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Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England)

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Faithquestions: How Can I Forgive?: A Study of Forgiveness
Faithquestions: How Can I Forgive?: A Study of Forgiveness
by Joretta L. Marshall
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 2 May 2011
This short book (just 90 pages) is designed for group study at a home group or retreat and covers the area of forgiveness - both individual and corporate. The text is backed up throughout with Bible references and there are lots of suggestions of things to do in the group, inset into grey boxes and scattered (rather randomly) around the text. I wasn't sure how successful many of these would be and in fact found the teaching in the text very difficult to get my teeth into. There were case studies at the beginning of each chapter but no real application as to how forgiveness might make a difference. Overall I was disappointed that, for such an important subject, the book didn't really hit the spot.


Don't Cry
Don't Cry
by Beverly Barton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping story, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Don't Cry (Mass Market Paperback)
I've not read any books by Beverly Barton before and didn't know what to expect when I picked up Don't Cry. What I found was that I was gripped by a well-plotted, fluidly-written and interesting book with a range of characters and an interesting puzzle to solve.

When a woman's body is found in a rocking chair cradling a toddler's skeleton it is the start of a series of deaths, each with a baby skeleton. The Rocking Chair Killer, as he is called, seems to have the key to a decades-old mystery of what happened to five dead toddlers who were snatched by a woman. Although a sixth toddler was found alive with Regina Bennett, she never revealed what happened with the previous five.

This story focuses around Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent JD Cass who is working on the Rocking Chair Killer case at the same time as trying to build a bond with his fourteen-year-old daughter Zoe who has recently come to live with him after the death of her mother. We also follow events from the viewpoint of grief counselor Audrey Sherrod whose baby brother Blake was one of the toddler victims all those years ago. In fact, a large proportion of those working on the case have some links with it, which I did find perhaps a trifle too coincidental.

There are several possible characters who could actually be the Rocking Chair Killer and the author does a good job of introducing them and showing their possible motivation. The actual killer, when revealed at the end, wasn't a surprise to me, but the small twist in the story was, although there were hints to it right at the beginning.

There's a slow-burn romance throughout the story which worked really well. Pacing was good and I liked the way the author writes, but with one exception. She seems to have a bit of an obsession with adjectives, as this extract from Chapter 4 shows: "She filled the white enamel kettle with fresh water and placed it on the Jenn-Air range to heat. A hint of daylight peeked through the closed blinds of her Walnut Hill town house as she padded around on the Brazilian Cherry hardwood floor, set out her favourite teacup on the countertop, and removed a bag of Earl Grey from the maple cupboard." To me, we could do without white, enamel, Jenn-Air, Walnut Hill, Brazilian Cherry and maple at least as they don't really add anything to the story.

All in all I very much enjoyed reading this story and look forward to another book from this author's flowing, confident, blue Mont Blanc pen.

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


Wild Desire (Zebra Debut)
Wild Desire (Zebra Debut)
Price: £3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, 28 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I came across `Wild Desire' as a free download through Kindle and thought I'd give it a go. I didn't really know what sort of book it was likely to be and, as it's an electronic book without any back cover blurb, looked forward to unravelling the story.

I was very pleasantly surprised. This story was a part-romance, part-paranormal, part-historical book with a wide variety of scenery, characters and events. Heroine Bea was appealing, changing from a rather whiny girl to a bold, courageous woman during the book. Hero Colin appeared on the scene in less-than-optimal senses, drunk and climbing into Bea's bed, and I wondered initially if the book would be a sort-of slapstick series of events. But no, it developed into an interesting and well-plotted story as Bea and Colin find themselves trying to make their way to safety in India after they are attacked.

I love books set in India and this one didn't disappoint. Although the author didn't spend a great deal of time describing location and smells, I still got a good feeling for India. Colin was a very interesting hero as we slowly uncover that he's not quite your average man, having a special ability which he uses to help others at some cost to himself. Bea, too, finds herself in the midst of a race to find a statue, without initially realising that her blood is the key.

This is a fairly relentless story with little time for hero and heroine to relax. The romance was well played as Colin and Bea find themselves relying more on each other and learning more about one another. I found the romance convincing and this is so often not the case with modern books.

One slight reservation was that the baddie was dispatched in a rather easy and unconfirmed way, although I wonder if he might reappear in other books and this is why his death was underplayed.

This was the first Lori Brighton book that I've read but I enjoyed it - especially bearing in mind that it was a free download! I recommend it to others who like interesting and fast-moving historical romances.


Promises in the Dark: A Shadow Force Novel (Shadow Force Novels (Paperback))
Promises in the Dark: A Shadow Force Novel (Shadow Force Novels (Paperback))
by Stephanie Tyler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Samey, samey, samey - but still good, 28 April 2011
I've read several of Stephanie Tyler's books recently - she seems to write them at a very impressive rate and each one has a different plot and is often set in a different country. However these stories are romances and each one has hero and heroine (and sub-hero and sub-heroine) having an almost identical relationship - the only question is whether they'll jump into bed on the second meeting or the third. Now I've read five of her books it's become apparent that her heroes and heroines have pretty much only one way of relating to each other - horizontally. Her heroes are mostly the strong, silent type and her heroines tend to be feisty but troubled. It's generally love at first sight (or at least lust at first sight) and there isn't much development of the relationship between the two people apart from suddenly they decide they love each other.

This book was a little different in that rather than having two major romance plotlines we had three - heroes Zane, Caleb and even Tristan (who didn't seem like he'd be a hero at the beginning) all get their roll in the sack opportunity. And as, once again, these rolls-in-the-sack were all pretty much similar, they actually distracted from the story itself for this reader. There was a lot going on in this book, with most of the action taking place in Sierra Leone and the group DMH playing a significant role. We meet again doctor Olivia who was kidnapped in the previous book; she's managed to escape but is trying to keep away from everyone by hiding in Sierra Leone. We also meet a new woman, Vivienne, who's a computer geek and one who's in way over her head. And we meet nurse Rowan who's found herself in Sierra Leone on her own and with no-one to trust. All three female characters are strong in their own way and I liked them all, although found some of Olivia's behaviour a little difficult to understand.

This author tends to choose unusual African settings for her books and this makes them more interesting. I don't feel totally immersed in the setting but the feeling of menace and of a different world is well written.

The central relationship was fully tied up by the end of the book but there were a few loose ends with the other two relationships which I assume will feature in the next book or so. Despite the repetitive nature of this series I found this book very enjoyable and can recommend it to those who like action stories with a romantic side to them.

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


Courting Constance
Courting Constance
Price: £1.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 21 April 2011
I really wanted to like this book. Firstly, the cover image of the heroine has her with almost exactly the same hair as me, which is cool. Secondly, the author sent me a copy to review and put a lovely card with it, plus signed the book. These are two good things (at least one of them is, if you have hair like me), but sadly weren't enough to make me like this book once I'd read it.

It's a historical romance set in the Regency period in the city of Bath. It starts with a highwayman holding up a carriage in which our heroine is travelling - and the highwayman happens to be her former Fiancé (not that she realises). This was a good start, but unfortunately from here onward the book went downhill.

The heroine, Constance, seems a bit erratic in her behaviour. I couldn't decide whether I liked her or not - I think, by the end, not. Her best friend Harriet (`Harry') went from being virtually mute to being... not so mute. The Fiancé, Sir Geoffrey Thornhill (often referred to in the book erroneously as `Sir Thornhill', he would be `Sir Geoffrey'), seemed a strangely indistinct character. I knew very little about him by the end of the book except that he and Constance probably deserved each other.

The middle part of the book seemed to be about Constance trying to court Geoffrey with supposedly comedic results. I didn't find these scenes funny, just weird - almost slapstick in nature. Constance then seems to suddenly, without any apparent reason, give up completely and the action has to shift to Geoffrey who continues as impenetrable as ever.

The book also touched on the `inspirational' genre with various religious thoughts but these weren't over-strong so fitted reasonably. The end of the story had echoes of Georgette Heyer's "The Grand Sophy" but in a rather half-hearted manner.

The author has probably tried to make the book seem authentic but this English reader came across a great many Americanisms whilst reading it which disturbed the flow of the story.

What I did like was the occasional turn of phrase of the author which was well written and good to read. Sadly most of the story was dull to this reader with unconvincing characters who I didn't really care for.

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


Der Treffende Ausdruck: Texte, Themen, Ubungen
Der Treffende Ausdruck: Texte, Themen, Ubungen
by Brigitte M Turneaure
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful German textbook with limitations, 16 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the textbook used by my local university for German studies. It's the only textbook I've used at this level so have little to compare it with, but I wasn't overall convinced by it.

Firstly it's worth bearing in mind that the copy I bought didn't have the up-to-date spelling. Not the end of the world I suppose but it did add a layer of confusion. It is also written in a rather sparse style at times with explanations given which aren't particularly clear. Explanations are given in English but aren't always particularly easy to understand!

It took me about a year of lessons before I worked out how the book is structured. It has chapters which introduce new vocabulary via a text that you are supposed to read and then discuss. There's a section on `Redemittel' (everyday phrases on particular themes) which are to be learned and bear little or no relation to the chapter's text. We then have a section on a particular Modal Particle (nur, mal, ja, doch etc). There is a grammar subsection which might be related to the initial text of the chapter (but whose vocabulary is probably similar) and which might contain 5-6 different parts, and then we have `Das passende Wort' which offers words with similar meanings but explains which is used in particular situations. Each subsection has exercises to complete although the answers aren't available in the book so I'm not sure how useful this book would be for private study.

I'm not sure how useful it would be for private study anyway as I found the explanations in the book often wanting. When asked to prepare at home before lessons I'd try my utmost to understand the distinction the book was making in discussing something but end up none the wiser. In the lesson my German teacher would, in a few words, make it clear. I wish the person writing the book had worked a bit harder on the explanations. Equally the exercises were sometimes a bit difficult as it's not clear quite what they're after. Once I realised they want you to use the active vocabulary that helped a bit as there are lots of exercises where you have to translate a sentence into German and of course there are loads of different ways of saying it.

Layout of the book could have been improved as each section wasn't particularly clearly marked, there's some use of bold and italics but overall it's just text everywhere, nothing to break up the page.

It covers good ground for students in terms of the grammar selected but was a bit weak in execution of many of these items. My German teacher made it easier to understand but I think I'd have really struggled if I was using this for study on my own.


Wacom Bamboo Pen Graphics Tablet
Wacom Bamboo Pen Graphics Tablet

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value graphics tablet, 16 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have an old Wacom Intuos graphics tablet which has been really good, although the surface of the pad has become a little pitted. When we got another computer we needed to buy an additional graphics tablet and looked for something a little cheaper - the Bamboo was what we chose.

Firstly, it looks good. It's a smart black with a light so you know there's power from the USB port. The whole thing is slightly larger than my previous tablet, somewhere between A5 and A4, but it doesn't take up too much room on the desk. It seems to be designed as if you'd use it in portrait aspect which is rather unlikely - this means that the cable comes out of the left hand side (so, for right handed people, the cable pushes up against your keyboard if the two are side-by-side) and the word Bamboo is on its side.

The tablet functioned very well right from the beginning. It worked straight out of the box and was very easy to get used to. There aren't extra buttons or features on the pad - just the pad and the pen (with two buttons on it, neither of which I ever need to use).

I thought it excellent value for money and it has worked well for a couple of years. My only negative comment is that there's nowhere good to put the pen; the previous Wacom tablet had a little well for it at the top. This one has a loop of fabric you could push the pen into but it isn't easy to pick up from there, so it just sits on the desk. A minor issue but it does mean I tend to put it down less frequently (i.e. type with it still in my hands, not so good for RSI) than with the other Wacom which has its good rest.


DuraSec HighTec screen protector for Garmin Oregon 300
DuraSec HighTec screen protector for Garmin Oregon 300

3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure if it's made much difference, 16 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Garmin Oregon is a brilliant GPS for my cycling needs and I'm really happy with it. However, as warned before I bought it, it's hard to see in direct sunlight, especially with polarising sunglasses. The DuraSec HighTec screen protector was recommended to me and I gave it a go.

First things first, it's remarkably difficult to get it on straight and without bubbles. I must have spent at least an hour on this task and have made a reasonable job of it but there is a tiny bit sticking up at the bottom of the screen. There were very apparent bubbles after I had finished but, as the instructions said, they subsided after a day or two.

But has it made a different? Perhaps. Slightly. But I have to say that the difference is probably fairly minimal. It does protect the screen from scratches which is good, and the touch screen still works OK (although seems appallingly un-sensitive after my iPad screen) but overall I'm not sure if it was worth the money. The visibility in bright sunlight is my only real complaint about the Oregon but this isn't the magic fix I hoped it would be.


Digital pill organizer - 4 alarms - 7 detachable compartments
Digital pill organizer - 4 alarms - 7 detachable compartments
Offered by iAuctionShop Ltd
Price: £19.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful gadget, 14 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for a loved one who recently had to start taking lots of different pills at different times and didn't always find it easy to remember them.

What we like about this organiser is that the alarm is very persistent. It goes on and on, so chances are you'll hear it even if you're out hanging the washing. It's still on the original set of batteries after four months so isn't too energy-hungry. It has four compartments per day which are pre-labelled. We've changed the labels as the pill regime is somewhat different - we wrote with a marker pen on each strip of compartments but the ability to write your own things initially would be helpful.

One of the pills taken each day doesn't fit in one of the compartments so we have cut out the division between the last two compartments and it now fits in (he only takes pills three times a day so this is OK). It's still a squeeze but our work-around has done the trick.

Overall this has been a good gadget. It's pretty plasticky but then it was cheap. It's useful to see whether or not tablets have been taken and it makes the routine much safer. Just buying the pill boxes without the alarm wouldn't have been half so effective.


Lie with Me: A Shadow Force Novel (Shadow Force Novels (Paperback))
Lie with Me: A Shadow Force Novel (Shadow Force Novels (Paperback))
by Stephanie Tyler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £2.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kidnap and Vengeance, 14 April 2011
Stephanie Tyler certainly seems able to churn out books at a fast rate - I seem to often find I'm picking up her latest book, just a couple of months after the last one. There are similarities between them all but they have their differences too and this story, Lie with Me, was more enjoyable than the last few I've read.

As always with Stephanie Tyler's books, we have a central romance and also a side-character romance. As always, also, the romance progresses almost instantly into the bedroom, then the characters actually begin to find out about each other and mesh. There isn't any great characterisation in these books particularly, it's about the plot and action and variety of situations in which our heroes and heroines find themselves.

Skylar Slavin, our heroine, was very appealing. She's recently had a kidney transplant and so isn't at full health and she's not heard from her father in months (having spent two months with him after he donated her kidney). When Cameron Moore comes to take her away, saying her father has sent him to keep her safe, she doesn't realise she's actually being kidnapped.

Cameron hates Skylar's father Gabriel for many reasons and knows that he can get back at Gabriel through his daughter. But Cameron didn't realise the effect that Skylar would have on him, and that he might find himself protecting her at all costs, including possibly failing in his vengeance mission.

This was a good read with shoot-outs and action interspersed with calm moments of discussion. The side plot between Riley and Dylan I found less interesting, and there's a hint about the next book (between Olivia and Zane) in this story. Although part of a series, the books seem to work OK on their own. It's not brilliant writing by any means but this book was more enjoyable than some of her others and is worth a read.

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


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