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Ms. G. van der Rol "Greta van der Rol" (Queensland, Australia)
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The Conference
The Conference
Price: £0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strikes a chord for the not so young woman, 4 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Conference (Kindle Edition)
A tropical paradise does terrible things to the human psyche. Maggie, a systems analyst a little way past the blush of youth, finds herself the object of lust for 3 men. You might say 'who's complaining' but Maggie left her confidence (in the romance department, anyway) back when she was a couple of dress sizes smaller.

This is a funny story, sure to strike a chord with those of us of a 'certain age'. Maggie has packed the wrong clothes for the conditions. Killer heels don't work on the beach and polyester tights aren't comfortable in the heat. Some of the one-liners are just wonderful. For example "I can feel my ass straining the pencil-skirt, tight enough that even the slip has no `slip', nailed in place between my pantyhose-covered cotton briefs and the thick-weave fabric." While she's at the conference she still has a teenage daughter and an elderly mother to contend with, both of whom give her grief in different ways.

Under all the humour lurks a wistful soul who has compared herself to others and lost confidence. It's a gentle and tender love story as Maggie comes to terms with herself and the men in her life.

It's a great little read.


Love Springs/Prelude: Two Inspector Monde Tales of Strange and Terrible Adventures (The Inspector Monde Tales Book 5)
Love Springs/Prelude: Two Inspector Monde Tales of Strange and Terrible Adventures (The Inspector Monde Tales Book 5)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspector Monde is becoming darker, 27 Oct. 2011
I've read all of Inspector Monde's adventures and as we go further we learn more about the good Inspector - as well as the supernatural side of Paris. While all the stories have a paranormal or supernatural influence, they were fairly light, fun reads with macabre undertones. Until now. 'Prelude' is very dark and the name suggests we will hear more from the arch-villain the author has introduced. I shall certainly be reading on.


Filtered Light & Other Stories
Filtered Light & Other Stories

5.0 out of 5 stars Slices of life, with a twist, 4 Oct. 2011
One of the things I really like about Hietala short stories is the way he takes you there. 'There' could be anywhere - a snowbound forest in Finland, a water logged lane in WW2 England, a souk in Algiers. This small collection will transport you to all these places, entertain, surprise, sometimes send a shiver down your spine. And while you're enjoying his deft artistry with words as he creates atmosphere, or dancing shadows of dark and light on a row of leather-bound books, you'll get into his character's heads.

Another thing I like is how well he knows his subject matter. In the first story he'll regale you with the intricacies of cameras from a bygone age. You'll be there with him as he loads the film, ratchets the mechanism for the next frame. In another, he'll take you into the Finnish woods in winter, with a Winchester and show you the mating dance of the grouse.

I really enjoyed these stories, enjoyed these little vignettes from life and finding the little twist at the end. My only question is - where is 'Filtered Light'? Or will that appear in a later volume?


My Demon
My Demon
by Lisa C. Hinsley
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A descent into horror, 1 Oct. 2011
This review is from: My Demon (Paperback)
The title says 'my demon' and Clive provides Alex with that title himself. But it's hard for anybody to take him seriously, wearing a red cat suit with horns and a tail. Yet that, in itself, is what keeps you reading. You just know something has to change; and it does. To start with, Clive is helpful and all-knowing. With consummate skill, the author draws you into Alex's world and her nightmare. This is a page-turning book which lovers of horror and suspense will enjoy.


Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (The Isabella Books Book 1)
Isabeau, A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer (The Isabella Books Book 1)
Price: £2.39

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class historical fiction, 19 Aug. 2011
Gemini Sasson's novel about Isabella, wife of England's King Edward II and her relationship with Sir Roger Mortimer is a spell-binding work of historical fiction. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, Sasson takes the reader on a journey into the 14th Century, into the turbulent politics of England, France and Scotland.

Daughter of the King of France, Isabella is married off to Edward II at the age of thirteen - and soon discovers that as far as her husband is concerned, she is simply a brood mare for his children. He'd rather spend his time with his lover, Piers Gaveston. After Piers is killed, Hugh Despenser insinuates himself into Edward's affections. Increasingly isolated from her husband, Isabeau (it is the pet name of her childhood) turns to Sir Roger Mortimer. History has not been kind to Queen Isabella but Sasson has treated the `she-wolf of France' as a wonderfully human character.

The book is a compelling read, with beautiful locations, lovingly wrought. You can see it and taste and (sometimes unfortunately) smell it. This is just one example of Sasson's evocative descriptions, already enjoyed in her book about Robert the Bruce, `The Crown in the Heather'.

`Snow tumbled down, melting as it touched the earth. I looked out over the somber, glassy surface of the harbor to one side and then far up at the imposing castle of Dover, its stout, gray walls shouldering a joyless sky.'

No boring history lesson, this. The story moves apace, switching from Mortimer's point of view to Isabella's over a period of eighteen years as Isabeau evolves from a frightened child-bride to a doting mother and then into something darker when her children are snatched from her. For his part, Mortimer, a hardened professional soldier, sees his honour and his birthright stolen. And then he falls in love.

We share the journey with Isabeau and Mortimer as the setting moves from Dover to London to Leeds to France to Burgundy as Robert the Bruce and his Scottish army invades England, as the Marcher Lords lay siege to the King. The characters are all three dimensional, with virtues and flaws and the details of costume and culture, as well as natural settings, are beautifully drawn.

Sasson has brought this turbulent era to life. It is a masterful piece of writing and I look forward with pleasure to reading the second instalment of Isabeau and Mortimer's journey.


His Name In Lights: an ISF-Allion novella
His Name In Lights: an ISF-Allion novella

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Asimov, you'll like this, 19 Aug. 2011
Set on Io, arguably the most dangerous of Jupiter's moons, this hard SF novelette reminded me very much of the late, great Isaac Asimov's work. It is a mixture of well-researched science, robots and politics with a very clever technological twist and a good dose of humanity. Mind you, it is now some years since Dr Asimov passed on and our knowledge of robots, computers and the like have come a long way. Jansen has done her homework. The setting and the tech are convincing and the political situation is all too plausible.

The story is written from the point of view of Daniel, half human half robot, and the female boss of the company which created him. Eilinn is a tough, hard nosed woman with a softer side. I particularly liked the way Jansen described the internal wars between Daniel's robot and human sides. Whether there is any significance in her choice of Daniel as her hero's name I don't know. But I, like many Asimov fans, remember Daneel.

This novelette is the forerunner to a novel. I shall look forward to reading it.


Dragon Academy
Dragon Academy
by Diane Nelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for people who like horses and fantasy, 19 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Dragon Academy (Paperback)
If you're a person who loves horses and fantasy, you're sure to like Diane Nelson's `Dragon Academy'. Pitched at teens, the book tells the story of Nick, a natural horseman, who can also weave his magic with the last potentially breeding pair of endangered dragons. The dragons are teenagers, just like Nick, who must juggle the dragons, girls and an over-protective mother. What I especially liked about the story is that there is no attempt to explain the dragons. They're just here, another endangered species, with very real problems, like intestinal worms. I also liked the sub-plot as we follow the misadventures of BillyBob and BobbyRay as they first try to deliver the fire-breathing dragons to their new home and later try to deliver a load of genetically modified ground hogs. Well worth a read for all ages.


Tulagi Hotel
Tulagi Hotel

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pandora's box of memories, 19 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Tulagi Hotel (Kindle Edition)
War and its impact. That's what `Tulagi Hotel` is about. Jack McGuire was a pilot in the Pacific in World War II. After the war, unable to bring himself to leave, he establishes a hotel on a island where he fought.

When his best friend's widow shows up after the war, she opens up a Pandora's box of memories. For a start, Jack didn't know Don Wheeler was married. His fighter pilot friend had always been a womanizer, living life one day at a time. Kay wants to know how Don died, so Jack relives the last dogfight for her until Don's plane nosedives into the tropical sea. Kay stays a few days and Jack fights a losing battle to stave off falling for her.

From there, it's as if the top of Jack's head is opened and memories are pulled out and examined. For me, the book reads like a succession of short stories held together with the underlying theme of Jack's search for himself. The book tells tales from Jack's childhood with his twin brother and stories from the war, some funny, some poignant, some a little eerie. We learn more about Kay and Don, as well, with chapters written from their point of view. The contrast between Don and Jack is very well drawn - different backgrounds, different motivations and different reactions. Through it all, the author's knowledge of aircraft and the Pacific theatre of WW2 lends authenticity. The ending is satisfying and totally believable.

Sure, there are times when the reader might guess English isn't the author's native language and sometimes he hops from one point of view to another but these are minor flaws. If you're looking for a fast-paced cliff-hanger this is not the book for you. But if you want to explore some of the deeper reaches of minds affected by war, if you want to dip in and out and maybe re-read sections, laugh a little, cry a little, you'll find `Tulagi Hotel' well worth the investment.


Spar with the Devil
Spar with the Devil
by T. S. Bond
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, hard-edged science fiction, 19 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Spar with the Devil (Paperback)
This cleverly-written book starts off with a dark and disturbing scene between the two protagonists. Through the course of the book, the reason for the situation is slowly revealed and the nature of that first scene is turned on its head. The characters are well-drawn as we find out more about the two and the link that binds - and yet divides - them.

I particularly liked the way the world beyond the portal was drawn - weird and imaginative.

This is the first of series. I'll be looking for the next one.


Ferris' Bluff
Ferris' Bluff
Price: £2.18

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, great little town, 19 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Ferris' Bluff (Kindle Edition)
This is a terrific read from the get-go. Ace stops in a quiet little town and starts to meet the locals - and immediately we realise he's a man with a past. I won't repeat the blurb - it's up there. The characterisation in this story is terrific. Even the little town has character. You can relate to these folks, you may have met some in the quirky back blocks of your life.

This a great read - and the love story woven into it adds to the flavour. Recommended.


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