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Delivering Effective Social Customer Service: How to Redefine the Way You Manage Customer Experience and Your Corporate Reputation
Delivering Effective Social Customer Service: How to Redefine the Way You Manage Customer Experience and Your Corporate Reputation
by Martin Hill-Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful tool for anyone using social media for customer service, 26 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book takes a slightly different approach to the other social media manuals I've read, as the focus is on delivering great service to customers using the social networks.

With plenty of tips, covering things from integrating capabilities to legal issues, this is worth reading if you use social media for work or business. The book is structured so that you can dip in and out, and each chapter has a breakdown of the key points at the end to make things easy.


The Investigation
The Investigation
by Jung-myung Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.79

4.0 out of 5 stars A study of the human spirit, 21 April 2014
This review is from: The Investigation (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When a notorious guard is found murdered at Fukuoka Prison, during World War Two, a young guard is tasked with finding the killer. As Watanabe learns more about the murdered guard, he is surprised to find he was not what he appeared to be.

More of a literary novel than a mystery, this book explores what happened to Korean prisoners in Japan during WW2 and how their identities were systematically destroyed, as they weren't allowed to use their Korean names or write in their own language.

Beautifully written, this is a study of the human spirit and how it can survive even the harshest situations as long as the promise of freedom exists in some form. Writing and poetry are important parts of the story; the key to keeping the spirit alive.

I found this a slow read, but one that is full of touching details and interesting characters.


Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
by Jeff VanderMeer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Transformation and truth, 9 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For decades Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world, not fit to live in. A secret government agency known as the Southern Reach has been sending scientific expeditions into the area to explore, but not all of them have returned. When Expedition 12 enter the area over the border, they quickly encounter something unexpected and horrifying that threatens their entire mission.

The first part of a trilogy, the rest of which will be released this year, Annihilation is a fast paced and chilling read. At just under 200 pages, it's a short novel, which I read in one go.

The story crosses several genres, from science-fiction to horror to psychological thriller, which makes it difficult to define. But it's a thought provoking read that deals with human identity and fear, as the expedition encounter a number of inexplicable and horrifying things that may or may not have a transformative effect on them.

It's difficult to review this without giving too much away, but as the story progresses there are a number of frightening revelations that make the members of the expedition reconsider what they have been told about Area X and the people who travelled there before them. There are many horrors in this book that are suggested or that remain unseen, which leaves the reader to imagine all kinds of things.

Although it's a short novel, this is certainly powerful, compelling stuff and I will definitely be checking out the rest of the series, but I fear it will ultimately raise more questions than answers, leaving them to the reader's imagination.


Boy, Snow, Bird
Boy, Snow, Bird
by Helen Oyeyemi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Oyeyemi book so far, 3 Mar 2014
This review is from: Boy, Snow, Bird (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Boy Novak grows up hard with her abusive rat catcher father in New York City. As soon as she's old enough, she flees, heading for the furthest town on the bus out of the city. She slowly builds a life with widower Arturo Whitman and his daughter Snow, but when Boy gives birth to her daughter Bird, she discovers a family secret that will change things forever.

I've read several of Helen Oyeyemi's books, as I've always been intrigued by her, as someone who published their first novel at 18 and has written consistently since. Her books are always well written, but some have a heavily 'literary' feel that might not work for all readers. Of the books I've read, this is the most accessible. It still has a fantastical, whimsical air, but without elements of magic realism.

The writer deals with some serious issues, such as race and gender, but the book always has a light-hearted feel. This is a character rather than plot driven story, but the characters are quirky enough to keep things interesting.

If you've never read anything by Helen Oyeyemi before, this would be a great place to start.


Max Factor Whipped Creme Foundation - 45 Warm Almond
Max Factor Whipped Creme Foundation - 45 Warm Almond
Price: 9.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely smooth foundation, 3 Mar 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Pretty impressed with this foundation, it has a nice consistency and goes on easily, leaving a smooth, even feel to the skin. Has a good finish. It's only a small pot, but you don't need to use much to achieve good coverage. Will probably use this again.


The Fractured Man
The Fractured Man
by Juliet Conlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but slow, 28 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Fractured Man (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was intrigued by the premise of this novel: a young psychiatrist, specialising in the field of handwriting analysis in 1920s London, comes across a mysterious patient who seems to take on the personalities of others when he copies their writing.

This is beautifully written, but I found it rather slow and struggled to get into the story. Despite finding the blurb interesting, once I started reading the book, the idea that a man could take on someone else's character traits by copying their writing seemed a bit absurd. After a few chapters, I did have an idea of the direction the story would take and I couldn't resist sneaking a look at the ending to see if I was right. I was, and I lost interest in the story so put the book to one side.

Although I didn't finish it, I've given this three stars as the writing really is good and some readers might find this a really interesting, atmospheric novel, but it just didn't grab me the way I would have liked.


The Sleep Room
The Sleep Room
by F. R. Tallis
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary Gothic horror, 27 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Sleep Room (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When he is offered a job at a remote mental hospital, Dr. James Richardson is quick to accept. He leaves London for Wyldehope Hall, an old mansion in the depths of the Suffolk countryside, where it is his job to run the facility and oversee the care of all the patients, including six young women with troubled backgrounds who have been diagnosed as schizophrenic. As part of a progressive new study, they are kept in an artificial sleep for weeks at a time.

James soon begins to notice strange things happening in the hospital; things that can’t be easily explained away. And as his fears increase, it seems he might be caught in the midst of a nightmare.

The Sleep Room is a contemporary Gothic horror, full of the symbolism and imagery we’ve come to know in classic novels such as The Turn of the Screw. Wyldehope Hall itself is as the heart of this tale: a rundown old mansion in the middle of desolate marshlands, overlooking a rugged Suffolk coastline, it is full of dark corners, twisting staircases and sinister basements.

The author manages to build the tension throughout the book, giving little away. Few overt things occur to terrify James, yet each small event that he can't explain nags at the edges of his consciousness.

An intriguing novel that will make you question the notion of what is real. A fantastic update on the Gothic horror genre – really enjoyed it!


The Echo
The Echo
by James Smythe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling psychological horror, 15 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Echo (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the second novel in James Smythe's Anomaly Quartet.

Twenty years after the disappearance of space shuttle Ishiguro, a new mission, led by twin brothers Tomas and Mirakel Hyvönen, is sent to map the area of space where their predecessors vanished. Scathing of the limitations of the previous mission, the brothers ensure they have prepared for every possible eventuality.

But even so, they don't expect to encounter the missing vessel, still functioning deep in space, after all this time.

Like the previous novel, The Explorer, this is a psychological horror that happens to be set in space and it makes for a chilling read. Much of the novel focuses on Mira, leading the team in space, while his brother runs mission control on Earth. Not a natural leader, he struggles with the physical aspects of the journey. As the story progresses, the book becomes an examination of how one man responds to being pushed beyond the limits of human endurance.

If you're going to read this book, make sure you check out The Explorer first. Can't wait for the third part!


The Last Kings of Sark
The Last Kings of Sark
by Rosa Rankin-Gee
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars A fleeting summer that lingers in the memory, 10 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Last Kings of Sark (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After graduating from university, Jude goes to work as a private tutor on the island of Sark. Her pupil is a teenage boy, Pip, the son of an abrasive businessman and his reclusive French wife. Over the course of the summer, Jude forms a close relationship with Pip and the teenage cook Sofi, the memory of which will affect with all three for years.

This is the debut novel by author Rose Rankin-Gee and the understated writing manages to capture the feeling of youthful freedom felt by the characters, although in reality their options are more limited than they would like. Each of the three main characters are stuck in uncomfortable situations, yet they make the best of their time on Sark, a tiny island with little to experience. Over the brief course of their friendship, the three form a memorable bond that changes them and their hopes for the future.

This isn't a plot led novel, instead it's a slightly dreamy account of three young people experiencing their first intense relationships. It's an ode to that summer love that slips away as quickly as it came, yet lingers in the memory.


The Summer of Dead Toys (Inspector Salgado 1)
The Summer of Dead Toys (Inspector Salgado 1)
by Antonio Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great antidote to Scandinavian crime fiction, 23 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A teenage boy is dead after falling from a window after a party. Was it suicide, an accident, or something more sinister? Inspector Hector Salgado is assigned to investigate this case as a favour, and as punishment for attacking a suspect in a human trafficking case. Salgado's investigation leads him into a twisted tale of upper class immorality and family values.

A couple of months ago, I read the sequel to The Summer of Dead Toys, The Good Suicides, after winning a copy online. The twisting story is set in Barcelona, and proves to be a fantastic antidote to the Scandinavian crime thrillers, full of stifling sunshine and led by a fiery Argentine detective. I was keen to read this book to understand the background to one of the major plot lines in the sequel, which involves Salgado's ex-wife.

The Summer of Dead Toys is a great read. Salgado is a strong protagonist; a wild card with a troubled past, as with most fictional detectives, but he's easy to empathise with and isn't afraid to pursue the truth. The two female supporting detectives are both interesting characters too: the young woman struggling to find a place in a new job and deal with her personal issues, and the seasoned detective always juggling work with family commitments.

I'll definitely be watching out for the third book in the series.


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