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Profile for Rowena Hoseason > Reviews

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Content by Rowena Hoseason
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Reviews Written by
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain)
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   

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The Pledge
The Pledge
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Classic literary crime, 28 Feb. 2017
This review is from: The Pledge (Kindle Edition)
When a previously dispassionate detective – renowned and somewhat disliked for his cool head and professional detachment – becomes fixated by a case, his colleagues think he’s burned out, suffered a breakdown. They think he’s lost his mind.

From his perspective the situation is completely reversed: the callous cut-throat murder of a young girl shocks him out of his shell and reconnects him to humanity. When no one else will break the news to the unsuspecting parents, Inspector Matthai shoulders the burden and makes the pledge of the title; a promise which will wreck his career, endanger innocent lives and trigger the death of a suspect in custody.
This is powerful material, made all the more remarkable by the fact it was written half a century ago. The writing is precise and concise; this is a slim book by modern standards but not a word is wasted. It’s short on hysterical sentimentality, long on literary skill.
The narration is less successful however (the story is told to a stranger by a retired police chief) and feels a little awkward compared to current writing styles. It’s about the only aspect of this tense thriller which detracts from the cat-and-mouse pursuit of a child killer.

Dürrenmatt also discusses the morality of crime fiction itself. He wraps a cliffhanger mystery inside a social commentary; teasing the reader with the final reveal while wagging an admonishing finger at our enthusiasm. It’s thought-provoking at every level if a tiny bit uncomfortable at times.
8/10

There's a longer review over at murdermayhemandmore.net


China New Empire - Part 1: China Awakens
China New Empire - Part 1: China Awakens
Dvd
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars China seen from the 'other side', 26 Feb. 2017
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A fascinating hour-long documentary seen from 'the other side' - a Chinese view of the country's history, with plenty of detail about the 20th century.
The narrative is told by a broad range of Chinese individuals - scholars, historians, students, 'normal' people - with a narrator providing the overview to historical events.
Contains stacks of fascinating archive and historic footage, and provides many insights into the development of Chinese society, from the time of the Opium Wars and colonial oppression, through the various revolutions and civil war, the great leap forward and the cultural revolution. This episode draws to a close in the 1970s, and it provides an alternative view of how China developed through a century of strife.
We have to assume that this is an 'approved' history and that all the contributions were scripted to match the government's accepted narrative. So that's worth bearing in mind. But the story doesn't sidestep the millions who died through disastrous economic planning, and acknowledges other sticky subjects, like Tibet, and Mao's many shortcomings.
It also contains many 'never knew that' instances - facts which aren't well-known in the west, which help explain differing mindsets and many of the political decisions of the past 50 years.
So it may be a trifle one-sided, but so much of the information we receive is normally skewed from the Western perspective that it's refreshing - and useful - to see and hear the other side.
Much of the dialogue is subtitled, but the narration is spoken in English.
8/10


Shackleton's Captain
Shackleton's Captain
Dvd
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trapped in the ice - an alternative angle, 24 Feb. 2017
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Absolutely cracking drama-documentary about the 'true story' behind the ship which got stuck at the South Pole, back in the age of explorers, at a time when the whole world went to war and the ship's crew were utterly on their own.
This new film tells a well-known narrative from a completely fresh perspective - not Shackleton himself, but the ship's captain. Without his expertise, the survivors would have been totally stranded, unable to even attempt to navigate their way to safety.
The filming brilliantly mixes genuine photography from the actual ship with realistic reconstructions and a clever story-telling device. Uses maps, some GCI and archive images to capture the awful reality of being trapped in the ice for an Antarctic winter. And then the ship itself is crushed by the shifting bergs, leaving the crew stranded on moving ice sheets...
It also tells the personal stories of loss, incompetence and heroism to great effect, without wild sensationalism or hysteria.
Totally gripping. Thoroughly recommended.


Necessary Evil: The Super-Villains of DC Comics
Necessary Evil: The Super-Villains of DC Comics
Dvd
Price: £3.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Comic creators chat, 24 Feb. 2017
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An interesting overview of the DC universe, seen from the perspective of the bad guys. Plenty of footage from anime, cartoons, games and some live-action movies / TV shows. Plenty of interviews with authors, writers and producers, talking about how they feel the heroes are defined by the different types of villains.
However, it does get quite repetitive, and a couple of the writers can't help just talking at length about their own series arcs, as if nothing else ever happened to the characters in the whole history of comics...
I doubt kids would find it very interesting: something for older enthusiasts to enjoy. it's the sort of thing you'd expect to find on a 'special features' reel, and might skip after the first hour.
7/10


Green Lantern - First Flight
Green Lantern - First Flight
Dvd
Price: £6.49

3.0 out of 5 stars Just another superhero flick, 24 Feb. 2017
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An OK introduction to the character and the background of the Guardians / GL Corps.
Fairly standard superhero cartoon, suitable for younger audience.
Animation is ok, but nothing particularly outstanding, innovative or stylish.
For GL fans there's plenty of familiar faces, and the storyline sticks reasonably well to DC's accepted origin stories.
But there's not much detail about how the rings and lanterns work, nor how in the big showdown Hal can find a way to defeat the yellow battery. Kinda skimps on the subtle details, so in the end the action boils down to two bloke slugging each other with increasingly large glowing hammers. Could've made much more of the characters and the interesting aspects of ring wielding.
So entertaining enough for adults to watch all the way through, but we wouldn't bother with any more in this series.
6/10


Killer Legends
Killer Legends
Dvd

4.0 out of 5 stars True crime cold-case investigations, 24 Feb. 2017
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This review is from: Killer Legends (Amazon Video)
Interesting amateur investigation into real-life crime.
Not so much about urban-legends but more about a series of actual and fairly disturbing events in America - serial killers, child murder, killer clowns, poisoned halloween treats, lovers' lane attacks, and so on.
The two presenters look for links between actual historic crimes which might have inspired legends, films and fictional characters.
They re-trace actual events, go to crime scene locations, talk to people who now live in those houses, and so on. They also interview reporters, law enforcement agents and locals who have investigated these crimes and who have theories on what actually happened.
Actual crime-scene photos are shown in some detail.
Tightly edited and well produced; not too sensational, and the graphic violence is balanced by serious acknowledgement of the damage done to real people.
One for true-crime fans.


Hjem - Living at the End of the World
Hjem - Living at the End of the World
Dvd
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning documentary film, 24 Feb. 2017
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Simply brilliant documentary about the people who live and work at the extreme edge of civilisation - in Hammerfest in the arctic circle.
It's a series of candid, informal, often funny interviews with residents -- all of whom have chosen to live in such an unusual place. Very poignant in places; a great portrait of the human spirit.
Features some stunning cinematography, landscapes and filming, too. Breath-taking landscapes of stunning isolation which only emphasises how fragile the human hold can be at the edge of nature.
Wonderful viewing. Thoroughly recommended.
10/10


The Gut: Our Second Brain
The Gut: Our Second Brain
Dvd

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating factual film, 24 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well-produced and fact-based documentary which takes a different approach to assessing the importance of the digestive system - not simply as a means for taking nutrients into the body, but as a complicated web of neural tissue which influences many aspects of wellbeing and health.
Some very useful graphics and interesting interviews with qualified medics and researchers.
Nicely balanced between 'scientific' and 'entertaining'. Detailed enough to be rewarding but not 'dry' or too tricky to follow.
8/10


Time Lies: A Cold War Mystery by Magnus Stanke
Time Lies: A Cold War Mystery by Magnus Stanke
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Extreme sibling rivalry, 20 Feb. 2017
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There are more mysteries, dysfunctional relationships, plot twists and quirky characters in this single book than some authors manage in an entire career. The author sets the scene with a cold-blooded killing then draws out a skein of enigmatic plot threads, Identical brothers; one beloved by all, the other disliked even by their own father. One sibling blessed with the perfect family: the other isolated, overshadowed and angry. After the first, unintentional killing, murder turns out to be habit-forming…

Although Time Lies is subtitled ‘a Cold War mystery’, this isn’t a spy story but instead a tight-knit murder mystery set in the two Germanys of the 1980s. It’s an intensely personal exploration of sibling rivalry in which intimate actions – taken on either side of the great divide – echo down the decades with dreadful repercussions.
I especially enjoyed the exploits of the female lead, Dagmar. Many writers would have used her simply as the sex object but Stanke gives her a complicated back story and a richly detailed narrative of her own. She’s nobody’s fool, but finds herself entangled in the most unusual love triangle anyone could imagine.
The author has an unusual writing style which veers clear of crime-thriller stereotypes and his use of English is at times ingenious – occasionally off-the-wall. Time Lies isn’t as slick as a mainstream thriller from a big publisher; the pace does pause in a few places where a commercial editor would’ve nudged it along and cut some of the tangential diversions.

Time Lies is an unusual and original story, cram full of chapter-end cliff-hangers and cliché-free characters. Stanke takes chances with his characters and steers the plot in genuinely unexpected directions. I was ultimately rewarded by an emotionally mature, satisfyingly significant payoff. I’ll definitely look out for more from this author in future.
7/10

There's a longer version of this review over at murdermayhemandmore.net


Environmentally Friendly
Environmentally Friendly
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars There's a stack of action crammed into precious few pages ..., 20 Feb. 2017
There's a stack of action crammed into precious few pages in this rapid-fire short story.
The author breaks almost every writing convention and hurls the reader into a non-stop heart-pumping pursuit through the crowded streets of Los Angeles. The writing is raw and invigorating, and Zanbaka delivers an original idea with blistering enthusiasm.
The narrative is occasionally a little confused; the text could’ve been improved by tighter editing, and the plot resolution is outlandish to say the least. But this is a romp: a brutal pursuit with a solid moral message. It may be short but it has masses of impact. As he hones his talent, Zanbaka will be a writer to watch.
7/10

There's a longer version of this review over at murdermayhemandmore.net


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