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Steve Gardiner "Bruin" (Newcastle, UK)

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Witch Is When It All Began (A Witch P.I. Mystery Book 1)
Witch Is When It All Began (A Witch P.I. Mystery Book 1)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Magical fluff., 22 Dec. 2016
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Well. I've read the first three books, largely because they were on offer. I realise that I, as a 62-year-old man, am not really part of the target audience for these books, but then I love many Young Adult books such as the Harry Potter series, Angie's Sage's Septimus Heap books etc. By rights this should not be classed as YA, as the protagonist is in her 20s, but it reads very much like the lighter end of the YA genre.
That's part of the problem. It is light and fluffy to the point of terminal tweeness. The set pieces are short and predictable, the rationale behind the mechanics of the magic is paper-thin, the characterisation is superficial and the humour, while it manages to raise the odd smile, is pretty basic. Sentences are very short and simple, there is no segueing between scenes, and the plot, such as it is, is linear and very, very basic.
That said, it's all quite inoffensive, so I can't say I disliked it, and so three stars seems to be about the right rating.
I don't think I'll bother reading more books in this very long series; I'll stick to meatier works like Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series or the Harry Dresden files.


Denial (Singularity's Children, Book 1)
Denial (Singularity's Children, Book 1)
Price: £3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brave New World?, 7 Dec. 2016
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One thing to watch for to signify a truly excellent SF novel is world-building: no matter how outlandish a fictional world may be, the reader must believe in it (for instance, the great and sorely missed Terry Pratchett's Discworld - a disc carried on the back of four huge elephants, the latter standing on the top of the shell of a space turtle... you can't get more outlandish than that! And yet Terry made us believe not only in the world but also in its multifarious characters - and to care about them!). However illogical the world, there must be internally logical rules.

Toby Weston posits a seemingly more traditional world view, but with quite a number of twists. It's not quite our world, not quite our time. It starts in the not-too distant future, with some well-detailed technology, and a whole host of fascinating ideas. This doesn't detract from the characters, who are well developed and usually sympathetic.

I look forward to the sequel(s) with great interest.


Terry Pratchett's Discworld: Soul Music & Wyrd Sisters (2 DVD) (Region 2) PAL (import with English language)
Terry Pratchett's Discworld: Soul Music & Wyrd Sisters (2 DVD) (Region 2) PAL (import with English language)
Dvd ~ Jean Flynn

5.0 out of 5 stars Animated wit and wisdom., 11 Nov. 2016
I bought this (while it was still available) about 2 years ago, and love both animated series. The depiction of the characters and the faithfulness of the plot to the books can't really be faulted, and I find them far superior to the live action TV movies of Discworld. It felt like their creators understood the wit and wisdom of the great Terry Pratchett and were able to give emotional weight to these wonderful atories. I hope they will be made available again so that many more people can enjoy them!


Majipoor Chronicles
Majipoor Chronicles
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the book, 1 star for the Kindle., 22 Oct. 2016
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Silverberg has been one of my favourite authors for many years. The Majipoor series are unusual; most of his works are standalone novels, and tend to be darker and more complex, but the enormous world of Majipoor seemed to interest Silverberg enough to write many tales about its inhabitants, both human and alien.
This is the sequel to the majestic Lord Valentine's Castle, which was a long, meandering but fascinating story of a young man regaining his destiny. Majipoor Chronicles is a series of short stories giving us a glimpse of the long history of the planet, including a snapshot of how humans conquered the indigenous species, the Piurivar, who are shapeshifters.
I give 5 stars to the stories, but the usual 1 star to the Gollancz Gateway Kindle edition, which as usual has numerous OCR errors; missing words and full stops, separated words (e.g. any where, up heaved, over whelming, and hilariously, Shape shitfers for Shapeshifters). Please, Gollancz, every single Gateway Kindle book I buy is riddled with them, where much cheaper Kindles (such as the excellent Wildside Press Megapacks) are very well proofread! My proofreading services are available (I'm not professional, would do it for free!)


The Worthing Chronicle
The Worthing Chronicle
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Hot dreams..., 3 Oct. 2016
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An expansion and reimagining of Card's first novel Hot Sleep, this examines the nature of humanity and the roles pain, suffering and grief have in shaping and progressing society. Highly recommended.


Morphy Richards 732005 2-in-1 Supervac Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 18 V - Red by Morphy Richards
Morphy Richards 732005 2-in-1 Supervac Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 18 V - Red by Morphy Richards
Price: £79.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive vacuum cleaner., 20 Aug. 2015
I was given one of these in return for an honest review. I already have a cordless vacuum cleaner (an AEG ergorapido) so it was possible to compare performance.

I have to say that the Morphy Richards was far superior to the AEG in terms of suction, speed of battery charge, the length of time the charge lasts in use, and ease of use. It's lightweight and highly manoeuvrable, and is a pleasure to use, and is easily as effective as a standard vacuum. I'm genuinely impressed with the results of cleaning both carpets and laminate floors and highly recommend this cleaner.


The A. Merritt MEGAPACK ®: 19 Classic Novels and Stories
The A. Merritt MEGAPACK ®: 19 Classic Novels and Stories
Price: £0.71

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great old-fashioned fantasy, 22 May 2014
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This is fantastic! I read the novels by Abraham Merritt about forty years ago, and still have a couple of the paperbacks. But to have everything in a collection for 36p! The stories are in the pulp tradition, but are a cut above the usual standard, with vivid storytelling and half-decent characterisation. Thanks to the Wildside Press for yet another superb Megapack collection! Highly recommended.


Mindbridge (Gollancz SF collector's edition)
Mindbridge (Gollancz SF collector's edition)
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic SF tale - but..., 17 May 2014
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This is one of my favourite Haldeman novels, along with Forever War and Forever Peace. A strong character study of a flawed and conflicted faced with extraordinary dilemmas, It was inevitable that I would buy this as an e-book, It's one of those books you like to read every year or two, just to remind yourself how good it is.

HOWEVER:

I should point out that as usual with the Gollancz / Gateway e-books, this is absolutely riddled with OCR errors. I find it shocking that a respected name such as Gollancz should allow this level of sloppiness, but it happens time after time. I buy a lot of e-books, and this is absolutely the worst publisher. The Megapacks (by Wildside Press) you can buy on Amazon for as little as 37p have gone through far more thorough proofreading!

Please, Gollancz / Gateway, employ a proofreader for your e-books! (I'm available at very low rates!)


Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two
Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two

5.0 out of 5 stars Retro-prog, 14 Feb. 2014
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Beardfish have always been an impressive band of excellent musicians who've enjoyed plundering the styles of 70s proggers; Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, with a touch of Frank Zappa and King Crimson. This however, is a breakout album where they've really found their own voice - you can still hear echoes of the other bands but Beardfish are firmly in control and enjoying themselves.. They've even included a 36 minute epic which out-epics most other bands!

The main difference with this album is that all the chord changes, tempo shifts, dazzling solos, hang together and make sense, Past works, while technically very impressive (and I still like them a lot) are a little more random and less expressive.

It's an album that requires repeated listenings; you can miss a lot the first few times and can only appreciate over time. But there's enough immediacy to make the repeat visits a pleasure. Highly recommended.


Wonderous - a Tribute to Yes
Wonderous - a Tribute to Yes
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.16

2.0 out of 5 stars A misnomer..., 13 Feb. 2014
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This tribute album by Wakeman's second son Adam (who has inherited not only his father's facility with keyboards, but also, more distressingly, his very, very long hair) trawls through the back-catalogue of Yes, and manages some reasonably accurate but completely uninspired rehashings of:

1. Revealing Science Of God (7:58)
2. Long Distance Runaround (3:25)
3. America (10:00)
4. Roundabout (8:20)
5. Going For The One (5:21)
6. Owner Of A Lonely Heart (4:24)
7. And You And I (8:48)
8. Wonderous Stories (3:49)
9. Awaken (6:11)

Rick Wakeman also features on a couple of tracks (not sure why) and replicates his arpeggios with some aplomb. Judy Tzuke is one of the guest vocalists, and her voice fits nicely with the material. Sadly, the other vocalists aren't up the job. The bass is strangely muted, which given that Chris Squire's pounding bass is such an integral part of Yes, hampers this album even more. The guitar work is no more than competent, and really suffers by comparison with Steve Howe.,

So, if you want to hear 9 classic tracks by the formidable group Yes, please buy the appropriate Yes albums! This is a vastly inferior and redundant effort - if you are into tribute albums, try "Tales From Yesterday", which features much better singers and musicians, and isn't simply a slavish copy of the originals...


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