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Adrian (Hampshire, UK)

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Creative ChatMax HS-420 Stereo Mini-plug Headset for Chat with Detachable Noise-cancelling Microphone
Creative ChatMax HS-420 Stereo Mini-plug Headset for Chat with Detachable Noise-cancelling Microphone
Price: £12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Adequate rather than brilliant - but you get what you pay for., 19 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Mediocre in every way making it adequate for gaming or voice communications (Skype etc.).
If you want quality recording of your voice or headphones to listen to music on you will need to spend more money and get something better,

The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow & Thorn Book 1
The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow & Thorn Book 1
by Tad Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars They say it is the fantasy equivalent of War and Peace - War and Peace was never this long!, 19 July 2016
In opening The Dragon Bone Chair, you step onto the threshold of one of fantasies grandest tales - and yet, a 5 star read it is not... quite.
This is the first of four books George R R Martin credits with providing some of the inspiration for his A Song of Fire and Ice series beginning with A Game of Thrones - you know, that fantasy series even people who don't normally read fantasy read.

With Simon, Tad Williams creates a hero who is not an orphaned farm boy meant for a greater destiny, but a kitchen scullion meant for a greater destiny. Mmm, OK.
But it is fun in the early part of the story watching over this inquisitive youths shoulder as he explores the "Hayholt" - an ancient castle (well more than a castle) with a dark past. Simon endures the types of problems teenagers have - liking the wrong girl, not focusing on what he is meant to be doing and so on. Simon gradually sinks into this world and the events set in motion by the death of the king, Prester John, the dragon slayer.
By the end of this book Simon is in the thick of nation-changing events as his knowledge of the Hayholt and the intriguing world of the League of the Scroll he enters into as a result of his apprenticeship to Doctor Morgenes (a wizard) always puts him in the right place at the right time to get himself into trouble - real trouble.
And so Simon's, and many other heroes quest begins. Yep, after roughly 800 pages of this first book the quest properly begins.

Tad William's writing style is impressive but hardly fast paced. His descriptions are incredibly artistic. At times he won't just paint a picture of the scene, he will go on to animate that picture in his writing. In this way, it is possible for Tad to spend a page and a half or more describing what it is like standing next to a river... before more page space is used describing the landscape beyond it.
There are great characters in here and a decent plot with some surprises, and some twists and turns, there is just a whole lot of words to get through to find it.
For me, this is what costs it the 5th star - too slow paced. The descriptive elements go too far and burden the plot.
But it is a classic, so perhaps you should persevere with it. At the time of writing this review, I have completed the entire 4 book series

Large Travel Bottles Leak Proof, 3 oz Set of 4 TSA Approved For Carry on Luggage Squeezable & Refillable Silicone with Bag, Travel Size Accessories Containers Tubes BPA Free For All Liquid Toiletries
Large Travel Bottles Leak Proof, 3 oz Set of 4 TSA Approved For Carry on Luggage Squeezable & Refillable Silicone with Bag, Travel Size Accessories Containers Tubes BPA Free For All Liquid Toiletries
Offered by sporyee
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not perfect because, 21 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good but not perfect because:
Its impossible to turn the lid around to display a different label (Soap, Lotion, Conditioner, Shampoo etc.) once you have liquid in them.
The seal-able clear pouch they come in is too flimsy and rips too easily. I ordered
Snopake 15158 Flight Air Bag Zip Pull, 200 x 200 mm - Pack of 5 as replacements.
3oz = 85ml so there is another 15ml of capacity you could have had and still meet the 100ml limit rule for aircraft hand luggage.

If you manage to separate the whole lid from the bottle body be aware you can unscrew the lid into two halves which you need to do to feed the bottle body back in and clamp the lip back into place by screwing the second part of the lid back on.

I would still recommend these, just make sure you get some Snopake bags.
These bottles did not leak for me - very secure so long as the lid is fitted to the bottle body correctly.

Samsung Galaxy S6 - Premium TPU Hydro Grip S Line Wave Pattern Silicone Gel Skin Case Cover pouch + Free Screen Protector & Cleaning Cloth
Samsung Galaxy S6 - Premium TPU Hydro Grip S Line Wave Pattern Silicone Gel Skin Case Cover pouch + Free Screen Protector & Cleaning Cloth
Price: £1.95

The Queen Of The Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 1)
The Queen Of The Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 1)
by Erika Johansen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Did this story fall victim to publisher and market expectations?, 23 Feb. 2016
Here is a great story wrapped up in what I think is a quite flawed setting. The bits of book marketing text then tries to sell us on the idea it is a bit like Game of Thrones, Hunger Games or Harry Potter when I don't think it is really like any of these books. Marketeer wishful thinking? After all, they know how to sell these books.
The Queen of Tearling is its own story and in the main better for it. It would have been so much better without the ridiculous premise that the setting is somehow some future dystopian version of Earth. For me, it would have worked so much better if it was just a fantasy world. There was far too much reference to past technology lost but no remnants of it to be seen in the present for it to make any sense. People know about genetics, but there are no books or teachers for them to learn this from. So how do they know about genetics? Just one of several frustrations I have with this supposed future earth where all the modern medical equipment and doctors sank to the bottom of the ocean because they all traveled to Tearling in the same ship.
Early on in the story, Kelsea (a young queen travelling to claim her throne) is being protected from assassins by a contingent of her late mothers guard. They are in the woods, gazing into a camp fire (ruining their night vision) and getting drunk (because all swordsman fight better this way?) ... instead of posting guards and watching the darkness for trouble.
Later on Kelsea is set up to be stabbed in the back when a show is made of her having an amour breast plate that doesn't cover her back. Those guards that looked after her so well while they were drunk in the woods will protect her back... *sigh*
Later still, we get to learn more about the magic sapphires Kelsea carries around her neck. They are so powerful that once she learns how to use them, she can dig herself out of almost any scrape just by using their magic. In future stories I no longer need to worry about how she will cope, the sapphires will always be there...
In various places in the story we get treated to little bits of history at the start of chapters. These bits of history relate to what is happening in the story right now. They talk about how great a queen Kelsea is... so they are plot spoiling - they more or less tell you Kelsea is going to win. I know we all expect Kelsea to come through in the end, but I think we could do without these little plot spoilers on the way.

I know I have complained a lot, but if you can ignore the illogical world building and illogical behaviors of some characters as a way to contrive dramatic situations it is a pretty compelling read and the character of Kelsea is quite interesting. I'm very fussy with my reading in my middle age, so the fact I kept picking this book up to read it makes it worth an "I liked it" 4 stars. I'm still looking for my next great 5 star fantasy fiction read though.

At Water's Edge: An Epic Fantasy (The Water Rushes Book 1)
At Water's Edge: An Epic Fantasy (The Water Rushes Book 1)
Price: £1.36

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for fans of fantasy, romance and stories such as Harry Potter., 7 Jan. 2016
At The Water’s Edge is the first in a series of magical fantasy romance tales aimed at anyone who enjoys YA (young adult) fiction. While romance is not my usual reading genre a well written and well-structured story is always a joy to read. This is not the first romance book I’ve read. Last year, in my quest to discover the secrets of the most famous writers and learn about writing romance, I read The Witness by Nora Roberts. Widely regarded as the queen of romance she has over 200 titles to her name. The fact that I mention Nora on the same page as S. McPherson should be taken as a hint at the treat in store for those who dive into At The Waters Edge.

The first thing that drew me into this novel on the very first page was the use of first person present tense as we begin to learn about life as Dezaray (the heroine) knows it. It took a little getting used to but soon felt natural. The writing quality is exceptionally fluid and easy to read throughout the whole book. There are occasions, when relating events from Lexovia’s perspective (more about her in a moment), when the writing changes to third person present tense. Again, initially a little strange but very effective at distinguishing Dezaray’s and Lexovia’s points of view in the story.

We very quickly get hooked with hints of something magical hovering at the edge of Dezaray’s world before she plunges through a portal into a parallel world of magic, swapping places with her near identical counterpart, Lexovia, in the process. Then Dezaray meets Milo and the most in-depth portrayal of a building romance I have ever read begins. Dezaray is swept away into the dizzying story of love while danger lurks in the background in the form of the evil Vildacruz who count glowing green eyed warlocks and fanged vampires among their number. And here is the rub, Dezaray’s counterpart Lexovia now trapped in our world until the portal reopens is destinated to defeat the Vildacruz with magic Dezaray just does not possess. Dezaray and Lexovia cannot coexist in the same world for long, to attempt it is fatal. How will Dezaray and Milo ever remain together?

This is the first in the series so we will have to wait for future stories to find the answer to this question. Until then, “hold your breath”.

Guy Erma and the Son of Empire
Guy Erma and the Son of Empire
by Sally Ann Melia
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, well worth a read for fans of fantasy and sci-fi., 2 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Firstly a warning that this review is a bit academic in nature.
I want to end positively so I'll start with the negatives - the things that I believe will hold it back from a larger market appeal and that frustrate me because there is so much about this book I love.
It needs more publishing editing attention. While I found no spelling mistakes there are some out of place words and there are some sentences that could do with reworking.
There is a convention in fiction writing for tagging pieces of speech so you know who is talking and this is not it:
The Emperor took her head between two hands and pulled her close: "Poor Saygin. Poor, poor Sayginn. Let me protect you."
I found the "colons" method of speech tagging distracting. A publishing editor should have changed this to something like:
"Poor Saygin," The Emperor took her head between two hands and pulled her close "Poor, poor Sayginn. Let me protect you."
or put 'said the Emperor' on the end of the speech. Granted this did not damage the understanding of what was written but I found it distracting.
Story structure - there are well known an well observed rules regarding this which bestselling authors such as JK Rowling, Dan Brown, Suzanne Collins and many more observe to keep the dramatic flow going and ensure the right aspects of the plot, character and setting are exposed at the right time. The inciting incident which I presume to be “the son of empire” Teo’s kidnap (which is not spoiling the plot now the 3 part edition of this story carries this title) that should appear 20% earliest and ideally 25% into the story happens way too early at about 16%. Just as I was getting into the set up phase and enjoying (yes, I did enjoy this book) getting to know the setting and characters things suddenly kick off.
Why is it too early?
We don’t know enough about Teo and what is at stake when it happens which robs the inciting incident of dramatic impact. Following on from the event we get to learn more about why Teo is important (above the fact his mother loves him) and since the future of the Dome city is at stake we get introduced more to the Dome unfortunately after “the event”.
Because this set up exposition comes later the plot slows down when we should be watching the protagonist and friends respond (mostly ineffectively if plotted right) to the inciting incident. It’s not the only flaw in the structure but that gives you an idea.
Who is the primary protagonist in this story we should be focusing on rooting for?
In the beginning we get Guy and Teo introduced, then after the kidnap the story is off mostly following Karl Valvanchi and the Regent Sayginn (Teo's mother) to the point I begin to wonder if the book should be titled after these two characters.
It is 70% of the way into the plot before Guy and Teo (son of empire) meet properly and the main resolution to the plot seems to be Teo's actions (which are very cool).
For a “5 star grabbing a bigger YA audience” point of view these are some of the problems in my opinion. Harry Potter may be about many characters that we may root for, but we always know most of all we are behind the boy who lived, or Katniss in the Hunger Games, or Bilbo/Frodo Baggins, or Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code or Luke Skywalker to pluck some of the biggest sellers out there as examples.
I just don't know with Guy Erma and the Son of Empire because the plot just doesn't focus enough on either these two for me to know who I’m meant to focus of rooting for.
OK the positives.
There is plenty of action and for the most part the plot does move along at a good pace. The imagination behind the setting and characters is first class. I love all the cy-fauna, the Dome itself, Goran’s and the creepy emperor. There is a good sense of politics behind it all and Guy’s world as an orphan aspiring to the Dome Elite is very well realised with lots of little intriguing bit’s like the question of his parentage thrown in. I think there is a world here that could carry off many more stories.

Only The Dead: An African War
Only The Dead: An African War
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter the Liberian jungle..., 13 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was planning to read this after finishing another longer novel I'm reading. I thought I'd read just the beginning out of curiosity. A few days later having spent any spare moment I had reading it I'd finished.

There is an immersive writing style at work here which I prize in a writer when I can find it. This writing style along with plenty of interesting events happening all the time (a fast pace plot) quickly drew me in.
You feel like you are in the Liberian jungle with Mark.
It is often the case that an immersive writing style comes coupled with plodding slow plot progression. That is not the case here.

The real treat in this story is the well observed and well developed characters. It's all about Mark (sometimes called Mak) a private security operator (don't call him a mercenary) and his relationship with Kyle a journalist in the Liberian jungle during a civil war. Things go bad and they have to escape to civilisation. A simple enough concept done well and infused with human psychology. The story is told in the first person from Mark's perspective. The way the relationship evolves between the two men as their situation becomes darker is beautifully handled with turning points in the action and their relationship coming at well-timed points in the story. It feels realistic and believable. It is sometimes quite touching without going over the top with sentimentality. Perhaps the presence of violence in the story highlights this further.

From an academic perspective I am fairly sure I can see a story structure I recognise at work here. The right things are happening in the right phases of the story which is complete with plot points in the right places that keep up the dramatic tension. It is very well done.

M W Duncan has another "post-apocalyptic" novel out "Carrion City" set in Aberdeen Scotland I believe. It's not the kind of novel I'm normally drawn to but after reading Only The Dead I'm thinking I need to add it to my "to be read list" for some time next year.

Baghdad Operators : Ex Special Forces in Iraq
Baghdad Operators : Ex Special Forces in Iraq
Price: £4.29

5.0 out of 5 stars It takes a very special kind of person to do a job like this, 4 Nov. 2014
I read this book in a few days over Christmas 2013.
I found the real life accounts of the protection missions they conducted to be fascinating and soon found myself spending every few spare moments of the day with this book in my hand. It tells the tale of how a small group of UK Ex-Special Forces guys built up a private security company operating in Iraq.
You get a real impression of a country tearing itself apart from within faster than private security firms, private contractors trying to rebuild the countries infrastructure (power stations for example) and the US forces can put it back together again.
It takes a very special kind of person to do a job like this and not everyone comes home in one piece.
I found it inspirational for a fiction novel I am working on.
Sold in aid of the Help for Heroes charity.

Red of the Woods
Red of the Woods
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A dark and grisly take on a classic fairy tale, 22 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Red of the Woods (Kindle Edition)
Call it 4.5 stars, I'll explain why I can't quite give it the whole fifth star at the end.
Imagine it's Halloween night and you are planning a camp fire with ghost stories for a 13-15 year old to adult audience. This would be a perfect choice for that event. It will take you 20-30 minutes to read as it is a short story.
I'm a lover of fantasy fiction in general and have always loved dark and different takes on fairy tale type stories. This one twists Little Red Riding Hood into something not for young children. I'm slavering like a hungry wolf in anticipation.
The sense of immersion into the setting is excellent, descriptions vivid and compelling and the quality of writing high. It flows very well and as others have already said the editing and proof reading is around about perfect - I never noticed a fault.

Why not the whole fifth star?
In a few places I felt the writing fell into telling and not showing. In one or two places some event happens and the narrative predicts the reaction. Then in the next chapter that reaction takes place. You lose a bit of micro tension that otherwise would be there. This only stands out as the rest of the writing is of such a high standard and I am a bit picky about this sort of thing.

I look forward to some of Lana Axe's other longer works making their way to the top of my reading list.

I received a copy of this book for honest review.

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