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Reviews Written by
G. Heywood (Northamptonshire)

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My Beautiful England
My Beautiful England
Price: £2.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great snapshot of life, 10 Oct. 2013
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This isn't the kind of book I would normally read, but as someone who spent some time growing up in Burnley, is married to an immigrant, and has also been an immigrant, it was firmly put on my "to read" list when I heard about it. After all, how many books have been based in Burnley!

This story of the three women and their experiences coming to a town in Northern England was good to read. I could empathise with what they were going through (at least to some degree), and I thought the author did a great job of creating and describing the characters thoughts and experiences. The three women come from vastly different backgrounds and this came through well. At times, I couldn't help feel a little sad and depressed at the situations described, but then that is how life is for some people unfortunately.

Ultimately, given the fluidity of population movement in the modern world, I think this is a book that a lot of people would enjoy, and get something out of.


The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper (Mammoth Books)
The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper (Mammoth Books)
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to the world of Jack, 9 Sept. 2013
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For those who are already familiar with the leading (and perhaps not so leading) suspects, and the facts behind the case, this probably isn't for you. For those who are not so well versed, this is a great book.

It starts with an timeline of events (some definitely Ripper related, some less obviously so), and then covers the facts around the murders and the main people definitely associated with the events. After that, the book provides a series of essays from different authors where they express their viewpoint on who was or wasn't the Ripper. This is the meat of the book for most people as many suspects are covered (some twice) and the selections and suspicions are explained and justified. No doubt some will seem ludicrous to you, and some will strike a chord. Overall, I found the quality of the essays somewhat of a mixed bag, but generally interesting.

Finally, there is information about the weather on the day of each murders, as well as a catalogue of TV shows, films, and books about the Ripper.

Do we find out who the real Jack the Ripper is? No, but that isn't really the point of the book (or perhaps even possible now). But it will probably inspire you to further reading!


Smart Office 2
Smart Office 2

1.0 out of 5 stars doesn't work..., 4 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Smart Office 2 (App)
Dropbox won't connect, Google docs won't connect.

Yes, it was free offer of the day a while ago, but I would rather pay for something and have it work. This seems pointless.


Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea
Nothing To Envy: Real Lives In North Korea
Price: £6.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What more can you add?, 6 Aug. 2013
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The human tragedy described in this book is appalling. What some people in this book went through (and others still go through) should be a wake-up call to everyone. In this day and age, while we sit here with our phones, tablets, laptops, and social security to fall back on, there are possibly still people starving to death. People sent to camps for frivolous reasons who will only exit as ashes.

Meanwhile, I just cooked dinner and thrown out all the "off-cuttings" from the vegetables, and some spilled rice.

I don't consider myself a socialist by any means, but we are so incredibly lucky to have what we have. I don't know how any one cannot be touched by the content of this book.


Ash (David Ash Book 3)
Ash (David Ash Book 3)
Price: £5.22

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review 666, 31 May 2013
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It looks like I wrote the 666th review. How ironic.

I have read a few James Herbert books before, but nothing written in the past 20 years or so. Right away, this was a real difference in impact. Herbert seems to have learnt a lot about putting his embellishing his story, beefing it up a little, and keeping you on the edge of your seat. I was impressed.

Ash is the story of David Ash, sent to investigate strange goings-on at a secretive Scottish castle, suspected to be supernatural in cause. Almost right from the start, the story is fast paced and exciting, with a lot crammed in. Famous faces, and not so famous faces (as Herbert mixes a bit of fact in with the fiction), and of course enough questions to keep you interested. Some of the descriptions of events were really very good (I was certainly squirming at parts) and the characters were likable (well, the ones that were meant to be).

If you haven't read any recent James Herbert stories, it is definitely worth a go.


The Phoenix Conspiracy (The Phoenix Conspiracy Series Book 1)
The Phoenix Conspiracy (The Phoenix Conspiracy Series Book 1)
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking book, 17 Feb. 2013
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I actually downloaded this almost a year before I started reading it. I was fairly certain that as a freebie, written by someone with no real reputation, it was going to be OK at absolute best. How wrong was I.

The book is about the Calvin Cross, Captain of a ship in the Intelligence Wing, who is sent after a Naval Fleet Captain, convicted of murder, who manages to make an escape while awaiting execution. Obviously not all is what it seems, and Calvin has a bit of a dilemma to deal with.

Not only is it a great and gripping read, there is a maturity about the writing that I found surprising. The characters are well written, the plot is carefully thought-out (with a few surprises!), and I am looking forward to reading the next part. It is sci-fi, but simple, effective sci-fi that gets straight to the point.


Waterloo
Waterloo
Price: £3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been half as long, 11 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Waterloo (Kindle Edition)
I am no expert in Napoleonic history, but I have an interest in it, and also in military history in general, so the chance to read a historical fiction piece about Waterloo was one that I didn't want to pass up.

This is a long book, written (to me) in a similar style to 19th century fiction. As such, the characters are fairly one dimensional, template-like, and there isn't a huge amount of individuality. The bigger problem though is that there are so many characters in the book, and most of them are just not developed enough to care about, so when some of the die (and it is fairly obvious with some of them that they are not going to make it to the end of the book), it is difficult to feel anything about them. In fact some, like the Surgeon, don't even have a name. There are few continuity issues too. For example one of the characters, Ensign Williams, says that his father died when he was two. Yet just a few pages earlier, he says he died before he was born.

Still, if you can make it through Les Miserables, you can make it through this.

There were of course some historical inaccuracies which even I picked up. George the III for example did speak English, it was George I that didn't. Also, having an English Georgian lady say "Get off of me!" seemed completely out of place. Off of? Really? Also, I found the book's treatment of the Prince of Orange a bit unfair. I am also not quite sure about the authors representation of Napoleon's choice of position to see the battlefield. He suggests that La Belle Alliance was superior to Rossomme in terms of visibility, yet other sources indicate that it was the other way around. In all honestly, a lot of the historical facts and dialogue are right out of the 1971 film of the same name.

Overall though, this isn't a bad book, and the second half is really quite enjoyable, but it is just a shame that you have to read through so much chaff before you get to it. When half the book is devoted to setting the scene and developing characters (which it fails to do), relying on the second half to rescue it is a big ask. Despite some problems though (groups of French and British soldiers standing around watching two cavalry officers have a duel?), I enjoyed it. I found the descriptions of the battle and the events that took place engrossing, and informative. The effectiveness with which Wellington used his Reverse Slope tactic came across particularly well. Really, cutting off the book in half would probably have got it another star.

So if you like historical fiction, particularly Napoleonic, it is worth a read. Unless you have a particular interest in that period though, perhaps not.


American Gods
American Gods
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the name..., 8 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: American Gods (Kindle Edition)
I read Coraline a while ago and was looking forward to American Gods. Although right from the beginning, the name put me off. Firstly, it projected visions of selling out (the "American" bit) and secondly, I am not superstitious so the "gods" but was a bit of a concern too. Not to worry though, this book is fantastic from beginning to end.

Shadow starts in prison, awaiting release to go home, home to his wife. Right from the beginning though, things don't seem to be working out for Shadow and he ends up in a world where gods walk the Earth as normal people. They could be the guy giving you change at a drive-thru, or the woman stacking shelves at the supermarket. Generally, the old gods have fallen on hard times, and things are only going to get worse as the new gods (Internet, highways, etc.) want to finish them off for good.

Gaiman is a superb writer and storyteller. Not only if the concept of the book interesting, but he has a great way of getting his story across. This is not a short book, but it doesn't drag on.

I have no idea how Gaiman would feel about being compared to Stephen King, but to me, Gaiman is a match for SK at his best, and as an SK fan, it is is harder to give him more praise than that.


Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy (PB))
Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy (PB))
by Timothy Zahn
Edition: Library Binding
Price: £14.16

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 3 Oct. 2012
I love the Star Wars films, and love reading. Why not put them both together and read a Star Wars book? It sounded reasonable enough and this trilogy seemed well regarded.

Unfortunately after reading all three, I really cannot see why. The story itself is OK but nothing special. The three books are certainly not epic enough to be placed alongside the films, and could have been compressed into one larger book. The biggest disappointment though is the style of writing. Too many characters have the same mannerisms. I have never heard anyone acknowledge a comment with "point" however multiple characters use it the book, just like the number of characters whose "muscle twitched" in their cheek. Come on, a bit more variety please. Even Thrawn, the jewel in the crown of the series is really rather ineffective as a character, and also adds little as an asset to the story.

Poor writing. If it didn't have Star Wars on the front either they wouldn't get anywhere as highly praised or, those doing the praising need to read more.

Average books at best. The sad thing is, if these are so highly regarded in the Star Wars universe, what are the other ones like?


Inside HBO's Game of Thrones
Inside HBO's Game of Thrones
by Bryan Cogman
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great companion book, 1 Oct. 2012
A beautifully bound and illustrated book that functions well as an "added extra" for fans of the story. Whether you like the TV series, the books, or both, there is plenty in here for you to enjoy.

It starts with a foreword by George RR Martin, and by the creators of the HBO show, followed by interview and comments throughout by cast members, and house/family trees. All of which are framed by fantastic illustrations. The illustrations range from conceptual art-work, through to the finished sets, and some (no, a lot) are stunning.

Would you like to know Martin's inspiration for The Wall? It is in here. Would you like to know how it was brought to life on film? That is here. What to know what Peter Drinkage though about playing Tyrion? That is here too.

I find that almost all the books I buy now are ebooks, however this is definitely worth making an exception for. The only reasons I would hesitate to buy this are, the possibilty that they will they bring out an updated one in the future (this one covers the first two series), and a couple of *very* small spoliers for if you haven't read all of the books. Still, even with that risk, it is a small price to pay for what is a beautiful book, and would make a great gift for someone with an interest in this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2013 1:30 AM BST


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