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laughing gravy "laughinggravy"

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Terrorist
Terrorist
by John Updike
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite vintage, 5 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Terrorist (Hardcover)
This is not Updike at the top of his game, but he still has an eerie ability to get into characters' skins. It's a story that leads you from the beginning, with its portents and dark shadows, to expect some sort of tragic climax. So the fact that it ends up being a less bleak novel than it pretended to be, ending on a (sort of) hopeful note, might have disappointed some of the reviewers in this list. Certainly the ending doesn't have quite the impact you're anticipating. Updike at half-throttle is still better than most other writers on their best form, though.


Year Zero
Year Zero
by Jeff Long
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More than zero, 31 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Year Zero (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a bit better than your average blockbuster. While Long is no Evelyn Waugh, he's got an easy, readable style that bears favourable comparison with the turgid prose of Dan Brown or Michael Chrichton. And in terms of plot and pacing he's something of a cross between those last two writers. You might question some of his characters' motivations and find the dialogue a bit clunky, but it's not a book you put down easily. Some of the ideas in it are fairly clever, even if they are filched from popular science mags.


Out of My Comfort Zone: The Autobiography
Out of My Comfort Zone: The Autobiography
by Steve Waugh
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What is it good for?, 31 Jan. 2007
Steve Waugh may not have been the most attractive player to watch, but as the sort of man who seemed to get runs when it mattered most (or for that matter, pluck a catch out of nowhere or take a wicket with a magic ball), he is certainly one to be respected and admired. He was probably the best of Australia's modern-era Ashes-winning captains, too. So I was expecting this to be full of sage words about the sport - basically the sort of thing the current England team should be using as bedtime reading. It is, too. Especially marked is the difference in attitude between Aussie sportsmen (and non-sportsmen) and their English counterparts. It's a good read. I'd say that this was only marred by three things: a strange reticence about his relationship with his twin brother Mark, the book's extreme length and a tendency towards the end to the sort of self-justification that all too often mars a sporting career.


Parable of the Talents
Parable of the Talents
by Octavia E. Butler
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hype, typos and simple prose, 31 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Parable of the Talents (Paperback)
The narrative holds your interest and keeps you turning the pages well enough. It's really just a conventional dystopian fantasy, though, told in pretty spare, conventional prose (irritatingly, the copy I have has a lot of typos). Most of the characters are a bit thin - Lauren apart. And, call me a cynic, but I found the cod philosophy of the Earthseed verses a bit New Age and hippyish. I'm basically trying to say that I thought all that aspect was nonsense. If it's the sort of thing you buy into, then fair enough. But I don't. It was a reasonably absorbing read, but I'm afraid I can't understand how this got such glowing reviews.


The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes
The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes
by Caleb Carr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A miss is as good as a mile..., 23 Aug. 2006
The portrayal of Holmes is spot-on to begin with, but slips a little as the book wears on. He's too much of a cypher, and some of his utterances, especially on the supernatural, seem out of character - as though Carr has superimposed the beliefs of Conan Doyle upon Holmes. There are also little details here and there that don't quite ring true. Would Watson really be so ignorant of foreign languages, or of the differences between highland and lowland Scots? The plot is a bit on the slight side (perhaps because this was originally intended to be a short story), and the tension slackens considerably after a nicely written scene on a train up to Scotland.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 10, 2009 12:23 AM BST


The Night Watch
The Night Watch
by Sarah Waters
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a talent, 6 Feb. 2006
This review is from: The Night Watch (Hardcover)
I was captivated by this book. The narrative structure (the story is told backwards in three chunks representing the years 1947, 1944 and 1941) allows a lot of scope for dramatic irony as secrets kept in the present are revealed at intervals throughout the text - they explode like little bombs. The characters are beautifully drawn and convincing, too. I wondered at times if people really did talk like that back then, but I decided that it didn't really matter either way. It's a wonderful insight into life during the war years, and it's clever of Waters to identify it as a relatively unexplored period as far as gays and lesbians go. I particularly enjoyed all the details of smells and sounds, the attitudes of men to women and so on. And there are one or two immensely powerful scenes. Eventually, this will be regarded as a superior novel to Fingersmith, I reckon, even if it doesn't replicate its crowd-pleasing suspense and intruigue.


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