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Reviews Written by
Carole Eva "Leyla" (Somerset, UK)

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Sepulchre
Sepulchre
by Kate Mosse
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts, Tarot Cards and All That, 7 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Sepulchre (Paperback)
I bought this novel because I really enjoyed The Labyrinth, but I was very disappointed. Simon Mayo of the Book Show, has written: 'Better than Labyrinth' - not true! I plodded through the first 300 pages, expecting things to get better and every now and again I was 'lifted' and so moved to continue. On reaching the end, however, I simply put it down and thought .........nothing!! The whole novel seems to have been written to a formula and has no real heart. Indeed, some parts in particular left me with the feeling that they'd been written by someone other than Kate Mosse! I've given 3 stars instead of 2, because I feel that perhaps my criticism is unfair due to the fact that I can't take ghosts seriously and for me the story is just TOO contrived, full of fantasy and therefore unbelieveable! Perhaps I was expecting too much. Another reader may well accept it for what it is - a ghost story, go along with the tale and enjoy it.


The Other Boleyn Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Loyalty and Betrayal, 14 Feb. 2009
This review is from: The Other Boleyn Girl (Paperback)
Little wonder that this book was adapted into film - it has everything to keep the reader hooked - intrigue in every form: plots and counter plots, secret liaisons and powerful influences. Many stories featuring the court of Henry VIII have been told, but this one is different as it tells the story through Mary Boleyn's eyes. Philippa Gregory has dramatised history by adding her ideas of how it might, or could, have been; she did a convicing job and I was swept along with the tale. Henry was undoubtedly a sex addict and the sisters were, after all, not much more than children when they featured highly at Henry's court - no wonder Anne's character developed in the way it did. The elder Howards and Boleyns were quite awful and Anne was reputedly extremely intelligent so quickly followed the families' tradition of plotting and scheming. Mary, on the other hand, although not as clever, was the one who came out on top, finding real love and having the courage to follow it. A captivating story.


The Rose Of Sebastopol
The Rose Of Sebastopol
by Katharine McMahon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Men Must Work and Women Must Weep?, 1 Feb. 2009
This review is from: The Rose Of Sebastopol (Paperback)
I enjoy stories that are woven around fact and as I knew nothing of the Crimean War 'The Rose' also opened a new window for me. As well as the horrors of that war, Katherine McMahon also reminds us of the way it was for women in mid-19th century England - bound by society's conventions and expectations regarding the behaviour of a 'lady' and how this impacted on a woman's ability to be independent. Mariella embodies all that is acceptable, whilst her cousin: Rosa, with her free spirit and enquiring mind, was a woman born before her time. As the story unfolds, however, Mariella's life is turned upside down and she finds strengths and qualities in herself that may never have been revealed had it not been for Rosa and the war. A wonderful study of differing personalities and the effects that war had on the changing role of women within our society and the way being at war can change long held principles regarding love. Beautifully written and a book I found hard to put down.


Brokedown Palace
Brokedown Palace
Offered by Todays Great Deal
Price: £6.70

5.0 out of 5 stars An Eclectic Treat, 1 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Brokedown Palace (Audio CD)
Brokedown Palace, the film, was recently shown on TV in Turkey and I was enchanted by the soundtrack; so much so, that I sent to England for the CD. Since receiving it, it hasn't been replaced in the storage rack as it's played so often! My particular favourites are the opening track: 'Silence' by Delerium - haunting, PJ Harvey's 'The Wind' - very atmospheric, 'Deliver Me' a beautiful rendition by Sarah Brightman, and Plumb's 'Damaged' - beautiful lyrics. I also find myself singing along with Nancy Furtado's 'The Party's Just Begun'! There are a few tracks that I could live without, but that's the nature of a CD. All in all, a great mix.


Love in the Time of Cholera
Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel García Márquez
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Reality of Love and Life, 1 Feb. 2009
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was in his late 50s when this novel was published and it's a treat to read a story that's a reflection of love in all its forms and through all the ages of man, written by an author who has lived long enough to observe, reflect and experience such. The married love between Fermina Daza and her husband Dr Juvenal Urbino; despite the fact that they didn't love one another at the time of marriage, deep and lasting love nevertheless evolved between them over the years. The marriage encountered problems, as most marriages do, but survives and is made stronger; the Doctor reminds his wife at one point that the the most important part of marriage is stability! In the background, but with his own agenda, lurks Florentino Ariza; he fell in love with Fermina when she was thirteen - an obsessive love that he cultivates over a period of more than 50 years. He waits for the Doctor to die, so that he may claim Fermina for himself. In the meantime he forms alliances with a great many women - each one carefully planned and many of them bringing love in some measure. Then, in his 70's, distant relatives entrust their 13-year-old daughter, America Vicuna, to his guardianship, whilst she attends school in his town. He sees her as a potential lover, so carefully cultivates her, until a year later, when she's 14, he seduces her. Despite the huge age difference, the girl falls in love with him and the consequences are far-reaching. As well as dealing with aspects of love, the author has some humerous observations regarding ageing. I particularly remember a passage when the Doctor is ruminating on his health and voices the fact that he's worried he'll either take too much notice of symptoms that mean nothing, or ignore symptoms that could be heralding the onset of something serious! (Anyone over the age of 55 will, I'm sure, identify with this!). After more than 50 years of marriage, the Doctor dies at the age of 81 as the result of an accident. Does Florentino Ariza's long-held dream of earthly paradise with Fermina materialise? You'll have to read the novel to find out! Thoroughly readable, treating the subject of love (and ageing) with realism and no nonsense!


All He Ever Wanted
All He Ever Wanted
by Anita Shreve
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fate of Unrequited Love, 27 Dec. 2008
This review is from: All He Ever Wanted (Paperback)
This is the story not of an evil man, rather of a 'sad' man - an unexceptional man, who nevertheless wants success. Now sixty-four, Nicholas van Tassel tells his own story; how, at the turn of the 20th century and at the age of thirty, a bachelor and professor at a New England college, his eyes fall upon Etna Bliss and from that moment he's a man obsessed. He must have her and he will have her under any conditions. Etna is a woman of her time and a victim of circumstances which she sees as beyond her control - marriage seems a solution, even though she admits to Nicholas that she doesn't love him. His love for her, however, is so overwhelming that he believes she will, in time, learn to return that love. A recipe for disaster of course, heightened by the fact that he discovers on their wedding night that his wife is not a virgin! The years pass and the couple have two children; all appears well even though Etna has never found any passion for her husband. Then, fourteen years later, a newcomer arrives at the College and this sets a series of ripples in motion. Jealousy is born within Nicholas as he feels threatened; this time he will do what he has to in order to hold onto what he sees as his - both in his personal and professional life. At this time, Etna, although constrained by the conventions of that age, has a spark of independence in her and it's the actions that result from this free spirit that eventually cause the death of the marriage. Van Tassel, however, is even then reluctant to admit defeat and in trying desperately to win her back, he reduces himself to lies and deceit. Anita Shreve has created a real-life character in Van Tassel; we are able to observe how the gift of love can just as easily turn into a curse. And love has no respect for intelligence - all are equal when caught in its thrall and all can find themselves capable of acting upon baser instincts when loss is threatened. A good read(and this was second time 'round for me!).


The Woman In The Fifth
The Woman In The Fifth
by Douglas Kennedy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful What You Wish For!, 27 Dec. 2008
This review is from: The Woman In The Fifth (Paperback)
'Nail bitingly compulsive'? The beginning of this book had me hooked and I really enjoyed the first half. It was my first Douglas Kennedy and I was enjoying his style of writing - no redundant sentences or unnecessary words, but everything leading the reader forward. Then, a little way past the half-way point, my enthusiasm started to falter - surely what I suspected couldn't be true! As I continued onward it became all too apparent that indeed it was true and I felt like abandoning the book. Having gone that far, however, I felt the need to finish and carried on to the disappointing conclusion. Perhaps the author was simply trying to convey the message of what could happen if our thoughts of retribution could actually be realised, eg., 'Be careful what you wish for' - a sort of selling your soul to the devil scenario. What he succeeded in doing, however, was leaving the reader with a keen sense of disappointment, because the final third of the book simply didn't match-up to the earlier parts - he seemed to have simply lost the plot!


No Time For Goodbye
No Time For Goodbye
by Linwood Barclay
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No, It's Not Magic!, 27 Nov. 2008
This review is from: No Time For Goodbye (Paperback)
'Gone without a trace' says the blurb on the front cover, but believe me, this novel is by no means magic! Didn't read any reviews before buying or reading, so started with an open mind. Good start and enjoyed it until around half way, then I started to pick holes in it. A 14-year-old (Cynthia)has a run-in with her parents one evening and goes to bed - drunk; she wakes next morning in an empty house. It transpires that her parents and brother have disappeared and 25 years later the mystery remains unsolved. Cynthia is now married to Terry and they have a young daughter, but the effects of the events all those years ago live on. Then strange things start happening and even Terry starts to have doubts about what really happened that night. I was thinking what a very good tale this was, but as the story unfolds it starts to lose its feasibility and there's a lot of unneccessary 'simple' narrative that made me impatient. I quite liked the way the author interspersed the chapters with dialogue from a source outside the family, by way of introducing the reader to the villains. Having worked out the possible plot before these dialogues started, I was still left with the question: 'Why was Cynthia left behind?', so that gave me the impetus to continue reading, plus the hope that perhaps I was entirely wrong! So to sum up: no surprises - just an OK novel.


Notes From An Exhibition
Notes From An Exhibition
by Patrick Gale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shattered Lives, 19 Nov. 2008
First of Patrick Gale's novels that I've read and found it a very 'gentle' read, even though the subject matter was anything but gentle. A story of family life and family deaths and, at the centre, Rachel - the mother, forever wrestling with her own demons, for as well as being a gifted artist, she was bipolar. We learn of the effect this had on her husband's life, as well as the lives of her three children as they grew up. Time has moved on, the children are all adults and Rachel has died. Following her death, an exhibition of her pictures has been mounted, and the notes beside each work are used to commence each chapter. I liked the way the different stories from this family's life were related by each of its members, giving us a rounded view of the dynamics of that family. It's gentle in a slow-paced way, and there is a twist near the end which I hadn't expected. The author appears to have dealt with the subject of manic depression in a very down to earth, real, way and Rachel's long-suffering husband, Antony, was my quiet hero! We're left with the feeling that we know each of these characters so well, as the emotions and expectations of each one was revealed so thoroughly. I was also very interested in the input regarding Quakerism. All 'round, a really good novel.


A Quiet Belief In Angels
A Quiet Belief In Angels
by Roger Jon Ellory
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Spent Unwisely?, 6 Nov. 2008
A thriller like no other - I loved this novel - everything about it! One morning, at the age of 11, Joseph Vaughan opens the front door of his home and a white feather blows into the house. He believes a white feather indicates the visitation of an angel and later that day his 37-year-old father dies. The story, as told by Joseph, unfolds from that day and his difficult life is all too infrequently punctuated by sheer joy. As he matures his happiness is continually compromised by his obsession - he's haunted by his wish to find the serial killer who has brutally murdered so many little girls and who he believes may have some connection with his own mother. Later, he moves from his home in Georgia to New York to start a new life as a writer, but the past stays with him and evil is never far away. Joseph has to wait for 50 years after the first murder until, at last, he is able to confront his nightmare! Although I was pretty sure of the killer's identity, Ellory's build-up to the end still made me hold my breath and read like a train! There's a lot of sadness in this novel, but the author's descriptive style is quite wonderful as he allows us into Joseph's innermost thoughts. I just wish he could have had a second chance at life!


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