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Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench TP (The New 52)
Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench TP (The New 52)
by Geoff Johns
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

5.0 out of 5 stars New Aquaman fan, 5 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fantastic comic. I've never been a fan of Aquaman and since the 1970s superfriends cartoons he's been the end of one too many jokes for me to give his comics a shot before. However I got a copy of this soft-reboot of his title due to the positive reviews and it completely changed my opinion. Its not a thinking man’s comic, the plot is very basic and action packed but it was very funny with multiple in-jokes about Aquaman’s status in the comic book community. Definitely not for pre-teens either as the enemy featured (The Trench) are straight out of a horror movie with some violent kills under their belt. Good artwork, good fun, lots of action, I’m definitely going to get the other volumes.

Night Before Christmas (Picturebacks)
Night Before Christmas (Picturebacks)
by Clement C. Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Its not xmas without it, 5 Jan. 2014
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Had this as a child growing up, but my original copy's now looking a bit tattered and need a new one to read to my children - there’s a reason this book is so widely available 30 years after it was first published - because it’s a classic. If you have kids buy it now.

The Hobbit: Graphic Novel
The Hobbit: Graphic Novel
by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic depiction of the classic, 5 Jan. 2014
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I owned the non-revised version as a child and after seeing the recent rather slapstick movie I felt the need to get ahold of it again. This is how the hobbit should be depicted; it takes itself seriously, the artwork is beautiful, the story faithful to the book and not padded. The only weakness is that just as with the novel the dwarves do all blend into one another and lack individual characters (save Thorin). Fantastic book, all Tolkien fans should own this.

What Lies Within
What Lies Within
Price: £2.32

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old school detective novel, 4 July 2012
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This review is from: What Lies Within (Kindle Edition)
I tend towards Sci-fi/fantasy, but read this as part of my book club and found it an enjoyable break from the norm. It's a detective novel based in modern-day Scotland, focusing on a young woman, Pat, travelling across the country trying to locate her missing brother and getting caught up in affairs of a crime ring.

The plot doesn't tend to get too bogged down, which keeps the pace quick moving, which is best for books in this genre.

Given that the main characters are regular civilians investigating a crime primarily due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I believe fans of old-style snooping hobby-detective stories such as those by Nicci French will enjoy this book the most.

Voyage Of The Space Beagle
Voyage Of The Space Beagle
by A. E. Van Vogt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.32

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, but rather disappointing pacing and characters, 13 Jun. 2012
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I read this on the basis that it has a reputation as a grandfather of modern sci-fi, and inspired both Alien and Star Trek. But to be honest I thought it was so boring. There was little in the way of Star Trek's action, not Alien's horror.

I think the ideas were interesting, and have no doubt at the time they were revolutionary. I liked the id-eating cat monster Coeurl, and liked how we saw chapters through his eyes, and for that I give it 3 stars. But the second storyline just made me lose interest and I gave up.

The characters I thought were bland and uninteresting, and frankly if they killed off the main character Grosvenor and introduced a new character in his place I don't think I would have noticed. I recognise he wasn't completely 2D, he had this stuffy pompousness to him, but I just didn't have any investment in the characters and gave up half-way through the book. Also, it sadly fell into the old trap many sci-fi have of only having male characters, although yes I understand this is due to it being a product of its time.

Possibly it's the writing style of the time, but there was just a general lack of action, funny or interesting dialogue, or overarching `what's going to happen next' story line. I read two other books at the same time as this both with much better flow and fleshed out characters, The Secret of Yusan (The Sojourn Stars) which is much longer but moved at such a cracking pace I completed it easily, and A Crown Of Swords: Wheel of Time Book 7 (The Wheel of Time), which again is much longer, does have its plodding moments, but was much more enjoyable.

That said my friend also read it and thought it was fantastic, so maybe it is a taste in genre thing. I just expected more from a classic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2013 6:17 PM BST

The Unleashing: The Sasquatch Encounters One
The Unleashing: The Sasquatch Encounters One
by Clint Romag
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Not that good, 31 May 2012
I hate talking ill of any author's work, which is why I don't give many bad reviews. Had this been a cheap little book on kindle I wouldn't have said anything, but since its £10 (once p&p is factored in) I really had to come back to give my 2 cents (I also due to the number of 5 stars bought books 2-3 and in the series, and so actually it cost me £30).

Firstly its short, £1 on kindle type of short, not £10. It did mean that it was easy to read and a bit of a page turner since the end was never that far away, but there are much better written books out there for less than £10, and I don't think this warranted the price.

The characters are 2D, and not one of them is fully developed. To the last they were red shirts waiting to be killed off, and no emotional investment is build though scenes developing character through dialogue. For example, in Alien the characters were developed through interaction before they landed on LV-426 and something nasty started picking them off, in this we have a chapter or two of meeting up in the woods before the slaughter begins. Because of that its actually fast paced and doesn't slow down for a second, but there's no emotional investment.

Although, because all the characters were red shirts, there was never a point I felt anyone was safe. I was equally unsure if anyone would survive rather than it being a case of who would survive. I think that level of `the baddies can win here' is good, but as I say stronger characters would have made the pay off better.

Both the dialogue and narrative are rather simplistic. The dialogue wasn't awful, it was just rather bland with little humour or characterisation. Certain words are used far too often, "roar" particularly seemed to be used again and again, even appearing several times a single paragraph in fact.

That all said, I did buy it for Halloween and read it late and night, and yes I did get this feeling of being watched and looking over my shoulder a few times. So I bought it for a horror thrill and I got it, so as I said, if this had been £1 on Kindle I would have shrugged and thought, "yeah, was okay for what its worth" (hence why its a 3 star and not a 2 star), although there are many £1 Kindle books out there that are really, really good. But instead it was £10 and because of that I have to compare it with similarly priced books - and sadly it can't compete.

Again, I'm really sorry for the bad review.

Halo: The Flood
Halo: The Flood
by William C. Dietz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars For halo fans, 31 May 2012
This review is from: Halo: The Flood (Paperback)
I read this because I played the game but to be honest I wasn't that enthralled. Although I know a few massive fans of game who loved it.

The story depicts the events of the first Halo game, with the earth at war with an alliance of aliens joined under a single religion, whose leaders have decreed humans are heretics and must be exterminated. A human vessel crashes on the ring-world of halo, currently under occupation by these aliens and its up to genetically enhanced super-human Master Chief to wipe out the army surrounding them.

The game is followed closely, and too the authors credit he does add in additional supporting characters to try and add depth to what in the game is largely a story about one man and his AI friend running around blasting aliens for 6 hours straight. Yet while I'm glad it tells the story of the game, I think it is caged by it. At times it felt like the book was trying to be a walkthrough with repeated descriptions of how the Master Chief enters a room and kills [insert enemy numbers her], enters another room and does the same, enters another room and does... etc etc.

The Master Chief himself felt a little underdeveloped, although again in the game itself the Chief was really just an avatar for the player with his character not explored until sequels and further expanded universe books. So the author himself did not have much to work with to be fair, but it makes a rather 2d lead character and I don't see why this book couldn't have been used to explore the character in more detail. Some of the made-for-book only characters were slightly better, although the Napoleon AI is the only one I really remember all that well.

Its not an awful book, but for sci-fi fans there are better series out there, so I would say its for Halo fans only.

Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawnin (TSR Fantasy)
Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawnin (TSR Fantasy)
by Margaret Weis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old favourite, 31 May 2012
The Dragonlance series is one of my favourites when I was a teen - and Chronicles is what made me an avid reader.

The story is set in a high fantasy world were the long forgotten gods are re-emerging. The evil gods are gathering their armies to take over, the good gods are finding champions to re-establish a balance. The main story arc follows a band of adventurers who inadvertently get caught up in the whole affair, and are tasked with helping a woman find a lost relic of the old good gods to. So it essentially begins with the old overused Quest storyline, but from there it evolves as the characters go forth on their own, splinter into groups, meeting up again, go off in new groups etc and partake in various roles within the overall war. Basically you never really know where the story is going, and it has many turns and twists.

The characters are interesting and each is different, although they are fantasy archetypes and so most never truly break away from some of clichés (e.g. the gruff dwarf, the honour bound knight etc). Tas offers humour and the trials of other characters offers tragedy and heartbreak. Raistlin is without doubt one of the greatest characters of all time. The imagination in bringing him to life and his story arc alone is genius, and he deserves to be listed with Gandalf as an icon fantasy character - except he's nothing like Gandalf; Gandalf defined the archetype mould for wizards, Raistlin looked at the mould, laughed at it, blew it up and decided to become the single most epic depiction of a wizard put to paper.

The book's relatively short compared to some other fantasies (Wheel or Time, Game of Thrones etc), and not as difficult to read as say Lord of the Rings. Therefore its an easy, enjoyable read. Although this is only when you consider the original Chronicles trilogy, as there are hundreds of books in the Dragonlance franchise, including prequels, sequels, midquels, side stories. Its amazing how many of the minor characters in this book actually have their own spin off novels. You don't have to read them however to enjoy Chronicles.

I did first read this series 15 years ago, and tend to read them every five or so years and I will admit they aren't as quite as good as I remember. Many of the characters are rather more cliché now that I've read other fantasy series, and sometimes I think there is far to much telling not showing. For example, one character later becomes the Golden General and we are told his/her soldiers will follow him/her even to death.... why? What inspired such loyalty. Seriously, one chapter the character is named General and the next has the unquestioning allegiance of an army? Why not develop it? Show the character earning their loyalty through leading them to some amazing victory.

Anyway, despite its flaws I still love it, its a good series and still one of my favourites. High Fantasy fans should read it.

If you liked it I would highly recommend Dragon Wing (The Death Gate cycle) by the same authors.

A Song of Ice and Fire (1) - A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire (1) - A Game of Thrones
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Read it - now, 21 May 2012
Get enough nobles together and they're bound to start stabbing each other in the back to get closer to the throne. What can go wrong? Not much. A fantastic read.

For an epic fantasy series the book takes more from medieval history than it does Tolkien, and although a similar size it thankfully doesn't get as bogged down in narrative description the same way other writers such as Jordan do.

The characters are fleshed out, and to their credit most are more shades of grey like real people rather than outright good or evil.
Westros feels like it has a real history and culture that goes beyond the page (I would say Jordan's Wheel of Time and Tolkien's LotRs are more creative though, but given both can be too detailed to the point of confusing, I'd say Martin made the right call on not going overboard).

I have heard from people I know that the books lose their way in future installments, with too many poorly developed secondary characters coming in to the detriment of the stronger central cast, and multiple story arcs seemingly dropped without trace. A part of this seems to be placed down to the author writing the books years apart and in the midst of other projects, rather that writing it without break.

Either way, this book was awesome.

The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time
The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars To long winded, 21 May 2012
Wheel of Time is a series that is certainly trying to be the second coming of Lord of the Rings, a lush imaginative story of good vs evil in a high fantasy world.

Certainly the story is imaginative. Some reviews say it's a Lord of Rings rip off, and yes it does have a similar DNA - ancient lord of evil attempting to come back to rule the world etc. But to be fair it's a staple of High Fantasy, and I think these people are missing all the smaller details that Jordan's put into this word that make it so unique- some of the ideas are incredibly creative and a lot of time has gone into fleshing out this world.

However it does have its fair share of problems;

Rambling descriptions - `Why use 1 word when you can use 100'. Jordan loves his descriptions, and sadly doesn't limit describing something to once and he's done. He is obsessed with women's fashion, and every time a female is introduced or reappears he with go into length about what she is wearing at that particular moment. This and the other books become increasingly difficult to read because instead of moving on with the PLOT, we are stuck reading the narrative describing what people, clothes, objects, cities, plants etc look like for pages at a time. There is no reason why these books couldn't have a third of the words cut out - it would have made them flow much better.

Secondary characters - far too many of them, many with similar sounding names, and most of whom never appear again but we will still be given their life histories and descriptions in the few scenes they do make it into.
Do we need to know all this information? No, because this is the last time you will see them for two or three books. Other authors have their characters go to a meeting and just give a brief description of what kind of people are attending, Jordan instead gives us names, hobbies, family histories and backgrounds of everyone present no matter how minor.

The female characters - Given how many of the societies are matriarchies in this book and look down on the male population you'd actually think Jordan was a radical feminist who hates men. Other times it seems as if he's making fun of radical feminists by having his female characters the worst humanity has to offer.
To his credit about 50% of his characters are female, well done Jordan on this since too many stories seem to think women make up only a small fraction of the population and have a token heroine if any. However, the women in his book, for the most part, all share the same personality. Yes, they are strong willed and independent, however, most are also manipulative, arrogant, sexist, and delight in bullying both the men and other women around them. Most of the female dominated societies in this book (Aes Sedai, Aiel, and Sea Folk) are obsessed with using Corporal Punishment at the slightest transgression, and the more often its used the better.
I honestly can't tell if Jordan is trying to create strong women or hateful ones, I really can't, but with the exception of Min, I think all of them are in need of a good psychiatrist.

The male characters - Aren't that much better. The male leads don't have the same vicious streak as the heroines, but Rand increasingly becomes more emo as the books goes on and some of the others aren't much better. Also I find it odd that in a world where women hold a lot of power, and in many societies are viewed as superior to men (in one kingdom, Altara, its perfectly legal for women to kill men for no reason and not vice versa), why so many characters have such an aversion to women being on the battlefield. Rand gets this annoying habit in later books of wandering around battlefields memorising the faces of every female solider who dies fighting for him, its condescending. I recognise that in the WOT world, men tend to be soldiers, while women tend to be sages and rulers, but I still think it makes little sense given how much power women hold that he worries about them as if they were children. And it becomes really annoying when the heroes refuse to kill female villains (of which there are many), and they escape to cause more damage later on.

Over all I do like these books. I think they are creative, with elements of genius. However, between the unlikeable characters and all the rambling, I have stopped and restarted this series 4 times so far and have only once made it past book 5.

An abridged version would be welcome.

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