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I absolutely loved this book by Sandy Gerber. I've read a few books about effective communication, and attended a few courses through the workplace, as this is something I am really interested in - the different ways we communicate, and how we can understand this to improve our relationships in all areas of our lives. It isn't just about the workplace! Sandy Gerber has a clear voice, and was able to articulate the different ways we communicate in simple, easy to understand language, with relatable examples to help our understanding. I found doing the quiz at the back really fun, and helped me to learn even more about my communication style and blocks. I honestly think everyone would benefit from reading this book, and have already recommended it to a few of my friends. Lucy Caruana, A LoveReading Ambassador
Luxury and debauchery leads to a frantic quest to save a soul in this historical fantasy. The opening to ‘Diary of a Heretic’ by Ross Stein immediately made me inquisitive. The strange and stealth-like actions of the characters and the impression of urgency, the appearance of a figure in a mirror raises questions as we are sent back in time to discover how Al Valentine ended up standing in front of that mirror in Damascus. When Etienne appears in a stupor at the door of Al Valentine’s shop the cogs are set in motion for Al to discover a diary detailing Etienne’s past and setting him on the path to help Etienne reclaim his soul from a demon. The plot, explained simply like that may sound far-fetched, but there’s plenty of nuance and body throughout the narrative so that the fantasy elements blend in seamlessly. As a reader I saw the tortured shell Etienne has become while hearing about the exploits, loves and losses to get him there. I grew to admire the courage of the character that, despite his struggles, faced the challenge to take back the soul he sold. As pieces of the puzzle and the path to achieving such a feat are unravelled, I marvelled at the events of that first chance encounter which brought Etienne to Al, the best placed person to help him. Perhaps it was divine intervention? ‘Diary of a Heretic’ is a richly detailed story. I felt as though I walked the streets of Paris with them, and gazed upon the same pieces of art. This is a story of love and redemption and I think it would appeal to other historical fantasy fans.
‘Infernal Relations’ is a traditional comedy, based around the Lockwood Institute which is a finishing school with a cast of vibrant characters. It took me a moment to get to grips with the writing style, but as I read I uncovered the humour as the characters confused their Shakespearean plays and eponymous lead characters, (on and off stage). As with the tale of Shakespeare’s Danish prince, I found Infernal Relations to be a play-within-a-play of sorts. While the Lockwood Institute’s performance forms the background tapestry of the narrative, the characters and action throughout form their own play, equally dramatic, and filled with miscommunication, confusion and calamity, reminding me of The Play That Goes Wrong in parts. I enjoyed reading this story and I also think that this would make a great piece of drama too. I found Monty’s eccentricities and propensity to amateur apothecary amusing, and the unwitting subject of most of the events throughout the story, Spencer, an endearing character. I’m unsure of when this book is set, but I would liken it in setting and tone to something like ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. Although this is a short book, I found it to be quite dense and I would recommend that this is a book to ponder and work through slowly to ensure you don't miss any nuance or detail that could derail your understanding or lead you to miss out on the humour of the story. Amusing and light in tone throughout, I think that ‘Infernal Relations’ is an intricate and well written book that is filled with the atmosphere of the theatre, and a great story for those missing going to plays at the moment. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to other literary fiction fans. Charlotte Walker, A LoveRedaing Ambassador
‘Shapeless Summers’ by Hayden Thompson depicts a nomadic middle-aged William Greenwood on a journey of self-discovery. Unlucky in love and seemingly always missing the boat when it comes to lasting long term relationships, the former sea captain travels to the Pacific as a data analyst, finding peace and self-understanding amongst the beautiful islands and its people but not the family and home life he yearns for. This is a character driven story that maintains hope throughout. Despite missed chances and failed relationships, William still works to regain his happiness following his divorce and look for someone to share his future with. Even as everyone else around him appears to forge ahead and leave him in their wake, with new families and children, Wiliam remains focused on finding contentment in his own way. I found William’s character to be endearing, prone to missed opportunities in his personal life but seemingly not one to wallow despite the pain and loss. This is an interesting character focused story about one man’s journey of self discovery and a search for a sense of home that takes him around the world. With beautiful and vibrant settings, displayed for the reader in photographs throughout the book, this first-person narrative is a deeply personal and personable story filled with infectious optimism and hope.
When an old friend appears on Emily Caine’s doorstep one night, her quiet world is about to change forever. ‘Love, Sex & Murder Shows’ by Kelly Banks is a heady and sultry mix of crime fiction, thriller and romance. The countless hours spent in front of detective and true crime shows prepare Emily well for the events that unfold after Callie, an old friend from school, appears on her doorstep one Friday evening. Having left her gangster husband, Callie and Emily embark on a brief and fiery affair, an awakening for Emily that leads to her seeing the onscreen violence she’s familiar with, enter into her reality. The book gradually builds in tension, and Emily’s character becomes darker and more sinister as the story goes on. She claims at the beginning she is a “slave to her emotions” but by the end of the book I noticed the “disconnect” she was so fascinated by in the serial killers she watched. This was an interesting and certainly entertaining book, with action and tension of all kinds to keep you turning the page. The fallen angel referenced in the synopsis is reflected in the structure of the story, with Emily’s relationship with Callie being the catalyst to her falling into a darker world with the personality to match. 'Love, Sex & Murder Shows' is an entertaining read full of thrills and twists that you may not expect with an additional adult edge.
The mental toll of war is explored in this historical fiction story. ‘Sailor’s Heart’ by Martin Campbell follows three naval soldiers, who’s experience of WWII leads them to require treatment at the HMS Standard. The author takes their time introducing up to each of the characters, how they came to be in the Navy during the war and the experiences which lead to them requiring medical treatment. We see the human and mental health toll of the war and the brutal, almost barbaric treatment options available to psychiatrists then. My heart went out to the characters as they reached their breaking points and the treatment they received. Using locations and details that are based on historical and naval records, I thought that the author managed to interweave the fictional tales of these three characters seamlessly. This is a story of how the war impacted individuals, as opposed to being overshadowed or glossed over with victory in a more politically abstract sense. In turns heart-breaking and hopeful, I rooted for Marco, Duncan and Clarence to find some sort of peace as I read. ‘Sailor’s Heart’ is a character-driven and thought-provoking look into the treatment of psychiatric injury as well as a story of courage. I think this would appeal to readers of wartime fiction.
‘The Organisation Leaves No Traces’ by John Stewart is a collection of 6 crime fiction short stories with an interesting activist twist. Each story centres around some form of noise pollution, inspired by the author’s background, that is left unresolved by the legitimate channels. In desperation, each character finds themselves ensnared by The Organisation, an unscrupulous group that leaves no trace yet offers to step in and handle the issues in exchange for having their own criminal ends met. This collection could hypothetically be read as 6 individual stories, however I’m not sure they would have much of an impact if they were to be read as standalones, especially the final story, which is only one chapter, a couple of pages long, and to me acted as a definite conclusion to the overall plot. You see some of the same characters, in slightly different guises throughout each narrative, and I think it would take reading the book from start to finish to appreciate the entire story arc. An interesting twist on a criminal underworld story. Potentially everyone has experienced disruptive noise that has left them wishing a grim demise on the cause of the noise. Described in the book as “the forgotten pollutant” the reader discovers just how far these characters will go to find a solution to their own struggles. ‘The Organisation Leaves No Traces’ may even leave you asking what you’d be willing to do to put a stop to the noise. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Kickass Couple 7 Secrets to Transform Your Relationship is written by Dr. Gloria Lee, a clinical psychologist. This book will be beneficial to all couples, no matter their ages or stage of the relationship. Dr. Lee aims to empower and support couples. Single people will also benefit from this information, so they can apply it when they are in a relationship. Dr. Lee explains that by understanding our own attachment styles/needs and those of our romantic partner; we can create an unbreakable, fulfilling partnership. She uses three sources of information: research, her own childhood experiences, and the insights gained from her clinical work with couples. This is a concise book, consisting of nine chapters. She begins by defining what a “kickass” couple is. She then explains how the quality of our relationships with our primary caregivers (our childhood attachment template) affect our beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about relationships. It also affects our reactions and behaviour with partners. She discusses triggers, which are unresolved childhood wounds/needs. When couples are aware of their partner’s attachment styles, they can help each other move towards secure attachment and a more fulfilling relationship. She presents us with real-life stories from couples and stories from her own experiences in her childhood and marriage. She also gives tips on improving communication. She explains all the relevant theories logically. This book is helpful and easy to understand. Furthermore, I found it optimistic and encouraging. I highly recommend it. Susan Gibbs, A LoveReading Ambassador
Adventures and challenges of a life at sea, ‘Come Sail With Me’ by Wendy Leo-Smith describes the moment the author accepts an opportunity to sail a small racing yacht to Brazil from Gran Canaria. Life onboard and its challenges are described as well as the relationship with Rory, the ship’s owner and only other crew. This is an interesting read for armchair travellers and sailing aficionados, the author describes the trials and tribulations of sailing, the myriad of things that break, the temperamental weather and the vital hard graft as well as the moments of peace, stunning experiences of nature and far flung destinations. The author manages to maintain the diary style format when creating ‘Come Sail With Me’ and I found this writing style and format easy to enjoy while it also clearly sets out how much time has passed. Having read about this experience from a different perspective in ‘Jabula’ by Rory Leo-Smith, I found that ‘Come Sail With Me’ went into more detail about the day-to-day life aboard the Zingara. The entertaining trials in order to sort out the laundry, Bella, Zingara’s feline mascot, the Rio carnival and the ventures to find Sloths are just some of the details that I think help this book to appeal to a broader audience interested in travel. There’s a relatable tone to ‘Come Sail With Me’ and I found this a very well-rounded account that I think fans of travel as well as fans of sailing would enjoy. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Exciting, intriguing and gripping, this beautifully written book captures the reader and their imagination from the outset. The descriptions of characters, events and settings enables you to fully visualise and identify with them. Many complex issues are referenced - adoption, fostering, broken families, death, birth, homelessness, drugs, DNA experiments, genetics, technology - together with warnings of potential outcomes. A worrying glimpse into the future or a frightening observation of today? A book that will appeal to adults and teenagers which will be remembered long after the reader turns the last page. Jill Barton, A LoveReading Ambassador
Wings and Windows by Keishi Ando is an endearing story that brings three lost souls together. Kyle, a glazier, has grown used to a solitary existence after a number of traumas in his earlier years. At his workshop he is often visited by Mia, a 17-year-old who has recently lost her mother and is being bullied at school and is desperate for escape. Kyle’s workshop is overlooked by Emilia’s house. Emilia is isolated, with a manipulative partner in an unhappy marriage. The three characters are joined together by the mysterious and magical Angel, who seems sent to bring all three characters closer to happiness, but will they be able to do what’s needed in order to be free? We gradually learn more and more about each of the characters, the reasons for Kyle’s solitude, the risks Mia is willing to take to escape, the restrictions placed on Emilia by her partner to keep her isolated. There’s ups and downs throughout the storyline. I enjoyed the euphoric “girls trip” shared by Angel, Emilia and Mia as they find kinship in each other. With some slight supernatural elements, Wings and Windows is a lovely, bittersweet story and my takeaway from it is it’s never too late to try to change your life. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Fragmented Souls’ by Kasha Ross is a dystopian YA fantasy story set in a brutal world that almost mixes The Hunger Games and Fight Club. A natural disaster, the emittance of a gas only deadly to humans, decimates the population. Now, those who remain live in dark times, where the main leaders impose weekly fights between gangs of the poverty ridden populace. Told from the perspective of Harley, the main character and leader of her young gang, and Jimmy, her best friend, the reader sees the tyrannical “Big Three” threaten Harley and those she loves. As the plot escalates, Harley and Jimmy get closer and he and all of her friends may have to risk everything to save Harley’s younger brother. A motley crew of pick-pockets, fighters, healers and more, each of the characters have their own quirks and talents, with distinct personalities to get to know, to add lighter moments, and to help the gang as they try to track down Harley’s brother J. The prologue shows the start of this tyrannical and violent world, and intrigued me immediately. I was curious to figure out exactly how the characters in the prologue are connected to the teens in the rest of the story. The incorporation of the supernatural with Harley’s unique characteristics is subtle throughout the book, I enjoyed this additional element and found that it was interwoven in a way that complimented the rest of the plot. As perhaps might be expected, there’s a love triangle theme that plays out as the gang work to find J. which I thought provided another facet to the story and allowed for softer moments amongst the violence of the setting and the action. ‘Fragmented Souls’ came to a dramatic conclusion and left me with a few questions and eager to know when I might be able to discover the answers. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Philosophising over the many different facets of wisdom. ‘Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought’ by Jason A. Merchey is a look into the idea that wisdom in its many forms is needed to achieve ultimate contentment and satisfaction in life, yet seems to be the one thing that's lacking most from society. Although the author’s main focus and context is in America - it’s people, government and actions (by this I mean the author relates his ideas back to Trump, how America handled the COVID-19 pandemic etc.), the broad scope of ideas throughout this book could be applicable to anyone reading. Each chapter focuses on it’s own area of wisdom including: altruism, emotional regulation, critical thinking, empathy, self-discipline and open mindedness. I liked the layout of this book and that you can read from cover to cover or skip to the sections you have more of an interest in exploring. At the end of each section you can also find that the author has shared an additional “inspirational array of thoughts, beliefs, and quotations from many individuals throughout the ages”. A multifaceted and detailed book that has been well-researched and put together in a way that is clear and easy to understand. ‘Wisdom’ is a book for those with an interest in sociology and philosophy as well as self-improvement. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Discover the world of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ from an entirely new perspective. ‘Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation’ by Alice McVeigh is the second Austen adaptation undertaken byMcVeigh and it is an entertaining tale that follows Harriet Smith and Jane Fairfax, allowing them to take the spotlight from the matchmaking Emma Woodhouse. I found the concept of this book really interesting. I am familiar with the story of ‘Emma’ but I enjoyed ‘Harriet’ as the story focuses on the keenly intelligent portrayal of Harriet, and the open and honest nature of Jane Fairfax to Emma’s slightly more superior character. This book really is ‘Emma’ without too much Emma. Written in a style to emulate Austen, with all the drama, dances and society that you would come to expect from the classics this is certainly a book that Austen fans will enjoy. It is a regency tale of matchmaking and ambitions for a better life and situation as in this retelling Harriet sets out to become the naive protege to Emma we see in the original in order to secure herself a promising marriage that will take her from Highbury closer to the bustle and excitements of the cities like Bath and London. With revelations and declarations of marriage abound, this is an entertaining twist on a classic tale that will be perfect for fans of Austen and historical and regency romance. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
An autobiographical narrative with plenty of highs and lows. ‘Roger the Boxer: I am just passing through’ by Roger Canon is an open and honest, no holds barred, no nonsense reflection by the author on his life. Filled with colourful characters and told by someone who was a part of a colourful crowd, this is Roger the Boxer’s story. There are elements of self reflection throughout and although truthfully describing the scrapes and predicaments he finds himself in over the years I liked that the author managed to maintain a more neutral tone - neither glorifying nor excessively condemning his past. Running through his early life, his time in the boxing ring and on the rugby pitch, his tendencies towards violence and use of cocaine, his prison sentence and how he steadily turned his life around and built a successful business. Throughout, Canon portrays himself in a way that's relatable - he’s a human, who has made a lot of mistakes, but has hopefully managed to learn from them and worked on healing their root causes. ‘Roger the Boxer: I am just passing through’ is an interesting read, the life and times of a working class Cockney battled through in ‘a mostly catastrophic manner’. This book delivered insight into a world and perspective I would not have known previously, from the obvious to the author’s seemingly straightforward experience of acquiring his first mortgage. I think that this is an illuminating read for fans of autobiographies. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Jennie Segar is a mother who has worked as a teacher, tutor, nanny, and governess all over the world. She found it rewarding to nurture young minds. Maximise Your Child’s Performance is the result of her wanting to share this knowledge. It is an interesting and helpful resource. The book is compact and comprehensive and covers several topics. It is filled with practical advice gained from Segar’s own experiences and research. Segar has taken all the common sense information we already know to be beneficial for children’s development, added other relevant information, and put it together in one impactful book. Segar gets straight to the point and reminds caregivers to give consequences in steps and to try to find a way to say “yes” to some part of a request rather than “no” to everything. She briefly discusses educational toys, the usefulness of Karate and Yoga, and the advantages of learning a musical instrument. She also mentions the importance of sharing stories and being creative, the importance of free time, organised activities, and free play. She stresses the importance of good nutrition and good quality sleep. Segar also includes a chapter on technology and its impact and the benefits of animals/pets. There also is an addendum at the back of the book with sentence starters that can be used for creative writing with middle school students. I recommend this book to all carers of young children and anyone interested in maximizing the potential of young minds. Susan Gibbs, A LoveReading Ambassador
We Shouldn’t be Here by DK Sachs is a compelling book. The plot is intriguing. The author writes in a descriptive, entertaining way. Two travellers find themselves on Earth, having travelled back in time to the 1920s after an explosion. The male is badly injured and is found and taken to a convent, where he will be nursed back to health. The female is arrested by the police. Things take a turn for the worse, and several policemen die and the female flees. She tries to search for the male traveller. The advantages the travellers possess are their remarkable suits and their ability to read the minds of those they meet. Even though the world they come from seems far superior and near-perfect compared to where they now find themselves, they are both captivated by the freedom and creativity in the 1920s. My favourite part of the book was the relationship between Detective Inspector Hadleigh and his driver and assistant, Betts. The inspector is assigned to investigate the police deaths. Their partnership and camaraderie are touching. There are a few twists in the plot, especially regarding the female character, whom we first think is ruthless, but there seems to be more to her character. This is an unusual and thought-provoking story. Susan Gibbs, A LoveReading Ambassador
This book examines films which depict various apocalyptic and disaster scenarios, ranging from alien and zombie invasion to meteorites, tsunamis and the effect of a polar winter. Reading this in 2022, where a virus has raged for a few years and there is a current refugee crisis caused by war, with the ensuing loss of WiFi and shortage of water, as well as a very real nuclear threat, it is all too recognisable. What this book does is examine these scenarios from a British perspective “What would James Bond do?” Sadly, although he has been there to save the day since 1962 I am not sure even he could stay calm in some of these crises. Each film is explained and rated by the survival likelihood, as well as how it would play out if set in the UK. It is clear that the writer praises ‘Mad Max -Fury Road’ as the best of its genre and it is also patently clear that I need to sell my home in Brighton and move to John O’Groats pretty fast. Carina Barnett, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘You Only Live Thrice Perspective is a Superpower’ by Karl Perry is the author’s account of undergoing procedures to attempt to correct atrial fibrillation, followed by surviving a cardiac arrest and the heart bypass that followed. Having a close relative experience a heart attack around a year ago, I could relate to and understand the experiences and thoughts that the author describes throughout the book as well as some of the procedures described. I can relate most to witnessing the change in perspective, the letting go of the little stressors (for the most part) and a shift in focus towards the bigger picture. There’s plenty of irreverence and humour at the different awkward situations experienced during his hospital stay alongside the difficulty and worry. I found Chapter 13 and the account of Perry’s cardiac arrest written by his wife to be particularly poignant and emotive. Although the author’s heart issues and recovery from them are the main focus of this book, the author also goes on to include the loss of his mother and the closing of his business as part of this memoir. The writing throughout is open, reflective and despite dealing with loss, pain and trauma has an uplifting tone. The author’s intention to grow from these negative life events and the milestones and achievements that the author has managed to achieve since his cardiac arrest are truly inspiring and demonstrates the power of changing his perspective. This really is an encouraging read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Set in German occupied Rome, ‘Shadow Song’ by Anita Morrish follows some of the city’s inhabitants as they build friendships, fall in love and do everything they can to do what’s right and stay alive. This historical fiction tale is a tapestry that weaves many threads. We learn about Francesca, the art student who becomes enamoured by a singer and finds work at the opera house, as well as a way that she can support the resistance. We also meet Carlo, an army doctor returning to Rome after avoiding arrest and still of use to Allied Intelligence. I worked my way through the book curious to know what would connect each of the characters. The story manages to explore the mundane - the new relationships and day to day working life of the characters, while also including the threat from the German Police, the poverty of rationing and the uncertainty and threat of possible surveillance but hope for the future. I liked that so much context was provided throughout the novel, but it didn’t detract from the characters’ stories at any time. A detailed plot filled with lots of well-drawn characters, each with their own unique motives and goals, which are revealed as you move through the story. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A detailed exploration into the dramatic removal of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn in 2019. ‘Broken Alliances Inside the Rise and Fall of a Global Automotive Empire’ by Carlos Ghosn, Philippe Ries provides an incredibly detailed insight into the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and the events which led to Ghosn becoming the most famous fugitive on the planet when her fled house arrest in Japan. I was previously vaguely aware of Carlos Ghosn, but the full details of this scandal and shock-filled story had passed me by. I found this book to be incredibly well researched and laid out in a way that someone less familiar with the story could follow. The personal insight from Carlos Ghosn added an extra dimension to the clear and comprehensive context and narrative. The mix of business, industry, politics and national identity is a heady one, with lots of parts in play and potential for pitfalls throughout this Franco-japanese alliance. Perhaps from naivety, I was surprised that the respective governments are so involved in the car manufacturing industry and even more shocked at the workings of the Japanese judicial system throughout ‘Broken Alliances’. An alliance between car manufacturers saved Nissan in the 1990s, but when the companies began to show promise, with expansion led by Ghosn from US, China and Russia to Brazil, Morocco and Thailand, it would seem that Japan wants its companies back, by any means at its disposal. An enlightening and shocking look into a modern business and motoring history that is a must read for any motoring enthusiast. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Love Lies Bleeding’ by Gillian Galbraith has an unsettling atmosphere right from the start. You begin to read this short story expecting a revelation as our narrator, former Judge Lord Hand, reflects on the relationship with the almost too good to be true Laura. We see the cautious approach of his carers and the author does a brilliant job of sowing the seeds that not everything in this narrative is going to be straight forward, but leaves you wondering what exactly the pivot is and when it will arrive. This felt to me to be a classic gothic tale, a narrative intentionally built on unsteady foundations, creating an underlying tension and a sudden shift of understanding at the point where Laura’s secret is revealed and everything drops into place. I thought that ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ was a very well-written and constructed story, with a lot of detail packed into its 100 or so pages. There’s a timeless nature to the plot that leads me to be uncertain as to when it is set and makes me feel like it fits in well alongside the shorter classic Gothic tales I’ve read in the past. I really enjoyed this book. I found it an entertaining read that I think would appeal to fans of all things gothic, and anyone wanting to while away a few hours reading something dark and mysterious. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Black, White, And Gray All Over; A Black Man's Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement’ by Frederick Douglass Reynolds is an interesting and informative insight into Reynolds’ experiences as a Black police officer in Compton, USA. The murder of George Floyd in 2020 by police officer Derek Chauvin made the news around the world and acted as a catalyst for widespread protests and calls for changes to policing. The author uses this as a starting off point for this book and an opportunity for him to reflect on his experiences growing up in Detroit and later as a police officer in Compton. Reynolds’ childhood sees him fall into the wrong crowd, which could have led to him taking a very different path. However, through the early sections of the book we see him join the Marines Corps as an infantryman and later Compton PD. This isn’t a complete turnaround in circumstances as the author talks through his experiences of homelessness and the unhealthy coping mechanisms developed by so many officers in order to mitigate the trauma of what they see during their shifts. Alongside Reynolds personal challenges and accomplishments we see the challenges faced by the police department as a whole, impacted by police and municipal corruption which led to the disbanding of Compton PD in 2000, it moving under the umbrella of the Los Angeles Sheriff's department. A lot of detail is packed into this memoir, not mentioned above is the author’s experiences as a bodyguard for Death Row records, experiences of specific call-outs and cases and so much more. I found ‘Black, White, And Gray All Over’ to be an interesting insight into the experiences of a US police officer and I thought that the author was open and honest throughout. The inclusion of life “behind the scenes” as it were, the hazing of certain officers’ lockers and the replication of their, sometimes expletive filled, speech helped to lend the book more authenticity. This is a revealing look into the experiences of a highly decorated Black police officer, and anyone interested in American culture and society may find this book of great interest. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Loved it and can highly recommend. It is obvious lots of research has been done of the times, politics, war, people and European countries. The storyline starts off quite slowly in the early years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Edward Latham is a witness to her progress to Oxford, the token Papist in a Protestant court. To ensure his soul is not lost he leaves hastily for Scotland to serve Queen Mary. All does not go to plan there and he ends up as a clerk to the Duke of Guise. Rashly he decodes a letter and so begins his career as a spy. The book continues with Latham encountering danger in many forms up to the Armada. Hopefully there will be a next book to continue Latham's story. Linda Amos, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘A Thing of the Moment’ by Bruno Noble is a philosophical tale of identity. Through the lives of the three main characters, the reader is taken on a journey, an exploration, of the varying nature of the self. Isabella has the more distressing storylines of the three, having experienced abuse and exploitation at the hands of her father and the death of her mother that leaves her ever more vulnerable. I found Isabella’s storyline quite harrowing, there’s such a sinister atmosphere from the start of her narrative. I experienced an extra dimension of revulsion due to a keen dislike for butterflies and Isabella’s father’s interest in Lepidoptery. Isabella experiences a separation between the mind/soul and the body as a coping mechanism for her trauma that leads her to make decisions later in life to take back the feeling of control over her body. Sharon’s story evoked in me great pity and sadness. A middle child, being brought up in hand-me-downs and overlooked by most of her family, she lacks any sense of her own identity, with her need for affection leading her to be a people pleaser. I found Sharon uncertain of who she is and what she wants, keen to take on the persona of those closest to her Mie has been brought up in Japanese culture, which encourages tradition and conformity. Eager to leave and establish her own sense of individualism, Mei dreams of moving to England. In contrast to Isabella and Sharon’s upbringings, Mei has supportive and encouraging parents but still finds herself feeling alone, apart from her peers in Japan, and notable when Sebastian visits her house, still not being “quite Western” despite embracing a lot of the Western way of life. ‘A Thing for the Moment’ is a character-driven story. Through these three characters, their interaction with themselves and the cast of supporting characters we have an opportunity to evaluate the different ways in which identity and a sense of self can be lost and carved out again. Not being a student of philosophy I may have perhaps noticed a fraction of the philosophical ideas throughout the book, but that was more than enough to give pause for thought as I read. I found this a thought-provoking and complex literary story, with some moments of levity offered to shine a much needed light on the darker and more serious themes. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
John Offord is the author of Bees Make Honey and Butterflies Make Jam. This is a witty and unusual book. The endearing title sets the tone, reinforcing that we don’t know quite what to expect from this book! It consists of 12 very short stories and 3 humorous advertisements. Here is a taste of what you can expect from this amusing book. There are four stories with princesses in the central roles: a beautiful but unlucky princess, Princess Stroppy whose father’s wellington boots keep being stolen, Princess Hannah who travels to Mars and Siam, and Princess Cresty, a giant-crested whale who had something to do with the formation of the land on planet Earth. There also is an unusual story comparing the number of germs on a dishcloth with the germs on a toilet seat, an imaginative tale about holes, buttons, and buttonholes, ice-cream loving mice and their bank overdraft, an arrogant spaceship captain, a strange tale about bored villagers who didn’t know that the lights in the sky where the Wright Brother’s new invention, the airplane, and a story about a person who went for a job interview and was convinced of success, even though the reader can tell the answers given to the interview questions were hopeless. The advertisements are the cleverest part of the book. I recommend this book to those who would enjoy stories that don’t conform to expectations. Susan Gibbs, A LoveReading Ambassador
Loss and grief across the generations is the focus of ‘A Man of Understanding’ by Diana Janney. When Rufus (renamed Blue) loses his parents he travels to Mallorca to stay with a grandparent he’s never met before, his Granga Horatio. A challenging new relationship begins and the pair slowly bond, learn about each other and figure out how to communicate through their love of poetry, art and culture. This is a well-written and flowing story and the poetry included is elegant - simple yet beautiful. The narrative drew me in and as I read I was urging both Blue and Horatio to just talk to one another and be honest, settling back slightly when the breakthrough moments happened and they gradually overcame their communication struggles. Blue’s friend John Thompson brings an interesting new dynamic. I think I liked his character the most as I found his clear minded straight-forwardness was sometimes a refreshing palate cleanser in between Blue and Horatio’s more vague and metaphorical style. This is a story of bereavement and a story of healing. ‘A Man of Understanding’ follows a road with several bumps, twists and turns but is ultimately a heart-warming tale. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Devil Inside Us by Sabahattin Ali follows the impulsive affair of Ömer and Macide in 1930s Istanbul. Both very different characters, and struggling to study, make a living and survive, this story follows the challenges throughout their relationships and Ömer’s many monologues about the devil inside of him that makes him do things that aren’t conducive to his happiness or helpful to his situation. This story is translated from Turkish and was initially published in the 1940s by Sabahattin Ali. The translation by Bill Welsh is strong and maintains the key concepts of the original while also creating a character driven literary story. ‘The Devil Inside Us’ is heavily focused on the characters as opposed to dramatic events or action to drive the plot forward. I felt this allows for a traditionally literary feel to the novel as it exposes and explores the human condition at length. The most powerful part of the book for me was Ömer’s acceptance “The devil inside us is a means to excuse ourselves from not being all that shrewd […] the custom of avoiding seeing the truth”, a statement that I as a reader found quite obvious while I was reading, but seeing Ömer reach this moment and the shift following still seemed quite poignant. It’s great to have the opportunity to read good translations of literary classics from other countries and The Devil Inside Us, even though it’s set against the backdrop of Istanbul in the 1930s, has themes that are still relevant and spark introspection from the modern reader. A good recommendation for anyone looking for a classic literary read.
‘Sea Change’ by J.M. Simpson follows on from the thrilling events of Sea State as a new face shows up in a small Welsh seaside town. Rob Fox is new to Castleby, looking to renovate the climbing centre and rebuild his life after leaving the army and a divorce. I haven’t read Sea State, but I found that Sea Change provided enough background for me to dive into the story with little hesitation. I really liked the sense of community that the author has managed to create throughout this book. Initially from the eyes of a new character in Foxy, then when residents experience challenges or difficulty. I found that whenever I wasn’t reading this story I was looking forward to getting back to it and finding out what would happen next. There are moments of suspense, a slow burning mystery in the background as well as the threat of Jesse’s ex-partner Chris, who vows to track her down. These moments cast a cloud over the town, with a sense of foreboding - a feeling that everything is happy, but not for long. The suspense added a different texture to the plot that kept me intrigued, turning the pagers ever faster as the book was coming to the final pages. Character driven but full of thrills, suspense and drama, this may not be for someone looking for something dark and gritty, but I think it is a perfect quiet Sunday afternoon read. I can't wait to catch up on the first instalment and eagerly await the next. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Target: Hollywood has an excellent, gritty plot which was very involved and maintained a good pace throughout. Written by Lawrence Pintak, a former Middle East correspondent for CBS News, this is the story of two cousins, brought up side by side in the slums of Beirut, who find themselves on opposing sides of the ‘war on terror’. Ali must head back to the life he thought he left behind in order to save his girlfriend’s father and potentially countless others. The author's background shows in his attention to detail and the reader learns a lot about Lebanon, Muslims, Shi'ites and religious beliefs. I found that the story was very believable and realistic and descriptions of the characters and aims of the terrorist group 'Wrath of God' were extremely convincing. I think that ‘Target: Hollywood’ is a book that is definitely worth reading and re-reading. Jill Barton, A LoveReading Ambassador
Time Fly is an exciting sci-fi prison break story, and I just had to keep coming back for more. Well-paced and well written, the story builds quickly as we become familiar with the lives of the shrunken inmates of Green River 5 prison, situated on the desk of the wardens on the 13th floor of a New York building. Inside the sealed glass dome - Jack and his crew are hatching a plan to escape, but with secrets, rivals and Warden Phipps to contend with, it is no small puzzle to solve. The premise is wonderful and unique, twisting and turning as more of the character's background is unearthed, avoiding the usual pitfalls of writing a story involving time travel. There was no problem following the chain of events that lead to the thrilling conclusion, and I would love the prospect of more to come in this universe because it feels like there is a lot more to know about the members of the crew. I would highly recommend Time Fly for an easy to read adventure that might just surprise you. Luke Thrower, A LoveReading Ambassador
This book hooked me from the start, the writing style, the characters, all fantastic. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I ended up reading the second half of the book all in one go as I just had to find out what happened. Thirteen-year-old Chloe and her family, Mum, Dad, and younger sister Ella go on holiday every summer to a caravan by the sea where they meet another family, the Rossi’s. For Chloe, this year is going to be different as she has decided that she likes one of the Rossi boys, who is a similar age to her. It then starts the awkward coming of age scenarios which brought me right back to when I went through similar myself! The frustrations, self-awareness and thought processes of being a teenager is encapsulated brilliantly in this book, showing the high and lows of a family holiday with a holiday crush thrown in. A highly recommended book, and I cannot wait to read more from this author! Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador
A carefree hope and joy is lost in the fateful Summer of 1914. ‘The Lost Summer’ by Paul Jenkins follows the young student, Michael Davies as he joins friends for the Summer at the base of the Pyrenees in Banyuls sur Mer. A sunshine and joy filled time, with new friends, experiences and new love is cut short as the spectre of conflict looms ever larger. What follows will change the lives of every person gathered at Madame de Vallespir’s as war breaks out with devastating consequences. I found the opening to this historical fiction very poignant, it would be hard not to given the current climate, and I found that Michael’s tale is told with sensitivity and insight. The atmosphere in this book felt very much like Atonement (minus the self-serving narrator) with many bleak moments but also moments of peace and hope throughout as the reader prays that Michael and Lisette will be reunited after the war. ‘The Lost Summer’ demonstrates the innocence and “Summer” of youth lost in the events of WWI in this powerfully poignant historical fiction. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Fernando: Beethoven of the Guitar. Book II: Exile, Favor, & Triumph’ by Lou Marinoff follows on from Book One: ‘Youth, Celebrity, & War’ which depicted the early life of the greatest guitarist-composer of his era, Fernando Sor. After leaving Fernando and his first wife on the borders between Spain and France, after the liberally inclined artist’s brush with the Spanish Inquisition we see Fernando’s stratospheric rise to prominence across Europe after loss and adversity as well as a tepid musical reception in Paris. As mentioned in my review of the first book, this is a musician and composer that was unfamiliar to me, and so I am enjoying this slightly embellished tale of a musician's success amongst the political turmoil of his homeland and the fallout it had across Europe. The storyline in this instalment is again fluid and engaging as Fernando’s life and career progresses. We meet the vibrant character that is Carolina, Fernando and Joaquina’s daughter, who has the potential to be as much of a child prodigy as her father before her. We also see Fernando, Carolina, his second wife and family embark on his Grand Tour of Europe. It would seem as the book ends that Fernando is at the highest peak of fame, celebrity and success as he heads to Moscow, and I am curious to see how his story concludes. This is a delightful family story set against a politically turbulent backdrop. You do not have to be particularly knowledgeable about this period in history as the author’s extensive research and expertise shines through and plenty of context is provided. Amongst this was a line I found particularly poignant, and perhaps still relevant to the climate we see today: “as long as nationhood is permitted to eclipse humanity, future horrors will continue to outstrip past ones”. In all this is another enlightening and entertaining instalment of Fernando Sor’s enduring legacy and I am keen to read it’s conclusion. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador