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Sharp Objects
Sharp Objects
Price: 3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Quite Blunt, Actually, 10 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Sharp Objects (Kindle Edition)
Having read Gillian Flynn's other two books, Gone Girl and Dark Places, and enjoyed them, I thought that I might as well try her first novel, Sharp Objects. Sadly, this book is no where near as good as her two subsequent efforts.

Sharp Objects tells the story of the search for the killer of two very young girls in a small Missouri town. It's told from the point of view of Camille Preaker, a former resident of Wind Gap, the town where the killings took place. Having left to live and work in Chicago years earlier, journalist Preaker returns to her home town to investigate and report on the case on behalf of her employer, the Chicago Post. Upon returning, Preaker's dysfunctional childhood and difficult relationship with her overbearing mother are re-examined.

The 'sharp objects' in the title refer to the tools which the self-harming Preaker has used to (almost entirely)scar her body since childhood. With the exception of her face and a small circle in her back, her skin is covered with marks. Preaker is also a chronic alcoholic who frequently starts the day with a glass of vodka, or whatever comes to hand. She is a seriously messed-up young woman.

This is an incredibly dark novel, which like Dark Places deals with the most despicable of all crimes: child murder. For some reason, Flynn appears to be drawn to this grim subject. But the problem with this story is that it lacks pace. Flynn spends the vast majority of the novel carefully describing the painful childhood of the central protagonist, Preaker, and demonstrating just how emotionally damaged she and other members of her family still are (she has a younger half-sister), but it's all done far too slowly. At times one forgets that there is a case to solve. In contrast, the end of the book is rushed, and a major plot twist is presented too quickly.

For a first book, Sharp Objects is a decent attempt; but it's Flynn's weakest novel. Luckily for her she improved with her next two efforts.


Dark Places
Dark Places
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.11

3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting But Flawed Novel, 20 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Dark Places (Paperback)
Dark Places is an interesting but not great book. Aptly titled, it tells the tragic story of the brutal murder of a mother and two of her young children, and the secrets and cover-up which follow the killings.

In Libby Day, Flynn has created an unusual heroine: she is an unemployable, depressive, kleptomaniac midget who finds it impossible to make friends or form a lasting sexual relationship with a man. Libby is the sole survivor of the slaughter which claimed the life of her mother and two sisters; and her older brother, Ben, is the teenager who was convicted of the slayings. But is he guilty?

Like Gone Girl, this novel has a narrative which shifts back and forth through time. From 1985, when the killings took place, through until 'now'(which was 2009, the book's publication date), the stories of the murders and Libby's present-day investigations are skillfully interwoven. And as we progress through the narrative, and as more secrets are revealed, the shocking truth about the murders becomes more and more apparent.

*PLOT SPOILER ALERT!*

This is an entertaining novel, but it is let own by its ending: legally, it doesn't add up. The killer of Libby's sister Michelle, Diondra, could not be convicted on DNA evidence alone. As Ben Day refuses to testify against the mother of his daughter, any half-decent laywer could get Diodra aquitted. Diondra could probably get Ben to 'confess' that he did indeed kill Michelle. The DNA doesn't even prove that Diondra was at the scene of the murder: the fact that Ben and Diondra were in a physical relationship would provide a plausable reason why Diondra's blood was at the murder scene.

But Dark Places is well worth a read: it's a page-turner which I enjoyed. However, Gone Girl is a better book.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Real Page-Turner - But An Absurd Ending, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Gone Girl (Kindle Edition)
After hearing all the hype about this book I decided that I must read it. I quickly realised what all the fuss was about. Gone Girl is a real page-turner which was very hard to put down; an intriguing story of a missing woman, which has a magnificent twist in the middle of the tale. I loved it. And the book is more than just a mystery crime novel: its observations on class, male and female perspectives of relationships and the very institution of marriage were very sharp and often amusing.

The only problem I have with the book is the ending - it was ridiculous and totally unbelievable. The central character, Nick Dunne, simply would not have made that major decision (I don't want to spoil the plot). The novel is currently being made into a movie (starring Ben Affleck) and I understand that the ending has been changed - good.

If you want a good airport/holiday read then I suggest you buy this book - it will keep you entertained. It's not War and Peace, but it's a great read - especially if you like crime novels.

By the way: if you enjoy Sci Fi novels then why not try FULL PACKAGE. It's a brilliant hard science fiction book, which is set in the 22nd century. I absolutely loved it.


Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
Inferno: (Robert Langdon Book 4)
by Dan Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.00

1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the Same From Dan Brown, 15 May 2013
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***Warning: this review contains plot spoilers****

Whether you love or loathe him, you've got to admire Dan Brown: he has invented a money-making franchise by creating an entirely new literary sub-genre. I suppose we have to call it the "historical art thriller". After hitting on a winning formula with The Da Vinci Code, Brown has now rehashed the format three more times, this book being the latest offering. And his hero, art historian and symbologist Professor Robert Langdon (the James Bond of art history) has now been established as Brown's favourite character.

If you've read The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons or The Lost Symbol then you'll be familiar with format of these books. Robert Langdon gets asked to investigate something, he is then chased around some city by a crazy killer, all whilst trying to solve some puzzles which only somebody with his profound knowledge of art history and symbology can decipher. And there is usually a beautiful woman accompanying him.

It's all here in this book. Plus, of course, there is the usual secret, shadowy organisation which is pulling strings in the background - this time it is called simply The Consortium.

The book begins with Langdon waking up in a Florence hospital after a terrible nightmare with amnesia and a bullet wound to the head. He has no memory as to why he is in Italy, or how he got there. He last memories were of him being back in the US many days earlier. Luckily for him he's being looked after by a beautiful British doctor called Sienna Brooks: she's not only prepared to help him get better, she's willing to help him flee the spikey-haired, motorcycle-riding hit-woman and the dark-uniformed military men who are both out to get him. So Langdon needs to know what's happening - quickly. Fortunately for him, there's a small metal tube in his jacket pocket which turns into a film projector (honest!). Botecelli's painting of Dante's vision of hell as described in The Divine Comedy, which is shown by the projector, is the starting point for the usual art-history "follow-the-clues" nonsense which Langdon specialises in. After 460 pages of treasure-hunting through Florence, Venice and finally Istanbul - with Brown providing a comprehensive tourist's guide of each city - everything is finally tied up at the end.

To be fair, this book does attempt to approach a very serious topic: world overpopulation, and what to do about it. But as usual with Brown, everything is over-dramatised and scientifically very suspect. And what happens at the end is completely unbelievable.

This book certainly shouldn't be taken seriously. There are many, many plot twists and turns throughout the novel which are just ridiculous and completely implausible. For instance: a man who wants to release a deadly plague into the world would go to the head of the World Heath Organisation and tell her he was going to do it - right? Yeah, that's what I thought. But Brown knows his readership, and he knows exactly what they want: they won't be disappointed with this. This is a page-turner which is as good as The Da Vinci code in terms of pacing, excitement and intrigue. I admit that I was hooked early on and was desperate to find the answers to the mysteries which Brown had presented earlier in the novel.

I'm sure this book will sell millions of copies, and no doubt in a couple of years we'll be seeing Tom Hanks on the big screen being chased around Florence, Venice and Istanbul - this novel has "movie" written all over it.

By the way: the two very important issues and plot themes which heavily feature in this book - world over-population and what to do about it; and genetic engineering and its profound long-term implications as to the future of mankind - are both brilliantly dealt with in a fantastic future-set science novel which I read last year. It's called FULL PACKAGE. It's available for download only on Amazon. It's well worth a read.


Twitter Marketing For Dummies
Twitter Marketing For Dummies
by Kyle Lacy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.42

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Phew!, 18 April 2013
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There is tons of stuff in here, much of it in jargon which I found difficult to understand. To be honest I gave up after a while because I got lost. It does cover the basics of Twitter - which I found useful.

PS: If you enjoy good Sci-fi then read this book:FULL PACKAGE


Dead End: The Crime Story of the Decade - Murder, Incest and High-tech Thievery
Dead End: The Crime Story of the Decade - Murder, Incest and High-tech Thievery
by Jeanne King
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Tale, 23 Mar 2013
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I first became interested in the Sante Kimes story when, while channel surfing earlier this year, I happened to come across a crime documentary about her on British TV. As someone who is very interested in true crime I immediately became fascinated with Sante and her life of lawlessness. On scanning through the Amazon store I found this book and eagerly bought it. Once I started reading it I found it very difficult to put down.

Sante Kimes is evil almost beyond belief. The chilling portrait of a clever, cunning, manipulative, often violent, cold-blooded psychopath, which Jeanne King brilliantly paints, had me gripped from the first page. King takes us right back to Sante's tough early years, when as a depression-era child she literally didn't know where her next meal was coming from. During that tragic childhood - which ended up with the half-Indian, half-Dutch infant eventually being adopted - Sante learnt how to use every trick up her sleeve, including offering sexual favours, to survive and prosper. Stealing, conning and manipulating became second nature to the youngster. And as she moved into adulthood her fully set criminal character would impel her into a life of ever-more serious lawbreaking.

Sante's behaviour could be both very smart and very stupid. In 1970, she met and then ruthlessly wormed her way into to life of the man who became her Common-Law husband, Kenneth Kimes, and exploited him for a large chunk of his considerable wealth. And when Kenneth died, in 1994, Sante continued to plunder his riches by hiding his demise from his estranged family for two years. But Sante's uncontrollable and illogical urges to rob and rip people off often got her into unnecessary trouble: even with hundreds of thousands of dollars at her disposal she still couldn't help stealing from stores, credit card companies or anybody whom she could. She even stole a mink coat from another guest at a function which she happened to be attending. And by illegally importing and then enslaving Mexican servants, Sante eventually ended up in prison.

The child that Sante had with Kenneth, Kenneth Jr, or just Kenny, could have made a decent law-abiding citizen, but Sante both seduced and coerced her son into her nefarious lifestyle. He became more of her tool than her partner in crime: Sante was always the boss. Kenny would eventually stand alongside his mother in the dock.

Almost inevitably, it all led to murder. After killing one of her husband's ex-business associates because he threatened to expose one of her scams, she moved to New York City and tried to pull off a multi-million dollar property swindle. The owner of the opulent residential block which Sante wanted to illegally acquire was an elderly woman named Irene Silverman. The tragic murder of Ms Silverman, and its thorough investigation and prosecution by the FBI and New York City Police Department, finally brought an end to Sante's life of crime. The disappearances of two men, each of whom were last seen with Sante and Kenny Kimes, still remain a mystery.

I've given this book only three stars because although it is engrossing and very thorough it is not very well written. There are a few basic spelling and punctuation mistakes: it looks like it wasn't properly edited and proofread. There is also a problem with the chronology of the storytelling: important characters turn up early on but are then only properly introduced later. That was confusing.

But this is a book that is well worth reading. At the end I thought that the Sante Kimes story would make a great Hollywood movie: it is almost too outrageous to be true.

PS: if you enjoy hard sci-fi then check out this book: FULL PACKAGE


T A Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis
T A Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis
by Ian Stewart
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.19

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Info in One Book, 6 Feb 2013
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I first became interested in TA way back in the late eighties. I read a number of books on the subject including most of Berne's publications. However, I did not take in this book, which was first published in 1987. After a few years, I lost interest. A few months ago, I bought this book on a whim and decided to reaquaint myself with the subject.
I found this book to be very well written, but it has a major problem: there is just too much information crammed into a fairly small book. The principles of TA are actually quite complicated (but not in a scientific way) and cannot be properly explained in a textbook of less than 300 pages. I would definitely not reccommend this book to somebody who is new to TA and would like to fully understand it. With my background, however, I found it easy to read. Having read TA theories in other books, this one was easy to keep up with. And there were other TA concepts which I had not come across before. This book should have been about 600 pages - that is what was necessary to properly do the job that it was trying to do.


Total Recall
Total Recall
by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 5.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll Be Bland!, 26 Nov 2012
This review is from: Total Recall (Hardcover)
Schwarzenegger's very long biography is not bad - but not great either. In it we read much of the professional parts of his life, but not too much personal stuff. For instance, just why did he sleep with his housekeeper? And why didn't he just pay her off and keep her out of the way instead of allowing her, and his illegitimate child, to be anywhere near his wife?
The one thing that this book does hammer home is just how incredibly ambitious and driven the Austrian muscle-man was. Making money was always the most important thing for him, whether through his various businesses, movie-making or financial investments.
Like he says, it is an amazing story - but it's not too interesting.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2013 6:22 PM GMT


FULL PACKAGE
FULL PACKAGE
Price: 1.94

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book!, 20 Nov 2012
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This review is from: FULL PACKAGE (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded this book on Saturday and started reading it immediately. I finished it inside two days - it was just too good to put down.
Full Package is a science fiction novel with a difference. It's intelligent and thought-provoking, but it's also exciting, scary and a touch romantic too. It tells a sometimes complicated story in an easy-to-understand way that keeps you gripped from start to finish.
Full Package deals with two major themes. First,what would be the effect on societies around the world when genetic engineering is taken to the point where certain human beings are far superior to others. Second,how can democracy and morality survive in a world where power is concentrated in the hands of a tiny number of ruthless, callous plutocrats.
But don't think this is a boring book about politics. It has a thrilling, fast-paced story which keeps you clicking the "right" button on your Kindle. The story is filled with fights, chases and cat-and-mouse games that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And the twists in the plot, especially towards the end of the book,completely shocked me - I didn't see them coming.
The characters in this book all engaging and interesting, and it has a great villain in the ruthless Agent Sharma.
At the end of the day, this book is about good versus evil; morality versus immorality; humanity versus inhumanity.
I absolutely loved it.


Christine
Christine
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Tighten Your Seat-Belt and Get Ready for the Ride!, 14 Sep 2012
This review is from: Christine (Paperback)
This is one of King's best books. It's driven by a brilliant but basic idea: a haunted, homicidal car which gradually takes over the life of a lonely teenage boy. But the clever thing about this novel is they way that it is told. Split into three parts, the book tells the story from the point of view of the boy's best friend, Dennis, in the first and third sections; the middle section is narrated in the third person.

This is a long book, but it is never boring. King takes his time in carefully painting a picture of small-town, lower-middle-class American life. The characters are all well developed over the opening few chapters, so we feel that we know them almost intimately by the middle of the book. King has that knack of being able to think and feel like a teenager, Dennis's narration sounds just like it comes from a typical 17-year-old. And the hopes, fears and insecurities are all beautifully laid bare. But this is, at the end of the day, a horror story; and the tale is brilliantly told. King allows the tension to slowly build throughout the book until we reach a terrifying denounment.

This book was quick made into a film in the mid eighties. But the novel is much better.


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