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T. E. Hartshorn (UK)

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Bad Mothers United
Bad Mothers United
by Kate Long
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catching up with old friends, 23 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bad Mothers United (Paperback)
I loved The Bad Mother's Handbook, so it was an absolute joy to catch up with Karen, Charlotte and Nan again in this wonderful follow up. It was like meeting old friends after a ten year period.

I read through it in record time because I just couldn't wait to find out what happened at the end. Kate Long's prose also flows very easily, keeping you turning the pages even when you know it's time to put out the light and go to sleep. There are two intriguing mysteries to solve. We the reader know the outcome of one, even if poor Charlotte doesn't, which makes her quest for the truth even more chilling. I kept wanting to say 'Run, Charlotte!'

The lesson I learned from The Bad Mother's Handbook and Bad Mother's United is that life is full of happy endings, but you sometimes have to go through a lot of anguish to earn them.

Ghost Stories and How to Write Them
Ghost Stories and How to Write Them
Price: 1.53

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to write ghost stories - not at all scary!, 14 April 2013
Kathleen McGurl is best known to many as blogger Womagwriter. As author of the popular blog, she knows her stuff when it comes to writing for women's magazines and has always been generous about sharing that information with others. This book concentrates all her knowledge on writing ghost stories. As well as having several cracking ghost stories, Kathleen also explains the differences between different types of ghost story and explains what inspired her to write each story.

But don't believe her when she dismisses one first draft as not good enough to publish. I thought that particular section showed a great example of how one story could be told in two different ways and still be an excellent tale.

The book takes the fear out of writing ghost stories. Read it for the stories or for the advice, or for both. You won't be disappointed!

ABBA: You Can Dance (Wii)
ABBA: You Can Dance (Wii)
Offered by b68solutions
Price: 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I am the dancing queen!, 26 Mar 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered this last week, and it arrived yesterday. I went on it 'just to try it out' and didn't stop until 9 songs later! That's how much fun this is.

You can choose which Abba girl (or boy) you want to be, which means you can dance a bit differently each time if you want, and there's also a High School Musical that you can take part in, choosing which character you want to be, which is really enjoyable and doo-wappy, so right up my street.

I don't have a microphone for our Wii, but that didn't stop me singing along to all the well known songs. There are some of Abba's lesser known songs included as someone pointed out, but that wasn't a problem for me as they're all very catchy. And hey, it's Abba, so it's got to be good.

One nitpicky note for Amazon. When I ordered this it was 2.91. Whilst it was still on order the price dropped to 2.54 and yet I was charged the higher price. Admittedly it's only pence, but it was a bit annoying.

The game itself is well worth having though.

EA Sports Active 2 (Wii)
EA Sports Active 2 (Wii)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 32.47

1.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, 26 Mar 2013
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I wanted to love this exercise programme. On the face of it, it looks fantastic with a motion detector (or whatever it's called) that straps onto your leg, and heart monitor for your arm and I was really excited about using it for the first time. But on nearly every exercise, the motion detector for the leg loses connection with the console and I had to spend half my time recalibrating it, only for it to lose connection again the next time I tried.

It is so frustrating not to just be able to get on with the exercises. In the end I gave up and did Zumba for my morning exercise instead.

Of the exercises I managed to get through I didn't find them too difficult, and would have enjoyed trying more. It was especially annoying when I did give it up as a bad job, and the 'trainer' hectored me about not trying hard enough! I'm afraid it's EA Active who aren't trying hard enough in this instance.

If Wii can make their motion detectors work without fail, I don't understand why EA Active can't.

The Ghosts of Poynter (Black Horse Western)
The Ghosts of Poynter (Black Horse Western)
by Amos Carr
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A cowboy story with heart, 2 Oct 2012
I haven't read many western books, though I do like to watch a good western. The Black Horse westerns from Hale are akin to watching a western on Sunday afternoon televison. They're short and sweet, and just right as a form of escapism. This particular story had all the right elements. A wise-cracking bounty hunter, someone who is trying to kill him, a cute kid, and the ghost of an old love.

Chase Tyler is a real western hero, with a great sense of humour. He's also a man with a past and that past catches up with him when he returns to his hometown of Poynter. I particularly like that he was forced to come to terms with the man he had become since his childhood sweetheart died in a fire. He wasn't perfect, as shown with his feud with his brother-in-law, and that made him very real. But he was likeable, and that's important for any western hero.

Once the scene had been set, the story moved on at a cracking pace, so that each page seemed to turn itself. There are enough shootouts to please any western fan, and enough romance to make this story appeal to women too.

If you're looking for escapism, this book is for you.

Reeves Painting by Numbers Artist Collection Time Well Spent (Medium)
Reeves Painting by Numbers Artist Collection Time Well Spent (Medium)
Price: 5.26

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright if you like purple trees., 21 Aug 2012
I love doing painting by numbers, but am not an expert. However, I thought I'd try this artists' collection set as I liked the picture. I'm used to the finished product of painting by numbers not looking like the cover picture, but not to this extent. The trees were a strange shade of purple, and the ground was purple and blue, making it hard to tell the river from the bank. In the end I painted all the purple bits with dark brown and all the blue bits (on the bank) with beige, and ended up with a much more realistic, 'earthy' picture.

But I do wonder at why anyone would think trees were purple...

Still it passed a few hours and made me think about colours and what looks right, so I did learn something.

Since doing this I've done other artists' collection painting by numbers and they've been much better, so I can only assume this was an abberration.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey
Price: 3.49

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Review originally posted at Quiller's Place (Sally Quilford's blog), 28 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the first part of a series of reviews I put about Fifty Shades on my Wordpress blog, Quiller's Place (I write as Sally Quilford). This is just up to page 56. Needless to say, the book didn't work for me. I finally gave up at page 250-ish, figuring that if the novel were as repetitive as it seemed, I'd only be telling the same jokes about it.

I finally decided to download Fifty Shades of Grey. I've been putting it off, because I have certain qualms about a story that was originally a Twilight fanfiction being sold as an original fiction. As an ex-fanfic writer, there' a part of me that thinks `good luck to E.L. James'. But as someone who has since struggled to make a name for myself writing original fiction, there's another part of me that thinks James is not quite playing the game.

So I've got as far as the top of page 56 (where there's a natural break in the story and I really needed a rest to stop my eyes from bleeding). There's so much I want to say I know it's going to take several blog posts. I know it seems as if I'm jumping on the `knock it' bandwagon, but ... well ... yes I am, actually!

For those who don't know, Fifty Shades of Grey is about Ana (Bella Swan) Steele, who meets `enigmatic' entrepreneur Christian (Edward Cullen) Grey. She eventually learns that Mr. Grey is into some pretty serious BDSM, so enters a contract with him to be his sub.

Despite this, the beginning of the book is strangely sexless. Even the bits we're supposed to think of as sexy, like Grey's arrogance and his controlling nature, are downright creepy. So maybe James is writing a satire, on the obvious obsessional tendencies of Edward Cullen? That's it. It's a parody! As I read on, it became sadly clear that James actually meant everything she wrote...

So let's start with the writing. It is at times unintentionally hilarious, and I actually cried laughing in some places, even in such a short space of time. At other times it is crushingly tedious. There are dozens of run on sentences and sub-clauses that have little to do with the beginning of the sentence, to the point I had to look back in order to remember how some sentences began.

Others have written about the repetition. Like Christian Grey's constant `ghost of a smile' or `secretive smile' or `sphinx-like smile'. Let's be honest here, man spends the beginning of the novel with a very iffy smile on his face. And maybe the rest of the novel too. I haven't got that far yet.

My favourite unintentionally hilarious sentences range from the anatomically impossible: I roll my eyes at myself'

To the downright strange: `I take his hand and we shake'.

Yes, I know they were shaking hands, but that's not the image I had!

The novel is also inconsistent, often within a few pages. Sometimes even on the same page.

We begin by learning that Ana is going to interview Christian Grey, a man of whom she's never heard. She actually says that. She's never heard of him (but you'd think a gazillionaire in his twenties might be mentioned occasionally. He might even have a movie made about his rise to riches cough-Social Network-cough). Yet a few sentences later, she's describing him as enigmatic, an exceptional entrepreneur and a major benefactor to the college she attends. Now you may be thinking, `She probably researched him when she was asked to interview him'. But no, she didn't. Because she has to admit to him later that she didn't research him, and that all the questions she asks him were set by her best friend, Kate. I know, she's psychic!

In a later scene, she describes how she, Kate and another friend travel separately to a designated meeting point, yet because Grey wants Ana to stay with him, he orders one of his minions to take them all home, including Kate in the list, because Ana says she has to give `everyone' a lift home. But Kate brought her own car, so why should she need a lift home? Oh it's alright, because by the next page, Ana (and presumably the author) has remembered that Kate brought her own car

Anyway, at the start, Ana has to interview Grey because her friend, Kate, is in bed with a cold (it says the flu, but the girl is sitting up in her bunny jimjams, eating soup later in the day, so she's obviously not that ill). One of the questions Ana asks Grey when they meet is whether or not he's gay. It's mildly embarrassing, yet a few chapters later when he teases her about it, she cringes and seriously thinks she might have to have counselling for it in later life. Yes, never mind all those soldiers being injured in Afghanistan or those who lost loved ones in 9/11. Asking someone if they're gay, and having them jokingly remind you of it, will ensure you suffer PTSD for the rest of your life.

The beginning also shows Ana, who is apparently very very accident prone (really it's a wonder she's allowed out on her own, she's so bloody accident prone), is something of a wonder woman. She drives around 160 miles for her first meeting with Grey, which takes place at 2pm in the afternoon. Allowing for the interview taking an hour, and ending at 3pm, she then has to drive 160-ish miles back (Christian is afraid of her driving in the rain, and rightly so given that she fell and landed head over elbow in his office, and that was just walking), where she has a quick chat to Kate. Then she goes to work in the hardware store for a couple of hours. Then she comes home and completes an essay on Tess of the D'urbevilles (this is how we know Ana is clever. That and her shoehorning a literary or classical allusion in every other page), and still manages to be in bed by midnight, where she dreams of Grey's steel grey eyes and `dark places' (which turn up far too frequently within the first 56 pages). Say what? Maybe I'm just feeling old, but I'm pretty certain that sort of day would have killed me as a 22 year old, let alone now as a 48 year old.

A few days later, she's put Grey out of her mind. Only she hasn't. You know this, because she manages to mention him every other sentence. She's working in the hardware store, and he comes in and buys what amounts to a rape kit (duct tape, rope and tie wraps). She thinks he's incredibly sexy. I think he's incredibly creepy. Especially as he keeps giving her knowing smiles. Of course, this novel turning out to have a BDSM theme, we the reader know why he's buying the stuff, yet all through the scene he seems to be mocking her for not knowing.

But let's be honest here. The general public, when they're thinking of BDSM, probably picture a gimp mask, a pair of fluffy handcuffs and a whip. How are ordinary mortals supposed to know of the finer ingredients to the perfect night of bondage? As Ana is a virgin, how the hell is she supposed to know? And why doesn't she wonder if he's Ted Bundy's younger brother? After all, why would a man who could easily pay a man to come in and fix his shelves, call at a hardware store to buy DIY equipment?

Though it does explain to me why Grey has attached him to the hapless and frankly ludicrous Ana. He's obviously realised he can use her employee discount for future duct tape purchases. Well you didn't think he became an outrageously rich self-made man at the age of 27 by paying over the odds for BDSM supplies, did you?

So anyway, there's some photo shoot, blah blah, his lovely hair, and low slung trousers (I'm now thinking that the reason he was reluctant to talk about his early life is that he spent most of it in juvenile detention), blah blah blah. Ana feels something she's never felt before, blah blah blah (that'll certainly be true the first time he gets out the nipple clamps). And he asks her out for coffee. But oh no! She doesn't drink coffee. She goes with him anyway, probably hoping that someone somewhere in the world has come up with an alternative beverage. This is the bit where she forgets and then remembers that Kate brought her own car. Now it could be because Ana is a complete klutz and forgot, but actually I think the writer forgot.

And this is where it gets tedious. Well actually no, it was tedious before then. But this scene more than ever shows how James has to write down every single thing that Ana does. Most writers would mention them going for a coffee, then cut to the coffee shop scene. But no, we have to endure the whole, tedious walk to the coffee shop. Including them stopping and waiting for the man to turn green on the pedestrian crossing. We actually have to wait with them ...zzz and then walk the whole four blocks with them. Honestly I was knackered by the time they got there (mind you, the 320 mile round trip to his office a few pages earlier didn't help).

But just before this, we realise how much of a virgin Ana is. They get into the lift at the hotel where the photo shoot took place, and there's a couple kissing. At this point, Ana turns into a Jane Austen heroine and practically swoons at the idea that two people are kissing. In public! In the 21st Century! Admittedly Ana hasn't been kissed (so we're told) but she's been in college for 4 years. People in college don't care where they kiss, as long as they're getting some kissing! But Ana has to look at her feet, because people kissing is so embarrassing. She probably thinks they have to get married now too.

So then we're finally at the coffee shop (thankfully Ana realises she can have English Breakfast tea instead of coffee ... phew!). Mind you, she makes a crap cup of tea. She just dunks the teabag into the water and then takes it out again. `Bag in, bag out,' she says (insert own joke about tea-bagging here). She says she likes the tea hot and black. Let me tell you, Ana, as a veteran tea drinker, that you won't get black tea just by dunking the bag straight in and out. It'll look like cat's pee at best. That bag needs to be soaked for a good couple of minutes. Anyway, I digress (sorry, but tea drinking is really important to me).

Then Christian Grey cross examines her about her life. Considering she had done much the same to him in his office only a few days earlier, she's remarkably churlish about it. He thinks she's secretive and a closed book, which surprises her. It surprised me too, because Ana really doesn't have any hidden depths at all. She's a complete and utter moron. Which is probably why Christian, after taking the trouble to buy a rape kit at her place of work, and then taking her for coffee, tells her he can't have anything more to do with her.

He's proved right when he's walking her back to her car, and she nearly walks into the road and narrowly avoids being hit by a cyclist, which gives her another attack of the vapours. That's right. A cyclist. Not a Harley Davidson. Not a man in a Humvee. A cyclist. I tell you this because the next thing we know she's nearly fainting in Christian's arms. Now the majority of us would probably feel a bit flaky, but we'd also probably recover long enough to shout after the cyclist `Watch where you're going, you bastard!' But Ana almost faints into Christian's arms, and he has to hold her tight, because her legs can hardly hold her after such a shock.

Somehow she manages to get home to Kate, who can see she's upset. So Ana explains what happened with the cyclist. But Kate has an even bigger concern than her friend nearly getting her unruly hair caught in the spokes of a bike. `How was coffee? Because I know you hate coffee.' Yes, almost get run over by a cyclist, but God forbid you should be forced into drinking something you don't like. Luckily Ana is able to assure Kate that she had tea, so now Kate also knows there are other beverage choices out there for coffee haters.

Anyway, Ana can't put Christian out of her mind, blah blah blah. But she manages to sit her finals, without either falling over the chairs or stabbing herself in the eye with a pencil, which by Ana's standards is quite good going.

Then when she gets home, Christian has sent her an original edition 3 volume of Tess of the D'urbevilles. The way he's behaved so far, I'm rather surprised, and relieved, they weren't bound in human skin.

That really would have been giving out mixed messages to poor old hapless Ana.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 29, 2012 12:32 PM BST

Before She Was Mine
Before She Was Mine
Price: 4.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Torn Between Two Mothers, 12 Mar 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Once again Kate Long proves that when it comes to family politics, no one writes better. Before She Was Mine is an affectionate and touching look at twenty-three year old Freya, who is torn between her fun-loving biological mother, Melody, and her adoptive and literal Earth mother, Liv. When both suffer a crisis at the same time, Freya is torn between wanting to do the best for both of them, whilst being unable to split herself in two. Add to that her friend, Nicky's impending nuptials and the issues surrounding that, one begins to wonder if Freya will ever have time or energy to sort out her own problems.

Peopled with a cast of very believable characters, the novel is a beautifully written and beautifully observed look at family in all its forms.

Dragon Rider's Woman [Dragon Riders] (Siren Publishing Allure)
Dragon Rider's Woman [Dragon Riders] (Siren Publishing Allure)
Price: 3.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy and intelligent erotica, 10 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I must admit that normally when I read erotica I skip to the naughty bits. This is mainly because the stories in erotica are usually non-existent and just consist of joiny bits for the sex scenes. But not with Freya Garth's Dragon Riders. This story was a genuine page turner, with a proper plot that drew me in. The world of the Dragon Riders is fully realised, with genuine reasons for them to share 7 women amongst 35 men.

The Dragon Riders are dying out and must find more women. When kitchen drudge Doraya asks to become a Dragon Riders' Woman, she finds a world of sensuality, but also finds the love and care that has been sorely missing from her life. But there's danger too, especially when she mind melds with Doril's dragon, Fiami. I shan't spoil the ending, but it's a very satisfying read. And not just for the sex, though the sex scenes are elegantly written, with warmth and humour.

I loved this story and can't wait to read more about the Dragon Riders. There is enough story and depth for quite a few episodes yet!

Play to Kill
Play to Kill
by P.J Tracy
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing offering, 11 Mar 2011
This review is from: Play to Kill (Hardcover)
I've been a fan of the mother and daughter team of PJ Tracy from the very first book. Want to Play? was fresh and original, and I loved the interplay between the cops, and the other characters. I've enjoyed some of the other novels too, though not quite as much. This one was particularly disappointing. Like other reviewers, I guessed who the culprit was as soon as they were introduced, but that also left a massive plot hole. Because there was no way the culprit had the IT abilities needed to do what they did, which included keeping the Monkeewrench team from tracking down their computor on the Internet.

Grace Macbride is getting very annoying, and it's beginning to seem like her problems are little to do with the bad things that happened in her life and more to do with a personal mental issue (or maybe even autistic tendencies) that transcend all the bad stuff.

The character of FBI agent John Smith was introduced, and failed to impress mainly because he didn't really have much to do other than be impressed by the Monkeewrench team (Grace in particular) and the cop duo of Magozzi and Gino (though it didn't stop Smith hitting on Magozzi's girl!). I imagine that if they make a film of this, he'll be played in his usual deadpan style by Tommy Lee Jones. I can't quite work out what happened at the end, but it seemed implausible to me that Grace would dump the loyal, and witty, Magozzi for a man with the personality of a gnat. Then again, given how long she's kept him on a leash, maybe it was time to set him free. Then he can ride off into the sunset with the pretty blonde FBI profiler who took up a lot of time in the story for no apparent reason other than to show Magozzi that there are other women out there who can actually hold down a conversation that doesn't drift into monosyllabic responses on her part.

I wonder if the writing team behind the Monkeewrench novels need to leave the characters be for a while, and try something new, as judging by this novel, they're clearly bored with their characters and can think of nowhere else to take them.

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