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‘Love Stories for Hectic People’ is a collection of short stories exploring aspects of love that aren’t necessarily the ones that are focused on most often, the sides that aren’t “happy ever after”. Each flash fiction piece is distinct and the collection can be read from cover to cover or picked up and enjoyed in whichever order takes your fancy. The author’s writing helps to create an entire world in a few deceptively simple stories, each one felt thought through and complete to me, with the reader left at the end pondering about next steps and unspoken meaning. The perfect way to be left after a flash fiction piece in my opinion. Covering a number of aspects of relationships and sex, from the joy of it to deeper and darker issues of affairs, abortions and miscarriage. I highlight this to demonstrate the variety within these stories (as I’ve said, each have their own unique tale, setting and atmosphere) and also to mention in case any potential reader is sensitive to a particular topic. Quick to read through with plenty to come back to and contemplate, I think that this is a great collection of flash fiction.
A heart-breaking tale of family and loss, set against the backdrop of a WWII and a war torn Germany. The author’s knowledge of the war shines through in this novel, from the horrifying details of the frontline as experienced by Franz, to the heart-aching wait for families left behind hoping to see their loved ones again. ‘The Letter’ by Barry Cole follows Franz Mayer, a sergeant in the German army struggling to survive on the Eastern Front and on the way home to his family before braving the threat of war once more. Throughout the novel there’s great characterisation, even for the characters we meet for a brief time, the author makes sure they are rounded out. It’s subtle enough to not detract from the plot, but clear enough to hammer home that despite the broad descriptions of war - the country vs country commentary - the reality involves countless unique and complex individuals. This style of writing made ‘The Letter’ feel even more poignant and emotive to me. Combined with the detailed descriptions of the horrors witnessed and the poverty endured, ‘The Letter’ is a powerful story, that emphasises the loss and pain experienced on all sides. There are moments of hope scattered throughout, and I found Wolfgang in particular helped to bring some levity to the story during the times we spend with Hannah. This was a fascinating historical war drama. There’s twists and changes that keep you turning the pages, hoping for a positive outcome, but never certain. I think that the author has succeeded in delivering an emotional and immersive story. ‘The Letter’ is a compelling and brilliant look at loss, at family and at the personal costs of war. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Last Star Standing follows protagonist Aiden on a sci-fi adventure. A world left ravaged and vulnerable after WWIII is invaded and overpowered by aliens. A small rebel group remains and works to overthrow their intergalactic rulers. Part science fiction - but mostly action-adventure - ‘Last Star Standing’ is an entertaining read that has a lot of detailed and cohesive world-building that makes the plotline believable from the start. I liked that this book is futuristic but also focuses on issues that we see in our society today - the impact of our actions on the environment and the spread of disinformation. Aiden is a wry and entertaining character to read about, and I really enjoyed his tone and humour as I read. There are some more adult moments so this is definitely not a story for younger readers but I do think that this is a brilliant choice for any sci-fi fan. I feel there’s an opportunity for the story to continue into other books and so I eagerly wait to see if any sequels appear. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘His Name was Wren’ is a coming of age story aimed at young adults, but one I feel could be enjoyed by a much wider audience. The plot takes in a small English Town called Hurstwick in WWII and modern day. In 1944 during a WWII blackout the church spire and nearby woods are destroyed and damaged, but was it a Nazi attack or something else? The answer is uncovered by one young resident and tries to keep it a secret. Years later, in 2018, Max Cannon moves to Hurstwick and learns about the town’s mysterious past. I liked both the historic and the modern timelines, and I found that they fit together well. I found ‘His Name Was Wren’ to be very well written and I related easily into this story. “Max could count the number of friends he had on one hand, and that hand was a fist” Was a particular line that I found quite interesting, the author has a way of cleverly conveying information to the reader without needing to be explicit or getting bogged down in exposition. The story allows the reader to follow Max landing in a strange new land and finding new friends almost as a parallel to the first contact and meeting of Wren. There are twists and turns in the plot and lots of action to keep the reader engaged. An interesting story that can be enjoyed in a day or so.
I came across ‘Rewriting Our Stories’ by Dr Derek Gladwin at the perfect time. This is a well-written and clearly structured book that forms a part of the MindYourSelf book series - a series created with the intention of providing clear, peer reviewed information from frontline professionals that, although not a replacement for personalised medical advice from your doctors, can help us to take better care of ourselves. Very clear and broken up into easy to follow chapters, ‘Rewriting Our Stories’ focuses on how we use storytelling in our everyday lives to form narratives about ourselves and the world around us. These narratives are formed by our experiences and shape the way we feel and think. Taking us gradually through why we tell stories to how to change the negative things we say and think about ourselves, Dr Derek Gladwin provides information and practical advice on how to reframe these negative narratives into positive affirmations as well as changing our perceptions of the world around us. I personally found the ‘Thinking Too Much’, ‘Living Moment by Moment’ sections to be most helpful. I really enjoyed the layout of this book, the summarising bullet points and the reflection questions throughout let you ponder over recent topics, allowing you the time for greater insight of how internalised narratives affect your thinking before moving through the chapters to more practical tips on how to change the stories we tell ourselves. I also liked the concept, as a bookworm I felt at home with the analogy of internalised beliefs are stories we tell ourselves, and how to practice editing and rewriting these narratives. I personally struggle to remember to implement the advice in self help books but I feel that the author has hit on a really clear to understand perspective with ‘Rewriting Our Stories’, and one that I know I will remember and be able to reflect on and utilise in the future. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
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.
I saw this as a modern take on 1984, ‘For Brito’ by RD Morris follows Everley, a dedicated Brito operative, savagely opposed to the unworking ‘InOps’ in society and dedicated to giving his time, energy and life for his country. In a world following Brexit and multiple waves of a pandemic, the country formerly known as Great Britain turns spectacularly insular, with it’s loyal and patriotic workforce now named operatives and living strictly rationed and regimented lives in service to Brito. As with any brilliant dystopian fiction, there’s enough fact here to make this future country plausible. With Brito’s history including WWII, Brexit as well as anti-immigration feeling and apathy towards the homeless and those receiving state support. ‘For Brito’ muses on the possibility of these nationalist, unforgiving and intolerant values and ideas becoming the british consensus in a way that leads us to an isolated country, where those who don’t work are expendable, and sometimes violently killed. As with 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale, and other great dystopian fiction, the status quo soon receives a shake-up. Initially, I was eager to read to find out which aspects of society the author had escalated and warped in order to create the very believable Brito I saw before me on the page. As I continued to read I was immersed and intrigued by Everley’s story, wondering what would happen to him at the end. The characters are interesting and well-rounded and I thought the plot was well-paced, detailed and immersive. This is a brilliant and gripping dystopian fiction with lots of tension and moments for understanding to dawn. I think this would be a great recommendation for fans of 1984 specifically and dystopian fiction more widely. I am interested in seeing what the author writes next. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
I wanted to read this novel as even as a grown up I like reading a variety of reading genres including junior and young adult fiction. And what an experience meeting Bucky and the hierarchy of felines turned out to be. A thrilling escapade through physical & far away places combined with touches of fantasy and science fiction. An exhilarating read for confident readers of any age including adults! The author has a vivid and descriptive writing style with which this novel grows and grows holding the readers attention all the way. I found it very well written with creatively-worded sentences and chapters. I also loved the actions of the cats; some powerful, some enigmatic, but even if you're not a cat lover give this story a go-you wont regret it! I was engrossed from the very beginning where the action is centered on strange goings on at London's Natural History Museum. But that's just the start of a great adventure. Add in some episodes of tele-porting, tunnels, caves, jets and even pyramids then you're all set for a rocketing ride. If you're a Londoner or familiar with the layout of the city then even better as you'll be able to picture where the action happens. Caroline Highy, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘A Spy In Quarantine’ is a brilliant and unique take on fiction using the recent pandemic as a plot device. When an academic study into coronavirus track and tracing stumbles across a U.S. spy, the named researchers and the ghost-writer who conducted and wrote the thesis, are at risk from more than just the virus. I think this plotline is really inventive and a twist on the “coronavirus fiction” I’ve seen appear that takes on a science fiction or almost dystopian twist. The concept of track and trace and what secrets each individual, each contact could be revealing is really excellent. I found it a really innovative plot choice and couldn’t wait to see where the story took me. We mainly follow Takis, a ghostwriter who is employed by university faculty and students alike to conduct research or write papers. A flawed but likeable character, as the plot starts to escalate this apparent ‘know-it-all’ quickly gets out of his depth, unsure of who to trust and what to do next. Along with Rachel, the girlfriend of one of the murdered grad students, Takis needs to work out whether he can be linked to the published paper and how to stay alive. I liked the characters and the developing relationship between Rachel and Takis as they slowly begin to trust one another as they try to work out what’s going on and why the grad students credited for writing the paper have been murdered. A brilliant concept executed well, with a great cast of characters and twists and turns that kept me immersed in the storyline until the very last page. I would recommend this book for all mystery fans. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
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.
The End of Everything is a fantasy that uses Norse mythology to develop a dystopian world where Alira, the prophesied new end of everything following Ragnarok, must find a way to survive long enough to work out who she is. I enjoy reading fantasy novels and Norse Mythology, with faint echoes of storylines like Game of Thrones and Horizon: Zero Dawn, this book is right up my alley. I liked the flawed characterisation of Maya as she struggles to understand her importance and her purpose. I immediately liked her and jeyed watching her character arc develop. This is a brilliant fantasy storyline and the start of what will no doubt be an action-packed series. The plotline is full of twists and turns. The descriptions of the setting and the different peoples were vivid. I was hooked from the first page and I am eager to read more of this story in future books. With truly evil villains, complex and entertaining characters, twists, turns, companionship and love I think that this is a brilliant recommendation for anyone who enjoys YA fantasy and is looking for a little more grit, or simply looking for their next epic fantasy read. I am eager to read the next books in the series.
The Life in Full Colors: Unlock Your Childlike Curosity to Uncover and Activate the Creative Intelligence is a clear, easy read to read book, the book is written in an informal friendly style, like a conversation with a close friend. It’s like a calming voice telling you what to do. There are 7 steps to creating a life in full colour and she talks about Creative Intelligence which we all have but just need to find and activate. I especially like that Corry has a refresh and review which is a bullet point summary of the main things talked about, at the end of each chapter. I find the book is like a gentle step by step guide with lots hugs and reassurances. Maisie Hoang, A LoveReading Ambassador