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The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future
by Fawzia Koofi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.54

4.0 out of 5 stars A hard story, beautifully told, 17 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An amazing story written with great detail in a very poetic style. It does not feel like a traditional, Western style story - three acts, beginning, middle, end, and so on, but a more evenly paced tail. Reader beware though - the life of any Afghan woman is hard, harder than one might imagine, and this story is no exception. The Afghan familiarity with suffering can come across as underplaying the horrors the writer has gone through. In reality though, hardship and harshness are every day realty for Afghan women. Not easy reading then, by any means, but still a delightful and uplifting book.


Know No Fear: The Battle of Calth (The Horus Heresy)
Know No Fear: The Battle of Calth (The Horus Heresy)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disaster and betrayal on an epic scale, 17 Mar. 2012
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Dan Abnett has a great knack of choosing one or two themes to focus on in his Horus Heresy novels. In 'Know No Fear' he appears to have chosen making the action seem immediate and desperate and making an apocalypse really really apocalyptic. And does so, seemingly effortlessly (well, how else do you explain his prolific output if not that he just writes really well, really easily?).

Pretty much the entire novel is written in the present tense, a potentially risky choice, but one that makes the action feel non-stop, leaving the reader as breathless as the characters in the story. (Abnett seems to have taken it easy on his thesaurus for this book too) And the disaster that starts the whole conflict - well, Abnett channels devastation like that visited on Caprica in Battlestar Galactica, making the destruction of Calth's fleet, shipyards, and cities feel as monolithically cataclysmic as you could hope for.

Its always tricky to tell a story people know the ending of and keep it engaging and interesting. The secret of course is good characters doing interesting things. 'Know No Fear's characters are perhaps a little weak - there's only so much space around the titanic first strike against Calth after all. But the focus is perhaps on the Ultramarines Legion as a whole, rather than individual Astartes, and as a treatise on the nature and character of that Legion, an explanation as to why Calth and the destruction of the Word Bearers is so important to them, 'Know No Fear' is still pretty awesome.

It is perhaps not an essential title in the Horus Heresy series. There is only one story arc in it that really ties it it into the whole saga, that is, characters and mysteries that are likely to appear in future titles. But anyone buying it is unlikely to be disappointed. As a disaster novel and a background to one of the most popular chapters in the 40k universe, 'Know No Fear' is packed from start to finish with great action and great writing.


Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life
Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life
by Michael Moore
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darker side of Americana, 17 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
'Here Comes Trouble' is a definite evolution in Michale Moore's writing style. I have read a few of his previous books and while this one definitely has a political edge it is a far more subtly expressed one. It reads more like a novel, and frankly a Stephen King one, than a political tract. Each story focuses on a particular event in Michale Moore's life from infancy to young adulthood, such as his time in the seminary, or the time he and some nervous friends decided to make a dry run at dodging the draft in Canada. Each reads like a typical slice of American life, a Wonder Years episode if you like, to begin with, but then the cracks start to appear. By then end of each chapter there is no doubt there is something wrong with America - all is not as wonderful as the popular image would portray. And while Stephen King stories generally reveal some kind of supernatural monster lurking in the shadows, in Michael Moore's stories it is something more human that troubles America - racism, homophobia, and greed. Moore does a pretty good job in writing stories that while generally autobiographical are also horror stories. They reveal a lot about why Michael Moore is the man he is today as well as casting a light on a darker side of America normally only seen in noir and horror novels. Good stuff.


Raven's Flight (The Horus Heresy)
Raven's Flight (The Horus Heresy)
by Gav Thorpe
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done but not essential, 7 Jan. 2012
Raven's Flight has the same production values as the other Black Library audio dramas. It is pretty good then, and the small cast is not a problem for Toby Longworth to find voices for.

The story is ok, but not earth-shaking and not really essential for followers of the larger Horus Heresy. It does provide a nice intro to some of the characters featured in Deliverance Lost (Horus Heresy) and set up one or two of the plotlines featured therein but does not really add an awful lot to the Heresy's background - probably not enough to justify the full price anyway.

Ok then for listening to on a long journey or while painting, but not the greatest thing Black Library have produced in the series.


Deliverance Lost (The Horus Heresy)
Deliverance Lost (The Horus Heresy)
by Gav Thorpe
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crucial part of the Heresy and great hints and teases too, 7 Jan. 2012
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This may be Gav Thorpe's first Horus Heresy novel but he successfully brings his years of experience with other Black Library franchises to bear on what seems, at first glance, to be a side-story in the epic's history. 'Deliverance Lost' makes Corax and his legion interesting and believable characters with more back-story than most Legions in the universe. I really enjoyed seeing how Corvus the Primarch came to be Corax the Saviour and how a colony of slaves came to be a Legion in the Empire of Man.

Where the Horus heresy series is great is when it tells you something about the history of a Primarch or a Legion you didn't know before and makes you want to see them again. Where it fails is when it just tells you about events that happened or fights that occurred. 'Deliverance Lost' has characters with motivations and desires making decisions that have consequences. Technically it may not be written with as much structure and elegance as other HH novels, and there is perhaps a little good old bolter-porn in there, but 'Deliverance Lost' has character and texture in spades. It even makes the Imperial Fists seem fun. The Alpha Legion are perhaps not so well drawn but they are of course by nature hard to pin down.

As for background and teasers to the universe at large, well, there is plenty for lore-buffs to sink their teeth into; glimpses of the Emperor's work on the Golden Throne and the role of alien cultures in the Heresy, several mentions of the 'lost' Primarchs and clues as to their fate, and possibly even a few clues as to future releases in the Space Marine line of miniatures - spot the novel vehicles named herein :) (its my theory Path of the Seer (Path of the Eldar) also contains several items that will be in the next Eldar codex)

Deliverance Lost is not just for fans of the Raven Guard - Corax's attempt to reconstitute his Legion with the aid of the Emperor is probably required reading for anyone watching the Horus heresy evolve.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 13, 2012 10:11 AM GMT


Sucker Punch (Incl. Extended Cut) [Blu-ray + DVD] [2011] [Region Free]
Sucker Punch (Incl. Extended Cut) [Blu-ray + DVD] [2011] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Emily Browning
Offered by rarerarerare
Price: £7.98

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As deep as you want it to be, definitely a cult classic, 7 Jan. 2012
Is Sucker Punch a great film? Its really hard to say simply due to number of layers the film presents. Without getting lost trying to describe them all, suffice it to say there are layers and layers of reality and meaning presented in Sucker Punch and any one of them could be the 'intended' take Zack Snyder would have be fixed in your mind. Or maybe its none or all of them. To be honest, I came home from seeing this at the cinema and told my wife I was genuinely confused as to whether this was a good film about the portrayal and usage of women in mainstream media or a really bad one. I'm still not really sure, although I will say I still don't believe Sucker Punch was conceived or intended to be regarded as an action movie. There are great action sequences in it for sure, but I don't think they are the point of the film.

Deep double meanings, metaphors, and multiple layerings of both aside, Sucker Punch is a great film to watch. It is totally worth paying the extra to watch on bluray, being a seriously visually intense movie, and sounds great. It stands up to repeated viewings because of this (and partially because of the myriad ways to 'take' the film) and is sure to be a favourite of genre fans and film students for a long long time.

The extras on this edition are also well worth having for fans of the film and film makers. The 'Maximum Movie Mode' is pretty how much I imagined blu-rays would be when they were first described. Available only on the Extended Version of the film, you get hours of extra details from Zack Snyder, the actresses, and production crew, including rehearsal footage and full motion green screen and special effect comparison shots. Much much better than a simple voiceover commentary.

Its worth noting here that there are two blurays in the box. Maximum Movie Mode is the only extra on the Extended Cut disc. The animated shorts and 'Behind the Soundtrack' are only on the Theatrical Release disc. I guess there must be some good technical or cost-related reasons why the content could not have been included on one disc but is there any reason the two discs are practically visually identical? Seriously. I cannot see any difference between the art on each disc. The DVD is clearly marked as such, the two blurays are almost identical. I'm going to have to use a tippex marker to differentiate them. (On further study, The Extended Cut has 'Extended Cut' in really, really, small letters and the Theatrical Cut disc has one extra rating marking on it)

At the price this set is currently going for though,you really can't go wrong. Whether you're looking for a serious treatise on the use and abuse of female stereotypes in modern cinema and society or you just want to see hot chicks killing steampunk zombie huns, dragons, and robots, Sucker Punch is the way to go. Enjoy :)


The Emperor's Will: Agents of the Imperium (Warhammer 40,000)
The Emperor's Will: Agents of the Imperium (Warhammer 40,000)
by Jon Blanche
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice pictures, but thats all, 2 Jan. 2012
Having collected Citadel miniatures for more than 20 years now, I was looking forward to going over the images collected in The Emperor's Will. I was hoping for some old favourites and background on how the universe of 40k got to look the way it does. Unfortunately this book did not really give me that.

The art in here is great, unfortunately art is all there is. There is no background to any of it, not even artists credits or titles (the artists are mentioned en masse in the final credits, thats all). So it all feels a bit thrown together without rhyme or reason. I get that the unifying factor is that these are all depictions of servants of the Emperor (not the Emperor himself, he is only shown on the front cover) and that, if subsequent publications were devoted to say, traitor legions, or xeno species, that could give them sufficient context. But as a historical record of the designs, motifs, and influences that have made the Imperium of Man the way it is, this volume is lacking (compare this to the excellent The Art of Clint Langley for example in which the author discusses his work).

Nice stuff to look at and potentially inspirational for one's own art, but lacking as a record of 40k's history.


Cedar Rapids [Blu-ray]
Cedar Rapids [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Ed Helms
Price: £7.10

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, watch again and again, 2 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Cedar Rapids [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I'll admit I only watched this film for the cast. The plot, small town salesman discovers himself at sales conference, would have turned me right off. But it had Ed Helms and John C.Reilly in it. And the Senator from the Wire. So I had to watch it. Turns out its pretty great.

I think the sort of humour in Cedar Rapids is called 'offbeat' but its the sort that makes me laugh. Warm enough to have meaning without being cheesy. Adult enough without being gross. And, having been on a few company conferences myself in the distant past, the activities the delegates are expected to go through resonates quite strongly. This is John C Reilly in 'Magnolia' mode, rather than 'Stepbrothers', Ed Helms does a great job of being overawed by the 'big' city and Isaiah Whitlock Jr. even gets to do a passable impression of Omar. Yeah, this film is happy to say 'we have one of the star of The Wire on our show so there!'. Anne Heche is outstanding as, apparently, the only female insurance salesman at the event while Sigourney Weaver plays a pretty good silver fox. Even Rob Corddry surprises as a vicious redneck.

Definitely one for repeat viewings.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2012 1:04 PM BST


Deadline: The Newsflesh Trilogy: Book 2
Deadline: The Newsflesh Trilogy: Book 2
by Mira Grant
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missing certain crucial ingredients, 2 Jan. 2012
I really enjoyed Feed and was looking forward to the sequel. However, possible spoilers ahead, Deadline was missing a few key ingredients that made Feed so good. It also included stuff that really wasn't necessary. If you liked Feed for all the action and fighting, you really might not enjoy the sequel.

As a read, its pretty good. Its just as accessible and believable as Feed and Mira Grant paints an engaging picture of post-apocalypse. The characters are not great - we really only learn anything about Sean Mason as a personality, everyone else just exists in his world. Or head. The development of the plot from Feed works well enough for Deadline to feel planned, as opposed to just tacked onto an unexpectedly successful original story. But it is overly long - around 600 pages - largely due to way too many explanations that Sean is crazy and doesn't care what anyone thinks of this and far far too many descriptions of blood tests. Blood tests to get into buildings. Blood tests to get out. Blood tests to get into cars and into shops. Blood tests to go houses, garages, and the toilet. Yeah, technically that last one comes in the sneak preview of the final book in the trilogy, but you get my meaning.

If you enjoyed Feed, you'll probably have that 'what happened next?' kind of feeling. You have to know how deep the conspiracy goes and who was really behind Tate. In which case you'll get something out of this sequel. Go ahead and buy it.

But, here's the big problem with Deadline - this is a possible spoiler, but I doubt it. Anyway:

Deadline is not a zombie novel, it is a thriller. I say this because there are next to no zombies in the whole book. Seriously: there are almost zero undead in this book. There's a few in the prologue, we hear some about 400 pages later, and there is one fight with some undead about a hundred pages after that. Thats it.

Now I get it, I think. This is not supposed to be a book about the undead, as such, its about the world they exist in. This is the fabulous new breath of life certain critics claim Newsflesh is to the genre. But it still seems a little disingenuous to market this book as a zombie book and then just use them as background. I can read lots of conspiracy thrillers without zombies, but I choose not to - I like survival horror, not political thrillers.

Hopefully this is a deliberate tonal choice by the author. The first novel was about the living having to deal with the ever-living. The second book has no zombies, but its protagonist is obsessed with his dead sister who lives on in his head. She is the zombie, get it? And hopefully that means the third novel can get back to some real undead action with some actual locomotive dead folks to fight.

Because I will have to buy it. As bereft of the undead as Deadline is, and as full of extraneous descriptions of insanity and blood-testing equipment as it is, Deadline still managed to keep me hooked and turning page after page until I had read it all. Telegraphed plot-twist and all, I'll be eagerly awaiting the conclusion of Newsflesh and hoping it is a more concise and gory entry in the series.


Prospero Burns (The Horus Heresy)
Prospero Burns (The Horus Heresy)
by Dan Abnett
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and Unexpected, 2 Jan. 2012
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The Space Wolves were only glimpsed in A Thousand Sons, or seen as the opposing force and I was curious as to how Dan Abnett would portray this rather idiosyncratic legion. Would they be as cartoonish as previous Black Library books have made them (how many casks of ale would be drained and plates of roasted meats be consumed?)? Or would the 'vikings in space' motif be worked to death? In fact, Dan Abnett handles the Wolves, their character, and their heritage with both great subtlety and flair.

The book starts in epic style - and by that I mean the tone and the meter of the prose - as we see the struggle to survive on Fenris of a stranded Remembrancer. This is a death world, a primitive and dangerous place, peopled similarly. This chapter also introduces to the the planet's Astartes - God-like beings, as far as its mortals are concerned, and the mystery of who the Remembrancer is and why he is on Fenris.

From there the pace does slow a little. The details of the mission to recover Magnus and the emnity between the Wolves and the Thousand Sons is covered quite fully in Graham McNeil's A Thousand Sons (Horus Heresy) so Abnett does not go over the same ground in this book. Instead he takes the opportunity that writing books in a series as vast as the Horus Heresy affords authors to cover 'marginal' players in detail. We learn more about the nature and character of the Rout in this one book than in all six 'Space Wolf' novels put together.

Their identity is very thoroughly established as the Emperor's assassins, the Astartes he created purely to destroy, no matter the price. And there is a price - these are not mindless killers or savages (there are other Legions who fill that role), but thinking warriors. Sometimes getting the job done means being a monster, but it is a choice. While terrible things must sometimes be done to win wars, the Rout know they are terrible but will not flinch from their orders (it is even hinted they have been used to destroy at least one Legion previous to the Horus Heresy!).

Russ himself is shown to be above all a thinking warrior. Although he grew up on a savage world he is no moron with an axe - he is a Primarch with a superhuman intellect to match his combat skills. If anything is missing from this book, it is more exploration of Russ's character and abilities though. After seeing Magnus feature quite heavily in A Thousand Sons I was hoping to see more of the Wolf King. He is largely an unseen force in this book though, his influence always felt, even while he is physically absent. Even in the final conflict on Prospero, Russ is only seen from a distance, his battle with Magnus being covered graphically in A Thousand Sons.

All in all, this book is such a great treatment of the 6th Legion, it is hard to believe they don't feature heavily in the Battle for Earth. We know they are absent from this last struggle though and we know Russ disappears into the Eye of Terror at the conclusion of the Horus Heresy. One can only hope this is not his and his Legion's last appearance in the novel series though. Such a great saga surely deserves to continue to be told.


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