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Rosslock "rosslock" (London)
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by J. Carson Black
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

1.0 out of 5 stars Nonsense, 3 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Icon (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Unfortunately I really did not enjoy this book very much. I felt the characters were very underdeveloped and very 'card-board, cut-out'. The main character is not very engaging at all, and a bit dense. I also did not click with the writing style, and found the plot very thin and predictable. Sorry, not for me.


Cloaks and Veils
Cloaks and Veils
by J.C. Carleson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging debut thriller, 3 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Cloaks and Veils (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Cloaks and Veils is an interesting book, more so because you know the author has 'lived and breathed' what she is writing about. The story is your typical 'who is doing what to whom and where', with lots of twists and turns you'd expect from a thriller in this genre. Very engaging and well written.
But, it is the fact that the author has personal experience of this environment that for me let this down somewhat. I did feel at times she let her personal feelings for the CIA interfere with the story, and used this book to make some points about what she thinks is wrong inside this organisation. Especially when it came to operational procedure and hierarchy did I feel she was airing some of her frustrations.
However, I did like it. It was nice to have a female protagonist and the story itself moves along at a decent pace.


The Wrong Man (James Bishop 1)
The Wrong Man (James Bishop 1)
by Jason Dean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good holiday read, 3 Aug. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The wrong man is one of those books that is quite enjoyable whilst reading it, but quite forgettable straight after. The story moves at a relatively fast pace with some good action sequences. The plot however is a bit thin, and the bad guy is quite obvious. Good holiday read I'd say.


Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World (Penguin Paperback Classics)
Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World (Penguin Paperback Classics)
by Jan Karski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 14 Feb. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Amazing. There really is not another word for it. The story of Jan Karski and his fellow Polish underground workers is a true classic of the genre, and its' message is so potent because of 2 main factors:

1- It is all true
2- It was written in 1944, whilst the war was still raging on.

This is not an autobiography, written later in life. This is the story of the Polish underground as it was, and written to advertise the struggle they encountered everyday, but also to highlight the atrocities carried out by the Germans, and Russians.

I never realised how organised the underground was. I always believed resistance was done on a local level by various groups of people. This book really shows us a government structure 'underground', the 'secret state' the title refers to. It is written in a quite 'matter of fact' style, with Jan Karski allowing only glimpses of his true emotions. This book, as stated before was not meant as a 'Jan Karski' memoir. But even so, what comes through loud and clear are the sacrifices made by all members of the secret state, the continuous threat of discovery and the real danger of being captured and shot. Jan Karski was without doubt an incredibly brave man, to have done what he did. But in this book he ensures credit goes not just to him, but to all those involved in the Polish underground. He was chosen to be the messenger to the Allied Forces and the wider world, and boy, what a message it was.
An unbelievable, harsh, incredible story, but above all - absolutely amazing.


Shut Your Eyes Tight
Shut Your Eyes Tight
by John Verdon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, 18 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Shut Your Eyes Tight (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really enjoyed this book, right up to the last 10 pages!
Basically, this book is about a retired NY Detective Dave Gurney who gets drawn into a case the local PD have not been able to solve. It quickly becomes clear that there is much more to the case than meets the eye, and the local PD is hampered by internal politics and incompetence. The retired Detective is quickly able to find new clues that throw the case wide open.

So far, so 'read it all before'. However, what I did really like is that the reader is really taken on a journey of discovery. Every clue is extensively 'mulled over', and you really feel that you are partnering Dave Gurney whilst he is investigating. This book treats it's audience as adults, and does not rely on coincedence. This book is also different, in that there is a lot of analysis. What I mean by that is that we really get to know Dave as he constantly is analysing his own character, and the reasons why he is drawn in, yet again, into another case even though retired.

BUT. All the above is thrown out of the window in the last 10 pages. Everything we have learned, everything we have spent time on investigating, is all reduced to nothing right at the end. The final twist comes out of nowhere, and I really felt let down by this. All that was good about this book is annulled by a twist that is as coincedental as it is unlikely. And that is the great shame about this book.


The Dummy Line (A Jake Crosby Thriller)
The Dummy Line (A Jake Crosby Thriller)
by Bobby Cole
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Must try harder, 16 Nov. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This did not really work for me. The plot basically revolves around a man and daughter who go hunting, are in the wrong place at the wrong time and have an altercation with a group of local yobs. This then develops into a woodlands based hunt where the man has to do everything in his power to protect his daughter and himself.

Whilst reading this, I found myself thinking i've read this kind of story before. I did not find the plot particularly original. The main protagonists do not come across menacing enough, and the police department are a collection of fictional cliches; Incompetent, disorganised and just not realistic. There were also some major holes in the development of their response, something I found particularly annoying.

All in all a disappointing read.


Dove Season (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco)
Dove Season (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco)
by Johnny Shaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 16 Nov. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really liked this. A first book effort, and a solid one at that. Not your standard hard-boiled, everyman-turns-into-rambo type book, this feels real, in that Jimmy Feeder comes across realistic and as a proper person. I loved the relationship detail with his father, again it felt real in that the 'l' word is never spoken, but it is clearly there as well as a lot of mutual respect and understanding. A very 'manly' father and son relationship.
I guess people are shaped by their environment. And as I am totally unfamiliar with the area on the american/mexican border where this is set, it clearly has an effect on the people who grow up there. A million miles away from my own environment in inner-city Amsterdam. (I checked out the towns mentioned in this book via Googlemaps, so different from Dutch suburbia..)This means that although I could not relate to the childhood experiences described here, I could see how it would shape a person, and therefore found how this story developed very realistic.

I hope there will be more 'Jimmy Feeder Fiascos', as I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable first effort.


Who is Mr Satoshi?
Who is Mr Satoshi?
by Jonathan Lee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, but worth pursuing, 19 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Who is Mr Satoshi? (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Who is Mr Satoshi' is one of those books that left me pondering on whether I actually enjoyed the reading experience or not. It is quite a basic premise; After the death of his mother, a depressed British photographer goes in search of a mysterious figure who may or may not have been his mother's previous lover. This figure, 'Mr Satoshi' now lives in Japan so this becomes a journey of discovery. Not just about the identity of Mr Satoshi, but also about redemption, the meaning of life, and discovering your 'inner self', as far as the photographer is concerned. With a cast of eccentric bit players and a little murder mystery thrown in for good measure the photographer slowly but surely discovers himself again, and deals with such light-hearted issues such as contemplated suicide, loss, depression, pill addiction and impotence (to name but a few) along the way.

Not my normal cup of tea. Normally I stay well clear of this kind of book. However, I am interested in Japan and Japanese culture hence I decided to give this a go. And I must say, I did rather enjoy it. All the above ingredients are dealt with in a relatively light-hearted manner - as far as this is possible - and I did want to continue reading to see how it all finished. And I think that this is mainly because the author has not so much focussed on the main character and his issues, but cleverly has thrown in 2 mystery elements that do engage you as a reader and make you want to read on: Who is Mr Satoshi, and what exactly happened shortly after the war between him and his uncle? This separates this book from other books with frankly rather depressing main characters. Often, books that revolve around characters like these do not have a 'story' as such, no beginning or end, just a description of the misery the main characters find themselves in and drawing you, the reader into their rather depressing lives. Not so here. By creating the 'story element', as I call it, you as a reader do want to engage. You do want to find out who Mr Satoshi is, and what he meant. And if along the way you discover more about why the photographer is so miserable, and if this also means you see through his eyes what this journey means for his self esteem, than fair enough.

My main criticism is that the pace is very slow. The action does not actually move to Japan until about halfway through the book, and there are whole sections where the main character is just wallowing in self pity and nothing actually moves on. But it does eventually, and I am relatively glad I stuck with it.


Ironclad [DVD] [2011]
Ironclad [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ James Purefoy
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.46

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bloody action - Cliche plot, 13 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Ironclad [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
This is one for the enthusiasts. If you like bloody action, lots of swordfighting (and trust me, swords don't come much larger than this) and an impossible ending then this is your movie. Set around a siege at Rochester Castle, a small band of fighters (36 if you include the castle guard) defend themselves against the might of Prince John's mercanary army (2000!) with nothing less than the Magna Carta at stake. Led by a troubled Knight Templar they hold out to the bitter end.
Plenty of action, lots of blood.

But... all this did not get me past the fact that the plot was very, very thin. The characters were very undeveloped. At no point did I feel anything for any of them, because I just did not know them. Why is the Knight Templar so troubled? Why are the others so loyal to the Baron that they would give up everything for what is clearly a suicide mission? The love interest, in my view, was completely redundant and added nothing to the story. In fact I found her very annoying.

The story itself progresses at a relatively fast pace, but making sure it ticks all the cliche boxes along the way. Knight Templar is initially disliked, but wins everyones respect. Young squire is wet behind the ears but after a (very) brief talking too all of a sudden becomes a fierce fighter. One character has a brief moment in the limelight with a bit of a speech and hey presto - he is killed almost the next scene. Mercenaries are led by a massive Axe wielding giant - and would you believe it, there is a climatic fight between him and the Templar.
Rescue forces appear literally at the last moment (I am not giving anything away here, you can guess this from the start), and the hero rides into the sunset with the girl.

It was so predictable, it was laughable. And for me, this was a major let down of this film. If you want to watch a fight about a siege - watch Lord of the Rings - the Two Towers to see how this can be done properly. Three stars because I did enjoy some of the action.


Sworn Sword (The Conquest)
Sworn Sword (The Conquest)
by James Aitcheson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get on the side of the Normans, 1 Sept. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like historical fiction, and there certainly is a plethora of novels available covering everything from the Romans through to Genghis Khan, the Viking and Saxon invasions and loads more.

This one deals with the aftermath off the battle of Hastings where Harold got a proper hiding from William (or Guiliame as he is known in this book). And it is an intriguing concept. Highlighting that after this battle the Normans did not immediately have it all their own way it deals with some of the following battles that took place over the next few years. It has everything you'd expect from a historical novel: Battles, swordfights, plots and a historical note at the end explaining a bit more about the period and some of the liberties the writer has taken to make his story flow. All good so far.

The reason that this is a three star review is three-fold:
First: Tancred the main character comes across a bit dense. He is a knight with tremendous battle skills, but when it comes to using his head he makes some dubious decisions to say the least.
Second: This is a first novel, and I think it shows. The plot development is rather thin, you see the traitor coming a mile off, and some of the dialogue is very stilted. Characters are not developed well enough and this comes through in some of the conversation. For example: Tancred tries to comfort a dying knight who he has been with for the past few weeks. The dying knight says 'you always hated me' before he dies and this is just not a statement that fits with what has gone before. There just has not been enough description of the relationship between the two of them for him to make such a statement.
Third and last: I found it very hard to be on the side of the Normans. I've always regarded Harold as a bit of a hero, trying to rally England against the pending invasion. He would have done it too if he had not spread himself too thing and try to be everywhere at once. (He and his army had travelled back from the north of England before the battle of Hastings which may go a little towards explaining why he lost even though his numbers in the battle were greater). So to hear him mentioned as the 'Usurper' and 'Traitor' (although fair enough, it is commonly excepted that he did break his vow he had made some time earlier to William) is difficult to accept.

The Normans are always depicted as the bad guys in English history (Ivanhoe, Robin Hood etc etc), so it was difficult for me to get on their side. But it is a good effort, I like the authors audacity to try and depict the Normans other than French invaders, and I will probably pick up the next book when it comes out.


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