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Sissel M. Østdahl "smaureen" (Norway)
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Christmas at Tiffany's
Christmas at Tiffany's
by Karen Swan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely fairytale but a bit too much!!, 21 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Christmas at Tiffany's (Paperback)
There are many reviews written of this book; I suppose mine will drown in them all. However, I still wanted to give my opinion for whatever it's worth.

The story, the idea is great, as is the characterization. I have lived in all the three cities (New York, Paris, London) and think the author as captured the pace and way of life rather well, although more than a little exaggerated. Even with help of friends I don't think it would be as easy to get jobs in fashion (especially Dior, dream on....) but this is fiction, so ok. To overdo it, make it so completely into an adventure, makes for fun reading. No everyday boring routine here! A famous fashion photographer, used to beautiful models all over the world, falls in love with heroine Cassie straight from the Scottish moors after a quick cinderella transformation. Yeaah, right, fiction in all its wonderous glory.

But I love fairytales and so I partly loved this book. But only partly. What I did not like was the many little descriptions of mundane this and that along the way. Sometimes interesting explanations/additions, but far too often boring details complicating and slowing down the story. However, it must be said that this varied a lot throughout the book. At times the story developed beautifully, at times it seemed to just stand still.

Also, as for Cassie's destiny, the story was predictable from very early on and I don't think it is a spoiler to say so as it did not really ruin anything, at least not early on. However in the third part, the London part, it all became both obvious and a bit funny. The many adventures Cassie shared with Henry, who was engaged to someone else ..., seemed more like a honeymoon than a sightseeing between friends. I wondered if it was done on purpose or if the reader was expected to be somewhat of a dimwhit.

There is so much good here, people to love, interesting places to visit. But there is too much of most and too much to digest. In my opinion the book could do with good editing. Karen Swan knows her stuff but not everything has to be commented upon.


Saving Grace
Saving Grace
by Jane Green
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Could this have really happened?, 6 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Saving Grace (Hardcover)
Could this have really happened? Grace married to bestselling author Ted loves cooking and is having a happy life in their beautiful farm house on Hudson river. Although Ted is a difficult man with a volatile temper, this is efficiently kept in control by his long time assistent Ellen. But then Ellen leaves and mousy, rather timid, Beth takes her place.

In the beginning Grace is quite happy with Beth as she is also helping Grace organize the household and her charity activities. And she certainly does not see her as a threat regarding her husband's affection. In fact, Beth seems a goodsend and Grace cannot praise her enough. Until slowly, things start to change. Grace has always been disorganized but is she as forgetful as she suddenly seems? Has she been changing the date of an important charity event without remembering and has she given her favourite silk scarf to Beth, the scarf given to her by Ted?

Slowly it all turns into an almost psychological thriller. Believable? Well, I think so. As indicated in the book, Beth may be a sociopath which I think is very likely. Trying to destroy someone else's life and even steal it, is frightening and Beth does it all cleverly. Succeeding in having Grace diagnosed bipolar, treated by a psychiatrist, tried hospitalized..... Sociopaths/psychopaths can be very convincing, charming and powerful, much more so than their victims.

As the story unfolds it may seem a bit predictable, but no more so than this being an altogether enjoyable and interesting read. Some reviewers have complained about the recipes at the end of many of the chapters and I agree that these could have been gathered at the end of the book. However, whenever they appear, they refer to the previous chapter where each recipe has been prepared in the story. Grace is a compulsory cook, has always been, it's her greatest joy, so as such the recipes are a great part of her life.

This was my first Jane Green novel and I prompte ordered several more.

Very much recommended!


The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Happy, bubbly and fun!!, 3 Oct 2014
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Claire and Anna. Two women's stories in this bubbly book. Lots of happiness and still very realistic about love, life and chocolate!

Caused by an accident in the chocolate factory in England where Anna is working, se looses two toes. In the hospital she meets her previous French teacher Claire, gravely ill with cancer. A friendship grows between the two and Claire suggests that Anna go to Paris to work in a famous chocolate shop.

It's like a fairy tale. Despite old age and illness, love has survived and what should have been only sad and awful becomes a happy and wonderful late life rendevouz in perfect harmony. The description of Paris is beautiful and so alive; you can close your eyes and just be there.

Jenny Colgan writes about real life, but always tinged with lots of laughter, fun and happiness. Her characterization is brilliantly colourful. The description of the dancing scene from "la Boheme" breathtaking.

And of course the making of fresh chocolate. Chocolate to be eaten the very same day. Made with fresh creme, no digestives.
A feast to read about and I'm sure, a feast to taste.

Colgan creates happiness with her bubbly writing. I have just ordered more of her books and can only recommend from the deepest of my heart. Especially if you are a little down, read Jenny and eat chocolate!!


First We Take Manhattan
First We Take Manhattan
by Colette Caddle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Charming read but without the expected bombshell..., 3 Sep 2014
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It's not often a book is better in the beginning and middle than towards the end, which happened with this one.

I found the story about the Fields family fascinating. The twins Sheila and Sinead and their successful millinery business. Their smashing brother Max, their father Kieran, a brooding somewhat distant head of the family, and their aunt Birdie who looked after the family over the years but is now sadly suffering from dementia. And there is talented designer Krystie, returned to Ireland from New York after failing to achieve success in The Big Apple and joining Sinead in the hat business.

But a mystery hits the family when Sheila suddenly disappears leaving her car abandoned on a pier. Stricken in their belief that Sheila is dead, may have even taken her own life, they struggle with questions and answers. Sinead misses her twin terribly, goes into a depression, neglects their business and loses the store.

We get all the answers in the end but I find many of them a bit far-fetched. Especially does it not quite ring through that Sheila would go as far as leave her husband and family without a word based on the reasons given in this story. She is searched after by the police, believed dead, it is quite a serious business. An intelligent and responsible woman, it seems to me rather unlikely unless she had suffered from a complete break down.

However, it is a pleasant and at times exciting journey for the reader until aunt Bridie dies and it's time to put the cards on the table. The many characters in the book are interesting and well described. But I expected more of a finale, a real bombshell to top off a charming story in the author's usual easy and entertaining style.

I put it in the category "cozy reading" and recommend it as such. And after all, happy endings are always nice!


Abattoir Blues: The 22nd DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 22)
Abattoir Blues: The 22nd DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 22)
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book on a weekday......., 1 Sep 2014
... if you have to be at work fresh and ready after a good night's sleep, because you won't sleep if you start reading another Alan Banks novel and love the guy and his mysteries as much as I do.

DCI Alan Banks is a romantic hero. No matter the mysteries he is set to solve, even one as gruesome as this one, there is always this poetic, sentimental, slightly sad attraction surrounding the man. And the music, of course. There is always the music with Banks.

The mystery this time is intricate and raises a lot of questions involving many and different kinds of people. A whole gang, or rather liga, from the top people down to the "footmen", part of whose indelicate activities take place in abbatoirs. The leaders hiding for a while behind glip charm and willingness to cooperate with the police. The helpers either sitting tight, running or keeping their mouth shut.

Meticulous and partly dangerous police work is executed until the villains are caught. That is, whether the real top leaders will ever be caught is rather unlikly even if the case at hand is solved.

The police force is present in full. Banks, Annie, Winsome etc. And with glimpses into their private lives adding human touch.
A cozy, welcome scenario for the faithfull Banks reader, making one feel at home up there in the Yorkshire Dales.

Excellent both for the faithful followers and for new readers. Peter Robinson at his best!


The Summer Guest
The Summer Guest
by Emma Hannigan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice and sweet, but no real story, 26 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Summer Guest (Paperback)
Is there such a thing as a good-natured book? Then this must be it.

It's so well meaning. So honest. So eager to invite us in between its lovely covers. The nicest people, from Irish/American Kathleen visiting her roots, via Lexie & husband Sam and their dream home, to feisty young Amelie. Even taxi drivers with a twinkle in the eye have an uplifting say in this nice and sweet story mainly about three lovely ladies at three different stages in life and the friendship growing between them.

However, I can't imagine it capturing the audience. There are no surprises, no wish to take a peek at the end to see how it all goes... Nice, sweet, predictable and a bit too detailed about everyday's minutiae.

I hoped and tried. Wanted so much to love it. Emma Hannigan has enthralled me with her earlier books, but alas, this time it was far from her brilliant others.


Gardens Of Delight
Gardens Of Delight
by Erica James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and heartwarming, 21 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Gardens Of Delight (Paperback)
Many have called this book comfort food, easy holiday reading, chick lit.

I don't agree. OK, there are some beautiful women (but also some not so beautiful ones), handsome fellows, but also someone older, frail and over the most strapping youth. In fact, both at home in England and on the garden tour cum holiday to Italy we meet quite a selection of very different people, with very different lives. What most of them have in common is gardening, which leads to lovely discreptions of gardens in both countries. Not bothersome long and detailed, just enough to give a glimpse of garden beauty to all admirers of gardening.

As for the character gallery, a bit stereotype, perhaps. But then again, isn't life full of stereotypes. Garish millionaire Hunter busy on the mobile at all times, making even more money and cheating on his wife. Bored, spoiled daughter Savannah used to getting her own way. Nice and gentle Helen, true to her marriage vows in spite of it all.... Old English gentleman Mac worried about failing health and his dignity. His nephew Conrad who after long sorrow may finally once again see love... And Lucy and Orlando, two young garden fans and best friends; or perhaps not only friends after all...

These are a few of the people we meet in this warm and lovely story, which is in fact not only romantic goody stuff but quite realistic as well. In the midst of Italian beauty and romance life happens. Love comes and love goes. Health is not a given thing and old bitterness and conflicts must be faced and dealt with.

It's nice that this story is set in such beautiful surroundings. Erica James knows Italy well and describes Bellagio and Lake Como to the reader's delight.

A wonderful story recommended to all Erica's fans as well as new readers.


The Secrets Sisters Keep
The Secrets Sisters Keep
by Sinead Moriarty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem, 11 Aug 2014
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It might seem like light chick-lit and nothing else at first. A bit silly, entertaining and easily forgotten. Until, beneath it all, life happens, real life as we all know it.

Julie with her husband Harry and four boys, sweet little Tim and boisterous triplets Luke, Liam and Leo inherits an old aunt and suddenly financial problems are a thing of the past. But does life become happier?

Efficient lawyer and single mum Louise controls her life and daughter Clara with utter precision. But can she really control everythingi?

And there is Sophie. Beautiful former model with daugther Jess. Her husband Jack has left her for much younger cool Pippa, money is tight and Sopie's life is turned upside down.

There are battles to be fought but these three independent sisters soon realize that maybe some sisterly help would be both welcome, useful and wise.

Lots of truths about how to deal with life's obstacles and lots of laughs through it all in this both realistic and fun book.

Much recommended an thanks to brilliant author Sinead Moriarty for another gem.


Precious Time
Precious Time
by Erica James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Deaconsbridge!, 9 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Precious Time (Paperback)
How is it that Erica James always manages to get streight to my heart with her stories?

There is a sort of quiet introduction, like the silence after heavy rain when the sky is clearing up and suddenly as the sun explodes, we are in the middle of Erica's latest story where it seems as if absolutely everything can happen.

As it does to Clara and her son Ned when they are setting out on a five month adventure in their camper Winnie. Going where their fancy takes them, after one week they get to the small town of Deaconsbridge in the Peak District. And here unfolds this wonderful story in all its glory. Old grumpy Mr. Liberty at Mermaid House, his son Jonah, Shirley at the Mermaid Cafe, Archie at Second Best and his mother Bessie - all of Clara and Ned's new friends in this lovely story. Hertwarming and funny. Sadness and joy hand in hand as always when life happens.

Praise for Erica James and this wonderful read. Luckily there are more of her brilliant stories awaiting me.

Hugely recommended!!


Power Play
Power Play
by Danielle Steel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of truth about relationships and affairs, 4 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Power Play (Hardcover)
There is a lot of truth to the two stories in this book. Even in the lives of less powerful and rich people relationships and extra marital affairs happen very much as described. They are just as sweet, romantic, all consuming and very often finally cruel and very far from honesty and real love.

Fiona's story however, is weaker in as much as it is quite boring. This is also the part of the book which is most repetitive and mostly without any action, almost standstill.

Marshall's story is far more interesting. In the beginning and in spite of his duplicity, he actually does not seem totally unsympathetic. But his true character which is revealed at the end of the book, is very typical for powerful and charismatic men, especially when they are faced with not getting their own way.

When I have only given the book three stars it's because of the bad writing. It's extremely repetitive and describing tedious and completely unnecessary details. Whether Fiona prefers her hot dogs with or without ketchup and/or mustard is of no interest whatsoever. That Logan brings French bread, cheese and wine is ok, but why add "for us" (who else for?). Where is the editor??

For me the writing did not ruin the story though. Apart from the most repetitive bits I enjoyed the book and could even at times nod in recognition...


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