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The Dragon's Path: Book 1 of the Dagger and the Coin
The Dragon's Path: Book 1 of the Dagger and the Coin
Price: 5.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ALMOST AS GOOD AS 'ICE & FIRE', 16 July 2013
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The whole style of this, the first in a series of fantasy novels, is so similar to the JRR Martin books, 'A Game of Ice & Fire' (or 'Game of Thrones') that it's impossible not to make comparisons. Given just how brilliant Mr Martin's works are, it's quite a compliment to report that Daniel Abraham compares very well indeed. What both series of books have in common is the story being driven by fascinating characters rather than just jumping from one gory action scene to another. Also, both are so engrossing because of the endless detail of the fictional worlds; the writing is so vivid that a reader truly smells and feels the experience as well as seeing it. Even the chapter styling; each chapter being headed by the name of a character, matches Martin.

In this world, there are 13 races of humanity, all very different, and I found this interplay utterly engrossing. All of the main characters are complex, rich and absolutely believable. All are flawed in some way. And, again like JRR, Mr Abraham doesn't flinch from killing off characters or having the main actors do things that make the reader wince.

I have read reviews complaining that the story doesn't move fast enough, or their isn't enough action. To those folk, I would say "go back to watching Jeremy Kyle as this is, obviously beyond your attention span". Indeed, this is a complex book, with lots of difficult names, and the reader gets the sense that he/she is 'learning' the fictional world and its characters, ready for the main action to start in the next book. However, that 'learning' doesn't drag at all and I was absorbed in the story all of the way through.

I had already downloaded the next book in the series, 'The King's Blood', and so I'm straight into that now! If you like JRR Martin, then you'll love this too.
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The Kill Room (Lincoln Rhyme Book 10)
The Kill Room (Lincoln Rhyme Book 10)
Price: 3.49

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars POSSIBLY HIS BEST EVER, 5 July 2013
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What a reversal. I have , a short while ago, written a pretty scathing review of JD's short story 'A Textbook Case' and I postulated the, slightly tongue in cheek, theory that that effort was so poor that I didn't believe that it had been written by Mr Deaver at all. Well, now I'm even more convinced because THIS, 'The kill Room', is a proper Jeffery Deaver.

I've read everything written by JD and he is, by far, my favourite thriller writer. My personal favourite has long been 'The Coffin Dancer', mainly because of the mind blowing twists, turns and reversals (that only work in print; it couldn't be filmed) although, from other reviews, I acknowledge that I'm in a minority in keeping this as my favourite. But now I might just have a brand new favourite.

All of our favourite characters are in 'The Kill Room', and are equally entertaining as always. But the plot has a staggering reversal. And then another. And then...well, you get the picture. As always, the plot includes technology that is either state of the art or ahead of its time but I can't say more without being a 'spoiler'. Even the ending is immensely satisfying.

It's frustrating not being able to graphically describe what makes this plot, and the writing style behind it, so brilliant but to give any details or hints at all would reduce the joy of being swept along by the text and the evocative images that it conjures up. Just buy it. Or borrow it. Or get yourself sent to jail just so that you can take it out of the prison library. This will be the best thriller / detective read you have in a long time.

Welcome back JD and, whoever wrote 'A Textbook Case', kill him!

Original Skin (Ds Aector Mcavoy 2)
Original Skin (Ds Aector Mcavoy 2)
Price: 3.66

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GETTING BETTER, 24 Jun 2013
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Having read and enjoyed 'Dark Winter', and knowing it to be David Mark's first book, I hoped that his second, 'Original Skin', would be even better. It is.

All of the things that impressed me in the first book, as well as all of the minor irritations, are here in his second outing. The poetic and lyrical turn of phrase, the annoying habit of omitting the first word of many sentences, the syntax that leaves you wondering which character is saying that, is all there. This book is more evenly paced than the first and does have a bit more action and, again, the characters, especially the main heroes, are hugely engaging.

For me, the surprise is that, although this book uses, almost as a character in its own right, a background of illicit sex parties, sado-masochism, and a promiscuous victim, the story line has a real hook to it beyond prurience. There is slightly 'dirty' feel to the book but that, in some strange way, is what makes this such a good read. And it is, for me at least, such an unusual plot background that I was mesmerised from the outset; it was like peeping through your fingers at a horror film, knowing that you just can't avert your gaze.

I understand that the clipped writing style is intended to add to the gritty feeling of 'real streets', but I still found it just a shade jarring and it's the reason I've withheld a fifth star. Having said that, it certainly won't deter me from buying another of Mr Mark's novels as, after all, the two so far are definitely in the 'superior read' category.

Dark Winter
Dark Winter
Price: 2.98

3.0 out of 5 stars BOTH GOOD & PROMISING, 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Dark Winter (Kindle Edition)
Straight away, I have to say that I enjoyed this book and I agonised about giving it a fourth star. My reason for withholding that star might not be the best!

I really liked the characters in this book and, as others have commented upon, Hull and Grimsby are, themselves, characters too. The story is slow to get going but it builds pace right up to the end. There aren't many surprises here and I could see every plot procession coming far ahead but that didn't spoil the enjoyment for me. There are a couple of style oddities that I'm not sure whether I like them or not. Firstly, the writing is in a quite tersely clipped style, with, often, the first word of a sentence cut off so that it sounds more like a stream of thought in first person. This adds to the sense of dark and brooding tension but can jar occasionally.

Secondly, there are numerous references to an earlier story line that implies that this is one of the middle books in a whole series but, as far as I can determine, this is, actually, the first book. Again, I quite liked this oddity as it seemed to lend to the authenticity.

I liked all of the stuff that others have commented upon, including the darkness in the story, the nature of the main character and the feeling of authenticity based on personal experience. I liked, for instance, a sympathetic main character who can be drawn, sexually, to an older, but very sexy, woman while still loving his wife totally.

Why did I withhold the extra star? Because I think that this book could have been better; tighter and more punchy with a more even pace. I think that Mr Mark is an excellent author and has the capacity to deliver, so I consider this book to be a 'practice' and I have every expectation that his next book (which I have already downloaded) will be even better. So, I'm sort of dangling the extra star as a carrot to encourage Mr Mark on! My statements here are ironic given the comments by David Mark on his website so I hope that he will not take too much offense! This is still a book that's a cut above the norm and I look forward to getting into 'Original Skin'.

All the Countries We've Ever Invaded
All the Countries We've Ever Invaded
Price: 6.64

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars UNBELIEVABLY BORING, 8 Jun 2013
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Aarghhhhh !!!!! For the first time in my life I've been beaten by a book. If I'm going to give a review then I have, at least, got to read right through to the end and I've never, not ever, given up on a book and left it uncompleted. Until now.

I love history and the premise for this book is so promising that I really had high expectations. But Mr Laycock has revealed a very rare talent for turning gold into lead. That this book is crammed with detailed facts is undeniable. That they are expressed in an incredibly dull and boring fashion is equally undeniable. Just to nail the coffin lid down on this piece of work, Mr Laycock has set out the information alphabetically, by country. The effect is to make the sense of reading a telephone book even more pronounced. I managed to flog myself through to 'G for Gabon' before I just gave up. I have promised myself that I will finish this book, but I'm going to have to do it in small chunks as, otherwise, I'd slash my wrists first.

This isn't, really, a book at all. Rather, like those folk who learn to recite the value of pi to hundreds of decimal places, it's just an exercise in research for one geek who, at best, might use it on a CV when seeking a job at a BBC news programme. That this Kindle book is relatively expensive doesn't endear it any further to me.

I've tried to find a reason to justify even the single star so here it is. I'm not the type of reader who just buys a book to leave lying around and then to dip into, almost at random, but I know that there are lots of folk out there who do read like this (in my opinion, usually younger people with attention deficit issues - only joking!). So, if you're planning a trip to Cyprus (or almost anywhere else in the world) and think "Before I go, I'll just look up when we last invaded that country; it will be an interesting conversational piece", then this is the book for you. For anyone with a boredom threshold greater than a slab of granite, it isn't.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 12.04

4.0 out of 5 stars LOVELY, 8 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Massachusetts (Audio CD)
I bought this for my wife and she loves it. I bought a Taylor Swift album at the same time and playing them side by side demonstrates the purity and quality of Lori McKenna's voice.

If my wife is happy, then so am I!!!

The Perfect Kill
The Perfect Kill
Price: 4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Perfect Kill (Kindle Edition)
Having read, and raved about, 'Man On Fire', I bought and read this straight afterwards. It was OK but I have some really major problems with this book. Unfortunately, it will be quite difficult for me to explain my problems with this book without revealing a lot about the story line, so forgive me if this is a bit vague; you'll just have to take my word for it!
For a start, there is no new plot theme here, it's just 'Man On Fire' again. Creasy's loved ones are murdered and he goes on a journey of vengeance.
Then there's Creasy's character make up. He is supposed to be stone cold and heartless killer who can't relate to people. Yet, in this book, he seems to have an endless supply of 'good friends', all around the world and all in positions in which they can help him. There are a few tales to relate past incidents in Creasy's 'bloodthirsty' career but they end up making him sound more like a cross between a Marvel comic hero and Mother Teresa than an antisocial mercenary (think Bruce Willis in 'Tears of the Sun).
The weaponry and 'trade craft' expressed in the book are integral to the whole plot yet, even more so than with 'Man On Fire', I found some of these a bit jarring for even an armchair warrior like me. For example (this is the best I can think of without spoiling the book for you) there is a lot about how wind affects a sniping shot yet, when it comes to the deed, a helicopter is hovering directly above and the massive downdraught from this is never mentioned. And real soldiers must laugh their socks off at the contention that a 500m shot is extreme range for a sniper!
Finally, there's the ending. Apart from arriving at the end and wondering "what were those main characters ever introduced for?", the ending seems to be very rushed and lacking in tension; it's as though the author just couldn't bring himself to make Creasy fallible.
I will still read the next book in the Creasy series but I'll leave it a while before I do. I hope it's better than this 3 star effort.

Man on Fire
Man on Fire
Price: 4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars NOT THE FILM AND BETTER FOR IT, 1 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Man on Fire (Kindle Edition)
Because I had seen the excellent film with Denzel Washington, I had decided, before I read this book, that it would be the same story but set in Italy rather than Mexico and, as always, the book would be better than the film. That was a tall order as the film was so good. I was sucker-punched like a fool on his first date!
This is, really, three books with a linked thread and I can't tell you much about the plot without spoiling it for readers. The first section follows the film fairly well (or, really, the film follows the plot of the book), but then there is a traumatic and dramatic change and, from that point onwards, the whole thrust of the plot line veers away entirely from the film plot.
The book is absolutely brilliant with well drawn characters and plenty of action throughout. The detail of weaponry, tactics and all things military just reeks of practical knowledge without dominating the story. The descriptions of places are almost good enough to count as a travel book (I've even stayed at one of the hotels on Gozo mentioned).
Creasy is a little too perfect; every woman he meets desires him and every man admires him and wants to help him, but I can live with that.
The only 'wrinkle' for me was a personal one. From the outset, my mental image of Creasy was, very definitely, Denzel Washington, yet it seems clear from Creasy's description that the author did not make him black. Curiously, Creasy COULD be black, it just doesn't say so. This is a bit like Bernard Cornwell writing Richard Sharpe as a black haired Londoner and having him played by the blonde Yorkshireman, Sean Bean, on screen.
On the whole, I'm glad that it's impossible to compare this book to the film; they are just so different from each other. I loved both.

The Dispatcher
The Dispatcher
Price: 0.89

5.0 out of 5 stars SOMETHING UNUSUAL, 28 May 2013
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This review is from: The Dispatcher (Kindle Edition)
I had read other reviews before I bought this Kindle book so I was already intrigued but, having read it, I have to agree with most of the other reviews. It is written in an unusual style, partly in first person and entirely in the present tense, but, although this seems a bit strange at first, one quickly gets used to it and this style does seem to add to the sense of immediacy and menace.

The characters are exceptionally well drawn and developed; and that's ALL of the characters, not just the main players. I loved the quirky touches such as a completely out of character gun shop owner that only appears briefly and their 'quirkyness' plays no part in the plot; so why write the character like this? Because that's what happens in real life; sometimes life IS just a bit strange.

One reviewer complained that the plot depends upon a truly unbelievable coincidental sighting half way through. This is true but it doesn't spoil the plot. I'm surprised that, rather than this, no one has commented that, on several occasions, a healthy 14 year old can't outrun an overweight elderly man.

I won't spoil the ending for others but, having read some of the reviews, I thought that I knew what the ending must be, so I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't like that at all. Having said that, I believe that I could have written a better ending but then the ending I have in mind might have been too dark even for this novel!

I did find a couple of anomalies in the firearms selected throughout the book, including one pretty glaring error and a bit more description might help those who aren't armourers (who knows what a Lapura is except an Italian?), particularly as the performance of these weapons is quite critical to the plot.

But all of these minor gripes are VERY minor and didn't impede my enjoyment of this book at all. There are two driving forces throughout this book; one is the main story line and the other is the characters themselves. Both of these work brilliantly and drive the book on. Others have said what a compelling read this is and I totally agree. I will, certainly, read more of Mr Jahn's work.

Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
Gates Of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae
Price: 3.59

4.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT: SO NEARLY FIVE STARS, 22 May 2013
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This is a brilliant book. The historical narrative just rings with authenticity and even knowing the ending before you start doesn't dim the tension at all. It's almost impossible to tell where Mr Pressfield has eased from hard historical fact to author's license and, given that this is such a well known legend, that's saying a lot.

The characters are so well rounded and beautifully drawn that you really care about every one of them. I did. as usual, struggle with some of the Greek names but that's easily overcome. There is also no discernible bias in that the cliché of a villainous 'nasty' and an angelic 'hero' is avoided with both sides being afforded the respect due to their positions.

I really want to sneer at the semi-comic film '300' with Gerard Butler but, actually, when reading some passages, especially those parts describing the phalanx and pushing the enemy over the cliff edge, I found it impossible not to envisage scenes from the film. And now I feel ashamed at comparing a trashy film to this wonderful work of literature!

I so very nearly gave this book five stars but, in the end, docked a star just because, by the end of the book, I was a bit tired of reading the same philosophical point expressed again. And again. And again. The Spartans are noble warriors; OK, I get it! By the end of the book I felt as though I had read about every blow struck against every warrior on the field. At least once! So trimming a few dozen pages off this would have earned it another star.

The last few books that I've read on my Kindle have suffered badly from poor rendition into the electronic format. This book, however, is flawless in its transcription so my only complaint is 'why can't all Kindle renditions be this good?'

I've read Steven Pressfield books before and all have been good, but this is the best so far for me. It won't disappoint.

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