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A1 Steak Sauce - 280g
A1 Steak Sauce - 280g
Offered by We Luv Shopping
Price: £11.10

1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 11 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: A1 Steak Sauce - 280g (Misc.)
I tried some of this on some fried chicken, and it tasted OK (not brilliant, I thought it would be more 'smoky'), but shortly after finishing the meal I was violently sick. That's probably just me, but perhaps if you have a delicate stomach you might want to try a small amount first.


Neptune's Brood
Neptune's Brood
Price: £4.31

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun far future financial thriller, 4 July 2013
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This review is from: Neptune's Brood (Kindle Edition)
Stross cleverly sketches out the details of his posthuman interstellar future and mixes in an engaging thriller plot and an interesting hero.


Echoes of Earth (Orphans Book 1)
Echoes of Earth (Orphans Book 1)
Price: £2.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Text missing, 4 Jan. 2013
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Unfortunately the current ebook version has a chunk of text missing - I've returned it to Amazon for a refund. I will update this review if the file is fixed.


Real Dangerous Place (The Kim Oh Suspense Thriller Series Book 4)
Real Dangerous Place (The Kim Oh Suspense Thriller Series Book 4)
Price: £2.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Die Hard on a freeway, 17 July 2012
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Real Dangerous Place is the fourth in K.W. Jeter's series featuring Kim Oh, a young Korean-American woman who has decided to take up a career as a Mob enforcer and hitperson. These are a bit of a departure for Jeter, who is probably better known for his hard-edged SF (particularly the proto-cyberpunk Dr. Adder, bizarrely unavailable on Kindle in the UK) and slipstream horror. The most similar stuff to the Kim Oh series that I can think of is probably the long-running Mack Bolan: The Executioner series (originally created by Don Pendleton), with it's implacable veteran seeking revenge on the Mafia, and later branching out into espionage and anti-terrorism. In the first two Kim Oh books, Kim was learning the trade of killing from her ex-hitman mentor (shades of Leon) and getting revenge on her mobbed-up boss; in the third, she was starting out in the enforcement and bodyguarding game, working for another dodgy organized crime figure. In the latest entry, she is head of security for yet another criminal organization, and has relocated to Los Angeles, along with her wheelchair-using brother Donnie.

The plot could easily be described as Die Hard on a freeway, as Kim gets mixed up with some terrorists who have decided to take a load of commuters hostage, though this is a cover for them getting their hands on a very nasty (and rather science fictional) weapon as part of their evil plan. Of course, they hadn't reckoned on Kim Oh being there, along with (in a bit of a coincidence) a school bus full of kids including Kim's brother.

The action scenes are well done as usual, and Kim Oh remains an interesting character - someone who has been kicked around by life and in response decided her best bet was to become a psychopathic killer - she looks forward to the time that she won't feel anything at all when committing the acts of violence that she has made her profession. The introduction of SF elements (as in the `Horror Bomb') seems an odd choice (why not just make it a regular biological weapon as in any number of episodes of 24?), but I quite enjoyed Kim going up against some properly evil bad guys rather than the mobsters of the previous episodes. If, like me, you enjoyed the previous books in the series, you'll like this one as well.


By Light Alone
By Light Alone
Price: £4.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, horrible characters, 15 July 2012
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This review is from: By Light Alone (Kindle Edition)
I have what I can only describe as a complicated relationship with the works of Adam Roberts. I have read all of his SF works (though none of his criticism or parodies), and of these my favourites are Stone from 2002 and New Model Army, which was one of the best books of 2010 in my opinion (bafflingly overlooked when the awards came around). So why did his latest, By Light Alone, sit unread on my Kindle for more than six months, and why is he the least re-read of my favourite current authors? Partly because I buy too many books so have a massive stuff-to-read list, but mostly because, while I enjoy the quality and clarity of his prose, and appreciate the science fictional ideas in his work, the characters in his books tend to be horrible, objectionable, and often extremely selfish people. This means that I don't always feel like spending time in their company.

The characters in the first half of By Light Alone are a case in point, super-rich socialites who are self-absorbed to the point of solipsism and are intensely annoying as a result. That is clearly how the author wants us to feel towards these people, but that doesn't make it any less annoying to have to read about their impoverished inner lives. These idiots live in a medium-future Earth where the poor have, in theory, been liberated from the need to work by the invention of bio-engineered photosynthetic Hair; simply take the Bug to transform your DNA, grow your Hair long, and stand in the sun for enough time each day, and you only need to eat enough to get vitamins and trace minerals, not for energy. However, removing the need to work simply to eat has devalued the labour of the poor, and sunlight alone does not give you enough energy to lead much of an active life (just ask a sunflower).

Roberts explores the effects of the Hair on economic and social structures via a number of different viewpoint characters, and the plot rolls along nicely. I preferred the second half of the book to the first since I was more interested in the character (I'm trying hard not to spoil any of the plot here). If you like his other work then you will probably enjoy this one as well, but new readers might need a bit of motivation to get through the opening sections.


The Apocalypse Codex: Number 4 in The Laundry Files
The Apocalypse Codex: Number 4 in The Laundry Files
Price: £4.35

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of action in a worthy addition to the series, 15 July 2012
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The Apocalypse Codex is the fourth in the `Laundry' series, best described as spy novels meet HP Lovecraft, with a hero who works in IT support and demonology (which, as everyone knows, are basically the same thing). The Laundry is the nickname for the ultra-secret part of British intelligence that deals with things beyond the usual universe, and the people who worship or try to use them.

The series started out as spy novel pastiches - The Atrocity Archives was a homage to the Harry Palmer novels of Len Deighton, and The Jennifer Morgue was a full-on James Bond romp, but that element seems to have fallen away a bit in the last two - The Fuller Memorandum was, according to Wikipedia, inspired by the works of Anthony Price, but I've never read any of those so couldn't confirm, and I'm fairly sure The Apocalypse Codex is at least referencing the Modesty Blaise comics and novels (in the central character of freelance witch Persephone Hazard), but the author seems to be getting into elaborating the universe of the Laundry itself, rather than riffing on other works.

Since that universe is shortly facing a full-scale apocalypse in the uncertain shape of the Great Old Ones who are due to return some time Real Soon Now and eat everyone's brains, it's not suprising that the last two entries in the series have been considerably darker in tone than the fun action of The Jennifer Morgue.

The Apocalypse Codex features some Christian (ish) cultists who want to wake an entity from another universe, and it's our hero Bob Howard's job to liaise with the `External Assets' (contractors, the CIA would call them) who are to infiltrate, investigate, and if necessary, terminate them - Persephone Hazard, who was running her own occult intelligence network before working with the Laundy, and her ex-Para (with a touch of the witchfinder) associate Johnny McTavish. Bob has less of the heavy lifting to do this time around, as he has been promoted to management, with the freelancers getting most of the action (and there is plenty of well-drawn action), but he still gets to kick cultist butt when required. The plot bowls along as usual, and the espionage and horrific elements are well balanced.

I'll be a bit disappointed if we never get to read a John le Carré-inspired Laundry book, and the tone of the books is increasingly dark as it heads toward the seemingly inevitable apocalypse, but this is a good addition to a fun series.


Age of Aztec (Pantheon Book 4)
Age of Aztec (Pantheon Book 4)
Price: £3.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but maybe the formula is getting a bit stale, 5 July 2012
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Age of Aztec by James Lovegrove is the fourth novel in his Pantheon series (which also includes a novella I haven't read yet), that do not share characters or setting, but instead a common fantastical conceit - what if Gods were real? So far he has worked his way through the Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Norse, and now Aztec pantheons.
The Aztec empire has, by the year 2012 (in the suppressed Gregorian calendar), conquered the whole world using God-provided high technology, and rules a bloody police state held together by torture and human sacrifice. One man is standing up to them, slaughtering priests at the most public of occasions, dressed in the armour of the old enemies of the Aztec Empire - the Conquistador.
This was an enjoyable read but perhaps the formula is getting a little stale now - the first three books all had distinct tones, but this one feels like a cross between the first two entries (Age of Zeus and Age of Ra). The lead characters are also rather stock - psychologically damaged ex-military/police. Lovegrove can still write some excellent action scenes, but nothing to match the power-armoured-grunts-vs-Gods battles of Zeus.
So fun, but maybe it's time for the author to take a break from this series and try something new.


The Iron Jackal
The Iron Jackal
by Chris Wooding BA
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun steampunk adventure, 3 July 2012
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This review is from: The Iron Jackal (Paperback)
`The Iron Jackal' by Chris Wooding is the third in the Tales of the Ketty Jay series, a steampunk(ish) adventure series involving much barrelling around in the eponymous airship, gun battles, air pirates, curses and daemons.

This latest entry is just as much fun as the others, with the continuing efforts of the almost terminally narcissistic Captain Frey and his crew of misfits (an escaped slave, a drunk ex-surgeon, a half-monster, a daemonist and his golem, a thief, a halfwit and a coward), to make some money, win the girl (who in this case is a psychotically deadly air-pirate queen), survive, and possibly prove themselves heroes. The fact that they commit various acts that would be heroic if they weren't quite so selfish gives these books a bit of an edge over more conventional Steampunk-inflected fantasy.

If I had one criticism of Iron Jackal it is that it goes on a bit too long, as the crew dash around the place trying to find the people who can help free the man who knows where the secret place is that the ancient artefact must go... Only a sense of velocity and urgency in the writing stops the series of quests from feeling like a particularly dull RPG script.


Shit My Dad Says
Shit My Dad Says
Price: £3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Short but fun, 28 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Shit My Dad Says (Kindle Edition)
As a long time follower of the twitter feed, I don't know why it took me so long to get this book. It's not very long, but funny and rather affecting, in it's portrayal of the relationship between a young man and his strong-willed father. I actually laughed out loud several times while reading it, which is pretty much all I want from a humorous book.


Littlestar: A Science Fiction Comedy of Interstellar War and Virtual Gods: Space Opera on Mount Ararat (Smallworld Book 2)
Littlestar: A Science Fiction Comedy of Interstellar War and Virtual Gods: Space Opera on Mount Ararat (Smallworld Book 2)
Price: £1.94

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun comedy space opera, 26 Jun. 2012
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Not as overtly comedic as it's predecessor 'Smallworld', and with a considerably bigger canvas, 'Littlestar' continues the story of the fractious Reborn-in-Jesus family and their mysterious 'Uncle Anchorite' from the small asteroid (with the big gravity) Mount Ararat, as they become intimately involved in interstellar war with the 'Made' artificial lifeforms. This has more of a mil-SF/space opera feel to it rather than the picaresque satire of the first book, but I still smiled a bit, and the action moves along fast and enjoyably.


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