Ring of Conscience by James Stoddah

Ring of Conscience

Ring of Conscience

Ring of Conscience’ is a superb detective adventure that invites readers to join in on the hunt for clues! I thoroughly enjoyed this book as not only was it a thrilling and entertaining read, it was extraordinarily realistic. Visiting the fictional website listed in the book and finding out that it actually exists was a pleasant surprise that added a layer of authenticity to an already authentic novel.

What I enjoyed most about ‘Ring of Conscience’ was the prose: easy-going, yet relentless at the same time. Detective books need to absorbing; they need to drag the reader along with the protagonist on a heart-squeezing adventure, baiting them at every turn with titbits of information and a plot that writhes more than a sea serpent of lore. Detective books must keep the mystery alive whilst simultaneously revealing just enough to prevent the story stagnating. It’s a fine balance for an author to strike, but I think that Stoddah managed it. A master of plot and characterisation; Stoddah’s writing style helped bring this book to life and keep the reader engaged.

‘Ring of Conscience’ featured a whole host of characters, some villains, some heroes, some only there to generate an outside perspective on the events that were unfolding through the eyes of others. I loved them all. Each character was very well crafted and original – and I loved the small subplots that developed alongside the main storyline. The blossoming romance between the protagonist and his colleague was particularly endearing and a joy to read about.

This book juxtaposed the modern day with the ancient world. It was classy, witty and entertaining. Though Stoddah was perhaps a bit heavy-handed when it came to discussing the technical details of the treasure hunt (which started online and involved Photoshop and code), the book was nevertheless extremely enjoyable. The technological jargon, though bordering on excessive, was explained with perfect clarity and though there was the potential for it to become confusing, it never did.

I would recommend this book to fans of Dan Brown and anyone who loves a good old-fashioned treasure hunt brought skilfully to the modern day.

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Steering the Mothership by Lisa Cherry

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‘Steering the Mothership’ is an autobiographical masterpiece that explains the trials and tribulations of motherhood. It breaks away from the norm and presents the mother-child relationship in a darker light – very different to countless other sunny portrayals. Reading this book was an almost magical affair, as it gave an insight on the journeys that shape us.

‘Steering the Mothership’ was very perceptive. Written in casual, though compelling prose, it tugs the reader along with in-depth factual insights into the life of the author and intriguing historical titbits. Who knew, for instance, that the month of May is the month of The Mother? Along with these snippets of information, Cherry includes moving anecdotes from her own life and shines a light on the shady cultural climate of 1970; all of this covered with the upmost sensitivity.

This book is a patchwork of information – which surely reflects the patchwork nature of motherhood itself. Bringing up children whilst holding onto a full time job, searching for information about one’s early childhood online: life is a jigsaw. The pieces don’t always fit together, mothers and their children don’t always get along; but if you take a step back, you can see the bigger picture. Love unites us all. This book helped me, the reader, to see the bigger picture. I was able to recognise that love is the basis of all relationships and see that being a mother is part instinctual, part improvisation. Some take to it “like a duck to water”, whereas others are left to flounder.

‘Steering the Mothership’ is a must-read for anyone who is interested in working with children or going into social work. It is as professional as it is captivating. Cherry incorporates other stories from other mothers in part two of the book, and this inclusion of new voices and new perspectives serves to highlight that which was said in earlier parts. Though sometimes heart-breaking, this book is a touching journey of self-discovery. I would recommend it to anyone wishing to learn more about the most fundamental relationship known to humankind. Not only does it inform, it helps readers become better people by teaching them to not let the past define the present. Filled with positive messages and touching details, ‘Steering the Mothership’ is a compassionate read that will never fail to teach you something new.

Kilimanjaro: Tips for the Top by Sarah Williams

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‘Kilimanjaro: Tips for the Top’ is an inspirational account of one writer’s quest to push herself to the limit and get the most out of life. Filled with fun facts about one of the highest peaks in the world, this book is a must-read for anyone wishing to partake on an incredible storybook-esque adventure.

What I liked most about this book was the prose. The writing was excellent: Sarah Williams employs a beautiful, conversational tone that ensures the readers are rooting for her every step of the climb. This book managed to be both entertaining and jam-packed with information. The various details about what to pack and English to Swahili translations added to the in-depth nature of this magical account. I was also enamoured by the sense of adventure that came with reading this book. Climbing a mountain in the dry heat of a far-away land is like something out of a fairytale; Williams fills her story with photographs and cultural details to bring her incredible journey to life.

I would recommend ‘Tips for the Top’ to anyone wishing to embark on the trek up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. This book certainly doesn’t skimp on the details; providing a day by day account of the journey so that anyone willing to do the same trip will feel completely and utterly prepared. But I would also recommend it to anyone who wants to be inspired by the sheer strength of will of the author. This is truly a story of perseverance and strength of character. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is no small feat – and the book acts as a tribute to this accomplishment. Strewn amongst the helpful tips and factual information is a story that will inspire even the laziest of couch-potatoes to get up off the sofa and make something of their lives.

‘Tips for the Top’ is a truly inspirational tale about the importance of setting goals and overcoming personal challenges. It is a thoroughly entertaining read that also serves to inform and encourage. Tip of the hat to Sarah Williams!

The Artificial Mirage by T. Warwick

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The Artificial Mirage is a stunning sci-fi thriller that is driven by characters, not action. The decision to make the characters and technology-fuelled setting the main features of this book rather than the plot was an interesting one, but I think that it was very successful. When the characters are so numerous and so intriguing, and the setting so rich and unusual, one finds that a lack of action packed scenes doesn’t matter much at all.

I really enjoyed The Artificial Mirage. Set in a variety of different countries including Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, this book flitted from futuristic place to futuristic place with the ease of a mechanical ‘Dragonfly’. The use of gritty, dusty lands juxtaposed with new technology including ‘Augmented Reality glasses’ and a lot of air conditioning units was a pleasure to read about. Warwick really went to town with all of his descriptions. The new technology was explained perfectly through beautiful language; one really got the sense that they were living in an ‘artificial mirage’ thanks to the surrealism that Warwick conveys through his writing. I found that there was a lot of contrast in this novel: the heat and dirt of Charlie (the protagonist’s) surroundings with the clinical luxury of Augmented Reality; the grungy criminal underworld and its contrast with the innocence of Charlie’s old life before everything went wrong for our unfortunate hero.

This book is a real treat for anyone who enjoys a good, character driven tale. The use of rich settings and new mind-bending technology is an added bonus to an already unique story. The twist ending was also a pleasant surprise. The one thing that I perhaps didn’t enjoy as much about this book was the lethargic way the plot progressed, but the characters were so interesting that that didn’t seem to matter much. I was content to follow Charlie, Lauren, AR Lauren, Harold and Stephanie on their numerous adventures without worrying too much about where they were going to end up or what was going to happen next.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an edgy science fiction. Be prepared for descriptions that will blow you away and characters that leap right off the page. Though the plot isn’t all too compelling, the writing more than makes up for it.