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Reviews Written by
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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The Vagrant
The Vagrant
by Peter Newman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 4 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: The Vagrant (Hardcover)
This one seemed to tick all the boxes for me, great cover and great premise. But I struggled with this almost immediately. The writing style irritated very quickly and the world building was complex and quite hard work to understand. But sometimes you can get past these things if the characters are engaging and draw you into the story. The lead characters here are the central vagrant character who doesn’t talk, a baby and a goat. The goat is probably the most interesting and amusing character.

This became one of those books that was a struggle to pick up and too easy to put down and I really didn’t enjoy any aspect. I applaud any first time author and I hope Peter Newman goes onto great things, but this one was not for me.


Red Station
Red Station
by Adrian Magson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic thriller, 3 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Red Station (Hardcover)
I recently discovered the author with his second “Watchman” book, Close Quarters. I was very impressed with the style, the flow and the feel of the book and determined to catch up on the original Watchman and Mr Magson’s other works.
So, to Red Station. The first in the Harry Tate series, here we have an ex soldier and MI5 agent who is involved in a drugs bust that goes wrong. To get him out of sight he is posted to Red Station, a small outpost in Georgia to join a small group of British agents who have been hidden out of the way. And there is lots going on around Red Station, the Russians are on the border, the Brits are being watched by a mysterious team and, as things hot up, it becomes apparent that they can trust nobody, not even each-other.
This seeps with atmosphere and strong writing. What’s going on with the Russians, why is Red Station actually there for and do the team have a real purpose or are they just expendable?
Tate tries to find answers and they don’t come easy, especially when people start to die.
This is a proper old fashioned (in a good way) intelligence thriller. Finding the author’s books has been a great discovery and he is one that deserves to be far better known and should be selling books by the truckload. I am going to have to work my way through more of the author’s works and you would be missing out if you didn’t too.


The Burning: (Maeve Kerrigan 1)
The Burning: (Maeve Kerrigan 1)
by Jane Casey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, 27 July 2015
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I read this out of sequence, having caught this series further down the books.

Maeve Kerrigan is a junior detective on an elite London murder squad. The investigations here are around violent murderer who then burns his victims, when victim five turns up, there are some discrepancies so Maeve is tasked with background checks on the victim, her friends and family.

The narrative also switches from Kerrigan to that of Louise, one of the victims friends so you get different perspectives as the plot starts to open up. A plus point of the author’s writing is that her characters are so well defined, Kerrigan and her Police colleagues especially so.

This is a slow burner (ahem!) with an ending you can sort of see coming, so no big shock there. But it works in that the investigation feels real as do the breaks and the logic.

I think this is a great series, well written and character driven.


Thunder of the Gods: Empire VIII (Empire series)
Thunder of the Gods: Empire VIII (Empire series)
by Anthony Riches
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Series, 27 July 2015
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The eighth volume in a very enjoyable series, and one that has very much evolved over time. To date the man focus has been on Marcus Valerius Aquila, hiding from those in power in Rome under a false name with a Tungrian Legion. But things have changed and now Marcus is in the light and he, and his newly promoted Legatus, have been shipped overseas with their Tungrian troops to relieve a fort in remote Nisbis, under siege but a critical control point on the silk road.

The author makes greater use of his characters, Legatus Scaurus is given a lot of deserved centre stage as are a number of the characters within the Tungrians. This is a bit of a change but makes good use of the strong cast of characters and that is a good thing as they deserved more air-time.

The plot is a very strong mix of action and politics, both Roman and amongst the Parthian kings who are determined to slaughter the depleted Romans on their journey to Nisbis. A slightly slow start (where characters explain past events to each-other to bring us readers up to speed) but this soon hits full throttle and draws you into yet another entertaining story from a very talented author.


Dark Run
Dark Run
by Mike Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun in Space, 23 July 2015
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This review is from: Dark Run (Paperback)
This was a lot of fun, very much in the vein of the (brilliant) TV series Firefly and the Kitty Jay books by Chris Wooding.

A group of characters (all with dark secrets from the past) crew the Keiko doing whatever will bring in the cash, often on the wrong side of the law. The crew are diverse and not quite as ‘bonded’ as the likes of the Firefly gang, but they are starting to open up to each-other.

In this fast moving tale, they take on a dodgy job and avert disaster at the last moment. It then moves to a tale of revenge with a bit of the con-artist about it. It is character driven but does move with pace and is an easy and entertaining page-turner.

I enjoyed this, it has filled a gap left by the Chris Wooding books and definitely hits the spot. I am already looking forward to the next one.


Half a War (Shattered Sea, Book 3)
Half a War (Shattered Sea, Book 3)
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Very satisfying end to series, 21 July 2015
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Well, the end of Joe Abercrombie’s “YA” trilogy is upon us. The author keeps some central characters but moves new ones in. There is a potential big spoiler here which I shall avoid, but as war escalates the only solution might be forbidden Elvish weaponry which could be the turning point in the war.

This is the perfect blend of clever dialogue, characterisation and plots within plots and more than a few twists. Have to say I was never sure why this was described as a YA series, it didn’t feel like one and while not quite as dark as some previous works, this had plenty of darker and more adult themes in it. But all in all this was a fine ending to a very satisfying trilogy.

I regard Joe Abercrombie as Britain’s top fantasy writer and this book has not made me think otherwise.


Tom Clancy's Under Fire
Tom Clancy's Under Fire
by Grant Blackwood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Under Par, 20 July 2015
The trouble with being a fan of the Tom Clancy “RyanVerse” is that you feel the need to read all the books as you have invested so much time in the characters. In fairness the previous Grant Blackwood dip into the world of Clancy wasn’t bad. This is his second offering and it didn’t work for me.

Ryan Junior (let us remember he is the son of the US President) is able to travel the world without Secret Service protection, without anyone recognising him, and by the way, he is an intelligence agent for the secret Campus organisation.

Anyway, Jack meets an old friend in Tehran who then disappears and this kicks off a story linked to the dullest coup in history. There was little to engage in, the characterisation was lacking, the plot uninteresting and lots of inconsistencies. One minute Jack has all the trade-craft, next the policy seems to be “trust your instincts. He is a key member of Campus yet it is a long time before he updates them and even longer before they send some help. You kind of know the norm would be to send a team over straight away, yet mainly Jack gets John Clark as some kind of remote helpline. Just felt wrong and not how the Campus would operate, especially given who Jack’s Dad is!

In essence this may have worked as a standard thriller and it felt like one that was just shoe-horned into the Clancy world and as such it does not deliver on the expectations of a Clancy style novel.


Rexel Joy A4 5 Subject Notebook - Pretty Pink
Rexel Joy A4 5 Subject Notebook - Pretty Pink
Price: £8.42

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 17 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really like the design of these, they are robust, bright and well designed. Section dividers, places to tuck notes or receipts in, calandar etc etc. Great for project or work management. The only let down, as has been pointed out by other reviewers is the actual quality of the paper. It's too thin and feels a cheap element of a quality product. But otherwise - brilliant.


Brothers in Valor (Man of War Book 3)
Brothers in Valor (Man of War Book 3)
Price: £3.98

3.0 out of 5 stars detailed space combat, 14 July 2015
The final part of the trilogy (I suspect there will be some additional ones) featuring Max Robichaux, captain of the Terran Union starship USS Cumberland. The Terran Union, plus some alien allies are at war with the Krag and Max and his crew have been given a tough mission that is probably a deadly trap.

The writing and style is old school, in line with the famous “Master and Commander” and blends the Patrick O’Brian style with a dash of Star Trek. Loyalty, honour and tradition are key here. Robichaux is a tactical genius and an inspirational leader of men, a little unbelievable at times but you just accept that and roll with it.

Quite a lot of detailed space battles in this, a tad too technical at times, and includes a bit of old fashioned ship boarding which was fun, but overall this has been a fun series.


When the Heavens Fall (The Chronicles of the Exile #1)
When the Heavens Fall (The Chronicles of the Exile #1)
by Marc Turner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Was hoping for a little more, 14 July 2015
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A debut fantasy that does take some getting into. In summary a mad mage has got hold of a book of the dead and is using its powerful magic to raise and army of dead. Many are drawn to the epicentre of the power, all with their own agendas and needs, even the Gods themselves are taking an interest. The story follows four main groups or individuals as then head towards the mage and the book, facing incredible odds all the way.

It took a long time to warm to the characters and some of the background is never quite explained so you kind of just roll with the story. It’s a fairly big book and most of it is spend on the various journeys towards the mage and his book. Chuck in lots of undead warriors, lots of magic and interfering Gods and there you have it.

So this was okay and had lots of potential, but it never quite came together for me until the last quarter when we see the various groups come together. But I never felt fully drawn in and engaged with the story or the characters which left me slightly underwhelmed with this and I did not find it as satisfying as I would have hoped.


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