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SEM (London)

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Strangeness on a Train
Strangeness on a Train
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3.0 out of 5 stars Funnily enough I think I would have preferred to hear the parts that this story didn't tell rather than what it did!, 12 April 2014
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This story takes place on a train journey taken by a middle aged woman to visit her elderly Aunt. The middle aged woman in question is Sally and her journey takes place the day after a family meal in celebration of her fiftieth birthday. Feeling a little hung over Sally is not at her best. She then has the misfortune to be joined by a beyond obnoxious passenger who plonks himself opposite her seat despite the train being virtually empty.

The story alternates between happenings on her journey and the events of the birthday dinner the previous night. I found that when the story focused on the dinner I longed to learn more about Sally's estranged husband and her four adult children. The family dynamic and the brief glimpses of the personalities of her family was really interesting. As far as the journey was concerned: as the behaviour of Sally's fellow passenger worsened but she remained steadfastly in her seat I couldn't help but think that most anyone in that situation would have switched seats pretty sharpish.

The writing is good and laced with gentle humour plus the author looks to have a wonderful knack for characterisation. But for me the story bubbling away in the background really was more interesting and I kept wistfully wishing that it had taken centre stage. The unsettling end to the story reinforced this desire.

A 3* read.


Beatriz and the Old Lady (A Short Story)
Beatriz and the Old Lady (A Short Story)
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting story, 12 April 2014
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I liked this Brazil set short story in which we meet Beatriz a young woman needing to support herself after her marriage ends. The memorable description of the marriage as a "conjugal disaster" tickled me all the way through the story. The old lady comes into play as Beatriz' first client after she advertises her services as a "writing consultant".

Told entirely from Beatriz' viewpoint, the story centres on her impressions of the old lady who it turns out wants Beatriz to transcribe a story. The old lady then goes on to dictate a shocking event in her life as a fascinated Beatriz writes everything down. It turns out that the two women actually have something in common and although what Beatriz learns is staggering, she to some extent also learns something about her own self. My only minor criticism of this story is that I found it a little over-descriptive in parts. Putting that to one side I have to say it is quite an interesting short. I keep calling her "the old lady" as in the title but she does introduce herself to Beatriz as Dolores Maria Rubia de Alicanto!

A 3.5 to 4* read.


LYNE
LYNE
Price: 1.58

7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely LYNE, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: LYNE (App)
This is a really easy puzzle to love. It uses a kind of "join the dots" approach which has you linking sets of shapes in order to progress through the levels. The challenge increases as you advance plus a gentle pan pipe type sound accompanies each of your moves. This looks like it will continue to feed my puzzle addiction nicely with not only the numerous puzzles here but also the promise of daily releases.

A lovely 5* puzzle.


Crazy Emma
Crazy Emma
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3.0 out of 5 stars Crazy Emma? Well maybe she's just a little nuts..., 2 April 2014
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This review is from: Crazy Emma (Kindle Edition)
I quite enjoy reading stories by this author as she usually delivers something original, plus I just love her name. On this occasion the story manages to mix the original with the clichéd. It's a pretty short read. The Emma of the title has a moment of insanity when she spies a gorgeous male customer at the diner she works at. The story is not bad and the writing is fine but what triggered quite a bit of eye rolling from me is the presence of several of the overused lines and phrases used in a lot of erotica. "Talented fingers", "an impressive length" and eyes that "can see into the depth of her soul", for me, each one of these phrases trigger irritation so seeing them all in the same story within a few paragraphs of each other did for me I'm afraid. Pity because as I say, this author's writing tends to be crisp and original and yes there are glimpses of this in the story.

Anyhow it is an ok quick read, particularly as a freebie, although I have to confess that I'm not sure that I entirely got the ending...

A 3* read.


Cube Match - 7 games in one
Cube Match - 7 games in one
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2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, 23 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Cube Match - 7 games in one (App)
This puzzle is billed as "7 games in 1" but I found that whichever mode I selected everything appeared much the same. To play you need to clear the screen of the coloured cubes, which you do by clicking where there are two or more cubes of the same colour together. It's all a little easy and honestly doesn't need much thinking about even as you progress. All in all it's a rather dull game and I was bored pretty quickly. And the music is dull too btw!

A 2* game.


Blackout (Quick Reads 2014)
Blackout (Quick Reads 2014)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Had me stumped, 23 Mar 2014
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This is a super little mystery that had me stumped for most of it. Sophie wakes up in a room alone and confused not knowing where she is or how she got there. The story is told partly in flashback as she struggles to piece things together and the only thing that starts to become clear through her haze is remembering that she has a baby. The underlying story is one of substance, both clever and sad - a story that doesn't disappoint.

A good 5* read.


The Diary of a Nobody
The Diary of a Nobody
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer brilliance and one of my all time favourite reads..., 23 Mar 2014
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This excellent comic novel has been one of my steady "go to" reads for as long as I can remember and will always be one of my very favourite books. The book was authored in the 19th Century by the Grossmith brothers. The "Nobody" of the title is fictional London clerk Mr Charles Pooter, his diary covers just over a year in his life and opens as he and his wife Carrie are settling into their new house in Brickfield Terrace, Holloway. The diary captures in an unfailingly humorous manner the (usually) petty trials and tribulations in his life. You laugh at and often cringe at the frequently pompous and sometimes touchy Mr Pooter however, you also love him dearly.

He brings his trivial squabbles with servants and tradesmen, occasional humiliations suffered at social events to such vivid life. His relationships with his long-suffering but loyal wife Carrie and his clever but worrying son Lupin plus his friends, colleagues and acquaintances are just so wonderfully drawn and are actually very insightful. Truly brilliant!

As well as laughter the book provides a valuable slice of social history, as the reader gets a glimpse into the lives of a lower middle-class Victorian family.

A perfect 5* read.


Bountiful (Force Me)
Bountiful (Force Me)
Price: 1.27

4.0 out of 5 stars "You're mine" he tells her..., 23 Mar 2014
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American football coach (Gunnar) lusts after the team's sports therapist (Eliza) and picks the day we join their lives to finally do something about it. She is one of those heroines readers love to hate - beautiful but apparently blissfully unaware of her beauty! In Eliza's case it is tied up with her being a curvier or larger woman - so as a result she is initially unbelieving and rather wide eyed about his advances. As for Gunnar, well he has some first rate dirty talk going in this story, this man is filthy sexy. They are a well-matched couple as she realises she feels completely comfortable with his dominance. Their encounter is scorching hot...

There are a few minor errors in the text which although irritating do not spoil the read. This is another hot little short from Azod and Karland and btw I assume the title is referencing Eliza's curvy shape.

A sizzling 3.5* to 4* read.


Dead Letters (A Short Story)
Dead Letters (A Short Story)
Price: 0.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Different, 21 Mar 2014
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Gosh this is the second book that I've read recently making use of a present tense narrative but unlike the other book in which it worked well I think that for this book it has a detrimental effect on the telling of the story; which is a pity as it really is a neat little tale. This is an unusual story concerning a branch of law enforcement called the Postal Police. This branch is regarded as a laughingstock by the "regular" police and with puzzlement by any of the general public they come into contact with.

At the centre of the story is Marcie, for whom joining the branch has been a professional compromise. She works alongside partner Schottsie and everything at work is much of a much for them until one day a baffling case in the lost letter section demands their attention. The solving of case is seen entirely through Marcie's eyes and apart from a physical description of Schottsie and a little information about his background he doesn't really play much of a role to speak of in the story.

I occasionally had a problem with who was doing the speaking as dialogue is not always clearly signposted. I mentioned earlier that I felt use of the present tense didn't help the delivery of the story, well I felt it gave what is a nice story a lumbering feel as did the repetition technique used by the author. I think I got the intent behind it but it grated a bit just the same.

Anyways even with having said all that, I really think the story is a novel one and well worth giving a go - the very last line of the story being particularly satisfying. I certainly wouldn't mind reading another of the author's books.

[On a formatting note: a lot of the text contained large gaps between many of the words]

An interesting 3.5* read.


The Scandalous Lady Wright
The Scandalous Lady Wright
Price: 4.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Rather an uneven read, 21 Mar 2014
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I was not totally enamoured of this regency set tale. The heart of the story being that Emma (Lady Wright) trapped in an abusive marriage to Sir Benjamin Wright, MP and local pillar of his community, is wrongly suspected of his murder.

I enjoyed some parts of the book, for instance the opening, but overall felt it was nothing special. The cast of characters is over-large and there just seemed to be far too much going on. Emma is actually an okay character and I liked her, same goes for her two best friends Annabelle and Matilda. The three friends have in common the fact that they are all stuck in unsatisfactory marriages. The latter two each take centre stage in further separate but linked stories. I wouldn't mind delving into Annabelle's story (His Lordship's Pleasure) as her husband features in some of the murky goings-on that surrounded Lady Wright in this book but the extent of his involvement is not really clarified and left me wondering.

The hero of the story, Comte Saint-Juste, unwittingly plays a major role in the final big bust up between Sir Benjamin and Emma that occurs just before the murder. Likewise the Comte plays the major role in the fight for Emma's reputation and future. He too is largely an okay character although I have to say he didn't appeal to me and at times I actually found him a little irritating. However he comes up trumps for Emma and everything concludes as one expects.

A patchy 3* read.


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