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Bridie McMahon
Bridie McMahon
Price: £1.50

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant rags to riches story, 23 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Bridie McMahon (Kindle Edition)
This is a pleasant, if a little predictable rags to riches story with plenty of obstacles along the way. And an ending to please all romantics. It is always a difficult thing to decide how in writing to convey an accent, and unfortunately here it didn't quite come off, and parts of the story are rather cliched, but if you are looking for an easy read historical romantic novel, this is for you.


Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels: Science Behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales
Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels: Science Behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales
by Robert Scott Root-Bernstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.87

5.0 out of 5 stars so much here to fascinate., 27 Jan 2014
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I generally reserve 5* for books that I will read and read again, and this is one of them - I've read it, listened to it on CD and read it again. Great for car journeys - can't fall asleep with these facts being read to you. As a writer of historical fiction it has a particular interest for me - some of this will definitely make it into my books - engaging and easy to follow style also - glad to have it on my bookshelf.


Anne of Green Gables Stories: 12 Books, 142 Short Stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles and More
Anne of Green Gables Stories: 12 Books, 142 Short Stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne's House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles and More
Price: £1.35

5.0 out of 5 stars These are books to read and re-read - what more can I say?, 27 Jan 2014
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I don't know how many times I have read these - all I really want is a complete set in hardback! I'm not so keen on the two 'Chronicles' ones, but al the others I'm happy to read again and again. And perhaps more importantly there are incidents that however many times I read still make me cry - in fact my throat begins to constrict when I'm coming near to the crucial point. These would definitely be with me on my 'desert island'. - If you're a UK reader you'll know the reference...


Instructions for a Heatwave
Instructions for a Heatwave
Price: £3.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but not one that I'll re-read., 27 Jan 2014
What do I feel about this book? It’s well written undoubtedly and the description of the heatwave is convincing.

However, the characters were all in different ways morally ambiguous, as in so much of contemporary fiction, and for me that limits both my enjoyment and my engagement with them. (As does the use of bad language, which always grates.) That is of course a personal reaction, made stronger in this case because of the time setting – Aoife is c 20 in 1976, as I was, and although I once years ago wrote a short story about a young woman who couldn’t read, so that that part of her story did work for me, I found it hard to relate to her character as a whole.

Laying aside my personal issues I couldn’t lose myself in the story because the timeline bothered me – the ages of characters didn’t fit the story and each other. At the start of the book Monica is said to be approaching her mid thirties, therefore born in c 1941 / 2 perhaps. That timeline worried away at me as I read because it didn’t fit other things in the book and indeed at the end I found that she’d been born after the end of WW2 therefore must have been at least 1946. Aoife therefore must have been born in c 1956, which would make her only 20 at the time of the story – and therefore 17 when she ran away to New York. Possible, but there was another part of her story that it seems to me would have been hard to fit into those three years.

I also guessed the ending about as early as possible, which took away a little of the interest.

So for me this has to be 3* - a good book, but not one which will linger with me.

As an aside, once I realized that the story was set in real time 1976 I found myself thinking about that summer and wondering why I didn’t remember any heatwave? I was 20 in 1976 and it was only after asking my husband he reminded me that I spent 2 months of that summer abroad, but the strange thing is that I have no recollection of others talking about it when I got back, and my husband who spent that entire summer in the UK, has no particular recollection of the heatwave either. Perhaps it was very much a south of England phenomenon?


Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700
Furies: War in Europe, 1450-1700
by Lauro Martines
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Real stories behind the history, 3 Dec 2013
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Having been looking for a while for particular information on France in the 16th century, not dates and political records, but rather the human angle on historical events, I was delighted to find this book. Here are the stories behind the 'headlines', what it was like for ordinary people to be caught up in the wars that raged across Europe at this period. It isn't the most comfortable reading - some of the details are necessarily horrific - but they aren't gratuitous, and it is both well written and well organised. Highly recommended.


The Beggar at the Gate & Other Stories: HNSLondon12 Short Story Anthology
The Beggar at the Gate & Other Stories: HNSLondon12 Short Story Anthology
Price: £2.05

5.0 out of 5 stars A rare treat - a collection of historical shorts., 5 Oct 2013
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Disclaimer - I wrote one of the stories in this collection, but as none of the authors receive any royalties I thought I could be forgiven for leaving a review as a commentary on the other 11 stories in the collection.

There is enough variation of both era and subject matter here to ensure that interest is held right to the last. Some stories focus on well known historical people, others on fictional characters, some draw inspiration from the setting or season. Most concentrate on a moment in time. I enjoyed them all.

Highly recommended.


Time Out of Mind
Time Out of Mind
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Cornish mystery., 12 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Time Out of Mind (Kindle Edition)
This story is a mystery and a coming to terms with a life gone awry combined, along with supernatural overtones.

The mystery is well worked out, with all the different elements / characters falling into place. There are no unsatisfactory loose ends, though there is a feeling that the story continues beyond the final page, which is always a good thing.

Perhaps because this is not my usual choice of genre, I found the supernatural element, although suitably spooky, slightly unconvincing.

For me this story's strength lies in the descriptive detail and the atmosphere that is conveyed. On that count I would have given 4 stars, with the rider that the writing is marred occasionally by over-writing e.g. 'Fear knee-caps me.' But bearing in mind that this is a first novel, I expect this particular problem to be ironed out in later writing.

However the characterization in general was an issue for me as there was only one character that I warmed to (Carne). None of the others, including the mc, made me care what happened to them and as a result I wasn't really gripped. (As far as the mc was concerned it was her excessive drinking, which I thought an over-reaction even considering the traumas she had suffered, and therefore I failed to sympathise with her.)

Overall if the system allowed it I would have given 3.5 stars, as it doesn't I have to stick with 3.

But if your taste is for contemporary women's fiction with a mystery or a supernatural twist this is probably the book for you.


Domestic Annals Of Scotland: From The Reformation To The Revolution V1
Domestic Annals Of Scotland: From The Reformation To The Revolution V1
by Robert Chambers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for anyone interested in Scotland's royal and non-royal history., 21 Dec 2012
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I bought both volumes of Chamber's book and they are among my most expensive book purchases - but worth every penny. Not just for the history they contain, but for the way it is presented. The details are fascinating - how many napkins were required at a particular dinner, the penalty for selling short measure, a 16th century schoolboy 'sit-in'. But what makes this the perfect 'browsing' book is that each entry - from a variety of sources - which are specified and therefore can be cross-referenced and checked, are dated. Always by month and year, and even better, sometimes, when the information is available, with a specific day. Some of the entries relate to royalty, but many do not and we get a wonderful insight into everyday life across a wide spectrum of society. Interesting and sometimes sobering to see in what ways their society differed from ours and in what respects it was similar. Highly recommended.


The Lives She Left Behind
The Lives She Left Behind
by James Long
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, but a great finish., 21 Dec 2012
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I first read Ferney about 5 years ago and so this was an eagerly awaited sequel. I had no idea of the direction Long would take, and when I heard the title I thought perhaps it was actually going to be a kind of prequel. It isn't and I'm very glad of that. Without spoiling anything, for me the ending is appropriate, and in its own way satisfying, if a little neat. However I did find the preamble before we get to the meat of the story - the background to the three girls, the archaeological dig that never happened, and therefore was left with no other function than to bring Mike, Gally and Ferney into the same geographic area, was too long for my taste. I also found the characterisation of Gally's mother a bit OTT - it would (for me) have given more depth to the whole situation if she had been a more sympathetic person, troubled in an appropriate way by what she cannot understand. Similarly, I found Ferney's background rather shallow, despite his mother's involvement of the police when he leaves home. Struggled a little with the evidence found on Mike's computer - in terms of what is/isn't physically likely - a lighter touch might have been more convincing, but overall this is a good read and once I got into the real story one I enjoyed. As in the first book I had more sympathy for Mike than for Ferney and the issues for Gally, caught in the middle, are very well portrayed. Appropriate too, that the sequel takes us right back to where Ferney finishes. I still remember the shiver of that last line. I think Gally's desire at the end of this book will likewise remain with me. This is a book that I'm glad I bought.


The Girl You Left Behind
The Girl You Left Behind
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings here., 10 Dec 2012
This is a novel in two time periods and perhaps this is why I had two different reactions to it. The first section had me totally gripped - I believed in the characters and the setting and was immersed in the story and the ending of this part seemed appropriate and inevitable. Had the novel ended at this point it would have been a 5* review. The ending of the second part I found less convincing - though I was left with a 'good' feeling, I didn't actually find it believable. Hence the overall lower rating. But I'm glad I read it - no regrets.


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