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Colony by Benjamin Cross is an action packed Arctic thriller that kicks off with a bang as we witness the death of a Neolithic hunter at the hands/claws of a mysterious creature. When Professor Callum Ross discovers the mummified remains he knows he must find out more, but there are other people out to stop him and something else seems to be watching. I loved the descriptions of the setting and the work put into creating the backstory. Colony reminded me of a Indiana Jones / Nathan Drake plotline, as our archeologist protagonist puts work before his family, and sets out against competition to uncover the truth. I liked the way that the author built tension throughout as well as the brief moments of humour to lighten the atmosphere as I read. There were lots of twists and turns and I was eager to find out what would happen in the end. I would say that Colony is a great book for those who like thrilling adventures with elements of horror, as well as tension filled reads set in the Arctic. An entertaining book.
You've Got Some Nerve is Derryen’s autobiographical account of a traumatic brian injury and her recovery. Dealing openly and honestly about the traumatic events as well as the impact that they have had on her life and outlook, this book is frank without being too intimidating. Shedding much needed light on the impact of brain injuries as well as allowing the reader in to her struggle with PTSD and depression, You’ve Got Some Nerve is an interesting book that offers first hand insight into how to support someone suffering from the long-term effects of an invisible injury. The writing is detailed, evocative and gripped me from the introduction. The intention of this book is to offer some insight into the effects of trauma, and as an account to help those experiencing something similar or know someone who is, feel less alone. There’s sections in the book that include ways that you can offer help and support to someone suffering from the effects of a brain injury, PTSD or depression as well as a ‘wish list for medical providers’ of behaviours that the Derryen found most helpful. I think that this is an interesting read not only for the intended audience of those who have experienced similar trauma to Derryen, but anyone who feels that their life has been taken of course. This book is an honest insight into how drastic life changes can impact you, but also how you can begin to work through them to forge a new path.
Learning to Love is the second in the Make me a Match series. This book follows a different character to the first book in the series, Steeped in Love, so it can be enjoyed as a standalone or out of release date order. This is a lovely relationship story that introduces us to Rebecca Ledgerwood and William Whitney, both teachers but from entirely different backgrounds. Will they manage to overcome their differences and personal challenges in order to be together? You’ll have to read to find that one out for yourself. I enjoy reading relationship stories like this and I was immediately drawn into both Rebecca and William’s lives. I loved the quirky supporting characters, the setting and the fact that the Make me a Match series seems to be introducing us to each of them, I plan on going back to read the first book in the series and I look forward to reading more books in the series. Although this is a lovely relationship story, similar to Carole Matthews and other authors, there are real and difficult issues addressed throughout the plot including poverty, bereavement and eating disorders. The sensitive handling of these subjects made me even more invested in the characters and I hoped throughout that they would get their happy ending. This is a great story and I think the perfect weekend or holiday read.
Merchants of Hate is Jack Jardel's first novel and what an entrance onto the literary scene! Set in the near future at the time of writing, the author has imaginatively and, in some cases prophetically, described events, which could or are about to happen in real life. An unprecedented natural disaster disables all the manmade satellites orbiting the Earth and with them all digital forms of communication. Through the experiences of several people in different countries around the world, we learn of the unfolding chaos that this catastrophic event causes. Written in short sections, the book keeps readers on their toes, with this constant change of voice and location and the emerging pattern of the relationships between the characters. The writer examines some of the most pressing issues of modern times in this chillingly detailed dystopian scenario, especially the impact of fake news and social media on democracy. This is a bold and powerful story, convincingly exposing the vulnerability of the society we have sleepwalked into. The players are frighteningly realistic and their actions, in the light of recent news, not so improbable or farfetched as we might once have thought. A gripping read for anyone who cares about the future of this uncertain world. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
In The Aviculturist a horrific event from Alice’s childhood, secrets, lies and romance all take place in Penwyth House, Cornwall. When Alice’s mother dies, Alice returns to Cornwall and uncovers a web of family secrets that she must unravel in order to find peace with her past and discover the reason for the nightmares she’s had since she was a child. This book is really enjoyable. It is a quick easy read, and well paced. It has everything you need in a good book, a big old gothic house, and a beautiful remote and rugged location. I enjoyed the writing style and felt that the author really knew and loved her characters, as they felt very real, and I just wanted to love them too, and although there were some parts that did seem a bit implausible, all was forgiven as you just want everything to work out well for everyone.
Cassidy is running away from his past on Alabama Chrome, but his ghosts never leave. With little other than his campervan, he doesn’t seem to settle anywhere. But a snowstorm changes all that, bringing Cassidy into contact with Lark, and a community he might be able to feel at home in. With more complications on the way, from an inscrutable new waitress and the arrival of a reality TV host with a full crew in tow to shoot a new TV show, will Cassidy be able to share his truth, or will he return to the road? A story that will bring your emotions to the front but in an enjoyable way. Alabama Chrome is written from the first person perspective of Cassidy; he shares the life of a small, close-knit community, featuring family bonds, the looming presence of domestic violence as well as a critique on reality TV. I was intrigued by the story throughout and I found the characters to be very well-rounded, with each past event revealed adding nuance and believability to the story. The author definitely has a detailed knowledge of people, their quirks, traits and behaviours and is good at crafting believable characters that evoke sympathy and empathy.
Crossed-Dressed to Kill is an incredibly interesting book filled with instances from the 17th century onwards of women who dressed as men in order to go to war. Some of the names of these women were known to me, Anne Bonny the 18th century Pirate for one, however this book gave me more insight into their history, and there were many other women who I was introduced to for the first time. This is a fascinating side of history with the author’s detailed research shining a spotlight on the women who defied their gender roles in order to participate in military action. The account of each woman is detailed, although brief, this means you could happily flick through the pages, reading about a couple of brave women at a time, or read cover to cover. At the end of each account there is a concluding summary, which not only rounds our each story but highlights some of the patriarchal views of the time. Some of these stories are more sad than others, but all are incredibly interesting with plenty of references included at the end of the book to allow for personal research and further reading. I never enjoyed History at school, but as an adult I love learning about the past and I think that stories like these should be shared in schools, at the very least to demonstrate that the old-fashioned notion of the “traditional” role of women, didn’t work even at the height of it’s popularity.
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.
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.
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
South Korea: The Price of Efficiency and Success is written by Dr John Gonzalez and Young Lee. It is a fascinating insight into how Korean society operates. But what makes it more interesting is it is from a Westerner point of view in Korea. Therefore you get a detailed take from Dr John Gonzalez, who is American but has become a local, living in Korea for 5 years. Dr John Gonzalez can make comparisons between Western & Eastern ideology as well as give his perspective as a foreigner. I can tell from the first couple of pages that he is intrigued by the Korean fast technology and their culture. In Dr John Gonzalez own words, ”As a resident, I was about to delve into the fabric of their society and learn the nuances of Korean human behavior, both subtle and otherwise. I was about to have the privilege of looking at the underbelly of the country from within it.” I learnt a lot of fascinating things about the Korea culture that in some parts are similar to China who believe in the collective, individuals who sacrifice their time; parents constantly working to provide a better future for their children, employees working long hours for the benefit of the company and Korea has military conscription for young men. Also with all this knowledge I can now understand why some of the characters in some Korean Drama behave the way they do and the storylines. Maisie Hoang, A LoveReading Ambassador
'46% Better Than Dave' is Alastair Puddick's third novel. Although it has been shortlisted for a prize for comic fiction in this far from comedic year, it contains a very serious message about mental health. It may be human nature to compare ourselves to others at times but this book emphasises the importance of keeping things in perspective and not losing sight of what really matters. It will make readers laugh in it's absurdity but also cringe when it reminds us of similar comparisons we may have made. Dave Brookman has no complaints about his life...happily married to a wonderful wife, two great kids, a nice house and a job he's good at. That is, until a new neighbour moves in next door. The newcomer, also called Dave Brookman, is the same age, from the same town and in the same line of work but there the similarities end and his advantages, both real and assumed, begin to prey on Original Dave's mind until what starts as friendly rivalry becomes something infinitely more sinister...obsessive jealousy. The lengths he goes to in his fear and insecurity about New Dave being 46% better than him are destructive, both to him and his family and also his career. Will he come to his senses in time to salvage his life and learn to appreciate the richness of his own existence? Though the main character comes across as immature and his own worst enemy, he is redeemed by the humour and the wit of the writing. I shall certainly be looking out for the author's two previous novels. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Firstly I’d like to say I love the play on words with this title. This Soul’d World is presented as a new interpretation on old practices, in terms of looking both outwards and inwards to answer philosophical/ spiritual questions about life with a sci-fi twist. A science fiction adventure that crosses dimensions and themes. I liked that this book uses science fiction tropes to explore philosophical questions. The chapters are short and easy to read, and you find yourself reading “just one more” to progress further in the story. Interestingly, the main character of this story is Callison Trebla, a man about to retire, not a character at the start of a career embarking on an adventure. I liked this characterisation, I think it adds a sense of honest reflection to the more spiritual themes in this book. I was drawn in to this story early on and Callison early on and I was interested to see how the story progressed and in which ways the science fiction elements would be incorporated. I think that this book has a bit of something for everyone, there’s science fiction, spirituality and exploration into people and behaviour with a family that has endured a tragedy. As well as an entertaining story with endearing characters, this is a thought-provoking read that I would recommend for anyone looking for a multi-dimensional book.
Rich in romance and peril, this explores the intersection of art, gender and politics in the turbulent 1930s, from Germany, Austria and Italy, to the United States. Second in a trilogy, Roma Calatayud-Stocks’s A Symphony of Rivals is suffused in the author’s passion for music, and her belief in the powerful persistence of art. The novel traverses 1930’s Germany, Austria, Italy and the United States as it tells the tale of Alejandra Morrison, a woman who aspires to become a symphony conductor in a man’s world, at a time when culture is increasingly coming under the crippling, censoring grip of Nazism. With a keen eye for detail and spritely dialogue, the author is clearly immersed in her subject as we follow Alejandra’s determined journey, first training with celebrated conductors in Berlin, later attracting the unwelcome attention of a high-ranking German officer. At times, this has the page-turning pace and drama of a literary thriller, replete with terrifying peril as Alejandra must make agonising, life-changing decisions, and domestic strife playing out alongside tangled political troubles. Musicophiles will no doubt appreciate the appendix that details works to accompany each chapter, among them Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, Hubfeld’s As Time Goes By, and Verdi’s Nabucco. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
The scene is set immediately when the reader finds themselves on Everest, hearing accounts of an historic expedition. Strange Karma centres around two jewels found during this expedition and the secrets that are connected to them. The narrative follows the events of the past and modern day, as Cynthia Graham tries to learn more about the mysterious and dramatic events that took place on her great grandfather’s trip in 1924. I loved the description of the settings, I love being in the mountains myself and the imagery used drew me right into the story from the outset. The locations and details of the expeditions I think give this book appeal for readers of adventures. Amongst the beautiful and harsh backdrop the suspense builds as Cynthia and her guide Dorje try to solve the mysteries she’s uncovered. I like how the story developed, with tension weaved into the plot. Strange Karma reminded me a bit of The Moonstone, that idea of the mystery being centred around a cursed stone. I also felt that there was a classical feel to the writing throughout and I think that helped balance the events of the past and the present throughout the book. Overall I really enjoyed this story and I think that it is a great one for mystery fans.
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
Pegasus Falling is part one of an epic and heroic story jam-packed with emotion and some light-hearted moments along the way. There is a foreword at the start of this book by William Thomas’ grandchild which is well worth a read before you embark on this tale, as it tells of a family history as endearing as the story itself. This historical fiction is filled with well formed characters that are likeable despite their flaws. Captain Sammy Parker of the British Parachute regiment is sent with his platoon into an unwinnable battle in September 1944. Despite fighting bravely, they are captured and transported across Germany. Sammy’s rash actions lead to him being separated from his men and sent to a concentration camp. This story not only covers the horrors of WWII but also the human aspect of how people react to war and the problems and obstacles that remained after the war is over. I think this look at the challenges left at the end of the war was new to me and I found it a very interesting perspective. The idea that the end of the fighting isn’t the end of the troubles is not something I’ve seen developed in WWII fiction. I enjoyed seeing the relationships between Sammy, Naomi and Lesley develop and I am looking forward to finding out what happens in the next volumes. All in all I think that Pegasus Falling is an example of brilliant storytelling and I would recommend it to fans of historical fiction.
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
In 'New Beginnings' Victoria Day-Joel chronicles some of the more important recent events in her life in verse. From finally meeting her 'man of the earth, mind of the universe' to looking for her 'home in the sun.....my new beginning' the poems describe the development of her relationship and the processes in her decision to move abroad in intimate and relatable detail. Each individual poem is followed by an eloquent explanation of the circumstances that gave rise to it. I really enjoyed the honesty and beauty of these verses and their imagery and I think readers will be left hoping that she successfully makes the move to Spain in the search for her spiritual home. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
'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
Reckless Discernment is a sleuth mystery with lots of twists along the way. Starting out a little in the middle of things we are introduced quickly to both Andrew and Elizabeth as well as the case of a bar patron’s girlfriend who seems to have disappeared suddenly and without a trace. The initial twist is detailed in the synopsis of this book, but there are more complications and revelations to come for Andrew and Elizabeth as they are dragged back into their investigations. I did find that this started rather suddenly and I had to clamber to get up to speed with the narrative and the characters, but once I'd worked out what was happening I was interested in the plot and I wanted to know where it was going. I thought that the characters were well drawn and I liked that their backstories were filled in in a way that complimented the narrative. I found Andrew‘s humour to be entertaining, he was witty and sarcastic and his quips made me smile. I found Reckless Discernment to be an enjoyable book that I would recommend to crime fiction, mystery and sleuth fans. I think it is a clever and entertaining read that will leave you pondering all of the details until the climax.
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
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
Available on Kindle I love reading about ‘off the beaten track’ places that are not on the main tourist trails. This fascinating book did not disappoint. The author’s style of writing so vividly depicts the places he visits that you really do feel immersed in West Africa. I particularly liked the accounts of interactions with the locals. It must have taken a lot of courage to do such a trip solo but the author clearly has the ability to interact positively with all sorts of people. I knew very little about these countries and now that I know more I would like to visit them, thanks to this fascinating book. Susan Wallace, A LoveReading Ambassador
Loss, recovery and pervasive secrets from the past - this engrossing saga tells the page-turning tale of an unforgettable Jamaican woman from WW1 to 1950. From the author of White Feathers, Susan Lanigan’s Lucia’s War is an absorbing, twisting, historical saga about the memorable Lucia Percival who came to Britain from Jamaica and worked as a nurse during WW1 before becoming a celebrated opera singer. Lucia’s lively, sharp-witted narrative undulates and unfolds at spellbinding speed - coloratura style, to use an operatic term - as she relates her story to a music critic as she’s set to give her last performance in 1950. It’s impossible not to feel invested in Lucia’s life as the tale darts back and forth from her working in the Voluntary Aid Detachment in France in 1916, to her striving to live as a musician in London on returning from war, to her later trials, all the while living in the tight grasp of her past. Recalling her father’s words towards the end of the novel, Lucia notes, “The trouble with you, Lucia, is that you can do anything.’ Turned out my father was right, just not in the way he meant. I was capable of doing anything.” This facet of her character chimes throughout the novel, as does her connection to the gruff Scottish surgeon she encountered in France: “You come all the way from the West Indies to England on your own…I’ve never met anyone like you in all my damn life.” These words ring true, for Lucia is a one-of-a-kind woman, driven by a longing to mother the son who was taken from her, a longing that sees her agree to a plan concocted by old Lillian (“The Witch”), a woman similarly scarred by loss, and damaged by war. Revealing the contribution Caribbean commonwealth citizens made to Britain during WWI, and touching on the Spanish flu epidemic, at its heart this is the powerful story of a black woman in a white man’s world; a personal account of the ravages of war; the story of a woman torn. In Lucia’s words, “The two parts of me – musician versus mother, public versus private – were separating out so rapidly and so completely there seemed to be no way of reconciling the two.” While I wondered what impact the novel might have if it followed a strict chronological structure, it’s gripping stuff, and the final twist is likely to catch readers off-guard, hungry to know how the next acts of Lucia’s extraordinary life play out. A Piece of Passion from the Publisher... Susan Lanigan and I worked together on her first novel White Feathers, and the glorious Lucia Pervical stole every scene she appeared in. It was clear that she needed her own book. When Susan approached me to work on Lucia's War, I was honoured to work with her again and to be one of the first to find out What Lucia Did Next. Susan's such a passionate author – personally, politically and poetically – who infuses her characters and the world they inhabit with a rich vivid life. I learned so much about Black British culture and history from between the wars and fell in love with Lucia's lyricism and her resilience. Technically, the novel is a tour de force of non-linear narrative by a writer skilled at her craft: the various strands of Lucia’s past are deftly woven together like the baby’s blanket she carries with her everywhere. I bawled each one of the three times I read it through from beginning to end. Which is a professional quality-control test we editors sometimes do.
I Am The Sand is an intense and graphic psychological thriller with a unique perspective. The plotline pivots around the abduction of Chloe Thomas, while she was on her way home from school. From the reader’s distanced viewpoint we are not only given access to the investigation and Chloe’s fight to survive her capture and endure abusive treatment, we are also able to follow the captor and learn more about his public perception. From this outside perspective, we are also able to enjoy the author’s skill at characterisation, with vital side characters coming to the forefront of story to add an extra twist. This book is incredibly tense and there were times where my heart was racing for Chloe and I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough, at certain points shouting in frustration as hope ebbs away. I also think that the author handles the topic of mental illness well in this book. I am usually hesitant when mental health is incorporated almost as an explanation of a villain’s behaviour, however I appreciated the work carried out by the author to present these themes in a different light, through Sarah’s perspective as well as providing more detail of an aftermath towards the end of the book. I thought I Am the Sand was a highly gripping read and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a page-turning psychological thriller.