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Reviews Written by
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England)
(VINE VOICE)   

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The Beauty of the End
The Beauty of the End
by Debbie Howells
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but had potential to be better, 5 July 2016
This review is from: The Beauty of the End (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The book is described as a "grip lit" which made me smile. Good enough reason for me to try the novel and it sounds like my sort of book. I didn't read this author's previous novel but I know it was well reviewed. The book itself has fairly short chapters and a plot which moves back and forwards in time.
The story starts in May 2016 which seems very curious as it is July 2016 when I am reading it (very clever author!!).
Overall I enjoyed it well enough to keep me reading but I found the flipping back and forwards distracting - I wanted more time to get settled but found that I was being pushed into a different time before I was ready.
I also found that the pace of the plot was a bit lacking. I don't always read fast paced thrillers but sometimes a bit of speed is needed to keep the plot alive and I think it would have helped.
I liked the idea of the story and it was alright to read but I won't be recommending this to any friends.


Fei Liu Fine Jewellery Acorn Long Drop Earrings ACN-925P-206-POPL
Fei Liu Fine Jewellery Acorn Long Drop Earrings ACN-925P-206-POPL
Price: £28.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Very pretty, 5 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Good and large presentation box which was then reasonably well packaged although still arrived a bit battered by the post.
These earrings look and feel lovely. The pearls have a hint of orange/pink and hang on a thin gold chain - with the entire earring being just over 5 cm in length.
The chain itself is very delicate and breakage is a concern - I'll need to be very careful.
I got these earrings to try through the Amazon Vine program so didn't pay for them. They do not look like cheap earrings and I'm very happy to wear them but I'm not sure that I would pay £75 (retail on Amazon) for them. Whilst the chain is very tiny, the clasp at the back of the earring is plenty large enough so I didn't have any problems getting them on and off.


The House at the Edge of the World
The House at the Edge of the World
by Julia Rochester
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Started very well and great characters but the plot faded away and lost its credibility, 5 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First look at this book is promising - short book (just over 250 pages) and short chapters which always make a book easy to digest - fairly small print though but a decent font.
Morwenna's (the narrator) father has died by falling off a cliff on the way back home from the pub, leaving her with her mother, twin brother and grandfather in the old family home.
The style of writing shows Morwenna's character as much as what she actually says - curious, petulant, awkward, open and innocent. When her father dies, she is at a difficult stage of being on the edge of adulthood - she is tied to the house and family but desperate to stretch her wings into the world. As Morwenna grows, the teenager inside her remains as it does in all of us. I loved the contrast of the world treating her as an adult when, inside, she really doesn't feel like that. I was never in any doubt about the credibility of Morwenna as a character and she engaged with me on many different levels.
The language used flows in a staccato manner which reminded me of Dylan Thomas's writing - full of alliteration and sharp words but with a beautiful rhythm.
Landscape and environment as a big part of the book but never threaten to engulf the characters which shows a well crafted book.
So, there is lots of good stuff here but as a complete novel it never really excited me. I took nearly two weeks to read it and it is almost unheard for me to take that long over a book. I think the plot was quite thin in parts although I loved all the characters. By the time I got to the last quarter of the book I had pretty much lost interest in what was happening and also never really appreciated the significance of the map to the family.
I would have liked more about Morwenna and less about what happened to her. I think that all the relationships were fascinating and there was so much more that could have been explored without the distractions.


Written off
Written off
by Paul Carroll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't engage me - brave idea and OK but doesn't fulfill it's potential, 29 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Written off (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is always an attraction to books about books and this one is about authors, which is even more intriguing. The blurb has a realistic edge to it which implies it might be non-fiction but don't be under any illusion, this is a novel!
The plot is based around several people who have written novels and are desperate to get them published. A conference at which authors have the opportunity to meet agents is advertised and they all jump at the chance.
This is Paul Carroll's second book and I would love to think that he has met some of the characters and been in some of the situations described in his early days of writing. It gently teases and criticises those involved in the literary world at many different levels. It's a world of which many of us are unaware and part of me would love to think it might be true.
Parodying your own industry is very tough and I think this was a brave novel to write. The idea is great but the novel itself does not live up to the strength of the idea. The actual characters are all rather stereotyped and the conference organiser was faintly ridiculous - I didn't really care whether or not any of the authors got published in the end - which I think is a huge part to the enjoyment. The start of the book is strong but I think it loses it's way as it progresses.
It's not a weak book but any means - I loved the language and the style of writing was good but it just didn't engage me as much as it should have.


Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Regular GPS Fitness Activity Tracker with Smart Notifications and Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor - Black
Garmin Vivosmart HR+ Regular GPS Fitness Activity Tracker with Smart Notifications and Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor - Black
Price: £154.38

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of options to use but way too complex for my requirements, 23 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using a Fitbit for some time and really like it's simplicity but was quite excited to have the opportunity to try a Garmin product as it is a significant step up in cost.
It arrived well packaged and the product was easy to remove and start using straightaway. The charges clips onto the product and connects to a PC or an appropriately adaptable plug via USB lead
The setup is fairly easy (I used a smartphone) and I was able to start using it within a few minutes.
I had a regular size device and found that it was too big for me (as an average sizes woman). I think this would fit a man better or maybe a woman with larger wrists than me. The strap is very flexible but the main body of the device is solid and can't be made any smaller.
The display is very stylish and I liked the swipe facility to move from screen to screen. I struggled with the contrast on the screen and found that I was often grabbing for reading glasses to be able to see what it said - I think this product is trying to do too much and ends up cramming too much on the screen.
After a few days of use I found that I was still only using the step monitor and floor climber although the device has so much more available. The app seems to be over complicated - there is lots of facilities but no where near as easy as the Fitbit equivalent.


Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding In Plain Sight
Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding In Plain Sight
by M. E. Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not engaging at all but some useful information, 21 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am always very curious about conditions of the mind, particularly behavioural disorders such as psychopathy (or sociopathy as the author prefers to call the condition) so wanted to read this book.
The author doesn't ask to be judged (not surprisingly), simply sets out her view of the world and how she survives it.
I stuck with the book but found little to inform me after the few couple of chapters had given lots of information about the condition and its diagnosis.
In a memoir, the reader has to be able to engage with an author regardless of whether or not you like them. Here, I didn't like her in any way but was also unable to find any empathy at all. There is an argument that shows a degree of sociopathy in me but would also show that the author is not as manipulative and charismatic as she thinks.
The subject of the book is interesting but I think that the book would have been much better if it had been written by someone else, when the observations would have been more independent.


The Fire Child
The Fire Child
by S. K. Tremayne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over dramatic and clunky but OK for a holiday read when you are looking for something easy, 21 Jun. 2016
This review is from: The Fire Child (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is yet another novel in the psychological thriller genre although, reading the blurb for the book, it could also be based on many Victorian Gothic horror novels - "woman married man whose first wife has died under tragic circumstances and she inherits a disturbed step child". It has the feel of an old story but, being set in the present day, is being brought up to date. I had read the previous novel by this author and enjoyed it very much.
There is a tension introduced on the first page with "178 days before Christmas". Immediately the reader seems to know more than the characters which is always a good position to be in. This tense atmosphere is great but is not maintained with many times in the story when the action is completely overplayed.
With only a few characters, it is important that they are well defined and they are here - I particularly liked the periphery characters of Juliet and Cassie. The story narration alternates from Rachel in the first person to David in the third person, there is not a defined pattern to this though and the story flows well. It's also clear from the start that Cornwall is going to be a huge character in the book with the rugged and mysterious landscape being overplayed to the point that it often is bigger than the rest of the plot (to the book's detriment).
This novel is worth reading but I would suggest it is read over a day or two as the menacing world it creates did not stay with me when I put the book down.
The progression of the plot feels very predictable although I didn't have any idea that it was going to end the way it did and it all felt very unlikely which gave a clunky feel. Many times I did not believe what a particular person was doing with most of the action being far too dramatic.


The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records
by Stuart Maconie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Pure enjoyment - chance to revisit some favourite records and discover a few unknown ones, 21 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the introduction to this book, Stuart Maconie explains that he has chosen 50 pop songs which will illustrate changes in society. He then focuses on them one at a time and relates the song to societal change. It's a big ask to use such a restricted structure but it works really well with the narrative moving between general history and the music industry. He also has a factual and easily accessible style which works well in this format of short chapters.
Like most people, I enjoy music but often find that this type of book can be very rock focused with the author being swayed by their opinion of what is a "classic" record. Stuart Maconie doesn't so this - the songs are not necessarily his favourites and they are not all amazing songs but they are all chosen to illustrate some sort of progression in the industry and how this mirrors society.
The book took a while to read as I decided to listen to each song as I went through which I really enjoyed - there were one or two that I hadn't come across before but most were very familiar and great to hear again. Many genres are visited and I particularly enjoyed the contrast of song when moving to a new chapter - eg a heavy metal song sits next to a folk song.
There are many great stories, some of which I have heard before (the organisation of Band Aid) but many which were new to me (the naming of the Bay City Rollers), and there is something in here for everyone. The stories are all presented in a gently humorous way which kept a smile on my face.


Post-it Notes - Neon Rainbow Lined - 6 Pads Per Pack - 100 Sheets Per Pad - 152 mm x 102 mm
Post-it Notes - Neon Rainbow Lined - 6 Pads Per Pack - 100 Sheets Per Pad - 152 mm x 102 mm
Price: £18.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Great size and love the colours, 17 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These post-it notes arrived in a parcel much larger than I expected. There are 6 pads, 2 of each colour. The pads are individually wrapped in plastic and then wrapped together in plastic (not sure all that wrapping is needed but it doesn't matter). There is no easy way to get through the plastic but scissors do the job.
The product itself is great. It's over double the size of a standard post-it and also lined which means plenty of space for anything. There are 100 notes in each pad so these will last me for some time.
Love the bright colours too.


Acts of Love
Acts of Love
by Talulah Riley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, the mix of modern and Victorian romance just doesn't work., 15 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Acts of Love (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The marketing blurb for this novel reads very well. It sounds intriguing and intelligently written. The author is a debut novelist and I hadn't read any other reviews so I did have some caution.
The first few pages sets the scene. We have a successful female journalist who seems to hate all men, she goes to a party in the hope of hooking up with the one man that she admires but meets someone else and the plot goes from there.
It's made clear early on that the main character has a love of Victorian literature and that has an influence throughout the book in the way that the narrative is written. It's a mixture of very modern writing but done in a romantic Victorian way. Mixed together these two styles don't work and the result is very clunky. It also feels unlikely that this sort of person could be real.
I like the clash of professional and personal lives and I liked the modern elements to the writing but it really doesn't work when the Victorian romance is mixed in.
I'm also not convinced about the cover/title as it gives little idea about the type of novel. I'm not sure what market this novel is targeting but, if it confuses others as it did me, then it will struggle.
Shame, this story could be so much better.


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