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A. Hope "bookcrossing ali" (Birmingham, England)
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How I Conquered High Cholesterol Through Diet and Exercise
How I Conquered High Cholesterol Through Diet and Exercise
Price: £1.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massively helpful., 9 Aug. 2012
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This ebook offers fantastic and realistic help and advice to people wanting to lower their cholesterol naturally. The author's own experience shows how it is possible to tackle this problem effectively without resorting to taking medication. There are many tips about what foods are and are not helpful to a cholesterol reducing diet which I found particularly helpful, and I will certainly be trying the plum cake recipe.


Tom-All-Alone's (Charles Maddox 2)
Tom-All-Alone's (Charles Maddox 2)
by Lynn Shepherd
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful atmospheric homage to Dickens, and a great mystery story, 2 Feb. 2012
Tom-All-Alones is in fact published today (February 2nd 2012) although I received my copy a couple of weeks ago after winning a competition. The title refers to a cemetery in London, featured in Charles Dickens `Bleak House' - and which was apparently one possible title for Dickens's tale. This novel is indeed a homage to Dickens and one of his greatest novels.
Some of Dickens characters reappear in this book - Tulkinghorn, Inspector Bucket and Lady Deadlock for instance - while other characters bear some resemblance to Dickens creations but have been re-shaped by Lynn Shepherd. In addition those who have read Murder at Mansfield Park will recognise the name Charles Maddox - although the Charles Maddox of Tom-All-Alone's is the regency thief takers great nephew. The elder Charles Maddox is now a shuffling old man. His once sharp mind blighted by some disease (Alzheimer's surely) which brings about long periods of cloudy incomprehension and confusion, followed by glimpses of his former brilliance as his mind comes back into focus.
Charles Maddox is hired by Tulkinghorn to uncover the author of some anonymous letters. Things quickly take a violent turn however, and Charles becomes embroiled in a brutal murder case, even being attacked himself - more than once - in his pursuit of the truth.
This is a wonderfully atmospheric novel. All the sights, sounds and indeed smells of Victorian London practically rise up off the page. In this Lynn Shepherd pulls no punches -the descriptions are vivid and all too real, the horrifying realities that existed for certain sections of society at this time laid bare. As with `Bleak House' itself we have an omniscient narrator - this time one speaking to the reader from a more modern time - acting in a way as a guide through the plot as well as through the confusion of London streets. This 2nd person narrative which is not continually present actually works really well. The majority of the story concerns Charles Maddox and his investigation - and alongside we have the story of Charles's Uncle Maddox - who Charles moves back in with at the beginning of the novel - and a young black maid who comes to work at the house. Alongside this narrative - we have a first person narrative of Hester - ward of Mr Jarvis. Just as in `Bleak House' these stories weave together eventually. If I am honest, at first, I found the short sections narrated by Hester less enjoyable - but only because they took me away from the thick of the action and the great characters of Charles Maddox his Uncle, Tulkinghorn and the stinking seething filthy streets that Charles must negotiate in his quest. However Hester's story does become marvellously compelling towards the end of the novel - providing the reader with an amazing twist - that I didn't see coming and quite literally made me gasp.
Tom-All-Alone's however , is in no way a re-telling of Bleak House -it is good old fashioned, well written murder mystery - the story of `Tom-All-Alone's' runs parallel to the story of Bleak House - and Wilkie Collins `Woman in White' - and readers who have never read Dickens's great novel can enjoy it as that. Those who have read `Bleak House' and know Dickens and Collins's work however will enjoy spotting the parallels and little references that make this novel such an excellent homage to the great man 200 years after his birth.
This is a massively readable page turner - I read it in great gulps and could hardly put it down. I think those who love historical murder mysteries and those who like their Dickens will each enjoy this novel - but those readers who like both of those things will be doubly delighted.


Half Blood Blues
Half Blood Blues
by Esi Edugyan
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Half Blood Blues, 29 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Half Blood Blues (Paperback)
I loved this novel! Atmospheric, poignant and enormously readable, I actually found it hard to put down. Beautiful writing with such a wonderful sense of time and place that it perfectly transports the reader to the jazz cafes's of Berlin and Paris in the 1940's. Narrated by African American Sid Griffiths, Hiero's bandmate, now 83 years old, in an unforgettably, authentic, musical voice. It is through him we see the first uneasy days of WW2 in Berlin, and later the occupation of Paris. Sid, his old childhood friend Chip, and Hiero share a flat with the beautiful Delilah in Paris 1940, and it is while waiting to get out of Paris, in a cafe one day that mixed race Hiero is arrested, with Sid the only witness. Fifty years later Sid and Chip travel back to Berlin for a celebration of the music of Hieronymus Falk, which has been made famous by the discovery, some years earlier, of lost recordings hidden in a Paris flat. When Chip reveals some mysterious letters to Sid, it throws everything into turmoil, forcing Sid to look again at the past and his part in it. This is a remarkable story of friendship, betrayl and guilt. It is also a celebration of jazz, with even the mighty Louis Armstrong playing a part, when Sid, Chip and Hiero get to meet the great man, who arranges for them to play with him.
I found the story of Sid and Chip's friendship, and the uneasy relationship between Sid and Hiero beautifully told and really quite touching.


The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There
The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: The History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre by the Men and Women Who Were There
by Sinclair McKay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 29 Dec. 2011
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I recently watched a documentary on BBC2 about the WW2 codebreakers, and my reaction to the fascinating subject was to immediately go to Amazon.co.uk and find book that would tell me more. This was the book I bought, and I am glad that I did. This really is a fascinating book, that lifts the veil on an extraordinary place and the dedicated men and women who spent the war years undertaking such crucial work. One of the things which both amazed and impressed me the most, was the level of secrecy that was needed, for Bletchley park to be able to exist at all. The thousands of people who worked there - kept silent - with each other, and with their families after the war - right up untill the 1980's. Additionally the people of the surrounding areas who provided "billets" for these hordes of Bletchley workers, not only kept quiet - but didn't even ask their boarders what it was they were doing up at the park. In the world we are living in now, such secracy is unimaginable. I must admit - some of the mathematical, engineery, code descriptions and details - went a tiny bit over my befuddled head - however this is a very accessible book, and certainly not academic or dry. Even the sections I found hardest to understand - and there were only a couple - were still strangely fascinating to read - and I know I have come away from the book with a much better understanding of code breaking than I would otherwise have ever had. The majority of the book however, and what makes it so readable, is about the people who worked there, the society girls, the brilliant ox-bridge minds, the factory workers, the romances, the dances and plays, the miserably cold huts and the revolting food.


Poor Caroline (VMC)
Poor Caroline (VMC)
by Winifred Holtby
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful early Holtby novel, 29 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Poor Caroline (VMC) (Paperback)
In 'Poor Caroline' we have several rather unlikeable characters, who all have something to do with the ill fated Christian Cinema Company, which has become Caroline Denton Smyth's dream and obsession, as she approaches her 72 birthday. Poor Caroline lives in a shabby room, and has no money, but she has ideas, so many ideas and feels her big chance in life has finally come. She is too, a rather ridiculous character, she borrows money with no hope of returning it, and develops rather a crush on young Father Mortimer. She is however ever hopeful, poignantly so, which I did find ever so slightly endearing, and she is undeniably the heroine of the book, in spite of, or maybe because of her exasperating inability to see things as they really are.
The novel opens as two younger cousins of Caroline's return to Yorkshire from London, having attended "Poor Caroline's" funeral, they were rather glad of the chance to "go up to town" as one of them had needed a new coat. Their hilarity over Caroline's continuing ridiculousness even in death is desperately sad, and beautifully sets the tone of the whole novel. Each subsequent chapter introduces us to the characters who had become involved in some way with Caroline and her Christian Cinema Company, each of them soon thinking of her as "Poor Caroline".
I loved this novel, as I have loved everything else of Winifred Holtby's that I have read, that she lived to write so few is a tragedy in itself. Human beings and their failings are so well captured by Winifred Holtby, everything so beautifully observed and often satirised. A brilliant novel.


Altered States
Altered States
by Anita Brookner
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply poignant, beautifully written novel., 29 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Altered States (Paperback)
This is one of Anita Brookner's novels written from a male perspective. Brookner's male voice is convincing and poignant. Anita Brookner creates beautiful English worlds, where nothing very dramatic happens, lives are quiet and dignified. Alan Sherwood is a solicitor who having once become obsessed by the beautiful, selfish, and deeply unpleasant Sarah, is unable to leave her behind. After a short liaison with her, his life is punctuated by a couple of fleeting glimpses and brief meetings which change his life. Alan takes refuge in a loveless marriage with Angela, another deeply unhappy character. His cosy relationship with his mother is changed by her second marriage, and Jenny - the wife of his uncle Humphrey - is drawn unhappily into Alan's marriage, and is also pathetically obsessed with an indifferent Sarah. Alan has to live with the guilt of his betrayal, and come to terms with his life.
I did find the time-line of this novel confusing - I was never certain how much time was supposed to have gone by - some people seemed to age quite a bit - while others didn't seem so much older at all. It is quite difficult to date the events, although it isn't really important. Also Sarah is described on the back cover as Alan's cousin, however, she was the daughter of his (much older) half sister. Still these are minor irritations in an otherwise brilliant novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written novel, no one writes about solitude and quiet rain soaked evening streets better than Brookner.


Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm (Vintage Classics)
Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm (Vintage Classics)
by Stella Gibbons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming old fashioned short stories, 29 Dec. 2011
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I have been looking forward so much to reading these stories, although I approached it nervously as I had read some fairly luke warm reviews. If anything I was disappointed in the title story - it was too short I wanted more, the only other Christmassy story was charming though. Overall I so enjoyed these old fashioned stories, and it has made me want to read more Stella Gibbons. I of course read Cold Comfort farm years and years ago, and it is now time for a re-read I think.
These new Vintage editions are very attractive looking books. Stella Gibbons' stories are obviously set in a world that no longer exists, they are about bored housewives, aging Bright Young Things, "modern" career women, spinsters in country villages and librarians. Often the endings are not much of a surprise, but they are generally just what the reader wants, and this makes them wholly satisfying. In his introduction to the new Vintage edition, Alexander McCall Smith writes about the short story as an art form. His description of the modern short story made me smile - and nod in agreement. These short stories come from a different time. They were written before it was fashionable to create a mood or to leave the reader artistically hanging. The modern short story are just the kind I usually hate. These lovely stories however, are just the kind I love.


Ten Days of Christmas
Ten Days of Christmas
by G B Stern
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming Christmas read, 29 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Ten Days of Christmas (Hardcover)
Set at Christmas 1946 in a country house. Two sides of a complicated family are gathered for ten days over Christmas. The children: Roddy, Lal, Erica, Terry (a girl) and Clare visiting from America decide to produce a play. They are helped by aspiring theatrical producer Jonathon the 19 year old Son of the local doctor - who's sister Judy is also one of the gang rehearsing the play. The play is to be performed especially for Clare and Lal's uncle Ted, an actor who unable to get away from his commitments any earlier will be arriving the Sunday after Christmas, the day chosen to hold the play. 17 year old Rosalind decides she is too old now to join the children, and so descends to the drawing room instead. The adults meanwhile are comfortably ensconced downstairs, preparing for christmas, and thinking about times gone by.
However in the those few short days - all sorts of things change. Enormous arguments erupt - sparked by a duplicated gift - among the children, and the play begins to seem as if it will never happen. Old wounds are reopened downstairs amongst the adults too again over a seemingly small thing. Then Ted arrives - and gently starts to smooth out some of the hurts just with his presence and enthusiasm.
It is in the minutiae of how people think, act, react and suffer over small invisible hurts, that makes this lovely novel. The characters are faithfully drawn, their resentments and secrets laid bare with brilliant accuracy - was all too believable. It is a rare thing - to discover a well written, deeply charming, Christmas novel, that is not overly sentimental. So glad I chose to read it over the Christmas period.


Still Missing
Still Missing
by Beth Gutcheon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, beautifully written., 23 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Still Missing (Paperback)
Originally published in 1981, this novel, now re-issued by Persephone, is a relatively modern offering from them. It is however a fantastically paced, hard to put down novel. The story is a simple one - One day Susan's six year old son Alex goes missing. This is the story of what is to be the mother of a child who is missing. The accusations, the press attention, the false hopes, the bereavement like existence she lives. It is a poignant and gripping account. Susan's desperation and frustrations become the readers too, as we are drawn into the search for young Alex. Juxtaposed with Susan's friends and family, and their concerns, are those of Lieutenant Menetti the senior investigator - who has a family of his own, his youngest son being almost the same age as Alex. Beautifully written, with just the right amount of tension to keep you reading late into the night.


Clear Light Of Day
Clear Light Of Day
by Anita Desai
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, poignant family story., 23 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Clear Light Of Day (Paperback)
Anita Desai is a beautiful writer, the sense of time and place in this novel is strong. The narrative takes the reader from the present, back to 1947 and the upheaval of partition. Yet this is merely a backdrop, the rendering apart of a family juxtaposed with that of a nation. The relationships between these family members are exquisitely examined, through daily preoccupations and long remembered squabbles.
The daily routines and preoccupations of her older sister Bim, are brought into sharp focus for Tara upon her visit to the old family home. For Bim old resentments are brought to the surface, and old memories of a turbulent summer re-awakened.


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