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Happy New Year from LoveReading

Happy New Year from all of us here at LoveReading! 2017 saw the release of some amazing books and we are eagerly awaiting the bounty of great reads this year. We have some changes of our own that we are excited to share with you while everyone prepares for all of the new releases planned in 2018.

You may be aware LoveReading came under new ownership in 2017. As part of this change, we aim to bring a whole new lease of life to the LoveReading brand. Don’t fret, we will still be offering the same reliable, trusted book recommendations that you know and love the site for. We will also be looking to expand our services going forward. We’re not going to reveal too much, like the opportunity to read book extracts on our site, we’ve got to leave you wanting more! And I’m sure you wouldn’t us to reveal any spoilers just yet.

Also in line with our “new year, new us” transformation, we are preparing a fresh, modern new site. Our new home will make finding your new favourite book even easier! You may have noticed that we have already changed some smaller design features on the site and added a shiny new logo. With work to develop the new site currently underway we are certain it won’t be too long before we get to share the brand new home of the most trusted book recommendation site with you all.

All of these changes mean that the new LoveReading team will be working even closer with publishers. This will allow us to offer more of the trusted reviews that you have grown accustomed to since LoveReading’s 2005 launch. Our panel of readers and our team of editorial experts will still be supplying the reviews on our site.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for updates. We look forward to having you with us as we start the new chapter of the LoveReading story!

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Aliya by Emine Suleyman

Aliya by Emine Suleyman

By Staff Writer

And so to 2018. The New Year is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: making, and very quickly breaking, resolutions.

It includes a full 2018 diary, as you might expect, but its hard cover pages are also filled with a variety of other motivational tools: a journal, event manager, goal planner, habit tracker, sketch book and ideas logbook. Its primary purpose is to inspire the user into action through a mix of positivity and decluttering.

And the motivation begins on page one. Users begin by defining their life’s purpose, which Suleyman’s introduction explains as, “…putting your purpose of being and your values into words. To do this requires careful consideration of our individual existence. It poses an important question; what does it mean to be successful in my life on my terms?”.

Suleyman, the author of 2015’s Goal Setting Journal: Your Past, Present and Future, believes success, organisation and reflection are one in the same: success does not come without organisation, and organisation and reflection spurs success. Aliya sets out to encourage busy people – whether businessmen or tireless mums – to incorporate this simple philosophy (often called mindfulness) into their daily routines.

Mindfulness techniques are included. So, too, are dedicated areas where readers (“users”?) can reflect on their successes and failures.

Suleyman knows a thing or two about turning dreams into reality. She founded a sales and promotions company in her 20s that had over 400 contractors, and has mentored hundreds of budding entrepreneurs. This experience and insight shines through in her new book.

So here’s my tip for 2018. Forget the gym membership and instead consider a practical day-to-day productivity diary. Like Aliya.

Aliya by Emine Suleyman is out now in hardback and available at www.planmyvision.co.uk, priced £25.

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Blue-Eyed Infidel, by Cosmo Clark

Blue-Eyed Infidel, by Cosmo Clark

By Staff Writer

Readers who are easily offended, take note: this gripping sci-fi thriller in the vein of A Clockwork Orange and 1984 is probably not for you.

Cosmo Clark pulls no punches in his controversial debut outing, Blue-Eyed Infidel, make no mistake. In fact, he issues a stern warning to this effect at the start of the book. But for bookworms with a dark sense of humour, a penchant for satirical and thought-proving comedy, and an unashamed taste for fast and fun action thrillers, this could be the book you’ve been waiting for.

The first book in trilogy from British cyber security analyst and observer Cosmo Clark (a pen name given the secretive nature of his job), Blue-Eyed Infidel is set in a horrific vision of 2051. It’s a dystopian future, where an extreme form of Islam has taken hold of much of Europe, and the British capital is the Islamic State of London.

With young non-Muslim females raised in ‘slave pens’ to serve the whims of their Islamic rulers, and Buckingham Palace serving as the headquarters of the extremist caliph, it’s a nightmarish vision of the future.

Meanwhile, the USA and Japan are engaged in a bitter cold war with Korea and China (China itself supporting the Islamic extremists in a bid to undermine the fragile ties between the USA and its European allies).

The book’s hero (or anti-hero) is ‘blue-eyed infidel’ Adam Ali, a non-extremist Muslim whose circumstances require that he feign an enthusiasm for religious extremism. An accountant for the Caliph of London, he dreads being drawn into combat, but must not show his reluctance for fear of violent retribution.

The book begins as Ali is reluctantly called upon to take part in a suicide bomb attack against none other than the Queen of England, and his sly humour in a shocking situation makes him an instantly relatable character.

The initial chapters of the book flip between the dystopia of 2051 and the near future, when former military fighter turned kick-ass journalist Kat Clark is caught up in dramatic terror attacks and their aftermath, and develops a super-tough persona that could ultimately shape the future of the UK.

Clark brings elements of his anti-terrorism work into the novel in addition to some real-life terrorist atrocities, including 9/11 and the Manchester bombing. There’s also some impressive sci-fi elements, including Adam being fitted with inner-eye technology by the Caliph as he is sent on an undercover mission to infiltrate enemy territory by posing as a non-extremist fleeing the Caliph in fear of his life.

Politically-correct readers may baulk at the book’s central theme, but the book is not anti-Islam in its stance. The author’s beef is with religious extremism in any form, and the book makes the point that all religions have their share of violent elements, keen to shed blood in the name of their god.

Blue-eyed Infidel takes readers on an adrenaline-fueled ride through tense action scenes, graphic violence and racy sex scenes (without giving away any spoilers, a section of the book involves a rebel female camp where men are brought in merely to service the women and contribute to the gene pool), but there is genuine human emotion, too, and even a spot of romance, between Adam and the glamorous Jewish character Devorah.

The book tackles seriously dark subject matter, no question. But if it’s a controversial read that you’re after this Christmas, then this could be just the thing.

Blue Eyed Infidel is out now, priced £9.99 in paperback and £3.49 as an eBook, and is available at Amazon UK. Visit www.cosmoclark.com.

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Incoming! By Garry Curtis – real-life action, drama and seat-of-your-pants adventure

If you’re a fan of real-life action, drama and seat-of-your-pants adventure, then this gripping new memoir from Garry Curtis ticks all the boxes.

Curtis is a private military contractor (PMC), a former Commando, and a mental health ambassador. He was also the Beckham’s former bodyguard.

It’s near-impossible not to be both impressed and moved by the author’s dramatic life story, which contains more shocks and scares than the most far-fetched action movie or work of fiction. In a career that has seen front-line action in Northern Ireland and the Gulf, as well as private security services to some seriously high ranking politicians and celebrities, it’s clear that Curtis has a tale worth telling.

But it’s his no-holds-barred approach to discussing issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression that really set this book apart from other military service memoirs. Curtis’ straight-talking approach sees him address his own failings – particularly in relation to the breakdown of his relationship with love of his life Samantha – and he does not shy away from discussing the ‘perfect storm’ of negative life events that led to deep depression and a suicide attempt.

The 49-year-old from Uxbridge is a dad of four, and writes from the heart about the pivotal moments in his incredibly dramatic life. He describes himself as a ‘rough diamond’ from a council estate, and his opinionated style, with some colourful language, brings his strong personality to the fore.

While Curtis’ preferred line of work involves getting stuck in ‘at the deep end’ (the book describes some seriously hairy moments protecting media crews in Iraq and Lebanon), he has also worked as a bodyguard to big name celebs, including the Beckhams, so readers can expect a dash of celebrity gossip (none of it intrusive or malicious) along with frontline stories.

The author’s bravery and commitment to duty is astonishing. Without giving too much away, for instance, Curtis describes the events that led him to staging a daring escape and rescue mission while being held hostage, together with a TV news crew, by Gaddafi’s loyalist gunmen in Libya.

Readers of a delicate disposition take note – the book highlights harsh realities of armed conflict, and there are some brutally-frank descriptions of the horrors of battle. Together with the roll call of friends and colleagues lost in the line of duty, the author’s words cast a stark light on the horrors that servicemen are witness to.

Curtis sank into the depths of depression in 2012, when he was hospitalised with injuries picked up in Afghanistan, and almost died of blood poisoning following major surgery. Unable to work, Curtis began to feel the impact financially, and felt it as a crushing blow when he could no longer afford simple things like new shoes for his youngest daughter.

Rather than painting himself as an all-conquering hero, Curtis holds his hands up to mistakes made in his personal life, and his description of the downward spiral that led to his breakdown and suicide attempt is refreshing in its honesty, helping to destigmatise what is often a taboo subject – especially among ‘hard men’.

Having been exactly that all his life – a ‘hard man’ – Curtis’ descent into depression and an almost-successful suicide attempt scared him into addressing the PTSD issues that had contributed to his mental health problems, and in talking frankly about these issues he is doing a great service to others who find themselves in a similar position.

To say that Curtis’s life story has been dramatic would be a giant understatement. Would it adapt well to the Big Screen? Absolutely.

Curtis is an ambassador for Exmouth-based mental health charity Rock 2 Recovery, which supports men, women and families of the armed forces. Proceeds from Incoming! will help support this charity, and the author has also contributed time and money to London Air Ambulance – whose crew rescued Curtis after his suicide attempt.

Buy it, read it, enjoy it…and thank your lucky stars that however bad your day job, it’s probably a dream career by comparison.

‘Incoming!’ by Garry Curtis is out now in print, published by FastPrint Publishing and priced £10.57 in paperback. It is available for sale on Amazon UK.

 

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Conscious Robots: If We Really Had Free Will, What Would We Do All Day? By Paul Kwatz

In Conscious Robots: If We Really Had Free Will, What Would We Do All Day, author Paul Kwatz argues that we don’t possess free will. Instead, we are following the pre-programmed instructions that are hardwired into our brains to ensure the survival of our genes. We are, in effect, robots. And as robots, we are also pre-programmed to sabotage our own happiness and as such will never truly be content.

Thus, the stage is set for this impressive work of non-fiction popular science. Kwatz sets out, in equal measure, to challenge perceptions of free will and to convince readers of their robotic status.

Kwatz, who writes under a pen name, is a free will expert with a background in medicine and brain science. His short but highly persuasive book (which is around 100 pages long), neatly tackles any objections that readers might make about their own free will.

He argues that life is inherently unsatisfactory because of a genetic con-trick that spurs us on to always want more: To earn more money, to run faster, to look more attractive. But whatever we achieve, he says, nothing is ever good enough because we are hardwired to aspire. Doing so safeguards our own genetic future.

It follows, he says, that all human actions come from self-interest. We only care about our own children because our genes tell us to (a nod to the idea of the ‘Selfish Gene’ theory popularised by scientist Richard Dawkins).

The book presents complex issues of free will (or lack of) and determinism in a succinct fashion, and differs from other books on the subject in that is does not merely alert readers as to their pre-programmed personalities, but suggests ways that we can address the issue. While we can never truly possess free will, he says, we can choose to live as though we did possess it.

How? Kwatz argues that, if we truly had free will, we would simply choose to feel great all day. Via a series of interesting questions about whether we would choose to take a ‘happiness pill’ or take other ‘short cuts’ to happiness (and if not, why not?), Kwatz provides food for thought about the way we believe happiness can’t be real unless it is hard-earned and offset by a large dose of pain and suffering.

Positing the idea of a Matrix-style ‘happiness bed’ or ‘happiness drug’ (one that goes above and beyond the sedative effects of the ‘Soma’ as imagined by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World), Kwatz predicts that in the future, humans will be able to directly control the brain chemicals that govern our thoughts and feelings. Such mind meddling will enable us to choose to feel happy whenever we want.

Stating that “Regardless of our achievements in the world, we are condemned to our unfair share of misery, disappointment, heartache and despair. We’re condemned to miss out on the sustained heights of delight and joy that our minds are capable of experiencing”, Kwatz suggests that we need to learn to resist the ‘instructions’ that determine our actions. He goes on to argue that, as a species, we should stop investing money in endeavours such as space travel, which will ultimately never satisfy us, and instead should invest resources into the neuro-science that could make us capable of living in a permanently content and happy state.

Kwatz acknowledges that many readers will feel uncomfortable at the thought of such ‘artificial’ happiness, but his aim is to make us question why that it. Once again, he argues, it is because we feel the need to unquestioningly follow the instructions set out in our genetic ‘robot manuals’.

Whether or not you agree with Kwatz, his book is a must for anyone with an interest in popular science, computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and philosophy. For the rest of us, it is a thought-provoking introduction to some mind-boggling questions.

‘Conscious Robots: If We Really Had Free Will, What Would We Do All Day’ is out now in print, published by Peacock’s Tail Publishing and priced £4.99 in paperback and £2.99 as an eBook. It is available for sale on Amazon UK.  Visit www.consciousrobots.com

 

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Inaugural International Young Author Awards Announces Shortlist for Book Awards

Nikita Singh, Zuni Chopra, Mrinalini Mitra, Anuj Tiwari, Mannu Pillai, Izy Hossack, Amand Shukla/Poulomi Pavini, Puja Changoiwala and Sfurti Sahare are today revealed as the nine shortlisted authors for the 2018 International Young Author Awards.

The shortlist features fiction and non-fiction that a global panel of judges has variously described as “truly extraordinary” and “sublime”.

Their publishers include HarperCollins India, Bloomsbury India, Penguin Random House and the Octopus Publishing Group London.

The winners of each category will be revealed at a star-studded event in Dubai, UAE, in April next year.

Other advisors include the Indian poet Padma Shri Keki N. Daruwalla; and Mita Kapur, the CEO of Siyahi, India’s leading literary agency and the director of the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival in Tibet.

International Young Author Awards founder, Deeba Salim Irfan

Founder Deeba Salim Irfan said the awards – originally set to take place last month – were postponed until April 2018 after organisers received an “unexpected but very welcome flood” of nominations.

The jury includes a selection of some of the world’s leading figures in the literary industry, including agents, journalists, publicists and bestselling authors.

Jon Kirk, who runs the UK’s market-leading book PR agency, Palamedes PR, is an award-winning publicist, author, ghost-writer and former national news journalist.

“I am extremely pleased and honoured to join the panel of

Fatma Buti Al Mheiri, the Chairman of the Dubai Quality Group and Advisor to the First International Young Author Awards

judges for the first International Young Author Awards, and I wish all nominees the very best of luck in April of next year,” Jon said, who is also named Reporter of the Year by the UK’s Press Gazette.

Nominations for Literary Creative Awards are still open for categories including Innovative Social Media Usage; Ambient Media; Innovative PR, Creative Book Launch; and ‘Out of the Box Concept for Nurturing Young Minds.’

For further information about the awards, and for a full list of categories, visit the awards’ website at www.youngauthorawards.com or write to Meg at awards@thewritescene.com

 

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Everything You Need to Know, But Have Never Been Told by David Icke

Are you ready for a perception reboot? Reality is not what we think it is, and we need to escape The Matrix before it’s too late.

So says David Icke, the bestselling author, public speaker and ‘King of the Conspiracy Theorists’ in his latest controversial book, Everything You Need to Know, But Have Never Been Told.

For the uninitiated, Icke was a promising footballer until his burgeoning career was derailed by arthritis – a subject he tackles in a chapter on the big pharmaceutical companies. He went on to be a popular sports pundit before a very public ‘unravelling’, when the mainstream media declared, as politely as ever, that he had lost his marbles.

Icke has written many bestselling books over a 20-plus year career but this could be his most comprehensive and powerful work to date, in which he brings together an encyclopaedia’s worth of conspiracy theories that might appear to be unrelated but, he argues, are all deeply interconnected.

His aim is nothing less than to expose the extent of the lies that he believes we have been fed, reveal the shocking extent of humanity’s enslavement, our misperception of ‘reality’ and how it relates to current world events.

Icke’s straight talking is a trademark of his writing, and he tackles some extremely heavy subjects with a lightness of touch that ensures his messages come through loud and clear.

Admittedly, it takes an open mind to get on board with some of his theories – shape-shifting royals; the planet Saturn as an “enormous broadcasting system” beaming a fake perception of reality that we call the ‘real world’” – but his detailed discussions of how humanity is being manipulated by a shadowy elite resonates with today’s world, where people are becoming increasingly sceptical about our leaders’ proclamations and are looking for alternative, more enquiring voices.

His ideas are backed by an impressive amount of research, and even the most die-hard sceptics will find some of their preconceptions challenged.

Everything You Need To Know But Have Never Been Told is as much a call to arms as a title. Fearing that the elite’s end-game is fast approaching, and being horrified by the ease, even willingness, that the masses are blindly racing over the edge, Icke urges his audience at every turn to “step out of the Matrix”, and become open to new ways of thinking about reality.

Although he writes with an engagingly informal voice and a dash of humour, Icke’s message is deadly serious. In no uncertain terms, he says we must wake up and challenge the existing world order before it’s too late.

Central to Icke’s rationale is his well-reported belief that humankind is being controlled by multi-dimensional extra-terrestrial ‘Archontic Reptilians’, who secretly make up the world’s ruling powers and secret societies. Think that sounds far-fetched? That’s exactly what ‘they’ want you to believe, he argues.

Another major concern for him is the increasing reliance on technology and push towards transhumanism, where the human body and computers combine. Icke has warned constantly about a global police state for the last few decades and so, he wonders, why would anyone care to insert gadgets under their skin that can be tracked and controlled remotely.

It’s one of many good questions that come from reading the book, and it certainly succeeds in getting the reader to consider many ‘truths’ they take for granted. It helps that the author backs up his theories all the way with solid reasoning, combined with anecdotes from his own life and experiences. If all you know about David Icke are the pokes in the popular press then you will be pleasantly surprised by the lucidity of his writing.

His arguments may go against what we consider to be rational, but, Icke argues, our very notion of rationality needs to be reprogrammed.

Whether you read it out of mere curiosity or a desire to know what’s really behind the World Agenda, and what to do about it, Everything You Need To Know But Have Never Been Told is a controversial yet fascinating read.

Everything You Need To Know But Have Never Been Told by David Icke (David Icke Books) is out now, priced £14.99. Visit davidicke.com.

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The Sleighmaker: A Christmas Story That’s Never Been Told By Ian Shepherd

As warming as a hot minced pie and mulled wine, this unashamedly traditional Christmas story will delight children and adults alike.

Set in the late 1800s, it’s a bitter-sweet tale that harks back to the traditional yuletide tales of the Victorian era.

An impressive debut novel by Ian Shepherd, The Sleighmaker is ostensibly aimed at children aged seven and up, though it will certainly appeal to kids in a higher age bracket. While it might be a little challenging for seven-year-olds to read by themselves, grown-ups are sure to enjoy reading it to younger children.

The main character is Drummond, a master-craftsman once known as the most talented sleighmaker in the land.

After a tragic event, Drummond turns his back on his trade and leads a lonely life, shunning the company of others, before an old friend manages to get him to agree to work on the estate of the local gentry, Lord and Lady Harrington.Here he labours alone, embracing the solitude his new work gives him, until his life is changed by the arrival of a cheerful young boy known only as William, whose way with animals manages to prevent a riding accident involving the Harrington’s young son, Henry.

Wise beyond his years, William comes to work as Drummond’s apprentice and, along with his close companion, kitchen maid Marny, manages slowly but surely to bring a warmth back to the sleighmaker’s life.

William discovers a magnificent sleigh that Drummond had once built, now mothballed in his workshop, and eventually convinces his master to restore it for the coming winter parade.

Filled with a real sense of purpose for the first time since the tragedy, Drummond gets to work on the sleigh, enlisting the help of his friend and artist, Auguste.

It’s not easy for Drummond to continue, given his traumatic experiences, but with the loving support of William and Marny he fashions a sleigh fit for a king.

There’s a magical twist to the tale that I won’t spoil, but it’s enough to say that Drummond’s sleigh gets to serve its purpose with aplomb and is finally rekindled with the Christmas spirit and the promise of a bright future.

The Sleighmaker is an unashamedly traditional Christmas tale a million miles away from the typical modern children’s books, and is all the better for it.

The sad but ultimately uplifting story of Drummond is rich with description and nuance, presents engaging characters with depth, and though dealing with some dark issues, does so in a sensitive way.

Ian Shepherd revels in the sights, sounds and tastes of a Victorian Christmas, with readers almost able to taste the rich cakes and chocolates, fresh-baked bread and hot soups that the author so evocatively describes.

And he is confident to take his time with the narrative, building up to the wonderful and memorable ending without ever rushing and forcing things.

It’s a charming, classic Christmas story that celebrates all that is good and true about this most special time of year and it would no doubt work very well on the big screen.

For anyone who yearns to return to a simpler, less commercial time; when Christmas was still a magical occasion about family and enjoying your time together as opposed to staring zombified into digital devices; this novel will be sure to delight.
The Sleighmaker by Ian Shepherd is out now through Raj Joshi Publishing and priced £11.99 in hardback, £6.99 paperback and £4.60 as a Kindle eBook. Visit Amazon UK.

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Misdefending the Realm by Antony Percy

 

Packed with more double-crossing, deceit and sleight of hand than feature in even the most dramatic works of spy fiction, Misdefending the Realm by historian Antony Percy is a shocking, revelatory account of MI5’s failings during the era of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Central to this real-life tale of spies and subterfuge are the events of early 1940, when a key Soviet defector alerted British intelligence to the presence of infiltrators within the country’s institutions.

As this heavily-researched book reveals, the handling of Walter Krvitsky was an egregious exercise in sloppiness that squandered a golden opportunity to rout out the Communist infiltrators within the British government.

The resultant report by MI5, the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, was carelessly circulated and intercepted by an undercover Soviet agent working in the UK Home Office.

Here it was passed onto the infamous Guy Burgess, who orchestrated an audacious plan to protect himself and the rest of the ‘Cambridge Spies’ circle, by having Krivitsky eliminated.

Burgess, who later fled to Russia, has become a near-mythical spy figure, but the story of MI5’s mishandling of the affair, and appalling ineptitude in general when it came to the Soviet threat during the Second World War, has remained largely overlooked – until now.

Based on a PhD thesis by the author, Misdefending the Realm gives the untold story of how MI5 woefully failed in its duty, being professionally incapable of defending itself – and the nation – from communist subversion owing to a failure of leadership, haphazard hiring practices, inadequate training, and poor tradecraft.

What’s more, this fascinating study uncovers how MI5 chiefs subsequently attempted to hide their failings to save the department from the axe.

The author turned detective in writing his scholarly and objective account of MI5’s activities, or in some cases inactivities, during the critical years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact from 1939 to 1941 – calling upon a wide range of material from biographies, memoirs and letters to recently declassified documents.

He dramatically exposes the Soviet Union’s ease in infiltrating and influencing the UK’s intelligence agencies and the corridors of power, being able to place sympathisers in strategic positions to sway opinion towards ‘Uncle Joe’, as Josef Stalin was affectionately, and completely inappropriately, named.

For though Stalin was successfully courted by Churchill to join the Allied forces against the Axis Powers of the Nazis, he never stopped being a threat to Britain and his expansionist ambitions would ultimately come to pass with the start of the Cold War.

Leaving no stone unturned in his examination of the events of 1939-41, Percy has a nose for red herrings, and has put together a damning case against MI5.

He outlines clearly how and why MI5 stumbled against the Communist threat, including for the first time the full story of Burgess’s Moscow Mission, and the lasting repercussions of those blunders.

He also details MI5’s comprehensive cover-up of its failures after the end of the war  ̶ especially in the vetting of the German atom-spy Klaus Fuchs  ̶  in order to maintain its independent existence, and to preserve the careers of its leaders.

It’s an intelligently argued book that, while scholarly in tone, is never a dry read. Chapters are lightened with illustrations from publications such as the satirical magazine Punch, and the style is accessible without ever patronising its audience.

Unlike previous accounts of this tumultuous period in history, Misdefending the Realm goes beyond the authorised and wallpapered histories of the Security Service to give a frank overview that pulls no punches.

It will undoubtedly appeal to those interested in modern history, the Second World War and espionage, and the author’s depth of research will deliver new insights to even the most wide-read students of the subject.

Misdefending the Realm: How MI5’s Incompetence Enabled Communist Subversion of Britain’s Institutions During the Nazi-Soviet Pact is out now, published by University of Buckingham Press and priced £20 in softcover. It is available for sale on Amazon UK.

 

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FOREVER AFTER BY DAVID JESTER

Who would have thought being a grim reaper could be… well, so grim? That’s what (un)life is like for Michael Holland, a deceased man who can’t get a moment to rest in peace with his new career as a disgruntled grim reaper, working the worst beat in the worst town.

It’s a deliciously dark comic idea exploited to the maximum in new fantasy horror novel Forever After by David Jester.

Thirty years after he shuffled off this mortal coil, Michael’s daily grind sees him strolling through the streets of Brittleside clearing up the dregs of society and latest winners of the Darwin Award.

Far from enjoying his work for the Angel of Death, where he receives credits in return for souls, he finds it to be the ultimate in soul-destroying dead-end jobs, and his eternal suffering isn’t alleviated one iota by those closest to him.

He lives in squalor with his roommate and de facto best fiend, Chip: a grubby pot-loving tooth fairy; he hangs out with a loose group of bogeymen, demons and clones, and has a psychiatrist who can literally read his mind.

Forever After isn’t a traditional novel in the sense of one big adventure as much as a collection of five loosely interwoven madcap, macabre tales set in a fantasy world that runs parallel to ours and where anything is possible, very little makes sense, and nothing is as it seems.

Over the course of the book, melancholic Michael and his mates must battle confused succubi, tormented psychopaths, and evil henchmen; solve the mystery of multiple werewolf murders and the disappearance of their souls, and track down an escaped demon who thinks he’s Santa Claus.

It all reads like a twisted lovechild of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Kevin Smith’s darkest dreams with its potent mix of fantasy creatures, graphic horror and toilet humour.

Michael is a classically British protagonist: he is down at heel, hoping for salvation but never finding it. Instead, his indignation only grows as he finds himself constantly spinning around in a whirlpool of bureaucratic and celestial confusion.

Anyone who’s read Jester’s previous books, including An Idiot in Love, will know to expect some wickedly biting and near-the-knuckle humour, so this isn’t a book for the faint-hearted.

But for those looking for an action-packed fantasy romp with some morbidly mirthful moments to savour, Forever After will come as a big scythe of relief.

Forever After by David Jester (Skyhorse Publishing) is out now, priced £13.01 in paperback and £12.36 as an eBook. Visit www.david-jester.com

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