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Amanda Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom)
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Down the Deep Lanes
Down the Deep Lanes
by Peter Beacham
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The son of the great 1940s artist Eric Ravilious was a superb photographer, 8 April 2015
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This review is from: Down the Deep Lanes (Paperback)
The son of the great 1940s artist Eric Ravilious was a superb photographer. and he captures Devon with particular sensitivity.


Beeswax Dinner Candles in a box (B24)
Beeswax Dinner Candles in a box (B24)
Offered by Wood-Knit-Bee
Price: £10.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 April 2015
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Just the thing for Wolf Hall fans


Mountwood School for Ghosts (Great Hagges)
Mountwood School for Ghosts (Great Hagges)
by Toby Ibbotson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for 8-11s, 8 April 2015
One of the best children's books for 8-11 to be published in 2014, this is a glorious comic adventure by the son of the late great Eva Ibbotson, and carries on her irresistible blend of magic and mayhem, wit and wisdom.

The three Great Hagges (a version of the Norse Norns) who possess formidable magical powers, come out of their well-earned retirement to instill some proper conduct in the ghosts of Britain. These include a family with a depressed boy ghost who has, apparently, no powers, a Stinking Druid, a Banshee and a Legless Warrior - all great comic characters who will make children howl with laughter. But when two human children find the boy ghost, lost and left behind, they return him to the Mountwood School and earn the ghosts' friendship. Which they will need, because the area where they live is under threat from a corrupt councillor who wants to raze it and the local park to the ground.
What makes this book a real treat is its rollocking pace and humour. The plot will engage any imaginative child, and it is markedly well-written with enough sophisticated jokes and allusions to amuse an adult reader. I am surprised it has not received more attention as it's just the kind of book I look for.


A War of Flowers
A War of Flowers
Price: £3.66

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A series that just gets better and better, 18 Dec. 2014
This review is from: A War of Flowers (Kindle Edition)
Jane Thynne's novels about Clara Vine, the half English Jewish and half German actress turned spy have become an annual treat but this third outing is her best so far. The "war" of the title is what the Germans called the Anschluss - the union with Austria forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles which Hitler broke. It's now 1938, and Clara has been cast in a film about Bel Ami (Maupassant novel) filming in Paris. Here she meets an attractive, Cultural Attache who seems to know more about her double life than is comfortable. Meanwhile, a young woman whom Clara's godson meets on a cruise ship disappears - only another woman is sure she has been murdered.

Thynne blends the thriller and detective story elements into a seamless, perfectly paced story, as the British Intelligence seek proof of Hitler's lies and intention to invade Poland. Clara succeeds in befriending Hitler's mistress Eva Braun, who eventually reveals vital information. It's a mark of the author's skill that you actually feel sorry for Eva, starstruck, trapped and silly; the lives of Nazi wives and girlfriends is a largely unexplored subject in fiction, and compellingly researched here. The period detail is convincing, right down to Clara's lover seeing his London street as "permanently standing to attention" in contrast to the glamour or pre-War Berlin. Clothes and perfume also play an important part; at one point Clara flees to the Berghof, the famously icy country retreat built for the top SS, and although it is part of the background it builds up a portrait of her desperate unease.
This is also a love story, and the passionate ending, though it leaves Clara in an even worse situation than before, is beautifully written. Clara has developed into a fascinating heroine, her feats of memory and concealed emotions making her increasingly unusual. The series would make fabulous TV, and C;ara herself is a part any good actress would jump at.
I found it hard to limit myself to a chapter before bedtime. It's a treat - and the elegant new covers give a much better indication of the series's quality too,.


Bach - Sonatas for Viola da gamba and Harpsichord
Bach - Sonatas for Viola da gamba and Harpsichord
Price: £15.43

5.0 out of 5 stars t cheap but he is one of the very very best., 17 Dec. 2014
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Jordi Savall isn;t cheap but he is one of the very very best.


A War of Flowers (Clara Vine 3)
A War of Flowers (Clara Vine 3)
by Jane Thynne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the half English Jewish and half German actress turned spy have become an annual treat but this third outing is her best so far, 17 Dec. 2014
Jane Thynne's novels about Clara Vine, the half English Jewish and half German actress turned spy have become an annual treat but this third outing is her best so far. The "war" of the title is what the Germans called the Anschluss - the union with Austria forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles which Hitler broke. It's now 1938, and Clara has been cast in a film about Bel Ami (Maupassant novel) filming in Paris. Here she meets an attractive, Cultural Attache who seems to know more about her double life than is comfortable. Meanwhile, a young woman whom Clara's godson meets on a cruise ship disappears - only another woman is sure she has been murdered.

Thynne blends the thriller and detective story elements into a seamless, perfectly paced story, as the British Intelligence seek proof of Hitler's lies and intention to invade Poland. Clara succeeds in befriending Hitler's mistress Eva Braun, who eventually reveals vital information. It's a mark of the author's skill that you actually feel sorry for Eva, starstruck, trapped and silly; the lives of Nazi wives and girlfriends is a largely unexplored subject in fiction, and compellingly researched here. The period detail is convincing, right down to Clara's lover seeing his London street as "permanently standing to attention" in contrast to the glamour or pre-War Berlin. Clothes and perfume also play an important part; at one point Clara flees to the Berghof, the famously icy country retreat built for the top SS, and although it is part of the background it builds up a portrait of her desperate unease.
This is also a love story, and the passionate ending, though it leaves Clara in an even worse situation than before, is beautifully written. Clara has developed into a fascinating heroine, her feats of memory and concealed emotions making her increasingly unusual. The series would make fabulous TV.
I found it hard to limit myself to a chapter before bedtime. It's a treat - and the elegant new covers give a much better indication of the series's quality too,.


Sail Upon the Land
Sail Upon the Land
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a new Mary Wesley, 12 Dec. 2014
Sail Upon The Land takes its title from Titania's famous speech in A Midsummer Night's Dream about enjoying pregnancy, although sadly this is not the experience of this unusually well-written second novel. It begins with a young Englishwoman, Damson, being raped in India during her Gap Year. She runs away, goes up to Cambridge to train as a medical student and discovers to her horror that she is pregnant.
The plot then goes back in time to Sarah in 1938. Desperately bored by her mother's snobbish inertia she learns to cook and then becomes a VAD, falling in love with the young medic who treats wounded soldiers in her family home. They have a fragile daughter, Melissa, who emerges into womanhood during the 1960s, marries a lonely and unhappy young man as shy as herself, and in turn produces another daughter - Damson. One after another, these mothers and daughters fail to understnad and help each other until the third, Damson, is given a second chance.

In many ways, Sail Upon the Land resembles a Mary Wesley novel (and perhaps also an Elizabeth Goudge one) both in its upper class social setting, its understanding of and dislike for snobbery, and its sympathetic yet flawed characters. The period feeling in each is excellent, with many little jokes about caste - I especially enjoyed the way the fairy tale of Cinderella is woven into Damson's tale once her father remarries a rich widow with two daughters. Unlike much "women's fiction" this is written with elegance and the assumption that readers will share the author's own intelligence and range of cultural references. It's not at all like contemporary chick-lit, and slightly old-fashioned in refusing to pander to populism - but all the better for that. It succeeds in something unusual, which is making good people interesting. Far too many novels like these are being rejected by publishers and self-published, and this is one of them.


Fool's Assassin (Fitz and the Fool, Book 1)
Fool's Assassin (Fitz and the Fool, Book 1)
by Robin Hobb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fitz is back, 15 Aug. 2014
Firstly, welcome back Fitz! One of the great characters of modern fantasy fiction, our hero is now living quietly in country retirement as "Tom Badgerlock", married to his childhood sweetheart Molly. Yet while his magic keeps him preserved at age 35 (wouldn't we all love that) Molly ages, and seems to be losing her mind. Convinced she is pregnant, she prepares for a child...and two years later, is delivered of a tiny little girl whom everyone assumes is mentally handicapped. Molly and her daughter have the closest of bonds - and gradually it is revealed that this child, though she grows slowly, is anything but handicapped.

Meanwhile, it becomes clear that the Fool is a deep trouble, and Fitz is surrounded by assassins bent on keeping the Fool's messengers from him. Tragedy ensues, and after a long (too-long) period of suspense, the action explodes in the last quarter. As always what if marvellous about Hobb's work is the emotion and deep thought which she pours into her characters. Fitz's love for Molly, even as she is clearly losing her mind, his appreciation of her gifts, his humility and courage in the face of snobbery and prejudice benefit the whole fantasy genre. For me the high point of the book is when he uses his Wit to comfort a dying dog, Brutalised by its cruel Master, the dog has no idea that human beings can ever treat dogs with love and compassion, and this passage, like that of Nighteyes's death, is of the highest order. Hobb's brilliance is more tender-hearted than GRRM's, but no less compelling as a story-teller.
Can't wait for the sequel.


Black Rainbow: How words healed me: my journey through depression
Black Rainbow: How words healed me: my journey through depression
by (Journalist) Rachel Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £3.23

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars keep that black dog on a lead, 13 May 2014
Rachel Kelly's account of her 19 year depression, and how poetry, love, cognitive behaviour therapy and pills help her survive is beautifully written and sobering. Like Andrew Solomon, whose own book The Noonday Demon, should be read in tandem with this it shows how even the most blessed and loved can be suddenly undone by mental collapse. Kelly's physical agony as she re-lives a near plane-crash over and over, paralysing her with fear, is one of the surprises of this book about mental torment. She describes her own way out with painful honesty, but clearly remains fragile.

Depression is a common affliction yet remains stigmatised, especially among the successful. It is a genuine illness, and as crippling as a broken leg or cancer. Black Rainbows is another step forward into bringing it into the light of day.


The Slave
The Slave
by Andrew Sanger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent thriller about compassion, community, sex-trafficking and friendship, 1 May 2014
This review is from: The Slave (Paperback)
The Slave will not disappoint fans of Sanger's debut, The J-word. Set in the same patch of North London, with characters drawn from both Jewish and Gentile communities it focusses on three characters: kindly middle-aged Bernard, deeply involved in fighting local council corruption and indifference, young Neil, a driver for a posh department store, and Liliana, a trafficked girl from Romania.

When Neil, kicked out of his wife's house into a new area, becomes a neighbour of Bernard's it sets in motion an unsettling chain of events. Neil is a drifter, intelligent but unfocused, whose sexual needs drive him to a local brothel. Here, his natural friendliness and interest in foreign languages lead him to try and talk to the drugged, terrified Liliana, who slips a note into his pocket telling him she is a slave, and the men who keep her are dangerous. How Neil and Bernard then plan a rescue keeps the reader turning the pages, but the thoughtfulness and sensitivity to London in its microcosmic worlds is beautifully described. Highly recommended.


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