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KalteStern (Scotland)
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The Mark: 1 (MIRA)
The Mark: 1 (MIRA)
by Jason Pinter
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing original about this ....., 5 Jun. 2008
This review is from: The Mark: 1 (MIRA) (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite the claims of the cover blurb this is very conventional thriller - New York, police procedural, mob connections; you know what to expect from dozens of films & TV shows, and that's exactly what you get. The protagonist is a journalist, and one has to wonder whether the author is one too, given the string of journalistic clichés that characterise the writing style - which is absolutely terrible, by the way. Not in any mere sniffy literary sense, but so bad as to be unintelligible at times - you find yourself reading sentences twice to try and make sense of them, and thinking `did he read that back over, at any point?' The plot is so predictable you can pencil it in for yourself, and is often completely unconvincing - a guy who has been shot in lower back and who can't feel his legs, picks up someone else and climbs out of the window of a burning flat without anyone noticing ? There are several points like that where you think - Oh, come off it. And the attempts at psychological insight into the supposed cold blooded killer character are frankly just risible. Very short, less than four hours to read cover to cover, which is the best thing about it . If you like this kind of thing, it fulfils the requirements of the formula, but essentially its the soggiest of pulp fiction.
.


Red Seas Under Red Skies: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Book Two
Red Seas Under Red Skies: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Book Two
by Scott Lynch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I haven't finished it yet......., 26 May 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
..although I started it weeks ago, but fact is I keep putting it down and not picking it up again. I've read at least a dozen fiction books (including fantasy of a very similar genre) and several non fiction books in the interim and even a management text book in preference to this. Is almost hard to pin down why, as it has some good ideas, vividly drawn, with some effective touches of black humour; so much so that the side plots and subsidiary characters are rather more compelling than the main story. I think it is the two chief protagonists, as much as anything - for some reason I just frankly don't give damn if they live or die, which undermines dramatic tension somewhat. File under 'heroic failures' and read something else


The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Lies of Locke Lamora
by Scott Lynch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads more like a film script than a novel, 19 Feb. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There's a good number of reviews of this up already, so I'll keep simple:
Oliver Twist meets Iain M Banks meets C J Cherryh's `The Angel and the Sword', with a dash of Pirates of the Carribbean thrown in, OK if you like that sort of thing. - nuff said?


The Soldier Son Trilogy (3) - Renegade's Magic
The Soldier Son Trilogy (3) - Renegade's Magic
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What, you still here...?, 19 Feb. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is very much a continuation of not only the story but the style of the previous book, so in general if you disliked Forest Mage, in comparison to the Farseer or Live Ship Traders trilogies, you should probably save yourself the bother. This final volume is pretty down-beat for much of its considerable length, and the pace of the action is just as stately and unhurried as in the previous book.

And just as in Forest Mage the protagonist spends much of the time being fat, ugly and unpopular, so if simplistic escapism is what you are looking for, this isn't going to deliver. And if Nevare's internal struggles and conflicts of loyalty and culture between the Specks and his `own' people merely irritated you so far, be warned: they don't get resolved until very late, by which time you are really wondering just how the author is going to pull it off at all.

And there are long stretches when the tone is remarkably melancholy and nostalgic by the standards of the genre; I welcomed this myself, as being something more than a mere retread of some very well worn `fantasy' themes, but it is not going to be to everyone's taste

But if the sheer depth and sophistication of the characterisation is one of the aspects you admire about Robin Hobb as an author, and frankly it is for me, as ever she goes well beyond mere plot exposition and action sequences and this thus becomes a truly immersive experience for the reader, and very much more serious writing than much of the fantasy genre, which can often read more like film scripts than novels.

Instead gradually many of characters and settings are portrayed in a level of detail that rewards the time needed to read it all, assuming that is what you want. It is thus a very fine example of what is trying to be, and a satisfying climax to this particular series, which must rival LOTR in terms of sheer word count when all three volumes are added together.

And if is not your style, there is no shortage of writers offering a more immediate fix of plot and excitement, and I doubt it you would have got this far into the Soldier Son series before giving up anyway. And I suspect that those who finished Forest Mage are going to buy this, regardless. So just get on with it.


Legacy (Sharing Knife)
Legacy (Sharing Knife)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best, 1 Aug. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Legacy (Sharing Knife) (Hardcover)
I am sure very few people will be coming to this book as their first encounter with this author, and many of the things that readers generally find appealing in her work are here - her good characterisations and very comprehensively realized fantasy milieu are present and correct.

And she has demonstrated in previous books that she can pen a good romance, and unresolved romantic or sexual tension has formed a prominent thread in previous books, including the first in this series.
But herein lies the basic problem - she resolved the romance issue in the last book - hero and heroine successfully got together,and indeed got married. To paraphrase Tolstoy ( at least I think that's who it was) 'happiness writes in white ; it does not show up on the page', i.e. it is hard to construct a compelling plot around a happy couple. She does try, and there IS some plot, both relating to the hitherto only briefly sketched culture of the Lakewalkers, and the Blight Bogles (which make me think - nanotech of some sort?) but not really enough of it. Compared to the Miles Vorkosigan or Chalion series, things move rather too slowly and are lacking in sufficient complexity to really keep you turning the pages. I just hope she doesn't do a Laurell K Hamilton and start spinning out the plot over book after book to pay the rent. All in all it's workmanlike enough, but I am not sure who it is meant to appeal to; I can't see it holding the attention of most male readers, it's too touchy feely and doesn't have enough action. And as romantic fiction it probably isn't quite syrupy or formulaic enough, and lacking complexity in the central romance. Hmm....OK but not brilliant


Azumi [DVD]
Azumi [DVD]
Dvd ~ Aya Ueto
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Referential' or a string of cliches? ....discuss, 26 July 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Azumi [DVD] (DVD)
Was what I was thinking for the first half an hour or so of this movie- so far,so generic - seen all this before, and better done.
And then ..things started to get a bit Tarantino-esque, and rather more interesting. Many Japanese films can be a bit po-faced, with the notable exception of Takeshi Kitano perhaps, and in the middle of all the usual 'dedication to duty, years of training, knights of bushido' blah blah, suddenly the three ninjas, fearing nothing on earth except their mother, and looking like medieaval refugees from Motley Crue showed up... and then the goth vamp swordsman with the red eyeshadow and the rose...and a few other odd touches that make it all quite endearing. All of which is amusing enough, as long as you don't take it or the whole genre too seriously. So not a classic, but passes the time OK


The Warrior [DVD] [2001]
The Warrior [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Zhang Ziyi
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £4.93

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a martial arts film,and all the better for it, 12 Jun. 2007
This review is from: The Warrior [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
Anyone expecting and wanting more Wu Xhia, in the vein of 'Hero' or 'Crouching Tiger' should look elsewhere, because while this has fighting and blood by the bucketful, it is not that sort of film at all,and distributors have done it no favours by trying to promote it on that basis.

In some ways it's more akin to a Sergio Leone Western made by Kurosawa, with its largely desert setting - by the time we reach the Clay Fort at the end it feels like the Alamo....although is technically Ming China.

Unlike more overtly genre pictures from Hong Kong, this Korean film actually has some great (if understated) acting, and a script that includes complex and sophisticated characters; there are no crude heroes and villains but a gradual development of the protagonists' motivation and character flaws.

Great photography, good script, but perhaps a bit long - but overall, well worth seeing


Hypnotize
Hypnotize
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £4.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A continuation of recent form...., 8 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Hypnotize (Audio CD)
..more than a return to their earlier style, which means that as on their previous album Mesmerize they are indulging in their (or perhaps mainly Daron Malakian's ability) to write strong melodies to incorporate into the usual metal formula. They also have the luxury of not one but two members who can actually sing (think how much and how many metal groups would be improved by the presence of just one!). And while some fans have criticised the use of Malakian as a lead vocalist on some songs, I don't think there is any risk of sidelining the quite extraordinary vocal phenomenon that is Serj Tankian - long may he wail; it just allows them the opportunity for vocal harmonies, which is a rare treat in this genre. Overall this album is less 'hard' than their earlier stuff such as Toxicity, but less lyrically light-hearted than Mesmerize, with fewer comic moments. Serj returns instead to some familar themes, such as the Armenian genocide, American foreign policy and the decline of cultural and spiritual values in the richest country in the world, which to me makes a welcome change from teenage alienation or simplistic bubble gum pop. With luck it should satisfy the headbangers while still being radio-friendly enough for a wider audience.
Musically, if you liked Mesmerize, you'll like this, but if you are one of those who feel they've gone a bit soft of late and yearn for the harsher days of their first album, you are not going to be satisfied.
The Duo-disc format gives you a DVD side which includes the videos for BYOB and Question, and a rather cut-and-paste 10 minute film of snippets of studio footage and what looks like edits from a forthcoming video for Soldier Side. What use the 'enhanced stereo version' of the album that is included on the DVD side is supposed to be escapes me, unless you want to play it via a PC sound system. And my in-car CD player couldn't read the CD side of the duo-disc at all which was nuisance, although it usaully copes with CD-R. So if you have any doubts about your equipment compatibility , go for the basic CD


Phone [DVD] [2002]
Phone [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Ji-Won Ha
Offered by Home Entertainment Online
Price: £7.15

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Hitchcock than horror.., 6 Jan. 2006
This review is from: Phone [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
This starts off on what seems almost familiar 'Asian Horror' lines, making you think that it is going to develop into another 'Ring ', and in its first section it manages to be quite creepy, if hardly anything new for anyone who has already seen the more well known examples of this kind of thing. But it then veers off into something quite different in plot terms, more of a murder mystery/thriller. I quite liked this, because you don't then know what to expect, which is hardly true of most ghost/horror genre pieces even when they succeed in startling the viewer. A well made movie, and very enjoyable in its own terms, as long as you don't expect a slasher pic or what is now becoming the perceived 'conventional' eastern horror approach.


Love Spit Love
Love Spit Love
Offered by rainey 7117
Price: £49.95

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Post- Psychedelic Furs Richard Butler can still write a tune, 22 Sept. 2004
This review is from: Love Spit Love (Audio CD)
If you liked the slightly mournful sound of the last Psychedelic Furs album 'World Outside', and crucially, if you are a fan of Richard Butler's very distinctive voice, this album has plenty to offer. Having said that, and having had this in my record collection for ten years, I should confess to ruthlessly using the skip function on the CD player most of the time and concentrating on several tracks only, rarely listening to the whole thing.
'Half a life' is so stunning that it is one of those tracks where people often ask who it is after the first few bars, and 'Am I wrong ?' is just the epitome of Butler's brand of rueful romanticism. It's the kind of ballad that fits in everywhere from John Peel to Radio 2.
On 'More' he shows that he can actually sing with some technical precision when he makes an effort, and it has an overall effect reminscent of a carol more than yer typical pop song. The rest of it tends to slip past almost unnoticed to my mind, and it is thus easy to see why this band failed to set the world alight - more a case of preaching to the converted. And while he was never the flashiest of guitarists, I did miss John Ashton of the Furs underpinning the whole thing


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