Kate Thompson - glamorous housewife-turned-MP - surprises everyone with her meteoric rise at Westminster. When Kate is sent as a trade minister to India, she hopes it will be her moment to shine. But, embroiled in a personal scandal, she gets drawn into a dangerous world of corruption and political intrigue...
Billionaire Deepak Parrikar - head of an Indian arms technology company - is magnetically drawn to the beautiful British minister. But while their relationship deepens, India's hostilities with Pakistan reach boiling point, causing more than just business and politics to collide. In the race to prevent disaster, can their conflicting loyalties survive being tested to the limit?
Vince Cable (yes, that Vince Cable!) was born in York in 1943. Having worked as a lecturer and an economist, he entered the House of Commons in 1997, and has been a well liked and respected figure in politics ever since - his return as leader of the Liberal Democrats a well awaited one. And now... he's written his first novel. I've never been a huge fan of novels written by politicians - my hometown is the place in Lincolnshire that first elected Jeffrey Archer to power so I've always felt a misplaced sense of guilt for unleashing his constant stream of books on to the world.
Cable has experience as a writer though - both his memoir and his account of the financial crisis are well reviewed. Losing his seat in Parliament in 2015, Cable focused on writing "Open Arms" - and it's clear that this a novel from a man who felt his career in politics was perhaps open - as it's honest, adult, and at times rather scathing of the political system that Cable spent many years in. What's reassuring though, is that dealing with all of the major political parties to an extent (his own, the Liberal Democrats are, much like in current politics, rather sidelined), Cable never veers into caricature - allowing the actions of his characters to speak for themselves, and even making me like a Tory minister - not something I ever thought all that likely!
In terms of plot, it's very much a political thriller, but one with pace, action and intriguing themes at the centre of it - and stakes that only escalate as the plot goes on. The prose isn't particularly elegant, but it certainly isn't clunky either - it does the job and drives the plot along well - a plot that Cable juggles with considerable skill.
A great debut from a legend of politics, "Open Arms" sets the readers pulse racing with a terrific plot drawn straight from the corridors of power. Perfect holiday reading - many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
A young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history.
When Clara Beaudoux moved into an apartment in Paris, she was informed that she extra storage available elsewhere in the building. Accessing the storage, she found it full of the previous tenants belongings and, with their loves ones permission, she began to explore the contents, sharing her findings on Twitter and fascinating thousands with the mementos and snapshots of a woman's life in the 20th Century. This book collects those Twitter posts, along with some additional information regarding the author's journey to meet those who knew Madeline.
Telling the story through the Twitter posts is an interesting choice - it makes is a speedy read, and also a modern one - despite Madeline's story taking the reader back to the Second World War. It moved me rather unexpectedly - and the joy of using the Twitter snippets is that both the reader and the author can be genuinely surprised by new discoveries as they come along. Madeleine's life is a fascinating one, and and Beaudoux treats it with immense care and respect - the two seeming to form a friendship through the ages as the discoveries continue. Looking into the life of someone deceased is always tricky - but Beaudoux is careful never to be too intrusive - discoveries instead coming organically and with the blessings of Madeleine's loved ones - turning what could have been a ghoulish intrusion into a read that's uplifting, hopeful, and filled with a fierce kind of joy that left me smiling long after turning the pages. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
1792: the blood begins to drip from the guillotine. The French Revolution is entering its most violent phase, and threatens all Europe with chaos. In the age of the mob, no individual is safe.
The spies of England, France and Prussia are fighting their own war for survival and supremacy. Somewhere in Paris is a hidden trove of secrets that will reveal the treacheries of a whole continent.
At the height of the madness a stranger arrives in Paris, to meet a man who has disappeared. Unknown and untrusted, he finds himself the centre of all conspiracy. When the world is changing forever, what must one man become to survive?
Robert Wilton works as an author and, rather surprisingly, an international diplomat. Over the years he's worked in both Kosovo and Albania, and it's clear that his experience in international relations and the internal workings of countries allows him to create books full of fascinating, complex characters and well developed worlds for those characters to live in.
His latest, "Treason's Spring" is a prequel to "Treason's Tide" - a book set during the Napoleonic Wars. Here Wilton takes things back to the French Revolution - a turbulent period evoked remarkably well by the author. Into this world, Wilton throws in mysteries, murders, and characters so vital they draw the reader swiftly into the plot, forming a tight grip on them as they move through the fast paced and often thrilling events that occur. Page turners like this can often be high in plot but rather low in quality - but there's no cause for concern here. Wilton's writing has a rich, slightly old fashioned feel to it, which when combined with his eye for historical accuracy leads to a read that's as informative as it is thrilling and transportive. Set to be the first part of a trilogy, I'm looking forward to book two - many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
In this sweeping global survey, one of Britain's most distinguished journalists and media commentators analyses for the first time the state of journalism worldwide as it enters the post-truth age.
From the decline of the newspaper in the West and the simultaneous threats posed by fake news and President Trump, to the part that Facebook and Twitter played in the Arab revolts and the radical openness stimulated by WikiLeaks, and from the vast political power of Rupert Murdoch's News International and the merger of television and politics in Italy, to the booming, raucous and sometimes corrupt Indian media and the growing self-confidence of African journalism, John Lloyd examines the technological shifts, the political changes and the market transformations through which journalism is currently passing.
It takes a lot to surprise me when it comes to books - given my line of work I've read a lot, and consider myself fairly up to date when it comes to politics and culture in general.
However - Journalist and Author John Lloyd has compiled a fascinating and shocking book that explores journalism on a global scale. Far reaching and broad in scope overall, the chapters hone in on individual countries and explore the past and present of journalism in each one. Lloyd supplies the reader with a huge amount of information, but his skill is such that it never becomes overwhelming - he writes with a style that urges the reader to keep turning the pages, no matter how depressing the facts conveyed may be to some. What's rather remarkable is that this book about the dark state of journalism in many places, manages to be a shining beacon of quality journalism. Illuminating and immensely readable, Lloyd conveys his words with skill and urgency in this book that serves as both a source of fact and an alarming alert to the need for quality journalism in the modern day world. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
While on an impromptu night out with friends, David meets Liv, a beautiful woman nearly twenty years younger. Falling harder than he thought he could a year after the death of his wife, he slowly opens up to the possibility of another relationship, love and eventually even marriage.
Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You is a novel set in modern day Washington, D.C. and offers a contemporary view of new relationships: their requirements, expectations and repercussions…where the promise of something new can often become a cautionary lesson in living.
Jarrod Campbell is an author based in Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington DC - the author of two short story collections and a novella, he can be found on Instagram@1ozpublishing.
"Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You" follows David, a 43 year old widower as he meets the beautiful Liv - and begins to move on following the death of his wife. It's great premise, and one Campbell makes full use of, exploring the doubts, fears, misunderstandings and insecurities that form the start of a relationship. He has a knack for dialogue, allowing him to create developed and interesting characters - particularly impressive considering this is a first novel. The writing is clear and straightforward - with time given to descriptions and characterisation, but keeping things clean enough to keep the plot going at a rapid pace.
Where that plot ends up is also particularly impressive - I won't spoil things, but it certainly didn't end up where I expected it to, with a few last minute twists that are wholly surprising and hugely entertaining. The main thrust of the plot is both mature and realistic, and Campbell has crafted events well - allowing for a balanced and well paced plot - even if I'd have liked to have seen the resolution to the final, shocking plot twist!
A great quick read - "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You" is an impressive debut that's well worth your time
It all starts with the death of Martijn van Vliet's wife. His grief-stricken young daughter, Lea, cuts herself off from the world, lost in the darkness of grief. Then she hears the unfamiliar sound of a violin playing in the hall of a train station, and she is brought back to life. Transfixed by a busker playing Bach, Lea emerges from her mourning, vowing to learn the instrument. And her father, witnessing this delicate spark, promises to do everything and anything in his power to keep her happy.
Lea grows into an extraordinary musical talent--her all-consuming passion leads her to become one of the finest players in the country--but as her fame blossoms, her relationship with her father withers. Unable to keep her close, he inadvertently pushes Lea deeper and deeper into this newfound independence and, desperate to hold on to his daughter, Martin is driven to commit an act that threatens to destroy them both.
This is a short book, but nevertheless one that took me a while to get into - the plot is immediately filled with two strong voices - and as a reader it took me a good few pages to adjust to the tone and timbre overall. However, once in, this is a book that grips the reader tightly - racing them swiftly through the plot like a fever dream. We've all heard and read about the tragic and passionate lives of artists gripped by their music - of the infamous "27" club that so many musicians end up joining, as well as the painful, tragic life of someone like Jacqueline Du Pre.
Mercier captures that angst and drive - turning his story into an almost psychological thriller - the reader has a vague idea as to the story of these characters (Lea) especially, will end - but he takes them on a fascinating journey to get to that point.
Telling the story from the point of view of two men - Lea's father Martijn Van Vliet and Adrian Herzog, a man he travels with, allows Mercier to cleverly relax on the intensity at times - allowing the tales of these two men to thread into the main plot in an extremely complimentary manner. It's the skilled balance of light and shade that prevents this book from coming too dark and gloomy, and it's testament to the author that the strands are just as compelling as each other.
For the main plot , watching the desperation grow as Lea becomes more and more obsessed by her music is worryingly irresistible, Mercier's prose almost magnetic in how deeply it pulls the reader in, helped ably by an excellent translation by Shaun Whiteside
A rapid ride of a book that gets deep under the reader's skin -Lea is a read that's both heart-racing and haunting. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
Valiant Gentlemen reimagines the lives and intimate friendships of humanitarian and Irish patriot Roger Casement; his closest friend, Herbert Ward; and Ward's extraordinary wife, the Argentinian-American heiress Sarita Sanford.
Valiant Gentlemen takes the reader on an intimate journey, from Ward and Casement's misadventurous youth in the Congo - where, among other things, they bore witness to an Irish whiskey heir's taste for cannibalism - to Ward's marriage to Sarita and their flourishing family life in France, to Casement's covert homosexuality and enduring nomadic lifestyle floating between his work across the African continent and involvement in Irish politics.
When World War I breaks out, Casement and Ward's longstanding political differences finally come to a head and when Ward and his teenage sons leave to fight on the frontlines for England, Casement begins to work alongside the Germans to help free Ireland from British rule
Sabina Murray is a Filipina American screenwriter and novelist - the recipient of various awards and fellowships, and a Professor at the University of Massachusetts. Murray has written historical fiction before, but never anything quite as impressive in size and scope as "Valiant Gentleman" - it's been described as her Magnum Opus, and I can certainly see why.
Roger David Casement was an Irish civil servant, activist, nationalist and poet - and, until shortly before his execution for treason, the holder of a knighthood.
Herbert Ward was a sculptor, writer, illustrator and explorer, and a close friend of Roger Casement. Before reading "Valiant Gentleman" I had a vague awareness of Roger Casement and his infamous "Black Diaries", but had no knowledge of Herbert Ward at all. The friendship that the two had spanned countries and decades - making it one worthy of the attention that Murray has lavished on it in this epic of a novel.
A friendship grown in the Belgian Congo, Murray writes the two men at the heart of this relationship with considerable skill, bringing them to vivid life and writing these fascinating, brilliant men with the care that their respective histories have earnt them. Whilst the friendship is at the heart of the book, Murray takes care not to let this read become fully male dominated, with Ward's wife Sarita entering the narrative and providing POV chapters that are wholly illuminating - shedding light on the two men as well as creating a fascinating character in Sarita herself.
Over the course of their lives and adventures, both men make decisions that surprise and baffle the reader - and the path that Casement ends up on is one that is often difficult to understand. Murray does an admirable job of conveying the motivations and passions behind the choices, but stops short of placing any judgements - instead imbuing the characters with so much life, and the novel with so much detail, that the reader is well placed to consider the moments that drove these men to their very different paths in life. Some of the situations may be uncomfortable for readers - but topics such as colonisation, betrayal and treason are never handled anything but fairly.
It is a huge book - there's no denying that. But it's one that's hugely readable - with a compelling plot drawn from life, fascinating characters who the reader will no doubt be keen to read more about, and resulting in a novel that serves as an admirable tribute to a friendship that crossed oceans. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
My mother, my family and Judaism are nested inside each other. I am Jewish and always Jewish; it's analogous with family, however hard it is, and however strained, it can never be disavowed... I remain, as my therapist put it, 'enmeshed', all tangled up in the family hoard. This book has been both a continuation of my conversations with them, and an attempt to untangle myself.
This is Joanne's account of coming to terms with her brother's suicide and through that process, the entirety of her family life. In Small Pieces Joanne explores her childhood, her Jewishness and her mother's death as well as that of her brother.
The life and family Joanne describes is a complex combination of conflicting influences - both scientific and literary; Jewish and humanist impulses; and middle America and North London settings.
Joanne Limburg is a British writer and poet based in Cambridge. She's published several volumes of poetry, and her debut novel was published in 2015.
Grief is a journey. That's what we're lead to believe at least, an unpleasant journey which no one wants to face, but one we're all sent on at various point during our lives.
For author Joanne Limburg, it's a journey she was sent on by the suicide of her brother - an unexpected event made even harder by the fact that he was the other side of the world from Joanne and her Mother at the time, meaning that her journey became both literal as well as mental. Tie into that thoughts and recollections of family life, as well an exploration and examining of the Jewish faith (something exacerbated by Joanne's brother having been cremated before they could arrive in America.
It would be easy for this to be a miserable, brutal read - with the author truly allowing the reader full immersion into her thoughts. As you may imagine, they're often raw - full of the rage, shock and despair that comes from such a horrific situation, but these are balanced well throughout, and Limburg is measured enough to not overwhelm the reader. Balancing the blackest moments of grief with touching, immediately relatable recollections and family moments allows Limburg to play with light and shade far more effectively that one may imagine given the subject matter, with a skill that prevents the reader from feeling too overcome by the situations depicted.
This is a book about death - both the journey from it and the journey to it, and one in which the subject is examined to an intense degree - with snippets of conversation and poetry that proved both haunting and enlightening to me.
I've experienced grief, but I certainly wasn't expecting to feel quite a strong a connection to the author as I did here, and I think that's due to her voice throughout the book - one clearly marked by pain, but always clear, relatable, and at all times original.
I won't say that this is an uplifting read - but I don't think that's the point of it at all. It's a fascinating exploration into a situation that, sadly, we'll all find ourselves in some variation of during our lives. Limburg has a unique and immensely gifted voice, and her willingness to convey immensely personal situations allows her to explore and ruminate on her subject matter, whilst her clear talent as a writer ensures that this book is always readable - and rewarding even at its toughest points. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
Writers’ relationships with their surroundings are seldom straightforward. While some, like Jane Austen and Thomas Mann, wrote novels set where they were staying (Lyme Regis and Venice respectively), Victor Hugo penned Les Misérables in an attic in Guernsey and Noël Coward wrote that most English of plays, Blithe Spirit, in the Welsh holiday village of Portmeirion.
Award-winning BBC drama producer Adrian Mourby follows his literary heroes around the world, exploring 50 places where great works of literature first saw the light of day. At each destination – from the Brontës’ Yorkshire Moors to the New York of Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin to the now-legendary Edinburgh café where J.K. Rowling plotted Harry Potter’s first adventures – Mourby explains what the writer was doing there and describes what the visitor can find today of that great moment in literature.
Where writers write is something that has always fascinated me - as someone who is remarkably easily distracted, I'm longing for the days when I can have a shed at the bottom of my garden in which to write, unconnected from the outside world. Different things work for different writers though, and Adrian Mourby explores this to fascinating effect in "Rooms of One's own" taking the reader on a journey through studies, dining rooms, hotels, cottages and gardens in order to explore where some 50 well known authors spent time composing their works
This is no mere reference guide - Mourby travels to each place, and provides the reader with background on the area and writer, as well as personal insights and anecdotes that make for hugely entertaining reading. It's not a huge volume, but Mourby's style is such that he manages to convey large amounts of information without the reader ever feeling like they are being preached to - and as such, I came away full of facts and with a rather weighty list of places I need to visit.
Mourby doesn't just describe these places - his real life interactions with them truly serve to bring them to life for the reader, and as such this is a valuable little book that should really be treasured for providing huge amounts of insight without the reader having to go anywhere at all! Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
Lucina, a young Chilean writer, has moved to New York to pursue an academic career. While at a party one night, something that her doctors had long warned might happen finally occurs: her eyes haemorrhage. Within minutes, blood floods her vision, reducing her sight to sketched outlines and tones of grey, rendering her all but blind. As she begins to adjust to a very different life, those who love her begin to adjust to a very different woman - one who is angry, raw, funny, sinister, sexual and dizzyingly alive.
Author Lina Meruane is a prominent writer in her native Chile -she's published three novels, had short stories appear in various anthologies and won several prestigious prizes. She gained a PhD in Latin American Literature from New York University, and currently serves there as professor of World and Latin American Literature and Creative Writing.
The autobiographical novel is a rare beast - they're not seen all that often, and some I've read in the past have not been brilliant - the line between reality and fiction too blurred. Author Lina Meruane initially intended to write a memoir about having gone blind temporarily but, according to an interview with TheNation, found the genre too constricting - so moved over to the world of fiction. It's a choice that works remarkably well, as the truth behind the fiction here allows real passion and emotion to burn through the pages straight to the reader - a raw and bloody urgency and passion grabbing you by the throat.
The main theme of blindness allows Lina (and through her character Lucina) to explore a myrida of fascinating themes throughout - from the terms put open her in order to keep her eyes safe, through to the exploration of a relationship layered with dependency and fear, through to a woman discovering herself and learning how to live again. Location and time plays a huge part too - with the book taking place between Chile and New York and touching upon historical and cultural milestones as the character and the reader naturally come across them.
The characters here are real - raw and often unlikeable, but combined with her rather dazzling prose - gristly, elegant and bloody, it makes for a dizzying, vital read that lingers long in the mind. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy