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review 2017-11-10 14:06
"At Risk - Liz Carlyle #1" by Stella Rimington - fast-paced, plausible espionage thriller
At Risk - Stella Rimington

"At Risk" is the debut thriller by Stella Rimington, former Director General of MI5. I didn't have high hopes of "At Risk" but I picked it up because I was curious to see how a woman with twenty-six years in the service would portray the counter-intelligence world of MI5. I've just bought the next three books in the series so you can count me as a new fan.

 

"At Risk" has a solid plot with a credible terrorist threat at the heart of it but it wasn't the plot than won me over, it was the point of view.

 

This isn't the black and white world of Jack Bauer, where our hero is using any mean necessary to defend the free world from evil foreigners intent upon mindless destruction. "At Risk" set in a world that is more nuanced and more complex than Jack Bauer's.

 

The terrorists in this book are in the UK to kill and to demoralise. They take the lives of anyone who threatens their mission and their mission will inflict death and pain. They are also dedicated, disciplined people who have strong reasons for what they do.

 

Liz Carlyle, the MI5 counter-intelligence officer hunting down the terrorists, does not carry a gun and no powers of arrest. Her job is to dig through the evidence to find the threat and prevent it. She does this in a down-to-earth methodical way, working closely with the police, the armed forces and MI6. To succeed, she has to find and shape data that will get her inside the heads of the terrorists.

 

To me, the way the data was assembled and the way the different groups worked together felt authentic. Liz Carlyle is completely believable and I want to see more of her in action. That I felt some empathy for the terrorists by the end and yet still wanted them stopped, shows that the book worked.

 

Overall, the book is well written, with a strong plot, good pacing, believable action and the ability to immerse me in the counter-terrorist world without drowning me in research.

 

There were a few places at the start of the book where I found the physical descriptions of the people and their body-language to be a little clumsy but things got much better once the story started to move.

 

The end of the book is surprising, memorable and refreshingly human. I'm on board for the rest of the ride with other eight books in the series now.

 

Stella_Rimington_PicDR_842181471

If you're interested in knowing more about the author, I've included Dame Stella Rimington's bio and interviews with BookBrowse and Nowtolove from when "At Risk" was released in 2004. They give some insight into how grounded in reality the book is and explain how MI5 compares to the CIA or FBI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-10-29 10:33
Muriel Spark-ish Tartness: "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons
Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons,Lynne Truss,Roz Chast
The first two-thirds of it are much funnier than the last third. Everything gets wrapped up incredibly neatly, which I suppose is the whole point, but it means there isn't a breath of air in the last pages, and you almost yearn for something to upset Flora's plans at the last minute. That said it's quite witty and clever throughout, and Stella Gibbons' sentence construction is a thing to behold: she kind of combines mid-twentieth century Muriel Spark-ish tartness with the flawless, rolling rhythm of the Victorian sentence (or something like that). I can't believe this was her first novel; it's so poised.
 
I did wonder why the novel is set 'in the near future' and why there's all the emphasis on flying and other kinds of technologies. Just to point up the primitiveness of Cold Comfort Farm?
 
I also wondered why all the emphasis on Mr. Mybug. I found his first conversation with Flora about Bramwell Bronte and his gin-swilling sisters the funniest part of the book, but it did strike me that you could remove his character completely from the book and not really make any fundamental difference to how it is constructed (apart from needing to find another husband for Rennet). I wondered was Gibbons making a certain point of contrasting the sanity and civilised values of the female author (i.e. Austen as a model for Flora to attempt to copy) with the irrationality and egotism and sex-obsessiveness of her male counterpart (Lawrence perhaps?). That's probably way over the top, but it did seem like Gibbons might have had a satirical axe to grind or perhaps somebody specific in mind in the Mybug scenes.
 
 
If you're into Mundane Literature of the Victorian kind, read on
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review 2017-10-23 02:08
Great Sampler
Once Upon a Valentine's Day: A Romance Sampler: Under PressureHer Sweetest FortuneWild Horse SpringsThe Last Di Sione Claims His PrizeRough & TumbleRenegade's Pride - Lori Foster,Stella Bagwell,Jodi Thomas,Maisey Yates,Rhenna Morgan,B.J. Daniels

The Once Upon a Valentine’s Day Sampler contains works from several of today’s best authors, giving readers snippets of some of their work.

I am very familiar with some of these authors and this Sampler made me want more! It also introduced me to several authors I hadn’t read before. I recommend for those that want an introduction to some great authors.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book

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review 2017-10-17 13:26
Looking For Love - Stella Starling

It’s all good :)
Two very sweet guys falling in love and growing real close in a short time. Because that’s what happens when you find ‘the spark’ as we learn from Zach’s wonderful neighbor, Ana.
In the middle of all the sweet, the queen bitch shows up to cause trouble. We are talking serious levels of nasty bitchiness here. And the best part? She stayed a bitch until the end. There was no “oh, that’s ok, you’re sorry. You’re forgiven.” Just her being a bitch but not getting away with her evil scheming. Because love wins.
And then there was, of course, the sweetest epilogue. Just wonderful. All good.
Now can we please have Brody’s story real soon?

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text 2017-10-15 14:07
Reading progress update: I've read 23%.
Looking For Love - Stella Starling

Zach ran a thumb over Micah’s lower lip, tugging it out from between his teeth, and Micah caught his breath, his heart racing so hard he thought he might literally die. Which, God, he really, really didn’t want to do if it was going to mess up whatever was about to happen with Zach.

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