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Reviews Written by
Jennifer O'G "drjenny88" (Aylesbury, England)

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Fine Young Gentlemen
Fine Young Gentlemen
Price: £2.87

3.0 out of 5 stars Fine Young Gentlemen, 22 May 2014
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This read was good fun & I will definitely look out for the upcoming sequel.
I liked that the characters were a mix of personalities, but the views towards women were problematic, to say the least (although hopefully the characters' views & not the authors).
Overall a fairly enjoyable read, but by no means a masterpiece. Recommended if you're looking for a quick fix of teen thriller.

Lindt Chocolate Easter Treat Box - Bunnies, Lindt Lindor Egg, Carrot and Bunny Paw - By Moreton Gifts
Lindt Chocolate Easter Treat Box - Bunnies, Lindt Lindor Egg, Carrot and Bunny Paw - By Moreton Gifts

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality But Disappointingly Small, 22 May 2014
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A great idea for a gift box but very disappointed with the size, especially as it's described as including a "large Lindt bunny". Photo is deceptive.
However, the chocolate is high quality & the gift was well-received, although I had to buy other bits to go with it due to disappointing size of the treats.

Bounty Hunter
Bounty Hunter
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rip Roaring Ride, 6 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Bounty Hunter (Kindle Edition)
Bounty Hunter had been on my to-read list for the longest time, so my expectations were high. Super high. And Bounty Hunter more than exceeded those expectations.

I was drawn in from the very first page, where we meet our protagonist, Kai Koson. A fourteen-year-old witch in a world where witches are bottom of the Christmas card list, his whole life has been about survival. Given that he almost becomes demon fodder within the first chapter and that we quickly learn he has been forced to live life on the run, it is easy to see why Kai might be feeling somewhat adrift. It's hard to make friends when you're moving town every other week. Luckily for him - and for us - Kai soon comes to the attention of a band of bounty hunters, who scour the galaxies for criminal vagabonds and escapees and set about catching them - for a price!

Hollis has a true gift for characterisation. Kai is easy to like; we can sympathise with his plight, empathise with his loneliness. He's witty and sarcastic and generally likeable, with a reckless edge that keeps the other characters on their toes and readers on the edge of their seats. His new companions aboard The Derkomai are far from secondary characters, having all been just as well-rounded as Kai. What Hollis does particularly well is give each character his or her own distinct voice, and in a way that doesn't leave each of them as a paltry stereotype. The snarky Cassius is my personal favourite, but Galway's gruff no-nonsense attitude and Sam's can-do determination also resonate. The reader is left with the impression that these characters truly do have lives beyond the boundaries of these pages. Backstory is hinted at throughout, underlying the overall plot in such a way as to make the characters' motivations and reactions totally believable - a feat that few writers can achieve as well as Hollis has here.

The story itself rips along at a whirring pace, throwing the reader from one plot twist to another in rollercoaster-like fashion. I found myself forcing my eyes back over words I'd just read because I was in so much of a hurry to read the rest of the page! Bounty Hunter is an exciting read, a real adventure novel that refuses to settle down even for a moment. In fact, it is just exactly at the points you start to think the characters might be finally getting a well-earned break that all hell breaks loose again.

Fun and enjoyable, with enough twists and turns to keep a Minotaur happy, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. I shall certainly be looking forward to hearing more from Kai, Cassius, Sam and the whole Bounty Hunter universe. A sublime debut from S J Hollis.

Foreign Identity
Foreign Identity
by Becca J. Campbell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read - 3.5 stars, 23 May 2013
This review is from: Foreign Identity (Paperback)
Disclaimer: I received a free e-book edition of Foreign Identity in exchange for an honest review. Review is of the whole book, but I have tried to keep it free of major spoilers.

I have given the book 3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, but would ideally have given it 3.5.

The premise is a familiar one - two strangers find themselves imprisoned and must work together to escape. However, it is soon clear that the true tale lies in the characters' struggle to recover their identities.

Campbell's characterisation is immediately gripping; she feeds the reader just enough information to allow us to deduce the characters' personalities, so that even if they don't know who they are, we get a real sense of who they could be. Jax, our male protagonist, is immediately portrayed as the calmest of the pair - he knows how to keep his head under pressure and will logically work through all options until a solution is found. His female counterpart, Kel, is feisty but overly emotional - she finds it difficult to trust and works on instinct over logic. Together, they balance each other out nicely, and Campbell lays the hints to their relationship right from the opening scene. Unfortunately, Kel soon began to grate as she became more whiny and petulant, and I found her very annoying and a little clichéd by the end of the book, which made it very difficult to sympathise with her plight. Perhaps because we are less privy to his thoughts, I found Jax much easier to relate to, and he felt a well-rounded character with realistic character flaws that did not detract from his overall personality.

Campbell's world-building is also to be admired. Although the landscapes she paints throughout Foreign Identity are very familiar - the woods and the cabin, in particular - her writing is such that we always have a sense that there is more than meets the eye, and the action continues to move along at a swift pace, regardless of location. There is one section near the beginning where the characters encounter a series of themed rooms within their prison; I found this concept extremely original and intriguing, and Campbell's writing was skilful enough to bring each scene within the prison complex vividly to life.

The story itself was highly enjoyable, full of high-paced action and interesting revelations. Campbell seems to delight in twists and turns; her writing shines whenever we encounter a new, often significant development. However, I didn't feel that Campbell pushed the boundaries of her world far enough. Throughout the novel, I persistently felt that the experience of Campbell's world was limited by her characters' perspectives, that there was much more to be uncovered beneath the surface, but the characters were holding the reader back slightly. I felt that some of the later character developments could have been left out in exchange for more time exploring the wonderful world Campbell has created.

Whilst enjoyable as a whole, there were some elements of Foreign Identity that jarred for me. Jax's photographic memory, for example, was a convenient tool for explaining why the characters didn't get lost in the maze of corridors in their prison, but seemed to serve no other purpose and apparently required no explanation as to why he had such a gift. Similarly, Kel's period of severe withdrawal felt a little shoehorned in; it is never explained what she was addicted to, nor how that links with what we later learn of their previous lives, so it is unclear why this becomes such an important part of her characterisation in the middle of the book.

Overall, Foreign Identity is a thrilling, character-driven novel, with elements of romance and science fiction woven throughout. Opening with characters who know nothing about themselves, it is a testament to Campbell's characterisation that the reader grows to care so much for them by the end of the novel. I frequently found myself thinking about the novel when I wasn't reading it, mulling over the world Campbell has created and imagining what the end of the journey would reveal. More than anything, this is a novel about self-exploration and learning from past mistakes. I unfortunately found myself disappointed by the lack of depth and unresolved questions, so could only give 3.5 stars out of 5. However, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable read by a promising author. I will definitely read more of Campbell's work in future.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hauntingly Beautiful Human Story, 2 July 2012
`Tell the Wolves' is every bit the hauntingly beautiful human story I had been expecting.

The premise is simple: a fourteen year old girl, June Elbus, loses her beloved uncle to AIDS. A renowned but reclusive artist, Finn Weiss had spent his last months painting a portrait of June and her sister, Greta. June soon begins to realise that she didn't know her uncle as well as she'd thought, and so begins an extraordinary journey of discovery.
However, the story itself is much more complex. Soon after Finn's death, June learns that he had a secret boyfriend, Toby. June is fiercely jealous, upset that there is a part of Finn's life she wasn't privy to; to compound her misery, her family tell her that Toby murdered Finn, that he was responsible for giving Finn AIDS. June immediately resolves to have nothing to do with Toby. She hates him passionately, her grief and suddenly obvious loneliness forming a shield of anger. However, little by little, Toby worms his way into June's life and into her heart, to the extent where - eventually - she risks everything for him.

Whilst on the surface `Tell the Wolves' is about June's acute grief and inability to deal with Finn's death, it is also about growing up. It is about how everyone feels like an outsider, regardless of whether - like June herself - you really do walk off the beaten track, taking pleasure in things from another time, such as a Gunne Sax dress or Mozart's Requiem. In contrast, Greta is considered one of the `popular' crowd, exceptionally talented and intelligent beyond her years; yet still, surrounded by people, she feels completely alone. June says many times that she never knows "who I am to people", and that is a central theme through this novel - nobody knows who they are in relation to others.
Told from June's first-person perspective, the initial chapters do not flow easily; there is a shaky, erratic feel to the opening of the novel. Although it meant my reading of `Tell the Wolves' did not get off to a smooth start, I liked the fact that the shifting timeframes gave me a real sense of June's bewilderment. I genuinely felt that there was emotion behind Finn's loss. As June begins to explore a world without Finn, the narrative settles down and from that point the novel becomes almost all-consuming. I carried it everywhere, reading a page here and there whenever I got the chance.
There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, with subplots aplenty; every character has their own story, and June naturally doesn't see everything and doesn't understand everything she sees. Like any fourteen year old, she is wrapped up in herself, but this makes it even more rewarding when all the strands come together.
The first real shock comes when it is revealed that a new drug has been given the go-ahead, offering a lifeline to AIDS sufferers mere weeks after Finn has passed away. This knowledge remains in the reader's awareness and, whilst it adds a poignancy to Finn's passing, we cling to the hope that it may change Toby's story. Later, we also become invested in Greta's story and in the backstory that is June's mother's history with Finn. There is a real tapestry of human experience woven into `Tell the Wolves', with something for every reader to relate to.

June's journey is nicely reflected by her experience with the wolves in the woods. When she first hears them, she is apprehensive and scared, although she would hate to admit it; this is reminiscent of the early stages of her relationship with Toby. Later, the wolves become a familiar presence, so much so that they provide a source of comfort when June finds herself walking with Ben, a boy from school, during a nerve-wracking party; Toby also becomes a friendly figure, although their friendship is a strange and convoluted one. Finally, via Ben, June learns the truth about the wolves' origins and discovers that they are to be put down; this echoes June's discovery about Toby's life and his relationship with Finn, as well as the realisation that he really is dying of AIDS, that their friendship will eventually have to come to an end.

Carol Rifka Brunt has laid out an incredible cast of characters. Everyone is flawed, everyone has weaknesses, and this means that everyone is human and real. It is clear that where Brunt truly excels is in character development; these are not just representations on a page, but three dimensional personalities. Brunt has taken the time to get to know them and this comes across to the reader in the hints of backstory. Seemingly small details, like June's mother's denial of her dreams in order to settle into the life she now leads, come together to make sense of more immediate issues, such as Greta's determination to please everyone and her subsequent envy of June.
Funnily enough, it is the characters who believe themselves least worthy of love - Toby, Greta and June herself - whom I found myself loving most of all. Toby has a chequered past and is a homosexual immigrant living with AIDS in 1987 - a time when nobody understood the disease and very few were accepting of his sexuality. Part of him feels he owes a debt to Finn, for loving him when nobody else would, and part of him feels like the luckiest man in the world for having been with Finn at all. He agrees to be kept a secret and to take the blame for giving Finn AIDS; whilst it could be argued that this is a sign of true devotion, of a willingness to do anything for the other person, to me it felt horribly self-deprecating. I couldn't help but read Toby as a man with such little self-belief that he had idolised the first person to show him love and kindness, and trapped himself in a relationship in which he would always come second.
June and Greta refer to themselves as "tax orphans" during the time of year when their parents' accountancy work takes precedence over family life. It seems that, as they have grown older, the time of year that used to bond them so closely together now just highlights how far they have drifted apart. However, it seemed to me that, just as June sees that the space between the two girls in Finn's painting forms the shape of a wolf, so the space that has developed between the sisters in reality forms the shape of Finn himself.
In many ways, Toby and June are very similar. Both outcasts, taken under the wing of Finn, whose attention had the power to make anyone feel special, they find themselves cast suddenly adrift in the wake of his death. June describes Toby as "a kite with nobody holding the string", a description which fits many of the characters in `Tell the Wolves'.

`Tell the Wolves I'm Home' is a moving tale of life, death, love and hope. I laughed, I gasped, I cried, and at the end I mourned the fact that my time with these characters was over. But, like June and Toby, I have not "moved on" but have instead taken part of `Tell the Wolves' away with me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2012 7:55 PM BST

Yousave Accessories-SE-HA01 Z001-Leather Case for Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc X12
Yousave Accessories-SE-HA01 Z001-Leather Case for Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc X12

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Quality, 20 April 2012
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I purchased this case after being dissatisfied with a silicone case, which kept slipping off the phone.

This is a case of fantastic quality. The manufacturing is flawless and it fits the Xperia Arc perfectly, with plenty of room around all attachment areas (headphones, charger, etc.) and offering brilliant protection to the phone.

I have seen some people complain that the camera shows a black line around images when photos are taken with the case on. I haven't experienced this problem at all.

The only reason I'm not giving this 5 stars is because the case smells extremely strongly of petrol. I have owned it for a few weeks now, but the smell hasn't faded. It's a small thing compared to the protection offered by the case, but it's slightly irritating.

All in all, a great product. I'd certainly recommend it.

The Troupe
The Troupe
by Robert Jackson Bennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.38

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Enthralling, 11 April 2012
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This review is from: The Troupe (Paperback)
Having already enjoyed Robert Jackson Bennett's previous books (Mr Shivers and The Company Man), I had high expectations when it came to reading his third novel, The Troupe. I wasn't disappointed.
The Troupe, quite simply, is a marvel. Bennett's storytelling takes the reader on a thoroughly engrossing journey across the surreal landscape of vaudeville. But this, as you may have anticipated, is not a straightforward tale of one troupe's travels along the vaudeville circuit.

Our troupe - or, rather, Silenus's Troupe - have rather more to them than meets the eye. Professor Kingsley Tyburn is a master puppeteer, but the audience can never see the strings and something about his puppets doesn't quite seem right; Franny Beatty is a strongwoman, but capable of far more than the usual displays of the act; Collette de Verdicere is a beautifully talented dancer with deeper connections to the Troupe than we first suspect; Stanley is a mute cellist who I defy any reader not to love; and Silenus himself is carrying more secrets than a conspiracy theorist would know what to do with.
No wonder, then, that when he joins the Troupe, 16-year-old George Carole finds himself getting a lot more than he bargained for.

From the age-old good vs. evil fight to fascinating battles of wits with faeries, adrenalin-fuelled chases to poignant struggles to overcome grief, The Troupe really does reach far beyond the boundaries of genre.

I could recommend this book highly for any number of reasons, but what I liked most was Bennett's ability to layer so much story within the pages. Not one word of this book is filler; everything has meaning. And it's the moments when the little clues start to add up and you get a sudden rush of realisation that pushes this book to the five star mark. Each character has a moment like this, when the reader suddenly understands what (often dreadful) secrets lie behind all the oddities. It is a mark of Bennett's talent that even the characters with the least amount of page-space stay with you long after you turn the last page.

So whether you live for fantasy or horror, romance or inspirational novels - The Troupe is for you.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2012 11:53 AM BST

Palace of the Damned (The Saga of Larten Crepsley, Book 3)
Palace of the Damned (The Saga of Larten Crepsley, Book 3)
by Darren Shan
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Repeats Here, 11 Nov. 2011
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I've read every Darren Shan novel, usually within a month of them being released. I enjoy reading them, even though they are very clearly written for a young audience and aspects of the stories have a tendency to repeat themselves in different books.

The 3rd book in the Larten Crepsley saga is different. Yes, the setting includes the familiar Vampire Mountain and the characters have shown up time and again in previous books - but this is a sequel, set in a pre-created world; we expect to see familiar faces and in fact it would be odd if we didn't. However, Palace of the Damned is one of the few books where the plot is new territory. There is a darker struggle with morality and an understanding of the depth of character - it is not enough in this book that someone acts in an evil way; instead, we find out what has pushed them in that direction. Most importantly, there is real progression - Shan is not just going through the motions this time around.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a fairly easy read, aimed at the same youthful market and is peppered with short sentences and Shan's familiar style of writing. But this series has finally opened up into something (to pardon the pun) readers can really get their teeth into.

McAfee Internet Security  2011, 3 User (PC)
McAfee Internet Security 2011, 3 User (PC)
Price: £35.35

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple Protection, 9 Oct. 2011
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This product provides a simple to use, secure level of protection from viruses and spyware. Yes, there can be problems with installation if you're replacing another anti-virus programme, but these are easy to resolve yourself and McAfee have a very helpful website.
The only reason I've given 4 stars instead of 5 is that when the virus scanner is running, it does slow the computer down. However, considering the thorough scanning and many options to clean up the computer and protect against viruses, this one small flaw is worth putting up with.

by D.M. Samson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Persevering With, 15 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Bottle (Paperback)
In Bottle, the author (David Samson) takes the reader to Any-Town, Anywhere, where the protagonist, Kevin, is working as a mechanic. Not an immediately likeable character, the reader quickly learns that Kevin is `one of the lads', often caught up in fights and frequently found in his local pub with a group of similar friends. However, on the fateful opening morning of the novel, Kevin is given some devastating news: a former girlfriend has been killed in an accident. Distraught and overwhelmed, Kevin finds that - despite a wide social circle, a jovial work atmosphere and several women on the go - he is alone in his grief. Here in particular, but also throughout the entire novel, Kevin's emotions are tackled with accuracy and insight; readers will be able to identify with events such as Kevin forcing himself to act `normally' during a pub lunch with his friends when all he really wants to do is break down. Samson has tapped into a key human trait here: the art of `keeping it together'; Kevin is portrayed as one who feels an expression of his grief (or even acknowledgement of his loss) would be an intrusion on others, one he ought not to force upon them.

As the book progresses, so does the character of Kevin, who gradually overcomes his initial shock and undergoes some personal development, leading him to make a huge decision that could change his life. Through the medium of grief, Kevin learns more about himself in the short space of time encompassed by the novel than he has previously learnt in his whole life. However, rather than feeling rushed and unnatural, Samson gives Kevin's sudden transformation a realistic feel.

Sadly, there are a few elements that let `Bottle' down; simple grammatical errors, missed words and misspellings, which interrupt the flow of reading. One such example appears on page 92 of the paperback edition: "Drive passed them, Kurt," said Martin. Another example is on the very last page: `Now he would to throw it away'; and a further example can be found on page 86: `But she new the bus timetables by heart.' Throughout the novel, the sentence structures are very simplistic and whilst in some cases this proves an effective tool, the novel would have been an easier and more enjoyable read without the continual pauses necessitated by the end of a sentence.

Overall, Bottle proved to be a good read, presenting plenty of opportunity to consider the deeper meaning of life, not only for the protagonist but also the reader. The errors mentioned above make it slightly difficult going at first, as it is hard to find a real flow to the story, but perseverance is paid off in spades from the crux of the novel right through to the end. Intended as a sequel to Samson's novel `Nails', Bottle has proved a more than adequate read as a stand-alone text. Bottle is worthy of recommendation, particularly if the reader is looking for something different.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2009 12:19 AM GMT

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