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J. R. Johnson-Rollings (West Midlands, UK)
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Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum 02)
Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum 02)
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disapointing follow-up, 22 Oct 2013
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The second novel in the Stephanie Plum series sees the bounty hunter in her second case - trying to catch an elusive bail skipper. The story feels instantly forgettable (I can't recall what happened in the first book either), and seemed to be missing an opening chapter that would have reintroduced the characters and set up the plot.

The story took a while to get going and a long time for me to get into it. The chapters seemed too long and were, particularly at the beginning of the book, very repetitive, which didn't help grip me. The plot really felt that it wasn't going anywhere, and at the end I was left feeling cheated out of anything much happening, and that the characters hadn't been on any sort of journey.

The main character is quite annoying, and the rest of the cast are equally frustrating to read about. The comedic elements felt very forced and slapstick and the male characters are entirely one-dimensional.

Looking back, I enjoyed the first book in the series, and commented on how well-constructed the characters and plot were. This sequel then was a terrible disappointment. I hope it's just a blip and that the remainder of the series will turn out stronger when I read them.


Steelheart (Reckoners 1)
Steelheart (Reckoners 1)
by Brandon Sanderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.43

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong story in an interesting new world, 8 Oct 2013
In Steelheart, fantasy author extraordinaire Brandon Sanderson tells the tale of David - a young man from Chicago whose father was killed by a human with superpowers, and David is out for revenge.

As usual, Sanderson has created a rich and detailed world, and a magic system to live within it. Unlike most of his stories though, this one doesn't really tell us much about how the magic system works, focussing more on the characters and action.

David is a compelling lead, who we follow on an interesting journey through the novel. Some of the other characters feel rather flat though - the first-person narration not fleshing them out as well at it has in some of the author's other works.

The plot is what really makes this book sing, moving nimbly between action and introspection in a way that compelled me to keep reading. There were plot devices that I could see coming, but also some that took me completely by surprise, and I found the whole tale very enjoyable to read.


Solo: A James Bond Novel
Solo: A James Bond Novel
by William Boyd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bond novel that follows Fleming better than other recent attempts, 2 Oct 2013
William Boyd's entry in the James Bond series is likely to appeal to two groups - fans of Ian Fleming's original literary works about the British secret agent, and fans of the cinematic escapades based on the same character. My immediate feeling was that neither would be satisfied, but actually I found it to be a good Fleming-esque read.

The story is set in 1969, following the original Bond canon and disregarding the many novels written by other 'continuation' authors since then. This felt a much better decision than that of Jeffrey Deaver, the last author to tackle Bond, who rebooted the series into the 21st Century.

Bond, a character quite recognisable to a reader of the Fleming originals, is sent by M to an African country to stop its civil war, and from there things spiral in a complex and unpredictable manner. The plot felt, particularly in the first half, like it was following well the Fleming style, but then Boyd pours on layers of complexity - probably too many - which makes the end of the novel awkward and anticlimactic.

For the most part though I think that Boyd has managed to capture the James Bond spirit without turning it into parody. A Bond novel that I think can appeal to both fans of the literature and cinema adventures.


Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow
Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow
Price: 3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent part two, 27 Sep 2013
The second book in The Fall, the latest 24th Century Star Trek mini-series, runs for the most part concurrently with the first book, 'Revelation and Dust'. It follows Garak, Cardassian ambassador to the Federation, as he heads back to his home planet for the ceremonial signing of a treaty.

This is a very different story from the previous novel, much more about the politics and intrigue on Cardassia, and diplomacy between the various powers, whereas the the first book was much more action oriented. I found it interesting and enjoyable that the style differs so much between the two books, something that I've noticed a lot more recently in Star Trek novels than when I first started reading them in the late 90s - a welcome addition.

McCormack's novel reflects events in the real world masterfully, and has made me think more than anything else I've read for a long time, and yet as well as this she fills the tale with humour and 'easter eggs', many of which I expect I missed.

I found reading this that I wanted to pause between chapters to digest what I'd read, rather than rush ahead, although this plan went out the window as I got to the second half and couldn't stop reading. Her handle on Garak and other Cardassians is as strong as always and I've really enjoyed what she's done with them and their culture in this story.

An excellent novel, and a great continuation of the series - I look forward to the rest keeping this standard up.


Zero Hour: NUMA Files #11
Zero Hour: NUMA Files #11
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, but disapointing, 26 Sep 2013
The eleventh book, and the NUMA Files are feeling a little tired. This one tells the tale of Kurt Austin's adventure down under, and seems to miss the original idea of this series being about the four-piece ensemble group - having just one main character makes it fairly indistinguishable from the original Dirk Pitt series that it span off from.

The book starts well, with a thrilling opening followed by a mediocre first half in which the characters drift and try to explain a rather fantastic plot device which seems like something from a 90s Bond film (along with some of the characters). The second half turns into more of a run-of-the-mill thriller and actually picks up.

I felt there was a missed opportunity in this to take the characters deeper, as they were in some of the recent books in this series. I felt like it wanted to just be a mindless thriller, and not something that would fit in with the Clive Cussler tradition of exploring technology and telling the reader something about the world.

Overall, I felt disappointed. I've been a devoted Cussler reader for many years and the recent novels have been of varying quality. While this one had its moments of excitement, it doesn't make up for the trip into pseudoscience-fiction.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Celebratory Edition
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Celebratory Edition
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I remembered, 21 Sep 2013
That third Harry Potter novel is one that I must have read a dozen times, and until now, rereading it with the Pottermore website alongside, I've considered it one of my least favourite entries in the series.

The story covers Harry's third year at Hogwarts, which is overshadowed by the escape of Sirius Black from the wizard prison, and attempts to keep the school, and particularly Harry, safe. It's probably the first entry in the series that works to set things up properly for later books, introducing a number of vital characters and plot devices.

The plot of this entry works well, and is significantly different from the first two books, which is probably what put me off a little when I first read it. There's a lot to learn and the characters actually start to develop. My memory was of quite a slow plot and an overly long last few chapters, but that's not what I found in this reading, with the climax actually taking up a much smaller page count than expected.

So on this reading, punctuated by Pottermore moments between each chapter, I've enjoyed it more than previously, but it's still not my favourite book in the series.


Pulling Up Stakes 2
Pulling Up Stakes 2
Price: 1.84

4.0 out of 5 stars The second half of the best vampire story I've read, 21 Sep 2013
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The second half of Pulling Up Stakes continues the story from part one, in which Vince, the vampire hunter who is himself a vampire, is drawn into an unexpectedly complicated situation that he's desperate to get out of.

It's taken me some time to read this ebook, reading it in chunks over the past nine months when the opportunity has arisen and I've not had any dead-tree books to occupy myself with. I was surprised to find though that this didn't impede my enjoyment of the story, and my memories of the story so far hadn't faded as much as I thought they might.

The novel is an interesting take on the vampire meme and Peter David certainly shows that he's able to think outside the box with his storylines. From what sounds like a simple premise he's created a rich world inhabited by deep and varied characters with a complex set of storylines.

Probably the best vampire story I've read, and definitely a world with plenty of possibilities for more stories to come.


The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6)
The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6)
by Joe Nesbo
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Huge and variable, 21 Sep 2013
Harry Hole's eighth adventure sees the reluctant detective dragged back to work to investigate an apparent serial killer (again). It's odd how rare they are said to be and yet how frequently they turn up. The book feels very long, and the way that the plot develops becomes annoyingly repetitive.

The opening is surprisingly graphic - I always forget between readings that Jo Nesbo's novels are so violent, and yet this isn't kept up through the rest of the novel, which I found quite reliving as the first chapter almost put me off the book (and indeed, I went and read something else before coming back to continue). Otherwise it starts well, re-introducing the characters and the ongoing repercussions from the previous novel.

The story started to drag around the halfway mark, and I found I wasn't motivated to continue at the end of each chapter - again I had to take a break to read something else before returning. The end picked up, and I found myself enjoying the story again, and was left, as usual with Nesbo, ready to pick up the next novel in the series.

This book sees a selection of new supporting characters being introduced, and I wasn't particularly impressed by them. Several seem to be repeats of characters from earlier in the series, and I found it odd that having written those roles out, Nesbo felt the need to bring them back in a new body. The main character, Harry Hole, develops well in this outing though, and gets to go on quite an emotional rollercoaster. His journey is actually what I found to be the most interesting part of the story, and he grows beyond the meme of the alcoholic work-obsessed police inspector.

Overall, the book definitely has its ups and downs, but on reflection I think it stands as a good entry in the series, and it's not put me off looking out for the episodes I've not yet read.


Star Trek: The Fall: Revelation and Dust (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Star Trek: The Fall: Revelation and Dust (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Price: 3.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatic start to the mini-series, 7 Sep 2013
Book one of The Fall, this year's 24th Century Star Trek novel extravaganza is also a celebration of 20 years since Deep Space Nine first aired, and that's where the series starts, picking up after the dramatic events of David R George III's previous three DS9 novels.

And the drama keeps on coming as we follow two main threads of story and are given tiny glimpses of storylines being lined up for the future. George gives away pretty quickly that something big is coming, and from then every chapter in that thread is written with glorious tension that this could be it. I loved this.

George gets a lot of stick for being overly wordy, but I've never found this a problem with his writing, and like a chunky Trek book that's richer than just action. There was one point in a long section near the beginning of the book where I wondered where the narrative was going, but it became clear in the end.

The characters are marvellous, and I'm surprised by how many the author managed to get to. He has their voices - particularly the Ferengi - down perfectly and I could really hear the actors in my head, something that few Trek books actually manage to achieve.

I loved this book, and am really looking forward to the remaining four parts of The Fall. If they're as full of character, action and emotion as this one then they'll continue TrekLit's fantastic current run.


Never Go Back (Jack Reacher 18)
Never Go Back (Jack Reacher 18)
by Lee Child
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The best in the series?, 5 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Lee Child has been building his Jack Reacher series up to this story for several years, it following on from events in two of the last three novels, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Reacher has been making his way back to his former army posting, to meet the woman who currently holds his old position in the military police, but instead finds someone else, and a surprising number of complications.

The story really does make for addictive reading - I was hooked right from the start and read through the book in just a couple of days. Child's style seems to have matured slightly and the short, clipped sentences of the older books have, in places, stretched out to slightly more filling prose, but without losing any of the action, excitement and suspense that the series typically brings.

The plot is filled with puzzles and twists and the usual Reacher-style violence and problem solving, and for once he's presented with a strong emotional storyline to accompany this. As usual, Reacher is joined by a new supporting cast of characters, but some of these feel stronger and better defined than before, and this really helps build up the belief in the plot and wonder at where Child is taking the reader.

The best book in the series? Probably, yes.


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