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A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom)
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The Summer Without You
The Summer Without You
Price: £3.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant chicklit turns to bad Mills and Boon, 27 April 2015
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I didn't have high expectations for this book given that I only paid 99p for it, but for the first few chapters at least I was surprised by the quality of the writing. Ro is a sympathetic and believable character and KS doesn't make the mistake of making her boyfriend Matt into an outright villain who deserves to be ditched - he comes across as a nice bloke if a bit self-centred.

I enjoyed reading about Ro's initial adventures in the Hamptons - - meeting her new flatmates and starting up her photography business. The author has clearly done her research well and it's nice to have a romantic heroine who actually has a life and a job she cares about who doesn't just spend her time mopping around over some man or other.

Then sadly she blows it - the 'meet cute' between Ro and Ted belongs in one of the trashier Mills and Boons and frankly any editor should have cut it from the novel - and the whole Ted storyline doesn't get any better. It consists mainly of ridiculous misunderstandings based on a total lack of communication - wouldn't Ted have told her the truth about his family situation before commissioning her to work for him? - wouldn't Florence have mentioned her real connection with him, if only in conversation? All Ro's ridiculous suspicions of Ted are supposed to serve as shorthand informing the reader that she is really supressing a great passion for him - sadly this didn't work mainly because Ted is a totally two-dimensional character - the perfect romantic lead without any real life quirks or faults that make him human. Matt and Hump are believable characters while Ted is just a female novelist's fantasy man.

The murder subplot is also totally ridiculous and has no place in a light romantic comedy, and the long discussions of local politics/drainage policy in the Hamptons bored me to tears.

The end starts to become increasingly predictable and soon I started to skim pages. It was a relief to finish it so I could get on to another book.

The author clearly has a talent for writing - particularly travel writing - but IMO she should leave romance with a capital R alone. If she had just written a story about a girl spending the summer away from her boyfriend, and establishing a business, making new friends in America that would have been a lot better for me, without a dreary unoriginal romance subplot thrown into the mix.
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Bethany's Sin
Bethany's Sin
Price: £4.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't read product description - it contains a major spoiler, 22 April 2015
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This review is from: Bethany's Sin (Kindle Edition)
First of all let me say the product description is a disgrace and that it gives away the major secret of the plot. Luckily I read this book back in the 90s and just wanted to revisit it, after reading Swan Song which gave me a taste to read more of RM's work.

It's a good old fashioned horror plot - couple with small child think they've found paradise when they move to a lovely small town with friendly neighbours but of course things are never quite what they seem. I was reminded very much of Thomas Tryon's 'Harvest Home' which has similar themes.

The build up is good, and there are some truly eerie moments but as the novel progressed I began to find the hero a bit irritating - he seems determined to put himself in danger when any sane person would just grab the wife and kid (or maybe just the kid) and get the hell out. The denouement is exciting enough but I felt a little bit cheated when it ended - I expected something more, maybe just a hint to send me away wondering.

Still well worth downloading if you've never read it before - a good classic horror novel just like they used to write in the 80s/90s. Just not up to his usual standard.


Swan Song
Swan Song
Price: £6.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning novel which kept me gripped the whole way through, 18 April 2015
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This review is from: Swan Song (Kindle Edition)
The trouble with post apocalyptic novels is that while the opening chapters which set the scene may be gripping stuff, boredom often sets in once we are left with a group of plucky survivors trudging across a dreary landscape. I gave up on 'The Stand' about half way through (though I love most of King's early stuff) tired of his over-detailed, bloated prose and I must admit I didn't have high hopes for this one either - but I was wrong. I will admit it bears more than a passing resemblance to The Stand - both feature a satanic villain in conflict with a saintly heroine - but there it ends. McCammon keeps the action exciting all the way though with surprises coming right up until the dramatic climax at the end.

I have to say that it works better as fantasy than an actual description of what would happen after a widespread nuclear holocaust- I doubt that anyone or anything would survive 7 year of nuclear winter - but setting that aside it is probably the best post apocalyptic novel I've ever read - the closest contender being Simon Clarke's 'King Blood'. It reminds me of how good horror novels were in the 80s, where you were gripped the whole way through instead of giving up in boredom after a few pages. I'm going to read/re-read all his past works now, only wish I could get them all for £1.24!


Trust in Me
Trust in Me
by Sophie McKenzie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Write by numbers thriller which has some good moments, 13 April 2015
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This review is from: Trust in Me (Paperback)
A rather predictable thriller, which alternates chapters seen from the first person viewpoint of the heroine, and the unknown maniac who killed her younger sister. The female voice is fairly authentic - the evil killer chapters not so much so - and I'm not sure what they add to the novel to justify their existence.

I've given this book three stars, since there are quite a few unexpected twists which kept me reading right until the actual villain was revealed - I was always on the verge of giving up, only to be shocked into thinking - well maybe it IS X after all - and I have to give SMcK credit for working hard to keep up the plot momentum. (So many of these thrillers pretty much make it obvious who the villain is right from the start, leaving the reader to plod through the whole thing only to find out it was the person they suspected all along)

Sadly hard work, and exciting plot twists are no substitute for writing talent and that's where the whole thing starts to unravel. The narrator - despite the brutal murder of her sister at a young age, and the 'suicide' of her best friend - doesn't think or behave like a grieving/tramatised person - and all the rest of the characters are cardboard cutouts - especially the male characters who are totally interchangeable - as another reviewer said - anyone could be pulled out at random to be the killer. Given the weakness of the characterisation the only thing which keeps the reader involved is the need to get to the solution of the puzzle - however after all the twists and turns I found the ending disappointing - she needed to introduce a really major twist which would send us away reeling, but for me this didn't really happen and theactual ending was a bit of a damp squib.

Still it kept me occupied for a few hours, and was reasonably good value for money, so probably worth downloading if you want a book to pass the time on a journey and don't set your expectations too high. (Please note that I paid £1.49 I don't think it's worth the full price)


The Twilight Hour
The Twilight Hour
by Nicci Gerrard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to her ususal standard, 25 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Twilight Hour (Paperback)
I loved Nicci Gerrard's solo books - especially 'Solace' but I was a little disappointed in this one. When I read the synopsis I thought it sounded more like a Rosie Thomas or Rosamond Pilcher book and wonder how she would handle what was basically historical fiction.

Sadly I was somewhat underwhelmed - though her writing is as lovely as ever - the storyline is a bit hackneyed - once I learned that elderly matriach Eleanor has a secret sadness in her past - it seemed a pretty fair guess that it relates to a secret love affair and the fact that her husband wasn't the real love of her life. A stock plot of historical/romantic fiction.

The parts set in the present day are somewhat underwhelming - we never learn much about the life of Peter, the young man employed to sort out Eleanor's paperwork and sometimes I felt like skipping forward to the sections set in the past, which are really the only interesting thing in the book. TBH I felt she might as well have written it as straightforward historical fiction.

I didn't find the character of young Eleanor totally convincing either - she seemed far too much like a modern 21st century heroine and for me this doesn't have the spark of NG's better work - it feels a bit generic, like something she wrote to fulfil a book contract. Not really worth the price, and I hope she does better with her next book.


The Silent Sister
The Silent Sister
by Diane Chamberlain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, write by numbers, thriller, 20 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Silent Sister (Paperback)
The comparisons to Jodi Piccoult and Liane Moriarty are ludicrous and I suspect that fans of both writers will find this novel distinctly underwhelming.

Like many other reviewers, I caught on to the set up a few chapters into the novel which made it rather a boring plod to get through. Chamberlain is an ok writer, but with this kind of plot, what the reader is really looking for is to be kept guessing right till the end. That frankly is unlikely to happen here to anyone who has read any books with similar plots, or watched any soaps/TV mini series.

The original set up is ridiculous - the most obviously faked suicide which would not deceive the police or anyone else (this isn't a spoiler it's made clear right from the start of the novel that the missing sister, Lisa, is still alive). I also found it impossible to believe that any lawyer would describe Lisa's case as 'indefensible', even as a non legal person I could think of at least one possible angle- for that matter if she had told the truth right from the start, she would probably have gotten off with a few years in prison and we would have been spared all this nonsense. The hostility between Lisa and her brother Danny also struck me as rather overdone - especially all the resentment over her status in the family - given that he was only 4/5 when she disappeared and there was an age difference of 11 years between them - too much for any serious sibling rivalry to develop in my opinion. Like the seemingly impossible legal situation Lisa finds herself in, this is just a transparent device to drive the plot forward.

The only plus point was the empathy I felt towards Riley at the start of the novel being left with no real family other than the useless Danny and the curiosity to find out the secrets in her past, but this quickly faded as I began to guess what was in store. The ending wasn't very satisfactory particularly as it leaves one plot point unresolved - namely that two other people know that Lisa is still alive and have a reason to get back at the family - and given the fact that Lisa has completely ignored all advice she was given and taken up a career that leaves her extremely vulnerable to discovery this left me wondering how long in the real world she would be able to escape justice.

A weak thriller which is overpriced on Kindle.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2015 2:01 PM GMT


Leaving Time
Leaving Time
by Jodi Picoult
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not her worst, too much filler but still quite entertaining, 16 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Leaving Time (Hardcover)
I've more or less given up on JP novels because while she is great at sucking the reader into the story initially and creating exciting situations for her characters, she often then goes off on a silly tangent and the ending is a crashing disappointment (as in My Sister's Keeper). Here she tackles the story of a young girl who contacts a medium to track down her mother who disappeared when she was a little child, and while the story drags a little at first, for me it was mostly redeemed by a rather good ending. On the negative side it isn't terribly original - she borrows a lot from the plots of two well known films - were I to quote from one of them you'd guess the whole thing right away (This isn't the first time she's done this, one of her other novels pinches most of its ideas from the Green Mile, by Stephen King - can't remember which one.) There is also far too much filler about elephants. The story is told by four narrators - Jenna the daughter, Serenity a medium, Virgil an ex-cop and Alice the missing mother. Alice is/was? a scientist and her chapters are basically filled with mostly pointless elephants facts. (Ironically while she constantly harps on a the need for a scientific viewpoint and to avoid anthropomorphising them, she is constantly moping over one elephant or other and the information is mostly of the sentimental kind which you might get if you clicked on a 'You'll never believe what this elephant did next' link on Facebook). As another reviewer said you can pretty much skip most of this stuff and get on to the next bit witout missing anything important - in the end there's only one elephant fact that's relevant to the plot and this is repeated multiple times so you really can't miss it.

I guessed the big twist pretty early on and I'm quite surprised that so many readers missed it - it's pretty much spelled out right from the beginning and many plot elements don't make much sense unless you know what's really going on. It didn't spoil the ending for me entirely as I was quite interested in how she was going to handle the big relevation - I'm sure I would have gotten a much bigger kick out of it if I'd been totally in the dark all the time. Overall I did quite enjoy but I think she needs to come up with more original ideas of her own in future.


Killer Twins
Killer Twins
Price: £3.17

2.0 out of 5 stars Weak story which will be sent back to Amazon, 12 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Killer Twins (Kindle Edition)
First of all let me say that the 'killer twins' hook is extremely deceptive, as is the author's suggestion that the two brothers were engaged in some sort of competition. Fact is that one low life twin was jailed for life for a murder, totally unrelated to his brother's before the main action of the book takes place and his crime plays no part in the tale at all. All we are left with is a series of murders committed by a dumb crack addict, which the police should have solved long before they did. No great detective work involved - the guy would probably never had been caught had he not handed himself in, and no great insights into either the killer or the victims. I'll bet most of this was just written from newspaper reports. Avoid!


The Soldier's Wife
The Soldier's Wife
by Joanna Trollope
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Probably her weakest novel so far, 10 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Soldier's Wife (Paperback)
I don't know what's gone wrong - when I discovered Trollope I devoured her back catalogue and couldn't wait for her new books to come out but now I'm feeling distinctly underwhelmed. I feel she has suffered the curse that authors do when their accumulated fame and wealth sets them apart from the struggles of the average person - Jane Green has gone the same way. Her writing is still beautiful but started to feel a bit mechanical - I started to notice how she achieves her effects which is never a good sign as I like to get lost in the story.

The story feels heavily contrived - as if the whole army background is just a backdrop against which a familiar drama can be played out - ie a wife rebelling against her restrictive lifestyle and demanding her own career. Does Trollope think we are still living in the 50s? This stuff is hardly cutting edge and not even relevant to many Britons who are more concerned with financial survival which often involves both partners having low paid, unfulfilling jobs than such niceties as a wife struggling for self fulfilment.

Trollope fails to really take into consideration the special circumstances in Alexa's life - ie that she is married to an army officer and knew full well that their lives must revolve around his career. Her friend Kate is even worse and I felt sorry for her husband. Most women would just be grateful to have their husbands return home alive, in one piece, but these harpies just turn on their poor men with a list of demands/ultimatums. As with any job that involves constant travel/relocation the spouse must face the fact of likely seperations/having to put their own career on the backburner, unless they have the kind of skills that can be easily transferred. The irony is that Alexa is a teacher with linguistic skills, one would have thought that she would be able to get some sort of job in most overseas posting and she could certainly work as a supply teacher/part time in the UK if she wanted to. But she doesn't even consider this an option - she must have a full on career right away, despite the fact that her husband is in line for a promotion and that she has three year old twins who are pretty demanding. Ironic given that many women are attracted to the teaching profession for the very reason that they can be flexible/work part-time when they have kids.

Trollope also seems a bit out of touch with reality - no sane person would leave a secure army job these days without having something else to go to, she seems to believe that wives have to take over their husbands credit card debts on their death and she also includes a scene with irritated me intensely - a woman is given a few days to decide on whether to accept a job and when she rings up is told they have decided to give it to someone else! I would be stunned if any potential employer treated me in such a totally unprofessional way but then as I said before the whole novel is highly contrived and unrealistic.

The best scene in the novel is where one of Alexa's friends has a go at her, accusing her of going round in circles with her arguments and having an unrealistic sense of entitlement (it's almost like Trollope has gotten sick of her own character) but sadly this is quickly forgotten and(as another reviewer commented) all Alexa's friend/family seem to spend most of their time worrying about her totally self created dramas. The book does go round in circles - Alexa sulks, her husband tries to placate her, relatives rally around, rinse repeat and so on.

The sub plot concerning the daughter Isabel is much more engaging and I really did feel for her unhappiness at boarding school - and frankly I couldn't see any good reason why she should be there and not at day school with her mother and siblings. I also liked Dan's father and grandfather, most of the other characters I could take or leave.

It was a holiday read that passed the time, but absolutely not on a par with Trollope's best work. I doubt I will buy any of her future novels unlike they come at a bargain price.


Weigh Me Luggage Scale
Weigh Me Luggage Scale
Offered by Just Sport and Leisure
Price: £8.48

2.0 out of 5 stars The instructions are terrible - in tiny print and impossible to read and ..., 27 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Weigh Me Luggage Scale (Misc.)
The instructions are terrible - in tiny print and impossible to read and I couldn't work out how to set the scale back to zero - the dial thing on the back jammed when I tried to reset it so I will have to make allowances for the extra 2 kgs when I calculate the weight of my bag. I've even gone to the website and there are no proper instructions there. If it's inaccurate as well then it really was a waste of money. I wish I'd spent more and got something decent!


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