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Albert of Adelaide
Albert of Adelaide
by Howard L. Anderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual, moving story of friendship and loyalty, 2 Aug 2012
This review is from: Albert of Adelaide (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We meet Albert a duck-billed platypus, lost and alone in the Australian outback. He had escaped from Adelaide Zoo to search for old Australia rumoured to be a place where animals ruled and where humans did not venture. Now Albert was struggling through a sandstorm, exhausted and close to death when he heard singing. Following the sound he stumbles into the camp of Jack, a fire loving wombat. Saved by Jack, Albert becomes his close friend. They travel together to a remote mining station run by O'Hanlin, a wily kangaroo. Albert gets drunk and joins a gambling game of two-up. Things go wrong and a fire starts. Albert and Jack run away, but are soon pursued by a fierce troop of kangaroos and wallabies. A poster shows Albert to be a wanted platypus. Of course, the other animals have never seen a platypus so they are wary of him and blame him for the fire.

Eventually Jack leaves Albert, who finds a sign 'Gates of Hell' which turns out to be a store run by a disreputable duo Bertram, a wallaby and Theodore, an evil possum. Albert is robbed by the pair but is saved again by TJ, a racoon. They travel together and TJ tries un unsuccessful attempt to be a robber. Albert is not much help as he cannot shoot very well. Albert is left alone again after TJ is taken away by some dingoes.

Albert decides to try and find Muldoon, an old champion wrestler. Jack had spoken of him, but would not answer questions about their relationship.

After finding Muldoon, camped by a waterhole, and again meeting up with Jack, now limping and TJ who was befriended by the dingoes the foursome rest in their camp. They hear a battle and soon shells are falling nearby.It is the posse of kangaroos and wallabies led by Theodore and Bertram against the dingoes. Jack, TJ and Muldoon go ahead and leave Albert alone at the camp as a decoy. When things go quiet and his friends have not yet returned Albert sets out to find them.....

This is a western style story where human characters are replaced by animals who shoot, drink whiskey and gamble. The story is well written, the characters beautifully formed and with excellent description. A tissue may need to be at hand. A very readable story. A sequel would be great.


The Girl You Left Behind
The Girl You Left Behind
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of obsession and possession, 10 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Part I. Sophie Lefevre, with the help of her family, runs what was once a thriving hotel in Saint Peronne. Her husband Edouard is away fighting on the front and she has no love of the Nazis. German soldiers move into the village and take food and possessions from the people, leaving the villagers hungry and frightened. Sophie is obliged to serve the soldiers. Their Kommandant arrives and Sophie sees a less harsh and cultured man. He speaks of art and sees the portrait of Sophie, painted by her husband, immediately he is enthralled by the painting.

Later Sophie learns that Edouard is a prisoner and has been moved to a reprisal camp.

Accidentally, whilst walking in the local woods with the children she meets the Kommandant and asks for his help to obtain the release of her husband. She is told to go home, but to call and see the Kommandant the next evening. Sophie goes to his quarters, taking the painting with her. The meeting is a disaster and days later the German soldiers arrest her and she is bundled into a truck to start a journey to an uncertain future.

Part II. A century later Liv Halston, a young widow, is the owner of Sophie's portrait 'The girl you left behind'.

Liv is drunk in a London bar and is noticed by Paul McCafferty. Liv loses her handbag and after a search Paul takes her to his flat and an affair begins.

Liv is shocked some time later to receive a letter stating that the LeFevre family want the painting 'The girl you left behind' returned to them and is also shocked to see that the letter is signed Paul McCafferty who is director of an organisation helping to return missing items to the rightful owners. Determined to keep the painting Liv and her friend and flatmate Mo begin to research the history of the work and trace the remaining members of the LeFevre family.

A court claim is being made for the picture and Live whose husband's business is losing money is advised that to contest the case would ruin her. Liv is determined to go ahead. She has letters and documents relating to the painting and Paul McCafferty is now on the opposing side.

The only way to decide possession is through the law. This is a challenge Liv is about to take on to keep the portrait.

Part I is a well written piece with all the makings of an interesting, moving story of the determination of two women in very different circumstances to keep the painting 'The girl you left behind'.

Part II. this was somewhat disappointing as it seemed to be descending into merely a romance between Paul and Liv rather than concentrating on the painting. However, its saving grace was that we learned more about Sophie's experiences and something more of David. Added to this was a little more of the 'journey' of the painting over the years before it was given as a wedding present by David Halston, her husband, to Liv. We also learn something of the attitudes and feelings of the LeFevre family and other owners of the painting.

A rather long story that would have been better if Part II had been shorter and written in a sharper style. It was rather too romanticised.


Ocean of Life
Ocean of Life
by Callum Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.71

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific, informative narrative on the world's seas, 8 July 2012
This review is from: Ocean of Life (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The author takes us on a journey from the formation of the oceans and the organisms that lived in them to the present day.

Callum Roberts tells of how over fishing has depleted fish stocks, driving some species to near extinction. He describes how only two centuries ago fish were larger whereas now fish are smaller and often immature youngsters are caught in nets losing the natural cycle of reproduction.

The rise in sea levels are a danger to low lying islands as the Maldives and major cities built on shorelines, New York.

Drag nets (bottom fishing) have turned the seabed into marine deserts. Plant life, marine creatures have been disturbed, damaged or obliterated by human activity. Medicines that protect our health whose components have found their way into the sea have caused diesease and deformity in sea creatures.

The author gives many other examples of the dangers to the seas - ice caps melting, sewerage pollution, chemicals, plastics, alteration of currents and global warming. Also noise from ships and even ocean wind farms which disrupt the food searches of whales and dolphins.

Every topic that is now coming to human attention is covered.

The book is not all gloom. Some less polluted and protected areas still have shoals of brightly coloured fish, marine plants and delicate coral structures, which the author describes beautifully.

Callum Roberts offers ways in which we can reverse some of the damage as well as preventing further disastrous consequences.

An excellent book written in an understandable format. Illustrated with colour photographs and black and white explanantory diagrams and graphs.


Tigers in Red Weather
Tigers in Red Weather
by Liza Klaussmann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.00

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great combination of hot weather, fine living and murder, 5 July 2012
This review is from: Tigers in Red Weather (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Five people together at Tiger House; their lives entwined. The weather is hot and sultry. A time for a cooling swim in the Chappaquiddick. A time for picnic, dinner parties, fashionable dressing and cocktails. Yet beneath the veneer of respectability lie secrets in past lives, deceit, suppressed emotions and murder.

The story is told through the eyes and actions of the five main characters; Nick and Hughes Derringer and daughter Daisy. Helena Lewis and son Ed. All are staying at Tiger House and after the war years life is easier, with pleasant days on the island until a murder occurs. There are suspicions, but nothing proven. The incident is pushed aside and life returns to normal - until another murder is plotted.

The story covers the latter years of the war through the 50's and 60's. The characters are complex yet somehow shallow. Adults have their problems and the children growing up and learning about life and relationships.

It is an intriguing story with an unexpected twist in the end.


Torchwood: Mr Invincible (BBC Audio)
Torchwood: Mr Invincible (BBC Audio)
by Mark Morris
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 8.67

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb Torchwood story., 5 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ross Chapman is shot at point blank range, yet does not die. He gains super powers and becomes a crime busting vigilante 'Mr. Invincible'.

Cpt.Jack Harkness sees a vision of Gwen lying murdered, shot by an unknown gunman. Jack is angry - he does not know where the death of Gwen took place.

At the local police station Jack demands to see Sgt.Andy Davidson and hears of other incidents; young people becoming old, adults becoming young and others dying.

Jack must find the truth about Gwen in order to save her as time is shifting around the city. He must also find out who or what is causing time's erratic motion.

This is a very well written story with all the right ingredients expected in a Torhwood adventure. Events are a sequel to Miracle Day, with suspense, mystery and an unusual solution.

Written by Mark Morris and read by Tom price.


The Art of Monarchy  (BBC Radio 4)
The Art of Monarchy (BBC Radio 4)
by Will Gompertz
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 7.34

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing combination of art and history, 11 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This cd set is of the Radio 4 series broadcast in March 2012.

Various artefacts ranging from photographs, portraits, tapestries to radio and TV broadcasts from the Royal collection are described, whilst historians and staff tell something of the history of the time.

We learn how monarchs influenced aspects of the country. For example: George III 'acquired' some Merino sheep which were then bred in England for their fine wool. Prince Albert's interest in mechanical things and influence for the Great Exhibition. The series tells of the increase of the Empire, Elizabth I's desire to spread influence and gain territory in America and the Caribbean.

There are too many items to mention in this review, but we do learn of the first televised Christmas broadcast and the first transatlantic cable message by Queen Victoria to the President of the United States.

The series is certainly not solely reliant on the description of artefacts, and with the added history makes interesting and informative listening.

The presenter, Will Gompertz, speaks in clear tones and contributions from historians, academics and staff in cherge of the Royal collection in the various Royal residences add the final touches.

A very well presented series, but perhaps a folded sheet with photographs of the objects referred to would have been useful to be included in the cd set. However, a BBC website is given which shows the artefacts individually.


Doomsday
Doomsday
by Graham Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.37

5.0 out of 5 stars A real adventure story, 7 Jun 2012
This review is from: Doomsday (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The race is on. A search to find a strange energy producing stone sited somewhere in the Amazon and spoken of in an ancient Mayan prophecy. A prophecy that tells of an event to take place in 2012, one that could mean a catastrophe for the world.

Does a young Russian boy hold part of the answer? Three people are desperately trying to find the stone to prevent a foreign power possessing it. The searchers are: Hawker, a rogue agent, Danielle, his partner and Prof.McCarter. Others are searching too. Governments are involved and a ruthless billionaire, Kang, who will do anything to find the stone for himself.

This is a well written adventure story. The chapters are short, which entices the reader to go back and continue reading to find out what happens next.

There is plenty of lively action, good descriptions and well defined characters plus a surprising dramatic climax.

The author, Graham Brown, has skilfully woven science, ancient texts and political action together to create a great adventure.

A very enjoyable read.


Midnight in Peking: The Murder That Haunted the Last Days of Old China
Midnight in Peking: The Murder That Haunted the Last Days of Old China
by Paul French
Edition: Paperback

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A young woman brutally slain. Who killed her and why?, 27 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Lying on frozen ground, the body of a young woman, close to a reputedly haunted tower in Peking. The year 1939. The time the final days of old China. The victim Pamela Werner, daughter of Peking's former British Consul, E.T.C Werner.

An investigation was carried out involving both British and Chinese police, but this was hamperd by the authorities, lies by witnesses and others who conveniently disappeared.

Later her father carried out his own search for the truth about the motiveless killing of his child.

The searches led to the murky streets of the Badlands where drugs and prostitution mingled with street vendors to the affluent areas of colonial homes of prominent people.

Paul French, a British historian discovered a lost file in the Scotland Yard archives and has pieced together the gripping true story of police investigations and that of Pamela's father, both hampered by prejudice, politics and suspicion. A story of a determined search that entered the darkest areas of sex cults, heroin trade and brothels that can now be told after lying neglected for years and offer some justice for an innocent victim.

The book is illustrated with colour plates, well written and draws the reader to follow the disturbing evidence of a savage killing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2013 1:35 PM BST


A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid
A History of Ancient Egypt: From the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid
by John Romer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.88

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and superbly written, 13 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From the earliest farmers through to the building of the great pyramid John Romer writes with enthusiasm and gives understandable explanations. He describes how the hunter-gatherers became settled farming communities using animal husbandry and their knowledge of the River Nile combined with the seasons to produce sufficient food to feed the population. Well described are the first burial sites of the early kings and the legacy they left for Egypt's future generations.

John Romer discusses some of the extraordinary ideas created by the Victorians and corrects many of their conclusions.

Moving to the pharaohs and the construction of the pyramids Romer tells of the step pyramids and the 'bent' pyramid (this is a very interesting topic because of how its unique shape came into being) and finally detailing the the Great Pyramid of Khufu. There are excellent descriptions of tomb paintings and of the artefacts found within the chambers of the various graves and pyramids. These things are brought to life for the reader so that one can imagine both ordinary people and royal persons wearing or using the objects.

The author does not overlook those people who served and those whose ingenuity designed the pyramids or the many workmen engaged in building them and their associated monuments.

The book is well illustrated with maps, diagrams and colour plates.

A great insight into the lives and developing cultures of the early people in Egypt.


The Lifeboat
The Lifeboat
by Charlotte Rogan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.06

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A question of survival, 8 May 2012
This review is from: The Lifeboat (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The setting is an overloaded lifeboat on an empty ocean. The story is told by Grace, a recently wed young woman who recounts events on the boat as well as those in her own life. Her husband secured a place for her in the lifeboat as it was being lowered to the sea. Grace is a rather aloof woman who observes her fellow survivors in reality yet is given to flights of fancy into an unreal world.

An experienced seaman, Hardie, takes control of the provisions and organises routines for rowing and bailing. Everyone looks to him for guidance and regard him as their saviour. However, as their privations increase and with no sign of rescue rumour and whispers spread and Hardie begins to lose his authority and is suspected of being a man with a dark past. The moral question of who should die that others may live arouses further disharmony. Out of the mixed group some of the stronger women are driven to thoughts of murder.

The action aboard the lifeboat is beautifully described and the author writes in an almost poetic fashion in parts. All the characters, both male and female, are well drawn and believable. Charlotte Rogan captures the changing moods within the group as well as the restlress sea, perfectly.

A very readable book which holds one's attention and fires the imagination as the story unfolds.


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