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susie (Hertfordshire)

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The Villa in Italy
The Villa in Italy
Price: 2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Escapism, 7 July 2014
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The Villa in Italy is pure escapism and fun enough to spend a few hours on, but not very challenging and irritating in parts.
Without giving too much away, four strangers are summoned to Villa Dante because a mysterious old woman has left each of them something in her will - so far so Agatha Christie. Unfortunately for them it is not as simple as hearing a reading of the will and leaving; they have to solve the mystery of what they have been left and why.
For me the plot relies on too many coincidences and I didn't take to any of the characters.
Other reviewers have said that the book transported them to Italy. I didn't feel that. A much more atmospheric book, which will take you to Florence in an instant is EM Forster's classic A Room with a View (Penguin English Library)


Dramatic days at the Old Bailey
Dramatic days at the Old Bailey
by Charles KINGSTON
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars May it Please Your Honour..., 23 May 2014
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Set in a time when a conviction could lead to execution, Dramatic Days at the Old Bailey highlights some of the most incredible cases and the characters who frequented the famous court in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It is an interesting and enlightening book. My only complaint is that it's a little disjointed and sometimes expects a level of knowledge about the cases/barristers/judges mentioned that a modern reader would not possess. As this was written nearly a century ago this is not too surprising I suppose. It is still good read with cases about everything from murderers to forgers appearing in the famous dock.

However, for anyone interested in this type of true crime, a much better and timeless book about the law in that period is the biography of probably the most eloquent and famous barrister of the age Sir Edward Marshall Hall KC. The Great Defender: The Life and Trials of Edward Marshall Hall KC, England's Greatest Barrister It's worth reading just for the information about his very troubled private life!


ChuckIt! Ultra Balls Classic 2-Pack
ChuckIt! Ultra Balls Classic 2-Pack
Offered by UK Watches
Price: 8.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost indestructible, 23 May 2014
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I have a young Labrador who is obsessed with balls and loves chewing. A tennis ball is destroyed in no time at all so these balls are great.
They fit into a usual size thrower and are easy to spot in undergrowth. They also float, so they're perfect to for a water-loving dog. We've lost a couple - the dog dropped one down a badger hole and the other got stuck in the mud in the bottom of a swampy pool - but they are fantastic, worth every penny and I was happy to buy replacements.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, 27 Mar 2014
This review is from: Gone Girl (Paperback)
I must confess that I nearly abandoned this book when I was only a quarter of the way through - Amy's character was too sweet and unbelievable and her disappearance on her fifth wedding anniversary (she is married to Nick, a writer who has lost his job) was too neat. It was not until the twist in the plot half way through that it becomes apparent that there is a reason for this. It is from this half-way point that I found the book more compelling.
Unfortunately, like some other reviewers, I found the ending slightly disappointing - it feels like it fizzles out rather than there being some dramatic closure, but I suppose that is where your own imagination can take over and fill in the gaps.
All in all, I didn't love it, but I liked it. It was creepy and an easy read. I think it's worth 3 and a half stars, but I'm feeling generous and give it 4.


A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics)
A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and ascerbic, 25 Mar 2014
I'm a big fan of Evelyn Waugh's writing and read this novel for the second time recently (I don't re-read books very often and found more pleasure in it this time than the first).
A Handful of Dust concerns the lives of Tony and Brenda Last, an aristocratic married couple with a young son. Tony is heir to his family estate - a gothic mansion, Hetton Abbey, which he loves and is patiently restoring - while Brenda is bored and takes up with a pathetic, socialite; the type who worries about having to buy a round of drinks at his club and lingers waiting for someone to offer to buy him one. What follows is dark and tragic.
When her affair is discovered, her husband agrees to a divorce and to save her blushes allows her to divorce him for adultery. But, in reality, he crumbles and during the second half of the book decides to get away from it all. He goes on an amazing journey to the Amazon. What he finds there is truly sinister. Even if you don't like the characters - none of them are particularly likeable - It is worth reading to the end to find out what happens to Tony.


Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison
Orange Is the New Black: My Time in a Women's Prison
by Piper Kerman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Average, 25 Mar 2014
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It's an easy enough read, but not great. There is no real sense of Piper Kerman having a difficult time in prison. Yes, she lost her liberty but nothing really bad happened to her. Not only was it not really tough - she had lengthy visits from family and friends, was not starved (unlike her character in the TV show), and was not bullied - she has been able to cash in on her experiences. Win, win.


Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition)
Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition)
by Martin Sixsmith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading, 4 Feb 2014
I thought 'Philomena' would be about a mother's search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption after she gave birth in an Irish convent and from that point of view I think the book title is a little misleading. There is very little about Philomena's life.

The book really covers her son's life after his adoption, his rise through the ranks of American politics and his sexual proclivities.
I would have liked to have known what happened to Philomena. She obviously married and had a family after her teenage pregnancy, but you never really got a feel for how she was feeling and the emptiness she felt without her child.

I believe the film concentrates more on Philomena's life so maybe I'll enjoy that more.


Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything
Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything
Price: 6.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where Memories Go, 3 Feb 2014
Sally Magnusson's mother, Maime, was an intelligent and sparky journalist with a bright smile and witty personality - until she got dementia.

'Where Memories Go', is Sally's tender and moving account of what it is like to watch a loved one deteriorate and shows how cruel and indiscriminate Alzheimer's Disease appears to be. As the illness took hold Maime could not look after herself, was aggressive to her own twin sister, was terrified of change and became almost unrecognisable to her daughters. Maime was very lucky that her family were able to look after her until the end and there were moments of joy as family sing songs seemed to unlock something in her brain.

I did enjoy this book and do recommend it, but there are gaps; there is not much about Sally's relationship with her mother before she became ill - and I was not keen on the fact that Sally wrote the book as though she was talking to her mother i.e. she refers to her as "you" throughout.

I think an even better and more uplifting book on the subject, written by an ordinary person rather than a journalist, is Little Girl in the Radiator, The which is in parts incredibly funny and also very sad.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2014 9:32 AM GMT


Thick As Thieves : Hilarious Tales of Ridiculous Robbers, Bungling Burglars and Incompetent Conmen
Thick As Thieves : Hilarious Tales of Ridiculous Robbers, Bungling Burglars and Incompetent Conmen
by Andrew Penman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, 29 Nov 2013
A really funny book that had me chuckling throughout - I actually bought it as a Christmas present, but ended up reading it myself!
It's a great book to dip in and out of since the entries are really short and there are lots of amusing cartoons dotted through it.
To give you a little taste of what's inside, and please bear in mind that the stories are true, there are

* The robbers who scrawled on their faces with black marker pen rather than wear masks as a disguise, making them look like blokes who had gone mad with felt tips rather than evil criminals - they were quickly arrested
* The getaway driver who, instead of speeding away from the scene of the crime, became the most law-abiding motorist and driving under the speed limit and allowing the police to catch up with him
* The burglar who managed to leave his passport, mobile phone, keys and a prison ID card with his photo on, at the scene of the crime.

Would make a stocking filler for that 'hard-to-buy-for' person in your family!


Murderess
Murderess
by Patrick Wilson
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short on detail, 14 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Murderess (Hardcover)
The idea for the book is appealing - each chapter is about a different female murderer - but it lacks detail and you could have found out just as much using Google.


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