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C. Bones "surreyman"
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Dove Season (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco)
Dove Season (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco)
by Johnny Shaw
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really? Its that good ?, 28 Nov. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I just don't know what all the other reviewers are reading. This is a very clumsy debut book that has almost no redeeming features. It is written in the first person by a smug narrator who seems to think that he is funny and endearing but is actually just an oaf. The constant attempt at wise-cracks that just aren't funny is extremely wearing. There is no plot, the dialogue is leaden and the characters are uninteresting.

I think Amazon must have sent me a different book to everyone else.


Thirst
Thirst
by Andrei Gelasimov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, I think .........., 25 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This novella in translation from the Russian isn't an easy read although it is certainly is a quick one. The narrative rambles, there are frequent time shifts and an absence of punctation to denote dialogue which all conspire to create quite a dense read.

The story is told by one of the survivors of a burning tank (APD) incident from the war with Chechnya. Now back in Moscow and recovering from his burns (he has a face that frightens children) he joins fellow veterans on a search over several days for one of their number who as gone missing.

So the tale becomes one of reminiscing about his childhood and the war while touring Moscow with his damaged band of brothers. Konstantin (our narrator) is a talented artist (pencil drawing) and he rediscovers his talent as a means to come to terms with his world and maybe to image a more hopeful future. And of course all of the male characters are constantly drinking vodka, hence the title.

As the book went on I became more interested in this tale and by the end it had evoked some quite powerful images of a bleak world with just a few touches of redemption. Because of the style I was well over half way though before I can say I was actually enjoying it but I would certainly pick up another of this author's books.


Finders Keepers
Finders Keepers
by Belinda Bauer
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Editors exist any more ?, 24 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Finders Keepers (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I read Bauer's first book and thought it was OK. Quite promising in fact although a little artificial. I didn't read the second but saw that it had lots of rave reviews of Amazon so assumed that she had improved. And now this one.

I almost don't know what to say about it. Like a previous reviewer has said, its not that there aren't good bits, a few pages at a time where any reader can get caught up with thinking that this is a well written crime novel. The problem is that the author, on a regular basis, gives her characters preposterous things to do and say and what makes it worse is that now we are on book 3 of a series of crimes all taking place in a small area of Exmoor, there is also the slightly farcical sense that absolutely everybody in these books is either a criminal, a victim or just about to become one.

But it is the constant absurd behaviour of the characters that jars. A small example. We have a serious kidnapping case investigated by a none too bright male detective and his side-kick female. They are getting nowhere. They have no clues as too the perpetrator. Up pops the local bobby who spots the reason why cars in the vicinity of the kidnappings have had theirs windows smashed. What do the lead detectives do ? They pour scorn on what is obviously a worthwhile theory and shoo the PC away. Its nonsense. The police just aren't that stupid. And this is just one of dozens and dozens of examples of behaviour that under the circumstance is just inexplicable. People don't behave this way.

To me this feels like the first draft of a novel that the author has ripped through in a few weeks and then without any input from an editor or any further re-writes has simply been published. Perhaps that's how thing get done these days. Which is a pity because somewhere in here is a writer who could do a lot better.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2013 7:39 PM BST


Sarah's Key [DVD] [2010]
Sarah's Key [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Kristin Scott Thomas
Price: £13.22

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah's Key, 21 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Sarah's Key [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I watch everything that Kristin Scott Thomas is in and this, if not exactly one of her very best, is still an excellent film.

Others have described the plot so I won't do the same. The way the film moves back and forth between the present and the past creates two distinct moods as you would expect and I actually preferred the parts of the film that deal with the horrors of 1942. These are gripping and harrowing. The modern story, how KST finds herself living in a Paris apartment that during war was occupied by a Jewish family, perhaps lack the same intensity. And the end of the film is in danger of losing its grip as KST takes her investigative obsession to levels which don't seen to be justified or, to this viewer, quite understandable.

But these are small quibbles. The film as a whole works extremely well as a sort of double expose. As KST gradually opens up the mysteries and the horrors or the past then I suspect for many viewers this film will reveal a whole new perspective of French participation in persecution of the Jews in wartime France. I hadn't read the book so obviously the film was able to surprise me in this way.

So all in all a very well made and engrossing film. And of course there is always the delectable Kristin Scott Thomas.


BT Inspire 1500 Trio Digital Cordless Phone with Answer Machine - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
BT Inspire 1500 Trio Digital Cordless Phone with Answer Machine - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really nice phone, 8 Nov. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My experience has been that BT make the best home phone sets and this is another in a long line of excellent products.

Aesthetically it is very pleasing, it feels well built, the backlighting on the display is nice, and there is an attractive colour scheme to the handsets. There is a simple and intuitive menu layout and generally the phone was easy to set-up and install.

Initially I couldn't work out why the ring tone was incredibly loud (and akin to a fire alarm) despite my having changed the ring tone and reduced the level. Eventually realised that there is a seperate volume control on the base unit which needed turning down - I presume there is a seperate ring tone for the handsets and the base unit, although the manual didn't mention this.

Anyway, a great phone. Highly recommended.


Chicago Lightning (Nathan Heller Novels)
Chicago Lightning (Nathan Heller Novels)
by Max Allan Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful with this collection, 29 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not sure if the Uncorrected Proof that I have will be the same as the final published version, but Nathan Heller fans need to be careful. Its not immediately obvious when or if these short stories have been published before. There isn't even an index. Right at the back there is a list of the titles and their original publications but since many of these are magazines and anthologies that may not help either. So just to say that if you already have the two previously published Nathan Heller short story collections (Dying in the Post-War World and Kisses of Death) you will have some but not all of the titles already. About half I think.

So just in case you want to check the titles in this collection before you order it, they are: Kaddish for the Kid, The Blonde Tigress, Private Consultation, The Perfect Crime, The House Call, Marble Mildred, The Strawberry Teardrop, Scrap, Natural Death Inc., Screwball, That Kind of Nag, Unreasonable Doubt, Shoot-out on Sunset.

Apart from that they are great of course. If you haven't tried Nathan Heller yet probably the full length books are better (start with True Detective) and as a reader the only problem you have is whether you can accept a Private Eye who gets involved with just about every famous US crime of the 30s, 40s and 50s. If you can you will love them.


Killer is Dying, The
Killer is Dying, The
by James Sallis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Here we go again, 26 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Killer is Dying, The (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I often find myself the dissenting voice in these reviews which is never comfortable but what to do ? This is the 3rd James Sallis I have tried and because I read a lot of crime fiction I keep getting sucked back in by the reviews that suggest how under-rated he is. The theme seems to be that because he also writes poetry his prose style is so exquisite that it more than compensates for any plot deficiencies that might otherwise deter the reader.

Well maybe for other readers that is true but personally I find his style so irritating that I never really enjoy the book. He has several stylistic tics which do the damage. Typically he writes in short chapters with each chapter starting off about a different character to the previous chapter and he likes to leave it until he is a page or two into the chapter before revealing who he is writing about. Now if you think that this adds to the air of unease and uncertainty that helps build the atmosphere of a noir novel then you are in the right place. Also his writing is very digressive, not just in producing bits of back story but in giving us moral opinion about the wold at large. I could go on working my way down my list of moans but the sum total is that I don't enjoy the read.

For me James Sallis novels are about stylistic tricks rather than good writing. Yes there are passages which are exquisite prose but for me they are not enough. Oh well I'll just have to wait for the next Daniel Woodrell.


Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal 3)
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal 3)
by Jonathan L. Howard
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I sort of liked it, 13 Oct. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My main problem with this book is that the opening premise is so good but then the rest of the book never really lives up to it. The idea is that humans suffer from irrational fear and that as we actually wake up with it already up and running it must come from our dreams. So Cabal and 3 gentlemen from the Fear Institute set off for Dreamland in order to find the source.

What a great idea ! Unfortunately after a fine opening things never really take off. The writing is good and the characters are OK. The main problem is the plotting. This feels like one of those novel where the author had no really idea where he was going with it and just kept thinking up a series of incidents as he went along. So although I enjoyed the humour and the writing in general I could never really get engrossed in the story.

Which is a pity because there are a lot of good things going on. Next time perhaps


Nightwoods
Nightwoods
by Charles Frazier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always great writing from Frazier, 6 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Nightwoods (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Plenty of other have outlined the plot so I won't repeat it. I loved Cold Mountain and would pick up any Charles Frazier book and assume I was in the hands of a master writer. So I would judge the book by that standard. And I have to say that on that basis this tale falls a little short. Of course great prose, of course exquisite descriptions of place and setting, but as a story it does plod a little, especially in the first half.

I enjoyed the book but felt that for most of its pages it was more of a mood piece than a story I was engrossed in.


The Language of Flowers
The Language of Flowers
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the language of flowers, 21 Sept. 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It was my wife who actually read this book and these were her thoughts on it:

This book centres on Victoria, a young woman who has been brought up in the foster care system, and whose dysfunctional character is unable to communicate her feelings except through the meaning of flowers. She hates to be touched and is fearful of relationships having been let down so many times by various foster families.

The book is written in two time frames, one being in the present and the other when Victoria is ten years old, and has been placed in the foster care of Elizabeth, a saint-like character who owns a vineyard. She instils in Victoria a love of flowers and their meanings, but behind Elizabeth's endlessly patient façade lurks misunderstanding and bitterness in her relationship with her sister Catherine with whom she desperately seeks reconciliation. Meanwhile she wants to adopt the ten-year old Victoria, despite her misguided attempt at arson.

For various reasons Victoria allows her insensitive social worker to intervene in the adoption proceedings, the outcome of which is that she ends up back in a care home. During her time at the vineyard she has met Elizabeth's nephew Grant who was running the flower farm for his mother, and eight years later they meet again and fall in love through the language of flowers.

Ultimately, this novel is supposed to demonstrate the meaning of love and the meaning of family through the meaning of flowers. Even Victoria's abandonment of their baby at Grant's house is symbolic when she leaves the baby in a moss-lined basket, moss signifying maternal love.

I felt that the clever use of flower meanings didn't compensate for the rather contrived plot, into which was woven the various unbelievable characters. The dictionary of flowers, put together so painstakingly by Victoria's character and listed at the end of the book, was the pillar supposedly supporting the book, but unfortunately I don't think it was able to do its job.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 18, 2012 11:24 AM BST


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