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Christopher Morris "arbobug" (Dundee, Scotland)
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The Stand
The Stand
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many unnecessaries, 15 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Stand (Paperback)
You don't need me to tell you that Stephen King is one of the greatest writers of our time. Just about anyone who reads will have at least read one or two of his books, and in fact, my favourite book of all time is The Shining. Unfortunately, The Stand falls quite short of my great expectations for this novel.

My first gripe with the book is the length - I don't mind a long book. Under The Dome was huge but it was enjoyable. The Stand is huge... but only because King unmercifully waffles throughout. Instead of continuing with the story we get pages and pages of explanations about things we don't care about. It's strongly crafted writing, but I'm afraid it's also rather dull and boring.

Anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings can see how King was trying to make this novel almost like a modern American version, but as you near the end of the book this is just laughable. Randall Flagg plays the part of Sauron, only he's not very scary and he his intentions remain pretty vague throughout the book. Plus, half the characters don't even believe he exists. The length again, is supposed to represent the epic tale that Lord of the Rings is, but The Lord of the Rings moves at a decent pace, and the chapters don't take hours to read. And Randall Flagg's "eye" was almost a direct rip off which is shocking for a Stephen King novel.

The religious undertones put me off quite a lot too - I'm not religious and actually, I didn't think King was either. I'm not anti-religion, but let's compare it to Lord of the Rings again. If Sauron had represented the devil and Gandalf had represented God, then would the story have been as successful? I think The Stand would have worked a whole lot better if King had just kept it simply people vs people.

It's fair to say however, that the tale is enjoyable in lots of places. The initial outbreak of the virus and how people cope with it is compelling. There were also some genuinely touching parts of the novel and the characters were very well written. I particularly enjoying watching Larry Underwood go from someone who "ain't no nice guy" to pretty much the hero of the story. Frannie Goldsmith was intentionally annoying, the relationship between Nick Andros and Tom Cullen was terrific. In fact, I was halfway towards giving the novel a positive review until I got to the ending.

The climax is very disappointing. Instead of the final showdown between good and evil that we're promised (and some covers of the book suggest a clash of epic proportions), we get the only part of the novel which is rushed, a silly, quick ending, and then hundreds of pages detailing certain characters after-adventures which consist mainly of walking home.

So it's a novel of unnecessaries - was it essential for this book to be so long? What was the point in the "spy" part of the book? Did it have to be religious? Did Randall Flagg have to have supernatural powers that were never fully detailed or explained? Did we really have to know Mother Abigail's life story?

And the biggest question of all - did this book need 1320+ pages in order to tell its story only arrive at its anticlimax? I don't think it did.


The Shining
The Shining
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've ever read, 21 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Shining (Paperback)
I love this book. If you've seen the Stanley Kubrick film, be prepared for something completely different here. King's novel is much more atmospheric, much deeper, and even scarier. The first quarter of the book does a great job at letting you get to know the characters and really care for them. I found myself thinking that if I didn't know that it was about to get scary, I wouldn't mind the rest of the book simply exploring the family's relationships with each other. I was completely involved with the plot from the start.

Then of course the horror kicks in. This isn't some cheap, easy "Someone/thing is out to get you" type of horror - it's deeply psychological and very unsettling. Without giving anything away, my favourite part was the bit with the elevator...

It's extremely well written too; there's a reason Stephen King is the top guy in the industry and has been for the past however many years. The combination of superb writing and gripping story made this my favourite novel of all time.

If you want to read this purely even to see the differences between this and the film which I now hate, go ahead! King himself stated in a very recent interview with the BBC that he hated the film because it was "cold" and "didn't invite the viewers inside". Kubrick also completely changed the story, but that's enough about the film for now...

As King said himself in that interview - "Love creates horror".


Jamie's 15-Minute Meals
Jamie's 15-Minute Meals
by Jamie Oliver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.00

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 21 Sept. 2013
I got this as a Christmas gift from my mum as I've been quite a keen cook since leaving home and having to do it by myself! I've made tonnes of the recipes from the book and can do at least three or four from memory. A lot of them have become staple parts of me and my Fiancée's daily meals!

Every recipe is easy to follow, step by step instructions, and it's all very healthy and tastes ace. Some of them will take less experienced cooks a little longer than 15 minutes, but I've never been bothered about trying to do any of them in the 15 minutes given; I don't mind taking a little longer, especially when you can substitute things like pre cooked brown rice to normal brown rice.

I only have a couple of criticisms - Jamie Oliver begins by giving you this massive list of kitchen equipment and things you should have in your "pantry". The list is endless and needless - he constantly uses a food processor for things you can just chop by hand (thus perhaps taking a little bit longer than 15 minutes). He always insists on using fresh herbs and spices, but all of this costs a bit more money than if you buy the nice dried jars which last you for ages.

However, this is a really nice book; you can even watch him make most of the recipes on Channel 4's YouTube channel if you get stuck. It's certainly added a lot of knowledge, experience and fresh recipes to our daily meals.


DOCTOR WHO: TEN LITTLE ALIENS
DOCTOR WHO: TEN LITTLE ALIENS
by Stephen Cole
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 20 Sept. 2013
This was my first ever Dr Who novel, and I was really excited to read it. There were a lot of characters to get to know and I found the biographies at the start quite interesting and useful in helping this process. The first Doctor is written very well - if you are used to the newer, fitter and younger (Well, you know what I mean) Doctors, the first Doctor may come as a bit of a surprise being all old and slow and quick tempered.

The story is quite suspenseful and will have you turning the pages. There are a couple of dull moments throughout however, and the ending is a little confused. Ben and Polly are featured well, and we really get some nice insight into their relationship with each other, and of course with the Doctor.

The Doctor doesn't seem to get involved with the mystery of the aliens too much, settling instead to thinking about it and sharing some hints with the soldiers. I suppose this is more in the style of William Hartnell's Doctor, and when it comes down to it, all the Doctors in general - solving most problems with their brains rather than with action.

I found it hard to get a good picture of what the aliens look like, and there's also a of of things that happen near the end which I found difficult to visualise. Maybe I don't have the imagination for a Dr Who novel! However, I did find the villains quite intimidating and it would be great to see them in the TV programme at some point.

Contrary to most of the reviewers on here I actually thoroughly enjoyed the neural network chapter, although I do intend to go back and read through it again because I feel I may have missed some parts out.

I found the novel interesting but not overly exciting. Definitely well written, but certainly has it's dull and/or confusing moments.


Doctor Who: Dreams of Empire: 50th Anniversary Edition
Doctor Who: Dreams of Empire: 50th Anniversary Edition
by Justin Richards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, confusing, and no monsters!, 10 Sept. 2013
I'm trying to get through all of the 50th anniversary novels and was really excited to read this one because the second Doctor is one of my favourites. Unfortunately he doesn't get to do much in this novel - it's more about the other characters involved in the confusing civil war. I didn't think the Doctor was very funny - some funny slapstick things happened to him but he could have been a lot more eccentric like the Patrick Troughton Doctor was. If you read this not knowing it was a second Doctor story you'd be constantly guessing which incarnation it was.

Jamie and Victoria weren't featured enough either, and I found Jamie to be rather a bit stupid in this novel. Again, the attention was focused on the new characters fighting the civil war. And there were far too many of them - it was difficult at times to tell the difference between the various soldiers.

The writing itself made the novel very uninteresting - it was written sort of like a history book, throwing fact after fictional fact at you and making the story quite hard to follow. Nothing much really happens for the first half of the story until it suddenly gets exciting with the invasion of the base. However, it then falls back into a confused rampage until we get a very rushed ending with admittedly a pretty good twist.

Perhaps the most boring thing about this story is that it doesn't have any monsters. Doctor Who stories are all about the Doctor's enemies, but this story was more about the Doctor watching other people fight off their own enemies - who were all human. There were VETAC thingies which were pretty much just robots programmed to fight the humans, but not your typical Doctor Who frighting enemy.

I enjoyed the first Doctor story Ten Little Aliens a little better than this one. I've got a long way to go until the eleventh Doctor's story, here's hoping things pick up in Last of the Gaderene...


Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 1 Box Set [2005] [DVD]
Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 1 Box Set [2005] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Eccleston
Offered by movielovers786
Price: £18.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good re-launch, 2 Sept. 2013
The first series of the re-booted Dr Who has everything to draw in old fans, and also to capture the interest of new fans.

After re-watching the first series it's been both a joy and also a little annoying. I think it's a good series but the writing can be a bit cheesy or childish at times. I have to say, the episodes I enjoyed the least were written b the lead writer, Russell T Davies. I got the impression that he didn't really know or want to include much about The Doctor's past and the show's history in general. That being said, he is the person responsible for the mysterious (even today) Time War, which is mentioned briefly throughout this series and is very intriguing.

There's an overly heavy use of CGI and a lot of the time it looks quite ridiculous (The "Un zipping" of the Slitheen being a lowlight). They also use a lot of props and costumes which look much better because they are, well, real. The silly looking CGI just adds to that cheesy, childish, low-budget feel that could put many people off.

My personal favourite episodes from this series were The Unquiet Dead, Dalek, Father's Day, and the finale. Seeing the Daleks back on screen is bone-chilling, and the high drama in this episode and Father's Day is really what has made this series good.

Christopher Eccleston won't be remembered as one of the greatest Doctor actors but he did a great job of bringing the Doctor back to the screen and giving a fresh new approach to the Doctor. He's more "normal" than some of the classic actors and also plays the Doctor as quite a threatening figure at times, while also maintaining the wackyness and eccentricity of the character. It's a shame that he only wanted to do the one series, but again, this seems to me like a lack of interest from Eccleston/Davies in things like the history of the show (One example of this that I've just remembered - Eccleston is credited as "Doctor Who" in the end credits of the episode, it seems someone has missed the point of the title).

The series does a god job of making the Doctor very mysterious - even to old fans. We hear of the Time War, and the Ninth Doctor comments on his appearance suggesting that he is quite newly regenerated, although at the time of the relaunch the show's producers were unsure of weather they should include Paul McGann's Doctor in the Dr Who mythology. Thankfully they later did.

Overall it's a great introduction to the new series' of the show but felt a little low-budget and cheesy for me. A lot of the episodes are definitely re-watchable, but some are just forgettable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2013 6:40 PM BST


Catching Fire (Hunger Games, Book 2)
Catching Fire (Hunger Games, Book 2)
by Suzanne Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly more of a set up for the third book?, 3 Jun. 2013
Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and picks up a few months after the events of the first book. In this story Katniss has to attempt to settle back into as normal a life as she can after winning the Hunger Games and defying the capitol. Tensions are high because we know the capitol want to retaliate for Katniss and Peeta's defiance.

First of all, I think this book was better written than the first one. I absolutely loved the first book; such a fast paced and great story. I am a pretty slow reader but I got through it in just four days (While also doing some voluntary work in Rwanda, but that's another story...). This book was the same - fast paced, every chapter finishing on a bit of a cliffhanger, literally making you want to turn page after thrilling page.

My only problem with this book would be the final few chapters. The story just kind of stops after a while, and the ending came out of nowhere. If you couldn't physically see how many pages you have left to read I think you'd be very surprised at when this book ends. That being said, the ending is pretty exciting and I am looking forward to reading Mockingjay.

I think this book perhaps sets up the next story a little too much. No major life-changing events really happen to Katniss, although some things are yet to be resolved in book 3. The second part of a trilogy always seems to be my least favourite. Although Catching Fire was certainly not ever boring or badly written, I feel there could have been just that little bit more.

Actually, one other problem I have with this book and The Hunger Games as a whole is the character of Gale. We all know that Katniss is supposed to really care for him and he's a huge part of her life and feels guilty because of all the romance stuff with Peeta. But he is hardly in either book. So we as readers don't really feel much for him and kind of root for Peeta instead. Hopefullt we'll see much more of Gale in Mockingjay.

Anyway, good book, if you haven't read any of the Hunger Games yet I'd definitely recommend you start your Hunger Games journey with book 1 today!


No Sanctuary: Do you dare to go down to the lake?
No Sanctuary: Do you dare to go down to the lake?
by Richard Laymon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Violent and graphic - Classic Laymon in Other Words, 22 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've read maybe nine or ten of Richard Laymon's novels now and I intend to get through them all at some point. It's a shame that not many people know about this author as his novels are very good. I've got a system for rating his novels - Island, Quake and In The Dark are among the very best I've read, novels like One Rainy Night and Funland are great but not quite up to the others' level, and then there's the books that were just okay like The Woods Are Dark and The Cellar. No Sanctuary would be placed in the bottom group.

But bear in mind the bottom group is still a good group. I haven't read a bad novel by Laymon, just great ones, good ones and not bad ones. To be honest, there's usually a reason why they are only "Not bad". The Woods Are Dark for example, was because it was one of Laymon's early novels and it was heavily edited by his publishers (There is a newish unedited one out there somewhere that I'll have to get my hands on). With No Sanctuary, the problem is that Richard Laymon never really finished writing it (He died before this was released). So when you get to the end you wonder how much more work Laymon wanted to put into this book.

The plot follows a young couple who are hiking through the mountains. The girlfriend (The unfortunately named Bert) loves the outdoors and loves camping while the boyfriend (Rick) absolutely hates it. And he has good reason to given his past experience with camping...

At the same time a young woman named Gillian has broken into a stranger's house. She does this often for the thrill. She gets kicks out of breaking in while they are away, watching their television, eating their food, and particularly using their bathtubs. Only this time, she has broken into a serial killer's house...

As you are probably thinking, these two story lines must come together, yes? Well, they do, but not until very near the end. So it's almost as if you are reading two different books at the same time. But what's great is that I got very involved in one story, then it changed to the other one and I was gutted because I wanted to find out what happened next. But then the same thing happened with the other story, so it is very engaging.

If you've read any of Laymon's novels before you will more than likely know that his stories aren't just violent but there is a lot of explicit sex (Consented or not). This book has the most sex and sexual violence I have read in any of his other books so far. It is very explicit. I'd say if you open the book on a random page you are about 80-90% likely to find some sex (What was all that hype about Fifty Shades of Grey about again?)

The characters are certainly interesting - almost all of the males are dislikeable perverts, while most of the girls are attractive, lovely woman (I don't think there's such a thing as an unattractive female in a Richard Laymon novel). There's some interesting thoughts going on in Rick's head which make you question weather you like him or not, and there is a hilarious and frightening Scottish character called Angus McSomebody. As a Scot I was thrilled at first but then unfortunately he lets Scotland down towards the end...

What's great about Laymon's novels is that no matter what the situation, the horror comes from real wicked people. And that's life - there are bad people out there. This novel is no exception but there's also a nice mix of being paranoid about certain people when really, the characters have no evidence that these people are a threat.

While the story is engaging, I've only given the book three stars simply because it's not up to the standards of his great books like an Island, and I would say it's not quite on the same level as a One Rainy Night. And the fact that the publishers found and released it after his death suggests that there was supposed to be a little more to this novel. Certainly a good read though - I'm quite a slow reader but I always get through a Richard Laymon book pretty quickly.


The Woods are Dark: An intense and thrilling horror novel
The Woods are Dark: An intense and thrilling horror novel
by Richard Laymon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Laymon - Bad Editing, 13 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Woods are Dark

This is the ninth Richard Laymon book I have read and I thought it was a great read but a real shame about the horrible editing. As I read the first few pages I thought "wow, this is pretty badly written" and at first put it down to the fact that it is one of his earliest novels. However, I remember reading The Cellar, which was even earlier than this one and it was written much better. I came to the conclusion after reading about how this book was extensively edited that it was the fault of the publishers, not the author.

Some of the editing is so bad in places there are actually spelling errors in the characters' names and quotation marks which start before a character is even speaking.

However, let's focus on the story. I thought it was great - a fast paced, easy read which kept me hooked for the mere three days it took me to read this far-too-short novel. I would recommend buying the uncut version which was released in 2008, which has over fifty pages of stuff that was cut from the version I read, and is probably much better editing-wise. I intend to read it sometime soon.

The characters are typical Laymon - Naked women, sexually depraved villains and equally depraved heroes with questionable motives. There are more than a few scary and gross moments to keep you hooked and (is the case with most Laymon novels) will more than likely make you feel a bit sick.

Lovely.

Not the best Richard Laymon book I've read but certainly not the worst (That distinction remains with Blood Games). Looking forward to my tenth novel by this brilliant author.


Dracula (Oxford World's Classics)
Dracula (Oxford World's Classics)
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - Duuuuuuullllllll - Brilliant, 15 Dec. 2010
Okay, I have to admit it right at the start of this review - It took me nearly a year to read this book. Now, I am a pretty slow reader, but a book of this size would normally take me a month at the most (I read The Lord of the Rings in about three months!), and I was in my final year of an honors degree when I started it. But the reason it took me so long I think was simply because the book has a really, really dull middle section.

The novel starts amazingly well, following who I thought would be the main character throughout the story - Jonathon Harker, who is travelling to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania to provide legal support to him as he purchases property in London. The first few chapters are incredible, they really set the tone for what I thought might be the best book I have ever read. Unfortunately, after we leave Harker, and follow other people, the book just sort of, well, dies.

It is extremely well written though, and Dracula remains very mysterious throughout (He is only ever "in" the book about three or four times). There are unsettling parts too, very creepy, mysterious things that really make you think "How on earth is this going to end?".

The ending then (Without spoiling it for those who don't know the story of Dracula), is anothing shining moment in the book. The last few chapters, much like the first few, are brilliant. But one final complaint - It ends very abruptly. But it must be remembered that this is written in diary form throughout the whole book, so this would explain why it ends like this.

Overall, I thought Dracuala was good, but not brilliant. It has brilliant moments in it, but the major problem is the massive middle section which just drags, drags, drags. The story is not what I expected at all (I hadnever seen a Dracula film before reading the book, and thought he played a big organ and went about saying "I vant to suck your blood"), and I can see why all the films are not very true to the book. I would recommend it to any adults who are interested though, and this Oxford version has a great introduction and notes on the text.


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