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Available on Amazon Complete Darkness is an action-packed science-fiction explosion. At 111 pages, though it is small, it is mighty. Following the story of Cleric20 and his sidekick GiX who perhaps unwittingly must defeat the satanic President of the World. The writing in this book flows very well and I thought the world-building was really strong. I enjoyed spotting the modern culture references throughout such as the Lloyd Weber Museum, and the integration of landmarks such as Westminster Cathedral and Tower Bridge. I think this really helped to create an “our world but not as we know it” feel that invites the reader into the futuristic setting and helps to make everything more believable. I also liked the concept of the futuristic world being built on top of the old world, it reminded me of the sunken streets below Edinburgh and reflects the building practices already used but adapted and made more futuristic. This book also deals with Armageddon, good, evil, God and the Devil but the subject is addressed in a way that I found innovative and easy to enjoy regardless of religious inclination. I thought this was a well-written book that, although it has a comic book/action hero vibe, is definitely targeted at a more mature audience, with the odd graphic moment and use of black humour. I would recommend this to science fiction and fantasy fans.
'The Richness' by Stephen Driscoll is a powerful indictment of racism in all it's forms, wrapped up in a tale of love, cruelty and suffering that spans five centuries and three continents. It is well written, meticulously researched and chillingly relevant to the present-day crisis. The book comes in three parts. The first follows three young Irishmen, brothers John and Conor O'Driscoll and their cousin, Patrick O'Mahoney, who left Ireland in the early 17th century, each for a different reason and with a varying degree of compliance. We track the men and their fortunes until their deaths, with two of them eventually reuniting briefly in the West Indies. This section was full of historical surprises for me and was thoroughly readable, exciting and heart-wrenching as well as informative. The second section outlines the social and political issues of the Caribbean and Ireland, the inequalities and historical attitudes which have led to the existence of everything that is unfair and unacceptable in today's world. It's written with a great deal of passion and background knowledge. Finally, we are brought almost to the present day, when two strangers meet at a series of lectures and discover that they have more than physical attraction in common. This is where the title of the book comes into it's own, as the author demonstrates that none, absolutely none, of us would be who we are now, were it not for the variety in our heritage and the part that all races and religions have played in the past. We are human beings, first and foremost, and no-one has cause or reason to believe they are superior to any other in any way. A thoroughly fascinating read, highly recommended Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Also Available on Kindle. The Inconvenient Need to Belong introduces us to Alfie, an old man with no visitors, living in a care home. To combat his loneliness, he sneaks out to the local park every Saturday to feed the ducks, where he meets Fred a young boy, to whom Alfie tells his life story in order to impart some wisdom. This book really reminded me of books like Three Things About Elsie and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. I liked that the story also focuses on Julia, a nurse at the care home who wants to learn more about this rather grumpy old man. I thought that this was a heartwarming story about getting old, life and grief. Using the young Fred as a way to convey imparting wisdom to the next generation, is a brilliant idea and like in life, it’s just whether the younger generations as willing to listen. I would recommend this book to anyone who loved either the books that I have mentioned or the contemporary family saga stories that are similar on the market. A lovely read to curl up with and enjoy.
A Simple Life: A Snatch in Time surprised me. Paul Williams has a simple life, he lives on a boat, the Sandpiper, and works at the local college in order to be closer to his son. A cumulation of events (the prospect of reducing visitation access to his son and a bad classroom experience threatening his job), lead him to consider a life of smuggling when two local criminals proposition him. I thought to begin with that Paul was a bit of an unreliable narrator, his ex-wife and himself reference moments of an overactive imagination, so I did wonder throughout whether the “gangsters” in a small-ish town and the two love interests appearing on the scene in quite a quick succession were all figments of Paul’s imagination. The introduction of the 2039 epilogue timeline heightened my interest and fueled some of my suspicions about Paul’s unreliability. I was curious to find out the outcome of this book. But how wrong I was! I finished A Simple Life in one sitting and the end surprised me. I’m not going to spoil anything, but by the final page, I had reframed my perspective of the book. As I finished reading, I considered it a story of a man left vulnerable by a number of situations, which is exploited for someone else's gain. I write this in regard to the Jan and Gunton but realise this could also be applied to a number of the secondary characters in the book. As the introduction mentioned that Paul was mild-mannered and his equally mild-mannered lawyer left him paying out a significant amount after his divorce to his ex-wife. The ending gives a poignancy to the entire book and I would really recommend it to anyone looking for a shorter read, based around a moral dilemma. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A really inspirational thought-provoking book. Whilst this is not a self-help book as such, each chapter poses a question that reveals a little bit more about the author and also gets you asking the same question and promotes self-reflection and self-awareness but not in the typical way that books of this kind normally do. Written with a feeling of part journal/part travel diary the author mixes the two topics really well and got me thinking about the metaphor of travelling as a journey much like the life journey. Travelling by not only means of escaping but actually travelling has enabled the author to become more independent, grow, change, learn, make mistakes and enabled self-reflection, developed intrinsic values and deepened self-confidence. The book does not seek out to offer solutions but does so in the way of asking questions and through worked examples of what has helped CJ get through some of her toughest times. An extremely difficult and complex childhood traumatic event is described and the strength of character and honesty surrounding the conflicting emotions at the time evokes a sense of inspiration. I am glad I read the book, it gave me things to think about and a longing to travel. CJ Lacsican- I am celebrating your win. Sam Lewis, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Downtime Shift' is an intriguing, complex and chilling work of science fiction by Robert Holding. Set in the twenty-first and twenty-ninth centuries, it paints a frightening picture of a future in which mankind is totally controlled by artificial intelligence. Evelyn, the main character, is a 'Shifty', that is someone who has been trained to survive and carry out tasks for the 'EYE' when travelling 800 years into the planet's past to alter its future for the better. Questioning these tasks, Evelyn returns to her own time to find that many of the remaining population want to take back control of their lives but that the 'EYE' also has more forces under her control than had been reckoned with. This is a very challenging read on many levels and so plausible in general that it is truly terrifying. The characters are well-defined and the plot fast-paced. The author does leave us with a light at the end of a horrendously turbulent tunnel. I would certainly recommend this book, especially to anyone feeling disillusioned with the way modern life seems to be heading. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
I found this to be a gripping story, it did put me in mind of Daphne Du Maurier. Once started it was hard to put down, the friendship between Stella and Lilly was a strong one, until the day that male nurse Will arrives. But Will is not quite what he seems, and though Stella tries to tell her, Lilly who is under his spell won't hear a thing about him, after all, they are just rumours, right? Towards the vanishing point is a tale of love, friendship, and betrayal A book for all fans of mystery, with a slight gothic overtone. Angela Rhodes, A LoveReading Ambassador
This was an interesting slant on World War 1 and focused on two British captains. Normally we read either accounts of battalions and individual soldiers in some of the famous battles. This story was quite different. Captain Quinn is the new intelligence officer for the 10th (Service) Battalion in France. He’s in temporary charge of the C Company manning the front line in Captain Cody’s absence. Captain Quinn's style of military management is different and the man is downright arrogant. He wants Captain Cody's company and sets about this in a ruthless and devious way, delving into Cody's private life. It is clear on Cody's return to the Front that Quinn has turned things and soldiers around to his thinking he begins to distrust. But Cody is a loose cannon. It is World War 1 and the storyline alone is shocking but the author skillfully throws some extra shockers in as the reader wonders who will survive. I found this book well-written and it offers a different slant on the horrors of the great war. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
England lifting the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 was controversial then and remains so to this day. In 'Fixing Sixty-six' Tim Flower debunks some of the myths surrounding our 'greatest sporting achievement' so successfully that it is at times hard to remember this is a work of fiction, albeit firmly rooted in fact. The story is mainly narrated by Harry Miller, a Liverpudlian sports journalist, working for 'The Daily Mirror'. In 1966 he was recruited by Ludovic Forsyth, the personal assistant to the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to Operation Jules Britannia. This project's aim was nothing less than to ensure England won the World Cup to avert attention from the Labour government's inadequacies and mismanagement of the nation's economy and was to be achieved by manipulating the media, the match venues and game officials. Fast forward 50 years and Harry, now terminally ill, has no more fear of the official secrets document he signed at the time and decides to sell his story to the press. The author has captured the feel of the 60s very well. He takes us back to a time when a married woman was expected to stay home and busy herself with childcare, cooking and cleaning, as anything else was seen as an insult to her husband, implying he didn't earn enough to support his family. This may have changed drastically now but little else the book refers to has. The 'power, privilege and complacency' of the gentlemen's club, the nations 'superior' attitude to the EU and foreigners in general, the corruption within FIFA, the 'freedom' of the press and the unholy alliance between politics and big business are all much as they were and parallels are easy to see with the present day. This is a fascinating tale, all the more so knowing how much contemporary evidence supports its revelations and even someone not in the least bit interested in 'the beautiful game' will appreciate the skill of the storytelling. A thoroughly good read! Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
An Ode to the NHS. The twisting and turning story of Henry's sciatica treatment. a non-fiction account of both private and public healthcare covering any and all aspects of Henry's illness including being temporarily paralysed, the characters on the wards, spinal surgery and recovery, addiction to pain medication and his treatment by the doctors nurses and physiotherapists throughout. This is a story of hope as well as a letter of gratitude. As someone who has grown up with parents working in the NHS, the work patterns and experiences of the staff were familiar to me. I also found this a very insightful read, it is not only about Henry's diagnosis and treatment, but about how desperately we need the NHS to keep going, and how much the human mind and body can endure. The characters described throughout keep you interested in their treatment as well as Henry's and provide light relief during darker periods of his journey. They act as a balm to the reader as well as the writer while describing the weeks and months of constant pain, worry, doubt and depression that would have otherwise been all-encompassing. A brilliant book full of the ups and downs of a long term and life-changing illness, made even more endearing that 50% of the proceeds go to the charity that supports the NHS hospital so frequently mentioned throughout. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
This expansive, engaging pancontinental novel explores patriarchy, race and power against a dazzlingly evoked Ghanaian backdrop. The cross-crossing lives of two characters provide the focus of the story, with Ghana looming large as a vividly-evoked character in its own right. Fifty-something Carlos is a privileged Puerto Rican businessman who returns to Ghana to face his crimes of youth, a murderous misdemeanor that’s haunted his whole life. Liz is a Ghanaian native working in the US, from where she’s been supporting her family and building an orphanage. She returns to her homeland to oversee the construction, and finds herself also having to deal with her family’s complex needs. Both drawn back to Ghana, Liz and Carlos find their lives once again transformed by the country that transformed them so many years before, and by encountering each other. Evocative and smartly-plotted, this fine novel is as driven by its compelling characters as it is by the omnipresence of Ghana’s rich culture. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
Wow. This is an amazing tale packed with drama on and off the stage. a circular tale of Colonel Tearwood's American Theatre Company. A plot filled with love, loss, anger, jealousy and drama, that I don't think I can sing the praises of enough! How Beautiful They Were is incredibly well-written and drew me in from Jeremiah's introduction to the spectacular candlelit finale. It reminded me quite a lot of The Phantom of the Opera - the idea that life reflects art with secrets, betrayals and deaths happening in the world around the theatre. I thought the setting in 1850s America and the side story / undertone of racism was poignant and very well handled. I've loved following the story of John James Beaufort, my heart broke along with his in the early stages and I was fascinated to see what would become of him on his voyage to America. The adaptations of notable works into plays that reflected their life and surroundings in America and as a way to expose crimes and tell each character's stories was marvellous and when Wuthering Heights was mentioned I couldn't wait to see how it was interpreted. La piece bien faite indeed! Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A bluntly honest account of Liz’s life with Bipolar. Told in a whistle-stop tour, Liz shares her experiences of Bipolar in this memoir. With open and honest accounts of her life that are almost anecdotal throughout, the reader is able to very quickly understand Liz’s life experiences. I prefer this type of autobiographical writing, as you grow to understand the author more quickly and spend less time lingering on perhaps superficial detail. With the aim of increasing awareness and expanding the discussion around mental health, Life As A Rollercoaster ends with reflections from each of Liz’s family members. My own knowledge of Bipolar is limited and I found this to be a fascinating insight into both having it and living alongside it. I really enjoyed the additional perspective of Liz’s loved ones at the end of the book and appreciate that by Liz writing this memoir, they are also having a part of their life shared. It was interesting to read about the events from a number of different perspectives and I appreciate this team effort approach. I think having a witness or onlooker perspective adds an extra dimension to this book that makes it all the more engaging. I found Life As A Rollercoaster an enlightening read and hope that it reaches a wider audience to help expand the discussion on mental health. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
I have been waiting to read this book for a long time, so long that I almost wrote it myself. Thank you Michael Tappenden for saving me the trouble and thank you A Long Dark Rainbow for being a far better read than I could ever have made of it. This is the story of Samantha and Alex, two septuagenarians, who meet each other again by chance after forty-odd years and realise that things could have been a lot different in their lives. Both very damaged by their previous relationships, they contemplate trying again though with serious concerns about the practicalities and fears surrounding self-image, physical capabilities and emotional adaptability. It follows their journey as they define, explore and finally, with mutual support, openness and honesty, expand their boundaries, building a healing and fulfilling relationship. The writing is explicit without being gratuitous or offensive and displays a genuine understanding of how important and difficult personal interactions are at any age but that, with advancing years, there are added dimensions that younger people might not necessarily appreciate. The author chose a quote from the Talmud to preface his work, which sets the tone completely and is very moving. 'For the unlearned, old age is winter. For the learned, it is the season of the harvest'. Readers of a mature age will find much here that will resonate and maybe inspire, whilst younger generations will hopefully see their elders in a different light. An enthralling read, thoroughly recommended. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador