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Gareth M. Duggan "garethduggan" (Leeds, UK)
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'Fight Through' (Armageddon's Song Book 3)
'Fight Through' (Armageddon's Song Book 3)
Price: 3.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Boom! Pacy and engaging war story., 22 July 2014
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I have to take my hat off to the author for the way in which he whips the reader along. The characters are neatly depicted thumbnails rather than highly detailed portraits, but this works in the hectic environment he has created. People succeed and fail, sometimes for no reason other than they get unlucky, or someone else is just a bit faster than they are. This feels very, very real. I don't know enough about the technology or the geopolitics to question the underlying logic of many of the plot developments, but it's a rollicking ride for sure. As I've commented on earlier books in this series, grammar and spelling get in the way on occasion, but less than in the previous instalments. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.


'Stand-To': The New, Map Illustrated Edition. (Armageddon's Song Book 1)
'Stand-To': The New, Map Illustrated Edition. (Armageddon's Song Book 1)
Price: 3.15

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good but needs a strong editor, 18 July 2014
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I love the pacing and engagement of this book, and the characters were entertaining. I did flinch occasionally at the obvious political slant of the author, especially his distaste for certain professions. But the reason this book falls short of a really solid four stars is the lack of effective editing. There is at least one plot inconsistency (the USS John F Kennedy becomes the USS Kitty Hawk in the North Pacific at one point) and there are just too many sentences and paragraphs in which the grammar and structure require rereading a couple of times to understand. There are several passages which a strong editor could have wrought some really helpful improvements, and the random approach to plurals and possessives drove me just a little bit crazy. As someone who works in the media industry, I know this is not the fault of the author as a writer; it's just the lack of a stage in the process that lets it down.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2014 5:12 PM BST


The Whale Has Wings Vol 1 - Rebirth
The Whale Has Wings Vol 1 - Rebirth
Price: 2.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but frustrating, 12 Jan 2014
The basic premise of this book is very good and the research clearly impressive, but the terrible grammar and spelling errors drove me to distraction.
The worst flaw for me was the inconsistence use of tenses. One minute it is in the past tense, the next minute the present tense. Possessive apostrophes appear to be an unfathomable mystery for the author.
All of these problems would be addressed by an effective and relatively inexpensive proof reading service.
The end result would be far more readable, which is a shame because I think this is a good tale, well conceived and well researched.


Retribution Falls: A Tale of the Ketty Jay
Retribution Falls: A Tale of the Ketty Jay
Price: 5.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but could have been grittier, 29 Dec 2012
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Start was reasonable, middle was good, ending was disappointing. This felt a lot like the pilot episode of a TV series, simply because it worked incredibly hard to establish important, diverse relationships between the major characters but also went to great lengths to keep them alive.

I do enjoy his writing style, particularly some of the dialogue, but it was hard to be gripped by the intensity of the characters and actually care about them. They had innovative elements and were well drawn, so I'll be interested to see how the author evolves as a writer with what I assume will be a sequel.


The Quantum Thief
The Quantum Thief
Price: 5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, involuted, complex and fascinating, 24 May 2011
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This review is from: The Quantum Thief (Kindle Edition)
This offering from a fascinating new talent reminded me more than a bit of Neal Stephenson's Anathem, in that it starts out by hurling complex and indecipherable phrases and language at the reader. But a bit of faith is repaid and as the tale unfolds, it becomes a genuinely interesting and intriguing vision. I enjoyed this but I can imagine many will be put off. My only complaint was that it needed just a little more connective tissue to our own present; it was there but I might have got more from it with just a bit more to hang on to.


Myoplex Original (20 sachets) - Strawberry
Myoplex Original (20 sachets) - Strawberry

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yum, shame they sent me the wrong flavour, 6 July 2009
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The shake is tasty and seems to do the business; I haven't had any of the gastric problems complained of by one person. I ordered strawberry but got vanilla; not a big problem as it tastes fine, but annoying enough to lose it a star!


Kats-Chernin - Ragtime & Blue
Kats-Chernin - Ragtime & Blue
Price: 14.62

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Super summer sounds, 6 July 2009
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Having first taken a punt on Katz-Chernin with Wild Swans after hearing snatches of Eliza's Aria on the Lloyds TSB adverts, I was already confident that Ragtime & Blue would be a bright and highly competent effort. I wasn't disappointed. The pieces are all piano and violin and are quirky, engaging and enjoyable. Fans of Wild Swans will enjoy the instrumental version of several Wild Swans pieces, including the now iconic Eliza's Aria with Nicola Sweeney's violin in place of Jane Sheldon's soprano.
This is a cracking piece of modern composition, and is alrady providing part of the soundtrack to our summer.


The Forever War (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Forever War (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
by Joe W. Haldeman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.16

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and well-crafted but a bit dated..., 25 Mar 2009
The genius of this book is the way in which it captures the pointlessness of war and the impotence of the soldiers fighting it to exercise any control over their lives. The science is often sketchy and the social ideas only vaguely explored, but this is a book about one person and how he is caught up in the whirl of it all. The general impression is of being given just enough detail to understand what the protagonist, William Mandella, is thinking. It's not a social commentary or a close allegory of Vietnam, but in common with Starship Troopers it shows that high technology does not change the fundamental brutality of war. It also uses huge changes in society to show the dislocation suffered by soldiers. Personally, I feel that shorter time spans between Mandella's visits home, and therefore more subtle changes in earth society, could have been more effective, but then again I haven't written a best selling novel so I'll bow to Joe Haldeman's expertise.
All in all, this is worth a read because it is a well-written book and very much of its time in its perceptions of war and of how soldiers live and die.


Anathem
Anathem
by Neal Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A banquet, not a snack, 12 Jan 2009
This review is from: Anathem (Hardcover)
Neal Stephenson doesn't do short books - at least not any more, since Snow Crash blew my mind a few years back - but that's OK as long as you don't expect light and fluffy sci-fi. This is hard stuff, with a depth of research and thought that rarely makes it into print in popular fiction these days. It makes you think, demands focus and rewards those who comply with a riveting read.
The language will stymie some, as Stephenson makes liberal use of neologisms to create the sense of a recognisable but distinctly alien culture. Accept that as a legitimate tactic, and it gets easier as you go along.
His characters are typically well-wrought. As with the Baroque Cycle and its distant cousin Cryptonomicon, the characters grow rapidly from mere sketches into carefully constructed, richly illustrated people. From that emerges wry humour and clever dialogue.
And the plot he weaves is as byzantine, sophisticated and clever but also ridiculous and barely believable - unmistakably the man who sent Jack Shaftoe careening about the world in the Baroque Cycle.
Ultimately, this is a book that will reward the determined reader with philosophical insights, intelligent humour and some rip-snorting moments of drama and danger.
Are there flaws? Yes, of course. Stephenson has a penchant for getting carried away with his set-piece demonstrations of scientific principles (remember Waterhouse and parabolas, Newton and the calculus in Cambridge, etc), which makes some scenes feel like necessary reading. But his deft creation of The Book as a punishment suggests he is well aware of this and isn't above a little gentle self-mockery.
All in all, I'd say give this book a go if you want to be challenged and engaged by some serious but highly entertaining hard sci-fi. Lasers and spaceships and aliens with tentacles this is not, but it does what great sci-fi should do: takes deeply significant issues such as the nature consciousness, the role of science and cultural snobbery, and throws a strange new light on them by casting them into an unexpected, semi-alien setting.


Executive Orders
Executive Orders
by Tom Clancy
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "What I would do if I was president" by Tom Clancy, 3 Aug 2007
This review is from: Executive Orders (Paperback)
This book had some of Clancy's characteristic plotting strengths so was fun and engaging, but ultimately it boiled down to Clancy coming up with a way of telling us all of the things he would love to do if he was president. Fair enough, and not badly written either, but not up there with his best.


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