Terrorists and Russian Dolls

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The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

‘I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story’

And yes he does exactly that.  Clearly, as a former Met detective David Videcette has plenty of real life experience to bring to his story telling. There are quite a few scenes where there’s so much authenticity in the detail that the bare bones must be true, but the wider story?  Who knows?

The more I read The Theseus Paradox the more I thought of those Russian dolls.  As you got deeper and deeper into each layer of the story the kernel of the truth was there somewhere waiting to be uncovered. Or was it?!

It’s a totally brilliant concept that has you asking what is true or not?  And is that the same in real life? Could there be truth in this version of London’s 7/7?  Is what we accept as true really true?

David Videcette takes the reader on a journey about the nature of terrorism.  What actually is terrorism? Are terrorists always the fanatical extremists we imagine?  How do they get there? Are the school girls who left Gatwick for a what they perceived as a more religious, and therefore better life, terrorists? Or are they victims of other people’s agendas?

Could impressionable young people’s passion for their cause be misappropriated by criminal master minds?  And if so, is it terrorism or just a criminal act?  Do we feel more fear about a radical terrorist willing to do anything to gain entry to the afterlife or a criminal genius willing to do anything for money and power?

The other interesting theme in this book is around the use of data.  It made it quite clear that the war we fight today is on so many fronts.  Leaving endless DNA and clues to process has the potential to cripple our emergency services in the same way as the bomb itself.  Fascinating, I never thought of that, but it’s so obvious when you think about it.

This is a really interesting read.  You need to be open minded to question everything you know about 7/7, and for some that might be painful. Like so many Londoners this story is personal to me, I was on the circle line tube at the very time it happened.  It took me a while therefore to read this.  But once I got into it I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Videcette’s book is fast paced with strong characters, believable details and a challenging story line.  I loved the insight into the British psyche. I can’t wait to see what DI Jake Flannagan gets up to next!

Dripping Luxury

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The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Oh wow I wasn’t expecting that!

I downloaded this wondering if it would be any good as I didn’t know the author and hadn’t heard of the book, I took a chance because it was on the best Goodread books of the year.  Well, it’s a terrific read, one of my 2016 favourites.

Sometimes it’s all about the slow burn, in this case a very slow burn.  A dripping tap almost. It might have taken me a while to fall for Aiden Graves but I fell in love with this book by page two.

It’s so gorgeously written that the slow unwrapping of the story is like waiting for the best present ever. How the author holds back on the pace I will never know, but surprisingly you don’t want her to go any faster. And I normally like a heathy dose of pace with my stories. Not this time.

There’s something about the way Ms Zapata describes the growing physical closeness between Aiden and Vanessa. It’s not about sex because they aren’t getting down to it, but it’s so damn sensual and romantic.  She sits on his knee in front of his friends and slowly gets so comfy that she falls asleep in his lap.  I wasn’t reading what happened I was there watching it.  It was so eloquently written that I wanted to frame the words – still might!  Or at least fall asleep in Aiden’s lap.

The writing was romance at it’s best.  It was like fabulous coffee, expensive chocolate, gorgeous silk and aromatic cognac it glided through my senses. Luxurious!

There’s plenty of friends to lovers books or the instant attraction or second chance romance. This is just so different, especially for a sports romance. Bravo Ms Zapata!  I certainly know who you are now!

Move over Bluebell, Sparkle has arrived!

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Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh (Guildhunter #9)

Superb! Nalini Singh does it again, she couldn’t write a bad book if you paid her.

I adore this cover.  Yet, today I’m staring at it rather bleary eyed.  Normally I’m dreaming by 10pm.  Instead last night I was still reading at 2am. I was so swept up in this wonderful story, I couldn’t even consider putting it down.

So, this book revisits Raphael and Elena and in particular focuses on Elena’s past.  I’ll admit at first I was disappointed that Bluebell wasn’t meeting his match, in fact it’s Aodhan who plays a huge part in this story.  And little by little I fell in love with Aodhan.  His steely strength, soft humour and love of art coupled with a depth of character that is slowly coming to the surface meant I was a goner. Illium who?

Nalini Singh’s writing style is so gentle, it’s like a friend whispering in your ear.  Slowly she sucks you in, and it’s not until the end you realise you’ve been subsumed. Hence at 2am I’m reading ‘just one more chapter’.  When I finish a Nalini Singh book there’s a sadness, I’ve lost that friend’s voice in my ear.

Nalini’s beautifully gentle style contrasts sharply with the Machiavellian angel politics and the evil surrounding the Cadre as they try to solve the riddle of Lijuan.

Aside from Aodhan, the other star of the show is Morocco. The descriptions of the buildings and town market were so perfectly evocative, that I imagine the Moroccan tourist board has been on the phone!

And so back to my wonderful Bluebell. Yep, I’m kinda sorry but Aodhan has replaced him in my affections. Oh well, something tells me that the blue winged one will cope.

Let’s hope that Aodhan is next! Would saying please help?

 

Thank you you to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review. However at midnight my preordered book I arrived and I happily finished reading that! 

 

A new fave

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Tulsa Thuderbirds series by Catherine Gayle

In case you don’t know I have a soft spot for ice hockey romance. I don’t know why.  Other than once at the last Olympics I have never seen ice hockey, and even then it was the TV highlights.

Luckily, I think I have found a new hockey writer to join my two faves Sawyer Bennett and Kate Willoughby.  Catherine Gayle’s Tulsa thunderbird series is surprising, challenging and fun – just the kind of read I like.

The challenging starts with the heroine. Blushing virgins need not apply!  And certainly don’t go looking for flowers and chocolates!

These are different heroines – a beauty queen with her reputation in tatters, a porn star and a spiky disabled girl. They make life complicated for their men and it’s not down to the usual communication misunderstandings (thank goodness). Catherine Gayle has her heroes confronting their issues and pasts as their relationships with these complicated ladies grow.

Now, I have to admit the blurb for the second book – Smoke Signals – put me off reading it for ages.  And that pretty sums up what I admire about Ms Gayle’s writing – it’s brave, passionate, unconventional and just a tad humourous.  She focuses on the story she wants to tell, not so much what the reader expects and wants.

Ms Gayle also has her Portland Storm series, most of which I’ve four starred so another good read for hockey fans!

To go back to my two original faves, in case you don’t know… Ms Bennett’s writing is hero led, fabulously hockey rich and with a strong message in tow. Whereas Ms Willoughby has the sweetest writing style creating characters that you can’t help but love.

Catherine Gayle’s Rites of Passage (Tulsa Thunderbirds #4) is out Nov 10th

Sawyer Bennett’s Max (Cold Fury #5) is out Dec 13th

Kate Willoughby’s Falling for Flynn (first in a new series) was out Oct 19th review soon! 

 

The brutal Milky Way

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Blood Bound by Lindsay J Pryor (Blackthorn #7)

I want to say I enjoyed reading this latest instalment in Ms Pryor’s sharply written Blackthorn series. But I’m not actually sure enjoyed is the word.

It didn’t feel like reading, it was more like watching from the sidelines.  And it was unbearable. I fought it. I put my kindle down, I uploaded another book. Yet, the angry furious tears leaked out in a Tesco car park and I became a social pariah at a kid’s party choosing my kindle over champers with the other mothers. (How will my street cred ever recover?!).

So why did I keep reading?  It wasn’t easy, Blood Bound is a brutal story, made even tougher for me because Eden is my fave Blackthorn character.  I was a wreck, veering from despair at Eden’s situation and absolute joy at Jessie’s unconditional love for him. Yep, my emotions took a hammering all whilst reading through scrunched up eyes!

It is a truly brutal read, but it grabs your soul and doesn’t let go. It gave me one hell of a good shake.

The last book (Blood Instinct) blew me away with its relentless pace and kick in the teeth shockers. Blood Bound has a painstakingly rhythm of hellish detail.  I was begging for it to go faster, to skip bits.  But no.  Put me through the wringer, stick me on a roller coaster and throw me bungee style off a canyon.  This book had it all. I wasn’t coming back. For the first time ever I couldn’t take anymore. But the author knew that and threw in a cracker of a line.  Finally I could smile and relax. Then wham she got me with the ending. Lindsay J Pryor totally knows what she’s doing. Wow!

This is para normal romance without rules.  In fact, its completely lawless phenomenal story telling.

And it isn’t five stars it’s the damn Milky Way.

 

Thank you to the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review

Emptying my handbag

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The Tiny Wife Andrew Kaufman

Andrew Kaufman’s novella is jam packed with metaphors and vibrant imagery. It’s hard to forget the image of the mother made of sugar cane or the son dealing with the multiple mothers or the lion about to pounce. And don’t get me started on the baby pooing money!

Its a strange eccentric story probably best described as ‘quirky’. It’s driven by the simply wonderful concept of having to hand over your most meaningful possession.  I can’t say I understood it all, I’m still trying to figure out the snowman and the freezer, but I loved it!

In a way the tiny wife is perhaps the least visual and most obvious of the metaphors.  I guess that stands to reason as it’s her story, but interestingly not told by her. It’s her husband that chronicles her shrinking.  What responsibility did he have in her diminishing life?  He didn’t seem to accept responsibility, and I wondered how reliable a narrator he was.

There were two themes that I wanted to understand better, but perhaps quite deliberately the author kept just out of my gasp.  The role of mothers – the tiny wife was only one of the mothers impacted. Whilst I didn’t get the snowman in the freezer I figured his mother played a key role.  Did she drive her daughter-in-law to suicide?

The role of numbers was interesting, why 51% of the soul?  There was clearly significance in the numeric patterns in the tiny wife’s shrinking and the multiplying mothers.  And a calculator? Seriously?  I’ve yet to meet anyone who would have a calculator as their most meaningful item, I think that alone said the tiny wife had a few issues.

And that brings me to the most challenging aspect of the book – what would I choose to hand over? I’m not sure I can answer the question.  Assuming I can figure it out what’s the chances I would have it on me if I was out at the bank?! It’s had me searching my handbag quite a few mornings and asking the significance of the crap that I usually carry.  And if it’s crap why do I carry it day in day out?

So go read this fab story and ask yourself the question – what would you handover and what does it say about you?

Rage against the machine?

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The Reader on the 6.27  Jean-Paul Didierlaurent translated by Ros Schwartz

As he commutes to work, Guylain Vignolles reads book extracts to his fellow commuters.  We soon learn that this is a an act of rebellion perhaps even a tad anarchic.  Guylain is in fact rescuing these extracts from the paper-recycling machine his job has him feeding.

There will be many who will see Guylain as some kind of proletarian hero, raging against the machine.  Personally, I found that aspect of his character more quirky than heroic.  What was heroic was his support for his friend and predecessor of the machine.  His ingenious way of supporting his friend touched my heart completely.

I wonder if the author wants readers to rage against the destruction of books.  My kindle so dominates my reading that I just don’t feel strongly enough about ordinary paperbacks to care.  After all surely recycling is a good thing?!  And the descriptions of the beast of a machine are fab.  Hopefully that view doesn’t negate the love of books and literature that is tightly woven throughout the story.  There’s a fundamental message about how books and literature can help you cope with something ugly in your life.  Shades of Neil Gaiman I think!

This is a heart warming and uplifting read about a cast of misfits brought together through a love of the written word. Yes, the characters are quirky and mostly society misfits but they are also believable and real.  It’s a very short but powerful read, beautifully translated – it should have you questioning the nature of work.  The reflections on the working poor are so apt for our current social discourse.

And I loved the ending. Overall sweet but with a touch of sass!

T-Rex v Abe

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Rock Wedding Nalini Singh

First up I have to admit it – I’m totally a Gabe/T-Rex fan.  I’m smitten, after all handsome, billionaire ex-rugby players with that Kiwi thing going on are hard to beat. So for me Rock Hard is the stand out book in this terrific series.

But Abe Bellamy gives T-Rex a serious run for his money. And some serious money they both have!

This is a second chance romance which they both really needed.  A lot of hurt and pain has happened, both to them as a couple and as individuals. I wasn’t sure I could get over some of it and see them back together. In fact, I wasn’t too sure they were right for each other.

I was wrong they’re perfect together. The journey back from where they were to where they needed to be was perfect in its simplicity.  And of course it would be, this is a Nalini Singh. The diva of romance never disappoints, even whilst she walks to the beat of her own drum!  This is one author that never does quite what you expect or want, but delivers so much more!

Abe’s journey is painful, but it’s Sarah’s very real pain that gives the story it’s soul.

Warning this book contains more than one wedding.  I love a good wedding, shoes, handbags, dresses, veils and confetti not to mention the groomsmen! So, I loved the weddings, but maybe that will be a little too neat for some.

 

thankyou to netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

 

Genetic love

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A Thousand Small Explosions John Marrs out July 15th

Emotive, imaginative and with a heathy dose of morality, that pretty much sums up the premise of John Marrs’ third book.  Add in Mr Marrs’ trademark ability to turn multiple characters and storylines into a gripping tale and you have an absolutely brilliant book.

Clearly, the author is a fan of the slow burn. He lets the characters seep into your consciousness and before you know it, you’re lost to a can’t put it down book!  And I do mean can’t put it down!

So, the question is if you could take a simple DNA test to find your perfect match, your true soul mate, would you?  If you were happily married would you take the risk?  Once you take the test are you forever sitting and waiting for your DNA match? What if you’ve no interest in taking the test, are you robbing someone of their match?  What if yours is a same sex match, are you gay and not aware? Oh, the permeations are endless.

Yes, there’s a bit of a sci-fi dystopian feel, but it’s the powerful exploration of human nature that makes this book. Who knew that a DNA matched pair would have such social cache?  Equally, how can social prejudice exist if your match is just as likely to be a black man when you expected a white woman? Interesting isn’t it?

I loved how the author combined the minutiae of the human drama with the big story that hurtles towards you at light speed.  The combination of light and dark, soft and harsh had me gasping.

The only downside of this book is that for whatever reason John Marrs remains an independent author, so you’ll only hear about it via word of mouth or social media. So, if you’re now a fan it’s down to you to spread the message!

 

Thank you to the author and TBConFB (probably the world’s best book club) for an ARC, in return for an honest review.