Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Happily This Christmas Susan Mallery 5*#Review @SusanMallery @MillsandBoon #Romance #MillsandBoonInsiders #Festive #SmallTown #family #friendship #BookReview

It’s the season of love, forgiveness… and tidings of trouble!

Wynn Beauchene is exactly where she wants to be: a successful business owner and single mum. Lately, however, something feels like it’s missing. Even worse is Wynn’s attraction to the gorgeous policeman next door.

With his pregnant daughter coming to stay, Garrick McCabe has one last chance to repair their strained relationship. Except his daughter seems to have turned into the Grinch, and now Garrick needs Wynn’s help to turn this festive fiasco around… before it’s too late.

For Garrick and Wynn, a little chaos is the perfect gift for revealing what—and who—matters most…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I enjoyed this festive small-town romance, which is part of the Happy Inc series. Wynne has admired her neighbour Garrick for a while without taking it further. When he asks for her help making his home welcome for his pregnant and estranged daughter, she has to help, of course.

The romance between Wynn and Garrick is gentle and sweet, almost like first love. Both have emotional damage from early parenthood and mistakes they have to live with, but both are good people who you want to find happiness, preferably together. Their friendships groups are supportive and add to the story’s cosy feel.

Joylyn has issues most relating to her father, she matures, as her baby’s arrival draws closer, and this makes her easy to empathise. The wedding the town is famous for takes place close to Christmas and is a perfect example of community spirit and friendship.

This story is on the cute side, but everyone wants a happy-ever-after at Christmastime.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Excerpt, Extract, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

The Runaway Girl Jina Bacarr 5* #Review @JinaBacarr @BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #Extract #HistoricalRomance #HistoricalFiction #Titanic

TWO WOMEN HOLD THE KEYS TO HIS HEART. ONLY ONE WILL SURVIVE THAT FATEFUL NIGHT…

When Ava O’Reilly is wrongly accused of stealing from her employer, she has no option but to flee Ireland. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape – the Titanic.

Aboard the ship of dreams, she runs straight into the arms of Captain ‘Buck’ Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. He is intrigued by her Irish beauty and manages to disguise her as the maid of his good friend, the lovely Countess of Marbury. Little does he realise, that the Countess is also in love with him.

As the fateful night approaches, tragedy strikes further when Ava is separated from Buck, and must make a daring choice that will change her life forever…

A sweeping, emotional historical romance set aboard the Titanic.

This is a revised and fully updated edition of a novel previously published as Titanic Rhapsody.

Amazon UK

#TheRunawayGirl

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Ava, wrongly accused of theft by her employer, has no alternative but to run. She is an independent spirit, who knows there is more to life than being a servant. However, her religious upbringing, makes her constantly question her wilder impulses.

The Titanic, on its maiden voyage, calls at Queenstown, she buys a steerage ticket and heads towards what she hopes is a better future. Losing her ticket and being pursued by the authorities before the ship docks set the tone of the journey.

Serendipity means she finds a protector, in Buck, the second son of Duke and an irreverent gambler. He hides her in plain sight as a lady’s maid for his good friend Fiona, The Countess of Mayberry. She is travelling to New York to marry his friend Trey. The chemistry between Buck and Ava is instant and intense, but there are many conflicts to their relationship.

The plot twists dramatically when The Titanic meets its fate, and Ava makes a decision that affects the rest of her life. The setting is glamorous and, because you know what happens to the ship, there are undertones of suspense, wondering what will happen to the protagonists in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The romance is sizzling and forbidden and the characters are complex and relatable.

The last part of the book is full of conflict and romance, against the judgemental setting of New York society. The ending is romantic and shines a little light on such a tragic event.

Extract from The Runaway Girl Jina Bacarr

Cameron Bally Manor House

Ireland

9 April 1912

‘Ava O’Reilly, you’re nothing but a common thief who brings shame upon this fine house,’ spewed Lord Emsy, wagging his fat finger in her face. ‘What have you to say for yourself, girl?’

‘A thief, am I, milord?’ Ava shot back, refusing to cower before a man so pompous and full of himself, even if he was her employer. With his wing tip collar and fancy silk ascot, he reminded her of a leg of lamb gussied up for Sunday dinner. ‘Says who? Your daughter?’ She narrowed her eyes, staring her accuser down. Lady Olivia greeted her angry look with a swift turning of the head, her nose in the air, but Ava wasn’t finished. ‘I’d rather dance with the devil than believe her.’

His lordship growled. ‘Then you deny stealing the bracelet?’

‘Aye, that I do.’ Ava smoothed down her shiny, black cotton uniform with her hands, making fists and fighting to keep her composure. Him with the glow of damnation in his eyes, accusing her like he was the Almighty Himself. She refused to back down. With the afternoon sun spilling an arc as bright as a pot o’ gold at her feet, she wondered how she, the daughter of a fine Irish mum and da, could be so unlucky. But here she was, accused of thievery because she was caught reading a book in a place where a housemaid had no right to be. The library. Now she was paying the price for her thirst for knowledge.

‘Well, how do you plead?’ asked his lordship.

‘I plead guilty to nothing more than reading your fine books.’

Ignoring her, Lord Emsy bellowed, ‘Then how do you explain this?’

He dangled a slender rope of sparkling diamonds in front of her nose, taking her breath away.

Ava swallowed hard. Each stone was a knot on the noose tightening around her neck.

‘I swear on me sainted mother’s grave, I never seen the likes of that till this morning.’

‘She’s lying, Papa,’ Lady Olivia decried. ‘She stole it from my jewel case and was trying to hide it when I caught her.’

Ava gritted her teeth. They both knew it was a lie.

Aye, what was a lass to do? His lordship’s daughter had hated her since Ava had first crossed paths with her, when she’d used the grand main staircase instead of scuttling down the backstairs. The breach of protocol had not only embarrassed the family, Lady Olivia scolded her, but Ava had attracted the eye of the young gentleman at her side. Lord Holm made no secret of his interest in the servant girl with the glorious red hair spilling down her back. Mary Dolores had warned her about him when Ava joined her sister to work as a housemaid in the grand manor.

A dandy, she had said, always ready to pat the bum of any servant girl he could get into a dark corner.

Did Ava listen to her? No. She was obstinate and bull-headed. A family trait, Mary Dolores admitted, shaking her head. Going through life casting her spell on every man caught looking at her. Ava paid them no mind, going about her way and insisting she didn’t need a man to better herself.

Unfortunately, Ava couldn’t control the wily fates determined to get in her way.

Her relationship with Lady Olivia became even more strained when Lord Holm saw her wearing a discarded dress belonging to her ladyship. Silk with delicate appliqué around the collar and cap sleeves, the vibrant emerald green set off her red hair.

And what was the crime in that, Ava wanted to know, since it was customary for servant girls to lay claim to their mistress’s tossed-away garments.

Her ears burned when she overheard her ladyship say to Lord Holm, ‘You never noticed when I wore that dress,’ to which he replied, ‘You never looked like that.’

His comment sealed her fate.

#JinaBacarr

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

Twitter Website Facebook Instagram Publisher Website

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery

Dressed to Kill Kathleen Delaney 4* #Review #AMaryMcGillCanineMysteryBook @severnhouse @kdkoppang #CozyMystery #USA #AmateurSleuth #SmallTown #BookReview

Mary McGill and her cocker spaniel Millie get the fright of their lives on Halloween when they hear gunshots coming from the bank and the robber, dressed in a clown costume, points his gun at them before fleeing the scene. Mary is horrified when she discovers Police Chief Dan Dunham has been shot in the shoulder and a woman has been killed. Why would the clown shoot an ordinary citizen?
Mary soon learns that the victim is Victoria Witherspoon, a local woman who owned a sewing shop and must have recognised the clown costume – because she made it herself. With Dan in hospital and unable to investigate, can Mary and Millie unmask the savage killer clown before he strikes again? 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts

An engaging cozy mystery, set in a small town. This is the fourth book in the series, but the mystery is standalone. Mary McGill and her dog are amateur sleuths with a notable success rate, there are plenty of small-town values and ethos in this story, which will appeal to those who like this genre. The mystery is well-written, with plenty of suspects, and false leads, and all the loose ends are neatly tied up at the story’s conclusion.

Mary is a likeable detective, who uses her local contacts and knowledge to solve the crimes. The animals are important characters and give this story, a wider appeal.

If you enjoy North American small town cozy mystery, this is a perfect read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Parenting and Famlies

Free Lunch Rex Ogle 5* #Review #RexOgle #Memoir #YoungAdult #ChildrensBooks @NYRBooks #Poverty #FreeLunch #BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater #BookReview

#FreeLunch

Rex Ogle’s story of starting middle school on the free lunch programme is timely, heart-breaking and true.

Free Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle’s first term at High School. Rex and his baby brother often went hungry, wore second-hand clothes and were short of school supplies and Rex was on his school’s free lunch programme. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger—that of a child for his parents’ love and care. Compulsively readable, beautifully crafted and authentically told with the voice and point of view of an eleven-year-old child, Free Lunch is a remarkable debut by a gifted storyteller.

Amazon UK

#FreeLunch #RexOgle

In FREE LUNCH, debut author Rex Ogle vividly conveys the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of revealing it every day in the school lunch line, along with a more profound hunger: that of a child for love and care from his parent. This story rings so true in its portrayal of poverty and the familial strains that can result from living in the economic margins because it is. This is Rex’s story.

But this is not Rex’s story alone; 43.1 million people are living in a state of poverty, 14.5 million of them are under the age of 18. But when he was embarking on his sixth-grade year in Texas, Rex had no idea that there were also other children, let alone millions of others, in such need.

#FreeLunch

“The worst part of living like this is thinking as I did—that I was alone, that I was shameful, and that I had less worth because of the situation into which I was born,” explained Rex. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. No child should feel alone. Or ashamed. Or worthless. They need to know that their circumstances are not their fault.”

#FreeLunch

This moving memoir covers Rex’s journey through his first semester of middle-school as he navigates the inherent physical and emotional growth pains that come with this phase of life, along with the societal pressures he feels showing up at school in worn clothes that don’t fit properly and with the occasional black eye he receives from speaking his mind at home —all in addition to requesting free lunch. Rex is now an adult who traversed middle school and found his way out of poverty, but the struggles of his youth have shaped who is as a man today, and how he views the world around him.

#BackcCover

“One day, when I was riding on the subway in New York City, I saw a little girl tug on her mom’s sleeve and heard her say, ‘I’m hungry.’ Her mom hugged her, but didn’t say anything,” explained Rex when asked why he decided to write Free Lunch. “I didn’t know their situation, but it struck me that my story needed to be shared. I wanted other kids to know that it’s okay to be hungry. That they are not alone. And there is hope.”

#Freelunch

Free Lunch is unsparing and harshly realistic. It is also frequently funny and threaded with hope and moments of grace. Free Lunch is a welcome addition to the growing canon of youth memoirs, and Rex’s powerful, lyrical storytelling shines a light on those living in the shadows.

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I wanted to read and review this memoir because it highlights what life is like for many children in the world today. Told from the point of view of an eleven-year-old boy, it reads like poignant fiction, but it’s true. Although heartbreaking to read, it is also empowering, The boy faced abuse, hunger, ridicule and shame, but still retained his capacity to love, protected his younger sibling and ultimately his mother, and retained a sometimes misplaced optimism, that life would improve, if he just kept living it.

The book is easy to read and will interest, everyone from older children to adults. The chapters are headed, detailing a significant memory, and are mainly short. It is a book you can read a chapter of and return to later, but I couldn’t put it down. The honesty of the recollections, and the injustices they highlight resonate.

An immersive memoir that everyone should read. Disturbing, emotional, honest and memorable.

#RexOgle

Rex is a former children’s book editor who now lives in Los Angeles with his partner. He enjoys hiking with friends and his dog, devouring books, and cooking.

“This is my middle school experience,” he says, “but I think it’s an important story to tell, with nearly one in five children in America living in poverty.”

FACTS ABOUT CHILDHOOD HUNGER:
  • 12 million children in the United States live in food “insecure homes”
  • 1 in 6 children in the United States lives with hunger
  • Children who come from food-insecure homes often experience learning disabilities and other cognitive impairments
  • Children who suffer from hunger often face emotional and social roadblocks
Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance

Christmas Once Again Jina Bacarr 5*#Review @JinaBacarr @BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers #Festive #Timeslip #HistoricalRomance #1943 #1955 #Serendipity

#ChristmasOnceAgain

ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS IS TO SAVE THE MAN SHE LOVES…

On a cold December day in 1955, Kate Arden got on a train to go home for Christmas.

This is the story of what happened when she got off that train. In 1943.

In 1943 Kate Arden was engaged to the man she loved, Jeffrey Rushbrooke. She was devastated and heartbroken when he was called up for wartime duty and later killed on a secret mission in France.

But what if Kate could change that? What if she could warn him and save his life before Christmas?
Or will fate have a bigger surprise in store for her?

Christmas Once Again is a sweeping, heartbreakingly romantic novel – it’s one woman’s chance to follow a different path and mend her broken heart…

AmazonUK Ebook Paperback

#BoldwoodBlogTour

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Historical romance with a timeslip element is one of my favourite genre combinations, especially when there is a forbidden romance and a festive setting. Set mainly in 1943, it follows Kate’s story, as she falls in love, only to have her heartbroken when her true love is killed in WW2. Christmas is a painful reminder of all she’s lost, and she’s never felt able to return home until circumstances conspire in 1955, and make it a mercy mission she can’t ignore.

Full of mystery, poignancy and classic romance, the story is easy to read. I couldn’t put it down, I wanted to know what really happened, and if there was a chance for Kate to be truly happy. Kate is a complex, independent woman, like so many women who lost their partners in the war. Despite her strength, much of her emotional pain is hidden, and this has prevented her from moving on with her life. Her life stopped in 1943, perhaps now she can find the answers she seeks, and live, rather than going through the motions.

The historical detail brings the story to life. Written with vivid imagery, it unfolds in your mind like a movie. A lovely escape to a different time and place, full of heartbreaking romance and intriguing mystery and Kate’s chance to live another life, but should she?

#JinaBacarr

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

Twitter Website Facebook Instagram Publisher Website

Extract From Christmas Once Again – Jina Bacarr

Chapter 1 Posey Creek, Pennsylvania
December 12, 1943


‘I bet you my last pair of stockings, little sister, I’ll be saying I do before Christmas.’

I whirl around in a circle, pretending the most wonderful man in the world is holding me in his arms, my heart soaring. A pot of Ma’s meat gravy simmers on the burner, the smell tickling my fancy to have my own kitchen soon. So many wonderful memories here. Planked floors, big white stove humming with good cooking, Ma’s rocker and her rosewood sewing box. Wallpaper dotted with daisies, their yellow petals turned golden over the years – and four ceramic angels lined up on top of the spice rack. A tradition we do every year along with listening to the holiday radio shows, but this Christmas is even more special to me. It’s crazy I feel so confident, even though he hasn’t actually asked me yet. But I know he will.

Eyes popping, Lucy swallows the spoonful of jam she shoved into her mouth. ‘You, Kate? Married?’ Slender and graceful like a young doe, she’s not as tall as me, though at sixteen she’s already filling out her sweaters. Dark brown hair rich with honeyed highlights frames her oval face and an army of freckles deepen in color on her cheeks as she laughs. ‘I hear Santa’s taken.’

I ignore her sarcasm and scoop Ma’s holiday cherry jam onto crackers. ‘It’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone.’ I wink at her, not letting up with my tease. I can’t. I’m too excited. Lucy adores secrets. Her face beams with excitement, like she got away with something without Ma finding out. Like using a pillow case for a laundry bag since bedding is hard to come by, or borrowing my two dollar face powder when she thinks I’m not looking.

Despite my affection for her, I pray she keeps my news under her hat. She loves to talk as much as she loves flirting with the soldiers down at the canteen, but I have to tell somebody the news or I’ll burst. What are sisters for if you can’t tease them? Besides, when Jeff does ask me, I’ll need her help fitting my bridal suit to get the hem straight. A gray suit with a frog clasp I made from extra silk Ma had left over from before the war. I’m lucky to have it. I want to look pretty for him. I never thought of myself as the pinup type, but Jeff makes me feel special and loved. He says I stand up taller when he catches my eye and that brings me closer to kissing him. Ma also noticed how much more confident I am. She was curious about why I saved up for two months to buy a blue silk hat with a wispy veil to go with my red coat with the fake fur collar when I have a perfectly good black hat.

I just smiled.

‘What’s there to tell?’ Lucy points to my bare finger smeared with jam. ‘You’re not wearing a ring, so you can’t be engaged.’

I smile. ‘You don’t know everything about me.’

‘I know you’re sweet on some guy.’

I raise a brow. ‘Snooping again?’

‘Me?’ She bats her eyelashes. ‘I don’t have to. Not the way you go around singing to yourself when you come home from your job at the mill. How you stop and sigh when we walk past Wrightwood House on our way to town.’

A winsome smile makes my lips curl. I love working at the paper mill. I started out in the typing pool after I graduated from high school. I worked my way up to private secretary to Mr Clayborn in the billing and acquisitions department. He needed a girl who could think and not just type, he said. Nothing top secret about what I do, but I’ve been told not to ask questions. Anyway, I have other things on my mind. Even when I’m dead tired from typing a pile of my shorthand notes, I get warm all over when I think about the man I want to marry.

A light comes on in Lucy’s swimming green eyes. ‘So my big sister has stars in her eyes for Jeffrey Rushbrooke.’

‘Don’t get your garter belt in a twist.’ I grab another cherry jam filled cracker. ‘You don’t know anything of the sort.’

Surprisingly, Lucy goes quiet, like she’s mulling over her reply before saying something that might upset me. She gossips more than Mrs Widget the neighbor, but she’s a good egg. Bouncy and full of cheer, especially this time of year. She loves Christmas as much as I do and helped me pile Ma’s holiday cherry jam into glass jars.

For me, the Christmas season begins when Ma takes us kids cherry picking in the woods. Lucy, Frank Junior, and me. When the days are long, the nights are hot, and the cherries are big and sweet and perfect to pick for jam. Before the war, Ma made the sweetest jam in the county with cinnamon and lemon zest, but since rationing started, we’ve had food shortages. We cheered when the government doubled the sugar rations so we could make jam for the boys passing through our small town. The trains stop here every day and Lucy makes it a high priority to meet the train and flirt with the soldiers. She talks about nothing else.

‘He’ll never marry you, Kate,’ she says, her sad puppy eyes showing real concern. I’ve never seen her look so serious. ‘You know what Ma says about them rich people.’

‘Those rich people.’

She wriggles her nose. ‘It doesn’t matter how good you talk, we’re not his kind.’

I shrug. ‘The bet’s still on.’

‘You’re a fool, Kate Arden.’ She sighs. ‘Falling for a guy who doesn’t know you’re alive.’

Lucy never went up to Wrightwood House with Ma and me when we were kids, never knew Jeff and I were pals. I grin. ‘He knows.’

She stares at me straight on. ‘Then why don’t you bring him around the house to meet Ma and Pop?’

‘You know I can’t.’ The hoarseness in my voice reveals how much that hurts me. Because my romance is a secret. Is Lucy right? Am I a fool?

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

The Travelers Regina Porter 4*#Review @ReginaMPorter @JonathanCape #LiteraryFiction #TheTravelers #FamilyDrama #BookReview #Life #Time #USA

#TheTravelers

When the boy was four, he asked his father why people needed sleep. His father said, ‘So God could unfuck all the things people fuck up.’

As America recovers from the Second World War, two families’ journeys begin. James Vincent, born in 1942 to an Irish-American family, escapes his parents’ turbulent marriage and attends law school in New York, where he moves up the social ladder as a prosperous and bright attorney. Meanwhile, Agnes Miller, a beautiful black woman on a date with a handsome suitor, is pulled over by the police on a rural road in Georgia. The terrible moments that follow make her question her future and pivot her into a hasty marriage and new life in the Bronx.

Illuminating more than six decades of sweeping change – from the struggle for civil rights and the chaos of Vietnam to Obama’s first year as President – James and Agnes’s families will come together in unexpected, intimate and profoundly human ways.

Romantic and defiant, humorous and intellectually daring, Regina Porter brilliantly explores how race, gender and class collide in modern-day America – and charts the mishaps and adventures we often take to get closer to ourselves and to home.

Amazon UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK- Vintage Publishing -Jonathan Cape via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This book has sat on my virtual to be read pile all Summer, maybe I subconsciously knew that it would be a challenging read, and this weekend I found out I was right, it was. Though, not the way I thought.

It is an epic story, a family saga spanning an iconic period in USA history. It focuses on family, racism, sexuality, sex discrimination, as well as a myriad of other politically and socially significant themes, but it explores them through two families. One black, one white, and the ways they interconnect, sometimes intimately, other times just for a moment in time. This is an intensely personal way of exploring the modern-day history of the USA. It brings it to life, recalling memories for some, and making it real for the younger generation, who didn’t live through it.

Six decades are covered and the cast of character is plentiful, but it is the way the story is written that I find challenging. It is best described as a series of short stories, each featuring members, of the two families, often at a notable historical time point. Many of the scenes are retold more than once, being seen from another point of view. Whilst, this reinforces the effect of the historic event, it does make the reader feel they are experiencing a groundhog day.

If you can accept the unusual structure, which would work seamlessly in visual media, not surprisingly, the author is a playwright. The story is enlightening, humourous, poignant and romantic, illuminated with rich historical detail. Full of vivid imagery, the reader can visualise what is happening, how it affects the participants, and the story as a whole, very easily.

So, if you enjoy historical literary fiction, and are prepared to let it absorb you without worrying about who did what, and why do you have to see it, from so many perspectives. This is a story that will sweep you away, in time and place, whilst also illuminating the political and social struggles of the USA’s citizens in an influential sixty-year period.

Posted in Book Review

Heads You Win – 4*Review – Jeffrey Archer – #political #historical #thriller @Jeffrey_Archer

cover144246-medium.png

Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin . . .

In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future.

During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world. As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realize where his destiny lies and accepts that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.

Amazon UK

Waterstones 

My Thoughts…

If you enjoy political sagas with a twist, you’re in for a treat with this book. The storytelling and characters are believable and polished. The serendipitous storyline adds an interesting twist to a well researched, historically based political thriller.

Alexander a young man in the USSR in the late 1960’s is clever but his father isn’t a party member and wishes for a less totalitarian state. His father’s ‘accident’, and the circumstances that follow mean Alexander and his mother need to leave to survive. Escaping in a crate on a merchant ship is risky, but when there is a choice of two, fate takes over and the story splits into a ‘what if ‘scenario as Alexander’s life is explored with two possible outcomes.

Both stories are engaging, with strong characters and many plot twists, once you accept how the story will progress it is an enjoyable read, the ending has its surprises, but I did guess the main one. The moral of this being, I think whatever path you take the outcome is already decided.

An enjoyable read for those who enjoy political thrillers and family sagas with a twist of fate.

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Run and Hide -5* Review – Alan McDermott

 

There’s only so long you can run for your life.

Eva Driscoll is used to chasing down bad guys, but now the bad guys are chasing her. She knows they won’t stop until she’s dead.

After her brother is killed in a faked suicide, Driscoll teams up with ex-soldier Rees Colback, the one person who can help her find answers. Together they’re determined to uncover why members of his Special Forces squad are dying in mysterious circumstances.

But with every agency in the country in hot pursuit, their only choice is to flee.

The clock is ticking. They can’t run forever. It’s time to make a choice: kill or be killed…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Intense, fast-paced political thriller with the idea of ‘the republic’ as its basis. The power behind the presidency is a popular theme in North American literature and TV currently but this story provides a credible basis for the theory alongside the non-stop action.

Eva Driscoll a CIA operative suddenly finds she is the target rather than the assassin, her tragedy makes her dig into the conspiracy surrounding her change in status and what she discovers destroys her inner self.

Detailed and peppered with graphically described violence and language this thriller is a page-turner, the characters are believable and sophisticated and the action relentless. The ending is well conceived and leaves the story open for more adventures with Eva.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Annie Lowrey- 4* Review -Give People Money

 

 

Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your checking account, with nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy, but it has become one of the most influential and hotly debated policy ideas of our time. Futurists, radicals, libertarians, socialists, union representatives, feminists, conservatives, Bernie supporters, development economists, child-care workers, welfare recipients, and politicians from India to Finland to Canada to Mexico–all are talking about UBI.

Economics writer Annie Lowrey looks at the global UBI movement. She travels to Kenya to see how a UBI is lifting the poorest people on earth out of destitution, India to see how inefficient government programs are failing the poor, South Korea to interrogate UBI’s intellectual pedigree, and Silicon Valley to meet the tech titans financing UBI pilots in expectation of a world with advanced artificial intelligence and little need for human labor.

Lowrey examines the potential of such a sweeping policy and the challenges the movement faces, among them contradictory aims, uncomfortable costs, and, most powerfully, the entrenched belief that no one should get something for nothing. She shows how this arcane policy offers not only a potential answer for our most intractable economic and social problems but also a better foundation for our society in this age of turbulence and marvels. 

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

An excellent discussion of the principles of Universal Basic Income (UBI), with illuminating case studies from across the world. The majority of the text concentrates on the United States economy, political structure and social systems, but the ideas translate to both developed and underdeveloped countries

Other types of social reform are also discussed. Some ideas, such as universal Child Benefit and access to healthcare both endemic in British society, since the twentieth century, although it has to be said the successive government in recent years have actively worked to dismantle them.

The UBI principle is not new, but perhaps it has never been more relevant with a growing social divide between the rich and the poor, exacerbated by technological developments reducing the needs for routinised jobs. The idea that everyone should receive a basic income regardless of status would bring most out of poverty and improve their quality of life.

This book shows the cost while high is not prohibitive and the improvement in people’s lives, which may ultimately reduce health and social costs, immense. Funding such a scheme is not the only issue, the population’s mindset needs to change, to accept everyone’s right to have a decent life, whether or not they have money, a high earning job and good health.

Women could be the primary benefactors from UBI, often they assume the role of homemaker and carer of elderly relatives. They are penalised for this in financial and social terms. Even though by doing so they allow countries to make a significant financial saving. They also improve the lives of their children and relatives by providing them with a caring, supportive environment. These are roles I have personally undertaken, and while I gained immeasurable emotional benefit from doing this, I have suffered in career terms and financially.

Written in an informative, easy to read style, well-researched with clear, representative arguments, this book is worth reading, whether or not you are interested in economics.

I received a copy of this book from  Penguin Random House – Ebury Publishing -W. H Allen via NetGalley in return for an honest review.