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Uncle Bryn (Derbyshire, UK)

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Desert God (The Egyptian Series Book 5)
Desert God (The Egyptian Series Book 5)
Price: £3.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Not a Wilbur Smith book!, 10 Aug. 2016
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I have been reading Wilbur Smith's books for over 30 years and it is clear that this was not written by Wilbur Smith.

The ghost-writer has attempted to imitate a little of WS's style, but it is a very poor offering indeed. The sentences are clipped, gone are the grand descriptive paragraphs so distinctive of WS, the storyline is poor, the characters have very little depth and the ending is very weak.

I love the character of Taita who was introduced to us in River God (and in Warlock, and in some degree The Quest, though the less said about that one the better . . . ) but in Desert God he has become totally vain, self-centred, obsessed with his own perfection (despite being a eunuch, LOL), and the book even suggests he is some sort of god! Having said that this was not really developed, and therefore the introduction of the goddess Inana seemed somewhat superfluous to the plot. Plus nothing ever seems to go wrong for Taita (which is totally unbelievable!). I don't like the character that Taita has become now.

I didn't enjoy this book at all, and it falls way, way short of such masterpieces as The Sunbird, A Falcon Flies, River God and Rage. But then it would do, since WS clearly didn't write it.

Like many others I believe that WS has had his day. I'm very sorry to have to admit that, but at least we can be thankful for the many classic novels that he enriched our literary lives with.

After the Storm
After the Storm
Price: £3.79

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly Poor, 11 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: After the Storm (Kindle Edition)
After reading "The Lie of You", which I got as a Daily Deals freebie and really enjoyed, I was looking forward to this book. However, I was really disappointed with it.
It's hard to believe that After the Storm was written AFTER The Lie of You, because the writing quality has gone shockingly downhill. Rarely is the dialogue written correctly when someone is addressing someone else. For example: "Hey Kim" instead of the correct format of "Hey, Kim." This was done so often that it got really irritating, and makes the writing look amateurish. An experienced writer (which Jane Lythell is by this point) should be aware of how to correctly present dialogue. I don't know what suprises me more - that her copy-editor (who she thanks in the Acknowledgements for doing such a great job) has failed to pick this up, or that this mistake didn't appear to happen at all in The Lie of You, which was written before this.
Another problem with this book is that nothing happened for absolutely ages!!! You have to wait until you are about three quarters through the book for something to happen. As well as being dreadfully slow and quite boring, there is very little endearing about the characters and the ending is very weak.
There is none of the tension of The Lie of You; the writing style is poor and the constant point-of-view changes are sometimes confusing.
I’m not sure if I will read any more of her books. As she proved with her previous novel, Jane Lythell is capable of much, much better.

The Revenge of Seven: Lorien Legacies Book 5
The Revenge of Seven: Lorien Legacies Book 5
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The REVENGE of Seven???, 3 Mar. 2015
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Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed this book right up until the last few pages.
I am a big fan of the "I Am Number Four" series, and I think that all the previous novels, including the miniature novellas that flesh out the chronicle of the Garde and Lorien, are brilliant. However, I was a bit let down by this one.
Has no-one else picked up on the fact that despite this being called "The Revenge of Seven", Seven (Marina) has almost no part in the book? Also none of the narrative is attributed to her (it's all John/Four, Six and Ella/Ten), which is odd given that the title suggests that the book is mainly about her. Added to this, there is no element of her taking any revenge on the Mogadorians . . . . . . .
In "The Fall of Five" you could almost feel her rage after the battle in Florida where Five kills Eight. Therefore I was expecting her to come roaring back for revenge in this book (as the title suggests) but it didn't happen!! Where is the revenge then?? The title of the book is therefore misleading, as is the synopsis, which says, "I am Number Seven. I will make them pay.” But she doesn’t!!! As I got closer to the end of the book I kept expecting Seven/Marina to do something but she just didn’t, and that was really disappointing.
The rest of the book was really good – great pace, exciting fight scenes and believable dialogue (even if it is a tad irritating at times, particularly from Nine). I was pleased that Adam and Malcolm both had significant parts in it, and that General Andrakkus Sutekh gets his comeuppance. As with the other books in the series there were some loose ends which will no doubt be tied up in the next instalment, which I’m eagerly awaiting despite this somewhat negative review.
In summary this was a good story but the title and synopsis are both very misleading. That’s why it only has 3 stars from me.

A Killer In The Ranks
A Killer In The Ranks
Price: £1.15

3.0 out of 5 stars A Killer in the Ranks, 27 Mar. 2014
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The author of this novel is a friend of my brother’s; however I will try and provide an objective and unbiased review of his work.

First of all well done, Gary, for writing and publishing your work, this is no small accomplishment and you should be proud of it.

I found this book easy to read and fairly enjoyable, despite being a bit different to the usual stuff that I go for, and it was interesting that you chose to write from the perspective of a female lead character.

“A Killer in the Ranks” is a murder-mystery set in a quiet English village a few years after World War II. Major Horton hosts a reunion of his old war chums, only to find that there is a murderer in their midst. Isobel Drake, the main character, gets invited to the reunion following a chance meeting with her old friend Ann Fellows (the Major’s stepdaughter), and unwittingly finds herself enmeshed in the turmoil of murder and suspicion.

There is a decidedly Cluedo-ish feel to the book, especially as the victim is found in the study! The characters are fairly generic and I would have liked to have seen them developed a little more, although given the length of the novel this probably wasn’t all that necessary. The ending was quite clever and the murderer wasn’t who I’d thought it was!

On the whole this was a good debut novel, but there are a few things that I felt let it down:

1. I didn’t think it was believable that Inspector Roberts, who investigates the deaths at Fellows Hall, would enlist the help of Isobel Drake in taking down the statements, even if she did used to work as a secretary; after all, she would potentially be a suspect.

2. In Chapter 9 Captain Ramsey is found dead from a gunshot wound. Everyone says it must be suicide, since there is a suicide note left on the desk in front of him. Yet at the time no-one mentions if the deceased is holding a gun, or if a gun is even there at the scene! So how can they come to the conclusion that it was suicide? We have to wait until Chapter 12 before Major Horton says that it was his pistol that Captain Ramsey used to kill himself.

3. Jayne, Captain Ramsey’s fiancée, shows almost no emotion at/following his death (other than fainting); I found this odd and certainly not believable.

4. I found the almost constant use of adverbs that followed the dialogue quite irritating (e.g. “I said helpfully”, “he said commandingly”, “he asked thoughtfully”). It is often quite clear how something is being said from what is being said, therefore an adverb is unnecessary. Also it’s sometimes good to allow the reader to think for themselves how something is being said. (To simply put “said” is sufficient in most cases).

5. There are some words used out of context and unfortunately a lot of punctuation errors, again around dialogue - whilst admittedly this doesn’t affect the flow of the narrative, it is something that should be addressed if you are considering publishing any more work.

As a published author myself I thoroughly recommend enlisting the help of a professional editor in future.

As I’ve said this was a good first novel. It is a shame that it was let down by the things I mentioned above, but I still enjoyed reading it.

Locked In The City
Locked In The City
by Nicko Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Do or die, kill or be killed . . . ., 3 April 2013
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This review is from: Locked In The City (Paperback)
Let me start by saying this book is great!

By the looks of it, Locked in the City is the debut novel from Nicko Harris (he is clearly an Iron Maiden fan, judging by his shameless pseudonym!), and he has certainly started with a bang.

It's a furious kill-fest from start to finish, with blood dripping from every page, and is definitely not to be taken too seriously.

The plot is simple: the main character (Skin) has to kill - or be killed - in order to escape from a city teeming with bloodthirsty savages.

Killer clowns, a gangster with no legs, ninjas on motorbikes and a demented hillbilly family all add to the madness that is Locked in the City.

It is well-written, with an imaginative setting and some strong characterisation, and it moves at a fairly relentless pace. There are some funny bits too, and some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud! (There are also a couple of twists, but I'll let you discover them for yourself). All of these things combine to make this a pleasure to read.

I SO enjoyed this book. Well done, Nicko - I look forward to the next one!

Gimme Back My Bullets
Gimme Back My Bullets

5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Rock at its best!, 21 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Gimme Back My Bullets (Audio CD)
I am a comparatively new Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, and I bought the deluxe version of this CD to complete my collection of the Ronnie Van Zant-era albums.

I absolutely love this album, as much (if not more) than the others. Yes, you can tell that it is only Allen Collins and Gary Rossington on guitar, but does it suffer for it? No. Ronnie's vocals are as tough and uncompromising as ever, the lyrics are heartfelt and the guitar work superb.

Comparing this to the previous albums, you can see how Skynyrd had both progressed and yet stayed true to their Southern roots. There are a few absolute gems here, notably All I Can Do is Write About It, I Got the Same Old Blues (the second JJ Cale song that Skynyrd covered) and the eponymous title track.

The bonus tracks are good - a mix of live and alternative versions. I'm always impressed with how well Skynyrd sounded live, with even the guitar solos pretty much mirroring the studio recordings.

The DVD is brilliant. I can just about remember The Old Grey Whistle Test, but had no idea that Skynyrd ever appeared on it. The picture and sound are great, and it's hard to believe that it was recorded 35 years ago.

The choice of tracks is excellent, mixing a couple of their "new" songs (e.g. Every Mother's Son/Double Trouble) with classics like Call Me the Breeze and Freebird. The BBC did a great job of capturing each member of the band, and all of them are outstanding: barefooted Ronnie commands the stage; Leon Wilkeson is solid on the bass, and contributes some complimentary backing vocals; Allen Collins and Gary Rossington add awesome solos (the latter also adding some slide); Billy Powell's piano is a combination of sensitive (e.g. in Freebird) and downright rowdy (e.g. in Call Me the Breeze); and big-bearded drummer Artimus Pyle is a madman behind the kit.

My only minor criticism is Sweet Home Alabama. Although still great, the vocals aren't terribly loud, and I felt that they missed Ed King on the guitar. The crowning glory has to be Freebird, which rocks and rolls for well over 10 minutes, Allen Collins providing an absolutely blistering guitar break.

I can't rate this highly enough. Buy it, listen to it, watch the DVD, and you will see why Skynyrd produced the finest of all Southern rock, that no matter how often imitated will never be bettered.

Strontium Dog: Search/destroy Agency Files: v. 3 (2000 Ad Strontium Dog 3)
Strontium Dog: Search/destroy Agency Files: v. 3 (2000 Ad Strontium Dog 3)
by Alan Grant
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.78

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a dog's life (and death). . ., 30 Oct. 2007
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This book, like Volumes 1 and 2 of this series, is another masterpiece.

Alan Grant continues the galactic adventures of mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha and his Viking partner, Wulf Sternhammer in a collection of brilliant stories. Once again, Grant's stories are original and exciting, and Carlos Ezquerra's trademark artwork is spectacular.

Included in this Volume are fantastic stories such as "The Slavers of Drule", "The Incident on Mayger Minor", "The Ragnarok Job" and "Rage".

Every story in the book is great, but the stand-out ones have to be "The Ragnarok Job" and "Rage".

"The Ragnarok Job" is a time-travelling tale where we are told the origin of Johnny's long-standing partnership with Wulf (and which culminates, in a bitter twist, with the Viking's death at the hands of the evil mutant Max Bubba, who Johnny was contracted to travel back in time to capture).

"Rage" is the follow-on, where Johnny hunts down Bubba's gang to carry out a terrible and ruthless revenge. (You can almost feel Johnny's anger and hatred at Wulf's killers!).

If the book had a weak point, I would say that it is the final story, "War Zone". It's a good idea, but the story is way too short and could have done with filling out some more.

Personally I prefer Volume 2, which includes some of my favourite stories, but this is still superb.

I expect that Volume 4 will be the final one, and I can't wait to get my hands (or should I say paws) on it.

This is Strontium Dog at its very best. Alpha fans will not be disappointed!

One Way Ticket To Hell ... And Back
One Way Ticket To Hell ... And Back
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.69

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a let-down, 8 Jun. 2007
What is this rubbish? I can't believe that The Darkness have followed up their superb debut album with such a weak, low-rate offering.

The album is such a disappointment. The opening track ("One Way Ticket") is basically OK - but what the heck are those pretentious Chinese-sounding pipes all about at the beginning? They do absolutely nothing to the song, and they just sound out of place.

"Knockers" and "Is it just me" are the only decent tracks; "Seemed like good idea at the time" is just a cliched power ballard with no originality whatsoever; "Hazel Eyes" and "English Country Garden" are full of some of the stupidest lyrics I've ever heard; and the album ends on a very weak note with "Blind Man" (pity it's not as good as the Aerosmith track of the same name).

This is a very poor effort as a follow up album from a very popular band who have a very wide following. It has none of the energy and attitude of "Permission to Land", and even Justin Hawkin's trademark vocals can't rescue it.

On the whole this album is such a let-down. I expected so much more from a great band who after all delivered an absolutely killer debut. Sorry guys, this just didn't live up to it's promise.

Because Of The Times
Because Of The Times
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.96

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly mediocre, 24 May 2007
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This review is from: Because Of The Times (Audio CD)
The third eagerly-awaited album from the Kings of Leon - and one that I have to say I find only (surprisingly) mediocre.

I am a big fan of the KOL, and as such was very excited about the prospect of a new album (their first in 3 years). But this one just doesn't meet the same standards as either Youth and Young Manhood or Aha Shake Heartbreak.

Gone are the catchy guitar riffs which so much typify their sound. Gone also is the energy and pace of their earlier songs. The vocals still retain their unmistakeable quality and the music is just as tight as ever. But the songs just don't have the fire or aggression or attitude that you find on their other stuff - all of which has added to their style and appeal.

The opening track ("Knocked Up") is OK but at 7 minutes is too long as it simply plods along and doesn't really get anywhere. "Charmer" ups the pace, and it's great (Caleb's screams add to the appeal of the song, even though it might initially sound wierd). However, it leaves you hoping that the rest of the tracks maintain this momentum - but they don't. "McFearless" is quite good (with a terrifically complicated drum pattern) and "Ragoo", with it's reggae-style bounce, is a good contrast. The album ends on a weak note (kind of like Aha Shake Heartbreak does) and can leave you feeling a bit deflated.

It's difficult to pin down a really brilliant track on BOTT, unlike their first two albums that are positively awash with them.

I'm a bit disappointed by this offering. And it might seem to some that the KOL are resting on their laurels a bit in only producing a middle-of-the-road album. I hope this isn't the case, and that with their next release they come roaring back. In my book, the Kings are still awesome, but only on the strength of their live performances and their first albums - not on the strength of this one.

Aha Shake Heartbreak
Aha Shake Heartbreak
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.90

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another triumph, 22 May 2007
This review is from: Aha Shake Heartbreak (Audio CD)
After the impact of their brilliant debut album, the Kings' follow-up album was eagerly anticipated. And they delivered BIG time!

Aha Shake Heartbreak (though an odd name for an album) simply solidifies the thoughts among many (myself included) that the KOL are the best rock band to have come out of America for a long, long time.

It is chock-full of lively, driving numbers, awash with Caleb's Southern, twangy drawl, Nathan's snappy and precise drumming (check out "Velvet Snow") and Matthew and Jared's solid bass-lines and catchy riffing.

Top tracks include "Slow Night, So Long", "The Bucket", "Velvet Snow" and "Taper Jean Girl". "Milk" is a bit of an odd song as it's hard to understand what the opening lyrics are about, but it does build up well and is a good contrast to the others. And if there is a low-point, I would say it was "Day Old Blues", which just seems out of place. The pace of the album overall matches "Youth and Young Manhood" but my one criticism is that a lot of the songs are just too short and seem to be a bit rushed through.

Is it better than their debut? Personally I don't think so. (It certainly doesn't "[...] all over Youth and Young Manhood" like NME claimed it would). But it is a brilliant album, cementing the Kings' status as one of the top bands in the world today.

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