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etherealD

etherealD
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Member since: 13.03.2010

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      14.09.2010 12:14
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      One of the great novels of our time

      I must admit the film of this book put me off reading it for quite a while, but when I finally did pick this up, I devoured it in a few sittings. It is quite simply one of the most beautifully written books out there.

      It starts quite gently and humorously introducing us to a small Greek island called Cephallonia, where we meet the strange but lovable inhabitants. The main characters are the island's self appointed but not certified doctor, Dr. Iannis and his daughter, Pelagia. As Iannis is widowed, Pelagia is allowed quite free reign and so is strong willed and educated, wanting to follow in her father's footsteps of medicine. When she falls for a local boy, her father is a little worried that he is not on her level and that she will tire of him. However, the second world war intervenes and he leaves to fight the invading Italians.

      Pelagia writes to him but is dissapointed in his lack of response and his condition after returning from the front. During this time we are also introduced to other supporting characters through first person monologues, letters and observations of them, a different tool seemingly used in each chapter. The chapter where Mussolini rants on is absolutely hilarious in a fascinatingly frightening way and the end of that chapter, when he beings shooting at a cat that's wandered in had me in stitches.

      As the novel progresses it becomes ever darker. The Italian Captain Corelli comes to lodge with Iannis and Pelagia and against their will charms them both. As the war continues and the Germans take over, it at times becomes almost too heartbreaking to read.

      I felt that the novel peaked during the German occupation of the island. This was really powerful and it seemed that after this event, the author seemed to lose a bit of enthusiasm and the latter part which depicts the rest of Pelagia's life felt rushed and half hearted. The conclusion was a bit bland in my opinion.

      However, this does not detract from the beautiful and moving first half of the novel and it is certainly a book you should include on your reading list, as a masterclass on how to write!

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      • Juno (DVD) / DVD / 32 Readings / 30 Ratings
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        31.08.2010 13:41
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        A nice little film that tries a bit too hard to be indie, but is enjoyable all the same.

        I'd heard a lot about this film and decided to see what the fuss was about. As you probably know, the plot follows a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant and systematically and calmly arranges for the child to be adopted. She vets a suitable family, after finding them in the classified section of the local paper and tries to get to know them, and the new dad in particular who seems like a cool guy, a little better.

        The film follows her dealing with the fallout of her situation and her feelings for the father of her child and the new parents of the baby. The subject of the motherly bond is investigated in depth here, as we see many variations of it. Juno's own mother has abandoned her, but her step mother has fiercely loving bond towards her, one which is reflected in the cautiously optimistic bond that grows between the adoptive mother of the baby.

        As someone who has suffered infertility, I found the adoptive mother's struggle (played by Jennifer Garner) a really touching one. The way she tries to shield herself from forming a bond too soon with the new baby and her efforts to suppress any feelings or make solid plans till the deal is done; and then the end result, had me in tears as it is such a realistic portrayal of how infertility can affect someone's ability to hope and dream.

        The main character is a great actress, making the part completely her own, and I also liked her parents, whose portrayal of the situation was realistic and endearing. However, I found the soundtrack to be a bit twee in a trying too hard to be edgy kind of way.

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        • Skin - Mo Hayder / Fiction Book / 10 Readings / 10 Ratings
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          31.08.2010 13:25
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          Promises a lot, delivers the minimum

          This book was my introduction to the series, never having read any of the Jack Caffery novels before. It started off really interestingly, as a touch of the supernatural is involved in a police diver's search for a missing body. I thought, oh hang on a minute, this could be a bit different to your average cop thriller.

          The main character could be interchanged with a variety of hard bitten copper characters around at the moment. It's not very often that a truly unique one catches my attention, I find them all very samey. The side character of Flea is kind of interesting, but typically feisty and bolshy for a lead female. Her story line is quite a gripping one, as she has to deal with the after effects of covering up a incident her brother has been involved in.

          The main plot follows Caffery trying to solve a series of suspicious suicides which catch his attention. This is complicated by a previous case which he can't quite put to rest and which he feels is following his every move. Him and Flea are supposed to have some kind of romantic chemistry going on, but the most it ever gets to is lewd comments about her chest ?! After a couple of chapters they seemed to split off into their own seperate stories, only coming together briefly at the end.

          Overall, this written well, with moderately involving characters and it seemed quite realistic in its portrayal of the procedural side of police work. I will read more books in this series if they come my way, but won't be going out of my way to buy any, as I didn't find it overly exciting.

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          30.08.2010 14:12
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          Worth the money

          I bought this phone as I thought it would be a good introduction to touch screen technology. It has a slide out keypad underneath, which means you can go old school if you don't take to the touch screen, so encompasses the best of both worlds.

          It has some jazzy features, as the menu at the side of the phone has some useful apps already included, such as the calendar, top three contacts and birthdays reminder. Added to this, you can move the apps onto the 'desktop' and place them wherever you like, further customising your phone. However, I stopped placing things on the desktop after a while, as there is no way to lock them in place. As soon as your thumb hits the screen by mistake, they are sliding about all over the place. I also found that the downloads store for apps was very limited and never seems to be updated. Therefore, I only use a few of them and use the side menu to access them.

          The other annoying thing about this phone is that because of the keypad underneath, it is impossible to use it one handedly. The screen is so top heavy that it tilts over when trying to type, meaning you have to hold it in place.

          Another issue I seem to be having is phantom phone calls! Sometimes the phone seems to get knocked in a certain manner known only to itself and this causes it to protest by ringing you! I have spent quite a few minutes trying and failing to answer phone calls with no one at the other end.

          Aside from these glitches, it is a good phone with lots of useful features, such as the radio (although it doesn't let you use the speaker function unless you put the earphones in first, then take them out!) and the reminder and stopwatch with lap app. I also like the fact that like Motorollas, it gives you a reminder when you haven't read a message- great for when you have been away from the phone or haven't heard it at first.

          It is quite slim line and not too bulky and looks good, and I find the touch screen to be very good compared to some others on the market, which can be too fiddly. Overall, a good phone which does the job of a stop gap between a basic and a smart phone well.

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          30.08.2010 13:50
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          A lovely novel that takes you so long to read it becomes a part of your life!

          When this clattered through my letterbox from Amazon, I took one look at the phenomenal length of it and the tiny font size on each page and thought, this one is going to be a struggle! However, never one to shirk from a challenge, I dove straight in and a month or two later, I was sorry when the book ended.

          It emcompasses a huge number of people in the 'cast' but follows two main characters, Lata, a girl who in a very Jane Austen style is searching with the driving force of her mother behind her, for a suitable husband. The other character is Mann, a young tearaway who we see fall in love with a totally unsuitable muslim courtesan and go on a journey of self discovery as he tries to deal with her somewhat infuriatingly hot and cold affections. It is set in 1950s India and follows a large number of families who are all linked together through these two main characters.

          Through the families and their different social backgrounds and interactions, we see a snapshot of India at that time, how it is struggling to find its own voice after getting rid of the British and setting up its own government. I must admit the parts dealing with the passing of bills and the consititution of the country were a bit dull, but the vehicle of the character's involvement in it made this subject come to life.

          Some of the descriptions are very poetic and there is a gentle humor to the book, which did remind me a lot of Austin. The plot is also very similar and the mother, Mrs Rupa Mehra, could have stepped straight out of Pride and Prejudice. This is by no means a bad thing however, and I found that I looked forward to my next installment of gossip from the family circle that Seth has created here.

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            30.08.2010 13:32
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            A brilliant addition to the series, can't wait to find out where they go next!

            The big draw to this series for me is the characters. Dr Tony Hill is the endearingly wacky consultant profiler to Carol Jordan, head of the Major Incident Team, who investigate both old and current cases. Both of these characters are great for different reasons, here we see the best of bumbling Tony, with some great comic scenes involving him and Carol being her typical hard headed self. As always, the plot of the actual investigation- a series of murders of teenage kids who are preyed upon via internet social networking sites, plays second fiddle to the private lives of the two main characters.

            In this novel, Tony explores his past with the (unwanted) help of Carol. His unknown father has passed away, leaving him a large legacy. Tony travels to his father's home in order to find out more about the man and his reason's for leaving him alone with his deranged mother, someone who has damaged Tony to the point where he can understand and empathise with the criminally deviant characters he profiles.

            Unknown to Tony, Carol is also investigating the reasons for his father's disappearance from Tony's life and they edge closer together, even though they have to professionally take a step away from each other due to her new boss, who is committed to a cost cutting exercise. One of the costs to be cut is Tony, a great loss to the close knit team.

            The murders themselves are an interesting little back drop to the real action, but the motives for them were very obvious from the start, even if there are a few twists along the way, they feel half hearted. Saying that, it was an interesting concept as a plot and as always, the action is very well written and involving.

            A great addition to the series, it's always interesting to find out how these two characters are moving on in their fictional lives!

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            30.08.2010 11:33
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            One of the best films I've seen this decade.

            I've had this on my to see list for a while, but finally got around to watching it last night. I'm still reeling. In a few words; powerful, stunning and harrowing.

            This animated film follows the film-maker, Ari Folman's, journey to explore his lost memories of the 1982 Lebanon war, and in particular the massacre of the Palestinians; an event which he was within a few yards of but has no recollection of. He does not know how involved, if at all he was in the atrocity. The film follows Ari talking to people from that time who were with him in service or at the scene and has depictions of real life people playing themselves, something which is difficult at times to reconcile with the harrowing stories they are telling.

            There is a lot of dark humor in this tale as well, as the teenage soldiers deal as best they can with going to war, and the soundtrack is a great foundation for setting tone of the period, as with all great war films. It reminded me a lot of the Vietnam films, with lots of rousing songs dealing with the topic at hand.

            As to the animation, what can I say. Stunning doesn't seem to do it justice. You have visual feats here on an unrelenting scale. The colours are perfect for setting mood, the action shifts between surreal and all too detailed fact and the 'inking' is sublime. At the very end of the film, as Ari comes to remember his involvement in the genocide of innocent families, the action switches to real life coverage of the scenes and real images that will haunt you.

            Overall, a wonderful piece of art and a record of a situation that I knew nothing about until watching this film. Very educational in a beautiful and moving way.

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              27.08.2010 15:04
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              Will kill a couple of hours if you're stuck in an airport with nothing to do

              I don't go out of my way to read the Alex Cross series, as I find them really badly written. The characters in them are a bit one dimensional and although the plots can be interesting, they are a bit like fast food, they deliver a quick hit but don't leave you nourished in any way afterwards.

              The plot of this book is quite an interesting but extremely violent one. From the first horrific opening scene, you get the sense that this is not the typical run of the mill American cop thriller storyline. The hero of the plot, Cross investigates the death of an old lover (yes another one) which leads him to travel to Africa. There he meets and overcomes all sorts of bureaucratic and more deadly obstacles but seems to somehow come out of them due to the compassion of an otherwise unthinkingly trigger happy killer.

              I found that the plot was quite involving, as it dealt with issues of foreign politics and organised crime that aren't often seen in this type of novel, but the way the prose is written really let this book down. Firstly, the chapters are about 2 pages long each and seem to read like a primary two pupil wrote them for a homework assignment, eg- "Then I saw a gun! It shot me!" This really interupted the flow of the story for me, as I spent most of the time berating the author for being so rubbish at describing events.

              Overall, a quick read with some interesting facets, but certainly not Dickens.

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                27.08.2010 14:49
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                A good fun way to take up a few hours

                I'm a huge fan of Harry Bosch, and waited patiently for this book to come out. It was not a dissapointment, and I read it in about two sittings, after finally persuading myself to put it down and go to bed on the first night!

                The story delves into the most involving parts of this series, Harry's personal life. We learn more about his ex wife and daughter and about what Harry is willing to do to protect them from a case which seems straightforward at first, but leads to him having to make a journey across the world to Hong Kong, to investigate the triads. As a side plot, we also learn more about his interactions with his collegues, and how he is willing or un-willing to cut them any slack! His typical blunt way of dealing with things sets into motion some intricate repercussions for those around him, which we should be able to watch developing as the series progresses.

                The depection of Hong Kong itself is realistic and fast paced, but in parts the action can be a bit farcical. It made me think of a Jean Claude Van Damme movie, which didn't really suit the character. And the way he gets over the fall out from this blockbuster shooting spree is laughably simple, although it is interesting how a character from another series is linked in to assist.

                Overall, yeah, it is involving and interesting, with a few twists. The action is daft, but on a personal level, we connect with this interesting character even more and can see how he has evolved over the past decade.

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                • Sherlock Holmes (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                  14.06.2010 13:36
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                  A fun film.

                  I saw the trailer for this and I thought. Oh my god. This looks like the most awful film ever made. It reminded me of that spoof film Christian Slater did a while back about Winston Churchill being remoulded as an all american action hero. The trailer shows explosions, action and cheesy buddy movie undertones. I was determined not to see it, as a fan of the original books, I couldn't bear to see Sherlock Holmes sculpted into this parody of himself. However, after reading a few positive reviews of the film, I thought I'd give it a go.

                  I was actually really surprised by how much I liked it. I love love loved RD Jnr in Iron Man, so was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as an american version of Sherlock, but he pulled off the accent reasonably well and made a really involving character. True to the books, he brought out the quirky cocaine indulging, opium den visiting, playful side of Holmes which is often overlooked in favour of the stuffy deer stalker side. In fact, the film pulled out the most interesting parts of the novels, i.e. the relationship between Holmes and Watson which evolved from two boys together pranking about on cases and getting up to no good in their lodgings to one of them wanting to settle down and get married, and the jealousy this caused. The other example of this is the involvement of the only woman we ever see Holmes interested in (due to her outwitting him) Irene Addler. The interaction between these two characters is great fun as he tries to make sure she doesn't out smart him again, with little success.

                  The plot itself doesn't really matter a great deal, as it just sets up the sequel and characters anyway, but it involves the capture and execution for black magic charges of Lord Blackwood, who then rises from the grave to get up to more mischief. Holmes and Watson set about the case, with all the action we saw in the trailer ensuing. Some great touches to this make you take notice, such as the expressions RD Jnr pulls when taking a punch, or the addition of the brilliant French speaking giant and the dialogue between them whilst Holmes receives an ass whupping.

                  This could so easily have become a turkey, especially with the fallen from grace director Guy Ritchie at the helm. However, we did love him for a reason once, remember? Some of his originality makes a reappearance in this film, but not to the detriment of the plot. In fact the slowed down flash backs and forwards help to underline some of the finer details.

                  Overall, a good little night in in front of the telly with some chips and dips. It's not going to blow you away intellectually, but did you really expect it to?

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                    14.06.2010 13:15
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                    Could make a good afternoon murder mystery movie.

                    This book forms part of the Roy Grace series, one which I haven't read before, and which I won't be overly eager to read again. The plot focuses on a body found off the coast of Brighton, which is initially thought to be a sea burial, but turns out to have had all it's vital organs taken out before being sunk into the deep blue. This sparks off an investigation into human organ trafficking, which becomes international. Parallel to this plot is one of a mother of a seriously ill daughter who desperately needs a liver transplant. How far is she willing to go when she feels the NHS aren't supporting her daughter's needs?

                    The concept of this dilemma is a really interesting one. What would you do to keep your child alive? Would you kill? However, I found the daughter's character to be uninvolving. I would have put her out of her misery myself if she made one more sarky comment. And that's the problem with this book. It makes every effort to make the characters have interesting, involving lives, but they just fall short. The core dilemma kept my interest in a Jodi Piccoult churn-out-the-parental-quandary-novel-once-a-year kind of way, but it didn't really get me thinking hard about the subject after I finished reading.

                    I think a lot of the failings of the characters were rooted in the way that the research was integrated into the novel. Or should I say not integrated. Most of it felt like it had been pasted from a google search, or taken straight from an interview with a police source. In particular, the section where Roy tells his team not to refer to leads as evidence in case the lawyers pick up on it and they all nod deferentially, struck me as something an advisor to the author had said, which he then thought he would mention to make him sound knowledgeable about police procedure. it didn't sound real- in real life detectives don't inform other policemen not to move things from the crime scene as "it might disturb trace evidence" the dialogue was just too stiff and unrealistic. Another example of the research interrupting the flow of the book was the cut and paste description of the Glasgow coma scale. Show, don't tell!!!

                    All this made this book an ok read. it had great potential as a plot and the characters were all there ready to be crafted into people who you could form a connection with, but the story telling just wasn't up to scratch. I can see why the author is a good screen writer, as in capable actor's hands the characters might come to life, but on the printed page they just didn't capture my attention. When you compare this to Mark Billingham's stuff, there really is no contest whatsoever.

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                      18.05.2010 13:33
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                      A book that will keep you good company for a couple of days.

                      Cold Granite is the first novel by Stuart McBride. I had to check this whilst I was reading it, as it reads like a well established series. A lot of this is probably done on purpose, as the plot of the previous, non existant book is explained as we go along. I quite like this as a plot device, as it makes you feel that you have been dropped into characters which have a history. The previous plot is also a bit tongue in cheek, following a routine serial rapist and killer investigation, which builds to a thrilling climax where the main character, DS Logan McRae is stabbed brutally in the stomach. In Cold Granite, we meet him returning to work after a year out on the sick.

                      The book is set in Aberdeen and it depicts the granite buildings of the title and the cold dreech weather brilliantly. There is quite a bit of local slang in it, which can often annoy me, but it seems to flow ok in this dialogue. DS McRae is thrown in at the deep end, investigating a few different crimes, the main one of which is children going missing in the city. The body count is unrelenting and so is the gore and horror of the situations we discover. At times I felt really uneasy reading this, as my own son is so close to the age of the missing kids, it's basically describing every parent's worst nightmare and is hard to read at times. The only thing that kept me reading was the characters.

                      The main character, Logan is an alright bloke, although I found the sheer herociness of his deeds a bit irksome towards the end. He probably could have done with some more flaws, but I guess we see enough flawed, troubled detectives in novels by other writers. The brilliant touches though are the supporting cast. His boss, DI Insch is a work of genius, the kind of guy you would love to hate, but end up loving more. Tiny touches about people's personalities, like Insch's sweetie addiction add to the humor and make this an enjoyable read, despite the gore.

                      There is certainly a lot to get your teeth into in terms of plot as well, as there are about 5 different subplots which are all neatly tied up, all be it in often macabre ways! As with most of the thriller genre at the moment though, it's more the personal lives of the characters which keep your attention, rather than the big main storyline.

                      In conclusion, I will certainly be looking out for the next installment in the series, as this was an easy and enjoyable read.

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                    • Hellboy (DVD) / DVD / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                      12.05.2010 14:50
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                      A happy little romp in comic book land

                      When I heard they were making a Hellboy movie, in my opinion there was only one actor who could carry off the big hulking blue collar demon. And they nabbed him for this! Ron Pearlman- honestly, can you think of anyone more perfect for the role? And to top it off, the director is Guillermo del Toro. Anyone who has seen his beautiful and haunting Pan's Labyrinth will know that you are in good fantasy hands here.

                      The plot is your run of the mill Nazis invoke a Hell demon to destroy the earth, helped of course by Rasputin (!) What comes forth is a young Hellboy, who is adopted by Proffesor Broom, an occult specialist. This film follows Hellboy from that moment and into his adult life where he is recruited into the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, a secret government agency. We meet his friend Abe, the amphibian and the love interest, Liz Sherman who has a fiery temper (literally).

                      But damn them, the nasty nazis get ole Rasputin back, and the plot follows them unleashing a very naughty doggy Hellhound into New York. To add to the problem, it multiplies when killed. Their main aim however is to lure Hellboy into carrying out his intended purpose, which is to end the world and bring about Hell on Earth.

                      This concept is a really interesting one, as the likeable rough diamond Hellboy has no airs or graces whatso-ever and couldn't be less full of his own self importance. Pearlman carries his personality off brilliantly, as he gets on with the drudgery of day to day life cracking paranormal skulls, getting bored with being cooped up, sanding down his horns to fit in, and looking after his cats. This character is one of the most fascinating and multi faceted in the comic-verse and I thought this was a brilliant introduction to him. The humor is understated but funny, and even the romance (which isn't featured in the comics) was a brilliant addition (bet you never thought I'd say that!). The way Liz's anxieties and lack of confidence is supported by the big dolt was handled really sensitively and you can see why they'd be a perfect match, especially at the really romantic ending.

                      The colouring in this movie is well done too, if you watch the extras you will see exactly how much a labour of love this was for Del Toro, he goes the extra mile to capture the look and feel of the comic, and the artist was also heavily involved, always a good thing.

                      In short, this is one of the great comic adaptations, and although it does feel a little blockbuster kids action film in some sequences, adult fans should enjoy it too.

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                        11.05.2010 13:20
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                        Something everyone should read, if only to find out where so many phrases in use today come from.

                        A lot of people have read this book as part of their English literature studies at school. I didn't get that chance, so made sure I included this in my recent drive to read all the great novels. I'm glad I did! I was expecting a dry and difficult book, but as I've found in so many of the great novels- they're still read for a reason, as they are actually 'great!'

                        This novel is based on Orwell's fears about socialism and follows our protagonist Winston in a dystopian future where Big Brother, or Ingsoc rules Britain with a voyeuristic iron fist. In fact, there is no Britain anymore, it having been eaten up by Oceania, one of three blocks of land which are constantly and pointlessly at war with each other.

                        Winston feels suffocated by this regime and tries to remember a time of freedom before Big Brother. In an attempt to find some control over his own thoughts and feelings, he starts to write a diary; an act of terrorism that he knows from the beginning will cause him to be arrested and tortured by the thought police. But in defiance, Winston goes on to find other like minded individuals, even embarking on a love affair, which is also strictly forbidden.

                        1984 predicts many things, that are now coming to pass, such as text speak- an abbreviated form of english, called Newspeak in this book.
                        Indeed, there are many parts of this book which are now embedded in the conciousness of today- room 101 being one of the plot lines which I hadn't realised came from this book. 'Big Brother is watching you' is also another slogan which is often quoted when referring to cctv and other intrusions by our modern day government. However, the whole concept of being observed is not the most striking one in this novel in my opinion. The far more interesting concept for me was- what is reality? If everyone says something is the truth, does that make it so? This is especially relevant today in websites such as Wikipedia, where encyclopedic entries are written by the public. Does the fact that anyone can edit the truth make it more, or less real? That it is written by the majority rather than a few elite make it more or less truthful? This really got me thinking. The whole idea of history being written by the victors is now turning round to history (and so reality) being written by anyone who cares to do so.

                        At the end of the book we find ourselves questioning whether the truth can be twisted to make anything possible, and that was the most chilling part of the novel for me.

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                          08.05.2010 11:52
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                          A great read if you can stomach it.

                          I find Karin Slaughter's books to be very involving, especially her Grant County series with Sara Linton. What makes her books so interesting is the characters- they're all very individual and the way their stories weave together are so complex and intriguing that you find you are more interested in what is going on in their personal lives than the actual plot of the thriller itself.

                          Recently, Karin took a very surprising twist to the end of one of her books. This book follows up on the aftermath and you get to find out how the main character is coping. Another very clever twist is that it actually ties up with two characters from a different series, Will Trent (one of the weirdest but most endearing people I've come across in any form of literature recently) and Faith Mitchell, two GBI agents who investigate murders.

                          Sara is working at an A&E department where a girl who has been run over by a car is brought in. Soon it becomes very apparent that being hit by a car is the least of her worries, as she's been horrifically tortured. Now, this is where it gets grizzly- at times I found myself wondering why the heck people are so keen to read about such terrible violence against women. It seems the worse the ordeal, the more copies the book sells. We've seen rape and torture in Karin's books before, but nothing to top this, it's terrible and makes you wonder where she got her ideas from!

                          Saying that, I kept reading, so I must be a bit of a pyscho too. I spent two days solid reading this story, unable to put it down save to eat or sleep. The main reason for this was to find out how the characters would end up- there are a few plotlines following each one and it's really interesting to see how the two series react to each other.

                          The other fun thing about this was that the victims weren't passive. They were all terrible, self involved people who were out for themselves and would screw over other people to make the best of their situation. There are some other minor characters who you find yourself questioning whether they are good or bad people, and don't quite come up with a definitive answer, something refreshing.

                          In a nutshell, not for the faint hearted, but if you like your thrillers gizzly and character based, this is a great read.

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