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While this anthology’s theme may sound niche, its appeal and scope is universal. Indeed, it’s underpinned by fundamental age-old questions: “What does compel someone to leave their country of origin, which is the story before their departure? And then what happens to them on their journey to the new place, which is the story of getting from one place to another? And what causes them to finally land somewhere and decide to stay, if not for the rest of their lives, then for an extended period?” The answers to such questions are voiced here by twenty women whose stories are vary vastly, with contributors hailing from places as diverse as Lebanon, Scotland, France, Germany, the USA, Mozambique, Spain, Brazil and more countries besides. Together their stories constitute a fascinating chorus of experiences borne from the author’s enrollment in an organisation created to help newcomers “feel at home in this beautiful country,” her desire to chronicle female oral history, and a belief in the human need for agency. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time. For sci-fi, thriller, adventure, futuristic the list of genres that can be applied to this novel is first class. It is similar in style to George Orwell's '1984', only this novel is more terrifying for those living in forty year's time in 2059. More aspects of the United Kingdom's citizens' lives are under Government control and society as we know it today is falling dangerously apart. The storyline follows the life of one such citizen, Toli, of the mishaps that befall her, how to deal with these with what little resources she has whist living in a soon to be dystopian society where friendship and family have all but disappeared, with survival of the fittest being the norm status of society. The black side of society is always present, always with her and the author's descriptive style of writing leaves the reader very glad that he/she is living at the present time and not in the future where life is cheap, death is common and anything goes. The storyline is excellent giving the reader the feeling of actually being part of the story, and book itself, apart from being a constant page turner from beginning to end, sets itself apart from similar books in that the book itself should be read in order to fully appreciate the story as it unfolds. If you only buy one book or read one book this year, then this is definitely the one to go for as it is a gripping definitely must read book. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
This has been a very interesting book to read and has a good story line throughout the book. Initially when I started reading it, other sci-fi books and films came to mind as there were scenes in the book and seemed similar to other books and films I have read and seen. As an avid sci-fi fan I thought that it was just a typical distopian novel with survivors such as Jared and nanotechnology but I was wrong. Once I got into the book it turned out to be a very good read and the author's writing flow and descriptive scenes are great in making the reader visualise what was happening. The story line itself is holds the reader's attention throughout the book and the various other survival groups he meets during his journey and what they do to help so survive on an Earth that is forever changed is excellent, which as you are reading through the book, the story, the characters, their daily lives in trying to survive and so forth all comes together and this turns out to be a very good novel. Jared’s adventures throughout the book are exciting and will keep the reader turning page after page to see what happens next. As there is a quick resume of the book for potential readers to see, this outlines the main course of the book and I don’t want to add any more details about the book as I think it is very worthwhile for the reader to discover themselves. A good book for sci-fi fans and well-worth the time spent in reading it. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
Such a great read oh my goodness this authors first trip and to climb Kilimanjaro was certainly not for the faint hearted most of us would have packed up and gone home but not this determined author and all in the name of charity. Then years later the author and this time with his wife walking with lions, in search of Rhinos, beautiful scenery and the dreaded mountain to climb! and will they climb this? It is an interesting read, fascinating accounts of Africa (I've never been but just loved the descriptions, the wildlife and culture) I take my hat off to him not sure if I would follow in his footsteps but has given me a great read on my holiday. This author writes a good story and keeps the reader on their toes. This author has written a number of books of his adventures and I will certainly be following him and catching up on what I have been missing. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
Gosh this a fascinating little book, I really did feel as though I was discovering a forgotten manuscript. Translators notes greet you at the start, advising that a complete text from the 11th century has been found and translated using cryptology. Thomas Woodward describes his life from 1066 when he was taken in after a raid and trained to become a spy, through to 1098 when he explains his life and the decisions he has made to his son. James Hutson-Wiley has created a simple diary-like discourse, Thomas describes the world around him, in particular, the trade of goods, including sugar, with clarity. Stuffed full of interesting tidbits I sank into this world and galloped through the pages. The Sugar Merchant surprised me, I thoroughly enjoyed my sojourn to the 11th century and found a fluid, absorbing and worthwhile read.
The Devil’s Apprentice is a fantasy novel written from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old boy who finds himself in hell – literally. It’s an adventure story with a twisty mystery to solve, with some innocent early-teen romance and historical references as well. It’s the first book in The Great Devil War series. The book is very well written and well translated from Danish, with plenty of dark humour. It features impressive world building through vivid imagery, and I enjoyed visualising the author’s clever concept of Hell and its occupants. The Devil’s Apprentice reminded me of the Harry Potter series, as the plot is complex enough to satisfy teenagers and adults (of all ages), yet simple enough to entertain pre-teens. It covers some moralistic themes, including good versus evil, knowing right from wrong and that even the most angelic people can have a dark side, so its suitability will depend on a child’s maturity. As expected, the book focuses mainly on death, with a mention of suicide and punishment/redemption in the afterlife. Some adults may disagree with certain concepts, but the book would provide a good starting point for discussions. I’m not surprised The Devil’s Apprentice is a popular series in Denmark and I can see it potentially doing well in the UK too. I found it highly compelling and raced through it. As soon as I finished, I eagerly looked forward to the next one, which is always a sign of an enjoyable read.
Total madness and a feel of Harry Potter, but for adults this time. Huge cast, a map, street index and comedy I have never come across in a "horror" story before. Set in Yorkshire which I love having lived in West Yorkshire some 20 years ago. So know where the author is coming from. Weird but good characters and well written this author has a great imagination. This is such a romp and oh my goodness this is the third- I urge readers to read all three of these novels and the seaside thrown in as well for good measure. Bizarre but strangely I enjoyed this - hope there is a chance of book 4. I am certainly seeking this author out. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Die of Death is the second in The Great Devil War series and picks up where the first book – The Devil’s Apprentice – ended. Philip isn’t quite as ‘good’ as he was in the first book, as life with the Devil has made its mark – with more than just two tiny bumps on his head. This time, Philip has been brought back to the underworld by Death himself, as someone has stolen the ‘Die of Death’. Yet again, this is a dark and humorous read. It reminds me of the Harry Potter series, with devils, demons and tempters rather than wizards, witches and goblins, and a focus on Hell and the underworlds. I would recommend reading these books in order, even though this one contains some ‘flashback’ summaries of the first book. The plot moves at a fast pace with plenty of action, as Philip and his demon friend, Satina, search for the Die of Death and the villain who stole it. There are references to well-known characters, including Hitler, Judas and Pontius Pilate. I would love to see this on the screen – big or small – as the world building is excellent, bringing Hell ‘to life’, as well as all of its varied occupants. The book covers some difficult themes – right and wrong, heaven versus hell, good versus evil, redemption and punishment, immortality, terminal illness and, of course, life and death. Some of the locations and characters are fairly gruesome, and the detailed descriptions ensured that I could visualise everything in my head. I would suggest that this book is for slightly older (or more mature) teenagers and young adults and not for those of a sensitive nature or who scare easily. Parents of younger teenagers, in particular, may wish to read the book first to check it’s suitable. The Die of Death is a dark combination of fantasy, adventure and mild horror. This series continues to grow and grow – I’m looking forward to the next book.
High-intensity YA fantasy ablaze with magic, conflict and high-stakes hazards. This fiercely-paced fantasy novel centres around fifteen-year-old Phae, whose father is an all-powerful mage, and whose mother is of the Lintari, a band of warrior earth guardians. As such, Phae’s blood had “the potential to make her one of the most powerful beings the old world had ever known”, a fact that sits somewhat uncomfortably with her. She feels “anger at herself, anger at her parents; anger at her mother for not being there; anger at her life. Why couldn’t she just be normal?” Except she isn’t normal, and when her tutor meets an untimely death, Phae feels compelled to leave the Magical Isle to seek safety on the mainland, where much danger and conflict awaits. Throughout, the intensity of Phae’s story journey never lets up and perhaps the impact of some key scenes would benefit from more ebb and flow between the relentlessly high-octane action. Overall, though, this is a gripping read, driven by snappy dialogue and a sense of adventure.
An exciting thriller with a lot of surprises. I wasn’t expecting this crime thriller to be as good as it was, especially taking into account that Robin Driscoll is more well known as being the writer for Mr. Bean. The Unborn, his first novel in the Josie King Detective series, is a relatively short novel and only took me a day to read once I had started it. It is a real page-turner. The title, The Unborn relates to embryos and foeti that are aborted. The crime thriller deals with a religious fanatical group, Nondum Natus, who regard the termination of a pregnancy to be a horrendous sin. Early on in the book, Josie King, the main character, a police detective, fails to shoot someone who is about to kill her father, a police commissioner. This leads her on the path to vengeance and to attempt to solve a case her father had previously been obsessed with, to do with the Nondum Natus. Josie is a strong, determined, fearless character. Sometimes she appears almost a bit too much so to be real. Her character appears to be almost unstoppable. All in all, The Unborn has a fast-paced plot and a multitude of twists and turns to keep the reader on his or her feet. Great book which I would definitely recommend. Rachel Anderson
Well, what a humdinger of a book this turned out to be. A mash-up of dystopian, futuristic fiction and Nordic police thriller, with a dash of the supernatural. It’s set 50 years in the future in Eldisvik, a Scandinavian city where you’re all right if you’re in the Free Zone, but venture outside its borders and you’re in increasing danger (and even the police won’t enter the Double Red Zone without some serious protection). The initial premise of the story is that a Decoy (sort of undercover agents aided by packs of vixens – I know, I know . . . .) has gone rogue and the police, led by Nero Cavello, have to investigate. There’s a second storyline of a young student, Bruno, who is kidnapped by the rogue Decoy who wants to use Bruno’s telepathic abilities. Alongside all this, we have political chicanery, corruption and possible infiltration of the police. Oh, and Nero also has telepathic abilities, just like Bruno. The descriptions of the technological advances felt realistic – just advanced enough from where we are now to feel futuristic, but not unbelievably so. However, I really wanted to know how things had got to be as they are. Why have the police lost control of the outer zones? What’s happened in the rest of the world? There are a few hints of catastrophes elsewhere – the city seems to be a real multi-cultural mix and there are references to lots of people being refugees. It took me a while to really engage with the book – there were too many things going on and I could have done with the characters being fleshed out more; I didn’t feel particularly invested in any of them until quite a way in. However, the characters eventually came to life and once that happened the story fairly hurtled along. The ending was a real cliff-hanger – rather too much so for my taste. Of course, you don’t want all the loose ends neatly tied up, otherwise, why read the rest of the series? But hardly any questions at all were answered. Nevertheless, I’m well and truly hooked. It’s rare that I reach the end of a book shouting “Oh no” as I realise it’s finished. I look forward to my next visit to Eldisvik. Bernadette Scott, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Alphabet of Heart’s Desire is a beautifully written historical fiction novel loosely based on Thomas De Quincy’s early life. English essayist Thomas de Quincy (most famous for “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater”) is the first protagonist that we meet, some years after most of the novel’s narrative takes place. The story is told to us in alternating chapters told by Thomas, Anne and Tuah. Thomas we are familiar with; Anne, is a young girl when we meet her. Forced by life, bad luck and circumstance into a life of prostitution. Tuah, is a young orphaned boy when we meet him. Taken from his home by Dutch slave traders and bought onto a ship bound for the UK. Tuah is sold to the ships captain who takes him under his wing and teaches him English until they arrive in the U.K. Thomas after a troubled early life finds himself on the streets of a London as a young man. He has no idea of how the real world operates having been bought up relatively comfortably. You might ask what connects these characters. Well it’s not at all clear at first, but as the narrative progresses we begin to see how they are unquestionably linked. Thomas falls upon hard times when he arrives in London, abandoned by his family, he is discovered by Anne on the street following an altercation with some men of less than desirable character. They are strangers to each other, of different worlds but drawn together by a need for companionship and laudanum … and that’s where the real story begins. The Alphabet of Heart’s Desire is highly recommended for any historical fiction fan. Vicky-Leigh Sayer, A LoveReaidng Ambassador