Observatory Press – something exciting to watch out for!

I just had to share this with all you book lovers out there.   I came across this project in KICKSTARTER (crowdfunding) and think it is great.   I like the thought that these people are saving old science fiction stories, written a while ago and giving them a contemporary new life with added poetry and essays.

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In their own words:

“What is it about? 

Old words, new books. Specialising in science fiction and curating lost classics with contemporary illustration and writing.

Observatory Press is a brand new independent press based in Hackney. We currently specialise in science fiction, illustration and curating lost classics. We believe in creating collectable, beautiful, physical books and supporting new writing and illustrating talent. ‘We’ are Nicholas Herrmann and Ella Chappell. We met while studying at the University of East Anglia.

Nick writes comics and science fiction. His graphic short story, ‘Matters of Consequence’, about the life and works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was published by Elbow Room in 2014. Nick is passionate about futurology in science fiction, and delivered a paper about J. G. Ballard and Isaac Asimov’s visions of the future at the University of East Anglia’s recent ‘The Science “New Wave” at Fifty’ conference.

Ella is a poet, with a particular interest in science, post-internet and collaborative poetry. Along with a filmmaker and choreographer, she won the Southbank Centre Poetryfilm Competition in 2014, and she is currently exhibiting a spoken word piece at ‘Conditional Expressions’ hosted by STCFTHOTS gallery in Leeds.”

What are the books?

To launch the press we are publishing three books that are now in the public domain, curating them with contemporary writing and illustration:

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       After London

The Clock That Went Backward

The Clock That Went Backward

Star Rover

          Star Rover

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Every now and then you stumble across something that takes stirs your imagination and this is an exciting project which had done that for me.

There is more detailed information about these books on their page  CLICK HERE to read to take you to the project to find out more.

Review: Corpalism | Arun D. Ellis

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A book that gives you the feeling you have gained a degree by reading it!    I give it ☆☆☆☆

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 850 KB
  • Print Length: 778 page
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007PJJE2O

Available from Amazon UK

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What’s it about? 

The worst you can imagine about how society is run and its demise. Karl Popper eat your heart out. Dystopia, or is it a reflection of where our society is heading right now.

There are several parts (volumes) to this book which were brilliant in themselves although I feel each would have been served better with their own story to tell as their own book. I don’t think they gel together very well as I got totally confused with Volumes 2 and 3 and how they fitted in.

Goodreads synopsis:

The story of how the 1% are stealing the world Corpalism is a dark and exciting exploration of a dystopian future wrought by unchecked corporate greed.

The book is in five parts; the timeline moves back and forth 20 years, using inter connected characters and storylines. Situational humour serves to lighten the mood and the characters range from the cynically evil, through the surprisingly likeable to the positively evangelical.

The first part is based in an economically dystopian future, a fast-paced thriller that moves in a believable way between fact and fiction, the second part plunges the unsuspecting reader into the distressed mind of Stephanie White a political activist from the new Independent party and victim of the latest terror atrocity locked in a coma fighting a trivial persona her mother has imposed upon her through years of brainwashing, whilst the third has several characters, including Stephanie and Donald from the previous volumes, in a pub arguing various topics from various points of view; the reader being left to decide which is valid. Part four brings all the threads together and the final part is set 20 years in the past.

A unique experience – a page turner with a message.

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My review:

So, we start with organised anarchy in the boro’s (the ghettos of unemployed and dissident people) where millions live outside of the wealthy cities.

There is a detailed breakdown of how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and how those in-between become so debt ridden they are stuck in the middle forever.

But wait..the more the structure of society is explained the more complex and convoluted it becomes. Throw in the fact that someone is double crossing someone who is double crossing someone else who is…you get the picture, and you are well on your way to understanding society, economics, and politics but not a lot else.

Volume 1; Terry gets sent to the boro as punishment for tardiness at work, but all is not what it seems. Anarchy is provoked to mobilise the millions to rise up against the system.

Volume 2, totally threw me..was I still reading the same novel, is it a book of short stories? Delores returns after 40 days and 40 nights having no idea she was missing and starts spouting on about the unfair justice of the structure of society at every opportunity she gets. So, the theme is the same the characters are not. Is she mad like they all think she is, or is she correct in what she is saying? What did happen to her?

By now I have completely forgotten about Terry and Volume 1, but am totally immersed in Delores and Volume 2 when it ends.

Volume 3 and we were in a pub all dressed in fancy dress discussing, guess what? Yes, society and the individual. Throw in some history and religion and here we go again.

And so it goes on.

Did I like it?

I love the sharp wit in the narrative of this book which makes it well worth reading. It is a bit like being at University and sitting round in the refectory over burger, chips and coke discussing life, economics, politics and how society is driven by greed alone, and feeling very grown up.

It is quite simply brilliant, encompassing all of the following:

New world order
Macro society managed by micro people

“…thats what they have achieved in their crazy desire to own all of the money. It’s insane, they are insane…they are economic psychopaths.”

Conspiracy theories
Crime and kidnap
Property law
sexual orientation / monogamy
terrorism threats 7/7, 9/11
Cold war: Russians and Middle east
world economics, third world slavery, politics and philosophy
The Church, Religious history, political morality
religious vs society control

“ ‘…every other species is born free and lives free. We humans are born into economic slavery and life crippling dept.”

Royalty and ruling classes
Inequality, sexism and feminism
Talent shows (with Sam Cowbell HAHA!) and facebook
Gods vs evolution
World history class domination
Football and teamwork ruining creativity:

“…who can only play ‘pass and go’ football which is what we’ve got today, its all just ‘pass and go’, in tight triangles. “

People: gays, transexuals, pretty, plain, fat, thin, white, black, super heroes, victims, Muslims, Christians, Jews

It is funny and brilliantly thought out and explained but by Volume 3 I was all lectured out and my brain was fried.

Coming up to an election in the UK this makes a great read…
Q. who would I vote for after reading it?
A. No point in voting society is following a path to becoming doomed already.

Now for the bombshell…..I just couldn’t finish reading the last part of the book because Ellis’ brilliance overwhelmed me and it just got too much. I still give it 4 stars.

Review: Remember Me Like This | Bret Anthony Johnston

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This is probably the heaviest novel I have read for a long time.   It is a deep analysis into what the kidnap of a child does to every member of a family and when that child is found and home again. How nothing can be the same, how they struggle to cope with how to be normal, how to continue. There is no fast action, no end goal in sight for the family, because nothing can ever be the same again.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 648 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400062128
  • Publisher: Two Roads (22 May 2014)
  • ASIN: B00IORPA3I

Available from:  Amazon UK,   Amazon US,  Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: 

Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.
 
Then, one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away, in the neighboring town, and, most important, he appears to be fine. Though the reunion is a miracle, Justin’s homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells’ hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family’s greatest fears—and offers perhaps the only hope for recovery—each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart. 

How does this change someone, change a family. What small intimacies between parents and children become uncertainties of acceptance and truth.

The brutal reality of how families fall apart in a sea of sudden uncertainty of parenthood. How each person deals with the trauma in their own way. How it impacts on their relationships both inside and outside of the family, and then again when Justin is home again after 5 years, how they have no idea how to begin again, and have to learn how to be a family all over again, but with the knowledge of what has happened to Justin.

I struggled reading this book because it is so heavy I could feel it dragging me down with it. However, that is the mark of how a good writer can make you feel a story and not just read it.

What makes it different?
It is written so beautifully and insightful. It is not a story of the kidnap and search, but of what how it impacts on personal lives day after day. When doors close it offers a reminder of how families live with the trauma of a missing child. After that child is brought home, this is an account of the trauma starting over again in a way that is heartbreaking. There is a tenderness that will touch every parent who reads it.

What did I like best?
I love the descriptions that convey the pain of coping in their world, which feels so real you are afraid it has to be true.

Eric, Justin’s father describes his pain:
“How often in the last four years had he almost knocked? [Justin’s bedroom door] Then, when his thoughts fitted themselves to reality, he felt cored out and drugged, groping awkwardly through his days as if he’d lost a limb in an accident, an arm or leg whose weight he still anticipated. He recognised its absence, and yet he could still feel the arteries as they dilated, the nerves as they burned.

Johnston describes how each member of the family cope in their own way beautifully, so that you have a real sense of how they move through their days in their own way. Laura throws herself into an anonymity of volunteering at a Dolphin research place, Griff his brother disappears into his own anonymity of being the brother left behind, and Eric his father has an affair. But each feels responsible for Justin’s disappearance.

What was not so good for me?
Because of the ‘heaviness’ of the writing, I almost lost the will to live and nearly gave up reading! It has a feeling of being one long pain driven account of despair when a child is kidnapped, which is most likely true, but to read it in a novel can be very depressing.
BUT
It is stunningly accurate in its emotional account of how a family falls apart coping when a child is kidnapped and found five years later. I had to keep reading to find what the conclusion was.

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Many thanks to the publisher for a copy for my honest review

Review: The Winter Foundlings | Kate Rhodes

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Now here is an author I could read again and again. This psychological thriller had me riveted from start to finish so much so I read it in a day!

☆☆☆☆☆ from me for this brilliant novel

  • Kindle Edition ISBN 987 1 444 73885 8
  • Paperback  ISBN 987 1 444 73884 1
  • File Size: 629 KB
  • Print Length: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (14 Aug. 2014)
  • Available to buy at:  Amazon UK,  Amazon US and other stores

 

Whats it about?

Young girls are being snatched off the streets and their bodies turn up sometime later all dressed in white victorian nightdresses similar to the ones in the Foundlings Hospital Museum.

There is nothing for the police to go on to find the killer, and so psychologist Alice Quentin is asked to help find something they can start with.

(Goodreads) Synopsis: Four girls have disappeared in North London. Three are already dead. Britain’s most prolific child killer, Louis Kinsella, has been locked up in Northwood high-security hospital for over a decade. Now more innocents are being slaughtered, and they all have a connection to his earlier crimes. Psychologist Alice Quentin is doing research at Northwood. She was hoping for a break from her hectic London life, but she’ll do anything to help save a child – even if it means forming a relationship with a charismatic, ruthless murderer. But Kinsella is slow to give away his secrets, and time is running out for the latest kidnap victim, who is simply trying to survive.

Told between Alice’s point of view and one of the young victim’s telling her own story which is distinguished by using a different font, it is a powerful touch with some powerful words:

It’s his stare that frightens her, his eyes wide and comfortless. She resorts to the method that always works best, twisting her mouth into its biggest smile.

Arriving at the Laurels psychiatric prison for the criminally insane to start some research, she is searched and here Rhodes gives us a lighthearted explanation of the seriousness of being there.

The smaller woman ave me an apologetic look before turning my handbag upside down and sharing it vigorously.
……..’’You wouldn’t believe the stuff people try and take inside. Drugs, flick knives, you name it.”
I processed the idea while she searched my belongings. It was hard to imagine anyone bringing weapons into a building packed with psychopaths, unless they had a death wish themselves.

Then she begins a nightmare relationship with the notorious child murderer Kinsella, whose work is being copied or directed(?) by him with these murders and it seems that everyone around him is a suspect.

Somehow Rhodes manages to bring a sense of genuine evilness in Kinsella with such small pieces of conversations, I just shuddered with horror as he meets with Alice.

Each of the characters have such a depth to them, the staff of capable professionals with seemingly damage in their pasts which you get to know throughout the novel.

Of course I did my usual, ‘he’s the one, no maybe its woman, no maybe all of them!’ but the intrigue is that all of them showed something that all was not as it seems.

The draw and fascination of such a vile serial killer was totally evident in the writing, and who hasn’t been drawn into a real life news item that both fascinates, horrifies and disgusts at the same time? Rhodes shows us the need to try and understand how people can carry out such terrible deeds and the need to stop it happening.

I love the pace of the book, steady yet thrilling. As the investigation is struggling to come up with anything concrete the victims’ point of view reminds me of how little time could be left for this child. Such clever and knowing observations about people makes this book an intelligent read. I like the way comments’ are revisited so that every line written has meaning.

There is so much more to this novel than a crime thriller. This is as much about Alice’s own story as we learn about her family and relationships which all blend nicely together. I liked Alice and wanted so much for her to find a relationship that mattered.

The Foundlings Hospital museum reminds us of our history in relations to caring for orphans and this is summed up compassionately by Rhodes with her description of what Alice sees in the exhibits:

I stared at the rows of tokens, neatly labelled and dated. There were buttons, matchboxes, and pincushions, but the one that touched me most deeply was a scrap of red fabric, cut in the shape of a heart. Every mother must have dreamed that her luck would change, and one day she could return to collect her child. I felt sure the killer had stood exactly where I was standing now.

Far from being all doom and gloom Rhodes brings us back with some lighter characters and moments that stopped me from feeling all doom and gloom as I read. I love the description of the snow filled scene she describes:

So far the cottage had resisted every attempt to raise its temperature, but when I pulled back the curtains, I stopped caring. Edgemoor Woods had turned into the perfect Christmas card, the sky an empty shimmer of blue, lines of fresh snow balanced on the branches of conifer trees

I absolutely loved this book.
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Many thanks to the publisher for a paperback copy in return for my honest review.

Review: Taconic Murda | Uriel E Gribetz

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Did I like it? Yes it was ok but it didn’t blow me away. What was the plot like? Complicated but interesting, quite well thought out although part of it did not seem totally believable to me.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1379 KB
  • Print Length: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC (16 Dec. 2014)
  • ASIN: B00R4Z19UE

Available:  Amazon UK   Amazon US

Synopsis: Forced out of his job at the 44th Precinct in the Fort Apache section of the South Bronx, Sam escapes his troubles and moves his family to the suburbs, only to discover that his troubled past from the Bronx comes back to haunt him. When he’s arrested for murder and brought back to the Bronx to stand trial, he must fight for his life against a District Attorney and his former NYPD colleagues who are bent on getting even by making sure Sam is convicted.

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My review:

Sam Free had always been an honest cop turning a blind eye to his colleagues on the take from drug dealers was always likely to become a problem and then the DA asks him to lie about something in court. He is then set up to take the wrap for things he is not guilty of and comes across as mildly irritated instead of stompingly mad. After stealing money from a drug runner, he moves to a small town hoping to have a quiet life. You reckon he found it?

Maybe it’s perfectly plausible for most of a police department to be on the take from drug dealers but I was not convinced. A couple of cops maybe but not on the scale here. Surely? I wanted to know what drove these men to do it, and why Sam Free was not mad as hell for being set up or it least it didn’t appear so to me. I wanted to hear some reflection from Sam, some deep thought, and wanted to get to know his family more.

There was some very detailed information which I skipped through such as route descriptions which did not appear to add anything to the plot. The characters were a little weak and the plot did not seem to be very plausible. I was missing was a sense of real places and people.

However….

Grebitz is an intelligent writer and its clear he has a good handle on the criminal world. There was a promise of a great story here following Sam Free trying to stop himself being locked up for something he didn’t do. It will be interesting to see whether Grebitz can focus and reign in his imagination in future books.

Don’t just go by my thoughts on it, you have to read it to make your own mind up, there is a good story in this book somewhere, and the writing style is not bad either.

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Many thanks to the publisher for a copy via NetGalley.

Review: Storme Warning by W.L. Ripley ☆☆☆☆☆

23550957I absolutely love this book.   Wonderfully witty, gritty and totally engaging!     Cowboy come-back and guns in modern USA.  

This gets a well deserved 5 star rating from me.

Ripley gives us a man’s book, and and as a woman stepping inside that world I just loved every single word of it.  This is the fourth in the series and I now have to read the first three!

  • Format: Kindle Edition,  File Size: 3306 KB
  • Print Length: 279 pages
  • Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by
  • Publisher:  Brash Books
  • ISBN:1941298664 
  • ISBN13: 9781941298664

Get your copy from:   Amazon UK  Amazon US

What’s it about?

The making of a cowboy film being made on his land, should pose no problem for Wyatt Storme reclusive ex footballer since retired, but hey of course it does! With his friend Chick Easton hired as bodyguard to arrogant, irritating actor Cam Fogarty, they get caught up in action that Chick relishes with the biggest smile on his face, and Storme wishes would just go away.

Synopsis:  Vietnam vet and former Dallas Cowboys player Wyatt Storme just wants to be left alone in his remote Ozarks cabin – but violence and trouble have a knack for finding him. And when it does, he doesn’t back down. This time, Chick Easton, a hard-drinking, shockingly lethal ex-CIA agent, asks his buddy Storme for back-up when he’s hired by the director of a big budget western to protect a bad-boy movie star who is getting well-deserved death threats. There’s also an annoying catch: the director wants to shoot the star’s new western on Storme’s land. Storme reluctantly agrees to it all, unaware that a sociopathic mob enforcer that he once put in traction, and in prison, is on his way and gunning for revenge.

What did I like best?

I loved the characters that Ripley gives us putting them in a setting that is wide open, with cowboy boots and cigars, all wrapped up in a film set.

I was visibly grinning and chuckling the whole way through this book – not just a bit of it, ALL of it. I loved the sarcasm, the cigars, the guns, if I could be a man I want to be Wyatt’s friend Chick D. Easton.

The book leads up like a cowboy film, someone needing someone’s help being told the ride may get rough.

Don’t make the mistake in thinking this is simple piece of writing, Ripley shows skill in weaving in classical writing. Look at the way he describes Wyatt questioning the actress Valerie about Fogarty:

“Come back sometime. The door’s always open.” She smiled, pleased with her playfulness.

Thoreau says man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone. I would tend to agree with him. So I left. 

Alone.

Both Wyatt and Chick have the same humour so that you know whenever they open their mouths to speak, you just want hear what comes out.

Rory Marchibroda who is a nasty piece of work wants to pay Wyatt back for putting him in jail, is another great character. He models himself on cool guys in films played actors like by De Niro, it is so funny.

Stay cool. De Niro would be cool, wouldn’t he? Yeah.

…”Ya know,” he said, composing himself, “had a lot of time to myself in the slam. Thought about a lot of things.” Like how it was going to feel to bust a cap on your backward country ass, you smug piece of shit. “You know what I thought about?”

“what it was like in the third grade? Back when your mental processes stagnated?”

This is a novel of substance too, starting out with guarding an actor, becoming interweaved with gang bosses, and hit-men at cross purposes. A community fighting to stay alive, with shallow actors who live in another world, and at its centre unwillingly is Wyatt Storme and Chick Easton wearing cowboy boots.

I can’t help but show you guys just what excited me about this book:

Marchibroda. A guy who wants to kill me called to keep me from being killed by someone else. What a life.

I reloaded the Remington pump with double-aught buckshot and loaded a Browning autoloading rifle with soft-nosed .30-06 bullets. I loaded four fourteen-round clips for the twin Browning nines and strapped on a shoulder holster, hanging one of the pistols in it. I placed the other pistol in a clip-on at the small of my back. The only thing more uncomfortable than carrying a concealed large-frame handgun was carrying two concealed large-frame handguns. I was also carrying a Puma knife strapped to my leg.

Had a nine-mill gun in my pocket for fun and a razor in my shoe.

What’s not to love about fiction that promises action on every level with a sardonic wit to match.

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Many thanks to the publisher for a copy via NetGalley.

Review: The Wrong Knickers: A Decade of Chaos | Bryony Gordon

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So you single twenties something want to move out of your comfortable family home into a dingy damp flat to live your life without restrictions…read on.?

  • Paperback, 320 pages
  • Published January 1st 2015 by Headline
  • (first published April 24th 2014)
  • ISBN 147221014X
  • ISBN13: 9781472210142

Synopsis

Bryony Gordon survived her adolescence by dreaming about the life she’d have in her twenties: the perfect job; the lovely flat; the amazing boyfriend. The reality was something of a shock. Her Telegraph column was a diary of her daily screw-ups; she lived in a series of squalid shoe boxes; and her most meaningful relationship of the entire decade was with a Marlboro Light.

Here in THE WRONG KNICKERS Bryony busts open the glamorized myth of what it means to be a young (perpetually) single girl about London town, and shares the horrible and hilarious truth. The truth about picking up a colleague at the STI clinic; sinking into debt to fund a varied diet of wine, crisps and vodka; and how it feels when your dream man turns out to be a one night stand who hands you someone else’s knickers in the morning.

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My review of The Wrong Knickers

☆☆☆⭐︎

Hilariously funny in parts, and cringingly embarrassing, this book has all the tips for a good time and the warnings for the worst times ever. Every single 18 year old girl should read this when when they are saying ‘nah, that’ll never be me’, and then identifying with this in their twenties:

She takes up exercise of any sort: Yoga, kickboxing, dancing, running:

“My lungs feel like they are about to explode. Some people talk about the sense of freedom they feel when they go running, but I think they might be psychopaths.

Drink, drugs, sex, wrong relationships, embarrassing times in public on a regular basis, how long can this 20 year old girl seemingly be such an out of control, unlucky person in her personal life; it seems for a whole decade.

This is a book about growing up, not being grown up. I wanted to scream at her ‘switch your self control ON, no don’t go there again’. I never did drugs, but I could identify with some things here! There are some wonderful friends and family surrounding Bryony which are recognised by writer and reader alike which is great to experience throughout the book.

Going from cocaine, threesomes, chlamydia scares, drunken blackouts it feels like a downhill race into personal destruction, but one which is halted before the depths of no return. However, I am guessing each will read this book with their own experiences as a gauge.

There was so much reality of life, work and the hopeless search for ‘love’. I am so pleased that the guys were not the focus of vitriolic blaming, but portrayed with just a normal sense of relationships that were not healthy.

“He seems to lick the enamel of my mouth, as if he is trying to be some sort of human toothbrush, reaching parts that other oral cleaning instruments can’t.”

As a single guest at a wedding is always fraught especially when you are seated on the other single/misfit table. Bryony has been told she is sitting with ‘Tom’ who she will get on because he is ‘out there’ which she finds worrying but he has yet to arrive leaving her by an empty chair;

“You are the only person in the entire cavernous function room who has an empty place setting next to them. The accountant on the other side is talking to the backpacker from Australia, meaning you are left twiddling your thumbs and trying to pick up the fag ends of conversations happening elsewhere on the table, and even on the table behind you because, hey, beggars can’t be choosers.”

What did I like about best about this book?

This is an honest account of how sucked into city life you can get just to be cool, it show how trying so hard to fit in is fraught with risks, and I liked how Bryony gives such a great ending, with the reality of how love creeps up and then takes working at.

I would have given it four stars but in parts it felt a bit aimless.

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Many thanks to the publisher for a paperback copy for an honest review.

The Reaper | Nicholas Irving with Gary Brozek

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Nicholas Irving gives a good account of being an Army Ranger Sniper to someone who has little idea what that is and there is just the right mix of personal and professional accounts to make this a good read.

“Lots of people think of war as being between armies and governments or between this platoon and that unit, but it really does sometimes come down to one guy with a gun and another guy with a gun.”

  • Kindle Edition
  • ISBN: 1250045444
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press 
  • Publish Date: 27 Jan. 2015
  • ASIN: B00LKRSBBC

Available to buy:  Amazon UK, Amazon US, and other online book stores

Synopsis

Groundbreaking, thrilling and revealing, The Reaper is the astonishing memoir of Special Operations Direct Action Sniper Nicholas Irving, the 3rd Ranger Battalion’s deadliest sniper with 33 confirmed kills, though his remarkable career total, including probables, is unknown.

Irving shares the true story of his extraordinary military career, including his deployment to Afghanistan in the summer of 2009, when he set another record, this time for enemy kills on a single deployment. His teammates and chain of command labeled him “The Reaper,” and his actions on the battlefield became the stuff of legend, culminating in an extraordinary face-off against an enemy sniper known simply as The Chechnian.

Irving’s astonishing first-person account of his development into an expert assassin offers a fascinating and extremely rare view of special operations combat missions through the eyes of a Ranger sniper during the Global War on Terrorism. From the brotherhood and sacrifice of teammates in battle to the cold reality of taking a life to protect another, no other book dives so deep inside the life of an Army sniper on point.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

☆☆☆⭐︎

What did I like about this book?

I liked the fact he gave us his thoughts about what he was doing and how he coped with them and was pleased that he explained everything well enough for me to understand military jargon. I got a real sense of how important the relationships between your men were when you are trusting your life to them, and theirs to you.

When first deployed in Afghanistan in 2009, in his first role as leader there is a nice description of being gathered together in their ready room to brief his men which shows how random the mind works in fear situations:

I was gathering my thoughts while eyeing the screens, watching the predator drone while wondering how it was that the smell of pine could still be so strong. A whole lot of sweaty, smelly men had been in that room, and I thought that maybe the whole paneling thing served as a kind of room freshner. The Special Forces version of those tree-shaped car deodorisers.

Reading actual accounts of the Taliban fighters using women and children as shields, and suicide bombings designed to kill everyone regardless of age, sex and nationality brings home the reality of how worlds apart nations are and how difficult their jobs were.  One nation cannot be compared by its behaviour to another, because cultures are too different.

Having read this book I am in awe of Irving who at only 24 working with so much responsibility on his shoulders. I totally get the pride he has in his work and his men, but it does not always make for easy reading. Most people want war on terror ended but don’t really want the details.  As an objective to carry out whether morally or politically right or wrong, he did it extremely well.  That was what I liked about the book there was no glory about the killing but of a job well done.   Earning the title ‘The Reaper’, with even with an exaggerated amount of kills he is understandable proud to be given that name, because in reality he was doing a job just same as if he were continuously voted top ‘salesman’ of the year. (My analogy but I recognise we all have different opinions on the subject).

We all, I think, tried to make death an abstract reality.

There was enough detail about the special operations carried out to make it understandable, informative, tense and exciting and it gave a good account of the stresses of being a sniper for those far removed from anything military like myself. This is not about how lucky he was, but how hard he worked to acquire the skill needed to be the best.

Knowing that there are other armed personnel out there who are bent on getting at you is a weird feeling, especially at night. It’s like your thoughts expand to fill up all the darkness, the blank black chalkboard ahead of you.

Reading actual accounts of the Taiban fighters using women and children as shields and suicide bombings designed to kill everyone regardless of age, sex and nationality brings home the reality of how worlds apart nations are. One nation cannot be compared by its behaviour to another, because cultures are too different.

I also got the sense of the cultural difference that made fighting seem ‘chaotic’ when there was an expectation that somehow the Taliban was thought to be more organised as soldiers than they sometimes were(are).

There were some observations of night time sexual exploits between Taliban men seemingly on a regular occurrence from footage taken by drones at night, which confused Irving and his men which I mention because there was no judgement in this account which I thought showed maturity in the book.

For a taste of Special Ops and Snipers engagements Brozek did an excellent job putting Irving’s story into words.

Yes, I would recommend this book.

REVIEW EDITED:

My husband loved this book and says it has to be 4.5 STARS. He has read a few sniper books and says this is far the best out of those he has read. We talked about why I gave it 3 stars and I said that I felt that although it was well written and very interesting it just did not grab me. BUT, it grabbed him and he is not easy to please! His view is that the content is different, and interesting with different personal aspects of being a sniper which kept his attention all the way through. Others he says tends to be focussed on taking shot after shot, so that the content becomes very ‘samey’ not so with this one.  

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Many thanks to the publisher for ARC via NetGalley for an honest review.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

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Debut Novel by Emma Hooper, I found it absolutely delightful although I am not sure how to describe it.  I think it is an ‘either you get it – or you don’t. 

It is one of the most gentlest of books that tackles ageing, memories, dreams, life and realities that I have read in a long time.  

Synopsis:   I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. I will try to remember to come back.

Etta’s greatest unfulfilled wish, living in the rolling farmland of Saskatchewan, is to see the sea. And so, at the age of eighty-two she gets up very early one morning, takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begins walking the 2,000 miles to water.

Meanwhile her husband Otto waits patiently at home, left only with his memories. Their neighbour Russell remembers too, but differently – and he still loves Etta as much as he did more than fifty years ago, before she married Otto.

  • File Size: 873 KB
  • Publisher: Penguin (29 Jan. 2015)
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • ISBN: 0241003326
  • ASIN: B00N9LVQYGAvailable to buy:

    Amazon UK  Amazon US

With a letter to start the book there is no doubt what 83 year old Etta is about to do.

Otto,

I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. Don’t worry, I’ve left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.
Yours (always),
Etta.

When I started reading, I read it like any other novel waiting for it to grab me.  But I got confused because the style of writing breaks the rules.  BUT, there is also something very special about the writing, it feels intimate, so I left it a full day and then started right back at the beginning again.  I totally got this book from then on.

How glad I was to have read it again.  Like a non-believer who can’t see fairies, there they were; beautiful words that felt like they were written specially for me to read.   Emma Hooper made me feel that I had known these people all my life and I was simply being reminded of their story so that I can pass it on.

Otto is one of fifteen children born in a time when farming folks reared large families.

Every robust pregnancy running smoothly into a ruddy infant and every infant to a barrel-eared child, lined up between siblings in grey and off-grey nightclothes, some holding babies, some holding hands, leaning into the door to their parent room, listening fixedly to the moaning from within.

Doesn’t that just give you a complete picture of the circle of life?   With so many children they each had their own number which they called out at meal times to ensure everyone was gathered. (See, I am already re-telling the story as if I know them all!)

The death of Etta’s only sibling is devastating news that results in a grief that is conveyed so tenderly.

A word carried by Etta’s father up the stairs, oh so carefully. like a baby bird, to Etta’s room. He gave it to her more softly that she’d ever heard him speak. Etta took it and held it in her ears at first and then her head and then, suddenly, and horribly, her heart.

This is three stories of three friends: their lives and their final journey’s.  How much is in their own failing minds we are never quite sure but there is such a tenderness in the telling that I was enthralled by it.

When Etta decides to go to the sea she simply walks out of the house and doesn’t stop, along the way a coyote who she names James joins her:

That night James did not eat Etta, just slept a little bit away from her feet. The next morning he ate a gopher while Etta ate mayonnaise on crackers.

This strange couple journey onward with Etta’s ageing mental fragility constantly slipping. She holds conversations with James; weird you might say, but he is so important to Etta on her journey.

At home, Otto patiently awaits her return and learns how to live on his own, finding his own way to express himself.

Then Russell who has also loved Etta sets out to find her and begins his own journey.

We learn the history of the three of them, growing up, Otto at war holed up in small towns and Russell learning farming.  There is such a beautiful line from one of Otto’s letters to Etta, it is such a simple observation:

The jeeps are parked, so when we’re all inside you’d never know we were here. We wear this town as camouflage.
We are here, they say to hold the town. I like the idea of that. Like a kite.

Finally, it has one of those endings that leaves an empty space followed by a huge question mark.  Of course we kind of know what happens, but are left to surmise details.

In my imagined ending all is content and peaceful and I think I am probably right….

This has got to be a 4.5 stars for me (I woke up having dreamt about it this morning!)
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Many thanks for an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

Come Out Tonight | Bonnie Rozanski

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A great read :)

This is a new author to me and one that I will certainly be looking at again!   ☆☆☆☆ from me!

Many thanks to Biting Duck Press for an ARC via NetGalley.

  • Publisher Biting Duck Press
  • Publish Date:  3rd August 2015
  • ISBN:  9781938463228
  • Price 14.99
  • Currency USD
  • Edition:  Paperback

Synopsis

Sherry Pollack is a brilliant scientist working for a high-pressure translational medical research lab, where she has helped bring to market a new sleep aid called Somnolux. All of that is destroyed when she is assaulted and left in a persistent vegetative state. Her loving boyfriend and the detective assigned to the case both struggle to find her assailant and to bring Sherry back. Their research leads them to an array of unlikely suspects and to increasingly worrying discoveries about Somnolux. The surprise ending may make you wish you could never sleep again.

Hard sci-fi from a neuroscience angle, by the author of The Mindtraveler (Spring 2015, Bitingduck Press), Banana Kiss, and the award-winning Borderline (The Porcupine’s Quill).

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My review

Anyone remember the old detective Eliot Ness wearing a gabardine belted mac and a trilby hat, in the Untouchables, the straight-shooter who believes that the law, whether good or bad, is paramount ? Well, this book reminds me of that but totally up-to-date!  Love it, love it, love it.   If you are too young to know who I am talking about don’t worry you will get the sardonic style as you read it.

This book was so complex and exciting I hung on every word and hadn’t a real clue right until the end. This is a; who killed who with a cast of several characters to choose from, and I switched back and fore like a child in a sweetshop!

Written with the two main characters point of view, Henry Jackman and Detective Donna Sirken, for me worked extremely well.

Henry is mild mannered wishing he was somebody, Sherry his girlfriend was an intelligent somebody who gets attacked in Henry’s apartment. Somehow Henry seems to get most things wrong but tries so hard to find out who attacked her and why. Here is where it gets really interesting. When other characters come into play the intricacies double. Behind the facade of murders and attacks there are seemingly totally unrelated undercurrents of behaviour.

Rozanski, gives the reader a hint of marrying everything together with crafty wink, the journey wonderfully compelling and the destination satisfactorily rewarding.

Henry so determined to do his own investigations into the attack on his girlfriend he drives Detective Donna Sirken mad with each theory he comes up with. This is a book that explores how consciousness works, our waking selves vs our sleeping selves. Henry sleepwalks and you guess that he gets up to all sorts of things during the night, but that doesn’t really help you what is going on.

There are real depths to the characters which questions how well you know people. The seemingly mild mannered man in Henry, and the single minded Donna as a detective but a pushover in her private life. Henry’s austere parents, the friend who offers comfort; well I never guessed that! The more Henry accuses others of being of not behaving honestly, the more bizarre his own behaviour becomes which is a nice touch throughout the novel. Each crime is seemingly fathomable but there still appears no real reason or perpetrator to pin them.

I just have to give you a taste of this entertaining book, here is Henry on one of his investigative missions:

“A hundred and fifty commuters were waiting for the shuttle by the time it rolled in, in its usual lackadaisical way. A hundred and fifty New Yorkers pawing at the ground, stamping and snorting and ready to bolt onboard the moment the car opened its doors, on guard to jump into the first available seats. Me, I don’t bother. It’s only a short ride to Grand Central; and the sardine crush of people keeps you upright even if there’s nothing to hold onto.”

Doesn’t that just conjure up the most accurate descriptive picture in your mind?

Okay, now for the bit that did not work for me:

Toward the end one chapter gives Henry’s point of view of events, then the next chapter Donna gives hers regarding the same events but there is virtually no difference in the two accounts which made it feel like it was simply repeated.

The main thing is this:  this appears to be classified as SCI FI genre, but in my opinion that is a misnomer.  If you are looking for a great SCI FI then you will be disappointed.  However, if you are looking for a quirky Crime/Suspense Fantasy Thriller then you will NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.