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Annie W "bookworm" (Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

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Daughter of Joy (Brides of Culdee Creek Book #1)
Daughter of Joy (Brides of Culdee Creek Book #1)
Price: £0.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Simple plot destroyed by OTT Bible thumping, 24 Sep 2014
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There appears to be a considerable number of American authors who write what they consider 'Christian' fiction, heavily pushing their particular interpretations of the Bible. This is another example, which, by its continual references to the Bible, personal exchanges between the protagonists and God, and angst and self-denial due to extremely rigid, dogmatic beliefs, does more to drive readers away from Christianity than it achieves by its preaching. Perhaps the authors believe their books will only be read by others with their extremely narrow faith; it might be better if they remembered that more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar, and tempered their writings with a little subtlety.

The basic plot of this story is enjoyable (if, as so many have said, rather Mills-&-Boon-ish), and the quality of the writing is superb when describing the countryside, the characters, and the way of life. Where it fails for me is in its overbearing insistence on morality over compassion, understanding, and love, which, I would have thought, are the message of the New Testament, and therefore Christianity.

While my heart goes out to the author, who tells us this book was conceived about a year after the death of her youngest son, I have to say that her explanation was the reason I felt obliged to struggle through the book, but that the finished story in no way lives up to the quality or content of that 'Word from the Author'.


The Pirates in the Deep Green Sea (Bloomsbury Reader)
The Pirates in the Deep Green Sea (Bloomsbury Reader)
Price: £2.57

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, old-fashioned children's adventure, 23 Sep 2014
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Although this story was first published in the late 1940s, it's a wonderful, traditional children's adventure story, which allows the imagination to soar. Though dedicated to his sons, there's no reason at all for girls not to enjoy it just as much. The characters are all, from Sam Sturgeon the ex-Royal Marine, through Cully the octopus, to Davy Jones himself, clearly painted - and I have to confess the shoal of herring is a wonderful idea. There's quite a bit of bursting into song and verse - some of which might not meet strict poetic standards, but all of which add to the excitement and silliness which should enchant the younger reader, and leave the older ones enjoying the dexterity with which the author uses words.

With his strong links to the Orkney Islands, it's hard not to try to identify Popinsay and Fishing Hope, and the small steamer which took the boys back home to the island; it brought a nostalgic pang to see the familiar Orkney surnames: Capt Spens, Mrs Matches, Farmer Harcus, etc. The fun of rock pools, the details of fish and birds, the whole freedom of life on the island are intoxicatingly described.

The boys have already had an eventful childhood, having been torpedoed and left floating on a life raft during WWII, which leads to their first encounter with the mysterious Gunner Boles, and the afore-mentioned Cully the octopus. From then on in, it's high adventure under the waves, with pirates and Cabin Boys, Davy Jones and the Powder Monkeys, and much skulduggery, a treasure - and the true explanation of latitude and longitude. There's even a very clever use of listening to the seashell, to hear its secrets (don't you remember doing that at the beach?). As for Dan Scumbril and Inky Poops....

I have no idea how modern children will feel about a story with no electronic gadgets, but there's plenty of wizardry - all from the author's pen.

As for the Kindle edition, there are remarkably few errors, except for some kind of glitch at about location 3864, where sentences appear to have become jumbled. It's simple to skip if reading on the page, but a bit more awkward if reading aloud. That apart, I can't recommend the fantasy enough.


The Negotiator: 1 (O'Malley)
The Negotiator: 1 (O'Malley)
Price: £5.58

2.0 out of 5 stars Plot lost in morass of religious angst, 17 Sep 2014
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Except for the missing word in the opening sentence, the plot of this novel began well. As a negotiator, our heroine was extremely interesting, and then the guy from the FBI turned up, and while I was prepared for the romance to come, I certainly wasn't expecting a whole series of digressions into the depths of American Christianity, where, it appeared, our hero could never marry a woman who wasn't as deeply committed a believer as himself and his family. There was heavy questioning, soul-searching, and a miraculous switching on of 'Belief' before the end, all of which made this an overly-long book, and interrupted the flow of the mystery to an unacceptable level.

The author may well be writing primarily for readers who already share her beliefs, in which case I have no doubt they loved every minute of every argument within the book, but if she's proselytising, she might consider that this can be done much more effectively without ramming the subject down the reader's throat every few pages. The impression she left with me was one of a rabid, almost fanatical, intolerant, exclusive religion, out to convert the otherwise-damned unbelieving world, and that far outweighed the potentially exceptional writing and mystery plotline.


Calamity @ the Carwash (A Parson's Cove Cozy Mystery Book 3)
Calamity @ the Carwash (A Parson's Cove Cozy Mystery Book 3)
Price: £1.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Typical US scatty amateur detective, 17 Sep 2014
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There seems to be one formula for US lightweight mystery fiction: take one scatty/ disorganised/ spinster/ widow, add some slapstick humour, a ditsy/ weepy friend/ mother, a mystery that seems beyond the ability of the local police/ sheriff/ mayor to handle, and round it all off with a selection of recipes. This heroine has 7 cats, whose names she can't remember, and a friend who is constantly underfoot, but otherwise it's the mixture as before. Written in a breathless, chatty style, on the right day it might be amusing, but it also has the potential to be really irritating.

It's produced in an odd print style and size, and suffers from periodic and unexplained changes in print size within the text, too.

This is number 3 in a series, so I may well have missed references to things in the earlier books, but on the whole, I found it did not stand out in any way from thousands of others like it, so won't be buying any more, and will be consigning this one to oblivion.


O.P.I Nail Lacquer, Opi Ink Suede 15 ml
O.P.I Nail Lacquer, Opi Ink Suede 15 ml
Price: £9.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Suede effect finish in rich, dark blue, 17 Sep 2014
As with all OPI products, this nail varnish is extremely good quality. Two coats are best to bring out the richness of the colour and the authentic suede-like finish. One application should last several days, although OPI advise not using a top coat, as it will destroy the suede effect. Have to say I just retouched the ends when they began to fade.


The Innkeeper's Wife (Bello)
The Innkeeper's Wife (Bello)
Price: £0.59

5.0 out of 5 stars The Nativity - from another perspective, 17 Sep 2014
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This short story is told from the viewpoint of the unhappy, down-trodden Innkeeper's wife, forced to labour away to keep the inn profitable for her unfaithful husband's indulgences. Each day is like the one before, and then come the visitors, seeking a room, and life will never be quite the same again.

Although this appears simply written, it's actually a complex tale; the characters and their relationships are portrayed realistically, the problems are no less painful for being set such a long time ago, and the Innkeeper's wife has no illusions. This is no piece of Bible thumping, nor a religious fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after, but it makes a fascinating read.


Festive in Death
Festive in Death
by J. D. Robb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relaxed, almost cosy Christmas novel, 17 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Festive in Death (Hardcover)
Yes, there's a murder (or two); no, the victim is anything but likeable; but there's a big change in the story this time: it's about relationships, Eve and Roarke's Christmas party, their friends, characters from the past, and a reminder of what the NYPSD is all about. The story is almost gentle; the bulk of the characters in the murder investigation are unsympathetic, and that serves to emphasise the warmth and camaraderie that's developed amongst the extremely eclectic mix of people who fill the couple's business and private lives.

Having in the last few books finally come to terms with her past, and got rid of a lot of the nightmares which were becoming tedious by their frequency, this time we have Roarke and Eve settling in to enjoy the Festive Season, and, while I doubt if we'll ever see a Dallas who likes shopping, or dressing formally, or enjoying a hectic round of parties, the new, improved Eve is genuinely making an effort, and the results of her observations and analysis of those around her are, I suspect, the main message of this novel.

There are a few points which jar: can any of us believe that Roarke apparently had Eve sign a formal pre-nuptial agreement? Can we really believe that Roarke and Summerset would have anything so tacky as a Gift Room, set out with generic gifts, fancy wrapping paper, etc? Would Roarke really have given all the female guests at the party a bottle of perfume (even if not yet on the open market) and the men a portable bar set???

That aside, the personal gifts picked out for their close friends are, in most cases, extremely apt - although Eve's ones still have that hint of desperation, and I can only hope the recipients don't exchange details, otherwise they'll realise it was a job lot!

If you're hoping for another tense, life-threatening, edge-of-your-seat murder mystery, you won't find it here, but if you want to see the progress Eve's making in coming to terms with the people in her life, and what she's learned from them, then this is a winner.


The Final Arrangement (Book One in the Cozy Flower Shop Mystery Series) (The Flower Shop Mystery Series 1)
The Final Arrangement (Book One in the Cozy Flower Shop Mystery Series) (The Flower Shop Mystery Series 1)
Price: £3.40

1.0 out of 5 stars The prescription as before, 12 Sep 2014
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This is the standard light-weight US chic-lit murder mystery, with all the usual suspects: the fairly-ineffectual female with an abusive ex; the in-charge mother; the gossip-loving male friend almost certain to be gay; the staff she can't control; the dead rival; the policeman whom she can't resist from the first description of his toned body.

If this is the 'cosy' story you love, then this one is very similar to all the others, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. If you're looking for something less predictable, which offers any brain stimulation, you'll not find it here. To those who'll disagree, I have to say this was a free download, which I was prepared to try in the hopes it would exceed my low expectations - it failed. The fact that I did not have to pay for it does not invalidate this review.


Crazytown: The Witch Tree (The Darren Lockhart Mysteries Book 2)
Crazytown: The Witch Tree (The Darren Lockhart Mysteries Book 2)
Price: £0.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Plot good, but too verbose, 26 Aug 2014
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This is a seriously creepy tale, but it's spoilt by repetitions (how often do we have to be told that Rowan was given an alibi by her mother?) which irritate, and unnecessarily drawn-out descriptions (did it really need three paragraphs to tell us how Lockhart went about having a shower?).

Lockhart is an interesting character, and uses whatever favours he might have left from his FBI days to progress the case of missing teenagers. Sadly, he's hampered by the official FBI agent, a well-balanced woman, who has a chip on each shoulder. She's in charge, but is extremely arrogant and over-confident. She has a huge amount to learn, and will probably never do so, since she's too busy looking for other people to blame for everything that goes wrong, and has no empathy for any other human being. Lockhart also has a deputy who has secrets of his own, which may well be developed further in future books, since this can hardly be the end of Vlad and his intrigues.

The author's blurb tells us he is an English graduate, but he either needs to brush up on his spelling, punctuation, and grammar, or use a professional proof-reader, as there are far too many errors. Double negatives are annoying, wrongly-placed apostrophes irritate, while switches of tense from past to present within paragraphs and even sentences frustrate. While a spell check won't help, I'd have thought whoever did check the book before publication might have noticed the use of 'site' for 'sight', and 'populous' for 'populace', but perhaps not, when such graphic descriptions as 'her eyes floated around the room' bring a whole new dimension to the plot.

Despite these whinges, the plot is original, and I hope the author writes more in this series. Sadly, (but perhaps to his relief) I won't be buying any of them - simply because they are such wonderful horror stories, and I'm a wimp. Jon Grilz has a great deal of talent, which deserves to be honed by a good editor, and if you like the thrill of terror without graphic details, this author is for you.


Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion: A New Case for Precious Ramotswe
Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion: A New Case for Precious Ramotswe
Price: £2.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great read for children of all ages, 21 Aug 2014
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Precious is now 9, and off to visit her favourite aunt, who works in a safari camp. There's adventure en route, and an amazing (and lucrative) time at the camp, helping film-makers, and tracking down a missing lion.

There's a fine balance in this 96 page tale, between a little education, the enchantment of a very different country, and a little morality on creatures in captivity. The writing is all the more gifted for appearing so simple, yet not condescending, and the illustrations are superb. What the Western reader would these days describe as poverty is treated matter-of-factly, and immediately compensated for by equally simply showing that what the people have they share freely, without any thoughts of 'charity' or 'inferiority'.

I felt that the issue of Precious' leather belt deserved more attention, since it was so new, and it might have been interesting to know what her father thought of his daughter's whole experience, since his views are always apposite. Nevertheless, this is a most enjoyable addition to the stories of the young Precious, and I look forward to more of them.


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