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Review of

Creating Value Through Technology: Discover the Tech that Can Transform Your Business by Andrew Hampshire

4.5star.jpg Business and Finance

I was once told that 'technology' is anything that happens after you're eighteen, so there's been a lot of technology in my life. I once worked for a manager who judged if an accountant was reputable by establishing whether or not they had a typewriter. Times - thankfully - have moved on. Nowadays the problem is that someone running a business doesn't have the time to keep up with constant innovation and they might also be scared because previous IT investments haven't delivered as expected. It's also a fact that no one develops a business because they have the knowledge of the required technology, so they start off in conversations about technology feeling that they're at a disadvantage. They need help, but they frequently don't know what help they need. Full Review

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Review of

Note to Self: An Education by Mark Lingane

4star.jpg Science Fiction

In Kry's world, the discovery that human cells replace themselves every seven years results in a cascade of medical "advances": in 2030 it's found that radiation can return cells back to their regeneration state seven years before, in 2035 it's possible to cure cancerous tumours but with the side effect of erasing seven years of memory, by 2045 the cosmetics industry is using the same technique to "de-age" their customers by seven years. In a society obsessed with image and youth, who needs memories? Full Review

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Review of

Body Language by A K Turner

4.5star.jpg Crime

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Raven is the senior mortuary technician and not only does she talk to the dead, she also hears what they have to say to her. It's not something she's inclined to share with people as she's pretty certain about what their reaction will be. She's certainly not going to share it with the new pathologist, Dr Archie Chuff, wearer of a genuine Barbour jacket and old Harrovian. He's very conscious of his position and isn't even inclined to ask for the view of the anatomical pathology technicians despite the fact that they have a lot more experience than him and he has only a limited amount of time to spend on each body. That will prove to be a mistake. Full Review

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Review of

The Inspiring History of a Special Relationship by Nancy Carver

4.5star.jpg History

The church of St Mary Aldermanbuy had existed in the City of London from at least 1181, when it was first mentioned in records. Sadly, the original church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was rebuilt in Portland stone from a design by Sir Christopher Wren soon after the fire and then survived for centuries until World War II, when it was again ruined by bombs during the Blitz. But that wasn't the end of its story: after a phenomenal fundraising effort, the stones from the church's walls were transported to Fulton, Missouri. There, in the grounds of Westminster College, the church was rebuilt and today serves as a memorial to Winston Churchill. Full Review

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Review of

Cherry Blossom Boutique by Brooke Adams

3star.jpg Women's Fiction

Thirty-one-year old Liberty Rossini has had her shop, the Cherry Blossom Boutique, for just six months when she's nominated for - and wins - the Retail Best Newcomer Award. She's delighted and the two people she's brought with her to the event couldn't be more pleased. Sonja, her mother, is an ex-model and Brazilian: you can see where Liberty got her looks from. Jessica's thirty-four and Liberty's best friend: they've known each other since university and Liberty adores Jessica's husband, Charles and their four-year-old daughter, Ava. Life would be perfect for Liberty if it wasn't for one thing: she misses having a man in her life. Full Review

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Review of

Fallen Angel (Gaby Darin Book 3) by Jenny O'Brien

4star.jpg Crime

Acting DI Gaby Darin is twiddling her thumbs: the usual flood of cases has slowed to less than a dribble and she's looking through cold cases for inspiration as to which one she should have a good look at. DS Owen Bates suggests the murder of eighteen-year-old Angelica Brock in 1995 and Gaby is intrigued. She can't see any immediate failings in the original investigation: Angelica disappeared from a room in a securely-locked house, wearing her pyjamas, and was found dead by a dog walker on the Gt Orme in Llandudno the next day. She was wearing a hand-made nightdress which her mother had never seen before. Bates hasn't quite told the whole story: he's married to Kate Brock, Angelica's younger sister. Full Review

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Review of

One Night in Beartown by Nick Jones and Si Clark

4star.jpg For Sharing

Many children have an obsession and Sandy Lane, who lives in Beartown, is obsessed with bears. She collects books about bears. Her favourite toy is Berisford, a teddy bear passed down by her grandmother. Every night, she looks out of her bedroom window and says goodnight to the bear statue outside. Every morning she says hello to Bee Bear, a colourful painted bear that lives at her school. She even has bears on her bedroom wallpaper! Full Review

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Review of

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant is almost 30. She lives in Glasgow, alone. And she likes it that way. She works 9-5, 5 days a week, and spends the weekend not drunk, but not sober. alone. And she likes it that way. She lives by a routine, and that's fine, thankyouverymuch. Nothing is missing from her life. Except everything is. Until one day, at a concert she won tickets for in an office raffle, she sees the man she is sure will be her husband. Eleanor begins a journey to make herself the best version of herself that she can, in order to secure this beautiful musician. Then, as she's on her way home one Friday, she and the new IT guy at her office see a man collapse in the street and stay close to him in hospital. Then, before she knows it, her once quiet life becomes a hubbub of social engagements with the man's family and friends, with Raymond from IT and of course her side project of falling in love with Johnnie Lomond. But just as her life seems to be looking up, things take a turn for the worse. Is Johnnie all he's cracked up to be? What secrets does Eleanor have from her childhood? Eleanor's walls have been broken down and she has to fight her way out of the shadows - but maybe she doesn't have to do it alone. Full Review

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Review of

Deadly Cry (D I Kim Stone) by Angela Marsons

4star.jpg Crime

DI Kim Stone and DS Jim Bryant were on their way back from Diversity Awareness training. The need for coffee overtook Stone - the course had been a complete waste of time for her as she knew that she was equally rude to everyone. It was in the shopping centre that Stone caught sight of a little girl clutching a teddy bear in the absence of her mother. Stone and Bryant didn't realise the extent to which this case was going to occupy their minds as the body of Katrina Nock is discovered some hours later. Her neck had been broken and it had all the hallmarks of a quick, functional kill, but who would do that to a young mother out shopping with her child? Full Review

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Review of

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard

4star.jpg Crime

Angel Roberts is an oddity - a female fisherwoman, making her living in a man's world. When her lobster trawler is found drifting off the coast of Quebec, Detective Morales is called in to come and head the investigation. Although the signs seem to point to an obvious conclusion, Morales feels something more sinister is going on, and finds himself frustrated at every turn by hidden agendas, fishing histories and secret family feuds. At the same time as trying to run his investigation, he also has his grown up son, Sebastien arriving at his door, weighed down with personal problems that he is unable to talk to his father about, which tie up with Morales own marital difficulties. Full Review

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Review of

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M C Beaton

4star.jpg Crime

Agatha Raisin has taken early retirement and she's left South Moulton Street for a cottage in the Cotswold village of Carsley. She'd have preferred one of the more romantic names but at least Carsley is off the tourist trail with all the problems that brings. Now the problem is settling into a different way of life - and Agatha has never done small talk or even being pleasant to people. The first move is to enter the village quiche-baking competition and the beginning of the campaign is taking the judge, Reginald Cummings-Browne, and his wife Vera out to dinner. She knows she's being ripped off at the pub in the next village but this is necessary and it's a good investment as she knows that she's going to win. How? Well, her quiche is coming from a Chelsea Bakery... Full Review

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Review of

The Push by Claire McGowan

5star.jpg General Fiction

Six mums-to-be meet at a prenatal class. It's NCT style, but not the proper NCT. This bit is important, but you have to wait a little to see why. This being London, such a class attracts a wide variety of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, but for most of the ladies the thing they have in common is it's their first baby. Probably after the first one, you don't have time for classes, or think you've got child-rearing down pat. Full Review

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Review of

The Roots of Evil (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

4.5star.jpg Crime

On New Year's Eve, Sir Robert Morgan Skinner was celebrating at the golf club with his wife, Professor Sarah Grace, daughter Alex Skinner and the man with whom she shares a house, Dominic Jackson. Jackson would be better-known to the criminal fraternity of Edinburgh as Lennie Plenderleith but he's reformed and the new name reflects a new man. The Skinners don't stay much after midnight at the clubhouse and are dropped home not long into the new year. Skinner's tempted to let the phone ring but knows that he cannot: it's Mario McGuire asking for his presence at a crime scene in the centre of Edinburgh. Skinner's not technically with the police now - he's chairman of InterMedia UK - but the police value his knowledge and experience. Full Review

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Review of

The Long Dark Road by P R Black

4star.jpg Thrillers

Two years ago Dr Georgia's Healey's nineteen-year-old university-student daughter went missing as she walked along the lonely A928 at Ferngate Bridge. There was a furious storm going on and she'd already refused the offer of help from one man in a big vehicle. We'll see - but no one else will know - that another car stops and Stephanie is bundled into the car and driven off. There has been no sign of her - or her body - in the two years since. Georgia is back is Ferngate, determined to find out what happened and she's not going to be stopped. Full Review

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Review of

Glassheart by Katharine Orton

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Nona and her Uncle Antoni have lived together ever since the Blitz claimed the lives of her family. Now, in the aftermath of the war, they travel all over the country, replacing stained-glass windows in buildings destroyed by bombs. Their latest job takes them out to the wilds of Dartmoor, where Nona discovers that her world is full of ancient and powerful magic. She also discovers that a mysterious entity, known only as The Soldier, is hell-bent on using Nona's innate magic for his own ends, and will not stop until he has her… Full Review

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Review of

But Never For Lunch by Sandra Aragona

4star.jpg Short Stories

If a woman approaching the menopause can be likened to a Rottweiler in lipstick, an Ambassador nearing retirement resembles a pampered peacock about to be released into the company of carrion crows or, more to the point, about to discover the real world of bus timetables and paying his own gas bills.

You don't get many better opening sentences than that, do you? We first met His Excellency and The Ambassador's Wife in Sorting the Priorities and we learned what it was like to be moved around countries like accompanying baggage by the Italian Government but the time has come for HE to retires and for Sandra Aragona to become The Wife of Former Ambassador... They have left The Career and settled in Rome. Well 'settled' rather overstates the situation and their dog, Beagle, has no intention of slowing down any time soon, despite being sixteen and deaf. Full Review

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Review of

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

3.5star.jpg Thrillers

A group of strangers gather on a private island. They have been invited to an all-expenses paid retreat to test a brand-new product from the mysterious Timeo Technology company. The group includes a games designer, social media influencer, gossip columnist and hedge fund manager. Everyone seems to have an area of expertise that makes their attendance necessary. All except Amelia whose presence is a mystery. We follow the group as they explore the island, and each other's histories and it becomes clear that they all have a dark secret they would rather keep hidden. As the clock ticks down, these well-kept secrets are revealed, and it soon becomes clear that this luxury retreat is really a gilded cage. In a race against time, Amelia must struggle to uncover the reason for her attendance and protect the rest of the guests from the increasingly sinister accidents that befall them. Full Review

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Review of

The Karma Trap by Lisette Boyd

4star.jpg Women's Fiction

George Jackson is thirty-three years old, absolutely gorgeous to look at - and single. She's not had sex for eight months and she's stuck in the karma trap: an awful lot of bad luck is being visited on her and she has a real talent for attracting drama. Her life's chaotic: she dealt with the leak from the shower by putting something down at the bottom of the stairs to absorb the water - then the shower fell through the roof whilst she was in it and left her, stark naked, staring at the pervy postman. She only has to take her mother's dog out for a walk for her to end up with dog poo spattered across her face - and a photo being taken by someone who shares it around the office. Full Review

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Review of

Hungry: A Memoir of Wanting More by Grace Dent

5star.jpg Autobiography

I'm always relieved when Grace Dent is one of the judges on Masterchef. You know that you're going to get an honest opinion from someone whom you sense does real food rather than fine dining most of the time. You also ponder on how she can look so elegant with all that good food in front of her. I've often wondered about the woman behind the media image and Hungry: A Memoir of Wanting More is a stunning read which will make you laugh and break your heart in equal measures. Full Review

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Review of

Her Majesty the Queen Investigates: The Windsor Knot by S J Bennett

5star.jpg Crime

It's early 2016 and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is at Windsor for the Easter Court. She's having a dine and sleep at the request of Prince Charles, who's attempting to raise money from some rich Russians for one of his pet projects. There'd been a distinctly Russian flavour to the evening and one of the performers brought in to play the piano has been found dead in what can only be called embarrassing circumstances. The immediate reaction is that one of the guests is responsible. The Queen mentally rules out her racing manager, an ex-ambassador to Moscow, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir David Attenborough. One couldn't bear to go down any of those roads. Full Review

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Review of

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

5star.jpg General Fiction

Between life and death there is a library. And so, 38 minutes after Nora decided to die, she finds herself in the Midnight Library. Everything that could've gone wrong in Nora's life has. Her cat died, she lost her job, her brother won't speak to her, her parents are dead, the boy she teaches piano to no longer cares about piano, she called off her wedding, and old Mr Banerjee next door no longer needs her help. She gave up on all the things that would've let her escape the wet, cold town of Bedford and given her life some purposeful direction. So at 23:22, she realises that she isn't made for life and decides to die. But instead of death, she finds the library. Each infinite shelf is filled with books, each book providing a chance to try another life she could have lived, in a parallel time. And so, just after midnight on Tuesday the 18th of April, Nora Seed begins to live every life she could've. Full Review

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Review of

Death and the Brewery Queen (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) by Frances Brody

4.5star.jpg Crime (Historical)

Kate Shackleton runs her investigation agency from Batswing Cottage, ably assisted by Jim Sykes, who lives in Woodhouse and her housekeeper, Mrs Sugden. She's been approached by William Lofthouse of the Barleycorn Brewery in Masham. Something is going wrong with his business and he'd like Kate to look into it discreetly: he's hoping that his nephew and right-hand man, James Lofthouse, will be back from a trip to Germany before long. James went to see what the continental brewers were doing and what changes Barleycorn might need to make. William is worried that James is perhaps enjoying himself a little bit too much or is going to bring back a German bride but he'd like the business to be ship-shape before his nephew returns. Full Review

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Review of

When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

1918 and a young man is arrested in Durham Cathedral. He refuses to give a name, no matter how hard they push he will not say who he is. Eventually, they determine this isn't willful obstinance, he doesn't answer because he doesn't know. He remembers being on the road for a long time and being frightened, and some of the faces from the road, but other than that – everything that came before has gone. They need a name for the forms and so they call him Adam and, because he was found in the Galilee Chapel, it becomes Adam Galilee. A fanciful name for a tired young man in a dishevelled uniform who doesn't know who he is, where he is or how he got there. Full Review

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Review of

Death Awaits in Durham (Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mysteries) by Helen Cox

4star.jpg Crime

Kitt Hartley's assistant, Grace Edwards, has left her library job and taken a place on the Venerable Bede Academy's vocational library studies course in Durham. It's an unusual place to study as students with government grants are not accepted, so most of the people attending are scions of the seriously rich, scholarship students - or they've managed, somehow, to scrape together the money. Grace, who's 22, comes into the last category. Her parents agreed to fund the course but told her that if that was what she chose to do then they were finished with her. Not long after she started the course, Kitt Hartley came for a visit - and immediately discovered an unsolved disappearance of a student from a year ago. Full Review

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Review of

These Thy Gifts by Vincent Panettiere

4star.jpg General Fiction

2006 is a tumultuous year for the Catholic Church. Reports of horrific sexual abuse are becoming widespread. Monsignor Steven Trimboli is troubled. He worries for the future of the church—and rightly so. A new crime will soon reverberate throughout his church and hit closer to home than he ever imagined.

As ageing priest Steve Trimboli begins to try to make sense of the child sexual abuse scandal that is rocking his beloved Catholic church, he discovers that one child in his own parish has been abused by a priest sent by his bishop. And this isn't just any boy: this is Steve's grandson whose mother is the offspring of a long past relationship between Steve and a gangster's widow. Steve is determined to seek justice for this boy and all children victimised by priests who have been protected by his church. But he must also face up to his own failings, going right back to his breaking of the celibacy vows. Full Review

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Review of

The Body on the Island by Nick Louth

4.5star.jpg Crime

A prison transport left HMP Wakefield, heading for HMP Spring Hill. Steve and Aaron were accompanying Neil Wright who was 67 years old and had served six years for the manslaughter of his wife. Only that wasn't who he was. Sixty-three-years-old Neville Rollaston had served thirty years for the murder of five boys between the ages of ten and seventeen. He was being ghosted out of Wakefield and into a new identity set up in a deal whereby he divulged the whereabouts of the body of one of his victims. The Bogeyman was going to be set free on 2 July 2019. He appeared to be a reformed character but he had a list of people upon whom he wished to exact revenge. Full Review

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Review of

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

4star.jpg General Fiction

Dawn Edelstein is a death doula: that's someone who is there for the person who is dying, to make their passage to whatever they believe in as easy as possible and to support their carers. It's a rewarding, caring occupation and Dawn puts her heart and soul into it but this wasn't always her life. Some fifteen years ago she was a graduate student at Yale working towards her doctorate: as an Egyptologist, she was working with her supervisor, Professor Ian Dumphries, on the Djehutyakht tombs at Deir el-Bersha on the Nile in Middle Egypt. Then she was Dawn McDowell: that was her maiden name, the name she published under. Full Review

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Review of

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

5star.jpg General Fiction

In 1952, Kya's mother disappeared up the dirt track to town, wearing her alligator heels, and never came home. Then one by one her siblings left, ran from the shack on the North Carolina marsh that served as home and the life that would lead to nothing but suffering, leaving 7-year-old Kya with her drunken father. Years pass and Kya - now nicknamed 'Marsh-Girl' – still yearns for a mother that would never return and grew up far too fast for a girl who can neither read nor write. Finally, one night her father never came home leaving Kya completely alone to survive on the marsh. Eventually, as the years drift painfully by, the time comes when Kya, now an emotional and vastly intelligent young woman, yearns for company besides the gulls and the land, yearning to be loved and to be held. So, when 2 boys from the town of Barkley Cove find their way to her, she finds a new way of life. But in 1969, the body of former star quarterback and new husband Chase Andrews is found lying in the mud of the marsh, and everyone in town immediately suspects the mysterious, run-down Marsh-Girl. Who is Kya now, after years of isolation and a broken, hardened heart? Is she really capable of murder? Full Review

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Review of

Pandora's Gardener by David C Mason

3star.jpg Crime

John Cranston is a gardener, although what he did before he became a gardener, he claims, is classified. That is just as well because he is about to be caught up in a criminal / spy / terrorist plot, where only he can save the day. Full Review