Monday, 26 November 2018

Book tour: Brexit XXL - Vincent Pluchet


Plunge into post-Brexit Britain and follow Prime Minister Tracy Meller in the biggest struggle she has ever faced, as the country is hit by a huge crisis and her opponents leave her no respite. Meet ordinary people caught up in the storm. Visit Chequers and historical places where the action takes place.

London, 2022 Tracy Meller, the UK’s Conservative Prime Minister, is facing an unprecedented crisis.

Having halted the endless negotiations to leave the European Union four years earlier, Prime Minister Meller chose the most uncompromising of all possible exits, a “Brexit XXL” with serious consequences. The economy is at a standstill, the financial markets are panicking. The opposition Labour Party launches an attack on the Prime Minister with a promise of a return to the European Union. The country’s morale is at rock bottom: everyone is afraid for their jobs and losing faith in the future. As for Scotland, its thoughts are increasingly turning back to independence. Prime Minister Meller herself is beginning to doubt the wisdom of her decision…

Will the UK survive this historic crisis? Brexit XXL is a work of fiction about the most risky Brexit scenario, based on a detailed analysis of British political culture. Both realistic and instructive, the plot of the novel has a particular resonance today, encouraging reflection on the sovereignty of nations and the future of the European project.

My opinion.
Brexit, a hot-topic if there ever was one. From the moment the concept was introduced, it's been hard to really understand the consequences, pro's and con's of the UK leaving the European Union. In 'Brexit XXL', author Vincent Pluchet sketches a world post-Brexit. Supported by such convincing numbers, theories and arguments, you sometimes have to remind yourself that this is set in a hypothetical future with (barely) fictional politicians. 
This is what makes this a tough one to review. On the one hand, it's clear that this political scenario is based on very real facts of present day economical and political structures and climates. Brexit and it's (potential) consequences is explained here in such a way that even a non-UK resident like me with no economical background, understands the different actors involved and the market influences and speculations in this very believable post-Brexit scenario.
We're shown a political chess game with all the right ingredients for a political thriller - with power-struggles, schemes and manipulation on the highest levels of government and financial institutions. But, and this brings me to my reservations, as much as I'd wanted it to, the book didn't progress from a descriptive text to an actual story. However detailed the author tried to present different scenes, the excessive detail tried but failed to 'reach' or move the reader.
Clearly well-researched but with excessive descriptions, 'Brexit XXL' was informative and impressive, but not captivating enough.


Author Information A graduate of the London School of Economics and the French École Polytechnique, Vincent Pluchet has a passion for historical and political topics. He works as a consultant in Finance and Strategy in the Middle East, where he has been based since 2004. He was a CFO with a large financial institution for more than fifteen years. He is married with one daughter. Please check out

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Book tour: Hush Hush - Mel Sherratt (DS Grace Allendale #1)

A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?

My opinion.
Crime fiction at its best. Mel Sherratt introduces us to DS Grace Allendale in this thrilling new series. A crime family, unresolved murders, the constant threat of violence and dubious characters, you won't be able to put this book down even if you wanted to. As the crimes continue, the lack of evidence causes an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust. There's no telling who to trust. Even when some of the chapters are written from the point of view of other characters than Grace's, they only add to the intrigue and keep you guessing.
With every clue there's more unanswered questions and missing puzzle pieces. Addictive, and that's without the extra layer of Grace's traumatizing past - both recent and childhood memories - and blood link to the crime family all the signs keep pointing to.
Close and guarded, Grace isn't the easiest of characters to warm up to, but I for one cannot wait to read more from DS Grace Allendale.


Saturday, 3 November 2018

Book review: One Way or Another - Colleen Coleman

Twenty-nine-year-old Katie Kelly is at an all-time low. The love of her life, gorgeous Ben Cole, took a job abroad and broke her heart, the restaurant she’d put her all into went bust, and now she works in a retirement home, cooking beige mush for the residents. 

Not exactly the life Katie had dreamed of… 

So when the opportunity comes up to work for one of the best chefs in the country – Katie’s idol – she is determined to get the job, no matter what. But then she discovers who she’s competing against: Ben. 

As the competition heats up, Katie and Ben spend more and more time together, and it’s clear the old spark is still there… But only one person can win their perfect job, and Katie is going to make sure it’s her. She knows she can’t let Ben back in – or can she find a way to have it all? 

My opinion.
'One Way or Another' is a fun, light-hearted story. When we meet Katie Kelly, she's in a bad place. Her career is non-existing, as well as her love life. But maybe she'll find an answer to both when this new opportunity arrives?
The setting of the cooking competition is fun and original. We've all seen dozens of those on reality tv-shows, but reading about it was completely new to me. But the stress, flavours and heath of a 5 star kitchen in action are just as tangible in this book as they would have been on screen. No Gordon Ramsey here, but equally enough drama to make this story energetic and fast paced.
Throw in a great romance, an endearing old lady and an hilarious best friend, and you've got yourself a winner. Great, fun read!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Book tour: Olga's Egg - Sophie Law

When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings. On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget. With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking? Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Olga’s Egg is an enthralling tale of love, family secrets and the artistic treasures that conceal them.

My opinion.
What a gorgeous book. Admittedly, I was sold on this book in the first place purely on the cover design alone. Then I read the blurb, and I just knew I couldn't let this one pass by. And I'm so happy I didn't. 'Olga's Egg' is incredibly rich in detail and historical research. The love and passion for (Imperial) Russia, it's art and architecture is so tangible I could easily imagine myself walking around in St. Petersburg, soaking it all in. 
It took me a couple of chapters to find my bearing in this story. In those first pages a lot of characters are introduced with glimpses of their stories, both past and present, and it's a bit confusing as to where the story is going. Once the grand discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg is made, however, you're catapulted into this world of money, power, art and luxury. Assia as a main character isn't easy to relate to. She's dealing with a difficult past and doesn't open herself up easily, and to me that included us as readers as well. But even though I didn't feel a particularly close connection to the lead, the story itself captivated me and took me along on this beautiful, Imperial, roller coaster. 
The art and mystery in this book stayed with me every time I closed the book - I just had to keep reading to learn more about the art and the history, to figure all the puzzle pieces out. Sophie Law described everything in such glorious detail, taking her time to really set the scene and not rushing the different elements to this story. Absolutely loved it. Now please excuse me while I look up everything I can find on Fabergé and watch the 1997 animation movie "Anastasia".


ABOUT THE AUTOR. Sophie Law was born in London in 1981 and studied at Oxford University and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. She began her career as a Russian art expert at Bonhams in 2006. After a number of years heading the Russian department and as a UK Board Director at Bonhams, she now acts as a consultant specialist. She lives with her husband and daughter in Oxford.