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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
An Ode to the NHS. The twisting and turning story of Henry's sciatica treatment. a non-fiction account of both private and public healthcare covering any and all aspects of Henry's illness including being temporarily paralysed, the characters on the wards, spinal surgery and recovery, addiction to pain medication and his treatment by the doctors nurses and physiotherapists throughout. This is a story of hope as well as a letter of gratitude. As someone who has grown up with parents working in the NHS, the work patterns and experiences of the staff were familiar to me. I also found this a very insightful read, it is not only about Henry's diagnosis and treatment, but about how desperately we need the NHS to keep going, and how much the human mind and body can endure. The characters described throughout keep you interested in their treatment as well as Henry's and provide light relief during darker periods of his journey. They act as a balm to the reader as well as the writer while describing the weeks and months of constant pain, worry, doubt and depression that would have otherwise been all-encompassing. A brilliant book full of the ups and downs of a long term and life-changing illness, made even more endearing that 50% of the proceeds go to the charity that supports the NHS hospital so frequently mentioned throughout. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
This is a really superb book, the type of book that you can sit comfortably in a chair in a winter's night and just totally relax with. The Author has written the story in a smooth continuous flow of writing which allows the Reader to follow the story easily without having to backtrack to previously read material to keep the theme of the story in mind. The book itself satisfies many genres and thus will appeal to a wide range of readers. The work includes love, classical background, fear, battles, friendship and so many other areas. The main characters are with the story from beginning to end with a few twists along the way which brings surprise to the reader and also draws the readers attention to a deeper understanding of the story. A classical themed story but not all romance and god's. A good read guaranteed. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
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
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
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
This expansive, engaging pancontinental novel explores patriarchy, race and power against a dazzlingly evoked Ghanaian backdrop. The cross-crossing lives of two characters provide the focus of the story, with Ghana looming large as a vividly-evoked character in its own right. Fifty-something Carlos is a privileged Puerto Rican businessman who returns to Ghana to face his crimes of youth, a murderous misdemeanor that’s haunted his whole life. Liz is a Ghanaian native working in the US, from where she’s been supporting her family and building an orphanage. She returns to her homeland to oversee the construction, and finds herself also having to deal with her family’s complex needs. Both drawn back to Ghana, Liz and Carlos find their lives once again transformed by the country that transformed them so many years before, and by encountering each other. Evocative and smartly-plotted, this fine novel is as driven by its compelling characters as it is by the omnipresence of Ghana’s rich culture. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
Having read about this period in the war and admiring pilots such as Geoffrey Wellum. I was keen to read this. Well researched and based on six days during the famous Battle of Britain where the airmen's life expectancy was actually something in the region of 4 weeks. At that time Europe was crushed by the Nazi and it could have been our turn next but the Battle of Britain played such a pivotal role in this. But as the novel shows this was not just about the airmen themselves women - working in the ops and maps rooms knowing what was happening but struggling to be recognised in their roles. We have Johnnie the pilot and Eleanor in this story and the book alternates around these two main characters. The author portrays this time well and those who have studied this time know, Britain was at the brink and history could have taken a very different turn. Whether the reader is familiar with this period in history or not it makes a good read and highly recommended for those interested in this part of history. The author's notes were fascinating and the reader can learn so much, I look forward to reading more from John Rhodes. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
A well-crafted story, beautiful language, a mystery and a wild cat with a sense of humour. What's not to like about this book? It grabs the reader's attention from the start and holds on to it throughout the story. I also love the information about Wild Cat conservation which appears before the story starts: hopefully this will encourage readers of all ages to take an interest in the conservation of this beautiful animal. I normally clear my downloads after reviewing a book, but I will be keeping this one to reread and I can't wait to read about Catastrophe's next adventure Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading Ambassador
Winner of the Book Excellence Award 2016 for Romance. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book. This is a beautiful book the author has created such a detailed account of relationships and beautiful Sardinia. Children of the Mists is a beautiful story consisting of an interesting plot with lovely characters in love in 19th Century Sardinia. I think that this book would be a great sunbed read or, like today, sitting by the fire warmed by some hot chocolate. I cannot believe I have never come across this author before and I am now seeking her out. Jane Brown, A LoveReading Ambassador
This book is a collection of five short stories, each very different but with central theme of all of them desire and how it manifests itself in different ways. Each story is set in a different location and range in time from pre-second World War to the present day. Although I enjoyed all of the stories, there were a couple that stood out to me and I would have liked these to continue, so I could find out more about the characters and what they did next. Overall, this is a really enjoyable book and is nice and easy to dip in and out of, by reading a story at a time. I would really recommend this book. Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador
I wanted to read his book because I am a sci-fi fan and the concept sounded really interesting. Audra was blinded as a child in a car accident that killed her mother. Her father, Jenson, has spent his life since devoted to finding a cure from Audra's specific type of blindness, with very little success. The latest experiment seems incredibly promising, but after the trials, everything takes a sinister turn. The prologue had me intrigued from the start and I read as fast as I could to find out what happened and how everything with Audra and her father was going to be resolved. I also like the family drama element of the story throughout, the strained relationship between Audra and Jenson and the references back to the accident that made Audra lose her site. This background story helped drive the main action on while making sure the reader didn't forget the main reason Jenson was working on the cure. I liked Audra, she was my favourite character throughout and her reckless but overall good nature kept me interested in the outcome of the story through all of the twists and turns. Some of the plot twists were predictable, but I didn't find that detracted from the story, I read on to work out how they would come to fruition. Darksight has obviously been very well researched. The scientific aspects of the plot were explained in enough detail to seem plausible but didn't take up too much space and overwhelm the rest of the plot. As a sighted person, the descriptions and experiences of being blind also seem very well researched and provided an insight into how the other senses can become heightened to compensate, incorporating with the sci-fi darksight element really well. The early descriptions from Audra as she cycled through the rain were brilliant. The chapters were short and easily digestible, I read this in one day and really enjoyed it throughout. Every time I put my e-reader down I was eager to get back to the story. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
'Death of a Lie' by Peter Harper is an exciting and thought-provoking story of a young woman's quest to find the truth about her family's history. The story begins during WW2, when a Lend-Lease B-25 crashes in a Romanian field and two young children find a battered folder containing encoded pages in the wreckage. Fast forward 50 years and the children have grown up, married and adopted a Romanian boy, Lucian, and a West African girl, Zinsa, the sole survivor of the ruling Dangbo family after a bloody coup in Seroule. These two also grow up, marry and are expecting twins. Lucian rediscovers the folder, forgotten all this time, and, along with his old school friend, Serghei, takes it to their mutual friend, Mario, to see if he can crack the code. Thus begins a tale of murder, intrigue and conspiracy, as we are brought up to the present day when Lucian and Zinsa's daughter, Shani, returns to Romania to meet Serghei and Mario and find out about the parents she never knew. This is a well-crafted thriller, chillingly plausible, putting forward the idea of a worldwide mafia, 'Deep State' operating the most basic of strategies...divide and rule at every level, until a 'New World Order' can be established. I guarantee this book will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long long time! At first, I was a little unsure about what to expect, but I was not disappointed with this book. The author takes the reader on a journey across the vast expanse of Russia but in the form of 'short stories' about what is met whilst travelling. Each story is completely different and yet relevant to form the story as a whole and as such makes for delightful enjoyable reading. The book itself covers many genres and would delight anyone who picks it up. It is a very descriptive book with the author allowing the reader to feel as if they are actually travelling on the journey. A tourist guide it most definitely is not, but a book full of so many emotions, excitement, comedy, fear, loneliness and so forth and by the time the reader has read to the destination of the line, they will be quite impressed with what they have just read. I won't give detailed or short descriptions of the stories within the story of the book as this is a book that the reader needs to read for her/himself in order to appreciate the whole story and also the authors' style of writing which I may add is excellent. All in all an excellent fictional book which guarantees the reader an excellent read. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading Ambassador
First Rhyme Mum is an entertaining journey through pregnancy and early motherhood - it made me laugh and reminisce. There are 40 poems in the book - all are fun, relatable and (mainly) humorous, covering wide-ranging topics that you wouldn’t usually expect to find in poetic form, such as needing a wee, a mother’s ‘baby brain’, the job description of motherhood, night shifts and ‘to-do lists’. The poems contain acute observations of everyday life and are varied and very well written, combining simple words to create powerful imagery. I could sense the emotion behind each poem - the excitement yet worry of the 40 weeks of pregnancy and the exhaustion and elation once baby arrives, all bound together by a mother’s love. I was particularly impressed by how the author fits so much descriptive language into each poem while still ensuring that each one manages to give a sense of rhythm and rhyme (even if this doesn’t always match exactly). It reminded me of some of Pam Ayres’s poems, with its sense of humour and laugh-out-loud moments. The book is easy to dip in and out of - each poem is short enough to slot into a few minutes during a busy day. It’s a lovely gift for new parents to remind them that they’re not alone and that others are going through the same emotional ups and downs. It also has wider-ranging appeal, as it reminded me of my own pregnancy experiences and made me chuckle as I recalled stories of early parenthood (my children are now in their mid to late teens). My only regret is that the book ended too soon, but fortunately there are more books on their way.