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Cazza (Manchester, UK)

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Something in the Sea
Something in the Sea
by Yves Bonavero
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling!, 23 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Something in the Sea (Paperback)
Like all the readers before me, I couldn't give this book anything less than 5 stars, it is amazing! The characters are engaging, the storyt-elling fascinating and the ending will leave you reeling for days!

Thud!: A Discworld Novel
Thud!: A Discworld Novel
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

6 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dud!, 13 Oct. 2006
I hadn't read Pratchett in quite a long time, but had previously enjoyed his writing, so I decided to give him another try. Unfortunately for him, due to this particular effort, I won't be trying again. This novel was disappointing. It wasn't funny or witty. In fact, it was quite childlike in writing style and reminded me of my school day attempts at essay writing. Although this is meant to be adult fiction and the characters are meant to be adults, I found that their dialogue and personalities were more like those of children. I mean, I know this is meant to be a fantasy novel but regardless of genre, every novel needs to create a world that is convincing to it's readers.

The plot was too convaluted for it's own good. Pratchett made what was quite a simple story that could have been an extremely effective political satire into a confusing hotch potch of characters and mysterious happenings that just served to drag out the inevitable conclusion. For example, the brief appearance of Death did nothing to enhance the plot and the wizards intervention was momentary and of little value. The relationship between Nobby and Tawnee was an irrelevant sub plot that instead of serving to add the necessary realism and make the characters look more 'human', was just an annoying distraction.

My final verdict? Could do better, go to the bottom of the class!

Woman's World: A Graphic Novel
Woman's World: A Graphic Novel
by Graham Rawle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and fun!, 12 Oct. 2006
I was intrigued by the idea of this novel - it took the author 5 years to put together using clippings from newspapers and magazines of the 1960's and it really works, not just because of the way it's put together but because Rawle is actually a good writer and has developed an interesting and engaging story. The layout and design of the book make it fun to read. The main character, Norma Fontaine is the perfect image of a 1960's woman. Her dialogue, clothing and mannerisms are all perfectly described and Rawle has fitted the pieces of the puzzle together so that the narrative flows without being stilted or restrictive. The only thing that stopped me from giving this 4 or 5 stars was the lack of an adequate plot. Rawle could have gone further - he does not lack the talent, however, style wins over substance this time.

One Big Damn Puzzler
One Big Damn Puzzler
by John Harding
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can't make my mind up.., 5 Oct. 2006
This review is from: One Big Damn Puzzler (Paperback)
There are some really great things about this novel. It has a quirky, off-beat storyline that is extremely endearing. The natives and their pidgeon english are great characters, engaging, humourous and heart-warming. Very well written. However, I was disappointed with the main characters, William and Lucy, who failed to capture my imagination in quite the same way. I felt as though Harding struggled with the writing of these characters, simply because of their 'normality' as opposed to the vivid personalities of the natives. They came across as boring and in places, dialogue between them was wooden and unnatural. Having said this, I still enjoyed it, but it would have been even better if Harding had concentrated solely on Managua and friends.

The Contortionist's Handbook
The Contortionist's Handbook
by Craig Clevenger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever Clevenger!, 26 Sept. 2006
What a fantastic read! Chuck Palaniuck's recommendation caught my eye and was enough for me to snap this up! I'm glad I did! The novel follows the antics of Daniel Fletcher, a man who is constantly changing his identity. He is so good at it that he can fool anyone and everyone, even the authorities and the psychiatrist brought in to analyse him. He is a great character and Clevenger writes the part so well.

His conversations with the psychiatrist are particularly captivating as he is able to anticipate every move, every gesture and every question posed to him. Clevenger is a stickler for the smallest details and that's what makes him a great writer - I'm sure he could write about fly-fishing and I'd be equally fixated!

I loved it from start to finish. Short, but extremely sweet.

The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear
by Walter Moers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but not much depth, 26 Sept. 2006
I really enjoyed this book. Moers has a vivid imagination. Each of Bluebear's 'lives' is a chapter in the novel which reads like a collection of short stories linked together by the main character. On his travels, Bluebear encounters many strange creatures, weird and wacky places and surreal happenings. The sections that particularly stood out to me were his voyage through the Demerera Desert and the 'congladiators' contest in the city of Atlantis.

I was a little disappointed that Moers didn't enhance the plot by giving Bluebear more of a purpose and direction. Adding that extra layer would have made the difference between a good and a great book. However, even though the novel is flawed, it is still enchanting. Kids will love it too.

Monster Island: A Zombie Novel
Monster Island: A Zombie Novel
by David Wellington
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner!, 14 Sept. 2006
This book is action packed from start to finish - it doesn't let your heart rest for a minute! The characters are uniquely engaging and each one is well drawn from the teenage Somali girl soldiers to the actual zombies themselves! Wellington also gives the zombie zenre a unique twist by writing half of the novel from the monster's point of view. I'd be surprised if the film rights hadn't already been snapped up. I can't wait to get the next in the series! This is pulp fiction at it's best!

Noir: Three Novels of Suspense
Noir: Three Novels of Suspense
by Richard Matheson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder, mystery and mayhem!, 1 Sept. 2006
This is an excellent set of short stories from an excellent writer. I loved 'I am legend' and was eager to get stuck into this one.

The tone of these stories is exactly what the title suggests - dark and suspenseful! They read like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, starring Cary Grant - you can just imagine it!

Each story is simple and straight forward- there are no twists to the plot, no unusual happenings, just plain, good old fashioned story-telling, the way it should be. I thoroughly enjoyed them all.

American Gods
American Gods
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good effort, 24 Aug. 2006
This review is from: American Gods (Paperback)
Gaiman has a vivid imagination and some original ideas which are not quite executed cleanly enough to make this the great novel that it should have been.

The main problem is the length. There is a section in the middle of the novel where the main character, Shadow is sent to the town of Lakeside to 'lie low' for a while. Nothing particularly interesting happens to him here and this section should have been cut.

There are a host of great characters - the 'gods' are all uniquely imagined and inspired, however in Gaiman's eagerness to give them all a back story and make them part of the plot, it felt out of control in places. The plot could have been made more cohesive by the removal of a number of characters.

However, these are minor gripes in what is a perfectly fine sci-fi/fantasy novel. There are some great bits of dramatic writing here and more than enough original material - it just needed tweaking. I will definitely be giving Gaiman a second chance.
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On Beauty
On Beauty
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't know what all the fuss is about..., 22 Aug. 2006
This review is from: On Beauty (Paperback)
It's always the same way and I should know better - novels that win prizes are typically a disappointment. The author writes competently in as much as she can string a sentence together, however there are 2 major flaws with this novel - plot and characters (fairly essential elements of any novel, don't you think?).

The plot is non-existent. The author seems unsure of the direction she wants to take the story and so ambles through the various characters haphazadly with no real aim. Secondly, I didn't care a single jot about any of the characters - not one of them has a single redeeming feature, so it wouldn't have bothered me if they had all been washed out to sea.

The novel would have been greatly improved by a first person narrative, a sense of direction and a little more heart.

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