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Rachel "rachel337" (Brighton, England)
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Among Thieves (Scott Finn 4)
Among Thieves (Scott Finn 4)
by David Hosp
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, good read, 1 Mar. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an exciting thriller with multilayered, intriguing characters. Like many of the best novels, it starts with several disparate storylines and watching them tie up is half the fun. This is a cut above many thrillers out there, having excitement and brains. The Boston setting is incredibly real and jumps off the page. It reminds me very much of the film 'The Departed', also set in Boston. The world of mob bosses, IRA and art theft makes for a heady backdrop, further spiced with some real life crimes and characters. In fact, this was one I looked forward to picking up at the end of a busy day. The main characters are all well realised, believable and interesting. All in all, a good book from a newish writer. I will certainly be reading more of Mr Hosp's work.


The Pirate Devlin (Pirate Devlin 1)
The Pirate Devlin (Pirate Devlin 1)
by Mark Keating
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't hold my attention, 21 Feb. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
To establish some context- I read widely and very rareley give up on a novel. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of books I have started and not finished. This is one. Possibly I missed a rollicking good read but by the time i had reached page 78 and was getting increasingly annoyed with the cod historic, wildly over blown prose and the lack of any real momentum in the story, i decided life was too short. In fact if I had a cutlass to hand and the opportunity to meet Mr Keating i would seriously consider making him walk the plank, so irrationally and forcefully do i dislike his writing style. This novel neither engaed me emotionally nor gave me any interest to find out the fates of the characters and I'm an easy reader- most anything entertains me except romantic fiction. My advice would be let this one sail off without you....preferably off the edge of the known world.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2010 7:34 PM GMT


Gothique: A Vampire Novel
Gothique: A Vampire Novel
by Kyle Marffin
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A big, brave slice of Vampire thriller, 21 Feb. 2010
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Gothique was a read I couldn't wait to pick up and each time I had to put it down I did so with reluctance. It is a multistranded, many charactered, modern day horror in the best sense. There are none of your effette, langorous vamps here, these are nasty, mean and very intelligent. Not only can they bench press cars and kill you without blinking an eye, these are vamps that command a great intellect and there are times in this novel where the surival of characters we care about is in serious doubt. indeed, Marffin keeps us gessing by killing off some of the best characters, some to become vamps and some permanently.

Like the previous reviewer I've also read Marffin's first novel Carmilla, the Return. Boy does it show this is a second novel- marffin has command of his own voice and avoids the ocassionally overblown and cliche ridden teritory of his first vampire novel with this.
The story centers around the opening of a nightclub/entertainment venue in Chicago. Club Gothique is ambitious and much anticipated. the anticipation is helped no end by the subtle infiltration of vampire minions into the press, ensuring its message of welcome to young, nubile goth and alternative crowd morsels is received loud and clear. They are gagging to get in. And get in they will. They just may not get out.

the novel opens with a human woman who has been investigating the sudden 'Gothique' hysteria being flung from the top of one of Chicago's skyscrapers by one of the vampire minions. As she is captured and knows full well what fate awaits her, she has time to wonder if the desperate clues she has left will save any lives. Will anyone be clever enough to unpick the strands like she has and reclaim Chicago before it is too late? And so begins a great big tapestry of nuggets of the puzzle, each held by different characters who have intersected her life as they gradually begin to piece together what is going on. Initially alone but eventually a small band of those confronted with too many experiences they can't right off as overactive imagination band together to attempt to bring down Gothique.

My only minor criticism of this novel would be that although there are some brillaint suspense filled scenes, these were fewer than necessary to make this an unforgettable vampire masterpiece. Those that are there though are real spine tingling stuff- late night stalking through an office block; an old man and his dog terrorised as they go out for walks; a girl hearing her long dead flatmate return home- through the window 10 stories up; those who attempt to get back into gothique to rescue the missing. Brilliant, highly charged stuff. Just a shame these were scattered a little too thinly through the novel. However, it is a well written, intelligent contribution to the vampire genre and Marffin's knowledge of Goth culture is finely observed. I for one, hope marffin returns to vamp teritory soon.


The Cities Book: A Journey Through the Best Cities in the World (Lonely Planet General Pictorial)
The Cities Book: A Journey Through the Best Cities in the World (Lonely Planet General Pictorial)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too general to be of any use except as eye candy, 10 Jan. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What a shame. There are a fascinating array of cities in this book and in order to truly judge its merit, I started by reading the pages on the cities I know best. While the information, such as it is, is factually correct, there is too little of it to be of any use to anyone trying to use this as a guidebook. The pictures are often very odd, in some cases perhaps chosen to challenge perceptions but then without enough information to back that up. Readers are left bewildered.

I tried to think of a person to recommend this to and could only think of perhaps a gift for someone returning from a gap year travelling. Not enough info to help them before they go but perhaps enough to aid the memory on return. Or perhaps, if you are very fond of your doctor or dentist this would be a nice addition to the waiting room? A 'Journey through the best cities in the world'? Perhaps, but only on a high speed train that doesn't stop.


The USA Book (Lonely Planet General Pictoria)
The USA Book (Lonely Planet General Pictoria)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining, 10 Jan. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Its hard to see how this book could be better. As a general reference guide to the states this has overviews by region and then by state. Each state has its USP explained and there are some fascinating facts. Of course, describing every single state in the detail they probably deserve would make this run to an unweildy and unhelpful size so there is a certain amount of dealing in sterotypes and generality here.

But to give you some background on the states as a whole or as an intro to a particular state, it is superb. The photography is jaw droppingly beautiful and surprising at times and all in all this is a great tome. It will find particular favour with anyone thinking of visiting the states; for those who have been and want to reminisce or for those, like myself, who read lots of American fiction and want to brush up on the settings of favourite novels. There is even a helpful section in each chapter stating major novels and films filmed in each area.

Only minor criticism I can dredge up is it is so heavy it's hard to read except flat on a table and clearly couldn't go with you on your travels. Recommended and a beautiful coffee table book.


Strange Angels
Strange Angels
by Lili St Crow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Quality, 21 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: Strange Angels (Paperback)
Strange Angels is a treat. This is totally pedal to the metal adrenaline and you will want to devour it quickly. Although billed as YA fiction this will appeal to anyone with a taste for supernatural action over about 15. I love Ms Saintcrows adult fiction too and this has all the quality hallmarks of her Jill Kismett or Danny Valentine novels but with a younger protagonist, no bad language and no sex. But the action is there in spades and so is the gore, peril and brutality.

Dru and her father live a nomadic existence, moving from town to town every few months while they rid local neighbourhoods of nasty things. Unlike Ms Saintcrow's other more recent fiction though, this isn't a world where ordinary people are aware of the supernatural. dru and her dad are pretty much on their own in this fight and managing normal life with supernatural shenannigans is hard.

Coming home from school, Dru starts the novel having to kill her own father, who has returned from his job hunting the evils that lurk in the 'Real World' as a zombie. From there, Dru hurtles from incident to incident trying to find out who zombiefied her dad, what happened to her mum who died many years ago and why exactly all manner of supernatural beasties are chasing her with intent to kill.

There are some amazing set pieces in this novel- such as the most brutal and thrilling trip to the mall since Dawn of the Dead. The winter setting adds to the tension and bleakness of Dru's situation. and Dru makes a friend along the way. Abandoned teen Graves, local Goth Boy, finds himself in deep water once he tries to help Dru. No Twilightesque love story this though- more a genuine, honest friendship with a few sexual sparks that feels more real because of it. lets face it, when running from vamps, weres and other supernatural beasties you don't have the time for courtship. A lesser writer would have flung Dru and Graves together. Ms Saintcrow is more concerned with doing the story justice and so keeps them and us guessing.

Dru is a fantastic heroine, she can fight, she knows her AK47's from her Glock's, she can throw a knife with deadly accuracy. She has psychic ability. She is a positive female role model for young women of today and this first outing was a thrilling experience. Bring on volume 2- Betrayals.


Hunter, Healer (The Society, Book 2)
Hunter, Healer (The Society, Book 2)
by Lilith Saintcrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality sequel to The Society, 20 Dec. 2009
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In this second installment of the tale of Rowan Price, Ms Saintcrow gives us another quality tale. This is the sequel to The Society so if you haven't read that yet, go away and come back when you have!

Hunter healer picks up a few months after The Society left off. Rowan Price, supremely talented psychic and the rest of the society have been scattered. the massive battle at the end of the previous book left many characters dead, Justin Delgado captured and the Society on the verge of collapse.

Rowan is training for vengeance and as soon as she has full command of her powers, she is going after Sigma to crush it once and for all. Because Sigma took her father, they took her best friend and if they think they can get away with taking the love of her life, they have underestimated her to their detriment.

this is for the most part a kind of heist novel- planning the downfall of sigma, running from capture, training for battle and this makes for an exciting read. Rowan has guts and is a good heroine. The core of characters are strong and all in all, this slim volume makes for a great, fast paced read.


The Society (The Society, Book 1)
The Society (The Society, Book 1)
by Lilith Saintcrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An early gem from Ms Saintcrow, 20 Dec. 2009
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This is woth your time and money for two reasons. Firstly, it's another thumping good read from the talented Ms Saintcrow. Really, though, haven't those of us who already know her work come to expect that? Secondly though, in this early work are the seeds of ideas later bought to fruition more fully in her Jill Kismet and Dante Valentine works- making this a fascinating early jaunt into worlds Ms Saintcrow had yet to make her own.

Set more firmly in the present and our known universe than much of Ms Saitcrow's fiction, the Society tells the story of psychic Rowan. She has grown up unaware she is special and convinced she may well be slightly mad, denying her abilities until a chance encounter with The Socity shows her she is far from alone. Launched over night into a world of waring psychic factions, Rowan must choose to join either a government funded organisation called Sigma, using corrupted psychics and their powers for evil or to join forces with The Society, determined to bring about Sigma's downfall. Rowan is simply too powerful and too good a catch for either side to let the other have her.

This novel has shades of X men although more realistic; shades of Stephen King in its clever storytelling and masses of what Ms Saintcrow does best- fast paced, action heavy, adrenaline feuled gut wrenching prose. Yes, its a touch undeveloped, compared to her masterful storytelling now but that's like saying Ridley Scott wasn't as good when he directed Alien as when he directed Gladiator- spare and simple, the story shines through and, quite frankly, any story from Ms Saintcrow is better than most stories from most writers working in urban fantasy today.


Slights
Slights
by Kaaron Warren
Edition: Paperback

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't deserve the positive cover quotes, 18 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Slights (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was not for me. I found the writing style to be disjointed and inaccessable. Ever a fan of the anti-hero just as much as the hero, i expcted to like this. With a relish for gore, i expected to like it. With an enjoyment for pushing a few literary boundaries, I expected to like it.

i didn't. I had no interest what so ever in the underdeveloped and just plain nasty characters. the storytelling was lacklustre and the structure left me bewildered. It just isn't very well writen and the clever idea at the centre is mangled like roadkill. Avoid.


Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook
Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook
by Peter English
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for new or newish managers, 18 Dec. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a helpful little book and very accessably written. For those who are familiar with coaching, mentoring or other management techniques you will find a useful recap and a few new pointers. If you are new to the whole managing lark then this will be a must have. I found the sections on preparing for the challenging converstion and handling those who use tears as a weapon to derail you very useful. But i would imagine most of us who have to deal with people in any capacity (even parent to child) will find a few pointers in here if you use your imagination creatively.

recommended and worth the price tag.


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