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Profile for C. Ryan > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
C. Ryan "bookfan" (UK)
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The Executioner
The Executioner
by Chris Carter
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real page-turner, 9 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Executioner (Hardcover)
This was the first book I have read by Chris Carter. The plot moved at a good pace. I loved the structure of the book with chapters of a few pages each. This made it an easy book to get into and to read in short chunks when time was tight. The book is very story driven with all the sub-plots coming together nicely at the end.
The only criticism I would have are that the characters are a little stereotypical. For that reason I don't feel I have missed much in getting to know the cops from the previous book, they fit into the typical American Cop depictions from TV and other books; They follow hunches, run into trouble with their superiors, get caught up in their work etc. That said Robert Hunter is a bit more cerebral than most detectives and uses his criminal psychology knowledge to move the investigation along.
The serial killer is calculating and plots murders that are suitably gruesome whilst knowing exactly how to cover his tracks
I liked the way it's written with multiple narators, but it was done in such a way that you weren't given too much information that the other characters didn't already know. So the plot stayed very tight and you were very much running through the narrative in 'real time'. I liked the extra paranormal interjections during the story but they probably weren't really necessary but they did add a layer of interest and complexity to the story,
So in summary a great read, all the key elements are there for a gripping serial killer yarn.


Ellis Island
Ellis Island
by Kate Kerrigan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read historical tale, 2 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Ellis Island (Paperback)
It's quite a light read despite the subject matter - emigration, religion, poverty, conflict etc.

It's very narrative diven via the central character Ellie. The main theme of the book is the stark contrasts between rural Ireland and New york during the 1920's. It's an easy read and the story isn't predictable so there is plenty to hold the interest. It's quiite matter-fact and not overly senitmental or romanticised.


The Lacuna
The Lacuna
by Barbara Kingsolver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, interesting and well written, 25 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Lacuna (Hardcover)
The novel is an assembly of fictional notebooks, correspondence and newspaper articles written or chosen by William Harrison Shepherd with a few notes from his assistant.
The book is in 4 parts
1929 - 1932 he spends with his Mexican mother in Mexico as she tries to fulfil her aim to be a mistress of a wealthy man, and relocates in the process.
1932 - 1934 when he in a US boarding school under the guardianship of his American father
1935 - 1941 when he is back in Mexico working for Carlos Rivera & Frida Kahlo and then Trotsky
1941 + when he is back in the US again and becomes an author.

"Write down the story of what happened to us. So when nothing is left but bones and scraps of clothes, someone will know where we went." so says Shepherds mother to
him early on in the story. So that is what Shepherd does.

I found this a hard but extremely rewarding book to read. I really struggled through the first 40 pages as I tried to work out who was who, where they were and what they were doing. After that the novel moves into a pattern of dated journal entries. These can be a bit hard to follow as Shepherd never refers to himself as 'I' and the characters names are interchanged with several nicknames. There are also a lot of Spanish phrases thrown into the text - usually with a translation - but there didn't really seem to be much point for having them there (apart from to remind the reader we are in Mexico).
This book includes real history but adds a fictional observer - Shepherd. He is conveniently placed as an observer of some key events during the American depression, later he is placed within the Trotsky household and the Trotsky's assassination. Then back to the US for the war and the subsequent anti-communism purge within the US.
Parts 1 and 2 realy build a strong foundation for the story but the real momentum of the novel picks up in the parts 3 and 4. It is a long book but there is an economy of language to describe events often with the help of Shepherd's ironic wit. As we move through the story bits of information about the characters become uncovered as well as the effect of external influences on their lives. There are messages within the book - the most consistent being how events, circumstances and the written and spoken word can be manipulated, misinterpreted or reinterpreted to be many things to many people- either by quoting out of context or omission (where the title Lacuna comes from) or general spin
There is so much more I could write about the book and so many discussion points that could be investigated further, it demands time and concentration to read - but the payoff was more than worth it for me - a very thought provoking, interesting and well written novel.


Confessions of a Fallen Angel
Confessions of a Fallen Angel
by Ronan O'Brien
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A supurb black comedy, 16 Jun. 2010
This was not at all what I expected. The quotes on the back cover made me expect some sort dramatic supernatural novel told with a " Dublin Venacular" ("Venacular" AKA a bit of swearing) - but what I got was Black Comedy

For me it was tragic in parts but the key thing for me was the dry black humour that runs through the book. Even during violent scenes or trajic scenes the comedy is not far away and breaks the tension.

In that sense Ronan OBrien reminded of Colin Bateman - a very funny book and there are some great quotes and sketches that had me laughing out loud. Yes there were some very sad and violent sections - but it was the humour that I will remember the most about this book - any tears were of laughter.

I think the quote on Ronan OBriens website illustrates his dry humour "his second novel which will probably be called: 'The Life and Deaths of a Twelve-year-old Demigod.' Early feedback suggests that it's Ronan's best work since 'Confessions of a Fallen Angel.' "[:)]

I am really looking forward to reading that when it comes out


Reebok Trampoline - 36 inch
Reebok Trampoline - 36 inch

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sturdy and well made, 10 Jun. 2010
Well made and great fun. should really give it 5 stars - but as the other reviewer said the 'flat storage' option claimed means you would have to spend at least 5 mins unscrewing the legs and then 5 mins to screw them back on again when you wanted to use it - this is a bit impracticle - but if you are in the market for a mini trampoline this is the best made product I have seen.


Life Of Pi
Life Of Pi
by Yann Martel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual tale of survival against the odds, 10 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Life Of Pi (Paperback)
This is a very difficult book to review. It is beutifully written and has an even flow. The 3 sections make it almost like 3 small stories joined together by the central character, Pi. I enjoyed reading it, but it didn't really live up to the hype as far as I was concerned. Yes,it's a good book - the desctiptions, structure, characters and narrative are very well written. It's not a 'page turner' and it didn't 'make you believe in God', it's really an unusual tale of survival against the odds and adapting to your environment


Don't Tell (The Chicago Series Book 1)
Don't Tell (The Chicago Series Book 1)
by Karen Rose
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars couldn't finish it, 8 Jun. 2010
There are few books that I "give up on" but this was one - had I read the "romantic thrller" tag I probably would't have bothered. I managed half of the book. It was well paced and well written - but the romantic story line is a bit unbelieveable and over done. Also the husband character is a bit extreme and cliche - in fact most of the characters are sterotypes. If you like romancance and thrillers give it a go but most of the thrills were a bit mills and boon for me


Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD]
Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ron Livingston
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £23.50

5.0 out of 5 stars The best TV series ever, 6 Jun. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Thie is an amazingly well researched filmed and dramatised produciton. Each episode draws you further in as you follow Easy Company (american paratroopers) through their trainging and eventual ascent to the Eagles Nest at the end of WW2. Key events are covered. The comradery, frustrations and futility of war ware all examined along the WW2 backdrop. The way it is done from the script to the filming to the sound is unbelieveable - Warning make sure you have some spare viewing time set aside you will find it hard to stop watching this until you get to the end of the series.


The Way Home
The Way Home
by George Pelecanos
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Sharp fialogue and good character development, 6 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Way Home (Paperback)
The 'hidden bag of cash' doesn't appear until half way through the novel. What the story is really about is the transition of Chris Flynn from young offender to a man making an honest living. A good third of the novel follows Chris and his motivations, or lack of them, for running off the rails and ending up in a youth rehabilitation facility. It explores his parents frustrations and responses to this especially the father/ son bond, and also Chris's relationship with his friends.
The decisions taken by Chris throughout the novel aren't really explained as there are no defining moments as such, that I could detect. There seems to be very much a gut led instinct that Chris seems to do what he feels is right for him at the time. But somehow he 'grows up' during rehabilitation and decides to pursue a more honest living.
The dialogue is sharp and the characters are well developed and at times exude a coolness that you find in Elmore Leonard novels.
I enjoyed it, it is easy to read and will be reading more of George Peleconos's books in future


The Rapture
The Rapture
by Liz Jensen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars farfetched, 6 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Rapture (Paperback)
I found the first few pages heavy going with loads of unnecessary wordy scene setting about how hot is was. It was almost as if a short story about a hot summer had been welded onto the start of the book - I skimmed through this ready to quit the book if it carried on. But once that was out of the way I really got into it and enjoyed the character development and the unveiling of Gabrielle and Bethany's back-stories as the book progressed. The actual plot is a somewhat farfetched towards the end not just the environmental bits, but also the inability of the police to trace mobile phone signals.
It lends itself to a movie so is probably coming to a cinema near you soon


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