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Caitlin Macdonald (Scotland)

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To Make a Match (A Scandal in London Novel)
To Make a Match (A Scandal in London Novel)
by Liana LeFey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Historical romance by the numbers, 25 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Maybe I've read too much historical romance but there's something about this book that feels formulaic. It's obviously a reworking of "The Taming of the Shrew" but I don't mind clever updates so it's not that.

The requisite cliched elements are all in there:

Tall, broad shouldered, handsome hero - check
Teeny tiny heroine with teeny, tiny waist and big, bountiful boobs - check
Instalust - never had a woman's smile had such an, erm, potent effect on the hero - check
Failures to communicate leading to big misunderstandings - check
Simultaneous climax the first time the hero and heroine have sex - check
Unnecessary plot twist solely caused by heroine's rampant stupidity - check and check

Three stars because the actual execution and writing are not bad at all, but I did not warm to Victoria at all. I would read more of this author if she actually came up with something a little more original (again not from the updating of Shakespeare perspective, which I wouldn't mind if the story did something a little fresh with it).


Colorado Woman (The Hansen Women)
Colorado Woman (The Hansen Women)
Price: 1.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 28 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not my cup of tea. It reads like a wish-fulfilment fantasy (and I'm not even talking about the love story here) and there's an awful lot of telling rather than showing. There's not much chemistry between the leads and with a heroine who is hostile/rude to her love interest for a good 2/3rds of the book (for no apparent good reason) I struggled to believe in their relationship. There's a setup for conflict with the heroine's ex that just fizzles out after one underwhelming confrontation - I was really expecting something bigger. Overall this book is saccharine, simplistic and unbelievable. I'll pass on the author's other output.


Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders
Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders
by Kate Griffin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.92

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gin and grime soaked Victorian London, now with added trapeze artists, 5 July 2013
Kitty Peck is an eighteen year old music hall employee who is pushed into a world of intrigue and danger when music hall girls start to go missing and her employer, an opium addicted old woman who is a nasty piece of work, forces her to investigate.

Thankfully the above is not just some random plot device of 'ooh, let's put a young girl in a dangerous situation which she has no experience of and watch her flail'. There is a very real reason that Kitty is in the frame, which is gradually revealed.

The filth and stench of mid-Victorian East London is palpable and the characters feel real. It's a first person narration but thankfully the author resist the urge to have Kitty talk (or indeed have her inner monologue) in faux Cockney. Kate Griffin has a nicely vivid turn of phrase and this page turner moves along smartly - no saggy middles here. While some of the side plot does seem a little silly/melodramatic it all ties in quite nicely with the overall theatricality of the work.

I'm knocking off a star as the cliffhanger (the author is contracted to write two more books in the series, apparently) wasn't quite "cliffhangery" enough!


Divergent (Divergent, Book 1)
Divergent (Divergent, Book 1)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars loved it, 19 May 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Teen fiction, even teen dystopian fiction, can be very samey so it's great to see something a bit different. Especially a dystopian teen novel that's not about zombies or vampires (of which there seem to be a lot about lately!).

Our heroine, Tris, lives in a world where you are born into sects that chooses to promote one virtue above all others in the belief that the opposites of these virtues are what have caused wars. Hence those who believe that lies are the cause of strife are in the sect 'Candour'.Those who believe it was cowardice are in 'Dauntless', selfish = 'Abnegation', ignorance = 'Erudition', and unkindness = 'Amity'. Teens have to pick the sect they will belong to for life at the age of 16, and if they fail the initiation tests for their chosen sect they will end up a sectless outcast.

Tris begins her life in Abnegation but chooses Dauntless when the time comes for her to select her future sect. However our heroine is 'divergent' - she shows characteristics of more than one sect. To be divergent is to be different, and to be different is dangerous in this world.

There's a subplot involving dissent and strife between some of the factions (I don't want to give too much of the plot away so I shan't be any more detailed) but to be honest I felt this would have worked just as well without what felt like artificial 'raising of the stakes'.It also felt somewhat unrealistic that our teen heroine seems to be one of the few who has an epiphany that perhaps humanity should strive to be true, AND brave, AND kind, AND learned, AND honest!

All in all a very enjoyable way to pass a few hours, and I'll be watching out for some more of Ms Roth's work in the future.


Modern Cookery for Private Families (Classic Voices in Food)
Modern Cookery for Private Families (Classic Voices in Food)
by Eliza Acton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1840s cooking meets the 21st century, 29 April 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In terms of historical cookery I had only really heard of Mrs Beeton, but I'm glad to have now been introduced to Mrs Acton! A lovely cloth bound (and chunky) book, it makes a handsome addition to my kitchen bookshelf.

I am perhaps slightly intimidated by the thought of trying a recipe from it (there are recipes for soup, sauces, fish, shellfish, meat, game, puddings, baked goods and so forth) and I think my first essay into the world of historical cuisine will be from the pudding chapter which is my area of greatest experience so hopefully fewest pitfalls! That said, the recipes seem easy to follow - unsuprising when one considers this was meant to be a practical guide for "The young housekeepers of England". It also makes an entertaining read and an interesting insight into the Victorian kitchen, and I loved the old-fashioned language. There were just a couple of unfamiliar words but those just served to expand my vocabulary :)


Immortal Beloved: Bk. 1 (Immortal Beloved 1)
Immortal Beloved: Bk. 1 (Immortal Beloved 1)
by Cate Tiernan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Immortal Beloved, 19 Mar 2011
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nastasya is a four hundred year old immortal who acts more like the teenager she appears to be. After witnessing one of her so-called friends casually destroy someone's life (apparently not for the first time) she suffers a crisis of faith/identity, and runs away to a kind of rehab for immortals where she tries to reconnect with the real world rather than the vacuous existence she's been leading.

'Nasty' as she's known does develop some sense of remorse and humanity through the course of the novel, but she spends so much of it feeling sorry for herself that I found it hard to like her. Liked the concept, and it's well written, but I just couldn't root for her.


Before I Go To Sleep
Before I Go To Sleep
by S J Watson
Edition: Hardcover

34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before I Go To Sleep, 19 Mar 2011
This review is from: Before I Go To Sleep (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a creepily atmospheric book. Memories make us who we are, yet Christine loses her memory every night for reasons that are unclear either to her or to medical science.

Told mostly in the form of Christine's journal, which she starts to keep to help her figure out her life, we gradually build a picture of truths, and half truths where neither we, nor Christine, know quite who to trust. The frustration, grief and confusion she feels come flying off the page. One scene in particular affected me, where Christine revisits a psychiatric facility where she lived and sees the rambling and confused 'journal' she kept while sectioned, with the lucid prose serving to highlight how far she's come from those days.

The denouement felt slightly far fetched but it was a gripping and suspenseful read and there were enough clues dropped througout that I felt I was on a journey of discovery with the main character. Really enjoyed and would recommend.


The Sentinel Mage (Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy)
The Sentinel Mage (Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy)
by Emily Gee
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars formulaic, 19 Mar 2011
I really enjoyed Emily Gee's first two books (Thief with No Shadow, The Laurentine Spy) as they didn't go down the line of fantasy cliche. Sadly her third book seems to be trying to make up for lost time.

It reads like Gee has taken Dianna Wynne Jones' "Tough Guide to Fantasyland" and used it as a recipe for this novel. Included in the cover price:
- part one of a trilogy
- a curse that can only be broken by a mage of the royal line
- a prince with mage blood who didn't know it
- an evil king (who's murdered at least a couple of his four wives)
- his 'Mary-Sue' paragon of a daughter.
- misunderstood shapeshifters
- perilous mountain ranges and canyons
- assorted supporting characters that are paper thin.

I didn't quite consign it to the 'DNF' file but it was a close thing, and I don't think I'll bother with the rest of the trilogy. How disappointing.


Magic Flutes
Magic Flutes
by Eva Ibbotson
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Viennese opera and castellated princesses..., 24 Dec 2010
This review is from: Magic Flutes (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've read, and enjoyed, many of Eva Ibbotson's other books, which always stray into the realms of the fantastical. 'Magic Flutes' however felt just a little too fantastical for me to really lose myself in the story, while at the same time suffering from a surfeit of precitability. Others have expounded on the plot at length, so I shan't rehash it here

'Magic Flutes' will be my Ibbotson swan song, as it were, as I think I have outgrown her style. To be fair, the three stars might have been four stars a year or so ago.


The Society of S
The Society of S
by Susan Hubbard
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars tedious, 10 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Society of S (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ariella is a teenager whose mother disappeared on the day she was born and who is raised by her father, who has some rather unsettling associates and habits. When she discovers the internet (an overprotected child, she has been home schooled and has no friends until she's allowed to start hanging out with the housekeeper's kids) she starts to suspect she and her father are vampires. I got about 3/4 of the way through this book before getting bored and giving up (not a common occurence for me!)

The plot meanders and it takes what seems like forever for our protaganist to embark on the blurb's promised "fateful journey in search of her mother". Our heroine's "unique selling point" is that she's a synaesthete (i.e. she sees numbers and words as colours) I'm not sure if it had any relevance to the denouement (as I didn't get that far) but I presume the author either knows someone who is a synaesthete or has done a lot of research on it becase it felt somewhat shoehorned into the novel. I like teen vampire fiction generally but this was soporific and overwritten (a typical example of the prose: "my father described to me the paths that led through the cemetary, embedded with broken oyster shells, and the patterns etched in the brick side-walks bordering it. They were spirals. He said he didn't like to look at them, but spirals are among my favourite symbols. Yours, too? They symbolise creation and growth if they curl clockwise from the center and destruction if they twirl to the left. As it happens, hurricaines in the northern hemisphere twirl to the left." ...the thoughts going through my head at this point were something like this: "ok so our heroine likes spirals, what marvellous character development. Seriously I'm thrilled. Now could you just get on with the story? Oh, and FYI cyclones in the southern hemisphere spin clockwise, so your point is???")

This book took a couple of hours of my life that I won't get back. Spare yourself the bother unless the sample above appeals.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2009 2:31 AM GMT


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