Dear friends, please take a moment to read and deeply study the reviews of one of my friends, whose name is Peter Donnelly, and you will recognise the beauty in his language, the gentle regard for the author’s musings he places, and the careful steps he takes in unfolding to you why it is that he has interpreted each line the way he has done, the gradual build in his writing forming a piece very memorable indeed. It’s a rarity because, in addition to his outstanding command in English language, it reveals the fact that there exists no vested-interest on the his part and that he does it for the pure joy of reading and writing alone.
Peter is the owner of the The Reading Desk community, which is committed to providing high quality, personalised, professional services to authors and other service providers in the book industry. Check out the link to his website here
I wanted to share with you two of his fabulous reviews ( these are my favourites as are the books they are written for):
Peter’s review for “In the Shadow of Time” by Kevin Ansbro
Title: In the Shadow of Time
Author: Kevin Ansbro
“I was in Mexico City for three months, and yet returned to England on the same day that I left…”
Through her time-travel research, physicist Dr Sofia Ustinova has attracted the interest of higher beings from a distant galaxy…
Luna, a porcelain-skinned teenager, lives alone in a Danish forest where she guards an astonishing secret…
Pablo, an optimistic shoeshine boy, struggles to earn a living on the sweltering streets of Mexico City…
Meanwhile, Hugo Wilde, a British secret agent, embarks on a mission to kill a Russian assassin, unaware that his life is about to change in ways he could never have imagined..
Kevin Ansbro is an author who excels in raising your spirits and immersing you in an absorbing novel. Full of enthralling action and clever humour, In the Shadow of Time is Kevin’s latest book, and it had me lost for words for a long time after I finished it. I’m glad I left it for a few weeks before writing this review because I’m still drawn to just how sublime the experience was.
The pages come alive under Kevin’s pen as he creates a world that for the most part looks familiar, but of course, nurtured through the eyes of an artist, we have a unique and captivating experience. A world full of adventure calling its characters to explore it with exciting possibilities. Kevin’s prose is vividly rich and flowing, illustrating that a fantastic lyricist can also be a riveting storyteller.
Hugo Wilde, a nobleman by birth and an MI6 assassin by profession, and Dr Sofia Ustinova, renowned leading physicist and wife to one the Kremlin’s most celebrated killers, cross paths when Hugo assassinates her husband. The death of Viktor solved a problem for them both and started a relationship that would revel in fantasy, magic, adventure, drama, kindness, loss, love and would profoundly impact their lives and the lives of others they encountered.
“If you could truly get away from all of this and start a new life in another time, another place, would you? Wilde noted her earnestness and treated the question with the sincerity it deserved. In all honesty, if I had the opportunity to do such a thing with you, Sofia, I would seize it with both hands.”
Other threads introducing a young girl, Luna, of mystical qualities in Silkeborg Forest, Denmark in 1986, a young boy Pablo, with intuitive artistic talent from 1970, a housemaid, Maria, religious with a common-sense perspective on life from 1970s Mexico, and Hugo’s most loyal friend and one-time saviour, Vincent O’Toole, from 2020, come together in an exciting way.
Living one’s life will be a roller-coaster of sorrow and joy, but with the support of devoted friends, those difficult times become more manageable and the happy times more rewarding. When a dedicated group of friends establish a strong bond, they behave as family. The makeshift group that Hugo and Sofia form, brings a tapestry of adventures, relationships, ambitions, successes, and losses. In the Shadow of Time is more than a story focusing on time travel but rather an adventure where a time machine is used to assemble this intriguing array of characters in a time and place full of atmosphere and pulsating opportunities – Mexico City in 1970. The city is full of personality, atmosphere, intrigue, and where opportunities for someone with advanced knowledge of future events can make a difference. Hugo and Sofia grasp their new situation with open arms and a passion for doing something that will have a tangible impact on the lives of others. The group contribute their talents and unique abilities to an enthralling story that is just a pleasure to read.
The book In the Shadow of Time is a time machine in itself, as it transports you to a different time and place with all your senses triggered. Beautifully written and engaging as all great stories should be, I would highly recommend this outstanding book regardless of your favourite genre.
Peter Donnely’s review for “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles:
Every now and again, along comes an outstanding novel that hits every aspect of what a great book should be. A Gentleman in Moscow is epic in its ambition, enthralling in its storytelling, entertaining in its humour and eloquent in its prose. The story is set amongst the socially chaotic birth of communist Russia, yet celebrates the dominion of the individual. Amor Towles opens the novel on 21 June 1922, with the Count being tried in front of the Emergency Committee of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs for being part of the leisure class, corrupt and a threat to the new communist ideology.
“Prosecutor Vyshinsky: State your name.
Rostov: Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt.
Vyshinsky: You may have your titles; they are of no use to anyone else. But for the record, are you not Alexander Rostov, born in St. Petersberg, 24 October 1889?
Rostov: I am he.
Vyshinsky: Before we begin, I must say, I do not think that I have ever seen a jacket festooned with so many buttons.
Rostov: Thank you.
Vyshinsky: It was not meant as a compliment.
Rostov: In that case, I demand satisfaction on the field of honour.
Secretary Ignatov: Silence in the gallery.”
The Count is found guilty but is saved from execution because he wrote a poem supporting the pre-revolutionary movement. Sentenced to indefinite house arrest at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, he will stay there until 1954. This opening scene illustrates many of the treats waiting for us in the novel – the Count at odds with the ruling party, his adherence to a gentleman’s behaviour, his courage, and the humour with which he dispatches commentary.
Immediately on his house arrest, Rostov is moved from his luxurious suite in the Metropol to the attic, and a small room that requires him to make sacrifices. Sacrifices in terms of possessions, liberty, social standing and relationships. In those moments we see the true character of a man. The Count is generally adored and respected as he accepts all these challenges with resolve, integrity, humour and the dignity becoming of a gentleman.
The talented Amor Towles weaved many aspects into the novel to add incredible depth, with references to Greek and Roman legends including Helen of Troy, and more modern associations with ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and ‘Winnie the Pooh’. The revolving front door of the hotel is an interface between the outside tumultuous changes and harsh living conditions of Stalinist Russia, and the internal opulence of the hotel, as it resolutely maintains its luxury status.
Rostov makes very close friends with some colleagues, but notably, Nina, who as a nine-year-old girl shows the Count how to reverse the closing walls of the hotel and see numerous adventures in hidden corridors and rooms. Another little girl, Sofia, is introduced into the story who steals the Count’s heart and the connection they have is special beyond description. There are also threats and spies, only too willing to denounce other colleagues, so care is paramount. The character developed for Count Alexander Rostov is surely one never to be forgotten and his adventures, over thirty-two years within the Metropol Hotel, flowed with a constant fascination that remained enthralling from beginning to end – and what an end.
I was delighted to read this amazing work from Amor Towles, delighted to discover my great friend Ceecee hadn’t read it either and ecstatic that she wanted to read this with me. For a book that I have rounded down to 5-stars, I can only say, you HAVE to read this. Highly recommended!!