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Mrs. S. Payne (UK)

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The Color War (Kindle Single)
The Color War (Kindle Single)
Price: £1.19

4.0 out of 5 stars I love the way that Jodi Picoult writes and fans of ..., 23 July 2014
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This is an engaging short story of a young boy and his experience through life so far. I love the way that Jodi Picoult writes and fans of hers will now be disappointed with this. The only real negative is that it is only a short story and I would have loved it to be a full one.

Dust (Dr. Kay Scarpetta Book 21)
Dust (Dr. Kay Scarpetta Book 21)
Price: £2.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time with this book, better to remember Cornwell and Scarpetta from the older, brilliant books., 3 July 2014
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Oh dear, when will I learn to give up on this series?! The fact that this is book 21 should have been a strong enough indication. It was so hard not to give up on this book. I was a HUGE fan of Patricia Cornwell and I think that's what has made me persevere this far but these books are getting worse and worse.
This book follows all the other books but is a lot, lot slower and a lot more boring. Scarpetta talks about how much she loves cooking but never has time to actually cook anything, Benton is boring, one-dimensional and completely void of any emotion. Lucy invents some new, brilliant gadget as she continues on her mission to destroy all the bad people in the world whilst dealing with emotion issues that she really should have gotten over by now and Marino is his usual arrogant, bullying self but with a new side-kick that he barely spends any time with.
I didn't find the plot interesting and felt that the outcome was predictable. I know that I said I wouldn't bother with another Scarpetta book last time, but this time I mean it.

Price: £3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and thought-provoking, 3 July 2014
This review is from: Americanah (Kindle Edition)
This was the first book I picked up by this author and I was gripped.
Americanah follows the story of Ifemelu, her early life in Nigeria, her time as an expat working in America, and then her return to her home country. The book talks about Ifemelu's family, friends, lovers and her hair. This is a really interesting and detailed account of the expatriate African experience in America and the UK, and of the expatriate returning to Nigeria.
I loved the subject, this issues raised, the style of writing and the characters. It really made me think about race and racial issues in a way that (fortunately for me) I have never had to before.
I spotted Purple Hibiscus on a second-hand book stall for $1 recently, so I quickly snapped that up too! I am now looking forward to more books by Chimamanda.

The Three
The Three
Price: £7.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Spooky, 17 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Three (Kindle Edition)
I was drawn to The Three as who wouldn’t be intrigued by four plane crashes, all on the same day with three child survivors. I had heard that this was a cross between Lost and The Passage and as I enjoyed those books, I thought that The Three would be good too.

It’s really difficult to say anything about the storyline without giving too much away but the book is written mainly as a non-fiction report titled ‘Black Thursday’. Information comes in the form of interviews that the author did with the relevant people involved. I loved this way of writing and particularly enjoyed the conversations in the online chat rooms between 2 of the characters. The author has used modern technology examples on where the data was gathered. The characters are all strong and some more spooky than others. The only slight disappointment for me was the ending as it felt a bit flat. I’m not sure how I would have wanted it to end but it just didn’t seem right for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the storyline and the style and I finished it in a few days.

Frog Music
Frog Music
Price: £6.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No where near as good as her others., 4 Jun 2014
This review is from: Frog Music (Kindle Edition)
Like many others here, I LOVED Donoghue’s previous books, especially ‘Slammerkin’ and ‘Room’ but (also like many others) this book left me bored and disappointed.

Based on real-life events, we follow burlesque dancer, Blanche, who came to San Francisco from France with her partner Arthur and his friend Ernest after they had to stop their circus act due to an injury. The two men sponge off of Blanche as she makes quite a bit of money as an excellent dancer and prostitute. Blanche and Arthur have a son, P’tit, who they ship off to be raised in a baby farm, so they can carry on with their normal lifestyle. One day, Blanche meets frog-cacher Jennie Bonnet. The two strike up an unusual friendship and Jennie leads Blanche to think more about her life and her son.

This is a dark and sordid story, with some great period detail but it was really lacking something. The storyline is slow and boring and the characters are not that interesting either. Donoghue describes the fires in San Francisco, the smallpox epidemic and the heatwave conditions but it doesn’t feel quite ‘real’. The characters feel distant and not engaging at all. It’s a shame because the writing is good but there is nothing to really grab your emotion. We know that Jennie dies at the beginning of the book but I found that I didn’t really care and wasn’t really bothered about who killed her or why. It’s a shame and not up to Donoghue’s usual standard.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and well-researched, 4 Jun 2014
I picked up this book as the subject matter really intrigued me. I have read other ‘time travel’ books and was a bit concerned about getting lost or confused in the storyline but the book is very well written and easy to follow.
The story follows Harry August, Harry is a Kalachakra, which means he relives the same life over and over again. He is born in the same way, on the same date at the same time every time. He can change things during his life but it will always start in the same way, and, if he manages not to get himself killed in the meantime, the same disease will take him in the end. Harry meets other Kalachakra’s but Harry is also mnemonic, which means he remembers everything from his past lives, amassing a great wealth of information along the way. Harry lives through wars again and again and learns a new skill each life. This in itself makes for an interesting story but Harry knows that there is another Kalachakra mnemonic that is out to dramatically change the world. Harry starts to stop colour TV, 20 years before it was due to be invented and wars are being won with technology that shouldn’t exist yet. Harry takes it upon himself to track down the culprit and try and put the world back to normal.
As I said, I was concerned about getting lost during this book but I followed it fine. The level of detail in the book shows the amount of research that was undertaken when writing it. I too, made the comparison to The Time Travellers Wife but this book really is something else. It’s a sci-fi thriller with great characters that are warm and human. I enjoyed this book and I hope that Claire North writes some more.

Where There's Smoke
Where There's Smoke
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent taster!, 4 Jun 2014
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I am a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and I would say that she is easily one of my top 3 authors, so no real surprise that I loved this short story. I did feel that it was as complex or in-depth as her other books but this is only a short story and I’m sure that the full version will be just as good as her others. I am eagerly looking forward to the full release, this is an excellent taster.

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas Book 1)
Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas Book 1)
Price: £6.49

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as previous writings, 22 May 2014
I would say that I am a fan of Charlaine Harris because I loved The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels and read them all really quickly but I had never read any of Harris’ other books. Midnight Crossroad is the first one of her books I have read outside of the Stackhouse series. Having loved the Stackhouse series, I came with high expectations of a new series to love but I have been left really disappointed.

The story follows different characters in a small town called Midnight Crossroad in Texas. The characters in the town are mostly bizarre supernatural beings (sound familiar?) and we follow them as they try and figure out who murdered one of their friends. Each character calls upon their particular skills to help find the culprit (again…familiar?).

Where to start with this book?
Storyline: the storyline is slow and took ages for me to get into and when I did get into it, I realised that nothing was really happening and actually the whole situation was quite boring.
Characters: there are some characters that Harris has brought over from other novels that she has written and I didn’t like that. It made it feel like a cheap, spinoff from the other books they have featured in and it made me think that Harris couldn’t be bothered to think of new characters.
Style: the writing style is interesting. You seem to jump around between characters either in the same time frame, or at different times. Although this sounds confusing, it was easy to follow (this was helped by the really slow storyline).

Overall, I seem to be going against the grain with my opinion as this book has been well received so far. I will forgive the slowness of the storyline as I know that this is the first book in a series, so there are a lot of books to fill but this really wasn’t good enough for me to bother with the rest.

The Tea Chest
The Tea Chest
Price: £1.85

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it and I don't even like tea!, 9 May 2014
This review is from: The Tea Chest (Kindle Edition)
I read an uncorrected copy of this book that was kindly sent to me by Allen and Unwin. This is really not the sort of book I would read or even pick up off a shelf. There are so many books in the world and so little time for reading, that I do judge a book by its cover. I’m sure that I may have missed out on some fantastic books by doing this but at least I don’t know about it but I am so glad I read this one.

The story follows 4 women as their different life paths bring them together to a small tea shop in London. The women are from all over the globe and all want to do something that they love. Kate Fullerton has been left a tea shop in Australia (The Tea Chest) by her mentor Simone but just before Simone died, she was about to open her newest tea shop in London. Kate is the tea designer in the partnership and is always inventing new blends, whereas Simone had been the business side of the company and always dealt with the paperwork and trials of running a business. Judy is Simone’s stepsister and is also part-owner of the Tea Chest but Judy wants to sell the whole business before the London tea shop opens for business. Kate doesn’t want to sell the business as she wants Simones’ dream realised, so she flies to London to try and save the new business. This is where Kate meets Leila, Elizabeth and Victoria, who all have back-stories of their own. The group come together to try and launch the new tea shop whilst dealing with Judy and her obstructive ways.

I found the first part of the book a tad confusing. You jump around the different characters and different periods of time, so you need to be able to keep up but once the 4 characters met, things calmed down and the story became a lot easier to follow. I liked the characters and began to genuinely care about what happened to them all and their new business. There are quite a lot of characters in this book but they are all individual and very different. I felt that the writing flowed well and the descriptions of flowers, tea, houses, cities etc very clear and enjoyable.

The technicalities of tea making didn't really interest me, especially as I don’t like tea but I enjoyed the research and ideas that flowed through the book. I found the storyline quite predictable and the ending was obvious, the only real surprise to me was Judy’s situation but even with it predictability, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Although predictable, I felt that this was a nice, feel-good, easy read with a great cast of strong, determined characters. I enjoyed reading this book as a light-hearted interlude from my normal types of reads. Thanks to Allen and Unwin for the copy!

The Museum of Extraordinary Things
The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and captivating, 6 May 2014
The title of this book alone was enough to intrigue me and then I saw people comparing it with ‘The Night Circus’ (which I loved!), so I knew that I had to read it and I wasn’t left disappointed.

The story has 2 main avenues which inevitably become one. We follow Coralie Sardie who was born with webbed fingers. She has been raised to be a human mermaid in her father’s ‘Museum of Extraordinary Things’. As part of this, she was trained to hold her breath, withstand extremely cold water and swim for miles in the Hudson River. As she gets older she performs in a tank for people who come to her father’s museum for their amusement. Coralie was raised by her father’s housekeeper Maureen (who is also ‘unusual’) and the two have a close bond but her father, the cold and detached Professor Sardie, rules every aspect of her life, and ruthlessly exploits Coralie to help bring in business. As business becomes tougher and tougher for the professor, his methods to attract customers become more and more extreme and, unfortunately, Coralie lies at the heart of his plans.

The other storyline follows Eddie who was born in Ukraine and drove to New York with his father after vicious pogroms killed his mother. Eddie has spent his life rallying against the expectations of his Jewish faith and this damages his relationship with his father. Eddie gets a job as a photographer working for the New York newspapers and he sees first-hand some of the city’s most horrendous crimes and events. Eddie’s real skill lies in finding people that are lost, and when he’s approached by a man hoping to find the truth of what happened to his missing daughter, his world and Coralie’s are set to come together.

I enjoyed this book a lot and I quickly found myself absorbed into their world. The writing and descriptions flowed well and the characters were so well defined that you could not help but feel involved and really care about their lives. Hoffman starts each chapter with either Coralie or Eddie looking back at the events in a first person voice and then changing back to a third person voiceover of all the events, so you get a really great view of all the characters and it’s easy to follow the style.

Hoffman’s characters of Coralie and Eddie are well shown and presented as they go through big changes in their lives. Coralie starts to feel sexually woken when she meets Eddie and Eddie is just stepping into manhood and he has to overcome those who want to suppress his ambition. Essentially, we follow the age-old story of two star-crossed lovers who must fight to be together but the setting and circumstances make for a very interesting storyline.

With reference to ‘The Night Circus’, I really didn’t drawn much comparison, I feel that they are both totally separate and very different books. I think that if you didn’t enjoy one of them, it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t enjoy the other one. I love books about circus’ or anything that’s slightly usual but still believable, so I enjoyed both books on their own merits.

This was the first Alice Hoffman book that I had read and I am delighted to see that she has written so many previously as I’m now going to check out her others.

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