Review: The Sleep Room

The Sleep Room
The Sleep Room by F.R.Tallis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First up, just to say that I got this book for free after winning a competition on Tor’s facebook page. This won’t influence my review other than that I’d probably not have picked this particular book up on a whim, nor read it as quickly! It’s actually not due for release until May 2013, and it’s always nice to get something before everyone else.

The book’s set in the late 1950’s, predominantly in a psychiatric hospital in the middle of nowhere where experiments are taking place with new techniques to alleviate illness. Nothing particularly gory, but old-fashioned by our viewpoint today. It’s written in the first person from the point of view of a new staff member, Dr James Richardson, as he tried to unravel the mysteries surrounding the patients while getting on with his job (and getting off with one of the nursing staff).
Imagine something along the lines of Shutter Island for the feel of things. Not quite “Gothic”, but just that dark, historic feel.

The medical talk all sounds pretty convincing, and indeed in the acknowledgements quite a few professionals are credited. It’s surprising to realise that some of the techniques mentioned were still pretty commonplace towards the end of the last century – or at least well past the halfway mark.

As time progresses in his new job, “things” start to happen. Some explainable, others less so. The story gently strays from medical thriller into horror as the pages turn.

If I’m honest, I found the ending a little predictable but the story on the way there was always enjoyable with a couple of particularly spooky sequences that had me looking over my shoulder as I read on my own at 2am! The fact that I managed to get through the whole thing in a couple of days is a definite indication that I was engrossed.

Well written, well-paced and with good characters. I loved the language and the viewpoint of the protagonist, which I thought sat very well with the era in which the story was set.

As I said, not something I would have picked up myself but I’m very glad I ended up with it in my hands. If you like spooky horror rather than gross-out slash-fests, this could well be something you’d like.

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Review: Doctor Who And The Daleks

Doctor Who And The Daleks
Doctor Who And The Daleks by David Whitaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second Doctor Who book I’ve ever read – the first was Genesis of the Daleks when I was about 10 years old. It’s based on TV episodes from 1963 and originally published in 1964, though there was a film version starring Peter Cushing and Roy Castle which I vaguely remember as well!

It’s not a bad book, though it lacks the flippant comments and off-the-cuff humour that The Doctor has taken on over the years. It’s quite a simple story and for someone who really jumped onto Doctor Who at a late age, raises more questions than it answers. I won’t mention them here for fear of spoilers.

Still, a nice small book that I could blast through quickly and which will find itself being donated to the school library at the start of term.

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Review: Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Bombmakers

Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Bombmakers
Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Bombmakers by Chris Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not so much a follow-up to “Eight Lives Down” as a companion tome, and a far superior one. Whereas the first book covered predominantly Hunter’s involvement in one conflict, Extreme Risk spans several.

It’s also a far more emotional and hard-hitting read with greater variety in subject matter. Training, different countries, and a variety of positions both within and out with the Army are all covered as part of Hunter’s incredibly interesting life story.

If you like either factual or fictional military books, this is without a doubt a must-read. The background to events that have occurred in recent memory – the 7th July bombings in London to name but one – are detailed and help make sense of what happened on those awful dates, as well as justifying some of the government actions which came afterwards.

Check my progress on this book (if you can). I think it’s the quickest I have ploughed through a reasonably-sized book in the last couple of years… and with good reason. Gripping, well-paced, oozing with information, yet easy to read.

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Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1

ACTION - Pulse Pounding Tales
ACTION - Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1

Published today is Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1. Why do I mention this? Because I have a story in it!

It’s an anthology of stories based on action heroes. Harking back to the characters and tales of the 1970’s when political correctness was second in line to plot, explosions were bigger, bullets only caused flesh wounds in the good guys and everything screamed along like the finalé to a Hollywood summer blockbuster.

Authors include Matt Hilton and Stephen Leather, plus a smorgasbord of other established talent and a bunch of newbies like me.

It’s a bargain at £2.56 (Kindle only, I’m afraid), and for the first month of release Matt is donating 50p per copy sold to the rather worthwhile Help For Heroes charity.

Clicky links for purchase are as follows:

Amazon UK and Amazon US

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Review: Death by Facebook

Death by Facebook
Death by Facebook by Everett Peacock
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not really my kind of thing. I was sold on the title, thinking it would be quite geeky but facebook itself gets a couple of mentions in the story.

There are a few plot strands and a decent cast of characters, but I think the story was trying to appeal to too many audiences at once. Chick-lit, crime, spiritual, thriller… Just too much for one story. The spiritual stuff in particular I found a bit overly mawkish in places and that kind of stuff really isn’t my cup of tea in the first place.

Without giving away any spoilers (I hope!) the vulcanology material seems quite well researched and written. Had the book been a thriller or disaster story set purely around that, I’d likely have enjoyed it from what I read.

But, it’s just too much of a melting pot for me.

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