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This book shares Peter’s journey through contracting Meningitis. Having experienced this awful illness through a close family member, I really wanted to read this book. Peter speaks of his illness, his hospital stay and recovery in a very insightful out way. He goes into very interesting detail, explaining how he felt, the terrible side effects of his Meningitis and his gradual recovery. The journey is interesting, heart-breaking, and funny in places too. Peter also includes many of the doctor’s notes, so you also follow his experience from another perspective. The notes are easy to read and are not peppered with lots of medical terminology, something which I have experienced in other such books. I am so glad that Peter felt the need to share his journey and I am even more glad that I read this book. Gail Phillips, A LoveReading Ambassador
Listen to the Colours by J.L.Dupont is a well researched WW2 story but like no other war story you will have ever read before. Seen through three very different pairs of eyes, a German soldier, a Polish prisoner of war and a young French boy, we read how the lottery of birth affects life experiences and how these can be made sense of and coped with, even manipulated, under very difficult circumstances. We first meet Heinrich and Hanusz, long time friends and now studying together at the technical college in their home town of Gdansk/Danzig, in 1939, when the city is seized by the Nazi regime and the Pole is forced to complete his studies elsewhere in Poland. Heinrich joins and rapidly rises through the ranks of the German army, whilst Hanusz is soon captured by this rapidly advancing force. The contrast between the privileges of the former and the privations of the latter are really well written and will take the reader right there. But what sets this book apart is the heart wrenching story of Remy, who is 12 years old at the start of the war and severely autistic. The author manages to take us right inside the boy's mind in a way that is quite remarkable and explains just what it means to live in a world that largely follows a different set of rules. A quirk of fate brings these three characters together in a forest in Northern France in 1945 and bonds, both old and new, prove stronger than ideologies but only one of the three will survive. The title of the book refers to the way Remy experiences music, amongst other things, and as another character says 'one French hand, one German hand, a Polish composer and together one performance...that's the Europe I hope will rise from the ruins', a sentiment that is in danger at the present time. This is definitely a must read for anyone interested in people and what makes them tick. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
A collection of short stories, ‘Ekleipsis’ contains five different stories that all focus on what happens when the characters turn their back on their humanity. The tension builds through each story builds, with gaps in information intriguing and encouraging the reader to complete the story and discover what happens. There’s a moment of grim realisation in the stories, where you know the horrifying twist that’s coming, but you can’t tear your eyes away from the pages as the dramatic twists suddenly unfold. I found each of the stories were perfectly sized - long enough to immerse you in the scene and surroundings, developing the characters and the setting well while also being succinct enough for you to read the whole story in a short sitting. This is a book you can dip in and out of, or, as I did, read the book from cover to cover, eager to know what the author has in store for you next. Each story is self-contained and covers a number of different themes and topics, from affairs and PTSD to much darker themes that would be too much of a spoiler to mention. A great read for fans of darker themed books, tension building thrillers and horror. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A tensely twisty, read-in-one-sitting family mystery in which a son races against time to find the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. Fans of family-focussed mysteries will be enthralled by this haunting tale of a son’s search for the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. It’s a gripping story, made all the more edgy by the outwardly composed first-person, present tense narration of the son, Sam, whose inner state is anything but calm. Sam has been a lost soul since the day his mother vanished without trace, leaving her wedding ring and a note to his dad on the kitchen table: “I’ve left you. Look after the boys.” Now, some twenty-five years later, Sam’s aggressive father calls to let him know that his grandmother doesn’t have long left, so Sam visits her realising that “when Gramma dies, her knowledge will be lost…And with that, it is likely that any chance of a resolution will be lost forever”. As Gramma edges closer to her end, fractured threads connecting the characters come to light - spindly strands between Gramma and grandchildren; between Sam and his estranged wife; between father and son; between brothers - and then comes a finale worthy of Eastenders’ style drum booms that leave one wondering how (or if) the family will recover. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
Late, Late in the Evening sits as a fairly classic feeling dystopian fiction. In the opening pages we are introduced to police who are quick to violence, and as we read on we learn more about politicians who proclaim they’re working towards making their country great “again”, harking back to an idealised version of history that’s never truly existed. An idea I saw replicated in the quote from The Handmaid’s Tale at the start of the book. The concept of using easily identifiable characters, situations and events is to me the foundation of a dystopian novel and I think the author integrates these features well as he weaves his own story. From the start I was eager to learn more about our lead character Gabriel Dorfman. We are introduced to him in the middle of the action we are gradually told more about his past and how he came to be brought to Arlingham Hall. I was curious to read more about how Gabriel would use his chance for freedom and how his growing relationship with Caroline would affect that. This book is short enough to read in a day, but filled with detail from start to finish. For me this is a brilliant example of dystopian fiction and one I would happily recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
In 'New Beginnings' Victoria Day-Joel chronicles some of the more important recent events in her life in verse. From finally meeting her 'man of the earth, mind of the universe' to looking for her 'home in the sun.....my new beginning' the poems describe the development of her relationship and the processes in her decision to move abroad in intimate and relatable detail. Each individual poem is followed by an eloquent explanation of the circumstances that gave rise to it. I really enjoyed the honesty and beauty of these verses and their imagery and I think readers will be left hoping that she successfully makes the move to Spain in the search for her spiritual home. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘Toy Soldiers’ is a short collection of 28 poems by Amy Tollyfield. There’s a wide variety of themes focused on in this collection and any poetry fan is bound to find a new piece to suit their mood. I enjoyed how each poem flowed, had its own pace but there is a notable lyricism in the author’s writing that I found stayed consistently throughout. Throughout the collection I found that Tollyfield was able to craft poems that were immediately immersive and evocative. Each one left me pausing for a moment, contemplating the scene that had just been brought to life, before moving on to the next. My favourite poem in the collection is ‘Gentle Rain’, there’s a cosiness and a comfort to it that sat very well with me, although I also found ‘Boudicca’ to have some powerful imagery too. I think that this is a great collection for fans of poetry. One that entices you back. I read this cover to cover then when skipping back to ponder over my favourites. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Learning to Love is the second in the Make me a Match series. This book follows a different character to the first book in the series, Steeped in Love, so it can be enjoyed as a standalone or out of release date order. This is a lovely relationship story that introduces us to Rebecca Ledgerwood and William Whitney, both teachers but from entirely different backgrounds. Will they manage to overcome their differences and personal challenges in order to be together? You’ll have to read to find that one out for yourself. I enjoy reading relationship stories like this and I was immediately drawn into both Rebecca and William’s lives. I loved the quirky supporting characters, the setting and the fact that the Make me a Match series seems to be introducing us to each of them, I plan on going back to read the first book in the series and I look forward to reading more books in the series. Although this is a lovely relationship story, similar to Carole Matthews and other authors, there are real and difficult issues addressed throughout the plot including poverty, bereavement and eating disorders. The sensitive handling of these subjects made me even more invested in the characters and I hoped throughout that they would get their happy ending. This is a great story and I think the perfect weekend or holiday read.
Really enjoyed this book. I felt I was part of Bel's life in Sant Marti getting to know all the locals and solving crimes. A young florist suddenly and unexpectedly goes missing and a spate of unexplained pet thefts sees Bel, a former detective inspector, brought back in to help the local police force track down the culprits. Attention to detail is amazing, I couldn't read fast enough at times to see what happened - I can highly recommend this book and hope to read more of Anna Nicholas' work. Jayne Burton, A LoveReading Ambassador
Also Available as an eBook. If you thought that crossing the Mediterranean Sea or the English Channel was the most dangerous part of a refugee's journey to freedom, then you need to read this book, 'The Bodies That Move' by Bunye Ngene. The author spares no-one's feelings in chronicling the systematically inhumane treatment of the displaced by unscrupulous people traffickers and presents a powerful argument to wealthier and more stable regimes to deal with this shameful and destabilising practice with far more rigour and compassion than at present. The story follows Nosa, a young, presentable and university-educated Nigerian, who, because of the corruption in his home country, is persuaded by a former classmate to make the journey to Europe, a better life and earning power to keep his mother and younger siblings from poverty. Though far from cheap, he borrows the money necessary to fund his passage and sets out in high hopes of reaching Italy in three weeks. His optimism however is short-lived and hunger, lack of sleep and hygiene facilities and cramped travelling conditions soon become the norm. But this is just the start of what Nosa will experience before he has even left Nigeria. The gradual wearing away of all civilised standards is shocking to read. The rape of the female travellers, the beatings, enforced work (slavery in other words), starvation and the callous abandonment of all whose 'agents' have not paved the way across the Sahara Desert or war-torn Libya become everyday occurrences, not even raising an eyebrow in the end. But Nosa is one of the 'lucky' ones, reaching the coast after three months of hell, eventually boarding an inflatable with no life jacket and being picked up by European coastguards. He has achieved his aim and gained what? Europe's record of the treatment of refugees is nothing to write home about, quite literally. To say I enjoyed reading this book would be untrue but I'm very glad I did and I would encourage you to as well. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
I Am The Sand is an intense and graphic psychological thriller with a unique perspective. The plotline pivots around the abduction of Chloe Thomas, while she was on her way home from school. From the reader’s distanced viewpoint we are not only given access to the investigation and Chloe’s fight to survive her capture and endure abusive treatment, we are also able to follow the captor and learn more about his public perception. From this outside perspective, we are also able to enjoy the author’s skill at characterisation, with vital side characters coming to the forefront of story to add an extra twist. This book is incredibly tense and there were times where my heart was racing for Chloe and I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough, at certain points shouting in frustration as hope ebbs away. I also think that the author handles the topic of mental illness well in this book. I am usually hesitant when mental health is incorporated almost as an explanation of a villain’s behaviour, however I appreciated the work carried out by the author to present these themes in a different light, through Sarah’s perspective as well as providing more detail of an aftermath towards the end of the book. I thought I Am the Sand was a highly gripping read and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a page-turning psychological thriller.
Blurry Lines is a tale of family, grief and loss set amongst the current coronavirus pandemic. This story is not like a lot of the pandemic fiction I have come across over the course of the past year. It’s not a science fiction take that places everything we’ve seen into some sort of dystopian, medical drama reality. This book, to play with the title slightly, blurs the lines between fact and fiction with a family’s story. The details and confusion of the spreading pandemic looming in the background, but existing as a catalyst to the experiences within the plot as opposed to the main focus. Nathan, a physician, is a widower and single father who is in lockdown with his sister-in-law and her two children, all coping with the sudden death of Nathan’s brother from COVID-19. As he works to support Maria and her children, Nathan is also able to re-evaluate his life, with the distance from his normal routine during lockdown allowing him to see what impact his actions have on his family. I’m sure a lot of people, myself included, will have taken the time to reflect on their lives and look for opportunities to change, develop and improve going forward. I think the author expertly uses the coronavirus outbreak to spark recognition in the readers, allowing them to connect deeply with the characters as well as take the time to remember their own perspective as they read. The author then manages to develop this further by going on to incorporate an evaluation of the human condition in a way that feels, if not relatable because the reader has already done it, but inspiring, allowing the reader to take a moment to reflect on their own life and experiences. All of the characters in this book are very well-crafted, believable and endearing. Tayo Emmanuel also offers an insight into a different culture throughout the book, including details of Nathan’s upbringing in Lagos. To me, this adds even more depth and detail to an already immersive book. This book is created with honesty and vulnerabilities, and I think it is a brilliant literary insight into the realities of a family, love, loss and grief in this unprecedented world.