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Reviews Written by
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Sword Of The North (The Grim Company)
Sword Of The North (The Grim Company)
by Luke Scull
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but a "middle" book, 28 Aug. 2015
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I enjoyed the first book and was keen to continue with the series. This does suffer from “middle book in a trilogy” issues, but also slightly suffers from a lack of direction. There is a lot going on with many characters and it did feel as if we were getting glimpses of activity without a very clear view of how they were pushing the story to a point where it would all come together. We do get the backstory to Kayne and how he became the “Sword of the North” and the consequences this had for him in the past and in the present. He is aided by one of the more interesting characters, Jarek “the Wolf” as he travels with an aching body and reputation.

This does play very strongly in the Joe Abercrombie space, it is dark, earthy and violent. Luke Skull has not yet developed the levels of brilliance in character and dialogue that we expect as the norm from Abercrombie, but there are clear signs he is moving in the right direction. I have slight concerns that Mr Skull and Mr Abercrombie might have arrived at the same plot reveal at the same time but I hope to be proved wrong in the next book.

But this isn’t bad at all, probably 3.5 stars and Luke Skull remains an author to watch, I’ll be there for the end of the trilogy and I hope the experience the author has gained from the first two books plus a little confidence will deliver a stunning final book.


We Install: And Other Stories
We Install: And Other Stories
by Harry Turtledove
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, 26 Aug. 2015
A mixed bag that provides an interesting overview of the author but may disappoint readers who are looking for a bunch of alternative history short stories. This is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, mainstream and some thoughts and essays. Have to say I found the essays the least interesting, but if you are interested in how an author thinks and want to go beyond the stories, then this may be your thing. The best stuff lies amongst the sci-fi, Hoxbomb and Down in the Bottomlands which is great and probably the kind of story people might hope the book was packed out with. These are highs along with Under St Peter’s which is a clever bit of fantasy/horror which will leave you thinking long after you have finished the book. There are some attempts at humour which didn’t work for me (We Install for instance) and one long story about WW2 that I completely missed the point of. The rest are generally “okay” but not the sort of stories that really grip you or make you think.
So very much a mixed bag.


The Killing Kind
The Killing Kind
by Chris Holm
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

4.0 out of 5 stars violent thriller, 24 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Killing Kind (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The story of a killer who takes out hitman as they are about to take someone out. Hendricks only kills those who are like him, hunters. This is partly to atone for his past and he selects who might be worthy of his services, he calls you, you don't call him. With the help of an ex-special forces buddy, he has become a thorn in the side of Organised Crime so they send their best assassin after him...

Quick paced and pretty violent this does deliver what you think it will and adds to the recent fascination with the world of hitmen. An easy but violently entertaining read...


Turn Coat: A Dresden Files novel: 11
Turn Coat: A Dresden Files novel: 11
by Jim Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Wizard stuff, 19 Aug. 2015
Wouldn't call myself a massive Harry Dresden fan, have dipped in and out of the books but have been left slightly underwhelmed. maybe I chose the wrong books, because with this I can see why people like the stories so much.
Harry protects an old enemy while mixing it with his fellow wizards and vampires. And an almost indestructable creature is out to kill him too. Amingst conspiracies and fragile alliances, Harry must find out the truth about his old enemy being framed for murder and what the consequences might be for him and his friends.
It all hung together very well and I now see why people like these books so much.


Top End (THE COLD WAR CHRONICLES OF MAXWELL TAYLOR MOSS Book 5)
Top End (THE COLD WAR CHRONICLES OF MAXWELL TAYLOR MOSS Book 5)
Price: £3.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Cutting to the chase, 19 Aug. 2015
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This is an old series and (written in 1989) featuring Max Moss. This was number five in the series which kicked off with the pulsating “Recovery”. In this, critical technology is stolen from Moss’s company and moved to Darwin in the “Top End” of Australia. With the help of an ex-CIA “fixer”, Moss goes in to liberate the stolen technology and get it out of Australia, when things go wrong a car chase over the vastness of the Australian Outback ensues.

The author knows about rally driving and flying, so is perfectly positioned to deliver an adrenaline fuelled chase story. The Australian setting is a fun one as well so it works very well. It’s a shame that the author has been too busy with other things to continue the Moss series, I have enjoyed them a great deal.


CB12 Mild Mint Menthol Mouthwash 1000ml
CB12 Mild Mint Menthol Mouthwash 1000ml
Price: £26.99

5.0 out of 5 stars effective and great taste, 12 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a big beast but a great tasting and refreshing mouthwash. Slight difficulty in getting the pump to work and you need a small cup handy to use with this, or those small plastic things that come with medicine bottles. But once I found somewhere for this to sit and located a small cup, this is very effective. Key is that it tastes refreshing, you don't want to be buying a massive bottle of mouthwash to discover it tastes horrible!

This does the job very well indeed.


Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven's Shadow
Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven's Shadow
by Anthony Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

5.0 out of 5 stars very good indeed, 11 Aug. 2015
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Wow, this really is very good. I have read a great deal of fantasy over many years and this is a very impressive debut and gripping novel. In terms of positioning, this should appeal to fans of Gemmell, Rothfuss and Abercrombie. As with any fantasy there will always be bits or themes you recognise from the genre but Mr Ryan adds very strong characters and world-building that makes this very much stand out.

This is the story of Vaelin Al Sorna, from the point of his youth where he is taken to join a group of warrior monks, defending the faith and the Realm. Half the book is taken up with his training and the forging of him as an individual and the brotherhood he forms with his fellow students. The Order he has joined is one of many and we learn about the history of the Orders, the Faith they follow and the politics of the Kingdom. All told in a way to draw you in and really smell and feel the world that has been built for you. Characters have real depth, including Vaelin who is struggling with the forbidden ‘blood song’ that is within him and the balance of his beliefs with the agendas of others, including an ambitious Royal Family.

This is incredibly well thought out and delivered and was an unexpected treat.


A Lovely Way to Burn: Plague Times Trilogy 1
A Lovely Way to Burn: Plague Times Trilogy 1
by Louise Welsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, 10 Aug. 2015
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Stevie is a young lady who works as a presenter on a shopping channel and is dating a doctor. Her life takes a massive turn when she not only discovered her boyfriend’s dead body, but at the same time a deadly pandemic hits London. So this is the story of Stevie trying to find the answers to the death of her boyfriend, set to the chilling background of London disintegrating.

It was an excellent review by reviewer Julia Flyte that alerted me to this book which would otherwise have been well off my radar. I am very grateful to have found this excellent book and am already looking forward to the follow up. The pandemic background is brilliantly delivered as London comes down with “the sweats” and there is a real sense of panic and menace. In my opinion Stevie’s quest for the truth about her boyfriend took second place to “the sweats” but still provided a mystery for us to enjoy unravelling almost as quickly as London does.

Very much enjoyed this. Worth looking at Countdown City by Ben Winters if you enjoyed this.


Slow Horses (Slough House)
Slow Horses (Slough House)
Price: £1.51

4.0 out of 5 stars intelligent thriller, 10 Aug. 2015
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Slough House is a decrepit building where the intelligence officers who are seen to have failed are parked out of the way. Known as the “Slow Horses” they are given meaningless tasks until such time as they give up and leave the security service.

A kidnapping and threatened beheading gives some members of the team a chance at redemption, but are they really up to it and is everything as it seems? At first glance this may appear to be a standard story of plucky spies proving their worth against the odds, but the reality is that many of those concerned really are damaged goods.

The author has a distinctive writing style, very descriptive and with complex characters and some great dialogue. All of this is in the murky world of intelligence and back stabling politics and quite hard to categorise, it’s much nearer the Smiley end of the scale than the James Bond, that’s for sure.


Solomon Creed
Solomon Creed
by Simon Toyne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

4.0 out of 5 stars thriller with a slight pinch of the supernatural, 7 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Solomon Creed (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A very hard book to review as a review should advise a potential buyer if a book is their kind of thing, and if it is a good “their kind of thing”. But this is a very hard book to pin down in terms of potential audience.

At a superficial level this is Jack Reacher country, stranger arrives at a small town (with no memory) and finds it full of corruption and mysteries. And of course there is a woman in need of help. Our stranger, Soloman, finds he has many talents and these help him stay alive while he tries to unravel what is going on. We also get a history of the town through diaries and a book about its founder. And this is wrapped around a story that unravels bit by bit amongst a fair bit of violent action.

So, a version of a Reacher story then? Er, not quite. There is a (mild) theme running through this about faith and the odd ghost makes a (brief) appearance. So there is an element of the supernatural tucked in here, it is not a main theme but it might put off those who like their thrillers more grounded. But it worked well enough from me, plenty that I felt I had seen before but you keep spinning the page to find out what is actually going on! Enjoyable but hard to see the audience, maybe the follow up will be better at defining the “spirit” (ahem) of the series.


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