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Mark Dyer (Surrey, England)

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The Dealer and the Dead
The Dealer and the Dead
Price: £3.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Looks well-researched, but........, 26 Nov 2014
As always with Mr Seymour's books, it appears to have been well-researched. I like the way that his characters are 'ordinary' people and not superstars or the "greatest of their generation".

Unfortunately, I had no interest in the set-piece climax to the story since the build up was far too laboured and brought no suspense, I had difficulty believing that anyone/everyone would have a reason to be there. Most of the characters I found to be somewhat stereotyped (especially the retired Spook) and I had sympathy only with the protection officer and Harvey. It pains me to say this but I believe that too much was made of describing the atrocities in the conflict - most people have heard of the types of very bad events that usually happen in such circumstances. As in other aspects of the book the detailed descriptions didn't add to the story, just took up time and turned this into a marathon hike rather than an interesting trip.

I would rather have re-read some of Mr Seymour's earlier works.

Neewer Ggs Iii Lcd Screen Protector Glass For Nikon D300S D300
Neewer Ggs Iii Lcd Screen Protector Glass For Nikon D300S D300
Offered by 2012street
Price: £7.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Just get one, 19 May 2014
Looks and feels very strong, perfect view and easy to install. I've been using this for nearly a year and no scratches.

Captain Phillips [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Captain Phillips [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Tom Hanks
Price: £10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and well made, 13 Mar 2014
A very enjoyable and well made film that I highly recommend. I didn't know of the events before watching the film, that added to my enjoyment.

I got the feeling that Tom Hanks was playing Tom Hanks rather than Captain Phillips, in much the same way that he did in Cast Away, but I'm not concerned about that and I may be wrong anyway. Barkhad Abdi both looked the part and played the part very well.

Paul Greengrass' style is not to everyone's tastes but I liked the way that tension was built and then converted into action. I heard Messrs Hanks and Greengrass interviewed about the stresses deliberately created when shooting the scene of the pirates breaking into the bridge; I was looking forward to seeing that scene and I wasn't disappointed. That for me was a great example of the effectiveness of Greengrass' style. The mind games in the lifeboat were well shot too.

I had a strong feeling of inevitability (in a good way that added to the tension) at many stages in this film and not knowing the story accentuated that. Knowing that this was based on actual events prevented me from considering the movie to be all 'a bit too Hollywood'.

Inevitability and loss of control were keenest for me at a number of stages: The captain had no effective means to deny boarding; the double cross to get the captain into the lifeboat; the deployment of the SEALs; the deterioration of the 'negotiations' as the pirate leader lost control through lack of ability.

It was good to see some balance in the storytelling. This was not just 'Team America, World Police'. I might have preferred a little more time devoted to the background of the Somalis' situation but perhaps that would have painted them too much as victims. In the end, everybody lied at some stage.

I liked the line "We all have bosses.;.." and its context; also, the captain's reply to the leader's statement about the how his previous hijacking led to a payment of $6million.

The final 10 or 15 minutes were compelling and the final 3 or 4 minutes simply brilliant, I challenge anyone to remain unemotional as they are played out.

An interesting homily about one's chances of successfully negotiating with Special Forces whilst holding hostages - but then one shouldn't hijack and abduct in the first place.

I Am Pilgrim
I Am Pilgrim
Price: £2.49

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too marvellous and not good enough, 8 Dec 2013
This review is from: I Am Pilgrim (Kindle Edition)
By the end of chapter 7 one can see exactly where this book is going: boys' own, ripping yarn, characters (not in a good way); an all-seeing organisation called `The Division' (not quite silly enough - X Department would have been better) with a 29 year-old in charge who appears to be the best thing since sliced bread; sexual references in the early stages, presumably to grab the attention of the target market - teenage boys; little trailers and hooks at least every chapter, for those with limited attention-span.

The book goes on, and on, and on. As a beach book this was not bad, but when I tried to re-read it using more than half of my brain it became quite tedious. However, I did enjoy even the second time around the way that Bradley tracked down our hero - somewhat like The Day of the Jackal.

Unfortunately, that was all that compared well with good thrillers. I grew tired of the constant trailers and secrets; for example, not saying what vital items he bought in a shop, or owning up to a (not specified, of course) mistake. Our hero was just too marvellous, even before the age of 29 he had solved just about everything, written the definitive book on how to do it, and had even chosen the perfect father to have. I therefore found the comment "I was OK with guns but remotes weren't my strongpoint" particularly funny.

Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography
Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography
Price: £5.31

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Filled some time, 15 Jun 2013
I'm late to the DB party as I know of him only from his 5Live Saturday program and as a drinking mate of Chris Evans. I thought I'd read this book to learn more of him and his life as a writer and member of the Evans cabal.

My mistake; nowhere in the product details or PR for this book was it mentioned that this would cover only the early part of DB's career. Shame on you DB and (probably more accurately) your publisher. I object to having to pay for the trailer to the rest and probably more interesting aspects of his life. Having said that, I suspect Part 2 (and probably Part 3) will be just as superficial and not really worth my time.

As with most autobiographies, I can see that fans are very happy with the work and good for them. Autobiographies are of course 'all about me' but this one even more so. There is no real depth to any of the anecdotes, and that is all this is; a series of anecdotes with no significant explanation or analysis. It would appear from the fans' reactions and reviews that this is what DB is like. Good luck to him and them but it is rather clear to me that DB is a chancer (albeit a talented one) who lucked out with his friend's idea for Sniffin' Glue and subsequent ideas and knew to grab the chance with both hands; it is also clear that this book is the literary equivalent of DB standing in a pub and holding court with his mates and fans. Nothing wrong with that of course but not what I was seeking. For example, DB says that he has never smoked a cigarette yet he alludes to consuming other substances; I'm curious as to how and why that started and what he got out of it, how did he quit, and so on. There's no description or analysis of that, presumably because it would reveal more thinking than would suit DB's image as a cheeky (and talented) chappie.

I wasn't looking for literary genius but at least this filled the time in a moderately entertaining way.

Voices from the Back of the Bus: Tall Tales and Hoary Stories from Rugby's Real Heroes
Voices from the Back of the Bus: Tall Tales and Hoary Stories from Rugby's Real Heroes
by Stewart McKinney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just not my cup of tea, 15 Jun 2013
I've played school and club rugby a bit, albeit many years ago, and am still a fan who goes to Premiership matches so I 'get' or understand the culture but I just couldn't get enthused by this. I think it's the informal style of the writing, or maybe that each item is quite short that leads to the feeling that reading this is quite like normally unstructured conversations in a bar when most people start with "Do you remember when...", without the benefit of a few drinks beforehand, the pace seems relentless. And there are so many exclamation marks.

I didn't really find any of the stories amusing, one or two were interesting, and I tried over several weeks. For me the best tale was that told by Andy Ripley of his night out with Chris Ralston, Eric the Viking, and the twins from Ladies' Night; it was well written too.

There was too much made too often about how 'things' were different 'back then'; perhaps there should have been more editing of the stories.

Full marks to Stewart McKinney for his efforts and determination to assemble the tales and get the book published, with proceeds to charity. I wish I could have enjoyed it more and I'm glad many people have done so.

In the style of the book: Nostalgia ain't what it used to be!

Behind the Lions: Playing Rugby for the British & Irish Lions
Behind the Lions: Playing Rugby for the British & Irish Lions
Price: £6.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous explanation of Lions values, 13 Jun 2013
Anyone who cares for the game and spirit of rugby will find this a great read.

Evidently well researched, the authors let the participants tell the story. Many of the anecdotes had me laughing out loud and descriptions of many of the games raised hairs on the back of the neck, none more so than those of the Tests of 1997 and 2009.

For those who are not fans of rugby then this is a fabulous explanation of the game's ethos and shows how being on tour can bring sportspeople together to form a very strong team. Whilst there are many details for the non-fan to get through, it is still worth reading as it shows how teams were created and bonded together in a very short time. The descriptions of how the dirt trackers went off tour in 1993 and the test 'team' imploded in 2005 accentuate the team-building achievements in 1989, 1997, the Midweek Massive in 2005, and the whole party again in 2009.

A very entertaining and informative book. Maybe for the best results one should read as far as 1993, then take a break to watch Living With Lions The Complete Story Collector's Edition [DVD] [2009] then read about 1997 and onwards through the rest of the book.

Jack Reacher [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Jack Reacher [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Tom Cruise
Price: £8.20

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reacher-light and Action Movie-light, 12 Jun 2013
I've read all the Reacher books (I think) and have no great objection to someone of Tom Cruise's size being cast as JR. As far as I am concerned, however, the film didn't do enough to differentiate itself from the many other 'Action movies' already made.

Not enough was made of the calm and brooding menace, and the great powers of deduction. I think that's a combination of the screenplay and direction, as well as the acting. TC can do many things but he certainly couldn't stride manfully about the police station in the early scenes and he couldn't scowl or stare down anyone, as in the scene in the bus depot. The attempt at a 'seven samurai' moment immediately before the car chase was quite poor.

And why have a car chase? That just put the film into similar territory as the Bournes, Bruce Willis and others. I think the time should have been spent developing and illustrating the character, to create something different and play to its strengths. Talking of acting; I thought TC looked quite anxious whilst driving the car - I imagine JR isn't anxious about anything.

I enjoyed the opening scenes, the telling of a story without dialogue. We saw something of the analysis and sleuthing but not really enough. I just think that in the end we had a passable but identikit action movie when there had been a good opportunity to create something better.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2014 11:39 PM GMT

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, Book 17)
A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, Book 17)
Price: £3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Looks like Lee Child has peaked, 3 Jun 2013
This did hold my attention (just) and maybe this book is worth up to a fiver, but not more than that. I am by no means a literary connoisseur but even I could see that the writing and the story lacks depth. It seems that Lee Child has relaxed quite a bit, letting his standards slip and allowing too many colloquialisms - but then I am rather tired of " terms of...." just to quote one example.

There were too many "startling" revelations for me, I don't recall so many in previous books. I was also disappointed that there was no description from anyone else's perspective, just a simple recounting of events that might as well have been written in the first person. In previous books time was taken to make the 'baddies' something more than two-dimensional. There was too much trundling and racing around in wide open spaces - that's been covered in previous books - and no significant suspense in the final scenes that might as well have taken place with cardboard targets on a firing range.

I kept reading, hoping that it would improve but alas it did not. I won't be buying the next one unless there's been an avalanche of good reviews of it.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Gary Oldman
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the book, not the BBC serial, not Bond, not Bourne, 1 Jan 2013
Why compare this 2 hour film with the 6 hour serial, or require it to be a precise rendition of a book of more than 400 pages? I thought it a fine attempt to take many plot threads and make two hours of entertainment from them, I enjoyed items that were not present in the book. I do wonder though how the following books will be filmed now that Guillam's character has been changed.

Firstly, there are no explosions, chases, babes or helicopters (as if any potential viewer didn't know that) so be prepared to sit, watch and think rather than expect action and glitz to flow over you. Sure, there are some holes and inconsistencies; I suppose that I take a less forensic view to viewing films than do many of the reviewers here.

I don't care that we don't see the characters build to point the way to the identity of the mole because for me the identity of the mole is immaterial. This is about loyalty, betrayal and sacrifice. A few examples:
* Guillam ends his relationship immediately on considering that it might be used against him, quite a sacrifice in my opinion.
* A terrific moment of acting as Smiley makes a deal with Tarr that he knows will violate Tarr's trust because he can't fulfil the spirit of the deal.
* What a strange world where someone who makes such a sacrifice for their country ends up living in a caravan and teaching at a boarding school after being bunged only a few quid and a car.

There were some nice juxtapositions that made me think of how fragile lives might be and the fine line between normality and hardship. During a most stressful task undertaken by Guillam we see many characters singing along and playing along to George Formby singing Mr Woo; presumably chosen in the script as being light and frivolous and something that Roy Bland would be likely to sing afterwards to show Guillam how closely he was being observed. Whilst Prideau was being tortured his `minder' was just sitting by reading a newspaper to while away the time.

The atmosphere was wonderfully dusty, smoky and brown so conveying the impression that these are strange, quiet people in a strange world. Oldman's acting was great but then I almost always agree that `less is more'.

Lastly, there was the great irony of the Soviet national anthem at the Christmas party; tremendous, made me laugh.

If you judge it on its own merits and treat it as entertainment then I think it is good value. It's not as good as the TV serial but why shouldn't it be different?

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