Sunday, 29 August 2010


Just the one book this week which I received from Arcadia Books for review. I haven't been to the library this week as I already have far too many books, and I know that I just can't go to the library without borrowing at least one book, so I've avoided it!

In ruins on the outskirts of Gaza, the war-torn Palestinian city that had been a metropolis since the times of the pharaohs, a plucky young female archaeologist has made a remarkable find: possibly the earliest known image of the Virgin Mary, created during her lifetime.
But before she can reveal it to the world, it is stolen from her in a brutal personal assault amidst the chaos of an Israeli airstrike. But who has stolen it and why? What dark hidden secret did it conceal? With her former lover, an Oxford professor of comparative historiography – the science of comparing alternative versions of the past – she sets out on a dangerous quest to some of the holiest sites in Christendom, from the plains of Bavaria to the mountains of central Spain and an ignored ancient temple in the heart of London.
In a tale of murder, treason, intrigue and geopolitics, they uncover a web of conspiracy, cover-ups, confused mythology and interlinked religion that dates back to the last pagan Roman emperor, and maybe even to the very origins of life on earth. Astonishingly well-researched, this is a gripping yarn that is at the same time intellectually challenging.

Published by Arcadia Books on the 30th September 2010

Friday, 27 August 2010


Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published by: Bantam Books (Aug 2010)

Pages: 409 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8.5/10


My Thoughts:

Ellie, an American, goes to London to look after her best friend Lucy's daughter, Sophie who is 8, leaving behind her husband, Phillip, in Boston. Lucy has been tragically murdered and her husband, Greg, and Sophie (who has stopped talking) are devastated.

While Ellie and Sophie grow closer, Ellie and Phillip gradually grow apart. She tells Phillip that she's staying indefinitely, she believes she's doing the right thing looking after Sophie and they both find comfort in reading Ellie's favourite childhood book 'The Secret Garden'.

Ellie tries to come to terms with her best friend's death, while discovering that Lucy had secrets that she hadn't told her, even though they talked and emailed each other all the time.

I no longer wonder what I am doing here. My mission has been clarified. Sophie needs me. Greg needs me. And, though I hate to admit it, right now, with Lucy gone, I need them too. They are the closest things I have to a purpose. They understand, they appreciate, what has been lost.

Ellie is the voice in the story and I really felt like I had got to know her by the end of the book. Not only was she living miles away from her home, she was mourning and missing her friend, she had to be a mother to Sophie, while her marriage was falling apart with Greg threatening to leave her, also her parents were getting re-married after being separated, she had all these life-changing situations to deal with. I admired her strength of character in coping with everything.

The writing was smooth, the characters were well-defined and I thought overall it was a really good summer read.

For more on the author, Julie Buxbaum, click here

My thanks to Transworld Publishers for sending me this book as part of the Transworld Dan Brown Summer Reading Challenge - details of which can be found here

This is the 2nd book in my challenge - the 1st book was If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Sunday, 22 August 2010


The postman brought me these books this week :

The people from the Skinny On series sent me these books for review, they contain stick figure drawings and simple stories that are quick and easy to read.

I also received this from Arcadia Books

It is the summer of 1997. Aisha Lincoln, supermodel-turned-charity-campaigner, sets out on her latest trip to the Middle East, with a famous photographer in tow. However, the assignment turns into tragedy when both are killed in an explosion in a remote area of Lebanon.

Aisha not only leaves behind a seemingly perfect marriage and two teenage sons, but also a secret lover, Stephen Massinger, who is a backbench MP with a reputation to protect, and a group of devoted friends and colleagues, all struggling to come to terms with the news.

As the bereaved negotiate their way through the media onslaught in the weeks after Aisha's death, her name jostling for column inches with the reports of Princess Diana's charity causes and holiday exploits, journalist Amanda Harrison travels to Lebanon to write an article about Aisha's last days.

However, as the events of August 1997 draw towards their inevitable close, Amanda discovers some disturbing facts about Aisha's death. It is only then she realises the extent of the power wielded by the media, and how, for them, there will always be some truths that are more important than others.

I also went to the library and brought this home with me :

rChart Throb is the ultimate pop quest. There are ninety five thousand hopefuls, three judges, just one winner. And that's Calvin Simms, the genius behind the show. Calvin always wins because Calvin writes the rules. But this year, as he sits smugly in judgement upon the mingers, clingers and blingers whom he has pre-selected in his carefully scripted 'search' for a star, he has no idea that the rules are changing. The 'real' is about to be put back into 'reality' television and Calvin and his fellow judges (the nation's favourite mum and the other bloke) are about to become ex-factors themselves. Ben Elton, author of "Popcorn" and "Dead Famous" returns to blistering comic satire with a savagely hilarious deconstruction of the world of modern television talent shows. Chart Throb has one winner and a whole bunch of losers.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

BOOK NEWS: James Patterson brings in $70m to become world's highest-earning author

James Patterson, prolific 'brand-name' author, whose many books are written by a team of collaborators, takes twice as much as Stephenie Meyer, his nearest rival

With his name emblazoned on one in every 17 novels bought in the US, James Patterson has become the highest paid author in the world.

Working with a team of collaborators, Patterson writes around eight books a year, encompassing thrillers and children's books, making his publisher around $500m (£322m) over the last two years. These figures put him firmly on top of Forbes's list of the world's 10 top-grossing authors, with $70m earnings of his own over the year to 1 June. The last time Forbes published the line-up, in 2008, Patterson was in second place behind Harry Potter author JK Rowling and her $300m.

A former copywriter, Patterson works on his novels seven days a week, starting every day at around 5.30am and writing everything in longhand. Full of short, sharp sentences and brief chapters, packed with cliffhangers, his best-known character is the African American pathologist Alex Cross, but he is also known for his Women's Murder Club series and for the Maximum Ride books for young adults, about a group of children who are able to fly after being experimented on. He signed a multi-million dollar book deal last autumn that will see him producing 17 books by the end of 2012.

"I'm certainly not a world-class stylist. But the storytelling is pretty cool, and the narrative power of the stuff is usually pretty strong," he told the Guardian two years ago. "These books are entertainments. It's a very different process than if you're trying to write Moby-Dick, or The Corrections. That's painful. That's different from very simple, plot-oriented storytelling. If I was writing serious fiction, I'd want more rest time."

Patterson earned almost double the amount of Forbes's second-placed author, Stephenie Meyer – a new entrant to the list – who made $40m over the period, selling 40m copies of her Twilight vampire series in the US and 100m worldwide. Horror author Stephen King comes in third with earnings of $34m, while blockbuster romance writer Danielle Steel, who has four new books out this year, is fourth with $32m. Output is important in this game: Steel has written more than 100 books to date; King is the author of almost 50 novels; and Patterson adds to his vast oeuvre almost monthly.

Ken Follett is the highest-ranking British author on the list, with his thrillers bringing him $20m in the year to 1 June, and it is rounded out by Dean Koontz ($18m), Janet Evanovich ($16m), John Grisham ($15m), Nicholas Sparks ($14m) and Rowling. Despite publishing no new Harry Potter novel this year, Rowling – the first author to become a billionaire – still made $10m, said Forbes. Spy author Tom Clancy, fourth-highest earner two years ago, fell out of the list – which sees the 10 authors totalling earnings of $270m over the period – this year.

The top 10 in full is:

1. James Patterson ($70m)

2. Stephenie Meyer ($40m)

3. Stephen King ($34m)

4. Danielle Steel ($32m)

5. Ken Follett ($20m)

6. Dean Koontz ($18m)

7. Janet Evanovich ($16m)

8. John Grisham ($15m)

9. Nicholas Sparks ($14m)

10. JK Rowling ($10m)

Taken from

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Genre: Historical

Published by: Simon & Schuster (Aug 2010)

Pages: 387 (Uncorrected Proof Paperback)

My Rating: 9/10


About the Book:

The second book in Philippa Gregory's stunning new series, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses.
The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England.

My Thoughts:

Margaret Beaufort's only desire in life is for her son, Henry Tudor, to become the King of England. This book is the story of how she sacrificed everything to ensure that that happened.

She believed she was special and that the Lancaster House was blessed by God, she spends hours on her kness in prayer and her heroine was Joan of Arc, in fact she often asked herself 'What would Joan do now?' when she was faced with a tough decision.

I am a highly intelligent, highly educated woman, from a royal family, called by God to great office, guided personally by the Maid, and constantly hearing the voice of God in my prayers.
It is narrated by Margaret who comes across as not very likeable, incredibly pious, very jealous of her rival, Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen), single-minded and devious. Philippa Gregory has really brought her to life and I was gripped by the seemingly endless battles between the armies of the Lancaster and the Yorks, but Margaret never stopped hoping and plotting and scheming, even when her son had to be raised by her enemy she continued telling him that he was still a Lancaster and that one day he will be the King, and not to give up believing.

I enjoyed the first book in 'the cousins war' The White Queen but I enjoyed this even more, I thought the writing was more descriptive and flowed easier. Although I really didn't like the emotionally cold Margaret Beaufort I did admire her determination and self-belief.

My review of The White Queen can be found here

To enter a competition to win a copy of The Red Queen click here

My thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me an uncorrected proof copy for review.


Saturday, 14 August 2010


Genre: Horror/Fiction

Published by: Hodder & Stoughton (June 2010)

Pages: 294 (Hardback)

My Rating: 7/10


About the Book:

Martin Stride is a retired rock star, enjoying the quiet life with his young family on their beautiful estate. On the edge of his grounds lies a derelict Edwardian railway station waiting room once used to transport troops in The Great War. Silent for many years, lately strange occurrences in the waiting room lead Martin to seek the help of TV's favourite ghost-hunter Julian Creed. But Creed's psychic ability is a fabrication to gain viewers. He doesn't believe in the paranormal. Until he spends a night in The Waiting Room.
My Thoughts:
I picked this book up from the library as I was drawn to the cover picture of a ghostly spectre of an old soldier.
The story started really well and I was drawn in as Martin Stride's family experienced strange happenings centred on the waiting room which was about half a mile away from their house -- his son saw the soldier's apparition there, singing was heard of an old war-time song and the faint rumble of a train was heard, even though there were no tracks. All very scary.
Enter the enigmatic, laid-back, confident Julian Creed, TV ghost hunter, who's a complete fake, but who's job is "to discover what had summoned the waiting room back into baleful life and return it to rest." Not believing in ghosts he gets quite a shock when an apparition appears in front of him when he stays there for one night............
As he and his researcher try to discover more about the nearby now demolished asylum that was open in the 1920's they uncover terrible secrets from the past that could have an impact on the present and the future.
The story itself was atmospheric and chilling in parts but I felt that about three quarters of the way in it lost its way and I started feeling a little confused as to what was happening and why, and I thought there were too many questions that weren't answered satisfactorily for me. Also the dialogue was sometimes unreal and stilted.
Overall, a decent horror story but one that probably won't stay in my mind.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published by: Hodder (May 2009)

Pages: 350 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8.5/10


About the Book:
Truly Plaice is born larger than life into a small-minded town. Her birth rocks the pillars of tiny Aberdeen, New York, and breaks her family into smithereens.
She spends a painful childhood in the shadow of her older sister Serena’s beauty, and is teased mercilessly for her enormous physique. But when Serena unexpectedly vanishes and leaves her son in Truly’s care, Truly must become mistress of a house she did not choose and the unwilling victim of her brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Morgan. Once her childhood tormentor, he now subjects her to brutal criticism and cruel medical experiments that test her endurance past breaking point – but Truly may have more power than he realises...

First Lines:

"The day I laid Robert Morgan to rest was remarkable for two reasons. First, even though it was August, the sky overhead was as rough and cold as a January lake; and second, it was the day I started to shrink."

My Thoughts:

Have you ever finished a book, put it down, and then thought to yourself 'I'm really glad I read that book'? That's just how I felt at the end of this lovely story. It wasn't a book that I 'just couldn't put down', nor it was so gripping that I was turning the pages eagerly wanting to know what happens next, it was just a really entertaining 'feel good' story that made you feel happy to have known someone like Truly Plaice.

Her mother dies giving birth to her, her elder sister is beautiful, slim, popular - the exact opposite of the 'giant' - but Truly just seems to take everything in her stride and accepts her lot as just the way things are.

For once the heroine is not tall, slim and pretty and even Truly's own doctor says to her "But, my God, you're ugly."

As Truly grows older and larger, the small town inhabitants tease her, but she raises above it all and discovers family secrets that change not only her life but those around her.

The descriptive and detailed writing was a joy to read -

There was a half-moon up and a few moth-eaten stars hanging in the sky, as if Aberdeen had gotten the leftovers from a long-dead vaudeville show.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Tiffany Baker's website can be found here

Thanks go to Newman Communications for sending me a copy of this book.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


The postman brought me two books this week.

After You by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Bantam Books (19 Aug 2010)

I received this as part of the Transworld Dan Brown Summer Reading Challenge. This is the second book of four that I shall be reading and reviewing this summer.
The first book was If I Stay by Gayle Forman which I reviewed here.

The next book that the postie brought for me was The God of the Hive by Laurie R King. I have a Vintage Postcard blog called Pretty As A Postcard and Laurie asked me if she could use the backs of some of my postcards in her story, so of course I said yes, and she very kindly send me a copy of her new book as a thank you.



I have to say that I much prefer the US cover to the UK one, it's a lot prettier I think.

I'm looking forward to reading both of these books, they are very different to each other.

Monday, 2 August 2010


July was a really good month reading-wise, I read 5 books, all of which I enjoyed, my favourite was Mari Strachan's The Earth Hums in B Flat - a lovely, quirky tale of a young girl growing up in a small Welsh village.

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan 9/10

The Australian Womens Weekly Macaroons and Biscuits 10/10

Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante 8/10

War on the Margins by Libby Cone 9/10

The Baker Street Phantom by Fabrice Bourland 8.5/10

If I Stay by Gayle Forman 8/10

Extreme Risk: A Life Fighting the Taliban by Chris Hunter 10/10
(Read by my husband)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling (Audiobook) 8/10


The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker - reading now and nearly finished
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver - listening to now
The Waiting Room by FG Cottam
Jubilee by Eliza Graham
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
From Hell & Back by Gussie McRobert
Truth by Peter Temple
California Schemin' by Gavin Bain
Googled by Ken Auletta

I'd love to read them all but I know it's just not possible, I just wish I could read faster!


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