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Reviews Written by
Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK)

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The Sunrise
The Sunrise
Price: £3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new dawn every day, 28 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Sunrise (Kindle Edition)
This is the new novel from Victoria Hislop and in like previous ones, her focus is on the Mediterranean and in this case the island of Cyprus.

It is 1972, the independence from a British administration in 1960 and conflict between the Greece and Turkey is a memory but a recent one. Now the focus is on making a livelihood especially from those who seek out the island as a desirable place to holiday.

Famagusta is that place.

It is being made into a paradise. And it is Savvas Papacosta who can see there is money to be made, if you provide a paradise stay in.

Savvas and his wife Aphroditi are about to open the poshest hotel in the resort and although they have not done it all on their own, they are very much in the debt to those whoa re working behind the scenes. It is these people who have a story to tell. It is those without the money that seem to be the happiest.

Different members of two families are employed in the hotel in one capacity or another. They are all friends. However they should be enemies. Having moved away from violence in the past the Georgious and the Ozkans are enemies based on either being Turkish or Greek Cypriots. This means nothing to them, they are friends.

Paradise is a facade and it seems that strong friendships are about to be tested when violence and conflict come to Famagusta.

Everyone flees apart from a strong few. They seem to be unable to leave Paradise behind. Will it be the right decision?

This is a book which is a love story with an ideal – paradise. Conflict shatters that ideal and shows the love of friendship is the paradise that everyone should be aspiring to. Money cannot buy it but violence can suddenly take it away.

This was a moving book, the author shows the brilliance of a paradise holiday resort, but also how conflict can ruin that brilliance. The title The Sunrise in reference to the hotel that is emerging to be the best also for me reflected that the sun continues to rise each day, despite the darkness that this island and its inhabitants are suffering. It gives hope that each new dawn might bring peace.

For many new dawns there is no peace, you read on as we are immersed in conflict, you escape and hide and I suddenly found myself wanting to know what I would do if it was me.

I learnt about a place I never knew existed and I wondered if perhaps there is cases of families who stayed, who had to be enemies despite being great friends. I did feel the ending was a bit hurried and rushed, but a book does have to end. I was just sorry it did have to.

The Paradise Guest House
The Paradise Guest House
by Ellen Sussman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Rebuilding Paradise, 7 Sept. 2014
Jamie has returned to what she thought was paradise, the trouble is she had not really experienced the place fully to see its potential and beauty. She was there with Miguel and he had an important question for her.

Paradise was cruelly taken from her last time. There was an explosion.

It was a bomb.

She found Miguel. She could not save him. Something overtook her and she saved others. Until she needed saving herself.

That person was Gabe.

Gabe was in paradise to escape from his past, his grief.

Survival threw these two people together, now Jamie is back and she wants to say sorry and thank you.

Paradise is Bali. The explosion part of our recent past. The bomb really did go off. Paradise was broken, as were people’s lives, both physically and emotionally. Tourists and locals alike. Everyone lost someone or something. Can a place ever come back for that, reinvent itself? Reincarnate?

This book is in some ways a tribute to those who survived and especially those that did not. I learnt much about the island about the people about the aftermath of a terrorist attack. I was moved by such a background to base a story on. The characters for me were not as important as perhaps in some stories as the actual place itself. Bali was the main character. It jumped off the page lyrically in Ellen Sussman’s writing.

I learnt as Jamie began to heal her emotional scars which were very raw when she came back a year later. I learnt as Gabe healed his. And as Bali and it’s people began to see that life goes on, that everything can be reincarnated into something else better, more beautiful whilst holding onto the wonderful memory of past beauty and life.

This is a book which I can’t place. It has a love story at its core between two damaged individuals but actually that is a mere sub plot. It is a book about a place, about an event. I learnt more that way.

A Place for Us Part 2
A Place for Us Part 2
Price: £0.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story just got good!, 7 Sept. 2014
I am back in the fold in fact in Winterfold and Martha's 80th party is about to begin. We are now going to find out what the announcement is she wanted to tell us.

Although the first part of this serialised novel was slow, its purpose was to introduce us to the characters and their dynamics. This second part takes this one step further. Now we get to learn the truth.

We see who turns up at the party.

Obviously Martha is there, as it is her party and her husband David is at her side.

The distraction in Bill and Karen's marriage is revealed. Bill does not want any more revelations, this secret is enough for him to deal with. Trouble is Karen has secrets.

His sister Florence, is home. She has no career anymore but is set about gaining some power and revenge. She has kept what has happened to her a secret.

Cat is home from France. She has brought someone else with her, that no-one knew about.

We learn more about Daisy and the life she has chosen, away from Winterfold and the fold of the Winter family.

It still seems that all of these people are existing alongside each other, but very much apart and not together.

Harriet Evans continues the story chapter by chapter by different main character having a voice, but linking in the plot and everyone else. We have to go back years to find out exactly what is going on in the present, but it is done cleverly, you almost don't' realise.

Just when you think you had found out enough about this family, the main reason for the gathering - the important announcement from Martha is made. Suddenly events overshadow it and part two ends, just as much as a cliffhanger as part one, if not more.

I am really enjoying this book, I was worried that I would have forgotten what was going on before, because I have read many books in between but as soon as I started I was taken back, I remembered and I read it all in one sitting.

Cannot wait for Part Three as I really can't see where this book and its characters are going to go next.

A Place for Us Part 1
A Place for Us Part 1
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Start at the beginning, 7 Sept. 2014
Martha Winter is turning 80 and she decides to turn her whole families life upside down. But we don’t know why, we don’t know how all we know is that it is going to happen at her birthday party, to which we have all been invited.

Of course we are going to see other people

David, Martha’s husband. The creator of Wilbur the Dog and Daisy, cartoon characters that has kept the money coming in and infiltrated everyone’s household. Trouble is Daisy was not a fantasy character.

Daisy is in fact Martha and David’s daughter who lives in India and hardly ever returns to her family home and everything she left behind. Including Cat.

Florence is Daisy’s sister and she also is not in the vicinity of the family home. She has her parents love of art an is a Professor employed to lecture in the city of her name.

The two girls, have an older brother Bill, who as the local GP is the one who is around his parent’s the most. A character who came across as the reliable one, not flighty or have sort of fancies. Trouble is his life is not all that it seems and his younger wife Karen, seems to be distracted.

Lucy Bill’s daughter is trying to make her mark in journalism, but is struggling that is until the vulture of her editor hits upon the idea of life with the creator of Wilbur and Daisy. Could Lucy be about to bring the past hurtling into the present?

Of course there are more characters, and the first part of this novel is setting the scene, we learn about them from each individual chapter set aside for them but we learn even more when they are mentioned by others. It is a slow start, but it is the right start, anything else would mean that the book would peak too soon and our interest will wane.

And so it looks like everyone is going to return for the party……..

That is where Part One ends and I cannot wait for Part Two.

Love on the Rocks
Love on the Rocks
by Veronica Henry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always could be reality, 6 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Love on the Rocks (Paperback)
We have all had that dream. Being away in a hotel or the ilk and sitting there, dreaming that if it was mine you would do this and have that as decoration. But as soon as you are back to the reality of your life, it remains just that a dream.

But for Lisa and George the dream becomes reality. A very harsh reality.

Lisa is spiky with a kind heart. She has been hurt in the past and she is determined never to let this affect her here and now and her future. George is conscious of all decisions that he makes and that affect its going to have. One thing he does know is he is bored in his current role and needs to stretch his creative wings.

This is how this lovely couple find themselves at the Rocks Hotel, Mariscombe and finding that to create the perfect place is going to be a lot more difficult than they first thought. Especially when it seems that a local man, Bruno also had his eye on the property for his ever-growing investments and he is also a hotel owner in the area.

It looks like there is going to be a battle down on the beach in Mariscombe.

What makes this novel even richer is all the characters that also feature. We do not just get to see the birth of the new Rocks Hotel with Lisa and George, we also get to see how Bruno is trying to focus his attentions on what he thought was a destination hotel - it seems it is not. It is at Bruno's hotel, that we get to meet Molly. She has a secret which is going to affect everyone. It is not just life changing for her but for the whole of Mariscombe who have believed one thing and one thing only - but what is it?

This is a book where you can live the dream, you can paint the walls without getting dirty, you can listen to the sea without getting wet and admire the view without leaving the comfort of your bed. That is the brilliance of Veronica Henry's writing I feel.

I wish Molly had come into the story a lot earlier than she did and I was a bit sadden by the way some relationships went, but not all dreams come out exactly how you think they will. Neither will this book which kept me reading and reminded me why I enjoy Veronica Henry's novels so much.

Flora's Lot
Flora's Lot
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Any Bidders?, 30 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Flora's Lot (Kindle Edition)
Flora decides that she is going to join the family business. Nothing unusual in that expect that she needs to give up her lifestyle in London and descend into the country, to not just a small village where everyone knows everything and everyone but to a cottage which is in the middle of a field and hardly near a later night express shop but also into a business she knows nothing about - antiques.

Watching all those daytime programmes will be enough experience, Flora hopes.

Flora knew it was not going to be easy, but she really did not think it was going to be this difficult. Her distant cousin Charles is very reluctant to let her in to anything of the business and it seems that his strings are being pulled by his fiancée Annabelle, who has grace, class, standing and it turns out money. One thing the family auction house does not.

It is in at the deep end for Flora.

As well as learning as much as she can as fast as she can, she has a cat about to have kittens, and men flocking round her all trying to gain her affection. Handsome Lothario and naked eco-warriors Flora is encountering it all. Plus the locals have welcomed her into their choir and Flora becomes part of the community very quickly.

Can Flora really defy the expectations that Charles and Annabelle have about her? Of course she can, this is a Katie Fforde novel and strong female characters are a given but they also have a softer side, and in this book the whole gambit is shown.

This is one of my favourite Katie Fforde's that I have read as I make my way through her catalogue, it has everything in it I wanted at that particular time when I picked up the book. Escapism, a bit of romance, some interesting family dynamics, a huge passion to succeed in this case in an auction house and turn everything around not just for herself but the whole community. A few gorgeous men, great friends, great food and of course fluffy kittens. I know this makes it sound all fluffy and girly but so what - I loved it. If you want that from your reading sometime then this is the book for you.

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House
Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frightening Agatha, 30 Aug. 2014
"Agatha in the past had had a way of unearthing things by simply blundering about." And in this 14th novel she is still doing it.

Apparently there is a house that is haunted, trouble is the owner and occupier of the house is not at all liked with anyone locally. They have all seemed to have run ins with her and even her children are not overly enamoured.

Agatha bored and with her head turned by yet another new neighbour Paul Chatterton she sets off to find out a bit more. Of course we end up with dead bodies and the police taking a particular dislike to Agatha yet again, blundering about but someone has specifically asked for Agatha to look into it, which gives her an idea?

All the old favourite characters are here, Mrs Bloxby the Vicar's wife who I am now convinced is slightly envious of the exploits that Agatha gets up to. Bill Wong's love life is still not got any better and I cannot ever see it doing so. Sir Charles Fraith, reappears it seems to help Agatha get everything sorted. Trouble is Sir Charles brings trouble along the way as he lets other people assume including Paul Chatterton that there is more going on with Agatha than is true. This amusing diversion seems to have not lost any impact in the books at this point in the series.

As always Agatha is struggling with being Agatha. She so desperately wants to be loved but just sees herself as a "stuffy middle-aged woman" and probably until she changes that outlook nothing is going to go right for her. By the end of this novel, she has a new outlook and perhaps as the series progresses life will change......

Tuesdays at the Teacup Club
Tuesdays at the Teacup Club
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Cup?, 24 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
You know how it is you get to the end of a book and you want it to carry on, because for a little bit longer you want to be swept up in the lives of the characters that you have grown to love.

Here in this short story, Vanessa Greene carries on the story of Jenny, Maggie and Alison who we first met in The Vintage Teacup Club.

Jenny’s happily married and it seems her career is about to launch her into another world, but things closer to home might need some attention first.

Maggie has put her past well and truly behind her and is embracing her future in a way she never thought would be possible.

Alison has things on a more even keel and it looks like her dream of being involved in a tea shop with space for her crafts is about to finally come true.

It’s short and sweet and in some ways it is an epilogue to the epilogue of the book but it just let me escape for that little bit longer and share the friendship between these characters.

Some Day I'll Find You
Some Day I'll Find You
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars World War Two Fiction Worth a Read, 24 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am always suspicious when well-known celebrities, presenters and tv personalities start writing fiction. The cynic in me wonders whether it is merely some poorly paid ghost writer who has spent hours churning out the words and plot.

The cynic here is not needed, as Richard Madeley's first foray into fiction (as opposed to memoir) is that of genuine storytelling, a good plot, believable characters and the seed that is planted that maybe these fictitious events around World War Two did actually happen. It has to be partly believable to work.

Diana has fallen for the charm of brother John's friend and fellow pilot, James Blackwell. The eve of war in Europe means that life is suddenly on fast forward. Love, courtship and marriage are dashed through with speed. However, death can come just as fast.

Events move to France, where years later a glimpse of the back of a head, the sound of a voice starts to bring back memories, in the speed that they originally occurred. Can it possibly be? Is it actually believable?

What follows is very much a thriller where you are transported from war to warmth in the South of France. I felt that I had been transported as well, with the descriptions of the cafe, the market and the locals as the author brought this to life and with some prior knowledge of the area I am sure.

But I also felt this sense of foreboding as Diana and her parents were enthralled as John and James Blackwell embraced life in the RAF and the thrill of being in the skies and even more so the thrill of war. The undercurrent to all this bravado and thrill was the worry of death of no one returning. "War takes the skilled along with the stupid and those in between".

This is simply a story which had me hooked as I wanted to know who the voice was, I wanted to believe in a happy ever after always knowing that war and life is not like that. A good novel which explores a different part of World War Two and if you enjoy reading fiction of this era, then this is a book you must read.

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly
Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For lovers of Christie, 24 Aug. 2014
I came to this novel, knowing nothing other than I knew it was not on any of the lists of Christie books that I have. This is because this version of the story is in fact more than 60 years old and has never been published.

Many will know it as Dead Mans Folly and recognise Greenshore as Greenshaw from a Miss Marple short story. But this is where it all began.

Poirot is summoned by the wonderful apple eating eccentric author Ariadne Oliver to Greenshore. She is there to arrange a murder mystery event for the local fete but there is something which she cannot put her finger on. Something does not feel right and it seems that something is going on. Trouble is she is unaware what. Poirot arrives and he is at once included in the preparations of the fete and he can somehow, observe and listen in the only way he can and suddenly it all becomes clear.

This particular edition which includes this short story, has three other essays if you will. You cannot fail to notice the artwork for this and the artist, Tom Adams talks about his time in designing covers for the paperback Christie novels and where he got his inspiration from.

Secondly, Matthew Prichard, Christie's grandson talks about Greenway, the Christie holiday home in Devon, where Greenshore Folly was based on and as it developed into Dead Man's Folly. Just for a few pages and lines, we are given a glimpse into the world of the prolific writer and best-selling novelist.

Finally, John Curran who has written a number of books about Christie, in conjunction with the Christie estate and with permission of Prichard unpicks the plotting of this novella and the final novel to see how it all comes together.

A book for all Christie Fans without a doubt and one to keep on the bookshelf.

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