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Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain)

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Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson)
Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson)
by Darynda Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sassy paranormal investigations, 29 May 2015
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This is the second in the ‘grave’ series, featuring PI and not-so-grim reaper Charley and her sizeable sidekick, Cookie. It’s a far-from-serious, occasionally spicy (but nothing X-rated) gumshoe story with a side dish of supernatural sprinkles. Set in the USA roundabout now, the story revolves around an ongoing plot with Charley’s lifetime protector and would-be beau, who happens to be the son of Satan and possibly the herald of the apocalypse.

The romantic arc plays second fiddle to the ostensible investigation involving a missing old friend and a bunch of suicides, accidents and maybe-murders which are almost certainly suspicious. Here the story mixes Charley’s ability to see and speak with the dead and – as they pass through her en route to the other side – to experience their lives and memories secondhand, along with time-honoured private investigator stuff.
It’s all quickly-paced, rapid reading, with the witty one liners and snappy banter rattling off every page. The main plot, regarding the fallen angel Rey’aziel and his unfeasibly hot body, barely progresses while every other thread scampers along, but that’s the core to the series so you can’t expect to many revelations all at once. We do learn a lot more about Reyes’ origins and, in turn, Charley’s personal mysteries, but there are plenty of threads left dangling for future episodes.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this easy-going adventure and none of it requires too much reader input, nor is it particularly gruelling or gritty. Think Stephanie Plum with a spookynatural twist and you’ll be on the right wavelength. You don’t need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one. There's more thoughts on plot and character over at

The writing is sharp and sassy and packed with attitude without being nasty. It's a thoroughly entertaining romp. I’d be happy to read the next one in the series.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Upon Existence [DVD]
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Upon Existence [DVD]
Dvd ~ Holger Andersson
Price: £11.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bitter-sweet surreal slice of Swedish life, 28 May 2015
This strangely affecting art-house movie is funny, bleak, bitter-sweet, confusing and admirable.
It certainly won't appeal to many who prefer mainstream movies with a clear storyline and character progression. It's a series of vaguely interconnected vignettes which illustrate aspects of mortality, dwelling especially on the fear of death and what lies beyond.
The dialogue is in Swedish, with English sub-titles.
Like many works of art, this film evokes an emotional response even though aspects of it defy intellectual analysis. You respond to the pathos or the humour or the desperation of the situation, without necessarily understanding entirely what has happened in the transaction. it contains moments of the surreal and moments of the sublime, alongside some other sequences which were baffling ... and even just a tiny bit boring. If it had be 15 minutes shorter then it probably would have suited me better, but some of the characters and performances were well worth waiting for.
Several days after watching it, I'm still intrigued and puzzled by several of the storylines, and fid myself wondering what happened next. We're shown slices of life from 'normal' people, and are left with the impression that their story continues long after the camera has stopped rolling.

Some of the filming is extraordinary; as is the colour palette. Rarely have greys, beige and insipid green made so much impact.
A movie to return to later, I suspect; there will be more to observe on a second viewing.

by Jedidiah Ayres
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rough edged redneck noir, 19 May 2015
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This review is from: Peckerwood (Paperback)
Backwoods American noir is all the rage right now and Peckerwood is among the best of them. It takes all the usual ingredients – small-town sheriff, probably corrupt; meth-labs and whore-houses run a by local hard man; three-time losers looking for a big score; wayward sons and daughters – and blends them together in a romping plot at a pivotal moment.

Told from the perspective of the half-dozen significant players, Peckerwood reveals how their miserable lives intersect and drags them towards an inevitably bloody conclusion. Along the way, heads get broken big time in a melange of shootin’, shaggin’, jackin’, whorin’, thievin’ and blackmail, but there’s more to this book than a mere criminal rampage. The author has gifted his characters with fully fleshed-out lives and an extended supporting cast. Along the way it becomes obvious that some of their situations aren’t so clear-cut as they first appear – that some of these folks may be choosing the lesser of the evils before them. Others are satisfyingly bad as can be and heading for a righteous come-uppance. It’s fascinating to watch their overlapping lives spiral towards apotheosis.
The writing and the chopping between characters takes a little while to get used to, especially if you’re not entirely familiar with the slang used. But hey, that only adds credibility to the uncomfortably realistic feel of this sordid, scuzzy rural backwater. There are a few moments of brutally blunt violence, and casually explicit encounters of the narcotic and erotic kind.

A real hot-rod of a read. It’s dark and it’s dirty and it’s nasty. I entirely enjoyed it and will grab more by this author.

The Gunman [DVD] [2015]
The Gunman [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Sean Penn
Price: £11.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Silly shoot 'em up, 18 May 2015
This review is from: The Gunman [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
Had high hopes for this. Maybe, we thought, it'll be like the Taken trilogy, but with a bit more brain. Seeing as how Sean Penn is such a smart chap.
In fact, The Gunman makes Taken3 look like an intellectual endeavour, blessed with brilliance.
What a total waste of some serious acting talent. Ray Winstone, Javier Bardem and Idries Elba did their best to add some gravitas but they're woefully under-used in cringe-inducing cameos.
The plot is naïve, the action unbelievable, the bull-fight completely unnecessary.
Ho. Hum.
Harmless Saturday night entertainment but, y'know, I wouldn't pay proper money for it.

Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Real life X Files. Sort of, 18 May 2015
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This review is from: Sirius (Amazon Instant Video)
An intriguing documentary which poses lots of questions and doesn't answer most of them. Entertaining on many levels, the sympathetic film-maker reveals the life work of conspiracy theorist Steven Greer. There are plenty of interviews with witnesses and acres of blurry footage of lights in the sky, as well as an investigation into an odd skeleton, touted to be of extra-terrestrial origin.
The weakness of this film is that it hops and skips around the subject, throwing out accusations and assertions but never quite tying anything together. So there's much ominous talk of the military-industrial complex, and suppressed research into perpetual-motion machines, and the Bilderberg group, and of governments failing to disclose their X-files... but then no one tugs on those threads to follow through.
Plenty of poetic scenes of new age hippies meditating in the desert, mind.
Enjoyable enough, but not something I could take too seriously (Siriusly?)

A Penguin In A Sparrow's Nest: The Story of a Freelance Motorcycling Journalist
A Penguin In A Sparrow's Nest: The Story of a Freelance Motorcycling Journalist
Price: £6.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes with a rider, racer and writer, 15 May 2015
Some people take an entire lifetime to reveal their true selves. Others discover their path early in life. Frank Melling got off to an early start in his teenage years with a BSA C15, a bank loan and a yearning to go faster and then tell everyone about it.
In this first instalment of his life story, he explains how a skint lad from Warrington got to be more than halfway decent at riding rapidly on the grubby stuff, started his own race team, and carved himself a career as a freelance motorcycling journalist.
Melling’s memories in this book span the period from the 1960s through the 70s, so they encapsulate the end of the British bike industry – he got to see Hailwood race at the TT, lucky dog – and into the modern era. The behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the dying days at BSA-Triumph are fascinating. Melling describes his triple lives which progressed in parallel; teaching, freelance writing and off-road riding. Starting with UK-built dirt bikes like Greeves and his special B50, Melling later moved onto Bultaco and Suzuki strokers, and even crossed paths with BMW’s mighty Paris-Dakar boxers.
This volume is as much about the life and times of any motorcyclist who took to the road in the latter half of the 20th century as it is Frank’s own personal story. There are hair-raising episodes of near-misses and hard-fought race wins; plenty of scrapes and bruises and the odd punctured lung. Melling doesn’t shirk from showing us the reality of riding a bike hard and fast, but he also reveals the moments in motorcycling when the human spirit shines through.
At its core, ‘Penguin’ tells an entertaining tale of an unconventional young man’s motorcycling life. It’s pure nostalgia for those who rode in the 1960s and 70s – and an eye-opening revelation for anyone who’s taken to two wheels in more recent years.

The Breaks: An Angela McGlynn Thriller (Vigilante Investigator Justice Series Book 1)
The Breaks: An Angela McGlynn Thriller (Vigilante Investigator Justice Series Book 1)
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard-edged, fast-paced intelligent crime thriller, 12 May 2015
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It’s too easy to summarise the protagonist of this hard-boiled contemporary thriller as a smart, sassy, sexy, kick-ass young woman. Angela McGlynn is all of those things, but she’s much more than the stereotypical crime-thriller heroine.

The author has created a complex lead character who happens to be a self-assured, completely competent female. McGlynn is highly intelligent and massively motivated, a skilled martial artist who is also well-versed in the ways of the dark web. She’s a PI and a vigilante; a friend to few and wary of complications. She’s forthright, direct and unafraid of choosing a difficult course of action and then carrying it through, no matter how tough the consequences.
She’s my kinda girl, in fact, and I was delighted to meet her in this rapid and rewarding thriller.
Author Eden Sharp writes with crisp fluency and considerable skill. She doesn’t over-explain or saturate the text in dense description, which means the reader is expected to pay attention, to join the dots as the action bounces between three or four intertwined plotlines. There’s plenty of action and no small amount of violence. McGlynn walks on the wild side, not in a sanitised Hollywood cops-n-robbers world but in the neo-noir reality of pimps and manipulators, abusers and brutes. There are few people she trusts and that’s with good reason.
So don’t come to this if you like frothy chick-lit cosy crime novels. Do pick it up if you enjoy the bleak and the bitter worlds of writers like Andrew Vachss or Derek Raymond. In fact, McGlynn most reminds me (sorry, I said I wasn’t going to do this, but…) of Burke from the Vachss series. An outsider. An avenger. A dangerous person prepared to do very bad things for the right reasons.
The supporting characters in The Breaks are fascinating too, as are the occasional forays into philosophy. McGlynn is a moral person, but not necessarily a nice one. She has a good line in crisp, witty dialogue, too.
There's more thoughts about characterisation over at

I’m definitely ready for the next McGlynn investigation, that’s for sure. Tense, absorbing, intelligent and fulfilling. Just what I want from great crime fiction.

Konig Stylish Retro Table Radio - Black
Konig Stylish Retro Table Radio - Black
Price: £28.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old fashioned FM (not digital) retro radio, 4 May 2015
I bought one of these three / four years ago and was delighted to find a non-digital but good quality FM/LW radio which also looks at home in a retro-themed room, my alongside 1950s style toaster! Helpfully, the radio case is easy to wipe-clean, as mine does live in the kitchen.
It's easy to tune, has chunky and robust switches, and is practical to carry to another room with its full-width handle -- and runs on batteries so it comes outside and to stop me going berserk with boredom while weeding, too. Decent battery life: I haven't needed to change my original set for occasional 'roaming' usage.
Really like the 'tone' control to tweak the bass / treble balance, too; useful when swapping from music to spoken word. Just the job for Radio 4...
Can see that some people (esp used to digital radios) might find the twiddly knob method of retuning to different stations a bit of a faff as there's no presets for different tunings.
Also, you do need to waggle the old-fashioned extendable aerial around sometimes to get the best reception. I have managed to bend mine. Of course. Just like the good ol' days...
But that's pretty much the point: this is a retro radio, not just in looks but also in function.
Available in heaps of colours; the 'old-English white' is maybe the most retro. The blue shade is a bit 'bathroom' for my tastes.
Worth checking the various listings cos the prices seem to vary by a few quid depending on the supplier. I've seen the same radios badged as several different brads - they only seem to differ in the stick-on badge...
Downside? Well, no digital signal (obviously) and no station pre-sets. Also, be aware that the plastic casing is quite brittle, and the knobs are not massively high quality. If you intend to use this as a portable radio then I think it could get damaged quite rapidly. I'm not sure it'd survive falling from hip-height to the ground, for instance. I think the casing might crack or break if bumped against a solid wall. And a child would probably twist the knobs clean off. In somewhere like a conservatory, with big temperature swings, I have a suspicion that the unit wouldn't like all the expansion / contraction.
If you're going to use it as I do - plonked on the kitchen worktop, goes outside a coupla times a year, then it should be absolutely fine. Mine has, after all, survived very well in the steamy atmosphere alongside the stove!

In Order of Disappearance [DVD]
In Order of Disappearance [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stellan Skarsgård
Price: £7.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant black comedy and deeply Nordic noir, 4 May 2015
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A brilliant Nordic interpretation of the Hollywood staple revenge movie.

You'd expect a Scandinavian noir / thriller to be brutal and bloody; emotionally gruelling and nuanced. You might not expect it to be laugh-out-loud funny, splattered with richly black humour at gloriously inappropriate moments. The skill of the film-makers is that within this intriguing plot and pitch-perfect performances they also smuggle some social and personal truths under the radar. Look out for the comment on differing needs for a welfare state, and watch the beautifully portrayed implosion of a long-term marriage; destroyed by inexpressible rage and a need to place blame on the blameless.
Was wonderful to see such a good turn from Stellan Skarsgård centre stage (instead of just playing the token foreign bloke in American films). Also look out for the actor who portrays 'The Count'. He's a star, and puts in a superb, almost OTT but gets away with it performance.
Loved the tongue in check commemorative notices as the body count rose, too. Oh, and the fabulous snowplough landscape shots. And...

Actually, it's brilliant. I may have to watch it all over again.

PS: it's subtitled.

Guy Martin - Complete Speed! [DVD]
Guy Martin - Complete Speed! [DVD]
Dvd ~ Guy Martin
Price: £14.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High jinks at high revs, 1 May 2015
Hugely entertaining for petrolheads, and a lot of fun even if you're not into cars, bikes and the like. GM is always charmingly low-key, a genuine old-fashioned have-a-go bloke who also happens to be a fair bit smarter than most people imagine... and with the kind of pluck that used to see Brits climbing Everest in their underpants*.
There are obviously some staged-managed moments, but there are also plenty of risky situations which will have you watching through half-closed eyes, praying that it doesn't all go terminally pear-shaped. GM genuinely puts himself at risk - but in a carefully calculated way, with years of experience and no small engineering expertise. There's even a small danger that you might learn something useful when watching.
After all, what could possibly go wrong?

*note: I don't think that actually happened

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