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The Road to Rangoon
The Road to Rangoon
by Lucy Cruickshanks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The Road to Rangoon - Lucy Cruikshanks, 16 Jun. 2016
This review is from: The Road to Rangoon (Paperback)
My knowledge of Burmese history isn't great so I found this book quite interesting learning about this country. The Tatmadaw basically have the run of the land and the rebels fight to oppose them. Amongst them is the British Embassy who appear to be doing little. A tale of corruption, deceit, oppression and hardship the reader is on the side of Thuza whose start in life hasn't been easy. On betraying her parents and brother she is raped and tortured by the Tatmadaw. She is taken in by a monk who nurses her until she is well enough to return to her home where she cares for her grandmother. Left pretty much to her own devices she makes a living by smuggling precious jewels. She regularly checks in with the monk who leads her to believe that her parents are alive in jail. Alongside, Thuza's story we meet Michael, the son of the Ambassador who frequents a local joint where all sorts meet. Michael's good friend is injured when a bomb goes off at this place. He finally finds his friend is alive in hospital and decides to get out of the city, journeying with the owner of the bar. The journey doesn't lead him quite where he intended and his path crosses with Thuza's. What I did like about this story was that when these two met we weren't fobbed off with the all to easy 'happy ever after'. Both parties don't trust easily and have their own agendas. Where does Thuza's journey take her, if at all? Does Michael go home or back to his father? Who betrays who? Full of intrigue and suspense.


Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village
Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village
by Louis de Bernieres
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Speedy Book Review: Notwithstanding - Louis de Bernieres, 16 Jun. 2016
Louis de Bernieres' short stories are new to me, I have read a couple of his novels but these are quite different. The author has based the stories on memories of growing up in a Surrey village. Although Notwithstanding is fictional you will no doubt recognise place names such as: Godalming and Guildford. Each story is about a different character but you will recognise someone you have already come across as they pop up in another chapter. Lighthearted, funny and easy to read at bedtime or take on holiday.


The Detour
The Detour
by Gerbrand Bakker
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The Detour - Gerbrand Bakker, 8 May 2016
This review is from: The Detour (Hardcover)
It is important to remember the book was written by a Dutch author to make some sense. There is one discrepancy or difference in that in 2012 there is no way a doctor would be smoking or allow a patient to smoke in his surgery in Wales. The no smoking in public places ban was well in place here. I can forgive the author that one after all, it is fiction and anything is possible.

I enjoyed this story, it is slow, gentle and the pace suits the book. Why has the woman fled all the way to Wales with her book and pictures of a famous American poet? As the story unfolds we discover more about the woman and perhaps why she leaves Amsterdam for some far away, remote place. From a bustling city to a lone farm amongst fields, a mountain and a car ride to the nearest villages and towns. What of her husband? What is he feeling? Is he angry? What kind of a man is he? I am not sure that I did get a rounded picture of him, other than wondering if he is possessive, and at the same time not really there in the marriage but too self absorbed with his running. As for the policeman, what is his motive in helping the husband find his wife? There are gaps here and I am not quite sure why. Does the author want the reader to make up their minds about these characters? What about the boy? What is his agenda? We learn that he hasn't just come across the farm in the manner that he tells Emilie. But why? Is it because of childhood memories or is their a darker element? So many questions and partially unanswered. Generally, I like a proper ending where it is all clear or there is an obvious hook for a sequel. This book just leaves it up to the reader to decide who or what or if? As far as The Detour is concerned that is okay with me.


Darcy and Fitzwilliam
Darcy and Fitzwilliam
by Karen V. Wasylowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Darcy and Fitzwilliam - Karen V Wasylowski, 1 May 2016
This review is from: Darcy and Fitzwilliam (Paperback)
You don't need any prompting with a title such as Darcy and Fitzwilliam where this story comes from and leads. I love Jane Austen so I was intrigued to read Austen fan fiction. We love Mr Darcy and naturally want to know more about his marriage to Miss Elizabeth Bennet but Colonel Fitzwilliam is lesser known so the author has more to play with in terms of character.

I enjoyed the book and it started out staying quite true to Jane Austen both in terms of writing and keeping to the period. However, as the story progressed the language developed into more present day and some Americanisms dropped in. I wasn't sure if this was intentional or not. The story stayed pretty true to the period but again one or two things popped up that made me question if that would be done or said at that time. For me the second part of the book was best as the author could play around with Fitzwilliam without really offending anyone. Darcy had to be kept in rein but we were given a reasonable account of how his story could have progressed. If you like Jane Austen and Mr Darcy then I can recommend this fan fiction being worth a read.


The Invention of Everything Else
The Invention of Everything Else
by Samantha Hunt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The Invention of Everything Else - Samantha Hunt, 14 Mar. 2016
Here is the story of Nikola Tesla merging fact with fiction. I had to check up on some of the facts as I knew little about Tesla other than giving us alternating current making our electricity safer. Samantha Hunt weaves an imaginative tale in giving us a young lady Louisa who is a chambermaid at the hotel where Tesla has a room. We get some insight into Tesla's history from when he arrives in the US from Serbia to working with Edison and others and on to his final years in New York. Tesla is portrayed as a character who has or likes little social interaction with people but 'talks' to the pigeons who rest on his balcony. One pigeon in particular 'talks' back and we see parallels here to Tesla himself. Louisa is on a journey seemingly an ordinary chambermaid, but once she meets Tesla her life is turned around when she stumbles upon one of his inventions. I enjoyed the storytelling and there are some wonderful, quirky characters particularly Azor. I would have liked to have seen more of Arthur who mysteriously reappears in Louisa's life.


I Can't Begin to Tell You
I Can't Begin to Tell You
by Elizabeth Buchan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: I Can't Begin to Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan, 12 Feb. 2016
My thoughts. A great story. I chose this book because it was partly set in Denmark, a country that I love. Kay, an English lady is married to Bror, a Dane. They live on a country estate on Zealand and have invaluable help both inside and outside the house. Their two children are older and live in Copenhagen. Set in the time of WWII and the Danish resistance is fighting to bring down the Germans who are invading their small country. With the help of Britain and their coding experts these brave Danes do what they can to defeat their enemy. Kay becomes involved causing turmoil and distrust within her family relationships.

We are given a glimpse into life in Britain for the women who tirelessly worked on the messages being sent from the agents in Europe. Ruby, a very bright young lady whose talent is recognised becomes a key player in recognising discrepancies in the agents skeds. However, she has to fight the male bureaucracy to become heard. Fortunately, there is one man who does listen.

This is fiction interwoven with fact and it makes for a great story which I loved from beginning to end. Betrayal, love, it has it all.


The Messenger of Athens: Reissued (Mysteries of/Greek Detective 1)
The Messenger of Athens: Reissued (Mysteries of/Greek Detective 1)
by Anne Zouroudi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The Messenger of Athens - Anne Zouroudi and other matters, 18 Jan. 2016
Although the book is under the crime umbrella, it is on the lighter side. If you read Val McDermid or some of the Scandinavian crime authors then you will understand they are usually quite dark. The Messenger of Athens is a lighter read, perhaps a good choice for the holidays. The stranger referred to as 'the fat man' is not a detective in the usual sense, not a policeman but some sort of private investigator sent to find out the truth behind the death of a young woman. The back story unfolds but not in the usual way. We meet several island characters including the corrupt policemen charged with solving the crime. The fat man has a way of finding things out and some unusual ways of dealing with those he meets along the way. I enjoyed the story as it was light enough for me to keep up with even if I ignored the book for days.


The View on the Way Down
The View on the Way Down
by Rebecca Wait
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: The View on the Way Down, 23 Oct. 2015
I have to admit I nearly gave up but I am so pleased I persevered because when I reached part two the story really took off for me. The first part builds up the storyline focussing mainly on Emma, the youngest child, a teenager with problems at school. Her parents don't really hear her and Emma doesn't tell them because she knows that she is not heard. We learn that her eldest brother Kit dies and that Jamie the second born was sent away but not the full reason why. Part two continues with letters written by Jamie to his father and it is through these letters that we discover the truth.

Rebecca Wait handles her subject matter sensitively. She really delves into the impact such a tragedy has on each member of the family and how each character copes, or more realistically, does not cope. I very much liked the way she handled the subject of depression, mentioning the pain that sufferers feel but non sufferers do not or can not understand. In this part of the story the dialogue between the two brothers is very well written and as the reader I could empathise with both of these characters. In the same way, she explores how the family deal with the truth and the moral stance they take, also giving the reader a subject to think about. Highly recommended.


Grumpy Old Menopause
Grumpy Old Menopause
by Carol E. Wyer
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Grumpy Old Menopause - Carol E Wyer, 28 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Grumpy Old Menopause (Paperback)
As a woman of a certain age I identified with pretty much most of the topics mentioned. We are all different and we all pass through this phase at varying degrees.
There is a lot of humour in there, a great aid at this time of life. The best jokes are in the chapter headed C, after that they are dare I say, cringe-worthy but will raise a smile and a 'titter'. Each chapter is headed with a letter and runs from A-Z skipping the odd letter or two. Letter A focuses on emotions and is spot on as far as I was concerned. This chapter also mentions alternative medicines and therapies which are certainly worth looking into, even my GP suggested I read up on those. Sage tea is my fall back but it isn't to everyone's taste. Health issues are mentioned under letter B such as breast pain, brittle bones. C mentions concentration or should I say lack of it. Now you get my gist, I am not going to spoil things by listing everything in Carol's book but you have an idea of where this is going. However, it isn't just about physical or psychological issues, Carol suggests some unusual and dare I say, more sensible hobbies for the middle aged menopausal woman. Now the pilates, yoga, blogging, photography suggestions suit me but for the more adventurous - skydiving, breeding alpacas and bareback riding may suit.

I highly recommend this book for women entering menopause or peri-menopause. This is also a stage of life where you may be in a demanding role at work, a sandwich (looking after children and ageing parents), amongst other worries. No wonder this phase takes its toll. Great advice written with great humour.


Fudge Berries and Frogs' Knickers (Comedy Romance)
Fudge Berries and Frogs' Knickers (Comedy Romance)
Price: £2.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review: Fudge Berries and Frogs' Knickers - Lynda Renham, 25 Jan. 2015
Well, the book does exactly what it says on the tin. A romantic roller coaster ride that not only puts a smile on your face but has you laughing and does put a cheer in your heart, something that is needed for these long wintry nights and dreary, miserable wet and cold days. Poppy does indeed go from riches to rags and it is interesting to see how she manages or not. Does it all come right in the end? The author takes a pop at the titled and awfully well to do, and yes, there are some stereotypical characters in there but you can imagine the snobbery within the ranks. Meet Roddy the fiance, the best friends and the rivals, the funny but embarrassing mother, they are all there. My favourite characters apart from our heroine Poppy are of course the barge owners who live on the canal and Ms Renham has had fun with these characters. A great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This one is up there with the best of Lynda's stories.


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