The Maid by Nita Prose

The Maid by Nita Prose

Summary:

I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
 
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

My Review:

One of the most hotly anticipated books of the year is released on 20th January The Maid (Harper Collins) the debut novel by Nita Prose and is a fabulous murder mystery and the film rights have already been snapped up by Universal.

Molly Gray is our narrator, and she is the maid at the Regency Grand Hotel, and she really loves her job, and she cannot imagine doing anything else. But Molly seems to be all alone, and she comes and goes in her role and is not noticed in her position. Each day she attends to rooms and cleaning up after the guests leave. Sometimes there are secrets that only the maid sees and hears but Molly keeps it all to herself. But all that is about to change.

When Molly attends to one room and finds the guest dead in his bed, Molly’s life suddenly changes. Molly is different and your heart just breaks for her. She is socially awkward and finds making friends difficult. She has no memory of her mother and some of the staff make fun of her. Now Molly is at the centre of a murder investigation. Molly could never kill anyone but is now questioned about the murder of a longstanding guest and so the story really comes into its own as Molly now needs the help of some of the staff at the hotel to find out what really happened and at the same time clear up any misunderstanding that she could be involved in the death of a guest.

Molly is a wonderful narrator and there is a host of interesting characters that you get to meet, some good and some not so good. Without doubt The Maid is going to be one of THE books of 2022. Beautifully written by Nita Prose and is just a superb read. You are going to love meeting Molly the maid and you will take her to your heart.

#TheMaid

352 Pages.

My thanks to Jaime Witcomb (Harper Collins) for the review Copy of The Maid by Nita Prose Published by Harper Collins on 20th January 2022 and is now available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Betrayal by David Gilman

Betrayal by David Gilman

Summary:

Dan Raglan, former Foreign Legion fighter, alias The Englishman, returns. The new high-octane international thriller from David Gilman.

Someone’s trying to start a war. And Raglan’s just walked into the kill zone.

It has been many years since Dan Raglan served in the French Foreign Legion, but the bonds forged in adversity are unbreakable and when one of his comrades calls for help, Raglan is duty-bound to answer.

An ex-legionnaire, now an intelligence officer at the Pentagon, disappears. He leaves only this message: should he ever go missing, contact Raglan. But Raglan’s not the only one looking for the missing man. From the backstreets of Marseilles, Raglan finds himself following a trail of death that will lead him to Florida, to the camaraderie of a Vietnam vet in Washington D.C., and into the heart of a bitter battle in the upper echelons of the US intelligence community.

Pursued by both the CIA and a rogue female FBI agent, Raglan’s search will place him in the cross hairs of an altogether more lethal organisation. Tracking his old comrade, he finds himself in the midst of deadly conspiracy, and on a journey to a fatal confrontation deep in the Honduran rainforest.

My Review:

The return of Dan Raglan. Fans of thriller writer David Gilman will be delighted to hear that published today (6th January) is Betrayal (Head of Zeus) and is the second in the series following on from The Englishman that was published in July 2020.

Not to worry if you have not read the first instalment featuring the former Foreign Legion fighter as both can be happily read as a standalone thriller but be warned, you may then want to go and grab a copy of the first when you have read Betrayal as this is a gripping thriller that will have you crossing the globe and at every turn there is danger that faces Dan Raglan known as the The Englishman.

In this instalment Dan Raglan hears that a friend and former French Foreign Legion fighter who now works at the Pentagon has disappeared and gone off the grid. Because of the role he has at the Pentagon, this is suspicious, and Raglan now must find him and quickly, but why has his former colleague disappeared? Be prepared for one hell of a rollercoaster of a thriller. The pace never lets up and when you consider this is a book of nearly 550 pages this is quite something to keep it going.

For Raglan he knows his former Legionnaire friend is in trouble and time is of the essence. Without giving anything away, there is more to this story than just a disappearance of his former colleague. Raglan is searching for his old comrade but who is looking for Dan Raglan and why?

Characters are so important in novels and in Betrayal they have been brilliantly written so that you can really get into the storyline. Raglan will do whatever is required and will not hesitate to kill anyone if that is what it takes.

David Gilman writes superbly and has crafted a compelling and plot driven thriller that is packed with drama and thriller lovers will really enjoy Betrayal as there is so much packed into this novel.

@DavidGilmanUK

@HoZ_Books

544 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom (Ransom PR) for the review Copy of Betrayal by David Gilman Published by Head of Zeus on 6th January 2022 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Books That Made My Year: 2021

My Books of the Year for 2021

That was the year that was. We are still living in uncertain and strange times, but you can always guarantee that books will be there and get us through and they have again this year.

So as the old year draws to a close, I want to share some of the books that I have read and reviewed here on my blog, or through my book reviews for Word Gets Around magazine or via radio during the past year.

This year I have selected my ten fiction titles and ten non-fiction titles without actually picking just one from each to be my best book of the year. There have been so many great books through 2021 and it was incredibly hard to keep it down to just ten.

My ten fiction books of 2021

My ten favourite fiction reads for 2021:

The Night Gate by Peter May (riverrun)

Set in France in the autumn of 2020, Enzo Macleod is asked to investigate the discovery of the remains of a man found beneath a tree. He has been shot through the head. There is another murder and the two are seventy years apart. To uncover the whole story, you must go back to the fall of France in 1940.

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy jago (Bloomsbury)

This is a fabulous novel based on the true story that rocked the court of James I. If you love historical novels then this sumptuous novel with vivid characters is just waiting to be read. So much detail of the seventeenth century court life.

While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart (Headline)

Paris in 1944 a young woman is hoarded onto a train that is bound for a concentration camp and in an act of desperation she passes her baby to a complete stranger. Fast forward to Santa Cruz in 1953 and the past is about to return. I absolutely loved this novel.

No Honour by Awais Khan (orenda Books)

A story based in a small Pakistani village and sixteen-year-old Abida there are age old rules to abide by and consequences if you don’t. She wants a life with the young man she loves. She has no choice but to leave her village and head to Lahore. But this is where the story really begins. Powerful and heart wrenching.

Still Life by Sarah Winman (Fourth Estate)

Brilliant does not do justice to Still Life. I know this is many readers favourite of 2021 and it is not hard to see why. I just love Sarah’s writing. The story moves between London and Florence in a sweeping novel of love and fate. Simply gorgeous.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex (Picador)

Cornwall 1972 and three lighthouse keepers have simply vanished from the lighthouse, but what did really happen to the three men? Surely, they could not have just simply vanished? Based on real events.

On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold (Arcadia Books)

Thorn Marsh writes for the London Journal but now it has been bought out Thorn finds herself moved from the news desk to the midweek supplement and fabricates a good news story. So why has she done this? You could easily overlook this novel. But don’t it is just wonderful.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (Wildfire)

Shortlisted for Waterstones book of the year. A stunning retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and Minotaur. A wonderful debut novel. Jennifer Saint writes so beautifully. Cannot wait to see what comes next.

The Beresford by Will Carver (Orenda Books)

The Beresford is an apartment building where the rates are cheap but ring the doorbell if you dare. No-one seems to stay for very long, but they never seem to leave if you know what I mean. This is a dark and creepy story with some humour added. A master storyteller.

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks (Hutchinson)

Set across three time periods, beginning in 1914 and WWI and as we move through the years WWII is looming. This is a sweeping love story that begins in Austria. A tale of love lost and found.

My ten non-fiction books of 2021

Power and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages (Head of Zeus)

Dan Jones does not write short history books, at 720 pages but what Dan does is write gripping history books. This account covers the period from AD 410 to AD 1527. It is a compelling read that you just cannot put down. There is so much contained in over 700 pages. Through this period, we see empires built and destroyed. Easily in my top ten of the year.

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin (Constable)

Think of Lee Child and you automatically know him from the huge bestselling books, over 100 million of them, but do you know Lee Child the man? How did it all begin? Heather Martin has spent time with great man himself and it is all here. There is so much in this biography. Heather Martin is a wonderful writer and if you are a fan of Lee Child, this is a must read.

Mozart: The Reign of Love by Jan Swafford (Faber & Faber)

I have been fascinated by the great composers for many years and really wanted to get to know more about who they really were. Well look no further, this is a stunning book that covers the life of the genius composer. Mozart was not like the other composers. Different is an understatement but what genius as a composer. This book covers his life in over 800 pages.

Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan (Allen Lane)

We can be so guilty of overlooking the humble index, so how did it all begin and were did they begin. The answer is here in one of my non-fiction books of the year. This could be so easily overlooked but it should not as we use indexes more than you think. Next time you Google, think of this. Duncan brings wit into his account of the index which spans over 800 years.

The Screaming Sky by Charles Foster (Little Toller Books)

Writing this on a dull last day of the year, I miss the Swift, the scream as they fly low of the house. But it won’t be long I tell myself. In the meantime, here is an account of Charles Foster’s as he follows the Swift from its wintering home and waits patiently for the return to the UK. It is poetic and thoughtful with beautiful illustrations. Shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize in 2021.

The Making of Oliver Cromwell by Ronald Hutton (Yale University Press)

This is a new and fascinating history of Oliver Cromwell. The only English commoner to become head of state. Ronald Hutton gets to the facts of a man that really has his place in history of this country. I am really hoping there is a part two to this outstanding book.

A Poet for Every day of the Year by Allie Esiri (Macmillan)

I have had a love of poetry since I was very young and have many of the collections put together by Allie Esiri and here are 366 poems for each and every day of the year. From Shakespeare to Wordsworth to Christina Rossetti and many more. Many of the poets and the poems may be familiar but many will be new to you. This book is never far away from me every day.

The White Ship by Charles Spencer (William Collins)

One of the great disasters of this country happened was the sinking of the White Ship in 1120. Many drowned including the King’s heir. But what really happened that night. It was the fastest ship afloat. Charles Spencer writes an historical account, and it reads like a bestselling thriller.

Burning the Books: A History of Knowledge Under Attack by Richard Ovenden (John Murray)

A 3,000-year history of the destruction of knowledge. We all know of the burning of the books in Germany in 1933, but books have been under attack since the clay tablets. This is a really important book about knowledge, and it is very thought-provoking.

The Glitter in the Green: In Search of Hummingbirds by Jon Dunn (Bloomsbury)

Having been to the Caribbean and seen Hummingbirds up close, they are just so alluring. Jon Dunn takes us on a journey to discover some of the great Hummingbirds with great stories of his encounters with the birds and the people he meets on his travels.

So, there we are another year in books comes to a close. I will keep saying this, but writers and books are so important, especially during uncertain times when we can escape into a book be it a novel or a book on history. This year I have started my journey with the Open University studying English Literature and Creative Writing and it has already given me a new perspective on how I read as well as writing.

I have really sharing some great books over the last year and I am so grateful for all the kind comments that many have taken to the time to add. Sat on my desk among the pile of study material are some great books for 2022 just waiting to be read and it already looks like being another great year.

This is also my opportunity to thank all the authors and publishers and the many people who work in PR who have trusted me with their books. To each one of you all I can do is thank you. It is also a chance to mention bookshops and the incredible booksellers who again have been working so hard in these difficult times and yet just look at the book sales over the past year.

I hope the New Year is a better year for us all. Here’s to more great books in 2022.

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Summary:

Twelve clues.
Twelve keys.
Twelve days of Christmas.
But who will survive until Twelfth Night?

Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died twenty-one Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve twelve clues, to find twelve keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.

Lily has no desire to win the house. But her aunt makes one more promise: The clues will also reveal who really killed Lily’s mother all those years ago.

So, for the twelve days of Christmas, Lily must stay at Endgame House with her estranged cousins and unravel the riddles that hold the key not just to the family home, but to its darkest secrets. However, it soon becomes clear that her cousins all have their own reasons for wanting to win the house – and not all of them are playing fair.

As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises that she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.

This Christmas is to die for . . . Let the game begin

My Review:

You cannot beat a murder mystery at Christmas and especially set in a country house and a family that lets face don’t quite get on and in The Christmas Murder Mystery (Zaffre) by Alexandra Benedict you all these and a snow storm to add to the setting.

I featured The Christmas murder Game on my Christmas Books for the Somerset Cool Christmas Show as part of the Book Club, and I said that it just reminded me of Cluedo a game I still enjoy today. It really does have that feel about.

The lead character is Lily Armitage who cannot face ever returning to her aunt Lillian’s home that is Endgame House that is situated in the Yorkshire Dales, this this is where her mother died when Lily was young. But Lillian has died, and she has requested that the family must return to Endgame House over the Christmas holiday, but for Lily this means spending time with a family that has more than just a few cracks in it. But she has the chance of finding out what really happened to her mother all those years ago. But there is a catch, in that her aunt has insisted the family must partake in the Christmas Game that Lillian has set. There are twelve clues that Lillian has created in Sonnets and these must be solved as there are twelve keys to be found. The family must have no communication with the outside world and all mobile phones and devices must be handed in. At the end the winner will have the keys to Endgame House.

As Lily settles into the creepy old house, memories come flooding back of when she was here as a young child. What really did happen all those Christmases ago? Within the walls of Endgame House lie secrets that have gone untold for many years. Is this where the secrets finally seep out of the walls and into the open and how is this going to affect a family that really does not get on. Lilly wants to go back home to London where she now belongs.

What Lily does not know yet is that these games will include murder and that Lily will need to be on her guard as there is someone here who desperately wants this house for a reason and now just to make things worse a snowstorm has hit this part of remote Yorkshire. Lily feels she is trapped in a home and with relatives she does not trust, and some will not be playing these games fairly some will kill to win.

This is a claustrophobic Christmas murder mystery that is just a wonderful read. There is so much that is hidden away within the pages, Alexandra Benedict has created some let’s say interesting characters but one in Lily that you will cheer for.

The Christmas Murder Game is just the perfect festive read, it is fun and one that you will enjoy if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie. But there is more Alexandra has dropped in a few little games for the reader to play while trying to solve this gripping murder mystery. Hidden in the pages at twelve book titles and at the end of the book there is a puzzle to solve that you will enjoy while you digest that extra slice of Christmas cake you wish you had said no to but pour that glass of wine and settle down to read a festive murder mystery.

400 Pages

 The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict is Published by Zaffre on 30th September and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Summary:

Suspicion is cast on two successful crime writers, when their seven-year-old son goes missing. Are they trying to show that they can commit the perfect crime? A mesmerisingly twisty, dark thriller from number-one bestselling author Paul Cleave…

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… 

Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Electrifying, taut and immaculately plotted, The Quiet People is a chilling, tantalisingly twisted thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing to the last explosive page.

My Review:

I have been waiting patiently to publish my review of an outstanding thriller that is dark and twisted and one of the best five star reads of 2021. The Quiet People (Orenda Books) by Paul Cleave is the perfect crime novel for the Christmas period if you have not already read it that is.

As soon as the book landed on my doormat the cover just screamed at me. When a book has the has the words “Can crime writers get away with murder?” Well, there it is. Instantly it had in its grip and that was before I had even started reading.

The crime writing husband and wife that is Cameron and Lisa Murdoch seem on paper to be the perfect couple, happily married and they have become very successful as crime writers but when one night their son Zach disappears things start to unravel for the couple.

Both Cameron and Lisa tell the police that they think Zach has run away after a family argument. When there is evidence of the pair telling a writers panel that they could get away with, it is not long before the police and even the public start to question the couple’s innocence, let alone the media and we all know how the media love a high-profile case. Meanwhile the search for Zach goes on. What I really enjoyed about how Paul Cleave set out this pulsating thriller is how he uses key characters as narrators. You cannot help but become immersed in this superb plot that has many twists and turns before you reach the last page. One thing that struck me very quickly was Cameron and Lisa, were they really the perfect couple or was this just for show? A pretence to carry on selling their books perhaps. Something to me was not right. But I will let you find that one out for yourselves.

The chapters are short so you can easily put it down and go and pour yourself another drink, but you won’t want to leave this one alone for long. The Quiet People is a compelling and gripping read from start to finish and it will have one minute supporting the couple the next you won’t.

Yes, it really is that good. Forget the tv, go to your local bookshop and get yourself a copy of The Quiet People. You won’t regret it.

300 Pages.

My thanks to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review Copy of The Quiet People by Paul Cleave Published on 25th November 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

Silenced by Jennie Ensor

Silenced by Jennie Ensor

Summary:

A teenage girl is murdered on her way home from school, stabbed through the heart. Her North London community is shocked, but no-one has the courage to help the police, not even her mother. DI Callum Waverley, in his first job as senior investigating officer, tries to break through the code of silence that shrouds the case.

This is a world where the notorious Skull Crew rules through fear. Everyone knows you keep your mouth shut or you’ll be silenced – permanently.

This is Luke’s world. Reeling from the loss of his mother to cancer, his step-father distant at best, violent at worst, he slides into the Skull Crew’s grip.

This is Jez’s world too. Her alcoholic mother neither knows nor cares that her 16-year-old daughter is being exploited by V, all-powerful leader of the gang.

Luke and Jez form a bond. Can Callum win their trust, or will his own demons sabotage his investigation? And can anyone stop the Skull Crew ensuring all witnesses are silenced?

Silenced is the compelling and gritty new thriller by British author Jennie Ensor. A gripping story of love, fear and betrayal, it’s Romeo and Juliet for our troubled times.

My Review:

Was it really July 2016 that I reviewed Blind Side by Jennie Ensor? Time as they say does fly but Jennie Ensor is back with her new novel Silenced (Hobeck Books) that was released earlier this week and what a powerful and gripping story that Jennie has written.

There is an undercurrent of modern-day Britain within the pages of Silenced as the story begins with the murder of a teenage girl stabbed to death on her way home from school. At the heart of this story is the rule of gangs on the street.

This is a powerful novel that will get your pulses racing as the police now set about trying to find out what really happened and catch the killers before another tragic senseless young person is murdered on the streets.

It is down to DI Callum Waverley to find any witnesses to the murder. This is his first role as investigating officer but there is a back story to DI Waverley who has a few issues at home of his own. There is also a narrative of two young teenagers in the story that really bring the story home about gangs on the streets. We meet Jez and Luke who because of their lives at home get pulled into the gang culture. Once in and it is not that easy to get out of. The Skull Crew are not that forgiving.

The way that Jennie Ensor has crafted her novel is stark and real. You could almost smell the fear of gang culture pouring out of every page. Be prepared for a few twists and turns along the way. The characters are so real and what this story does show is how easy it is for youngers to become embroiled in this shocking lifestyle that is terrifying the streets we live on.

You want to reach out to Jez and Luke and pull them away. Two bright young people whose own lives have become derailed because of events at home then get pulled into the gang culture.

Silenced pulls a few punches along the way and I found I had to walk away from the book a few times, but this is one story worth the read.

528 Pages.

My thanks to Hobeck Books for the review copy of Silenced by Jennie Ensor Published on 7th December 2021 and is now available to order through Hobeck Books:https://www.hobeck.net/product-page/silenced-by-jennie-ensor   or through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights by eight award-winning authors.

The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights by eight award-winning authors.

Summary:

Featuring new and original tales from:

Bridget Collins Sunday Times bestselling author of The Binding | Imogen Hermes Gowar Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock | Kiran Millwood Hargrave Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mercies | Andrew Michael Hurley Sunday Times bestselling author of The Loney Jess Kidd International award-winning author of Things in Jars | Elizabeth Macneal Sunday Times bestselling author of The Doll Factory | Natasha Pulley
Sunday Times bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street | Laura Purcell Award-winning author of The Silent Companions

______________

Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularized the tradition, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a ghost story.

Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – all of them master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring the tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding new collection of original spine-tingling tales.

Taking you from the frosty Fens to the wild Yorkshire moors, to the snow-covered grounds of a haunted estate, to a bustling London Christmas market, these mesmerizing stories will capture your imagination and serve as your indispensable companion to the cold, dark nights.

My Review:

Writing a review for a short story collection is never easy as I don’t know about you but there will always be some you will really enjoy reading and perhaps one or two that may not be as enjoyable. One collection of short stories that I really did enjoy was The Haunting Season (Sphere) that was released in October and has eight ghostly tales for winter written by some of our best writers.

It is not often you will find a collection of ghost stories that will make the bestsellers charts, but this is exactly what The Haunting Season achieved. I featured The Haunting Season as one of my books for Christmas on the festive edition of the Somerset Cool Book Club on Frome FM just in the last few weeks. Which is still available to listen via their website.

Dark winters nights are synonymous with the telling of spooky tales by candlelight and this goes back hundreds of years and this is a perfect collection as we approach Christmas.

Inside you will find a real collection that will have the flame on your candle flickering.

A Study in Black and White by Bridget Collins

Thwaite’s Tennant by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Eel Singers by Natasha Pulley

Lily Wilt by Jess Kidd

The Chillingham Chair by Laura Purcell

The Hanging of the Greens by Andrew Michael Hurley

Confinement by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Monster by Elizabeth Macneal

Just like any novel it is the characters that drive these stories and they are all unique without giving anything away about the stories themselves.

Many if not all of the writers in this collection will be familiar to avid readers which makes this such a prefect Christmas gift to put under the tree. Also a book to come back to year upon year especially if there is a story you enjoy.

I have loved reading ghost stories during Christmas ever since I was a young boy, and I have a feeling this is a book that will find its way under many a tree this Christmas.

304 Pages.

The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights published by Sphere on 21st October is available in hardback through your local independent bookshop, Waterstones and Amazon or through Bookshop.org that supports local independent bookshops. UK Bookshop.org

Aurochs and Auks: Essays on Mortality and Extinction by John Burnside

Aurochs and Auks: Essays on Mortality and Extinction by John Burnside

Summary:

Aurochs and Auks is a deeply moving and intelligent meditation on the natural processes of death and extinction, renewal and continuity. Prompted by his own near-death in a time of pandemic, John Burnside explores the history of the auroch (Bos primigenius), the wild cattle that has become the source of so much sacred and cultural imagery across Europe, from the Minotaur and the Cretan bull dances to Spanish corrida traditions. He then tells the story of the Great Auk, a curious bird whose extinction in the mid-nineteenth century was caused by human persecution and before stepping into multiple extinctions of the outer and inner world.

My Review:

John Burnside is a poet and an author, for his latest work Aurochs and Auks: Essays on Mortality and Extinction (Little Toller) John Burnside takes a look death and extinction in a collection of four essays which includes the story of the Great Auk that was extinct back in the mid-nineteenth century directly because of human persecution.

What prompted John to write his collection of essays was a near-death experience because of covid. This was the catalyst that created the four essays and begins with Aurochs. These were the very large Cattle that roamed the landscapes of Europe centuries ago. The very last Aurochs died out in Poland in 1627. The second is a look at extinction itself and a look really behind the word and Extinction Rebellion come into this chapter.

The third chapter is the sad story of the Great Auk that became extinct in the mid-nineteenth century again this was due man’s persecution. Been keen on ornithology I have read many books on this incredible bird. It is sad that we never had the chance to witness the Great Auk.

The final chapter ‘Blossom Ruins’ looks at the authors near-death experience due to covid and how close John was to dying, so much so that that his wife was told to prepare for the worst. To come back from this experience is life changing and you look at life and the world very differently. He notes in his account his deep appreciation for the NHS and the work they have done during this dreadful time and how they looked after him.

This may seem like a dark book to read but the message through these pages is loud and clear for all humanity to read. Maybe this is a book that politicians around the world need to read. John’s words are profound and prophetic if man does not change its ways. After all are we not the caretakers of this planet we call home? Not just for us but all the creatures on this planet.

128 Pages.

My thanks to Little Toller Books for the review copy of Aurochs and Auks by John Burnside. Published on 18th October 2021 and is now available direct through Little Toller Books https://www.littletoller.co.uk/shop/books/little-toller/aurochs-and-auks-by-john-burnside/ or through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or via Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

SAS Bravo Three Zero: The Explosive Untold Story by Des Powell and Damien Lewis

SAS Bravo Three Zero: The Explosive Untold Story by Des Powell and Damien Lewis

Summary:

There were three patrols that fateful January 1991 morning: Bravo One ZeroBravo Two Zero and Bravo Three Zero. It was the opening hours of the Gulf War and the SAS were flown deep behind enemy lines to hunt down Saddam’s Scud missiles, the use of which threatened a Third World War.

The men of Bravo One Zero stepped off the chopper, took one look at the flat desert devoid of any cover and decided no way were they deploying into all of that. But Andy NcNab’s famed Bravo Two Zero patrol did deploy, with fatal results – all bar one being captured or killed.

And then there was Bravo Three Zero. These men were different. Thought differently. Acted differently. Treating as gospel the SAS’s saying ‘any fool can be uncomfortable’, they deployed with vehicles, and while there was nowhere to hide they could make a dash for the border if desperate.

Even as warnings came in that McNab’s patrol was on the run, Bravo Three Zero remained undetected – the furthest Coalition forces behind Iraqi lines. Slipping through enemy positions, a string of targets were taken out. But with the desert turning bitter and snow starting to fall, they were forced to fight a running battle against the elements as much as the enemy.

Though overshadowed by the fate of Bravo Two Zero, the achievements of this highly-decorated patrol are the stuff of elite forces legend. Now, for the first time, SAS veteran Des Powell reveals their story in gritty, blow-by-blow detail. Written with acclaimed military author Damien Lewis, this is a tale of edge-of-the seat daring deep inside enemy lands. Brutal, savage, unrelenting – prepare to be blown away, in a tale that proves utterly the SAS motto – who dares wins.

My Review:

I am extremely grateful to Sophie Ransom for the review copy of SAS Bravo Three Zero (Quercus) by Des Powell and Damien Lewis that was released on 28th October. Today 11th November at 11am we mark Armistice Day. We remember those who gave their lives in service of their country and with remembrance Sunday this weekend.

This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the forming of the Special Air Service (SAS) and has its origins from the North African desert campaign in 1941. This year also marks the 30th Anniversary of the first Gulf War were the SAS played a significant role behind enemy lines.

And it is the incredible story of one of the three SAS patrols. The opening few hours were important and the SAS had its role to play. Bravo One Zero, Bravo Two Zero and Bravo Three Zero. Their main role that morning was to seek and destroy the Scud missiles that Sadam Hussain was trying to create a wider and more serious war.

It is the patrol that Des Powell was part of being Bravo Three Zero, these men decided they had a job to do and no matter they were going to do the job they trained to do. Meanwhile Bravo Two Zero was in serious trouble with men wounded or killed. All bar one of that team got out. Bravo One Zero did not deploy as it was too dangerous. This left Bravo Three Zero and this is the story of Des Powell and what took place in the desert.

This patrol and their story is now the stuff of elite forces legend and so it should be. Des Powell and the men of Bravo Three Zero are the bravest of the brave. They went far behind enemy line and taking out targets as they went. As I read Des Powell’s story, I was left humbled by their actions. But none of these men should ever have to go into action with sub-standard equipment.

Written by the acclaimed military author Damien Lewis, superbly researched as you would come to expect. These brave men do the work others could never do, and are the bravest of the brave. It was a privilege to be able to read in advance and SAS Bravo Three Zero is one book I would recommend.

Lest We Forget.

#SASBravoThreeZero

@P22Des

@quercusbooks

368 Pages.

My thanks to Sophie Ransom for the review copy of SAS Bravo Three Zero by Des Powell and Damien Lewis Published by Quercus Books on 28th October 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin

The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child by Heather Martin

Summary:

Lee Child is the enigmatic powerhouse behind the phenomenally successful Jack Reacher novels. With devoted fans across the globe, and over a hundred million copies of his books sold in more than forty languages, he is that rarity, a writer who is both critically acclaimed and adored by readers. And yet curiously little has been written about the man himself.

The Reacher Guy shows us for the first time the young man behind the invention of Jack Reacher. Through parallels drawn between Child and his literary creation, it tells the story of how a lost and lonely boy from Birmingham with a ferocious appetite for reading grew up to become a high-flying TV executive, before coming full circle and establishing himself as an internationally bestselling author.

Heather Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America – and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession. Drawing on exclusive correspondence and conversations with Child over a number of years, she forensically pieces together his life, from Northern Ireland and County Durham to New York and Hollywood. This is the definitive account of the man behind one of the most iconic series of our times.

My Review:

I have to admit here that I read this some months ago when the weather was warmer and the days longer. Welcome to The Authorised Biography of James Dover Grant OBE. Or to put it another way. The Reacher Guy: The Authorised Biography of Lee Child (Constable) by Heather Martin. Huge international bestselling author does not do him justice. Lee Child is more than this.

I have to say a very big thank you to Heather Martin who I have go to know on Twitter and her inspirational comments. The paperback was released on 21st October.

This really is the stuff of boyhood dreams to become one of the worlds leading thriller writers. Everyone knows the number one worldwide Jack Reacher series from book to Hollywood silver screen. But how many of us know the man behind the writing?

What Heather Martin has done is to craft his story from the in-depth conversations over a period of time that has given Heather the chance to tell the story of Lee Child from childhood and his early school days in Coventry to the day he was made redundant, and this is where he decided that this was his moment in time to become an international bestselling writer. We all dream the dream of making good and the security this will bring but as many writers know there is rejection, but his time had arrived.

As biographies go this, I found to be a real page turner, as I have been fascinated with writers and their craft for many years and I must congratulate Heather Martin for the engaging way she has gone about writing Lee Child’s biography. There are interesting facts that come to light through the pages.

This is by no means a quick biography at 544 pages it is a fabulous read. If you have enjoyed reading the Jack Reacher series, then you must make The Reacher Guy high on your list as this will give a gripping insight to the man who made it all happen and proves that dream can come true.

There are also interviews with teachers, colleagues, and friends in interweaved with many stories of Lee Child’s life that eventually took him to the USA. One biography not to be missed.

544 Pages.

My thanks to Heather Martin, Little Brown and to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the  review copy of The Reacher Guy by Heather Martin. Published by Constable (Little Brown) on 21st October 2021in Paperback and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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