Profile for Mr. D. L. Rees > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mr. D. L. Rees
Top Reviewer Ranking: 398
Helpful Votes: 2144

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Three
The Three
by Sarah Lotz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

3.0 out of 5 stars INTEREST NOT MAINTAINED, 10 July 2014
This review is from: The Three (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An attention grabbing start. On 12/1/12 four passenger planes plummet in different parts of the world: over one thousand dead, just three (four?) survivors, all of them children. At once theories abound, they growing ever more fanciful. Terrorists? Aliens? God despatching The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to create havoc - preparation for The Rapture, when true believers will be whisked off to glory?

Sarah Lotz presents here what purports to be the result of an exhaustive investigation by Elspeth Martins, whose book is crammed with eyewitness accounts, interviews, newspaper coverage, texts, emails and much besides. Elspeth's work, when published, proves a controversial sensation, accused of precipitating some of the subsequent chaos. Now a reprint is contemplated, she admits some of the first edition's shortcomings (even quoting a one star Amazon review!). Keen to update, Elspeth embarks upon further research, discoveries to give a new slant on the mystery.

Sarah Lotz's aim here is ambitious, readers perhaps divided on how well she succeeds. I found the result uneven. Strengths include the initial premise, which genuinely intrigues. Powerfully portrayed is how the frenzied media adds to problems, never holding back on opportunities to sensationalize. Impressively depicted too are charismatic preachers who recognize here a nice little earner, they whipping up panic whilst promising salvation to gullible masses prepared to pay.

Unfortunately everything becomes bogged down with Elspeth's including so much of what she uncovered (some of it boring, if truth be told). This may be acceptable in a fully comprehensive factual work, but perhaps proves less so in a novel. In due course I sadly found myself caring less than expected about the three (four?) children, which surely defeats the object of the exercise.

Full marks for the descriptions of carnage, panic, horror and the decidedly eerie. Much of the laboured remainder, though, rather spoils what could have been.


The Art of Baking Blind
The Art of Baking Blind
by Sarah Vaughan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE, 9 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sadly Kathleen Eaden is no more. Whose now the face to front advertising for the prestigious chain of food stores? For five weekends at Bradley Hall, where she used to live, Vicki, Jenny, Karen, Mike and Claire compete for the honour - Kathleen their mentor, famous 1966 cookbook their Bible.

Here is a real treat for those who like cooking, helpful hints supplied throughout. Forget about putting on weight! Recipes often involve lashings of cream, much sugar and masses of finest (often fattening) ingredients.

Sarah Vaughan clearly knows what she is about. A particular joy are the extracts from Kathleen's great work - homely advice in a manner so appealing. Here is one clearly so content with her world.

Except that this is not how things are. The novel offers far more than mouth-watering escapism. It delves deeply into the lives of the main people involved. Kathleen herself had tragic secrets, the public image but a front. The five contestants all have thoughts that trouble - a health problem; loss of a loved one; a fault-finding mother; an absentee husband, not least one who is a disparaging lovecheating rat. Is their obsession with food but a refusal to accept reality, a way of delaying decisions that need to be made?

Yes, there is far more substance than may at first appear.

In every respect, this proves a thoroughly enjoyable read - theme most unusual, principal characters portrayed with sympathy.

Icing on the cake? A major surprise rounds everything off most satisfyingly.

Recommended.


Sons of Anarchy - Season 5 [DVD]
Sons of Anarchy - Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Charlie Hunnam
Price: 15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars NO LETTING UP AS PRESSURES INCREASE, 7 July 2014
Jax now heads the Samcro table, ousted stepfather Clay still a force to be reckoned with. What now for the bikers as rival gangs jostle for power, the law leaning heavily and certain elements within not to be trusted?

Thirteen more action packed episodes, their lengths varying. Much blood will flow, especially when scores are settled - not least with revenge on those who slayed an esteemed colleague. Relationships are complicated, uneasy alliances formed; double dealing is commonplace, ingenious traps set and satisfyingly fallen into.

All, though, is not tension and gore. Movingly, like his murdered father before him, Jax wants better times for the group - away from drugs and arms commitments towards enterprises that are more legit. His father had voiced such thoughts in journals. Jax now does the same, the aim that his little boys may benefit when older, learning much from his mistakes.

Great scripts. Powerful acting. Jimmy Smits this season a welcome addition. (Brothel keeper? Not at all! He is a "companionator".) Charlie Hunnam and Ron Perlman as always impress; Katey Segal as Jax's ruthless mother continues to scheme. Theo Rossi appeals as Juice. Samcro is his only family, but the sheriff knows his devastating secret and makes him his mole. The resulting inner torment has already led to attempted suicide. A word of praise too for ex-police chief Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie), still wily and very much involved.

Not for the squeamish. Amongst much that is so grim, Ep.5 provides welcome light relief. Relish guest star Walter Goggins, he outrageously far removed from roles played in "The Shield" and "Justified"!

Extras include commentaries, gag reel, a feature on long suffering Opie Winston (Ryan Hurst), a concert laid on for specially selected fans.

Two more seasons are planned. Will Jax ever find the happiness he craves? The odds are against.

All highly impressive.


All Our Yesterdays
All Our Yesterdays
by Cristin Terrill
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars IMPRESSIVELY TRYING TO AVERT CATASTROPHE, 6 July 2014
This review is from: All Our Yesterdays (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The world is in deep trouble, under authoritarian rule as major wars rage. So much has happened in just four years. Unwittingly one man was responsible. Teen time-travellers Em and Finn must go back yet again to try prevent certain key decisions made. So far they have failed. Now they accept there is no alternative: the man must be killed. First both need to escape from captivity, then face the dreaded particle collider Cassandra - their bodies to disintegrate, then reassemble. The process exhausts, success not guaranteed.

The dramatic start instantly grabs attention - Em and Finn at the mercy of the sinister Doctor and sadistic guard Kessler (he with a face "like the smoldering of a doused fire"). The likeable two are destined for much suffering, physical and emotional. How will they cope interweaving with younger versions of themselves? Relationships become complicated. Surely Em and Finn are meant for each other, but what hope for him when Em meets again the love of her life, handsome neighbour James?

Some of the revelations may be anticipated by alert readers, others to come as a complete surprise. Everything is cleverly achieved, never more so than in a climax calculated to make the mind reel - two versions of the main participants confronting each other, the outcome anybody's guess.

Admittedly it is hard to credit the world changed so much in just four years, but such thoughts should not spoil enjoyment. Welcome here a great adventure, which mainly manages to avoid the possible pitfalls of time-travel novels: lengthy explanations, scientific mumbo jumbo, paradoxes, etc., etc.

Full concentration is needed, but amply repaid. Rest assured Cristin Terrill knows exactly what she is about, complications handled with awesome expertise.

Recommended.


Indiscretion
Indiscretion
by Charles Dubow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.96

2.0 out of 5 stars HEAVY GOING, 5 July 2014
This review is from: Indiscretion (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
So much to live for! Acclaimed author Harry Winslow is happily married to Maddy, their adored nine year old son Johnny thriving, although born with a heart condition. Enter glamorous Claire....

Friend lawyer Walter Gervais narrates, having pieced together all that followed.

Impact of the novel depends very much on what one thinks of its characters. Except for Maddy and Johnny, sadly I found them a shallow dislikeable lot. Here wealth is paraded by those seemingly mainly interested in nightclubs, restaurants and parties. Claire comes over as clingy, somewhat neurotic - it hard to believe Harry would ever have fallen for her.

My main problem concerns the format. Why not third person singular and in the past tense? Purporting to have Walter as narrator forever distracts, especially as he was not present for much of the time. Presumably from imagination he recreated those explicit sex scenes. They may have got by in a more conventional book, although some would consider them simply a ploy to boost sales. Here, allegedly recreated by Walter, they make him seem perverted. One can imagine him drooling as he taps.

Walter is prone to flippancy, literary quotes, "profound" observations and frequent attempts to impress us with his exquisite taste. Here is a man of pretension, throughout an irritant. He also includes anecdotes that seem irrelevant (including the death of his father, although movingly told). His blatant attempt to manipulate readers' emotions with a make-believe ending some may find inexcusable.

Walter as narrator is a device that misfires.

It pains to be so dismissive, but for several reasons this novel failed to appeal.

Be advised that most fellow reviewers have taken to Claire, Harry, Walter and their associates, this a tale they thoroughly enjoyed.

Clearly here is a work to excite much discussion in book groups.


Zen [DVD]
Zen [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rufus Sewell
Price: 6.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ENTERTAININGLY SURVIVING ALL BUT THE BBC AXE, 4 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zen [DVD] (DVD)
Aurello Zen is a Venetian detective with integrity, irritation to high-ups in Rome where corruption abounds. Quietly and efficiently, he succeeds where others do not - thanks to reliable sources, intuition, perseverance and luck (lots of the latter, especially in Episode 3). Under top secret pressure from the Ministry, he proves adept at keeping prominent figures out of the news - he on his own if anything goes wrong.

Three ninety minute episodes, all greatly enjoyed. Rufus Sewell excels as Zen - a performance most subtle, wry humour rarely far away. He seems to attract women like flies, but (apart from his mother) cares for only one - colleague Tania (Caterina Murino) - they with scenes that sizzle. Ben Miles is splendidly devious as the Man from the Ministry, Zen most satisfyingly always getting the better of him. Savour also Stanley Townsend as Chief Moscati, capable of awesome fury but with a gentler side (this movingly evident in Episode 3.)

Gloriously depicted is Rome itself, the city virtually a major character. Scenes at night seem positively to shimmer with menace. (Beware motorbikes!)

A thirty minute bonus. Although visually distracting, it has creators and cast contributing much of interest.

Zen almost drowns, is shot at and receives a savage blow to the head. Sadly what he has not survived is the BBC axe. How ironic someone on high failed to appreciate the quality so evident to the series' millions of fans!

Recommended.


The Fever
The Fever
by Megan Abbott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars WHEN PANIC IS RIFE...., 3 July 2014
This review is from: The Fever (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A time of great trauma at Dryden High. On Tuesday the dramatic collapse in class of Deenie's friend Lise, other members of her group destined to be stricken. All too soon, the hospital is almost overwhelmed and the local community in a frenzy, parents converging on the school to demand answers.

Controversial recent vaccinations the cause? What about the nearby heavily polluted lake, its surface with such an ominous sheen? Drugs? STD? Witchcraft? Demonic possession? Simply hysteria? Speculation is rife, authorities desperate.

Focus is on Deenie Nash and her family: teacher father Tom, ice skating brother Eli - the school with its own rink, he one of its stars. How come Deenie's associates seem especially targeted? Understandably the three worry that she may be next.

Skilfully Megan Abbott builds up tension, her novel succeeding on several levels. Welcome here an intriguing mystery, its outcome likely to surprise. Vividly portrayed is teenage angst in a world where more stability and support would be welcome, adolescents then perhaps better able to cope with self-doubt, young love, rejection, secrets betrayed. Meanwhile parents reflect on their own responsibilities, split marriages no doubt contributing to so many youngsters adrift.

Coming over strongly is how the internet exacerbates a situation calling for calm. Whilst victims horrifyingly writhe, gaping colleagues photograph and text - alarming images and details instantly circulated. Facebook and the like ensure evenings are dominated by gossip, rumours, revelations. Add too the media, never missing opportunities to sensationalize.

In short, there is a lot going on. Deenie Nash impressively interweaves the various strands, issues raised giving readers much to think about.

Recommended.


Hotel Alpha
Hotel Alpha
by Mark Watson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars FOR MOST OF THE WAY MUCH TO DELIGHT, 2 July 2014
This review is from: Hotel Alpha (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Howard York has achieved his dream: in the heart of London a hotel that captures the imagination of all. "Make it happen!" is his mantra. This he certainly does. Where else on Boxing Day would down-and-outs be so lavishly entertained alongside the rich? With inventiveness, flamboyance and charm, he seems indestructible. But what if in his past there lurks a secret that could change everything...?

Between them, from different viewpoints, two narrators cover the events of over thirty years. Both have special reasons to hold Howard in high esteem.

Graham Adam has been concierge since the sixties, the job his lifeline. Chas was blinded at five when, in 1984, a devastating fire swept through the hotel's top storey. Ever since he has virtually been part of the York family.

Howard is their mentor.

It is hard not to warm to all three, the characterization so strong. Graham is a brilliant organizer but with a modest lifestyle, he more than content with his ham and chips each evening. Passing years bring disenchantment as technology usurps - all he holds most dear nudged to one side by "a coalition of machines".

Machines, however are Chas' salvation, they (plus a phenomenal memory and feisty reporter Kathleen) making him very much a part of a rapidly changing world.

All this comes over very well. Thus far I was hooked - captivated by the warmth, humanity and humour. An early glowing example of all three attributes? Note how Graham passed his interview.

Disappointingly I had problems with the novel's final stages. Somehow they seemed overwrought and contrived. Increasingly ominous hints about THE SECRET take centre stage, accompanied by speculation why two popular members of staff so suddenly left. Graham now seems to start acting out of character, at one point perhaps ludicrously so.

Probably in a minority of one, I wondered if THE SECRET was really such a big deal, surely no harm done if left unrevealed.

The matter may excite discussion in book groups.

Like Hotel Alpha itself, Mark Watson's novel offers much to enjoy. Only a few may feel eventual developments do not quite ring true, many readers instead to relish every moment.

Recommended.


LA Law - Season 5 [DVD]
LA Law - Season 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Harry Hamlin
Offered by Wowudo
Price: 15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH, 1 July 2014
This review is from: LA Law - Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
A cracking fifth season to add to the collection. In it the law firm faces its greatest ever crisis, it in very real danger of tearing itself apart. As ever, there is a mixture of drama, romance, humour, perhaps even a tear or two. (Tissues may be needed for a certain scene between Michael Kuzak and Leland).

"The stars of the show are the scripts," declares Richard Dysart (Leland McKenzie) in a feature celebrating the one hundredth episode. Yes indeed, but viewers will feel the cast does a splendid job too, popular stalwarts now impressively joined by Amanda Donohoe and John Spencer.

22 episodes. Most of the court cases are very much sit-up-and-take-note occasions, with strong arguments for and against. How would viewers vote if on the jury? What about the young soldier who refused to fire on civilians, the AIDS sufferer denied money for treatment by his insurance company, the adopted boy dangerously out of control, the doctor dismissed because of disfigurement? These and other controversial cases make riveting viewing, lines sometimes crossed in attempts to get justice.

The creators ensure viewers never know what to expect. Jaws of fans dropped as the Christmas Special drew to its close. Later one prominent character's demise could not have been more sudden, the shock becoming legend in the show's history.

Admittedly there is silliness and some of the romantic entanglements bore, but most of the way quality rules, well deserving the praise and awards received.

This fifth box set is the first to contain a bonus. For almost fifty minutes cast entertainingly discuss their roles and recall favourite moments. (Still with great impact is the very start, a smell alerting Arnie and Roxanne that all is not well in a partner's office.)

Will "LA Law" survive the departure here of three of its stars? Always the scriptwriters have risen to challenges. The ones ahead may prove the most formidable.

Recommended.


Tease
Tease
by Amanda Maciel
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars FACING UP TO RESPONSIBILITY, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: Tease (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Emma Putnam hanged herself, she victim of bullying at Elmwood High. The alleged culprits face trial, they themselves now at the receiving end of hostility.

Sara Wharton, a major offender, narrates. Lippy and unrepentant, she claims people have it all wrong: Emma was a troublemaking, boyfriend stealing slut, who brought everything upon herself.

The novel effectively juxtaposes events preceding the March suicide with those leading to the October court appearance. It examines the contrasting attitudes of key figures involved, the effect on Sara's mother and younger brothers. All the while therapist Teresa and lawyer Natalie strive to steer Sara from her self-centred attitude towards appreciation of how things really are. Hitherto Sara has been the product of a shallow young world, it crammed with misplaced priorities where image is all. Will she now grow up a little, reassess the true worth (or otherwise) of the people around her? Has the time come to think anew about Elmwood's "Queen Bee" Brielle and her entourage? Has enigmatic Carmichael far more of value to offer?

At the tale's centre is a character who initially alienates. Readers may differ over whether this works. I feel it does. At the end of it all, we are thus more able to appreciate how far Sara has travelled - a journey of self-discovery that did not come easily.

"Tease" has a mission, this all the more urgent because of teens driven to suicide by abuse. (Alarmingly the internet nowadays is a key feature). Lessons learned here hopefully will provoke discussion at schools and changed attitudes. What an achievement if it leads to fewer young lives cut short, fewer of those responsible forever to be haunted by guilt!

Disturbing, involving and recommended.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20