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Reviews Written by
merrylon "meryllon" (London, United Kingdom)

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Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch)
Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch)
Price: £5.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Justice restored., 7 Oct. 2015
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Solid third volume in this fascinating trilogy brings the story to a satisfying close. "Mercy" manages to tie up all the loose threads, which was a a surprise as much as a relief -- while also leaving possible hooks for further stories in this universe. It is stronger than the second volume, though perhaps on a smaller canvas than the impressive first outing. Look forward to more from Anne Leckie..

Ernest and Celestine
Ernest and Celestine
Price: £2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 July 2015
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Charming film for children and adults alike; the end is especially touching and uplifting.

Majestrum:  A Tale of Henghis Hapthorn (Tales of Henghis Hapthorn Book 1)
Majestrum: A Tale of Henghis Hapthorn (Tales of Henghis Hapthorn Book 1)
Price: £2.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, missing little words notwithstanding, 5 April 2014
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This is a perfectly delightful book. It's witty, it has complex world building of an uncommon kind, the characters, (especially Henghis himself and his fruit-gorging, um, familiar, and including the minor ones), are well-rounded, quirky and interesting. But the best thing about it is probably the humour. It ran the whole gamut from laugh out loud to giggle, snort and smirk. And I'm not even mentioning the intelligent, densely woven plot that had me guessing right down the last couple of minutes. Every time I, like the title character, thought yes! I have it! we would both discover that no, it was just another garden path up which we'd been led by our sad attachment to a logical way of thinking. To be honest, I did worse than Henghis, and he was really quite wrong.
It's so long since I read Vance, I can't really remember it well enough to draw the comparison. But Matthew Hughes can stand on his own two feet as an author to watch and buy. Thankfully, this isn't the only book about Henghis Hapthorn -- I'm already on to the next of a satisfyingly substantial number. And I gather he writes crime novels as well...
If there is one tiny quibble, it's that the text preparation is not quite perfect. (I did wonder whether the ebook had been scanned and OCR'd from an earlier printed edition.) It's not enough to seriously disturb the reading experience, but a fair few little words are missing -- a, to, and, in, the, etc. Maybe 20-odd instances throughout the book. And there are the kinds of word confusions a spell-checker simply won't find. The "souls of my feet" anyone? Still, even if that kind of thing bothers you, and it usually does me, this is a great book.

The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Book 1)
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas Book 1)
Price: £4.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spoilt by sloppy editing, 20 May 2012
Having read a perfectly competent short story that introduced this world, I had high hopes of this novel.

But the spell of the narrative is constantly being broken by badly constructed sentences. It sometimes takes a couple of tries to work out what the author means, and all too frequently that turns out *not* to be what she's said.

This problem ranges from examples like: "Rhys could think of many reasons for kill a man" to the delights of: "...her mother and father had been allowed to keep her rather than being taken by the Horde to be raised in a crèche" -- which would have been an unusual fate for them, one imagines.

Sadly, similar issues crop up every few pages. And while it may be mildly amusing to puzzle over them, it would be decidedly preferable to have a well-written and competently edited book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2012 4:05 PM GMT

The Mozart Conspiracy (Ben Hope, Book 2)
The Mozart Conspiracy (Ben Hope, Book 2)
by Scott Mariani
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Suffers badly from Idiot Plot Syndrome, 17 April 2012
From about a third of the way in, the protagonists, even the supposedly skilled SAS man, respond to events with the utmost stupidity. Especially irritating is the female protagonist, who is apparently Too Stupid To Live, which leads to the couple repeatedly being tracked down by the baddies. I expect better, even in a book clearly designed as the boys' equivalent of a wish-fulfilment romance. Life is just too short to read bad books.

Cadaver Client, The (The Markhat Files)
Cadaver Client, The (The Markhat Files)
Price: £2.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet, 7 Dec. 2011
This story is not terribly long, but it moves along nicely with never a dull moment.

A likeable central character (no, I don't mean the three-legged cat!) with two wonderfully forceful, quirky older women in positions of serious power. A world where everything seems familiar and nothing is recognisable. A truly creepy climax which I was careless enough to read late at night.

It all begins when a local necromancer asks the Finder to look for the wife and daughter of a recently deceased man (a ghost, in other words). The dead man, it appears, feels terribly guilty for deserting his family way back when and wants to make up for it by leaving them a shed load of cash. Naturally, all is not as it seems.

Handsomely formatted for the Kindle. Highly recommended.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1)

60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page-turner, 5 Dec. 2011
I found this book through Goodreads, where it was one of my recommendations. Originally, I had just requested the Kindle sample, but as soon as I got to the end of the very generous excerpt, I absolutely had to read the rest. (On the issue of samples: quite often, I've noticed that the quality of the writing dips seriously after the end of the sample. No such problems here!)

Susan Ee has created a compelling mix of characters: Penryn, the young heroine, is responsible for looking after a paranoid mother and a sister in a wheelchair. The world has been engulfed by the Apocalypse (no, really), and as the novel opens, they are desperately trying to leave their wrecked apartment block and, as darkness falls, head for the hills -- despite the danger of marauding gangs and patrols of the Angels who have brought human civilisation crashing down.

That's when they witness five of these powerful beings ganging up on a single, injured Angel. Penryn intervenes on the side of the underdog, and that's when her problems start. Her crippled sister is kidnapped by the Angel gang, her mother disappears, and she is left with the mysterious angel Raffe, who seems on the point of death.

How Penryn and Raffe set out to San Francisco to find the angels' aerie, how they encounter the human resistance movement en route, and what they find when they get to the aerie (much grisliness here, though not of the truly gross variety) -- all these events unfold over the rest of the book. And all the while, we're unravelling more of the mystery of Raffe and the other Angels, starting to find answers to why they're on earth, who they are, and what they're doing here, especially in the aerie's basement -- and some of those answers are deeply troubling.

The novel is very well presented on the Kindle; there are none of the formatting errors that seem disappointingly common. It's also been well edited; I only discovered one instance of "site" instead of "sight" (probably) and one instance of what I suspect is an editing mishap: "The shape of the wings are not shaped like a bird's wings" -- I imagine "shape of the" should have been deleted there. (Okay, okay, I know I'm nitpicking.)

One more word on the Angels. There is (or there was) a Gabriel, there's an Uriel and a Beliel, and possibly it helps to know a little (arch)angel lore. But one of the angels is an agnostic, and overall they seem a) far from perfect and b) not to know what they're doing. In a different book, they might simply be aliens.

This is a thoroughly original book, well written, well paced, with fascinating characters and overall very enjoyable. I can't wait for the next one.

The Weaver Takes a Wife
The Weaver Takes a Wife
Price: £2.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly amusing, 26 Nov. 2011
Fans of Georgette Heyer will find what you might call Heyer light: amusing dialogue, plenty of period colour, but not much depth to the characters. As others have mentioned, the weaver's Northern accent (Manchester, not London, so not Cockney) is indicated by rather sparing means (mainly lots of Oo's), and I missed a few of the more obvious tricks of speech. On the whole, though, the language and style fit he period and there's no cause for eye-rolling (though I wasn't sure about the use of 'bloke' in this period).

This is a comedy of manners, so it doesn't matter that the plot is fairly slender; it's really more about how Ethan, the weaver of the title, proves himself to be a proper man despite being a Cit, and how his wife (who has an amusingly razor-sharp tongue) comes down off her high horse and learns to appreciate him. Add in a saturnine rake, an unreasonable and deeply indebted, noble Papa, an undisciplined younger brother, and diverse balls and routs, and the fans of the period will feel right at home.

The Kindle version of the book was well formatted, one of the cleanest jobs I've seen so far (and that includes books that cost a good deal more than this one). Altogether, a pleasant and diverting evening's read.

Hue and Cry
Hue and Cry

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent world building, absorbing story, 18 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Hue and Cry (Kindle Edition)
Like some others reviewers, I was sceptical about this book because of the 86 p price tag. But it was wholly absorbing.

Shirley McKay has evidently done an enormous amount of detailed research and uses it to excellent effect, creating a world that in many ways is terrifyingly alien and yet very recognizable. (A particular delight is the passage that deals with recalcitrant horses, clearly drawn from a contemporary text; her knowledge of period medicine is equally vivid but a good deal more worrying.)

She also manages to give a good sense of the speech of the period without any tiresome theeing and thouing.

If there are any grouches at all, it's that the characters don't quite come into focus until well into the book (except, of course, for the magnificent Dun Scottis -- a brilliant portrayal that had me chuckling whenever he appeared). Confusingly, several characters have names starting with G, or even Gil, which made them unnecessarily hard to tell apart. (It's something books on novel writing advise against, and this would be why.)

The resolution is preceded by a kind of recap that brought the plot to a dead standstill and could probably have been handled more elegantly.

That said, I enjoyed the narrative style, which brought individual scenes that furthered the action into focus without slavishly detailing every single incident. The result was a coherent and comprehensive view of a world that is very distant from our own (and where you probably wouldn't want to live!)

I'll certainly be reading her other two novels.

Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times
Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times
by Elizabeth W Barber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never done..., 15 Sept. 2005
What is the characteristic essential to make a job "women's work"? It has to be something they can do while caring for children.
Starting from this insight, the author takes us on a fascinating trail through several thousand years of textile history, relating it to her own life and women's lives in general. Among the things that stay with you are the story of the "string skirt" described in Homer, seen on early "Venus" fertility figures, and tried out by the author with surprising results. Or how Danish women used to be trained to weave and started by making their own trousseau -- with the quantities of towels carefully judged to last a lifetime. Or how the author tried to recreate a piece of plaid over 2000 years old and had a sudden insight into how it was woven when she had it on the loom.
This book is a companion piece to Barber's scholarly volume on ancient textiles (also highly recommended for the serious-minded), adding a human and sometimes very personal dimension.
Anyone who has the weaving or spinning bug, loves yarns and textiles or simply wants to know more about the way our ancestresses lived, will find this a satisfying and illuminating read.

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