Learn more Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's
Profile for Lynette Baines > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Lynette Baines
Top Reviewer Ranking: 28,618
Helpful Votes: 1994

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Lynette Baines (Melbourne, Australia)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-12
pixel
The Communion of Saints: Volume 3 (John Ray / LS9 crime thrillers)
The Communion of Saints: Volume 3 (John Ray / LS9 crime thrillers)
by John Barlow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, character-driven page turner, 6 Feb. 2017
Whenever John Ray's name is mentioned, he's described as "son of Tony Ray, the well-known local crime boss". A year after witnessing his father's murder, John is still coming to terms with the grief & the guilt. He's working as a teaching assistant in Accountancy at Leeds City University, living in an apartment that's fast becoming a rubbish dump, drinking & gambling too much, a functional alcoholic living alone. When Detective Chief Superintendent Shirley Kirk of the West Yorkshire police asks John to informally investigate historic abuse allegations being made about St Olaf's boys home, he's intrigued & visits Father Dardenne who ran the home to learn more about some of the old boys, especially Colin Marsden, the now-successful businessman who is the focus of the accusations. John's investigations are complicated by his notoriety. When Father Dardenne is found dead, poisoned, after John had visited him, the local police are only too happy to take him in for questioning. Another suspect is Warren Clegg, a former St Olaf's boy who has been active on the internet forum where the accusations surfaced & was also seen at Father Dardenne's home on the day of his death. A second suspicious death sends the investigation in yet another direction & John must navigate through a tangle of blackmail & lies to get to the truth.

The Communion of Saints is the third book in the LS9 series. I really enjoyed the first two books, Hope Road & Father and Son, & have been waiting impatiently for the third book. I love a crime series which is based on compelling characters & John Ray is one of the most compelling, ambiguous characters in crime fiction. The ambiguity of his character & his actions is always intriguing. I love character-driven stories & John Ray is definitely the driver of these books. Attractive, vulnerable but exuding a confidence that is attractive to women even as it irritates those who would love to see him take a fall. All the characters were equally compelling. I especially loved Shirley Kirk. Great to see a mature woman with a successful career, dealing with office politics & a relationship that does her no favours at work. I'm looking forward to the next instalment in the series.


The Dancing Bear
The Dancing Bear
by Frances Faviell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-war Berlin - occupiers & occupied, 10 Dec. 2016
This review is from: The Dancing Bear (Paperback)
After reading Frances Faviell's memoir of the Blitz, A Chelsea Concerto, I was keen to read this book, written before A Chelsea Concerto but set in post-war Berlin. Frances's husband was a senior civil servant in the British Administration in Berlin & Frances & their son, John, joined him in late 1946. Berlin was being administered by the four allies - Britain, the United States, France & the Soviet Union - in the uneasy years after the defeat of Hitler & before the Soviets divided Germany & took over the East.During the War, Frances lived in Chelsea & helped many refugees with her practical kindness & friendship. Her life in Berlin is a continuation of that life in some ways. The contrast between the lavish social life of the Allied administration & the friendship she develops with the Altmann family is striking. She is exposed to the trauma inflicted by the war as well as the ongoing hardship of the defeated German people & her attempts to alleviate the hardship as much as she can for her friends. Frau Maria Altmann lives with her husband, Oskar, & their children Fritz, Ursula & Lilli in a barely heated apartment stripped of anything that could be sold for food or fuel. Frances meets Frau Altmann one day when she sees the older woman collapse on the street. Taking her home, Frances discovers that Maria is depriving herself of food to help her children. The Altmanns had been a prosperous family but their belongings are gone & their savings are worthless. Ursula is working as a housemaid for a group of American servicemen & Lilli is a ballet dancer. Fritz, resentful of the allies & with a nostalgic longing for the Hitler Youth he was part of during the war, has become involved in the black market. Another son, Kurt, is missing in Russia. Their lives are made more difficult by the restrictions imposed on Berliners - the tiny electricity ration, the bans on fraternising with the British (the Americans were not so strict) & the lack of food & fuel even if they had any money to pay for it.
The Dancing Bear is an affecting & very moving story. By concentrating on the story of one family, Frances Faviell brings home the plight of many thousands more. Maria Altmann is a dignified, stoic woman who understands a great deal more about her children's lives & the compromises they have made than they realise. As in A Chelsea Concerto, Faviell doesn't flinch from recording the brutal realities of life for these desperate people. The aftermath of war & the reality of living under occupation requires compromises that will test the Altmanns but also shows how strong the will to survive can be.


Bewildering Cares
Bewildering Cares
Price: £0.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diary of a Provincial Clergy Wife, 14 Nov. 2016
This review is from: Bewildering Cares (Kindle Edition)
Camilla Lacely & her husband Arthur, an Anglican vicar, live in Stampfield, near Manchester, a manufacturing town with an inconveniently large vicarage & a Victorian Gothic church. Bewildering Cares is the diary of a week in Camilla’s life in the first months of WWII & encapsulates the drudgery, troubles & sometimes unconscious humour of her role as a clergy wife. The war is already impinging on Camilla’s life as her son, Dick, is training with his regiment & seems to be taking a romantic interest in Ida Weekes, daughter of her husband’s Church Warden. The major drama of the week is caused by Arthur’s curate, Mr Strang, who gives a pacifist sermon (which Camilla unfortunately sleeps through), outraging the entire parish. Camilla’s maid, Kate, is an uninspired cook who takes advantage of her boyfriend’s imminent departure to France to pop out & see him as often as she can get away with as well as inviting him in to share the Lacely’s frugal meals. Squabbles over sewing parties & an uninspiring Quiet Day retreat for clergy wives test Camilla’s patience but she is a kind woman, as sympathetic to the thought of a budding romance in the parish as she is alarmed by the very real prospect of Dick being posted overseas. Her irritation over the constant interruptions, Kate’s fecklessness & the petty squabbles of the various parish factions never overwhelm her knowledge that the work she & Arthur are doing is valuable. Above all, she & Arthur maintain their sense of humour through it all which makes Bewildering Cares a delight to read. Another welcome reprint from Furrowed Middlebrow Books and Dean Street Press.


Deep Water
Deep Water
by Christine Poulson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense scientific thriller, 30 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Deep Water (Paperback)
A cure for obesity is the Holy Grail of medical research. Two years after a drug trial that went horribly wrong when a participant died, Calliope Biotech is close to success in the quest for a drug that will cure obesity. When another company claims to have got there first, & takes their claim to court, patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont is employed to scrutinize the evidence of lab books & trials when the lawyer working on the case, Jennifer Blunt, is killed in a car accident. Daniel's reservations about taking on the enormous workload of the case are complicated by the fact that Jennifer was his ex-wife. Scientific researcher Katie Flanagan is working in Calliope's lab on a cure for Diamond-Blackfan anaemia, a genetic disease that Daniel's daughter suffers from. She becomes convinced that someone in the lab is trying to sabotage their work & also becomes involved in the search for evidence of potential scientific fraud when the missing lab book turns up but all is not as it seems.
I loved all the detail about scientific research & the constant need to publish, chase grants & funding, the temptation to heighten or even falsify results is ever-present. The atmosphere of the lab, with its strict security & focused researchers, was great but I always love the sense of place that Christine Poulson evokes. The Cambridgeshire Fens, Ely Cathedral & especially the lonely stretch of water where the Marchmont's barge is moored, were so evocative. The moral & ethical dilemmas in the story are incredibly knotty & all the characters have to grapple with the human cost of their actions. I always read Christine's books in a great rush & this was no exception.


A Chelsea Concerto
A Chelsea Concerto
by Frances Faviell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Blitz-lit, 4 Oct. 2016
This review is from: A Chelsea Concerto (Paperback)
In 1939, Frances Faviell was living in Cheyne Place, Chelsea. She was an artist in her mid 30s, with a wide circle of friends. She had a facility for languages & trained as a Red Cross volunteer in preparation for the bombing that became more & more inevitable as Germany invaded & occupied Holland, Belgium & France. The Blitz devastated many parts of Britain but Chelsea, close to the main bridges over the Thames, was one of the most heavily bombed areas of London. A Chelsea Concerto tells the story of the Blitz through the eyes of a compassionate, sensitive woman whose common sense, patriotism & sense of humour were tested but never entirely broken by the onslaught. Frances found herself supporting a group of Belgian refugees & working at a First Aid Post through the worst of the Blitz. Her memoir describes the bombing raids in horrifying, almost forensic detail - being lowered head first into a pit to sedate a badly injured man, helping to reconstruct bodies from limbs & flesh to allow grieving families to bury their loved ones & finally, barely surviving a direct hit on her own home. Faviell wrote the memoir in later life & these memories were obviously still very present to her. However, there is also a lot of laughter & joy - I don't want to make the book sound unrelentingly grim. Vicki the dachshund (known as Miss Hitler), Faviell's love for her fiance Richard, the indomitable Mrs Freeth & the Green Cat that sat on her windowsill until the end, promising good luck & keeping everyone safe. I've never read a better memoir of the Blitz or one that affected me so much. The final chapters are heartbreaking to read & I read the last half of the book in one sitting, compelled & horrified in equal measure. A Chelsea Concerto will definitely be one of my books of the year.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2016 9:44 PM BST


The Golden Age of Murder
The Golden Age of Murder
by Martin Edwards
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Celebrating the Golden Age of crime, 10 Jun. 2015
The Detection Club was founded in 1930 by a group of crime writers that included Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers & Anthony Berkeley Cox, who wrote under the names Anthony Berkeley & Francis Iles. The Club was an exclusive one. Members had to be proposed by a current member & approved by the committee. The initiation ritual, complete with members dressed in ceremonial robes & the swearing of an oath to uphold fair play in the plotting of the detective novel taken while holding a skull known as Eric, was all part of the game. The Club met for dinner & conversation several times a year in London & the meetings provided an opportunity for gossip about publishers, agents, sales, the topics that probably feature in the conversation of any group of writers. For some of the members, the Club provided an escape from the disappointments & problems of their private lives. The Golden Age of Murder focuses principally on the writers who were members of the Detection Club from 1920 to 1949. Much has been written about Christie & Sayers but I was especially interested to read more about Berkeley. He was an innovative novelist whose brilliant plotting was a feature of his work. Two of his books written under the pseudonym Francis Iles radically changed the conventions of detective fiction. Edwards also mentions many other writers, some of them famous in their day but unknown now. Interestingly, as consultant to the very successful British Library Crime Classics series, Edwards has been instrumental in bringing some of these authors back into print. Christopher St John Sprigg, J Jefferson Farjeon & Freeman Wills Croft are just three authors mentioned in this book who have been brought back into print. Other topics covered include the collaborative novels published by the members & the interest in true crime cases that influenced their fiction. I'm just as fascinated by the lives of authors as their books so The Golden Age of Murder has been a real treat for me. I think anyone who has read the novels of this period would find much to enjoy in Martin Edwards' book.


The Great War: The People's Story - Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette
The Great War: The People's Story - Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette
Price: £1.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hidden life restored, 28 Sept. 2014
Kate Parry Frye kept a diary for over 70 years. Fifty years after her death, Elizabeth Crawford came across the diaries, read them & became intrigued by the woman who wrote them. Kate had grown up in a secure middle-class family. She had little formal education, but loved the theatre & took lessons in singing, dancing & recitation. She became an actress & had some limited success. However, she did meet her future husband, John Collins, in a touring production of Quality Street. Kate worked as a suffrage organiser, touring the country organising meetings for the New Constitutional Society for Women's Suffrage. She married John in 1915 and, after the war, as John tried to pick up his theatrical career, they had a hard time making ends meet. Kate also had the responsibility of helping her widowed mother & sister, Agnes. Agnes's story is one of the saddest in the book. She never worked, never married & suffered from ill health & depression for much of her life. As Kate said, her life was wasted. Kate's life certainly was not wasted. I loved reading about Kate's life during WWI & afterwards, as she met every challenge with courage, especially the misery of John's last years when he suffered from dementia.
The epigraph for this book quotes the beautiful final words of Middlemarch, "To all those women down the ages who, in the words of George Eliot, have 'lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs'." This quote is so perfect for Kate. I came to feel so much affection for her & her husband, John, & let's face it, there are so many more of us living ordinary, hidden lives than there are living famous lives. I loved finding out more about Kate.


THE GLASS GUARDIAN
THE GLASS GUARDIAN
Price: £0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supernatural romance at its best, 9 Jun. 2012
Ruth has suffered more grief in a very short time than anyone should have to bear. She's lost her lover, her father & her aunt. Her Aunt Janet's death has hit her hard. Janet virtually brought Ruth up after her mother's death & the time she spent at Janet's house, Tigh na Linne, on Skye, represents Ruth's happiest memories. Ruth inherits the house & travels to Skye to decide what to do with her life. Ruth gradually realises that she's not alone at Tigh na Linne. The house is haunted & the ghost is not entirely a stranger to her. As winter envelops the house & Ruth's loneliness & confusion increase, it becomes apparent that her future is intimately entwined with her family's past & her passion for a man who died one hundred years ago.
Linda Gillard has created a completely believable world in The Glass Guardian that spans the real & the unreal, the past & the present. The best ghost stories take place in winter, illuminated by cosy fires & flickering candlelight. Skye is the perfect setting, the bare wintry landscape mirroring Ruth's despair & grief when she first arrives at Tigh na Linne. Ruth is a vulnerable & very believable character. She has few warm memories & all of them are bound up with Skye & her Aunt Janet. Her determination to discover all she can about Janet's life & the earlier family history is a fascinating part of the story.
The Glass Guardian is an unputdownable novel about love, loss, grief, music, WWI, Skye, family secrets, loneliness & a ghost who will break your heart.


UNTYING THE KNOT
UNTYING THE KNOT
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, pain & the whole damn thing., 18 Sept. 2011
This review is from: UNTYING THE KNOT (Kindle Edition)
What do you do when you love someone but can no longer live with them? That's the dilemma facing Fay McGillivray when she leaves her husband, Magnus. Magnus has been a career soldier, working in bomb disposal. His postings have been to Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf. Fay lived with the tension of being an Army wife for years, wondering if she'd ever see Magnus again every time he went back on duty. Then, the call came that Fay had always dreaded, Magnus had been badly injured in a bomb blast in Derry. And it wasn't just the physical scars, it was the mental torment that tore them apart. Magnus suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The flashbacks, the nightmares, the blank spots where he doesn't remember where he is or what he's done. As part of Magnus's recovery, he decides to buy Tullibardine Tower, a rundown ruin of a castle, & restore it. Hard physical work & solitude begin to heal Magnus but they drive Fay to the edge. Two years in a caravan on a windswept building site is more than Fay can stand. Their daughter Emily stays with her father & Fay begins a new life.
Fay starts again. She begins working seriously as a textile artist & finds some success. Her relationship with Emily suffers but she has a warm friendship with Magnus's mother, Jessie, a woman with secrets of her own. Her relationships with men are pretty disastrous because she compares them all to Magnus - & no one can compare. Magnus is still at Tully Tower, living with Nina, a young teacher who longs for a commitment from Magnus that he's not able to give. When Magnus turns up at an exhibition of Fay's work, she has to confront her feelings about him, their marriage & the reasons why she left.
Untying the Knot is a complex novel. It's not always easy to read. Magnus's illness makes for harrowing reading. But, there's also humour, beautiful characterisation & a compelling story of two people who should be together - if they can only work out how.


HOUSE OF SILENCE
HOUSE OF SILENCE
Price: £1.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets, lies & romance, 10 April 2011
This review is from: HOUSE OF SILENCE (Kindle Edition)
Gwen Rowland is an independent, self-contained young woman in her mid twenties. Christened Guinevere by her drug-addicted mother because she was conceived at Glastonbury, Gwen's life has deliberately taken the opposite track to that of her mother, aunts & uncles, all now dead. While working as a wardrobe assistant on a Regency drama, she meets actor, Alfie Donovan. Alfie's childhood has been just as dysfunctional as Gwen's because he was the inspiration for his mother's successful series of children's books & he has distanced himself from his family as a result. When Alfie reluctantly takes Gwen to his family home, Creake Hall, for Christmas, the visit is the catalyst for revelations & surprises from the past. Gwen's relationship with Alfie is threatened when she meets Marek, an enigmatic gardener with secrets of his own. House of Silence is a compulsively readable book. It's a compelling story of family secrets & lies, set in a crumbling Elizabethan mansion at Christmas in the depths of a freezing Norfolk winter. The heroine is smart, independent & compassionate. The hero is, quite frankly, gorgeous. If you enjoy family intrigue, secrets from the past & lots of romance, I recommend it.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-12