Saturday, 31 July 2010

SOME NEW BOOKS COMING OUT SOON

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





The Danger Box by Blue Balliett






Mini-Shopaholic (Shopaholic Book 6) by Sophie Kinsella





Empire of Silver (Conqueror Book 4) by Conn Iggulden
(Dec 2010 USA)




The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie Book 7) by Alexander McCall Smith
(Oct 2010 USA)





Daniel by Henning Mankell
(Nov 2010 USA)




Magical Mail by Claire Barker
(Oct 2010 USA)




Reckless by Cornelia Funke






The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn





These are just a small fraction of the hundreds of new books being published in September. There is a mix of well known names like Sophie Kinsella and Conn Iggulden and some not so well known names like Claire Barker and Kerry Greenwood that I've listed.
I love seeing what new books are coming out and adding them to my wishlist.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Book Review: IF I STAY BY GAYLE FORMAN


Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published by: Black Swan (May 2010)

Pages: 271 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8/10









IF I STAY BY GAYLE FORMAN

One minute 17 year old Mia is riding in the car with her mum, dad and little brother enjoying a day out to visit family - the next minute she is standing next to a car that has been eviscerated, even though she can still hear the music of Beethoven's Cello Sonata No. 3 playing on the radio. Her parents are lying dead and she can see someone's hand sticking out which she thinks is her brother's, until she realises that it's hers.........

This all happens very early in the story and, as Mia watches the paramedics work on her and take her to the hospital, she wonders if she's dead or alive as she can't feel anything. We move on to the hospital ward and Mia, who is narrating the story, alternates between watching the nurses, doctors, friends and family visiting her and looking back over her life.

"If I stay. If I live. It's up to me."

My Thoughts:

This was a thought-provoking book and it certainly made me think about life and death and what I would do in Mia's position.

The story went back and forth in time and I liked the way the author handled this, with just the right amount of time being devoted to each timeline without getting bored.

Mia was a lovely person, and I did like her but I thought she should have grieved more for her parents, they were an important part of her life, but it just seemed unreal to me that she hardly mentioned them at all.

An interesting look at the choices we make in our lives.

Finally, at the end of the book Gayle Forman has given us an insight into 'the story behind the story' which is fascinating. And there's also a nice interview with her in a question and answer session for further reference.

The website for Gayle Forman can be found here

I read this book as part of the Transworld Dan Brown Summer Reading Challenge.



Sunday, 25 July 2010

Beauty Care Product Reviews: Lovea Tahitian Monoi Moisturising Body Lotion AND A'kin Jojoba & Lavender Conditioner

Lovea Tahitian Monoi Moisturising Body Milk

Lovea Tahitian Monoi Moisturising Body Lotion has been formulated for normal skin types.

I have been using this for the past few weeks every morning after my shower. It is very easy to rub in, and probably being a body milk instead of a cream it is quickly absorbed as well. It wasn't sticky at all and felt really soft on my skin.
I didn't have to wait long for it to soak in before I put my clothes on, unlike my normal body lotion which takes ages.
It has a lovely smell, I would describe it as 'summery' as it reminds me very much of suntan lotion.
Overall, another good quality product from the Lovea Hair and Body Care range.

It is available from mypure.co.uk in a 200ml pump action dispenser for £6.99

This is the second Lovea product that I have received and reviewed for mypure - my review of the Lovea Argan Brilliance Shine Shampoo is here


My next product review is

A'kin Jojoba & Lavender Conditioner


This is another product that I've been using regularly for the past few weeks.

Even though the A'Kin Jojoba and Lavender Conditioner is mainly for normal and oily hair and my hair can be dry I didn't have any problem with it.

I used my normal shampoo and then put this on afterwards, it has a nice, not too overpowering smell and a good thick consistency. My hair can get quite tangled after washing and while I was combing the conditioner through my hair I could feel the tangles disappearing, which felt really good.

You don't need to leave this on for it to work, as soon as you've smoothed it through your hair you can just rinse it out, which I thought was wonderful, I hate having to stand in the shower and wait for two minutes while it's working!

My hair felt wonderful after, it was so soft and looked very full and thick and was so easy to manage. I was really pleased with the results. Each time I've used it since the results have been the same.

This is available in a 225ml bottle from mypure.co.uk and costs £7.49

It is also the second time I've used an A'kin product - my review of the A'kin Pure Rose Hydrating Mist can be found here

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Book Review: THE BAKER STREET PHANTOM BY FABRICE BOURLAND



Genre: Supernatural Detective Fiction

Published by: Gallic Books (2nd August 2010)

Pages: 183 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8.5/10









THE BAKER STREET PHANTOM BY FABRICE BOURLAND

About the Book:

Two intrepid heroes.
A world of seances and ghosts.
Mysterious events at the home of Sherlock Holmes.


My Thoughts:

The year is 1932 and Andrew Singleton and James Trelawney decide to move from Boston, USA to London, England to set up their detective agency.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's widow is their first client and when she starts telling them of strange ghostly disturbances at 221 Baker Street and of how she fears a premonition of something terrible about to occur they are not in agreement as to what to do next. Singleton, the narrator, who doesn't believe in ghosts, says to his colleague (after the widow had left) 'If someone had told me that I would travel from Boston to London to hear such nonsense!' ......... and from Lady Conan Doyle no less!'

Trelawney states 'The way I see it .................. is that we finally have a case to get our teeth into. That's good enough for me!'

Of course, they decide to take the case and are then plunged into the world of the supernatural while attending a seance and summoning up the ghost of Sherlock Holmes. At the same time many grisly murders are being committed on the streets of London and which seem to be recreations of murders from classic Victorian novels.

Can this be a co-incidence, is there a copycat killer/s or are the killers 'not of this world'? Could Sherlock Holmes really help them? This is what our intrepid heroes attempt to find out.

I really enjoyed this book, I especially liked the friendly interaction between the two detectives who were both very likeable characters. The story had just the right amount of pace as the suspense built up.

This is an excellent translated version of Fabrice Bourland's novel which was very readable, the words flowed quickly and easily. It was interesting to read the author's blurb on the back of the book which read "My writing is a combination of detective and fantasy fiction. I am reviving a subgenre of crime fiction that was very popular in the past, that of detectives of 'the strange' or 'the occult'. I think his words sum up this book very nicely. This is his first book in the 'Singleton and Trelawney' series and I shall be watching out for his others.

I read this book as part of the Bookdagger Real Readers Programme. This was an uncorrected proof copy.
If interested in becoming a part of the programme click here for more information.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Book Review: WAR ON THE MARGINS BY LIBBY CONE




Genre: Historical Fiction

Published by: Duckworth (July 2009)

Pages: 249 (Hardback)

My Rating: 9/10






WAR ON THE MARGINS BY LIBBY CONE

About the book:

Drawn from authentic World War II documents, broadcasts and private letters, War on the Margins tells the unforgettable story of the deepening horror of the Nazi regime in Jersey and the extraordinary bravery of those who sought to subvert it.
My Thoughts:

This book was a real eye-opener for me, while I knew that the Germans had occupied the Channel Islands during WWII, I had no idea that life was so difficult for the inhabitants, especially the Jews who lived there. They had to register as a Jew - were not allowed to move house - they had to shop only between the hours of 3-4pm - had to wear the Jewish star - not allowed to visit public places - had to relinquish their businesses. Many depended on the kindness of friends and neighbours for food to survive.

Libby Cone has taken documents, BBC broadcasts and private letters and woven them into a fascinating and very moving story of what life was like during that time. We see how hard life was through the eyes of several people:

Marlene, a young clerk from the Aliens Office who has two Jewish grandparents, but doesn't consider herself Jewish, is hidden in the house of two French stepsisters who become Resistance Fighters and spread propaganda urging the German soldiers to mutiny, risking imprisonment if found. They also had an illegal wireless which enabled them to keep up to date with the happenings of the war via the BBC.

Peter, a Pole who fought in the Spanish Civil War against Franco but was on the losing side and now finds himself deported to the internment camp at Jersey and used as slave labour to help dig the underground hospital. He escapes from the cruel beatings and starvation meted out and is also hidden by brave Islanders.

Everyone was getting thinner; milk and butter were usually only available on the black market. It was more lucrative for the farmers and shopkeepers to sell to the Germans than to their fellow islanders. Some people stole things back from the Germans. There was a brisk traffic of goods from Occupied France to the Islands. Islanders who were caught stealing or selling on the black market took the return route ....... to France, destined for prison at Caen or Lille.

Some people, wanting to settle old scores, sent letters to the authorities grassing on their neighbours, some of the allegations were true, some not.

Some Islanders left food out on their doorsteps for the prisoners from the camp. All were affected by the occupation in some way.

Libby Cone has a simple writing style and says that some of the people in her story were real and some are composites. It left me feeling very moved and wanting to know more about the people and their lives. Marlene was an interesting character, at first she seemed very indecisive and shy but, as the war went on, we saw another more independent side to her as she helped the Resistance Movement by writing 'V' for Victory in chalk around the towns, among other dangerous activities.

On a personal note: I visited Jersey several years ago when I was 19, not really interested in the War at that young age, I was just on holiday to enjoy the beautiful beaches and have a good time. But one thing that sticks out in my mind is visiting the amazing Underground Hospital that the slave labourers dug with just picks and shovels. Now that I'm older and, possibly, wiser this book really brought home to me just what suffering they must have gone through.

There is a wonderful interview with Libby Cone by Rob over at robaroundbooks that I would urge you to read, it's contains some interesting background information and facts.

Also, see here for a biography of Libby Cone and her works.

Special Thanks to Libby Cone for sending me a copy of her book to review.

Also, check out Jules over at Jule's Book Reviews for a fab review of this excellent book.

Another book about the German occupation of the Channel Islands that may be of interest is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer.



Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Book Review: SILENT SCREAM BY LYNDA LA PLANTE


Genre: Crime Fiction

Published by: Simon & Schuster (June 2010)

Pages: 515 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8/10






SILENT SCREAM BY LYNDA LA PLANTE

The Victim: Beautiful, young, up and coming English actress Amanda Delany

The Crime: Brutally murdered

The Place: In her London mews house, where she had recently moved into

My Thoughts:

This is a good, solid, no frills crime thriller and is the 5th book which features DI Anna Travis. I hadn't read any of the previous books, in fact this is the first time I've read anything by Lynda La Plante, but I've watched her books being made into successful TV Series such as 'Widows' and 'Prime Suspect' so I knew some of what to expect.

DI Anna Travis's back story was carefully woven into the story which made me feel as if I'd known her for some time, and didn't think I was missing some vital information.

Amanda Delany's character was very flawed and sad and seemed very real as Travis delved deeper and deeper into her personal life and the murky world she inhabited, whilst I felt sorry for her I also disliked her very much, she treated people cruelly and made quite a few enemies.

It was a wonder to Anna.......how such a delicate, confused and tortured creature could not only be phenomenally successful but very rich and......very much in charge of her finances. It felt as if she was investigating two women, instead of just one girl. With so many physical ailments, Anna wondered how on earth Amanda Delany had got herself out of bed each day to work on the film set.

While the police were investigating Amanda's murder, Travis's soon-to-be-retired boss put her up for promotion but it was felt by some of her colleagues that she didn't share enough of her information with them and they thought this made them look incompetent and there were a few conflicts with her peers which all added to the story, and made her look human, and a fascinating character.

Even thought it was over 500 pages long it didn't feel like it, La Plante's fast paced descriptive writing was easy to read featuring mostly well-defined characters and believable situations.

Lynda La Plante talking about Silent Scream


Friday, 9 July 2010

Book Review: THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY MACAROONS & BISCUITS




Genre: Cookery Book

Published by: ACP Publishing Pty Ltd (April 2010)

Pages: 120 (Paperback)

My Rating: 10/10














THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY MACAROONS & BISCUITS

About the Book:

This is a compendium of all your favourite biscuits. It's the sort of book you'll refer to again and again, you'll teach your children how to make biscuits from it and they'll teach their children. T
here are recipes for plain biscuits, biscuits with creamy fillings, iced biscuits, slices and macaroons. Everything you expect to find is here: shortbread, chocolate chip cookies, melting moments, caramel slice, coconut slice, macaroons. As well there are features on especially easy-to-make biscuits such as no-bake biscuits and one-bowl biscuits. Each recipe is explained simply so even a beginner will have immediate success.

I have lots of different cookery books but this is definitely going to be a big favourite in my house! The pages are wonderfully glossy and every single recipe has a lovely colourful picture of the finished article.

Contents:

Introduction - Which contains tips to help you bake perfect batches every time, from the equipment you need to how to store them.

Plain Biscuits - These include Chocolate Chip Cookies - Mini Florentines - Mocha Vanilla Twists - Banana, Caramel and Date Cookies - Basic Shortbread Dough to enable you to make (amongst others) Choc-Mint Shortbread and Latte Shortbread Dippers - Gingerbread and many others.
There are 27 different kinds of Plain Biscuit recipes in this section, all with professional pictures.

Filled Biscuits - Delicious Melting Moments - Lime and Ginger Kisses - Caramel Peanut Hearts - Wagonettes - Lemon Meringue Kisses - 18 recipes in total.

Macaroons - 12 different recipes including Coconut, Cranberry and White Chocolate Macaroons - Caramel Pecan Macaroons - Raspberry Macaroon Dreams.

Biscotti - Lovely Almond Bread - Jaffa Biscotti - Coffee and Walnut Biscotti - Lemon, Honey and Pistachio Biscotti - 10 varied recipes.

Slices - From Chocolate Caramel Slice to Rhubarb Custard Slice and another 29 delicious Slices in between.






With a Glossary, Conversion Chart and Index at the back of the book.

All the mouthwatering recipes are clear and easy to understand with the ingredient measures in ounces, cups and grams.





This delicious book is highly recommended by me and my family - especially the Chocolate Chip Cookies!





Sunday, 4 July 2010

Book Review: THE EARTH HUMS IN B FLAT BY MARI STRACHAN


Genre: Fiction

Published by: Canongate Books (May 2010)

Pages: 327 (Paperback)

My Rating: 9/10




THE EARTH HUMS IN B FLAT BY MARI STRACHAN

About the Book:

Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in this small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and full of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanishes, and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decides to conduct her own investigation. She records everything she sees and hears: but are her deductions correct? What is the real truth? And what will be the consequences of finding out, for Gwenni, her family and her community?

My Thoughts:

First Lines:

I fly in my sleep every night. When I was little I could fly without being asleep; now I can't, even though I practise and practise.

Seen through the eyes of 12 year old Gwenni who lives with her mum, dad and older sister Bethan, in a small Welsh village in the 1950's, this is a lovely, quirky story, featuring characters such as Jones the Butcher, Edwards the Bank and Mrs Owen the Milk, a village where everyone knows everyone else's business and is full of secrets.

Gwenni wants to be a detective like her fictional hero, Albert Campion, and when one of her neighbours, Mr Evans, goes missing she decides that she will try and find him by looking at the clues and talking to Mr Sergeant Jones the policeman............but she finds more than she bargained for while learning a lot about her own family secrets and growing up.

This is a delightfully told and very descriptive story full of vivid and rich characters and sometimes I felt as if I was eavesdropping on private conversations, as if I was actually there in the room.

Gwenni was so sweet and innocent and serious and I very quickly warmed to her, she was always observing other people and is obsessed with being watched by inanimate objects such as her poster of Buddy Holly on her bedroom wall and the toby jugs on the living-room shelf

.........the mantelpiece's clock's tick-tock is loud. I look up at the clock and see the Toby jugs almost falling off their shelf as they strain to watch and listen. They're straining so hard their faces are crimson.

It's a wonderful, funny, easy read and I loved it!

This is Mari Strachan's debut novel and her website can be found here

I thought it was quite similar in some ways to What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn.




Saturday, 3 July 2010

BOOKS READ IN JUNE 2010


Due to illness, for a week or so I didn't feel like reading very much so my total this month is only a paltry three books, one of which was an audiobook.

One Day by David Nicholls 7/10

The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid (Audiobook) 7/10

Clan by David P Elliot 8.5/10


My list for July

Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh

Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The Baker Street Phantom by Fabrice Bourland

The Waiting Room by FG Cottam

Jubilee by Eliza Graham

The Japanese Lover by Rani Manicka


I'm hoping to read most, if not all, of them.



Thursday, 1 July 2010

Book Review: EXTREME RISK: A LIFE FIGHTING THE BOMBMAKERS BY CHRIS HUNTER



Genre: Biography, War & Espionage

Published by: Bantam Press (April 2010)

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

Rating: 10/10









EXTREME RISK: A LIFE FIGHTING THE BOMBMAKERS BY MAJOR CHRIS HUNTER

* THIS BOOK HAS BEEN READ AND REVIEWED BY MY HUSBAND *

About the Book:

In this edgy, fast-paced and incredibly moving account, Chris Hunter chronicles the remarkable journey of a teenager with few hopes and limited prospects who went on to become one of the most successful counter-terrorism operators in Britain.

Hunter depicts his gruelling officer training at Sandhurst, and afterwards as a young troop commander in Bosnia. He describes how, as a bomb disposal operator in Northern Ireland and Iraq, he witnessed horrendous acts of terrorism and recounts the methods he employed to outsmart the terrorists who repeatedly tried to target him.

This is the portrait of a man prepared to sacrifice everything for his country, but to concede nothing to the terrorists.

My Husband's Thoughts:

This is one of those books that falls into the clichĂ© of a book that you can’t put down, a page turner.

A really good read.

To start each chapter the author gives you a quotation or verse from some very noble people, which have the thread running through the chapter. I found this very uplifting and relevant.

The author lays bare his life and soul without any self deprecation and without any self irony. He lets us into the hurt and desolation that surrounds him, with the problems he faced with his personal life, and yet he tells us of his immense pleasure he finds in his military life, living with his buddies.

I read this book in the surreal situation of being on holiday in a beautiful place with all the pleasures of sun, drink, and good food, and yet I was drawn into the really desperate and dangerous situations that the author was experiencing. It left me wanting to read more and more.

What the ATO’s do is nothing short of unbelievable. This book takes you into the heart of the subject. It also takes you into the heart of the author. The account of the ops the author undertook takes you right into the meat of the situations. You are left both cold and sweating at each and every outcome. That the experiences are real, make this book even more riveting.

The author takes you from his officer training at Sandhurst, to his postings in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Columbia, the SAS, the Middle East and then his freelance work back in Afghanistan. He has lead an unbelievable life already. That he can then write all of this is wonderful.

I look forward to reading his first book: Eight Lives Down

Special Thanks to Transworld Publishers for sending me this book to review.



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