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T. SMEDLEY "terrysmedley" (Taunton UK)
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A Rage in Harlem (Penguin Modern Classics)
A Rage in Harlem (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Chester Himes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You feel as though you're there..., 6 Dec 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book simply exudes coolness, the descriptive powers of Chester Himes taking you straight to 1950's Harlem and all the morally corrupt people that live there. This book is a bit of a departure for me, I haven't read Himes before and I found this novel simply riveting, the author having that natural storyteller's gift that Dickens and Stephen King also share.

The contemporary language used throughout the novel really adds to the realism of the story, which moves at a pretty breakneck pace as we follow Jackson's descent into a night of desperation and terror. You can clearly picture the squalor and depravation of this part of New York, with it's weird and wonderful characters; murderers, criminals, con men, prostitutes, it seems no one is pure of soul in this story.

There is plenty of violence, some it pretty graphic, but also humour and some farcical sections of the story; sometimes all in one chapter. Detectives Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones are both introduced in this book, though don't feature too greatly, plus a handful of white characters, but this is real, gritty, black 1950's Harlem and all the better for it!


Energizer XP4001A Universal Charger for Smartphones (iPhone/Blackberry/Samsung/HTC) and Tablets (iPad, Galaxy Tab) (discontinued by manufacturer)
Energizer XP4001A Universal Charger for Smartphones (iPhone/Blackberry/Samsung/HTC) and Tablets (iPad, Galaxy Tab) (discontinued by manufacturer)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great idea for a product and done very nicely, 25 Nov 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With modern smartphones needing a charge every day or two (depending how you use them), a product such as this is sure to be a success, despite the price tag. I'm a Scout leader so am often away camping for weekends or longer and can see myself making use of this charger on a regular basis. The two outputs also allows for mp3 players, tablets and other usb-charged hardware to be topped up on the go.

Out of the box, I was a little disappointed to find the only tip I had was for an iphone, the Amazon description promised six, but the box clearly stated 'for iphone', so maybe there are different variations of the bundled tips for different users. However, it promises you can register on the Energiser website and get up to two tips each year, as your needs and hardware change I guess; I haven't done this yet but will do so shortly, though it does say there is a small postage charge...

I quickly discovered that a standard usb connector cable can be used to connect your specific devices to the charger, my HTC Wildfire S smartphone and S series Sony mp3 player both charged fully in an hour or two. I'll try my daughter's LG Cookie next, though I'll have to get a tip for my son's Nokia as this doesn't use the micro usb connection for charging. The charger comes fully charged out of the box which is a nice touch and I've since topped it back up via the enclosed mains adapter.

It's smaller and much lighter than I was expecting, thereby making it even more portable, plus it feels sturdy and well made. The two outputs offer differing mA/h ratings, one for phones and the other for tablets, but both charged my devices seemingly without any problems. The led indicators give you an idea of its charged status, so I can't see what more you could ask for feature-wise. An excellent product and one to recommend.


Hunted
Hunted
by Emlyn Rees
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff - pacy, real and clever, 15 Nov 2011
This review is from: Hunted (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've read all of the books Emlyn Rees has written with his partner Josie Lloyd, which are well and truly in the chick-lit genre and whilst I was aware Rees writes thrillers under his own name, this is the first I've actually read. I certainly wasn't disappointed, the pace, quality of writing and narrative progression of this story is top notch and on a par with his work as part of the afore-mentioned duo.

Danny Shanklin is a likeable character despite his day job and is obviously very good at what he does. This book proves that everybody has their price, especially when it comes to international espionage; you really do have to watch your back and colleagues at every turn. The short chapters really keep the story moving as the chase progresses across London and beyond. More than once I had to keep reading on to the next chapter just to see what happens next and really couldn't put the book down.

Danny's family's back-story and current relationship with his daughter adds a lot of depth to this book and makes you care about the characters and there is enough technology and gizmos to keep any Bond fan happy. However, it's the fact that Danny mainly has to rely on his wits and instinct to survive which really keeps this going and stops it all becoming OTT with large set pieces like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster. There is also none of the usual tidying up of all the loose ends at the conclusion which earns this an extra star from me!

I therefore wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book; it has pretty much everything a top-notch thriller needs.


Death of an Unsigned Band
Death of an Unsigned Band
by Tim Thornton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Insight into Another World, 4 Nov 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a drummer and was in a few of bands at uni, one of which took itself quite seriously, in as much as we wrote our own songs, recorded demo tapes and gigged outside of our uni confines. I was therefore interested to read this tale of taking things to the next level of trying to get signed and see a glimpse into a world which might have been!

The personalities within Russell Groom's band (as in his head it is undoubtedly HIS band) are all very convincingly portrayed, with a mixture of ambition to be a credible rock star and be recognised as such, ambition to party hard as much as possible and live 'the life' and the simpler joy of doing it just for the love of going out gigging every night.

There is infighting as our story progresses, each relationship between any two of the people in and around the band developing over the course of the book; people are sacked, bolshy managers appear and the whole lot becomes one big mess. I felt completely drawn into this book, and there was a certain inevitability to proceedings and I genuinely felt for the characters.

If you have any interest in the music scene and what is required to succeed in this unforgiving industry, this book will have you hooked. Tin Thornton is obviously someone who knows about this world and he has put together a book which is often funny, occasionally sad, and always very real. Great stuff.


Blue Monday
Blue Monday
by Nicci French
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid 4 Star Book, 5 Oct 2011
This review is from: Blue Monday (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very enjoyable read and I found myself flying through the chapters, despite the book's length (400 pages or so) and finished it fairly quickly in 3-4 sittings. I haven't read any of Nicci French's novels before, I believe they are husband-and-wife writing partnership and found their style very punchy and satisfying. The plot is quite complex in places, with the odd twist and turn and you need to pay attention and keep up with developments, otherwise things can get a bit confusing.

Frieda Klein is a well-rounded character, sure she has the usual family issues which will no doubt be expanded upon in future novels, but she is not as contrived as many main characters in this genre. Similarly DCI Karlsson doesn't suffer from the usual stereotypical pitfalls of alcoholism and/or being burnt out which seems to affect all the investigating officers of this type of novel. Both are believable characters and their actions are very genuine and credible.

I won't spend too much time going over the plot, though surely the child abduction story has been done to death by now by thriller/crime writers? Fortunately this book is different enough so as not to grate and the tying in with events which took place in the late 1980s and Frieda's therapy sessions give a novel angle to proceedings.

This book is creepy in places, the passages which deal with Matthew Faraday especially so, and I didn't see the main twist near the end until it was virtually upon me. The tone of the novel is helped by some entertaining peripheral characters such as Frieda's niece Chloe and Ukrainian builder Josef and a surreal air often descends. I did find the sub-plot featuring Sandy almost feels like it's from another book though and doesn't really add anything. Aside from this though, good stuff.


The Devil's Graveyard
The Devil's Graveyard
by n/a Anonymous
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Rollercoaster of a book and full of black humour, 12 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Devil's Graveyard (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is great fun, so long as you're not adverse to a bit of violence and is positively chock full of black humour. Relatively short chapters keep things nice and punchy and the plot really flies along, the body count rising at an alarming rate. I've yet to read any of the other `Bourbon Kid' stories, but if they're even half as good as this, I'm sure I will be in the not too distant future. The author remaining anonymous is a nice touch and adds a further element of mystery to proceedings.

In this story we have at least three hit-men and one serial killer descend on the Hotel Pasadena in the middle of the desert, an area known as the Devil's Graveyard, for the annual `Back from the Dead' singing contest and oh yes, it's also Halloween night. This concoction provides the backdrop for our tale and I won't give any more away, but all concerned are in for a very bumpy ride.

This book manages to poke fun at contemporary culture (x-factor type singing contests) and the kind of people who surround this, but also involve zombies, apostles and even `the man in red' himself. The fact that most of the cast are tribute acts to famous dead singers adds an almost surreal touch; we have Elvis, James Brown, Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin (who's affliction is hilarious) and Judy Garland in the line-up to name but a few.

The Bourbon Kid is a fascinating character and is very well drawn, his coldness and unflappable demeanour is very unsettling. This is nicely contrasted to both Invincible Angus and Gabriel at one end of the scale and Sanchez at the other. You really need to pay attention in parts and I'd recommend reading this in as few a sittings as possible, so you don't lose track of who's where and has just done what!


ghd Iconic Eras Boho Chic Limited Edition Gold Series Classic Styler Hair Straightener Gift Set
ghd Iconic Eras Boho Chic Limited Edition Gold Series Classic Styler Hair Straightener Gift Set
Offered by Discount Deals Direct
Price: 158.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality straighteners, 6 Sep 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got these straigteners for my 12 year old daughter and thought I'd let her describe them:

The ghd's were packaged really well, there wasn't too much packaging but it still kept them safe which was good. The box was silk and the slip cover was velvety and shiny at the same time!
The little carry case is really clever and easy to take around, the heatproof fabric inside was especially useful. I think that the case also looks really good with the tassels and looks more like a handbag.
The straighteners heat up in a few seconds and they straighten really well and I only have to go through my hair once and it is done!! I think that the plastic protector for them are good, it keeps them from getting scratched and protects them when they are cooling down, holding them closed.
These are very stylish compared to my last straighteners and I particularly like the patterns on them. The gold plates make these look a lot better than other straighteners and they are quite sleek and easy to handle.
I find that the hair clips are really useful and that they can be used to also comb through my hair when I am straightening it. The little books and guide inside are useful, and they help you to get the best that you can out of the ghd's.
Overall, I think that these Limited Edition Boho Chic ghd's are fantastic.

To sum up, these have the feel of a very expensive and well made product, from the packaging to the quality of the item and in when use, so we would highly recommend them.


The Reckoning: (Maeve Kerrigan 2)
The Reckoning: (Maeve Kerrigan 2)
by Jane Casey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent third book from Jane Casey, 14 Aug 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was looking forward to reading this book, as I have read Jane Casey's previous two crime fiction novels and enjoyed them both. This is the second to feature DC Maeve Kerrigan and the various characters on the police team she works on and I can certainly see more to come featuring Maeve. The book is fairly chunky, but I found myself moving through it at quite a pace, especially as there are more than a few cliff-hanger endings to chapters.

The unsavoury issues covered in this book are many; initially we have the torture and murder of paedophiles, but this aspect of the story is over way before the half way mark, after which a bigger picture is revealed. We then go on to abduction of minors, imprisonment and gangland killings to name but a few. These are not subject matters for the faint hearted, but the violence is not gratuitous and the human implications of these subjects are brought home.

My only criticism (and this is minor) relates to Kerrigan herself, she is a likeable and believable heroine but the protracted periods of self-doubt grated at times. It is obvious she is a talented and beautiful woman, respected by her colleagues, but her lack of self esteem didn't need to be hammered as firmly home as it was at times. The portrayal of the turmoil of her on-off relationship with Rob Langton is convincingly portrayed though.

As is often the case with these crime and police fiction, the plot twists and turns are at times incredulous and at others predictable, but Jane Casey is not too guilty of this. The loose ends are neatly tied up at the end of the book and the case infiltrating Maeve's personal life was inevitable, but the fleshing out of the various characters on Maeve's team; Langton, Godley, Liv and Derwent especially, make this a group of people you feel you know and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of them in the future.


The Afterparty
The Afterparty
by Leo Benedictus
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original, intriguing and rather gripping, 5 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Afterparty (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I found this book really quite different, it is structured in a way I haven't come across before and it has lots of clever little touches and more than a few in-jokes which draw you further in and really make you feel part of it. I was soon gripped and I won't give too much a way, but the basic premise is that an aspiring author is emailing a publisher with chapters of a novel he is working on, almost teasing her with it, so effectively this is a book within a book.

However, the device of using the email conversation between the author and publisher is well done and this lends a certain originality and tension to proceedings, as you soon know all is not quite as it seems and as this aspect of the story unfolds, you hope the chapters of the book, the real `Afterparty', keep coming. This itself is a very cleverly constructed tale, blurring real and fabricated celebrities and scenarios and taking the story from more than plausible events.

I don't want to say much more, with fear of taking the enjoyment out of anyone who is planning to read this, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this as it is a very enjoyable book on many levels, increasingly so as you come closer to the end. The book you are yourself holding becomes part of the story and you really do begin asking yourself: what is real, who is fictional! Excellent.


Killer Move
Killer Move
by Michael Marshall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.31

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable and intelligent book, 14 Jun 2011
This review is from: Killer Move (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the third book by Michael Marshall I've read, the first being one of his earlier science fiction books Spares (as Michael Marshall Smith), then more recently Bad Things. I found both these both highly enjoyable in different ways and was therefore looking forward to getting stuck into this one. The premise is intriguing and more than a little sinister and the setting perfect for this type of story, with an airbrushed history, immense wealth and power games going on behind the scenes.

When we first meet Bill Moore (great name for an estate agent), he is a very self-satisfied and self-obsessed social climber, but you quickly get the sense he isn't going quite where he wants to be, or perceived quite as favourably as he believes. I got the impression he wasn't aware of this however. Once his life starts getting `modified', he is taken out of his comfort zone and starts to become a more likeable character.

Events move at quite a pace during this novel and you really do have to pay attention to keep up, especially as Marshall's writing style is quite dense and he can pack a lot of sub-text into a paragraph or chapter. All of the characters in this book are well drawn, particularly Bill's wife Steph, Cass, Karren and Hunter. They are given just enough depth without providing excess padding and the twists and turns of the story keep us guessing who we can really trust.

The story is not too far-fetched for this kind of novel, you can really believe things like this go on in the real world and Bill's reactions are honest and true to the story, plus the journey he goes on is a necessary one, with an ultimately satisfying conclusion. The parallel story with Hunter is equally gripping and the connection to Bill's life not always as clear as is hinted. We lose quite a few people along the way, but I'll let you see who and how! I really enjoyed this book and would happily recommend it to both fans for Marshall and intelligent thrillers.


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