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JpfA "I Wish I Was A Book" (UK)
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The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies)
The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies)
by Pittacus Lore
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lorien Legacies series is getting better..., 6 Sept. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The second book in the Lorien Legacies series, The Power of Six, is a step in the right direction for the series. This step is away from the eponymous character of the first book (I Am Number Four), who is angsty, lovestruck and irritating. Instead we are introduced to several new characters including Marina, or Number 7, and the plot expands and evolves.

4 is still a major part of the story, with about half of the book seen from his view point, but it was a refreshing and welcome change to have the rest of the book set on the other side of the world with 7, a much more agreeable character.

7 has been living in a remote monastery in the Spanish mountains, and this change of scenery from small town America - the setting for almost every YA novel this side of Twilight - is a relief. Her life is far from perfect, with no friends her own age and her mentor having turned away from their destiny and instead focussing on religion, insisting that Lorien and their legacy is just a fairy tale. Marina is a great character, with enough depth and personality to carry the story forward. It was somewhat of a disappointment whenever the plot flicked back to America and number 4.

Thankfully there was a positive side to the other storyline. 4's companions - his best friend Sam and the deadly number 6 who was introduced at the end of the first book - were likeable and interesting enough to keep the book very readable, even when our male protagonist was being a whiny little girl pining over his "one true love". Did I mention that I hated every single mention of his romantic life? I did. Every time he mentioned his beloved Sarah I found myself getting annoyed, and it was often. How exactly can you claim to be madly and devotedly in love with someone when you start pining over the next girl that you see in a swimming costume? I realise he is only 16, but get your hormones together and stop moaning. Rant over.

4's half of the story saw most of the action throughout the book, with FBI raids and pitched battles with the evil Mogadorians, so there was plenty of excitement and fighting to support the book, whilst Marina's side of the story was much slower paced. This worked well as a format, switching between the two every few dozen pages. Towards the tail end of the book the action goes into overload on both sides of the Atlantic, with a couple of interesting twists and revelations that effectively draw you in, and I really do find myself wanting to know more about the Lorien people, and the secret war they find themselves part of.

A good read that will be gobbled up by teens around the world. The Lorien Legacies is looking to be an enjoyable and intriguing series that is easy to read, but hardly a classic.

Recommended.


Reality 36 (Angry Robot)
Reality 36 (Angry Robot)
by Guy Haley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great fun sci-fi detective novel, 10 Aug. 2011
I don't read much science fiction, I'm not a big fan of techno-babble and hard to imagine planets. Reality 36 is not your typical sci-fi.

The first thing that should have suggested to me that I would probably like Reality 36 is that it is not just a science fiction novel, it is a science fiction detective novel, and I love a classic detective novel as much as anyone. The second thing I should have taken note of is that it is due to be published by Angry Robot, my new favourite publisher of speculative fiction. Thankfully about a week ago I found myself with nothing to read, so I switched on my Kobo and started Reality 36, the very first Richards & Klein Investigation.

It is excellent. I really loved it. I loved it more than I ever thought I would. Even when I was a couple chapters in I was still sceptical. I found there to be too much techno-talk, too many acronyms to remember, and the story was jumping from place to place. I was glazing over whole paragraphs. Then, suddenly, it didn't matter. I got used to acronyms, learnt who was who, and was immersed in a gripping storyline that was part Blade Runner, part I-Robot and part Sherlock Holmes.

I should say that even when I was immersed in the story there were still times when the technical talk - most of it nonsense I believe - overwhelmed me, dragging me back to reality with a bump, but a few lines of glazing over then I was sucked right back in.

Richards - the main protagonist and level 5 AI - is extremely likeable, hiding his fears about his existence and doubts as to whether someone like he, a man-made creature can be truly alive, behind a cocky, wise cracking PI front. Klein - Richards' partner and genetically enhanced human - on the other hand is introverted and quiet, preferring actions over words, and is riddled with his own personal demons and haunted by his violent past. Both characters have a depth to them that is often missing from fun and fast paced action books like this one, and it is a refreshing change.

The story, as I have already mentioned, was immersive, and it throws up some interesting if not completely original questions on artificial intelligence and the effects our increasing population and reliance on non-renewable resources are having on our planet. Unfortunately as we came to the climax I was feeling that much of the story was superfluous, and felt that if some of the supporting characters, like the murdered Professor Qifang, had acted more sensibly then the whole situation would have been resolved chapters earlier. These feelings were short lived, as we hurtled into a dramatic and action packed final two chapters, which leave us on an unexpected but very welcome cliff-hanger.

Bring on book 2 of the Richards & Klein Investigations!

Highly Recommended.


The Emerald Atlas:The Books of Beginning 1
The Emerald Atlas:The Books of Beginning 1
by John Stephens
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A great book for all the family, 21 July 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Emerald Atlas, heralded as "THE NEXT HARRY POTTER!!!", is in truth a simple story about family, loss and magic. In many respects is has similarities to the Potter series, but stands up on its own two feet as an enjoyable fairy tale that is certain to sweep up children and adults alike in the magical world of Cambridge Falls.

During the first chapter you would be forgiven for thinking that it was simply a Potter clone - 3 children lose their family and are spirited away to a new home in the middle of the night by a white bearded wizard - but as the tale goes on it develops into a magical tale of time travel, magic and, of course, good versus evil.

The Emerald Atlas was a highly readable, exciting book, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Very much recommended.


Hard Spell (Angry Robot)
Hard Spell (Angry Robot)
by Justin Gustainis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out-magicked but never out-gunned, 5 July 2011
At the heart of Hard Spell is a fairly obvious premise, and one that has been done almost to death over the last few years. Magic and monsters are real and someone has to protect those who can't protect themselves. Still, there must be some life left in the genre yet, as Justin Gustainis proves with his dark and broody novel that pitches a run of the mill human cop against the forces of darkness.

OK, so "run of the mill" may be a little harsh. Our protagonist, Markowski, may be human, but he packs a punch thanks to his crucifix, stakes, holy water, 9mm Beretta with silver bullets and badge. Out magicked but never out gunned, it would seem.

I really did like Hard Spell. I started reading expecting an OK story, but one that I had read countless times before. There are aspects that are so obvious they should maybe have been left out, but Gustainis manages to make the rest seem fresh, and throws in one or two nice twists - such as the only magical good guy getting incapacitated within a couple of chapters, leaving the human cops even more out of their depths. And maybe that is what gives the book such a charm, us Brits love an underdog, and that is certainly what the human police force are in this story. Constantly out of their depths trying to solve a string of gruesome murders and having to take advice from an ancient vampire who is more than likely the killer, the likeable cast of characters never give up.

Highlights include a nice take on the magical communities "coming out" and some great scenes of Markowski getting his head kicked in. Hard Spell is an easy to read blood-fest with a heart. Lovers of good Urban Fantasy are in for a treat.

Recommended.


Sennheiser CX 980i High Fidelity Ear-Canal Headset
Sennheiser CX 980i High Fidelity Ear-Canal Headset

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent all round headphones, though not without fault, 20 Jun. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sound Quality: Very Good

Build Quality: Good

Comfort: Excellent

Value for Money: Debatable

Sennheiser are highly regarded for their headphones. They have a large range of everything from large home entertainment on ear headphones to small sporty in ears.

The CX 980i are a higher end set of in ear headphones designed for optimal use with iPhones and iPods. The sound quality is really very good, as one would expect, especially when compared to cheap headphones such as iPod basic ones, with a rich sound that is brilliant at all volumes. In truth they are a little bass heavy which is a disappointment when listening to bass filled music, though adjustment of the equaliser on an mp3 player helps a lot, but if you listen to a wide range of music it is always difficult to get it right. This does not detract too much from the overall sound, but it is worth noting with such an expensive pair of headphones.

They are incredibly comfy, fitting in the ear perfectly and rarely falling out. They also work very well at blocking out noise, and do not bleed much sound either, a bonus for people who like to crank up the volume in public. One mild irritation is the control on the wire. Although it is a very handy feature - especially coupled with the built in microphone - it could do with more distinction between the buttons. Often, when not looking it is all too easy to pause when trying to turn the volume up or down and vice versa.

All in all I love these headphones. At first they took time to adjust to, but now that I have it is hard to go back to cheaper ones. The only reason I have focused mainly on the faults is because of the price. They should be perfect for that much expense, but perfection is not something easily found, and I certainly recommend these if you want a great sound with exceptional comfort, and you can afford it.


Torchwood: Department X (BBC Audio)
Torchwood: Department X (BBC Audio)
by James Goss
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £13.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun, creepy and occasionally funny audiobook, 17 May 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I can't say that it was the best story I've ever heard, and will not recommend it enthusiastically, but would certainly be a good addition for big fans of the series. The plot is fun, with a sinister organisation to rival Torchwood searching for the lost Department of Curiosities, and segments of Captain Jack's past coming back to haunt him, but it is not riveting. It also falters out towards the climax, with garbled dialogue and a confusing end.

The narrator is excellent, as a reader, but fails drastically on the accents. His native welsh accent does not lend itself well to American and Canadian accents, though this does not detract too much from the overall experience.

All in all an OK Torchwood audiobook. Not much to hate, but not much to love, either. Only one for hardcore fans.


Bike Snob
Bike Snob
by Eben Weiss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Made me want to ride my bike!, 2 April 2011
This review is from: Bike Snob (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wasn't really aware of Bike Snob before this book, and I doubt I will be logging on to the blog very often, but as a book this was an unexpected gem.

Firstly I was surprised by the great quality of the book itself. A beautiful gold hardback, with flawless design and illustrations, it was a certainly more than I was expecting.

The book itself is good. I raced through it and laughed a little and learnt quite a lot. The writing is occasionally self-righteous with the author slagging practically everyone else in the world off, from car drivers to other cyclists, but it is more often than not done in a genuinely humorous way: "essentially the only thing separating a sexual sadomasochist and a road racer is slightly different fetish gear."

As an occasional cyclist with plans to become a regular 2 wheel user the book did one thing more than anything else, it made me want to ride my bike, and that is exactly what it was supposed to do.

Recommended.


Scrivener's Moon (Mortal Engines)
Scrivener's Moon (Mortal Engines)
by Philip Reeve
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mortal Engines back on form, 2 April 2011
Another year, another Mortal Engines prequel. The previous two, Fever Crumb and A Web of Air were OK. They were really quite good when compared to most books out there for teens. The problem was that they just couldn't live up to the pure brilliance, and I say that with conviction, of the original Mortal Engines quartet.

Scrivener's Moon is, without doubt, the strongest prequel yet. It is brilliant. Grander, darker, with more scope, it brings the series back to its roots of long voyages, big showdowns and, of course, hulking great traction cities. The gritty, dirty, noisey cities trapesing across dusty wastelands, heroic battles, and journeys to far off lands, these are the things that made the original books something special, it's what made them great, and it's what makes this new book almost equal to them. Almost.

That's not to say that there weren't flaws, but in truth they were fairly minimal. A few silly jokes made me grimace - mainly place names like Hamster's Heath and Hamsterdam, which felt overly childish - but there were a couple, mostly aimed at older readers, that did make me smile, Mott & Hoople Orphanage being one of note. There was also a little teen angst that I hadn't noticed in the other books, such as Fever, our heroin, getting a little confused with her sexuality and resigning herself to admiring from afar. It didn't bother me much though, and I'm starting to think I'm just nit-picking for the sake of it.

There are some great new editions character wise. Cluny, a headstrong warrior princess afflicted by visions of a terrible future, is likeable and realistic, whilst the strange, seemingly heartless Charley is a great villain - one that you can never quite understand, yet in a weird way feel sorry for. There is also a new race of people, the cave-dwelling Nightwights. These strange, terrifying creatures may hold a key to Fever's own past.

All in all Scrivener's Moon is the Mortal Engines series back on form. It was great to learn more about the history of their world and I thoroughly look forward to returning in the near future.

Thank you, Philip Reeve.

Highly Recommended.


Paul Temple and the Geneva Mystery (BBC Audio)
Paul Temple and the Geneva Mystery (BBC Audio)
by Francis Durbridge
Edition: Audio CD

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid audiobook adventure, 25 Mar. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Paul Temple is a crime novelist who somehow always manages to find himself in the middle of an adventure.

This is the first Paul Temple book I've 'read', and when I saw the run time was 4 hours I was a little daunted. I shouldn't have been, as the time flew by. The characters are likeable, the plot line believable, and the quaint charm of the 1950's(ish) setting is great fun.

Nothing earth shattering, but Paul Temple and the Geneva Mystery is the perfect way to use up a spare few hours.

Recommended.


Lasers
Lasers
Price: £5.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not classic Lupe, 16 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Lasers (Audio CD)
I'm really disappointed. It's not that Lasers is a bad album, it's pretty good, it's just that compared to Food and Liquor and The Cool it really can't compete.

Lupe is still on form, with classy lyrics and clever rhymes. The main problem is the beats that go with his lyrics. Over produced pop for the most part, with choruses that would sound more at home on a Tinchy Stryder album. It also lacks much in the way of good guest vocals. Sway is a great inclusion, but no one else stands out.

I like this album, but I don't love it. I expected more.

If you haven't already, please get his first two albums before this.


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