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The Secret History
The Secret History
Price: 4.31

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deliciously dark murder mystery, 21 May 2014
American college students doing drugs, studying Greek and committing murder. Donna Tartt lures us into a world where the normal limits of college life disappear and something closer to supernatural anarchy takes over. There are half-revealed scenes of ritual horror, betrayals of trust, free love for some, tantalising frustrations for others.
The narrator, Richard Pappin, endures the agony and the ecstasy of becoming a member of an elite Greek class at Hampden College, Vermont, led by Julian Morrow, a brilliant and enigmatic professor, who remains mostly in the shadows and, despite his almost incestuous attachment to his exceptionally gifted students, is only partially aware of their extra curricular obsessions.
Richard is granted entry to this elite group and begins to find out how Bunny, Francis, Henry, Camilla and Charles tick, although there is always the notion that secrets are being withheld from him. We, too feel that we are honorary members of the group, only permitted to look through the blinds, as it were. The result of such a fragmented view is that, in addition to constantly having to second guess what will happen (which we expect to do in any good mystery), we find ourselves fretting, worrying what these dysfunctional characters will do next to put themselves more deeply in the mire.
At times, it was almost like reading something by Enid Blyton. 'The Secret Seven', grown up and with pathological tendencies. Friendship has never been quite so stressful, or downright dangerous.
I did enjoy this book immensely, but there was something so destructive woven into the fabric of the writing, that when I got to the final page and saw the full-page photograph of the author, I actually shuddered. Here was Henry, just as I had imagined him, but in female form.
Highly recommended for readers who enjoy a seriously disturbing murder mystery with more than a pinch of pure madness.


Jazz Baby
Jazz Baby
Price: 2.44

5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: Jazz Baby (Kindle Edition)
This was my first download from the Rave Reviews Book Club selection and I must say that it is a spellbinding piece of writing.
Set in Mississippi in the 1920s there is masterful detail of lives led on either side of the river, and Emily Ann Teegarten is the daring young protagonist whose dream of making it as a jazz singer finds her taking risks a young girl cannot hope to get away with all the time. I was immediately bewitched by her outspoken ideas and tenacity, her naivety and her curiously promiscuous nature. She is no shrinking violet when it comes to sex, but her animal instincts are beautifully tempered by the gift she has of seeing the good in everyone. Of course her trust is often misplaced and as the story progresses, 'Baby' is the victim of the all too familiar greed and desire of people who have their own harsh agendas.
Quite apart from a plot that is as action-packed as any gangster blockbuster, and a heroine who scatters chaos and hope wherever she lands, the language is what makes this book exceptional. When I read, I expect to find new metaphors, striking collocations, similes to make me see more clearly what the author is trying to show me, but Jazz Baby knocked me down on every page with breathtaking imagery. And I don't mean verbose, tangled, literary descriptions that leave the reader impressed but unmoved; I mean crisp, succinct phraseology that cuts right to the quick and gets to the bottom of a shared genetic knowledge of what it is to be human.
Beem Weeks has written a magical, masterful book that shouts 'this is what life was really like'.
Beautiful, tragic, optimistic and unmissable.


AND SOON THE SONG
AND SOON THE SONG
Price: 2.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Am I awake or just dreaming?, 5 May 2014
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This review is from: AND SOON THE SONG (Kindle Edition)
Just finished my second book by J D Hughes and want to get my impressions down while they are fresh. I agree with one of the other reviewers that this one has more pace that Northman, which is probably why I read it so quickly. Had to find out what was going to happen next. So, the plot is explosive, high impact. Lots of horror, alternative realities, evil entities and battles to overcome evil - fabulous. Just when I thought I knew where the story was going, it flipped and shot off in another direction - clever. Nothing predictable about this book. As for the characters, I must say I loved Angel for his vileness and Wigley for his stiff upper lip in the face of unimaginable disaster, very British! When I read a good book I can picture the setting and the characters, almost as though I'm watching the action on the big screen. And that's what happened with this book: Hearthstone Hall is perfect for sending shivers up your spine. If you like a great big nightmare before bedtime, this is the one for you. Highly recommended!


Scarlett
Scarlett
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A new experience, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Scarlett (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this short story very much, even though I was a little apprehensive about the subject matter. I suppose I was curious to know more about what happens when two women become intimate.

What I liked was the easy, natural style and the frequent use of humorous asides, which created a quietly seductive mood. Some of the language was explicit, but overall, I found the writing delicate and sensitive.

Even if this is not your usual genre, I would recommend 'Scarlett' to anyone who is interested in exploring the subtleties of human relationships.


The Ways of Mud and Bone
The Ways of Mud and Bone
Price: 1.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, with pace and depth., 22 Jan 2014
`The Ways of Mud and Bone'. I loved the title and was intrigued by the subject matter: An American point of view on the struggle of the allies during the Great War. Lahain paints a picture of an American community divided by politics, neighbour set against neighbour, with violence never far beneath the surface. Add to this the outbreak of influenza which strikes without discrimination, and you have a small town in meltdown.

France seems almost like an adventure to Meryl, her sister and her friends. She is inspired by a desire to care for the casualties of war and sets off for the front to do what she can. Needless to say, the reality of battle is a shock to the volunteers, even though they believe themselves to be ready for such a challenge. Meryl struggles with the consequences of a world turned upside down, which will never be the same again. She is sensitive and intelligent, unsentimental and pragmatic. Relationships in this novel are subtle, understated. We have to read between the lines, sense the meaning of simple gestures. But against the horrific backdrop of chaos and death, in action scenes that are all too realistic, there is still room for hope.

I read a little everyday, often sneaking off to find out what happened next, wanting a sliver more to mull over. I held the dwindling pages (I bought the book, but I see it is available on Kindle too), and wished that Meryl's story could continue. Highly recommended - a literary gem.


New Voices in the Valley (Book  1 of The Valleys series)
New Voices in the Valley (Book 1 of The Valleys series)
Price: 2.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, well-written and Welsh, 24 Nov 2013
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New Voices in the Valley is a gem. From the enigmatic arrival of the Polish bombshell, Danuta, in a small Welsh town, to the discovery of a unexpected evil residing in the heart of the community, I was aware that this was going to be a book about real people living real lives. And what lives! Some of the residents of Allt-yr-Coch are quite outrageous! I was hugely entertained by Linda and Carole as I followed their impetuous escapades. I was rooting for Danuta in her search for love, and I loved the portrayal of the trend-setting, London band `Atonement'.

With several compelling storylines, and characters who you will care about, this is a very pleasing way to spend an afternoon or two, confident in the knowledge that you are in the hands of a fine storyteller. If you've never been to Wales, you'll learn a thing or two and if you have, you might be surprised at what goes on behind closed doors!


Tilly Lake's Road Trip
Tilly Lake's Road Trip
Price: 1.54

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tilly took me with her., 31 May 2013
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I read Flying Lessons and loved it so I thought I'd try Tilly.

To be honest it was a bit of a shock, what with all the boobs and kissing. Tilly seemed very naive and far too understanding of her faithless husband's betrayal, there were no recriminations or tearing out of hair. I persevered, muttering to myself. I suppose I began to get into it about half-way through, but still wanted the characters to be a bit nastier. People aren't really that nice, are they? It wasn't until I'd nearly got to the end that it occurred to me that Francis Potts had written another book that had altered my view of the world. Maybe Tilly and her friends are idealised, but the message I came away with was a strong one: that life is better without limits (or preconceptions). The ending was perfect - but not sentimental. It's not a sentimental book, it's optimistic and uplifting. It's about being happy. Highly recommended (especially for grumbling old cynics like me). Five stars for Tilly and three for me!


The Marionette Heart Poetry - If you care about children, read this book!
The Marionette Heart Poetry - If you care about children, read this book!
Price: 0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and powerful., 20 May 2013
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I like reading poetry. It is always so personal and generally strikes a chord somewhere along the way. Jane Walsh opens with a very personal dedication that sets the tone for her poems. You know from the start that the subject matter is heart-felt. I read on with a certain degree of apprehension, knowing that the emotional content would be powerful. The poems about her childhood are raw. I read about great suffering and sorrow. I wanted to read on and find out what would happen, whether there might be a happy ending...
If, like me, you appreciate a real story told in a modern, free style, I recommend you download a copy for yourself.


Modern Warrior Handbook Self Defense
Modern Warrior Handbook Self Defense
Price: 1.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener, 28 April 2013
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I was curious to see whether I might find a few simple techniques that perhaps might come in useful if I were unfortunate enough to find myself in a threatening situation one day. The instructions were clear and surprisingly simple. I liked the fact that the author stressed that it was preferable to avoid confrontation, but impressed with the techniques that could be used in self defence. A useful guide. Recommended.


Lost Boys (The Black Knight Series Book 1)
Lost Boys (The Black Knight Series Book 1)
Price: 2.05

4.0 out of 5 stars One not to be missed., 20 April 2013
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`Lost Boys' kept my interest with its intriguing plot and compelling characters.

Carol narrates and I like her observations. We get to know the other characters without a lot of backfilling (there is some) and grow to care about what happens to them in this chilling tale of child abduction.

The story twists and turns, with perhaps rather too much enthusiasm at the end, when revelations come thick and fast in order to tie everything together. However, I was engrossed. Nothing could distract me from wanting to find out what was going to happen.

I particularly enjoyed the dialogue, which I found quirky, with its regional flavour. Don't worry, this is not overdone! Mackenzie Brown creates a community of people who stand up from the page. They live and breathe. I could imagine the way they looked, the way they spoke. I went with them and shared their hopes and fears.

This is not a horror story. It deals with a terrifying subject and yet tackles it sensitively and compassionately so that, in the end, there is a feeling that those who have been through so much, will face the future with strength and understanding. That is not to say that the writer becomes sentimental. I believed in the characters and sensed their integrity.

Technically, there are some punctuation problems, which I believe have since been resolved. I was distracted at first, but soon found that the experience of reading 'Lost Boys' rose above this and I was riveted. I will definitely be downloading another of this author's books.


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