The man from St Petersburg by Ken Follett

Ken Follett is a master storyteller. This is a historical thriller, a spy story, set just before the outbreak of war in 1914, but it is also about the lives of key political figures and the nobility, about class, and the social order of the time, including the suffragette movement.

When Churchill charges Stephen, the earl of Walden, with the task of trying to negotiate a treaty with Russia, through his Russian wife’s nephew, Prince Orlov, he is reluctant to undertake the assignment, but he eventually agrees.

A Russian anarchist, Feliks, arrives in England determined to assassinate the prince before he signs the treaty, and it becomes a cat and mouse game between Feliks, Walden and the police. But it becomes a more complicated story when Walden’s wife, Lydia, and his daughter, Charlotte, become passionately involved.

There are a number of coincidences in the story, but the author handles them in such a masterful way that you are happy to believe in them.

I found myself unable to guess  the ending , for Feliks is an often sympathetic character, in spite of his criminal intent and determination to kill the prince.
In the end Ken Follett ends it all in a satisfactory way.

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Reviews Count!

I was in a coffee lounge having morning coffee with a group of friends when a woman I had met briefly before came up to me.

I’ve read two of your books now, and I really enjoyed them,’ she told me.

You might think that’s not uncommon for an author to hear, but for me it changed a pleasant outing into a special morning. To be told  your work has given a reader pleasure is the ultimate satisfaction for any writer.

It made me think about the importance of book reviews, for both readers and writers.

For readers, an assessment by someone else who has read a book, showing their like or dislike of a story, can be a helpful guide in choosing whether a book is worthy of the investment in time takes to read it. Of course, a book review is subjective – no book can please every reader. But it is a signpost, pointing in one direction or another.

For a writer it is also a guide. Do readers like my work?  Do they hate it? The answers to that question can make or break a writer’s confidence. For a novice writer it is acutely important.

I remember well when my first book,  Inheritance, was published. I had written it and re-written it many times, until it was as good as, I believed, it could be, but as a beginner in the world of writing and publishing I was full of doubt. Was it any good?  I had been fortunate to find a publisher willing to take a chance on an unknown writer, but what would the world of readers think of my offering? This was my big test. Could I really write? It was with trepidation that I waited for the first review. When it came, from Aussie Authors,  I was shocked.

I reprint the review here:

Inheritance – by Kate Loveday is listed as a “romance mystery novel yet the book is so much more.BgpI3riCIAAwoyC

It is the story of young Cassandra Taylor who inherits a cattle property from her uncle. The property – Yallandoo – in Northern Queensland, though suffering from the long-term effects of the drought, is in dire need of Cassie’s wholehearted efforts to keep it self-sustaining.

The male interest – Mark Pierce – is a man who comes with his own set of personal issues and a child in tow while attempting to woo Cassie into selling him Yallandoo for his own business development purposes.

If the story ended there it would be a typical romance novel yet the author has incorporated so much more into this book. Apart from Cassie’s childhood memories and emotional bond with the property and the staff who run the cattle station, the girl has a feel for the land, the rainforest areas, the aboriginal heritage and the descendants who still remain, now working for Yallandoo.

With lots of characters, each with their own personality, perspective, and in some cases – agendas, Kate has done a terrific job of weaving them all together.

Overall I found the book compelling. Kate Loveday has a wonderful talent for getting into each and every character’s head and telling the story from their point of view. The different twists and turns in the story retain the reader’s interest while not all the outcomes are as one would expect!

A very believable story; one that draws the reader in and leaves them feeling as though they have not only met these people but have really managed to get to know them all, very well.

With her first novel ‘Inheritance’ Kate Loveday has created a fantastic read. I for one, applaud her wonderful talent. Great work! Can’t wait for her next book! I give it 5 Inkwells.   Reviewed by Sarah Cook

I had never expected such a glowing reception!

This review gave my confidence the boost it needed, and encouraged me to continue writing. I have always been grateful that Sarah Cook took the time to read and review my book. It encouraged me to continue down the path of writing, whch has brought me so much pleasure and satisfaction. I(nheritance went onto receive an ‘honourable mention’ in the Hollywood book awards 2013)

So next time you read a book that you enjoy, perhaps you will take the time to write a review. It could mean a great deal to another reader – or an author.

https://amzn.to/2vStAhI

http://www.kateloveday.com

 

 

 

 

Review of Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry.

 

Dead Heat is a fast paced and exciting romantic suspense novel, with rather more dead Heatsuspense than romance. I found this book hard to put down.

Jo Lockwood loves her job as a National Parks ranger in the north west of New South Wales. She loves the country side, the wildlife, and she enjoys being on her own for much of the time.
That all changes the day she finds a park site has been vandalised. As she sets about clearing up and repairing as much damage as possible, a dingo emerges from the bush. In its mouth it carries bloodied human hand. Full of horror she searches the nearby bush and discovers the body of a young man who has been tortured and murdered.

Detective Nick Matheson is assigned to the case. He has recently been posted to this normally peaceful, low crime area, in order to resume an uneventful life after ten years as an undercover cop. He finds Jo a reliable and observant witness, outwardly calm, although in a state of shocked by the grisly discovery.

As the investigation proceeds it is discovered that this quiet area has become a site for organised crime, with drugs, police corruption, gang activity, illegal weapons, and more murders piling up.

Jo is the only person who has seen the face of the killer, a ruthless man without respect for human life, and she becomes a target for his assassination. Each with their own painful histories, Jo and Nick must work together if she is to survive.

Nick vows that he will do anything to keep Jo safe, and the tension mounts as they become targets for a sniper, while trying to evade gang members chasing them through dense countryside and outrun a bushfire.

Along the way they both discover that their feelings have become much more than the admiration they initially felt for each other.

Bronwyn Parry has penned a story with many twists that will keep you turning the pages to the end.

Review of Paper Daisies by Kim Kelly

This book is set in 1900, a time of Federation in Australia, and a time when women had few rights or choices in their lives, although they were agitating for the vote.

Berylda Jones has just come home to Bathurst from university in Sydney. She is thrilled that she has been accepted into the course for Medicine next year, and is looking forward to seeing her sister Greta after her absence. However, she  is dreading being back under the domination of their sadistic and brutal Uncle Alec, a surgeon and prominent figure in the town. Berylda is a strong character, and when she realises how bad things are for her sister at home she determines to take action to free them both from their uncle’s control.

Ben Wilberry is a gentle botanist who is grieving deeply over the loss of his mother. His promise to her that he will search for a particular flower brings him to Bathurst, and into Berylda’s life. He falls in love with Berylda, but in his unassuming way he is unsure if she is interested in him.

The story is told in alternating chapters from these two character’s points of view, and there is a great deal of introspection from both Berylda and Ben.

I found the continuing story compulsive reading as Berylda dragged me into her story, and into her deliberations over whether or not she can carry out her desperate plan to save Greta from further harm.

The themes of the story are misogyny, and the moral dilemma of whether two wrongs can make a right. I found it a book to make you look at your own moral values and wonder what you would do in Berylda’s situation.

The author’s note at the end of the story is interesting.

Review of Congo Dawn by Katherine Scholes

Congo Dawn is a Big Book, in size as well as scope. It is set in 1964, a time of unrest in the Congo in the aftermath of throwing off Belgian rule, when the country teetered on the brink of civil war, with fears that communism was gaining support against a Western style democracy.

Anna Emerson is a secretary in Melbourne, where she has lived with her mother since her parent’s divorce when she was seven years old. Her world is turned upside down when she receives a plane ticket to the Congo from a stranger, with the message that her barely-remembered father is dying and wishes to see her.

Against her mother’s wishes she decides to go, harbouring the desire that her father must love her if he wishes to see her again. Sadly it turns out Karl Emerson has his own reasons for wanting to see her, and it has nothing to do with love or family ties.

When she discovers he is not her father but her step-father she sets out on search to find her real father, knowing only the town of her birth, Banya, which is in an area near where the Simba rebels are fighting.

Dan Miller, a no-longer-young former safari leader, is approached to sign up as a mercenary fighter, leading a force of men to help keep the communists from gaining control of the country. Although hesitant at first he agrees, and he and his chosen men head into the area of fighting against the Simba rebels.

This story is not a romance, but another look at love, with the main characters on a search through a war-torn land.

Well researched, and inspired by real events, this book is totally absorbing, as Katherine Scholes gives us another glimpse into Africa in all its diversity, in a time of trouble, where there is both heroism and brutality. My only complaint is that the ending seemed a bit abrupt to me. I would like to know what happened to all the characters further on.

Review of Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly

I loved this book. It starts out in Lithgow and the coal mines in 1914 and covers the war years and beyond. Once I got past the old fashioned dialogue I was swept along with Francine and Daniel every emotional inch of the way. I felt the joy, the uncertainties, the fear and terror as their story unfolded.

It is a love story, but there is so much more to it than that. Kim Kelly has woven the politics, the feel of the times, and how people felt about the leadership during the dark, frightening days of the war, into the story, but there is humour there as well.
The characters are real, and I found it hard to put the book down until I read how the story panned out.
I have also read The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly, which I enjoyed and I will now seek out other books by this talented author.

Review of Daughters of theDragon by William Andrews

 

This was a history lesson for me. I had heard Korean women were taken and used by the Japanese in World War Two as sex slaves, or comfort women as they called them, but I had no idea of the horrific way they were treated., or that they numbered more than 100,000. William Andrews has done his research well and.although fiction, this book is based on reality, and is a heart -rending story. The latter part of the book also looks at the political side of the division between north and south Korea, which I found interesting.

The story is told in flashbacks by Mrs Hong, a former comfort woman, as she tells her story to her granddaughter, Anna.

The story has some flaws. I found the character of Anna, the American/Korean girl on a visit to Korea,  weak and almost superfluous. Also the writing was not always good, mainly in the present day situation with Anna.

But for all of that I found the story riveting. It is a part of history that I believe has not been widely reported. I give it four stars.