James Ryker, a veteran intelligence agent now freelancer, working for the secretive Joint Intelligence agency on an op-by-op basis, finds himself embroiled in a complicated mission that will test him to his limit.
When a simple surveillance mission goes awry and the key target is kidnapped in broad daylight in a busy London square, Ryker knows he has his work cut out.
Ryker is tasked with figuring out what went wrong. But when his good friend Sam Moreno disappears without a trace, the mission becomes more personal than he could have imagined.
Torn between toeing the government line, and finding the answers he needs, Ryker realises there’s only one way to find those responsible and to punish them... His way.
I have read a lot of books by Rob Sinclair - The 'Enemy' Series, The 'James Ryker' series, and now Ryker returns in 'Renegade'
After publishing so many books, you'd think there might be a touch of sameness slipping in - with these books following the same person, you may think they'd be treading over old ground by now.
But, somehow, author Rob Sinclair knows how to keep things fresh - constantly dropping Ryker into new situations and turning his life completely upside down. The pace is kept at a healthy high throughout, and Ryker is a brilliantly believable character to get behind. Sinclair portrays him as strong and intelligent, but fallible and human too - ensuring that the reader can feel the risk behind every encounter with the enemy that Ryker may have.
Plot-wise, this initially feels like less of a globe hopping book than some of the previous entries in the series, and cleverly weaves together two plot strands that initially feel completely seperate - but crash together in thrilling fashion. It's worth noting that there is a hell of a lot of action here - so if you're not a fan of violence this may not be one for you. On that note though, Sinclair balances things well when it comes to how much he shows - ensuring the violence is exciting and has consequences, but never feels too gratuitous or exploitative - Ryker lives in a dangerous world and leaves a dangerous life, so violence is an unfortunate consequence.
Great fun - and an easy read that kept me gripped and racing through the pages until I reached the conclusions - where I'll eagerly be waiting the next from Rob Sinclair!
Welcome to The Glory - the world’s biggest VR tournament.
In front of millions of viewers, teams compete in a battle royale where they clear dungeons, complete quests and slay other players in a race to score the most points.
The winners are instant celebrities, and it's time Bash the Berserker joined their ranks. One win away from going pro, his dreams of fame, fortune and that iced coffee sponsorship are finally coming true...until he’s kicked off his team mere hours before registrations close.
With everything on the line, Bash manages to cobble together a new rag-tag team. A washed-up semi-pro who hates his guts, a talented analyst who’s never actually competed and a streamer whose ego is only surpassed by her love of throwing swords.
Oh, and if they want to earn their glory, Bash will have to trade in his war hammer and play as a three-foot-tall, tree-hugging elf....
Alex Knight grew up a sun-baked, outdoorsy Floridian and has lived in several places around the world. As an author of LitRPG and Fantasy his work includes the Nova Online Trilogy. In the past Alex has worked as everything from a dish washer at Busch Gardens to the Communications Coordinator at the Florida Attractions Association.
After deciding he didn’t like stability or predictable pay checks he made the jump to being a freelance writer. Soon that turned into ghost-writing romance novellas, then ghost-writing full-blown science fiction novels, and finally, writing his own books.
Hello - I'm Luke, and two things I love are Fantasy, and Video Games. So, rather unsurprisingly, Rise to Glory was right up my street! If you combined The Hunger Games with Ready Player One, with a little bit of Lord of the Rings and Skyrim thrown in good measure, you'd end up with Rise to Glory - and as a melting pot of all those brilliant options, it's clearly extremely fun.
As a big video game fan I enjoyed how the world is represented here - the fact that the character exist mostly in this virtual world allows the author to have them abide by rules that are set and strict, but are nonetheless different from everyday life. If you're a fan of fantasy but struggle with the excessive world building that can sometimes go into Fantasy books, then 'Rise to Glory' will be a great fit for you - plunging you into the action, and allowing you to discover things as Bash and the other characters do.
Crucially, and I think particularly fitting given the time in which this audiobook has come out, is how the story focuses on the idea of 'found families'. As someone who has made some of his best friends through posting on an X-Men message board in the early 2000's, I know all too well that geekdom brings security and closeness with others, who, for whatever reason, can often feel seperated from the rest of society. Alex Knight subtly covers those themes here - and they weave along nicely with the fun of the overarcing plot, whilst also bringing in themes about the world of competitive and professional online gaming, which we've seen take off in recent years.
Kudos goes to voice artist Christopher Ragland for his great narration too - brilliant to have someone so immersed in the video game world (he's done voices for Homefront, Horizon Zero Dawn, Star Wars Battle Front II and Xenoblade Chronicles II, amongst others) do the voiceover here - extremely fitting!
Many thanks to Midas PR for the opportunity to give this a listen
London, 2060: Following a series of deadly pandemics, devastating environmental disasters and a violent surge in cyber terrorism, the UN has made it compulsory for every tax paying citizen to login to the Perspecta Universe: a totally safe, pollution free, environmentally friendly virtual reality world.
Eighteen years later, ‘The Upload’ is complete, and billions of people all around the world exist in massive dormitory complexes surrounding the major cities, all totally unconscious of the crumbling world around them. Apart from the renegades, the ‘Offliners’ who live in London’s silent wasteland, making the disused Piccadilly Circus Tube station their home: a fully self-sufficient, subterranean community.
When Josh ‘Kid’ Jones, a young Offliner, discovers that an antiquated piece of technology called an ‘iPhone left to him by his father seems able to communicate with the past through social media. He strikes up a friendship with Isabel Parry, a 16-year-old living in 2021, and the two begin communicating through time and space via Instagram. But what Kid and Izzy don’t realise is that by doing so they are not only changing their own fate, but also the fate of the rest of the world…
Sebastian de Souza is an actor, screenwriter, singer, musician, producer, and now an author! Recognisable from shows such as 2020's massive hit 'Normal People', and the brilliant 'The Great', he's clearly a big talent and, rather annoyingly, proves here that his talents extend to writing too!
Of course, a near future dystopian sci-fi read set in my home city of London was always going to be an easy sell to me - but de Souza has crafted a remarkably gripping tale that, rather surprisingly for a book that comes in at just over 600 pages, does not drag in the slightest - instead it takes the reader by the hand and pulls them through a tense, surprising, and thoroughly satisfying adventure.
All of the best science fiction takes cues from the real world - and that's precisely what de Souze does here - drawing on various areas such as pandemics (fitting...), polution, and consumerism, to create a world that feels at once distant, and yet entirely possible.
Josh Jones is the Kid of the title - and he leads us through this tale with a distinct, likeable voice, and a steady hand. He's a fantastic viewpoint for the reader to explore this world, and I'll be very keen to read about him again in whatever form the Offliner series takes next.
Thrilling, extremely well written, and packed full of high-concept adventure - Kid is a rip-roaring read and one I'll be highly recommending.
Many thanks to MidasPR for the copy
They say we'll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper's weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.
What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?
Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .
Author Emma Stonex worked as an editor at a major publishing house before she left to write full time. She is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novels under several different pseudonyms, but The Lamplighters is her first novel under her own name, and her piece of literary fiction.
There is something about lighthouses that is both terrifying and reassuring - the calm light of the lighthouse guiding sailors safely to shore reassures, but the thoughts of the isolation amongst the great unknown of the sea, is hugely unsettling, if not outright terrifying.
In 2021, all lighthouses in the UK are automated, so only require occasional visits from lighthouse keepers in order to ensure that everything is working as intended. But back in the 1970's, the process of automation was only just beginning - and men would be sent to live on the lighthouses for months on end. This is where Stonex's novel takes root - contrasting the isolation of those on the lighthouse, with a similar sense of isolation felt by those women left behind.
The disappearance of the men is based on a far earlier tale - the true story of the Flannan Isles disappearance, back in 1900. Many things are carried over from that tale, but updating the story to the early seventies works remarkably well - allowing the story to breathe and grow without getting too bogged down in period detail.
Another benefit of updating the time period is that Emma Stonex is clearly trying not to solve the Flannan Isles disappearance, but is instead taking inspiration for her story set in a different time. It gives her free reign to create new voices for these men, and, perhaps more importantly, the women who were left behind after their disappearance. There is a rawness to how Stonex captures the drawn out grief and anger of these women, forever destined to not know what had happened to those they loved. For me, the relationships between these women were perhaps more interesting than those of the men on the lighthouse - the turbulent emotions of the women proving to be as dark and stormy as the sea that surrounds the lighthouse. In addition, the last year of lockdown, with many of us isolated and at home with maybe just one other person, can begin to feel just the slightest what those lighthouse keepers may have felt - no matter what luxuries you have, the knowledge that you can't go outside is still one that messes with the emotions and ones mental health, no matter what.
The prose encourages you to keep reading - but as things on the lighthouse began to reach a climax, I wasn't just gripped but fully transported - desperate to uncover what had happened and how things would resolve.
Stonex is clearly a huge talent and I anticipate this being just the start of an intriguing career - I'm hugely excited to see what she does next.
Our attention has been hijacked by the tsunami of devices, games and social media which now dominate our lives. This new technology brings efficiency, cost-savings and instantaneous information. But when our attention is the currency being traded by big tech firms, what price are we willing to pay for convenience? Addiction, anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, empathy development, troubled relationships, fake news, propaganda and even threats to democracy are just some of challenges new technology presents. Antitrust law has failed to prevent the emergence of a few dominant big tech platforms and regulation has not kept pace with surveillance capitalism. The internet was created on the assumption that all users are equal, but children and the vulnerable are not. In Born Digital, Robert Wigley distils the mountains of available research on the subject and brings to bear his wealth of institutional experience to present a roadmap for society to radically and urgently reset its relationship with technology - for the sake of future generations.
Few are better qualified to examine this issue than Robert Wigley - I would far surpass my usual blog length if I dedicated time to discussing his CV, but it is safe to say that the author has worked in an array of high level business/finance roles, sat on many boards, and served as a trusteee for the brilliant charity Whizz-Kidz - so this is a man with considerable experience and education, who is taking on a whopper of a subject - how the accessibility of digital media has affected Generation Z, and how society and individuals need to look to protect future generations when it comes to the harmful potential affects of all encompassing digital media.
Don't take this to be some Luddite polemic though - and in the book there is no doubt that there are many positives with digital media being everywhere and easily accessible, no more noticable then during this current pandemic that has had most of us only seeing our families on devices, and many children attending school through a laptop. But the harmful affects cannot be denied, and must be investigated further. From the terrors of online bullying through to the lack of blocks on adult material, through to the sharing of misinformation and outright lies on social media. Through a combination of fascinating and deeply concerning statistics, combined with his vast experience, Robert Wigley conveys a clear call for the urgent attention that is needed in this area - for regulation and for education in the Digital World. It's clever, clearly conveyed, and very well written - I strongly recommend this to anyone who is wondering whether their child is spending too much time on their phone, as well as anyone who feels that their digital addiction is becoming a toxic one...
Ambition can be deadly... A sizzling thriller set behind the scenes of a glamorous TV soap, from a Sunday Times bestselling author. Falcon Bay is the UK's favorite TV soap, beamed to millions three days a week from its beautiful location in the Channel Islands. But the show has a new owner, and ratings are falling. The cast and crew used to be 'one big family,' but now they've turned against each other in the battle to impress their new boss and survive the downturn. Writer Farrah, lead actor Catherine, and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to her less experienced male rival, Catherine is terrified of the public falling out of love with her, and Amanda's evil husband Jake, vice president of the network, is plotting to get his wife kicked off the show. Can these women team up to bring down their rivals? Only if they are prepared for a battle of the sexes—where they'll need to be as ruthless as the men to come out on top..
In terms of authors who have done their research, you'd be hardpressed to find someone better qualified than Melanie Blake - as an agent in the Music and Entertainment industry, she has managed stars in all of the major TV soaps, and writes weekly columns for The Sunday People and the Mirror Online, in addition to having published her first hugely successful book, Thunder Girls - which was an Amazon No1 Bestseller, and has since been turned into a play.
So, there's no doubt that Melanie Blake knows her stuff, but does that convert into a good read?
In short - yes. I picked this up on a Sunday morning, and I finished it by Sunday lunchtime - with only brief breaks for tea in between, although had I really wished to get myself into the minds of these characters, I may have been better quaffing champagne and snorting coke!
In these miserable times, there is nothing we need more than escapism, and Ruthless Women provides that in spades.
After introducing the readers to her characters, Blake throws in the twists throughout the first half - setting things up for the later half and ensuring that the reader maintains gripped by sharp talking women and steamy sex scenes.
And then the second half arrives, and like a sharp hair pull from Alexis Carrington Colby, tugs the reader into an explosive ride of scandal, twists and secrets.
It's breathtaking, ridiculous, and utterly wonderful. With The Thunder Girls and now Ruthless Women, melanie Blake seems to be the worthy successor to the blockbuster writers of the '80s like Shirley Conran - authors who knew how to write page-turning, crowd pleasing books that may have seemed to the public like trashy reads, but instead were filled with women more powerful and clever than you were likely to read elsewhere - ahead of their time and spreading messages of feminist empowerment and female independence. That is what Blake does so well in Ruthless Women - yes, it is the perfect beach read for when we can all go on holiday again, but, unlike many beach reads, you won't want to leave this one in the hotel room - you'll be stuffing it in your suitcase knowing full well that you'll be picking it up again in the future.
If there was a third Collins sister - who combined the camp soapstar divaness of Joan with the blockbuster writing prowesss of Jackie - it'd be Melanie Blake.
I haven't had as much fun reading a book in a very, very long time.
At a moment when powerful men everywhere are being exposed for their crimes, Celia receives an email out of the blue, accusing her ex-husband of committing a rape decades before. She feels compelled to investigate, but where should she even begin? Together with Carly, her millennial colleague at the Harland Herald, she revisits a past she thought she’d left behind, full of partying, drugs and free love. At the time, she’d thought she was at the centre of something - she’d been swept up in the maelstrom of the summer of love - but did she miss something rotten at its core?
Carole Hayman is a Writer, Producer & Presenter. She was born in Kent, which has featured in her trilogy of novels, “The Warfleet Chronicles”. Her early work was with The Bristol Old Vic, The Royal Court and Traverse Theatres, from which she went on to become a founder member and first woman director of the Joint Stock Theatre Company. She was an Associate Director of The Royal Court Theatre, for which she directed many World Premieres.
Carole writes for radio, television and film. On radio, she is well known as writer of the Radio 4 hit series “Ladies of Letters” with Prunella Scales and Patricia Routledge, which has run for twelve series on radio and three series on ITV . She has written many other TV series and films, including The Refuge with Sue Townsend for Channel Four and Rides, the first ever all female TV drama, for BBC1.
The #metoo movement has been the subject of a huge amount of coverage over the last few years, and rightly so - it's a timely and massively important wave of recognition towards the massive power balances that exist in many, many industries - but specifically within the entertainment industry. This is where 'Legacy' takes place, with lead character Celia forced to examine her past as the former wife of a rock star, and to try and piece together hazy memories from a decadent past.
Trying to uncover the truth behind allegations of rape, Celia and her young colleague Carly are forced to uncover shocking truths about the past - and Hayman also uses this as an opportunity to explore the differences in attitudes and experiences between the two - making for a listen that is honest, intriguing, and ultimately, hugely gripping.
This is aided in no small part to Zara Ramm's excellent narration, who brings the characters to life, and embues the slightly unreliable narrator with drive - Celia makes mistakes, but the reader is inevitably on her side.
The whole conceit of the unreliable narrator works wonderfully well here too - with Celia not untrustworthy, more a victim of a past that involved raucous parties and overindulging on intoxicants. Time and time again we have seen women in rape cases disbelieved due to them daring to have a drink or a good time, and this is explored with openness and, completely understandably, a fair degree of rage.
Given the prominence of #metoo in the media, this book could be called 'of the moment', but in truth it's only in recent years that the truth around women being systematically abused and disbelieved has come to true light - so this book isn't 'of the moment' at all - the moment has been happening for hundreds of years, and it's time that more light is shone on it in as many ways as possible. With Legacy - it just so happens that you get a gripping listen at the same time.
Many thanks to MidasPR for the copy of this audible Original book.
High Risk is a dark, raw and uncompromising tale of the human condition in extremis, drawing on the many lives of Ben Timberlake: as an archaeologist, special forces soldier, combat medic and drug addict.
Ben pursued the rush, and often the chase took him over the edge. Instead of asking why, he asked, why not? Blending confessional narrative, classic reportage and acerbic humour, this memoir takes a gonzo look at terrorists, junkies, soldiers and strippers through the tale of one extraordinary life.
Starting with Ben’s first near-death experience in a Nazi-themed bar in wartime Yugoslavia, High Risk is a whirlwind tour of everything from service in the SAS, combat in Iraq, encounters with a gambling-obsessed 9/11 hijacker and steroid-fuelled mercenaries, to veterans blissed out on MDMA, hook-ups in the world of extreme sex, and battling a heroin habit on a remote Scottish island.
Ben Timberlake’s undercover missions have concerned nuclear terrorism, the Far Right, and the trafficking of people, wildlife, looted antiquities and organs. He has written for the Financial Times, The Guardian and The Economist, and made Channel 4 and Discovery films on topics from Japanese mummies to prehistoric rock art.
Over the last year, I've been reading a lot to relax - when in the middle of a global pandemic, it's always nice to have a book that has a neat and tidy ending - allowing you to rest easy in the knowledge that somewhere, somehow, things do come to an end.
'High Risk' is not the thing to pick up if you're looking for something relaxing. It's high octane, and at times jaw-dropping. But it's also far more than it appears at first glance. Yes, it covers author Ben Timberlake going into some insane situations and escaping by the skin of his teeth, but it doesn't stint when it comes to exploring just what effect those situations can have on a person, and how they can be driven to seek more and more danger.
Timberlake is remarkably open - and his humour breaks up the tension wonderfully - there's a dry wryness which makes Timberlake both a charming author and a great narrator. At times it felt like listening to a slightly mad mate tell his stories down the pub - which at this point in time is something I had sorely missed!
With the humour and the action though, comes a raw honesty and a human emotion. Timberlake explores what has driven him to such extremes during his life - and from that comes a rather wonderful reflection on the human condition and how it can be shaped by external factors, and Timberlake also explores the nature of addiction in it's many forms.
Speaking personally, I come from a family with a history of addiction, so have always walked a tightrope personally, wanting to live life to the full but also conscious that doing so may result in unpleasant circumstances. Timberlake explores addiction and the effects they can have in minute and fascinating detail, and does so in an honest, open fashion.
I started this prepared to be overawed at Timberlake's bravery in the SAS, and I came away overawed by his bravery at being open, straight talking, and admitting his own flaws. Any book that can help people whilst also entertaining is worth it's weight in gold, meaning that 'High Risk' is very valuable indeed.
Many thanks to MidasPR for a copy of the Audio Book
‘The status of women is a global challenge; it touches every human being without exception. How is it possible that countries where women have achieved political, economic and social rights after exhausting struggles remain seemingly indifferent to the egregiousness of other nations where the status of women is still tragic? The time has come to help those left behind. The lack of interest stems from two important and connected factors: public opinion with regard to the status of women is not strong enough to force lawmakers to fight for their rights, at home or abroad; and there are not enough women in political and economic leadership roles to act as standard-bearers for the campaign of reform. These two factors are inextricably linked: one affects the other and vice versa…’
Already a bestseller in Italy, this translation has been extensively revised by the author to incorporate recent events that impinge on women’s rights and the struggle to achieve equality.
Paola Diana is an entrepreneur, author, activist and host of the YouTube show ‘Unleashed. The Game Changers’. She is the founder and CEO of a global recruitment company, leader in the household and secretarial staff sector and she is producing a documentary series based on social issues such as knife crime, domestic violence, racism and homelessness. As a successful female entrepreneur and women’s rights expert, Diana contributes regularly to TV and radio in the UK and Italy. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 she was named on the prestigious Spear’s 500 list.
So, I've always thought of myself as a feminist. I was bought up by strong, indepenent and outspoken women, and as such have never had an issue respecting the authority of women, or happily accepting the fact that they are equal to men in every way (and in some ways, superior)!
With this in mind, I wasn't sure what to expect from Paola Diana's book - in previous jobs I've served on Diversity Iniatives to ensure that the hiring of women is fair and equal, and worked on panels to combat inequalities. However, as is clearly pointed out in this well thought out book - I was clearly focusing on easy tasks, and not looking at the bigger picture or the bigger problems that women still face.
Diana explores these in detail, travelling around the world to explore the inequalities and injustices that women face. She doesn't hold back - for those who may have been ignoring just how unfair some countries are, they're explored here and will likely shock you.
This is a book intended to inspire and to provoke change, and it does exactly that for me - opening my eyes and spurring me on to make a difference. I think my only thought on something that this book could have done better, would be exploring the fact that gender has become less binary over the last few years - there are some interesting dialogues that definitely need to be addressed with that in mind - but I appreciate that they may have taken away slightly from the main drive of Diana's words. Maybe in the sequel! Powerful and inspiring, this is well worth a read.
Many thanks to MidasPR for the copy
Based on a lifetime living in and reporting on Germany and Central Europe, award-winning journalist and author Peter Millar tackles the fascinating and complex story of the people at the heart of our continent.
Focussing on nine cities (only six of which are in the Germany of today) he takes us on a zigzag ride back through time via the fall of the Berlin Wall through the horrors of two world wars, the patchwork states of the Middle Ages, to the splendour of Charlemagne and the fall of Rome, with side swipes at everything on the way, from Henry VIII to the Spanish Empire.
Peter recollects remarkable anecdotes from his time as a young journalist in Berlin from sneaking into the forbidden city of Kaliningrad, his expulsion from Germany after getting arrested on the streets of East Berlin during the demonstrations which accompanied Gorbachev's visit in 1989, being a target of the Stasi with 29 microphones hidden in the walls of his apartment and witnessing spectacular and transformative moments in history from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the end of the Soviet Union.
This book takes Peter – and the reader – from one side of the Germanic world to the other, from Königsberg on the Baltic (today’s Russian Kaliningrad), founded by the Teutonic Knights, to Strassburg on the banks of the Rhine (today’s French Strasbourg). We visit the restored great cities of Hamburg and Dresden, both all but eradicated by British and American bombers in World War II, to Berlin itself, the small northern city that became an imperial capital, and at the other extreme today’s capital of a small Alpine Republic, which for centuries was the German-speaking heart of Europe, while the Gates of Vienna were the last bulwark of Christendom.
The Germans and Europe includes mini portraits of German culture from sex and money to food and drink. Not just a book about Germany but about Europe as a whole and how we got where we are today, and where we might be tomorrow.
I've always found Germany, and Berlin in particular, to be fascinating. I'm descended from German Jewish refugees who came over to England prior to WWII, but, as you can imagine, they lost most of their family during the War, and as such saw little reason to visit their homeland at all. So it's a place I've always strived to find a connection too - and one I've often sought through history books and literature. Millar's personal tough ensures that this broad history has a personal touch to is - and his experience of life in Germany should ensure that this is a marvellously accurate read!
Peter Millar is an award-winning journalist, author and translator. Born in Co.Down. Ireland, Peter read French and Russian at Oxford, lived in Paris , then Brussels as a reporter for Reuters .In early 1981, at the age of 26, he was sent as correspondent to East Berlin, then to Moscow, where he lived three years, from the death of Brezhnev to the rise of Gorbachev. His career, including the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and European, took him to Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest and Belgrade, as well as throughout Germany.
Peter was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in 1989 for his reporting on the dying stages of the Cold War, his account of which – 1989: The Berlin Wall, My Part in its Downfall( 2009, 2014) – was named ‘best read’ by The Economist.
Peter’s books span both fiction and non-fiction including Stealing Thunder (1999) All Gone to Look for America (2009), The Shameful Suicide of Winston Churchill (2010), and Slow Train to Guantanamo (2013). He speaks, German, French, Russian and Spanish, as well as English.