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Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England)
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Those Above (The Empty Throne)
Those Above (The Empty Throne)
by Daniel Polansky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A hard slog with little reward, 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was a surprising chore. Confusing, overly complex and with very few likeable characters. A human world has been enslaved by aliens and society has become split into those who have been subjugated and those who still live free but may be gearing up for war. The story highlights four individuals, a street troublemaker, a soldier, a scheming politician and a senior servant to one of the conquerors.

But it is a mess, you do not engage with any of the characters, and the world-building is confusing at best. You shouldn’t have to work this hard to read a book that ultimately fails to reward the effort.

The author has an undeniable turn of phrase and particular style, but this is perhaps overused in the descriptive narrative at the expense of pace being injected into the story. By the end I really didn’t care about anyone and was not in the least bit engaged, as such it is very unlikely I will pick up the next in the series.


The Escape (John Puller Series)
The Escape (John Puller Series)
by David Baldacci
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a mess, 23 Feb. 2015
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The third in the John Puller series. The first two were carbon copies of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, embarrassingly so (and Lee Child did respond to this in a recent Jack Reacher story) but they were quite reasonable. In way they provided an unofficial “Reacher fix”.

Here in the third story, Baldacci seen to have forgotten to make his character like Reacher and instead has him back as a military investigator and acting differently to the previous novels.

Here, his smarter brother who is banged up for being a traitor, escapes and Puller is asked to help track him down. The more puller looks into the escape and his brother’s trial, the more suspicious he gets that something is wrong. Of course there has to be an attractive female and sure enough a female intelligence is assigned to work with him. No surprise there.

This kicks off quite well, despite Puller no longer acting like Reacher but the further the book goes on the dafter it gets, the plot gets more convoluted and the characters more unbelievable. It does feel that David Baldacci might be beyond his bestseller by date. Three stars, but only just.


Freeze Dried Diced Strawberry 100g
Freeze Dried Diced Strawberry 100g
Offered by Lio-Licious/Mountain House
Price: £8.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for cereal, 22 Feb. 2015
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Hard to get hold of outside of the Internet. but I really like these to add to cereal. They make any bland cereal suddenly interesting! Not cheap, but quite a big pack and they do make the bland fantastic.


Missing You
Missing You
by Harlan Coben
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars solid thriller, 22 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Missing You (Paperback)
I loved the early books from Mr Coben, the twisting thrillers and then the on-going Bolitar series. And then the thriller became a little more predictible and the Bolitar novels stopped to drop down a generation and to go all YA. Part of the problem being that many others were writing Coben style novels he also stopped being quite so unique. But he is still an author who knows how to write a compelling story.

So..Missing You. Cop Kat still lives under the cloud that her Dad (also a Police Officer) was killed on duty, she also has the issue that her boyfriend just dumped her many yars ago, walked out of her life and she has never really recovered from that.

As she tries to get back into dating by going on line, she also has a potential missing person case and both issues will implode on her. Coben writes great, believable charachers and his stories are like peeling away at the layers of an onion. This worksd here, because beside the traditional mystery, there is a real invrestigation going on.

Okay. maybe not up to his best (but his best is very good indeed) but I enjoyed this.


Enemy of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens Book 5)
Enemy of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens Book 5)
Price: £9.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Roman Perfection, 16 Feb. 2015
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The fifth book in a very entertaining series. This is set amongst the Roman civil war and it is legion against legion, and stuck in the middle is our noble hero Verrens. I say noble because, at a time where everyone is swapping sides and allegiances, Verrens remains focussed on what is good for Rome. A bad time to be an honest man.

So it is in dangerous times that we have Verrens, along with his lethal Spaniard bodyguard, dodging between different factions but also getting stuck in on the battlefield. A number of interesting and varied characters populate the book which deals with an astonishing part of Roman history.

We have come to expect well-written historical action from the author but here he does exceed our expectations with a near perfect blend of action and Roman politics.


Half the World (Shattered Sea, Book 2)
Half the World (Shattered Sea, Book 2)
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars New characters and new adventures, 16 Feb. 2015
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I am a big fan of Joe Abercrombie and so very likely to enjoy anything he produces. This is the second novel in his diversion to YA literature and, while it still contains all the stuff that makes him so good, I would have to say I prefer his adult novels.

Yarvi is now a minister of Gettland, a Kingdom under threat from all sides and a desperate attempt to find allies. Yarvi takes a back seat here (although his character is now nearer Glotka from the First law trilogy) and it is young female fighter Thorn that takes centre stage as we see her develop over a long trip over half the world.

Many describe this as a coming of age story. I saw it more about those that plan ahead and are prepared to sacrifice almost anything to get the right result. The writing and dialogue is up to the usual high standards and it is hard not to keep turning the pages. I probably enjoyed this more than the first book, it has to be said that the author writes female characters very well.

So it is good stuff and great fun, if not quite the darker adult novel some of us might have preferred.


January Window (A Scott Manson thriller)
January Window (A Scott Manson thriller)
by Philip Kerr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Back of the net!, 9 Feb. 2015
Philip Kerr diverts away from Bernie Gunther for the moment to kick off a new series based in the murky world of football. I almost didn’t bother, initial reviews were very negative but I am glad I ignored them.

Scott Manson is the coach of London City, a fictional top London football club. The club, its players and owners are fictional but the football environment uses real players, names and situations and so it did feel accurate and current.

At the heart of it, this is a murder mystery set amongst the football world of dodgy characters, players agents and malpractice. Manson is manoeuvred into investigating a death at the club while not quite knowing who his friends are. As a character Manson is mixed race, an ex-player, well off in his own right and educated. The language is strong, many characters are recognisable as versions of real people and it seems obvious that Mr Kerr knows his football.

I love the Bernie stories but the author is entitled to try new things, I am always surprised at a backlash when popular authors dare to produce anything that is not what the fans demand. So I enjoyed this diversion and I now look forward to the next Bernie but also the next Scott Manson.


Death Watch
Death Watch
Price: £5.27

2.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but......, 3 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Death Watch (Kindle Edition)
A great idea here but the delivery left me a little cold.

Written 20 years ago but not published because of the whole 9/11 situation, this has just been released. And it is topical with the current Ebola concerns.

In summary there is a terrorist plan to release an air-borne version of Ebola on board an US Aircraft Carrier, the George Washington. And that sounded right up my street with the sort of plot handled effortlessly by a range of modern thriller writers. But this didn’t work for me despite the basis of a good idea. I would summarise it as somewhat long winded, lots of wasted pages and dialogue and not enough pace, tension or action. Things improve once we get to life on the George Washington and the author’s understanding of navy life help make it feel real but there is a sub-plot about some religious fanatics that might have seemed a good idea, but actually distracted from the main plot and felt out of place on a navy vessel.

Overall a frustrating read, it could have been good but was very flawed in the delivery.


Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Finish Quantum Original 2 x Pack of 30 (60 Dishwasher Tablets)
Price: £12.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Gleaming, 28 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Very effective and use these all the time. For some reason they do seem to have the better finish. Stuff comes out of the machine gleaming and we do get a reasonable life out of our glasswear before it starts to show wear. Obviously easy to use, so easy you don't even think about it, slap one in and away you go.
Wouldn't use anything else.


Something Red
Something Red
by Douglas Nicholas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, 28 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Something Red (Paperback)
This is one of those rare books that pop up and you feel that you are reading something different and a little bit special. Set in Medieval times, it is part historical, part horror and part coming of age and with a touch of fantasy. The author is an established poet and you can tell his love of words and language in every element of this novel including an ability to capture an age and time that is rare, even in historical fiction.

This is, in headline terms, about a small group of travellers in thirteenth century Northern England circa coming up against something evil and even castle walls may not protect them. But they have a secret weapon - themselves.

So I very much enjoyed this with only one minor frustration (which stopped me going 5 stars). The language. Modern dialect is not used and although I prefer to read modern dialect, I can cope without it. Here we have with the main characters some old fashion speech, but now and then the locals interact with them with even more challenging dialect:

“He were in terrible dolor, Mistress, and part of his face tore at, sithee. He were just chuntering’, verra low. ‘Twere hard to hear ‘im, an’ harder tae ken what he were on aboot: summat aboot a fox, he talked of nowt else for a time”

I do find it frustrating if I am jerked out of the flow of a story to have to re-read something and translate it in my head, I really hope the author avoids these extremes in future books. Having said that, I still have no hesitation in recommending this, it is multi-layered, very well written and deeply atmospheric.


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