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Lydia (UK)

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Tuff-Luv Embrace Plus Material Portfolio Case Cover for Amazon Touch / Paperwhite Navajo
Tuff-Luv Embrace Plus Material Portfolio Case Cover for Amazon Touch / Paperwhite Navajo
Offered by Tuff-Luv
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Aug. 2014
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The Husband's Secret
The Husband's Secret
Price: £3.99

83 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I needed to know..., 7 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
…and now I do. Am I disappointed? Only slightly.

For awhile there it felt like wherever I looked I saw the cover of The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, taunting me. Every book-email and internet sidebar dangled the secret in front of me like a mouth-watering chocolate fudge cake (an M&S one no less). I had tried to be strong and to convince myself that I didn’t need or want to know the secret and that it was probably something unsavoury or uninteresting or un-something else but the temptation was far too much in the end. Apart from being a little insight into why I have had so many failed diet attempts I like to think that it demonstrates an admirable thirst for knowledge.

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has lived many years blissfully unaware that her mild-mannered husband, John-Paul, harbours a life-changing secret until the day she discovers a letter addressed to herself, to be opened in the event of his death. What she reads in her husband’s letter leaves her reeling, as everything she thought she knew about her well-ordered life and the person she loves comes crashing down around her.

I thought that the build up to the revelation of John Paul’s secret was brilliant. Moriarty certainly knows how to tease her readers into a desperate frenzy and although I managed to refrain from actually shouting out loud ‘just tell me’ I was extremely close on more than one occasion! As well as Cecilia’s ongoing battle with her conscience, one of Moriarty’s stalling tactics was to introduce a second female protagonist, in the form of happily married Tess, who despite having an unshakable faith in her relationship is about to find out about her own husband’s betrayal. Tess’s shyness and self diagnosis of social anxiety coupled with her confidence with men made for an interesting read but whilst I wouldn’t be so mean as to refer to Tess as ‘all filler no killer’ it was clear why she didn’t quite cut it as a solo leading lady.

After what felt like a long long time (but was actually a couple of hours of reading spread over a few days), of getting distracted by other characters, Liana finally decided to let me on the secret. I promise I am not just saying this because it is now after the event, and I want to look like a smart-arse, but I did guess the secret before it was properly revealed. Whether or not this was Moriarty’s intention I may never know but I think it probably was given the way she built it up. The only problem was that once I did know for sure I felt such a relief that I lost momentum a little bit and became slightly less interested in the rest of the novel. That being said though the new problem of how the protagonist was supposed to deal with her husband’s secret was still a thought-provoking concept.

I couldn’t help but compare Cecilia and John-Paul’s relationship to my own and wonder what it would feel like to have everything I thought I knew about Ben change in an instant. I found myself (hopefully not too creepily) staring at him and wondering what it would feel like to find out he had a terrible secret. Could I forgive and can you just stop loving someone because of their past?

Moriarty explores the themes of guilt, revenge, forgiveness and the boundaries of love with an engaging look at the other side of the story. Worth a read, if only to satiate your burning curiosity.

My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time
My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time
by Liz Jensen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I’m not adverse to a bit of sweet talk so I certainly didn’t mind being referred to ..., 7 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I’m not adverse to a bit of sweet talk so I certainly didn’t mind being referred to as ‘my dearest darling reader’ and ‘beloved one’. If only all my books were as flattering I would probably feel much better about myself!

Liz Jensen’s protagonist, Froken Charlotte, a 25-year old from 1890’s Denmark, is a woman of rather interesting means. Her opportunistic nature sees her taking up a cleaning job for the unusual and highly strung Fru Krak, where, amidst whisperings of demonic machines and ghosts, she uncovers rather more than she could have fathomed, as her world collides with the 21st century. Charlotte finds herself stranded in a place and time where coming to terms with mobile technology and ‘horseless black carriages of iron’ are the least of her adventures.

Jenson’s masterpiece is so deliciously conspiratorial in tone that you can’t fail to be won over by this book. With her charming protagonist, Charlotte, unashamedly romping her way through the novel and conducting herself with the utmost disgrace it is not one to be missed. Jensen proves herself extremely adept at creating interesting, funny characters who evolve throughout the course of her novel, Charlotte’s transformation from harlot to sweetheart will leave you smitten with Jensen’s storytelling.

A modern classic (in more ways than one) that would have Austen blushing at its audacity. I bloody love this book and so will you!

The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Augustus and Hazel are the main characters of this satirical novel and not cancer., 7 Aug. 2014
This review is from: The Fault in Our Stars (Paperback)
Despite my repeated, sincere (and not at all pushy) attempts to encourage my little sister to discover the wonders of Harry Potter, she is yet to embrace the wizarding world and has very much developed her own taste in our lovely smelling book-friends. Her most recent, favourite author is John Green, so I wasn’t surprised when she phoned to beg ask me if I would take her to watch the film version of The Fault in Our Stars. I like to think that, apart from needing a lift (being only 12 and all), she wanted to share the experience with me, as a fellow reader, so being a dutiful sister I thought I would read the book before we went to see the film, and I have to say that reading it in two days and then seeing the film on the third day made for a pretty heart-wrenching end to the week. More than a few tears were shed and not all by me for once.

Hazel and Augustus meet at cancer support group, a group for young cancer survivors whose varying degrees of health Hazel mainly tries to gauge by their choice of the lift versus the stairs. Immersed in a world of hospital appointments, medical trials and diagnoses of depression Hazel feels like no-one really separates her from her cancer anymore. So when she meets the gorgeous Augustus, who wants to know her “other” story and makes her heart beat fast in a way that has nothing to do with imminent death, it is easy to see why she is intrigued by him. As Hazel and Augustus’s love for each other deepens so does their connection to the world around them as they remember how to feel something other than their cancer.

With his familiar, colloquial style of writing Green captures the feelings of his star-crossed protagonists in, what I felt, was a very real way. His writing style is intelligent, easy to read and thoughtful, without coming across as pretentious.

There is no getting away from it, The fault in Our Stars is about terminal illness in all its undignified glory, it is sad and it will make you ponder your mortality, but before you turn away to read some happier book reviews, you should know that Green has created, in Hazel and Augustus, characters who are bundles of witty banter, hormones, love, hope and sarcasm. Augustus and Hazel are the main characters of this satirical novel and not cancer.

Unwilling to write them off before the end of their story Green shows that there is more to life than dying.

Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Dark, 6 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Smoke and Mirrors (Paperback)
Since watching Stardust, a few years back, I had the impression that the person who wrote it was funny, dark and a definite invite to a fantasy dinner party. I suspected that I would love whoever had written it and I was right.

I started reading Smoke and Mirrors around my friends’, Nick and Em’s, house after Nick said he had a book that he thought I would enjoy. Normally I would have put the book away and taken it home for later. I like to think of myself as a fairly social being after all, and, as much as it sometimes pains me, I know that reading at a party is not generally the done thing. But, as everyone was settling down to watch a film and as they are good friends, who I doubted would mind, I started reading. I’m not actually sure what the film was but I am sure that missing it was worthwhile to get my first glimpse of Gaiman’s writing.

I have to admit that I have not really read a book of short stories since I was young, I have always chosen to get stuck into a novel, believing that the depth and longevity, were things I needed. I was right about needing the depth but very wrong to think it could only be truly gained from a novel, certainly in this case anyway. To liken it to food (quite appropriate given some of Gaiman’s stories) reading each piece was like a taking a mouthful of an incredibly velvety, rich chocolate cake, you only needed a bite to get the whole flavour. It was enough. Each story was just enough.

As Gaiman himself says the process and mechanics of writing fascinate him and this can be seen through this multi-genre book, the fact that he plays around with the structure of his stories and that authors appear as protagonists. The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories depicts the journey from book to film and the adaptation of a story beyond recognition. Presumably Gaiman has had this experience, in fact, I am yet to read Stardust but have been told that it is quite different in book form.

He experiments with traditional form and the linearity of stories, often beginning in the middle or at the end. Gaiman is both so expressive and so skillful, as a writer, that his imagination never seems bound by his pen or the limits of reality, despite the fact that by his own admission several of these stories were left abandoned at some time or another until inspiration struck once more.

Like the structure of his stories the structure of the book, as a whole, was interesting too. In his lengthily introduction Gaiman explains a little bit about the pieces in Smoke and Mirrors and his inspiration for each of them. This added context and was interesting because it explored the process of writing and where ideas come from. At first I read each little ‘story behind the story’ before I read the story (that’s a mouthful!) but half way through I decided to read the introduction to the story afterwards to see which themes I picked up on and what I thought it was really about, because after all the writer’s interpretation is never the only one. I think I preferred it that way round, because unlike a film, when I like to at least know vaguely what it is about before I watch it, I like the mystery in books. It might also be a habit left over from my University days when I would have to read the book first and then attend the lecture.

Most, if not all, of the stories in Smoke and Mirrors focused on the darker parts of life with reoccurring themes of magic, manipulation, spirituality, hell, fairy tales, vampirism, consumerism, primal instincts, and sexual peversities all unashamedly presented for the reader to experience through the eyes of an incredibly imaginative writer. One of the themes that Gaiman explores is the idea of the bad in the world existing but being contained in some form or another. In The Price a cat guards the barrier between Earth and Hell, in How Do You Think it Feels? it is a gargoyle that shields a heart and in The Wedding Present, it was a story itself that protected the characters. In Gaiman’s world the dark is never far away from the light and the mundane is never independent from the strange.

It’s hard to pick favourites from Smoke and Mirrors because each piece of writing is so unique and meaningful but if I was held at gunpoint I would have to say that mine were The Wedding Present, The Price, The Disappearance of Miss Finch, The Queen of Knives and Snow, Glass, Apples. Eaten and Babycakes were the stories that disturbed me the most and Chivalry made me smile.

In all of Gaiman’s narratives his characters are so distinctive, in voice, that it is clear how much of himself goes into them. That’s not to say that all of the surreal plot twists were taken from his life but more that to write a piece he has to believe in it and has to be able to place himself inside the story, in some form or another. In fact he says himself that the events of Queen of Knives is so close to what actually happened that he has to remind relatives that it isn’t really the case.

Gaiman’s book reminded me of some of my most vivid dreams, pieces of life strung together in bizarre but somehow very real ways. It resonated with me the same way that the memories of fragmented nightmares or feelings of forgotten fears do. Much like in dreams (mine at least) none of these pieces seem superficial or vague and everything feels as though it has a deeper meaning or a secret you are supposed to search for.

It feels to me, so much more than it has before, that I am getting to see inside an author’s mind and that he in turn can see into the very depths of the world. Gaiman is dazzlingly perceptive, x-rated and possibly the most interesting and terrifying author I have come across. His insight into life is so much scarier than a horror could ever be.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was that I hadn't read it sooner.


Falling Through the World
Falling Through the World
by Rachel Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read!, 3 April 2013
A fictional novel about M.E is something which I had not come across until I readFalling Through the World by the talented Rachel Clarke.

Thanks to Rachel, who suffers from M.E herself, I now have a much better grasp of how people with M.E feel as they live with this debilitating illness. I had no idea how suddenly this condition can take hold and how painful it can be. I know now that I was naive in thinking that it was just like feeling extremely tired and in not considering the other effects on the bodies and minds of sufferers.

The protagonist in this short novel, a teenage girl, is suddenly and unfairly struck down, by what first appears to be a mystery illness, when she is busy attending school, getting to know her new boyfriend and enjoying life with her best friend Ali. Her friends and family are desperate to see her get better which often results in her being the subject of arguments and being pushed and pulled in different directions. "Will I ever feel better?" and "can anyone really help?" are questions that spin around in Sarah's mind constantly when she is well enough to even think. Falling Through the World follows Sarah's ups and downs as she fights to recover what she once had and begins to see light in new places.

Not only has Rachel written a book that I am sure will give hope to any sufferer who reads it but she has made information about M.E more accessible to everyone else to help raise awareness of the condition. I can imagine that this book will be of great comfort to those supporting people with M.E too as it could give them an insight when perhaps their loved ones are too ill to. Knowing the author's own struggle with this condition makes the fact that she has written this novel all the more inspiring. Rachel is proof that you can use your experiences to give hope to others.

The fact that this novel is about M.E is not the only thing that makes it great by any stretch of the imagination. Clarke's characters are believable and well-developed, her descriptions beautifully detailed and brimming with feeling and her story of Sarah's journey keeps the reader interested at all times. I think that a book about an illness has the potential to become much more about the actual illness than the characters but Rachel really gets inside her protagonist's head and explores the psychological reactions and feelings that this teenage girl has to her life being so rudely interrupted. Like this book sufferers are defined by much more than their illness and that is what Rachel captures. Her book is not just about being ill but is about reclaiming your life.

Take it from me that this is well-worth a read - I know Rachel and she is even more wonderful, funny and inspirational than her book.

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