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What? The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, pounds 18.99)

What's it about? Set six years after the conflict ended, but the horrors of the First World War resonate through The Crimson Rooms. Every character featured in its pages has had their lives changed by the events of 1914-1918.

Is it any good? This is but a part of an absorbing and deftly woven tale, which impressively captures the spirit of the early 1920s. It is also a murder mystery, a social history - and a cracking good read.

What? Girl Friday by Jane Green (Michael Joseph, pounds 16.99)

What's it about? Mother-of-two Kit has to dig deep inside herself to find her survivor mechanism after agreeing to divorce Adam, her husband of almost 15 years. Initially, Kit feels lost, having waved goodbye to her lover, best friend and identity in one fell swoop, but she soon manages to pick herself up with the help of some new girlfriends. She even finds her perfect job assisting author Robert McClore, who describes her as his Girl Friday. Kit then meets Steve, who's handsome, charming and the perfect gentleman - but is he as perfect as he seems?

Is it any good? Without giving too much away, the plot's dramatic twists and turns are revealed in a rushed end, which will leave the reader feeling cheated, but wanting more. As with Green's other novels, Girl Friday is nevertheless a real page-turner, and the ideal beach read.

KIDS' BOOKS

What? The Princess And The Peabodys by Betty Birney (Faber and Faber, pounds 5.99)

What's it about? A 14-year-old Californian tomboy, Casey Peabody, has her world turned upside down when a Medieval princess appears in her house. The arrogant Princess Eglantine Eleanor Annalisa Ambrosia de Bercy is none too pleased to be thrown amongst this "peasant" family, either. When her inexperienced wizard Alaric has problems finding a spell to get her back home, Princess "Egg" is forced to stay with the Peabodys.

Is it any good? This book was an enjoyable read and its themes about friendship, family and being yourself were pretty subtle. It will be a hit with nine to 12-year-old princesses ever ywhere.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 27, 2009
Words:366
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