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D. Brown "Blogging at Tweedling, avid reader with an expensive audiobook habit..." (West Yorkshire, UK)
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HAZARDOUS CHOICES
HAZARDOUS CHOICES
Price: £1.44

3.0 out of 5 stars While the book didn’t rock my reading world it was an interesting story., 27 Nov. 2012
This review is from: HAZARDOUS CHOICES (Kindle Edition)
Hazardous Choices tells the story of a former street gang member trying to make good in a new life in a small Kentucky town. With a place on the football team, new friends and a chance to start over, things are looking up for Darnell. However, in the Summer he returns to his former neighbourhood and becomes embroiled in gang ‘politics’ and hazardous choices transform Darnell’s life once again.

There are aspects of the book that make for a well written story. Despite some very poor choices, Darnell does come across as quite a sympathetic character, embroiled in a culture that originally seemed to offer security but which quickly becomes a burden. There’s an incredible weight of expectation on this young man and Rinaldo does manage to get the message across that the walls seem to be closing in on his bright new future and the panic that that creates in Darnell’s world.

There were other aspects of the books I found harder to connect with. There is quite a lot of jargon about football and even though this is a huge part of Darnell’s world I did think it was sometimes overplayed within the book. Additionally, sometimes I did feel that the book was slightly repetitive or circling. At 279 pages, some of it felt a little like ‘filler’ and it could have been stripped down.

Rinaldo shows promise with this title and does seem to have an aptitude for character development and a good storyline. While the book didn’t rock my reading world it was an interesting story.

** I received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.**


Abdication
Abdication
Price: £5.03

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abdication is well written with the fictional plot playing out beautifully alongside real events, 27 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Abdication (Kindle Edition)
I quite enjoy historical fiction, especially when it’s centred around a period of history I know a little about. When I received Abdication out of the blue I was definitely interested. This still remains one of the scandals of 20th century England, the abdication of a monarch to enable him to be with his beloved, an American divorcee. Should duty override love or is love worth sacrificing anything for?

Although Wallis Simpson and King Edward play a significant – a crucial – role in the book, the main character is actually a young chauffeur, May Thomas. May secures a job as driver and secretary to Sir Philip Blunt, whose wife is Godmother to a long-time friend of Wallis Simpson, Evangeline Nettlefold. Thus, May crosses paths with the scandal and we see it through her eyes, the eyes of Evangeline and finally through the eyes of Julian, a family friend of the Blunts who takes a shine to May.

This is a wonderful mix of scandal and intrigue, combined with romance and even humour, all against the backdrop of very real events. Wallis is not portrayed in particularly flattering terms but this seems quite authentic, given that the British people didn’t take too well to the loss of a king. That said, Evangeline doesn’t come across very well either, so I’d like to assure my American friends that we’re not that hostile to all visiting Americans! Seriously, though, for a book that manages to cover some considerable cultural and historical issues, it does so in a remarkably upbeat way that keeps the book light and easy to read at the same time as providing a thoroughly good read.

Abdication is well written with the fictional plot playing out beautifully alongside real events. This is a love story of two parts: a rather touching, fictional one and a somewhat more sallacious and controversial true life one. Certainly worth a read for history lovers, romance lovers and literary fiction lovers.

**I received a copy of the book in exchange for my fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.**


Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology
Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hinton writes well, 27 Nov. 2012
Everblossom is an anthology of poetry and very short stories, ranging from the pleasantly touching to the dark and unnerving. It’s hard to review an anthology (for me, anyway). I don’t want to summarise every poem or story or break down what I thought of each. So allow me to give you my overall summary.

Everblossom provides an interesting mix of writing. All of the pieces are very short, making this an easy-to-pick-up/easy-to-put-down read. I got through it in two sittings and enjoyed both. Hinton writes well, conveying ideas and emotions very effectively in just a few words.

I find poetry to be a very difficult review. It can mean so much to so many people, or it can mean nothing at all. All I can say is that I identified with Hinton’s work. Not all of it but much of it and certainly enough to be sure I’ll try more of her work in future.

**I received a copy of the book in exchange for my fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.**


BLUFF
BLUFF
Price: £2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read that kept me hooked, 27 Nov. 2012
This review is from: BLUFF (Kindle Edition)
Jude Black is in hospital with severe injuries having been found on the beach after a fall – or a push? – from the bluff near her home. As the doctors try to save her life, it becomes apparent that they are striving to save two lives, not one. Jude is pregnant and the identity of the father is as much of a mystery as many things in Jude’s life. As Jude lies in her comatose state, aware of all around her, she begins to sort through some of the things in her life, in an almost subconscious effort to reach some kind of peace. As Jude moves closer to this, the turmoil in everyone else’s lives becomes achingly apparent.

Bluff is very much a ‘things are never quite as they seem’ novel, with a lot more below the surface than is originally suggested. Characters who seem perfectly together, warm, friendly, kind, confident or focused have major flaws revealed over the course of the novel. Though Jude begins as the messed up disaster of the community, it becomes clear during the book that there are those with much darker secrets.

Like many novels with a ‘difficult’ main character, I found Bluff to be very thought-provoking. Jude is flawed – the memories and flashbacks suggest she can be miserable and anti-social – but she does display real vulnerability and tenderness at times.

The novel raises some big issues (some of which I can’t reveal without giving key plot points away), including organ donation, the church and drug abuse. I felt these complex areas were dealt with sensitively and in a thought-provoking manner.

Bluff was a very enjoyable read that kept me hooked. Touching, poignant and very sad at times, I found it well written and interesting.

**I received a copy of the book in exchange for my fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.**


The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge (Liberty Series Book 5)
The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge (Liberty Series Book 5)
Price: £2.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of tender moments, 27 Nov. 2012
Ourania D'Andre is an electrical contractor who successfully bids for a job at the Fagan mansion. There she is brought into contact with Troy who she has a little history with. They also share grief: Troy's brother Jason was killed years ago and both bear guilt and sadness over the loss.

At first I thought this was going to be a largely romantic novel that saw Ourania and Troy work to overcome their differences, with the added complication that Ourania had become a foster mother to two young children. And that would have been fine - it's wonderfully written and the chemistry between the two characters was beautifully presented. However, there is so much more to this novel than that.

Christine Nolfi has weaved a wonderful plot covering more than one generation and tying up loose ends of the Korcheks (Walt, Emma and their father Buck), the D'Andres and the Fagans. There were hints of the ending before it was reached, so I won't say it was a shocking conclusion to me but Nolfi made it a shocking conclusion to the characters that played out well.

The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge is full of tender moments but also heavy on drama, strong characters and intricate plot twists. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it's a very solid 4.5. As we round down, it seems almost mean to give it four but I console myself that I am simply leaving scope for what I know will be even more compelling writing from this author in future.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. No other compensation was received and all views are my own.**


Atrocitology: Humanity's 100 Deadliest Achievements
Atrocitology: Humanity's 100 Deadliest Achievements
by Matthew White
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, shocking and superb, 28 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Atrocitology is a stunning and shocking review of some of the worst events in humanity's history. In it, Matthew White sets out what he calls the '100 Deadliest Achievements' and although many of the expected events are in there, it's still impossible to remain unmoved or unshocked by some of the information and statistics he relays.

Thoroughly well researched, White writes with an excellent voice that manages appropriate deference and respect but also - as bizarre as this sounds - adds a touch of dark humour at times and a very 'human' voice that prevents that book from becoming too textbook dry.

This is a dark and gritty read but for a history lover it will be an excellent choice. There's a wealth of information in this tome, little of it pleasant, but all of it important to note.


CBT Journal For Dummies
CBT Journal For Dummies
by Rob Willson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An extra, not a standalone, 28 Oct. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As other reviewers have rightly noted, this is a useful workbook with some excellent exercises but buying it on its own can't really be effective as the reasoning behind the theory and usefulness of CBT require a much more vigorous explanation. That said, the product description does refer to this being used as a companion product to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Dummies or to go alongside regular therapy sessions. With that in mind, I wouldn't hesitate to rate it as a 4* because I think the exercises are well constructed and this is easy to do very privately. As a standalone, if those suggestions to use it as a companion product weren't given, it would have to be a 3*.


Wink Murder
Wink Murder
by Ali Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting thriller, 28 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Wink Murder (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We'd all like to believe that we trust our loved ones implicitly but if your spouse came home shaking, covered in blood, with a story that didn't quite add up, could you banish your doubts automatically? Ali Knight sets out such a scenario in Wink Murder when Kate's husband Paul arrives home in a mess, claiming to have hit a dog. When his colleague is found dead, Kate's suspicions kick into overdrive.

Wink Murder is a well executed thriller that keeps you guessing throughout. I found both Kate and Paul to be questionable - not in the way they were portrayed but in the fact that I was suspicious of both of them at various times throughout the novel, not to mention other characters. In that respect, Knight kept the suspense up. It certainly isn't fast-paced but I think this matches the idea that Kate is desperately trying to keep to 'business as usual'.

All in all, well written, entertaining, a decent storyline and characters and well worth a read.


3 Heads & A Tail
3 Heads & A Tail

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is laugh out loud funny, 18 Sept. 2012
This review is from: 3 Heads & A Tail (Kindle Edition)
I've read Vickie's work before and loved it and having had a very heavy week I really wanted something I knew was going to be a fun read. Vickie described it as silly but I didn't find it silly at all. I found it funny, oh so funny, entertaining and a great read.

Josie moves into a house with nice guy Ben, pretty poser David, plus the star of the book - and by far the funniest character of all - the dog, Glen. It's a testament to Vickie's great writing that despite having a husband called David (who I love to pieces), I never thought of him when I came across the name `David' in this book. I only thought of the character she presented so skilfully.

Anyway, as you can probably imagine there's a little to-ing and fro-ing about who is the right guy for Josie and that's great - I love a good rom com. However, the hilarity of the book lies in the additional stories, including poor Glen being pimped out but meeting his own doggy love.

I like funny books. I like books that make me go `Aaaahhhhh!' and `Squeeeeeee!' Mr B likes them less. I'm sure it must be very hard to be a serious fantasy writer when your wife keeps reading one liners and laughing like a hyena. What can I say? The book is laugh out loud funny and deserves to be celebrated.

Thank you to Vickie Johnstone for providing a perfect read. A wonderful tonic to a difficult week, a must add for anyone who loves dogs, fun, romance or... um... naked cowboys. This is a book with something for everyone!

**I received a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.**


Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story
Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story

3.0 out of 5 stars Burke has produced a good story with some touching moments, 29 May 2012
Romance and music - what's not to like? Well, that was my rationale behind agreeing to review Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story. It feels a bit like a `coming of age' story, with the characters finally having to grow up and face difficult choices - but yet at the same time the characters feel a bit beyond that stage already.

Renee is the main character and faces several dilemmas/crises during the book - the key one being her cruel betrayal by her best friend and boyfriend. She has to walk away from the comforting familiarity of her life and return to an even more familiar locale in her hometown of Boston. It's a chance to pick up the pieces and maybe embrace love, as long as she doesn't let the scars from her previous life overwhelm her.

Sound Bites was an interesting story, with pretty well written characters but it felt a little lacking for me in some areas. At once it seems to be trying to be tender and touching and gritty and shocking and I didn't always feel the mix came off. I think I also expected there to be a touch more rock and roll and perhaps the book could have been marginally longer to encompass that.

That notwithstanding, Burke has produced a good story with some touching moments - I think for readers who enjoy romance this is certainly worth checking out. Burke writes well and convincingly and I'm absolutely certain that future novels will only see her go from strength to strength and produce even more enjoyable stories.

**I received a copy of the book in exchange for my fair and honest review.**


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