which is more important. Not a substitute for seeing the band live but well worth having nonetheless. It's no Live At Leeds or Made In Japan but it IS an excellent and representative oM set c2014.

Fan favourites like: The Party's Crashing Us, Coquet Coquette, She's A Rejector and an epic 13-minute The Past Is A Grotesque Animal mean this is almost a greatest hits set. For a band to still sound this fresh, inventive and innovative after nearly 20 years is unusual. For them to sound like they still enjoy it is almost unheard of. I salute you Kevin Barnes and co.


Paris Time Capsule
Paris Time Capsule
Price: £3.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, poorly executed, 6 Jun. 2015
I am in agreement with many of the other reviewers. As they have already noted this book is one I wanted to like and at the same time one which I felt let down by.

Ella Carey is a good enough writer, that's for sure. Her concept is a good one too: take an intriguing real-life event and weave a story around it. Many have done this before, both weaving events into a story (American Tabloid by James Ellroy, for example) or by using an historic event as a starting point as Robert harris did with the excellent Fatherland.

In this instance the discovery of a fully-furnished Paris apartment untouched since the second world war (Google it, the photos are amazing) is the starting point for Carey's fiction. The problems manifest themselves from the outset though. The pacing is slow, the lead, a NY photographer called Cat is worthy but dull and the love story that unfolds is all about Cat and not the owner of the mysterious apartment.

The other characters in the book are fairly thinly drawn and I had a hard time getting to like them let alone feeling I knew anything about them. The book is almost a film script that has been fleshed out. It reads very much like a film (starring someone like Keira Knightly or Jennifer Aniston) was the real intention all along. The author bio at the end reveals that a film is, surprise, surprise, in the works.

The French sections are the most entertaining and one senses a real love of all things French but this comes at the cost of disdain for things American which I found a bit off too.

It is an easy, quick read so you may want to give it a shot – it won't take up much of your time and you can always come on here and disagree with me if you like!


Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.
Price: £2.59

5.0 out of 5 stars The reviews are uniformly excellent and that was good enough for me when it ..., 25 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am not a big reader of biographies, auto- or otherwise. Those that I have read tend to fall into two categories: heroes and figures with some historical impact.Some sit astride both. Liam Brady slots into the first, Steve Jobs into the second and Neil Young sits in both.

As a child of the 70s I am too young to recall punk so whilst I am aware of The Slits I am unaware of either their music of their impact on the scene. Why read this then? Well, I took a punt. The reviews are uniformly excellent and that was good enough for me when it popped up at 99p in the Kindle store.

Split in two sides (like a record. It works for me) Viv tells a compelling story. It truly deserves the monicker 'warts and all' as nothing is taboo. The insight I gained was not just into her life but also into the lives of women in general. The struggle to make themselves heard and the desire for equality (which still seems, sadly, some way off to my eyes).

I guess fans of The Slits are here for side one but for me side two was both darker and more revealing. It ends on an upbeat note but the journey is a disturbing one. Viv must have a extraordinarily strong character to have fought through the traumas she has faced. She sounds like the sort of person I would be proud to call a friend once I have finished this review I will be hitting the shops to track The Slits albums along with her solo material.

This is a compelling, distraught but ultimately uplifting life story so which category of biography does it fit into? Definitely heroes. And arguably Viv has lived a life of some historical impact too. Highly recommended.


Good Girl, Bad Girl (An Alex Novalis Novel Book 1)
Good Girl, Bad Girl (An Alex Novalis Novel Book 1)
Price: £3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars This sort of book has been done to death of course and devotees of the genre will find plenty to both enjoy and gripe about, 25 Mar. 2015
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This is a solid crime thriller. Set in 1968 (which is revealed eventually) it is a brisk read that does not overstay it's welcome.

This sort of book has been done to death of course and devotees of the genre will find plenty to both enjoy and gripe about. Finch is no Ed McBain but he does tell a tale well and I found myself racing through. I liked the way the central character, a private eye, goes about his cases and the novel is populated with believable people.

My gripe is the sometimes wonky period references and the way the first-person narrative sometimes reveals how the tale is being told by someone remembering the events rather than as they happen. The end reveals why Finch has chosen to do this but I am not sure it was necessary.

Overall, a good read but unchallenging read. I would certainly read more though, if the price was right.


A Trail Through Time (The Chronicles of St Mary Book 4)
A Trail Through Time (The Chronicles of St Mary Book 4)
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Solidly enjoyable, 29 Dec. 2014
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Another solid entry to the ever-readable St Mary's chronicles. As is always the case, it is difficult to review whilst avoiding spoilers.

The cliffhanger at the end of book three is neatly resolved although some may, like me, be left wishing for a more intelligent solution and your subsequent level of engagement with the whole book will hinge on how you view this.

Putting that to one side, though, and what we have is another rapid-moving, tightly-plotted story with some wonderful dialogue from the central characters. Max is at her wise-cracking best. For the first half at least.

The second half is less pacy but the story is still a compelling one and those who have stuck with the series this far will find much to enjoy.

I am looking forward to February's fifth installment as I have a grown to like these well-crafted characters and I do hope Jodi is able to keep the level of interest high.


Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Price: £2.49

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple, engaging and beautifully realised., 21 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Monument Valley (App)
App icons can tell you a lot. Not only do they tell you how much thought has gone into both the design and presentation but they can also give hints as the the quality of the app too.

This exquisitely engaging game is a joy from start to the all-too-soon finish. As others note, it is short but the simple beauty of the visuals and the thought-provoking gameplay mean this well worth the money. I have a bunch of free, freemium and several paid-for apps which have not engrossed me quite as much as this game.

From start to finish it last about 3 hours. Not a lot I can hear you saying but for the cost it offers pound for pound more punch than a trip to the cinema and is certainly longer lasting than the last pint of beer I bought!

The idea is to guide the princess though a series of Escher-inspired landscapes. The Escher reference alone should be enough to make you download but if it doesn't let me add that the muted colours look wonderful, the uncomplicated screen layout and the oh-so-wasy to learn game controls (hint: tap where you want the princess to go, that's it) mean this is immediately accessible.

I was gripped from the first level (or chapter as it is called in the game) and I think you will be too. It made me smile several times as I unravelled the puzzles and I have not had that experience on a mobile game since The Room.

Go get it. Now. Go on!


Solo: A James Bond Novel
Solo: A James Bond Novel
Price: £3.66

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Generally I enjoyed it. It's not a literary classic (hence not ..., 7 Oct. 2014
I've not read all of the previous Bond books; all of the Flemings, yes, and a few Gardners but no others. I picked this up as my son wanted a book and this was part of a two for £6 deal.

Generally I enjoyed it. It's not a literary classic (hence not 5 stars) and it's not a title I am likely to read again (hence not 4 stars). I would recommend it to others though so it gets a solid 3.

The plot is unlikely to be made into a film without changes as it is a slow-moving thriller. This works well though as we are introduced to a number of characters and most of these are painted well enough for us to either root for them or wish them ill.

Boyd includes a number of nice nods to Fleming's Bond series which I won't spoil for you here and most of our favourite regular characters a drawn as we know and love them. M, perhaps seems slightly more human than in the original books but not in a way which detracts.

The story, as mentioned, is slow-moving but is always advancing. The action when it happens is swift and brutal and in Kobus Breed we have a nasty adversary who would transfer well on to the big screen.

This is not Fleming, or even Carpenter but it is worth your time.


The Death Pictures (The TV Detective Series Book 2)
The Death Pictures (The TV Detective Series Book 2)
Price: £2.24

2.0 out of 5 stars Solid but unexceptional, 5 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I fell for the cover image. I thought, from the image of a victim reflected in the lens of a camera that Death Pictures was going to be about a serial killer who liked to photograph his victims final moments. Sadly the title promises more that it delivers. That said there is the nub of a decent writer in Simon Hall and with some careful editing this book could have been a solid three-star read.

The lead character, a TV journalist, is both likeable and has integrity. He has a confused, chaotic personal life (and a watch that is 10 minutes slow. I mention it here just in case you don't get it from the dozen or so times it is mentioned in the story...) but is good at his job and his decent character is refreshing given that journos are usually painted as lowlife scum who love nothing more than hounding people.

My problem with the book is that the two main events do not seem to mesh in any meaningful way and this leads to an unsatisfying outcome. The plots develop terribly slowly (much too slowly for my liking) and there are several conceits used which are simply gratingly repetitive: his boss constantly grinding her heels into the carpet, the number of times he admits he wants to solve the riddle of the death pictures and that damn slow-running watch.

With some paring back this could have been a great read but I can only wonder what someone like Christopher Brookmyre would have done with this tale.

Incidentally, the unstinting praise here on Amazon makes me wonder if there is not a little bit of publisher's jiggery pokery going on as the reviews all use the same terminology which hardly inspires my confidence.


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