Archive > August 2012

The Rose Petal Beach

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The Rose Petal Beach, Dorothy Koomson, book reviewDorothy Koomson is one of my favourite authors and I am delighted to have just read her most recent book, The Rose Petal Beach. It is a poignant story of deceit and betrayal that compels the reader to keep on reading to the very end. It is an emotional thriller that questions how far one might go in the name of love and how, when things go wrong, rational thought can so easily be lost.

The story starts very dramatically when Tamia Challey’s husband, Scott, is arrested in his own home in front of her and their two daughters, Cora and Anansy. It turns out that he is accused of a serious sexual assault against his colleague, Mirabelle Kemini, who also happens to be one of Tamia’s best friends.


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A Dream within a Dream, a Story within a Story

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Sleeping Patterns, J. R. Crook, book reviewWhat is the relationship between the writer and his audience? J. R. Crook’s debut novel investigates this through a group of characters – himself included – living together in student accommodations in London. The main story here centers on an artist Annelie Strandli, known as Grethe to her friends, and a writer Berry Walker. As the book opens, Grethe tells of the death of Crook (fear not, he’s alive and well) and how she received the book – chapter by chapter, and out of order. She also explains why she decided to publish it exactly as she received it. What may be confusing here is that although Crook is a minor character in his own novel, it is Berry who is writing the chapters, and allowing Grethe to find them one at a time (and again, out of order). Yet the overall premise here is that it is Crook who was sending the chapters to Grethe before his death.


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The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex

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The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, Mark Kermode, book reviewThe Good, The Bad and The Multiplex is not Mark Kermode’s first book, but it is the first by the film critic that I have read. A well-known name and face in the world of film journalism, I always enjoy his appearances on TV shows along the lines of “The 50 Greatest Movies” – he invariably has something interesting, intelligent and funny to say, and for this stands out from so many of the other “talking heads” who waffle rubbish.
The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex is subtitled What’s Wrong With Modern Movies?, which gives a slightly better idea of what to expect. Kermode discusses his issues with modern cinema, ranging from the multiplex itself, through the lack of projectionists, the so-called “future” that is 3D, why blockbusters are so bad yet make a fortune, the point of film critics, and British cinema.


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Stop the Clock

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Stop the Clock, Alison Mercer, book reviewStop the Clock by Alison Mercer is a fabulous new book about three women who are growing older and are growing up! There is definitely a difference between the two things! It is an immensely readable book that is likely to appeal to any woman who knows what it is like to go through the highs and the lows of a close friendship.

The three main characters are Lucy, Tina and Natalie. Although they are very different and want different things from life, they have been friends since they were at university together.


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Deceiving Noone

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Deceiving Noone by Mike Moreking, book reviewDeceiving Noone by Mike Moreking is a self-published Kindle novel. The main character is Nathan Noone, a student who falls in love with the beautiful Cali only to have his heart broken. However when war breaks out in Europe and Cali is caught up in it, he sets out with his friends on a dangerous journey to rescue her.

While there is plenty of action in Deceiving Noone once Nathan sets out across Europe, it took me quite some time to really get into the novel. For more than half of it I felt like I was waiting for something to happen, waiting for things to get going, despite the fact that Nathan was already wandering through a war zone.


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Night School

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Night School by  C. J. Daugherty, book reviewAllie has been arrested three times in the last year. Her brother has run away. Her parents don’t seem to care about her. With her latest arrest, the last straw, they send her away to Cimmeria Academy, a boarding school which she expects to hate. She finds herself liking it there and making friends, but all is not as it seems on the surface. Cimmeria has secrets, but no one is willing to tell her what the truth is.

C.J. Daugherty’s Night School is the first novel in a new young adult series. Set in south east England and a mystery above anything else, it is a change from the recent slew of paranormal young adult fiction.


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Hunger

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Gone 2: Hunger, Michael Grant, book reviewHunger is the second novel in Michael Grant’s Gone series, set in a town called Perdido Beach in California where everyone over the age of fifteen suddenly disappeared one day. In Gone, the first novel, the kids who were left struggled with fear of what was happening, and fights amongst themselves. Our hero Sam defeated the rival kids from the posh Coates Academy, who included his brother Caine, who he had never known about. Some of the kids, including Sam, inexplicably developed superpowers; there is also a strange being known as the Darkness living in an abandoned mine in the desert.

Now, in Hunger, Sam has been voted mayor of Perdido Beach, having successfully resisted disappearing on his fifteenth birthday.


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The Testament of Jessie Lamb

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The Testament of Jessie Lamb, Jane Rogers, book reviewLonglisted for the Man Booker prize in 2011 and winner of the Arthur C Clarke award, Jane Rogers’ The Testament of Jessie Lamb is a literary work that feels more “female friendly” than many other examples of science fiction I have read in the past. But that is hardly surprising given that the whole story is based around what is happening to women in a world that feels uncomfortably close to our own. Although the narrative is undated, this is something that could be happening the day after tomorrow and is so terrifyingly plausible that you could all too easily imagine it (or something very similar) happening in our own world.

Jessie Lamb is a 16 year old college student in northern England.


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Young Prince Philip

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Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life, Philip Eade, book reviewWhile Queen Elizabeth II may be something of an enigma, a very private person who does not reveal her personal feelings, her husband Prince Philip is often perceived as easier to understand, given that he often appears to speak his mind. However, many biographies of him, or indeed the Queen, are in agreement that he is not as straightforward as he seems, that there is more to him than the occasional blunt remark might indicate. Philip Eade’s Young Prince Philip aims to shed some light on the foundations of his character, in a biography of his early years, covering birth up to the 1950s-60s. While very grateful to sources at the Palace, Eade is at pains to point out in his introduction that this biography is not authorised or approved.

Born in 1921, Prince Philip was the only son of Prince Andrea of Greece, and his wife, Princess Alice, granddaughter of Queen Victoria.


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A Place and a Condition

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Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, book reviewThe opening line of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan in August of 1974.” This intriguing conundrum is explained promptly as we are then informed of the narrator’s ancient genetic mutation, in conjunction with a brief smattering of the contradictions in the speaker’s life that led up to and immediately followed this astounding discovery. And that’s just on the first pages of this novel. But I can assure you that the remaining 500+ pages are no less engaging.

While an investigation into just this dramatic life-changing event could easily be an excellent subject for a novel, Eugenides decided to also give us the history of how this mutation came about, by including the family history of the main character, starting with her/his grandparents and their escape from Greece.


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Better Together

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Better Together, Sheila O'Flanagan, book reviewI’ve just finished reading Better Together, the latest book from Irish author, Sheila O’Flanagan and it has not disappointed in the least. It’s another wonderfully absorbing tale from this fabulous writer that had me hooked from the very first page. The story is enjoyable and intriguing and the main character is strong and likeable. This book has all the right ingredients for a great read.

Better Together starts in Dublin where Sheridan Gray is a successful sports journalist on one of the city’s newspapers. Unfortunately, there is a recession and no one’s job is safe.


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Sahibs Loved India

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Sahibs Who Loved India, Khushwant Singh, book reviewOnce upon a time when the map of the world was largely red and the sun never set on the British Empire, India was considered Britain’s greatest colony – the so called ‘Jewel in the Crown’. As well as a source of great trade and wealth, India became a place where young men – yes, mostly men – could go to make their fortune. The big employers were the Army, the Civil Service and for the less affluent and less classically educated, the Railways. India was for most a land of opportunity but for many a living hell. The heat, the dirt and the disease, as well as the sheer sense of nothing being at all like home, meant many who went didn’t come back or came back badly damaged by their experience.

In his introduction to Sahibs who Loved India, Kushwant Singh comments that many of the Brits who went to India did so because they couldn’t make it back home.


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