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the GreatReads! "The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story || Ursula K. Le Guin"

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The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You
The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You
by Mike Dooley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BOOK FULL OF DELIGHTFUL SURPRISES!, 22 Oct 2014
The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell YOU by Mike Dooley is a truly delightful book that many of us who are wrestling with grief will enjoy. Insightful, philosophical yet fun and witty, and so comprehensively perceptive and enjoyable, this book will change your perception of death, grief and life itself, and help you to see more beauty and more love.

You will enjoy the way author Mike Dooley shares how loved ones who have gone before us are trying to reach out to us. Through stories Dooley shares their experiences, and how life will be like in the after-life. This is a book that should wake us up from our deep slumber and realize that our loved ones are in a wonderful place where there is no pain or fear or all the negative things to which we are so accustomed to in this world.

Containing ten delightful chapters based on the ten things our loved ones who have gone before us would like to tell us, you will enjoy this book if you are willing to learn the lessons they have to tell us:
-Love is the way; truth is the path
-Your old pets are as crazy as ever
-Life is more than fair
-Heaven is going to blow your mind
-Your dreams really can come true
-We’re sorry for any pain we caused
-You’re not ready
-We were ready
-There’s no such thing as a devil or hell
-We’re not dead

The Seventh Link: An English Village Cosy Featuring the Colonel
The Seventh Link: An English Village Cosy Featuring the Colonel
by Margaret Mayhew
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A LIGHT-HEARTED READ!, 21 Oct 2014
The Seventh Link: An English Village Cosy Featuring the Colonel by Margaret Mayhew is not the usual mystery fare that I’m used to. It is lighthearted and makes for an easy read. It is one of those books that will enable you to keep by yourself as the winter evening approaches and delight yourself with a cosy English village mystery set in a place called Frog End, and how a mystery takes shape at a Bomber Command reunion meeting.

What is at the crux of the story is the planned reunion for the crew members of the Lancaster bomber planes, and how a suspicious death of one crew member is resolved. As mentioned earlier, this is not your normal mystery or crime novel. It is more in the vein of disturbing puzzle, with an eclectic cast of characters including a cat named Thursday. Though there appears to be no final solution, author Margaret Mayhew’s well-researched take on World War II is both fascinating and informative.

The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker Thriller)
The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker Thriller)
by John Connolly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHARLIE PARKER IS AS SHARP AS EVER!, 21 Oct 2014
The Wolf in Winter by John Connolly is the twelfth book in the lethal private detective Charlie Parker series, and comes after a long wait of more than two years since the release of the last book, The Wrath of Angels. The Charlie Parker series has come a long way since the publication in 1999 of Every Dead Thing, the first book in the series. Both lyrical and terrifying, the series follows Charlie Parker, a former detective with the New York Police Department, now a private eye, as he is on the trail of a serial killer known as ‘The Collector’ who is responsible for the brutal murders of his wife and young daughter. Though it is a cold case, Parker is determined to track down the killer and bring him to justice.

In The Wolf in Winter, John Connolly who is an extremely gifted author crafted a compelling plot that revolves around the death of a homeless man who is keen to find his missing daughter. As Jude was found hanged, the local police termed it as suicide but a close friend is far from convinced. He tracked down Parker and persuaded him to investigate. The trail of the dead homeless man led Parker to the small, closed and secretive town of Prosperous in Maine where he stumbled upon secrets that the townsfolk have zealously guarded for long. Can Parker uncover the whole truth or pay the ultimate price for his misadventure?

Author John Connolly’s characterization and compelling plot aided by his masterful writing allows the reader to embark on an epic journey of suspense, mystery and crime with elements of the supernatural which borders on the edge of horror. It is a mishmash of fantasy and thriller, a real page-turner that will delight long-time fans of the series. Unlike many other long-running series, the Charlie Parker series is showing no sign of is meandering and continues to be as sharp as ever. Absolutely mesmerizing and suspenseful, The Wolf in Winter is destined to be a bestseller.

Flesh and Blood: Free Sampler
Flesh and Blood: Free Sampler

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars INTRIGUING PLOT, READABLE BUT TOO LENGTHY!, 21 Oct 2014
It’s Thursday, June 12, 2014 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr Kay Scarpetta is physically still at home though her mind has already left for the Florida vacation she had planned along with her FBI profiler husband, Benton Wesley. She’s in a celebratory mood as it’s her birthday and didn’t quickly notice the bright copper coins that flashes like shards of aventurine glass on top of the old brick wall behind their house. Dr Scarpetta feels a chill at the edge of her thoughts. Is it someone merely playing a game with pennies or is there more intent to it than meets the eye? Why would someone leave seven shiny Lincoln pennies, all heads up and all dated 1981? Instantly, she realizes that her birthday plans are about to go off beam.

When a deranged sniper is on the loose, Detective Pete Marino of the Cambridge Police insists Scarpetta to examine the scene of a shooting close to her home, not willing to settle for any of her medical examiners or her deputy chief Luke Zenner. The sniper’s victim is identified as a high school music teacher, Jamal Nari, who recently shot into the limelight when he was inadvertently placed on a terrorist watch list.

What is baffling about Jamal’s death is the tweet announcing it. It came about 45 minutes before he was actually shot. To add to this weirdness is the admission made by one student to the crime, though no one is willing to believe it. Did Leo Grantz really kill Jamal? What is the motive? As Scarpetta and Marino delved deeper into the case they unearthed startling evidences that established connection between a series of deaths in New Jersey and the killing of Jamal Nari in Cambridge. And it is up to Scarpetta and Marino to find out the killer and bring the case to its logical conclusion.

Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell is the twenty-second book in the long-running Kay Scarpetta series. This installment is a notch better than the twenty-first book, Dust, though it is nowhere near the readability of the earlier books in the series. While the plot in itself is engaging and the author’s fine writing style keeps one going, there are a lot of unnecessary details forcing me to skip pages and paragraphs at regular intervals. If Flesh and Blood were trimmed down to about three hundred pages or less instead of its present staggering 384, I honestly believe that it would have been one of the best Kay Scarpetta novels Patricia Cornwell has written. Sadly, in her bid to write a heavy tome of a book she has added details that are annoying and frustrating for a reader like me.

Some Luck
Some Luck
by Jane Smiley
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS A TRULY REMARKBALE WORK OF CREATIVITY!, 21 Oct 2014
This review is from: Some Luck (Audio CD)
Readers who are familiar with award-winning author Jane Smiley will remember Denby, Iowa. It is the setting of her Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Thousand Acres. Smiley returns with the saga of Rosanna and Walter Langdon and their five children to the same setting in her newest book Some Luck, which is the first book in a planned trilogy. Though A Thousand Acres and Some Luck are set in the same place, the stories are vastly different from each other – A Thousand Acres was tragic, dark and brooding while Some Luck is passionate and completely of different vein.

In Some Luck, author Jane Smiley follows the story of Rosanna and Walter Langdon, and their children – Frank, Joe, Lillian, Henry and Claire – from 1920 through 1953 as it explores the nature of the characters, their lives and their calamitous experiences on their family farm through the Great Depression, drought and a war that impacted them immensely. Smiley opens her story in the year 1920 with the birth of the Langdons’ first child, Frank, and followed him to Europe during World War II. It follows Walter, Rosanna and their children over the course of thirty-three years, each chapter confined to a year.

Author Jane Smiley crafted a simple story of an Iowa farm family and ingeniously turned it on its head to make it an all-absorbing read. Some Luck is full of fascinating characters, well-conceived and suitably planted into the story. What I particularly find fascinating about the novel is how the author allowed you to look ahead into the next two books on your own, and let your imagination run riot in wonder how the story will culminate in 2020 – a century after it begins. Many readers have dumped serials and trilogies after the first book but in this instance, Smiley has managed to whet the appetite of the readers for more.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle) (Raven Boys Quartet 3)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle) (Raven Boys Quartet 3)
by Stiefvater Maggie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater is the third book in the projected four-book The Raven Cycle series. This young adult paranormal fantasy romance is full of magic and surprises, and follows the earlier two books - The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, and is poised for an exciting finish. After reading this book, you'll have an agonizing wait for the final book in the series which is slated for 2015 release.

In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the Raven Boys - Gansey, Ronan and Adam and Blue Sargent discovered secrets hitherto unknown to them. The disappearance of Blue's mother three months earlier led them to the magical forest of Cabeswater. She has apparently gone in search of Blue's father. The budding romance between Blue and Gansey is one interesting thread in a story that is sure to delight fans of the series. The Raven Boys are not however sidetracked in their primary goal of finding the ancient Welsh king Glendower.

Their quest leads them to a strange cave guarded by a strange looking mountain man inside which lies an ancient Welsh coffin. It is the coffin of the daughter of Glendower, Gwenllian. Author Maggie Stiefvater weaves a truly fascinating and magical story populated by characters who will mesmerize readers with their peculiarities and painted a sweeping canvas of different threads which fused brilliantly in the end.

The Miracle of Kurdistan: The Remarkable Story of Hope Reborn in Northern Iraq
The Miracle of Kurdistan: The Remarkable Story of Hope Reborn in Northern Iraq
by Stephen Mansfield
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE KURDS: THE PEOPLE WITHOUT A FRIEND!, 14 Oct 2014
The Miracle of the Kurds: A Remarkable Story of Hope Reborn in Northern Iraq by Stephen Mansfield is a dream unfolding before the very eyes of the world. Long neglected, despised and systematically annihilated by Saddam Hussein’s regime while the world looked the other way, the Kurds numbering approximately thirty million and inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan which spans adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey are the largest people group in the world without a homeland of their own.

With Masoud Barzani as the President of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, his son Masrour Barzani as the Kurdish intelligence chief and Najat Ali Saleh as commander of the Kurdish army, things are certainly looking bright for the Kurdish people. However, the biggest stumbling block to the attainment of independence is the policy of One Iraq pursued by the United States government. Yet, the Kurdish people are America’s staunchest ally in the region. It may be pertinent to point out that no American soldier was killed in the Kurdish region between 2003, when it invaded Iraq, and 2011, when it pulled out of the country. Very recently in August when the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured swathes of land and made huge incursion into the Kurdish region, 5 top Kurdish commanders were relieved of their posts and detained for interrogation. The captured town and villages were retaken and the ISIS fighters were driven back. Kurdish soldiers are known as peshmerga or “those who face death.”

New York Times bestselling author Stephen Mansfield’s newest book focuses on the Kurdish people and their resilience which has taken them to a crossroad in their long struggle for independence and survival. Written along the line of his earlier insightful and perceptive books like The Faith Of George W. Bush, The Faith of Barack Obama and Killing Jesus: The Hidden Drama Behind the World's Most Famous Execution, The Miracle of the Kurds is a compelling book which sheds much light on this group of people who called themselves “the people without a friend.” Mansfield has also painted a fascinating portrait of Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.

The nine-chapter book ends with an interesting appendix- The Wisdom of the Kurds: 100 Proverbs. Here are several of them which will make you think:
- In a flat country, a hillock thinks itself a mountain.
- Those away from the battlefield boasts about their swords.
- A thief not caught becomes a king.
- Those who do not go to war roar like a lion.
- One gives twice who gives quickly.
- No matter where you go, your destiny follows you.
- A good companion shortens the longest road.
- Loneliness is a nest for the thoughts.
- God finds a low branch for the bird that cannot fly.
- A visitor comes with ten blessings, eats one and leaves nine.
- Part with your head but not with your secret.
- If skill could be gained by watching, every dog would become a butcher.
- The devil tempts all, but the idle man tempts the devil.
- Ability has no school.

The Young Elites
The Young Elites
Price: £6.64

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars IT IS A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!, 8 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Young Elites (Kindle Edition)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu is the story of one ambitious, powerful and ruthless girl who is an embodiment of darkness. The story is almost magical and the author has created a stupefying world where it is set. When I was offered the chance to read an advance copy, I was quick to grab it. Unfortunately, though I loved the Legend Trilogy, Marie Lu’s The Young Elites is a big disappointment for me.

Without doubt the story is magical and big, the setting is opulent and there’s an eclectic cast of characters roaming through the pages of the book, and on top of that we have young people with powers. The concept is simply alluring. Yet, what makes this book a real, and tough, effort for me to complete was the lack of truly endearing characters in the story. There was no single character that I really rooted for, and I suspect this may be the case with many other readers. Perhaps, there was no emotion.

As for the concept it is absolutely fantastic, and the storyline, characterization and the writing is wonderfully done as only Marie Lu can. What is absolutely amazing about The Young Elites is the elaborate world building, which is one of the best I have read. This young adult dystopian paranormal science fiction has almost everything going for it – romance, suspense, action, magic and fun – yet in the end, it all adds up to nothing. It’s a big disappointment for me.

Price: £5.69

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Lila (Kindle Edition)
Sometimes you come across a book with a beautiful story safely tucked inside its covers in unexpected places. Lila by Marilynne Robinson is one such book. While I am fully aware that author Marilynne Robinson is no ordinary writer with the coveted 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction under her belt, as also several other outstanding recognitions, awards and achievements, I was inclined to believe that she is past her prime and Gilead (2005) would be her magnum opus. But I’m forced to reconsider my preconceived notion after reading her latest release, Lila.

Marilynne Robinson’s Lila returns to the fictional but memorable setting of her earlier books Gilead and Home to continue the tale of John Ames and his neighbors, and how Lila’s story intertwines with theirs. As most readers who are familiar with the author will know, John Ames is a Congregationalist minister in sleepy Gilead, a small town in the Midwestern state of Iowa, and Lila Ames is his wife. Now pushing on the wrong side of seventies, seventy-seven to be precise, John in a diary-like letter to his seven-year-old son recalls in the book the past, especially matters concerning his mother, Lila.

What is at the heart of the story is how John’s life was completely changed when one fine Sunday morning Lila walks into the church. John was then seventy, and most people thought he would be a life-long bachelor. But in the sunset years of his life Lila changed everything when they met. Though no one knows much about Lila’s early years, she was an abandoned and neglected child who was snatched by Doll who was a drifter. Author Robinson paints a story of deprivation and hardship as she narrated the story of Lila and Doll. Lila is a story of shame, denial and redemption. It is a story that explores important social themes. All in all, this is a dazzling and stunning story that looks at the convolution of the human heart.

The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus Book 5)
The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus Book 5)
by Rick Riordan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GRATIFYING CONCLUSION TO A GREAT SERIES!, 7 Oct 2014
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan is the fifth and final book in The Heroes of Olympus series. This fantasy young adult Greek mythology full of adventure, action, magic and romance brings to full circle the adventures of seven demigods in their race against time to prevent the awakening of the earth goddess, Gaea. It has been an incredible journey for fans of the series beginning with The Lost Hero, the first book in the series, and it has been getting bigger and better with each book.

In The Blood of Olympus, it is the day of reckoning for everyone - the ultimate showdown. The heroes of Olympus - Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Reyna, Nico, and the rest of the crew of the Argo are pitted against Gaea's evil Earthborn children, the giants. A daunting battle lies ahead. Percy and his friends must stop Gaea from awakening and gaining control of the earth. It is an all-out battle of the forces of good versus evil. Will Percy and his friends succeed or will Gaea have her way and have two demigods sacrificed in Athens?

The final chapter in Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series is a huge, huge delight from start to finish. Percy and his friends will captivate and mesmerize you, leaving you in a state of delirium. This is a story that not only brings new life to Greek legends; but also offers a gratifying conclusion to a series that has been a part and parcel of many readers' consciousness for the past many years.

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