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    • Rain - Kate Le Vann / Junior Book / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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      23.08.2010 10:41
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      A girl goes to London and goes on a journey of self-discovery

      Rain is an intriguing title for a novel which is on the theme of summer romance. But it is also rather beautiful, I think, and immediately conveys that there is a depth to this story beyond a holiday romance. Rain has just finished her GCSEs. She should be about to have a summer of freedom and frivolity. Instead she is leaving her friends and her quiet Northern home and heading for London to spend the Summer with her gran. This is the first time Rain has been away from home and she experiences feelings of anxiety and excitement. Rain's dad Sam is a scientist and he is going to be spending the summer in Norway doing research for his work. This is the first time that they have been separated and although Rain knows it will be good for her dad to have a working holiday, she is nervous about being away from him. They have their comfortable rountine and to imagine her life without it seems strange and unnerving. And so the story begins...

      The stay in London is an emotional journey for Rain. Her mother died when she was ten and she hasn't visited her grand mother's house since. Whilst she is there, she stays in her mother's old room and becomes engrossed by discovering who her mother was by the things that are stored in the cupboard. Her old exercise books are there. Her old diaries too. Seven years on and Rain is still coming to terms with her loss. This novel explores how we cope with grief and how we often try to manage alone with so many unanswered questions.

      However, there is also romance and a sweeter, lighter side to the story. Harry, a university student, has been employed by Rain's gran Vivienne to help her renovate the house and garden. Vivienne is intending on selling the house to solve her debt problems. Rain thinks that Harry sees her as a pity-worthy school girl. She finds his teasing infuriating but as the weeks go by she leans on him for support and they develop a friendship. Rain begins to wonder if it could be something more but then Harry's very annoying sidekick Maddy shows up and bursts Rain's bubble.

      The story is told through several narrative viewpoints. A third person narration tells the over-arching story and this is interspersed with the entries of Rain's diary. Rain's diary communicates her inner turmoil about the loss of her mother as well as her inability to talk about it with her family. In addition to Rain's diary we have excerpts from her mother Sarah's diary. These bring both delight and despair as Rain ventures into the teenage life of her mother. There are also emails between Rain and her best friend and Rain and her dad. These give us a glimpse into the girl that Rain is before she embarks on her journey of self-discovery.

      Summer in this story was very much integral with the setting. Rain visits many of the London landmarks and it felt like her journey was partly shaped by her education of the city. Le Vann really captured the heart of the joy of London and the rich cultural diversity that idenitifies it.

      This novel was about finding yourself and moving forward. Rain delves into the themes of loss and love and was an uplifting, sweet tale. A great book that will have you yearning for the sights and sounds of London and someone to hold your hand as you explore them. Just lovely!

      Recommended for 11+

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      • Numbers - Rachel Ward / Junior Book / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
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        22.08.2010 11:38
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        A gritty realistic story with a paranormal twist

        Numbers is a powerful, gritty and dark portrayal of teenage life in the UK. It has one element of the paranormal but the book is firmly grounded in our society. Fifteen year old Jem is living with her foster mum Karen. She is disaffected. The system isn't working for her. She is unhappy at school and intentionally shuts herself off from other people. Her story is hard-hitting realism that at times left a bitter taste in my mouth. Rachel Ward conveys the pain and resentment building inside Jem with a shocking accuracy. Her voice is still echoing around my head. The issue which sets Jem apart from our other disaffected youths is her ability to see the numbers. Every time Jem looks into a person's eyes, she can see their number. The date they are going to die. How does a character in such need of love and affection allow herself to connect with another person if she knows they are going to die? She doesn't or not at least until she meets Spider. He doesn't actually give her a choice.

        Spider is such an endearing character. He is bursting with a zest for life, an insatiable energy and an admirable sense of optimism. Jem is almost his opposite. She is controlled, at times robotic and the only emotions she allows herself to feel are those which are destructive and fuel her anger. Perhaps their friendship is an unlikely pairing but I think they both share a feeling of being part of the underclass, of not belonging in the system. They have a cruel teacher who humiliates students by predicting their future to be one of unemployment, drugs, crime or of uninspiring jobs. The sad truth is for many of our young people this poverty cycle is real and demoralising. They see themselves fated to live a life of hardship and misery. It would be nice to think in real life that teachers have the power to improve the chances of social mobility for their students. I'll leave that thought there before I get all emotional about the state of the inequality of opportunity in British society.

        The plot of this book was powerful and swift-moving. The cliffhangers at the end of the chapters kept me wanting to read on and on. I wanted to know if the numbers were set in stone or whether Jem would have the power to change them. There was one part of the story that I thought was a bit too unrealistic. Without giving anything away, it was the scene with the police dog. However, the skilful writing in this novel made me stare the harsh reality of the teen life straight in the eye. It was a pretty awful sight but it was certainly powerful.

        Overall, Numbers is a book which will force you to confront the dark, failing parts of our society right in the face. It will grab you and won't let you go until you get to the end. I was reminded a little of Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses series and think if you enjoyed that, you'll be hooked on Numbers. It is not an easy read but an engaging one which left me thinking about life, death and the power to be in control of your own destiny. I highly recommend it.

        Due to the excessive swearing and sexual content of this book, I recommend it for teens 13+

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        20.08.2010 18:04
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        A woman with a paranormal ability finds dead bodies

        Grave Surprise is the second instalment in Charliane Harris's Harper Connelly mysteries. Although this is a series, I see no reason why you couldn't read this book as a standalone paranormal murder mystery. You may miss out on a little of Harper and her brother Tolliver's back story but that is all. Grave Surprise opens with Harper taking another case as part of her unusual job. She is invited to Bingham College to identify corpses in their ancient chapel graveyard. The college professor who organised the workshop is a complete sceptic. He doesn't believe that Harper can locate dead bodies, identify the deceased and state their cause of death. Of course, Harper proves him wrong but she also gets a surprise herself because there is an extra body in the grave. It is an eleven year old girl.

        I do love a good murder mystery and Grave Surprise is no exception. The plot of this book centres upon Harper trying to work out the identity of the girl's killer. Harper has a past connection with the girl's family and can't help but wonder which one of them did it. Of course, Harper is in the frame too. She found the girl and in a world of sceptics the only way she could have known that the body was there would to have seen someone do it or to have done it herself. Luckily, she is able to convince an FBI agent of her paranormal ability. She also has the support of her brother Tolliver. He is hiding something from Harper though and it could be vital to the case. The plot twists and turns and like any good mystery keeps you guessing. In this book the identity was a little trickier to work out. There are so many different people linked to the case in one way or another.

        Although this is marketed an adult book in the UK, it is written in a very accessible style. The story immediately draws you in with Harper's narrative. You are constantly rooting for her or barely able to read as she takes some dangerous decisions. In terms of characterisation, this series is excellent. There is a depth to Harper and her relationship with Tolliver. They have both lived through an abusive and traumatic childhood and this gives Harper a cynicism about families and relationships. Yet opposed to that is her relationship with the dead, she says that they all want to be found and has a sort of tenderness towards them. It is a really interesting exploration of a character and I can't wait to follow Harper's next case.

        Overall, Grave Surprise is a murder mystery with a firm grip on the paranormal. Great characteristion and a fast-moving unpredictable plot make this book such an enjoyable read. It's official! I am a fan of this series! Charlaine Harris is just the best!

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        • Henry HVR200 / Vacuum Cleaner / 11 Readings / 10 Ratings
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          20.08.2010 17:18
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          A great vacuum cleaner that is portable and highly functional

          We have had the Henry HVR200 for over a year now and it has never let us down so I can give it a great recommendation on reliability. The bag hardly ever needs changing and there is ample space for the bag to fill inside the plastic casing that is Henry.

          One of the great things about this item is that it will vacuum and collect dirt from any surface. We use it on our carpet, our laminate floor and our tiled kitchen floor (it hasn't left any scratch marks). The strong level of suction doesn't alter with the type of surface either.

          Although I have no knowledge of how the numatic mechanism works to create suction, I know it is highly effective. In comparison to our previous vacuum cleaner, Henry works a dream. There is a lot of power behind the suction.

          The flexible hose is more than adquate to get behind doors and hover in corners. The upright metal pole is at a perfect height and so you don't get a bad back leaning over. Also the fact that this hoover is so portable means you can easily use it to clean the car.

          I do however have a few issues. Firstly, as Henry has the capacity to hold lots of dirt, I find him heavy to lift around. If you like me do not have a lot of upper body strength, then this may not be the vacuum cleaner for you.
          Secondly, changing the bag can be a bit fiddley. It doesn't usually secure first time and is easier with two pairs of hands. Thirdly, we never use the little attachments that come with it so I wonder if other people also find these a waste of plastic.

          Overall, Henry HVR200 is a good soild vacuum cleaner that won't let you down. It was just under £100 when we bought it and I think it was great value for money.

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            20.08.2010 14:25
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            An adult novel about human rights, the future of society and love

            The Unit is at once a painful book to read and yet remarkably absorbing. It is so believable that it horrified me. Once I finished reading it, I felt like a swimming pool inflatable with all the air let out, left to bob hopelessly under a darkened sky. The story (which is a first person narrative) tells us about Dorrit who has just turned fifty and is taken to the unit. Any woman who gets to the age of fifty and any man who gets to the age of sixty without having any dependents are classed as dispensible. This means that if they do not have any children or a partner to say that they are needed and loved then they are required to give themselves over to the unit. There are units all over Sweden.

            When Dorrit arrives at the unit, she is angry and frightened but surprised by how much luxury they are given. The unit is a vast and considerable dome in which the residents have their own bedrooms and kitchenettes. There is a cinema, a library, a theatre, a garden that is constantly in bloom, a state of the art sports facility and multiple restaurants. Each resident is given the opportunity to spend their free time pursuing their own personal interest. Dorrit's friend Majken is an artist and is planning an exhibition of her work in the unit's gallery. The unit is highly civilised but in every possible place there are cameras and microphones. Everything that the residents do and say is observed and monitored.

            Every month new dispensibles arrive and are given a welcome party. For the first four days in the unit, the residents are given free time to adjust and find their equilibrium. Then they go through a day of rigorous assessment. They go through every possible test, blood, tissue, DNA, and that is followed by a gruelling fitness test. The data is used by the scientists and researchers in the unit to assign experiments for the dispensables to take part in. Some of the experiments are risk free about measuring levels of fatigue after exercising for example, some of the experiments are psychological and some are quite frankly terrifying - like being used to test the effects gases used in chemical weapons.

            The dispensible go through various stages in their time in the unit. Each person ends their days with their final donation. That is to say their vital organs are taken and given to a candidate in the outside world who needs them. The people in the outside world are the "needed". They serve society in one way or another.

            I could go on explaining how things work but this review would be dissertation length. The other defining thing about this society is that the oppression of women is illegal. I know that sounds like a wonderful thing but remember this book is dystopian and even something that should be empowering can be distorted and corrupt.

            One of the things that really struck me about this book is that you could see that this concept had so much potential to actually happen. As people in our society age, we become burdened by the need to look after them. This book offers one way to eradicate that problem. It frightened me in its believability. If one chooses to live without a family, without a partner, one is effectively condemned to incarceration (leading to abuse and death) at a set date. What vile horror!

            The other thing that struck me is that Dorrit comes to think of the way the unit treats them as humane. I was reading it thinking, yes, they do treat you well, but you need to ask why! The dispensible become institutionalised.

            Overall, The Unit is powerful, beautifully written and conceptually amazing. Not an uplifting read but certainly a thought-provoking one.

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              20.08.2010 13:12
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              A girl with a paranormal ability locates dead bodies for a living

              An Ice Cold Grave (the third book in the series) sees Harper Connelly and her non-biological brother Tolliver travel to South Carolina for a new case. This time Harper has been hired by Sherriff Rockwell on behalf of several families who would like her to locate the bodies of their sons. Boys have been disappearing from the town of Doraville for five years. The previous Sheriff Abe Madden believed that the boys had run away. But now six boys have disappeared and not a trace of them has been found. Jeff McGraw has been missing for three months and his grandmother Twyla Cotton has been integral in raising the money to pay for Harper's services. She is a firm believer in Harper's ability.

              This is the darkest novel of the series so far. Harper who usually regards her line of work very professionally and clinically becomes emotionally involved as she learns what the missing boys have been through. She soon locates the site of the graves and is overwhelmed by the imprint of fear and suffering that each boy leaves behind. An Ice Cold Grave is a most appropriate title for this book as it left me chilled to the bone after reading it. I was actually quite disturbed by the depth of the evil that Harper uncovers. It is the crime that only your most frightening nightmares can produce.

              The author does work in a lighter element to the story through the changing connection between Harper and Tolliver. Their bond finds a new and welcome dimension in this book. It had me smiling.

              Charlaine Harris really knows how to lay red herrings and create a great unexpected plot without cheating the reader. The identity of the murderer is so wrapped up in twists and turns that I had no idea who it was. Overall, this book has cemented my love for this series. I am quite sad that I only have one more instalment to go. Great characterisation, intriguing and well-established back story, chilling plot, all make this book unputdownable!

              Recommended for adults only due to mature relationship content.

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              • Beko CDA648F / Fridge / 15 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                20.08.2010 11:43
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                A good quality freezer which is well designed for 2/3 people

                We recently bought the BEKO CDA648 from COMET to replace our small freezer and small fridge with a small freezer compartment at the top. We wanted it to save space in our kitchen. After shopping around this seemed the best deal in our price range. We paid £299.99.

                Our main worry when buying it was concerning the space in the freezer. In COMET they do not display the measurements for the item so it was all a bit of guess work. We thought the fridge compartment was larger than the freezer but in actual inches it is smaller. The height of the freezer compartment is 37 inches. The fridge is 34 inches. Obviously, in the freezer the drawers take up space so the actual useable space is less than the fridge.

                The top freezer drawer is a fast freeze drawer which means that it freezes fresh foods quicker and saves electricity by doing so. However, after having read through the instructions, I still haven't worked out if I am meant to put stuff in this drawer that doesn't need to be fast freezed. At the moment, I am using it for ice creams...

                In the fridge compartment, the space in the door is well designed to fit 2 litre bottles but also smaller jars. I really like that this is a feature because in the old fridge we had to lay fizzy drinks bottles down on one of the shelves which wasted space and often caused them to drip on to the food stored below below.

                When you first switch on the appliance, the compresser generates a fairly loud humming noise. As it warmed up, the noise lessened. Now it only hums when the compressor is working to maintain the temperature. When the compresser is off, the appliance makes no noise at all and this is so different from our 15 year old fridge that I am very impressed.

                The fridge has an A energy rating so it will also reduce our electrcity bill.

                Overall, I am very happy with the product and think it is good value for money. As I have not had this item for long, I have no idea if it will be reliable in the long term but I feel I cannot rate it down on this as it may well prove to be a great long term investment.

                I would say that for a family of four, I doubt it would be big enough, but for two or three people it is perfectly adequate.

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                19.08.2010 15:39
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                Two teens fall in love despite their huge cultural and social differences.

                Perfect Chemistry is the story of love against all odds and across a deep cultural divide. The South side of this Chicago town is home to economically poor Latino families who are sworn into gangs for their own protection. It is a case of be part of gang violence or risk being subjected to it. While families on the North side are white, rich and prosperous, they are maintaining their own version of false freedom. At Fairfield High School these two cultures are on a path to a nuclear collison as students from either side can't see past their socio-economic and cultural differences to the truth underneath.

                Brittany Ellis is our leading lady and it is the first day of the Senior year. From the outside, she is the perfect white girl, captain of the cheerleading squad, dating the high school stud, the popularity queen and about to decide her future college. On the inside she is struggling to maintain control. She is living on the edge of her mother's mental health issues, her father's absence because of work and her sister's disability which is kept hidden from the people around them. Brittany uses her spotlight as a way to control her life and show the image of teen perfection to the rest of the world.

                Alejandro Fuentes is our leading man. Senior year is very different experience for him. It signifies his last chance to prove he could be something even though he has no intention of using it. He is sworn into the Latino Blood to protect his family. He has to take this role to prevent the same fate happening to his brothers. Outside school his life is one of brutality, violence, crime and a culture of gang loyalty. He maintains his soul - for want of a better word - by compartmentalising the violence he takes part in. Alex may wear his bandanna like it is a badge of honour and a signal for respect but deep down he fears the inevitable future that the gang will bring him. It is enough to make your heart break just thinking about it.

                The first day of school sees Alex and Brittany forced to be chemistry partners and here our story really ignites as their two cultures hit head on. Sparks fly as they both react to being partnered with someone who has the potential to ruin their precious portrayl of control. In the course of the book both are forced to face the truth about themselves and the lies they've been living. Perfect Chemistry is a novel of complex elements. It explores the concept of appearances and deception, of truth and lies, of innocence and betrayal, of friendship and most strikingly love.

                But it is more than all of this in a way I can't describe. Perhaps it is Alex's identity as a boy with the reponsibilities of man? Perhaps it is Brittany's tender relationship with her sister in a family she feels so pressured by? Perhaps it is the constant challenge that Alex and Brittany present each other that makes it such a gripping, addictive read? This book took hold of me so much so that I read it twice in two days. If I didn't think it would effect my sanity, I would read it every day until the end of time. Why? Because Perfect Chemistry is a novel to obsess about. It is a book that you should drop everything for. It made me joyous and amused; it moved me to tears. I honestly can't think of a better way to say this. Perfect Chemistry is the most romantic love story that I have ever read. It is official. My heart is like an Easter egg left out in the sun. This book has turned me to molten chocolate. I'm completely in love with it.

                Suitable for 13+ due to sexual content

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                19.08.2010 15:31
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                A fun adventure that fans of Riordan are sure to enjoy

                Rick Riordan brings to life another epic fantasy series in The Red Pyramid. Carter and Sadie Kane are a brother-sister team who embark on a quest that is written into their very blood. They are the beginning of a new generation of heroes who will undoubtedly prove popular with fans of Percy Jackson. After the death of their mother, the two Kane kids are raised separately. Carter is a little man rather than a boy. He grew up traveling the world with his dad moving from one archelogical site to another. Sadie lived in England with her grandparents and has what Carter imagines to be the normal life of a teenager. Both envy the experiences of the other and part of their journey is realising that appearances can be deceiving.

                They each tell part of the story and so it alternates every two chapters between their voices. The narrative is pretty smooth sailing though as it all has the very Riordan-esque overdramatised style. Even Sadie's voice which should be decidedly English doesn't always come across that way. There are also many funny asides as they interrupt each other's chance to tell the story.

                The plot is a whirlwind of hair-raising action, deadly battles with angry Gods and misunderstandings between the siblings. There are a few twists but they won't blow your multi-coloured socks off. I was still very much rooting for the Kane siblings. They have a very witty dialogue. I particularly liked Sadie's rebellious side. Carter takes quite a lot of persuading to get up to no good whereas Sadie is ready to throw herself face first into it. There is also a hint of romance to come in the story and so that kept you guessing.

                Overall, I think the target audience will be very excited by Rick Riordan's new series although they could be put off by the length of the book. It comes in at 513 pages. Sometimes it feels a little slow but there is always a new crisis or action moment around the corner. I actually think the next book will be better. This book involved a lot of rule setting and establishing of the Egyptian landscape in the modern world which took away from some of the joyful adventurous fun. The ending certainly gave me so much to look forward to from the next book. If you loved Percy Jackson, then I think you just have to read it and see what you make of it for yourself. The Red Pyramid feels like just the beginning. I did enjoy it but I was still hoping for more.

                Suitable for readers 9+

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                19.08.2010 15:25
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                A love story that spanned centuries but never really engaged me

                My Name is Memory is a story that spans centuries and deals with themes that I find fascinating: redemption, guilt, life after death, the nature of the soul and the nuture of the spirit. On the face of it, this is a book which I should love and I desperately wanted to but sadly I couldn't get beyond a mild indifference for it.

                The story of Daniel, the man who has lived many lives and retains his memories is an intriguing one. He remembers his families, his friends, his knowledge and skills but above all he remembers Sophia. He killed her in his very first life and he has carried the guilt in his memory ever since. She was not Sophia then but a girl in an African village. She was Sophia much later and I'm not going to give any more away here for fear of spoilers except to say that he loved her in the deepest way that one soul can love another. Daniel's very special memory is not his only ability. He can recognise souls from one life to another even though their physical embodiment changes with each new birth. I found this such an interesting idea. That one soul could be the same essence time and again and yet look so profoundly different after each rebirth. The concept of this book is magnificent. My indifference for the story was due to the way that it was told.

                The narrative unfolds in two different ways. Daniel describes the story of his past lives through a first person narrative. Each of his chapters recounts some memory of who he is and how he longed to be with Sophia. These are then alternated with a third person narrative of his present life and meeting the current reincarnation of Sophia. I felt that Daniel's chapters were excessively detailed. They slowed the plot right down and I was often wondering if I should keep reading. What kept me reading was the mystery surrounding the relationship between the two. There is one chapter where Daniel talks about one of his lives where he kept pigeons and I was reading it thinking: I don't need to know this. Why did the author not cut this chapter out? What will this mean to the rest of the story? I obviously missed the point of the pigeon story completely.

                There were other things that irritated me including the dialogue. However, the most frustrating part of the story for me was the ending. I really believed that if I read to the end it would all make sense and there would be an epic climax. Unfortunately, even the climax was littered with unneccesary detail and after the main event, the two main characters having yet another converstaion. I honestly couldn't believe it. The plot just did not unfold in a way that worked for me. I hasten to add that at the close of the book, I still did not have all my answers and I certainly would not read another one to find them out. I felt cheated! I had read this very slow and winding story only to find out that actually, I was going to have to do it again to get a level of resolution that I was happy with.

                Overall, I am rather disappointed that I didn't connect with My Name is Memory. The idea was beautifully epic yet my dream of a moving and deep love story was never realised. I'm sure this book will find it's readership. The method and language often felt very adult to me as I was reading and so I wonder if YA is really the market for it. Read it if you like your stories slow like the erosion of our coastline.

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                19.08.2010 15:23
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                Can love conquer female pride and male prejudice?

                I was so delighted to read The Other Countess and find that it was so completely unputdownable! I am rather in love with a story which is about just that: Love against all the odds. When you add in the historical setting (complete with knights jousting), how can you not fail to swoon? Okay perhaps if you're a feminist you're thinking this is a princess story but actually it isn't!

                The characters are very cleverly casted. Ellie -- our heroine -- is a headstrong girl with a sharp tongue. She is not afraid to act outside of the social and cultural bevavioural expectations of women. She is well-educated and translates works in Latin and even Greek. She is a young woman burdened with an obsessed father. She also happens to be destitute and at the mercy of male benefactors.

                William is a young man who is carrying his own burden in the form of family duty. His father wasted the family fortune and now he is left with the responsibility of finding a way to restore their fortunes. He is a handsome earl with a prejudice against the man who led his father into his obsession with alchemy. That man happens to be Ellie's father. Their two stories are intertwined from the very beginning. William is rather foolish at times but his relationships with his brothers was wholly endearing and showed an adorable softness beneath an angry and arrogant persona.

                The plot is expertly paced with great cliffhanger chapter endings that just kept me wanting more. The dialogue is both endearing and amusing and I loved the way that Edwards gave this historical book a contemporary feel without it becoming absurd. I admire her skill.

                In addition to the romantic theme of the novel, Edwards explored the issues of religion and alchemy. William is employed to ensure that Catholicism is kept out of his lands. There is a fear of an attempt on Queen Elizabeth's life by the Pope's spies and staunchest supporters. I liked the way the author remained unbiased to both religion and alchemy. As the reader, you could interpret the consequences of extremism where both belief systems were concerned.

                Overall, this is a story that swept me away with its majesty of courtly drama, family politics and love across a social divide. I am completely enamoured of The Other Countess and the Earl of Dorset. This book has a timeless will they? won't they? appeal. Fans of The Luxe series will love this novel. Eve Edwards' debut stole my heart. I just did not want to put down. More please!

                Recommended for teens age 12+

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                19.08.2010 15:16
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                A legal thriller for kids and anyone who loves a fun light read

                When you hear that a huge name in adult fiction is branching out into the YA market, you can't help but be curious. Add to that the fact that John Grisham has invented a whole new genre -The Young Adult Legal Thriller - and well, I jumped at the chance to review this and I'm really glad I did. Theodore Boone: Young Lawyer has such a broad appeal. Anyone from ten to ninety-two would enjoy this book. Theo is thirteen and he is a rather peculiar teen. He spends his spare time at the court house and he watches trial after trial. His parents are both lawyers. His mum Marcella Boone is a divorce lawyer. His dad Woods Boone is a real estate lawyer. Theo is passionate about the law and justice. He cannot decide if he wants to be a criminal laywer or a judge. We enter Theo's life at a very exciting time. The biggest trial ever to come to the city of Strattenberg is about to begin. A man - Pete Duffy - is accused by the prosceution of murdering his wife. Theo is desperate to watch every second of the trial but like most thirteen year olds he has to go to school. Luckily for Theo, his Government teacher is an ex-lawyer so his class do get to watch the opening statements.

                On the surface it is hard to work out how a teen protagonist could be a lawyer but Grisham really makes it work. Many of Theo's fellow pupils come to him for help. He has his own little office at the back of his parents' law firm and that in itself made this book a joy to read. I can see that it will have an immense appeal to kids who feel powerless in an adult dominated world. Theo uses his parents' access codes to get into all sorts of important websites. It is very cool and although it doesn't sound believeable, it is written in such a way that you really don't care. You are too busy having a fun time learning about the criminal justice system through Theo's explanations of the law to his friends.

                The characterisation in this book was quirky and a little comedic. Theo's parents are very habitual people (like me actually). They eat at the same time everyday. They go to the same places at the same time every week. It really made me laugh because I am so like this. Perhaps I should have been a lawyer rather than a librarian? The plot is also really well crafted. The main case of the state versus Mr Duffy is the main engine driving through the story but then there are also all these little cases that Theo resolves for his clients. It works really well and keeps you interested while you're hearing about how the trial is unfolding.

                Overall, I really enjoyed reading Theodore Boone. It has a definite appeal to fans of murder mysteries and crime novels. It is a very easy read and fast paced. The fact that there is no swearing, no violence and no sexual content means that I would be more than happy for a nine/ ten year old to read this. The issue of the murder is dealt with very clinically and so no worries there either. Theodore Boone is a great quirky read that will teach you about all about criminal law and at the same time amuse and entertain you. I can't wait for the next instalment. Just super fun!

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