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Archive for September, 2015


Stasi Child

Author : David Young
Published: 01 October 2015
Reviewed: 27 September 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Bonnier Publishing in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

  5 out of 5 stars



East Berlin, 1975

When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the Wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other: it seems the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.

Müller is a member of the People’s Police, but in East Germany her power only stretches so far. The Stasi want her to discover the identity of the girl, but assure her the case is otherwise closed – and strongly discourage her asking questions.

The evidence doesn’t add up, and Müller soon realises the crime scene has been staged. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Müller doesn’t realise that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home .

Karin Müller wakes up to a mistake, not realising that this will set the tone for the next few weeks of her life.  A body has been discovered, and the Stasi want her involvement with the investigation, why she does not know, but there’s something about this case that drives her to need the answers to some important questions.  Who was this teenage girl?  Why was she escaping from the West?  What could the Stasi need from her on the case?  And why is her personal life falling to pieces?
Müller and her deputy Tilsner are on a tight leash, the Stasi operative has set strict parameters for their involvement with the case, find out who the identity of the body, nothing else.  But Müller is not so easily deterred, after the post mortem, she is more determined to find out who the murderer is, unaware of how dangerous it could be for her and Tilsner.  

The political minefield that the characters must wade through is intense, who can they trust; Can she trust her superiors?  Can Müller even trust her deputy? 

As the plot, and sub plot twist and turn you feel yourself drawn in, desperately trying to guess ahead what might happen, and how it all links together.  Desperately trying not to say any more about the plot, it would give too much away and ruin it for other readers, but I will say that this is a gripping read, don’t read it at bedtime, or you may fall into the same trap as me..”just one more chapter then I’ll go to sleep….oh hold on, this is getting interesting, just another chapter….”

The use of German language in this novel is good, it adds an authenticity to the text, as well as had me enjoying using my long forgotten German to translate words before reading on.   
The descriptions of the settings are superb, a lot of attention to detail has been made, this is a cleverly complicated novel, but not one that’s difficult to follow.  
For a debut novel this is an incredibly high standard for Young to follow, and I really do hope that the next Karin Müller is out soon!  

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, and Historical genres, especially books set during the time of the Berlin Wall,  

I would like to thank Bonnier Publishing for the copy of this novel in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book will be published on 1st October 2015 .  A copy can be purchased here Stasi Child (Kindle UK Version)
 

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The Beachside Guest House

Author : Vanessa Greene
Published: 10 September 2015
Reviewed: 24 September 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

4 (& 1/2) out of 5 stars



When Rosa and Bee get together in the run-up to Bee’s wedding, they reminisce about the holiday they took together as teenagers to the beautiful Greek island of Paros. They remember the sandy coves, the guest house in the converted windmill where they stayed with their friend Iona, and the gorgeous local men. As memories of that long-forgotten holiday resurface, they are forced to confront the turns their lives have taken – and the guilt they both feel about letting Iona slip away from them.

When they learn that the windmill guest house is going bust they form a plan: why not go back to the island and take it over themselves? And so begins a life-changing journey – because it turns out that opening a guest house and reliving their teenage dreams isn’t that easy . . .

Full of romance and friendship, love and life, laughter and tears, The Beachside Guest House is an uplifting novel about the magic of starting over with friends by your side.

Bee is planning her wedding with the help of family and friends, but for her and Rosa, they realise that one friend is missing, Iona.  As they reminisce over photos of a long past together, they come across ones from their time as teenagers on Paros, a Greek island where they had holidayed as young women taking on the world and savouring their freedom.  
It is from here that we meet each of the women in their current lives, Rosa working for a charity and jetting around the globe helping where she can in remote communities, Bee planning her wedding to Stuart, but both missing their old friend Iona, who is living her own life with her boyfriend, holding down a job and not thinking about Bee and Rosa.  With each chapter you find out a little more about the leading woman, what happened in the years after their first taste of Paros, and why they drifted so far apart. 

When the lighthouse guest house on Paros goes up for sale, Rosa can’t resist making a bid, not knowing that this will turn her world upside down.  Her offer is accepted and life as she knows it changes, but not only for her, but Bee and Iona too.  
That’s about all I can say about the novel without giving too much away, I really don’t want to spoil this for other readers.  

The theme of relationships is very important in this book, for Bee, Rosa and Iona, friendship is the key, they just don’t realise just how vital it is until they really need each other.  
And for Rosa forming new relationships once back on Paros will be so important to the success of her venture. 

This novel is what I would describe as a heart warmingly lovely change of pace.  For someone that loves criminal fiction, thriller and espionage novels, this provided a lovely change, no spies fearing unmasking and nothing too sinister, but that said, it was still a gripping read.  It was enjoyable to read, the descriptions of settings were wonderful, the island of Paros seemed very real and picturesque, the Beachside Guest House sounded so inviting, I wish it were real!  

Greene has become an author I will look out for in future, her style of writing is light and flowing, at no time was I tempted to skip narrative or was bored like I have found to be the case with other novels of these genres.  This was a very enjoyable read, the sort of book you can happily curl up on the sofa with and enjoy a cuppa (and a sneaky chocolate biscuit!). 

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Chick Lit, and Romance Genres, it’s also a perfect holiday read!

I would like to thank Little, Brown Book Group UK for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book will be published on .  A copy can be purchased here Beachside Guest House (UK Paperback)
 

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A Game For All The Family 

 

Author : Sophie Hannah
Published: 13 August 2015
Reviewed: 21 September 2015

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Hodder & Stoughton
in return for an honest review

 

  2 (& 1/2) out of 5 stars

 

 

Justine Merrison and her family leave London for a new life in Devon, Justine is hugely looking forward to a life without the stress of London and her career, but on the drive down to Devon something strange happens that sets the tone of the novel, an “odd feeling” about something she sees seems to throw her off balance.

To begin with, life in Devon is bliss, Justine can live the life of doing ‘nothing’ as she so wishes for, until the strange phone calls start, and she discovers the story that her daughter Ellen is writing for school.  Something about that story unnerves Justine to the point she MUST know more, it’s too  far fetched for Ellen to have written, the names used aren’t those that a teenager would think up, the setting is their lovely new house and the story is dark and sinister.

As Ellen’s story progresses, so does the saga surrounding Justine, the mystery calls become menacing and sinister and Justine begins to fear for the safety of herself, her husband and daughter.  As she struggles to find out what’s happening the twists of Ellen’s story become more and more intense.
Conscious not to give away too much and spoil the book for other readers I will avoid giving too much detail on what happens next, but there are some twists and turns in the novel, and the need to find out what happens next was a driver in reading on for me.

The sub plot of Ellen’s story is necessary in this novel as it explains the psychological aspect of a character, but in all honesty, that part of the novel could have easily been replaced with a conversation or two between characters giving the details of what happened, when, where and who was involved to avoid the messy jumping about and irritating different writing styles (yes I appreciate that this was a tool used to allow a clear difference between the two stories being told), irritating in the sense of the font that was used, the style it was written in and the way it read.  It definitely did not enhance my reading. 

The concept of the novel is an interesting one, but the execution just didn’t hit the mark for me.  I was eager to read this after reading the description and blurb on the cover of the book but was very let down and there were a few times I actually wondered to myself if it was worth finishing it.  

I might recommend this book to someone that enjoys Fiction, Mystery, and Thrillers.


 

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A Slow Death

Author : James Craig
Published: 10 September 2015
Reviewed: 16 September 2015

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy purchased via Amazon.

 

  4 (& 1/2) out of 5 stars

 

 

Berlin 1990.

“I just love the smell of tear gas in the evening…”

The Wall has fallen and Berlin is a magnet for criminals and protestors from all over Germany and the rest of Europe.

When a seemingly ordinary family are slaughtered in their home, Kriminalinspektor Max Drescher finds himself up against a ruthless Mafia clan trying to establish its operations in the newly reunited city.

Max has problems of his own but knowing this could be his last case, the veteran detective will stop at nothing to get a result.
 

Berlin, post Wall is a seedy, grubby, dark and dangerous place for everyone, especially for those instilling law and order into an archaic society.
Kriminalinspektor Max Drescher, far from a German version of Poirot is more like a German Rebus, he drinks, he smokes and he doesn’t strictly play by the rules, but the results are there for anyone to see.  Max has his own demons and problems, but that doesn’t stop him trying to solve what will end up being his final case as a Kriminalinspektor.  The mentions of Max’s past and the memories he draws up are very well written, hinting at more but giving nothing away, but you read on hoping more is given away about him.

Keen not to spoil the book for other readers, I will say there are twists and turns in this novel that will keep you glued to it.

The characters are well written in this novel, physical descriptions are very good, as are the personalities given to each, you can imagine the stubborn streak in some characters, but there are times when the reader can sympathise with the plight of a character or relate to them.

I really liked the use of German in the book, it wakened the dormant German language in my brain and soon I was translating the German in my head and excitedly checking that it was right when it appeared in English in the next sentence.  The use of the language added that little “something extra” to me and seemed to authenticate that it was set in Germany.

A small note about the publisher too, the quirky marketing tactics used to drum up interest in this book were definitely different from other publishers out there, and I have to admit that it piqued my interest seeing the good humoured back and forth between the writer and the publisher as it made for good entertainment as well as making the novel stand out to me, so much so that I pre-ordered it and waited (not so) patiently for publication and download onto my Kindle!  I think that James Craig is definitely an author to watch for the next in the series of Max Drescher, but also Fahrenheit Press to see what crime novels they come out with next!

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Mystery, Crime and Thrillers.

A copy can be purchased here A Slow Death (UK Kindle Version)

*** Edit***
Updated link for book purchase 
 

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It’s a stage that parents dread…….your darling little one becomes a grizzly, crying, grumpy monster and there’s little you can do to fix it.

For us, teething started early, just before 4 months old, so paracetamol suspensions weren’t an option available to us.   But thankfully a helpful pharmacist offered advice and some teething gel.  Gel seemed to take the edge off and let the grizzly monster get some sleep, but she soon seemed to acquire a taste for the gel, trying to suck it off your finger when you put it on her gums – not incredibly helpful when you want to rub it onto the gum to soothe the pain.
My grandmother then suggested the teething powders that they’d used on me so many years ago, and I was delighted to find out they were still available!  Ashton & Parsons powders were a lifesaver, they seemed to do magical tricks and very quickly our lovely smiley baby was back.  The powders combined with teething toys made things so much easier.

The trouble for me was choosing the right teethers, I had a baby who liked to chew on anything, if she got near the remote control she’d chew it, she’d chew fingers, her teddies, you name it.  But thankfully I stumbled upon a company that created teethers which were exciting, interesting and in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Gumigem Bubba Tool Bag was ideal for us, lots of different pieces meant lots of different things to chew on and I was so impressed I ordered a teething necklace to wear that was safe for the little one to play with and chew on instead of her trying to chew my real necklaces (on the rare occasion I wore one).

Bubba Bag Tool Bag

 (Image:http://gumigem.co.uk/bubba-bag-tool-bag-p172.html) 

The thing I liked most about these teething toys were the fact they suitable for a girl to play with as well as a boy, ok some parents like to give their daughter things to play with that conform with the socially accepted idea all girls like pink, feminine type things.  We have a girl who is already showing signs of being “rough, tough and not delicate” so the tool set were perfect.  The shapes of the tools were idea for her little hands to grab on to, the tape measure toy with the tape just long enough that she couldn’t choke on it, the hammer chunky enough that she could chew for relief on back teeth as well as front ones and the saw is ideal because the handle and “blade” are differing thicknesse so helps for most teeth.  The best thing about the spanner for her was the knobbly bit, far more fun to play with than chew on, maybe because this is quite a thin toy it’s less fun to chew on?  All I know is it’s giving my fingers a rest from being chewed on!  

That’s not to say that none of the other “Bubba Bags” aren’t any good, the Original set was no use for us, we already had toys similar to those contained in that set, car keys, phone etc.

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The Memory Weaver

Author : Jane Kirkpatrick
Published: 01 September 2015
Reviewed: 11 September 2015

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Revell in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

3 out of 5 stars


Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now a mother of two, Eliza faces a new kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her mother’s grave–and returning to the land of her captivity.

Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal. As she searches the pages of her mother’s diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story.

Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick’s latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman’s heart. Get swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

 
The novel is based on the true story of Eliza Spalding Warren, and not knowing anything about her I did a little research online before reading just to give myself an understanding of who she was.  
The opening pages of this novel filled me with dread, the lengthy character list was almost enough to put me off reading this, thinking there was no way I would manage to remember who all the characters were and what their place in the story was.  Whilst the list was useful as a point of reference, it really didn’t work well as the first pages of the Kindle copy of the novel I reviewed. 

After the troubles in 1847 and the death of Eliza’s mother a few years later, she becomes carer to her younger siblings and father, before meeting and marrying Andrew Spalding and having his children.  
 
As the story unfolds, the narration switches back and forth between Eliza and her mother’s diary entries, for me this seemed to slow the pace of reading drastically.  The diary entries were necessary to explain historical events and give detail that only Eliza Spalding (deceased) could give, but at the same time there was a lot of repetition in those entries so I did find that it was tempting to skip ahead sometimes. 

The novel does teach you that memories are not always as truthful as you think they are, events can be remembered differently by some people and that discovery in the novel was quite interesting.  

However, in all honesty, I felt this novel lacked something.  It held my interest long enough to finish it, but I have to admit that I was glad to have finished it to move on to reading something else.  

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Historical novels, and Religious novels. 

I would like to thank Revell for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book will be published on .  A copy can be purchased here The Memory Weaver (UK Kindle Version)
 

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Taking on Water

Author : David Rawding
Published: 18 August 2015
Reviewed: 10 September 2015

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Red Adept Publishing in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

  3 out of 5 stars

 

 

When James Morrow, a social worker, first meets Kevin Flynn, he suspects the teen is being abused. To learn more about Kevin’s home life, he gets to know the boy’s father, Tucker, who’s a lobsterman. James is able to put his suspicions to rest, and the two families begin to form a friendship.

When a kid at the local recreation center dies of an overdose, Detective Maya Morrow adds the case to the long list related to the drug problem plaguing the small New Hampshire coastal town of Newborough. But her investigation gets her much too close to the dangerous players.

Both the Morrows and the Flynns are holding dark secrets, and when their lives collide, tragedy is inevitable.

Newborough, a small fishing town in New Hampshire is the picturesque setting for this challenging novel, the descriptions of the setting are wonderful, you can almost smell the salty sea air, imagine the hypnotic waves and the fishing boats bobbing along with the tide, but this is where the idyllic tone ends.  There is a drug epidemic in the area and it’s slowly seeping into everyone’s lives in the area.
James Morrow, a social worker, meets Kevin Flynn, a young lad who he discovers has suspicious bruises whilst they are playing basketball together.  And once a social worker always a social worker, James makes it his mission to check out if there is any abuse in Kevin’s home life. Satisfied there is no abuse but instead a loving home, James and his wife Maya strike up a friendship with Kevin’s parents Tucker and Melanie Flynn. 
From here, the  novel chops and changes to narration by Tucker, James and Maya, sometimes quite confusingly so in the constant jumping.
Each of the characters sees the impact of the drug problem plaguing their small town, but there’s little that can be done until the Police get control of how it’s being brought into the area.  Maya, a detective with New Hampshire Police investigates the evidence but with dangerous consequences. 

As the novel progresses, the lives of the two families become more and more entangled, with devastating consequences. There are interesting “flashbacks” to James as a young man dealing with an abusive father, showing just how damaging abuse can be psychologically as well as physically. 
Keen not to spoil the book for other readers, I will say there are twists and turns in this novel that will catch you by surprise, one in particular I saw coming, but still was shocked at when it happened.

The characters are well written in this novel, physical descriptions are very good, as are the personalities given to each, you can imagine the stubborn streak in some characters, especially James and Tucker, but there are times when the reader can sympathise with the plight of the character or relate to them. 

The pace of the novel was slow to start, but it didn’t have pick up towards the end, the last few chapters of the novel turn into a speed reading exercise to find out what happens! 

I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I’d hoped, it felt too choppy too me, granted everything seemed to tie up in the end, it was a challenge to keep reading but I am glad I did, just to find out “whodunnit” and how it all ends for the characters.  I did like the final twist at the end, it gave me a dark humour chuckle. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction, Mystery, Crime and Thrillers.

I would like to thank Red Adept Publishing for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 18th August 2015.  A copy can be purchased here Taking on Water (UK Kindle Version)
 

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