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23 July 2014

Laying a Foundation (Love Under Construction Series)
Deanndra Hall
North Road Publishing
Publication Date
March 2014 (and ed)
Erotic Romance
The book contains adult material and would only be suitable for persons over the age of 18

Tony is a successful businessman whose personal life has been almost unbearable thanks to his crazy ex-wife. Nikki lost her husband and children in a tragic accident and barely has a life. It looks like there's a "happily ever after" on the horizon - until an ecoterrorism group with a personal bone to pick threatens everything.

First full-length installment in the Love Under Construction Series, now including the introductory volume, The Groundbreaking. Tony Walters operates a successful construction company in Louisville, Kentucky; he's anything but successful in his personal life, thanks to a mean-spirited, mentally ill ex-wife. Nikki Wilkes has lived for five years with almost no life, thanks to a drunken driver's mistake that took her husband and children from her. It seems the universe has aligned to make sure they meet, and their shy and sweet attempts to build a relationship blossom just as an ecoterrorism group begins to threaten the construction business. But as time goes by, it becomes clear that the threat is directed personally at Tony, and as the group's efforts escalate, it looks like answered prayers for a special someone in their lives might morph into not having a prayer for a "happily ever after." Through it all, family and friends stand by them and add to the madness, mayhem, and hilarity, while the bedroom smokes with enough scorching, crazy, adventurous sex to set everything on fire.

The main characters are all over the age of thirty-five, and most are well over forty. A fun, mature, erotic romp with enough suspense and danger to leave the breathless. Not a stand-alone; the four novels are designed to be read in order for greatest enjoyment. It'll make you say, "I didn't see that coming!" more than once and leave you smiling!

My Review

Tony and Nikki Are the main characters and most of the action is played out between those two. It’s certainly easy to get into the story. Both have an interesting background story, and initially it’s all about how these two meet and get together. I though: ‘yes, finally!’ when it did happen, yes, I was rooting for them. The story with Tony’s deranged ex-wife and the problems experienced with the ‘Eco Group’ will keep you interested rather than just reading about the budding relationship between Tony and Nikki. And I wanted to continue reading to see the conclusion to their troubles. It is easy reading. The bedroom action of Tony and Nikki is described in detail, so careful if you don’t enjoy this. But my guess is if you don’t like erotica you wouldn’t have picked up this book. The erotic writing is certainly very good (in my humble opinion) without slipping into the unpleasant and embarrassing (easily done with erotic writing). I do read mainly on the train commute though, and it was not the right reading for the train journey I have to say. But that’s a personal one for me and I did enjoy reading the book at home.

What I loved about this story is that the main players are in their 40's and 50's. Yes, even if you are over the age of 25 you can have great sex with all the trimmings. By this stage in their life, most of us have had a big amount of good, very good, bad and very bad experiences and the author certainly shows this. And also, no matter how devastating your experiences might have been - death, trauma - there is a chance for all of us. Is it always realistic? No idea, but this is fiction, and it is meant to make us feel good. 

I have read the Prequel and Part 1 of the Series so far. The prequel is supposed to introduce the main characters and it certainly does so. However, I think that this information could have been incorporated into Book 1 easily? Certainly, all the characters have their own background story (and let's face it, who of us doesn't), they are not that complicated so that a reader won't understand them if woven into the story. We get to know the main characters pretty quickly, and some of the others do have, in my opinion, a too minor part in order to fully needing to understand their background. Having said that, the same time, it is nice to have an extra 'book' to refer back too to see 'who was that again? The Prequel is now also available together with Book 1, and I think that was a wise idea. 

21 July 2014

Needful Things
Stephen King
Publication Date

Needful Things In King's #1 bestselling book, the master of the horror genre takes readers to his famous fictional town for one final visit. A wonderful new store has opened in Castle Rock, Maine. It's a place where you can get anything your heart desires--sexual pleasure, wealth, power . . . but for a nerve-shattering price. "Ranks with King's best!"--Publishers Weekly. Full description

My Review
Stephen King back to what he does best - small town and everyday things taking a sinister turn. And we are back in the (fictional) Maine Town Castle Rock.
A new shop called 'Needful Things' has opened in Castle Rock which is being run by a charming old gentleman called Leland Gaunt. A kind of second hand shop which seems to have always exactly what however comes into the shop is looking for. A special baseball card, a special book etc. And he offers it at an incredible price for this one special customer. But, yes, you have guessed it, there is a price to pay other than in dollars and dimes. Mr Gaunt asks his customer to play tricks on other people in town. Nothing horrendous is asked of them initially. Simple pranks like throwing dirt on freshly washed laundry. But Gaunt seems to know exactly what makes people very angry, seems to know about some of the feuds and animosities in Castle Rock. And it doesn't take long for things to escalate. At the same time, Gaunt's customers start to feel strangely attached to the items they purchased in his shop. It slowly dawns on the local Sheriff that Gaunt is to blame for the utter destruction which is sweeping Castle Rock. And also … what is Gaunt, or is he even human?

Now one of the best parts for me was the ending, and it reminded me a bit of the ending to 'The Stand'. After Gaunt is about to be found out, he leaves Castle Rock. And we see him opening a similar kind shop in another town, continuing is business to bring evil.

Though this is tagged as a 'horror novel, I always slightly resist this label for many of King's works. In typical King fashion, he shows us the evil that everyday things and everyday people can bring. It is suggested on Wikipedia that this is the first book King wrote in 1991 after coming out of rehab. I personally can't see that it had any kind of impact on the story. I quite simple enjoyed it as what I would say is a typical King. For the seasoned King fan, I was also happy to find characters in this story we know from other books, and especially Ace Merrill, the bad boy from 'The Body'.

As it was often suggested, Gaunt is representative of the Devil here who has his many ways to do mischief here with us humans. For no other reason than that he can, and bringing pain is his business. It is quite simply his business to buy the human soul.

20 July 2014

Please also read my disclaimer

7. The Coroner's verdict

In Post #6 I have already talked about a bit about a Coroner's inquest - when it is necessary. I think it is a good idea to look at Coroner's verdicts a bit more in detail.

Firstly, a Coroner's inquest is, of course, very different from a criminal trial. There is no prosecution and no defence, and with the verdict, no one is going to be found 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. The verdict should contain exactly the answers to the 4 questions the Coroner has to establish: Who died, When did they die, Where did they die, How did they die. And also the 'short term' verdict - and this is what people commonly know and refer to as 'the verdict'.

Some common short-term verdicts:

  • Natural Causes
If a naturally occurring disease is responsible for the death rather than any outside influences. 

example 1: if someone died during an operation, but the evidence shows that the natural disease (i.e. heart disease) was so severe that the person died from this rather than anything which went 'wrong' during the operation. 

example 2: a body is found decomposed and the pathologist could not establish a cause of death, but records from doctors show that the person had a very serious disease and was likely going to die and there is nothing to show that anything else (accident, suicide) happened.

  • Drug and/or alcohol related
These are usually what is commonly thought of as overdoses or if a person has a very high alcohol level in him/her and there are no other reasons why the person could have died. Usually, these kind of verdicts are based on toxicology testing

  • Accident
This covers all kind of different accidents such as road traffic accident, accidents in the house, falls down stairs, falls in the road, auto-erotic, on the railway, accidents at work.

  • Suicide / Took his/her own life / Killed him/herself whilst the balance of his/her mind was disturbed
This death could have been by different means such as hanging, overdoses, shooting oneself, on the railway. 
This verdict has a very strong legal requirement of proof - beyond reasonable doubt. So, if the Coroner even has the slightest doubt that the person intended to take their own life, they should not record a verdict of suicide. Usually, the 'proof' the Coroner is looking for is a recent 'suicide note' where the person states that they intend to take their own life. The reasons for this don't matter too much to the Coroner (though they obviously matter a lot to the one's left behind!).
Killed him/herself whilst the balance of his/her ind was disturbed could mean that the person was know to have so kind of mental health issues already.

  • Unlawfully killed
Those are the murder cases. I will talk in a separate post about murders. Briefly, if a person has been charged and brought before a court, usually there would not be a Coroner's hearing. A Coroner only hears a murder case if no-one has been brought before a criminal court.

  • Lawfully killed
Quite a rare verdict. I can only think of one example I've ever heard of and that was of a person who was shot dead by police after he was threatening the public with a gun.

  • Industrial Disease
The most common one of those is Asbestosis. It means that the person died as a result of a disease he/she contracted whilst being exposed to at work. It could also be, for example, if the wife of a person died who was washing his clothes which were covered in asbestos dust. 

  • Open verdict
This verdict is most often mis-understood. Open verdict does not mean that the case is going to continue. It is closed after the verdict 'open' has been delivered and not going to continue. Open verdict quite simply means that the Coroner has no evidence one way or another what has happened to the person.

Example 1: decomposed body, no evidence what could have happened (pathologist can't state the cause of death, no medical history or the medical history is not sufficient to convince the Coroner the person died from natural disease), no evidence of accident, no evidence of suicide.

Example 2: a person has taken on overdose of tablets, but the evidence is not enough to suggest whether the person wanted to take their own life or whether it was an accident.

This verdict is sometimes very difficult for families, as it does not really give them the closure they are so often looking for. But the Coroner can only go by the evidence available to him/her.

  • Narrative verdict
If the Coroner feels that the verdict he/she wants to give does not fit any of the short term verdicts, he/she can quite simply record a text as the verdict. I've seen those verdicts quite often if the circumstances are too complicated for a simple verdict.

Mrs Bloogs had severe heart disease. On 2 March 2014 she had a fall in the nursing home and was admitted to hospital with a fractured pelvis. Surgery was complicated and her mental state was as such that she did not easily accept medical treatment and refused medication. 

= all this text above is the verdict.

There are a few more obscure ones which I haven't mentioned. Than there is the Neglect  verdict which the Coroner can also add on to other verdicts.

One example would be:
Natural causes contributed to by neglect.
(a person who has terminal cancer but was not send for treatment for whatever reason).


So, what does a Coroner's verdict mean? As I said before, this is not a prosecution, and a Coroner's verdict is quite simply to record the circumstances of a death. The Coroner cannot name an individual or a person as being responsible for the death.

The Coroner will not instigate negligence claims etc, that will be up to the family. But, of course, a Coroner's verdict may assist the family in a negligence claim.


The Coroner can do what is called a 'Prevention of Future Deaths' letter after an inquest. Again, this is not to blame / shame an individual. It is done if, during the inquest, the Coroner uncovers maybe certain practices or issues which should be changed in order to prevent further deaths. The Coroner sends this of to the relevant organisations / companies, and a copy to the Ministry of Justice. The relevant organisations / companies have to respond within a certain time.

Here is two examples I can think of:

Example 1 is one of my previous cases:
An elderly lady died in a nursing home. She died from after a fall she had and broke her leg. She fell because she was using a walking aid frame (called a Zimmer frame), and the wheels had come loose and she collapsed with the frame. The inquest found that no-one seems to be responsible for the maintenance and repair of those walking aids. The nursing home where she lives said that the walking aids are property of the hospital who issued them and it is their property, they thought the hospital should maintain and repair them. The hospital who gave her the walking aid said they don't know where people go to live with their frames, so they thought it is the people themselves who look after them. The Coroner has written to both hospital and nursing home to say that a suitable arrangements needs to be found.

Example 2 is one which I read in the press:

I can't remember the exact circumstances, but a child had died whilst climbing on a walking frame in a playground. He had gotten tangled in the frame with laces which had been on the coat he was wearing. The Coroner wrote to the manufacturer and health and safety board to change the design of coats. 

Peggy x 

13 July 2014
The Sunday Post

This is is Meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and here are the rules.

It is your chance to re-cap your bookish week, what did your review last week, any new purchases, what will be coming up in your blog next week or generally anything you feel you would like to share with the blogging community.

So, what did I do last week?

I have been thinking long and hard, and read all your comments about the pressure of daily posting on the blog etc. and have make the decision to take it a bit easier with the book blog - go back to the fun part of it, and don't put myself under pressure to post reviews and take part in memes. And - it's fun again! I write a bit on the blog every day, but don't necessarily post it. But sort of polish the reviews a bit more and post whenever it's ready. Will hopefully have more time to comment.And I go back what I like = talking about books, reading, reading, talking about books, reading, more reading and even more reading. 

In other news….
Our local area is getting a bit excited. Plans had been unveiled to create a big entertainment park similar to Disney Land called 'London Paramount' (= the film company Paramount). They are currently submitting planning permission and have the agreement from the government. It will be build on an old industrial estate and is about 15 mins in the car from us! Of course, there are critical voices - the transport and environmental impact on the area etc. But I, for one, can't wait. Maybe anyone living near such venue can tell me more. 

Set to be named London Paramount Entertainment Resort, it is expected to create 27,000 jobs and will feature a water park, theme park, sporting facilities, an entertainment street, a staff training academy and about 5,000 hotel rooms.

New: The Coroner's Officer

I've put up two posts:
5. The post mortem examination (caution - can be a bit upsetting to read, as it contains information about an internal examination)
6. Coroner's investigation and Coroner's inquest

On the blog in the last two week


Memes / Features

Finish / Start

The Kingsland Series by Deborah Hill

Love under Construction Series by Deanndra Hall

Added to my stash

2 books received for review:

What if it's Love by Alix Nichols

What Passing Bells by Julian Moss

What I'm planning on the blog next 

No exact time scale for those…. but thinking next two weeks :)


Laying a Foundation by Deanndra Hall (Love under Construction Series Prequel + Book 1)

Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell

Continuing my regular Stephen King with Needful Things

Memes / Features:

The Coroner's Officer:
7. Inquest Verdicts
8. Murders (or suspicious deaths) - what is the responsibility of the Coroner

12 July 2014

Please also read my disclaimer

What is a Coroner's investigation and what is a Coroner's inquest?

Coroner's Investigation

If the cause cause of death is unclear and/or just requires a bit more looking into, the Coroner will open an investigation into the death. For example, a post mortem has been done, but the pathologist cannot determine a cause of death at this stage without doing further histological or toxicological examinations. Those examinations take some time (sometimes several months) and in order to enable the family to do all the arrangements (funeral etc) the Coroner will formally open an investigation. So the funeral can than go ahead as soon as the investigation has been opened, even though a cause of death has not been established, as we have everything we need from the physical body to establish the cause of death.

What does the Coroner's office do in an investigation?

Actually, not a lot. In the majority of cases, we quite simply wait for the pathologist to give us the final cause of death. Sometimes we request hospital records or similar if needed.

Once the result come back, and depending on the results, the Coroner will than either discontinue the investigation or the case will progress to inquest (an actual court hearing).

Examples of investigations

1. 25 year old man get found deceased at his home address  Post mortem does not find an obvious cause of death. Even though the man was not a known drug taker, white powder is found on the table.
In this case, toxicology testing will be done.
If the tox comes back positive, the case will progress to inquest. If it is negative, the investigation will be discontinued.

2. An 85 year old man has died in hospital and the hospital has signed the death certificate as natural. The family than call the coroner and submit evidence which suggests the man was neglected in hospital and died possibly as the result of malnutrition.
In this case, if the body has already been cremated / buried, the Coroner will probably call for hospital records and obtain statements from the doctors and nurses who treated the man in hospital.

Coroner's inquest

An inquest is 'a step up' from an investigation. An inquest is a legal process, a court hearing to establish four facts: who died, when did they die, where did they die, how did they die. This is purely facts, no one gets found guilty or not guilty, there is no defendant and no prosecution. 

An inquest will be heard when the death is unnatural or the cause of death is unknown, even after investigation. 

Every inquest is heard in open court- this means that everyone can attend. Yes, even anyone walking past in the street right now can just pop in and sit in court. Cameras are not allowed in court. Not every inquest has 'life' witnesses, some may be 'all read' only - this depends on the complexity of the case and what the family etc feel about it. 

At the end of an inquest, the Coroner will give his 'record of the inquest, and that verdict contains exactly the answer to those 4 questions I mentioned earlier. It will also contain a short form verdict - this is generally known as 'the verdict' i.e. accidental death. 

Here is an example of a verdict (completely fictional) 
1. Who died: 
Mr Joe Bloggs, date of birth: 01.01.1950, born in London, single, by occupation a taxi driver, lived at an address in Elms Avenue, London E2

2. When died he die:
20 January 2014 at 2015 hrs

3. Where did he die: 
his home address

4. How did he die:
On 20 January 2014 at his home address, Mr Bloggs fell down the stairs and sustained a severe head injury. Toxicology testing found that he was not intoxicated.
Accidental Death. 

I will explain the different Coroner's verdicts in a different post. 

9 July 2014

The Heir
Deborah Hill
North Road Publishing
Publication Date
March 2014 (and ed)
historical, romance


The Heir Emily Merrick, enjoying the new-found freedom of the Roaring 20’s, discovers that liberation can come at a high price. But it is her son, Steven, who will pay it. Raised under the crushing heel of the man Emily tricks into marrying her, young Steven endures the malicious control of his step-father by escaping to his memories of Kingsland, the Merrick estate in Waterford, on Cape Cod Bay. Its steadfast presence sustains him, as well as his love of the sea, as he endures the constant humiliations devised by his mother’s husband. Instead of entering Harvard, as he is supposed to do, Steven flees to Kingsland and lives there while he learns a trade in defiance of his pretentious step-father. He finds the simple life of the countryman a relief after the constricting pretentions with which he’s grown up. Eventually he saves enough money to enter the college of his choice, graduating just in time to join the corporate culture of the 50’s. By then he has inherited Kingsland, and when promotion passes him by, he again flees to Waterford, this time with his family. There he confronts the challenge of earning a living in so remote a place, and in the process of piecing together the possibilities meets Jenny Lawrence, an ancient lumber schooner that has been converted into a Windjammer. She cruises Nantucket Sound, carrying passengers to the picturesque ports of Martha’s Vineyard and to Nantucket itself, and from her, Steven will learn the wisdom of the tides and the wind. She will teach him that there is an alternative to his generation’s frantic post-war climb to the top, and she will carry him to the first woman – the only woman – he has ever loved, a woman through whom he will learn about the shame of his legacy, and a way to restore its honour.

My Review

This is the final volume in the Kingsland Series, and this book starts in in 1920's. Things have certainly for the women - they go to parties, and alcohol flows. Emily Merrick enjoys all this and when she is asked after a party to go out on his boat by dashing Tim Bradley , she can't resist adventure. But their love making by the beach is not without consequences. When Emily realises, and Tim has vanished, she has no option but to trick the rather unpleasant Charles into marrying her. But Charles finds out quickly that all is not what it seems with Emily's pregnancy - with devastating consequences for Emily and her son Steven. Charles marries her and brings up Steven like his own son, but he treats them absolutely dreadfully and they have no choice but to obey him. 

But Steven grows up, and the majority of the story really is devoted to Steven and his life story through his first love, his marriage, working in corporate America of the 50's with a suburban home. But his real love is the sea. And Steven is the heir of Kingsland. 

As always, all the characters are beautifully drawn. The romances are clean and believable, and the author keeps great attention to detail as this 3rd volume we come closer to the decades many readers may have experienced themselves. For me, being slightly older, it was fascinating to read about the corporate culture of 1950's America. In some ways not so much different to the dog-eat-dog culture often quoted today. At the same time, I really felt like the author had planted me back in that decade.

 I think my favourite volume remained Vol 2 - Augusta and her sacrifice shall remain in my mind for a while. Kingsland is a family saga, starting back in early 1700 in coastal Maine, giving us the stories of several different lines of the Merrick family. It's the women who are, as so often, are the real heroes. The only negative thing for me was that I could not see the family tree which the author provided on the Kindle (too small).

8 July 2014
I'm sure you might have all seen the news today about about JK Rowling writing a bit of an update on her website about what Harry is up to now. I guess she just can't just put Harry aside and hey, it's great to get a bit of an update - I for one was waiting for this and think it's great to see what Harry is up to now, in fact I would love to read a whole book on this!

What do you think … good she updated and you would love to see what Harry looks like now, or us or should she have just left it with book 7 and left us with the picture of Harry & Ginny and Ron & Hermoine dropping their kids off to Hogwarts (which I thought was actually a brilliant ending to this epic series). I have just asked my 20 year old son (who grew up with Harry Potter) and he said: 'Yes, I would love to read an update on 30+ Harry, but only if exciting stuff happens, like, maybe they are now fighting Voldemorts apprentices. Not if Harry turns into a boring old fart.' So, JK Rowling, you've read it here first…

This is the article taken from Guardian Books:

Harry Potter, last seen waving his children onto the Hogwarts train at the end of the seventh and final novel in JK Rowling's record-breaking series, has just made his first appearance in seven years as a 34-year-old with "threads of silver" in his black hair.
Rowling's millions of fans will pounce on the glimpse the novelist has provided of the wizard's adult life, which sees Harry reunited with Ron, Hermione and their friends at the final of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup in a 1,500-word piece for her website Pottermore. The article is written in the voice of Rowling's vicious gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter, and reveals that not only has Harry's hair begun to go grey, but Ron Weasley's "famous ginger hair appears to be thinning slightly".
JK RowlingVicious gossip ... JK Rowling. Photograph: Debra Hurford Brown
"About to turn 34, there are a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror's black hair, but he continues to wear the distinctive round glasses that some might say are better suited to a style-deficient twelve-year-old," writes Rowling/Skeeter of Potter.
Rowling has also given Harry a mysterious cut on one cheekbone, which Skeeter – a journalist for the magical world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet – surmises could be a result of his work as an Auror. Aurors are an "elite unit of specialist officers trained to apprehend Dark Wizards", said Pottermore.
Skeeter ponders if "the Chosen One" is "embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem", or if his wife has "perhaps cursed him", as "cracks [begin] to show in a union that the Potters are determined to promote as happy".
Ginny Potter, Ron's sister and now Harry's wife, also attends the match, as does Hermione, the straight-A student who was a key part of the battle against the evil Voldemort, and who is now Ron's wife. The friends – who called themselves "Dumbledore's Army" as they fought the forces of evil in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – are also joined by their former schoolmates Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, and by their children.
Ron Weasley is revealed to have worked for the Ministry of Magic along with Harry, only to have left after two years to "co-manage the highly successful wizarding joke emporium Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes". "He shows no obvious signs of mental illness from a distance, but the public is not allowed close enough to make a proper assessment. Is this suspicious?" asks Skeeter.
Hermione Granger, meanwhile – described as "the femme fatale of the group" – is currently deputy head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and is "now tipped to go even higher within the Ministry", writes Skeeter. Longbottom is a herbology teacher at Hogwarts, and apparently enjoys "a little more Ogden's Old Firewhisky" than "most of us would expect from custodians of our children", while Lovegood is married to Rolf Scamander and "still delightfully eccentric".
Skeeter also writes sniffily about a "prolonged period of what, in my young day, was called 'snogging'" between two younger members of the party.
The article is part of a series of pieces written by Rowling about the 2014 Quidditch Cup for Pottermore. The final article will be published on 11 July, and will see Ginny Potter, now a journalist, cover the cup final, between Brazil and Bulgaria.