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What a great story, funny and good read - this was published in 2017 - don't know how this bypassed me. This is the true story of a British comedian Dominic Holland - I was vaguely aware of this comedian as a stand-up - no idea he is an accomplished author as well. This is a story of a family- two sides of a story - one the comedian and his eldest son (for me although is more famous for playing Spiderman was the fact he was Billy in the West End Stage show Billy Elliot and I was mesmerised by his take on "Electricity") Father on the tough comedy circuit life can be tough - but don't forget he was voted best newcomer in the 90s at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has gone on to be a well-known comedian - whilst his son Tom lands the role of Spiderman whilst his dad is in small theatres and halls. Written will such admiration and wit this is an author I will be looking out for, and looking to see if he is in a gig in the south-west. Recommended read and an author I recommend also- I am now seeking out other books. Jane Brown, 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
Having read about this period in the war and admiring pilots such as Geoffrey Wellum. I was keen to read this. Well researched and based on six days during the famous Battle of Britain where the airmen's life expectancy was actually something in the region of 4 weeks. At that time Europe was crushed by the Nazi and it could have been our turn next but the Battle of Britain played such a pivotal role in this. But as the novel shows this was not just about the airmen themselves women - working in the ops and maps rooms knowing what was happening but struggling to be recognised in their roles. We have Johnnie the pilot and Eleanor in this story and the book alternates around these two main characters. The author portrays this time well and those who have studied this time know, Britain was at the brink and history could have taken a very different turn. Whether the reader is familiar with this period in history or not it makes a good read and highly recommended for those interested in this part of history. The author's notes were fascinating and the reader can learn so much, I look forward to reading more from John Rhodes. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
Modern Toss: Work is Shit is a book of hilarious cartoons by Jon Link and Mick Bunnage, who together make up Modern Toss. Some of the cartoons have appeared previously in The Guardian or Private Eye but most are to be seen here for the first time. Set in the workplace, as the title suggests, and containing some bad language, they are extremely funny because they are so true, putting into words what so many of us are thinking and have wanted to say on finding ourselves in similar situations. So well-drawn too, with expressions and body language conveyed in just a few pen strokes. My very favourite takes place at the water cooler (as so much does!), where a male colleague is telling his female counterpart that he has 'been really enjoying working here since I started pretending it was some ropey reality TV show'. On a slightly more serious note, the changes brought about by the introduction of more technology and issues like sexual harassment, health and safety and stress are also addressed in a humorous way. Utterly irreverent and often absurd, these clever satirical cartoons will have you in stitches...I just wish there were more of them. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next edition. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Operation Sustainable Human' by Chris Macdonald is a frightening, frank and forceful description of the state of our planet but the author does offer hope if only we would all take action now. The book examines in turn the four main culprits which have caused our present dire predicament, namely our methods of food production, our penchant for travel, our throwaway society and the unholy alliance between politics and big business. It then goes on to recommend four actions we can all take to counteract each of these. We should adopt a much more plant-based diet, avoid fossil fuel powered modes of travel whenever possible, buy less 'stuff' and vote more responsibly. None of these is easy but we have to stop thinking that it makes no difference what any single person does...if enough people do it, it does make a difference. This book comes at a time when it seems that our young people are growing increasingly disillusioned with the progress towards halting climate change being made by their elders. The recent global climate strike will hopefully make more people in positions of power sit up and take notice and do something as time is rapidly running out. Chris Macdonald's book is cogent, concise and compelling. It should be compulsory reading for every person in every country, especially a certain president I don't need to name. I would urge anyone who loves Planet Earth to buy a copy and spread the ideas it contains because, to quote the author, there is no Planet B. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador Available on Amazon
Ashmole Foxe is a bookseller in 18th century Norwich. He also does a bit of amateur sleuthing as a side hustle, and if he has any spare time left after those two pursuits, he is also something of a womaniser. When Foxe finds himself trying to solve three murders at once, one of them apparently linked to a book he has been asked to source for a client, there is little time for his other interests, and he is led through a tangled web of privilege, poverty, deceit and crime. A very readable and enjoyable book which successfully highlighted the vast differences in living standards, expectations, rights and morals of the different classes in 1760s society. Foxe himself comes across as a charming and likeable man who does his best to straddle the “uncrossable” class boundaries making him popular with men and women, rich and poor. The book ends with his love life about to enter a very unconventional (for the era) phase, which already threatens to have added complications, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see how he handles it. Jane Willis, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Death of a Lie' by Peter Harper is an exciting and thought-provoking story of a young woman's quest to find the truth about her family's history. The story begins during WW2, when a Lend-Lease B-25 crashes in a Romanian field and two young children find a battered folder containing encoded pages in the wreckage. Fast forward 50 years and the children have grown up, married and adopted a Romanian boy, Lucian, and a West African girl, Zinsa, the sole survivor of the ruling Dangbo family after a bloody coup in Seroule. These two also grow up, marry and are expecting twins. Lucian rediscovers the folder, forgotten all this time, and, along with his old school friend, Serghei, takes it to their mutual friend, Mario, to see if he can crack the code. Thus begins a tale of murder, intrigue and conspiracy, as we are brought up to the present day when Lucian and Zinsa's daughter, Shani, returns to Romania to meet Serghei and Mario and find out about the parents she never knew. This is a well-crafted thriller, chillingly plausible, putting forward the idea of a worldwide mafia, 'Deep State' operating the most basic of strategies...divide and rule at every level, until a 'New World Order' can be established. I guarantee this book will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador