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A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom)
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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: £2.88

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!


Red Keep Calm and Bin It Easy Clean Open Top Waste Bin
Red Keep Calm and Bin It Easy Clean Open Top Waste Bin
Offered by Top Brand Discounts 4 u
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice to have a bin again!, 20 Feb. 2015
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For some strange reason the powers that be have taken away all our office bins at work so I have been forced to buy my own before my office descends into utter chaos. This is a nice cheerful red colour and should be easy to clean, only hope it doesn't disappear as well!


Dead Right (An Inspector Banks Mystery Book 9)
Dead Right (An Inspector Banks Mystery Book 9)
Price: £3.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow moving and feels rather dated, 19 Feb. 2015
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I found this novel quite hard to get into and it remained unread on my Kindle until I basically ran out of other stuff to read, and decided to give it another try. It feels quite dated - I notice that it was published in 1997 - it feels like the author is making a rather heavy handed attempt to be politically correct with regard to female police officers/ethnic minorities and it doesn't quite come off. A lot of the time I felt preached at/patronised. His female cop, Susan, didn't seem very convincing to me and I think he is better at male characters. (Also does every female have to be secretly in love with Alan? - it becomes a bit tiresome after a while). Another problem is that the victim - a neo Nazi thug isn't particularly sympathetic and it's hard to drum up much concern about whether his killer is caught or not.

About halfway through interest in the investigation tails off and the focus switches to our hero's personal life - his wife has left him, his career isn't going well either and he copes with this mainly by getting drunk, listening to loud classical music (I felt for his neighbours!)or fantasising about various females in his life who might become more than friends due to his new single status. A lot of this stuff seems like classic middle aged male fantasy, but I can't say I was sorry to see the back of Sandra his wife whom I found intensely irritating.

The best part of the book by far is a trip to Amsterdam and there intriguing hints that the simple murder might be something much more, but after that it goes downhill rapidly and the ending is a bit of a disappointment, leaving the future of our hero Alan more or less hanging in the balance. Definitely more 'to be continued' than a proper ending.

Worth reading at the reduced price I paid for it, but I wouldn't pay the price they are currently asking it's not one of his better ones.


A Regular Couple (From The Atlantic Archives)
A Regular Couple (From The Atlantic Archives)
Price: £2.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing - but I wanted more!, 19 Feb. 2015
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First the positives - as usual Curtis Sittenfeld's writing doesn't disappoint in this tale which describes the encounter between two couples - a successful lawyer, on vacation with her handsome new husband, is reminded of her past insecurity when she meets her arch nemesis the former school beauty and her unexpectedly average husband. Don't go into this story expecting the standard romantic novel reassurances - what happens during the course of this short story challenges our perceptions of both women and the compromises they make in their relationships.

Now the negative -I already described it as short. Doesn't feel much longer than a kindle sample and ends just as you are really getting into it. Buy by all means but prepare to be underwhelmed by what you get in terms of quantity if not quality ...


Clutter Buster Drawer Organiser
Clutter Buster Drawer Organiser
Offered by The Holding Company
Price: £13.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing how the simplest things transform your life!, 19 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Clutter Buster Drawer Organiser
Well it's not the cheapest drawer organiser on Amazon but it looked the best to me in terms of functionality and design - and it did live up to expectations. It looked reassuringly sturdy compared to some of the flimsy tat out there and fitted nicely into my desk drawer My desk top has been transformed and clutter instantly removed - and best of all - I can actually find stuff like my calculator and ruler, and I've got room for all those spare packs of staples and the ever present paperclips. Thanks to the reviewer who mentioned the bottom layer I hadn't even realised that existed and it has given even more space than I initially thought I had! Might get one for home use as well, good value for money in terms of what you get.


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