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Eldorado here I come…

The Smoke Hunter Book Cover The Smoke Hunter
Jacquelyn Benson
action and adventure
Headline
August 16, 2016
448

Unlock an ancient mystery. Unleash an earth-shattering secret. THE SMOKE HUNTER by Jacquelyn Benson brings you the thrills of Indiana Jones, the action of Scott Mariani, the conspiracy of Dan Brown and the authenticity of Clive Cussler. Are you ready to join the adventure? 'Intrigue and suspense aplenty. A refreshing and original new voice' Scott Mariani 'The illegitimate love-child of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones... Fast-paced and action-packed' Stephen Leather Chasing a threat born in smoke... London, 1898. Archivist Eleanora Mallory discovers a map to a legendary city . But is it the key to unravelling an ancient mystery or a clever hoax? Compelled to find out, Ellie journeys to Central America - with a merciless enemy hot on her heels. In a race to uncover the map's secret first, Ellie is forced to partner with maverick archaeologist Adam Bates, a man she's not sure she can trust. Together, they venture into an uncharted wilderness alive with smoke and shadows, where an even greater danger awaits them. For what lies there whispering to be unearthed has the power to bring the world to its knees. Join Ellie and Adam as they battle rivers of scorpions, plummeting waterfalls and pre-historic death traps on the journey to uncovering a deadly secret that could shake the fate of the world.

Go girl go – who needs Indiana Jones when you have Ellie? She can beat you to Eldorado any time! Yes, H. Rider Haggard we finally have a female heroine to match your males…

So yes, here we have an adventure story very much in the style of H. Rider Haggard and all the expected attributes of such a story: a villain who is manipulating behind the scenes; his merciless henchman ready to kill anyone who gets in his way; maps; and mysterious artefacts; codes; and explosions; and jungles and….

Wonderful nonsense and great fun reading. Will make a tremendous film.

 

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Entering the Cosmos?

See You in the Cosmos Book Cover See You in the Cosmos
Jack Cheng
Juvenile Fiction
Penguin
February 28, 2017
320

"Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski, along with his dog, Carl Sagan, makes big discoveries about his family on a road trip and he records it all on a golden iPod he intends to launch into space"--

 

Initially I was not invested in this story – I skip read the pages and got the gist but then the story hit and I couldn’t put the book down. I read it in less than 3 hours.

At times the story pulls at your heart strings. At other times it challenges your perceptions. There is a story underneath the story. The search for meaning and truth.

Love, truth, bravery. ‘the more I think about them the more it feels like they’re all talking about a lot of different things put together’ ‘the more I think about them and say them over, the less sense they make’

The wonder of Gaia and Terra (pun) and is there more to the universe than we can conceive us? The tesseract of life. The sounds  of a boy from earth trying to be brave and trying to find the truth’

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What is Truth?

Everything But the Truth Book Cover Everything But the Truth
Gillian McAllister
thriller, psychological, women sleuths, romantic suspense
Michael Joseph
March 9, 2017
432

Everything But the Truth is a brilliantly compelling thriller about how much - or how little - we can trust the ones we love. 'Packed with twists and turns that will make it almost impossible to put down!' Hello! 'Twisty and emotionally charged. Breathlessly brilliant' Heat It all started with the email. Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion. Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost? 'A gripping, compelling page turner that kept me up half the night' Liz Nugent, bestselling author of Lying in Wait 'You won't be able to put it down!' Hollie Overton, bestselling author of Baby Doll 'Perfection. Intriguing and compelling. An exceptional debut' Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of I See You 'A beautifully written domestic noir full of secrets and lies' Claire Douglas, bestselling author of Local Girl Missing

 

When we are witness in a trial we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But what is the truth? You can only see the truth through your own eyes and own mental interpretation which is biased by your own previous experiences and your psychological make-up.

So there is the white lie, the grey lie and the very black lie. And of course, the lie you tell to protect others such as when you are asked ‘How are you?’ and although obviously ill, you claim to be fine. And then there is the economical truth too. The partial truth.

So there are many different ways in which we can express the natural inclination of the human being, from childhood onwards, to protect ourselves when the ‘whole’ truth may result in unwelcome consequences.

Trust, according to the Norse from whom we draw the word, is a contract in which we agree to future behaviour, which must be fulfilled in its entirety for that trust to be established. Just one single deviation from that expectation and the contract is broken.

So this book and the story within it, makes us reflect on truth and what it is and how it is not a clear cut but rather a shaded contract of behaviour and expectations.

 

 

 

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Which way out?

The Easy Way Out Book Cover The Easy Way Out
Stephen Amsterdam
death, medicine, bereavement, assisted suicide
riverrun
(3 Nov. 2016)

Evan is a nurse - a suicide assistant. His job is legal - just. He's the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it.

Evan's friends don't know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn't know what he's up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.

As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against the limits of the law - and his own morality. And with Viv increasingly unwell, his love life complicated, to say the least, Evan begins to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes

 

So imagine this.  You work in a hospital with terminally ill patients. Would you give them the option to die? Would you offer them, and their families, a way to choose their death now? By taking poison. Before they can no longer physically ask for this because of their illness.

How would you feel? A ministering angel? An angel of death? Or are you saving them from a lingering and painful death?

As a person who has a Living Will whereby I ask not to be resuscitated, I would like to be offered the poison before I am past the stage of no longer being capable of expressing my wishes. But this is clearly an issue on which people hold very strong views. Pro-life stories having the same effect.

As such, you would expect to be gripped by a book talking about this moral dilemma and how the nurse involved in this project felt. But I wasn’t. I tried twice and failed to care. It seemed that the author was more interested in exploring the nurse’s sexual life/habits than the emotional trauma  potential of the story-line. This was a shame and left me disappointed.

 

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How difficult it is when you have everything money can buy

Rich people’s problems Book Cover Rich people’s problems
Kevin Kwan
Fiction
Doubleday Books
May 23, 2017
384

Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, is back with an uproarious new novel of a family riven by fortune, an ex-wife driven psychotic with jealousy, a battle royal fought through couture gown sabotage, and the heir to one of Asia's greatest fortunes locked out of his inheritance. When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside--but he's not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park--a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore--the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife--a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid's reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood, Kevin Kwan's gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets and rich people problems of Asia's most privileged families.

 

The main problem that most rich people see to have, especially the nouveau riche, (less than 4 generations of wealth in my definition), is that they are rich. And for them, they tend to believe that they are the centre of everyone’s universe, and are very demanding, intolerant, inveterate gossips, and basically as selfish as they come. And they don’t what more they can spend their money on to demonstrate their wealth and that they are richer than their ‘friends’. They travel in private jets of course, with full spa pools, masseuses, hair-dressers, maids, make-up artists, body guards and anyone else they think they might need.. and no I am not jealous – except maybe a little bit of the masseuses – that would be nice to have a daily massage.

This book centres on the Singaporean and Chinese newly rich – and those that made their wealth in the days of the British government. The sub-title ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ certainly sums up the story well.

The book follows the lives of a small number of very rich families as the matriarch falls ill and may die and the family vultures that gather around and start manoeuvring.

The matriarch is the heir to the biggest single estate in Singapore and her own heir is uncertain as she fell out with her grandson when she disapproved of his marriage.

I liked the mention of Charlie Siem playing the violin at the wedding as he is one  my favourite artists – I have heard him play in London and he was wonderful.

For me one big bugbear of this book is that the author uses a lot of Singaporean words and then adds notes to the end of each chapter like a textbook. Either provide a full glossary at the book end or beginning or assume that us readers will muddle through – most of us don’t care about the exact translation anyway.

 

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