Thursday, 30 September 2010


Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published by: Arcadia Books (September 2010)

Pages: 315 (Paperback)

My Rating: 9/10


About the Book:

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.

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.

My Thoughts:

Peter Millar has been compared to Dan Brown, though having read 'Angels and Demons' I think that Peter Millar's storyline is more believable and exciting and is much better written overall.

When Nazreem Hashrawi, Museum Curator, discovers "one of the most important, semi-legendary items in Christian lore" her life is instantly in danger from people who are not averse to brutally torturing and murdering people who get in their way. But just why these people would want the Madonna and why they would want to kill Nazreem is revealed slowly and tantalisingly in this very compelling story with twists and turns that I found hard to put down.

The tension built up steadily as Nazreem and her ex-lover Marcus Frey, an Oxford Professor, travel to Spain and Bavaria in an effort to seek out other similar idols while meeting people such as the devout Sister Galina in Germany who mysteriously vanishes after speaking to them.

I thought the plot was fascinating overall and Peter Millar has obviously done an amazing amount of research; it seemed that every character had an encyclopaedic memory of historical events and which sometimes seemed too much and I couldn't always take in all the facts and figures, though I could follow the story (just!) without it spoiling my enjoyment.

Even though it is a complicated plot at no time did I feel that I didn't know what was going on, the style of writing was very readable, most of the characters were believable (with a couple of exceptions) and I liked the way that an intelligent headstrong young Muslim woman was one of the lead characters.

Thoroughly recommended for anyone who enjoys a thriller with a historical lesson - the authors notes at the back of the book make for interesting reading too.

My Thanks go to Arcadia Books for sending me this book to review.

Peter Millar's website can be found here

Read my Q and A with Peter Millar here

Monday, 27 September 2010

BOOK NEWS: Campaigners defend 'celebrated novels' from US censors


American libraries and bookshops are celebrating the freedom to read this week but attempts to force books off shelves are still rife across the country, from the removal of Sherman Alexie's award-winning young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from shelves in Missouri to protests over Kurt Vonnegut's seminal title Slaughterhouse-Five.

As this year's Banned Books Week begins, Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, said the organisation is "increasingly ... seeing challenges to celebrated contemporary novels". The NCAC has recently protested against the banning of Alexie's novel, which drew parent complaints in Missouri over a description of masturbation, against the removal of Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon from classrooms in Indiana and against the cancellation of the appearance of bestselling author Ellen Hopkins at a Texas literary festival following parent protests. It is also investigating the banning of Slaughterhouse-Five from another Missouri school and the removal of six books by Hopkins from a Nevada middle school library.

"If young people are going to become sophisticated readers and thinkers they need to be exposed to this kind of literature in school," said Bertin. "Depriving students of the opportunity to read widely stunts their emotional and intellectual development and puts them at a tremendous disadvantage in school and in life."

This week's Banned Books celebrations saw authors gather in Chicago at the weekend to share their experience as the targets of censors and read from their work. Young adult author Chris Crutcher, who hosted the event, told the Guardian he was "proud" to frequently make it into the list of the top 10 authors challenged or banned in the US.

"I think it's important to stand up to censorship because I think intellectual freedom is a cornerstone for any democracy. I think people don't understand what a slippery slope it is to let a relatively small group with a relatively loud voice, make decisions about decency and morality," he said. "Once one book is banned, all books are at risk."

Carolyn Mackler, whose novel The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things was the eighth most challenged book in the US last year for reasons including its "offensive" language and sexually explicit scenes, sent a statement to be read at the event. "While I'm honoured to be in the company of such amazingly talented authors, I'm certainly not honoured to be on the list," said Mackler. "And while I'm no stranger to book challenges, for some reason I'm always surprised."

To read the full article see the

Monday, 20 September 2010


This is another lovely hair product from that I have been using over the last few weeks.

If you've read my recent reviews on any of the hair products from mypure you'll know that I've loved them all -- and this Vitamin Masque is no exception.

Product Description:

A'kin Ginkgo & Jojoba, Intensive Moisture, Vitamin Masque contains richly nourishing and protecting ingredients such as; pure Australian jojoba and certified organic avocado oils, ginkgo and white tea, vitamins E & B5, rice amino acids and wheat protein. Your hair will look shiny, healthy and feel more smooth and manageable. WINNER Best Specialist Hair Care, LifeScape Natural Beauty Awards 2008. FINALIST Best Hair Treatment, CEW Awards 2008. WINNER Beauty Bible Beauty Steals Awards 2009

My Thoughts:

After washing my hair I towel-dried it before applying this leave-in conditioner. It is quite thick and creamy and spread very easily over my hair. I left it for 5 minutes before I rinsed it off.

Afterwards it left my hair beautifully soft and shiny, I was really pleased with how my hair felt and looked.

The next time I washed my hair I left the Vitamin Masque on for an hour (you can leave it on overnight - though I've never tried that). Again, it rinsed off very easily, and again it left my hair looking glossy and in really good condition, even though I'm always colouring it so it's probably not in very good condition.

I'm going to keep using this regularly, and leave it on for up to an hour, which seems to be enough for me.

As with all mypure products this contains no sulfates, parabens or phthalates. It comes in a 150ml tube and sells on their website for £7.49. It seems expensive but I think that after just one application you'll really notice a difference.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


Genre: Modern Fiction

Published by: Black Swan (May 2010)

Pages: 505 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8.5/10


About the Book:

My Thoughts:

I thought this was a funny and unique look at the loves and lives of the crazy workers at a fictitious Ad Agency, it didn't make me laugh out loud, but I did chuckle a couple of times. I haven't read the first book 'E' so I didn't know any of the characters and it took me quite a while to really get involved in their story as there were so many characters; but once I did I don't think it mattered that I hadn't read the first book.

I really liked the way the workers daily lives are told through technology at Meerkat360 "the agency that's so cutting-edge you slice your finger on the lift button." The whole book just consisted of them emailing, texting, and blogging to each other during the month of January which seemed to be full of crazy advertising ideas; listings on Ebay of various office products from mugs to photocopiers which have myseriously gone missing; a member of staff who is permanently away on one weird course or another.

We learn about their personal problems, the break-ups, the tears, the tantrums and suicide attempts. Amazingley, they even manage to do some work in between, possibly thanks to Mr Fraggles the new Clown in Residence who is employed to give the creative Department "a vital and distinctive edge."

Even though I didn't feel connected with any of the characters, it was very clever how Beaumont made me feel happy, sad or sorry for them. A good, entertaining read.

This is the third book I've read in the Transworld Dan Brown Summer Reading Challenge - details of which can be found here.

The first two books were ~


Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I have recently tried the Lovea Bio Argan Oil Cell Renewal Body Scrub. It is formulated with orange peel, sugar and argan oil to gently exfoliate and promote cell renewal. You just apply it 1-2 times a week on damp skin with emphasis on the rougher areas.

I was really pleased to receive this from mypure as I love using different products in the shower and it seemed perfect for me.

BUT ............. after using it just a couple of times I found that the top kept getting clogged up, and when I tried to squeeze some onto my hand it just wouldn't come out, no matter how hard I squeezed the tube! It was so frustrating that I just gave up.

So my review is based on only a short time of using the Body Scrub.

When I squeezed some out I could feel the grains, they felt gentle, and I gently rubbed it all over my body. It felt quite pleasant, not rough, and the smell was okay, not too strong.

After drying myself myself I did feel quite 'tacky' even though I rinsed it all off. That 'tackiness' soon wore off though and my arms and legs did feel lovely and smooth throughout the day.

I think the Body Scrub would be perfect if you wanted to put on some fake tan, as it would smoothe away all the rough dead skin.

It is available from at £7.49 for a 150ml tube.

Even though I have received this product free of charge to review from mypure it has in no way influenced my review.

Other products I have received and reviewed are -

Everything sold by mypure is sulfate free, paraben free and phthalate free. Check out their site regularly for special offers.

Friday, 10 September 2010


Genre: Crime

Published by: Quercus Books (1st July 2010)

Pages: 406 (Paperback)

My Rating: 7/10


About the Book:

At the close of a long day, Inspector Stephen Villani stands in the bathroom of a luxury apartment high above the city. In the glass bath, a young woman lies dead. Villani’s job as the head of the Victoria Police Homicide Squad is bathed in blood and sorrow. Incapable of constancy as a father and husband, damaged as a son, his life is his work. It is his identity, his calling, his touchstone. Now, over a few sweltering summer days, as fires burn across the state and his superiors and colleagues scheme and jostle, his soul is about to be laid bare. Truth is a novel about a man, a family, a city. It is about violence, murder, love, corruption, honour and deceit. And it is about truth.

My Thoughts:

Set in Melbourne, Australia it took me a while to get used to Peter Temple's short sharp sentences where not one word is wasted in this compelling and taut thriller.

As the new Head of Homicide, Steve Villani doesn't trust anyone to do the job properly, he has to know everything, the previous Head (Singo) believed that :

Homicide ate you........Singo told them not to obsess but he judged them by how much they obsessed, how little time they spent at home. No one survived who didn't pass the HCF test: Homicide Comes First.

At the beginning, Villani comes across as an unpleasant character, but he was compelling to know, brought up by a father who showed him no love, he only sees the seedy side of the people and the city and thought he was just like his old boss in many ways. Throughout the book Villani reminisces about his personal life, his failed marriage, his daughter who gets mixed up with the wrong people, his childhood where he and his father plant a whole forest of trees together, his relationships with friends, and we gradually see a different side to him, one which he never shows to his colleagues.

This is a fascinating mix of political intrigue, multiple murders and big business and the writing never slows, the pace is relentless. It was set against the backdrop of a raging fire which is coming ever closer to his father's farm which adds another dimension to the suspense.

There were so many characters and I got confused quite often as to who was who, in fact one person was mentioned early on and I only found out who he was half way through, which I found quite annoying.

Overall, a fast and furious thriller. If you're looking for a 'hard-boiled' crime novel then you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, 4 September 2010


Just a small selection of the new books coming out in October 2010

** I have this book **

Busy Body (Book 21 in the Agatha Raisin Series) by MC Beaton

The Life of an Unknown Man by Andrei Makine

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman

King's Wrath (Valisar Trilogy, book 3) by Fiona McIntosh

There are hundreds of new books coming out within the next month and this is only a few of them, from well-known names like Michael Connelly to Kathe Koja. I'm particularly looking forward to Kate Morton's The Distant Hours -- her debut novel The House at Riverton (also known as The Shifting Fog) is one of my favourite reads.

If you've read any of these books please let me know and I'll put a link to your review.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Four very different books were consumed by me this month. From the ghosts of WWI soldiers to the land of a giant! But my favourite book overall was from the second in the Wars of the Roses trilogy from Philippa Gregory.

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver 9.5/10 Audiobook

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie 6/10 Audiobook

My list of reading material for September :

Truth by Peter Temple - READING NOW 3/5 so far

Checkout by Anna Sam

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

Googled by Ken Auletta

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Blind Fury by Lynda La Plante

Jubilee by Eliza Graham

A nice eclectic mix as ever!


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