Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for M. Brookes > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by M. Brookes
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,783
Helpful Votes: 455

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
M. Brookes
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Auto 2 (Auto Series)
Auto 2 (Auto Series)
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cracking Read, 24 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Before I start I should declare that I've worked with the author as he's edited some of my work. However it is his original Auto series that was the clincher to working with him and my opinion of his latest release isn't coloured by that collaboration.

Quite simply I loved this.

No surprise there you might think (after the opening paragraph of this review), but let me explain why and then see what you think!

This is one of those rare sci-fi books that slips a science fiction story by you without realising it. The core premise is very grounded in current technology with devices called 'autos' that manage our digital lives. This includes identification, social media, finances - everything in the digital realm. The technology has become so ubiquitous that everyone relies on it and it's become ever more autonomous.

In the first book there was a series of short stories that focused on specific aspects of what such devices would means to us. It was quite clever in that as you read it it you started seeing connections between the stories until it evolved into a cohesive whole by the end. Here we have a similar format, but the overall narrative is more linear than the first book. This makes it more accessible, but for me I preferred the the more abstract approach of the first book.

A core component of a believable world is that it makes sense, the technical grounding here is very solid and transparent to the reader, but how the characters live in that work highlights some of the issues visible in society today.It's their actions and feelings that make it a living, breathing world. There is a complimentary blend of characters here, which represent a microcosm of society. They contrasted each other nicely and the short story format allowed the differing views to be handled with greater depth.

For me the only weakness was the police officer Young - she felt a little cliched. Not because such characters don't exist, but more because they tend to get used so much. She does fill the role well though, adding some physical menace to the story.

I especially enjoyed the exploration of online religion as party of the story. It's an interesting development that in many ways echoes the evolution of more traditional beliefs in the physical work.

Last, but not least is the quality of writing and it was this that first encouraged me to work with the author with my own projects. The writing is crisp and keeps the momentum going and makes this book a joy to read.


The Book of Cthulhu
The Book of Cthulhu

3.0 out of 5 stars Some quality stories, but some reprints as well, 16 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's fair to say that I'm a huge Lovecraft fan and the Cthulhu mythos in particular. Here we have a collection of short stories based to varying degrees to that mythos and there's some well known writers here - which unfortunately leads to the first issue with the collection and that is that I'd read more than a few of these before in other anthologies.

The second issue is common to any collection and that is the varying quality of the stories. I didn't think any of them were bad, but some were truly amazing, while others lagged in comparison. My biggest issue came as a surprise to me. This isn't a curated universe, so there's no guidance as to how the stories should fit with established fiction in this world. That can make for some jarring reading as one perspective shifts radically into another and after three stories in Innsmouth you wonder what is going on!

That isn't a fault with the stories though, more how the anthology was compiled. The stories themselves all have something of value and some stood out for me and made the compilation worth reading. For the most part it was the earlier stories that grabbed me, especially with Ramsey Cambell with the second tale. This had an authentic Lovecraft feel and was exceptionally well written.

The other standout was Charles Stross' cold war redux with the elder gods being the weapons of mass destruction. It was a fun idea that was carried quite well and fitting with the events of the time. I also enjoyed the Jihad over Innsmouth, which was a fun meld of modern technothriller and Cthulhu mythos.

If you're relatively new to the mythos then this is a great book to start with (assuming you've already read Lovecraft's originals!). If you're familiar genre then your mileage may vary, but it's worth checking out.


EXOSKELETON - A Novel
EXOSKELETON - A Novel
Price: £4.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent sci-fi horror, 30 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I found this book a bit of a mix. I liked the basic idea and it's very well told, however the early part of the story feels more like a litany of suffering than a plot. It's well described and does have a purpose, but is heavy going - especially if you're squeamish about medic procedures. It's well described and layered effectively, but I did wonder if there was a point.

Thankfully there is and the stories comes together for the middle part. It introduces some mystery and that provides a lot more interest. Alongside the personal torture is a decently constructed thriller, although it does fall foul of a few tropes. This elements develops at a reasonable pace and does offset the torture elements.

The weakest part for me was the ending. It didn't really do much with the mystery that built so well in the middle section, although I expect that will be revealed in the later books. The tone of the ending indicated that this was really just an origin story, which is fine, but also gave the impression that the story only existed for that purpose.

That being said, it is well written and a quick read. It touches on some genuine insights and did leave me interested enough to buy the next book.


I Can See You
I Can See You
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly crafted ghost story, 23 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I Can See You (Kindle Edition)
I'm a self confessed fan boy of the author's work so discovering a new release so soon after his previous release was great news. This story is a contemporary horror and starts with a most unsettling chapter that was so full of dread it was fantastic.

Like his best stories it captures a sense of mysterious menace as events unfold. In many ways it's a traditional ghost story, but told in such a way that feels fresh. His writing is superb and carries the plot well.

The characters are strong, in particular Chris, the lead character. His experiences and thoughts are brought in vivid life. The author's strengths in portraying the different perspectives is a joy to read.

Normally when writing a review for his books I struggle to balance the praise with an issue - unfortunately with this I did have one criticism. The author's strength beyond his writing talent is his imagination, even with the familiar he brings something new to make it his own. With this story the plot follows traditional lines and doesn't quite break free of it.

That isn't to say that it's a bad story, far from it, it just lacks some of the imagination I've come to expect from his work. What remains though is a superbly crafted ghost story that is a fine horror read.


The Third Rule - Part Three: Sacrifices
The Third Rule - Part Three: Sacrifices

5.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying conclusion, 21 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
And so I come to the final book in Andrew Barrett's 'The Third Rule' trilogy, it's been a superb journey and the author finishes the series off in style. It's been an interesting read for me as well because I'm not usually a big fan of procedural thrillers, but this one has some additional strengths that carried it across a few genres.

It has more than a dash of the dystopian future about it, but one that is all too credible when politicians feed on fear to further the goals. If certain people ever attained this level of power I could imagine The Third Rule legislation becoming a reality. It also generates a system of suspicion, but also the means through which a higher level conspiracy the story weaves around.

In this believable future we have the procedural element of uncovering forensic clues and piecing together events. This is handled with enough detail to carry an air of authenticity, but not so much that it becomes dense or off putting. The authors follows the balance well on that front.

The real strength of the series is the characters. These are remarkably well drawn and follow lives sufficiently different that they provide interest on many levels. The main characters are obviously drawn in more detail, but even the lesser cast are fleshed out enough to feel real. The slight downer on this is that the villains aren't quite as deep, but you do get to know them a bit better in this book.

Story is of course king and the elements are all in place to support the plot. There are twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing. The ending is also well done, it is a bittersweet ending, but that balance of good and bad adds emotional weight and provides a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy. All in all, a damn fine read.


The Long Mars: (Long Earth 3) (The Long Earth)
The Long Mars: (Long Earth 3) (The Long Earth)
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Far from great, but still an ok read, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've enjoyed the series so far and this third book has continued that appreciation. The core premise of the Long Earth, a seemingly endless array of parallel worlds is an effective one. The light style of the writing carries some fascinating concepts and this book carries them further with the introduction of the Long Mars.

It's the exploration of these worlds that is the real strength of the series for me. There are some vivid and strange worlds on offer here and to be honest I would happily have read more about the oddities and explorations here. There's also a glimpse of alien civilisations and approached in a novel fashion.

The story follows two main threads, that of the Long Mars and the Next. The Long Mars might be the title of the story, but it is the lesser thread in terms of content, but again the exploration of what might have, or could have been lends it extra weight.

The Next provide the more traditional story and plot and it doesn't excel in the same way as the exploration aspect. The basics are fine and examine the ramifications of a new human species coming into being. However it isn't developed too deeply and at times almost feels like a cursory examination of the subject.

The characters are reasonably well drawn, but do pale in comparison to the setting. Part of the issue here is that page time is spread thinly as there is quite a lot going on. In this regard the Next are perhaps the most weakly drawn.

Overall though it's a decent read and an easy one. It might not be up there with the greatest sci-fi, but it's an interesting enough read.


The Anniversary
The Anniversary
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Read, 6 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Anniversary (Kindle Edition)
Jonathan Hill is one a select group of authors who takes me out of the comfort zone of my usual genres, although in his latest novella it's most definitely within my usual type of read. It reminds me of some of the darker drabbles and short stories of his that I first read of his.

The set up is a simple one, a man starts a new job with Christmas rapidly approaching. He's suffering from the death of his partner just a year ago and a women offers to spend Christmas day with him. The slight wrinkle here is that she was suspected of killing her husband.

The story is told in a stream of conciousness style from inside the lead character's head. It's a difficult method to get right and it's a testament to the author's skill that he carries it effectively. It allows the reader to explore the depth of the lead character and it's here that we see the evolving strangeness of the story.

There's some real darkness in this story as well as a degree of uncertainty that adds interest to the story. I loved how the plot unfolded and even better it's not done in an obvious fashion, there are subtle changes here and there that add an element of menace.

As I've come to expect from the author the story is superbly written, it's well paced and a fantastic read. If you've not read any of his work before then this is a great book to start with.


Lovecraft Unbound
Lovecraft Unbound
by Joyce Carol Oates
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Some gems in the rough, 3 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lovecraft Unbound (Paperback)
Anyone who knows me will confirm that I'm a huge Lovecraft fan and as well as enjoying his work I appreciate those that write in the mythos. This collection is a little different as it's not about stories adding to the mythos, but more being inspired by the themes Lovecraft explored.

In a sense this makes it a more interesting and varied read, but not as immediately interesting for mythos, rather than Lovecraft fans. There is a good selection of stories here, there is a variance of quality from the okay to the superb. None of them are bad stories, but the uneven quality does make for a bit of a bumpy ride.

Some of the stories really stood out for me. The book started out well with an expedition in Antarctica with a powerful sense of desolation and the otherworldly. The tale about the university graduation was a little different. It was fairly obvious where it was heading, but the build-up was so effective that just being carried along for the ride was enough.

My favourite story was set on a space station with an exterminator dealing with inter-dimensional parasites. It's quite a personal tale, but the glimpses of these other beings and the threats they posed. The creatures were the star of the show here and showed some imagination in their creation.

Along with the stories the authors had their usual biographies, but also some insight into what Lovecraft and his writing means to them and that added a little more interest.

I did encounter a serious issue with formatting - there were a large number of missing spaces. The stories just about carried me through, but they did make for a bumpy read. So unfortunately that's two major strikes against this collection - there are some gems here, but a lot of rough to put up with the access them.


Marrow
Marrow
by Robert Reed
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Some nice ideas but fails to deliver, 16 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Marrow (Paperback)
I wanted to like this - the idea is a good one with a giant ship of unknown origin and full of mystery. The introduction worked well and drew me into the story, but then it lost it. The first issue is that the story drags with some odd diversions that do little to strengthen the tale.

It's a shame really as the basic premise is good, but 500 pages later nothing is really resolved. There is a rich menagerie of aliens, but nothing is done with them. Humans are now effectively immortal which devalues the epic timescales involved in the journey.

I very rarely finish a book I don't like, especially one as long as this, but there are flashes of genius here. Unfortunately they don't develop into anything meaningful. A shame as it had some potential, but ultimately unfulfilling.


The Third Testament
The Third Testament
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars SUperb sci-fi thriller, 15 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Note that this book appears to have had a name change since I first downloaded and is now called 'The Third Testament'.

This book has languished on my TBR list for quite some time and now that I've finally read it I can say that if it's in your TBR list then you should get round to reading it! It's a technological thriller, but will a metaphysical twist and one that is exceptionally well layered.

It's main strength is how it builds the mystery of the world changing events. It captures the strangeness of what's going on by following a small number of characters, while still maintaining the global effect of what is going on.

The quality of the writing is excellent and explores some interesting concepts. The technical side is well handled providing enough detail for those (like me) interested in such things, but not so much that you're wading through details.

For all of its strengths it does have its faults, the most obvious of which is that it's longer than it needs to be. In parts it feels more like a character study, although fortunately the writing and characters are robust enough to carry this.

My other complaint was the reveal for what's going.While the basic premise works well, there are some aspects that seemed thin and unqualified, so fell a little flat. Especially when considering how effectively the author built the story up.

In fairness those are both minor considerations, this was a quality read and a cracking thriller, one for science fiction fans and those who enjoy something a little more contemporary.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20