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Buffalo Bill

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Model Partner, A
Model Partner, A
by Daniel Seery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1.0 out of 5 stars How did this slip through?, 28 Sep 2014
This review is from: Model Partner, A (Paperback)
It's had to understand how this got so far as to be published. A very odd premise for a novel. The protagonist is surely somebody that nobody could realistically associate or feel any kinship with. Weird (in the worst sense) rather than wacky and not funny. Not quality writing.


The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A gifted storyteller, turning her skills to a very different setting, 21 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Paperback)
The opposite of fantasy. No happy endings here but JKR's storytelling skills and darkly humour come through in this all too realistic and close to the bone small town every day life drama. Unflinching in its searing honesty and sometimes verging on the graphic but credit is due to what is ultimately a compassionate and sometimes story. All of a small town's (or suburbia's) flaws are exposed here. A genuinely good writer who has obviously seen a thing or two about life herself.


The Accursed
The Accursed
by Joyce Carol Oates
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A skilled and natural writer creates a superb imaginative work, 21 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Accursed (Paperback)
This is an imaginative blend of historical fiction, social commentary and the supernatural. Ms. Oates has created very well developed characters and comments beautifully and subtly on the snobbery, racism and chauvinism of the US ruling classes at the start of the 20th century. This is epitomised by the puritan Anglo-Saxon “elite” of Princeton. As a comedy of social manners of the time alone it would work well. The character of Woodrow Wilson (President of Princeton University at the time) is particularly well drawn and his vanity and ingrained racism and sexism are very skilfully portrayed. Indeed there are a number of other “real life” historical characters including Jack London, Grover Cleveland (also a US President) and Upton Sinclair. Above all though it is a compelling if unusual supernatural drama. The depiction of the bog kingdom is superb and the paranormal reminds me of “Jonathan Strange & Dr. Norrell”. The evil of the devilish interlopers is also brilliantly evoked. The book is long, probably 100 pages or so too long but highly recommended if you like such a concoction of social comedy, horror and fiction. A great writer. Surprised at mediocre reviews but it's a matter of taste.


Alcatraz from Inside: The Hard Years 1942-1952
Alcatraz from Inside: The Hard Years 1942-1952
by Jim Quillen
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Unlikely to be the best book on Alcatraz, 8 April 2014
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An honest and interesting enough book but more about the man's life, which is a story worth telling in itself. The best parts of the book deal with his life before going to prison. The Alcatraz sections form only part of the book with way, way to much time spent on an escape attempt by others while he was there but which didn't really involve him.


Hunger: Sean Kelly: The Autobiography
Hunger: Sean Kelly: The Autobiography
by Sean Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Kelly, 8 April 2014
Unusually for a sports autobiography, this book gives you a real sense of the man. This is possibly because it is released some 20 years after he retired and there is an opportunity for perspective here. The character of Kelly comes through strongly as does the hard, dedicated life of a cyclist - largely devoid of glamour and sentiment, certainly at that time. For me, some of the best parts are Kelly's early years as an amateur. The "hunger" that forms the title here is evident, with a really well pitched opening chapter. Interestingly, very little commentary on the doping controversies of recent years. Definitely recommended for any cycling fans and a must for those with an interest in Sean Kelly.


Dark Lies the Island
Dark Lies the Island
by Kevin Barry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.41

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the Irish underbelly, 20 Mar 2013
This review is from: Dark Lies the Island (Paperback)
I had heard a lot about this writer so came to this book with high expectation which werent really met. It is as the title suggests a dark read. These are fairly gritty, bleak stories and not for those who like escapism or romance (in the broad sense). The stark realism here could I suspect be too harsh and mundane for some people. Lots of alcoholism, welfare mentality and low lifes here. It is a mixed bag really but some very well pitched stories including the first and last ("Across the Rooftops" and my personal favourite the bizarrely titled "Berlin Arkonaplatz - my lesbian summer". There are some fairly silly and pointless stories too and perhaps too much repitition of character types.


Dead Water
Dead Water
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly conceived and unsuccessful, 14 Oct 2012
This review is from: Dead Water (Kindle Edition)
Couldn't finish it. The opening chapters were good but it deteriorated quickly afterwards. Some reasonable intermediate extracts in between but many bizarre and puzzling passages. Overall the author struggled to bring the threads together. Contrast it with a superb book like Cloud Atlas and Dead Water seems like a very poor imitation.


State of Wonder
State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Where's it all going?, 14 Oct 2012
This review is from: State of Wonder (Paperback)
Some good writing, strong imagery and well created sense of place in this book. As a stand alone simple story it works reasonably well. You have to credit Patchett for evoking th atmosphere of the Amazon with its endless tributairs and dense jungle. You sense a place a million miles away from our internet age. What must the Amazon have been like before all the current deforestation? Manaus and its insect plauged stickiness is wonderfully done as is the main author's illness and recovery. There is also a very tense and vivd C section scene. Implausible plot though and ultimately am not sure what the book was really all about. The main character's closing acts are bizarre, hard to credit and seem a betrayal of everything she apparently stood for. Overall, good if you want an ordinary thriller with a little bit of a difference but not lierature and not particularly memorable.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stodgy and pretentious, 3 Jun 2012
This is a dense and turgid book. Every sentence feels like it was hard work for the author and was certainly an effort for this reader. I gets the sense that the author is tring too hard to be smart and there is no fluency here. One should look forward to picking up a book, not feel like it is a chore. Life is too short. I come from the school of thought that the best books are easily read rather than heavy going. Hard to understand why this book comes so highly recommended by some but I do note that it has a higher number of 1 and 2 star ratings than many other lauded books.


Dark Matter
Dark Matter
by Michelle Paver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Effective but simple and ultimately conventional ghost story, 8 April 2012
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This review is from: Dark Matter (Paperback)
The "ghost story" has been with us a long time and there have been many examples in the genre. The pattern is well established and Dark Matter by and large follows this well worn path. It is a rather straightforward book, both in terms of plot and writing style. It is by no means a complex work and it is not surprising to note that Michelle Paver is principally a children's author as Dark Matter is reminiscent of a teenager's story - simple plot and storyline, predictable development of character and events and conventional explanation for the "ghost" (revenge etc). For the first third the book feels amateurish at times. However, its saving grace is the setting in the permanent night of winter in Arctic Norway. The focus on the protagonist's isolation and fear of the dark redeems this novel from what would otherwise have been an unremarkable tale. Overall a reasonable effort at adult supernatural writing by Ms. Paver but one senses it may not have found a publisher had it been her very first work.


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