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All Necessary Force by Brad Taylor == Plot Synopsis == This is the second book in the Pike Logan series. Logan works for a top secret organisation known as the Taskforce whose job it is to find and kill terrorists around the world. Intelligence from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defence indicates that there is a major terrorist attack coming to the US. They are unable to get any firm details though on what and when it will take place. It falls on Logan and his partner, Jennifer Cahill, to discover what is going on and neutralise the threat . . . == My thoughts == I believe the author, Brad Taylor is a retired Delta Force officer. I'd say he has a surprisingly good writing style. It is nothing great but neither is it too wooden. He tries to do character development and what action there is, is well described. The first book in this series is called 'One Rough Man', from what I can tell. I hadn't read that before I read this, but I had no problems in getting into the story. There are some references made to the first book as there is some history between Logan and Jennifer but you don't need to read the first book to get into this. I'd say this story was set in about 2012. Pike Logan is the typical tough guy. He has Special Forces training and can handle himself in most situations. To add some character development, the author makes him have some anger management problems. His partner, Jennifer has doubts about what they are doing and also is conflicted about the feelings she has towards Logan. They aren't lovers at the start of the novel but it is pretty obvious they are headed that way. She is also a rookie at the start when it comes to carrying out missions with the Taskforce but by the end you see her personality change as she becomes more assured, toughened and confident. It is written both in the third and first person. Pike Logan narrates in the first person for some of it and the rest of the story is told in the third person. I liked the use of technology in this story like Iphones that were adapted for spy craft or the use of special night vision gadgets and the way the equipment was blended into the action without disturbing the flow of the narrative. I like reading about different places, and there are a few in this. The narrative moves from Egypt, to Indonesia, Czechoslovakia and then finally the US. I also liked seeing the point of view of the terrorists and the way they went about planning their operation. I did find the ending somewhat disappointing though. It is similar to many other novels I've read in the past. AT the end of the novel, it recommends you read Deep Black by Brad Thoar if you liked this. I've reviewed that novel on here previously and I'd say both novels are very similar in their overall plot. However, this is definitely the better of the two in most respects. There was one small thing in this that annoyed me and I found too coincidental. There is some back-story to do with the father of the guy who is the boss of the Taskforce. His father used to be a Special Forces soldier during the Vietnam War. He was killed during a mission behind enemy lines, and his body was never found. Before he was killed, he took some photos of what turns out to be a traitor inside the US government. His body along with his camera is discovered during the story and it turns out the traitor is linked to the mission Logan is working on. I liked reading about the original mission that the father went on back in 1970, but I thought it too much for his camera to turn up right when Logan is working on this mission and to top it all off, Logan is the one chosen to go and retrieve the camera from Cambodia. == Audio narration and availability == This is available from the audible site (www.audible.com). From what I can tell, it is only available from their US site and not in the UK. It is unabridged and is 13 hours and 28 mins in length. It is read by Henry Strozier with Rich Orlow voicing the parts of the story narrated by Pike Logan. Logan's voice provided by Rich Orlow, sounds quite young and suitable for him, whilst the rest of the story is read by a guy who's voice is a bit more rougher. I preferred listening to Rich Orlow I would say as he was able to inject more emotion into his dialog. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 3 stars. It is basically a standard thriller novel, which you can predict right at the start but I felt it was well written, with enough there to keep you reading till the end.
The Burning Soul by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the tenth book in the Charlie Parker series. He is a private detective who has experienced much pain and grief in his life. Parker is now separated from his ex-girlfriend Rachel though he still tries to see his daughter, Sam when he can. They have come to an understanding of sorts. He tries to keep his distance from Sam as he knows he is a marked man but still is uncertain why or for what reason. The story starts off by detailing the disappearance and resulting investigation of Anna Corry, a 14 year old child, from a small emote town in Maine (USA). Pasturs Bay is the name of the town Randall Haight is a convicted child killer who has served his time and is now living in Pasturs Bay. Someone though has found out about his past and is tormenting him by sending him anonymous reminders of his crime. Parker is brought in to find out who this is. He decides to take on the case thinking it may have something to do with the Anna Corry disappearance. What he comes up against is a history of violence and deceit involving the local police, FBI, the Mob and Anna Corry's family. Even his client Randall Haight isn't telling all the truth for Randall Haight has been telling lies . . . "In the worst of all men, there is a little bit of good that will destroy them" William Rose 1914-1987 == My thoughts == Like most of the other novels in this series, I liked the way the author uses vivid imagery to get across the nature of evil or Parker's feelings. I also liked the way we get to know and see how the various characters think and behave as the story progresses. The author manages to keep you guessing as to who is good and who is bad. There are several different plot threads running alongside each other which come together by the end. I had no problem in following them though. Although, it seemed to me that there were no good guys left by the end of the novel with all the backstabbing and double crossing going on. The ending seemed to be a bit too overcrowded with twist after twist coming in quick succession. The main theme of the novel revolves around child killers and paedophilia. It raises some interesting questions around killers who kill children or commit any other violent or monstrous crime but are children themselves when they commit the crime, and what should be done to them. There is a reference to the Jamie Bulger case and part of the story has some similarities to it. Two children both aged 14 rape and kill a young girl who is 14 also. They are jailed for 18 years, but they are made part of a social experiment to try to rehabilitate them and to give them the opportunity to start over by giving them new identities on their release. I think a kid of 14 is old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. They should live with the consequences. I do not think giving them new identities on their release would help. If a child does commit a murder, I would think it would be very hard to rehabilitate them, as even if you do, they would then have to live with the knowledge and guilt of their crime. As the novel illustrates quite elegantly, they then also have to deal with having two different identities, one is the child killer and the other one is the one they are given after their release. I didn't know this but in the US, apparently any police investigation into a missing child would consider the child dead after the first 3 hours of them having disappeared. There is also the involvement of organised crime. You will have to read the novel to find out exactly how but it gave the author the chance to bring in Louis and Angel who are two gay lovers. They are two elite assassins and friends of Parker. I would have liked to have seen them appear more. I enjoy reading their antics and it is quite funny reading some of their dialog as they bicker amongst each other. It adds some much needed humour to proceedings. Although, Parker does display a dark sense of humour at times. One of the characters that appears in the story is Tommy Morris, a mobster who is on the way down. His enemies are lining up to kill him. All his so called friends and associates have deserted him apart from two loyal henchmen, - Martin Demcey and Francis Ryan. I liked following the two henchman and seeing how the dynamics between the two of them developed and their fear / feelings as they try to outrun their enemies, whilst staying loyal to their boss. There is some religious symbolism with the cross being used near the start and with it dealing with life after death. But I didn't find this too overwhelming. == Audio narration and availability == This was unabridged and is 13 hours and 2 minutes in length. It is read by two narrators - George Guidall and Tony Ward. They both take turns in narrating the story. Tony Ward reads the passages that are written in the first person in the voice of Parker and George Guidall reads the rest. I preferred listening to Tony Ward's voice, but I felt he didn't change his voice enough when speaking dialog for other characters apart from Parker. It made it difficult to distinguish who was speaking sometimes - Parker or another character. By the end of the novel though I had gotten used to his voice. The use of two narrators worked well, as it helped to separate the story into two threads based on the person reading it. I also don't think I would have been able to listen to all the audio book had one of them read all the book by themselves. There voices aren't all that great but they help to cancel each other out and give some variety, making it easier to listen to all the audio book without falling asleep. It also helped me to separate out the different threads of the story in my mind, as there are a lot of different characters to follow and keep track of. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 4 stars. It kept me reading all the way through and the use of so many different threads, kept me wondering as to where the story was headed and who was good and who may be bad. The ending seemed a bit overcrowded with the amount of bad guys that show up, but I can't complain. It accomplishes the most important thing which is that it made me think with the questions it raises around child killers, and it also entertained. That is what I want from a good novel. "Here is a truth, a truth by which to live ... There is hope. There is always hope. If we choose to abandon it, our souls will turn to ash and blow away. But the soul can burn, and not be dammed. The soul can burn, with a bright fire, and never turn to ash."
Hard Landing by Stephen Leather == Plot synopsis == This is the first book in the Dan Shepherd aka Spider series of books. He is an ex SAS trooper who now works for an elite Metropolitan police unit, doing deep undercover work to try to apprehend criminals who can't be caught any other way. In this he is tasked with playing the part of an armed robber and he is arrested during a robbery that goes bad. He is put in a maximum security prison alongside a drug trafficker called Gerald Carpenter. Carpenter is awaiting trial, but somehow he is managing to contact the outside world and arrange for witnesses and evidence to be destroyed that may convict him. Shepherd's task is to find out the leak and the method by which Carpenter is communicating with the outside world and put a stop to it. Shepherd's personal life is under a great deal of strain due to his undercover work. He has a wife Sue, and a young son called Liam. To make matters worse, a family tragedy befalls him whilst he is in prison. We see his struggle as he tries to balance his work alongside his family commitments . . . == My thoughts == Overall, I liked this novel. It doesn't have as much action as I prefer. I would say this is more set in the real world as it were. It follows Shepherd in both his work and family life. Like all this authors other books, he has an easy to read style to his writing, which kept me listening. I wouldn't normally pick one of these type of novels up that follow a policeman around doing his day to day work. The main reason I picked this up was because I've read some of the other author's books and also, because of the fact that the main protagonist has a military background which sounded like it could make for some interesting action sequences. This book pretty much follows the same basic format as the rest of the books in this series. Shepherd is given a case for which he has to go undercover, alongside this he has to try to manage his personal / family life like the day to day things, and separate out his two personas, and make sure he doesn't get caught out. I have to say I find Shepherd's son annoying especially in the latter books in this series, but in this, he is still very young and doesn't appear much. The strain Shepherd feels working undercover vs. trying to juggle his family life is demonstrated nicely. By the end, I wanted to learn more about Shepherd's aka Spider's past especially in the SAS. He gets the nickname 'Spider' because he won a competition one time when in the SAS, to see who could eat the most disgusting thing - He ate a tarantula. I would like to have had more action but apart from that it is fine, and does an adequate job of introducing you to Shepherd and his basic lifestyle. == Audio narration and availability == This was read by Martyn Read and the Audio cd is priced at £32.49 on the Isis Publishing website (www.isis-publishing.co.uk). == Summary and recommendation == I give this 3 stars. It is a promising start to the Dan Shepherd series of books. It manages to get the right balance between Shepherd's undercover work and his personal life. In most of the latter books, too much time is spent with Shepherd soul searching and questioning whether what he is doing is right. I would say when you've finished this, you will want to find out more about the main character Dan Shepherd and about his past in the SAS.
The Gray Man by Mark Greaney == Plot synopsis == This is the first book in the Court Gentry aka 'The Gray Man' series. Gentry is a former CIA agent, now working as one of the top assassins for hire. At the start, we see him completing a job in Iraq and then being pulled out by a rescue team who fly in by plane. They are sent in by his employer. However, Gentry soon finds out that the rescue team isn't there to get him back home safely, but there to eliminate him. Martial ling all his lethal skills and experience, he goes on the run, so he can discover who wants him dead and why, and put an end to them before they do the same to him . . . == My thoughts == I found this an enjoyable read. The plot is the basic setup that you find in most conspiracy thriller type novels. If you've read any of Robert Ludlan's novels then you'll most likely be able to guess most of the story right at the start. There's a big conspiracy and you have the CIA, big business and teams of killers all after the hero. I thought it was competently told though. It's nothing earth shattering and you'll most likely forget it once you've finished reading it but it's fun while it lasts. I liked the main character of Gentry, who is the typical action hero type character you get in 80's action movies. You know he can get out of any tricky situation. I have to say I never felt that he was in any real danger during any part of the novel, even when the author tried to create suspense ridden situations. I don't expect to find much character development in these kind of thriller novels but the author manages to flesh out most of the characters that appear, so you can understand their motivations and feelings. The bad guys are painted as suitably bad, and even though Gentry is a killer for hire, he operates on his own set of moral codes, which is demonstrated to us right at the start of the novel. I have read that this is being adapted for the big screen. They shouldn't have any real problem, as it is written in a cinematic style. It sort of felt like I was watching a movie. Usually, when authors try to write like this it gets annoying, but the author manages to pull it off. I found it easier to imagine the story in my head. There are some well written action sequences but there could have been a lot more. The main character has to travel across Europe to a certain country, I think France. The bad guys put kill squads all the way from his start point in Turkey, to his final destination. I thought there would be lots of explosions and dead bodies littered in his wake as he makes his way through the various countries. However, there is very limited action set pieces and the ones that are employed, were very reminiscent of ones I've read in other novels including ones by Matthew Reilly. It also appeared most of the time the main hero got away by luck / circumstance rather than by using his extensive skills / brains. I feel it could also have been trimmed down in length slightly with the plot being so basic. == Audio narration and availability == This is available for download on the Audible site (www.audible.co.uk). It is selling for £19.69 though; it may be cheaper if you have a subscription to Audible. This is unabridged and is 10 hours and 44 mins in length. It is read by Jay Snyder. I liked his voice and reading style. He has an American accent but it isn't too strong. He is also able to voice all the characters perfectly. I liked the way he was able to do the various accents like upper class English or German accents. This is another reason I liked listening to this audio book; it had a good narrator. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 4 stars. It's not a masterpiece, but it's a bit of light entertainment that is fun and will keep you distracted while you are reading it.
The Lovers by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the eighth novel in the Charlie Parker series. He is a private detective who always tries to do the right thing. Most of the novels in this series have a slight supernatural element to them as the author explores the nature of evil, life after death and grief. I believe this book was published both in print and audio form in 2009. It falls into the mystery / supernatural genres. Parker's PI licence has been taken away from him. He now works in a small bar trying to make ends meet. Having some spare time, he decides to investigate his own past and find out the circumstances around his fathers death. His father Will, a NYPD cop killed a young couple and then committed suicide when Parker was a teenager himself. He has no idea of why his father did what he did and his mother refused to talk to him about it for the rest of her remaining days. During his investigation, he will find out more than the reason behind his father's death. He will discover the truth about his origins and the betrayal committed by his father, along with the lies he's been told by everyone close to him all his life. He will also cross paths with two individuals whose only aim is to bring an end to his life . . . == My thoughts == I have mixed feelings about this. It is ok but I didn't find it as interesting as some of the earlier novels. There are certain sections that I enjoyed; in particular the ones where we get to see Will, Parker's father before he committed suicide and the circumstances that led up to it. I also liked learning about where Parker came from. I wasn't as interested in the story that was set in the present. There are two individuals who are demons who have taken over the bodies of some humans who want to terminate Parker. Now I think about it, the plot reminds me a little of Terminator 2 but with a supernatural twist, instead of robots from the future. By now I am used to the author using supernatural forces in his novels. Some aspects of this reminded me of an earlier novel called 'The Black Angel' in which there were two main demons but they were twins and not lovers, as in this. I have to say I did like reading about the way the demons take over their human host's bodies like a parasite; slowly infecting their mind until they completely take it over. I also liked following one of the human hosts on her journey as she tries to outrun whatever is after her. She knows something is wrong with her but she can't explain what. The pacing isn't very good I don't think which is the main thing. It picks up in certain sections then slows down again. The author could have trimmed down the novel in length and still managed to get in everything. I didn't feel there was as much going on as in earlier novels even though there are a few twists and turns along with a few red herrings to keep you guessing. == Audio narration and availability == The audio CD is selling for £30.49 on the Isis Publishing site (www.isis-publishing.co.uk) though you should be able to pick this up from your local library. Like most of the previous books in this series, this was read by Jeff Harding who's voice I am not a big fan of. However by now, I have gotten used to his voice and I can instantly recognise the voices of the main characters when he speaks any dialog for them. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 3 stars. It's perfectly readable, though compared to some of the earlier novels, I would say this is somewhat lacking. I am now also used to the supernatural themes the author likes to explore so it is difficult to be surprised or interested in whatever the author throws at me in this novel. The main thing I liked was learning about Parkers past and his family.
The Reapers by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the seventh book in the Charlie Parker series. He is a former private detective who in past novels has helped to solve cases which tend to have some supernatural element to them. He lost his wife and young child to a serial killer in the first novel in this series. This particular novel does not really focus on Parker, but two of his sidekicks, Angel and Louis who appear in most of his novels. They are both elite assassins though what sets them apart is the fact that they will only kill people who they feel deserve to die. However, instead of being the hunters, they end up being hunted by another elite killer known as Bliss who has very personal reasons for wanting them dead . . . == My thoughts == Most of the novels in this series have a supernatural element to them. This one does have some slight inkling of this but it felt more like a standard thriller novel to me. I would normally enjoy these types of novels but I couldn't get into this. I read this before I had read most of the earlier books in this series which may have been one reason. I found it difficult to empathise with the two main characters Angel and Louis. They are both gay lovers. I think this makes for some unique characters but it did take some getting used to. They are not the stereotypical heroes that you get in most thriller type novels. In addition, I didn't like the supernatural type elements the author tries to hammer into certain parts of the story. He uses imagery to describe characters in certain parts so you feel a character may be truly evil or other worldly. At the time, I didn't appreciate it, but now, the things I say I liked about it were getting to learn about Louis and his early life and how he was recruited by the government into a secret killing squad. I liked reading the sections of the novel where we see Louis in his younger life than I did reading about the present, and the chase of hunter and prey, as Louis and Angel try to outwit and kill their enemy before he gets them. I also liked the ingenious set-pieces in the story and the action where Angel and Louis kill their targets. They are well detailed and expertly crafted. == Audio and availability == This audio book is read by Jeff Harding and is 12 hours and 10 mins in length. As stated in earlier reviews, I am not a big fan of this narrator's voice. The audio CD of this is available from the Isis Publishing web site (www.isis-publishing.co.uk), for £30.49. You can also try looking in your local library. == Summary and recommendation == I would give this 2 stars. It is better than a lot of novels I have read. Certain sections of the novel drew my attention such as learning about Louis's early life and when Louis and Angel prepare and then liquidate one of their targets. Yet, I felt the overall plot ark to do with revenge was too formulaic, and this couldn't really be hidden by the use of unique characters. I feel the pace of the novel lagged in places and I didn't think the author manages to create an exciting action thriller to keep you listening non-stop.
The Unquiet by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the sixth book in the Charlie Parker series. Parker is a private detective who lost his wife and child to a serial killer in an earlier novel. He usually helps to solve cases that have some supernatural element or truly evil people behind them. Parker is hired by Rebecca Clay, the daughter of a psychologist called Daniel Clay, who disappeared without trace many years ago. This was due to revelations about child abuse going on with the children that he was supposed to be helping / treating. A stranger comes calling who believes Daniel Clay is not dead and Rebecca knows where he is. Parker investigates and comes up against people who want the truth to come out and those who wish it to remain buried . . . == My thoughts == I would say this novel falls into the mystery / thriller categories. There isn't as much supernatural elements in this as in some of his earlier novels. I would recommend you read his earlier novels first though to understand some of the references made and the back-story to the characters that appear in this. This novel deals with paedophilia so it is a disturbing read even though it doesn't go into a great deal of detail into the crimes themselves. I would say that I thought this was a well crafted piece of fiction. I liked the fact that there weren't as many supernatural elements in this novel as in some of his earlier novels such as 'The Black Angel'. Parker along with his two friends Angel and Louis mainly conduct a standard investigation with some violence along the way. Again as in earlier novels, the author has created 3-dimensional characters that you can empathise with. There are a few twists that kept me hooked all the way through. I especially liked the ending to this which I wasn't expecting. == Audio and availability == This was read by Jeff Harding. As stated in previous reviews of audio books that he has narrated, I am not a big fan of his voice but I kept listening due to the gripping writing style of the author. It is 14 hours and 23 mins in length. The audio CD of this is available from the Isis Publishing website (www.isis-publishing.co.uk) for £34.49. You may want to check in your local library first though. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 5 stars. This is a well told and expertly crafted novel that keeps you hooked all the way through. I probably enjoyed this more than the last novel in this series, 'The Black Angel' and this is one of the best ones in the whole series to date. Well worth picking up.
The Black Angel by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the fifth book in the Charlie Parker series. Charlie Parker is a former NYPD cop turned private detective. His wife and daughter were murdered in the first novel by a serial killer. The earlier novels usually dealt with serial killers with some supernatural elements, but I would say this strictly falls into the category of supernatural horror. The story revolves around the legend of the fallen / rebel angels who were banished to Earth by God for eternity, without any hope of redemption. They took on the form of men and roamed the Earth spreading evil and trying to get power. They are led by two demons who are twins and are known as the Black Angels. They are called Ashmael and Immael. Immael managed to be trapped by a Cistercian monk when he threw him into some molten silver and then cooled it down. Ashmael has attempted along with his followers to find his twin and free him, but the monks have hid him well for the past few centuries. The fallen angels and the humans they manage to corrupt call themselves "Believers". You also have Parker's gay assassin friends, Louis and Angel playing a pivotal part in the story. Alice, a cousin of Louis has disappeared in New York and he asks Parkers' help. You also get an insight during the story into why evil always seems to get atracted to Parker. All the plot threads come together by the end leading to an encounter of epic proportions . . . == My Thoughts == As in all the other novels in this series, I liked the poetic style the author uses, and the way he uses metaphors to describe Parker's feelings. An example would be: 'The days are like leaves, waiting to fall. The past lies in the shadows of our lives. It is endlessly patient, secure in the knowledge that all we have done, and all that we have failed to do, must surely return to haunt us in the end. When I was young, I cast each day aside unthinkingly, like dandelion seeds committed to the wind, floating harmlessly from the hands of a boy and vanishing over his shoulder as he moved onward along the path toward the sunset, and home. Nothing was to be regretted, for there were more days to come. Slights and injuries would be forgotten, hurts would be forgiven, and there was radiance enough in the world to light the days that followed. Now, as I look back over my shoulder at the path that I have taken, I can see that it has become tangled and obscured by undergrowth, where the seeds of past actions and half-acknowledged sins have taken root. ... I move more slowly through life now, and the growth is catching up with me. There are briars around my ankles, weeds brush my fingertips as I walk, and the ground beneath my feet crackles with the fallen leaves of half-dead days. The past is waiting for me, a monster of my own creation. The past is waiting for us all.' I have to say the overall story wasn't one that I found especially remarkable. I am not too sure why this is. It may be the ending that left me slightly disappointed. I liked the way the author built suspense by not revealing everything about the bad guy's right at the start and revealing information in small pieces as the narrative progressed. The thing that I feel makes this worth reading is the diverse and varied range of characters featured. Parker's character is explored and developed further in this. He still has not fully come to term with the loss of his former wife and child. You get to see him trying to create a new family with his new girlfriend Rachel and their child Samantha. I liked the way you are never sure if he is dreaming or if he is actually seeing the ghosts of his dead wife and child. Louis and Angel - Parker's two gay assassin friends appear in this novel again. They help to inject a bit of humour into proceedings to what can be a very depressing read at times. I didn't find the main villain, Ashmael all that interesting. The identity of whom is not revealed right till the end though. I much enjoyed reading about one of his henchmen, Mr Brightwell aka Mr Goodkind. (He is neither good nor kind). I thought the author was able to generate a sense of menace and malice around him which you rarely get in most novels. I actually felt he was a threat that Parker may not be able to overcome. Being a rebel angel, he can live forever if not killed and even if he is, he will come back again in another form. Certain small sections of the novel are set in medieval times and during the Second World War (1944), and you get to see BrightWell during these times going about his evil work. == Audio narration and availability == This was read by Jeff Harding. I am not a big fan of his voice but I kept on listening due to the writing style of the author. The audio CD of this is available from the Isis Publishing web site (www.isis-publishing.co.uk) for £34.49. You may want to check your local library first though. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 5 stars. Even though I said I think there was something missing from the plot itself, the characters themselves are interesting enough with the author being able to create a sense of fear and danger that I don't think many other authors can lay claim to being able to do.
The White Road by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the fourth novel in the Charlie 'Bird' Parker series. He is a private detective who lost his wife and young child in an earlier novel to a serial killer, and is trying to rebuild his life whilst at the same time trying to help others. Several plots are intertwined in this, the primary one revolves around a young black man who has been given the death penalty for the rape and murder of Marianne Larousse, who was the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in South Carolina. No one around there will touch the case and Parker is the only one willing to take it on. Along his journey, he will meet his arch enemy - the Preacher again who he met in an earlier novel, and a serial killer Cyrus Nairn. Parker has to fend off evil from all sides and protect both himself and his new family . . . == My thoughts == I would say this was one of my favourite books in this series. I like the way the author is able to manipulate language and make you feel as if you are actually there. He is able to get across the pain and evil in this world. It is a very dark novel, though it has some light moments dotted throughout. You need to have read the earlier books in the series really to understand some of the references that are made especially as one of the bad guys known as the Preacher makes an appearance in the last novel and then in this one also. The author manages to keep developing Parker's character and you also get to learn a bit more about his two gay sidekicks. They are called Louis and Angel and are assassins with a conscience. Louis is a black man and you get a glimpse into his past in the racist South of the US during the 1960's and an incident when he witnessed the lynching and burning of an innocent man. That is described right near the start and I could imagine the pain and despair the man felt, by the way the author goes about in setting / describing the scene. The narrative does sometimes jump between different characters and times but I managed to follow it fine. There are supernatural elements in this for anyone who is not familiar with this series which is another reason this is quite a dark and I would say depressing novel. It is strongly indicated that Parker along with the other evil people he comes in contact with may have been rebel angels who were banished down to Earth after they rebelled. Parker is the only one who seeks to redeem himself even though he doesn't know he was an 'angel', and for that reason evil seems to get attracted to him. There is also the presence of characters who don't seem of this world, in the way that they act. == Audio narration and availability == This was read By Paul Birchard. The audio CD version of this is available from the Isis Publishing website (www.isis-publishing.co.uk) for £32.49. I would recommend you check in your local library first though. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 5 stars. I can definitely recommend this. However, I would just like to point out that it is very dark in the subject matter it covers. I liked the themes of evil, redemption and racism that are explored in this. And also, as with all his previous novels, I wasn't able to predict the ending right till the end. The various pieces of the puzzle appear unconnected, but the author is able to join them together into a masterfully crafted story by the end.
Most Bollywood movies have song and dance numbers in them. The songs that appear in a movie are composed specifically for each movie and are released in advance of the movie coming to cinemas to hopefully drum up intrest among the public. This particular music album is for the movie called Ra One. It is a sci-fi movie which stars Shah Rukh Khan who is one of the biggest stars in Bollywood. It was released in 2011. There seems to be the use of more and more western artists in Bollywood over the past few years, especially when it comes to music. In this particular album, Akon has sung a few of the songs. There is only one song that I like in this whole album, and that is Chammak Challo which features Akon. There's several different versions of it on this album the first version which is the first track and is just called 'Chammak Challo', I presume is the one that appears in the movie. I think the others that are labelled in the track list as Punjabi, remix, club mix and international versions are extras. The version that appears in the movie has Akon singing a duet with another female singer. There are three different languages in it that I can tell - the first being English, the second Hindi and a third Indian language I am uncertain about. The best translation I can come up with for the word 'Chammak Challo' would probably be babe and Akon is saying something like do you wanna be my babe in this track. Akon sings both in English and Hindi during this. I feel he does a good job of both parts. I do think whoever wrote the lyrics for this song and the rest of the album could have done a much better job though. Chammak Challo has a catchy beat to it especially the chorus where Akon goes 'Wanna be my Chammak Challo .... O, o', but the lyrics have no real meaning. It is the kind of song you listen to for 5 minutes then forget about. Bollywood is trying to appeal to a wider audience and the international version of Chammak Challo has Akon singing alone with the female singer being cut out. The middle part of the song has also been altered slightly. I think this version is also alright, but I don't like the club mix, Punjabi and remix versions of this track, which I don't think have a suitable base to them or the appropriate sounding music to back the singers. It also seems like the club mix and remix versions have also been speeded up slightly. I am not too keen on any of the other songs including the song called 'Criminal' which also features Akon. One of the reasons I didn't like any of the other songs was the voices of the singers, and when it comes to the Criminal song, it sounds similar to all of Akon's other songs with nothing to make it stand out. Track List along with singers as taken from Amazon: 1. Chammak Challo - Akon & Hamsika Iyer 2. Dildaara (Stand By Me) - Shafqat Amanat Ali, Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani & Clinton Cerejo 3. Criminal - Akon, Vishal Dadlani & Shruti Pathak 4. Bhare Naina - Nandini Shrikar, Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani 5. Right By Your Side - Siddharath Coutto 6. Raftaarein - Vishal Dadlani & Shekhar Ravjiani 7. Jiya Mora Ghabraaye (The Chase) - Sukhwinder Singh & Vishal 8. Chammak Challo (Punjabi Mix) - Akon & Hamsika Iyer 9. Comes The Light (Theme) - Instrumental 10. I'm On (Theme) - Instrumental 11. Song Of The End (Theme) - Instrumental 12. Chammak Challo (Club Mix) - Akon & Hamsika Iyer 13. Criminal (Remix) - Akon, Vishal Dadlani & Shruti Pathak 14. Chammak Challo (International Version) - Akon 15. Chammak Challo (Remix) - Akon & Hamsika Iyer == Price and availability == The audio CD for this is selling for £5.02 on Amazon as of this writing. == Summary and recommendation == I like the Chammak Challo song but I can't recommend the overall album. There isn't anything there to hold my attention. I would have to give it 2 stars.
The Killing Kind by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the third book in the Charlie Parker series. He is a former NYPD cop turned private detective. Parker is hired to investigate the death of Grace Peltier, a young college student who supposedly committed suicide. Prior to her death, she was writing a thesis about a small religious group of fanatics known as The Aroostook Baptists and why they all suddenly disappeared back in the 1960's. She discovered a religious organisation known as the Fellowship that may have had a link with them. When Parker starts looking into the case, a mass grave containing the bodies of The Aroostook Baptists is discovered accidentally at the same time near to a riverbank. All clues point to an illusive religious organisation calling itself the Fellowship. When Parker starts looking into this organisation, he comes into contact with Elmer Pudd, who likes to breed all kinds of deadly spiders which he likes to use to kill people with and his mute assistant. Will Parker be able to solve the mystery behind the Fellowship and survive Mr Pudd? . . . == My thoughts == I picked this up at a book club and it is the first book I read in the Charlie Parker series even though it is the third book in the series. This may have been one of the reasons I didn't like it. The novel is a mixture of a detective novel mixed in with supernatural / horror elements. In the first two books in this series, you are gently introduced to the supernatural elements and the imagery the author uses but as I hadn't read those at the time, I found it distracted me somewhat. I was also not familiar with Parkers' character / back story and that of some of the other people that make an appearance. I am also not a big fan of spiders and they feature quite prominently in the story, which made my skin crawl. The author has an ability to evoke vivid images with the way he uses language. I wouldn't recommend you read this if you don't like creepy crawlies especially spiders. I do have to say though that the author does manage to tell a good story that he is able to manage to spin out right till the end. It sort of has a religious element to it that isn't really my thing though. == Audio narration and availability == This was read by Jeff Harding. As stated in some of my earlier reviews, I feel he reads in an emotionless voice that I don't like. The audio CD is available for £30.49 from the Isis Publishing website (www.isis-publishing.co.uk). I would recommend you check at your local library though. == Summary and recommendation == I would have to give this 2 stars. This is mainly due to the fact I wasn't too keen on the spiders used in the story. Also because when I read this, I hadn't read the first two novels in the series, so I wasn't familiar with the back-story to all the characters and the writing style of the author.
02 Dark Hollow by John Connolly == Plot synopsis == This is the second novel in the Charlie Parker series. Charlie Parker is a former NYPD cop turned private detective. In the first novel we learnt that his wife and daughter were murdered by a serial killer. In this novel, a client of his is accused of murder and then his young wife and child are brutally murdered. With the client on the run, Parker has no answers. Did the client kill his own wife and child and the other people? Parker investigates and sets out to track down his prime suspect and find out what is going on. However, someone else is tracking both of them. As the bodies pile up, crimes from the distant past and present intermingle as he comes face to face with evil incarnate. The case turns out to be more personal than he could ever have imagined . . . == My thoughts == This novel isn't really that easy to summarise but I did like it. It drew me in from the start and kept me reading. You are never sure who the killer(s) are right till the end. I like the way the author is able to use language in a very poetic way in certain sections especially when Parker thinks he is seeing the ghosts of his dead wife and child. The author is also able to describe scenes in great detail and in such a way that you are able to easily picture them in your mind. I found certain images quite disturbing though, for example there's one part in the novel where he describes someone discovering some decomposing bodies coated with flies. I wouldn't recommend you read this while you are eating or if you have a weak stomach. You also get to learn a bit more about Parker in this novel and his past including about his grandfather which helps to develop his character. I would recommend you start by reading the first novel in this series (Every Dead Thing) so you are familiar with his back-story and so you can understand why he acts in the way he does. == Audio narration and availability == This was narrated by Jeff Harding. I didn't like his voice which I found a bit too emotionless but I kept listening due to the gripping plot. This is available from the Isis Publishing web site (www.isis-publishing.co.uk). It is currently selling for £32.49 which is for the audio CD version. I would recommend you pick this up from your local library if possible. == Summary and recommendation == I give this 4 stars. I liked the themes it explores like redemption and the nature of evil. It is also an intricate and well crafted mystery novel, that keeps you guessing - The pieces of the puzzle don't come together right till the end.
Boots Slanted Tweezers == Packaging == These are Boots own brand of tweezers, and they come in minimalist packaging, which consists of a small plastic bag. It was easy to open. You peel open a flap at one end. No need to mess about with scissors, or a chainsaw. The tweezers are kept closed by a small plastic loop at one end that you can take off and throw away. I liked the fact that there is no excess packaging for environmental reasons, but also because it allowed me to feel the tweezers through it when I was in the store, so I could get a general idea of whether they would be right for me. == My thoughts == It says on the packaging that these are for removing eyebrow hair, and reading a few of the other reviews on here people seem to be using them for that purpose primarily. However, I bought these to remove the extra strands of hair I end up missing while shaving my beard / stubble on the top of my cheeks. I like to pull them out with tweezers. I have been using a small pair of tweezers that came with my Swiss Army Knife but I find it quite difficult to get hold and pull out hair with that. It was time to get some new tweezers. I wandered into my local Boots store and had a look around. There was quite a variety. There were the standard flat tweezers, the slanted type like these and ones that had a fine thin tip. I primarily chose these as they felt durable and seemed as they would be able to do the job. These have slanted tips, making it easier to get the hair you want. They have a ridged surface on both outer sides of the tweezers. I am not sure if you are supposed to press down where the ridged parts are, but I find it easier if I squeeze the tweezers near the bottom where the slanted tip is. It requires less pressure. The ridged part of the tweezers are a bit further up. == Price and availability == As mentioned above, these are available from Boots stores and I bought these for £1.80. I think this is a very reasonable price. There were one set of tweezers there that were being sold for £22, which I thought was too much for an item such as this. == Summary and recommendation == I give these 5 stars. For a pair of tweezers, they tick all the requisite requirements. They are able to pull out hair easily and are comfortable to use. They seem durable and are not overpriced.
The Fifth Angel by David Wiltse == Plot synopsis == It starts off in 1979 when the main character is taking part in a military training exercise, and then for the rest of the book moves to 1984. Mark Stitzer was the best paratrooper in an elite unit of the U.S army. He is trained to covertly go into Moscow and carry out terrorist acts in the case of World War 3. However, during a training exercise, he gets accidentally buried alive, and goes crazy as a result. He ends up thinking the training exercise is a real mission. == My Thoughts == I enjoy reading novels set during the Cold War and I was looking forward to reading an action packed novel with a heroic character who manages to come on top, against all the odds. However, this appears to have been published in 1985 and I would say that it is a cheap and pointless Rambo rip off that was trying to cash in on the success of the movies. It has a mentally disturbed soldier, Mark Stitzer as the main protagonist. He thinks he is on a mission behind enemy lines, and that his wife, nephew and anyone else he comes across are Soviet imposters and not who they say they are. When I read a story, I expect there to be at least one good character that I can empathise with. This has no such characters. All of them have some bad points especially Stitzer. He is not someone I would like to meet. He comes across as being a syco even before he goes crazy, and you never really get to see what he is thinking. His character reminded me of Rambo but at least in the novel David Morell wrote, he tried to do some character development and explain how Rambo was feeling to try to get the reader to understand where he is coming from. Unlike Stitzer, Rambo didn't kill innocent civilians even though he does blow up a whole town and loads of police officers. I thought Stitzer was a terrorist rather than an elite soldier. I was there thinking there may be some redeeming quality about him but there is nothing by the end of the novel. Another important character is his nephew who is a journalist and who has some feelings towards his uncle as he brought him up after his parents died. I thought he was too naive and I didn't like him either as he ends up screwing his aunt (Stitzer's ex-wife). I didn't like the aunt either as later on in the book, the aunt screws Stitzer again. I remember thinking make your mind up. I can't say anything good about the plot either. I remember thinking if Stitzer is so dangerous then why is it that no special forces units were brought in to hunt him down. Instead, the FBI who are trying to apprehend him, come across as being incompetent and bumble their way through. I was disappointed with the ending as well. It is left pretty open ended. Maybe the author was planning to write a sequel, but it felt like the story had been left incomplete. I ended up feeling there was no point to it at all. == Summary and recommendation == I can't recommend this as there is no story and no likeable characters. I would have given this zero stars if I could but instead, I give this one star.
Print Head Cleaner Kit 50ml: I bought this because my Epson Stylus CX3200 printer stopped printing. It would miss parts of the page when printing or the colours would be blurred. I read on the internet that the print heads could be blocked as the ink can get clogged in them especially if you don't print for a while. The print head(s) in Epson printers are located in the printer instead of the ink cartridges like a lot of other printer manufacturers. I tried running the head and nozzle cleaning functions built into the printer several times, but it made no change. I then looked on Amazon / EBay for something that would allow me to manually clean the print heads. I was looking for something that would have everything included and that would explain what and how to go about cleaning the print heads. There were some cleaning solutions on Amazon for doing this job, but they didn't come with instructions or a syringe etc. I chose this particular kit for two reasons. The first was that it came with all the things I would need and it came with step-by-step instructions on what I would have to do. The things it came with were as follows: Printed instructions - You can also view video tutorials on YouTube and on their website, http://www.printheadhospital.co.uk/. I do think these tutorials could be made better by showing close up what the person is doing. A 50ml bottle of print head cleaning solution Two latex gloves A syringe A tube which you attach to the syringe and then place on the print head. There was supposed to be some blotting paper as well which is supposed to soak up any cleaning solution that may go into your printer. I'm not sure if this was included or not. There was a piece of what felt like normal cardboard included. The second reason I chose this was because it had a refund promise on the site I bought it from. They promised to refund me within 30 days of receipt of this, if the cleaning solution didn't help to unclog my printer. == What I did == I first had to boil some water. I then unscrewed the top of the cleaning solution bottle to let out any expanding fumes and then placed the bottle in the water, so it was about half covered. I let it stay there for about 5 minutes. A syringe along with a plastic tube was included and I pushed the tube onto the syringe. I think I stuck it the wrong way round when I did it. One side of the tube has a thicker end. I think that is the side you push onto the syringe. It is quite tricky to attach this to the tube. IN the tutorial video I watched, it recommends you soak the plastic tube in the hot water for a bit as well to loosen it up a bit. I then drew and then expelled about 2.5ml of hot water in and out of the syringe to warm it up. I then drew up 2ml of the cleaning solution into the syringe. I chose the option on my printer for changing a ink cartridge so they moved to the centre of the printer. I withdrew the colour cartridge and put it into a plate just in case any ink leaked. I wasn't too sure what a print head is supposed to look like. I found 3 needle like or pin like things when I removed the colour cartridge. When I removed the black ink cartridge, there was only 1 of these pins. I am thinking these must be the print heads. The tutorial videos and the instructions don't make it very clear. There was nothing else that seemed like a print head. Anyway, I placed the tube over one of the print heads and then gently pushed in 1ml of cleaning solution into it. I left it for 5 minutes and then pushed in the remaining 1ml. I did this for the other 3 print heads and then did a test print out. It didn't print out too well. There were blobs of colour ink on the page I printed. However, when I tried again the next morning, it printed normal. The black printed fine and some of the colours worked but it wasn't printing certain colours like orange but instead was printing yellow. I repeated the above procedure but left the solution to soak overnight. This time the printer messed up completely and wouldn't print anything whenever it came out of the printer. I decided to chuck the printer and buy a new one. The seller refunded me the cost for this straight away which I thought was a good touch. It is not everyday you get such good customer service. I am not sure what ingredients are in the cleaning solution. It had a slight medical smell to it but I managed to get some on my fingers and nothing bad happened. It is best to use the latex gloves just to be safe. == Price and availability == On Amazon this is selling for £12 + £4.08 for delivery. However, this is selling for £12 on the http://www.printheadhospital.co.uk/ website and also on EBay. I would recommend you purchase this from EBay if possible. The kit itself like the syringe, latex gloves etc should cost no more than £3 altogether I would have thought. It is good though, for someone who doesn't know what they may need or just wants everything in one go. The main benefit is the refund guarantee as the seller 'PrintheadHospital' will refund you if the kit doesn't help to unclog your printer. == Summary and recommendation == Even though this didn't work as well as I would have hoped, I am still giving this four stars. Primarily due to the fact that I was refunded my money, so I didn't end up losing anything in trying it. If you have a clogged printer, say you have left it unused for a while then there is no harm in giving this a go.