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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.
The Ancestor starts off in the middle of the action, I was immediately curious as I was led deeper into the story of Wyatt, his past and how he ended up in the circumstances at the start of the book. As I read I realised that this book has a sci-fi twist that intrigued me further. This book covers two distinct time periods and I like the way that the author uses memory and Wyatt’s diary to flip between the two. There are a lot of twists and turns in the book, and the plot never quite went where I was expecting, leaving me eager to know what was going to happen next. I found I was kept unawares right until the end of the book, which I enjoyed. The Ancestor places a lot of focus on the characters in this book, slowly developing each one while also fleshing out people from the past. It was really easy for me to picture Laner, with it’s small town feel and it’s sometimes flawed occupants. I think that the author subtly builds tension throughout the book to make this a really interesting and unique thriller, while also allowing for details of the gold rush and Alaskan history. I think that this book would appeal to a wide range of readers, both historical fiction and crime/thriller fans alike.
Chloe is a brindle boxer. Socrates, the Devil Dog, is a pekingese, as is Darby who qualified for the title "great dog". Together with Young Pup and Old Vet the author uses these four-legged friends to explore and illustrate the New Testament book of James in an insightful and memorable way. I for one will never look at soft-serve chocolate ice-cream in the same way post Socrates It is a simple but not simplistic read, which engages and educates but doesn't preach! I would recommend this book even if like me you weren't looking for a bible study but are happy to read life stories. The doggy pictures are a joy too. Cath Sell, A LoveReading Ambassador
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, who would want to read a book about a horrendous disease sweeping through the country? In the light of the mistakes and cover-ups surrounding the Coronavirus, who would want to read a medical conspiracy thriller full of lies and deceptions? I hope that the answer is a lot of people because, otherwise, a lot of people are going to miss out on one of the most exciting and gripping debut novels around...'Poison in the Pills' by August Raine. Jack Bright is a researcher for pharmaceutical company Rathbury-Holmes in Manchester, working on finding a cure for the disease affecting a large proportion of the population and commonly referred to as 'The Itch'. Some early research seems to establish a link between the disease and a street drug, known as 'Dose', so the cure hangs on producing something that will purge the system of sufferers of all traces of that drug. Jack has serious doubts about the efficacy of this type of cure but is ignored by the powers that be in his company. The final clinical trial of the cure goes disastrously wrong and seven people die. Jack, determined to get to the truth, starts poking about at work and is in his boss's office late at night when a bomb goes off. He is suspended from his job then framed as a drug dealer. Can things get any worse? Oh yes. Will Jack get to the bottom of what's really going on and who's behind it? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out. This story raises many questions about what means it's acceptable to use to uncover the truth and whose interests the pharmaceutical industry are serving best. A very thought-provoking and unpredictable read and, I hope, not the last featuring Jack Bright. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
'The Winding Road to Portugal' is Louise Ross's companion and comparison study to 'Women Who Walk: How 20 Women from 16 Countries Came to Live in Portugal'. This time 20 men from 11 countries share their stories of when, how and, above all, why they too came to up sticks and relocate to Portugal in particular. This is a fascinating and illuminating work, consisting of the words of the newcomers themselves, with analysis by the psychology trained author, the journalist and author Richard Zimler, who has also taken the winding road and Dr. Nigel Hall, a distinguished psychiatrist. If this all sounds a bit heavy, I assure you it's not. The whole book will stir such a gamut of emotions, that the reader cannot help but be curious about the causes of such upheaval. Though far from being simply down to one reason, for some, language must have been an important factor. Those from Angola or Brazil were already fluent, whilst those from UK, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, Denmark or Germany may have been beguiled by the promise of the Mediterranean climate. Escaping political, economic or social hardship was also cited, as was being an 'accompanying spouse', supporting their partners in their new location. At the end of the day, we work abroad because we can. The free movement of labour in the EU and the rise of the digital workplace, means that, if we have the inclination and the incentive, we can work anywhere. However, the year 2020 brought a whole different scenario. The author decided to recontact her interviewees to see how the pandemic was affecting them and included an add-on to each section with their thoughts. Those working in tourism, such as taxi drivers and owners of hotels or guest houses, were not faring as well as, say, those working for international companies but most were optimistic that the future would be better. We all certainly hope that it won't be worse. The winding road by definition is not straight forward and not everyone interviewed saw Portugal as their final resting place. This study will surely make it's readers think carefully about their own life's journey, which can only be a therapeutic exercise. A very instructive and thought-provoking social observation. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
In 'BEYOND: The Frozen Future' Ema Cory offers us a terrifying version of the future for our planet. Her short science fiction/horror story builds on trends already evident in society today and progresses them in a frightening but thought-provoking way. The writing is crisp and concise, the characterisations clever and original and the use of Biblical sounding titles to the chapters reinforces the apocalyptic feel of the storyline. The year is 2279. After WWIII devastates the world's population, China and North Korea are put on an enforced zero-child regime and the world's essentials- food, water, waste, housing and transport- are placed under the control of a global organisation. Climate change creates millions of refugees, terrorism millions more, who along with the indigenous poor, live largely on the streets, beneath a smothering of smog and constant drone cover. The elite live in climate-controlled luxury, barely venturing outdoors, thanks to a well-developed teleportation system. When or just before their time comes, life expectancy having stalled at 90 thanks to the failure of science to eradicate disease, those who can pay have themselves and their loved ones cryogenically frozen, whether they believe in the system or not. Alison Greshwood is the CEO and majority shareholder of Life Beyond, one of the largest body freezing organisations in the world, based in London. Through her we learn of the history, organisation and weaknesses of the company, the latter eventually culminating in it's demise as the US Threat Protection Committee puts it's secret plan into action. We are left with the promise of a continuation of Alison's story as she puts Code Black into operation and disappears. Can't wait! Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambasador
'The Wynnman and the Crimsons Paths' is Trevor P. Kwain's second adventure set in a Wimbledon that exists only in his imagination. As in his first book, 'The Wynnman and the Black Azalea', the newly arrived Italian baker, Enrico LoTrova, plays amateur sleuth, aided by his friends and neighbours, exposing the shortcomings of the local police and solving clues in the most audacious way. This is an exciting and fast-paced read, Bond-like in it's conception, with characters who are either completely good or bad. The villains are truly evil or mad but at the end of the story we are left wondering whether the good guys are really all they seem to be. There are murders, robberies, explosions, secret tunnels and strange experiments that rock the neighbourhood...never a dull moment! The sentence construction and language used are sometimes distracting but the pure fantasy of the story is compelling and beguiling. As the author writes about a book found during the course of the narrative, there is a 'thin veil..between reality and fantasy'. As at the end of the first book, the arch villain escapes undetected, so we look forward to the third episode of 'The Wynnman' to bring us his further nefarious deeds and hopefully discover what he's really up to and, I'm sure, eventually be brought to justice. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Chernobyl Privileges may seem like an odd title for a novel inspired by the devastating nuclear disaster of the 1980s in Chernobyl. But then, this is by no means an ordinary novel. Set in the present day, Anthony Fahey is lucky to be working at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, where Britain's Trident nuclear weapons are kept. His expertise is valued over his complicated personal life and chequered employment history. Anthony's life begins to unravel, following an incident at the naval base. For obvious reasons, due to the nature of the work, he is unable to talk to his wife about the incident, but their marriage is already rocky following the death of her Father, and Anthony having to behave in a secretive manner is not helping. Anthony also believes that he knows better, and is more concerned about the incident than his superiors, so begins to challenge and defy orders, landing him in hot water on more than one occasion. No matter how much Anthony wants to believe that he is not defined by his past, it is inescapable and influences all he does. Back in 1986 Anatolii was just a child living in Ukraine when the nuclear incident took place in Chernobyl. First hand he witnessed the impact of the fallout on the first responders, including his Father. Anatolii didn't much want to leave Ukraine, but he wasn't given a choice, and was enforced into a new life in the UK, and a new identity 'Anthony Fahey'. Anthony believes that he can make a difference in his profession, and prevent something like Chernobyl happening again, but he does not understand that you cannot act against the government. Several chapters are interspersed with letters from Anatolii/Anthony's sister, and these are where we really get a first-hand view of how those still living in Chernobyl have been affected. This is a very thought-provoking novel, for those on both sides of the nuclear weapon/energy argument, and a highly recommended read. Vicky Leigh Sayer, A LoveReading Ambassador
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
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
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
"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
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
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
Lauren Patterson, an American PhD student, makes a remarkable discovery and accidently finds the diaries of Leonardo da Vinci's assistant. Paulo del Rossi's diaries then lead us through love stories, drama, blackmail, murder and the aftermath of monumental deception. The modern day quest to uncover the historical truths are fantastically interesting. Immersive and intriguing, Paulo del Rossi and Lauren guide us through the Renaissance in Florence to Nazi Germany and into the local Costa coffee shop with ease. We even discover the secret of Mona Lisa's smile and follow a tender love story that spans across the years. A fantastic read. Nikki Telling, 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
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
The Albatross: Contact is the first in a new Sci-Fi series. I loved that this book handles the very real topic of the cost of war on those in the military while presenting it in the guise of an action-packed, alien fighting plot line. In this Sci-Fi plot, when the aliens land, their aim isn’t apocalypse and destruction, but to ask for help in their war against the Forsaken (a very good name for a terrifying enemy race). This book has three different character perspectives which helps to round out the book well. We learn more about Will, his military past and his perception of the alien technology he finds himself surrounded by. We also meet Sarah, another human volunteer and Arthur, who is the leader of the Lumenarian convoy to earth. These different narratives and their interactions offer engaging and comparative insight into alien and human life. I also like the camaraderie built between Arthur and Will, their respective traumas helping them understand each other while also creating a common ground. The book ties together well but leaves plenty of scope for more stories to come. Honestly, as I was reading I was gripped. I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the story only taking useless notes like “I’m a little bit hooked” and, towards the end, “aaahhhhh”. I loved the tension created by the change in perspective, as recent events are recapped from a different set of eyes, all the while continuously moving towards an incredibly climactic final section. I really enjoyed this book and I think it would be a brilliant read for anyone who likes action and/or Sci-Fi epics. I can’t wait to read more. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Innamorata is the autobiographical look at love and relationships by Contessa. From first loves during school through to dating as a single parent and beyond this book is a frank, open and honest story that captured my attention from early on. I admire Contessa and her strength. Her work ethic is something to astonish and I really enjoyed her insight into a variety of career paths. I was lured into this book and watched as a cheerleader as Contessa overcame each obstacle in her way in order to succeed. Her strength of character really shines through in her writing and she is very inspirational. Contessa’s story seemed larger than life, with her friendship with members of a popular rock band and a well-known director. Contessa really has led an eventful life and to me is the perfect candidate to write an autobiography. I smiled to myself when I discovered that we share the same mantra (give me the serenity to accept things I cannot change…) and she has the strength of character I aspire to have. I really enjoyed this book and think that this would happily recommend this book. I especially think that this would be a great book for young women to read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador