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Ismay1012
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Time and Time Again
Time and Time Again
Price: £9.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, dark but very enjoyable novel, 6 Nov. 2014
Hugh ‘Guts’ Stanton is a celebrity soldier, the consummate professional, only giving up his career, which had simply taken over his life, to rekindle his marriage. But before he had chance to get home to his wife Cassie and their two children to re-ignite the love they had once revelled in, his family was wiped out in a car crash. He is absolutely devastated, but his loneliness well serves new masters and makes him easy prey to a group of academics that have been on the search for a professional soldier, without any emotional ties, to undertake a task that would re-write the history books.

Back in Trinity College Cambridge in 2025, at the invitation of Professor Sally McClusky, who used to be his favourite history tutor, he is beguiled by the news that his commission was directly as a result of a letter from the most famous son of the university and written and addressed to the Master of Trinity in 1727, almost 300 years earlier. The letter had been kept safely, as instructed, and was only to be opened on New Year’s Day 2025. It had been held in trust by each Master of Trinity ever since, kept secretly for all those years. He was both intrigued and flattered by the offer of the job to become a member of the Order Chronos, who subscribed to the theory that gravity could bend time. His task was to return to the early twentieth century to alter history by interfering with the events that led to the Great War, the single most devastating global tragedy that had wiped out some of the best brains in history. Eager to get started on the preparation for this monumental task, he began brushing up on his language skills, whilst a host of documents were forged and state of the art tools, technology and weaponry gathered together.

Arriving in Constantinople on June 1st 1914, Hugh Stanton, together with an uninvited, unwanted and self-serving guest, steps into another world. Everybody he has ever known has not even been born yet. He is the loneliest man on the planet but is determined to put right humanity’s greatest mistake. Ben Elton has meticulously researched the science and history in this unique, very different and disturbing novel. I found it totally un-put-downable. Travelling, sometimes in disguise, and working industriously and in solitude, he faces challenge after challenge. Doggedly and methodically, he travels through many different European countries, quickly adapting himself to each new situation as it arises. He is a commendable character, endearingly so. I loved this fast-moving novel. It was not my usual genre but it was very engrossing and enjoyable. I would like to thank the publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘Time and Again’ in return for an honest review – how very apt the title is, will be revealed at the very end of this novel. Congratulations to Ben Elton – you’ve really hit the mark for me.


A Place for Us Part 4
A Place for Us Part 4
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars New Beginnings herald the Finale!, 2 Nov. 2014
‘A Place For Us’ Part 4 is the concluding part of the serialisation of the novel ‘A Place For Us’ due to be published in January 2015. This fourth part was published on 23rd October and ties up the loose ends left from the first three parts, thereby concluding the novel. Aptly entitled ‘The End and the Beginning’ it contains chapters that see Florence the happiest she has ever been after concluding her court case and returning to her life’s work as an academic in Italy. It also tells Cat and Luke’s story after their return to Paris from the infamous party at Winterfold. Back in England, with Karen nearing the end of her pregnancy, we find out what the future holds for her and Joe, the talented chef who created the sumptuous food at Martha’s party. At the very end of the book it sets the scene of Martha’s love story and explains her reasons for her quest to put her house in order by revealing secrets that have festered away over the years of her marriage to David and their residency at Winterfold.

These four part serialisations have told the saga of the Winter family, laid bare their secrets and revealed truths that complete the story very satisfactorily. I found the idea of serialising the novel very frustrating. There were long waits between each of the four parts. Reading other novels in between each upcoming part made the task of remembering the characters and events quite challenging. I found myself having to read my previous reviews, but they, of course, did not reveal some of the most important plot twists. Whereas, had I read the novel as a whole, it would have been less effort for the same reward. I have read and enjoyed all of the novels written by Harriet Evans, and I enjoyed this one as well. Harriet is a very skilled storyteller and her novels are always eagerly awaited.

When this new novel is published in the New Year there will be exclusive access to the Woman & Home competitions and extra material about her characters from Harriet. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the publishers of ‘A Place For Us’ and also to Netgalley for my copy of this novel in return for a fair review. I’d also like to wish Harriet congratulations on a fine novel.


To The Edge of Shadows
To The Edge of Shadows
Price: £2.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting psychological thriller, full of menace and suspense, 31 Oct. 2014
Sarah Phillips is robbed of her memory when, at the age of thirteen she was involved in an horrific car accident that took away from her not only her childhood memories but also memories of her father and sister who died in the crash. Slowly gaining consciousness after the accident her Aunt Leah is the only family she has left. Eventually she leaves hospital to live in her aunt’s small terraced cottage, but her life in anything but normal. She is compelled by her damaged mind to count the steps she takes, to always travel along the same route without any deviations and to never step inside a car again. She is a virtual prisoner in a very small area of Exeter, leaving the security of her home with her aunt only to travel to and from her doctor’s office for check-ups and to monitor her progress.

Eventually her aunt buys a florist shop not far from where they live and Sarah settles in to help her on the days she can. She still has horrible nightmares and evil headaches that sometimes keep her bed bound, but she manages quite well with her job as assistant. That is until one night she finds a brochure on her pillow advertising a new development of designer apartments. She immediately thinks that her aunt wants her to take the move towards independence. She buys the flat and sadly leaves the only home she remembers, but once in the apartment her life spirals horribly out of control. Control is a way of life for Sarah; the only way she is able to live. All she wants from life is a quiet life without drama; she is shackled by her brain injury.

Unknown to Sarah, living in the same block of apartments as herself is a young lady called Ellie Wilson. She has had a nightmare of a life; abused and finally deserted by her distant, cruel mother, her father having left them and therefore unaware of how Ellie had suffered. That is until the postman, who hears her whimpers, looks through the letterbox and sees her lying crumpled at the bottom of a staircase with horrible injuries. She is rushed to hospital where she is reunited with her father, who is plagued by the guilt of not being able to have protected her. They build a life together and she lives happily thereafter until she is robbed of him by a tragic accident. Ellie is everything that Sarah isn’t. She is adventurous, outgoing and craves for a life quite different from the one she is living. She finds Sarah an enigma and becomes totally obsessed with her. As Sarah struggles to make sense of what is happening to her without Leah’s support, Ellie begins to take over her life.

I absolutely adored this chilling novel. The menace and suspense of the story kept me turning the pages, eager to find out how the story would be resolved. The finale was everything I hoped it would be, but took me totally by surprise. The plot was laced with twists and turns and the story was edgy and tense. I loved the character of Leah, who was a wonderful guardian to Sarah, supportive but instinctively knowing that Sarah needed to spread her wings in order to live her life more fully, without the restraints she imposed on herself. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and I would have no hesitation at all in recommending this as an excellent read. I would like to thank the publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘To the Edge of Shadows’ by Joanne Graham in return for an honest review and to congratulate Joanne on having written a wonderful novel.


A Letter to My Cat
A Letter to My Cat
Price: £15.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming compilation of letters in praise of our feline friends., 28 Oct. 2014
This compilation, ‘A Letter to my Cat’, has been collected together as a companion to ‘A Letter to my Dog’, with a host of invited celebrities having written letters to their much-loved cat or cats. Each letter is unique, totally different from all of the others, as each cat is loved and revered for different characteristics that they have brought to their co-habiting and besotted human. However the letters are very similar in that the letter-writers are praising their cats for their friendship, warmth and the welcome they give to their owners when they return home from work or outings. The letters focus on the warmth and love a cat brings to the home. Each owner offers gratitude to their cat that has enriched their lives. Sometimes each member of the family has written a letter of their own in praise of their pet.

I particularly liked the fact that the book of letters also includes a very short biography of each invited guest who had sent in a letter for inclusion in the compilation. It gave a background as to how the cat fitted in to the family and also a biography of the cat’s life, in most instances. Quite a few of the letters pointed out that, despite not being a cat-lover, the cat had endeared itself so much that now that person had been converted to liking cats. A few of the letters were from veterinary surgeons who had met the cat professionally in the line of their work and had been so touched by the cat’s nature they had adopted the cat. All found the cat a calming and welcome addition to their lives.

I would like to thank the publishers of ‘A Letter to my Cat’ and Netgalley who sent me a copy of the book in return for a fair and unbiased review. I must admit, I am a real softy when it comes to cats and I love to pet and fuss them. I have owned and loved seven different cats throughout my life and have empathised with many of these letters. Cats are honest creatures. Give them a loving home and they will be faithful and come to you when they want to show you their love and gratitude.


Getting Even (Bello)
Getting Even (Bello)
Price: £3.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Plots, revenge and backstabbing in Ad-land, 24 Oct. 2014
Orianna and Ivy were best friends who worked together in an advertising agency in Soho. They were a brilliant duo, completely complementing each other to the highest degree when brainstorming their ideas for a sales pitch. They had it all, vivaciousness, creativity and the total gift of the gab. Success was a pearl they held in their hands and life was good and harmonious. In their lives outside of Ad-land, Ivy was married but Orianna was single and fancy-free. She was secretly totally smitten with their boss Dan and Ivy had noticed a fission of attraction and interest in Orianna by Dan during their many meetings about their various jobs. But usually Orianna would have confided in Ivy if anything were going on, so as she had said nothing, Ivy was officially unaware that they had become lovers months earlier.

When a promotion became available and Orianna was awarded the job over Ivy, Ivy was green with jealousy. To make matters even worse the promotion won by Orianna now made her Ivy’s boss. Unable to rest easily with the matter unresolved between them Ivy secretly hatched a plot to get her revenge and teach Orianna a lesson at the same time.

‘Getting Even’ by Sarah Rayner is a page-turner of a novel in which the green-eyed monster of jealousy is played out with plots to put Orianna in her place. There is the usual high living and high jinx of the heftily salaried nouveau riche, lots of secret love liaisons, scheming and cattiness. It’s the ride of a lifetime with emotions running high and hurt nourished by self-serving ambition. I enjoyed reading this novel and I would like to thank the publishers and Netgalley for my copy in return for an honest review.


Cover Story
Cover Story
Price: £4.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Light-hearted and fluffy novel about home truths and secrets., 24 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Cover Story (Kindle Edition)
‘Cover Story’ was a light-hearted and quirky romance story by Rachel Bailey. The main character Tobi Fletcher was a journalist living in Sante Fe and working as a reporter on her local newspaper. She was straight laced and fiercely determined to forge ahead a great career for herself. She had no time for romance or fun, unlike her sister, already divorced twice, or her mother who played the field aggressively, and once with Tobi’s boss. Yes, Tobi had dreams and nobody was going to stop her. Imagine her irritation and frustration when she was diverted by her boss Kevin from gathering information for a very serious story about a Senator, a case with national ramifications and directed to write a news report about three gnomicides (the wanton smashing of three innocent garden gnomes) committed in one night in a local cul-de-sac. Try as she might she could not wriggle out of this nonsensical and unimportant case.

When she arrived to meet the residents of Los Alamos Court, she found a neighbourhood of ordinary but slightly crazy residents, including a psychotic cat and a mix of the young and the old, the spokesman being a man called Simon Hanson. He lived with Anna his four-year-old daughter and Dot, her grandmother. They were very helpful and over the next few meetings she was introduced to all of the neighbours so that she could interview them and hopefully gather evidence to reveal who had it in for the community-owned garden gnomes. Having written her article she was totally gob smacked by the resulting furore. The news went viral, with even the national newspapers interested in the gnomicides and a web page designed all about the fate of the garden gnomes. Tobi was ordered to write further updates, and over the course of the next few weeks she attended parties and vigils and became a regular visitor to the households in Los Alamos Court.

This is a humorous and light read, a relatively short novel that could easily be read within a few days. Along the path of her investigations Tobi learned secrets and truths, she became involved with the local community and began to feel as if she could really fit in with these ordinary, kind people. Just when she was about to take a leap of faith she was contacted with a story that would make her a household name and give her the future she desired above everything else in the world. But what is more important for her in the future? Will Tobi realise her dreams or can she find happiness in her personal life more fulfilling? I would like to thank the publishers of this novel and Netgalley for my copy in return for an honest review.


The Twilight Hour
The Twilight Hour
Price: £4.31

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and compelling story of past love., 23 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Twilight Hour (Kindle Edition)
Just before her 95th birthday Eleanor Lee had a lucky escape – she was saved from a fire in her family home. If a neighbour’s young son had not looked out of his bedroom window as the flames started to lick up the curtains, it could have been a very different story. Her family are very worried about her. She is partially blind and although she is active and feisty, they believe it is time for her to move into accommodation where she can be cared for and live safely; a home where they will know she will be comfortable and looked after. Her four children and grown up grandchildren are united on this matter. However, Eleanor is adamant. She wants to sort through her many letters, photographs, mementos and papers. She knows she will need help to do this, but she doesn’t want her family to do it. She has a secret that she does not want to divulge. She wants to destroy any evidence of this one particular event in her life and promises she will move out of her home after her upcoming 95th birthday, when all her belongings are sorted through and left in tidy boxes from which her family can choose whatever they want to keep for themselves.

A young man called Peter is employed to help her. The house is sold; Peter has arrived and has begun his task of sorting out Eleanor’s effects. They have arranged that each evening Eleanor and Peter will meet and he will describe what he has sorted through that day. Eleanor will then decide whether she wants to keep it or discard it. They get along famously and become the best of friends. He respects her and she trusts him. They work doggedly together and Eleanor begins to confide in Peter. She tells him of a very bleak time in her life and at last the job is done. The party is arranged with food, a giant bonfire upon which the family throw Eleanor’s unwanted papers and they have fireworks for the family and great grandchildren to enjoy. Peter and her neighbours are also invited to Eleanor’s party. Finally Eleanor is ready to say goodbye to Peter and they go their different ways.

This is a poignant story from the past of self-sacrifice, loss, grief, family loyalty, once-in-a-lifetime passion and star-crossed lovers. As Eleanor’s story emerges my heart broke for this loyal and ill-used lady. Once her confidences were divulged ghosts of the past were laid to rest. Times were so very different in Eleanor’s youthful years, but this story laid bare her heart, her regrets and this cleansing enabled her to live out her life with peace of mind.

I would like to thank Nicci Gerrard’s publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘The Twilight Hour’ in return for an honest and unbiased review. I found this story compelling and the storytelling skilful and beguiling.


The Cold Cold Sea
The Cold Cold Sea
Price: £2.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling novel, a beautifully written page-turner, 19 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Cold Cold Sea (Kindle Edition)
Two families are grieving for their daughters, lost in accidental drownings while visiting the beach of their holiday destination. One mother carries with her a dark secret whilst the other mother is paralysed by her loss. This is the storytelling frame used by Linda Huber in her wonderful new novel ‘The Cold, Cold Sea’.

Maggie and Colin Granger are holidaying at Cove Cottage near Newquay with their two children Joe and Olivia. Colin and Joe walk across the beach to explore the rock pools while Maggie and Livvy make a fabulous sandcastle. But Livvy soon tires of her game. She wants to spend time with her father. Maggie, her stay-at-home Mum is not special because she and her mother are always together, but her Father, Colin, well she adores him. Her mother reluctantly allows the three-year-old to run across the golden sands to where she can see the boys with their nets. On the way a sparkling shell attracts Livvy. She walks towards the shoreline, unnoticed by everyone, to wash the sand off. No one sees what happens next, but huge waves are rolling in as the tide rushes nearer and nearer the family. By the time her mother and father miss her and dial 999 to alert the emergency services, Livvy is long gone. The nightmare has started. It is August 15th.

Jennifer and Phillip Marshall lost their daughter two years ago when they were on holiday in Turkey. The pain of their loss tipped Jennifer over the edge and her life forever after was full of sorrow and darkness. She’d literally hit a black hole. Phillip’s Gran, who brought him up as a child, is fatally ill with an aggressive form of cancer that is rapidly spreading through her body. He is called to her home in California, leaving Jennifer alone. He knows he owes it to Gran to stay with her in her dying days because she was his most beloved relative. Meanwhile Jennifer is on the lookout for a new home in Polpayne, a new beginning for their new family. She is keeping a massive secret from Phillip. She moves in to their new home and arranges its redecoration. She watches their daughter Hailey start school for the very first time. She feels uneasy, alone in this new house, something is not quite right, but she knows that when Phillip gets back from the States everything will be sorted out. She has had to stop taking her medicine because of her pregnancy and her head is all over the place. Her daughter’s class teacher Miss McClure has cause for concern about Hailey during her first term at school, but as soon as her father returns home Hailey is like a different child, more relaxed and happier. But then an unexpected accident rocks their lives.

This story is beautifully told, but there is no hiding from the feeling of menace throughout the novel. The characters are wonderfully drawn. Both families have so much sorrow in their lives so you feel immediate empathy for them. Poor Joe has nightmares about his sister being lost at sea and taken so cruelly from their family. The character I most liked was Katie McClure. She was a wonderful teacher filled with love for the children in her class and gifted with her teaching skills and natural kindness towards her small charges. I also liked Howard Moir, the policeman who headed the investigation when Olivia was missing, presumed drowned. He was full of compassion and understanding throughout the searches and longed for nothing more than to reunite the little girl with her family. This was a real page-turner of a novel and I will certainly be looking out for previous and subsequent novels by Linda Huber. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publishers of ‘The Cold, Cold Sea’ for my copy of this novel in return for an honest review. I absolutely loved it and have immediately recommended it to my friends as a must-read novel.


Say it with Sequins
Say it with Sequins
Price: £1.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Scenes: Sizzling, sexy ‘Who Dares Dances’ comes to your T.V. screens, 16 Oct. 2014
‘ Say it with Sequins: The Complete Series’ is made up of three novellas published within a year by Georgia Hill and each released separately. Each novella features the show dance for the series and sequentially the dances featured are the Rumba, a dance full of passion, the waltz a dance full of romance and finally the Charleston a dance full of laughter.

‘Who Dares Dances’ is a popular TV series produced by Fizz TV and is very similar in structure to ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ where professional dancers are partnered by media celebrities. Essentially it is a dancing competition. The partners dance a different dance each week and are awarded marks by the studio judges, giving them a leader board score. The public vote for their favourite couple either by phone or online and their scores are added to the studio Judges marks. Week by week one couple is eliminated from the competition after the two lowest scoring couples compete in a ‘dance-off’. The Judges ‘save’ the couple that in their opinion have performed best in the dance off and they go forward to dance for another week. ‘Who Dares Dances’ include other personal challenges for each celebrity to undertake, much like other reality TV shows and also compile a programme of humorous ‘out-takes’.

The storytelling about the three different dances, the Rumba, the Waltz and the Charleston includes a romance within each of the three different series. The characters from one story may be the same in each story, especially the professional dancers, although they have different celebrity partners each year. This continuity makes it ideal for the three novellas to be combined into a novel because there is continuity of character as well as theme. Each story builds up with the weekly elimination and concludes with the show final with the favourite couple holding aloft the ‘Who Dares Dances’ prizes trophy. Each love story is carefully built up throughout the series.

I really enjoyed this novel. I’m a huge fan of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and the release of ‘Say it with Sequins: The Complete Series’ has been well timed, with a new series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ having just started a few weeks ago on BBC1. My congratulations to Georgia on her new novel and my thanks to her publishers and Netgalley for my copy of ‘Say it with Sequins: The Complete Series’ in return for an unbiased review.


Borderline
Borderline
by Liza Marklund
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return of 'The Black Widow', 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Borderline (Paperback)
Annika Bengtzon is a journalist working long hours for the Evening Post at their Kvällspressen offices in Stockholm. Her husband Thomas Samuelsson, who works for the Department of Justice, is currently in Nairobi, Kenya attending an international conference, leaving Annika alone with their two children Kalle and Ellen. When the news breaks that a delegation of seven European envoys have been kidnapped by local bandits, headed by Gregoire Makuza, whilst on a reconnaissance trip to the Somali border, Annika is shocked to learn that Thomas is amongst the group. Immediately a command unit it set up in their flat, with Government official Jimmy Halenius appointed as chief negotiator.

It’s a waiting game as each of the kidnap victim’s relatives are contacted one by one and their freedom is bartered for. Thomas is the last on their list. When contact is eventually made the kidnappers demand a preposterous ransom, but nevertheless Halenius instructs Annika to try to raise as much cash as she can. Anders Schyman, her boss at the news office agrees to pay three million in return for Annika giving exclusivity to their newspaper. She agrees to film and write a diary of events from the beginning to the end of the crime. Even combined with the insurance money Annika received for the loss of her home that was burnt to the ground, she is far wide of the ransom requested, but negotiations continue.

Then one of the victims is executed. It becomes a race against time as more bodies are dumped or victims are released following the successful collection of their ransom money. Can Annika raise enough money to free Thomas? Will Halenius be able to secure a reduction in the ransom money? Where will the exchange take place?

This is the ninth novel featuring Annika Bengtzon written by Swedish crime queen Liza Markland. It is a long novel, but with news stories breaking back at the office that a dangerous murderer is on the rampage, the pages fly by. There are twists and turns in the plot, false leads and thrills-a-plenty in this taut novel full of suspense. The execution scenes are harrowing, making this novel graphic and horrifying in the scenes of violence. I really enjoyed reading ‘Borderline’ and I would like to thank the publishers of this novel and Netgalley for my copy in return for an honest review.


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