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Matt (London, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Quieter Than Killing (D.I. Marnie Rome 4)
Quieter Than Killing (D.I. Marnie Rome 4)
by Sarah Hilary
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Marnie Rome series goes from strength to strength, 19 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the fourth of Sarah Hilary's police procedurals featuring DI Marnie Rome and I think it's the strongest so far. This time Marnie is facing a series of vigilante attacks on ex-convicts, troublesome teenage gangs and a missing child, all of which seem to be connected to her own past. Marnie's need to understand and come to terms with her tragic history (her foster brother murdered her parents) has featured throughout the series but it moves to the fore in this story; she finds some answers but is also faced with more questions. Her sergeant Noah Jake's family problems - namely his brother Sol - also come to a head during the novel. While these events will have more meaning for those who've read the previous three books, the scene is set clearly enough for new readers to pick up the threads easily.

Sarah Hilary seems to be growing in confidence with each new instalment. Her descriptions of London beset by a harsh winter are particularly evocative, while the plot is more complex and multi-layered this time and she handles it with impressive skill. It can be a bleak and rather disturbing read, but the strength of the characters - Marnie, Noah, their families and the rest of the investigation team - provides the core of humanity which is one of this series' most appealing qualities.

While there is a conclusive resolution to the case, the book itself ends on a bit of a cliffhanger; I'm already looking forward to the next chapter of Marnie's story. Recommended.


Marigold Let It Shine Extra Thick Microfibre Cloths, Multicolour, 5 Packs of 4 Cloths
Marigold Let It Shine Extra Thick Microfibre Cloths, Multicolour, 5 Packs of 4 Cloths
Offered by Homecare Essentials Limited
Price: £16.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, hard-wearing cloths, 11 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These microfibres cloths are an excellent buy - they can be used dry or wet, they can be washed out when dirty, they're hard-wearing and good for a variety of jobs. They will soak up spills pretty thoroughly and are useful for cleaning glass / screens etc. without leaving too many smear marks. Each pack contains four cloths in a selection of garish colours, apparently so you can remember which cloth you use for which jobs...which seems a bit pointless but it's hardly a deal-breaker. An excellent all-round cleaning essential.


Her Perfect Life
Her Perfect Life
by Sam Hepburn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, if somewhat hard to swallow at times, 9 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Her Perfect Life (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gracie is a celebrity chef with a seemingly perfect life. Juliet is a down-on-her-luck single mother with a life that's anything but perfect. The two women are worlds apart but end up being brought together through their young daughters. Juliet, increasingly bitter and obsessed, wants what Gracie has - but how far will she go to get it?

This is a pacy read that's easy to tear through. As with so many novels in this genre some of the twists and turns of the plot are hard to swallow, but if you can suspend your disbelief it's all quite entertaining. I must admit Gracie comes across as so cloyingly sweet and good natured that I found myself partly sympathising with Juliet's resentment towards her - or maybe I'm just bitter too!

One plot thread is not clearly resolved at the end, which is slightly annoying; I can guess the answer to the mystery from various clues but I would've preferred a more definite confirmation. Apart from that, this was quite good fun - nothing outstanding but enjoyable enough for fans of domestic thrillers.


Star Wars: Graphics
Star Wars: Graphics
by Lucasfilm
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Infographics, Star Wars style, 8 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Star Wars: Graphics (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an interesting idea - presenting Star Wars trivia in the form of infographics. The facts included cover both information from the Star Wars universe (e.g. characters, planets, starships) and also the saga's creation, success and cultural impact. It's accessible and well designed; as a huge fan there wasn't a great deal here that I didn't know already (not that I felt a burning desire to know, at least) but it's good for a flick through if you feel the need to brush up on your geek knowledge.


Under the Harrow
Under the Harrow
by Flynn Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and disturbing look at a sisterly bond, 7 Feb. 2017
This review is from: Under the Harrow (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nora arrives at her sister Rachel's house in the Oxfordshire countryside for her regular weekend visit to find a scene of carnage: Rachel has been stabbed to death. Many years ago Rachel was attacked in the street, an event which has haunted both sisters ever since; Nora has always felt partly to blame as she allowed Rachel to walk home alone that night...now Nora is determined to find Rachel's killer, with or without the help of the police.

This is much more than just another psychological thriller. The writing, the pacing and the characterisation are all excellent; Nora's internal voice is so well captured, along with the processes of trying to cope with the trauma of the murder - the way memories of Rachel come back to her in flashes, the moments of physical and emotional exhaustion and of fear, the sheer disbelief that it could've happened at all.

It soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Nora grows paranoid and obsessive, with hints of a barely-contained rage inside her and violent outbursts of temper. Her relationship with Rachel was also far more difficult and complex than her initial reminiscences of their holidays together suggested. The use of an Unreliable Narrator is hardly a new fictional device, but it can still be incredibly effective when done well, as it is here.

If I have one criticism, it's that the ending seemed rather rushed. After so carefully building the tension throughout the book, everything seems to come to a climax very quickly. Don't get me wrong, it's a gripping denouement - my heart was in my mouth, in fact - but events did seem to resolve themselves a bit hastily. Nevertheless this is a great read, highly recommended, and I look forward to Flynn Berry's next book with high expectations.


Close To Me: Gripping psychological family drama
Close To Me: Gripping psychological family drama
by Amanda Reynolds
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really a thriller, 6 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite being billed as such, I would hesitate to call this a psychological thriller. It does have elements of mystery but at heart it's more of a family/relationship drama, with little in the way of plot twists and suspense.

The premise sounded intriguing: Jo has fallen down the stairs and lost all memory of the previous year, and the people close to her seem determined she shouldn't remember...The book alternates between the days after Jo's fall as she tries to fill the gap in her memory, and a chronological account of the forgotten year. This structure occasionally leads to confusion as the reader knows more than Jo has remembered.

In fact much of the lost year is taken up with marital ups and downs which become rather tiresome. It doesn't help that Jo's family are so awful - a controlling, reactionary Neanderthal of a husband, a spoiled brat of a daughter with a ludicrously unpleasant boyfriend, and a monosyllabic son who rebuffs any sign of maternal affection. If I were Jo I would've welcomed forgetting all three of them.

Sadly I found parts of the storyline rather unconvincing, right from the start. The novel opens immediately after Jo has fallen, with paramedics attending to her; she has tumbled down the stairs, her husband was right behind her by his own admission and she is instinctively frightened of him - yet no one shows the slightest suspicion about what happened. This seemed so ridiculous that I never quite got over it, and some later events are similarly difficult to believe, wildly out of character and frequently rather melodramatic.

It did keep me reading until the end, but I'm sorry to say I was a bit disappointed. I think it might hold more appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult or Liane Moriarty; if you're looking for a genuine psychological thriller, you may find this wanting.


The Painted Dragon (The Sinclair's Mysteries)
The Painted Dragon (The Sinclair's Mysteries)
by Katherine Woodfine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another spiffing outing for amateur detectives Sophie and Lil, 4 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the third in Katherine Woodfine's delightful Edwardian mystery series centred around the fictional Sinclair's department store in London. Plucky heroines Sophie and Lil are back, this time investigating a painting stolen from Sinclair's Exhibition Hall, and are joined once again by fellow staff members Billy and Joe plus a group of art students including the talented but awkward Leonora (Leo) and Lil's brother Jack.

It's possible to enjoy this book even if you haven't read the previous two in the series, although be aware there are a few spoilers from the preceding adventures included here so I'd suggest starting at the beginning with The Clockwork Sparrow.

This is another utterly charming romp, ideal for children aged around 10 and up - especially fans of the popular Murder Most Unladylike series - but also perfectly entertaining for adults who enjoy cozy historical mysteries. I loved it!


Disney Moana Starlight Canoe and Friends
Disney Moana Starlight Canoe and Friends

4.0 out of 5 stars Will delight children, although the price is a little steep, 2 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Moana doll and canoe set is likely to thrill any young fan of the film. It comes with Moana herself (not a great likeness to the character but close enough for kids I suppose) plus models of her pet pig Pau and the wonderful chicken Hei Hei. There's also the canoe itself, which requires only minor assembly, complete with fabric sail, hidden wheels so it can 'sail' along the ground smoothly and a battery operated light in the prow which can be pointed up or down. Great to have so many items in one set, although as with so many Disney toys, it's rather expensive for what it is.


Disney Princess Moana Maui The Demigod Toy
Disney Princess Moana Maui The Demigod Toy

3.0 out of 5 stars Rather expensive for what it is - limited play value, 2 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This model of demigod Maui from Disney's Moana is solidly made, a decent size and an accurate likeness of the character, complete with his magic hook and tattoos. However, it has very limited articulation, so while children will certainly want one to complete their Moana collection, it doesn't seem to offer particularly good value for money.


The Breakdown: The 2017 gripping thriller from the bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors
The Breakdown: The 2017 gripping thriller from the bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors
by B A Paris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brisk, easy reading, 2 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
B A Paris's second novel begins with a vehicular breakdown, but it's focus is the mental / emotional breakdown threatening lead character Cass. After failing to offer assistance to a stranded motorist on a stormy evening, Cass learns the woman in the car she passed was murdered that very night. She is plagued by guilt and later terror, when it seems the murderer may be stalking her. In addition, she is afraid she may be developing early-onset dementia like her mother. Is she really in danger or is her mind playing tricks?

If you're looking for a thought-provoking thriller with penetrating psychological insights, you won't find it here. However, if you just want something light to while away a journey or to take on holiday, The Breakdown will likely fit the bill. It's a briskly paced, undemanding read which will hold your interest but is unlikely to stick in your mind for too long after it's finished. The writing is rather melodramatic and you'll need to completely suspend your disbelief as some of the revelations are wildly implausible, but it was quite entertaining while it lasted.

Also, it's worth mentioning that if you dislike the grislier aspects of the crime genre, rest assured this novel contains no gory details.


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