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First Time Solo
First Time Solo
by Iain Maloney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars First Time Solo, 7 Jun. 2014
This review is from: First Time Solo (Paperback)
First Time Solo is a dizzying novel of growing up and finding a place in the world. In volunteering for the RAF, farm boy Jack throws his lot in with smooth-talking Terry, daydreamer Doug and loose cannon Joe. Together, the four discover the highs and lows of friendship under the stresses of war, culminating in a thrilling finale.

Maloney's debut novel is a startlingly authentic take on WWII. Combining real experiences of the war with a ferocious contemporary voice, the author delivers a rollercoaster road trip through RAF training camps and black-out London, swinging deftly between the riproaringly funny and the profoundly sad. It's a wonderful achievement. Five stars.


Threshold
Threshold
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect flash fiction, 2 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Threshold (Kindle Edition)
Brilliantly oddball flash fiction from an extraordinary voice. These stories flit like sparrows through the dark corners of the human heart, always casting a unique slant or new perspective on what it means to be alive. Threshold addresses alien invasions and alternate realities; the preposterous and the bizarre; yet remains grounded, entirely, in everyday instincts of love, jealousy, terror and comfort. In a sea of flash fiction, Thresholds is a dizzying burst of a collection that marks David Hartley as a writer to watch.


Ghosts and Legends of Lincolnshire and the Fen Country
Ghosts and Legends of Lincolnshire and the Fen Country
by Polly Howat
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Good content, mediocre quality, 22 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I came across this collection while researching folklore of fens and bogs. The book delivers what I wanted, but only in part. The basis for content here is strong, as the area evidently boasts excellent material for a collection - but the book itself is let down by poor layout and print quality. The editing is a little weak, with a number of places where sentences are scrambled and confusing, while the author's habit of including map coordinates and road directions distracts from the stories - it would have been better to have featured a few maps to show the story locations, and let the stories speak for themselves. Finally, the paper is rather shiny and unpleasant to read.

These criticisms are largely stylistic, and the book has clearly been well researched and developed. The breadth of historical, mystical and mythological stories in a relatively small area is really impressive, and some of them in particular are superb. Three out of five ain't bad.


1Q84: Books 1 and 2
1Q84: Books 1 and 2
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant moments - but needs a red pen, 3 Mar. 2013
This review is from: 1Q84: Books 1 and 2 (Paperback)
This review is for books 1, 2 and 3. Slight spoilers.

I finished the 1Q84 trilogy a fortnight ago, and I'm still wondering what to make of it. To be blunt, there are gigantic flaws running throughout all three books. Some ideas, themes and plot points recur over and over again - while others are glossed over or left deliberately, infuriatingly vague. And I could handle the repetition, were it not for such unwieldy prose. Dialogue, monologue and description are all incredibly clunky. I've no way of knowing how much of this is down to the original manuscript, and how much to the translation, but I was dismayed at the change in style compared to other Murakami novels.

Despite these issues, there is still a lot to like in 1Q84. Some of the narrative strands are Murakami at his best - the two moons, the Little People, the phantom NHK collector - and the air chrysalis is a great allegory for exploring memory, love and loss. I've been chewing it over for days, and I think that's the key to this novel - it's about revisiting the past to seize on missed opportunities. But it's too long by half or more - seriously - and it's a chore to read, which is a real pity.

It might be splitting hairs, but if I could give this 2.5/5, I would. It's definitely better than a 2, but barely deserves a 3. Approach with caution.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 22, 2015 9:42 PM BST


Dan Haywood's New Hawks
Dan Haywood's New Hawks
Offered by vinylexchange-uk
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nu-folk majesty from the New Hawks, 30 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dan Haywood's New Hawks (Audio CD)
This is an astonishing album. It's not always easy to get to grips with, but it's incredibly rewarding. The atmosphere of the West coast drips from violins, audio samples, pedal steel and acoustic guitar. This album doesn't deal in whimsy or nostalgia - it's a muscular, unblinking examination of loneliness and community. Thematically and musically cohesive, it draws a engrossing thread through the Scottish Isles, creating a stunning soundscape of both the contemporary and the traditional. Highly recommended.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb build quality, superb performance., 9 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Length:: 0:11 Mins

I'm very impressed with this product. I bought the rail a few days ago - it was delivered promptly and in bomb-proof packaging.

To use it as a camera slider, you'll need a few other components. I bought a second-hand three-way tripod head for a few pounds, and I already had a duplicate quick release plate for my current tripod. First of all, I bolted this QR plate to the rail using the existing holes - this means I can mount it easily to my tripod. Then I drilled a 6mm hole through the centre of the sliding block. Using the tripod screw from the old QR plate, I bolted the second-hand head to the block. I added the camera to the head, and that was it - finished. Very quick, very easy, and very impressive results.

I'm glad I picked the 80mm rail - it's cheaper than the 60mm version, and I'm not sure the 40mm would be sturdy enough. This feels very robust, and there's no bow at all in the rail, even with a full-laden camera on one end. A word of warning - you should also invest in some clamps - you don't want your camera to drop off the end of the rail......

All-in-all, I'm very impressed. It needs a little work to convert into a DSLR slider, but I don't hesitate to give this five stars.


As Above So Below
As Above So Below
Price: £3.16

5.0 out of 5 stars The Plan of Salvation is clear...., 3 Jun. 2012
This review is from: As Above So Below (MP3 Download)
Seven Seals are seditious synthpunks from Cumbria, UK. Their lunatic blend of surfrock and refusal to sell out has made them legends in the northwest: electrifying live shows, madcap lyrics, rocking tunes. This EP is a great collection of their latest work - tribal rhythms meet 80s keys and psychedelic guitar, all blending into something completely new. There's nothing quite like Seven Seals - get involved!


M.O. - Crimes of Practice: The Crime Writers' Association Anthology
M.O. - Crimes of Practice: The Crime Writers' Association Anthology
by Sarah Hilary
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Comma's M.O. wins again, 20 Jan. 2012
Yet another exhilarating collection from Manchester's excellent Comma Press. They've gone from strength to strength as an indie publisher, but this is one of their stand-out achievements. From the opening encounter on a mortuary slab I was hooked, and the pace is maintained throughout a brilliant collection of short crime stories. The twists are brutal, the writing is snappy and there's enough variety to thrill readers of any genre. Every single story zings, and that's no mean feat in such a wide-ranging collection. Highly recommended.


Dia de Los Muertos
Dia de Los Muertos
by Vonnie Winslow Crist
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.63

2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't deliver on a great concept, 20 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Dia de Los Muertos (Paperback)
This is such a shame - my love of Dia de los Muertos borders on a passion, and I was really pleased to receive this for Christmas. Unfortunately many of the stories are really weak responses to the theme, feeling as though the celebration of the dead has been tacked on to an existing story as an afterthought. A few are simply not written very well, and almost all of them could have done with a heavier hand from the editor. The pity is that it's such a strong concept for an anthology, but - with one or two exceptions - the festival tends to feature on the periphery. The highlight without a doubt was Lori Rader Day's closing story, 'The Catrinas Will Dance With Any Boy The Like', with honourable mentions going to Iris Macor, Ron Savage and D.Lee. These were stand-out stories in an otherwise frustrating, underwhelming collection.


Monsters [DVD] [2010]
Monsters [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Whitney Able
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.53

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less is more: ignore the marketing, 31 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Monsters [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Okay, so this film is marketed badly. It is not an alien invasion film. It's a road trip and a character study set against the backdrop of alien invasion. The cinematography, music and script are stunning, while Gareth Edward's expertise with SFX is used with delicacy and restraint. The dynamic between the two central characters is enthralling and convincing, and it develops beautifully as the film moves towards its increasingly surreal conclusion. Ignore the marketing. This subtle, quietly stunning film examines themes of immigration, isolation, trust, communication and self-worth. Less is more. The monsters here are not the aliens.


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