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Batman Retro Style Shoulder / Sports Bag
Batman Retro Style Shoulder / Sports Bag
Offered by fuze Ltd
Price: 22.51

1.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but breaks . . ., 17 Aug 2013
I love this bag. My family loves this bag. My friends love this bag. It is beautiful and stylish and just wonderful. I just could not resist it! My only concern was there were no separate pockets inside for say a wallet, my keys, my mobile. Still - a little bit of fumbling around in a big bag for a set of keys was a compromise for something that looks so lovely.

So why only one star?

It broke. After only 32 days of owning the bag using it sensibly for work and leisure as I was heading across a busy London street the strap broke.

I did a quick search online and noted that another review commented on this. That is the reason I am writing this review, because my bag breakage may be a freak faulty item but there's more than one out there!

If you want it for display - perfect. If you want to use it then just be warned. It could break.


Body Double: Rizzoli & Isles series 4
Body Double: Rizzoli & Isles series 4
Price: 3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Doubley Good!, 29 July 2012
Here's a time I wish Amazon let me give half marks - or even three quarters of a star! I've given this book 4 stars although it does deserve a little more than that!

This is the fourth story in the series featuring Rizolli and Isles and in this one pathologist Maura Isles looks down on the body on the morgue table to see her reflection. This woman is not only the spitting image of her but shares her same date of birth and DNA - this dead woman is Maura's long lost twin.

The novel starts at this interesting point, a fascinating concept that hooked me from the off and made me gallop through the novel. Link this with a serial killer story that Gerritsen has done so perfectly in her previous novels (including the incredible The Surgeon) and you've got yourself a neat little thriller that will keep you turning the pages until dawn.

The highlights of the book are the interesting concept, well developed characters which as a reader I've grown to like throughout the series, fascinating techincal detail and a lots of twists and turns. I would have said the negative part of the book was the fact only a fifth into the book I'd solved the big twist . . . but it turns out Miss Gerritsen was one ahead of me and twisted it far more than I anticipated.

This book is a brilliant book in a good series and I would highly recommend you read it. It's got me eagerly awaiting the next!


The Rehearsal
The Rehearsal
by Eleanor Catton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could a better book follow The Rehearsal?, 25 July 2012
This review is from: The Rehearsal (Paperback)
I bought this book two years ago following a "if you like Notes on a Scandal you will love . . ." clever piece of promotion and for those two years it sat on my bookshelf neglected - until this summer.

Like the aforementioned 'Notes' it is about a male music teacher who has an affair with one of his students however this really isn't what the story is about. It's about the lives of people affected by the scandal and about a drama group who use the scandal as inspiration for a stage they decide to stage. It's two coinciding stories that, by the end, explode together in a riot of colour.

The highlight of this novel is Eleanor Catton's writing. She writes beautiful sentences that fizzle and sparkle. Her descriptions include minute details that are so alive, so real they cause a momentary pause, a silent round of aplause. This is by far the power of the book. The structure or her writing and decisions she makes result in this being a very playful and experimental novel for example calling on character "the saxophone teacher". This causes the novel to be different and thought provoking while at the same time I found it a little alienating and distanced me from the story and characters. While other reviewers are complimentary of the characterisation I was too aware, due to the experimental nature, that I was reading a novel and felt distanced from the characters.

As I read this novel, bar the intensity and beauty of the writing, I did not particularly enjoy it, however as the story began to develop in the last 100 pages I found myself hooked, intrigued as to how this story could end. On finishing I am intrigued as to the events of the plot and what this book really was about. I'm desperate to find someone who has read the book to discuss it with them and am now able to look back positively on the reading experience.

If this is The Rehearsal imagine what the real thing could be like!


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
by Michelle Hodkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Dissatisfaction of Mara Dyer, 13 April 2012
I am probably not the target audience for this novel and perhaps that's why I am the only person to score this book below 3 stars. Perhaps you will think unfairly judging by all the other reviews. I know when reading a review of a book I've enjoyed I always doubt the critical reviews.

As said, I'm probably not the target audience for this novel being in my late twenties and a male. You'll probably wonder why I even picked up the book. Aside from the stunning front cover and intriguing title I'm really enjoying the boom of young adult literature over the last few years with the success of The Hunger Games and many of the other books that are finding their way into adult reading lists. Now I liked the sound of the blurb on the back of the book. Mara wakes up from being in a coma with no memory of the accident that killed her friends, she starts a new school and sees her dead friends' faces and then she imagines people's deaths before they actually occur. It sounds good.

Things aren't always the way they are described however. The book focuses on Mara Dyer's suspected insanity for a huge chunk with her struggling to remember what happened to her friends and seeing their faces. This bit was okay, although how many times do you want to read about a character looking in a mirror in fear of seeing her dead friend's face? The imagining people's deaths bit . . . well that only occured on a couple of occasions. So what did feature a lot in this book? Love. Mara's love for Brit boy Noah Shaw. This didn't interest me. There was a lot of do I like him, don't I like him, hearing rumours about him, falling for him but not being able to help it and so on and so forth. This did not interest me. I knew she was going to get with him and became impatient with all the issues that kept cropping up.

What I really disliked about this book was the fact it didn't feel like a full story. It's part of a series (if I'd known that I doubt I would have picked the novel up to be truthful) and sadly I don't think this series has been structured very well. Harry Potter, the Hunger Games - they are all so successful because each book is a story in itself and when put together tell a bigger story. I didn't get the feel of that with this book. It felt like the beginning. It felt like the pilot of a television series where all they manage to do is set up the characters and location. Yes, plenty of events occur in the story but they are just that, events. Not a series of interlocking events with a beginning, middle and end. There is no resolution and the ending doesn't feel like a natural end to this episode in the series of novels. To be honest it feels like the author has reached the 450 page mark and realises going much above this will stop readers from picking the novel up.

I don't think I enjoyed this book. Although parts of it the writing is good it just isn't for me. It lacked the believability that I like in literature (even fantasy fiction can be believable!). The characters were two dimensional and irritating. Mara was insane, Noah was too wonderful and smug - the boy you don't want to fancy but just can't help yourself, Mara's older brother was too perfect. The setting was too glossy and perfect. There was a real lack of realism for me.

Have I been overly harsh or am I just the wrong demographic for this novel? I think the latter is probably true. For teenage girls this book is probably a brilliant read and all my niggles about the book are not an issue. This may be so but The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is not a book that can go beyond the young adult target audience like many of great teenage novels can. This is limited to that one area therefore this book is probably not for you if you are not a teenage girl.


The Other Half Lives (Culver Valley Crime)
The Other Half Lives (Culver Valley Crime)
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars . . . but not giving up, 14 May 2011
The book begins with another "surely that's impossible" premise that make the Sophie Hannah novels so grabbing when browsing at the bookshop. The premise this time - a man, Aidan, confesses to his lover, Ruth, that he killed a woman but Ruth knows that woman is still alive.

It gets you straight away trying to work out how this is possible, making guesses and having Hannah knocking these thoughts away as not the solution. It also sees the return of Simon Woodhouse and Charlie Zailer, making their fourth appearance following Little Face, Hurting Distance and Point of Rescue, and charts the next steps in their complicated relationship.

So how does the book stand up?

With difficulty.

In my opinion this novel is far too convuluted and confusing that it doesn't stand up. Yes it keeps you gripped, yes it's pacey, yes it's shocking and surprising but ultimately it just seemed unrealistic. I love books with twists and turns but some of these seemed a little too convenient and coincidental. Also, everyone's backstories were so dramatic and tragic and people acting in such an extreme way which made them seem just characters to act out a story. They weren't believable.

The ongoing relationship with Waterhouse and Zailer continues to develop, as it has done throughout the other novels but this one left me questioning where it was going - feeling it was seeming a little too similar to many relationships we see on television (and no, I don't mean like those on Case Sensitive!!!!). Where it once was original it seems to be veering closer to the formula - with an extra dose of nastiness and trauma thrown in. (Trust me, the world Hannah depicts in her writing is so nasty and bleak it is a world I wouldn't even want to spend an hour in!).

This book disappointed me because it didn't live up to her brilliant 'Hurting Distance' and also because the central idea and concept of the protagonist had such potential that sadly was lost when one too many twists and confusions were added.

Fingers crossed the next will be better for I don't plan on giving up on this author just yet.


Stolen
Stolen
by Lucy Christopher
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars This book stole my time . . ., 26 Feb 2011
This review is from: Stolen (Paperback)
Narrated by Gemma and taking the form of a letter to her captor this is the story of how she was kidnapped at an airport and taken to the Australian Outback.

Good points: the description of the setting, the realistic characters, the thought provoking ending.

Bad points: the slow pace through much of the book (owing to nothing really happening), the fact for the majority of the book there are only two characters which limits the dialogue.

I would recommend this book to teen readers however I disagree with the critiques that Ms Christopher is a "new voice" and that her work is astounding. It's worth a read though.


Lazybones (Tom Thorne Novels)
Lazybones (Tom Thorne Novels)
by Mark Billingham
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be lazy - give it a try, 6 Nov 2010
Mark Billingham has fast established himself as the best British crime writer of the serial killer thriller. His books, featuring DI Tom Thorne, are gritty, urban and devilishly intriguing. The first two books in the series, Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat, focused on an original idea not seen in other novels in the same genre. This one begins with a less original premise which instantly makes it less spectacular.

The premise is a serial killer targetting rapists, which feels familar however Billingham's intelligent plotting takes the reader on an action packed ride which twists and turns and feels very unpredicable at times. Sadly there wasn't the trademark shocking ending when the killer is revealed as I was able to guess the final scenes before they occured.

For me what makes Billingham's novels stand out is his characterisation. In the first novel I found it hard to like Thorne and found the book generally a little slow however as they have gone on I have appreciated the characters and their subplots. It is them that make me want to read the next in the series, partnering up with his fine plots make his books very good.

In conclusion I would recommend this book although for me it wasn't as good as Scaredycat.


Glass Houses:  The Morganville Vampires Book 1
Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires Book 1
by Rachel Caine
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book 1 - will I read Book 2?, 28 July 2010
So, yet another vampire series invented due to the success of Twilight and apparently SFX say that I should dump Twilight for these Morganville books. I have no loyalty to the Twilight books. I'm not in love with Edward (or Jacob), I am just a reader who enjoys reading good books. So, how does this compare with Twilight? Is it worth reading?

Claire Danvers is the main character, a super smart 16 year old off to University. She's an okay character but crying at every obstacle (with plenty of information from Caine how she wishes she doesn't cry) makes her just a bit annoying. At university she quickly makes enemies with the mean girls (who take mean to a new, unrealistic extreme) and then moves from her dorm to the glass house where she finally makes friends. But these friends have secrets . . . though the fact Morganville is overrun with vampires isn't their secret!

The plot is pretty good, there are some new and interesting thoughts and Caine has brought some originality into a word infested with vampires (I use the word some loosely). The characters are a little stereotypical and annoying in times and sometimes it veers to the cliched which is a shame. The majority of the book was gripping and I found myself reading for longer than I expected however parts of it did become a little ridiculous, I had to well and truly leave my cynicism at the door. It is for this reason that I am not in a hurry to carry on reading this series. I know this is a fantasy novel (because of the vampires) but I do like my fantasy firmly rooted in reality!

Another reason I would chose not to read this book again is because of Caine's writing style. I felt there was no elegance, no descriptions that truly captivated me. Her writing was not beautiful but more than that, I found it irritating in places, for reasons I am struggling to explain. It reminded me of the colloquial tone of a teenage girl's magazine (hinting at the actual target audience for this novel).

So, was this better than Twilight? No. Twilight has integrity, engaging characters and a voice that captivates you and makes you want to read on. This book has none of those three things and its those things that make me want to read a book.


Darke Academy: 1: Secret Lives
Darke Academy: 1: Secret Lives
by Gabriella Poole
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stereotypical Lives . . . Yawn, 21 Mar 2010
The prologue of this novel, Secret Lives, was fantastic. I was gripped. It reminded me of Point Horrors, except perhaps this was better written. There was some excellent images, such as describing an elderly woman as being like a leaf skeleton. I thought I was going to be in for a fantastic read.

Slowly this gloss began to rub away and I found flaws with the book. It was predictable and somehow I'd felt I'd read this kind of thing before. Okay, so Poole has tried to go for something original but there are too many things that are the same which pring this sense of familiarity to the novel.

Secondly there are a lot of characters, all introduced very close together so it is difficult to get a grasp of their actual personalities. These characters are just 2D cardboard cut outs. I didn't feel as if I got to know any of them and furthermore I certainly didn't like or care about any of them. What made it worse were the fact these characters were from all different places around the world and fitted the appeared to fit the national stereotypes. This was tiresome.

The story was interesting in places but the flaws previously discussed outweighed any slight enjoyment. The only reason I finished this book was purely down to the fact my New Year's Resolution is not to leave books unfinished.

I would read this book if you want a quick, easy read which is moderately interesting. If you are after a book with fully developed characters and originality then look somewhere else.


The Calling
The Calling
by Inger Ash Wolfe
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.31

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Calling You To Read It, 9 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Calling (Paperback)
Hazel Micallef is a 61 year old divorced detective from Port Dundas living with her mother, suffering from a bad back, an addiction to medication and a bickering police house. At least she doesn't have much crime to face in her pictureque Canadian town where everyone knows everyone else. That is until the body of Delia Chandler emerges and suddenly Micallef is on the biggest hunt of her career, chasing what she supposes is a serial killer.

This book gripped me from the off. This is all due to Inger Ash Wolfe's exquisite writing. Wolfe is actually a pseudonym for a North American novelist and I did feel that this was written by someone with the gift of writing as opposed to someone who knows how to follow a formula. Just recently I have discovered a lot of second rate serial killer thrillers where the victims are cliches, the dectives are stereotypes and the plot is as predictable as snow in winter. The Calling was different. The characters on the whole were well drafted, particularly that of Hazel Micallef, the descriptions of the murders were creepy and in one instance very touching and even the description of the town where Micallef works evoked a real atmosphere.

Like many good police procedral novels Micallef faces problems from her team and her superiors, as seen in Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell, which added further twists to the novel. This was needed to create a grander scale to the novel, more depth and interest which is sometimes lacking from Wolfe's inferiors.

Why does this novel only recieve 4 stars? Firstly, not all the characters were as well drawn as I would have required. Even now I cannot quite picture some of Micallef's colleagues. Secondly, and this one is purely personal preference, I feel too much was given away about the killer too soon. Other reader's may not see this as a disadvantage but I did and this is my review!

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to any fans of crime novels. It fits on the bookshelf perfectly with the likes of Patricia Cornwell, Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs and I for one am eagerly anticipating the next in the series.


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