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Nic Penrake (UK)

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Rush of Blood
Rush of Blood
by Mark Billingham
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't care less whoddunit, 14 Jan 2014
This review is from: Rush of Blood (Paperback)
It's got a snappy opening, the dialogue is sharp and well observed and the setup is nicely staged. But then you get a few hundred pages of nastiness, by which I mean the characters. Their mean and venal little egos soon grate.

This is a novel reads like satire lite for the most part while insisting that it's a page-turning thriller. I would have preferred one or the other. I mean, by the time I'd got half way, never mind near the end, I couldn't care less who'd killed the hapless girl in Florida. If it had been funny, instead of eugh, I might have been carried along, but toward the end I began to feel like a passenger on a train who can't wait to escape the noise of a bunch of people bickering away and laughing loudly and sniping at each other without pause. I felt this author doesn't like any of the people he's writing about. Which rather beggars the question, why write about them at all, why give them oxygen - and why foist them on us?

If you care for a novel whose characters you care about try The Internet Date


The Havana Room
The Havana Room
by Colin Harrison
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark world of city interiors, 13 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Havana Room (Paperback)
I'm a huge fan of Colin Harrison's novels. What makes his novels so special is the attention to characters' psychology, this very palpable sense of the existential infused with desire. Whereas other thriller writers try to dazzle us with clever plotting, Harrison is first an foremost focused on character and motivation. Not only are his women seductive, so are his buildings, and no more so than the Havana Room.

As usual he gives us another white collar guy hitting mid-life crisis whose life comes unstuck because of a woman - but this time his protagonist is as captivated by a place, the Havana Room, as he is by a siren, it would seem.

I could see Lynch directing a piece like this, with lots of sensuous attention to darkly lit corners, rich reds and ambers... dangerous animals such as puffer fish! Food, wine and cigars.

The novel grips from the very outset and keeps on pulling you into its dark luscious world, somehow much less a real place than a state of mind or a kind of game world where lust and fear battle it out to the death.

If you want a companion piece that draws you deep into a complex and beguiling world of love and sex told by a female narrator, check out Hi, I'm Luna. I'm a Sex Addict


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grace and Charm, 13 Jan 2014
This review is from: One Day (Paperback)
A long romcom of a narrative written with grace and charm for the most part - it's such a shame it's spoilt by a cop-out ending. As a writer myself, I have had it drummed into me not to create tear-jerker endings by resorting to having one of my main characters befall an accident that has little or nothing to do with the rest of the story. It's regarded by any literary editor worth his or her salt as a cheap shot at evoking emotion from the reader - and I think rightly so. I'm amazed a writer of this quality resorted to such a way out.

That said, the wit and charm, the gentle nuances to the scenes between the two best friends finally to become lovers - it's beautifully done throughout. The style is light and romantic without ever becoming fluffy and inconsequential. Believable characters with all kinds of plusses and minuses, just like your own close friends.

Looking for a companion piece that's a little darker in tone? Check out The Internet Date - a tragi-comedy about an internet date that leads inexorably to a shockingly violent denouement.


Hotel Iris
Hotel Iris
by Yoko Ogawa
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars The real life version often ends in murder, 11 Jan 2014
This review is from: Hotel Iris (Paperback)
For a novel with greater insights on female sexuality, try Hi, I'm Luna. I'm a Sex Addict What is it about the Japanese and their cool fascination in sexual power games? This novel raises the question, but doesn't provide many answers. It's narrated by a 17-year-old girl, who is also the participant, some may say, victim, in an abusive sexual relationship with a man three times her age. In spite of the humiliation this transalator subjects her to she goes back for more. And then some. We never really get to know why. Perhaps it's because he's different and utterly shatters the day-to-day assumptions of meaningful relationships that is her day to day at the hotel. Is it a sort of rebellion against her nagging and controling mother?

It's a slight story and soon over. It would have been more gripping if we'd gained greater insight into what drives the girl and the man. We never sense she is turned on by what she seems compelled to put herself through. She could be describing a day spent making origami. And yet the narrator seems peculiarly unaware - or fatalistic - about the danger she courts. Toward the end I couldn't help reflecting on some of the real life murders committed by Japanese men on women - the Lucy Blackman case came to mind - sadistic fantasies that get completely out of control.

Hotel Iris makes a good companion piece of with Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. For a more insightful novel on female sexuality, check out Hi, I'm Luna. I'm a Sex Addict


The Game: Undercover in the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
The Game: Undercover in the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
by Neil Strauss
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely dated already, 11 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Want a novel on the dating game, that is both funny and deeply moving? Try The Internet Date You might not pick up any great dating tips but you will be amazed at the entanglements the characters find themselves in. As for The Game, it was an easy read, if a bit uneven, part narrative part how to. I enjoyed the section that dealt with the politics of the business of pick up artists. It was funny, honest and eye-opening.

But most people - should I say men? - will be reading The Game for tips on how to pick up girls and, for me, I found it strangely dated already and actually so American it would surely be regarded as dysfunctional here in Europe by most men, those who aren't pathologically shy, at any rate. I think if I went up to a woman I was attracted to and tried any of these 'methods' on her, shey'd run a mile, mistaking me for some kind of lunatic or stalker. These methods all come from the art of salesmanship - and I don't think we like sale people very much in the UK. That said I do like that tip about counting to 3, and then just throwing yourself into some kind of a conversation with the person who's caught your eye. There's something to be said for that, although it's really only a modern re-write on 'he who hesitates will fail'.

By the end of the book, with all the various pick up artists seemingly falling out or losing their way or just getting tired of 'the game', you begin to ask yourself, would any of this really work for me? Hopefully you realise you're so much better off playing your own game and just being yourself - with a tad more confidence. Want something darker for your money, try The Internet Date


Stuck In Love [DVD]
Stuck In Love [DVD]
Dvd ~ Greg Kinnear
Price: 8.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quietly Moving, 9 Jan 2014
This review is from: Stuck In Love [DVD] (DVD)
I'm surprised people are referring to this movie as a 'romantic comedy' - that's pretty misleading. This is solidly in the drama slot - albeit a story about (mature) love.

As with any well written drama, the writer (also the director in this film) risks alienating us from his main characters. At times, we really do wish the cheating ex husband would just give up trying to get his wife back and move on with his life. Even his kids want to tell him to give up. It's a grinding process and could so easily bore us, but Greg Kinnear's quiet persistence finally wins us over... and his ex, who has already started a new and seemingly fulfilling relationship? Watch to find out.

For another engaging story about love, this time in book form, check out The Internet Date


Dekko A3 Portfolio Raspberry
Dekko A3 Portfolio Raspberry
Price: 6.75

2.0 out of 5 stars cheap plastic, 19 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I got this product & it came pretty quick which was good. However, the plastic is cheap so when ordered, it was already broken. This was really bad & I'm going to have to send it back to get another one. It stores A3 papers and stores quite alot which is also good.


Cocaine
Cocaine

4.0 out of 5 stars Not to be sniffed at, 10 Oct 2012
This review is from: Cocaine (Kindle Edition)
What starts as a bit of fun on the way to getting a scoop ends in snowblindness for our journo sniffing around for a big music story linking a band's rise to fame with cocaine bribes: our journo gets his scoop but no one wants it because the people at the top are corrupt, worse still, he's now got himself a coke habit that's putting holes in his nasal passages and his bank balance.

This is London's music scene as it was being rocked by Oasis - glamorous, full of itself, and as dirty as it ever was. Strongman's dialogue is especially good and quickly conjures up a world of duckers and divers who are always on the take and never quite able to make it out of the gutter they've fallen into. A scorching cure for any sentimental nostalgia you might have for Rule Britannia.


Catit Style Hooded Cat Pan/ Litter Tray/ Litter Box Grey 57 x 46 x 39 cm
Catit Style Hooded Cat Pan/ Litter Tray/ Litter Box Grey 57 x 46 x 39 cm
Price: 13.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less litter, 31 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you know anything about kittens, they scatter their litter everywhere, so it's essential to have an enclosed litter tray with a 'cat flap' - and this one has. Also saves on smell as it's not open to the air. Has a simple lock mechanism so you can pick up by the handle and transport from room to room or outside. Plastic at the sides, where the lock fits top to bottom is a bit weak, but otherwise very good product.


The Planets [DVD]
The Planets [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mark Halliley
Offered by Jasuli
Price: 16.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Music, 31 Mar 2009
This review is from: The Planets [DVD] (DVD)
If I were a movie director looking for a British composer who can capture the drama of the outer worlds of the universe, I'd feel pretty confident choosing this composer, Jim Meacock. For me the music was one of the strongest aspects of the series - thoughtful, emotional, classical, lyrical. Makes a change from the usual library wash of so many other documentaries. Excellent. Shame you can't buy the CD any more.


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