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G Finn "twisted_fiend" (Preston, UK)

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Many A Bright Star: Celebrities Poetic Profiles
Many A Bright Star: Celebrities Poetic Profiles
by Paul Wilkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Many a bright smile., 30 Nov 2011
Came across this in a doctor's waiting room of all places and normally would have said nothing, but upon learning that Mr wilkin's is (quite) local to me I thought I'd support him with a review. Now, I'm not a fan of poetry - and I have to admit I don't really *get* poetry, but this wee book is an entertaining read. Ok, so the verses don't really scan and Mr Wilkins' efforts at levering ill fitting words into a single line might be seen by poetry addicts as amateurish perhaps, but on a simple "are these enjoyable" scale, yes they are. Not sure I'd buy it, but it's lovely to see someone so obviously enjoying what they're doing and just wanting to share it with others. Four for effort.

Hollow Point: A Zombie Novel
Hollow Point: A Zombie Novel
Price: 6.28

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Leave this one buried., 30 Sep 2011
I am writing this review based on the preview chapters sent to my Kindle because, I'm sorry, but I am not prepared to pay the scandalous 7 + that this writer is charging for their work. Bear with me and I shall explain why.

I was looking forward to Hollow Point because I love zombies and there never seem to be enough zombie movies to feed my zombie appetite! Thank goodness for my Kindle I thought. I always get the sample chapters before I buy anything by an author I'm unfamiliar with and particularly so in this case because Mark Christopher wants 7 quid for his book. The truth is, had I paid for this I wouldn't have got more than a quarter way through anyway because the prose is terrible. Christopher prefaces his book with a justification for writing Hollow Point which includes seeing bad zombie movies and feeling he could do better. I've got news for him, he can't.

The first thing that strikes you about Hollow Point is the bland descriptive passages, which invoke no colour or emotion. There's just no sense of place. The paragraphs are clunky and cumbersome, written, it seems, by a teenage boy. The characters are so one dimensional it's painful - real cringeworthy stuff. The story begins with a group of American soldiers barrelling through a Middle Eastern desert in a Humvee. No effort is made to describe the character beyond perfunctory stereotypes, with names like "Tex" and "Cajun", presumable to indicate that Tex is from Texas and Cajun is from the Louisiana swamps. It's lazy and insulting. At one point the writer even uses the sentence "the one called Cajun", having already introduced the characters, so I found this way of describing the action just bizarre. Can you imagine Stephen King describing "The Torrence family" in The Shining, then writing "the one called Danny . . ." Just plain weird and an indication of how under-developed the writer's style and ability actually are.

It doesn't get any better. Generic Arab characters, hissing "stupid American" and generally being "terrorist-y" crop up shortly afterwards and laughably gung-ho dialogue from said stupid American add to the hopelessly amateurish nature of this book. Blood is described as "burgundy", one of the terrorists has Arabic "flowing from his mouth like a waterfall" showing no grasp whatsoever of the nuance of similie. Sometimes the wrong words are used, as when one of the characters walks over to a pallet where the bodies "laid" - lay, surely? Small it may be but it's another indication of either a poor grasp of English for use in narrative or just no editing. That character by the way then uses a piece of wood from the pallet to break both of one soldier's shins. Have you SEEN wood used in pallets?! The wood would break first.

The poor soldier in question is our protagonist, John Boudreaux, who disappointingly turns out to be a hard drinking, mentally scarred, divorced guy estranged from his only daughter who happens to be the local Sheriff. In other words, a stereotypical cop character. We are treated to yet more awful prose, with a lot of it completely unnecessary - "Mike entered slowly and closed the door behind him, the rays of the sun burning furiously against the door". And? So what? No doubt "burning furiously" against the ground too, and the roof, and the trees and the small animals scampering about outside the Sheriff's filthy abode - and boy, is our Sheriff's home filthy. Everything is described as dirty. And we're supposed to like this guy?! And the sample chapters are littered with this kind of pointless padding. Unnecessary.

And Boudreaux is a mess. I mean a total mess. No way in Hell he'd function as the local drunk, never mind the Sheriff. The whole thing is totally unbelievable and if you're doing horror you MUST anchor the thing with believable characters and situations, otherwise the whole thing just won't work. We see him drinking whiskey at 8.53am, then a beer (complete with a raw egg mixed in, for protein I guess), he belches, he sleeps in his clothes - and then we're told he has a date. Yeah, course he does.

In one sense I feel bad being so harsh, but if you're going to put your work out there for SALE and charge so much for it, you'd better be darn sure that it's of a significant enough quality to justify its place on someone's Kindle and you should also be prepared for some criticism. Christopher seems to have just written a story and published it. Even the formatting is woeful with chapters starting with just a number at the bottom of the page with the text over on the next one and some sections of paragraphs being narrow with large amounts of blank space over the page. This thing read like a high school creative writing assignment. It might have got a C. But you don't publish your school work and then sell it.

Bottom line is, the sample chapters were of poor enough quality - bad writing, bad descriptions, bad use of language, bad dialogue, bad characterisation - that to expect ANYONE to pay over 7.00 for it is, frankly, a joke and in very poor taste at that. I encourage Mark Christopher to go back to the basics, develop his style, read a LOT more to see how it's done, have another go, get an EDITOR, then publish something better and charge no more than a couple of quid for it. To try to charge people for THIS is ridiculous.

Now, I am sure there will be those who will say "But Gerry, you haven't read the whole thing, how can you be so judgemental when you haven't read the whole thing?!" Well, I answer that with 'get the sample, try this book for yourself. You'll see what I mean." There's no way in Hell those first terrible 9 chapters would suddenly become genius after I fork out 7.00. Incidentally, I went from this to the sample chapters of Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg and I bought that, THAT is a quality novel. This is schoolboy scribbling by comparison.

The Eyes of the Dead (A Vetala Cycle Novel Book 1)
The Eyes of the Dead (A Vetala Cycle Novel Book 1)
Price: 2.44

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut., 28 Aug 2011
You might be forgiven for being slightly fearful of picking up a novel about vampires, given how recent years have treated our blood-sucking undead friends. But I can assure you that to pick up The Eyes of the Dead is to be enthralled and not in the least disappointed. This is Graham Masterton. This is F. Paul Wilson. This is serious horror for those of us who lament the tedium of yet more teen-fixated atrocities or rehashes of old and tired ideas. Yeates couldn't have done a better job at rejuvenating the vampire had he sent Blade himself into the Twilight universe.

There are no clichés here, no cut-out-and-keep stereotypes, no paint by numbers caricatures. Each of Yeates' characters is well formed, emotionally rounded. The things that we learn about them only hint at their fuller lives and you really do get the feeling that they have histories. These people have not merely been placed into a set of circumstances for our amusement, like production line clones whose brains have been injected with the mannerisms, quirks, idiosyncrasies and actions that we have come to expect. We join them at a point along their longer journey, they have already lived considerably before we meet them, and only some of them will continue to do so once we reach the final sentence.

This is an historical novel and language of the time is handled with nuance, in a way that only someone with a passion for the subject matter could. This is researched, but you're not going to be lectured on the meaning of this or that. Yeates treats the reader with respect and everything makes sense, even if you've never heard of duckboards or limbers or the horrors, because Yeates invests so much effort in making us part of the scenery, to give the reader a sense of place, and doesn't rely on assumed knowledge of the period or indeed the history - because you don't need it. The storytelling is top notch.

The horror is derived from a variety of elements. The war, obviously, presented by Yeates in unflinching, yet matter-of-fact tones. We are invited to live it. There is a strong sense of curious normality about the shelling and the rotting trenches and the circumstances of our protagonist, Private Wilson, is all the more awful because of it. The vampire elements, treated in a way that I have genuinely never seen before, returning these creatures to the stuff of nightmares and reclaiming them from the sweating fingers of hormonal adolescent girls. This is the vampire as it should be - terrible, remorseless, anthropomorphous fear of the kind that turns rational minds to jelly. But deeper, too, as the characters and personalities of our cast, their emotions, their motives, are exposed and shown raw. The way in which Sister Fearing treats her patients is of particular relevance there. Monsters are not always of the myth-made-flesh variety.

In all, a wonderful book. An absolute delight to read and not simply because I wanted to know what happened next - the prose is so well put together and the reading of this tale is so rewarding. This is easily the best book I have read so far in 2011. I look forward to Yeates' next novel and, hopefully, the many that will come afterwards.

Original Spider-Man - Season 1 - 3 Complete Box Set [DVD]
Original Spider-Man - Season 1 - 3 Complete Box Set [DVD]

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Webtastic Spiderfans!, 5 Mar 2011
There's nothing really to say other than brilliant. The original series from the 60s, this is just fan-flipping-tastic. And 25 for 17 HOURS of Spidey action?! Amazing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 12, 2011 3:57 PM BST

Batman - The Animated Series: Volume 3 - Out Of The Shadows [DVD] [2004]
Batman - The Animated Series: Volume 3 - Out Of The Shadows [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Kevin Altieri
Offered by EEE-Shop
Price: 2.81

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT Volume 3!, 5 Mar 2011
As other reviewers have already stated, this is NOT volume 3 as indicated by Amazon. They even suggest you buy this along with volumes 1 and 2 - DON'T! This contains 4 episodes from volume one, you will just be duplicating. The series is great, one of the best animated tv shows ever made, but this is mis-labelled, misleading and you will be incredibly annoyed when you get this through your door if you've already got volume 1.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2013 10:49 PM BST

de Sade Assassins
de Sade Assassins
Price: 0.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suck on this!, 14 Feb 2011
This review is from: de Sade Assassins (Kindle Edition)
There isn't much you can purchase for seventy pence that's of any real worth. But de Sade Assassins is by far the best use of such an amount I could think of. Telling the story of two assassin lovers, Ana and the betrayed Flower, the story throws out blood, sex, death, torture, dead cities, mutants, zombies, ghouls, cannibals, all set against the background of a post apocalyptic cyber-punk future that is by breaths horrific and yet somehow desirable. Written with pace and with a mean turn of phrase, dSA has given me a thoroughly enjoyable morning and has definitely turned me into a fan of Made in DNA.

Tricks Of The Mind
Tricks Of The Mind
by Derren Brown
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look into my eyes . . ., 14 Jan 2007
This review is from: Tricks Of The Mind (Hardcover)
This is already a contender for the best book I will read all year. Fascinating, furiously funny, and damn useful in parts (the memory section is just brilliant), this is a must read for anyone interested in either Derren's work, magic in general or someone who just wants to be entertained for a few hours.

The reviewers who have complained that it doesn't tell you how he does his big tricks have missed the point. If he did that, he'd be out of a job. What he does is give an insight into some of the techniques he uses and has used that have helped him get to where he is. Read it right and you could go away with some amazing new skills that have real, practical and life enhancing uses. Or you could use them to win drinks from your mates down the pub.

And how about this for something you might not expect to see in a review - the bibliography is superb, offering a huge list of further reading on myriad subjects, all of them brought intriguingly to life through Derren's direct, chatty and at times laugh-out-loud prose. Five out of Five.

The God Delusion
The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins
Edition: Hardcover

219 of 269 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atheistic Delight, 11 Oct 2006
This review is from: The God Delusion (Hardcover)
I only managed to read three reviews of this before I felt compelled to add my own comments. Dawkins does not suggest that he is 100% correct, neither does he base his judgements on 'blind faith' as one reviewer here put it. The God Delusion is an excellent dissection of religious faith, a polemic which lays bare the often nonsensical and ridiculous beliefs held by religious people. Dawkins bases his ideas on sound scientific argument, on logic and, above all, on common sense.

The God Delusion is a wonderfully written piece, never becoming too technical or high brow so as to be beyond the grasp of us mere mortals, and given Dawkins' immense stature in the scientific community you'd be forgiven for expecting a book which only those in a similar field could hope to understand. I read this in an almost constant state of awe. Dawkins has somehow managed to put down in print things that, I now understand, I've been unconsciously thinking about for years but never given voice to. A happy agnostic two weeks ago, I am now an ecstatic atheist and I recommend this book to anyone who's ever expressed even the tiniest doubt that their religious beliefs might, after all, be poppycock.

If I had any complaints they would be thus: the book is obviously aimed at an American audience and I found this disappointing (that's my nationalism coming through!). There are also some instances of 'the Emporer's new clothes' about it, almost encouraging the ridicule of those with faith, which I don't believe was intentional but it did come through. Apart from that, this is probably the most important book I have ever read and I can't wait to read it again. First though, I'm reading Charles Darwin's Origin of Species!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2011 8:15 PM GMT

Dead Rising (Xbox 360)
Dead Rising (Xbox 360)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: 18.33

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead good!, 12 Sep 2006
Dead Rising is NOT another Resident Evil. It is from the same people, but it's a totally different game, both in feel and style. You play Frank West, photojournalist, who has travelled to some small American town in search of a scoop. When he gets there though he finds that all Hell, quite literally, has broken loose and with his ride out of there not due for 72 hours, he has to find a way to survive.

The first thing that strikes you about this game is the sheer mass of zombies on screen at any one time. There are loads of them, vast seas of undead. If you don't bother them then generally they won't bother you, but get too close and they pounce. They are slow and cumbersome and one on one you've got a good chance, but if they manage to surround you, you may find yourself outnumbered pretty quickly!

There is immense fun to be had from this game. The number of different ways that you can despatch the zombie hordes seems endless and limited only by your imagination. You can run a lawn mower over them, churning them up beneath the vicious blades; you can batter them with a variety of implements, from baseball bats to handbags! And that's not all. Frank starts the game with only one, non-lethal move: a punch. But as you progress through the game and gain more points, and more level ups, you'll also gain new moves that would put the WWE to shame!

It lacks the eerie atmosphere of Resident Evil, but that isn't to its detriment. In fact, if anything, it makes the game more fun, because you can just run around killing things if you like and you don't need to worry about the various in game missions that pop up to help the story along.

It's not all good news though. Unless you have an HD television you might struggle to read the messages from your walkie talkie buddy, Otis the janitor, who doesn't speak to you, rather his words come up in text on the screen and on an ordinary tv they're miniscule and indistinct. You can forget about reading this on a portable tv too because it'd just be too small.

Overall, Dead Rising is a MUST HAVE Xbox 360 game. At a total of about 6 hours gameplay time, it might be a bit on the short side, but the sheer number of things you can do, and the fun to be had slaughtering the undead, makes it much longer lasting, in my opinion, than many other games that are twice as long.

Inside Man [DVD]
Inside Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Price: 2.71

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative heist movie, 6 Sep 2006
This review is from: Inside Man [DVD] (DVD)
Inside Man is something of a departure for Spike Lee, a director usually more at home with biting social commentary, particularly on the lot of African Americans. By comparison, this movie is mainstream, throwing a host of top names into a soup of tension, intrigue and genuine thrills. From beginning to end, Inside Man plays with our preconceptions of the genre; characters are turned in on themselves, twists and thrills come thick and fast. Lee's direction is clinical, sharp. The script is quick and filled with intelligent, sometimes provocative, lines. The acting is superb throughout, Denzel Washington deserving of particular praise, though Clive Owen does a magnificent job considering you don't see much of his face throughout the movie. Thoroughly entertaining and wonderfully put together, Inside Man deserves its place in any DVD collection. Just brilliant.

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