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‘Twilight of Innocence’ is a mystery that follows a resourceful vigilante grandfather a hero-figure pilot and fiery investigative journalist looking to uncover and derail a child sex traffic ring. The mystery around Andreas in the opening made me intrigued. I was eager to learn more about this mysterious man working to capture and interrogate members of the sex trafficking ring using highly specialised methods in order to release and rescue the victims. The subtle hints and brief descriptions were a brilliant introduction to this character, conveying his age and experience briefly, while keeping the quest front and center. As I read I wanted to learn more about this shadow-y figure’s mission as well as more about his past and what he’s had to do in the past in order to acquire his interrogation skills. I was less enamoured with Rebecca and Jon as we are introduced to them, I think the repartee between them, at the end of the contentious flight from Scotland as an example, could have been a bit snappier in my opinion, but I was interested in learning more about both characters and their motives as well as their inevitable connection. Their story and relationship within this dark mystery reminded me a little bit of Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, and so I was keen to learn more about how they would merge with the Taken style storyline set up with Andreas. This is an interesting and entertaining read that feels like it will have widespread appeal to fans of mysteries, thrillers and action books. There is a dark subject matter at its core but there’s plenty of twists, turns and details throughout that keep you entertained. Action packed and thrilling this is a book I would definitely recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Mac Altagelt’s ‘In The Beast’s Cage’ combines the story of a sleepy American town, where everyone knows everyone and one girl’s father rather eccentrically wants to refurbish and reopen the local zoo, with mystery and gothic themes as a stranger with a dark past lands in the port, and exotic game smugglers set off from Africa when they hear of a potentially lucrative opportunity. I thought that this book was very well written and it flows nicely. There are flashbacks scattered throughout during the quieter points of the plot in order to offer more character backstory. In the prologue we are first introduced to smugglers in the Amazon and it is some time before we hear from them again. Although I enjoyed the storyline based in Georgia, I think it would have been nice to build the tension and the threat they pose by including more chapters from them in the lead up to merging of the storylines. There’s something quite familiar about certain aspects of the plot, an immortal man docking in a foreign land in a boat where he is the only person on board has echoes of ‘Dracula’, the ancient house lost in melancholy, to be brightened and revived by the arrival of a beautiful young girl has the essence of a fairy-tale. While crafting a plotline that in itself is quite unique, ‘In The Beast’s Cage’ manages to evoke a comforting familiarity that made me even more eager to read on. I flew through this story in a single day, the supernatural aspects of the book aren’t overly emphasised and I think would appeal to readers who prefer more literary fiction. Yet for those who enjoy fantasy books, you will be left intrigued, wondering and guessing throughout, keen to discover more as the main action around the Georgia zoo unfolds. A great book that comes highly recommended from me. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Ever Rest’ by Roz Morris is a beautifully well-written story that focuses on the after effects of the loss of a larger than life character. Rock musician Ashten dies on a mountain climbing expedition and his fiancée, bandmates and bodyguard have been left with a hole in their lives that has never been healed as twenty years on as the past is continually dragged back up each time a body is recovered. We learn more about Elza, Hugo, Steve and Robert, their history and connection to The Ashbirds and the paths their lives have taken since the band’s abrupt end. We see them struggle to get their lives back together while the spectre of Ash, and renown in general prevents them from finding complete normalcy. The thing that struck me the most in this narrative is how it handles the theme of fame. Someone, or a group of people can be very famous, known around the world even for a single thing or for the briefest time, and yet that single accomplishment can both haunt and define every other aspect of their lives. And if that period of fame ended in tragedy, then feelings of loss and grief seem destined to be ever present. In some ways it reminded me of documentaries and stories prevalent at the moment in recent celebrity history - breakdowns or struggles of reinvention, unsympathetic media portrayal and fans wanting to relive the single highest moment. I think the author did a great job in emphasising that there’s more to people than that. And each character in the book is filled out and made three dimensional flawlessly. I really enjoyed learning about each character, and while I found myself drawn to Elza’s story the most, I found it easy to settle into learning more about Robert, Hugo and Steve when it was their time to share their story. I think that ‘Ever Rest’ is an endearing story of loss, grief and acceptance in a unique setting of rock-star fame. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
I think the synopsis of ‘Anna’ describes this book perfectly. It is a “chilling” dystopian story. Many times throughout the story I felt chills and shudders of revulsion. Set in a near future where women can be captured, branded chained up and led around like an animal we meet Anna. Captured as she makes her way through the unlands we see her disturbing treatment at the hands of her captor. This is a dark and gritty story focused on domestic abuse, survival and a road to healing and recovery. It’s by no means a comfortable read and at times it reminded me of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I always think there’s something expressly sinister about dystopian fiction in which characters remember “before”. There’s an initial atmosphere of loss that can be found in ‘Anna’; then not only have her loved ones been taken away, but to have her dignity and humanity stripped from her too is heartbreaking and painful at times to witness. As with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, what Anna experiences is at times traumatic, and it’s not fun for the reader to watch it unfold, but we do. I carried on reading in the hopes that there would be revenge, redemption or freedom of some form at the end. This is a brutal story about a woman’s survival. This is an immersive read about finding hope in a dreary landscape, and that even idylls have dark corners. There are tempo changes and moments of hope, twists, reveals and times of real darkness too. The characters in this book are well-written and complex. The style of narration is interesting, we learn as Anna does and I was compelled to keep reading to discover what happens to her. The first part of the story made me uncomfortable but, although it sounds daft, I didn’t want to leave her there. A gritty, intense and powerful read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
An enchanting, nostalgic tale of music, friendships, betrayal and determination. The author writes with a beautiful flowing style that carries the reader with them on short journeys back in time whilst combining present day life. Jon a university lecturer and Caroline, an artist, live in London. Jon has discovered a passion for inventing and after a day's work loves nothing more than going downstairs in the basement of their home which he has converted into an inventing room. It’s during these retreats that his plans and ideas take shape. And it’s from this very workshop that Jon and Caroline’s magical mystery tours begin. Jon’s timepen invention means the world is their oyster when it comes to what concerts to go back in time to see. They decide they prefer the ones just before the artist hits the big time as it gives a better atmosphere and smaller club setting. There’s just one problem; they can’t tell anyone about this unusual ability, not even their closest group of friends. After many successful trips using the timepen, disaster strikes following one concert in the past. A life-changing event, a new life and attempts to heal old wounds, but will a visitor offer an opportunity for everything to go back to how it was? A wonderful read and the subject would appeal to a wide scope of readers. Highly recommended! Caroline Highy, A LoveReadig Ambassador
‘Presence, the Play’ is a lyrical story of the stage interwoven with a tale of spirituality. Script, An Estillyen monk and brother in their Sacred Order of Storytellers has an accident on the opening night of his play, ‘Presence’, leaving him in a coma, and working his way through mystical adventures in a dream-like world. I found this novel highly descriptive and it is clear through the references to many famous literary works that the author is either very well read or conducted extensive research for this novel. There are references throughout and a list at the back of the book with all of the literary titles quoted. I understand and can agree with the connection made between ‘Presence’ and C.S Lewis in the synopsis, as we travel with Script through a strange and mystical other world that, much like Narnia, has religious connotations at its heart. ‘Presence’ is an interesting story with plenty of drama throughout that encourages the reader to celebrate the power of stories, as well as take the time to be “present” in the world around us, a pertinent theme and lesson in today’s ever increasing social media age. An entertaining and well-written novel with a cast of brilliant characters that focuses on the importance of the arts Leading by example with brilliant storytelling, adventure and plenty to ponder over. I think that this book would have a wide appeal and I would definitely recommend it. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Noise: A Manifesto Modernising Motherhood’ is a fresh look at how mothers can raise children while still maintaining their own identity outside of this role. Informed and inspired by the author’s experiences of being a single parent, teenage mum, mum to triplets and a successful academic and working parent, ‘Noise’ has been created, not as a book that holds the answers, but as a book that asks pertinent questions so you can find your own answers. As stated constantly throughout, every mother experiences motherhood differently and the author is very clear in acknowledging this manifesto has grown from her experiences. I like the clear boundaries of how Danusia introduces a topic, an obstacle to maintaining a clear sense of identity and her own experience of the ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ positioning of being a mother and expected by society to give everything to her children and a human, who need space time and their own desires met in order to flourish. Then the author steps back to ask more abstract questions, allowing any mother or mother-to-be reading this to work out how the “Mother Stoppers” and internalised idealised rigid structures and “noise” of motherhood has had an impact on them. I liked the concept of this book as an opportunity for discussion. This book is a chance, not to eradicate the “noise” of internalised societal roles and structures, but to alter the noise that exists in order to make it more realistic, supportive and beneficial for future generations of mothers. I think that this is an insightful and educational book for anyone who would like to be a mother. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReadng Ambassador
‘The Memory Project’ is a really interesting science fiction. Based around a cast of lead characters who were brought up in The Mnemosyne Project, a secret collective of people with telepathic abilities. Dougie, or ‘Angel’ has been broken by his experiences working as a therapist, helping his patients overcome their trauma, and fracturing his own psyche in the process. This is a book that’s as much about a person working to find out who they are and overcome their own childhood traumas as it is about the hidden intriguing supernatural world of Weavers. I feel that even those who wouldn’t pick up a science fiction book as their first choice would enjoy the story of kinship, family and self discovery within these pages. The story flows really well and I was engrossed from the opening pages. I was interested in all of the characters and their stories and I thought each one was really well-developed. The way each Weaver’s abilities work in a different way, the way each character channels the memories that they read, Nina with her art for example. Without giving away spoilers there are revelations and twists that I didn’t quite expect as Angel learns more and more about his rather foggy past. I liked the ending and , although cathartic there’s plenty of space for Angel’s story to continue and I hope it does. An enjoyable read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Not in my Name by Michael Coolwood is an interesting mix of political fantasy and murder mystery. It is earnest and passionate but quite straightforwardly written, which makes it also suitable for younger adult readers. The plot revolves around a group of activists living in a commune in an imaginary version of 2003. Each of the group has their own reasons for being there and their own personal problems that they have brought with them. The trust and camaraderie that the group feel towards each other is suddenly put in jeopardy, however, when they discover that they have been infiltrated and then...the murders begin. The writer has cleverly used authentic but edited contemporary quotes from public figures, applying them to a different situation, thus underlining his premise that politicians will say, do, promise almost anything in order to gain or remain in power, a very high profile scenario happening right now in the U.S. The book is also timely in the descriptions of the way the activists are treated at the hands of the police, very reminiscent of the BLM protests. The ending is slightly unexpected but perfectly reasoned and inevitable, going a long way to restore the reader's faith in human nature and family ties. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
I was intrigued by Cold Wallet from the very start. We begin the story from Henry’s perspective and enough detail is shared to tell us about the relationship between Henry Andrew and Jess while simultaneously raising questions that keep you intrigued to read on. We then follow Jess on her tragic honeymoon and as she scrambles to get to grips with the company she has inherited. Her relationship with Henry is strained but when he offers to help manage the cryptocurrency business Vaultange is it because he’s changing or because he has something more sinister planned. I liked the basis of this storyline, although some of the more in depth conversations went over my head to begin with it came across as very well researched and I slowly became immersed in Andrew, Jess and Henry’s complex world. I liked the depth of each of the characters, all multifaceted and in their own way unreliable, with each development sending me in a spin as I read. The author takes the time to set the scene, with flashbacks that show how relationships develop as the plotline moves forward. With revelations and resolutions that left me spinning I think that this is a really good thriller and I would recommend it. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Wow. I actually lost sleep with this one. It’s just brilliant. Lots of pop references which I enjoyed, love the fact that Sir David is viewed as highly as he should be. There are references from most of the past decades. The characters are just wonderful, so full of depth. I adore the way it is written in the past and the present, in letter form, book form and even text format. It will really capture the imagination of anyone who reads it, while also giving a stark warning - be wary of too much tech! Kid, Eliza and Pas are such a tight bunch having been through so much together, to have that kind of friendship is a blessing. I really hope this is the first of many books by this author, because they clearly have a flair for writing and drawing the reader in. Absolutely loved it!! Amanda O'Dwyer, A LoveReading Amabassador
Written by an experienced practitioner, the principle aim of the journal is to encourage the user to appreciate the value of living in the present rather than constantly searching for happiness in future - possibly hypothetical - events. It is written in a clear, non-jargonistic way, using language that is accessible to its readers. The author reminds us that just as following a daily morning routine is known to be beneficial to our well-being, completing a journal can be a valuable and positive tool in our journey of self-development and improvement. Links with other positive roots in yoga, meditation and slow, controlled breathing is also encouraged. The first part of the book consists of ways which help the reader to understand how best to make use of the ten daily, reflective questions which form the body of the journal. The author employs his own experiences in order to convince us of the real benefits to be had in responding each morning to these ten empowering questions. The examples given are easy to understand and fall within most people's range of everyday thinking. In order to extend the impact, we are also encouraged to answer mentally or speak aloud thoughts and ideas that will not fit into the space given. Every seven days, three new questions are included. Each daily journal begins with a quotation and is arranged over two pages. The back of the journal consists of a short meaningful conclusion and lined pages for note making. This is the type of book that I would purchase for myself and would give to like-minded friends as a gift. I would however choose a hardback copy. I especially like the unpretentious approach and its simplicity of format. Often when quotations are used, they are there for effect but the ones included here are varied in provenance and I personally found them extremely reflective. There are a lot of similarly themed books on the market at the moment so competition for marketing feels tough. Many are 'pretty' and seem to have no real foundation to them whereas this feels genuine and as if the author really cares for his readers. However, I feel that a little more focus upon its aesthetics might encourage its appeal and I would have welcomed the inclusion of some simple illustrations and variety of text formats to enable this. Val Rowe, A LoveReading Ambassador