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Euphoric Recall is inspired and based on the author’s life. This is an honest portrayal of a number of traumatic events including sexual abuse and addiction as well as his recovery. You are drawn into Aiden’s world in the first pages, his writing style is familiar and open, helping to form an immediate connection to the reader. This makes the book enticing, and I was keen to keep reading right to the very end. I think that this is a brilliantly written debut. The details of the trauma that Aiden experienced are dark and heart wrenching, however there is an element of hope - this book has been written and Aiden is in a position to reflect and tell his story. I admire the strength it’s taken to reflect and share dark moments. I also think that Euphoric Recall includes many moments that any reader would find relatable. As I was reading the title did confuse me slightly, but upon reflection I think that the ‘euphoria’ comes from the ability to look back, to have come back from trauma and share the whole story. I really enjoyed this book and I think that it would be a good memoir for those who are interested in more gritty life stories.
This was a wonderful and uplifting story of a traveller who went to climb a mountain but found it changed his life, and the local people he met. Due to the trials and tribulations of mountaineering, which itself makes a fascinating read, Mike and his wife Chantal meet and befriend a Nepalese family. This meeting changes both families lives and the future of a girl called Karma, so aptly named. A very interesting read, with fascinating pictures. Maureen Gourlay, A LoveReading Ambassador
Soul Seeker is a complex thriller packed full of tension, drama and the supernatural. I liked that this book starts off with a poem, almost like an old shakespearean narrator introducing the plotline and what’s about to happen. We are first introduced to the story of Benjamin Poe, A death row inmate finally sharing the twisted events that led to a shocking murder. After reading the synopsis for the book I was eager to start reading and I soon became engrossed in Benjamin’s story. I like the small town that the author creates and the variety of characters that live in Lochton. I also liked that it wasn’t stereotypical quaint and peaceful, with a brief shoplifting incident early on. I think that this added an underlying realism and grittiness and was a solid foundation to build the darker aspects of the story. Even early on in Soul Seeker we are aware of evil events and non-moral actions which I think set the tone for later on in the novel and provide an interesting environment to introduce the supernatural characters. I found the characters interesting and I enjoyed how the characters are developed alongside plot twists. These plot twists kept me guessing throughout the book, with more questions than answers and a need to find out more. I liked the supernatural element of this story, I think it really helps to ramp up the suspense that builds throughout the novel while also maintaining a sense of realism and moral complexity - even Crighton, a high ranking demon, is made up of more than pure evil. I liked seeing his relationship develop with Ariel towards the end of the book. Soul Seeker is the first book in a series and I look forward to reading more. I think Soul Seeker would be enjoyed by fans of the supernatural, darker relationship stories and thrillers.
Stylish in form and content, this A-Z encyclopaedia of 200 classic cocktails serves up intriguing origin stories alongside inspiring recipes. Written and curated by London bar expert Cas Oh, whose impressive CV includes helming The Club at The Ivy, this gorgeously-produced book (think black-and-gold art deco elegance) represents the distillment of tens of thousands of cocktail recipes into 200 classics - nice work if you can get it! Chicly presented and organised A-Z, it covers everything from the Absinthe Frappé that originated in New Orleans in 1874, to the Espresso Martini of the 1980s, to the triple-rum Zombie of 1930s Hollywood. With the provenance and recipes of many cocktails keenly contested, this seeks to set the record straight, with beautiful reproductions of pages from recipe books of the past revealing the origins and evolution of each concoction. Alongside learning about well-known favourites like Margaritas, Mai Tais, Piña Coladas and Daiquiris, I loved discovering new bizarre brews, such as The Black Velvet, a blend of Guinness and champagne created to commemorate the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Designed to inspire and guide professional bartenders and home-mixers alike, CO-Specs will certainly add more than a dash of glamour to coffee tables. It’s a book to be dipped into, sipped and savoured, rather than downed in one. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
No Place to Hide has an excellent plot that kept me hooked and unsure of who did what right to the very end. The start of a trilogy featuring the surgeon, Daniel Kendrick. In this first book Daniel’s life is far from perfect, trying to come to terms with his daughter’s murder, with his marriage and his career both on the verge of collapse. Then his wife disappears, and Daniel is a suspect. As the tension builds he needs to start his own investigation to find her before time runs out. I found this book to be exceptionally well written and researched with very believable characters and storyline. It gave me goose bumps and I couldn’t put it down. I would describe No Place to Hide as a proper page-turner. I think it’s one of the best books I have read in a long time. I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy.
Fake is the intriguing story of James Cowper, an art dealer grappling to recover his work and married life after misdemeanors including theft and gambling which take place before the start of the book. I found James quite endearing throughout, his dry humour and quite optimistic outlook despite his circumstances made me quite fond of him. The plot, without going into too much detail reminded me of a Harold Pinter play, the author does very well at creating a tense and uncertain atmosphere in Delancey Street, a home that’s supposed to be a space of refuge. This unease builds and, even though you can feel where it’s going you don’t quite know how bad the fallout would be. The general unlikeability of Bruce demonstrated how good the author is at developing characters, and I felt differently towards each of them.As more of the plot is revealed those feelings towards all of the characters changed too. I wouldn’t say any of the characters are likeable, they all have their flaws, but you get to know them in a great amount of detail. This is a book that I think readers could find farcical, as one comically bad situation develops into another. I actually found Fake to be quite tension-filled, with the uncertainty and uncomfortable feeling of the living situation at Delancey Street leaching out of the pages and giving me slight anxiety about how everything was going to turn out in the end. This was an absorbing read and I’ll look out for more books from this author in the future.
Crooked Creek: A Comedy about Writer's Block and a Neurotic Home Owners Association is a short, fun novella by Fredrick Robertson. The humour is very dry, with witty and often sarcastic dialogue taking place between the larger than life characters and the entertaining plot is hilarious. Billy Olin's first novel catapults him to fame, which immediately goes to his head in the high life of New York. His agent soon demands a follow up book to cash in on the first's success but the distractions of the Big Apple prove to be an insurmountable stumbling block. To try to remove this block, Billy moves back to his home town in South Carolina and buys a condo in Crooked Creek. His life then becomes a constant battle against the nit-picking management and maintenance team, who are always on the lookout for transgressions against their manipulative rules and regulations. With his agent still on his back but having secured an advance on his first novel's sales in France, he pays a life-changing visit to a second-hand car dealer. He finally realises that he is living his next novel and rapidly gets it down on paper. His agent loves it but how will those depicted in the book react when he holds a reading at a local hotel? This story is laugh out loud funny, just what we all need after the year we've all experienced. Definitely worth a read! Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Author Nathan Pettijohn has just broken up with his girlfriend. He rents an RV and takes to the road with his dog, Hafa, to explore the Pacific Northwest for the month of October. He describes the people he meets and the places he stays beautifully. He also shares his views on many aspects of life in America, up to and including their reaction to the current pandemic and the tragic murder of George Floyd. As a fellow motorhomer (as we call RVs in the UK) I read this book with great interest. It is wonderfully written and evokes the excitement and anticipation of going to a different place every day and staying in a different campsite every night. I’ve always found that a very addictive thing to do and clearly, so does the author. I feel that I now want to go to the US and explore the same area that he did, especially as, due to the pandemic, I haven’t had any trips in my motorhome this year and I’m getting very itchy feet. Like the author, I wouldn’t dream of going on a road trip without at least one dog. He brilliantly evokes the camaraderie that occurs when dog people meet and talk dog talk. His descriptions of the places he visits are excellent and I could empathise with some of the issues he faced in getting used to his RV. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, very well written and extremely readable. Highly recommended. Susan Wallace, A LoveReading Ambassador
Rats in a Maze may begin as a police procedural but as the story develops the reader understands there’s so much more going on. When Detective Ray Fisher and his partner work on an open and shut case they discover evidence of something more sinister, and when an interview with a witness leads to questions and scenarios that seem impossible Ray and Brad end up in over their heads. This book is gritty and can be quite graphic in places. We are introduced in the middle of the action and left with questions that had to keep reading to find the answers to. The plot is full of twists and turns and I would never have guessed the revelations beforehand. The character development takes place slowly, and I think that the author has done incredibly well to so much depth within the book. This really is a gripping read and would be a great recommendation for anyone wanting to be surprised by the plot. As well as the police procedural elements, Rats in a Maze also embarks into the realm of the supernatural. I really enjoyed the way these two genres are merged together as well as how the supernatural elements are incorporated into the “real” world. In summary, I think that this book is brilliant for fans of crime fiction as well as those looking for a supernatural mystery.
Fate by Design has an interesting plot, a historical fiction focusing on the challenges of a single mother in a small 1950s mining town after her husband disappears. The reader is brought up to speed quickly as we first meet Cassie Gallagher in an interview room and context is easily provided. I think Fate by design was incredibly well-researched and that this would be a brilliant book for fans of modern history, whether that’s fiction or fact. The challenges faced by Cassie the vulnerability of her position endeared me to her throughout. I loved that this book focused on a small community and the author's writing really brought the people and the setting to life as I read. I am aware of some aspects of mining communities and I was fascinated to learn more about how changes throughout the 50s and 60s had an impact on the towns and the people. I found Fate by Design an insightful read and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a book about history or, community and self-development.
Unto This Last is a historical fiction centred around John Ruskin the Victorian era art critic amongst many other things. Before reading this book I had perhaps heard of Ruskin but didn’t know too much about him. Despite this lack of previous knowledge I found Unto This Last a detailed and interesting depiction of Ruskin’s connection to Rose La Touche. I found that this book was very well written, it seemed to me to be written in the style of a period novel while also managing to maintain a degree of self awareness that I thought allowed for a more critical eye on a range of topics such as mental health and Victorian attitudes in reference to women. I think the relationship between Ruskin and La Touche is quite delicately handled, with Ruskin coming across as almost naïve to me early in the story. I also particularly liked the additional literary nods throughout the book. The title itself is taken from one of Ruskin’s works and the chapter heading “State of Denmark” as a nod to Shakespeare's Hamlet are great examples that I noticed. I think that this book has been very well-researched and written with real insight. I think that anyone who enjoys period novels would enjoy this book without needing to know a great deal about the main character beforehand. The book covers an extended period and also fills in details about Ruskin’s early years and first marriage. I also think this is perhaps a great starting point for any interested reader to do more research on John Ruskin’s life. I would say that Unto This Last is a substantial and yet fascinating read that provides a considered look at the life and work of John Ruskin.
I was very curious about the synopsis of The Path of Good Response and I was eager to dive in and discover the answers to all of the questions posed. This is a suspenseful thriller and the more I read the more intrigued I became. The opening chapter only adds more questions, with the author both building tension and portraying a rather comical crossing of a cold wet field by a number of interviewees. I liked the way the author develops the characters as we follow Joe through the story. The narrative develops in a way that felt quite dystopian to me, and I found the concept of the path of good response to be very thought provoking. I never predicted where the twists and turns would take the story and looking back to the start after reaching the final pages I think that the author has developed are brilliant and page-turning story that outstretched my imagination. In all I thoroughly enjoyed this tense and thrilling read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a book that will keep them guessing until the end.