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S. Shove "Ecobitch" (Cardiff)
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Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon's Fury (Book One): 1
Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon's Fury (Book One): 1
by L. R. W. Lee
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good start to a potentially great series, 18 Aug 2013
I have rather mixed feelings about this book, both from the view of an adult (apparantly) who enjoys teen fantasy fiction and from the view of how a younger reader would see it. First for the positive, this is a great story that is really engrossing once it's gotten going and is really imaginative in how it brings together the modern world and the ye olde fantasy world of dragons and kings. The basic principles of an unknown and unexpected hero, a curse and an epic quest are all here and written generally quite well, although occasionally a little predictable at times (as one who has read a far amount of fantasy fiction). And the climatic and cliff-hanger ending does leave you wanting more and keen to get stuck in to the next book in the series.

However, there are a few niggly issues which I found irritated on a few levels. Firstly the 'hero' Andy is very whiny and often childish at times but I get that one of the main parts of the story is his getting over this and taking on the quest at hand so younger readers probably won't find this quite so irksome. The other characters were however a little flat, with Alden not really adding a whole lot to the story apart from his glorious neon green hair (which has given me a bit of a style idea!), and I must be honest the complete lack of any have decent female character is a bit of a worry (the best we have is Daisy, a fire-breathing dragon). Also I found the language a bit up and down in its approach with quite adult language and words used in places and in others more 'childish' terms taking the reigns. While I can imagine it is incredibly hard to get the tone exactly right the variation from one to the other was a little confusing/off-putting and I think younger readers could feel patronised by some of the more child-like terms (like tummy and boo-boo for instance). I would also have really liked the curse to have a lot more oomph to it, a king stuck in his late teens/early twenties and villagers that can still have festivals despite a supposed curse (basically a never ending fog) is not the scariest or most imaginative curses I've come across and certainly lacked that element of suffering that most curses come with.

Having said all that though, this is still a fairly good read for an adult and one that younger readers (late pre-teens-ish) are sure to enjoy. A series I'm sure to look out for in future (to see if Andy grows up if nothing else!).


Arthur Pong And His Smelly Song (Fart Stories: Children's Picture Book)
Arthur Pong And His Smelly Song (Fart Stories: Children's Picture Book)
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read for children and adults alike, 12 Aug 2013
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This is a very funny little book that children will absolutely love. The style of the rhyme is superb and begs to be read out loud. There are few more complicated words that some children may struggle with but this doesn't take away from the story itself and it will help children develop their vocabulary without them even knowing. The simple illustrations add a lot to the story and children will love them and take great joy in replicating them too.


The Wolves of Lambs Bane
The Wolves of Lambs Bane
by Chris Parker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.33

4.0 out of 5 stars New twist on a classic genre, 30 July 2013
This story starts at the doors of a small village church in the heart of mid-Wales, with the girl staring at the doors wondering how she got there and what was creeping up behind her. We then rewind back a number of months and follow Hazel and she and her mother, brother and sister deal with moving back to Lambsridge following the breakdown of her parents marriage. At first everything seems as normal as can be expected with Hazel's biggest concern being how to deal with the school bullies. But things quickly take a turn to the unexpected as the quaint village tradition shows it has a more sinister side, one that will test Hazel to her limits and put her and her family in danger.

This is a very well written book and pitches itself almost perfectly at the target age group although I must admit there were one or two moments where Hazel's behaviour didn't quite fit with her age (to be honest that could just be me as when I think of 12 year olds I remember what I was like, not what they're like today...it seems they don't go out and play as much as we used to). The characters are really well written and brilliantly balanced with characteristics that anybody would recognise in themselves and their own families and friends. The mystery and suspense of what is happening in Lambsridge is brilliant and keeps you guessing and second guessing throughout and the climax itself is utterly superb and adds a real new twist to a genre that was getting a little predictable. A great read and a series I am definitely going to follow (the big kid that I am).


Life Knocks
Life Knocks
Price: 1.97

4.0 out of 5 stars When life knocks, knock back, 26 July 2013
This review is from: Life Knocks (Kindle Edition)
Life Knocks follows our narrator, Colossus, through both the past and the present as he wonders how he ended up where he has and what he managed to gain and lose along the way. We discover his frustrations at his current situation and his longing for the past he had all the while trying to hold down some kind of job and avoiding his strange over-bearing landlord who has a rather unnatural obsession with Somalians. This book is written in an open and forthright way which really makes you believe you are listening to the inner ramblings of a man pushed to his limit by life, love and everything in between creating a work that takes the reader on a journey that goes to show how twisted yet fascinating life can be. The only reason this didn't get the full five stars is because Colossus himself is so damn frustrating at times I couldn't bring myself to give five stars to the man (yes I realize he is not real but its the principle of the thing). The ending of the book pulls together past and present beautifully and leaves the reader wanting to know more and determined to find out what Colossus does next and whether his stupidity once again gets the better of him.


The Seven Branches
The Seven Branches
Price: 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Modern day Welsh story-telling, 25 Mar 2013
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This is a great tale (or should that be series of entwined tales) that follows Geoff as his life is turned around completely, from being a power-mad money-driven city boy to family man and redeemer as a seemingly minor encounter turns out to be much much more. To start with we don't like Geoff, he is the embodiment of the greed and power that drives the city and the country to ruin as he gambles with everybody else's money. But a brief conversation changes his whole outlook and as the story (stories) progress we find ourselves become fond of Geoff and quietly cheering for him as he discovers a humanity he didn't have before (or that he didn't know he had).

This book is again well written, yes there are a few typos but with self-published works that is to be expected (trust me, my typing is bad enough in reviews!), but these don't detract from the essence of the story or the story-telling ability of the author. As each 'new' story starts the reader is at first adrift to its purpose and meaning but these are quickly put to rest as the separate branches are brought together one by one to create a superb tale set in 1980's London with all the essence and feel of the traditional Welsh story-telling. A feat that many have tried but few have suceeded at, and Fenwick is one of those few.


Gabe's Plan
Gabe's Plan
Price: 0.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent political thriller with a twist, 19 Mar 2013
This review is from: Gabe's Plan (Kindle Edition)
I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this as I'm not usually a big fan of political thrillers (politicians generally annoy the living hell out of me) but this was thoroughly enjoyable. I didn't like any of the characters but in all honesty I think that was deliberate on the author's part as if you did get to like them, then you would be devastated as events unfolded (although I was a little fond of Fred in all his glorious naivete). As Gabe's plan doesn't quite work out as he hoped things take a turn for the unusual as he seeks advice from a rather unexpected quarter receiving advice that in itself is rather unexpected (I'll never look at hime the same way again) but this adds a lot of depth to the story as the reader spends much of the story in a state of shock and surprise with a little bit of awe thrown in for good measure. There were a few moments that felt a little clumsy or were all too brief and seemed a little rushed but these can easily be forgiven thanks to the strength of the story and its characters. I would highly recommend giving this book a go but be prepared for the unexpected (and Abe Lincoln using the word dude!). An excellent first novel.


The Spy Who Loathed Me
The Spy Who Loathed Me
by Chris Westphal
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.24

4.0 out of 5 stars International espionage meets Hollywood, 15 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Spy Who Loathed Me (Paperback)
This was a really funny and entertaining read that combines the glamour and bright lights of Hollywood with the shadowy world of interntaional espionage, throwing together the FBI, CIA and KGB in one tangled web of intrigue, conspiracy, murder, love and film scripts. We begin with Terence Tillberry, a FBI agent tasked with following Pamela Goldfarb an undercover KGB agent acting as secretary to the not so pleasant Justin Black, your typical Hollywood agent. During his surveillance of her, he finds himself getting more and more involved until he eventually crosses the line and makes contact, which ends in treason and assasination amongst other things. We also stumble across Tom Huttle, a struggling writer who manages to get an easy gig writing personnel profiles for an insurance company called TransCom where things aren't quite what they seem. As their paths cross Terence is continually suspicious of Tom while Tom has no clue what he is embroilled in, with brilliant results.

This story is well written and thoroughly enjoyable. It's not too long or overly complicated or detailed so the reader doesn't get lost but it doesn't feel that its missing anything either. It gives just enough to get your imaginaation going and then simply lets it run riot. Each of the characters are perfectly suited to their roles although they can be a little naieve at times but this does add to their charm, even if you just want to grab them and give them a good shake. I must admit I was particularly fond of Tom by the end of the story, he is really not cut out to be a big time Hollywood writer, he is far too nice and seems incapable of playing the politics of the place. This is a great story with a naughty streak of dark humour that'll have you chuckling away to yourself when you know you really shouldn't be.


Last Supper (The Midnight Kingdom Trilogy)
Last Supper (The Midnight Kingdom Trilogy)
Price: 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb debut novel, 12 Mar 2013
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This is a thoroughly enjoyable and well written story that starts with a simple vehicular mishap and finishes with a supernatural battle of wills and destruction on an epic scale. Set in the quiet and serene Gower landscape we find our anti-hero Robert Evans enjoying his new Morgan, before it breaks down on an isolated back road. His rescuer is a softly spoken doctor with a bit of secret who offers him a lift to the home of his host. Here Robert finds himself embroiled in a murder conspiracy, both as investigator and suspect, and in the midst of a battle of wills between all of those present as things begin to take a turn to the vampiric, all the while having to deal with flashbacks to his time at the Front.

The writing is engrossing and engaging and sets the scene perfectly, building the tension and suspense as the story develops. While there are a few stereotypical moments with a crashing storm over an ancient mansion, its familiarity puts the reader at ease and allows them to enjoy the story and the complexities of the characters. Evans is a superb anti-hero that the reader can relate to and who encourages sympathy as he finds himself in a situation beyond his control. An excellent debut novel and one I can't wait to continue with.


Seven Stories High
Seven Stories High
Price: 2.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Smile, laugh, shudder with fear and hide under the covers..., 6 Feb 2013
This may be a small collection of stories with seven packed into just 51 pages but those pages really pack a lot. There's something in here for almost everyone with chilling tales of mystery with Letters and Sea of Mercy, there's realms of fantasy and make believe (and not always the nice kind) with Annie. There's a bit of light-hearted humour and an insight into different aspects of the human mind with Copy and Paste and Mule and a little something to give you back a bit of faith in humanity with Trucker and a spot of realism with Freedom Fighter. Each of the stories is really well written and thoroughly engrossing, leaving you wanting more both from the story and from the characters. While I couldn't quite bring myself to give this collection five stars (although you have no idea of the guilt I feel about that, by the way Letters and Trucker are both five star reads in my opinion), this is an utterly superb collection that will have you jumping from smiling and laughing to shuddering and hiding under the covers (all in the space of an hour...that was one weird experience I can tell you). To be honest there's nothing left for me to say other than read it!


The Lambsridge Wolves
The Lambsridge Wolves
by Chrissie Parkes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars New twist on a classic genre, 15 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Lambsridge Wolves (Paperback)
This story starts at the doors of a small village church in the heart of mid-Wales, with the girl staring at the doors wondering how she got there and what was creeping up behind her. We then rewind back a number of months and follow Hazel and she and her mother, brother and sister deal with moving back to Lambsridge following the breakdown of her parents marriage. At first everything seems as normal as can be expected with HAzel's biggest concern being how to deal with the school bullies. But things quickly take a turn to the unexpected as the quaint village tradition shows it has a more sinister side, one that will test Hazel to her limits and put her and her family in danger.

This is a very well written book and pitches itself almost perfectly at the target age group although I must admit there were one or two moments where Hazel's behaviour didn't quite fit with her age (to be honest that could just be me as when I think of 12 year olds I remember what I was like, not what they're like today...it seems they don't go out and play as much as we used to). The characters are really well written and brilliantly balanced with characteristics that anybody would recognise in themselves and their own families and friends. The mystery and suspense of what is happening in Lambsridge is brilliant and keeps you guessing and second guessing throughout and the climax itself is utterly superb and adds a real new twist to a genre that was getting a little predictable. A great read and a series I am definitely going to follow (the big kid that I am).


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