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Val Kyrie (West Yorkshire, UK)

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Reiko - A Japanese Ghost Story
Reiko - A Japanese Ghost Story
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Big in Japan, 7 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sometimes you read a book by a little-known author and you just hate yourself for wasting time and money on a story that wasn't good. You persevere, and you persevere, completely annoyed that you spent €2.00 on a digital pile of garbage - only so you can validate your opinion come review-time, because no one likes a person who says they hate a book yet never bloody finished it! But not so with "Reiko" by Jason Avonleigh. This was actually quite good.

A young man named James travels from England to Japan to research the difference between Western and Japanese ghosts. Is the experience and activity of a ghost culture-specific or do ghosts behave and appear the same way everywhere in the world? James is a sceptic, a non-believer of ghosts, and he is reluctant to use the research notes left behind by his predecessor Charlie, an Oxford graduate who went mad and hanged himself in the process of answering this very question. An ill-fated trip to Japan's most haunted town, Izumi, had apparently pushed Charlie off the edge, and determined to lay this matter to rest, James arranges to spend a week in Izumi to finish Charlie's research and also confirm that the guy just went insane, that he didn't see any ghosts... In spite of himself, James becomes interested in the sequential deaths of five high school students from Izumi, an incident Charlie had studied extensively in the run-up to his death. As James starts to interview the faculty, he finds himself unwittingly cursed by the presence of Reiko, the first victim whose body was never found, and a spirit who appears intent on telling him something...

Although the story seems to be a typical Japanese tale of ghostly revenge like "The Ring", what makes it different is the way it truthfully examines why foreigners might go to Japan. If you have gone to Japan yourself, either as an exchange student or as a foreign language teacher, you will immediately identify with the cultural references, descriptions of the Japanese landscape, and the loneliness James feels as the reputation of Charlie overshadows his own identity (the author has clearly been to Japan himself as a student). At one point, the protagonist sagely observes that people who retreat to far-flung places like Japan do so to escape from something at home, and tend to be social misfits - much like the Japanese who might withdraw from the pressures of their own culture by immersing themselves in a foreign language or culture.

Also, what makes "Reiko" a bit more interesting than the average Japanese horror movie, is the genuine horror I felt as James and the other characters realised why the ghost of Reiko had followed him. And the trick here isn't the ghost herself, but the living influence that can still manipulate the spiritual world. Do vengeful Japanese ghosts really remain on Earth because they were not reposed in accordance to the Buddhist tradition prior to death? Or do they possess a sentient form of revenge, just for the sake of revenge? Some readers found the ending of "Reiko" to be silly, but I think this is mainly down to a dim appreciation of the cultural elements at play between Japan and the West, as well as lacking the imagination to plumb the definitions of evil (it is truly shocking how far some people will go for 'good intentions'). The writing is typically British in execution and control (measured prose, with well-timed punctuation; that sort of thing), and while I found that sections lagged due to excessive internalisation, this didn't detract from the flow of the story and actually made the protagonist a legitimate mouthpiece for the horror at hand. After all, it's a hard thing to do, making a sceptic afraid of the very thing they don't believe in.

So, yes, I would strongly recommend "Reiko" to horror/mystery lovers, those who like Japanese culture in general, and those seeking something different and reasonably well-written from a little-known author.


The Darkness Within: A Novella
The Darkness Within: A Novella
Price: £1.44

2.0 out of 5 stars Clumsy, 1 Feb. 2015
In my search for a sci-fi horror, I came across this title as a recommendation and decided to give it a chance. However, less than a quarter of the way into it, I just decided to stop reading and return this e-book for a refund. I know what you're thinking: how can I possibly review a story I didn't even finish? Well, here's what I say to that...

You can't expect me to take a bunch of characters seriously if they are so over-the-top about everything. I'm aware that the captain went through rough times and his memory is not quite intact, but the matter is brushed aside with a swift glimpse of whiskey and cigarettes, neglecting to really give you a feel for the captain's character and perhaps what he's struggling with on a daily basis - I mean, putting a gun to your head every other morning is quite important, isn't it? How can someone in such a psychological state still serve as captain of a space ship??

Then everything happens very quickly, with no real respect for how to build the tension up. I thought the characters could have been introduced better instead of being killed off almost immediately, before I learnt any names or started to give a damn. Frost had a great lead-up to her scene, but this was overshadowed somewhat by two crew members getting drunk whilst on duty? COME ON!! You have drunk, suicidal captain AND two irresponsible subordinates?! I'm all for suspension of belief, but this was taking the biscuit! I don't enjoy stories with marionette-type characters sliding around each other like fake human beings - not once did I feel that the characters even knew one another existed! No concern from Anderson in the kitchen about the Captain's health and countless swearing! And sometimes, SOMETIMES, the characters would shout and order each other around whilst dashing away from the very folks they were speaking with, as well as forget that they were already shouting but felt the need to reiterate this in the narrative also! (As in, "I am not shouting!" he shouted.)

While I do recognise that the story has promise, it takes a mountain of typos, grammatical errors, and punctuation oversights to easily convince me otherwise. Listen, Friedrich, please employ an editor, or at least a better editor, because they should have looked over your present tense a bit more. And let's not forget that characters can be tragic without wearing a t-shirt declaring "I'm a drunkard amnesiac on whiskey, cigarettes, and pills!" Please, I beg you for a more interesting character.


Riddle of Fear
Riddle of Fear
Price: £4.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, 1 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Riddle of Fear (Kindle Edition)
if you're looking for sci-fi horror to read on a nice sunny day then look no further than "riddle of fear" by j. kuwabara. in the year 2080, a manned mission has been sent to intercept a mysterious cube-shaped object passing through the solar system with the aim to bring it back to earth for further study. amongst the international crew on-board spacecraft 'curiosity' is ship doctor kazuhiko ogata, who feels out of place on this high profile mission & doesn't anticipate doing much medical work. as if to cure him of boredom, strange visions start to plague members of the crew, challenging him to investigate why everyone is fearing memories from their childhood. to make matters worse, they find the captain dead in her quarters under unexplained circumstances, prompting security measures to preserve the life of the crew & somehow keep at bay whatever is trying to murder them. just what was the cause of the captain's death? can kazuhiko help solve this before it's too late?

perfect. that's what this story was. i enjoy reading stories where you're not quite sure how things will turn out, especially if sci-fi & horror are thrown into the mix. if you've seen "event horizon" or anything from the "alien" franchise, you'll definitely appreciate "riddle of fear" & the way it builds up the apprehension & mystery. although it took me a while to remember all of the characters (lots of foreign names!), i thought the crew were portrayed in a realistic manner & grew to mean something to me as the story went on. they're not an extraordinary crew by any means & it's not like they're breaking the mould by being in this situation, but once they realise that something is tapping into their fears & using these fears to kill them, the way they react is plausible & likely how you might feel if you were somehow in their shoes.

considering the novel was translated from japanese (and not very well at times, though i'll get to that part soon enough), i think the writing was good & did a great job in setting up the scene. for instance, there's this mild futuristic feel to the story from hearing the characters talk about film & tv from the early 21st century as if these are curios & relics of the past. also, what i really liked most of all was the creepy descriptions of the fears manifesting all over the ship & how you sense some tension from the characters jumping at frightening moments. one event in particular was eerie & that was where the misshapen cadaver of a security officer moves its hands without kazuhiko noticing...

it's weird but there are references to retro video games in "riddle of fear" as well, which was something i wasn't expecting. the reason they're involved in the first place is down to a character named marko who happens to like them. in order to communicate with the force behind the murders decimating the crew, marko uses video games to try & comprehend what the culprit really wants & whether there's a hope of saving whoever's still left. i won't go into what the ending is, just in case you actually want to read the novel yourself (please do!), but it's genuinely fitting & leaves you with this faint hint of sadness yet a sense of grim acknowledgement. the right decision was made in the end & that's all that matters.

unfortunately, when it came to translating such an interesting story, the wrong decision was made in the form of john cairns from lantis k k publishing. a period of time disproportionate to my enjoyment of the novel was spent reporting content errors left, right & centre. practically every page or so had something the hell wrong with it & this mainly had to do with formatting, grammar, misspellings & punctuation. i was so determined to put these issues right that i reported every single one of them as & when they occurred. every single one of them. this john cairns is an utter stranger to the all-important comma. for some diabolical reason, he seems incapable of using a comma before words like 'though', 'really', 'anyway', etc. furthermore, he italicises sentences which aren't inner thoughts & performs vice versa for sentences which ARE inner thoughts. on one or two occasions, there are even partial sentences beginning a new paragraph or the wrong word used for the fear of dolls (it's PEDIOPHOBIA, by the way, not PAEDOPHOBIA?!) and my GOD he dares to use ANYWAYS!!! (i loathe the use of that word with every fibre of my being!!!)


Dolly: A Ghost Story
Dolly: A Ghost Story
Price: £2.39

2.0 out of 5 stars Only worth that kernel of truth..., 31 Jan. 2015
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I like reading Susan Hill and anything supernatural, however, on this occasion, I was disappointed with the story and had to return it.

Basically a boy (Edward) and girl (Leonora) are sent to live with their spinster Aunt Kestrel in the middle of nowhere (similar setting to "The Woman in Black"). The boy is quiet, meek, and achingly polite, while the girl, his diametrical opposite, displays appalling selfishness and greed, thanks to a nomadic and sporadic upbringing, courtesy of her vain, inadequate mother. After the girl fails to receive a birthday present she has craved since early childhood - a specific kind of Indian princess doll - her ungrateful treatment of a carefully chosen alternative (an innocent baby doll with a porcelain face), results in the girl being cut out of the aunt's will, leaving a majority of the assets to the more appreciative and well-behaved boy.

Some have remarked that the story is a tiresome parallel with "Dorian Grey", but it really is not. The doll involved here does not inherit the ageing process of its owner, rather, it foretells (SPOILER ALERT) the agonising demise of a child who is cherished by Leonora, as the baby doll is the only inheritance she receives from the aunt. While the build-up is a comforting and skilled study of two children estranged from adults and stranded far from the affection and regard of their parents, the ending is not nearly enough to truly justify the time I spent reading this story.

It's strange, but, the kernel of truth one brings away from the finish is actually quite worthwhile. I realised what Leonora was missing, and has been missing all her life, and why she hinged all her emotions on an Indian princess doll - this doll was merely a symbol of the love she desperately hoped that her mother would one day reciprocate, to show Leonora that her mother did take notice of her, that her mother did understand her needs and Leonora herself as a person; therefore, Leonora's apparent overreaction to receiving the wrong doll has a tragic source, and it is sadly mistaken as a stubborn denial of her aunt's goodwill.

But, sadly, this kernel of truth does not make up for the story as a whole. Having read "The Woman in Black" beforehand, the resemblance made it feel like the story was not written to stand on its own two feet - it felt like a companion piece or alternative universe extension, which is might as well have bloody been, instead of attempting to be something independent! Also, I found the alleged 'amnesia' of Edward increasingly challenging to fathom. I know 40 years must have passed since his holiday with cousin Leonora, but I don't think remembering a ghostly, inexplicable rustling would be all that difficult, do you? And then the way the pacing slows down to a snail pace in the final chapter, just so Edward can wander around a foreign country and tediously locate the Indian doll... what kind of shopkeeper would not know the affects of owning such a dangerous 'toy', especially if he is just restoring and mending it? Wouldn't the shopkeeper supply a warning or disclaimer of some kind? That kind of machination just to give the story mystery and purpose seems very unbelievable in this day and age!

If you like Susan Hill's writing, enjoy mildly supernatural goings-on smack in the middle of the English nowhere, delight in delicate male protagonists and wilful female deuteragonists, then this book should appeal to you. Unfortunately, if you want something stronger and more chilling, only pick this book to pass the time between other stories you would rather be reading...


Snow
Snow
Price: £3.73

3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't reinvent the wheel, 30 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Snow (Kindle Edition)
First time I've read a book by Ronald Malfi and still in two minds as to whether I will read any more. The story is about a town besieged by mysterious beings in the form of snow, and while this kind of set-up is not particularly new, given predecessors such as "The Bodysnatchers", it was engaging enough and set an eerie tone from the moment we meet Eddie Clement, a man our protagonists encounter in the middle of a snowstorm.

So, who are our protagonists? Well, Todd Curry is a recovering gambler intent on visiting his son for Christmas. However, a snowstorm cancels his flight, and in his desperation to be with his son, the man shares a rental car with a woman named Kate, a cynic meant to be engaged to a loving man. While previous readers have commented on the irritating reminders of how Todd and Kate are meant to be attractive and attracted to each other, as well as questioning the realism behind Todd's sexual interest in Kate under such circumstances, it surprised me more that readers failed to question the 'dated' feel of these characters. For instance, Kate talks like a fictional woman from the 80s, the type who babbles on about how independent she is as a woman whilst applying scarlet lipstick and gazing derisively down at a potential suitor (this is 'attractive' and 'likeable' how??) For the life of me, I can't remember what she actually does apart from look cute with her red curls and rely on the men to do the hard work! As for Todd... his motives are admirable, considering how he messed up his family life by gambling so much, but his persistent denials of requiring medical attention for a cut on his leg (that constantly bleeds, by the way!) just smacks of "dumb", not "hero". Same with Fred Wilkinson apparently saving his wife from the horror of what is happening by not telling her exactly what's going on, in case the truth should offend her 'sensibilities' or something (sorry, I know he's a caring person and there's nothing wrong with wanting his loved one not to suffer, but he can't protect her and she is in better physical shape than he is, so, again, another case of the "dumb"?)

The only saving grace female-wise is Shawna, the first human survivor Todd and Kate meet when they arrive in town, looking for help. Compared to Kate, and even Todd, Shawna is ahead of her time, prioritising goals and compartmentalising feelings until she has the luxury to deal with them. She is the only female character who ever feels human throughout this story, and you can understand her as a person. (SPOILER) Sadly for us, she doesn't last that long and goes out in the creepiest fashion by reaching the top of a basement staircase, only to encounter a group of possessed townsfolk, who promptly tear her to pieces.

I know a previous reader took exception to the 'religious nut' character, and while I also think it's unlikely that such a person would exist in this kind of crisis, you have to admit that meeting one would only increase the fright factor, right? Same with the travesty of a pregnant woman, who seems to despise Kate and children who aren't her own progeny. And the children... Another great creepy moment for me (SPOILER) was when Kate called to the twins she had hidden in the car.

I do share the impression that perhaps it would have been better to keep the mysterious snow beings mysterious for longer. After all, the thrill of Todd going back for a laptop wasn't really worth it…

Anyway, it this story worth reading? Well, I think so. It's certainly not a hard read! And it does distract you from a real wintry day. For fans of horror stories set in snowy climates, this is a perfect addition to the genre, though it doesn't reinvent the wheel.


Snowblind
Snowblind
Price: £2.52

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, brief diversion on a wintry day, 30 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Snowblind (Kindle Edition)
Four men hunt moose together in the mountains every year. Unfortunately, one of them becomes injured and they have to take refuge from the oncoming snowstorm in an abandoned cabin. Little do they know, however, that the danger doesn't end there, that something out in the snow is hunting them..

As previous readers have mentioned, the characters are pretty generic and can be hard to care about as so little time is spent with them (it is a short story!) Perhaps this is why the author chose to give these characters such distinctive professions (lawyer, software engineer, surgeon, etc.)? Anyway, the writing isn't bad and there is some interesting vocabulary used. Thought the insertion of heartbeats ("thump-thump") was effective, although I feel the roaring should have been described rather than written down (it would be scarier this way). To be honest, you could read this story in a couple of hours; it's a nice, brief diversion on a wintry day!

I think the best moment for me (SPOILER ALERT) was Coburn discovering the names and dates of other victims of the cabin, as well as the realisaton at the end that (SPOILER ALERT) the reason no one seems to have stopped these atrocities is down to how similar the monster's bitemark comparison is to an actual human being's.


Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set
Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery Set
by Jon Duckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like an intelligent magazine, 3 Jan. 2015
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Studying BSc in Computing (1st year) and decided to purchase my own copy of Jon Duckett's "HTML & CSS". I purchased the most recent edition available, and though I hadn't considered "JavaScript & JQuery", I decided to get this one too because I've been struggling to absorb JavaScript and JQuery during class and wasn't really engaging with the material on my own.

Needless to say, both texts have been incredibly helpful - they stand as the most gorgeous textbooks I have ever read. As a visual learner, the graphics and overall presentation assist my understanding of the subject. Usually, textbooks are cramped and dull-looking, like the author and publisher don't seem to realise that a textbook can be informative AND easy on the eyes. However, when it comes to Jon Duckett, his textbooks just scream 'Designer!' and you can't help but look at them over and over, an addiction more than conducive to learning about web design.

Also, what I love the most about these textbooks is how the subject is constantly broken down into small, bite-size paragraphs, diagrams, and columns. The amount of white space is just right, and his explanations and instructions are so clear and approachable that anyone could pick this up without feeling like they're out of their depth or accidentally drowning in academic territory. Actually, to sound even more like a fan girl, it honestly feels cool to be reading these textbooks, which is not something most students can claim about any textbook at all. IN FACT, it's almost like Duckett has anticipated what would happen if you went to school with his textbooks. Does he want someone with a love for web design to get beaten up because his textbooks looked boring? No, he doesn't. What he wants is for that group of bullies to take one simple glance at his textbooks and wonder who the hell is this cool kid, and since when did Vogue start publishing web design textbooks?

And learning JavaScript is a lot more interesting through Duckett than W3C. Duckett provides you with working examples of code as he takes you through different stages of web design, as well as providing relevant background on good web design practice and the reason why code is used in certain ways. I am slowly working through "JavaScript & JQuery", so I can't say yet how well he has gone through the subject, but again, the textbook is visually stunning and bound to be a lifesaver when you're rushing to recall how websites are written.

Any cons to this purchase? Not many. The delivery was beyond prompt: I received my delivery after 2 business days, and being a customer from Ireland, that is saying something. While Duckett can repeat himself at times (most prominent in "JavaScript & JQuery"), this is not enough to pick a bone with the books. For the price, you're getting a good deal and their implementation gives off a heady scent of 'customer service' - something else not many students can claim about textbooks. As for the cheap binding issue some reviewers have mentioned... wasn't a problem. Treat textbooks with respect and they won't fall apart. Laminate the covers. Don't bend them or fold the pages. Simple.


Slum Online
Slum Online
Price: £3.78

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One-hit Wonder?, 3 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Slum Online (Kindle Edition)
Like most of the people who read "All You Need Is Kill", I decided to try "Slum Online" because I wanted to see if the author was capable of writing more than one book that was actually any good. As a casual gamer (the type who will binge-play computer games every now and then without affecting RL [Real Life]), I thought something like this would appeal to me as I like playing beat-em-ups myself and can understand why someone would consume their free time trying to be the best at a specific game.

In the story, our protagonist Etsuro plays an online RPG called Versus Town, where players go to fight with others around the country in order to win first place in the annual fighting tournament. Unfortunately, a mystery player known as Ganker Jack starts challenging the top four players of the game and beats them one by one. Etsuro, in a bid to discover who this Ganker Jack is, eventually draws the player into a fight that will decide once and for all who is the best in Versus Town.

While the writing is consistent, and, on occasion, quite humorous, what really lets the narrative down is the moment we switch from RL to in-game scenery, Due to the way that Versus Town is designed, there is very little variation in the gaming environment in comparison to what the author so aptly describes for RL; therefore, whenever the author goes back to detailing scenes with Etsuro and his girlfriend or other scenes where Etsuro inhabits a city landscape, the narrative distinctly comes to life, which makes me feel reluctant to read in-game parts of the novel.

I think another reason for this is down to the fact that the fight scenes aren't very captivating as a whole.- they're just a list of button combinations. Although it's easy enough to visualise what the characters are doing in-game (more so if you're familiar with beat-em-up gaming), you don't feel like you're connected to the action at all and it gets incredibly tiresome, reading all of these fights that mean absolutely nothing. And it's the same as well with the constant reference to sound FX. I know the author is trying to portray what it's like in the head of a gamer, but it's not really like that, even if you're hardcore! There used to be times where I all ever did was play computer games, but I never once went outside and saw my neighbours as NPCs or imagined a health bar floating over my head or disengaging with the real world to the point that even the sound of birds singing could only be described as sound FX! That isn't a realistic portrayal of gamers, and the author seems kind of juvenile with his approach, thinking a university student would have such a stunted imagination...

While I liked the relationship Etsuro has with the 'girlfriend' (can't remember her name now), their relationship receives little to no decent emotional development. I don't think a clever girl like her could endure a relationship where all they do is sit together in lectures and take notes, then drag each other around the city looking for blue cat graffiti. Fair enough if such a relationship can exist, but I needed something more concrete than what I was getting from Etsuro in Versus Town, especially since he barely explored the one friendship he had with Jun in Hokkaido (must say that was better handled in the bonus chapters) and doesn't bother to form meaningful relations with other players.

Like other readers commented, the novel touches on some issues without fully exploring them and I think the whole argument between whether to invest in the real world or retreat into gaming could have been so much more. I know Etsuro pulls himself back from becoming a shut-in like Jun, but how did he come to this rationalisation? Was there something out there that meant a little bit more than simply staying inside and playing that computer game? Jun himself expresses envy and amazement at how someone like Etsuro can still function as a top-class fighter without compromising RL commitments. So why didn't the author delve more into that and bring us full circle?

After reading "All You Need Is Kill", I'm extremely disappointed with "Slum Online" and kind of wish I'd returned it instead of reading on in the hopes it would slowly get better instead of steadily getting worse. Perhaps I'm too 'old' for this novel and the audience it was written for, but this novel would probably make a good point of reference for a student in the future, say, two or three centuries from now, in case they don't do gaming at all and want to know what 21st century players were like? I don't recommend "Slum Online" at all, unless you want a really light read that will disappear from your brain shortly after finishing.

As for an insight into Japanese culture? Er, no. Try actually visiting the country or talking to a few Japanese. This novel will only mislead you!


The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe Series Book 1)
The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe Series Book 1)
Price: £5.98

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars i would rather be asleep than read this, 6 April 2014
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the crime noir genre has always been, in my opinion, a genre for men & the americans who wrote it. (no surprise, i suppose, since i'm only reading this novel because it's a 'classic', but it's not like i haven't tried to change my mind...) in this story, an ailing millionaire hires philip marlowe to investigate a blackmail attempt, inadvertently leading him to discover more than one against the sternwood family. while i can see why people have praised chandler's narrative & mimicked his cynical style in novels thereafter, it does get, as one goodreads reviewer stated, 'as convoluted as a klein bottle' in the plot department, making leaps of progress which i wasn't able to follow or completely understand. i went with the flow, letting the novel take me wherever it was going, but i wasn't sincerely involved with the thoughts of philip marlowe.

of course, there were moments of cuteness, such as marlowe's banter with the butler & what he says to other characters, but the narrative was too misogynist for my liking, representing a crowd of vacuous beauties with little reason to be crazy or... or... what have you. you may blame this effect on the passage of time & the fact that's just how things were back in the day, so cut the guy some slack, but how do you expect a female reader to enjoy some dame, some broad, some squeeze getting slapped around or being viewed in a purely sexual manner? i'm not saying that chandler can't describe women well - when they're beautiful, they're beautiful & they come across so poetic that it makes you want to stare - yet these women don't behave in ways a real woman would; they get hysterical over nothing & give away kisses like lemonade in summer. and that's without going into how marlowe views homosexuals.

would i read any more raymond chandler? unlikely. the crime noir genre just isn't for me; it's a desert for women. no matter how i laughed at the crime noir sketches performed on "whose line it is, anyway?", i won't be reading another book from this genre any time soon.


The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller Series Book 1)
The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller Series Book 1)
Price: £2.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the movie does this book some favours, 6 April 2014
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after watching "the lincoln lawyer", i followed my urge to compare the movie against the book. while the storyline is more or less the same in both, there are subtle differences in the order of events & the way in which the main character mickey haller is represented. in the book, the author has this tendency to over-explain what is happening as the story moves along. being new to the protocols of court & how defence & prosecution lawyers conduct their business with clients, i found the insights offered by connolly interesting & useful, particularly when it came to understanding the bureaucracy which lawyers have to navigate in us law & just why haller was able to achieve what he did.

however, the level of detail can go too far in relation to the characters & their various relationships. sometimes connolly over-explains those as well, removing your potential to emotionally invest in the high stakes haller is facing by filling in the gaps which should be rightly imagined or telling you how to perceive the relationships of the characters. for instance, i thought it was really intriguing to see an on-screen couple who had divorced still maintaining a depth of intimacy you would commonly expect from a couple who hadn't.

alas, your curiosity regarding this set-up in the book is swiftly taken out of your hands, as well as the feelings of haller when mourning the death of his best friend & colleague levin. the author just keeps telling you & telling you exactly how you ought to think & feel about the characters, each & every time! as a result, you are left with a tenuous connection with the characters at moments you really shouldn't. the sense of desperation & anger which haller goes through, for example, was but a puff of air to me; i never felt as if i understood how much his family meant to him.

fortunately for us, the movie makes amends in this area & re-arranges some of the tricks haller pulls so that you can actually appreciate what a wily son of a bee he is. funnily enough, the author praises mcconnaughey's portrayal of the character, saying that the actor had played him spot on. well, isn't that ironic. perhaps connolly could watch this film again & take some notes?


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