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Nicola in South Yorkshire "nicola_in_southyorks" (UK)
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Jam
Jam
by Jake Wallis Simons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much to engage with, 12 Jun 2014
This review is from: Jam (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Jam tells the story of a night spent on the M25 in a traffic jam. The cast of characters includes a man delivering shopping for Waitrose, a couple who should have been at marriage counselling, some Asian youths and some fascist thugs, amongst others. In the middle of the jam tempers start to fray.

I like slice of life stories but I found the characters so unpleasant and unlikeable that I found them hard to engage with. I think I was expecting something more to come out of the whole sorry episode. Not one for me, this one.


Pictures at an Exhibition
Pictures at an Exhibition
by Camilla Macpherson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.14

4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, easy read, 11 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a dual time frame story. Claire and Rob, in modern day London, have experienced a tragic event which threatens to drive them apart. Daisy, in wartime London, writes to her distant cousin and friend, Elizabeth, Rob's grandmother who moved to Canada just before war broke out. Along with news of her life, Daisy tells of the picture of the month, a painting displayed every month at the National Gallery from those archived for safety in wartime.

I really enjoyed this book. The descriptions of the paintings was interesting and led me to look up each of them to see what Daisy was describing. The two strands of the story work well together as Claire finds solace and then healing in Daisy's words.

I found it a very easy book to read, no great dramas or earth-shattering reveals, but a pleasant book to pick up and enjoy.


I Murdered My Library (Kindle Single)
I Murdered My Library (Kindle Single)
Price: £0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rings true for every book lover, 7 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This essay rings true for every book lover, such as myself, who has hundreds or thousands of books, read and unread, taking up precious room in their home. Linda Grant had to get rid of (or murder) many books when she moved house and this is her account of that, along with ruminations about books.

It's a lovely little read and filled in a gap between two full length books perfectly. I liked reading her thoughts about paper books and ebooks, technology and the way that culling her library made her feel.


Elizabeth is Missing
Elizabeth is Missing
Price: £5.03

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heart-breaking yet funny, 6 Jun 2014
Maud is in her 80s and is desperately trying to find her good friend, Elizabeth. But Maud has increasingly bad dementia and is unable to grasp hold of and keep her thoughts. Her daughter, Helen, is trying to look after her but it's hard work. And somewhere in the middle of Maud's thoughts is her sister, Sukey, who disappeared almost 70 years ago, in 1946. The mystery of what happened to Sukey is all tied up with the fact that Elizabeth is Missing.

I found this to be a mixture of the funny things that Maud does, which made me smile, but much more than that I found it a heart-breaking look at the descent into complete dementia told by Maud herself. Emma Healey has written so well and has been able to tell the reader not only Maud's muddled thoughts but also what she means by them.

It's a clever and moving story and one that I would definitely recommend.

Thank you to the publishers for allowing me to review this book through Netgalley.


The Art of Baking Blind
The Art of Baking Blind
by Sarah Vaughan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete pleasure - like sinking your teeth into the perfect Victoria sponge!, 26 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Art of Baking Blind is the story of five amateur bakers who enter a competition to become the next Mrs Eadon. Kathleen Eadon was the wife of the owner of a posh chain of supermarkets and in the 1960s wrote her iconic recipe book, The Art of Baking. The five contestants each have something to prove by competing.

The story takes the form of sections devoted to each of the categories in the competition, such as Cakes, Biscuits etc, with an extract from the book to start it off. Whilst the focus of the book is on the contestants, there are also short pieces telling something of Kathleen's life. I enjoyed it all immensely. The book is a complete pleasure to read, just light enough to be easy and undemanding but not so light that it's sugary or silly. A perfect balance really.

With shades of The Great British Bake Off combined perhaps with the memory of the heyday of the great Marguerite Patton, this book is very current and will appeal not only to those, such as myself, who love to bake, but also anybody who enjoys well-written contemporary women's fiction. Right up my street!


Black Lake
Black Lake
by Johanna Lane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lyrical and atmospheric read, 19 May 2014
This review is from: Black Lake (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Black Lake is the English translation of Dulough, the house where the Campbell family have lived since the mid-1800s. The current owner, John, is in financial difficulties and agrees a deal with the Irish government that they will take over the running of the house and turn it into a tourist attraction with a visitor centre, restaurant and minibuses of people coming to walk around his and his family's home. John, his wife Marianne, and their children, Kate and Philip, move into a cottage on the estate, but not long after a tragedy befalls them.

This is a very lyrical and atmospheric read. The prologue is quite odd in that no names are mentioned and I wasn't sure at that point if I would be able to get on with the book, but then I started the rest of the book and got really stuck into it. I read it in two large chunks (it's a fairly short book) and I think that's the way to tackle it as it would really lose flow if read in short bursts.

As the reader, I got a real sense of the house and the estate and this aspect was very well-written. I was also able to understand how devastating it was for the family to not only give up their home but then to have strangers tramping all over it.

I really enjoyed this book. It's descriptive and gentle and was a pleasure to read.


THE ACCIDENT
THE ACCIDENT
Price: £1.90

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down, 16 May 2014
This review is from: THE ACCIDENT (Kindle Edition)
Sue Jackson's daughter, Charlotte, walked in front of a bus and is now in a coma. Sue's husband, Brian, believes it was an accident but Sue thinks there is more to it than that and sets to trying to find out what really happened. Sue has demons in her own past which she also has to deal with.

The story is told by Sue which really helps to ramp up the tension in this novel as she desperately tries to get to the truth, and there are diary entries from 20 years earlier which tell the reader what Sue had to deal with in her past.

The Accident is a fantastic psychological thriller which I read in 2 days. I raced through the last half, unable to put it down as the sense of foreboding grew.

This is such a good debut novel which I found exciting to read and I think the author has a good career ahead of her.

Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for allowing me to review this book.


Survivor (Belle 3)
Survivor (Belle 3)
by Lesley Pearse
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant story of a strong woman, 13 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Survivor (Belle 3) (Hardcover)
Survivor is the third in a trilogy of books featuring Belle, although it mainly focuses on her daughter, Mariette, who is as strong-willed and feisty as her mother. In danger of going off the rails in the sleepy New Zealand town where she lives, Mariette is sent to England to live with family friends. She finds herself trapped there when the Second World War breaks out but her experiences turn out to be the making of her.

I have loved all of Lesley Pearse's books and this is no exception. I absolutely love every minute I spend reading them and know she can be relied on to write a thumping good tale. Survivor contains many twists and turns in Mariette's life and I never knew where the story would take me next. Fantastic and eagerly awaiting this author's next book.


The Steady Running of the Hour
The Steady Running of the Hour
Price: £5.69

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but could be better, 3 May 2014
The Steady Running of the Hour is a dual timeframe novel. In the current day story Tristan recieves a letter at his home in California informing him that he might just be the heir to an 80 year old fortune that has never been collected, but he needs to prove it by finding out if his grandparents are indeed Ashley Walsingham and Imogen Soames-Andersson. This leads Tristan to London, Paris, Berlin and Iceland on his quest to discover his heritage and claim the fortune.

The other strand of the novel is the love story of Ashley and Imogen. This takes the reader to the trenches of WWI and to Mount Everest. I thought the WWI sections were particularly well-written and Go did not stint on detail, however horrendous.

I liked this book and Tristan's investigations drew me into the story, but it was all quite implausible somehow, and that spoiled it a little for me. I didn't find any of the characters particularly interesting either and cared little for them. Overall though, this is a reasonably good debut novel and one which will appeal to those who like dual timeframe stories, or reading about WWI and the attempts to conquer Everest.

Thank you to the publishers for allowing me to review this book through Netgalley.


After the Bombing
After the Bombing
by Clare Morrall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, 23 April 2014
This review is from: After the Bombing (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After the Bombing covers the years of 1942 and 1963. In 1942, four girls from Goldwyn's School in Exeter find themselves in the middle of one of the Baedeker air raids, which triggers off a series of events. Alma Braithwaite is one of the girls and in 1963 she is teaching at Goldwyn's, unable to move on from the events of the war.

I really enjoy Clare Morrall's work and this is no exception. There isn't that much in the way of a plot but somehow it doesn't matter as the story is very readable. I got into it very quickly and enjoyed the characterisations and how the two strands came together. Definitely one of my favourite and trusted authors.


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