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J. M. Salinas (London, UK)
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Deadline: (Tina Boyd 3)
Deadline: (Tina Boyd 3)
by Simon Kernick
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.24

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor Plot, Good Subject Matter Knowledge, 31 July 2008
Credit where it's due. Kernick knows his stuff. Tracking devices, London police methods, even some of the characters seem fairly realistic.

But that is about it. The plot is fairly flimsy and when you put the book down you get that distinct impression that you have read this book/seen this film before.

This is just a correct page turner. Nothing to get excited about and certainly don't pay the full price. Airport trash material without a doubt, I can't see myself buying any more books from this author in any other circumstance.


The Game
The Game
by Neil Strauss
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spookily brilliant, 24 Jun 2008
This review is from: The Game (Paperback)
What a discovery!!! I bought this book as part of some research for my own book and I was very pleasantly surprised.

I never made the connection that Mr Strauss was the co-author of the much lauded Motley Crue's "The Dirt".

Ok, the stories in this book may seem a bit stretched or hard to believe, but hey, it's Americans we are talking about. What I have to say is that reading this book made me look back on my failures and successes at picking women, and it was almost uncanny to read word by word where I went right and wrong.

The Game is a bit of a cross between Queer Eye For The Straight Guy cum Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus cum any rock and roll tale of debauchery you care to think of.

Interesting but not recommendable for old school romantics out there.


The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
by Lee Smolin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too complicated for the layman, 6 Jun 2008
Ok, I don't have a degree in physics or maths, but I do have a degree and masters in Economics, and while the book is engaging and I appreciate that it is difficult to explain certain theories and concepts without technicalities, I have to say that there are too many "supersymmetries", "background independecies", "string theories", "tachyons", "fermions", "bosons", "quasars", "9 dimension spacetime geometries", "doubly special relativities" or "loop quantum mechanics" for your average Joe to make any real sense of this.

I also find that these books, very much like Dawkins' "The God Dellusion", end up being a bit of self boasting, back patting exercise for the author and his colleagues.

If you are not a numbers person or have some natural interest for theoretical physics, don't bother with this.

Good effort though.


Slash: The Autobiography
Slash: The Autobiography
by (Musician) Slash
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Rock Biography, 29 May 2008
Another rock biography.

Tales of alcohol excesses? Tick.
Tales of sexual excesses? Tick.
Tales of drug excesses? Tick.

So we have it all then, or do we?.

Well, yes but. If you want tales of excesses, they don't come better than Motley Crue's The Dirt. If you want to know about the in fighting and history of Guns n' Roses, well, you should know it by now, but here it is first hand nontheless.

The problem with this book is that it is not insightful enough, just a mere recollection from Slash himself. It focuses primarily on his Guns years, swiftly going through Slash's Snakepit and wrapping the burst in the music scene that Velvet Revolver was in one single chapter. Only every now and then does Slash stop to contemplate and reflect on the personality clashes and reasons why Guns disbanded, but true to his nature, he shies away from those sort of musings, which is a shame.

This could have been a great opportunity to set out a biography more in line with Iggy Pop's Open and Bleed, but unfortunately, it is not the case. It is compelling because Guns were truly great, but this is a case of style over substance.

Gripping tale nonetheless.


The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries
The Blair Years: Extracts from the Alastair Campbell Diaries
by Alastair Campbell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.79

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It Could Have Been Great, 19 May 2008
Shame. This book had all the ingredients to be thrilling, gripping, revealing, fantastic and a real insight into the dark world of high politics.

Instead, we are treated to lengthy irrelevant paragraphs mixed with some truly illuminating passages. Quite probably this is due to the "unedited diary" format of the book. I say "unedited diary" because in spite of Mr Campbell's claims to the contrary, I can't help but feel that some sections have been edited with the benefit of hindsight.

Secondly, some crucial parts of the book such as the NI peace negotiations are suitably built up to effectively go unnoticed when the peace process was finally agreed upon by all parties concerned.

On the other hand, the diaries successfully portray politicians with all their shortcomings, as people that bicker and fight just like in any other workplace, interestingly highlighting their commitment to their jobs and the difficulties of balancing their personal lives.

Perhaps it would have been a lot better if the book was 150 pages shorter or so. Furthermore, given that it covers the Blair years, one can only wonder what the value addition of the future installments of the Campbell diaries may be.


Sign Of The Hammer
Sign Of The Hammer
Price: 6.31

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Gem in Manowar's Back Catalogue, 16 May 2008
This review is from: Sign Of The Hammer (Audio CD)
Not as well known or regarded as their later material such as Kings of Metal or Triumph of Steel, but Sign of the Hammer certainly is the record that set the tone for the future Manowar template.

After an interesting debut with Battle Hymns and a poor follow up with the intentionally more commercial/radio friendly Into Glory Ride, Sign of the Hammer was that difficult third album in which Manowar had to decide which way to go. Back to Battle Hymns or follow Into Glory Ride.

Well, album opener All Men Play On Ten says it all. A true statement of intentions.
Animals is dirty, sleazy, raunchy and ballsy.
Thor is just an ok album track that works better live with the sing a long chorus.
Mountains is much more introspective with a truly delighful instrumental middle section and effective wind sounds.
Then the tempo picks up again with the mighty Sign of The Hammer. Fast, galloping, thundering a band classic.
The rest of the album has a feeling of space filling with The Oath as another repertoire fast song and Thunderpick an extended instrumental intro to Guyana, a hard to classify mid tempo song that attempts to close the album on an epic tone.

The album is good, but perhaps suffers from poor production. Personally, if I was to think of an album not only for remastering, but re-recording, this would be my first candidate. Thor and Mountains could sound edgier and more epic and Guyana a lot more doom laden that it does.

But then, one can only wish.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2009 2:26 PM GMT


Kings And Queens
Kings And Queens
Price: 9.20

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of the Same, 13 May 2008
This review is from: Kings And Queens (Audio CD)
Another ARP record. Another collection of catchy tunes and slow songs.
Is it good? yes. An essential addition to your collection? no if you already own other ARP records.

Kings and Queens sounds very much like other ARP records. Some great 80s style rock songs with catchy hooks and choruses like Cold Heaven, Flying High and Strong as a Rock. And then the customary slower ballad type songs like Forever Angel and Sea of Evil.

In all honesty, the ARP style is so defined that the songs in Kings and Queens are interchangeable with, say, The Masquerade Ball. That is not bad in itself. It won't blow your mind, but it gives you a nice warm feeling.


Fantasyland: A Sportswriter's Obsessive Bid to Win the World's Most Ruthless Fantasy Baseball League
Fantasyland: A Sportswriter's Obsessive Bid to Win the World's Most Ruthless Fantasy Baseball League
by Sam Walker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting even for baseball ignorants (like me), 23 April 2008
Before buying this book, I read Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which I think was a very good introduction to the world of baseball for those totally alien to the game like me.

The whole point of sabermetrics and old school baseball scouting spiked my curiosity and Fantasyland seemed the logical next book to read on the subject.

The author takes us on his quest to win the most prestigious baseball fantasy league in the US. In order to do so, he enlists the help of maths wizz Sig and baseball fanatic Nando in order to build the ultimate fantasy team. Fantasyland goes through the whole pre season, where the author spent his time talking to players and managers to the hilarious auction night and his trades during the season.

At the same time, Walker goes through the origins and evolution of fantasy league baseball taking us on a parallel history trip.

The book is both engaging and enjoyable even if at times a baseball ignorant could get lost with the abbreviations and meaning of certain expressions.


Finisterra
Finisterra

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their Best?, 14 April 2008
This review is from: Finisterra (Audio CD)
In here, the folk influences are cranked up a notch with the permanent addition of a keyboard player and a flute and whistles player.
So what do you do when you have bass, guitar, drums, flutes and keyboards? obvious, you cover Jethro Tull.

But it's not only that, the trademark melodies remain there with the twin guitars+violin, the flutes and keyboard add further layers of sound hinting at future delvings with power metal (but not quite there yet in this record) and the choruses are amplified with backing vocals, making songs such as Cruz de Santiago and Fiesta Pagana even more anthemic.

The feel good factor permeates the record allowing as well for the necessary ballad.

Jose's voice still remains one of the cleanest and modulated high pitched voices ever, not only in Spain.

As always, the lyrics remain critical of religion and openly tolerant to an almost libertine approach to love and life.

This record is too long to cover song by song, but if you liked La Leyenda de la Mancha, this, their next step, is probably their finest.


The Masquerade Ball
The Masquerade Ball
Price: 10.49

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Ok, 14 April 2008
This review is from: The Masquerade Ball (Audio CD)
There is a hint of truth in the review below about ARP not being exactly a great guitarrist. When I first heard of ARP I thought he was the singer as the guitar, in all honesty, is nothing to get too excited about. Let's face it, ARP is no Yngwie, Vai or Satriani.

Having said that, if you ignore ARP the guitar hero and listen to ARP the band, then things look brighter all of a sudden. Earls of Black is a decent fast tempo power riff opener, and Voodoo Nights for some reason reminds me of those cheesy 80s rock movie soundtracks. Tear Down the Walls and Hot Wheels are aggressive yet melodic tracks with the cheese making another appearance in the form of sampled motorbike engine sounds.

There is space as well for sensibilites in the long ballads Temple of the Holy and Night and Rain.

The cover of Uriah Heep's Sunday Morning is a bit of a filler, but a nice homeage coda to the album nonetheless.


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