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The Grim Company (The Grim Company 1)
The Grim Company (The Grim Company 1)
Price: 2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Yet another Trilogy begins, 22 July 2014
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As usual with the fantasy genre, we have a mismatched set of individuals with unusual names who are flung together by Fate and sent on a Quest. Or maybe it's a couple of quests - it's a bit haphazard. Two highlander warriors -Brodar Kane and The Wolf - Eremul the Half-Mage, his mysterious manservant Isaac, Davarus Cole the bearer of Magebane, an enchanted dagger, and Sasha - a woman who will probably turn out to be important but starts off a bit insipid.

Various kings, sorceresses, mages, dead Gods and sapient beasts take a brief turn on stage.

The fundamental idea is good - 500 years ago the mages killed the gods and took over the world. Now seems to be the time to overthrow the mages and found a secular democratic republic with full human rights for all, but this seems just a little too improbable for the fantasy genre.

Perhaps the problem lies with the number of characters, goodies and baddies, who are introduced briefly only to be put to one side in favour of another. Focus - that's what is lacking. And at the end of the book we find that this is but book 1 of however many it can be spun out to.


Arena (Roman Arena)
Arena (Roman Arena)
Price: 3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not Great, 22 July 2014
Grizzled veteran of the Rhine campaigns Macro, optio of the 2nd Legion, is sent to Rome to receive an award for bravery. But he gets involved in politics - a series of plots by the Emperor Claudius' freedmen to punish Pavo, the son of an aristocratic general executed for disloyalty to Claudius. Pavo is demoted to slave gladiator and forced to fight for his life in the arena. Meanwhile Macro is forced to train him.

According to the blurb, this book started as five separate short novellas, which probably accounts for its bittiness. Pavo wins and keeps winning, but gets no further forward. Macro too wants to be sent back to the legion, ideally with a promotion to centurion, but that doesn't happen either.

Apart from that? It's OK but not great. If you are a fan of gladiatorial combat, maybe you will like it better than me. The training, the self doubt, the aggressive self aggrandisement all resemble modern boxing, at least as perceived by an outsider like me. But I wouldn't want to watch it, and neither did the Emperor Claudius, a bookish introvert according to Suetonius.


Ark Royal
Ark Royal
Price: 1.85

5.0 out of 5 stars AFuture Which Rings True, 16 July 2014
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This review is from: Ark Royal (Kindle Edition)
His Britannic Majesty's Spaceship Ark Royal, to be precise. Kept from the breaker's yard by the efforts of the preservation trust, when modern starships have moved on to lighter faster larger designs; captained by a drunk and manned mostly by reservists and people who have managed to blot their copybooks.

Things change when an entirely unsuspected race of aliens attack and modern vessels turn out to be horribly vulnerable to their weapons and tactics. Only the veteran carrier's outdated heavy armour gives it a chance in battle. With an escort of equally junkyard frigates, the old vessel raids alien space, disrupting a planned attack on Earth and generally causing havoc behind alien lines.

I must have liked this book - as soon as I had finished it I bought book 2 in the series. It's a future which rings true - people remain people, despite changes in technology.


Hollywood Assassin: A Hollywood Alphabet Series Thriller
Hollywood Assassin: A Hollywood Alphabet Series Thriller
Price: 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A1, 16 July 2014
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First novel in the Hollywood Alphabet series so no doubt MZ has bought a copy of Roget's Thesaurus and is working through the list of synonyms for murderer. Kate Sexton is a detective on the Hollywood force who gets involved in a giant conspiracy of murder, drugs, prostitution, and police corruption going back 30 years.

The concept of a series of books in alphabetical order was a negative for me initially, but on the basis of the first one I'm rather impressed. Detective Sexton is a tough character with a real life, although her supposedly British friend Natalie is horribly unrealistic - the author has too obviously found a website of English slang and given it to Natalie for vocabulary without realising that people in London, Glasgow and Sydney speak differently. Although perhaps Natalie will be unveiled as an imposter when we get to volume 8, Hollywood Hoaxer...


Graveyard of Memories (John Rain)
Graveyard of Memories (John Rain)
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and Introspective as well as full of action, 16 July 2014
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A John Rain thriller. Ever wondered how someone gets to be an assassin? Rain looks back over the years and tells the story of how he graduated from low level courier to top hit man. The story is set against a backdrop of Tokyo in transition from traditional Japanese city to futuristic megacity. I particularly enjoyed the afterword, a thoughtful, poignant retrospective (not something you often get in books about assassins)


The Great Train Robber (Paul Stanton Book 3)
The Great Train Robber (Paul Stanton Book 3)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flashback, 16 July 2014
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It sounds almost plausible. One of the great train robbers did his time in jail, changed his name and re- married, and was more or less going straight when he died in a car crash. He had stashed his share of the loot. Years later, it turns up - and lots of people go hunting for it...

Perhaps a little clunky on the dialogue and in particular with the love scenes but very believable with the action. Far from a ripping yarn where our be-muscled SAS hero singlehandedly kills everyone in the Iraqi army with his silenced Heckler u. Koch machine pistol and a toothpick, Stanton uses no more muscle than he needs.

There's a new Stanton novel coming soon (the author classes this slim volume as a novella). Addicts will enjoy this entrée.


In A Small Town (A Small Town Series: Book One 1)
In A Small Town (A Small Town Series: Book One 1)
Price: 0.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 3 July 2014
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A cop is shot. It looks like a Mafia hitman did the hit. But why? Well,here comes a spoiler - you are not going to find out.

The narrator is a small town cop of Italian extraction, as are most of the other cops in town, it seems. He tells the story in the first person, and the narrative is jerky to say the least. Is his partner a goodie or a baddie? Can he really be the chief enforcer if a Mafia family? It seems improbable that he could be picking up the two paychecks without anyone noticing.

Too much of the story is left to the sequel for my taste. It's deliberate - the author has no intention of resolving major plot points in this novel. That's cheating, in my opinion.


The Pagan Lord (The Warrior Chronicles, Book 7)
The Pagan Lord (The Warrior Chronicles, Book 7)
Price: 3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Uhtred saves the Day!, 3 July 2014
King Alfred is dead, and England is at peace. It's an uneasy peace - the Danes occupy the North and East, the Saxons retain Wessex and Mercia. Alfred's warlord Uhtred is increasingly out of place as a pagan in a Christian country - he disinherits his firstborn when he becomes a Christian priest.

Uhtred himself was disinherited when his father was killed in battle and his uncle took the family stronghold Bebbanburg (modern Bamburgh) for himself. He attempts to trick his way into Bebbanburg and comes close to succeeding

But of course the Danes are just waiting for their chance. They invade Mercia, Uhtred captures Chester, destroys its defences and heads south to the relief of Wessex, and single-handedly saves the day (he doesn't have a great opinion of his allies).

Like all the books in the series, it's a little disconcerting to see the Saxon placenames. The Saxons have built around the Roman settlements - at that time mostly dilapidated rather than ruined.

And like all the books in the series, it's a bit of a ripping yarn, yet very well written. I hope there will be another soon...


Bon Voyage!
Bon Voyage!
Price: 2.05

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Buy This Book, 27 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Bon Voyage! (Kindle Edition)
A trip round France in a second hand campervan with husband and two dogs. What could possibly go wrong?

Then a walk across France - from the Atlantic coast to Lake Geneva. Cycling through Champagne in the wake of Marie-Antoinette, and so on.

The author has written several books, mostly about living in France, being the Brit abroad ( who speaks French, thank goodness), the charm of the country and its inhabitants, very occasionally the lack of charm.

This book is a sampler, a tease - like Scheherazade, Kelly gives you a couple of chapters of each of her books so that you want more - what happened next? If you have read the other books, don't bother with this one. If you haven't read the other books, I would recommend you to pick one at random and read it. If you like it, buy another. But don't buy this one - it's too frustrating and you are going to have to buy the others anyway!


An Officer and a Spy
An Officer and a Spy
Price: 1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Dreyfusard to Minister, 25 Jun 2014
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The Dreyfus case - it's 1895 and Alfred Dreyfus, an officer in the French army, is tried and found guilty of treason - in that he has been passing military secrets to the Germans. He is sent to Devil's Island and held in solitary confinement.

Meanwhile Colonel Picquart, the new head of Military Counter-Intelligence, checks the Dreyfus file and finds the evidence against Dreyfus flimsy - very flimsy indeed. It looks like the traitor was someone else all the time, and Dreyfus was innocent, as he claimed. His bosses urge him to keep his mouth shut - if word gets out that they had convicted an innocent man ("only a Jew, after all") it would be an embarrassment. Picquart reckons that they won't be able to hush it up forever, and then the embarrassment will be multiplied. He is correct.

Piquart's superiors try to keep him quiet by sending him on inspection tours of increasingly remote army bases, pitching up in Tunisia where They try to send him to inspect an oasis in the desert full of rebellious and murderous tribesmen.

Not everyone believes that a cover up is a good idea. The Army tries again, trying to hold a secret enquiry. But it gets out. Emile Zola's famous J'accuse article is published, and although Zola and his publisher are brought to trial and convicted, by this time "everyone knows" that the Dreyfus conviction was unsafe. Only hard line anti-Semites hold out for the conviction, and while there are lots of these, not enough to prevent the truth escaping. Dreyfus is brought back from Devil's island to be re-tried, this time in public. Amazingly, they still don't find him not guilty, even though it is obvious to the meanest intelligence that this is so.

It takes a change of government to turn things round. The new prime minister has Dreyfus released and restored to the army in his former rank. Picquart does even better - he is promoted and made Minister of War in the new government - not bad.

Amazingly, the story is pretty much all true. The narrator (Piquart) is scrupulous in telling the story (if a bit dry), and it isn't his fault that he is called upon to tell it again and again. This does make it a bit repetitive. But the story keeps on going, and it's worth sticking to it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2014 8:47 PM BST


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