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Fiona Millar "cookiemum" (Edinburgh)
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The Obsidian Mirror
The Obsidian Mirror
by Catherine Fisher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable first instalment., 10 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Obsidian Mirror (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I get quite fed up with the current trend for turning every story into a series of books, as it often feels like one story stretched across several books simply for the purpose of squeezing extra money out of readers. I thought The Obsidian Mirror was going to be the same kind of thing, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the book so much that I was pleased there are more to come.

The story begins with Jake, a boy tormented by his father's disappearance and determined to force his godfather Oberon Venn to tell the truth about his part in it. Jake wangles his expulsion from school, and is sent back to Venn along with his reluctant teacher Wharton. Once there, Jake discovers that Venn and his father had been experimenting with the obsidian mirror, a mysterious object which allows time travel but is full of its own dangerous power. There are several characters seeking control of the mirror, each with their own motives and back-story, and I liked how bits of that back-story were dropped into the story, always keeping the reader wanting to know more.

The characters are all very well drawn, with shades of dark and light, and I could easily imagine a whole book for each of them to explain where they came from and what made them the way they are. There is plenty of action, twists and turns and intrigue. It made the whole book the kind of read that you just don't want to end, so I was very satisfied that the ending left lots of promise for an exciting and enjoyable second instalment. Highly recommended, a very good read.


Pretty Girl Thirteen
Pretty Girl Thirteen
by Liz Coley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read but dark subject matter, 10 Sep 2013
This review is from: Pretty Girl Thirteen (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Pretty girl Thirteen tells the story of Angie, who returns home from a camping trip to find that she's actually been gone for three years, and is clearly the victim of abduction and abuse. From very early on, it's obvious that we're dealing with very dark themes here, so it's not a book for younger readers or those who prefer a lighter read. The rather odd flip-side to that is that the tone of the book at times feels slightly too naive - Angie doesn't show the levels of mental trauma that one might expect, instead being keen to fit right back into high school, friends etc. Similarly, her parents seem a bit one-dimensional and unconvincing. The disparity between the truly awful things which happen to this young girl and the sometimes casual and far-fetched feel of the narrative mean that you don't perhaps feel the full horror of it, instead feeling constantly reminded that you're just reading a made up tale.

The use of alternate voices to tell the story of what happened to Angie is clever and well executed, and the character is likeable enough. The method used to cure Angie of her multiple personalities is far-fetched and less well thought out, but the story carries you along at a pace which means you don't really mind. It is a quick read, both myself and my 14yr old daughter read it within a matter of hours, which again seems slightly at odds with such weighty themes, but we both felt it was a good read.


Monument 14 (Monument 14 Trilogy 1)
Monument 14 (Monument 14 Trilogy 1)
by Emmy Laybourne
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, with some fresh outlooks., 2 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Monument 14 tells the story of fourteen kids stuck in a supermarket following a natural disaster. Pretty typical dystopian stuff then, but Laybourne does take some fresh approaches. The set up which leaves the kids separated from any adult help is believable and well written. The story is told in a first person narrative, not by the hero or leader of the group, but by Dean, a fairly average boy whose journal records the ordeals of the group. There are some fairly stereotypical characters, the leader, the bully, the gorgeous popular girl who Dean idolises, but there is growth and change in the characters throughout the story. The plot device of an experimental military chemical gas, which affects different blood types in different ways, is a clever one, but it does feel a little under-used.

There was definitely enough to hold my interest in this story, I read it within a day, and would definitely read the sequel. I particularly liked the way the sequel was set up, so that it will allow for a different point of view and a different style of story. The book did remind me a little of the Gone series, although a somewhat tamer version. I wonder if things will get a little darker in the sequel!


Anarchy (Advent Trilogy)
Anarchy (Advent Trilogy)
by James Treadwell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but a touch too dark., 31 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I loved 'Advent', the first instalment of the trilogy, and so I was really looking forward to 'Anarchy' being released. However, it's a very different book, which feels a world away from the first one - 'Advent' left the reader with a clear message that things were about to get a whole lot worse for the world, so I was prepared for the book being darker, but I really wasn't expecting it to be quite so relentlessly grim. 'Advent' read very much as a YA story, told from the viewpoint of teenagers and with only a smattering of adult content. 'Anarchy' moves firmly and uncomfortably away from such territory, with a lot of adult content (swearing, strong sexual language, rape) and told from a mainly adult point of view. It's a strange shift and reads as though the author has decided to target a totally different audience this time.

The story starts half the world away from where we left it, with Goose, a female Mountie, perplexed by the seemingly impossible disappearance of Jennifer, the 'ocean girl' referred to at the end of book 1. As the normal world disintegrates around her, she slowly has to come to terms with the magic seeping into the world. I expected more description of society having to face magic in the world, but actually for most of society it seems to amount to no more than a financial and technological meltdown and lots of looting and religious fanatic behaviour. It's only the key characters who see the magic, and it is they who suffer the most as a result.

The other strand of the story follows Marina, left behind by Gawain and driven by misery to leave Pendurra. At the same time Gawain's mother Isuelt sets off in search of him. Both these characters were told by Gawain (who appears only fleetingly in the story) to wait for his return, and warned by others to stay safely home. Similarly, Goose, across the water, is told to leave things alone but feels compelled to ignore this advice. Normally in books, characters who are driven to ignore such advice are ultimately rewarded and shown to be right to pursue their quest. Unfortunately, every character in this book is extensively punished for it. Even worse, it's not as though their actions show them as heroic martyrs whose sufferings lead to triumph for others - if they'd stayed safely at home, the finale of the book would have happened anyway, but with less tragedy and awful suffering. It makes this instalment feel somewhat redundant and pointless, and this, combined with several overly descriptive pages of characters endlessly wandering along roads and past empty buildings, makes it a slog to read at times.

Overall, it feels like a filler book fuelled by an unremittingly doomsday attitude. One would think that the return of magic would, just like life, have equal shades of dark and light, but this paints magic as overwhelmingly dark, pitiless and cruel. The three stars are because the story is well written when it's going somewhere - Treadwell's style is as lyrical and evocative as the first book, and characters are well drawn and believable. I'd really expected to love this book as much as I did 'Advent', but it left me feeling very wary of what might be in store in the final instalment, and unsure whether I'd want to read it.


200 Easy Cakes & Bakes: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook
200 Easy Cakes & Bakes: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook
by Joanna Farrow
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely wee book, 28 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great little cookbook, full of tasty cakes and bakes. All the recipes are fairly easy to make, and I like the fact that no fancy equipment is needed to tackle them. They're not Masterchef type fancy creations, but if you like your baking homely, filling and tasty, this is a wonderful wee book to have.


AS Level Biology for AQA: Student Book
AS Level Biology for AQA: Student Book
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly useful for biology students, 28 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This books covers A2 level Biology, and is a really useful and accessible tool. Laid out clearly and in a friendly and chatty style, it includes review sections and exam style questions. It is important to purchase the right book for your exam board requirements. CGP books are among the best educational resources available to students, and this is another one to be highly recommended.


A2 Level Biology for OCR: Student Book
A2 Level Biology for OCR: Student Book
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and useful, 28 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book covers A2 level biology, and is a very useful resource. It begins with a section called How Science Works, before taking a thorough look at the subject, with review and exam style questions at the end of each section. All answers are included, as well as a useful wee glossary. The text in written in a friendly style, and included are lots of learning tips. Highly recommended.


AS/A Level Maths for Edexcel - Statistics 1: Student Book
AS/A Level Maths for Edexcel - Statistics 1: Student Book
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another great CGP book, 28 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
CGP books are extremely well done, and this one is no exception. Clear and thorough chapters on Statistics, full of helpful tips, are followed by review questions to consolidate your learning and then a page of exam style questions to give you confidence about tackling the exam. The CD-Rom offers exam practice papers with full answers. Overall, a very useful tool to help students gain a good understanding of the subject and the exam requirements.


AS/A Level Maths for Edexcel - Core 1: Student Book
AS/A Level Maths for Edexcel - Core 1: Student Book
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.19

5.0 out of 5 stars In-depth and thorough., 28 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book offers students plenty of opportunity to practice and become comfortably familiar with Mathematics and the Edexcel exam requirements. Each section is clearly laid out, with lots of tips throughout, and a review exercise at the end of each chapter, followed by exam style questions. All answers are included, as well as a CD-Rom with exam practice papers and fully worked answers. Well worth investing in.


Eukanuba Overweight Sterilised Dogs Dry Food 12.5 kg
Eukanuba Overweight Sterilised Dogs Dry Food 12.5 kg
Price: 35.90

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogs love it!, 27 Aug 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Both my lab retriever and boxer are slightly overweight and sterilised, and previous diet foods have done nothing to help. The first thing about this food is that both dogs absolutely love it - the boxer is often picky with food, but he bounds to his bowl eagerly to get this food. The pack had clear instructions on how much to feed them, and as another reviewer pointed out, it has made poo-picking a bit less smelly. I can't yet see a clear difference in weight, but I did have to tighten both their collars the other day as they were slack enough to slip over their heads, so it does seem to be having an effect!


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