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Profile for Mr. A. M. Mcdonald > Reviews

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Mr. A. M. Mcdonald "blaizemcleod" (Lancashire, United Kingdom)

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Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad 2, iPad 3 and iPad (4th Generation) - Black
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad 2, iPad 3 and iPad (4th Generation) - Black
Offered by Direct savings
Price: £38.94

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best iPad keyboard option out there?, 6 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been using this keyboard for a couple of hours, and am very impressed. I am a touch typist, so it is important that I am comfortable and fluent when typing for long periods. This keyboard works perfectly. Although it is smaller - as you would expect - than, say, an Apple wireless keyboard, I've had no problem with typing. My fingers seem to find the keys with no mishaps or mistypes (apart from the ones I can't blame on the keyboard).

My only issue is what I do with the cover when I don't want to use a keyboard. It just means you take the cover off and leave it lying around and end up using the iPad 'naked'. Coming from someone who has excusively used the Apple smart cover this is a little wierd as there is no way to prop up the iPad. I know I could use the keyboard slot, but for me there is a distinct difference between using the iPad when comsumption and creation.

Overall, I don't think there is a better iPad keyboard solution than this. I've investigated it quite heavily, and this was the best option, and fortunately I believe I chose correctly. Good stuff.

The Wrath of Angels: A Charlie Parker Thriller:  11
The Wrath of Angels: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 11
by John Connolly
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Connolly starts the beginning of the end, 15 Sept. 2012
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I have read the Charlie Parker in a somewhat circuitous route, having started at The Unquiet, then The Reapers before diving straight into The Lovers and now have caught myself up by starting with Every Dead thing and working my way up to The Lovers, where I have now followed correct form and completed the last three books in order. The Wrath of Angels is the eleventh book in the series.

The Wrath Of Angels is an 'all cards on table' book, where the main elements and themes of earlier books in the series come together to form a more cohesive statement of where Connolly is finally heading.

Connolly is always an engaging writer. Others has attributed his style to Stephen King, and while I have seen elements of this and I recognise his obvious skill compared to his peers, here Connolly has to work hard to bring a lot of characters together and with that has lost some of the eloquence from earlier works. Because of this The Wrath of Angels feels very workmanlike, Connolly struggling manfully to get through this novel to the coda he has in mind. This is both a statement and a transition novel: Connolly now means business, and is heading towards an inevitable end game.

Perhaps this explains why I was less engaged with The Wrath of Angels compared to his others. There are a large amount of strong characters, each fighting for attention, and from this a lack of focus develops. It also suffers from redshirts syndrome, a problem any long-running series can have, in which main characters are too precious to fall victim to the writer's knife. It becomes obvious when a new character is introduced that they won't be around come the author's acknowledgments at the end. Being risk-adverse like this way reduces tension and promotes predictability. A third of the way in I correctly guessed a) what the final scene would be and b) who would live and who would not.

Despite this The Wrath of Angels is a strong entry into the series, and is finally producing answers a lot of readers have been asking for. Connolly is herding us gleefully towards the inevitable apocalyptic denouement the series has been angling for the past 13 years. The end is coming, both for Charlie Parker and his faithful readers.

The Black Seas of Infinity
The Black Seas of Infinity

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, unconventional, but awkward., 2 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of those novels you read where that in spite of all its flaws you read every page. Those flaws are most evident in the repetitive action scenes, a slow and improbable start and an ending that is so abrupt this reader thought that his - electronic - copy was corrupted.

Now, having said all of that, I really enjoyed it for a lot of those reasons above. Why? Because it's unpredictable and different to any other novel that I have read all year. The story reads almost like a travelogue of America at times in a middle section that many other reviewers have commented on as being slow and weighty. This was my favourite part! In my reader's eye I can imagine Denk driving down the East Coast, all the time stopping to take notes of junctions, locations, towns and bergs and planning where to take his protagonist next. To me that sounds like a good journey.

This section was the most endearing, and it's this unconventionality which saves the novel from mediocrity.

The last act is where I started to lose interest. I could almost sense where the author was struggling to take the story, and once it reached a certain point a swift descent into nonsense began. Enjoyable, popcorn nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. It would be the kind of movie you would make if you had a billion in the bank and wanted to see lots of stuff blow up. Over and over again. Repeatedly. And had a desire to see fists punch straight through faces. Again, repeatedly.

I received this novel as part of a free bundle deal from Anarchy Books. I can see that this is now £3.99 from Amazon. As much as I enjoyed this novel it would be difficult to reccommend to anyone but the most patient and adventurous reader at this price point.

Killer Move
Killer Move
Price: £4.99

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Massively disappointing. Fans of Michael Marshall should look away now..., 18 July 2011
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This review is from: Killer Move (Kindle Edition)
I thought this was a desperately poor novel. Poor, rigid characterisation, dialog that just tries too hard to be cool (and far too similar between characters), a plot reveal that verged on the ridiculous (you'll see what I mean) and just a generally poor reading experience throughout. It's like reading a sub-par Elmore Leonard. I can't believe this is the same author who wrote One Of Us and Spares, two of my most favourite books of all time. The writing, characterisation, plot and simple passion for the artform in Killer Move is literally light years away from those novels. A disappointment on every page. It's a damn shame. I'm absolutely gutted.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2011 6:51 PM GMT

Western Digital TV HD 1080P Media Player
Western Digital TV HD 1080P Media Player

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Won't play newer MKV files!, 17 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Be warned - newer MKV files will no longer play on the WDTV. If you try to play one it will crash the device, forcing to restart the unit before it will let you play an other media. Looking around it appears Western Digital are *not* going to upgrade the firmware (as it considers this a 'legacy' device), so be aware when ordering this unit that newer MKVs (specifically MKVs which have header compression) won't play.

It's a crying shame as the box is brilliant in any other regards. I now have to find another media player at the same price point. Sigh.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2011 4:09 PM BST

A Dark Matter
A Dark Matter
by Peter Straub
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A swing and a miss..., 18 May 2010
This review is from: A Dark Matter (Hardcover)
I've found Mr Straub a perplexing writer. Some of this novels have gripped me, and his novella Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff is one of the greatest I have read (bar Stephen King's The Long Walk, but please assume that is a given) yet he is equally capable of writing books that somehow completely alienate me as a reader.

A Dark Matter is a prime example. It is based on an earlier short story `The Skylark' - so wikipedia advises - and you can tell. Somehow 416 pages have passed me by without anything of note happening. Curiously, the ending is explained near the beginning, and bar a different retelling from a multitudes of characters, there's very little in the way of tension or revelation.Straub is an excellent writer, of that there is no doubt, but his plotting and narrative discipline is prone to distraction, and I do wonder where his editor was in all of this.

New novels from this author don't come around often, so if you are a Straub fan, by all means enjoy. If you are new to Straub I would suggest picking up the Blue Rose Trilogy ( Koko, Mystery and The Throat) if you like crime and The Talisman and Black House if you like horror (and Stephen King, who co-wrote).

Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun 1)
Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun 1)
by Mark Charan Newton
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas can't mask poor writing, 12 Oct. 2009
It's strange, but when you look at all the five star reviews here you'd be forgiven for thinking that Nights of Villjamur is a ground-breaking fantasy novel, when the reality is somewhat different.

This isn't to say that Mark Charan Newton's first novel in the Legends of The Red Sun trilogy is poor. He has some interesting ideas and concepts that fall, in my mind, into the kind of narrative and characterisation employed by Joe Abercrombie and Peter V. Brett. It is these ideas which are the book's strength.

Its failings - seemingly ignored in the majority of the reviews here - is that the book isn't particularly well written. Several times I winced when reading a stunted piece of dialogue or a clunky piece of plot A grinding into plot b. Some of the characters are so two-dimensional and painfully obvious I simply couldn't muster any enthusiasm to care what happened. His pace is all over the place, rushing forward manically in parts, then stopping, peering around blearily before haring off without giving the reader time to settle as the story develops. In short the novel feels very clumsily and heavily edited.

When I read some of the reviews here about its literary leanings I really have to wonder what these reviewers have been smoking - be warned, in terms of style, technique and form you will find nothing here more challenging than a Dan Brown novel. The reviewers talk about depth: do not be deceived, for there is little.

This is not to say Nights of Villjamur is a bad novel, but neither, and crucially, nor is it the harbinger of a new literary dawn. I suggest the potential purchaser take some of the reviews here with a large pinch of salt.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2009 1:48 PM BST

Best Served Cold
Best Served Cold
by Joe Abercrombie BA
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Grim, repetitive and humourless revenge flick for the low fantasy genre lovers, 14 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Best Served Cold (Hardcover)
Best Served Cold is a standalone novel set in the same fantasy universe Abercrombie created in the much applauded`The Blade Itself' trilogy, and although the world events mean there are interactions between the series of books, in terms of characters who make cameo appearances, large and small, Best Served Cold is very much a different type of story.

The gritty and Tarantino-esque plot of revenge, murder and violence will appeal to fans of Richard Morgan (who is name checked at the end of the novel) while I quickly tired of the repetition and sheer bludgeonous nature of one savagely described death after another, descending into fare at some points. In one scene a character beheads another by throwing a knife at him. I'm not kidding. Mix this in with characters who are fundamentally unlikeable, bereft of any charm and who all appear to talk like they are auditioning for a Guy Ritchie movie, and I found myself losing interest half-way through the book, and completely indifferent for the last third.

Most frustrating is the lack of humour and playfulness I enjoyed so much in The Blade Itself. Abercrombie has elected to play this particular story straight - too straight, relentless as it is in the pornography of its violence without a counterbalance, leaving us with a one-note novel that runs out of steam half-way through and can only attempt to up the ante by multiplying what has previous gone on before by a factor of n.

It is a shame, because for the first third the book had me in the palm of its hand, but as a novel the idea outlives itself. This would be a more satisfying read as a shortened, tightened novella, a segue into the world he has created. Instead we are left with an overlong, disappointing, arduous and grim effort that makes me sincerely hope his next novel avoids the pitfalls of this one.

The Appeal
The Appeal
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Grisham's legal thriller offers a warning, but little depth., 18 May 2008
This review is from: The Appeal (Hardcover)
The story behind The Appeal involves a multimillion dollar lawsuit against a blue-chip chemical firm who has been accused of knowingly dumping hazardous waste, thus causing numerous cancer-related deaths. The story begins at the end of this lawsuit, where the trial has just been lost. With the trial lost they attempt to subvert the upcoming appeal in their favour.

What is initially apparent is that Grisham chooses to focus on the plot rather than the characters - with great detriment. They have no depth whatsoever, and any characterisation is based on every cliché in the book - the evil corporation magnate, his vapid, spoilt wife, shadowy governmental fixers and corrupt senators - with little sign of any attempt to flesh out these stereotypes.

Now, thinking about this I wondered if is purely because of the format of this story. After all, Grisham wants to talk about the US legal system, not bog himself down with weighty characters who will dilute his message. If you choose to put this aside, and accept the novel on its merits and for what it is, what you ultimately end up with is a very downbeat piece of work, and as much as you feel Grisham would want this to be an allegory of sorts, where those who are evil have righteous justice served and the good are rewarded, instead he reflects a legal world which is as easily infiltrated and corrupted by those with power as every other medium.

Despite this, and with the novel's interesting ending (to go into any more detail would be a disservice to those who have not read it), and a rushed sense of incompleteness, I can't help but think Grisham has finished with this story. And yet I can't think of this as a story, more as a stark warning - you feel Grisham is speaking from a heightened perspective. This work may be fiction, but you sense there is more than an element of truth within its pages.

Southland Tales [DVD]
Southland Tales [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dwayne Johnson
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.50

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Darko Director attempts Kubrickian madness and comes up short, 11 May 2008
This review is from: Southland Tales [DVD] (DVD)
Donnie Darko is a great film, with one caveat. It has no resolution. There is no deeper meaning, no hidden context within its narrative. It makes little sense for no other reason that writer and director Richard Kelly chose obscurity over truth, narrative over reality.

Kelly himself has admitted there are `no answers' to the questions viewers inevitable prompt once the final credits in Donnie Darko rolls. Therefore it is hard to watch Darko again without the nagging voice in your head complaining that those logical gaps you see are nothing but frustrating logical gaps. Where Richard Kelly succeeded with Darko is that the story is compelling and weird enough to forgive his sleight of hand.

Southland Tales is exactly like this but Kelly fails to reproduce the little world charm and mysterious and subtle direction of his directorial debut. Instead we have a retrospective Apocalypse re-played out over a veritable smorgasbord of misfits, porn stars, people who are clones of themself, a musical interlude, perpetual motion and a nuclear holocaust, all crammed into a frustrating first half hour where all elements are thrown onto the screen in a vague hope that something will stick. It's maddeningly incoherent - as though Kelly saw a three year throwing paint onto a sheet of paper and thought he could replicate the sentiment on-screen.

Kelly's template appears to be Dr. Strangelove - forgetting that in its element Kubrick's masterpiece was chaotic within its simplicity. Southland Tales opts for complexity and hopes somewhere along the line the message will reveal itself to the audience. The problem is that the audience will have switched off long before this happens.

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