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Reviews Written by
Helen Baggott (UK)

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Within Wet Walls
Within Wet Walls
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously dark, 3 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Within Wet Walls (Kindle Edition)
In the author's blurb, Lily Childs confesses to writing 'dark fiction', and to me, as a reader, that darkness carries with it an uncomfortable sense of foreboding. Yet I read on - compelled to learn of characters who might be from 'the Caligula school of sanity', of a footman with a soulful fetish.

There's a subtlety to the story-telling, the words sneak their way into the imagination, planting images and thoughts that are repulsively attractive.

The short story creeps along, hugging death, lapping up life - and is deliciously dark...

Room in Your Heart: A collection of romantic stories
Room in Your Heart: A collection of romantic stories
Price: £1.53

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, cuddly and perfectly balanced, 29 Oct 2014
Shock! Horror! I don't read People's Friend... So what have I been missing? Well, if this collection is a benchmark, it's fine fiction - very fine fiction.

Sometimes I want a story to make me feel warm and cuddly - and cuddled. Coat those cuddles in too much sugar and you won't see me for dust.

Wendy Clarke has chosen twelve stories that are credible, warm-hearted and perfectly balanced. Introducing credibility into `romantic short stories' isn't easy. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed this collection so much. I felt warm and cuddled because they seemed so realistic, so believable.

I made the mistake of reading the first story in a car park - waiting for an appointment. Checking my watch, I had to finish it. Was there time for another? There's always time.

Favourites? Not easy to choose. It wouldn't be fair. Looking through the titles, they're all favourites. Okay... One Step at a Time. Who hasn't hoped to turn back the clock, revisit old dreams and loves? Carole may have returned reluctantly, but there's no mistaking her need to remember. But what about For Your Eyes Only? - I can have two favourites, surely?

The author kindly offered me a free copy of this book - in return for an honest review.

The Emerald Comb
The Emerald Comb
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping mystery, 17 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Emerald Comb (Kindle Edition)
This book ticks a lot of boxes for me. History, genealogy, and more than one mystery - what could possibly go wrong? The short answer, nothing.

The author had me from the book's blurb. I have files of family records, certificates marking the births, marriages and deaths of relatives, so I knew I'd find the fictional digging of Katie entertaining - to say the least.

There are many clichés involved with family trees and it would have been easy for the author to have padded her plot with them all. But very cleverly she drew me along as a very interested bystander.

As a time-slip novel, the reader is taken back to the 19th century - learning the detail that Katie might discover in her research. But anyone who has undertaken tracing their tree knows how frustrating it is to see the facts, but not the flesh - much like Katie.

Towards the end of the book I so wanted Katie to know what I knew, but of course that can't necessarily happen. There will always be gaps in our research. But how wonderful it was to read of the St Clairs, Katie's ancestors, putting all family history into perspective.

This is a clever novel. I found it gripping - the change of pace as I was torn from the 19th century and into the 21st and back again was infuriatingly well-written. I was new to the concept of a `time-slip' novel and the key to its success was that all important pace.

Do you need to be interested in genealogy to enjoy the plot? No, that element is important, but if you're a fan of historical mysteries and want an intelligent and refreshingly different read, this fits the bill.

Just one more chapter... that's what I kept saying to myself. But when I finished, I almost regretted not savouring it for longer!

White Oaks
White Oaks
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 30 Sep 2014
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This review is from: White Oaks (Kindle Edition)
I came across this book via Facebook - a friend mentioned that it was set in Swanage (albeit under the guise of Sandhaven) and as I had spent thirty years in the town, I was intrigued enough to buy a copy.

It wasn't difficult to recognise the landmarks - the pub at the bottom of the hill, the newsagent and the Italian restaurant - and to locate the actual guest house on which the author had based her story.

The author reveals that the book is based on her own experiences as a virgin seaside landlady. My parents owned a hotel and I was pleased the author had stressed the frustrations - and hard work - involved.

But without my knowledge of the town and the industry, was it still a good read? Beginning its life as a serial published in My Weekly, it was always going to be enjoyable.

My niggles are more with the production of the e-book. Some sentences didn't make sense - Gordon squeezed her hand and a she began...

And this slip of the finger should have been corrected - "Grr1...

I don't know why an Edwardian building had a Victorian door - another detail that could be easily resolved.

I'd love this book to be updated - I'd certainly be able to add another star to my review if it was.

Independent Jenny
Independent Jenny
Price: £2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read, 23 Sep 2014
This review is from: Independent Jenny (Kindle Edition)
I'd read about half of Jenny's story when I decided how I wanted her life to pan out. I knew which man would make her happy and I hoped she'd see sense and agree with me. But then, later, it occurred to me that Jenny was her own woman. My opinion didn't matter. I would have to trust that she would make the right decision, one that would make her happy. My hopes, as a reader, were overshadowed by a character that was so real I felt I might know her.

And that's what's so special about this book. Jenny was sharing her story, I could hear her talking to me like a friend might over a coffee. There was no self-pity, no annoying sobbing for days - yes, Jenny's life was thrown into turmoil, but I liked her maturity. I liked how she faced up to one of the most dreadful experiences any of us can encounter.

A generation ago we had Friends Reunited and now we have the era of Facebook - allowing us to cyber-stalk our ex-partners, snoop on their new lives. But can we reconcile then with now? That's the dilemma facing Jenny and her friends. Can teenage crushes be rekindled and moulded into ever-lasting love? There's no easy answer to that question - Jenny is certainly unsure.

Independent Jenny is still full of insecurities - they don't evaporate just because you have sole control over the remote. But being alone is surely better than being with the wrong person - the difficulty is recognising who that wrong person might be.

Sarah Louise Smith has a lovely, light style to her writing. The characters aren't bogged down, they're fresh and real - and even the gay friends are different enough to avoid the usual stereotypical clichés.

Setting much of the plot in Scotland - on the Isle of Sky - was an unexpected treat. I was as inspired by the scenery as Jenny - watching the sun set every evening would be entertainment enough for me.

A book about infidelity is never going to be a barrel of laughs, but what's life without humour? Sarah Louise Smith doesn't force it - but even a sad situation can make us smile. I adored how she allowed natural humour to thread its way through Jenny's new life.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book in an on-line competition. I thought I'd download it and read it - eventually. But I dipped into the first chapter and that was it - no turning back.

Pets Aplenty
Pets Aplenty
by Malcolm D. Welshman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of tails and talons, 5 Sep 2014
This review is from: Pets Aplenty (Paperback)
Anyone lucky enough to have a pet knows they become not just part of the family – but are the family. Is it any wonder how we fret when they need the care of a professional – a vet?

Doctors, so we are led to believe, have a bedside manner – but what of that vet?

With so many nails to clip and sexual urges to curtail, it might all become a tad mundane for these particular professionals in their white coats. But fear not! At Malcolm D Welshmen’s Prospect House practice, the vets are as soft as their patients’ owners.

Pets Aplenty follows the exploits of young vet, Paul Mitchell, as he gets to grips with birds of prey, escaped pigs and sundry fowl. Paul’s a very likeable chap. The action is seen through his nervous eyes – but it’s clear he has all the makings of a dependable and reassuring vet.

Sometimes books of this kind – where the animals are the stars – can be a tad too sentimental, but Welshman’s plot creates realistic scenarios and very believable emotions. Paul is acutely aware of how his clients regard their animals – he’s lost his own pets and knows how awful it can be. And that’s what I found most touching – we learn an awful lot about the nature of vets, as much as we do about the animals they care for.

Inevitably there’s plenty of humour – what’s not funny about an escaped snake and a naked neighbour? But it’s gently humorous, cleverly woven through the routine of a vet in practice.

If I were lucky enough to share my life with another dog, I’d want Paul Mitchell at its bedside!

Tivoli - The Tibrutine Area: Its History and Works of Art - Villa d'Este, Villa Gregoriana, Villa Adriana
Tivoli - The Tibrutine Area: Its History and Works of Art - Villa d'Este, Villa Gregoriana, Villa Adriana
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely souvenir, 20 Aug 2014
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Lots of lovely photographs that complement the informative text. Could have, should have, bought this when I was there - but at least I have a copy now.

Didn't realise, until it arrived, that it also covers Villa Adriana, so that's a nice bonus.

To Rome With Love [DVD] [2012]
To Rome With Love [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Woody Allen
Price: £4.50

4.0 out of 5 stars When in Rome..., 11 Aug 2014
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Beautifully filmed - what's not to like about Rome?! Some of the strands seemed to unravel, but it was worth buying for the beautiful photography. The short documentary was interesting.

Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951]
Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951]
Dvd ~ Robert Taylor
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful epic, but perhaps over-long by today's standards ..., 11 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Quo Vadis [DVD] [1951] (DVD)
A powerful epic, but perhaps over-long by today's standards. I thought the scenes in the Colosseum were especially well filmed. It wasn't what you saw, it's what you didn't - the camera cutting away to the crowds screaming for blood. Certainly a lesson for today's film-makers - you don't need to see the gore.

Three Coins in the Fountain [DVD] [1954]
Three Coins in the Fountain [DVD] [1954]
Dvd ~ Clifton Webb
Price: £5.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming!, 11 Aug 2014
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A charming film, enhanced by the beautiful locations. Part of the fun was spotting the places I'd visited.

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