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Reviews Written by
The Book Witch "Kathleen" (England)

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TransAtlantic
TransAtlantic
Price: 1.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Irish Prose and and Intricate Structure, 14 Feb 2014
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This review is from: TransAtlantic (Kindle Edition)
‘The cottage sat at the edge of the Lough. She could hear the wind and rain whipping across the expanse of open water. It hit the tree and muscled its way into the grass.......’

A friend lent me this book and I was so hooked I had to buy it on Kindle when I gave the book back. It’s written in lyrical Irish prose that is almost poetry - a style that accommodates both internal monologue and external observation. There are several strands to a story that moves backwards and forwards in time across five generations and from one side of the Atlantic to another.

It touches on the anti-slavery movement that became connected to women’s suffrage and the Irish republican cause. There’s a brief, but important, meeting between a former US slave and an Irish serving girl. Every detail is significant. But it begins with the historic flight across the Atlantic made by Alcock and Brown, observed by two women - a journalist and a photographer. One of them gives a letter to Brown and asks him to post it when he reaches Ireland. He agrees, but it is a very long time before the letter is ever opened.

At first I thought it was a series of linked short stories, but the weaving of the different strands became tighter as the novel developed and the relationship between the different narratives became clearer and more compulsive.

I really loved this book and it gets an extra star for the ‘wow’ factor.


The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy 3)
The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy 3)
Price: 3.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Trilogy, 10 Feb 2014
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Read all three addictively one after the other. They're dark and complex, but the writing is pitch perfect and they are superbly plotted.


The Feast of Artemis (Mysteries of/Greek Detective 7)
The Feast of Artemis (Mysteries of/Greek Detective 7)
Price: 3.35

4.0 out of 5 stars Anne Zouroudi back 'on song', 10 Feb 2014
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Hermes Diaktoros is dispensing his usual moral justice in a case where rivalry between two families in a village has reached murderous levels. I love the evocations of Greece - the scenery, the food, the villages and their inhabitants. This story sees Anne Zouroudi back on form - I thought her last, The Bull of Mithros, not quite so good as the others. But the Feast of Artemis has a strong plot and a very serious undertone. Not only that, we get to meet Hermes' brother Dionysus. Who knows, we may yet come face to face with the 'higher authority' he represents!


Butterflies in the Rain (Kindle Single)
Butterflies in the Rain (Kindle Single)
Price: 0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome move away from Greece, 10 Feb 2014
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It's an unusual and powerful short story set in the American mid-west from an author we associate with mystery stories set in Greece. You don't always know what you're getting on Kindle Singles, but this one was certainly worth the money.

Pop, a man who his spent his life on the land, is dying now. He sits on the porch, watching the evening roll in and the butterflies settling on the plants and grasses, and he knows he's had enough. But his daughter Jennifer - a city girl who has come to look after him, is intent on keeping him alive for as long as possible - and certainly long enough for her husband to change her father's will.

But this evening doesn't go exactly to plan. The usual agency nurse doesn't turn up, and in her place is Rosita, an enigmatic Hispanic who seems oddly out of place. I can't say more without spoiling the resolution of the story, but it is wonderfully written and makes you aware of what Anne could do if she took a rest from writing Greek mysteries and tackled the contemporary novel instead.


In the Beginning
In the Beginning
Price: 2.62

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful discovery, 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: In the Beginning (Kindle Edition)
I'm a great fan of Irish writing - the tiny damp isle seems to have bred so many fine writers and poets. Catherine Dunne was recommended by an Italian friend who'd read her in translation and loved the novel. It's a great plot - Rose strives to be the perfect executive wife - immaculate home, pampered children, beautifully cooked meals - and she believes her world, though not ideal (what marriage ever is) is stable and secure. But one morning her husband, off on a business trip to Europe, turns round at the door and tells her that he's leaving and he won't be back.

The shock of the announcement brings everything that Rose had believed to be rock-solid, tumbling in rubble around her ears and there are a series of unpleasant discoveries waiting for her. What do you do if you put your card in the wall and no money comes out of the cash machine? How do you feed your children and pay the bills when the bank account is empty?

I loved the way the book was written - lived each episode with the characters and enjoyed every moment of Rose's revenge. I'm going to be reading more of Catherine Dunne's books.


They All Die At The End
They All Die At The End
Price: 3.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky alternative crime and horror!, 10 Feb 2014
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This is one of the best collections of short stories I've read in a very long time. And, yes, they really do all die at the end, in some very interesting ways. In the first story - it's a banana that kills, but not in the way you might think. And all the stories are equally original and diverting. There is some very black humour. My favourite is the Ukulele Cradle King, but other readers have preferred Nocturnal Creme Brulee. It is certainly spine-chilling. Don't read if you suffer from nightmares!

Highly recommended for a high standard of story-telling, beautiful prose and that shiver up the spine you get from really good horror.


Gold, Frankincense and Dust: A Commissario Soneri Investigation (Commissario Soneri 3)
Gold, Frankincense and Dust: A Commissario Soneri Investigation (Commissario Soneri 3)
Price: 5.66

2.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, 10 Feb 2014
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A missing girl, an elderly Romanian dead on a bus, a burned body beside the autostrada. Commissario Soneri finds himself caught up in the criminal underworld of illegal immigrants, gypsies, and their links with Italian high-society. He is also in turmoil because his relationship with the turbulent Angela has reached a turning point and he feels very insecure.

A good plot - interesting characters and the landscape (as always) beautifully drawn, but the writing lets the whole thing down. Nothing a good editor couldn't have fixed. Awkward sentences, abrupt changes of scene, boring interludes and an ending that isn't an ending. I don't think I'll bother reading any more Varesi's.


Entry Island
Entry Island
Price: 4.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Brilliant!, 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Entry Island (Kindle Edition)
This is Peter May on top form - having just consumed the Hebridean trilogy at a sitting, I fell upon this one to liven up a tedious journey by train and plane. A remote island off the coast of Canada is the scene of a grisly murder. The wife, who claims to have been the intended victim of the unknown assailant, is the first suspect. But the detective, Sime McKenzie is drawn to her by a feeling that they have met before. There's also a family emblem in common, or so she says. Is she really innocent, or just playing mind games with him? Sime doesn't know. He's been suffering from chronic insomnia since his wife - a fellow police officer - left him and unfortunately she's heading this investigation. His mental and emotional health is fragile.

There are several elements to this complex plot - incidents that happened back in the 19th century period of the Highland Clearances, the murder on Entry Island, Sime's own marital conflict, and the unraveling of his family history, which proves crucial to the solution. Intricate, very well written and a beautiful depiction of life in the remote regions of Canada.


The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce)
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce)
Price: 4.35

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Changes coming for Flavia, 10 Feb 2014
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The latest Flavia de Luce in more hare-brained adventures. This one definitely for fans. Her mother's body is finally brought home, a man falls beneath the wheels of the train and Winston Churchill makes a cameo appearance. Flavia suddenly has to come to terms with the physical reality of a mother she doesn't remember and becomes party to some dark family secrets.

I found this book a bit slow and not so much fun as some of the others. But Flavia is being packed off to boarding school in America so her horizons are about to widen. Which should be a good thing - I feel that the UK thread of narrative is becoming rather bare.


Dynasty 1: The Founding: The Founding (The Morland Dynasty)
Dynasty 1: The Founding: The Founding (The Morland Dynasty)
Price: 4.72

5.0 out of 5 stars First class historical fiction, 1 Feb 2014
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If you like Philippa Gregory, you'll love this. I read another writer's blog (Random Jottings - The End of a Dynasty?) recently lamenting that Cynthia Harrod Eagles' publishers had 'dropped' her because sales of her cult historical novels weren't as high as they would have liked. The blogger raved about the Morland Dynasty and the Kirov Saga (the latter set in Russia) and I was intrigued. Here was a writer with a long track record of rave-reviewed historical fiction and I'd never stumbled on her before. Why? Under-promotion, the blogger suggested - all the publisher's fault. So I hopped over to Amazon and downloaded the first of the Morland Dynasty saga - The Founding - set in the 15th century world of Richard III, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret of Anjou and the Wars of the Roses - Lancaster and York.

I was immediately gripped by the central character - Eleanor Courtenay, impoverished ward of Lord Edmund Beaufort (grandson of John of Gaunt) - who is sold off in marriage to a wealthy Yorkshire sheep farmer and wool merchant who wants to trade his money for a bit of spit-and-polish and some aristocratic influence. The gently born and educated Eleanor is transported to a filthy northern farmhouse and bears four children in three years. Eleanor's courage and sheer bloody-mindedness win in the end, but the influential connection she brings with her also carries obligations that are not always comfortable. She and her husband find themselves caught up in the civil war and torn between allegiance to the Lancastrian Beauforts or to Richard of York. Eleanor's private loyalties prove costly.

It's been a very good read with accurate historical detail - a wonderful insight into the way women had to live - enduring superstition and prejudice and almost continual child-bearing. I also liked the way that Eleanor's character developed through the book as she aged and was changed by circumstance. I'm off now to down-load the next book, The Dark Rose, to follow the fortunes of Eleanor's grandchildren. There are 35 books altogether, bringing the family's fortunes up to the present day, so I expect to have to pick and choose a bit, but there are some readers who have read every one and are totally addicted!

I might also follow Random Jottings' suggestion and write to the the publishers to protest about their actions - it's time Readers started to make publishers aware of what they want.


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