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Gemma Dass (UK)

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My Lady King
My Lady King
Price: £1.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars - main characters who are queer brown women who are explicitly trans and don't die - the lesbians get to live happily ever in th, 9 Sep 2014
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This review is from: My Lady King (Kindle Edition)
This book has:

- main characters who are queer brown women who are explicitly trans and don't die
- the lesbians get to live happily ever in the end
- an abusive relationship which is explored sensitively and the abuser is thoroughly condemned and gets their just desserts

If this sounds good to you then you need to buy this book.


The Gravity Between Us (New Adult Contemporary Romance)
The Gravity Between Us (New Adult Contemporary Romance)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read., 7 Nov 2013
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This is your standard will they-won't they lesbian romance novel with a hollywood starlet and her best friend. What sets it apart from every other book like it is that it's fun to read - snappy and sharp, with little wasted dialogue and some occasional laugh-out-loud moments. I didn't have to slog through page after page of tedious, uninteresting dialogue wondering when they're just going to get it over with and wind up in each others' pants.

It's a light, fun, comforting read with characters that aren't total carbon copies of every other lesbian romance novel: worth the price of admission.


Wild
Wild
by Meghan O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in awhile!, 16 July 2012
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This review is from: Wild (Paperback)
Holy moley. This book knocked my socks off. It's got sex scenes that left me all hot and bothered, a high-stakes plot that had me gripped, and a supernatural element that was both integral to the storyline, the characters' personality and her interactions with her lover, and also hit that sweet spot of being a deft metaphor for real-life experiences - particularly for me as a trans person.

Another high point is the fact that two of the three main characters are women of colour. I loved this.

A couple of things struck me as a little problematic. Firstly Eve's relationship with Jac. They're good friends, but also ex-lovers, and Jac is jealous of Selene. It runs the risk of a) not showing enough healthy friendships between women, instead casting them as always generating drama, being jealous, etc, and b) not allowing lesbian characters to *just* be friends with each other, because obviously they're lesbians! There has to be lust! Suffice it to say that O'Brien develops the characters so nicely in the book that this isn't a big issue.

The other thing is that, with a murder plotline, violence against women is inevitably going to appear in the book. I'm wary of sex and violence getting unnecessarily conflated, to the point where violence against women starts being seen as sexy (I play lots of videogames and this is a particular problem in that industry - just look at the recent Hitman: Absolution trailer with the nuns for a particularly strident example). This does come up at a particular point in the book and I'll say that the author gives it due attention and resolves the matter gracefully.

It speaks volumes about the quality of the book that I found the need to nitpick such tiny details. Overall, it was a wonderful read and I'd recommend it to anybody!


Banshee's Honor
Banshee's Honor
by Shaylynn Rose
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull, dull., 16 July 2012
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This review is from: Banshee's Honor (Paperback)
This book has a very strong opening few pages - introduces the main characters in short order, has a decent and thoroughly unglamorous fight scene, starts their relationship off, and adds a bit of intrigue into the mix. Sadly, it all goes downhill from there.

The setup is generic medieval fantasy, with elves, dwarves, gods, demons, clerics, and wizards. Nothing here struck me as even remotely new or original. There's a generic demonic plot to take over the kingdom and a generic threat from ice beasts that the author fails to write with the sense of menace she wants them to have. There's a betrayal at court, one of the rival kings is in a perfect position to give the main characters the army they need to triumph over evil. It's fairly easy to guess how it will all play out, but I just don't care.

This book is rife with lazy, stereotypical characterization, such as the weedy, weak-willed boy king who is being easily manipulated by the villain, to the studly, broad-shouldered man king who is all painfully noble and such. The villains have internal monologues that are supposed to be sinister but just sound contrived; the heroes are all bland, noble, and incredibly boring. They're all nice and polite to each other and sometimes threaten to show complexity or depth, but more often just fall flat.

Lastly, the pacing is glacially slow, and the writing is so dull that what *has* occurred seems of little or no import. I got halfway through the book by the time I stopped, and the main plot was boring me to tears. The romance subplot, which might have saved it for me, had received virtually no development: but at the same time, it was so blindingly obvious that they would get together that it just turned into a dull waiting game. The author also completely whiffs attempts to build sexual tension between the characters. Their interactions are very, very tame.

I bought it because I want to read lesbian fantasy. Unfortunately there's very little lesbian romance in it and the fantasy aspect is terribly uninspired. It's not *badly written* - it's just so dull that I can't recommend it to anybody.


Sony MDR-AS40EX Active Series Headphones
Sony MDR-AS40EX Active Series Headphones

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't fulfill even their most basic function., 19 July 2011
The biggest problem I have with these headphones is that the jack is super-sensitive. By this I mean that it needs to be at *precisely* the right angle, or the sound will just stop, exactly as if the jack had been yanked out of the socket by accident. This means that it's impossible to walk around with my mp3 player in my pocket, let alone do any sort of exercise. The only way is to carry the mp3 player by hand, making sure that the jack isn't jostled at all - but *even then* they sometimes cut out. Absolutely appalling.

Heck, even when I'm sitting at my desk working I'll occasionally pull the cord the wrong way and the sound will stop!

The next biggest problem is that the sound quality is awful unless you jam the buds right into your ears. This might be ok, if it weren't for the fact that the buds can't seem to stay put for any length of time, so I need to constantly be re-adjusting them.

I won't even bother trying to find any good points for this product, because they couldn't fulfill their most basic function. Overwhelmingly disappointing.


The Avenger
The Avenger
Price: £30.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true pleasure to own., 22 July 2009
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This review is from: The Avenger (Audio CD)
This album is BEAUTIFUL. That is the only word for it. It's got this lovely, shiny, svelte cover; the colours are gorgeous, both on the cover, the discs, the booklet, and the pop-up.

The POP-UP.

I had no idea I was going to get a pop-up. It was one of the nicest surprises out of a purchased product that I've ever had, and it's nice and robust as well. In fact, this entire package is one of the best put-together albums I've ever owned. It's also a rare treat to have an entire album set played on a live CD - anyone who's a fan of Rainbow - Rising will probably it's impossible to find a live album with Tarot Woman, Starstruck and Light in the Black all on it.

And the music? Well, if you're a fan of death metal or heavy metal, Amon Amarth will do you no wrong. They are a good, solid band that you can rely on to produce powerful, stonking metal every time. If you're already an Amon Amarth fan, you NEED to own this. And I must say that you SHOULD buy this on the grounds that very few bands or labels would release such a lavish album at this relatively cheap price.


The Devil You Know
The Devil You Know
Price: £18.39

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than the sum of its parts., 22 July 2009
This review is from: The Devil You Know (Audio CD)
Oh my. This album dug its steel-tipped claws into my soul the first time I heard Dio wail out, "Don't go on, put it back! You're reading from the Bible Black!" And it hasn't yet let go.

This album is amazing. The riffs are stunning, and cry out to be played - and listened to - live. In fact, Heaven & Hell have shot to the top of the list of bands I NEED to hear live. Dio sounds as good as I've ever heard him - his voice is different to how it was in Rainbow and Black Sabbath, but it's still an absolute pleasure to listen to and, in fact, has turned me into a solid Dio fanboy. He really does sound amazing here.

What also impressed me about this album was that Iommi isn't playing ON TOP of the guitar and bass, but WITH them, which makes his solos really impressive, even though they might not be works of art like some of the other guitar virtuosos, such as Blackmore.

There are some dull tracks on here that I can't listen to individually. However, the whole album hangs together exceptionally well, and listened to as a whole, it blew me away. Standout tracks, for me, are Bible Black, Neverwhere, and Eating the Cannibals - but if you really want to do the album, and yourself, justice, then you need to listen to all of it!


Judas Priest: A Touch of Evil - Live
Judas Priest: A Touch of Evil - Live
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.68

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even heavier than Unleashed in the East, 17 July 2009
I've been after a Priest live album that includes Painkiller for a long time now, and this particular one is nothing short of STONKING. That's right - I did just say STONKING.

It's by no means a perfect album - the tracks were obviously taken from different shows, and that does make the album flow a little less well. The songs, however, are more than worth it. This is heavy, heavy stuff - it has all the raw power and sheer ferocity that you'd expect from a band of this caliber.

The upside to the tracks being taken from different shows is that they've obviously cherry-picked the best ones, so I didn't find a single duff track on this album.

In terms of the selection, it includes Beyond the Realms of Death and A Touch of Evil, which show the kind of epic, artistic side of Priest that came through on Unleashed in the East with such songs as Victim of Changes.

The performances are things of beauty: Halford wails away with world-class vocals; Downing and Tipton deliver fearsomely heavy rhythms and unleash devastating solos left and right, while the thundering bass and drums power the whole metal beast along relentlessly. Moreover, the band display the kind of unified focus that makes the whole band function as a single metal monstrosity - it's greater than the sum of its parts. If you like any form of Judas Priest or heavy metal, you need to own this album.


"World of Warcraft: Arthas": The Rise of the Lich King
"World of Warcraft: Arthas": The Rise of the Lich King
by Christie Golden
Edition: Hardcover

29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A flawed, lacklustre reproduction of existing lore., 30 Jun 2009
This book is, unfortunately, very flawed. It tries to tackle arguably the biggest character in Warcraft lore, around which fully half of the events in the videogames Warcraft 3 and its expansion, The Frozen Throne, were based. I won't bang on about the games here: suffice it to say that they were not revolutionary, but exceptionally well executed, impeccably voice-acted, and moving pieces of storytelling.

While Christie Golden is a decent enough writer, there is simply far too much material crammed into a few hundred pages for her to make it work. She is forced to skim over several important events because there simply isn't room to do them justice. As a result, the book feels rushed and incomplete.

Her characters suffer terribly from this as well. For example, at one point Arthas encounters a young woman named Taretha who, at the behest of her corrupt and decadent liege, unwillingly attempts to seduce Arthas. He refuses blandly. They "spent the next few hours talking", and then he is off musing about how he will one day have to find a wife for himself - despite the fact that he's noticed bruises on Taretha's wrists and neck, and it's obvious Taretha's lord is the one who's caused them. Now, this could be interpreted as callousness on Arthas' part, but it seems obvious from the way it was written that Taretha is merely a prop to try and push along the flaccid love story that is desperately trying to be at the centre of this whole debacle.

Read any good story and you'll find that the supporting characters are just as important as the main characters. Take the Iliad, for instance - this classic is as much about the Greek soldiers, the heroes, the gods and their petty disputes, the nuances of their personalities, as it is about the downfall of Achilles. Golden, however, misses every opportunity to explore her characters' personalities and give them real meaning or depth. She has turned them into mere plot devices, with no emotional resonance.

In addition, Golden constantly feels the need to point things out to the reader that are blatantly obvious. For example, `Antonidas lifted up a claming hand, as some of the others began to murmur agreement. "This information came before she turned traitor," he said. "And it has been verified through - other sources." He smiled a little, deliberately refusing to identify what "other sources" he had consulted.' If you missed the fact that he pauses before he says, `other sources,' and the fact that he smiles after he says it, fear not! Golden proceeds to spell it out to you as if you have all the intelligence of a brain damaged goldfish. This is actually pretty appalling from a professional writer, and the book is full of instances like this.

In the end, there were four bits of this book that I truly enjoyed: the prologue, two fight scenes in the last dozen or so pages, and the epilogue. What do they have in common? They allow Golden the freedom to write how she wants to. She's obviously tried to cram far too much in, probably because she was told to do so, but that's no excuse for such poor quality.

I hate to say this because it's going to sound like a needless insult, but this book reads like it's an amateur work of fanfiction, upon which Blizzard have inexplicably decided to lavish a gorgeous hardcover edition. I hope my review so far has been good enough to give this statement some weight.

In any case, if you really want to know about Arthas, buy Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos (PC/MAC CD) and Warcraft 3 Frozen Throne Expansion Pack (PC/MAC CD). You will get far more out of these two titles than you will out of this book.
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