Profile for Alistair P > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Alistair P
Top Reviewer Ranking: 386,770
Helpful Votes: 13

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Alistair P

Page: 1
Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth
Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth
by Stephen Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent addition to the original stories, 13 Nov 2013
Carrying on the Cthulhu mythos of HP Lovecraft and adding to its canon is almost now a rite of passage for horror writers. This collection focuses on the element of Lovecraft's world linked with the coastal town of Innsmouth, with its strange fish god worshipping inhabitants and the odd and slightly pervy things that they get up to.

The esteem in which Lovecraft's creations and world are held can mean that quality of additions to the compendium of tales can be mixed, but happily these are all solid and actually do add something, each tale being a missing part of a hypothetical whole rather than trying to be too clever.

Where these tales really succeed is that they all take the idea of unusual happenings in a small seaside town, and use them to hint at great unknown civilisations and evoke the idea that there are massive and horrible things that we just don't matter to, all out there waiting for their moment.

Each of the authors really understands what it might be like to live in this world with standouts from Michael Marshall Smith and horror veteran Brian Lumley.

Overall, this is highly recommended, but you do need to be familiar with HP Lovecraft to appreciate it.

Newbury & Hobbes - The Executioner's Heart (Newbury & Hobbes 4)
Newbury & Hobbes - The Executioner's Heart (Newbury & Hobbes 4)
by George Mann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More for steampunk fans, but not a new way into the genre, 1 July 2013
The Executioner's Heart takes its place in an alternative Victorian world of magic and science that seems to exist alongside the real version of history. Borrowing heavily from Sherlock Holmes and the many stories that have been told about the Jack the Ripper murders, George Mann has crafted an entertaining tale that will satisfy fans of the genre, but doesn't really add anything new.

Newbury and Hobbes are excellent companions in this world, but readers might be left with a feeling that this is coming close to pastiche and parody rather than an original take on the era. However, if you're going to borrow, borrow from the best, and that's what Mann has done here, taking inspiration from Conan Doyle, and possibly Alan Moore's From Hell too.

Despite being more of the same in the steampunk genre, The Executioner's Heart powers along at a great pace, with always amusing, if slightly anachronistic dialogue, making this a worthy addition to the Newbury and Hobbes series, if not an essential standalone work.

Joyland (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
Joyland (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtly supernatural superlative whodunnit, 1 July 2013
Stephen King's 'Joyland' is something different from Stephen King, that reinvents many of his familiar tics and tropes in an original and absorbing way.

There's no need to provide a synopsis of the plot in this review, as I'm sure that's easy enough to find above and below, but what's interesting to talk about is how the supernatural and American folklore are brought together in something that's branded as a pulp crime novel.

In the opening sections, there is a hint that maybe there's a ghost involved and maybe psychic abilities will play a part in this story, but this isn't The Shining. There's a haunted amusement park with a mystery that a newcomer - the narrator of this tale - finds himself unexpectedly drawn into. There's no great and talented detective here, and we don't even know that this is a whodunnit as the possibility that the crime that added to the ghost story of the actually haunted haunted funhouse ride titular 'Joyland' can actually be solved. There is a ghost, yes, but she's a sad figure, not a frightening one, despite the way in which she changes the lives of the characters in this story.

Where 'Joyland' really excels is in presenting a window into 'Carny' folklore and traditions. This is the lifestyle of the people who run amusements and carnival type fairs that are part of America, but which are dying out and becoming commercialised. The idea of the carnival and fairs and circuses are a slightly otherworldly liminal experience that are familiar to most, but are a step to the side from everyday life.

The slowly unravelling of the mystery is satisfying to behold as the main character also goes through a few coming of age experiences and grows up in his summer at Joyland along the way too. This is Stephen King at his subtlest. There aren't any great set-pieces of horror here, and it's very much a murder-mystery not a horror novel, despite a few tinges of the supernatural and a ghost or two and some psychic powers being involved.

You already know that Stephen King is one of the world's treasures and that he more than knows how to write a compelling story. This isn't King firing on all cylinders. He's holding back, but 'Joyland' is all the better for it.

Seal Team 666 (Seal Team 666 1)
Seal Team 666 (Seal Team 666 1)
by Weston Ochse
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boys with Toys versus Monsters = win, 6 April 2013
The idea of an officially sanctioned government special team taking on the supernatural would have been an original one a few years ago, but since then we've had similar themes in Charlie Stross' Laundry series and even The Initiative in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It's as if people don't want to feel the horror and fear of the unknown any more. They want to know that there are people whose job it is to fight back, who aren't just 'chosen ones' or dusty old Van Helsing clones, but the very best of the special forces, highly trained and decently equipped.

Seal Team 666 opens with an alternate version of the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden, portraying him as an actual demon, bringing the reader into both familiar territory as well as introducing the premise of the book. That evil is not just human, but must be fought. By Seals with big guns and magic daggers. Subsequent missions are convincingly portrayed as being plausible, grounded and real, but have the added risk of involving the supernatural.

The supernatural elements are also more interesting than the usual dull vampire and werewolves that are currently so overplayed, but are middle eastern djinn type elementals and east asian demonic entities, with interesting agendas that aren't just throwaway threats picked at random, but do work effectively as metaphors for real world issues such as people smuggling and exploitation.

As a high concept, 'military vs supernatural' is no longer unique, sure, but on its own that concept wouldn't work unless the writing and detail to back it up merged both technothriller and the occult elements convincingly, and where this book surprises is that it manages to do this flawlessly. It's well-written and the prose does its job without being overly bogged down in details. Unusually for a technothriller, the characters actually come to life and have unique and interesting personalities. And then, just when the reader stands a chance of becoming attached to them, they get horribly killed. Which means that the stakes are raised in an engaging way.

The only disappointment is that the ending comes all too soon, but doubtless there's more to come. I'm looking forward to it.

2 X Stylus Pen For Apple Ipod Touch Ipad 1 Ipad 2 Ipad 3 Iphone 3Gs 3G 4G Nokia Samsung HTC Google Blackberry LG Sony Ericsson Smartphones
2 X Stylus Pen For Apple Ipod Touch Ipad 1 Ipad 2 Ipad 3 Iphone 3Gs 3G 4G Nokia Samsung HTC Google Blackberry LG Sony Ericsson Smartphones
Offered by BuyOnline Cart
Price: £0.71

1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly useless. Avoid., 2 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, you get what you pay for, I suppose, but these were next to useless and certainly worse than using a finger.

They're cheap, fair enough, but just plain don't work for anything you'd want a stylus for, like drawing or handwritten notes. The ends aren't even secured properly and have fallen off on one of mine already.

Too much hassle to return them for a refund at the price, and I suppose they might come in handy for poking things with.

But really, don't bother. Shoddy product that doesn't do what it's supposed to. Not even good value at the 81p I got them for.

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula
by Loren D. Estleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever twist on both Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, 19 Dec 2012
This book surprised me, as it wasn't just a straight mashup of Victorian characters, but it cleverly interwove Sherlock Holmes and Watson's role into the original narrative of Bram Stoker's novel instead.

What that means, is that if you're familiar with Dracula, you'll see how Holmes and Watson were also hunting the Count and trying to deal with his threat, whenever the action of the original book wasn't on him. So this isn't just a standalone novel - although it works excellently in those terms - but it's a whole extra angle to the Dracula story.

Both Holmes and the Count are portrayed entirely authentically, in the style of their original authors, with no clumsy attempts to update or change them.

Thoroughly recommended to all fans of both.

Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau
Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau
by Guy Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.59

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another steampunk cash-in!, 2 Sep 2012
Victorian steampunk-ish sci-fi mash ups are a popular genre these days, and mixing up characters from different authors of the era to see what happens sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. This time, Conan Doyle meets HG Wells as Sherlock Holmes is matched up with Doctor Moreau.

What's refreshing about this book is that Adams nails the Victorian era and ambience without slavishly copying either Conan Doyle or Wells' styles. Holmes and Watson and Mycroft Holmes are painted in a way that's completely in tune with their original characters, but by putting them up against a new adversary and in unusual situations, the result is a satisfying and enjoyable mystery and adventure, with plenty of twists.

It's far-fetched, of course, and Sherlock Holmes purists may have a problem with the great detective being put into situations where science is not quite realistic, but it would be dull to just rehash more of the same, so the mash-up element is welcome. Where The Army of Doctor Moreau does solidly pay tribute to the original is in taking a look at the philosophical and moral questions that HG Wells' original also contained.

So, if you were always disappointed that Conan Doyle and Wells never got together over tea to collaborate, this is for you.

The Twenty-Year Death
The Twenty-Year Death
by Ariel S. Winter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.37

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate and ambitious, 2 Sep 2012
This review is from: The Twenty-Year Death (Hardcover)
The high concept of The Twenty Year Death - that it's three books, in three styles, all interrelating is something that seems slightly intimidating and which might come off better as an intellectual exercise than an actual book, but Arial S Winter pulls it off in style.

I wasn't familiar with the writers being pastiched directly, but can see the influences of the decades in which each separate section was set shine through to make a compelling addition to the narrative than runs through each.

It's slightly difficult to review this book (books?!) without mentioning the general concept and format, but it's entertaining throughout. What is refreshing is that because the plot is driven by murders, instead of the modern police procedural approach, the period style writing of each decade means that the psychological aspects of the detectives and the crimes come to the fore, instead of the boring data cruching of modern thrillers, or just sitting back and watching an impossibly competent detective do his or her thing.

The Twenty Year Death is a big book and can seem a bit daunting, but definitely rewards the effort of diving in and immersing yourself in the different decades and styles and stories being told.

by Samit Basu
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An orignal take on superheroes, 29 July 2012
This review is from: Turbulence (Paperback)
When all of a plane's passengers get the superpowers they need to grant their innermost wishes, it would seem like this book is going into Misfits or Heroes territory, but this is far more original.

Superheroes are made for comics of big budget movies, but this book manages to take excellent advantage of the biggest budget setting of all - your imagination. Compellingly written with knowing wit, which sometimes draws attention to what it acknowledges are slightly unoriginal aspects of the character's abilities, the prose takes you along at super speed towards a mystery and then the characters embracing their powers and making the choice to either work for humanity or join with a nefarious villain who wants to subjugate it - with mixed results!

Although the idea of superpowers and the way that they can be a reflection of a person's desires, or resolutions to their conflicts, as pioneered by Stan Lee has been seen before, where Turbulence is refreshing is that it's mostly set against an Indian and then an international background. Superheroes don't just live in Manhattan, or it's analogues like Gotham or Metropolis. As well as the traditional superhero tropes being well represented, there are also Indian and Japanese angles shown too, for a truly cosmopolitan approach to the genre.

With a plot that's straightforward but satisfying, Turbulence is charming and witty and not without a frisson of vicarious thrills as you fly along with the characters or share the adversities they face.

Unreservedly recommended.

No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars i'Coo plasma 7 woes!, 4 Sep 2008
As long as you have a baby who will keep completely still at all times then this is the buggy for you! I have had this buggy for over a year, and have had the seat replaced twice, as the plastic clips on the end of the straps keep breaking! I'm told by Hauck (the manufacturers) that this is a design fault but they don't seem to have done anything to rectify it. If you have a child who is even slightly wriggly then the clips will break within a matter of months and if you have a Houdini-in-training like me then don't even consider it!

It's also very heavy, although the frame is aluminium there's a lot of it - and it's fine if you do a lot of walking, but if you'll be taking it in and out of a car boot then it's not great - and you'd better hope you have at least an estate car, or better still, an entire estate to keep it in when folded.

It is easy to push, and the extendable handle makes it perfect for couples of different heights. It's also great for a little baby - but it's no good if you're hoping to use it as the one buggy you'll use throughout your child's buggy life (assuming it stays in one piece that long, of course). There are much better buggies available for a similar price - or better.

Page: 1