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Reviews Written by
Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England)
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The Perfect Love Song
The Perfect Love Song
by Patti Callahan Henry
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet Christmas tale, 7 Oct 2011
This is a novella (200 pages) which is written in an unusual and enjoyable style. The narrator (who occasionally adds their own views into the telling of the tale) speaks like a lyrical storyteller with poetic touches.

This is a story about love and how it nearly slips away. It's also apparently a recap of a previous story, a full-length one I assume, of which we hear the salient points in this book. This book supposedly focuses on Jimmy and his fiancé Charlotte, although we also hear a lot about Jimmy's brother James and his wife-to-be Kara. James and Kara are getting married in Ireland but Jimmy has written the perfect love song and his musical career is taking off - it looks as though he won't make the wedding. Will he come to his senses in time and realise what he has with Charlotte and what his family mean to him.

Because this tale is written in a lyrical, almost magical way the author gets away with rather a few plot implausibilities. She talks a lot about love but I didn't feel any of the characters felt fully rounded, the relationship between Jimmy and Charlotte being particularly sparse. But the writing style was good and as this is a short story one can't expect too much depth of character. I enjoyed it!

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011


For Everyone Bible Study Guides: Acts
For Everyone Bible Study Guides: Acts
by Tom Wright
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Bible study guide, 6 Oct 2011
I like the design of these small Bible Study guides which look through books of the Bible with questions which are often thought-provoking. The Acts version was no different, with some helpful introductory material, guideline notes in each study and a range of discussion questions.

I did feel, whilst reading it, that having Wright's New Testament For Everyone commentary as well might be useful to explain some things further.

Wright is good at not injecting too much of his own theology into the questions (not so many `leading questions' as one can find in other studies) and of giving questions that relate the study to the modern day as well as to its historical context.


Air Time (Charlotte McNally Mysteries)
Air Time (Charlotte McNally Mysteries)
by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Third in series, 6 Oct 2011
I've enjoyed the Charlotte McNally series by Hank Phillippi Ryan, a look at life for a television news journalist the wrong side of forty who finds herself solving crime whilst catching herself a rather nice chap.

Air Time, the third in this series, was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the story, except perhaps that I found the central mystery, that of knockoff handbags, one to get my head around (I'm not into handbags, or purses as they're called in the US). But I felt less engaged in this story as in the other two and it took me a couple of weeks to read off and on.

Charlotte is still an appealing character, although her disagreements with Josh about their relationship in this book made me feel she was a bit unrealistic and he had right on his side. After all, should work be the most important thing in life? I think not.

As usual she is assisted by Franklin and there are other characters from the previous books who make another appearance. I liked some of the amusing dialogue with Susannah, for example. But overall I found this book a bit of a disappointment; it was definitely not up to the standard of the first two.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011


Set the Dark on Fire
Set the Dark on Fire
by Jill Sorenson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 6 Oct 2011
I haven't read any books by Jill Sorenson before but have just bought another one before writing this review - that tells you that I was very impressed.

It's not that there's anything particularly original in this story. It's a romantic suspense, a story about a new Sheriff investigating a woman's death by a mountain lion which is clearly more complex than just a wild animal going rogue. The Sheriff, Luke Meza, enlists the help of a member of the Department of Fish and Game, who happens to be Shay Phillips, a woman who has brought up her brother singlehandedly and who is confident and independent. Unsurprisingly, sparks fly.

There's a subplot in this story of Shay's brother Dylan and his attempts to woo his neighbour Angel, during which he finds himself drawn into what becomes a murder investigation. I felt that the scenes with Dylan were perhaps less successful to me, but the central romance between Shay and Luke was really well written and believable.

The book touches on issues of relationships between the Anglo, Indian and Mexican communities in Nevada, family tensions, a boy coming of age and more. It was a really exciting read that I didn't want to put down and I liked both central characters very much. Thumbs up for this book!

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011


Return to Me
Return to Me
by Christy Reece
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sting within a sting, 5 Oct 2011
I seem to be reading this trilogy of books in reverse order. I started with "Run To Me" which is the third in the series, then picked up this book, "Return to Me" which I thought was the first but turns out to be the second. Fortunately it didn't seem to matter at all as each story works in its own right.

And this is a good read, a book that slowly builds as our heroine, Samara Lyons, finds herself drawn in to a world unlike anything she had experienced or even known about before.

Samara is known to Noah McCall, boss of Last Chance Rescue, as she was the former lover of Jordan, one of the LCR operatives (and, I presume, the focus of Book 1, `Rescue Me', which I still haven't read). She met Noah at Jordan and Eden's wedding and was instantly attracted to him; however, this didn't go well and he resisted her attempted seduction and disappeared from her life.

But now Noah's back. He needs Samara's help as she has something he needs - her looks. Samara is small and very young looking and he needs her to help with a sting operation to try to get to the bottom of a group that are kidnapping teenage girls whom they contact through internet chatrooms. It will, of course, be a safe operation with Samara always surrounded by LCR operatives. Or will it?

The story might seem slow initially in terms of plot action but the author is using the time to introduce the characters properly to each other and to build on the attraction they both have. I liked Samara and her feistiness, as well as her occasional vulnerability. Noah was rather afflicted by the men-in-action-novels-who-are-hunky-but-emotionally-clueless syndrome but he sorts himself out eventually, as one would suspect.

Parts of this story are actually fairly dark, although the author handles them well. There's danger and murder and kidnapping and more, but the focus actually seems always to be more significantly on Noah and Samara and their interactions.

This was a great read, very exciting and, although perhaps a little unbelievable at times, a worthwhile read for those who like action and adventure with their romance.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011


Stronger than the Sword
Stronger than the Sword
by Faith Cook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.04

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very short novel set in a turbulent period of English history, 4 Oct 2011
When I picked up this book I was surprised to see that it was a historical novel as it was so short - 190 pages of large type. However I am a keen reader of historical novels and thought it could be interesting.

The time in which this book is set was a fascinating and turbulent one, encompassing Oliver Cromwell, the black death, the great fire of London and the Restoration. We view these events through the eyes of Robert, the son of a farmer, who is training to be a printer. As the years go by (very quickly in this novel!) Robert and his family find their freedoms as Christians worshipping in an Independent church curtailed. Robert's own faith is changed by what he sees happening around him, as is that of various people with whom he comes into contact.

The novel is written in a spare style with little characterisation. In fact, it seems that most players in this plot are cardboard cutouts of people - good Christians, bad barber-surgeons, evil Monarchists. The Christian element was laid on too thickly and in a very preachy style which made this feel less like a novel and more like a treatise. The author is clearly adept with this time in history, and many of its details, but failed to produce a book that was gripping or particularly enjoyable. At least it was short!


STRONGER THAN THE SWORD: PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE [Stronger Than the Sword: Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake ] BY Cook, Faith(Author)Paperback 09-Jan-2010
STRONGER THAN THE SWORD: PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE [Stronger Than the Sword: Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake ] BY Cook, Faith(Author)Paperback 09-Jan-2010

2.0 out of 5 stars Very short novel set in a turbulent period of English history, 4 Oct 2011
When I picked up this book I was surprised to see that it was a historical novel as it was so short - 190 pages of large type. However I am a keen reader of historical novels and thought it could be interesting.

The time in which this book is set was a fascinating and turbulent one, encompassing Oliver Cromwell, the black death, the great fire of London and the Restoration. We view these events through the eyes of Robert, the son of a farmer, who is training to be a printer. As the years go by (very quickly in this novel!) Robert and his family find their freedoms as Christians worshipping in an Independent church curtailed. Robert's own faith is changed by what he sees happening around him, as is that of various people with whom he comes into contact.

The novel is written in a spare style with little characterisation. In fact, it seems that most players in this plot are cardboard cutouts of people - good Christians, bad barber-surgeons, evil Monarchists. The Christian element was laid on too thickly and in a very preachy style which made this feel less like a novel and more like a treatise. The author is clearly adept with this time in history, and many of its details, but failed to produce a book that was gripping or particularly enjoyable. At least it was short!


Run to Me
Run to Me
by Christy Reece
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable book, 3 Oct 2011
This review is from: Run to Me (Mass Market Paperback)
It wasn't until the end of this book that I finally realised I had been mixing up this author with another. I thought, as I read it, that the author had really improved her writing and I was glad that she was now focusing on the story taking place in America rather than Africa because it was consequently much more believable. It turns out those books were written by Stephanie Tyler but I spent most of this book thinking they were part of the same series; perhaps I am reading too many action adventure romances!

I had read books by Christy Reece before but didn't find them as good as this one. I awarded `Last Chance' 4 stars and `No Chance' 3 stars, but Run To Me was definitely an improvement.

This book focused heavily on Shea Monroe, a woman who is rescued from a kidnapper who has kept her in a drug-induced haze for months, brainwashing her into doing things for him. Shea is rescued by her former lover Ethan Bishop; she's lost her memory so he knows she doesn't remember how he failed her in the past - he wants to make the most of time with her when she doesn't hate him.

But Shea needs to remember the past to see if she can identify clues as to the location of her former kidnapper, a very dangerous man. But will this return of memory mean the end for her budding romance with Ethan?

The power in this book was in its characterisation. I felt that the initial scenes, where Shea is rescued and is trying to see through the fog of her drugged mind into what is real and what is programming, were excellent. Shea was painted as an appealing and strong character and I found myself cheering her on as she made progress.

Ethan was a little more annoying as he seemed to be behaving a bit stupidly at times. I didn't feel the author painted such a convincing picture of him and it took a while before we learned what caused some of his stranger behaviour.

There was a very clever plot twist in this story relating to one of the other kidnap victims which I didn't see coming and which may be explored further in a future book. Although this book is marketed as one of a trilogy (with `Rescue Me' and `Return to Me'), as it's part of the Last Chance Rescue series I imagine there are many more stories available with this group of tough characters. Based on the success of this story, I look forward to reading more.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011


Love Kills
Love Kills
by Dianne Emley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Putdownable, 2 Oct 2011
This review is from: Love Kills (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the first book I've read by Dianne Emley but isn't the first in this series following Homicide police detective Nan Vining. Fortunately the author gives enough information that you can step into this story and feel you know what's going on.

Nan Vining and her partner (and also lover) Jim Kissick find themselves involved in a case rather close to home. One of Nan's mother's friends is found dead; presumably a natural death, but there seem to be some strange coincidences with regard to others that this friend knew and with a self-help guru's Malibu Canyon compound. When more people turn up dead it seems that there is a lot more going on at the Berryhill Compound than getting in touch with your shadow side.

Although I liked parts of this book, I felt it had a lot of weak points. The main one, for me, is that there were few cliffhangers or plot changes at the end of chapters. I found it extremely easy to put this book down, every chapter seemed to finish nicely and it meant I read about one chapter a night over a couple of weeks. I was never totally gripped.

Another, perhaps peculiar to me, annoyance was the way our heroine was addressed. Her name is Nan Vining but she was always called Vining in the book. Perhaps that's a difference in the US to the UK but somehow I couldn't identify with someone who was almost always referenced by her surname, it made her somehow distant.

Not that we ever got particularly close to her, as the book dealt in facts rather than feelings and character. The only characters who seemed at all emotional ended up dead or in other major trouble and it meant that my heart wasn't really engaged in the story.

Nan (as I want to call her!) and Kissick didn't seem to do all that much detecting really - the story went on alongside them with the body count rising until they stumbled upon the dénouement. As mentioned before, suspense wasn't particularly successful in this story and I also found the host of strange names that the characters had a bit confusing.

This wasn't a bad story but it was hardly un-putdownable and it's not going to be a book I bother to read again.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2011


Soul Mate (Book One)
Soul Mate (Book One)
Price: £0.00

66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable tale, 30 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Free ebooks on the Kindle can be very hit or miss. I've read some good stories, I've read some absolute stinkers, and when you start a book you never know what you're going to get.

`Soul Mate' was decidedly a hit. A fascinating premise (that a young man finds his body taken over by ghosts who have final things they need to do before, presumably, going to their eternal `rest') and how it affects his life, relationships and state of mind.

Our hero Tommy takes a little while to settle into; I didn't know if I liked him particularly, and he seemed like a real loser, but as his situation is unfolded to the reader you realise why. The love interest, Suki, was perhaps rather too good to be true - are people really this accepting and helpful in real life? - but her housemate was a good foil and I enjoyed their interactions.

The story was perhaps a little slow to get going but I was soon gripped and I loved the way the author described Tommy's experiences as the ghosts take him places and control his body. Towards the end it got really exciting and it was almost edge-of-your-seat stuff.

The only aspect to this story that I didn't really like was the rather abrupt ending, particularly as the central part of the story wasn't resolved. Perhaps this was so that we can have subsequent adventures featuring Tommy. If so, I'll be glad to read them!


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