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Damaskcat (UK)
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The Darkest Hour
The Darkest Hour
Price: 4.72

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Darkest Hour, 8 July 2014
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This review is from: The Darkest Hour (Kindle Edition)
I am not always too keen on books which have a World War II element but as this one is by Barbara Erskine – whose books I enjoy – I decided to read it anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself totally absorbed in the story – both past and present. Lucy’s husband has died in an unexplained car crash and shortly afterwards she hears she has received a grant to help her fund the research and writing of a biography of Evie Lucas – an almost forgotten war artist. Lucy became interested in the subject after her husband had bought a painting he believed to be by Evie.

Lucy’s research leads her to Michael Marston, Evie’s grandson, who now lives in what was Evie’s cottage and which still contains many of her personal possessions. At first Michael is rather cool about the idea of a biography but gradually he warms to the idea and that is where the problems begin. Ghosts, both benevolent and malign, start appearing, Michael’s girlfriend, Charlotte, shows herself in her true colours and people Lucy approaches in her research blow first hot and then cold. Where will it all end?

I found many of the scenes in this book extremely poignant – probably because they resonated with my personal circumstances and a recent loss. I found myself in tears over Lucy’s grief for her husband and over Evie’s love affair with Tony, the charming airman. I thought the supernatural elements were as ever very well done and I loved the way the strands of the stories were interwoven as more and more was gradually revealed of Evie’s life. The evil people were convincingly evil and yet at the same time all too human.

I thought the characters were well drawn and the way they changed during the book was convincing and believable. I particularly liked Huw and his wife Maggie as well as Michael’s mother, Juliette. The book as ever with this author, is well written and the research is meticulous. The World War II sections were excellent and really showed how the war affected ordinary people and made them do things they might never have considered in peacetime.

Barbara Erskine’s many fans will love this book even though the historical elements are relatively recent. If you like time-slip books then give this one a try.


Shroud of Evil: an Andy Horton Missing Persons Police Procedural (A DI Andy Horton Mystery)
Shroud of Evil: an Andy Horton Missing Persons Police Procedural (A DI Andy Horton Mystery)
by Pauline Rowson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shroud of Evil, 5 July 2014
DI Andy Horton - it is clear from the start of this book - is a misfit who does not see eye to eye with his superiors. He is divorced, doesn't see his daughter, Emma, as much as he would like to and is trying to track down his mother who apparently abandoned him as a child and left him to be brought up by foster parents. It is clear he also has issues with other people in the geographical area in which he works.

In this case a local private detective, Japer Kenton, goes missing and his body is later found on a private beach belonging to Richard Eames who appears to be an adversary of Horton's though he never appears in person in this book. I did enjoy this book but I felt I was often one step behind the action - maybe because this is book eleven in the series so I'm not familiar with all Horton's personal problems.

The plot is complex with many strands and many people 'off stage' with influence who never actually appear in the story. Apart from police investigations there are M15 aspects to the story as well which adds an extra layer of complexity. The book is well written and I felt the characters were interesting and believable even if I never really got to grips with all aspects of the story. I'm sure fans of this series will love it and I may go back and start at book one and see if it grows on me. I received a free copy of this book for reviews purposes from NetGalley.


First Steps Through Insomnia
First Steps Through Insomnia
Price: 4.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Steps Through Insomnia, 3 July 2014
This is an interesting little book which aims to offer help and advice about sleep problems such as insomnia. Whether it is a coincidence or not I found my temporary problems with insomnia have improved since reading it!

The book briefly explains why we need to sleep and the various types of sleep. Looks at insomnia and the possible causes for it and offers advice about dealing with it and hopefully eliminating it. It explains how some illnesses may exacerbate sleep problems and how treating the underlying illness may eliminate the sleep problems too.

It is written in a humorous chatty style which many readers will enjoy and it contains sensible down to earth advice about tackling your sleep problems yourself. It doesn't overlook the issues such as sleep apnoea which will need professional help to deal with.
Recommened to anyone who would like to sort out their sleeping - or lack of it. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.


The Mind Makeover: The Answers to Becoming the Best YOU Yet
The Mind Makeover: The Answers to Becoming the Best YOU Yet
Price: 4.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Mind Makeover, 30 Jun 2014
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I enjoy reading self-help books so I wondered what this title had to offer that I hadn't come across in the hundreds of other self-help books I've read. At first I thought it was going to be the same old things recycled and to a certain extent it is. Here we have all the usual advice - set goals, count your blessings, think positive, control negative thinking, attract what you want into your life etc. In terms of topics there is nothing too much that is revolutionary here.

You may have read it all before but often it is how it is written and set out that can make or break a self-help book. I started off reading a few pages and thinking 'same old, same old' but then I sat down and decided to read a larger chunk and found that the author does have an infectious enthusiasm for her subject which really comes over to the reader. This is a worthwhile read if you're stuck in a rut or you're aware that you're thinking negatively - 'everything always goes wrong for me'.

The book really does major on 'If you do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got' and for some people this can be their biggest stumbling block to success and happiness. It's a lesson which takes some learning. So if you're looking for something which just might kick start your life and your mind then give this book a try - it could change your life.


The Golden Child
The Golden Child
Price: 2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Child, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Golden Child (Kindle Edition)
A prestigious London museum is hosting an exhibition - 'the Golden Child'. There are long queues to view the exhibits which have caught the country's imagination. Waring Smith, an employee of the museum, has had a hand in planning the exhibition but he suddenly finds himself caught up in something which is completely beyond his powers of comprehension and which will involve him in physical danger.

The author captures the politics and the feuds which go on in any large organisation extremely well and many of the conversations could be overheard in any office in the real world. People are touchy and worried that someone is getting more privileges than they are and that their empires are being reduced in size. Waring Smith is refreshingly ordinary - worried about his mortgage and his wife, Haggie - he just wants to do his job well and bring the glory of the past to ordinary people.

There are many comic elements in this story as well as murder and conspiracy and I loved the museum background. Waring himself reminded me of Jasper Pye in John Hadfield's 'Love on a Branch Line'. If you enjoy fiction which is a little out of the ordinary then try this. It was Penelope Fitzgerald's first work of fiction.


Smoke Alarm (A Martha Gunn Mystery)
Smoke Alarm (A Martha Gunn Mystery)
Price: 5.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smoke Alarm, 29 Jun 2014
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A beautiful old house is badly damaged by fire and three members of the same family perish in the blaze. A teenage boy – Jude – is the only survivor. Coroner Martha Gunn and DI Alex Randall feel there is something odd going on. The fire was definitely started deliberately and it seems odd that Jude’s father was conveniently absent on a business trip at the time.

But Martha and Alex will have to look to the past to find the answers as the prologue suggests. If you are afraid of fire and have nightmares about it then maybe this isn’t the book for you as some of the scenes are likely to haunt you. I found this book just as compelling as the rest of the series. It is written in a low key style with believable characters and interesting motivations. I like the fact that personal lives are only gradually revealed – apart from Martha’s – as this makes me want to read the next in the series to find out a bit more about Alex Randall.

This is the fourth book in the series and I recommend it to anyone who has read and enjoyed M R Hall’s Jenny Cooper series.


Frozen Charlotte (A Martha Gunn Mystery)
Frozen Charlotte (A Martha Gunn Mystery)
Price: 5.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frozen Charlotte, 29 Jun 2014
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A woman is arrives at a busy A&E department clutching what appears to be a baby which she calls ‘Poppy’. Staff get a shock when they realise the baby has been dead for several years and is mummified as well as being male not female. The woman insists she had nothing to do with the baby’s death. Martha Gunn, the coroner, feels there is more to the case than meets the eye as does DI Alex Randall.

This is a fascinating and chilling mystery which will lead the police and Martha herself down some strange byways of human behaviour before the solution is finally unravelled. I found this an absorbing read. Martha and Alex are interesting characters and I like the way, both they and their relationship are being slowly developed through the series.

I’m finding this series to be absorbing reading and this is the second one which has kept me up late into the night because I just had to finish reading it to find out what happened. If you like mysteries or crime novels which are a bit different then try the Martha Gunn series. They can be read in any order but reading them in the order in which they were published gives extra insight into the relationship between Martha and Alex.


Ausperity: Live the Life You Want for Less
Ausperity: Live the Life You Want for Less
Price: 1.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Ausperity, 29 Jun 2014
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The idea behind this book is to help you save money on things you have to buy as well as the luxuries that you really feel you can’t live without. The book is divided into five sections – Spending It; Milking It; Making It; Financial Stuff and Directory. These are fairly obvious headings apart from the second one which is about the day to day expenditure such as food, transport, home etc.

With many of the suggestions in this book you need to be well organised – such as planning ahead to give you time to walk instead of getting the car out or getting off the bus one step earlier than usual. Saving money on supermarket shopping by comparing prices on things you buy all the time may well end up costing you money if you’re travelling to different shops or getting your home delivery from more than one supermarket. In fact getting the best value for money can end up becoming a full time job if you let it.

My feeling is that the book is very much one you can dip into as you feel the need to save money on certain things – or try and make more money. I thought it was very London-centred which means some of the tips are irrelevant for those of us who don’t live in big cities. But there are still some good tips for people who don’t live in the home-counties. I was pleased to see an author suggesting that it is possible – and cheap – to incorporate exercise into your daily life without the expense of a gym membership and the associated time needed to use it. Walking is free and good for you and gets you from place to place.

Where I did think this e-book edition really shows the advantages of e-books is that you can immediately go to any websites mentioned in the text without having to put the book down and switch on the computer. The Directory – which is the last section in the book – provides a handy list of all the useful websites and organisations mentioned in the text. If you didn’t use anything else in the book it would be worth buying for this alone. Overall – with the few reservations I have already mentioned – this is a useful book if you want to make your money go further or even make a bit more for yourself.


Slipknot (Martha Gunn)
Slipknot (Martha Gunn)
Price: 4.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slipknot, 28 Jun 2014
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Martha Gunn becomes involved in investigating an apparent suicide in a young offenders institution. She is unhappy about it for many reasons as she does not believe it is a case of suicide at all. The victim is a young boy who knifed a fellow school mate in a playground incident. But the more Martha looks into the case the less likely it seems to her that Callum would have set out to murder the boy nicknamed Dreadnought.

Thanks to Martha's instincts she and DI Alex Randall[prove that there is more to the death than meets the eye. I found this book compelling and harrowing reading and stayed up into the early hours of the morning to finish it. The writing is low key and the characters all too believable and I found some of the book reduced me to tears.

This is an excellent series and the books can be read in any order. I recommend them to anyone who enjoys M R Hall's series featuring coroner Jenny Cooper.


River Deep (A & B Crime)
River Deep (A & B Crime)
Price: 4.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars River Deep, 25 Jun 2014
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Martha Gunn, Coroner, becomes involved in a case in which a corpse appears from a flooded cellar when the River Severn floods Shrewsbury. The peaceful town isn't used to murder and when another violent death happens shortly afterwards it seems irresistible to assume that the two are connected though at first the police, in the shape of DI Alex Randall, cannot see that the two men could have known each other.

I found this compelling reading and I had to keep on until I finished it. I like Martha Gunn as a character and the way she battles for justice for the dead, even venturing into a bit of detection work herself - strictly against the rules. While endeavouring to do her demanding job to the best of her ability, Martha is bringing up her twins alone following the early death of her husband. She is developing a friendship with Alex Randall and he is starting to rely on her as a sounding board and as a source of good ideas.

This is the first book in the series featuring Martha Gunn and Alex Randall. If you like your crime with a well-constructed plot and well-drawn characters then this may be the series for you.


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