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Andrew Langdon (Wales, UK)

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Tony and Susan: Soon to be the Major Motion Picture, Nocturnal Animals
Tony and Susan: Soon to be the Major Motion Picture, Nocturnal Animals
by Austin M. Wright
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two into one doesn't go, 17 Aug. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The premise of Austin Wright's novel is that Susan receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward, which we read whilst learning a little of Susan's unhappy relationship with her current husband and her reasons for leaving Edward. Effectively it's two stories in one book.

Whilst I quite enjoyed Edwards novel 'Nocturnal Animals', especially since it centred on Tony's feelings of guilt rather than being a silly action hero revenge story, I feel that the short snippets of Susan's reactions and backstory added nothing.

I would have preferred a short novella called 'Nocturnal Animals' than the novel 'Tony and Susan', which just goes to show that two for the price of one is not always good value!


1000 Ultimate Experiences (Lonely Planet 1000 Ultimate Experiences)
1000 Ultimate Experiences (Lonely Planet 1000 Ultimate Experiences)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet more travel inspiration from Lonely Planet!, 20 May 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whilst you couldn't plan your trip with this book (no great detail, itineraries, etc.), 'Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Experiences' is perfect for dipping into. Page after page of Top Ten's accompanied by great Lonely Planet photography offer great inspiration for would be travellers and escapism when nursing a coffee on a rainy day!

A perfect gift.


The Left Hand of God
The Left Hand of God
by Paul Hoffman
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A so-so fantasy romp, 13 Jan. 2010
This review is from: The Left Hand of God (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Set in a medieval fantasy world, 'The Left Hand of God' tells the story of Thomas Cale, one of the thousands of children raised in the art of warfare by the cruel Redeemers at The Sanctuary. Resourceful, ruthless and brilliant, one day Cale and two fellow Acolytes stumble upon a terrible secret that threatens their lives, so they enact a daring escape across the Scablands to the city of Memphis. However, no one has successfully escaped The Sanctuary and Lord Militant Bosco has even more reason than most to ensure that Cale is captured and returned unharmed. Even if that means going to war with the all-powerful Materazzi Empire.

Paul Hoffman's well written novel is often brutal, exciting and funny, and its enigmatic lead is an excellent creation. Sadly it is also contrived, predictable and sometimes boring, with some potentially interesting characters sorely underdeveloped - particularly Kitty the Hare. This, combined with the dissonant mix of young lead characters and graphic depictions of violence, make it difficult to recommend to all but the most ardent readers of fantasy.


The Soldier: A History of Courage, Sacrifice and Brotherhood
The Soldier: A History of Courage, Sacrifice and Brotherhood
by Darren Moore
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Soldier, 9 Jan. 2010
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Using a number of first-person accounts of soldiers serving in various armies and conflicts from the Napoleonic to modern day Afghanistan and Iraq, retired Army officer Darren Moore has attempted - and largely succeeded - to tell the story of the soldier devoid of the romance and jingoism evident in so many other military books.

Ranging from the reasons people join, or are forced to join, to the effects of war on the psyche of the soldier, Moore's book is an excellent read and should be required reading for all those who seek to send servicemen and women into harms way.


Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2010: 850 Trends, Destinations, Journeys and Experiences for the Upcoming Year (Lonely Planet General Reference)
Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2010: 850 Trends, Destinations, Journeys and Experiences for the Upcoming Year (Lonely Planet General Reference)
by Lonely Planet Publications Ltd
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Travel inspirations for 2010, 6 Jan. 2010
Instead of the usual in depth coverage of their guidebooks, Lonely Planet's 'Best in Travel 2010' offers a selection of their destination tips for the upcoming year. The book is split into the Top 10 countries, regions and cities, plus a small collection of oddities such as 'The World's Top Choc Spots', 'Top 10 Places To Walk Your Dog' and 'Top Spots For Medical Adventures'.

Each choice has only a handful of pages given over to them offering some of the reasons for their inclusion, some things to see and do plus some excellent photos, but they are ultimately only there to whet the readers appetite and you will need to splurge on the appropriate guide book for full details. However, as a source of inspiration for the traveller, the book is excellent.


The Vagrants
The Vagrants
by Yiyun Li
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read, 16 Nov. 2009
This review is from: The Vagrants (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Based on true events, 'The Vagrants' tells the story of an uprising in the Chinese town of Muddy River in 1979. Following the execution of Gu Shan for the crime of being a counterrevolutionary, a number of people, upon hearing of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, protest in an attempt to clear her name. Inevitably the peaceful uprising is brutally suppressed by the Communist Party in its attempt to regain control.

In telling the story, Yiyun Li has gathered a disparate cast of characters, yet whether it's in detailing the tough life of Nini and her family, struggling to gather enough to eat and keep warm, the Party apparatchiks who are having stands built to house their new television sets, or Teacher Gu and his wife dealing with the grief of their lose in their own ways, the author treats each character with equal respect and doesn't fall into the all-to-easy trap of allowing them to become caricatures or of being judgemental.

A rewarding, if uncomfortable, read.


A Gate at the Stairs
A Gate at the Stairs
by Lorrie Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly fine, 22 Oct. 2009
This review is from: A Gate at the Stairs (Paperback)
Tassie Keltjin is a farmers daughter who moves from a small midwestern village to the university town of Troy. Here she gets a job for the glamorous Thornwood-Brink family (Sarah is the chef at a fine dining restaurant and Edward is a scientist) working as a nanny to their adopted daughter Mary-Emma (Emmie). In between baby-sitting Emmie and her studies (Sufism, the music of war movies, wine tasting...) at university, Tassie experiences love for the first time with the enigmatic 'Brazilian' Reynaldo, and inevitably, her first broken heart. More troubling for Tassie is the firsthand experience of racism directed towards her young charge in what she has considered to be the quintessential liberal town. Her experiences get even stranger when she learns of the Thornwood-Brink's history and their reason for moving west.

Lorrie Moore has an enjoyable writing style and Tassie proves to be a witty narrator - I particularly enjoyed the play on the famous "Reader, I married him" line at the close of the novel -yet the novel is missing something, or perhaps I'm not it's target audience? Whilst 'A Gate at the Stairs' is not brilliant, it's not terrible either. It's just perfectly fine, and sometimes that's enough.


Supper for a Song
Supper for a Song
by Tamasin Day-Lewis
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A cynical cash-in?, 19 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Supper for a Song (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Given the books title and its subtitle - "For the clever cook in the cost-conscious kitchen" - you'd rightly expect this book to contain recipes that can be cooked on a budget. However, the only thing economical about it appears to be the publishers use of the truth. If this is what Tamasin Day-Lewis and her publishers consider "cost-conscious", I dread to think what a normal cook book would be like! Recipes include ingredients as frugal as scallops and wild salmon, along with such low-cost store cupboard staples as Marsala wine and saffron. Not to mention the Tea Cake made with Fortnum & Mason's Mixed Fruit.

However, there are some excellent recipes present, Day-Lewis' writing is passionate and a pleasure to read, the book is thoughtfully laid out and the photography is uniformly tempting. I just cannot overlook the cynical attempt to market the book as something it isn't. Yes, you can feed your family with the recipes here, just expect it to cost a darn sight more than a 'Song'!


Klipsch Image S4i Headphones -with built-in mic (iPhone Compatible)
Klipsch Image S4i Headphones -with built-in mic (iPhone Compatible)
Offered by RCM UK
Price: £39.95

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised!, 19 Oct. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have tried a number of in-ear phones and have been left disappointed by them all, finding them too uncomfortable to wear for a period of time to justify the superior sound quality over the standard earphones provides by Apple. With these reservations, I plugged the S4i's into my iPod touch with low expectations, and initially my prejudices were confirmed, with the standard rubber inserts being uncomfortable and sound quality poor. However, with a little perseverance and experimentation with the other size inserts provided, I found a set that fitted perfectly and could enjoy the excellent bass and range of these little wonders.

Hip-hop, Jazz, Folk, Dance, Rock, Classical: the sound quality was superb no matter the genre of music I threw at the S4i's. (An added bonus is that the snug fit blocked out all but the noisiest of external noise, so I could have the volume low whilst still blocking out the terrible Musak during a trip to the shops!)

Also included is a clip to fasten the the earphones lead to a lapel giving you easy access to the inbuilt controls and microphone, wax cleaners(!) and a handy pouch to keep everything stored away tidily when not in use.

All-in-all, I'm extremely impressed with the Klipsch S4i's and now consider myself a convert to in-ear phones. Highly recommended.


The Infinities
The Infinities
by John Banville
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Almost extraordinary, 7 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Infinities (Hardcover)
The Godleys are gathered at the family home awaiting the death of the family patriarch, world renowned mathematician Old Adam, who has suffered a stroke and lies comatose in his bed. However, the Olympian gods are also present and doing their mischievous work interfering with the mortals lives, jealous of their ability to love, to be loved and to die.

Told by both the god Hermes and Old Adam - who despite being comatose is possibly aware of the going ons in the house; is Young Adam and his wife Helen marriage about to fail?, will his troubled daughter find love with the aloof Roddy?, what about the maid Ivy and Duffy? who is the curious visitor Benny Grace and what are his motives?

Whilst I would have been delighted to find another hundred pages hidden away at the back of the novel - such is John Banville's beautiful, sexy, funny prose - allowing me to spend even more time with the story's wonderful characters, I can't hide the fact that I was left feeling that 'The Infinities' is missing that 'something' that would lift it from being a beautifully written piece of prose to something extraordinary. But please don't allow my reservations to deter you from spending time in the company of the Godleys on the gods! A highly enjoyable, and recommended, read.


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