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Rosemary Kaye

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The Land Agent
The Land Agent
by J. David Simons
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A land of broken promises, 23 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Land Agent (Hardcover)
This book is at least two things: a wonderful, gripping story about a young man's flight from a life of hardship in Poland to one of some prosperity in Haifa, and a fascinating insight into 1920s Palestine and the struggle for land and water that is still at the root of today's conflicts.

J David Simons brings the history of the region to life through outstandingly well developed characters - there is no hint of the textbook about this novel, yet at the end I felt I understood so much more about the Middle East. From the hero, Lev, to his landlady Madame Blum - who hates Israel, his boss Sammy, with his high ideals and the diverse members of Kfar Ha-Emek, the rudimentary kibbutz with whom he finds himself entangled, every individual is drawn as just that - a person with his or her own idiosyncrasies. There is no black and white, right and wrong (at least in 1920) in this land of hope and harshness. And as events come to a frightening climax in Haifa, back in Glasgow - the home city of one of the kibbutznik - another attempt at social idealism founders as the temperance movement fails.

The Land Agent is part of J David Simons' trilogy Glasgow to Galilee, and I am looking forward to reading the first two books - but this one can still be read alone: it's exceptionally good.


Starting Now
Starting Now
by Debbie Macomber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Needs an editor, 18 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Starting Now (Paperback)
I like the Blossom Street books, but I felt that this novel was far too long - the heroine, Libby, seemed to be in and out of love with Phillip every 5 minutes, and for no apparent reason. I don't want to spoil the story for other readers, but I found the book very repetitive, whilst some of the plot strands were underdeveloped and unconvincing. I think a firmer edit would have improved things greatly.

It was good, however, to catch up with Lydia, and I hope the next Blossom Street book will return to its yarn store roots.


The Long Weekend
The Long Weekend
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely read, 5 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Long Weekend (Kindle Edition)
This is the first Veronica Henry that I've read - I'd seen her on Twitter (yes, it does work...) so thought I'd give her a try.

I lose patience very quickly with some 'romantic' writers, but I really enjoyed this book. The setting - a thinly-disguised Fowey - was beautifully drawn, and took me back to many childhood holidays spent there. I found all of the characters interesting and three-dimensional - from Nick's affluent, confident, mega-sociable family to Karen, the embittered single mother and Luca, the arrogant, charismatic chef. Everyone had more than one story, no-one was portrayed as 100% Good (or Bad).

As others have said, the ending was maybe predictable - but this is a romance, not a murder mystery, and I think most of us want a happy ending, provided it is arrived at in a convincing way.

I'll definitely read more of Veronica's novels; I'm delighted to have discovered her writing.


Summer on Blossom Street (MIRA)
Summer on Blossom Street (MIRA)
by Debbie Macomber
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely cosy read, 10 Jun. 2012
Another enjoyable read from Debbie Macomber. I like revisiting the Blossom Street characters, and find it very easy to get into these books.

In this instalment, Lydia starts a Knit to Quit class at her knitting shop. The people who sign up include a girl whose ex-fiance thinks paying for prostitutes doesn't count as infidelity, a businessman who's ruining his health with overworking, and Alix, whom we have met in previous books and who now wants to stop smoking before she gets pregnant. Meanwhile, Lydia and her family are reluctantly fostering a 9 year old girl with problems, and Anne-Marie, the owner of the adjacent bookshop, is having to come to terms with someone else entering her adopted daughter's life.

Some people have called these books one-dimensional and cliched, but I actually find that I can imagine each character very well from the writing. I agree that there could sometimes be a bit more 'showing' rather than 'telling', and I appreciate that not everyone likes a happy ending, but I find Debbie's novels to be perfect gentle reads in between other, more challenging, writing, and I also enjoy hearing about the knitting, and about everyday life in Seattle.

I look forward to reading more.


BLUE MURDER at Kudu: a very British murder mystery novel set in Africa (crime fiction books)
BLUE MURDER at Kudu: a very British murder mystery novel set in Africa (crime fiction books)
Price: £1.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very different, excellent read, 30 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Downloaded this book because it was free - was amazed at how good it was.

The story is set in an outpost of the Empire in Africa. As well as the station's residents, it involves a travelling freak show, a wagoneer on his way north, and some interesting locals. The writing is exceptionally good, the characters well developed and the scenes expertly drawn. The story is amusing, but also touching, and at times quite mysterious.

I have tried to find out more about this writer, so far without success. Whoever he is, he deserves 5 stars, and I highly recommend this book.


Hound Dog Days: One Dog and his Man: a Story of North Country Life and Canine Contentment
Hound Dog Days: One Dog and his Man: a Story of North Country Life and Canine Contentment
by Harry Pearson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great feel-good read, 16 April 2012
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This is a wonderful book - Pearson writes a chapter for each month of one year in his life in a small Northumbrian village. The main characters apart from him are his dog Little Man, a scent hound with his own agenda, his family and his neighbours, all of whom are beautifully drawn. Little Man is of course the star, but every character lives on the page, and although Pearson's stories about them are hilariously funny, the writing is so sympathetic and gentle that you never feel that you are laughing at their expense. There are also lots of interesting snippets about history, the countryside, etc.

I would recommend this book wholeheartedly.


Any Man's Death
Any Man's Death
by Hazel Holt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cosy mystery, 1 April 2012
This review is from: Any Man's Death (Hardcover)
I read this book because I am a huge fan of Barbara Pym, and Hazel Holt is her literary executor. I have recently seen some filmed interviews with Mrs Holt, and learned from these that she is an author in her own right.

I very much enjoyed this book. It is well written and has all the elements of the 'cosy' British murder mystery - the country village, the cast of characters (all with their own secrets), and a nod to more modern issues, such as the way in which most villages are now largely populated by incomers (Hazel calls them 'offcomers'), who bring their own issues to the social network. There is no violence, no blood, but the plot kept me turning the pages, and I really liked Sheila, the narrator, with her down to earth approach and her animals.

The only problem i had with this book was the editing - or rather the lack of it. The book is published by a reputable publisher and printed on good quality paper, BUT it is almost as though it hasn't been edited at all. For example, the word 'splendid' must appear on almost every one of the first 100 pages of the book ("A splendid trifle!", "That would be splendid!"), and on page 150 of my edition, Sheila is having a private conversation with a character called Jim, who suddenly changes his name to Fred half way through the paragraph. Surely an editor should have picked that one up?

These points are certainly not enough to put me off the book, and I look forward to reading more about Sheila Malory, her friends, her dog and her Siamese cat.


Death By A HoneyBee (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries Book 1)
Death By A HoneyBee (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries Book 1)
Price: £0.00

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different world, a different mystery, 30 Mar. 2012
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Being a 'free for Kindle' addict, I pick up a fair few duds along the way - but this isn't one of them. I really enjoyed this story, which is set in Bluegrass, Kentucky country - learning about a completely different way of life is always a plus to any mystery, and the details of the local community - farmers' market stallholders, race horse owners and breeders, old money and new - were fascinating. The story is told by Josiah - a 50 year old woman living in the middle of nowhere with her various animals - rescued racehorses, sheep, - and her bees. But Josiah is not a typical cosy country spinster - her house is stuffed full of valuable works of art, her ex-husband died after running off with another woman, and Josiah is now on her financial uppers, selling her prize-winning honey at the market to make ends meet.

A rival beekeeper, with whom Josiah has had a very public row, is found dead face down in one of her hives. The police officer assigned to deal with the case harbours a grudge against Josiah from her previous life as an art history academic, and all the signs point to Josiah as the obvious murderer. With the help of her friend and assistant Matt, his lover Franklin, and an assortment of other colourful characters, including a lawyer who accepts a work of art as a down payment, Josiah must find out who really killed the dead man.

One of the many things I enjoyed about this book was the way that Keam interwove several strands of mystery - she holds back information skilfully so that we remain curious not only about the murder - if it was a murder - but also about Josiah - why is she so poor? what has happened in her past? - and Josiah's daughter, who has her own reasons for not being involved in the situation - reasons which are only partially revealed even at the end of the book.

I think this book shows great promise, and I might even buy the two sequels with real money!


Emergency: Wife Lost and Found (Mills & Boon) (Mills & Boon Medical)
Emergency: Wife Lost and Found (Mills & Boon) (Mills & Boon Medical)

4.0 out of 5 stars cosy weekend read, 8 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I read this during a weekend away and enjoyed it. It is a well written love story, and although there are no real surprises, the characters are sufficiently well drawn to keep one turning the pages. The story is about two doctors who meet, fall in love, accidentally conceive a baby and marry. The baby does not survive, and grief drives the couple apart. Ten years later they meet again in very different circumstances, each still wanting the other, but each also afraid of being hurt again.

As other reviewers have said, the subsidiary characters in this book are also properly fleshed out and 'real', and this adds greatly to its appeal. I liked the way that no-one was completely black or white, everyone had their strengths and weaknesses, and almost all of them were likeable enough to keep me caring about them. I also felt the the back story was believable - it is entirely credible that the loss of a baby destroy a relationship.

I don't read too many books of this genre, but I may well read some more now as this was much better and much more fun than I had anticipated - it just shows that you (I) shouldn't dismiss things without trying them!


Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7)
Bertie Plays The Blues: 44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street 7)
by Alexander McCall Smith
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Bertie just gets better, 21 Dec. 2011
Scotland Street is my favourite Alexander McCall Smith series, and this new book did not disappoint. Bertie and Irene take centre stage for much of the novel, and Bertie finally gives Irene the little wake-up call that she so badly needs - although whether that will be enough, we have yet to discover. The episode in which Bertie and his friend take the train is pure McCall Smith; hilarious but also realistic - I can just imagine my son and his friend at that age, doing exactly the same things.

Meanwhile Matthew is struggling with his new brood, the pricelessly dreadful Bruce is back on the scene, and Angus, Cyril and Domenica are dithering about the setting up of their menage a trois. All of these characters are so well drawn - I realised the other day that McCall Smith never actually tells us much at all about what they look like - but somehow we know, which must be a sign of good writing. I am sure that I 'know' Matthew, and I have definitely known only too many mothers like Irene. Even Cyril is his own dog - I sometimes look for him when I'm wandering through the New Town, that's how real he is.

Big Lou also has a starring role this time, and the sign that she may at last be about to find happiness was a very satisfying end to the book.

Next one please.


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