Profile for J. Ward > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by J. Ward
Top Reviewer Ranking: 632,655
Helpful Votes: 46

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
J. Ward (UK)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Teacher, Teacher!
Teacher, Teacher!
by Jack Sheffield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read, but nothing amazing, 17 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Teacher, Teacher! (Paperback)
'I'm part of the Transworld book group' and was sent this book to review by Transworld.

I really loved the idea of this book, and had high hopes for it before I began, but for some reason, it just didn't quite live up to expectations.

The book is semi-autobiographical, and chronicles the first year of Jack Sheffield's role as Head Teacher at Ragley-on-the Forest primary school in North Yorkshire. There's a whole slew of colourful, larger-than-life characters, and life in the tiny village of Ragley seems idyllic. The school children are, on the whole, quite adorable, and I enjoyed the gentle, anecdotal style the book adopts. However, despite all that, there were a few little niggles - nothing major, but enough to pull me out of my enjoyment of the book, nonetheless. The fact that the book is semi-autobiographical - based on real events - had me wondering on a few occasions how much had happened and how much was embellished; perhaps not a problem for some people (we all get the general idea of where the book's going!), but for me personally, I would have preferred a straight-up memoir, or a straight-up fictional story; something in between didn't quite cut it. The dialogue too, is a little contrived in places, and I found myself cringing on a few occasions.

On the whole, however, I did like this book; I perhaps wouldn't actively seek out the rest of the series, but this is an easy read and I'm glad I finished it.


The Secrets Between Us
The Secrets Between Us
by Louise Douglas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling, chilling.....brilliant, 5 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Secrets Between Us (Paperback)
'I'm part of the Transworld book group' and was sent this book to review by Transworld.

Sarah and Alex meet one summer in Sicily. Sarah's recently suffered the loss of her stillborn child and the breakdown of her relationship, and Alex's wife has walked out on him, apparently abandoning him and their young son, Jamie. In her bid for a fresh start, Sarah agrees to leave her native Manchester and move down south to Burrington Stoke to act as Jamie's nanny, Alex's housekeeper and eventually, his lover. But the shadow of Alex's missing wife haunts Sarah wherever she goes, and it's not long before the questions and suspicions in the tiny village start to gather steam.....Where is Genevieve? Why would she abandon her adored son? Does Alex know more than he's letting on? And can Sarah trust him?

It's a cliche, but I was hooked and pulled in from page one by this book. The writing is so fluid and easy to read that I was engrossed almost immediately by Sarah and Alex's strange meeting and unconventional domestic set-up. The main point here, however, the thing that takes centre stage, is Genevieve's disappearance. The blurb on the back cover likens this novel to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and that isn't an unjust comparison: the atmosphere and tone of the book is extremely unsettling and claustrophobic and the mystery of the missing Genevieve is all-pervading. The writing is elegant and stark; the sentences are, at times, short and abrupt and no words are wasted - which in itself did little to dispel the unease I felt whilst reading this book. The story arc is fantastic - lots of twists and turns - and I really felt Sarah's turmoil and sense of isolation every time more 'facts' came to light to throw Alexander's character into question.

The only thing I did have a slight problem with, is that because the book is written in the first person - from Sarah's point of view - I never really felt as if I got to know Alexander properly, i.e, his thoughts and his feelings, and his motivations....mainly in regards to Sarah. I found myself, on more than one occasion, wondering if he really did care about her, and if so, why? Of course, I'm sure that was the author's intention all along - we're supposed to question Alexander, if we didn't, there'd be no mystery. Jamie is a sweet character and I really felt for him and his struggle to come to terms with the absence of his mother. The passages I found most touching, however, were those of Sarah describing the loss of her baby son - they were genuinely heartbreaking.

All in all, this is a cracking good read. I thoroughly enjoyed it; it's bleak and atmospheric and so compelling - I became totally engrossed in the story and the lives of these people. This is the first Louise Douglas book I've read, but it certainly won't be the last.


Incase Slider Case For Apple iPhone 4 / 4s - Black (Stand Included)
Incase Slider Case For Apple iPhone 4 / 4s - Black (Stand Included)

5.0 out of 5 stars As near to perfection as you can get, 1 Sept. 2011
This is the second Incase iPhone slider case I've owned - I bought one previously for my iPhone 3GS and it lasted so well, and I loved it so much, that there was never any question of me buying another one for my new iPhone 4.

Granted, there are cheaper cases available (not that this one is outlandishly expensive), but the saying 'you get what you pay for' definitely applies here. The case itself is pretty indestructible: It's made of a hard plastic and protects my phone wonderfully from any bumps and scrapes. The screen is easily accessible, and the phone can be very easily removed from the case if you so desire. The biggest selling point for me, however, is the fact that it's not bulky in any way at all - it's slim, sleek and looks really good....so what more can you ask for? Buy this and you'll get a case that does its job superbly, and also looks good doing it.


Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?
Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?
by Hazel Osmond
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, I loved it, 31 Aug. 2011
Chick Lit isn't a genre that I usually read a lot of, as it's always struck me as being a little too predictable and fluffy. Well, how wrong can you be? I adored this book!

First off, the characters are wonderful. Granted, Jack and Ellie (our hero and heroine) have all the characteristics that you would expect them to have: she's open, funny, smart and genuinely likeable; he's tall, dark, mysterious and more than a little brooding (the author actually thanks, in her acknowledgements, Richard Armitage and his cravats, for being her inspiration!), but that's where the humdrum, run-of-the-mill finishes. Both characters have real depth to them (and in Jack's case, more than a few demons to contend with) and I was rooting for them both from start to finish. Also, Ellie's eccentric great-aunt Edith - a supposedly secondary character - has a life all of her own, and I could have quite happily read a whole book about her and her 'filthy Scrabble'...she's brilliant.

The story itself, whilst following the usual chick-lit template of boy and girl meeting, events conspiring to keep them apart - or in other words, him being a wally and messing things up - before finally reuniting for a happy ending (that's not a spoiler, by the way - it's what we expect, right? That's why we read these books isn't it, for the happy ending!), might seem like the norm, but the journey the author plots to get us there, had me laughing, cringing, and crying (and I don't do that very often when reading!) on more than one occasion. It's a relatively thick book, but I devoured it in just under two days - I was desperate to get to the end but didn't for a second want it to finish - a cliche, I know, but cliches are cliches for a reason! I read this on my Kindle (99p in the Amazon summer sale!) but I loved it so much that I've already ordered a Keeper copy. I'll definitely be looking out for more from this author.


The Siren (Dc Goodhew Book 2)
The Siren (Dc Goodhew Book 2)
Price: £5.22

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Follow-up to Cambridge Blue, 29 Aug. 2011
This is the second outing for Gary Goodhew, a young - and somewhat maverick - Detective Constable based in Cambridge. This time, Goodhew's investigating an arson/murder and the disappearance of a small child.

I enjoyed the first book of this series - Cambridge Blue - immensely, and am so pleased that this one lived up to expectations. There's twists and turns aplenty, and the build-up to the ending is genuinely thrilling....I found myself stumbling over words and sentences in my eagerness to get to the end of the book to find out what happens!

Goodhew himself is still something of an enigma; again, we get the little glimpses of his backstory that were hinted at in Cambridge Blue, but there's still loads of unanswered questions (where are his parents? His sister?) so I'm looking forward to seeing how his character develops in the next book. All in all, a great read and one that I would thoroughly recommend.


Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight)
Murder on Astor Place (Gaslight)
by Victoria Thompson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Murder in turn-of-the-century New York, 29 Aug. 2011
This is a cosy murder mystery set in turn-of-the-century New York. A young girl has been murdered in a boarding house, and it's up to midwife Sarah Brandt and Sergeant Frank Malloy, to join forces and unmask the killer.

For a book that started off rather slowly, it didn't turn out half bad, and I'd definitely read more of this series. The plot was a little predictable, perhaps, but I liked Frank and Sarah, and am interested to read more of their back stories. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading - and learning - about New York during this period, which is a topic that I haven't really touched on before: The slums, the larger-than-life characters (Teddy Roosevelt being one) and, of course, the terrible police corruption.....Wikipedia was consulted on more than one occasion during the course of me reading this book!

All in all, I liked this a lot more than I thought I would when I started out with it, and although it won't win any great literary awards, it's a lovely, enjoyable, easy read.


The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers
by Thomas Mullen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Original, 29 Aug. 2011
Set in the Depression era of 1930s America, this is the story of Jason and Whit Fireson, two bank-robbing brothers who are killed many times, but just can't seem to get the hang of staying dead. Sounds amusing, but this isn't your average run-of-the-mill gangster lark: America in the '30s was a bleak place for most, and that undercurrent runs through the whole book - it's stark with a capital S.

The blurb above sums this up a whole lot better than I could ever hope to, but I will say that essentially, this is a book about love: Of family loyalties, sibling rivalries and the love between two people that will always prevail, even when faced with death. The prose is beautiful and eloquent, the dialogue snappy, and every character is so well drawn that I felt their plight - and rooted for them - every step of the way. It took me longer than usual to read this, but all that meant is that I savoured every moment of it entirely. A tremendous, thoroughly enjoyable book.


Chasing Fire
Chasing Fire
by Nora Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Great romantic thriller from Nora Roberts, 29 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Chasing Fire (Paperback)
After trudging through the first couple of chapters and almost packing it in, I ended up really enjoying this book. The characters are likeable and well drawn, the plotting is tight - with the balance between suspense and romance just right - and I enjoyed reading about Smokejumping, a subject which I didn't know anything about and would probably have never given a second thought to if I hadn't read this book. The build-up of suspense towards the end of the novel is thrilling, and it's a good job I read this on the Kindle, or I'd have been tempted to flick to the end and cheat, to see how it all panned out!

Nora Roberts does romance pretty well (and with a generous helping of cheese!), but it's her romantic suspense thrillers which I really like. Easy? Yes. But immensely enjoyable all the same.


One Day
One Day
by David Nicholls
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't know what took me so long..., 29 Aug. 2011
This review is from: One Day (Paperback)
The story's already been outlined elsewhere, so I won't go into that here. I'm a bit late coming to this - it feels like the whole world and his wife has already read it...but now I understand why. As corny as it may sound, it's both heartbreaking and hopeful, and despite reading some mixed reactions to the ending, I actually liked where it ended up. Well, ok, maybe 'liked' is not the correct word, but it definitely ended the right way: for me, the fact that it wasn't neat and tidy brought the rest of the novel - on reflection - into a sharper focus than if it had ended any other way. I'm passing this on to a friend, but I'll definitely be buying my own 'keeper' at some point.


Black Swan Rising (Black Swan Rising Trilogy 1)
Black Swan Rising (Black Swan Rising Trilogy 1)
by Lee Carroll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a new series, 21 Aug. 2011
'I'm part of the Transworld book group!' and was sent this book to review by Transworld.

Written as a joint effort between husband & wife writing team Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky, Black Swan Rising tells the story of jeweller Garet James, the latest in a long line of 'Watchtowers', tasked with guarding humanity from evil. Set in modern-day New York, Garet's world comes crashing down when she's tricked into opening a silver box and unwittingly freeing the demons of Discord and Despair. Garet doesn't have a clue about her family history, but with the help of some friendly fey (and a vampire!) she must accept her lineage and assume the mantle of protector.

Admittedly, I wasn't too sure about this when I first started with it; the first couple of chapters (and, indeed, the whole book) are beautifully written and ever so evocative, but there didn't seem to be much of a 'spark' to pull me in and make me want to keep reading. Maybe it was just me, or maybe the author (or in this case, authors - plural) just needed to hit their stride; in any case, once the first couple of chapters were in the bag and the scene was set, the book just zipped along.

As mentioned, the writing - namely the descriptive passages - is wonderfully evocative and vivid, and I also really enjoyed reading about various NY landmarks and their histories. The only niggle I had on the writing count, was with the dialogue, which at times came across as being slightly stilted and a little clunky. The story is so involving, however, that ultimately this issue barely registered on my radar as I became more engrossed in the book.

I loved the characters, particularly Garet, who's strong and smart and makes a great heroine in an appealingly unassuming way. I also loved the fact that many of the supporting cast were drawn from historical, mythical, and literary origins: We have Oberon, king of the fairies, lifted from the pages of A Midsummer Night's Dream and transplanted to a New York hospital where he works as a nurse; Melusine, a water spirit of medieval folklore, masquerading as a Central Park bag lady, and John Dee, wrecking havoc on the city as only a 16th century astronomer, alchemist and all-round bad guy, can.

I understand that this book is the first in a trilogy, and it's certainly whetted my appetite for the two follow-ups. I got off to a bit of a shaky start with it, but it exceeded my expectations and now I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on the next one.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3