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#TuesdayBookBlog THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune (@tjklune) A fable/fairy tale for adults full of whimsy and quirky characters with a hopeful message #LGBT #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you a review with an addendum because… Well, you will see why.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

A NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER!
A 2021 Alex Award winner!
The 2021 RUSA Reading List: Fantasy Winner!
An Indie Next Pick!
One of Publishers Weekly’s “Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2020”
One of Book Riot’s “20 Must-Read Feel-Good Fantasies”

Lambda Literary Award-winning author TJ Klune’s bestselling, breakout contemporary fantasy that’s “1984 meets The Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in.” (Gail Carriger)

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.

Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

“1984 meets The Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in.” —Gail Carriger, New York Times bestselling author of Soulless

https://www.amazon.com/House-Cerulean-Sea-TJ-Klune-ebook/dp/B07QPHT8CB/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Cerulean-Sea-TikTok-made-ebook/dp/B095Z4YRLP/

https://www.amazon.es/House-Cerulean-Sea-English-ebook/dp/B07QPHT8CB/

Author TJ Klune

About the author:

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include the Green Creek series, The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

https://tjklunebooks.com

https://www.amazon.com/TJ-Klune/e/B005LDJ9Z8/

My review:

This is the first book I have read by TJ Klune, and I didn’t know much about him or his books before. This story feels like an adult fairy tale, although I think it would be suitable for teens and YA as well. I also think it can fit into the category of an adult coming-of-age story, as the protagonist, Linus Baker, finds himself and learns to be his own person throughout the story, which covers just a few weeks of his life.

Linus Baker, the main character, is a grey man who lives in a grey world and has a grey job. The reviews mention 1984 and the similarities with the protagonist of George Orwell’s story are evident (minus the political angle. This book feels much more YA than that), and it also reminded me of the protagonist of Brazil, working at his little desk, and swallowed up by a strange world whose rules he tries to live by. Linus has no close friends, he doesn’t get on with his peers or his superiors at work either, and he only seems to care about his cat (it doesn’t appear to be mutual), his music (he loves to listen to records), his sunflowers (a splash of colour in his otherwise grey life), and his job. He lives by the book of Rules and Regulations of his organization and reads it as if it were the Bible. Suddenly, he is sent on a special mission, an extremely secret one, and he discovers an orphanage on an island very close to his dreams of a tropical paradise. The sea is blue (well, cerulean), the skies are sunny, and everything would be wonderful, almost like a vacation, if it weren’t for the peculiarities of the magical children who live at that orphanage. Well, and of the master of the orphanage and…

The novel looks at prejudice, persecution, harassment, intolerance, fear of the other, and the way society tends to lock away those who make it feel uncomfortable or don’t easily fit in. We are all familiar with such issues, that thankfully, have been changing in recent times, but not everywhere, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement. The novel is also full of hope; it explores the idea of found and chosen families; of finding a place you really belong to, and of how we can all help change things, one step at a time. There is also love (a couple of sweet ‘queer romances’, as they are described by the author) although it doesn’t become the dominant element of the novel, and the main romance is one of those “will-they/won’t they” situations where everybody else sees what is going on before the protagonists do.

The six children living at the orphanage are magical in totally different ways: some can do things, some are just… well, nobody knows exactly what kind of being they are, others have powers that can turn them dangerous, and all of them have been abused and marginalised because they don’t fit in. In a society that encourages compliance, surveillance, and uniformity, they are too visibly different. And that causes fear in the population, and it is encouraged by the powers that be.

Linus is reluctant and suspicious at first, but it seems that his superiors misjudged him. He is not just a bureaucrat without a heart who follows blindly the rules and remains detached and professional at whatever cost. He is genuinely devoted to the spirit of the job and cares about the children’s welfare, and that means he learns to see them for who they really are.

I loved the characters, especially the children, and Arthur and Zoe, the adults on the island, as well (later we meet some of the inhabitants of the town who are also formidable, Helen, the mayor, most of all); the way the story is told, like a fairytale; Linus’s transformation (which never becomes overdramatic or unbelievable); and the wit, humour, and quirkiness of it all. Some of the descriptions are as magical as the story, and by the end of the novel, I wanted to visit the island and meet the children and the rest of the characters as well. There are some reveals too, as things are not as they seem in more ways than one, but I wasn’t surprised by what we discover, and I think many readers will have guessed, or at least suspected, what we find out. But that didn’t spoil the enjoyment for me, and I hope that will be the case for most readers.

If I had to mention something I liked a little less, it would probably be the fact that “the message” of the novel is made quite evident and repeated in different ways, and readers who prefer subtlety and are fond of a less-is-more approach might feel it is heavy-handed. This fable makes its point clearly and somewhat forcefully, but it does have its heart in the right place, and the style of the story does fit into the genre, as does the fact that the story is not set in a specific time or real location (there are some vague references, mostly to do with music, but that is all). Some readers also felt that there are too many negative comments about the weight of the protagonist, but as we see the story from his point of view (although it is narrated in the third person), this seems to be another element of his lack of insight into who he really is, and further evidence of how much he has internalised society’s standards and opinions.

I have mentioned that the children have suffered abuse in the past, and they aren’t the only ones in the novel to be victims of prejudice. This is not described in too much detail, and it is mostly left to readers’ imaginations, but I would advise caution to those who feel they might be upset by such topics. You might also want to read my addendum to the review, as that might affect your feelings towards reading it.

The ending is as happy as it should be, and there is a final surprise thrown in (well, a couple) that will delight readers.

 Readers who are fond of fantasy, fairy tales, fables, and particularly enjoy adult coming-of-age stories and those who like quirky characters and Young Adult books should check this novel. It does have a positive message, and it wraps it up into a whimsical story full of heart. Highly recommended.

Just a few quotes as a taster:

These children aren’t animals. You aren’t on a safari with binoculars, watching them from a distance. How are you supposed to evaluate the children if you don’t even take the time to know them?’

‘We all have our issues. I have a spare tire around my middle. His father is Satan. Nothing that can’t be worked out if we try hard enough.’

‘Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome. ‘

‘Why can’t life work whatever way we want it to? What’s the point of living if you only do it how others want you to?’

 Addendum:

When I was checking the reviews of this novel, having almost finished it, I found out that there was a fair bit of controversy going on about it. Many reviewers that had given it good (or at least fair) reviews at first, went back to change their reviews and give it only 1 start (You can check the novel’s entry in Goodreads if you want to read about it in more detail).

It seems it all stems from this interview:

https://www.jeffandwill.com/biggayfictionpodcast/2020/03/16/episode-232-tj-klune-on-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea-extraordinaries-and-greek-creek/

In the interview the author refers to this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixties_Scoop

Here another article about it, this time from the Indigenous Foundations:

Sixties Scoop

There’s plenty of information about the Sixties Scoop available, but it seems that a lot of the people who read the novel had never heard of it. I hadn’t either, although, unfortunately, such things have happened before (and we can but hope they won’t happen again, but perhaps they are already happening) in other places, and other things that share similarities with it have happened, even though the circumstances were different. (In my country, many children from Republican and/or communist families were removed from them and “given” in unofficial adoptions to people loyal to Franco’s regime in the years after the Civil War and up to the 1970s. The case of the Australian aborigines is well-known, and I have reviewed books talking about similar subjects before).

Some readers felt the author was exploiting the story and the children and the communities involved.

If we take into account that nobody would have known about it if the author hadn’t freely mentioned it on one occasion (I read some other interviews, and it never came up); it doesn’t appear as if he was trying to use the historical events and people’s interest in it to sell his story, but I know these days it is difficult to know what might or might not cause outrage. I am sure many writers have read some horrific stories or news items that have sent them down a pathway that has resulted in a book that is very far from the original event, because authors are influenced by many things, and inspiration can take bizarre forms sometimes.

In any case, you don’t need to worry about the book upsetting you because of mentioning the real events or being very close to the facts. That is not the case, although that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have an emotional impact, because it does. But you can always read the reviews, the comments, and counter-comments and make your own minds up.

Thanks to the author for this book, thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, sharing, and liking, and remember to keep smiling and keep making the best of things. ♥

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog NO SHADOW WITHOUT LIGHT by Luke Gracias (@devils_prayer) Adventure, history, fabulous international locations, and a strong environmental message #adventures

Hi all:

I bring you the second part of a novel I read quite a few years back, but one I still remembered and wanted to know how it would all end up.

No Shadow Without Light by Luke Gracias

No Shadow Without Light by Luke Gracias

On 06/06/06, the world’s population crossed 6.66 billion. Any further increase could only occur at the cost of other species and future generations.

This triggered the Devil’s Game. A Treasure Hunt for the twelve missing pages of the Devil’s Bible, which hold the Devil’s Prayer. A game designed for Jess Russo, the daughter of the Devil, to unleash Armageddon. Each page Jess finds encourages people to be selfish. To hoard for themselves and theirs, wiping out every chance future generations and all other species have of survival. Only her elder sister Siobhan can stop her, by finding the pages of the Devil’s Prayer hidden across the globe before Jess does.

When the bells of Amalfi Cathedral toll twelve repeatedly one night, Inspector Luca Reginalli races to find four ancient frescoes and a note in a jade sarcophagus. The cryptic note offering the Twelfth Page of the Devil’s Prayer in exchange for Siobhan goes viral. The treasure hunter Siobhan becomes the hunted.

From the Templars of Tomar to the Doomsday Chest in London, from the Tomb of Amir Timur to the Shadowless Pagoda of Wuhan, Siobhan and Reginalli follow the trail of carnage left by each page of the Devil’s Prayer.

Can they save the world from its own destruction?

 https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Without-Light-Luke-Gracias-ebook/dp/B09HSHPGZ3/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Shadow-Without-Light-sequel/dp/B09K1WVCXT/

https://www.amazon.es/No-Shadow-Without-Light-English-ebook/dp/B09HSHPGZ3/

Author Luke Gracias
Author Luke Gracias

About the author:

Luke Gracias is an Environmental Specialist who has been working part- time in the film industry since 2006. The Codex Gigas or the Devil’s Bible is the largest medieval manuscript in the world. It currently resides in the National Library of Sweden. The Codex Gigas has twelve missing pages which are rumoured to contain an apocalyptic test known as the Devil’s Prayer. An avid photographer, Luke travelled through Europe and his home country Australia documenting the 13th Century conspiracy between the Mongols who came to Europe in search of the Devil’s Prayer and the Papal Inquisition.

https://www.amazon.com/Luke-Gracias/e/B08QNCLF7P/

My review:

I read and reviewed the first part of this story, The Devil’s Prayer, five years ago, and I thank NetGalley (Authors Upfront) and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I remembered having enjoyed the original novel and some details of it, but after such a long gap, I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how well I’d manage to follow the story. Thankfully, the beginning of the book provides readers with a brief reminder of the main plot points, not in a preface, but incorporated into the story. The first novel was written in a particularly interesting way, as the protagonist, who is also one of the main characters in this story, Siobhan, found her mother’s diary, and she (and the readers) learned the background to the events thanks to that account.

This novel is more traditional in its format, although the Devil’s Prayer and its twelve pages also play a big part in the events, and we get to read it (or at least some of it) as the story progresses. The novel is divided into four books, and the story is mostly told in chronological order (the beginning of the novel is split up between two settings, one in Australia and one in Italy, and there are some comings and goings between the two places and the dates), with some jumps forward in time. We follow the characters from 2014 to 2020, and, as the description suggests, we travel with them all over the world: Australia, Italy, China, Portugal, London, the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan… Like the previous novel, this is a mix of genres: there are plenty of adventures; historical background and events are also explored; there is much in common with spy novels (but with a religious/paranormal theme rather than a political one) and with the format of a treasure hunt, where each new clue guides the path of the main characters. There are also elements of horror, a good versus evil fight going on, and a strong environmental message, pointing at humanity’s responsibility for the future of all life on Earth.

Limited resources, selfishness versus selflessness, the importance and nature of religion and religious belief, family relationships, social media, greed, corruption, betrayal… are among the themes that appear in its pages, although that is not an exhaustive list. And we meet all kinds of secondary characters and historical figures: from policemen to bishops and monks, from Knight Templars to librarians, and various popes, Genghis Kahn, and even the Devil put in an appearance.

The story is told in the third person: for most of it we follow Siobhan and share her experiences, as we did in the first book, although sometimes we peer over the shoulder of the baddies and what they are doing, and at times there is a narrator that provides a lot of factual information on the events and the historical background of the places we are visiting. Because of that, there is a lot of telling in the story, although I found most of it quite fascinating, and by the end of the novel, I wanted to visit the places featured there (or most of them, at least. Oh, and there are pictures, as well, so you can see what the settings of some of the adventures are like).

I missed a bit more build-up of the main characters. Siobhan goes through some terrible ordeals, losing loved ones, being betrayed, being incarcerated (I won’t go into much detail to avoid spoilers), but there are only hints of what and how she feels, and the same applies to Reginalli, an Italian inspector who has interesting hidden depths as well. In general, there is more attention paid to the plot and the background than to the psychology of the characters or the complexity of their emotions. I must admit that I don’t usually read books like this, and perhaps this is part-and-parcel of the genre, where readers are looking for action and story, and put themselves in the protagonists’ shoes, rather than want to have their emotions spelled out.

Despite some minor inconsistencies and some to-be-expected required suspension of disbelief, the story is engaging, and no matter how many questions you might ask yourself about the fine details of the plot (in this day and age, with the worldwide access to technology, one always has to wonder), you have to keep reading to see how it all will turn up, especially if you have already read the first novel. As one of the reviewers said, I also feel that this book would make a great movie (and I am aware that the author has written screenplays before and worked in the film industry), although it would be a challenge to fit it all into a single film, and perhaps a TV series would work better. I would be eager to watch it, for sure.

The writing is engaging and particularly effective when it comes to descriptions of places and customs, and to passionately defending what are, quite evidently, convictions strongly held by the author, who has spent his life working as an environmental specialist and knows what he is talking about. The pages of the Devil’s Prayer we get to read are fascinating, scary, and will make all who read them pause and think.

The ending is left fairly open but hopeful as well (although perhaps some readers would like to see a bit more development of one of the aspects of it), as is the author’s note (which is well-worth reading and reflecting upon), and I felt it was appropriate and in keeping with the rest of the story.

As for warnings, like in the other novel, there are plenty of violence, cruelty, and deaths, and although much happens behind the scenes, I know it will bother some readers. Some people might also not share the point of view of the author about environmental issues or religion. I found the tone of the writing to be respectful and neutral, but I know that is always a matter of opinion.

I recommend this book to people who enjoy mixed-genre novels, particularly those who take place in a variety of settings, readers of adventure or spy books, those who have enjoyed books like The Da Vinci Code, and people who are concerned about environmental issues and like to read about those but are looking for some fiction and adventure as well. And, if you want to travel all over the world without leaving your home, and learn some fascinating historical facts at the same time, I definitely recommend you to check both books.

Thanks to NetGalley and to the author for the story, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to be happy, to keep smiling, and to share if you think anybody you know might be interested. Please, be safe out there. 

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview DEAD OF WINTER: Journey 7, Revenant Pass and Journey 8, The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Powers, new and old, connections, and a quest.

Hi all: Today I bring you the review of two more of the Journeys that comprise Dead of Winter. Hold on to your seats, because things are getting wild!

I am a fan of multi-talented Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, follow her blog (where she creates wonderful serials, with the participation of her readers), and have read several of her novels and novellas. She writes in a variety of genres (and she likes to experiment and combine those, rather than stick to the rules), but there are always elements of fancy, wonder, and magic weaved into her stories. Although I don’t usually read fantasy, I have no hesitation reading or recommending this series, even to people who aren’t that keen on the genre. I love the way she combines some unlikely and beautifully described settings with wonderful characters, playful dialogues (her love of research is legendary, and she always finds historically accurate words and long-forgotten expressions that delight readers), and highly imaginative storylines. No matter how many of her books you read, you’re bound to be surprised by her stories.

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. Http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

Dead of Winter Journey 7. Revenant Pass by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene 

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass begins with the ancient watcher’s memory of the Library of the Society of Deae Matres — and its fall. We also get a look into the thought process of treacherous Arawn. Then the story picks up where we left Emlyn and company, trapped in the Realm of the Dead.
This Journey is shorter than some, but adventure abounds. Some characters go missing. You’ll have to read to learn more.
Come, be a part of the Journeys.

Kindle:  relinks.me/B098MS8P48

Paperback:  relinks.me/B098GV1G5V

 

My review:

I was provided an early ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I am a fan of the author, I have read all the journeys in Dead of Winter so far and think the serial format suits the story well, because it builds up the characters, and the connections between them are revealed slowly, without overwhelming the readers. People who don’t have a lot of time to read don’t need to worry about getting too caught up in the story and not being able to stop. The author has chosen the length of the episodes and the perfect point to split up the novel, and we come to the end of each journey both satisfied with what happens and left wanting more.

This episode, although short, is very important, as we get to understand who Haldis —whom we knew as the Watcher in the early journeys— is (although we might have had our suspicions), and how her story links to that of the Deae Matres. It hints at what is to come, and it drags us even deeper into the story. Some of the connections and the links that we might have suspected are coming to the fore, and some of the questions we might have had are slowly getting answered.

We see things from the perspective of several characters (even the baddy), and we also get deeper into Emlyn’s thoughts, her doubts, her sensations, and that makes us empathise even more with her. She is quickly getting out of her shell and learning about other cultures and lifestyles, although she still doubts herself at times and wonders what her right place is and what the future holds in stock for her.

This journey includes some wonderful descriptions, as usual, and action scenes and scary moments aplenty. We are getting closer than ever to learning what happened in the past and discovering how that history is linked to the protagonists and the present. The warnings and the threats feel more urgent as well, and events seem to be speeding up. Characters disappear, mysteries abound, and there are many questions left answered.

I loved this journey, and I felt as if things were falling into place. I am in awe at the way everything is interconnected, and I can’t wait to learn what happens next. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long.

Just a reminder that this is a complete story split up into journeys, and readers need to read them in order to be able to follow the plot and fully appreciate its complexity. The author includes a list of characters and locations at the end, so even if it’s been some time since you read the previous journey, you can easily refresh your memory and pick up the story where you left off.

Recommended to anybody who loves great characters, beautiful writing (whatever their thoughts on fantasy), and imaginative stories, especially to those who appreciate shorter reads but like the idea of a serial.

Dead of Winter Journey 8. The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 8, The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Throughout the previous volumes the fantasy aspect of this epic has gradually built. In Journey 8, that fantastical element comes to the fore.
Emlyn and her companions search for the fabled Lost Library. The entire world is at risk, so they hope answers will be there. However, a new complication arises and the fate of one Deae Matres hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile Arawn, who tore the Veil between the worlds of the living and dead, tries to make an evil alliance with a long dead king who was known for his ruthlessness.
Remove the limits from your imagination and join Emlyn and company on this extraordinary adventure.
 

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09C6MPTYT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09C34XR7P

My review:

Journey 8 is a gripping one, as there are plenty of adventures, and we gain some fascinating insights into some of the characters’ backgrounds (already hinted at in Journey 7) and learn more about the history of the Deae Matres and the lost library of the title.

As the author tells us in her preface, this journey is slightly different in structure, as Haldis, the Watcher, has now become part of the action, and she is intriguing, to say the least. She becomes a guide to the rest of the characters, but she is unreliable, partly because she is old, and her memory is far from perfect, and partly, perhaps, because there are things she is keeping to herself.

Arawn, the baddiest of the bad, makes an appearance that puts an even darker spin on things, and although the Deae Matres are together again, things are not as they were before. Haldis promises there is a solution, but not everybody is convinced by her suggestion.

Three of the protagonists of the story embark on a quest, becoming seekers (I’m trying to avoid any spoilers), and what they find reminded me of some of the most imaginative and wonderful stories the author has come up with in her blog and in previous novels. She definitely delivers in her promise of fantastic elements. Her descriptions are eye-poppingly incredible and beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what else the trio will find.

Just a quick reminder that you need to read all the journeys in order, and it is easy to catch up on previous adventures as the author includes a list of characters and settings at the end that is updated with each installment, as relevant.

A magical read that is becoming more intense and intriguing as it goes. Unmissable.

Thanks to the author for keeping the story coming (it has become something to look forward to, and reliable as well), thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading, and about all, take care and stay safe. 

 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Adventures in Mythopoeia by John Dolan (@JohnDolanAuthor) For lovers of mythology, adventures, great characters, and fabulous writing

Hi all:

I’m back! I’m back in the land of easier internet access, so I hope I’ll be able to keep up with you all, although the holiday proved a bit busier and more challenging than I expected, and that means I have much more to do and didn’t manage to read as much as I expected. So things might be slow-going for the next few weeks, but I hope to get going at full speed soon(-ish).

I hope you are all well, and I bring you a book by one of my favourite authors, which I’m sure many of you already know. And this is quite a read!

Adventures in Mythopoeia by John Dolan

Adventures in Mythopoeia by John Dolan

“It was neither the best of times, nor the worst of times. It was somewhere in the middle. ”

Pádraig O’Breasail – publican, drunk and ex-Arsenal footballer – is up to his neck in debt to the Chinese gangster Mingzhu Tang. With time running out, the desperate Irishman goes for a tarot card reading at Driscoll’s Circus hoping to find a way out of his predicament.

Meanwhile, the world is descending into anarchy and his nephew Jason is considering quitting his job as a male escort.
Plus, there’s the little matter of the sheep…

So begins a modern-day epic drawing on the Greek Myths, Don Quixote, the Quest for the Holy Grail and Carl Jung’s treatise on UFOs. Packed with dark humor and eccentric characters, Adventures in Mythopoeia will take you on a madcap journey of criminality, enchantment, laugh-out-loud gags and British weather.

Bring your umbrella.

https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Mythopoeia-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B08MF2M6TZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventures-Mythopoeia-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B08MF2M6TZ/

https://www.amazon.es/Adventures-Mythopoeia-John-Dolan-ebook/dp/B08MF2M6TZ/

Author John Dolan

About the author:

“Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.”

John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between Thailand and the UK.

He is the author of the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ mystery series and the ‘Children of Karma’ mystery trilogy. 

My review:

I have been following John Dolan since he started publishing books, and I am a devoted fan. He is one of those authors whose new publications bring joy to my heart, and I’m happy to recommend his novels to all and sundry. His name and his series always come to my mind when I think about detective novels with memorable main characters in unforgettable settings, and he is one of those gifted authors who manage to combine gripping plots with a cast of players that jump out of the page and become people we get to care about. Given all this, you won’t be surprised if I tell you that I did not hesitate in getting a copy of his newest publication, even though it promised to be something quite different from anything the author had written before. 

Well, it does deliver on its promise, that’s true, although it is also true that followers of the author’s career will recognise the writing style, the wit, and sense of humour, which are also Dolan’s trademark, and will be familiar with some of the excursions the plot and the characters’ thoughts take down philosophical and moral alleys, which are totally relevant when we consider the ambition of the author’s project in this book. As he explains at the end of this long volume (it is long in pages, but it is short if we consider how many stories and characters we can find inside, what a long historical period it encompasses, and how dynamic it feels when reading it), he had initially thought of writing three volumes to cover a large variety of mythological motifs, but when he realised the stories had become extremely intertwined, and there were far too many connections to find a satisfying way to split it up without disrupting the flow, he decided to write the whole story and publish it in a single volume. And it works, because although it seems impossible at the beginning, when one starts reading the prologue and the different parts, we soon realise that everything is interconnected, that characters that might seem to only play a minimal part in the story, might reappear again later in some important role, and the protagonists move around the British Isles, experiencing a variety of events, participating in all kinds of quests, reinventing themselves, and living several lives in one.

I am not even going to try to summarise the plot or to go into a lot of detail about what happens. The description, sparse as it is it, contains enough information to entice readers who are not afraid to try something different, and who are happy to explore stories with a bit of everything: classical Greek tragedies, Old Testament-style stories, pagan myths, Arthurian legend, more than a touch of the magical and paranormal, fate and destiny gone awry, archaeology true and imagined and its share of enigmatic objects, modern politics, race rage, life in the circus, travelling on a barge, characters setting off in their peculiar quests (for adventure, independence, knowledge, or all of the above), time-warps, talking cats and other fabulous pets, UFOs, cheating husbands, murderous gangs, assorted religious beliefs, love, hatred, revenge… Oh, and not forgetting the end of the world as we know it. I have not been all-inclusive, believe me. Readers who are as knowledgeable and well-read as the author —polymath is no exaggeration— will have fun discovering all the references and the origin of the many stories and characters. I confess that although I recognised some, I missed many, and I didn’t have the in-depth knowledge to get all the nuances even for those that I spotted, but I had a whale of a time nonetheless, and I agree with the author’s assertion that it is not necessary to know all the original stories to enjoy the book or follow the plot. You only need a bit of imagination, a willingness to go on a wild ride, and a sense of fun.

Those readers who like to be in the know and check everything don’t need to worry: the author explains which stories he took as a basis for the main narratives, and who the different characters correspond to. And those who worry about getting lost, don’t. On the one hand, this is not that kind of story. There are many connections, but things do come to a clear resolution at the end (although I wouldn’t talk about a happy ending, per se. This is not that kind of story, either). The story is told in the third person, from multiple characters’ points of view, but these are clearly signposted in the text, and the titles of the different chapters are descriptive enough to pinpoint where we are and what we are going to be reading about. Other worries? Well, there is a bit of everything people might feel offended by: violence, racism, prejudice, murders, suicide, sex, even incest, although none extremely explicit, and always in keeping with the mythological theme and the original sources. Although many of the reflections and the underlying issues are far closer to reality than we’d like to admit, I doubt that anybody embarking on the adventure, and with a previous knowledge of the author, will feel outraged or upset by the story, other than, perhaps, by the fates of some of the individual characters (my alliances changed over time, although Don and Dora are strong contenders to the title of my favourites, but other than two or three of the bad apples, I would happily meet and have a drink with most if not all the characters that make an appearance in this book). People who don’t want to read anything related to viruses and/or other causes of massive and mysterious destruction of human life might be advised not to attempt this book. Anybody else, if you have doubts if the book will suit your taste, I’d advise, as usual, to check a sample of the book. As it is quite long, it should give you a good idea of how you’ll feel. And, don’t worry. As I’ve said, there are no cliffhangers.

I won’t talk about suspension of disbelief. Let’s not be ridiculous. What does belief or disbelief have to do with mythology? If you have a sense of wonder, love adventures, accept that in life there should be a balance between joy and pathos, and know that there are stories much bigger than ourselves, and we are not the centre of the universe, I am sure you’ll love this book. If you have enjoyed Dolan’s previous novels, you’ll have a ball with this one, and you’ll spot a few familiar names along the way. I can’t wait for what the author will come up next. Whatever it is, I know it will be amazing.

 Thanks to the author for this wonderful book, thanks to all of you for reading and being patient, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep safe, and keep reading!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE ANGEL OF EVIL: THE GREAT DEVIL WAR IV by Kenneth B. Andersen (@K_B_Andersen) Darker adventures and even more action #YAseries

Hi all:

I bring you book four in a series I’ve been following for a while. I’m not big into series, but this has me truly hooked.

The Angel of Evil: The Great Devil War IV by Kenneth B. Andersen
The Angel of Evil: The Great Devil War IV by Kenneth B. Andersen

The Angel of Evil: The Great Devil War IV by Kenneth B. Andersen

Book 4 in the multi-award winning series.

Nothing will ever be the same. Satina is gone, kidnapped by the enemy. Disobeying Lucifer, Philip heads out to find her, journeying into the deep darkness of Outer Reach.

But nothing can prepare Philip for the horror that awaits–or the demons he will face.

Meanwhile, Lucifer’s kingdom is threatened as the Great Devil War draws closer. All Hell is about to break loose…

THE GREAT DEVIL WAR is a gripping, humorous and dark tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective, set in a world beyond your wildest dreams.


Praise for The Angel of Evil

“Kenneth B. Andersen has a way of taking everything you think you know and turning it upside down in the most intriging and funny way … Filled with humor, death and romance – a mix that is absolutely captivating.” ***** – Goodreads review

“I loved every bit of it. A masterpiece.” ***** – Goodreads review

“Truly an amazing book.” ***** – Goodreads review

Over 2000 worldwide 5 star reviews of the series!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VKBF3P7/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07VKBF3P7/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B07VKBF3P7/

Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen
Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

About the author:

I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

You can read more on my English website www.kennethbandersen.com

https://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-B%C3%B8gh-Andersen/e/B0045ADTRM/

My review:

I received an ARC copy from the author but that has in no way influenced my review, which I freely chose to write.

This is the fourth book in The Great Devil War Series, a series that I’m enjoying enormously (you can read my review of the third book here), and I loved this part as well. As I warned in my review of the previous book, that one ended with a huge cliff-hanger, but you don’t need to worry; that is not the case here. And not only that, but many of the mysteries and questions that had yet to be answered from the rest of the series get their answers here (we even learn the meaning of life! No, I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll have to read the book to find out!). In many ways, this book felt like the end of the series. But, luckily, there is a teaser with the first chapter of the next book included, so you can breathe easy if you’ve loved the series as much as I have. If you’ve read the previous novels a while back, don’t worry; there is enough information of what went on before to bring you up to speed, but I would recommend readers who haven’t read any other novels in the series to start at the very beginning, otherwise they’ll miss a lot of the fun, and the story won’t work as it should.

I am not going to discuss the plot in detail, for evident reasons, but we have Philip taking control of the situation and coming to the rescue more than once, and there’s also a mystery at the heart of the book (Aziel, Lucifer’s sworn enemy, is up to no good, the Devil War of the title approaches, but how is he planning to win it?), with plenty of cryptic clues (people with a knowledge of the Bible might have their suspicions, but it’s not straightforward), red herrings, twists and turns, plenty of action; we revisit some of our favourite characters, and meet some new ones (I particularly enjoyed Samson’s guest appearance, but I won’t spoil the rest of surprises). As the description promises, all Hell breaks loose, literally, and it is epic. Oh, I loved the ending as well, although it feels bittersweet.

The writing is as good as in previous books, with vivid descriptions of places and characters that don’t detract from the flow of the story. If anything, I’d say this book is darker than the previous ones, and although there are humorous moments, there is plenty of suffering (both physical and psychological), more explicit violence (young adults who love gore, bloods and guts will be happy), and subjects such as loss, death, choice, free will, betrayal, identity, sacrifice… are explored in detail, always within the realms of the story. The character is growing up, and so are his concerns and the seriousness of the decisions he is confronted with.

I was a bit disappointed with the role of the female characters in this instalment. Satina is not in a position to act as she usually does, for reasons to do with the story, and none of the females seem to take active part in the big scenes, but this does not detract from the enjoyment of the adventures (although it is, perhaps, a lost opportunity).

I recommend this book, and the whole series, to YA and adult readers who love fantasy, adventures, are not squeamish and love a touch of horror, monsters and dark events. This is a great coming of age story as well, and it will suit readers who appreciate complex characters to go with their thrills and exploits. There are tonnes of risky moments, scares aplenty, and surprises to keep readers hooked. Oh, and although many questions are answered, I’m already mulling over some new ones. I’m looking forward to The Fallen Angel already.

Thanks to the author for keeping me on the loop and for all the fun, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share if you’ve enjoyed it, keep reading, reviewing, and always, always, smiling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#Bookreview THE NEVER GAME (A COLTER SHAW NOVEL BOOK 1) by Jeffery Deaver (@JefferyDeaver) (@HarperCollinsUK). Twists, turns, a fascinating backdrop and a new hero

Hi all:

Today I bring you the latest novel by a very well-know author.

Cover of The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver
The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

The Never Game (A Colter Shaw Novel Book 1) by Jeffery Deaver

From the bestselling and award-winning master of suspense, the first novel in a thrilling new series, introducing Colter Shaw.

“You have been abandoned.”

A young woman has gone missing in Silicon Valley and her father has hired Colter Shaw to find her. The son of a survivalist family, Shaw is an expert tracker. Now he makes a living as a “reward seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. But what seems a simple investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of America’s tech hub and the cutthroat billion-dollar video-gaming industry.

“Escape if you can.”

When another victim is kidnapped, the clues point to one video game with a troubled past–The Whispering Man. In that game, the player has to survive after being abandoned in an inhospitable setting with five random objects. Is a madman bringing the game to life?

“Or die with dignity.”

Shaw finds himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game, risking his own life to save the victims even as he pursues the kidnapper across both Silicon Valley and the dark ‘net. Encountering eccentric game designers, trigger-happy gamers and ruthless tech titans, he soon learns that he isn’t the only one on the hunt: someone is on his trail and closing fast.

The Never Game proves once more why “Deaver is a genius when it comes to manipulation and deception” (Associated Press).

https://www.amazon.com/Never-Game-Jeffery-Deaver-ebook/dp/B07HDSGVMQ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Game-Jeffery-Deaver/dp/000830372X/

https://www.amazon.es/Never-Game-Jeffery-Deaver-ebook/dp/B07HDSGVMQ/

Jeffery Deaver's picture
Author Jeffery Deaver

About the author:

Jeffery Deaver was born outside of Chicago in 1950. His father was an advertising copywriter and his mother was a homemaker. He has one younger sister who writes novels for teenagers ‘ Julie Reece Deaver.

Deaver wrote his first book ‘ which consisted of two entire chapters ‘ when he was eleven, and he’s been writing ever since. An award-winning poet and journalist, he has also written and performed his own songs around the country. After receiving a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Deaver worked as a magazine writer, then, to gain the background needed to become a legal correspondent for The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, he enrolled at Fordham Law School. After graduation he decided to practice law for a time and worked for several years as an attorney for a large Wall Street firm. It was during his long commute to and from the office that he began writing the type of fiction he enjoyed reading: suspense novels. In 1990 he started to write full time.

The author of thirty-four novels, Deaver has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony award, a Gumshoe Award, and is a three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Reader’s Award for Best Short Story of the Year. In 2001, he won the W.H. Smith Thumping Good Read Award for his Lincoln Rhyme novel The Empty Chair. In 2004, he was awarded the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for Garden Of Beasts and the Short Story Dagger for “The Weekender.” Translated into 35 languages, his novels have appeared on a number of bestseller lists around the world, including the New York Times, the London Times and the Los Angeles Times. The Bone Collector was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington as Lincoln Rhyme. A Maiden’s Grave was made into an HBO film retitled Dead Silence, starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin.

Jeff has also released three collections of his short stories, called Twisted, More Twisted and Trouble In Mind.

https://www.amazon.com/Jeffery-Deaver/e/B000AP76I4

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins for providing me an early ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Jeffery Deaver does not need an introduction. He has been writing and publishing crime and mystery novels and thrillers for a very long time, and he has been collecting awards and accolades for almost as long. Despite my interest in those genres, I hadn’t read any of his books yet, partly because I always hesitate to start reading a series halfway through (yes, and I had many other books to get on with). When I saw this novel, the first in a new series, I thought this was a good chance to remedy that.

This novel has all the required elements for those who love the genre: an enticing opening (in fact, we are given a glimpse of an extremely tense scene that will come much later in the book), a hero with pretty amazing abilities, a complex past, and a few secrets (and a curious name too, Colter Shaw), a twisted case that gets more and more complicated as we go along (red herrings, false endings, action scenes, bizarre clues, plenty of suspects), useless and useful members of law enforcement (LaDonna Standish is my favourite character in the whole book, and she ticks all the boxes: African-American, lesbian, married with a child, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks, intelligent, a good professional, dismissed and bullied by her co-workers), some sort of love-interest (I didn’t care too much for that aspect of the story), an intriguing backdrop to the story (Silicon Valley and the gaming industry), another case he is working on as well that is pretty personal for the hero, and a twist/hook at the end.

If you like the description and are seeking for those elements in a story, do not hesitate. I can’t fault Deaver’s writing. He knows his stuff and he delivers in all aspects. He knows how to bait the reader’s interest, and his mastery of plot is evident. He drops hints, and when you think you have worked out who is the guilty party, or what is going on, he pulls the rug from under your feet. He is good at combining a fairly modern writing style, including plenty of action and the latest technologies, with well-tried classical elements; including the final explanation of how he worked out who the guilty party was (it is not quite a Sherlock Holmes or Poirot moment, but not that far from it). Although most of the story is told in the third-person from Shaw’s point of view, we don’t get all the information he does, for very good narrative reasons.

Any negatives? I cannot compare this book to his previous novels, and although I’ve checked the reviews, it seems that some people see this as the beginning of another winning series (it seems that the character of Colter Shaw had already been introduced in one of his short-stories), and others feel that is far from his best work. For me, one of the issues was the main character. If you had told me about this man, who was home-schooled and grew up raised in a survivalist household in the mountains of California, whose parents were both brilliant professors, but whose father (Ash) suffered from paranoia and insisted in educating his children (two boys and a girl) in the art of survival, totally isolated from the world and who ended up dead in somewhat unclear circumstances; whose mother was her husband’s psychiatrist and chose to follow his radical lifestyle and indulge (?) his paranoia, whose brother disappeared, and who now lives by working on a variety of criminal cases and collecting rewards (but seems to have other financial means) while at the same time pursues his own investigation, I would have said we were onto a winner. He is skilled, he seems to be attractive, he has commitment issues (unsurprisingly), he is somewhat obsessive and does things his own way (he loves to keep notebooks and writes his observations by hand), he is clever and witty, calm and collected under pressure, and no danger or risk faces him. Although he is not that bothered about rules and regulations, he has a sense of morality and of right and wrong (and he chooses to do the right thing). Despite all those characteristics and his back story, which should have made the character irresistible and compelling, I didn’t feel a particular connection to him. I wonder if it was the third-person narration (we also get flashbacks of episodes of his childhood, as a way to flesh out the character’s background and to build up interest and offer more clues) or something else, but although he was interesting, I felt as if I was observing the action rather than getting really engaged and worried about what might happen to him (or most of the other characters). Perhaps it read too much like a movie, and I can take or leave action flicks (I enjoy them, but they don’t engage my mind for long). Some reviewers have compared the character (negatively) to Jack Reacher, and I guess other characters will come to mind for those who love the genre. The character himself goes to pains to explain he is neither a private investigator nor a bounty hunter, but I’m not sure that makes him unique or distinctive enough. As I said, most readers love the character, and I am convinced he’ll be further developed in future novels in the series, so this should not put anybody off if the rest interests you.

I saw some readers complaining about the fact that the book was centred around the world of computer games, some because they didn’t enjoy it and found that slowed the novel down, and others because they felt there were inaccuracies (I can’t comment on that), but although I’m not a gamer, I found the descriptions interesting (not too detailed) and enjoyed the main plot line and the mystery behind the kidnappings (it is not unique but it works well). I made some general comments about the ending earlier, and I’m trying to avoid spoilers, so I won’t go into it in more detail, but I agree that there seems to be a sudden and surprising change of direction at one point (some readers have complained of a “rushed” ending), although everything is explained and I guess that is the name of the game.

In sum, personally I enjoyed the story and the plot, but at this point, I am not sure I’m interested enough to keep reading the series. On the other hand, I am convinced Deaver’s reputation is well deserved, and I intend to read more of his novels in the future. (I read a very early ARC copy of the novel, so it might well be that not all I say applies to the finished product).

Thanks to Harper Collins, to NetGalley and to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling.

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE BEAUTY OF BUCHAREST (A Clean Up Crew Thriller Book 1) by S.J. Varengo (@PapaV) (@northernlakepub) Recommended to fans of action and spy thrillers looking for a fun read #Internationalthriller #adventures

Hi all:

I am not a big reader of spy and purely action thrillers but when I read the description and the beginning of this book, I had to keep reading…

review of The Beauty of Bucharest by S.J. Varengo
The Beauty of Bucharest by S.J. Varengo

The Beauty of Bucharest (A Clean Up Crew Thriller Book 1) by S. J. Varengo

What would you do if you found a body in the trunk of your wife’s car?

This is the question facing Dan Porter as he stood in the parking lot and looked down at a man wrapped in clear plastic sheeting…a man with a tidy .38 bullet hole in his forehead. But finding the body is a mere curiosity compared with the twists and turns Dan’s life will take over the next few days.

International intrigue and edge-of-your-seat action abound as Dan and his lovely wife Nicole—who clearly has more than her share of dark secrets—risk their lives to rescue a stunning model and bring down one of the most evil men either of them have had the misfortune to meet.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beauty-Bucharest-Clean-Crew-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07BLJSCYH/

https://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Bucharest-Clean-Crew-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07BLJSCYH/

About the author:

Scott James (S.J.) Varengo was born in 1960, in a city called New York. Two years later he formed a band called The Beatles [citation needed].

He returned to New York City to attend Fordham University (having been told it was a basketball powerhouse) before transferring to the State University of New York at Potsdam (having been told it was located in the tropics), from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in Art History.

Varengo loves to read (favorite authors include Craig A. Hart, Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien and an up-and-comer named Ernie Heming-something-or-other), listen to music (when he writes, it’s usually jazz – the rest of the time it’s Tazmanian flute concertos), and walk along forested trails with his wife Kim. He lives in Baldwinsville, NY, a suburb of Syracuse, known for its picturesque setting and its friendly people. He has two adult children of whom he is obnoxiously proud.

His published works include a volume of short fiction, two fantasy novels, and an ever-growing list of spy/espionage novellas, which he co-writes with Craig A. Hart.

https://www.amazon.com/S.-J.-Varengo/e/B06XBCL1KR/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/S.-J.-Varengo/e/B06XBCL1KR/

My review:

Thanks to the publisher for offering me a free copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

It is quite difficult to review this novel without revealing any spoilers, and the description does not help much (it is gripping although extremely discreet) but considering the genre, this is pretty understandable, and I’ll try my hardest not to spoil the fun.

I am not a big reader of spy novels but have watched a fair amount of spy movies,and although this is not a spy novel per se, it shares with them many of its characteristics. We have professionals working in an international team, taking up false identities, travelling all over the world to undertake dangerous missions, using weaponry and skills beyond those of most normal individuals. We have the goodies and the baddies (and they are very bad indeed, no question about it), we have secrets, risky situations, and a fair amount of violence. The novel also requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief but not more than is usual in the genre.

The story, as suggested by the title, takes place, in its majority, in Bucharest, and it involves a beautiful model, but also many other women who are at risk. The background of the operation and the individuals the two protagonists —Dan and Nicole, a married couple— are trying to get rid of are bad beyond discussion. We are not dealing with white-collar crimes or morally ambiguous matters. I don’t think any readers will find it difficult to root for the protagonists, who are also likeable and have an endearing, if somewhat idealised, relationship.

The novel manages to combine what might be some women’s fantasies (having plenty of power, running an international company that deals with and avenges those who do evil, helping make the world a better place, knowing how to use powerful weapons and possessing fighting skills, whilst at the same time having the perfect husband and children), with some men’s fantasies (having a gorgeous and younger wife, the perfect family life, retiring after having dedicated one’s life to creating a company that is fun to run [a company that designs computer games], becoming involved in fascinating adventures, and then being able to use his geek skills to save his kick-ass wife). It is a fast-paced adventure, exciting, and there’s not a moment’s boredom. Although we get a sense of what Bucharest is like, there are no lengthy descriptions to slow down the action, and we do not get lost in psychological studies of the characters either.

This is, first and foremost, a plot-driven book, and we do not get to know much about the characters or their motivations, although this is book one in the series and there are hints that we will get to discover some important secrets in future novels. The story is told in the third person but from the points of views of both of the main characters (and sometimes briefly from some of other characters, including one of the baddies), and, although as I said there is no deep analysis of the individuals, having access to their thoughts makes it easy to empathise with them. There is a degree of head-hopping (sometimes the narration quickly moves from the point of view of one of the characters to the other), but I did not find it confusing as it is quite evident who is thinking what. I am not sure the characters are always fully consistent, but they are confronting pretty challenging circumstances and that is not what the book is focused on. (I must confess to feeling quite intrigued by one of the bad characters, the female bodyguard. Not likeable but…) The writing is dynamic and fluid, and although there are some USA-based cultural references, they do not detract from the understanding of the story.

There is violence, some fairly explicit (although not extreme), and there is a scene that although very bloody, will be satisfying to most readers (just deserts come to mind, and I was close to cheering at that point) but the book is not a heavy read. Although it deals with serious matters, these are not the subject of far-reaching analysis but rather an evil that has to be fought.

In summary, this is a fun and quick read, full of action, with a degree of role reversal (strong and powerful females, and males who are side-kicks at best and distractions at worst, although they end up coming quite handy), in an interesting setting, with a very satisfying ending and a promise of more secrets to be revealed in future instalments. I could not help but think of many of the spy movies I’ve watched, and with the right cast, it could turn into a blockbuster. Recommended to lovers of action and spy thrillers looking for a fun, non-taxing read.

Thanks to Northern Lake Publishing and to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and keep smiling!

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE SECRET OF THE LOST PHARAOH (MATTHEW CONNOR ADVENTURE SERIES BOOK 2) by Carolyn Arnold (@Carolyn_Arnold) #Bookreview A thrilling and fun adventure for lovers of Ancient #Egypt and Indiana Jones

Hi all:

Today I bring you the review of a book that launches today. And if like me, you are looking for a bit of distraction from everyday life, this might be just the ticket.

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh (Matthew Connor Adventure series book 2) by Carolyn Arnold. Book launch and review
The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh (Matthew Connor Adventure series book 2) by Carolyn Arnold. Review

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh (Matthew Connor Adventure series Book 2) by Carolyn Arnold

Mystery lovers will need to hold on to their hats for this follow-up to City of Gold, which reviewers described as “a fast-paced action adventure” that is “akin to an Indiana Jones story set in modern times.” Now, the second in the series promises to bring much of the same excitement! Join archaeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor and his friends as they go after the Emerald Tablets to save the world in The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh.

In Egypt’s Western Desert lies the tomb of an unnamed pharaoh that hides a secret so powerful, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Archaeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor has made a career of finding legends the world has all but forgotten. Though there’s one in particular that has fascinated him for years—the Emerald Tablets. Myth says that they possess the knowledge of the universe, allowing humankind to traverse Heaven and Earth, and have the power to bestow wealth and wisdom upon whoever possesses them. But if they fall into evil hands, it could cause a global disaster.

So when a former colleague stumbles across an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic map that promises to lead to a pharaoh’s tomb and the Emerald Tablets, there’s no way he’s turning down her invitation to join the dig. He only has one stipulation: his best friends Robyn Garcia and Cal Myers come with him.

The road ahead isn’t going to be an easy one, and their shared dream of recovering the Emerald Tablets is being crushed at every turn. And just when they think it’s all over, they learn there are a few clues they have overlooked. But they’re no longer the only ones searching for the Tablets. Now, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and soon they’ll find out that when it comes to hunting legends, they can’t trust anyone.

Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

Goodreads

If you want to know more about the series, here is what to expect from the Matthew Connor Adventure series:

 

Action-adventure books for the mystery lover. Does treasure hunting excite you? What about the thought of traveling the globe and exploring remote regions to uncover legends that the world has all but forgotten? If so, strap yourself in for an adventure with modern-day archaeologist Matthew Connor and his two closest friends. Indiana Jones meets the twenty-first century.

 

This is the perfect book series for fans of Indiana JonesLara CroftNational Treasure, and The Relic Hunter.

Photo of author Carolyn Arnold
Author Carolyn Arnold

Author Bio

 

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives in London Ontario with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

 

There’s more! Today, she answers a few questions for us and gives us insight into her life and journey as a mystery author.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I don’t remember back as far as a young child, but as a young adult, I either wanted to be a defense attorney, a police officer, or a journalist. As a crime author, I’ve really become a blend of all three. LOL

If you had one wish, what would that be?

That people would use their energy for building other people up and that the world could unite, accepting each other’sdifferences, even when there’s not the threat of an alien invasion or global destruction. 😉

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

I write organically or go with the flow. Writing in this manner is also known as panster-style. If I set out to write an outline—even a brief one—my creativity stops.

When I start writing a book, I normally only have the concept of the plot. Most times I don’t even know who the killer is and I never know in advance how I’m getting my investigators to their door.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?

It will take a lot of hard work, likely more than you can imagine until you’re immersed in the process, but there is no need to get overwhelmed. Take one day at a time and keep your focus on how much you enjoy writing and how you are writing for the readers who will love to read you.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:
Website | Twitter | Facebook

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

And before I tell you what I think, I thought I’d offer you a sample

Excerpt from the Chapter 3 of The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh (Matthew Connor Adventure series)

Robyn went to get up when her door opened and Matthew Connor strolled in. His eyes were bluer than she remembered. She swept some of her dark hair behind an ear. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other,” he responded casually.

“You’re the one who took off to Alaska, and before that to—” She stopped talking before it came across like she was keeping track of his schedule. “It’s good to see you.”

And it was. It always was. They’d been friends since college and lovers there for a while, too. But just when things started to get serious between them, she’d been offered this job. And with her life plan coming together and Matthew’s selfless understanding, they’d ended things so she could focus on her career. She’d even gone so far as to avoid expeditions with him for a time, claiming they were too dangerous.

“You too.” He flashed her a smile that could stop her heart if she allowed it to.

“If you had been around yesterday, you could have joined us at Gretzky’s.” By us, she meant, Cal, Sophie, and herself, but Matthew would know that.

He was still smiling as he sat down in the chair across from her. “I figured you’d end up on a patio for drinks.”

“Uh-huh.”

She regarded the light in his eyes but also picked up on shadows of secrecy. He got that look when he was thinking about an expedition. But she didn’t have time to go away to wherever it was he had in mind. Maybe he had the luxury of dropping everything on a whim, but she didn’t. She was tethered to a job she loved, and Lord knew she had enough that needed taking care of. The e-mail about the African exhibit was far from being the only thing on her to-do list.

“If you’re here about an expedition, I can’t go,” she stated, certain she was getting in front of what he’d come here to ask.

“You don’t even know when I’m going.” Matthew leaned forward, one corner of his mouth lifting as if it had been raised by a hook. It was a carefree and devilish expression, and one that she found titillating, whether she wanted it to or not. And she didn’t want it to. They were better off as friends. It was so much less complicated. He did his thing; she did hers. And when they did go on quests together, it was an experience they shared as friends.

“It doesn’t matter.” She was shaking her head. “I have too much to do here.”

Matthew’s gaze went to her tidy desk before meeting her eyes. “It doesn’t look like it.”

“You know that my desk isn’t an indication of my workload. Do you want to see my in-box?” She gestured toward her monitor and then set her hand down on her desk.

Matthew reached forward and put his hand on top of hers. Her heart began to beat faster. She pulled her hand away and swallowed, hoping he hadn’t sensed how uncomfortable his touch made her.

His gaze dropped to her desk but then tracked up to meet her eyes. “You seem a little jumpy. I think someone needs a vacation.”

“Ha!” She mocked laughter. “You have no idea.” Truth be told, she hadn’t taken time off since the better part of a year ago, when they had gone in search of the City of Gold.

Matthew splayed out his hands. “No time like the present, then.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “An expedition”—she pointed a swirling finger at him—“isn’t a vacation. It’s work.”

Matthew sat back in his chair and bobbed his head side to side. “Fun work. And in this case, it could affect the fate of the world.”

“Excuse me while I roll my eyes. The fate of the world? Really?” She expected him to smile or laugh, but his eyes darkened and his mouth fell into a straight line. “You’re serious?”

“I am dead serious.”

“So what is this mission that could affect the fate of the world?” She’d started off armed with cynicism but found that her shield was starting to lower. What was wrong with her? Was he really baiting her with the fate of the world? Was she that desperate for time off that she was buying into his hyperbole?

“Before I continue,” he said, “I just want to make sure you realize that what I’m about to tell you is highly confidential.”

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh, book launch and review
The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh. Now available

My review:

Thanks to the author’s publicist for offering me this opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the launch of this novel and for providing me an ARC copy that I freely chose to review.

I have read one of Carolyn Arnold’s Police Procedural books (Remnants, Brandon Fisher FBI Book 6. You can read my review here) and when I was approached about this book, that is quite different in genre, I was very curious. I know I’m not the only reader fascinated by Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, and the secrets hidden by the pyramids and the hieroglyphs. I still have a copy of Gods, Graves and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology by C. W. Ceram (well, Dioses, Tumbas y Sabios, as I read the Spanish Translation), which I was given as a child, and I remember how much time I spent reading it and imagining that I was there, in Tutankhamen’s Tomb. Of course, the book is quite old now, and I was delighted to be given the opportunity of following an expedition in modern times, and seeing how much things have changed. But some things haven’t, and the magic and the excitement are still there.

This is book 2 in the Matthew Connor Adventure series, and although I can confirm it can be read independently, there are quite a few references to the previous book, City of Gold, so if you’re intending to read the whole series, I’d advise you to start by the first book, as you might otherwise miss some of the surprises. There is enough information about book 1 to get a good sense of the closeness between the friends, the dangers they encountered in their previous adventure, and also to understand what makes them tick.  But when it came to the intricacies of their personal lives, I was curious about how much background I had missed, because, in such matters, nuances are important.

The story is told in the third person from a variety of characters’ points of view. It is Matthew Connor Series, and he is one of the main characters, but the story starts with Alex, an Egyptologist who knew Matthew from before and who calls him when she realises what she has come across. Both of Matthew’s friends, Cal and Robin appear reluctant to join him at first, for different reasons, but they cannot resist the adventure, and they make a great team. Robin is the studious and organised one, and she’s always dreamed of Egypt. Cal is a photographer who loves adventure and is always trying to bring a light touch and a joke to the proceedings, and the fact that he is not knowledgeable about the topic offers the author the perfect excuse to explain the background, both historical and procedural, to their expedition. Matthew is an interesting mixture of intuition, deduction, and determination. He has great instincts even if sometimes he might get side-tracked by his emotions and his flirting with danger.  I know some readers are reluctant to read books where the point of view changes often, but it is well-done here, and it helps keep the mystery and the intrigue, as each character’s personality and insights provide us different clues to what is really going on. It is up to us to put the pieces of the puzzle together and it is great fun.

The book is fast-paced, and it will delight lovers of adventures. If you love Indiana Jones, you will be fascinated by the Emerald Tablets, the lost pharaoh, the snake whisperer, the treasure map, the betrayals, and the many secrets. In an ideal world, I would have loved to know more about the pharaoh and his secrets (he sounds like a fascinating character), and I was much more interested and convinced by the adventure aspect of the story than by the personal relationships and the love stories of the characters. Matthew came across as quite fickle at times, but he is very young (that is more evident emotionally than professionally), and I think his reactions and behaviour are understandable. The three friends go through emotional turmoil, and in all cases, it is related to their profession and their love of adventure, which brings an interesting and realistic aspect to the matter. We are used to adventurers who are either loners, or somehow come across a kindred spirit who loves adventures as much as they do, but rarely do we find a group of friends who know the value of their friendship and appreciate the difficulties of fitting their love for adventure into a ‘normal’ life. None of the main characters are flawless heroes (some hate snakes, there are jealousies, unfunny jokes, superstition, lack of commitment, and lies) and, for me, that is a strength, because it makes them human and easier to identify with.

The author once more shows her skill at research, and the technology used as part of the expedition, the procedures followed, and the setting blend smoothly into the story without delaying the action or going into unnecessarily detailed descriptions. There are clues, red herrings, plenty of suspects, and twists and turns to keep the mystery readers engaged too.

A thrilling and fun adventure that I recommend to anybody who loves the Indiana Jones movies and has always been intrigued by archaeological mysteries. The plot is particularly strong, but the characters are relatable and likeable, and I would love to join them on their next adventure. I am sure you will too.

Thanks once again to the author and her team, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and keep SMILING!

Categories
Book launch New books

#TuesdayBookBlog New translation THE ROCK OF THE MISSING by Antonio Flórez Lage. A unique story of childhood adventures, heroes, and incredible landscapes

Hi all:

As you know, I translate books for other authors and nothing makes me happier than bringing you one of this when they see the light. I must thank not only the author but also Wendy Janes for her help with the corrections. Here it is:

The Rock of the Missing by Antonio Flórez Lage
The Rock of the Missing by Antonio Flórez Lage

THE ROCK OF THE MISSING: Aeinape International Book Awards Finalist de Antonio Flórez Lage  (Autor), Olga Núñez Miret (Traductor)

A BEST-SELLING NOVEL IN SPANISH. SPECIAL LAUNCHING OFFER.

RECEIVED WITH CRITICAL ACCLAIM. “Full of humour, sensitivity, action and mystery.” Discover a not-so-touristic Mexico and the bleakest Galicia.

SYNOPSIS: In the outskirts of a tiny Galician fishing village there is a huge rock that hides a mysterious submarine cave. What happens to those who dare to go diving there? Several events from their childhood drag the protagonist and his peculiar friend back to that eerie place. They meet again, years later, and set off on a seedy trip around Mexico, full of action and dangers. The unexpected outcome of that journey changes the life of the protagonist forever. This novel is one of a kind: it offers the readers a special something; a unique quality that means the story does not leave us when we close the book. Some readers are already applying its lessons to their own lives…

THE REVIEWERS SAY “‘If I jump, I’ll kill myself; if I don’t jump, they’ll kill me.’ With these words, in an eerie landscape full of rocks and black waves that reminded me of Hitchcock, begins the novel The Rock of the Missing. This book keeps moving, from the initial Hitchcockian scene, later becoming a chilling road movie that takes us across a scorched Mexico, full of gunshots, drug dealers and dead bodies, and ending in a permanent return to Galicia, where the whole thing begins… I recommend you read this novel if you wish to enjoy the art Antonio Flórez uses to carve his sentences if you want to join in an adventure full of humour, sensitivity, action and mystery.”Lavadora de textos, Ramón Alemán.

Autor Antonio Flórez Lage
Autor Antonio Flórez Lage

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Antonio Flórez Lage (A Coruña, 1977). A vet, passionate about the sea, travelling, and books, who writes about a world he knows very well.

10% of the profits obtained from the Kindle Book will be donated to ASOCEPA Coeliac Association.

Links:

E-book:

http://rxe.me/1FSPRW

Paperback:

http://rxe.me/846973783X

Antonio was kind enough to agree to an interview that I shared in Lit World Interviews. In case you are interested and haven’t come across it, you can check it here.

A few words:

I don’t want to write a review of the book, as it would seem suspect (although I have no stakes on the sale of the book) but I could not let this opportunity pass without recommending you this book.

If you follow my reviews you’ll know that I am a big fan of narrators, and the more unreliable and suspect, the better. Here we have a wonderful narrator who tells us a story that mixes two time-lines, one when he was a teenager in the North-West of Spain, Galicia (the part of the country where my father was from, famed for its fantastic food, particularly seafood, but also fish and meat, and its natural beauty, although it rains a fair bit) and lived many adventures with a friend, and years later, as a young man, in Mexico, where by chance he meets the same friend, and old stories rear their heads and new adventures ensue.

This is one of those books (like The Great Gatsby or Heart of Darkness) where a narrator seems to be there to tell us somebody else’s story and he is no more than an observer, although…

Full of irresistible characters, set pieces you won’t forget in a hurry (one that reminded me of the Westerns my father was so fond of), and an incredible sense of landscape and menace, this is a book about male friendship that goes beyond easy jokes and tall-tales (although there might be some of those). Do not miss this great book. Ah, and check the promotion for the book launch!

Thanks so much to the author for this opportunity, to Wendy Janes for her help and thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW.

Categories
Book reviews

#BookReview THE SECRET DIARY OF HENDRIK GROEN, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen (25th August) We might all be dying but there’s no need to get gloomy about it #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

I’m going on my travels again and I’ve managed to accumulate a lot of reading material, blog tours postings, and reviews I should share for the month of September (when if I’m to judge by the amount of request for reviews I’ve got, there will be an avalanche of new books, brace yourselves!) so if you see a lot of book reviews, don’t worry. I’ll will be there, reading, editing (yes, I’m getting there with lots of help and I hope my book will be out before Christmas… Some early ARCs have gone to readers already. Bless them. )

So here comes one of my reviews. I really loved this book but I was waiting to share it until it was published. It’s been available in other countries and other languages for quite a while but well, here it is…

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen (? well, we don't know)
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1/4 Years Old by Hendrik Groen (? well, we don’t know)

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen. We might all be dying but there’s no need to get gloomy about it

Description

** THE INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON ** ‘

‘Another year and I still don’t like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.’

Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is … elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?

Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs – not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in – the woman Hendrik has always longed for – he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.

The indomitable Hendrik Groen – Holland’s unlikeliest hero – has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

Advance Praise

Praise for The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old 

‘Hendrik Groen’s account of daily life in a care home for the elderly pulled me in with its self-deprecating humour, finely drawn characters and frank accounting of the trials of old age. Behind Hendrik’s light touch and grumpy-old-man persona is a story with a great deal of heart, and some important themes. Hendrik effortlessly incorporates the politics of aged care, from funding to euthanasia, into his personal story and offers his own acerbic insights. Anyone who has a friend or relative in a nursing home or retirement village, or who hopes to grow old with dignity themselves, will find much to reflect on’.  Graeme Simsion, international bestselling author of The Rosie Project

‘There are many laughs in this book but it’s so much more than just a comedy. It’s a story about how friendship, selflessness and dignity lie at the heart of the human experience. When I’m an old man, I want to be Hendrik Groen’. John Boyne, author of international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

‘Funny, tragic and sometimes heart rending’. Het Parool

‘Hendrik Groen is a heart-warming hero’. Trouw

‘With pungent phrasing Groen takes down life in a retirement home. Both charming and hilarious’ ****Leeuwarder Courant

‘Hendrik Groen is king. My mother (78) suffers from dementia. Doesn’t read a newspaper or magazine anymore, only old photo albums can grab her attention for longer than 5 minutes. Hendrik Groen made her laugh out loud’. Ray Kluun, author of Love Life

‘The tears came streaming down my face. From laughing so hard. I couldn’t stop grinning for three days’. Ouderenjournaal

‘Never a dull moment with my new BFF Hendrik Groen’. Read Shop, Hedel

‘It reminded me of a combination between The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Wonderful! Shame it’s finished already’. Arjen Broers, Bookshop Bruna

‘Heart-warming, funny and poignant. It’s about all aspects of life. EVERYBODY should read this’. Bookshop Stevens

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Penguin UK-Michael Joseph for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The description of this book drew me in from the beginning as the protagonist and supposed diarist of the book is correct when he talks about the increased interest in old age pensioners and how they appear to be the subject of everything, from movies to laws. Whatever our age, as another one of the characters tells Hendrik, if you don’t know somebody with dementia (let’s change that to senior citizen) you’re sorely out of fashion. I didn’t realise at the time that the book had been a great success in the Netherlands and in many other countries (including Spain, where I was at the time). I’m not sure why it took so long to be published in an English version but I’m glad it finally did.

I have enjoyed the resurgence of movies with older protagonists, not only because of the original perspective given to the stories, but also because they provide a great chance to see (in most cases together) many of the actors and actresses one has learned to love over the years but who no longer fit into the usual bestselling production. This novel isn’t either the typical bestselling book. It’s not an action book or a thriller (as Hendrik says on a number of occasions, a traffic congestion in the residential home where he lives might be caused by too many people trying to use the lift at the same time with their walking aids, and going for a walk once a day is seen as a big adventure), it isn’t a hot romance (yes, there is romance but gentle and understated), a chick-lit book (the protagonist is a Dutch man who is 83 at the beginning of the book), or a paranormal or science-fiction offering. These are the secret writings of a man (although the true author has not been revealed and the book is classed as humour and fiction) in a residential home who, at the beginning of the year 2013, decides to start writing a diary, because having a goal, however small, helps keep depression and sad thoughts at bay. Despite what I said, there are adventures. He and some friends (some old, some recent, including a love interest) get together in an attempt at fighting apathy and enforced old-age and create the Old-But-Not-Dead club, and they set off on their adventures. There is also intrigue and spy missions (trying to get hold of a copy of the infamous regulations that seem to impede any fun or flexibility within the walls of the institution), there are sad moments (illnesses, both physical and mental, and death), political and social commentaries (of Dutch politics and international affairs, always sharp and mocking), and there are flashy vehicles (there are debates about the best mobility scooters and some driving mishaps).

Added to the varied and unforgettable plot elements are the characters. The book is narrated in the first-person by Henrik Groen. We only get tiny snippets of his previous life (sad events and circumstances that move us but he doesn’t dwell upon) but he has a penchant for observing and commenting on the everyday with a fresh, mocking and humorous eye, not devoid of tenderness. He might be getting on but the really old people are those around him. His loyalty to his friends (not withstanding his objective appraisals of their qualities and defects), his lack of self-pity and his self-deprecating attitude, always trying to see the funny side of things (and trying to remain optimistic), his generosity and willingness to help others no matter what his heart and mind say, and his willingness to fight for what is right and to never hide from unpleasant, embarrassing or difficult subjects (i.e. euthanasia) make him unique and endear him to the reader. He’s a hero and the cast of friends, bit players, enemies  and even the dog and the poor fishes (sorry, you must read the book to know what I mean) create a microcosm that we can’t help but care for.

The book is an easy read, and it adopts British English colloquialisms and sayings that would fit in perfectly with somebody of Hendrik’s age (if he was from the UK).

I loved the book. I laughed, cried, and it made me think: about living every day to the maximum, about having goals, about the future, about relatives and also, about myself. I hope if I get to that age there’ll be a Hendrik wherever I end up. (Or I’ll be like Hendrik). A fabulous read.

Links:

e-book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Diary-Hendrik-Groen-Years-ebook/dp/B01DOSVSNW/

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Diary-Hendrik-Groen-Years-ebook/dp/B01DOSVSNW/

Hardcover: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Diary-Hendrik-Groen-Years/dp/0718183002/

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Diary-Hendrik-Groen-Years/dp/0718183002/

Audible: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Diary-Hendrik-Groen-Years/dp/B01KKMXBIA/

I’m sure you’ll see it everywhere, if I’m to judge by its distribution in Spain, but I thought I’d recommend it early anyway.

Thanks again to NetGalley and to Penguin UK-Michael Joseph for the early copy, thanks to you all for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment, and of course, if you want a great read, CLICK!

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