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Berlin in 1960 is a city that is very much still trying to cope with the after-effects of World War II and the subsequent division between East and West. Among those trying to pick up the pieces are Angelika and Christian, a brother and sister whose childhood was torn apart by Russian soldiers, and Max, Bastian and Ottilie, police officers who are investigating a series of brutal murders. I found this book to be really gripping and moving on many levels. The murder scenes were very gruesome, which is not always to my taste, but as the story unfolds and the reason behind the vicious way the victims are treated becomes clear, I began to understand why the murderers felt it important for the victims to die that way. Although it was clear from the outset who the murderers were, this didn’t detract from the enjoyment at all – the story was a great interplay between hunter and hunted and brought to light the fact that there is both good and bad in everyone and that sometimes very good people do very bad things that they perceive to be fully justified. The characters were well developed; people who I came to like and to want to know more about, so I hope there will be more books in this series. Issues such as the everyday sexism faced by Ottilie, the ethics of co-workers forming relationships, vagrancy, and the moral issues involved when a crime is committed but even the prosecution sympathises with the actions of the criminal are all sensitively dealt with. Finally, one small touch that I really liked was the technique of giving each chapter a title that was a brief but relevant quotation from Shakespeare. Jane Willis, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Leaves of Fate follows on immediately from The Dragons of the Storm. Focusing more on John Smith's concentrated effort to get back to America, and news of Jamestown and it's inhabitants sent in letters. I did find that Drake's presence still lingered throughout this book as a spectre and ideal figure for voyaging and exploration despite his stories being completed in the earlier book. Again, as this is an audiobook the audio quality was very good and Nigel Gore's reading is as clear and brilliant as before. The tone and language are the same as The Dragons of the Storm so I won't comment on them again. If you are looking for an epic about the Elizabethan and Jacobite explorations of the Americas and the war with Spain then this is the book for you. It's a good read for anyone who enjoys "the classics" (Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer) and it's also a great book for anyone who is discovering the real (although I haven't checked how accurate this account is) story of John Smith, as I was. A brilliant end to what I would describe as an epic mariner's tale.
1952. Seven years since the end of World War II yet the country is still deeply affected by what happened and the after-effects. Frank is an itinerant casual worker, and stories about his war experiences vary. Reserved occupation? Conscientious objector? Deserter? Nobody seems sure, but one thing is clear – Frank is always looking over his shoulder and moving on at the first sign of trouble. A move to London finds him working in a bar where he falls for Grace, the unhappily married wife of the landlord, Dennis. So when Dennis is murdered, the police naturally assume it is a crime of passion. Maybe it is time for Frank to move on again? The book is described as a thriller, but to me, it didn’t have the fast-paced, edgy feel I would normally associate with the genre. Instead, it moves at an unhurried pace, allowing the reader to savour all the subtleties of the story. I thought the book was so beautifully written and the characters so rounded and well developed that trying to slot it into a genre mould like “thriller” really doesn’t do justice to it. A great story, a great read, a well-planned plot and a clever ending all add up to a very memorable book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Jane Willis, A LoveReading Ambassador
This is a really superb book, the type of book that you can sit comfortably in a chair in a winter's night and just totally relax with. The Author has written the story in a smooth continuous flow of writing which allows the Reader to follow the story easily without having to backtrack to previously read material to keep the theme of the story in mind. The book itself satisfies many genres and thus will appeal to a wide range of readers. The work includes love, classical background, fear, battles, friendship and so many other areas. The main characters are with the story from beginning to end with a few twists along the way which brings surprise to the reader and also draws the readers attention to a deeper understanding of the story. A classical themed story but not all romance and god's. A good read guaranteed. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
This is an unusual take on Christmas but so very good with hints of the future. Children no longer want the traditional toys and it seems video games are all they ask for so Santa and his elves have no work and then Santa finds a way to keep the workshop alive but it definitely isn't for the children. Back in the 'normal' world Dallas Stone a cop who 'did things his own way' has been allocated a partner much to his disdain but Joel is new out of university and is very much a rules guy, saying they would clash is an understatement but when they get information about Santa's little operation they have to investigate. What follows is such a great ride that I was rushing to see how it would end and in between, it held some funny parts and some poignant parts but all in all it was a good book. Well worth a read. I love David Blake's Space Police books and this reminded me of them. Carol Peace, A LoveReading Ambassador
Revealing the beautiful romance between a couple who went on to be married for 58 years alongside fascinating social history, this anthology of letters - enhanced with dozens of photos and detailed footnotes - is an enthralling delight. Ronnie and Hilda met in 1945 when he was home on leave from Italy after fighting in some of the most brutal battles of WW2. Though they came from different backgrounds – Ronnie’s much tougher then Hilda’s more secure, carefree upbringing - there was a spark between them and they were engaged only ten days after meeting, before Ronnie returned to his duties. Through the letters that grace the pages of this elegantly executed book, we’re offered a window into how they came to know one another, with an abundance of sweetness laced through all their correspondence, such as when Ronnie remarks early on, “By the way, I’ve got a lovely cold. I’m really enjoying my eyes watering because I caught it off you!” Hilda and Ronnie’s letters lay bare their personal love story, and provide unique insights into the social history of life for post-war Britons, both at home and overseas. Ronnie shares his experience of attending the trials of SS soldiers and witnessing firing squads, while also expressing a longing to see Hilda in her “new dress, deep red cherry”, while Hilda tells of comings and goings at home, sharing ideas and plans for their much-anticipated wedding. Framed by family history and details of the couple’s later life, this is a radiant read from start to finish. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
I'm sure I won't be the only person to open this book and feel that it's about being noisy and outgoing. The title is slightly misleading. I have read a few self-help books in the months since my husband died. I quickly warmed to this book when the author suggested becoming creative as I have found this advice so helpful and so true. The book is written with common sense and in an easy to read style. I particularly liked the format of Masterclass chapters with things to consider at the end of each one. It was interesting to read the author's own experiences. Live Out Loud gives you a lot to think about and plenty of suggestions to put into practice and is a very useful addition to this genre of books. Christine Waddington, A LoveReading Ambassador
A very interesting story. The title a play on words of the larger than life focus of the story, Sir Francis Drake. I know bits about the stories of Drake and John Smith (the latter admittedly mainly due to the Disney film) as well as Elizabethan England and the historic figures of the time and this audiobook drags you into the middle of the history of colonialization. The quality of the audiobook is brilliant and it is very well read (though I suppose you wouldn't expect anything else from a Shakespearean actor). I didn't know who was reading, to begin with, and I did think it sounded like a mix between the recitation of a Shakespeare play and a work of Homer, which I didn't mind, but for some, the language and phrasing may be a slight turnoff. The story is told through diary excerpts, with a constant awareness of the end result (i.e. how Drake dies). I found both Drake and Smith's tales interesting although I have to say I did enjoy John Smith's stories more(probably because of my pre-mentioned fondness for Disney). I did go into this without reading or listening to the first instalment, so I would say I was at a bit of a disadvantage, to begin with, however by the end it didn't really matter - there was perhaps a slight lack of introduction but the tales told are standalone so it's easy to catch up. I'm interested to compare it to The Leaves of Fate. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A tense psychological thriller that keeps you turning the pages. This is the story of a group of friends who, between them, hold the answers to what happened one night when five of them went into a room and only four came out alive. Told in the first person, the narrative is split between the friends, and we are drawn into their dilemmas. All appear to be hiding something. The main character is Lisa Ashton who is suffering from amnesia while recovering from a kidney transplant. After discovering that one of the friends is the donor, she tries to find out what did happen during the gaps in her memory. What are her friends not telling her, and why? I love the structure of this novel as we gradually move through the hours and days following the inciting incident, finding out snippets of information that lead us to conclusions that then challenge the sleuths in each of us. The characters are well-drawn. We empathise with them all, experience their guilt, and their fears. Often, in this well-drawn thriller, we have cause us to doubt what we hear from each of the friends, until we suspect everybody. I would certainly read more from this author. 5 star rating. Lynne Johnson, A LoveReading Ambassador
I wanted to read his book because I am a sci-fi fan and the concept sounded really interesting. Audra was blinded as a child in a car accident that killed her mother. Her father, Jenson, has spent his life since devoted to finding a cure from Audra's specific type of blindness, with very little success. The latest experiment seems incredibly promising, but after the trials, everything takes a sinister turn. The prologue had me intrigued from the start and I read as fast as I could to find out what happened and how everything with Audra and her father was going to be resolved. I also like the family drama element of the story throughout, the strained relationship between Audra and Jenson and the references back to the accident that made Audra lose her site. This background story helped drive the main action on while making sure the reader didn't forget the main reason Jenson was working on the cure. I liked Audra, she was my favourite character throughout and her reckless but overall good nature kept me interested in the outcome of the story through all of the twists and turns. Some of the plot twists were predictable, but I didn't find that detracted from the story, I read on to work out how they would come to fruition. Darksight has obviously been very well researched. The scientific aspects of the plot were explained in enough detail to seem plausible but didn't take up too much space and overwhelm the rest of the plot. As a sighted person, the descriptions and experiences of being blind also seem very well researched and provided an insight into how the other senses can become heightened to compensate, incorporating with the sci-fi darksight element really well. The early descriptions from Audra as she cycled through the rain were brilliant. The chapters were short and easily digestible, I read this in one day and really enjoyed it throughout. Every time I put my e-reader down I was eager to get back to the story. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
"Request: If you enjoyed this book please don't keep it a secret." The above is written by the Author on the last page of the book and this is one book that shouldn't be kept a secret! It has to be one of the funniest books that I have read in a long time. The humour and the style of writing allows the reader to think that this only happened in London last week that someone had won the Globobillions Lottery but no-one has come forward to claim the prize. Rumours abound straight away. Leo Morphetus is an addicted entrepreneur, always trying new ways to make a living. His latest being his Barista tricycle and himself selling coffees on the move. He has separated from his wife Helen and Amy his daughter. He stopped buying lottery tickets ages ago but the local shopkeeper and his wife are certain that he had bought a ticket and from them. The rumours start by them and soon the media is involved. Throughout the whole book Donna the newspaper reporter never gives up trying to uncover who won the ticket in order to get her big story. Events reach the stage where everyone is sure that Leo has won and he and his friend Vince decide to pretend that they have. Helen has a boyfriend Tony who now decides to blackmail Helen now he thinks Leo has actually won. Leo has promised to pay Poppy, a child with cancer, to go to the USA for treatment. The bank manager, desperate for a 'rich client', credits cash ignoring all rules and protocols into a joint account for Leo and Vince whereupon they go and lead the high life - especially Vince and his love for clothes - top hotels are booked and as the managers of the hotels think Leo is the winner, all bills are written off. Begging letters start, Leo's father in law who doesn't like him now is trying to push himself up the Council ladder by asking Leo to donate funds to his various projects, TV are now interested but read the book as there is more. The real winner happens to be a Muslim lady who can't accept the cash because of her beliefs, but wants to send her two daughters to university and despite taking advice form a Muslim lady counsellor she is not further forward with what she can do with the money as her culture does not allow gambling or to spend winnings. When Leo and Vince are at the stage where they have to confess, things work out in an unusual way and I won't say how or why as this is the best part of the book. The author has written one of those brilliant books that tend to come along from time to time and as stated at the top of this review I am not keeping it a secret. Read it you won't be disappointed! Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
This book is a collection of five short stories, each very different but with central theme of all of them desire and how it manifests itself in different ways. Each story is set in a different location and range in time from pre-second World War to the present day. Although I enjoyed all of the stories, there were a couple that stood out to me and I would have liked these to continue, so I could find out more about the characters and what they did next. Overall, this is a really enjoyable book and is nice and easy to dip in and out of, by reading a story at a time. I would really recommend this book. Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador