Tag Archive | Dance with the Enemy

Hunt for the Enemy by Rob Sinclair

I left my phone at work one day last week. I felt like I’d lost an arm! I needed the comfort of a good book to pass my time (and I wasn’t completely devastated that the book I was, and still am, in the middle of  reading was stored on my phone in my desk drawer) so I turned to a book that had been burning a hole in my Kindle for a little while now, Hunt for the Enemy by Rob Sinclair. Having loved the first two books in the Enemy series, Dance With The Enemy and Rise Of The Enemy, and the main protagonist, Carl Logan, I had been looking forward to reading this third instalment. I put my idle thumbs to work, turning the pages on my Kindle, desperate to find out what super-spy Logan’s next move would be.

Logan is on the run following a sequence of events that has left his boss and mentor, Mackie, dead and the blame has been put squarely at the feet of our hot-headed hero. However, he has unfinished business with former love interest Angela Grainger, a CIA agent gone rogue. The last time he saw Angela was after she shot him. Logan tracks her down after he finds out that there is a threat on her life and they go on the run together, outsmarting the Russians and trying to find a way to uncover the truth about why Logan is the centre of attention for the CIA, the Russian FGB and his own agency, the JIA.

Logan isn’t the perfect hero, and Sinclair portrays this wonderfully. Throughout this book, we get flashbacks to Logan in his younger days, providing the reader with some context to his gung-ho nature and his failure to control the “red mist” when it descends. He makes a lot of bad decisions throughout, letting his emotions get the better of him, but this only serves to make Logan a more realistic character. Ultimately, he always redeems himself and restores the balance.

Sinclair seems to like inhospitable landscapes, as Logan moves from Russia into Kazakhstan, which adds a sense of foreboding to this third book in the series. He uses the surroundings to great effect, to present an extra hurdle for Logan and Grainger to navigate, as they avoid enemy after enemy. The setting serves as a constant reminder that danger lurks around every corner.

I’ll be honest, I was a little thrown by Logan’s choice of allies at times. For someone who is supposed to be able to judge character and gather intelligence, he has an odd logic sometimes. As a reader, you wonder what he is thinking and this is often reflected in the other characters surrounding Logan, and their responses to his actions. Yet just when you’re thinking Logan has perhaps lost his way, he manages to rectify the situation, creating a wonderful ebb and flow of action and suspense.

There is also plenty of scope for further Logan novels too, which I’m hoping is Sinclair’s intention. When you read a series of any kind, you develop a real sense of acquaintance with the characters, where you want to know what happens next and join them on another adventure. The Enemy series is no different. For all his flaws, Logan is likeable. Yes, he is arrogant and selfish at times, but he also shows signs of vulnerability, which makes him endearing, despite his flaws. When he second guesses himself, he reminds the reader that he isn’t as sure of himself as he tries to portray. He doesn’t trust people and this particular novel helps the reader to understand why.

Sinclair has written a fantastic third book which I enjoyed immensely. I will absolutely be recommending anyone who likes a good spy thriller to give them a go. There is real skill in Sinclair’s writing and he engages the reader from start to finish. That other book I’m reading, I’ve been working my way through it for about three weeks and I’m still only half way through. I read Hunt for the Enemy in two nights. I didn’t want to stop reading until I got to the end and for me, that’s the key sign of a good read for me. I sincerely hope that there are more Logan stories, but I am really looking forward to reading the next Rob Sinclair novel, whether it contains Carl Logan or not.

Segnalibro Book of the Year 2015

In my first year of book reviewing, I have read some fantastic books. The ones that have stood out particularly have been made Book of the Month in the month that I read them. I’ve given myself the unenviable challenge of picking one of these books to be the Segnalibro Book of the Year for 2015. As I write this post, I have to admit, I think it is going to be a very difficult choice. However, to help me to decide, and to give you a chance to offer your opinion on what you think should be made Book of the Year 2015, here’s a recap of the books I’ve had as my Book of the Month throughout the Year.

March 2015 – Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

It was Matt Johnson who I have to thank for my decision to review books on a regular basis. When I set up www.segnalibro.co.uk back in March, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about. However, having been approached by Rob Sinclair (author of the fabulous Dance with the Enemy and the equally fabulous Rise of the Enemy) to read their books, I found myself wanting to tell everyone who was interested what I thought of their books. After reading Matt and Rob’s great debut novels, I realised that I could enjoy books that were not in a genre that I’d necessarily choose, and with some fantastic support and advice from Matt, not to mention a great introduction to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books, I decided to make the bulk of my posts book reviews. I have enjoyed every minute and that is in no small part to Matt Johnson. His debut novel, Wicked Game, is a brilliant crime mystery novel which has a multitude of twists and turns in the life of main protagonist, Robert Finlay. I was so enthused by his novel that it was made March Book of the Month, Segnalibro’s first. This book has recently had a rejuvenation following Matt’s signing to Orenda Books and I am really looking forward to seeing how this amazing book has been improved.

Twitter ID: @matt_johnson_uk

April 2015 – The Last Days of Disco by David F. Ross


As previously mentioned, I was introduced by Matt Johnson to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books, who has kindly sent me a number of novels for me to read and review since. One of those books was The Last Days of Disco by David F.Ross. This book is brilliant because it enticed me on so many different levels. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me nostalgic as I considered my own 80’s childhood.  I loved this book when I read it and have since recommended it as a must-read. The follow up, The Rise & Fall of The Miraculous Vespas, has just been released and I am very much looking forward to reading and reviewing it in the near future.

Twitter ID: @dfr10

May 2015 – One Man Crusade by Steven Suttie

One Man Crusade by Steven Suttie was the first book this year that floored me by how emotive the narrative was and how beautifully constructed it was by Steven Suttie to have the maximum emotional impact. I was a an emotional wreck when I finished this book, leaving my partner to wonder what the hell was going on to leave me so inconsolable! The combination of the subject matter i.e. a vigilante killing paedophiles and the journalistic style in which it is written leaves the reader to formulate their own opinions without the author pushing one opinion or another on you. I have since recommended this book to anyone who would listen and those who have read it have been just as floored as I was. It’s follow up, Neighbours from Hell, didn’t quite have the same impact, but I believe there may be a third novel in the making that may sort out some of the open ends in the second book. I’m very much looking forward to reading it!

Twitter ID: @stevensuttie

June 2015

Matt Johnson had a second month as Book of the Month in June with his follow up to Wicked Game, Deadly Game. I had eagerly anticipated the release of this novel, and there is always a sense of trepidation when you have enjoyed a novel so much and the sequel is released, as it has a lot to live up to. Deadly Game didn’t disappoint, as twists and turns ensued and Robert Finlay was a fascinating main protagonist. These two novels were so cleverly written and had a lot of political resonance too. What I loved most about this book, is Johnson’s portrayal of Finlay’s struggle with the symptoms of PTSD, something that Johnson has openly admitted to suffering with, his first book being written as a kind of therapy to combat his symptoms. The decision to use this approach with Finlay undoubtedly lessens the direct action so prominent in Wicked Game, somewhat of a risk on Johnson’s part, but one that certainly paid off. This was a brilliant sequel and again, I’m very much looking forward to Finlay’s future adventures.

July 2015 – Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

I got a little bit of stick from those who know me for making this book my July Book of the Month, as I am known to be a big Rob Lowe fan. Having made a massive deal out of getting a tweet from the man himself following my review of Love Life,  I can understand why this may have been an easy assumption to make! However, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that there was no favouritism involved in my decision to make this book my July Book of the Month. It is genuinely a fascinating, wonderfully written autobiography, that contains an intelligence not often found in celebrity autobiographies. There are plenty of celebrity tales, but it would have been impossible not to, mainly because Lowe has spent most of his life in and around celebrity circles (he used to play at Martin Sheen’s house with Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez as a child!). However, what struck me about this book, and it’s sequel Love Life, is that Lowe is not a name dropper for the sake of it. Every tale he tells are about people who have influenced his life, good and bad, decisions he has made, for better or for worse, and most importantly, how he holds the same values dear to him as many other people who do not have his celebrity status. His family are his strength, in particular his wife, Sheryl, and he portrays that so beautifully in both his autobiographies. Stories I Only Tell My Friends is not a self-obsessed celebrity boast, it is a moving tale of a boy who worked hard to make his dreams come true and he has embraced every moment with enthusiasm and awe of how incredibly lucky he is to have achieved his dreams professionally and personally. Read it if you don’t believe me! smile,emoticon,face,fun,happy,smiley,emotion,funny

Twitter ID: @RobLowe

August 2015 – Breaking Faith by Joy Eileen

Breaking Faith by Joy Eileen was the first release blitz and blog tour I was involved in and it was great experience, as have all the blog tours I’ve been involved with since. Although it was a bit of a slow starter, this was a brilliant debut novel that had me gripped. Eileen treated her readers to a chapter of the next in the JackholeS series at the end of this book which was a good job too considering the cliffhanger that she leaves the first book on! Whilst there is still enough anticipation left for the reader what happens next, without that first chapter of the next novel, it would have been unbearable to wait, a true testament to Eileen’s abilities. This is another sequel that I’m really looking forward to reading.

Twitter ID: @heyitsmejoy

September 2015 – The Demon of Darkling Reach by PJ Fox

PJ Fox’s novels have been a prominent feature on Segnalibro since I read this book back in September, the first book in The Black Prince tetralogy. As someone who enjoys classic novels as much as I enjoy more modern books, this series was a revelation to me when I first read it. The Demon of Darkling Reach is not only a wonderful novel that takes the best features from classic and modern novels but it has some of the richest characterisation I’ve read in a novel in a long time. Also, to read a PJ Fox novel is to educate yourself as she uses her location and time period to give the reader an insight into life in that time/place, in this series, medieval England in beautifully explicit detail. The narrative is wonderfully intelligent and her characters engross you from the start. I read a lot of books in September but this book stood out a country mile ahead of the others.

@Twitter ID: @pjfoxwrites

October 2015 – The Prince’s Slave Trilogy by PJ Fox

While I was waiting for the release of the final two parts of The Black Prince tetralogy, I wanted to read another PJ Fox novel to see if I’d enjoy her other books as much as I enjoyed The Demon of Darkling Reach and The White Queen (the second book in The Black Prince series). I downloaded The Prince’s Slave trilogy in it’s entirety and I was once again enamoured by Fox’s characters and her writing style. A modern re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, The Prince’s Slave is completely engrossing and I could have read about Belle and Ash for more books than the three in this series. I have still to make my way through Fox’s back catalogue but I am sure it will be an amazing journey. I have also had the great pleasure of chatting with Fox on a regular basis and I am extremely pleased to have made her acquaintance.

Twitter ID: :@pjfoxwrites

November 2015 – Dear Mr You by Mary-Louise Parker

Dear Mr You fascinated me when I read it as an ARC copy via NetGalley. This uniquely written autobiography is one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read. It could actually read as a work of fiction due it’s style – a series of letters written to the men in Parker’s life who have knowingly or unknowingly had an effect on her life and her decision making over the years. Men who were close to her heart, men who she met only once in passing and imaginary men who she may meet or could have met. No name dropping, no big celebrity scoops, just a beautifully written series of letters that illuminate the highs and lows of Parker’s life.

 

December 2015 – The Black Prince Part One and Part Two by PJ Fox

These two books were so eagerly anticipated by me, there was a very real chance that I’d built them up in my mind to be better than they’d turn out to be. Not so in the slightest! The final parts of PJ Fox’s The Black Prince tetralogy were a very fitting ending to Isla and Tristan’s tale, as well as the other wonderful characters that the reader is introduced to over the course of the four novels. Fox manages to give plenty of page space to other characters, whilst still maintaining Isla and Tristan as the main protagonists and the focus of the novels. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and reviewing these two books, as much as I have with Fox’s other novels.

Twitter ID: @pjfoxwrites

So there you have it, the contenders for Segnalibro Book of the Year 2015. All of these books have connected with me one way or another and it will be a very difficult choice to pick one out of these ten books. Have you read any of these books? If so, let me know what you think of them in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook. I’ll announce my Book of the Year on 31st December 2015.

Six Months of Reviewing Novels: An Education

It’s been a while since I did a train of thought post so I thought I’d put the reviews to one side for an evening and do one now.  My first few posts on Segnalibro were about my thoughts on things that interested me in the literary world. However, two conversations with the brilliant authors Rob Sinclair (Dance With the Enemy, Rise of the Enemy) and Matt Johnson (Wicked Game and Deadly Game) inspired me to review their début novels, as I found myself surprised that I was reading, and enjoying, books in a genre that would never have appealed to me before. It is pretty safe to say that I caught the bug and I have reviewed books in more or less every genre since then. Six months after that first semi-review of Rob and Matt’s books, I feel that I have learned a few things about this reviewing lark.

One thing I have found is that it is much easier to review books you have enjoyed immensely or hated with a passion. I’ve been very fortunate that I have read some lovely novels which have been engaging from start to finish and I have loved waxing lyrical about some of the books that I really felt stood out among the others I was reading at the time. There are three books that spring to mind as books that completely floored me with their amazing narratives and wonderful plots. The first one is The Last Days of Disco by David F. Ross. I loved this book for its nostalgic reminders of my childhood in the 1980’s and the hilarious antics of main protagonist, Bobby Cassidy. Just when I thought that this book couldn’t get any better, by the end of the book, the flood gates were open. If a book can make me laugh and cry, it’s a winner for me, and The Last Days of Disco did just that. This was also the first book I reviewed from Orenda Books and it won’t be the last, that’s for sure!

The next book that had me stunned was One Man Crusade by Steven Suttie. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book but after being contacted by Steven Suttie requesting that I tried his book, I thought I’d give it a try. Never have I had such an intense reaction to a novel. I broke my heart reading it. This gritty novel about a Manchester police department hunting down a paedophile killer left me reeling as Suttie, in true journalistic fashion, gives the reader an illustration of how a situation can escalate in a society that has 24 hour updates and constant social media feeds. Suttie merely gives the facts, leaving the reader to decide their own point of view, not to mention, his clever tactic of waiting until you are a several chapters into the novel before giving you the story of the man who is killing paedophiles and has become the hero of the nation for doing so. I implored everyone I know to read this book and if I’m ever asked to recommend a book, One Man Crusade is always one of the first I mention. A friend of mine read this recently on my recommendation and I was really happy that she liked it, so much so that she bought and read the sequel, Neighbours from Hell, which was released on Monday, which I haven’t even got round to reading yet!

The third book that has surprised me by its brilliance is a recent read, The Demon of Darkling Reach by PJ Fox. Again, I wasn’t sure that this was going to be a book that I’d enjoy, again allowing myself to be put off by the genre. (I will never learn!) However, this is one of the most beautiful narratives I’ve read in a very long time. When I was studying towards my English degree, I read many classics, a number of them gothic novels, and I was reminded of the intricacy of these novels when I read Fox’s tale of Isla, a feisty, young daughter of an imprudent earl who has squandered his money away to the point where he has to offer the hand of his daughter in marriage to the enigmatic duke, Tristan Mountbatten, aka The Demon of Darkling Reach. The plot itself is magnificent but what I loved was that the narrative had all the beauty of a classic novel but with the features of modern literature that are only hinted at in their predecessors, such as swearing and direct sexual references. This book was also an education in the traditions and practices of mediaeval life, which I found absolutely fascinating. This is another book that I am plugging endlessly to anyone who will listen!

Of course, these all fall into the “Books I’ve Loved” category. There has only been one book that has left me so irritated that I felt the need to write an almost fully negative review, which was Gray Justice by Alan McDermott. I was completely frustrated by this book because it had all the makings of a really enjoyable novel, if only the writer could be bothered putting the time into his main protagonist. As a reader, it was expected that you would sympathise and champion Tom Gray, yet we know barely anything about him. McDermott focuses his attention on the wrong characters, has unfeasible plot twists and the final showdown has so many characters in so many locations that it is impossible to fathom who is where, at what stage and what the implications are of where the characters are located for the rest of the novel. I was frustrated because it could be such a better novel than it is with a bit more investment from the author into the main character’s emotions, perceptions and by building an affinity between the reader and Tom Gray.

What these four books had in common is that they were easy to write about. The paragraphs almost wrote themselves as I typed away, because, good or bad, the narratives were rich in elements to comment about. What I have found during this reviewing learning curve, is that it isn’t always that easy. I will always give my honest opinion and I will always try to focus more on the positive than the negative, but sometimes, when the narrative is distinctly average or it is a book that doesn’t particularly interest me although it may be enjoyable to others, it is difficult to find the words, which for someone who can normally talk/write until the cows come home (this post being a classic example), is a very strange situation to find myself in. There have been a few books which, to be honest, have just not excited me. They were okay and readable, but there is just not much to say about them. I probably just need more practice, but that would mean reading many more “okay” books and less time reading the “amazing” books as I have noted above.

However, I have found that I have really enjoyed reading and reviewing books from all genres and I have loved the conversations that it has led to with the various authors who I have reviewed books for. Special mention must go to my lovely guest reviewer, J.L.Clayton, who has become an amazing Twitter/Facebook Buddy and is, without a doubt, my biggest supporter as she retweets/shares everything I post, which is invaluable to me. She has also wrote two fantastic books with a third in progress (A Spark of Magic and A Blaze of Magic) and I really value her encouragement and her experience in writing and publishing her own books.

The fact that I have generated a review feedback page attests to my joy at the great feedback I have received over the last six months. The feedback has been so gratefully received by me while I have been finding my feet at book reviewing and I want to thank every author who has taken the time to thank me for my efforts. Of course, my feedback tweet from Rob Lowe, though short and sweet, will be forever etched in my memory (and in my phone photos, and on my website, Twitter feed, Facebook page…) although a “Thanks for making Stories I Only Tell My Friends Segnalibro’s July Book of the Month” would have been nice! (Just kidding – I love my tweet for Love Life and I will treasure it forever!) In all seriousness, another thing I have learned in this process is that the authors I have encountered are lovely and I have been very fortunate that I have had nothing but encouragement from the authors whose books I have reviewed. Long may this continue!

Finally, I have learned that book reviewing is an addictive hobby. If I’m not reviewing, I’m reading (although I did a lot of this anyway) and it is a lovely way to enjoy my spare time. I have got myself into a little routine now: day job, time with the children, reading/reviewing, with a few meals and chores in between. I never thought when I started my website that I would be enjoying writing posts as much as I do. I wish I had more time to spend on it but nonetheless, setting up www.segnalibro.co.uk is one of the best things I have done and I am immensely proud of it. Here is to many, many more book reviews, train of thought posts, Golden Book Ratings, Segnalibro Book’s of the Month and to making contact with some amazing people. I hope this indulgent, not-so-little post hasn’t put you to sleep, and if it has, I hope that was the intention when you started reading, in which case, the post is a success! Thanks for reading and thanks for your support over the last six months. Lisa xx

 

Girl Online: On Tour

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The Signature of All Things

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Millie Marotta's Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure

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After Anna

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The Amazing Book is Not on Fire

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Rogue Lawyer

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Little Girl Gone

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A New Approach to Reading

Reading has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I was the child who hid books under my duvet so I could read after I had been sent to bed. I didn’t mind the slow bus commute to Manchester because I knew it would allow me a good hour of pure reading time. I read classic books for pleasure, as well as for studying purposes. Yet, after I had finished my degree in 2011, having read a good few books that I wouldn’t have read out of choice and hadn’t enjoyed during my studies, I was looking forward to reading books purely for pleasure again. 

Unfortunately my book choices were evidently poor because the first few books I read were not enjoyable at all. I was devastated that I wasn’t enjoying my previously favourite past-time. I wondered if it wasn’t the books but maybe I’d lost my passion for reading whilst scrutinising books for analysis purposes and reading theories and studies that pointed out the flaws and misunderstandings with various literary greats (and not-so-greats). To test the theory, I read books that I’d read and enjoyed before and was relieved to find that my love for reading was still there, as long as I liked the books in question. To that end, I’ve spent the last couple of years re-reading old favourites, reluctant to try anything new in case I didn’t enjoy it. I have precious little time to read so I don’t want to reach the end of a book and find it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Since starting this site, I realised that I would need to step into the foray of reading new books again, if only to give me more to write about. However, there are so many books to choose from, it’s difficult to determine what to start with. Thanks to my Twitter Feed, I have been encouraged to venture back into the unknown and try out a couple of new books. 

First of all, I had a direct message conversation with Rob Sinclair (www.robsinclairauthor.com) who suggested I might want to try his debut novel, Dance with the Enemy, a thriller novel about a troubled secret agent called Carl Logan. After he had given me words of support about my first blog post, I felt that I owed it to Rob to read his book in return. I’ll be honest, thrillers have never really been my preferred genre but I absolutely loved Dance with the Enemy. It was fast paced, with lots of twists and turns and I would never have guessed the ending, yet all the clues were there as I  consider it in hindsight. I can guarantee that I will be one of the first to download the sequel, Rise with the Enemy, when it is released shortly.  

The next Twitter conversation that I had was with Matt Johnson (www.mattjohnsonauthor.com), who had very kindly been the first to comment on my site, which I will be eternally grateful for! Of course, again, I felt compelled to read Matt’s book, Wicked Game, another thriller, about a former SAS officer who finds himself a target of a terrorist cell years after he has left the forces. Again, I was gripped to the fast-moving storyline to the point where I just couldn’t put it down. I loved the main protagonist, Robert Finlay, but I particularly loved his feisty wife, Jenny. Again, I’ll be looking out for the sequel and hope that Jenny will continue to be Finlay’s tower of strength.

As I mentioned previously, thrillers aren’t my genre of choice, yet here I am waxing lyrical about two thrillers! Perhaps this is a sign that maybe my tastes are more eclectic than I had thought but more importantly, that ruling a book out because of the genre it has been categorised under can rule out books that I may have enjoyed wholeheartedly, like I did with Dance with the Enemy and Wicked Game.

I’m a sucker for a love story and both these books contain love/lust as an underlining factor, Dance with the Enemy to a lesser extent, although Logan does embark on an emotional relationship of sorts. Finlay’s main priority, in Wicked Game, is the safety of his wife and child and I loved that these two protagonists are swayed in their decision-making, despite all their training to the contrary, by emotional factors, such as love, lust, fear and revenge.

So, two wonderful books down, many more to go, and with that in mind, I’m going to start a new page on my website where I will put the new books that I have read in case there are others out there who can’t decide what to read and would like a helping hand. A hint to other authors out there, if you fancy giving me a nudge in the right direction about what I should read next, please do tweet, direct message, leave a message on the website or on my Facebook page. 

Word to the wise however, messages such as “I’ll eat my own liver if you don’t read my book” or “If you read my book, I won’t sell my grandchildren” will not encourage me to read any book. I’ve had a number of messages with these types of comments and, rightly or wrongly, it puts me right off reading the book being suggested. I realise that it’s a selling tactic and I’m sure it would work with some people but it just doesn’t encourage me whatsoever. It was really lovely to have a few words with Rob Sinclair and Matt Johnson and their approach was mutually beneficial: they got a sale (and future sales too) and I had a truly enjoyable reading experience, not to mention some valuable feedback about my own site. If you want me to give your book a try, let me know. Hopefully it will end up on my Recent Reads page! In the meantime, anyone who wants a good book to read, I can wholeheartedly recommend Dance with the Enemy by Rob Sinclair and Wicked Game by Matt Johnson.

 

RYDER (Slater Brothers Book 4)

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The Girl on the Train

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The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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