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russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks)
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Tears in Rain (Bruna Husky)
Tears in Rain (Bruna Husky)
by Rosa Montero
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not my memory. Which, moreover, I know is fake. I am my actions and my days. ", 5 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With "Tears In Rain " Spanish writer Rosa Montero has cheekily taken a line from seminal movie Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1982] and used the central theme of the film -the idea of artificial humanoids with a limited lifespan -and written her own novel around it while at the same time acknowledging the existence of the film in the narrative.
Tears in Rain is set in Madrid in 2109 and centres entirely on a 'replicant', Bruna Husky, a "combat rep" who is now working as a private detective. Bruna is hired by the head of a political organization, the Radical Replicant Movement when replicants start going berserk attacking other reps before gouging out their own eyes.
So what we have here is essentially a detective story as Bruna attempts to get to the bottom of what looks like a conspiracy while also trying to infiltrate the Human Supremacist Party, who would seem an obvious group to be behind all this. At the same time she has to evade the attentions of the police ,encounter weird aliens , control her proclivity for getting extremely drunk and continually count down the days to her eventual and inevitable termination date-"Four years, three months, and twenty-nine days" .
There is plenty to admire about Tears In Rain . The science fiction aspect is solidly constructed with the notes of an indignant archivist providing a potted history of earth ( plenty of wars & disaster surprise surprise) and its colonisation of outer space and the more existential aspects of memory and a fixed termination date are handled subtly and often profoundly. Less successful are the mechanics of the replicant investigation. She just seems to blunder from one situation to the next and what confrontations there are aren't adequate to build or maintain suspense. Ultimately it just takes Bruna too long to work it all out.
It seems to me that the wealth of ideas that the author wanted to cram into this novel got in the way of the plot . Nothing wrong with ideas of course, especially in a science fiction novel but the plethora of stuff in here could have done with some judicious editing while fixating more on plot development.


Flee (Codename: Chandler)
Flee (Codename: Chandler)
by J.A. Konrath
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It,s time for this debacle to end "., 26 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you subscribe to the theory that thrillers should be an adrenaline fuelled ,endorphin pumping brain jazzing ,cheek flapping rollercoaster ride that drop the reader straight into the action from the very first letter then you are going to absolutely love Flee.
High level assassin Chandler ( this is not her real name ) rather abruptly finds herself the target of some of her fellow professionals for no reason she can discern. Just to add to the stress of this rather taxing situation she is also being pursued by her psycho ex-boyfriend who has in his clutches the one man Chandler really gives two hoots about. How to get out of this one ?
Flee cares little for character development , has a fairly one dimensional linear plot, does not exactly overtax the old ( in my case) grey matter and lacks humour -though to be fair the situation is not one that would exactly call for rapid-fire quips. Told mainly in the first person it is also totally unbelievable . I don't care how well trained someone is -and by the way the book contains little snippets from a high level assassin operative training manual just in case anyone fancy's giving it a go-there is no way they could take the sustained punishment Chandler does.
Yet somehow none of this matters a jot once you start reading .High octane ,compulsive and totally addictive I read this in no time at all and have already ordered the second in the seriesSpree (Chandler Series). Even if you subscribe to the theory that thrillers should be multi-layered and densely plotted you may well enjoy Flee in a multiplex popcorn literary kind of way. For me, thrillers however they come should primarily be thrilling .Flee is......and then some.


London Falling (James Quill 1)
London Falling (James Quill 1)
by Paul Cornell
Edition: Paperback

10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All came crashing down for me i,m afraid., 25 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It was as I laid in the bath with my copy of London's Falling that it dawned on me that I had just sped read the last ten pages of the novel and not taken in one word that finally, I realised that this book wasn't really working for me.
An uneasy mixture of detective thriller and urban fantasy I was originally quite gripped by the more mundane, earthy part of the narrative . It was as the fantastical elements about piles of soil with symbols in them and a curse on anyone scoring a hat-trick against West Ham bled into the plot that I stated to lose interest.
I have nothing against this type of fiction, indeed normally I would embrace it wholeheartedly , but London's Falling for me just did not gel. Once the fantasy /magical fundamentals appeared on the pages it all just seemed a touch silly . Fantastical I can live with, silly I can't.
I read on for a while hoping it would get better but , alas , it didn't .So I gave up on this tale of detectives fighting things beyond their understanding . I had a choice of whether to fight manfully on and they did not. They had only one thing to deal with while I have plenty of other books I can read.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2013 2:35 PM GMT


Between the Lines: My Autobiography
Between the Lines: My Autobiography
by Victoria Pendleton
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Miss Victoria......i,m going to find you very annoying "., 7 Oct. 2012
Caught up , like a great deal of the populous , by the summer Olympics I watched as much as I could and came to be particularly riveted by events in the velodrome . I came to a conclusion that the cycling authorities, vexed at the domination of the British cycling team were looking at any excuse to deny us a medal , especially gold's. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the final of the sprint between Victoria Pendleton and her arch-nemesis, the uncompromising Aussie Anna Meares, where Pendleton was disqualified and the bullying Meares allowed to indulge in her usual boisterous antics unhindered.
Victoria Pendleton's reaction to that defeat was one of sportsmanship and relief . The first because ...well she is a great sportswoman , the second because she was just so glad it was finally all over.
Which comes as no surprise once you read this excellent book and realise what she had to go through to get where she did. As a child she would go out cycling every Sunday with her father , a gifted amateur cyclist who would uncompromisingly drag her after him, never relenting in his own pace or checking on how she was doing . Just towing her along and expecting her to keep up. Once her abundant talent became obvious and she made her way through the cycling levels she was often disparaged and discouraged by coaches who thought her too skinny , not tough enough ......in short too girly. One pompous official in British Cycling told her "Miss Victoria....I'm going to find you very annoying ".
Victoria Pendleton is a complex sportswoman , beset by self doubt and nerves and often finding the whole rigmarole of professional sport so stressful and painful that she resorted to self harm . Then came the time she more or less ostracised herself from the rest of the British cycling team by falling in love with Scott Gardner , a sprint specialist co-opted into the team who was forced out when his relationship with Victoria became public, to the annoyance of much of the squad who blamed her for his departure. She also talks candidly of the sexism rife in the sport, which is backed by her getting the grief for their relationship but him getting none. Her point about the disqualification of herself and Jess Varnish and the lack of support for her junior partner afterwards are most poignant,.
In the end Victoria Pendleton had fallen out of love with the sport that defined her and had to be persuaded to stay on for an extra two years in order to compete in London 2012 after deciding to quit in 2010 .Here she of course won gold in the Keirin and was robbed of at least a silver in the team sprint by yet another officious unfair ruling before her eventual silver in the sprint .
An unflinching resolutely honest book, excellently written by Donald McRae , Between The Lines has everything you want from a sports biography. Triumph, disaster, a searing rivalry, pain , joy, insecurity , multifaceted interactions and an insight into the incredible will and resolution you need to compete at a top level sport. Many are better equipped for it mentally ( it of course transpired that physically she was more than equipped ) than Victoria Pendleton but she got through it and walked away with her head held high . Just hope she does the same on Strictly Come Dancing .


Snuff Tag 9 (A Nicholas Colt Thriller)
Snuff Tag 9 (A Nicholas Colt Thriller)
by Jude Hardin
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come in mumber 8, you,re time is up., 7 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Jude Hardin has taken the premise that the super rich view the rest of the humanity with derision and loathing and applied it to the written thriller genre, in much the same way that Hostel (Unseen Edition) [2005] [DVD] [2006] did for the cinema.
Former mega -successful musician turned P.I. Nicholas Colt takes a job that indavertantly puts him at the mercy of one such individual -a man with the rather dubious moniker "Freeze ".This super-annuated sicko has based a real life contest around a video game called Snuff Tag 9 where eight combatants are putted against each other in a fight to the death and the one survivor from the original eight has to fight against a mystery ninth contestant dropped in at the last minute.
There are loose rules and the whole event is strictly monitored so Freeze and the other mega rich sadists who watch the contest get the maximum perverse thrills for their dollar.Number 8 contestant Colt must first work out to survive , and then how to escape the remote location where the contest takes place. But in doing so he attracts the attention of the man in charge of the game and finds everything, and everyone he values under threat.
Snuff Tag 9 is not concerned with being a work of literary genius. It is a sleek powerhouse of a thriller . Competently written with no frills or frippery , which is perfect for this subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed it's rather preposterous and visceral action.
You could argue that a rather more satirical angle could have been taken with the writing , making points about capitalism , the rapacious nature of big business and the way that ordinary men and women are viewed as just convenient canon fodder by those with money and power . Witness Andrew Mitchell and his pleb comments, but it is clear that the author was mostly concerned with writing a rollicking thriller and for the most part he succeeds.


Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "No country that lets it leaders lie like that deserves a single soldier to die for it.", 3 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Back in 1988 Ben Fountain left his job as a property lawyer in Dallas, Texas, to write at his kitchen table; his first book, the acclaimed short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, was not published until 18 years later, in 2006.And now his debut novel has appeared , garnering ecstatic comparisons with Catch 22 and many other great American novelists. There is no doubt that this is a terrific novel , astute, sharp ,wry , biting and beautifully written , but it is nowhere near as good as Catch 22.
After being filmed in a fierce fire fight against a bunch of insurgents in Iraq 2004 Bravo company are national heroes in America .As a reward they have been garnished with numerous medals and sent home on a two-week propaganda tour. The novel is set on the last day, just before they fly back to Iraq as they appear at a Dallas Cowboys football game, due to be paraded at half -time like Lara Croft cheerleaders while Beyonce gyrates and cavorts about.
As the group of soldiers are passed around like the corporate barbecue they encounter the mega-watt personality of the Cowboys owner , a film producer who wants to put them in a film starring Hilary Swank ( or is it Jamie Lee Curtis ?), but set in World War Two, Cheerleaders, numerous friends of the Bushes-"Lovely couple"- and the players themselves ,who only want to know about their guns and how it feels to shoot someone in the head.
Ostensibly everything is seen through the eyes of the titular Billy Flynn, a nineteen year old conscript who cannot understand "Being honoured for the worst day of your life." Where one of his friends died in his arms. Billy is surprisingly erudite and philosophical for a supposed hick nineteen year old , especially as he is nursing an Olympian sized hangover and is so far out of his comfort zone he might as well be on the moon.
The novel is patently satirical and not only makes point about war and the rich white men who send poor men of any ilk off to fight them but about corporate America , celebrity and just how thunderingly dull American Football is. Reams of smart metaphors and similes zip past, and the dialogue really zings -like a wasp making for a picnic. On the down side a couple of chapters drag on a bit. The one where Destiny's Child perform could actually be classed as monotonous but overall this is a novel well worth reading .
"The past is a fog that breathes out ghost after ghost", but the past is so often worth revisiting to make a point about the present ...and the future.


Varta Max Tech AAA Alkaline 1.5 Volt Batteries - 4-Pack
Varta Max Tech AAA Alkaline 1.5 Volt Batteries - 4-Pack
Price: £3.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let there be light ....... and errr there was., 27 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
How to review a pack of batteries? Well they came in a very nice package which meant they were packaged very well which if you are into packaging is a most desirable and important thing, so in the interests of that demographic I have covered that criteria . And very well too it must be said, or if you prefer -nicely packaged - Little wrapping joke there.
As for the batteries themselves, well they look splendid , very colourful which unfortunately does not matter a jot as I soon removed from their excellent packaging( have I mentioned this before ?) and placed them in my little portable bedtime reading light thingy .And wow....how bright it that now? Stupid question I know as you can have no empirical knowledge of just how bright it is but take my word for it ...it is extremely bright. So much so I have to shield it with my thumb to dissipate its fluorescent magnificence.
The real salient criterion though is how long the batteries continue to provide their word revealing splendour. That dear reader I cannot provide right at this moment so at some point in the future I will update this review.
Until then I will hedge my bets with four shiny stars. Will they get that extra star ?( as befit's a giver of light) Try not to get too excited and tense at the eventual outcome .All will be revealed......Little light pun there to round things off.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2013 5:56 PM GMT


Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and The Corruption of Britain
Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and The Corruption of Britain
by Tom Watson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Those who operate in a amoral universe where they are never accountable ", 16 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When the media firestorm around the hacking of Milly Dowlers phone broke out News International s Chief Executive Rebekah Brookes was heading the company's investigation into the allegations. Company spokesman Simon Greenberg was asked by Jon Snow on Channel 4 news "How can she investigate herself ?" "When we have got the facts we will be able to establish exactly how that will be possible " Greenberg answered.
And that pretty much sums up what a mendacious debacle the whole phone hacking scandal became. Dial M For Murdoch is truly riveting account of the timeline that led up to the closing of the News of The World and Rupert Murdoch appearing before a Commons select committee.
And what a tawdry tale this is .A example of an abuse of power and how the people we are supposed to trust to lead us and set an example are the people who should least be allowed to do so. The print press, the police and politicians , one of whom held the highest office , all lied, covered up , misled and obfuscated until , thanks to the diligence of just a few politicians , journalists and the courageous actions of a few individuals, unafraid to take on a powerful media empire led to the shocking truth emerging .
The book reads almost like a thriller , gradually increasing in pace and scope until the bad guys and the extent of their criminal activities are revealed. Unfortunately , unlike a thriller there is no denouement and it is likely some of the players in this particular episode will get off scott free. So even though Brookes and Andy Coulson and several journalists are facing criminal proceedings you have to ask how come David Cameron is still Prime Minister when he blatantly ignored several warnings about Coulson,s suitability for the press secretary role? And how come current media darling Boris Johnson has not been taken more to task for dubbing the phone hacking affair as "codswallop"? As for Jeremy Hunts contribution to the BSky Bid...well once again Cameron's judgement is called into question.
One of many good things to come out of this whole sorry affair is that Murdoch's influence is on the wane. He is now toxic and no longer will politicians travel half way round the world like Tony Blair once did to seek his support and approval. Mainly thanks to lets not forget other more principled journalists, politicians like the co-author of this book Tom Watson and courageous people like Max Moseley ( who had the money to risk a legal battle ) Hugh Grant , Steve Coogan( whose words provide my review headline ) and most unlikely of all Sienna Miller who is perhaps the most courageuous victim of the lot taking into account what she had to lose as a young actress taking on a multi media monolith. Kudos to them all.
It is not hard though, to conclude that despite all the hand wringing and recriminations that the individuals behind the scandal whether they be the like of James Murdoch ( who comes across as even more of a villain than his "This is the humblest day of my life "father) Yates of the yard, Coulson , Brookes or the man who effectively kicked everything off Glenn Mulcaire they still don't get that they really did anything wrong. As that unlikely sage Charlotte Church said after her day in court "In my opinion they are not truly sorry , only sorry they got caught ".


What Our Eyes Have Witnessed (The Zombie Bible)
What Our Eyes Have Witnessed (The Zombie Bible)
by Stant Litore
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "But he knew there were worse things to hear from his dead than silence", 9 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First thing to point out about this book is that it is not your standard Zombie mash-up. The idea of the undead infesting ancient Rome is an intriguing and tantalising one , but readers expecting a George A Romero crossed with Spartacus Blood & Sand type gore fest are going to be sorely disappointed. What Our Eyes Have Witnessed is more an examination of faith , honour , love, revenge. and political expediency .The zombies shambling through Rome's back streets are mere catalysts for what the story is really about.
Which brings me to Polycarp , a Greek preaching Christianity within his modest abode in the Subura-a slum situated near the River Tiber. He also provides a home for Julia a proud and angry woman who yearns for stature, and betrays those that took her in for a richer piece of clothing. The there is the brutalised and beautiful Regina who was a slave and treated worse than a stray dog, who found love and a sense of self and whose unwavering faith makes her morally superior to just about everybody around her.
When an outbreak of the un-dead occurs within the Subura the Senior Magistrate of Rome Caius Lucius Justus shifts the blame for the infestation onto Polycarp , whose worshipping of Christianity gives him the perfect excuse to do so. So Polycarp must stand trial, all the while being the one person who can effectively stand against the zombies as he has a gift of being able to bring the dead to rest just by touching them for as he says:" If I were to touch one of the dead and gaze into its eyes, it would be far readier than any of you to lay down its burdens and rest. "
Stant Litore beautifully weaves historical and horror fiction together to create something that at times, verges on the profound. This is a very well written book and at times the words sing from the page. However the second act slows the narrative down just a touch too much for this reader while the third is predictable if brilliantly done.
The second in a series ( I have not read the first ) What Our Eyes Have Witnessed is a concept that i instinctively feel would struggle to find a true audience. Literary aficionados will find all that zombies stuff distasteful and horror fans will find it too slow , lacking the thrills ands spills of the usual zombie fiction. .
But the reviews show there is a natural audience for Stant Litore,s work. Which is most heartening The best zombie novel I have read since Max Brooks brilliant World War Z. And I have read quite a few.


The Killing Moon: Dreamblood: Book 1
The Killing Moon: Dreamblood: Book 1
by N. K. Jemisin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Fate up against your will, through the thick and thin , you will wait until you give yourself to him ", 2 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Creating something original in the fantasy genre( or indeed any other genre) is difficult to say the least. I am by no means a prodigious reader of fantasy fiction but I would like to think I know an creative new idea when I read one.
Except N. K . Jemisin,s new Dreamblood saga has me confused .Set in an exotic middle eastern type world it centres around a gatherer Ehiru and his apprentice Nijiri who can in their gathering role perform some kind of benevolent euthanasia involving dreams and passing the patient/victim onto a beatific paradise beyond the mortal world This mangled mumbo -jumbo of semi-religious tone ( though to be fair to the writer most relatively primitive cultures were deeply superstitious and/or religious ) was most off putting to me as a reader and the characters spiritual self admonition took up so much of the text that it rapidly becomes tiresome.
But despite this an intriguing ,occasionally thrilling tale of deceit , power , compassion and loyalty emerges culminating in a satisfying climax where a sacrifice is made and the headstrong young apprentice completes his rites of passage.
Despite storytelling on a epic scale , as is most popular in fantasy literature , this is a story commonly about the relationship of four characters with the main one being the classic mentor/ learner roles beloved of Star Wars and countless other movies . Then there is the man and women thing where despite their mutual attraction , after overcoming an initial mistrust and unease, they cannot consummate their lust/love because of vows and honour and all that self righteous noble stuff . Then there is that of siblings on different paths with wildly different agendas and well if I say too much it will spoil it so I will refrain.
So despite my reservations The Killing Moon sucked me in and I ended up quite enjoying it. I could have done without the tiresome interludes where the author seeks to paint the palette of her world more vividly but ends up just covering it over in grey matt and like I mentioned before the hand wringing reverential tone quickly palls . But original this is , just not in a way that had me gasping with excitement. The second in the series is however, now on my reading list and surely the point of any series is getting the viewer or reader to watch the next in line.

Review title filched from Echo & the Bunnymens The Killing Moon


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