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A Winter's Tale
A Winter's Tale
by Trisha Ashley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would suit fans of Katie Fforde, 18 Jan. 2010
This review is from: A Winter's Tale (Paperback)
I'm a bit of a fan of Katie Fforde's books and always on the look-out for similar books, but they are hard to find, as most of them are just blatant chick lit books, of which I'm not a huge fan; I like a bit of romance but there has to be a good story/plot to the book, not just about relationships. I then accidentally discovered this book and it sounded quite appealing and when I bought it, to my delight I discovered that Katie Fforde had given a comment on the back of the book. This however is not meant to take away from Trisha Ashley at all. The book is about Sophy Winter who inherits a crumbling family mansion and decides to give it an overhaul and open it to the public, along with magnificent gardens. What annoyed me a bit is that in the first half of the book she was attracted to a cousin who clearly was just after her money but she didn't see it and later when she fell in love with the head gardener, Seth, she wouldn't admit to it. All in all there was a bit too much on the relationship/romance side of things where I would have preferred the story around the house to be a bit `meatier', hence only the three stars, but I would recommend the book.


The Serpent In The Garden
The Serpent In The Garden
by Janet Gleeson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 18 Jan. 2010
I'm not usually a big fan of historical novels, or historical whodunits, but just for the sake of variety I picked up this book and was pleasantly surprised. It's about a painter, Joshua Pope, who has been commissioned to paint a family portrait of Herbert Bentnick and his wife-to-be, Sabine. While staying at the family's estate, a body is discovered in the pinery, and Joshua sets out to discover who the man is and who killed him as for some reason the couple seem to want to brush the death under the carpet. Then Sabine's priceless jewel is stolen, and Joshua is implicated in its theft. While trying to clear his name, he gets an opportunity to examine the different relationships within the family (Herbert's children and Sabine's daughter and family friends) and finds there could be several people who had a motive to kill the man or to steal the jewellery, but in the end it was a bit of a surprise to discover who the culprit was. I must say that, after getting over the slightly slow start, I really got into the book and thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to other readers.


Heroes of the Valley
Heroes of the Valley
by Jonathan Stroud
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars No Bartimaeus but still good, 11 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Heroes of the Valley (Hardcover)
This book is quite different to the Bartimaeus trilogy, which I absolutely loved and would recommend to anyone who hasn't read them yet. But coming back to this book, like other readers I was wondering whether it would be as good, and can say that it is, nearly.

The story is set in an isolated Valley which is surrounded by mountains and so called Trow walls, and nobody ever ventures outside of the Valley as outside the walls, the deadly Trows live and will certainly kill anyone who crosses the border. Our hero is little Halli who grew up listening to the stories about his ancestors who fought the Trows and seem to have super-human strength, and he would like to emulate their heroics but to his frustration it appears that the inhabitants of the Valley have forsaken their violent past and are peace-loving people. In the first part of the book he sets out on his own adventure wanting to avenge the death of a relative, the second half of the book takes place when he is back in his own village but faces more adventures. There's a few excellent twists which I didn't expect as I had had a few of my own theories.

The way the book is written reminded me of old Icelandic sagas maybe, with Icelandic sounding names etc., which was a complete change from the Bartimaeus book and took me aback a bit when I first started reading, but all in all it was a very enjoyable book. I was initially only going to give it four stars based on the fact that I thought it wasn't quite as good as the Bartimaeus books (somewhat less witty) but then thought it would be quite unfair and I should judge it by its own merit, so I did give it five stars, and I would recommend it.


Going Home
Going Home
by Harriet Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Typical chick lit, 11 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Going Home (Paperback)
I'm not really into the whole so-called `chick lit' thing but every now and then for variety's sake I pick up one of these books. This book sounded sort of appealing when I read the back of it, saying it's about the sale of our heroine's home where she grew up and mysteries surrounding it and stuff her family won't tell her. Sadly the book didn't live up to what it promised in my view. This being chick-lit, it was obviously about our heroine and her tangled love life so I was expecting that, but I just found her to be quite shallow and I really didn't care what happened to her at all. Yes there was stuff about the house's sale and also lots and lots about her extended family who seem to live in each other's pocket and I found all their quarrelling slightly annoying to say the least. Yes the big mystery about the sale of the house was revealed but it wasn't anything shocking. All in all, it was a quick read and I did keep reading it as I wanted to find out what this so-called secret was, but I was glad when I finished it. This wasn't one of those books that you just can't put down, quite forgettable really.


The Servants
The Servants
by M. M. Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title, 11 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Servants (Paperback)
This book was in the adult section of my local library but I found out that it's really a children's book, but I thought I'd read it anyway. It starts off on a good premise - an 11-year old boy called Mark has to leave London and move to Brighton with his mum and his new step-father. His mother is very sick and mostly bed-ridden, and he doesn't get along with his step-father, whose time is spent mostly with caring for his sick wife, thus Mark is left to his own devices for most of the time. There is a basement flat in the house that they have moved into where an old lady lives in a small room. The boy visits her one day, and she shows him the rest of the basement behind a locked door, which was used as the servants quarters a long time ago and is now in a bad state of repair and disused. When Mark visits again on his own, he finds that he seems to have travelled back in time as when he arrives in the basement, it is full of the hustle and bustle of the servants.

This could have been a great story and it was a good idea for a book to have Mark go back in time when the house was used by the servants, but sadly the author concentrates more on the boy's relationship with his mum and step-father, and there is very little about the servants and hardly any interaction between them and the boy, apart from a chapter at the end. I realise that what little interaction there was appears to be symbolism to what is happening in the boy's real life, but in that case the title of the book is extremely misleading. From picking it up and reading the back of it, it sounds as if this is what the book is about - the boy and the servants, a good story, but not so, so I must say I was quite disappointed in the book as I was expecting something else. The only reason it got three stars is because it was an easy read and there was a certain element of suspense throughout as you are waiting for the interaction with the servants, but it fell down at the end.


The Seance
The Seance
by John Harwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, 11 Sept. 2009
This review is from: The Seance (Paperback)
I was unsure about this book when I first saw the title - The Séance - as I'm not into that kind of thing at all. But it also did say `A Victorian Mystery' so I thought I'd give it a try and if I didn't like it, I'd just put it down. Well there was no need for that as it was such a great book and had me hooked.

It starts with one of the main characters, Constance, inheriting an old mansion, Wraxford Hall, situated in the woods (which are meant to be haunted), from some distant relatives and the mysteries surrounding it and its previous owners. The narrative is then picked up on several occasions by John Montague, the solicitor who told Constance about her inheritance and who has had involvement with the Hall and its owner about 20 years previously. There is also a couple of chapters where another one of the main characters, Eleanor Unwin, gives her story, which is linked to John Montague's, before the narrative reverts to Constance who sets out to finally uncover the mysteries and what happened to the previous owners. The séances don't feature that much in the book, rather they are used as a vehicle to start off the story and are also used in the end, but it's made quite clear that they are hoaxes so it wasn't that spooky.

The book wasn't quite as scary as it said on its back, but it was very atmospheric and slightly spooky alright, more to do with the whole atmosphere rather than what was actually happening, with a couple of good twists at the end, some of which I didn't see coming. The book is very well written and it's a good story. I would describe it as Jane Austen meets Stephen King (well sort of). I can't recommend this book highly enough, I read it in record time as you just want to keep reading and learn what happened at the Hall, very hard to put down!


The Food Taster: A Novel
The Food Taster: A Novel
by Peter Elbling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For food lovers, 24 Feb. 2009
I'm not so sure about this book. I couldn't get into it at all and several times thought of abandoning it altogether. But seeing as I hate doing that, I stuck with it, and admittedly the second half of the book gets a bit better - the first half I found very slow going and I never cared much for the main character, even by the end of the book, didn't find him very likeable. The author seemed to be obsessed by, what should I call it, "bodily functions", which I found really off-putting, and I'm by no means prudish. I guess you could say that maybe a few centuries ago that's the way things were, but there was no need to go on about it so much I thought. If you are interested in food and that period of time you will probably like this book.


The Museum's Secret: The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn (book 1) (The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn): Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn Bk. 1
The Museum's Secret: The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn (book 1) (The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn): Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn Bk. 1
by Henry Chancellor
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 24 Feb. 2009
What a fantastic book! Full marks for this book; if there were 10 stars to give, this book would deserve every single one of them! It's about a boy called Tom who moves in with relatives who own an old museum of stuffed animals who, he discovers, aren't really dead at all. A great adventure begins with Tom time-travelling back and forth. As the book says, they are `remarkable adventures'! One of the best books I've ever read. I really loved this book and was sorry when I finished it. Hopefully there'll be a sequel soon!


Lady Killer
Lady Killer
by Lisa Scottoline
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 24 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Lady Killer (Hardcover)
Another great book from Lisa Scottoline. Most people who are going to read this book probably already know all the girls in the Rosato law firm so I needn't go on about it. If you have never read one of the books in this series I recommend you start with the first book as these books are really good; it is however not essential that you have read the previous books.

I love this series and was really looking forward to reading this and it didn't disappoint. Fast-moving story with a good end, I flew through the book. Thoroughly enjoyable.


The Art Thief
The Art Thief
by Noah Charney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Witty, fast-paced' my eye!, 24 Feb. 2009
This review is from: The Art Thief (Paperback)
Oh my, where to start with this book. The only positive I can think of is that the author obviously knows his stuff and is passionate about it. But if you are looking for a `witty, fast-paced' novel that takes you on a `breathtaking journey', as was the description on the back of the book, give it a miss, because it is extremely misleading! The pace was excruciatingly slow. As for `witty' - there was no wit in this book at all, unless the author considers one of the characters calling his students `turkeys' or `sheep' was funny, or maybe one character repeatedly mistaking his vibrating phone in his pocket for something else...

This book is more like a non-fiction work on art, art history, art crimes and is very informative in that respect but it felt like the author was cramming in as much of this stuff as he could, a lot not necessary. It made reading very hard-going - I felt like I had been reading for ages but it turned out that it was only a few pages! I was so tempted not to finish this book but I stuck it out, but my God it was painful. I kept hoping that soon the pace would pick up but it never did and was possibly one of the most boring books I've ever read.

The ending I found most unsatisfactory. The writing style was atrocious - sometimes I thought that the dialogues the author wrote could never possibly take place in real life, so stilted. There were quite a few characters in the book, none of them particularly likeable and while the author tried to develop them, he didn't succeed, only giving us bits and pieces. And why does nearly everyone in the book smoke (and no I'm not from the anti-smoking brigade)? One other thing that really annoyed me - and not only in this book - some of the book is set in France, and Italy. Most of the book is in English but quite often you have French sentences or Italian ones - now my French is reasonably good and I know a bit of Italian so it's not that I don't understand the meaning - but what on earth is the purpose of this? To prove the author knows French and Italian? Most irritating.

In short, do not believe a word in the product description as none of it is true. If you want a dissertation on art etc. go ahead and read it - otherwise give it a miss.


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