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The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars This novel's biggest drawback is that it lacks depth. ..., 4 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
This novel's biggest drawback is that it lacks depth. None of the characters is particularly likeable, even the heroine.

The synopsis is somewhat misleading, allowing a prospective reader to believe they're about to read a thrilling, twisting story. In fact most of the book is a character study of a drunk, jilted woman flooded with self-loathing who seeks redemption in a convoluted mystery.

The story moves fast at times but ultimately is bogged down in introspection. And the twist is signposted much too clearly.

Yet I finished it, and it's worth a look.

The Stone Man - A Science Fiction Thriller
The Stone Man - A Science Fiction Thriller
Price: £2.32

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a look, 15 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Whilst I agree that the typos need addressing, on the whole I very much enjoyed this book. You get the sense that the author is on a learning curve here.

Yes, some of the narrative is clunky, and the characterisation needs work, but the premise of a stone man bulldozing through the UK is exciting and Smitherd, I feel, manages his story with a cool hand. Coventry is described in some detail, though being from Birmingham I was disappointed that a section set in the city didn't have more description.

One aspect that the author needs to address is the length monologue at the back of the book that practically compels readers to leave a review. At one point, a reviewer is jokingly scolded for mentioning typos in the review's title. Maybe the author should take a step back. Just some constructive criticism.

I found the book ended somewhat abruptly, too, though I kind of liked it. Because of all the filler at the back, I thought I still had some way to go, looking at the percentage on my Kindle. Bit of a pet hate, that.

All in all, well worth a read. It reads easily and I think time will see the author get better and better.

When I Walk, I Bounce: Walking from Land's End to John o'Groats
When I Walk, I Bounce: Walking from Land's End to John o'Groats
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blistering Good Fun, 2 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Being a lover of long-distance walking and harbouring a desire to someday walk that famous route from John 'o Groats to Land's End, I approached this book with a sense of anticipation, and broadly speaking it didn't disappoint.
Each day of Moxon's journey represents one chapter, which he describes writing at the end of each day on his portable computer, usually from the confines of a warm pub. On the one hand, this format gives the book structure and a diary-like quality. However, I found this method oftentimes frustrating as the author tries to fill the more uninspiring days - of which there are many - with content that is mundane or pointless. Perhaps Moxon would have been better to write a more flowing narrative and miss out the dull and expand on the diverting, maybe compressing several days into a single chapter rather than faithfully retelling every day's slog.
I laughed out loud at times and Moxon is a funny, consistent writer whose personality comes through clearly. However, much of the book, I must warn you, is a chance for the author to air his gripes. Some chapters are little more than a series of complaints. His perpetual problems with blisters are pointed out often ad nauseum, and he is so dejected by areas of his journey that the writing takes on a whining aspect that is not a pleasure to read. But Moxon's determination to complete his trek always wins out and I felt myself rooting for him during bleak periods.
For anyone contemplating a JogLe or LeJog this is surely essential reading. It isn't always pretty or engaging but it is honest. Moxon, despite coming across as a somewhat dour character, is still very likeable and you will feel as though you've walked with him. Give it a go.

No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings, 8 Jan. 2014
These CE4s arrived quickly and were well priced. However, I'm unconvinced by the quality. Within a matter of days my tank began to produce a very unpleasant burnt taste, which, once there, never disappears. I will try the others and hope for better, but I'm disappointed.

On the up side, I've had little or no leakage, which is a common problem with the CE4.

The Pagan Lord (The Last Kingdom Series, Book 7) (The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories)
The Pagan Lord (The Last Kingdom Series, Book 7) (The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories)
Price: £6.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uhtred Rides Again, 6 Jan. 2014
I seem to read Cornwell's tales of Uhtred at a speedy pace, and I believe it is to do the constant repetition. The themes, such as the retaking of Bebbanburg and hall burnings and the Three Norns, are now so familiar to me that I all but skim read these parts. Cornwell has a habit of emphasising plot points over and again to the point where the reader could take a fair stab at writing those sections for themselves.

Yet familiarity is no bad thing. I have immensely enjoyed these books and I hope they continue, at least for a few more installments. I know what to expect with Uhtred and the warlord almost never lets me down (apart from 'Death of Kings', which I found a bit insipid).

It is the battle scenes that steal the show. There is a momentum in the writing that builds as the fighting intensifies and leaves the reader almost dizzy, as if you too are there on that rain-swept, blood-drenched hillside facing a Danish horde. It is sublime fiction. The plot twists too, while never earth-shattering, keep you on your toes.

I dearly hope Uhtred's adventures continue, and I cannot wait to see the the Lord of Bebbanburg retake his ancestral home.

Spartacus: The Gladiator: (Spartacus 1)
Spartacus: The Gladiator: (Spartacus 1)
by Ben Kane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus Rebooted, 18 Aug. 2012
No one knows what Spartacus the man was really like. There have been suggestions that he was a savage criminal who led a bloody revolt against the Romans, but Ben Kane travels the other route, giving us a Spartacus of honour and integrity, a good man fighting for freedom and justice - a Hollywood hero.

And to a large degree Ben Kane's novel, 'Spartacus: The Gladiator' works well. Spartacus is unabashedly a glossy hero, kind to the weak, smart, resourceful and, of course, handsome. The tale sees the Thracian sold into slavery, entering the brutal world of the gladiatorial arena. Here, aided by a band of followers, he manages to cast of his manacles and lead an ever-growing band of slaves against the might of the Roman superpower.

Ben Kane possesses a keen eye for detail and the book is finely researched; generally you learn new things when reading this author. The tale rattles along at a fair pace and the simple prose allows a brevity to the slower, action-free passages. Having said that, sometimes the prose can be too simple and often strewn with cliches that seem lazy for such an enigmatic author. I found Spartacus' lover, the priestess Ariadne, a trifle irritating and tolerated more than enjoyed those sections in which she featured.

All in all, fans of the genre will enjoy this read. There is nothing too deep nor challenging here yet the pages fly by and I for one will read any subsequent sequels. I don't think Kane is quite yet in the same league as Cornwell or Iggulden, but in time I think he can match these leviathans. I hope he's not rushing his work to please his publishers, yet, alas, that is the way of things, I fear. Give this a go, anyway. It's a lot of fun.

Cowboys & Aliens [DVD]
Cowboys & Aliens [DVD]
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.25

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise, poor execution., 14 July 2012
This review is from: Cowboys & Aliens [DVD] (DVD)
This film had a lot going for it: big budget, strong cast, interesting premise. But I have to say that I was very let down by 'Cowboys and Aliens'. I won't waste time going through the plot as a summary is available here on Amazon.

The biggest problem is the script. All the special effects in the world are worthless without an engaging story, and to put over that story you need sharp dialogue, a quality this film lacks. The cast do their best. Daniel Craig, despite being slightly miscast, does his best with the material, and he is a watchable and accomplished actor. Harrison Ford, too, is excellect playing the bad guy who finds redemption.

I think this picture was an experiment, fusing two unlikely genres. The result? A slightly odd summer blockbuster that suffers from being niether one thing nor the other. As a western it is pretty flimsy, and as a sci-fi it brings nothing new. I'm sure some of you will enjoy it but I lost interest very quickly in this film and won't be wanting a second viewing.

Two Piece 57" Cue and Soft Case
Two Piece 57" Cue and Soft Case
Offered by ClubKing Ltd
Price: £13.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not great ..., 14 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I recently took up snooker again after a long break and needed a cheap and cheerful cue to get me started. And that is what I got. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, it is just that I was hoping for more. Considering I paid only twelve quid, including postage, I should have been happy. Yet perhaps I should have waited and invested a little more money in something with more quality.

Basically, this cue is more like a pool cue than a snooker cue. The tip is thick and screw on, which is unsuitable for a snooker table, but the product is not actually described as a 'snooker cue', so I cannot complain. If you want a cheap cue for pool or the very occaional game of snooker, then this is okay. But if you wish to take snooker even slightly seriously then I suggest you go or something with greater quality. Overall, it is alright for the money, but ultimately you get what you pay for.

Fault Line
Fault Line
Price: £3.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fault Line - Nearly Faultless, 30 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Fault Line (Kindle Edition)
Not only am I a huge Goddard fan, but I also live near St Austell and know many of the locations mentioned and visited in his new mystery. So I was delighted when I heard he was setting his latest work in this area.

'Fault Line' is written in first person, narrated by Jonathan Kellaway, who is set the task of investigating a hole in the records of the china clay mining company he works for. His probing, inevitably, brings a host of mysteries from his past back to life. The story spans several decades, From the late sixties to present day. The historical detail is typically first class; one of Goddard's greatests skills is his ability to bring the past to life.

Although the writing is rich and flowing, there were times, especially during action-based sequences, when the writing seemed laboured. But this is being picky: Goddard really is a classy writer. Of course, prepare to suspend your disbelief. There are elements of the story, including the finale, which stretch the bounds of credulity. But that is the point of fiction, isn't it? If the story strictly stuck within the bounds of realism it would make for a dull tale.

Compared with his other work, this latest offering more than stands up to be counted. The pages fairly fly by and you might well find yourself up late with this one. All in all, this is a clever, well-researched, entertaining novel that will satisfy fans and doubtless hook newcomers into further reading. Thouroughly recommended.

Never Go Back
Never Go Back
by Robert Goddard
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fond farewell to Harry Barnett, 9 May 2012
This review is from: Never Go Back (Hardcover)
Although 'Never Go Back' works well enough as a stand-alone mystery-thriller, it is in fact the third and final installment of a loose trilogy that follows the exploits of Harry Barnett, an unassuming fellow who seems to attract trouble wherever he goes. For those of you new to Goddard, you might want to read the series in order, the first two being 'Into the Blue' and 'Out of the Sun' respectively.

In this last Harry Barnett offering, the man himself is invited to an RAF reunion in a Scottish castle, where he and several others spent some time in the 1950s as part of an experiment. But then the deaths begin and Harry is drawn into a dark and spiralling mystery as he struggles to unlock a buried truth that means certain death for those who discover it.

If you're familiar with Goddard's work then you won't find anything here out of the ordinary. The plot - the long-discarded secret, the historical link, the race to find the truth - will be wholly recognisable to regular followers of this author. It is a formulaic affair and won't offer up any surprises. Having said that, the writing is simply beautiful. Goddard's descriptive prowess is unparalleled; the words all but dance off the page at times. Even if sometimes Goddard's plots do derail, the quality of the writing more than recompenses.

All in all, I am left with the impression that this book's place in the world is to indulge Goddard himself and his fans with a final goodbye to Barnett, an understated character whom I think endures because he fits the mould of the underdog who won't give up, the shabby hero who walks with a little piece of all of us within. I for one was content to say farewell to Barnett once more, and I think all those Goddard fans out there will feel the same.

Farewell, Harry.

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