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Reviews Written by
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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As I Was Saying . . .: The World According to Clarkson Volume 6
As I Was Saying . . .: The World According to Clarkson Volume 6
by Jeremy Clarkson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars You know what to expect., 30 July 2016
Another compilation set of his articles from the Sunday Times so a couple of years old. More of what you would expect, general rants and comments on society and, if you like Clarkson's style of humour then you will probably enjoy this.

It felt like he was slightly less over the top in these, still the same level of humour but he seems to have pulled back from many of his traditional targets and makes some very valid points amonmgst the expected daft stuff.


Stranger of Tempest: Book One of The God Fragments
Stranger of Tempest: Book One of The God Fragments
by Tom Lloyd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining fantasy with strange card theme, 30 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A new series from Tom Lloyd. Lynx is a middle aged ex-soldier with an appetite and a bit of a history, short of money he joins a mercenary band ”the Cards” for a mission.
The world building here is interesting, a fair bit of magic and mythical beasties about, some politics and the bad guys are headed up by knights. There are projectile weapons, but these are magic based (Mage Guns) which makes them more interesting and dangerous. So in this environment, the mission Lynx is on becomes an assassination followed by a chase into one of the most dangerous places imaginable.
Much to like here, the strong world-building is supported by very good characterisation and Lnyx himself is no super warrior, he is an experienced, pot-bellied soldier with plenty of flaws and issues of his own.
Maybe it’s me, but the whole pack of cards theme in this utterly underwhelmed me. Much is made of characteristics being aligned to a card in the mythical deck of cards that exists in this world. Lynx is a “Stranger of Tempest”, one of the more unpredictable cards (?). I have to say it added nothing to the story and the whole cards thing felt a bit forced and pointless and distracted from the story rather than adding to it.
But I still enjoyed this and will pick up the next in the series, hopefully Mr Lloyd will turn down the deck of cards aspect and just focus on his excellent characters and the world he has placed them in.


Dark Forces: The 13th Spider Shepherd Thriller
Dark Forces: The 13th Spider Shepherd Thriller
by Stephen Leather
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Onset of Darkness, 28 July 2016
Britain’s top thriller writer delivers the 13th “Spider Shepherd” story. I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy which I devoured like a starving man.
While this is a great thriller series they always take the character of Spider forward and provide you with things to think about.
In Dark Forces, Spider has infiltrated a London criminal gang for his new boss, at the same time a major London terror attack is being planned and eventually the story threads all end up in the same point and it may be too late for even Spider to do anything about it.
Dark Forces indeed, but there are a few themes here, Spider is feeling slightly isolated, his support network was blown apart by the events of the last book, he is also feeling his age and has a bit of a shock that his son is growing up too. As a character, Spider is the good guy we all want, talented, loyal to his country and doing a difficult job. But his country is changing and nothing is ever black or white anymore and decisions are being made that almost support a view that to beat terrorists, we have to be a bit more like them. The Dark Forces of the title are not necessarily the bad guys.
Spider is a fantastic character and always a pleasure to read about, I also like the fact that his colleagues in the intelligence service are shown as professional and with a clear goal, nothing wishy washy, this is the intelligence service you hope we have. Having said that, it may be an intelligence service that Spider is no longer comfortable with, same goals but different ways of getting there. It presents an interesting dynamic and is one of the many things that raises these thrillers above the norm.
No unlucky 13 for this one, it is as brilliant as all the others.


Hail, Caesar! [DVD]
Hail, Caesar! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Josh Brolin
Price: £10.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 21 July 2016
This review is from: Hail, Caesar! [DVD] (DVD)
An exposure of the nonsense and workings of 1950s Hollywood. I watched this feeling like everyone was in on an "in joke" except me. Everyone is having such a good time on screen that they forget to entertain or amuse the audience. One of those films that you are expected to love, but in reality it just becomes a waste of your valuable time. I saw this in the cinema and the rest of the audience seemed as bored as I was.


HUAWEI MediaPad T1 10 Tablet
HUAWEI MediaPad T1 10 Tablet
Price: £149.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good allternative tablet, 19 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Yes, it’s not an iPad. But with the iPad you are paying for the name and the image (I do have an iPad pro to compare this with. So, for hundreds of pounds less, what do you get?
You get a pretty versatile and user friendly tablet. Battery life is very good and you can add a memory card if you need to. Graphics are fast and fun and ideal for media applications and the likes of Facebook. On a personal basis I like using the kindle app to read on this, but it is pretty robust in most things including a pretty good camera. I said user friendly, but there is a learning curve to get over, especially if you are accustomed to using Apple products. But when you get through all that, although this will never be as loved as an iPad, it is a much cheaper and functional tablet and good value if you want to not go with Apple.


A City Dreaming
A City Dreaming
by Daniel Polansky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laid back urban fantasy, 19 July 2016
This review is from: A City Dreaming (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Have to confess I was underwhelmed by “Those Above” by this author, but I also enjoy urban fantasy so thought I would give this a go.
This is a bit of an odd one but also a lot of fun. We have a character “M” that kind of drifts around, his powers are considerable as, we assume, as magician but part of the charm here is that he tends not to use them too much. Mainly set in New York and mainly spread over a year, this is a series of almost standalone chapters with incidents that occur during that year. No central theme or “mission”, this is M mainly chilling out in the magical part of New York that normal people don’t see and occasionally being asked to do something or being dragged into doing something. This is told with wit and charm (although the overall theme is not one of humour) as we see M and (occasionally) his friends get involved with things that need doing or doing things because they are just bored.
It’s different but very easy reading and enjoyable. The lack of a central theme or major enemies may not be to everyone’s taste but the charm here is a view of everyday alternative existence.


Fool Me Once
Fool Me Once
by Harlan Coben
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Weak entry from Mr Coben, 16 July 2016
This review is from: Fool Me Once (Paperback)
A typical Coben book, we are presented with an impossible situation (dead husband appears on NannyCam after his murder) and a lead character who investigates as thing unravel around her.

Trouble is, we kind of have come to expect this from the author, along with twists and a clever "reveal" at the end. Maybe it was the expectation but this didn't work for me and the reveal/twists were just too complicated. Nice to see an female ex-military lead character (suffering from PTSS as a result of her shooting some civilians) but she, like many others, is under-developed as characters and not helped by a too complex and un-believable plot.
So not as good as usual and just about "okay".


Nevernight
Nevernight
by Jay Kristoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Fantasy, 16 July 2016
This review is from: Nevernight (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is one of quite a few of late to either deal with brutal schools for assassins, and/or young female assassins.
The author does work in familiar territory but does more than enough to put a personal stamp on the book and his characters.
Mia arrives at the “Red Church” aged about 16, ready to develop skills that will give her revenge on those in authority that killed her father and imprisoned her mother and brother. Mia is also a “Darkin”, one who has a shadow as a companion and who can potentially control the shadows themselves. Her Darkin shadow can also drink in her fear, not a bad asset when training to be an assassin.
The Red Church is brutal and this is clearly an adult book, plenty of language and the occasional sex scene. There are plenty of interesting ideas, significant twists and a story that leads you to a satisfying ending that makes you want more. The story is told by a narrator who blends appropriate humour into his tale with footnotes giving you his wry perspective on characters.
I said that this was a familiar scenario, but I have to say I very much enjoyed the author’s take on it, the plot and the characters. Plenty of clever ideas and confident writing in this and I have no hesitation in recommending it. Very much looking forward to the next one in the series.


Bad Soldier: Danny Black Thriller 4
Bad Soldier: Danny Black Thriller 4
by Chris Ryan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.34

3.0 out of 5 stars over violent and under plotted, 9 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Part of the “Danny Black” series (no 4). Black is a serving SAS member known for talent and not quite following orders.
This book is probably the most violent of the Ryan books and plenty of strong language too. Readers may be made uncomfortable by some of the things done by Black’s SAS colleagues in this, the good guys are not to be admired here.
We start with an interception of a boat load of refugees, move to a mission in-country to snatch an ISIS commander and end back in the UK trying to stop a critical attack.
I was a little concerned with the levels and kinds of violence but also with an utterly unnecessary depiction of a member of the Royal Family. A plot device is needed to get a wayward SAS member as part of the Royal Protection team (a bit of a flaw, he is so far off the rails he would have been Returned To Unit) but it really felt unlikely as did most of the plot really.
I’ve not been a massive fan of the Danny Black stories, although I like the idea of a serving SAS member being the focus, the plotting shows weakness and repetition with not enough redeeming features. Main criticism would be that you find yourself going “nah, that wouldn’t happen” far too often.


Reckless
Reckless
by Chrissie Hynde
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars uncomfortable reading and a poor autobiography, 9 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Reckless (Hardcover)
Chrissie Hynde was born in 1951, she formed The Pretenders, she got married three times (including Ray Davies and Jim Kerr and had a daughter with each of them) she released her first solo album “Stockholm” in 2014, a year before this autobiography was released.
It is rare that I have ever been so disappointed by an autobiography, this is a part work and I can’t see a second part ever coming out. Although I think she was a cult figure and I love her music (including the excellent Stockholm) I like her less as a person having read this.
We get a lot of her early years, growing up in a decaying town, her genuine love of music and her introduction into a considerable amount of drugs. The drugs element is honest but horrifying, she really would do anything for her next fix. She eventually makes it to London and Paris, still on drugs but still close to the music scene, in London she somehow finds herself writing (badly) for NME. She does drift amongst many now famous names, including the Sex Pistols before eventually the Pretenders are formed. The Pretenders were a band that relaxed with drugs which ended up being the undoing of two founder members but they also worked hard and made some great music. Phase one of the Pretenders line-up ended about 1983 at the time she also had her first marriage to Ray Davies.
And then the book stops. Stops. A couple of pages along the lines of “I got myself clean by reading a book” but not touching on significant parts of her life since 1983.
So a poor autobiography and more than a little dis-jointed. Even the bits that should have been really interesting…weren’t interesting enough.


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