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The Girl You Left Behind
The Girl You Left Behind
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Good cosy read, 3 May 2013
I really enjoyed this book and in fact kept trying to find some free time in which to finish it (not always easy!)

The book is in one sense about the story of a portrait but is also about the lives of the people it touches. The story shifts between France in the First World War and the time current owner of the painting

The story kept good pace and I really enjoyed the twist at the end...

Anansi Boys
Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 26 April 2012
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This review is from: Anansi Boys (Paperback)
This was just such a funny, well-written book. A completely unexpected plot-line (who could predict that their Dad used to be Anansi the trickster spider-god) I completely forgot that I was reading fantasy because it was all so believable. Great, great characters, genuinely funny laugh-out-loud situations (a murdered woman who doesn't believe she's been murdered and has a spat with her husband about it).

Definitely off to read the rest of Neil Gaiman's books!

Fault Line
Fault Line
by Robert Goddard
Edition: Hardcover

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, poor plot, 7 April 2012
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This review is from: Fault Line (Hardcover)
Fault Line goes back to a tragic episode that destroyed the Wrens, a wealthy Cornish mining family, in the 1960s. The main character, Jonathan Kellaway gets caught up in the subsequent history of the the Wren family and the long reaching consequences of the tragedy. Robert Goddard's writing is of a very high standard and I enjoyed reading large parts of this book, despite the initial slowness of the pace.

Fault Line flips between the 1960s, the 1980s and the present and also lurches from Cornwall, to Capri and the U.S. At times it seemed that two separate plots were in operation, neither of them very strongly connected. One involving possible corporate fraud, the other an Italian betrayal dating from World War Two. I kept hoping and expecting that the two plots would gel, perhaps in a surprise reveal at the end, but was ultimately disappointed as the conclusion was something of a damp squib and didn't really seem related to previous events.

The other reason I have given Fault Line only three stars is that I couldn't really believe in the main character. Jonathan Kellaway was a likeable enough man, but I found it hard to believe that he would hitch his fortunes to the family mining firm in the way he did. Also, he didn't seem to have any personal life of his own, other than that directly related to the plot. Nothing appeared to happen to him, other than the events that needed to take place for the plot to proceed.

All in all, a bit disappointing, but still a good read compared to some of the lesser quality offerings out there at the moment.

Super Natural Every Day: Well Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen
Super Natural Every Day: Well Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen
by Heidi Swanson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Every Day Recipes, 6 April 2012
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I think I was just a little underwhelmed with this cook book. Most of the recipes are ones I would cobble together anyway from ingredients in my store cupboard. They didn't seem to me to be super-healthy or super-natural, apart from the fact that they are vegetarian. One of the recipes uses shop-bought ravioli which I thought rather odd.

My main gripe is that there really weren't very many recipes in this book. There are lots of nice photos of scenery and quite a few of the finished dishes (though it's not clear which is which as they aren't labelled) but when it comes down to finding a recipe for a meal, I found that there just weren't that many to choose from. There were quite a few salads, snacks and soups, but not much else. To be honest, a number of the recipes felt like they were padding the book out - there was a recipe for one poached egg, another for more than one poached egg (!) and a recipe for lemonade shandy and another for iced tea (tea leaves, water, ice)...

I like the book's ethos and a few of the recipes have been delicious to eat (and inexpensive to cook) but I really don't feel that the total content justifies the purchase price of this book.

Bean By Bean A Cookbook
Bean By Bean A Cookbook
by Crescent Dragonwagon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great recipes, but a few ingredients hard to source in the UK!, 22 Feb. 2012
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I bought this because I love cooking with beans and wanted to acquire some more recipes. On this note the book certainly delivers, though not all the recipes contain beans! I've cooked Boston Mountain Baked Beans, Buttermilk Cornbread, Jamaican Beans and Rice, and Lumberjack Soup. The book contains over 175 recipes that are international in origin, spanning India, Mexico and New England.

Not all of the recipes are vegetarian and it's not immediately clear which are until you read through the ingredients. Generally the meats used are bacon or ham and alternatives are suggested.

A number of ingredients, for example teff flour, peanut butter chips don't seem to be available in the UK (or at least I don't know how to get hold of them). However I don't mind substituting ingredients and crossing my fingers for a good result. You will also need to acquire a set of US measuring cups (or use a small tea cup) but I find measuring ingredients in this way speeds up the cooking process. In addition, no photos are provided, but this did leave space for more recipes.

Those technicalities aside, I thought this was a lovely heart-warming cook book. It is written by Crescent Dragonwagon (!) and the writing is very engaging, with some recipe introductions running to a couple of pages, providing a historic and social context. Cartoons and line drawings are dotted throughout. I actually sat down and read it for about an hour when it arrived.

Celebrity In Death: 34
Celebrity In Death: 34
by J. D. Robb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Happy but confused, 18 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Celebrity In Death: 34 (Hardcover)
This is my first JD Robb book, which I bought on the recommendation of a committed Robb fan and also because I loved the story promised by the blurb.
I can see by the inside cover that Robb has written many previous books and consequently Celebrity in Death might not be the best place to start in a long series... however... I am sooo confused: I loved the characters, all of the them - which is part of the problem because there are just so many characters introduced in the first few chapters. Also so much reference is made to previous events and previous cases that I really had to work hard to keep up.
Many other series books will provide little internal summaries for newbies like me, so that we can be up to date with the main character's personal life and previous cases. Unfortunately, in Celebrity in Death, this is touched on so lightly that I really didn't know quite what was going on and this detracted from the new story that was about to unfold.
That said, I really loved the writing and am already quite fond of the characters, so I may revisit this book again after reading the rest of the series.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2012 4:22 PM GMT

Pear Shaped
Pear Shaped
by Stella Newman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peachy, 10 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Pear Shaped (Paperback)
This was just such a great read. I started it last night and finished it under my desk at work today...
Despite the chick-lit cover, Pear Shaped isn't your typical romance with a bit of baking thrown in. Instead this is a heart-felt exploration of an unbalanced relationship and the damaging impact it can have on your mind and body.
The heroine, Sophie is warm and likeable and the writing is very sharp witted and well observed. At times I couldn't believe that Sophie was putting herself through such emotional heart ache, but actually this was the book's strength - we've all been in this situation, or something close to it.
The story was very fast paced, so much so that I might have to read it through a second time to pick up all the delicious foodie bits.
I'm looking forward to the next Stella Newman (maybe with a better cover next time?)

Catch Me (Detective D.D. Warren 6)
Catch Me (Detective D.D. Warren 6)
by Lisa Gardner
Edition: Hardcover

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It caught me, 4 Feb. 2012
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Wow. This is the first Lisa Gardner book that I have read and I stayed up late, just so I could finish it. It starts with an incredible first chapter and never really lets go.

The story is told first of all through Charlie who has a turbulent past and is now convinced that she is about to be killed on a certain date, just four days away. Her two best friends have been murdered, in different state and in different years, but both on January 21st. Now it must be Charlie's turn. She manages to get in touch with DD, a detective in the Boston police force and the story just swings along from there, alternating between Charlie and DD's point of view, but without any let up in the fast paced narrative.

Charlie has hidden away from family and friends and made herself fighting fit just so she can defend herself against the murderer she is convinced will find her. She works as a police emergency call handler and her role has obviously been well researched as I learned a lot about the demands of this kind of job.

DD was a really likeable character, ridiculously tough and hardened on the one hand, but also contending with returning to work and leaving a young baby at home. I didn't feel that I was missing out by not having read the other books in this series, which was great and I really warmed to the selection of friends and colleagues DD gathered around her.

The story zipped along, dealing with sex crimes and pedophiles, which is a topic that has been done a lot in recent crime novels, but in this case managed to add a number of new angles that kept the plot twisting and turning. Best of all, I genuinely didn't guess the ending until I got there.

Definetly a recommended read and I will be adding to my Lisa Gardner collection from now on.

Price: £5.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit sleepy for a suspense..., 4 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Cuckoo (Kindle Edition)
I was expecting to enjoy this book and anticipated being drawn into a nightmarish domestic scenario that gets tighter and tighter until the suspense is unbearable. Sadly this did not happen.
The story is that Rose, a mother with two small children, tries to help an old friend by inviting her to stay in her hour of need, despite her husband's reluctance. The invited friend, Polly turns out to be a dark force who destroys Rose's domestic setup. This should translate into a really good novel, but it just didn't get there for me. This is largely to do with the way the story is told and the characters that I never really warmed to.
As already noted in other reviews, the story seems to be told from the wrong angle, so that you never really get to feel the suspense that must be building. There are thick wads of padding to wade through, for example chunks of back story that go on for pages and leave you wondering where the real plot went to. There are also endless domestic descriptions: the AGA, the cooking, the country house (yawn) most of which served only to make me feel a sense of smugness about Rose, the main character. The setting didn't contribute much to the story as I felt it created quite a generic picture of a village, with the inevitable head teachers and GP living close at hand ( a hint - it doesn't actually work like that in real life).
Someone really should have given this book a good edit and stripped out all the unwanted factors that slowed the story down. Then they should have gone back in and added some real psychological suspense. Quite disappointed and won't rush to buy the next one from Julia Crouch.

Live Wire
Live Wire
by Harlan Coben
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please save Myron, 31 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Live Wire (Hardcover)
I have really enjoyed just about all of the Harlan Coben novels and the Myron Bolitar series has always ranked as a 5 star read. They are humorous, with excellent villains and crazy (sometimes contorted) plots. The main characters of Myron Bolitar the sports agent/detective and Win his upper class psychopath friend are soooo likeable, as are their female wrestler side kicks. Unfortunately Live Wire has seemingly fast forwarded about twenty years from the previous Bolitar book. The humour is tired and the main characters are having mid-life crises. Everyone is grumpy and getting old. Myron's feisty mom is relegated to just a generic old lady with a bad memory and as for his dad, well that's just another poor plot line seemingly spun to try and keep this book moving.

In Live Wire, someone posts an anonymous nasty message on a Facebook account. Myron Bolitar then spends the next fifty pages trying to work out who they were (yes, really!). He then very coincidentally spots someone else in a nightclub, who turns out to be his sister-in-law (who I have never heard of before and who we are supposed to really care about already). He then starts hunting down his sister-in-law or maybe he's just looking for a reclusive rock star on an island, who knows? Who cares?

I think there are five or six plots going on in this book and none of them seem to relate to each other. In fact I had to wait until almost the middle of this book before the main plot revealed itself and even then it was weaker than a new born kitten.

I only finished this book because I was stuck on a train with nothing else to read.

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