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50+ Emotionally Turbulent yet Beautiful Novels

Yes, these are novels that are likely to incite some painfully exquisite emotions, don’t turn away though because they are truly beautiful too. From literary through to historical, from crime to modern and contemporary and of course relationship novels, the books in this collection are incredibly worthwhile and rewarding. Some of my favourite novels have been those that have made me positively ache as the words caught my emotions and tethered them to the page. 

Sometimes it is difficult to read a book that you know is going to be emotionally turbulent, you might need to choose your time carefully, set aside the ideal moment. We believe these are books to be loved and adored even as you feel the pain, if a book truly speaks to you, if it fills your heart, then it is worth the perfect torment.

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Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is a prime example of a glorious yet heartbreaking read. This is the imagined story behind the writing of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it has an almost otherworldly feel and yet is as earthy and believable as can be. I could quite literally feel the words as they echoed deep inside me creating pools of emotion. I cried on finishing, all those feelings gathering into a torrent that slipped out of me and trickled down my cheeks. 

Stefan Merrill Block creates the most profoundly moving and captivating novel in Oliver Loving. The story focuses on Oliver, his mother Eve, and brother Charlie, and how one event has trapped and maimed them all. This is so thoughtfully written, an almost gentle lyrical quality caresses the pages, yet he encourages searching questions, for you to travel deeper. Profoundly moving yet beautiful, prepare for your heart to ache, weep, and possibly even break.

A relationship tale that is tender, gripping, and eloquent, The Lion Tamer Who Lost made me sob. Ben volunteers at a lion reserve in Africa, as we read his story in the present, we also look back to his past. When Louise Beech writes, it feels touchable, I can feel the emotions she creates deep inside of me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words and feelings, knowing I was heading into uncharted territory, and yet I couldn’t stop reading. 

Editorial Expert Joanne Owen describes The Innocents by Michael Crummey as: “Beautiful, brutal and raw”. She declared it a LoveReading Star Book and  that she couldn’t praise it highly enough. A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove in Canada in the nineteen century and are on the edge of  survival. “Inspired by a story the author found in local archives, this is an incredibly haunting novel - the language powerfully pure, the story uniquely thought-provoking”.

Shappi Khorsandi wrote the most provocative, emotional, yet beautifully worthwhile read in Nina Is Not OK. Nina is 17 years old when her life starts to unravel, she tells her story and made me flinch, made me cry, and made me think. This is uncomfortable and occasionally jaw droopingly shocking stuff. Although I positively ached for Nina, and her journey was at times so very painful to watch, she made me smile, even made me laugh. This is compassionate beautiful writing at its best. 

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So prepare yourself, have some tissues handy just in case. Be in a place where you can accept the emotion and let it fill you with its stormy caress knowing that there is also beauty within reach to salve your wounds. 

My Absolute Darling

My Absolute Darling

Author: Gabriel Tallent Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/07/2018

Make no mistake, this debut novel is startling and often painfully uncomfortable, yet it is a stunning, actually breathtaking piece of literature. 14 year old Turtle is strong, capable, different, she is also suffering… deeply and painfully. Within the first few pages I knew that ‘My Absolute Darling’ was going to be an unforgettable read. By the end of the first chapter, ice-cold fingers had run down my spine and sent my whole system into shock. I felt as though I was viewing life from an entirely different perspective, one absolutely humming with intensity. I wanted to stop the feelings of disbelief and horror that were crowding into my mind, but I knew that I had to bear witness. Gabriel Tallent’s writing is surprisingly simple, yet he paints a vibrant pulsating picture, this man sees life, sees beneath the surface, and grants you access too. The plants, wildlife, and surrounding countryside, so beautifully described, link with the reality of Turtle’s life and on occasion act as a buffer to what is happening. There were times when ‘My Absolute Darling’ made me scream inside, yet I couldn't stop reading this remarkable and actually rather beautiful novel.  It will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.

Debut Books of the Month
The Possible World

The Possible World

Author: Liese O'Halloran Schwarz Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/07/2018

This is quite simply a wonderfully gorgeous must-read! My whole being poured into ‘The Possible World’, soaked up the words, the feelings, the story. Six year old Ben is left traumatised after a violent crime, Lucy the doctor who initially treats Ben in the Emergency Room has her own issues, while Clare has lived a lifetime of secrets, is she ready to tell her story? Each chapter is headed by one of the characters, each story, stands resolute, almost isolated, and yet a transparent thread weaves between them, creating a cobweb of a connection. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz writes with such beautiful heartfelt emotion, yet is also able to communicate stark realism. At certain points, my mind clouded in confusion, before clarity hit me like a hammer blow. I adored the storyline, the mysterious, spellbinding route that is taken almost feels as though you happen upon it by chance. I read without stopping, completely consumed by the story and it hurt when I turned the final page, when I had to come back into my world. I still ache when I think about ‘The Possible World’, it truly is a beautiful read and will topping my books of the year. 

Star Books
The Innocents

The Innocents

Author: Michael Crummey Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/08/2020

Beautiful, brutal and raw - I cannot praise Michael Crummey’s The Innocents highly enough. Set in an inhospitable isolated area of the Newfoundland coast in the nineteenth-century, it’s a remarkable Garden of Eden, Babes in the Wood masterwork in which we witness age-old nature-nurture conflicts ebb and flow as we observe two siblings living on the edge, in every sense. Through their poignant passages to adulthood we see humanity at its most elemental, and we’re compelled to consider what it means to become a human adult Siblings Evered and Ada have survived the loss of their mother and baby sister Martha, though Ada still hears and speaks to Martha. Now their father has died and there’s no one but them to remove his body from their home. No one but each other to ensure they survive. Equipped with very limited knowledge of the world, and facing perilous poverty, the siblings fish and cure their catch, as their father used to, but the catches come either in unmanageable excess, or not at all. They are never far from the ravages of starvation, or wild storms. As time passes, Ada and Evered derive secret knowledge from their bodies, as well as from infrequent interactions with outsiders. Once a year, men come to collect the sibling’s paltry cured fish, dropping off scant supplies as payment. Then there are chance visits from seamen surprised to find them living alone in this precarious way. The siblings assimilate new knowledge from these unexpected visitors – knowledge of brewing, hunting, history and human relationships - who in turn leave indelible marks on Ada and Evered, leaving them changed to the extent that “each in their own way was beginning to doubt their pairing was requisite to what they might want from life.” Inspired by a story the author found in local archives, this is an incredibly haunting novel – the language powerfully pure, the story uniquely thought-provoking.

Star Books
Sal

Sal

Author: Mick Kitson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/01/2019

Just gorgeous… this is an emotional and quite, quite beautiful read. After a particularly traumatic time at home, 13 year old Sal and her younger sister Peppa escape into the wilds of Scotland. Sal has spent a long time preparing, the wilderness beckons them, can they survive on their own? Sal tells their story, the first chapter is so clever, I started to realise what had been happening, and then a few carefully chosen, yet almost casually thrown away words, sent a shockwave running through me. I could clearly hear Sal’s voice, she is so individual and distinctive, her words entered my mind and expanded, filling my heart. Mick Kitson encourages the Scottish countryside to sing with intensity, while you can hear Sal, you can see and feel the clean and natural space she and Peppa find themselves in. Kindness flows from unexpected places, and love is behind every word shared by Sal, even in the darkness. Simple, beautiful, provocative yet touching, this is an outstanding debut, and a read I will return to again and again. Highly recommended and one of my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Hamnet

Hamnet

Author: Maggie O'Farrell Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Glorious, simply and beautifully glorious! Inspired by Shakespeare’s son Hamnet, this is the imagined story behind the writing of Hamlet, which was written between 1599 and 1601. Hamnet and Hamlet were apparently “entirely interchangeable in Stratford records in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries”. Maggie O’Farrell says she wanted to write this story for over thirty years. “What did it mean for a father to name a tragic hero after his ( ) son. What was this unusual act telling us?” The cover design is beautiful, it called to me. On opening, I slipped into and fell in love with this tale. Hamnet has an almost otherworldly feel, and yet is as earthy and believable as can be. Two time frames sit side by side, Hamnet becoming ill in 1596, and then the earlier story of Shakespeare and Agnes meeting and falling in love. The descriptions became clear bright images in my mind. I could feel the words, they echoed deep inside me, creating pools of emotion. I cried on finishing, all the feelings that Hamnet created slipped out of me and trickled down my cheeks. I adore Hamnet, it now sits on my list of favourite books, and will be one that I reread each year. Chosen as a Book of the Month, LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month.

Star Books
Wonderful Feels Like This

Wonderful Feels Like This

Author: Sara Lovestam Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/11/2017

November 2017 Debut of the Month A gentle, yet powerful and stimulating novel about friendship and love. 15 year old Steffi who is being bullied at school, meets Alvar who lives in a retirement home, their shared loved of jazz creates a beautiful healing bond. The story is told in the present, and we also travel with Alvar through time to 1942, when he first discovers the jazz scene in Stockholm. Sara Lovestam writes with a lovely lyrical, light touch, yet effectively highlights the pain Steffi feels at the hands of her tormentors. I fell in love with both Steffi and Alvar, their friendship feels so real, you can reach out and touch it. There were sections where I felt an almost physical reaction to the bullying, yet the love and compassion continues to shine through. ‘Wonderful Feels Like This’ touched my heart, it is provocative yet hopeful, and an entirely captivating read indeed.     Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Shtum

Shtum

Author: Jem Lester Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/01/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Debut of the Month. A rather special read indeed… there are times when you wonder how you've missed sight of, or hearing about a book, and for me this is one of them. This is a treat, a heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, jam-packed full of love treat. Ben shares his story as he literally battles to place his autistic son Jonah, into what he considers is the right school. Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s dad and we see what life is like for these three men as their worlds revolve around each other. Jem Lester writes with experience, yet he adds bittersweet, aching emotion, biting wit, and a lightness of touch that manages to skim joyfully across the pages. Letters from social services, the school, medical information, and receipts all find their way into the book, often bringing me up short and creating a link to the authenticity of the situation. ‘Shtum’ is brave, bold, and wonderful, it made me cry, rage, and laugh, and I loved every single beautiful second of it.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
At First Light

At First Light

Author: Vanessa LaFaye Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/11/2017

A heart-breaking, provocative, and powerful story, with love, murder, and justice sitting at the core. This tale was inspired by real events that occurred from 1919 to 1921 in Key West, Florida. The story starts in 1993 when a 96 year old woman shoots dead a Ku Klux Klan official and will say nothing but admit her guilt. The explanation for the shooting begins in 1919, when a mixed-race relationship crosses boundaries. The prologue fully captured my attention, I fell head first into the tale, and didn’t draw breath until the last page. Vanessa Lafaye has created characters who feel authentically real and very much alive. The descriptive detailing set the time and surroundings vividly and clearly in my mind. As understanding grew, so did the tickle of fear and foreboding for what was to come. ‘At First Light’ is a beautifully written tale, one that prods and provokes and yet encourages hope - highly recommended. Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
The Weight of Small Things

The Weight of Small Things

Author: Julie Lancaster Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/08/2020

An absolute gift of a book, contained within is enough emotion to make your heart truly ache, possibly even break, yet also soar with love for nine year old Frankie. Frankie Appleton likes to design gates, gates to keep the bad things out, but bad things have already edged their way in. I have fallen in love with The Weight of Small Things. Julie Lancaster writes with a beautifully gentle yet devastating eloquence. Small, sharp slices of information lie in wait, delivered with such innocence, they are all the more powerful. Two time frames exist side by side, one sitting in the late 1980’s, while the other creeps forward from the past. Do keep an eye on the year that heads each chapter to avoid confusion. As I began to confirm the link between the two stories, my apprehension grew and my thoughts hesitated and reformed. Julie Lancaster deals with challenging subjects with sensitivity and care, yet this book holds such compelling power. While Frankie sits as the focus, two other women create the foundations to this story. At times this debut stings and it can be an uncomfortable read. Drips become rivulets and rush into torrents, yet all the time there is an irresistible charm contained within. Frankie has taken up residence in a corner of my heart, and she is most welcome there. She also climbs into our LoveReading Star Books. A Debut of the Month, The Weight of Small Things is a shattering read and yet it holds a piercing note of hope.

Star Books
A More Perfect Union

A More Perfect Union

Author: Tammye Huf Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/10/2020

Based on her great-great grandparents’ experiences, Tammye Huf’s A More Perfect Union is a heart-rending, soul-stirring story of the love between a black slave and an Irish immigrant. A lucid, bold tale of the despicable brutality of slavery, personal conflicts, and a bond that will not be broken. Henry O’Toole fled Ireland in 1848 to escape the famine. On arriving in New York, “America stabs me with homesickness” and he can’t find a job - “Every day it’s the same. No Irish”. Compelled to flee the city, he changes his surname to the English-sounding ‘Taylor’ and heads to Virginia. House slave Sarah is separated from her Momma and brother when she’s sold as a “quick-cleaning-slave-who-don’t-get-sick”. She and Henry meet when he comes seeking work as a blacksmith at the plantation she’s been sold to. Here Henry is moved by the sound of slaves singing at night, while Sarah paces her hoe in the kitchen garden to “the rhythmic strike of the blacksmith’s hammer”. The stirring attraction between them is palpable, but theirs is a forbidden relationship - inter-racial marriage is illegal, and viewed as an abomination. What’s more, she’s owned by another man. The couple are in an excruciating situation, their complex personal conflicts evoked with shattering clarity. Sarah has to reconcile loving a man whose white skin represents her oppression, and she’s also ostracised by fellow slaves. Then there’s the searing exchange when Sarah sees Henry making neck rings and shackles. When he protests that he has no choice, that he needs to earn money, that he knows what it is to be shackled by poverty, Sarah’s response captures the despicable inhumanity of enslavement: “’I know you been through a hard, hungry life,’ she says. ‘I want you to understand that slave suffering is a different thing. When somebody owns you, there ain’t nothing they can’t do to you.’”  Both their voices are conjured with brilliant authenticity, and their story builds to an agonisingly edgy crescendo as the risks they take are as immense as their love. I cannot recommend this enough. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Star Books
The Lion Tamer Who Lost

The Lion Tamer Who Lost

Author: Louise Beech Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2018

An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I have not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.

Star Books
If Only I Could Tell You

If Only I Could Tell You

Author: Hannah Beckerman Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/08/2019

A special and beautiful book to fall completely and irretrievably in love with. Audrey can not understand why her two daughters are estranged, or why her granddaughters have never met. She is determined to reunite her family, however at the heart of the problem is a secret that has been kept for 30 years. Either Audrey, Jess, or Lily head each chapter and while travelling forward over several months, they also revisit the past. Hannah Beckerman allows secrets to hover, creating an energy that weaves through the story, suggesting, cajoling, calling to past events. The different view points collide and sometimes splinter, which left my thoughts testing and questioning possibilities. I found such strength and beauty in the characters, I think they will remain with me for some time. If Only I Could Tell You, is a heartbreaking, truly fabulous read, you may well sob, but believe me, it is worth it!

Star Books
A Million Dreams

A Million Dreams

Author: Dani Atkins Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2020

What a gorgeously emotional and heart-warming read this is. Two women linked by an event that occurred eight years ago, find themselves at the centre of storm that could change their worlds forever, both will fight for what they believe in. The first chapter slams with impact. Oh Dani Atkins, you really know how to make me cry! In the very best possible way of course, with a heart full of emotion and feeling and wonder. The words reached inside me, made me ponder, and truly affected me. The characters are so engaging, the ups and downs so accessible. This is a relationship story with real personality, yes there is some anguish along the way, there is also plenty of hope, love, and feel-good too. I chose the hardback as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. If you choose to read A Million Dreams, and I really hope you do, I’ll just leave this here… have some tissues close to hand. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Music Shop

The Music Shop

Author: Rachel Joyce Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/07/2017

A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul. At the heart of the story - and of run-down Unity Street - is Frank, steadfastly selling vinyl (no cassettes, and definitely no CDs) from his decaying shop: “With vinyl, you couldn’t just sit there like a lemon. You had to GET UP OFF YOUR ARSE and TAKE PART”. The polar opposite of Black Books’s Bernard Black, Frank is one of life’s altruists. He “knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves”. But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street. Ilse sets Frank’s heart-a-pounding, and his nerves-a-tingling, but his past pains (particularly his relationship with his music-obsessed mother) have left him emotionally impotent, and he’s at risk of losing his once-in-a-blue-moon chance to truly take part in life. The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured. It’s a newly-heard riff you can’t get out of your head, and the favourite album you’ll return to in times of need. I loved it.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Oliver Loving

Oliver Loving

Author: Stefan Merrill Block Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/01/2019

Oh, what a truly beautiful read this is, though do prepare for your heart to ache, weep, and possibly even break. For the last ten years, Oliver Loving has been lying in a hospital bed, paralysed and non-communicative, is he trapped in his own mind, can a new test release him? Everyone wants answers, they also want to know what happened ten years ago, on the night of the school dance in Bliss, Texas… and what caused the tragedy that took place there. The story focusses on Oliver, his mother Eve, and brother Charlie, and how one event has trapped them, has maimed them all. Stefan Merrill Block writes so thoughtfully, an almost gentle lyrical quality caresses the pages, yet he encourages searching questions, for you to travel deeper, to look further. This is an emotional read, the writing touched me, deep inside my heart, and a part of Oliver Loving will remain there. Almost otherworldly, yet raw and true and full of heart, Oliver Loving is profoundly moving, and captivating, I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, and becoming one with the story. Oliver Loving is one of my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Small Pleasures

Small Pleasures

Author: Clare Chambers Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Hauntingly tender, and written with powerful grace, Clare Chambers’s Small Pleasures is an absolute joy from start to finish. It’s 1957 in suburban Kent, where Jean writes for a local newspaper with every aspect of her life still dominated by her contrary, controlling mother as Jean approaches forty. No post-work drinks with colleagues. No friends. No romance. Enter Gretchen Tilbury, an elegant Swiss woman who writes to the paper claiming her daughter was the result of a virgin birth. As Jean investigates the case, she becomes close to Gretchen, her kind, witty husband Howard, and the alleged miraculous daughter, all four of them finding comfortable joy in each other’s company. “You’ve stirred us out of our routine,” Howard remarks, to which Jean responds, “I would have thought it was the other way about.” While researching Gretchen’s youth, Jean inadvertently sends shockwaves through the Tilbury family when she reconnects Gretchen to a powerful figure from her past. At the same time, she and Howard find themselves falling for each other, both of them remaining faithful to Gretchen, graciously skirting their attraction - until it’s right to act. The novel features some of the most finely drawn, endearing characters I’ve encountered in recent contemporary fiction. For all her lonely frustration, Jean isn’t one to wallow. She’s pragmatic, with ripples of not-quite-regret lapping beneath her smooth, reasoned surface - a woman “who took pride in her ability to conceal unruly emotions.” Her domesticity pieces for the paper have something of Carrie Bradshaw’s musings about them, albeit without any in-your-face sex in the city (or the suburbs, in Jean’s case), with their apparently humdrum themes humorously paralleling soul-stirring events in her own life. Laying bare a quivering three-way tug between obligation, propriety and passion, and the inexplicable way thunderbolt-bonds are formed between similar-souled individuals, Jean’s conflicts and chance to love truly get under your skin. What a remarkable book, with a dagger-sharp climax that will pierce your heart.

Star Books
After the End

After the End

Author: Clare Mackintosh Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/05/2020

Prepare yourself for an emotional read… full of deep abiding love and hope, there are also parts of this book that caused an intensely physical ache long after I’d finished reading. I don’t want to give too much away, I want you to be able to enter as I did, and experience all that is on offer. So, let me just say that Max and Pip have to make an impossible decision, one that will affect them forever more. The prologue sets the scene perfectly, and I felt a fellow sharp intake of breath at the last sentence before moving to chapter one. This is one of those books where I didn’t make many notes as I read, I was completely caught up in the story. Each character is perfectly placed, their emotions reaching out from the page to touch my heart and soul. There are times when right and wrong do not exist in a clear, comprehensive format and this book successfully shreds presupposition into tiny confetti-like pieces. After I had finished reading, the note at the end by Clare Mackintosh sent goosebumps skittering down my arms. After the End is powerful, provocative, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this extraordinarily beautiful read. I have chosen it as one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading star book.

Star Books
The Woman at 72 Derry Lane

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane

Author: Carmel Harrington Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/11/2017

December 2017 Book of the Month A touching, heart-aching, yet feel good read, full of love and humour. It’s 2014, Stella and Rea live next door to each other but have never spoken, both are hiding their true selves, when they finally meet their lives begin to change. The first few sentences immediately set the tone, my breath caught, my imagination was snared and I settled in for an absolutely cracking read. A third story haunts the pages, it initially almost jars and breaks Stella and Rea's tale, yet gradually reveals a heart-breaking connection. This is the first Carmel Harrington book that I have read, I will be hunting down her others as she has an exquisitely light touch, yet deals with devastating issues with strength. The clever writing hooks thoughts and twists them, towards the end I thought I knew what was coming, however there were still surprises waiting in store. I wept at certain points in the storyline, yet hope plays a huge role in this readable tale. I can highly recommend ‘The Woman At 72 Derry Lane’, memorable, compassionate, and emotional, I loved it. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
The Book of Love

The Book of Love

Author: Fionnuala Kearney Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/02/2019

The normal, the extraordinary, the highest ups and very deepest downs, this absolutely gorgeous book is about life, in all of its wonderful, charming, heartbreaking glory. I’m very conscious about the fact that I will probably gush with enthusiasm because I quite simply adored it, sorry (not sorry), you’ll just have to go with me on this one. Erin and Dom marry in 1996, and her father gives them an empty book, a book to write what can not be said, an opportunity to create honesty, love, commitment, and so we are introduced to The Book of Love. Little excerpts from the book start each chapter, we hear from either Erin or Dom as we view their life, travelling in time from now which is 2017, and then, which starts in 1996 and travels forward to meet now. I will warn you that I whimpered and cried, I also smiled, laughed, and felt the joy of this couple, but there are points when I really really cried. Fionnuala Kearney allows you to get to know Erin and Dom without judgement getting in the way, she writes with huge compassion and brings their story to vibrant life, this is glorious writing, just glorious. I gobbled up the words, which join together to create a simple, touchable, beautiful tale. The Book of Love is one of my picks of the month, yes, yes, I loved it! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
Days of Wonder

Days of Wonder

Author: Keith Stuart Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/02/2019

A complete and absolute delight, this is a treasure of a read. Tom and his fifteen year old daughter Hannah believe in the magic of the theatre, of creating moments in time that live forever in the memory, when everything comes under threat, can magic prevail? This is one of those wonderful occasions where I just read for the pure spellbinding pleasure of reading. No notes, no overthinking, just cosying in a chair with a beautiful book. The first paragraph took my hand and welcomed me in. Keith Stuart takes ordinary and allows you to see wonder, captures the unimaginable and transforms it to touchable, greets heartache and encourages thoughtful contemplation… and his words are so gorgeously readable. Either Tom or Hannah head each chapter, their voices distinct, clear, vivid in my mind’s eye. Just as a note, I did cry, I had a little wobble as I read (you’ll know when you get there) and had to have a few minutes before I carried on reading, yet Days of Wonder is full of joy, hope, love and is a truly, deeply beautiful read - highly recommended.

Books of the Month
Our Song

Our Song

Author: Dani Atkins Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2016

Quite simply stunning. From the moment I turned the first page, right through to the moment I finished and beyond, I have been transfixed by this beautiful yet heartrending novel. The first few pages set events in motion that will transform the lives of the characters forever. I say characters, but they quickly became known, cherished and loved, they are not perfect, but they live on the pages with warmth and vitality. Dani Atkins writes with heartfelt compassion, yet a lightness of touch, all the while, intense emotions sit waiting to make themselves felt. There are parts that shock, that are unexpected, others where an inkling may have been knocking at the door of your consciousness for some time. The story flows between the current day and the past with ease, letting understanding settle, bringing a feeling of inevitability, that this was meant to be. This novel should possibly come with a warning, that it’s best not to read it in public, as the emotions it can evoke are so vibrantly strong. I sobbed, I smiled, and I fell in love with ‘Our Song’.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Mr Wilder and Me

Mr Wilder and Me

Author: Jonathan Coe Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2020

This really is the most gorgeous read, it’s poignant, almost unassuming and gentle, yet capable of capturing and causing emotions to expand and explore. It’s 1977 and Calista joins a film set to act as interpreter for Hollywood director Billy Wilder. As Calista begins to experience the wider world, Wilder is aging and his influence is subsiding. Two tales are on offer here, the coming of age and waning star stories entwine and flow as one. Some Like It Hot, directed by Wilder is one of my all-time favourite films, so I was intrigued by the premise of this blend of fact and fiction. Jonathan Coe delves into the life of this influential and talented director, the acknowledgements and sources establish his research and recognise the specific incidents and quotations from Wilder. While the director is fascinating and absolutely compelling, it is Calista, as she remembers her past and looks to her future who allowed my thoughts to reach out and settle with new awareness. I really wasn’t expecting the last line, and it landed with exquisite delicacy and made me cry. I have quite fallen in love with Mr Wilder and Me, it sits as both a Liz Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book too. 

Star Books
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/04/2014

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed - within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

eBooks of the Month
The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree

Author: Paola Peretti Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/08/2018

“All children are afraid of the dark,” says ten-year-old Mafalda sagely, and she knows this more than most, for her world is misting over. At some point in the next six months she will lose her sight to Stargardt Disease. Mafalda tries to get on with life but, as the days pass, the mist’s darkness descends ever faster, leaving her increasingly lonely. The novel’s universal, book-for-all-ages power has echoes of The Little Prince. Indeed, de Saint-Exupéry’s classic is referenced here by the inspiring one-of-a kind Estella, a school caretaker Mafalda befriends, who advises her to find her rose, “the thing that’s essential to you”, just like the Little Prince. Mafalda measures her vision in paces from a very special cherry tree. And, movingly, the book’s five parts are headed with titles that point to the deterioration of her sight, starting with Part One Seventy Metres, the distance from which she can see the cherry tree as the novel begins. Estella delivers further vital advice later in the novel: “To live in fear is not to live at all”, and it’s Estella who helps make a truly magical, heart-rending ending. Readers of all ages will be drawn deep into Mafalda’s poignantly pitch-perfect narrative. Younger readers will identity with, for example, how she knows when her parents are discussing something important but can’t quite grasp the meaning, while adult readers will fill in the blanks Mafalda is left puzzling over. Inspired by the author's own experience of Stargardt Disease, this is a dazzlingly tender and timeless tale of love and courage. - Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
The Two of Us

The Two of Us

Author: Andy Jones Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2015

May 2015 Debut of the Month. Eloquently emotional and amusingly witty, this is a beautifully written and utterly compelling relationship tale. It’s easy to find yourself falling in love with this book as you read, the author has the ability to make your heart weep, your thoughts laugh and your soul sing. There are some genuinely funny, sharp and perceptive laugh out loud moments to be had along the way, often alongside or next to the sad, poignant and heartrending. You are encouraged to emotionally connect with Fisher, he feels real, as though you're hearing one of your best friends confide in you. Because it’s Fisher disclosing their story, there is often an enigmatic veil covering Ivy's thoughts and therefore when revealed, her feelings are particularly highlighted and emphasised. There is an abundance of heart and soul emanating from the pages and this wonderfully moving novel is one to cherish. February 2015 eBook of the Month. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Gustav Sonata

The Gustav Sonata

Author: Rose Tremain Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/01/2017

Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016. Profoundly moving tale of love and devotion, told in a steady, lucid style that reverberates with the latent undercurrent of suppressed, unfulfilled longings. Switzerland, 1947, and five-year-old Gustav lives a lonely existence until he befriends Anton Zwiebel, a teary Jewish boy who joins his kindergarten. Gustav feels quite sorry for Anton, whose surname his means “onion”, and whose prodigious talent as a pianist is hampered by an incapacitating fear of public performance. Gustav's defining first visit to the wealthy Zwiebel household is evoked with crystalline intensity. It’s a new world of music, and ice-skating and trips away that couldn’t be more different from the austerity of his own home life. Anton’s mother is spirited, while Gustav’s beloved Mutti is curt and distant, and has brought him up to “master himself”, to be "like Switzerland" (his father, a former Assistant Police Chief, died before Gustav was old enough to remember him). The boys cement their bond during a two-week holiday, when they play doctor and nurse in an abandoned sanatorium, deciding which of their imaginary patients live or die, and enacting the kiss of life. When we meet Gustav in middle age, he's still playing at mastering himself, and overlooked by bitter Anton, while his own heart remains steadfast and true, though it’s still restrained and guarded. Meanwhile, the story of Gustav’s parents set some ten years earlier is hauntingly illuminating; there’s the misfortune that struck their first year of marriage, then the tragedy of how his father's efforts to save Jewish lives led to his own downfall. The perfect conclusion comes not as a crashing crescendo, but as a heartfelt swelling, as satisfying as releasing a gasp after a long-held breath. Truly, this poignant novel casts a long-lingering spell. ~ Joanne Owen The Walter Scott Prize Judges said:‘Set at first in Switzerland as the Second World War swirls around its borders, this novel is simply magnificent, by turns cold and bleak, life-affirming and always very beautifully written. The images in The Gustav Sonata filled my eye, its story captured my heart and it made me marvel at Rose Tremain's remarkable skills.’

eBooks of the Month
Dear Edward

Dear Edward

Author: Ann Napolitano Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2021

An exquisitely written and beautifully emotional novel that will remain in my heart and thoughts. Edward survives a plane crash in which every other person, including his parents and brother, die. As the only survivor he becomes the lodestone for the relatives of the other passengers. Ann Napolitano writes with huge compassion as she explores overwhelming grief, and the tragedy is sensitively and skilfully handled. Knowing what is coming, in no way prepares you for the journey. Two time frames travel together, the first immediately leading up to the crash, the second as Edward learns how to survive the aftermath. Scattered within are smaller, intense, briefly short stories that added to, and intertwined with the overall tale. I was allowed to find my own way, to consider and contemplate as I walked alongside Edward. I felt the most profound heartache and joy as I sank into the lives of the passengers, not only incredibly thoughtful, it is also a thought-provoking read. Dear Edward has been chosen as one of our LoveReading Star Books, it is a must-read and truly deserves to be a huge success. 

Star Books
A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

Author: Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/05/2011

Winner of the Galaxy Children's Book of the Year Award 2011.   May 2011 New Gen Book of the Month. Prize-winning Patrick Ness displays brilliant new skills of sensitivity in this hauntingly touching story of how a boy deals with the looming threat of his mother’s death from cancer. Haunted by a monster in his dreams, denied much information by his family and treated as a weirdo by his class mates and a ‘special case’ by his teachers, Conor struggles to get to grips with the devastating emotions which threaten to overwhelm him.   How he finds the courage and strength to face the end when it happens is both utterly shattering and deeply satisfying. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself.

Maria in the Moon

Maria in the Moon

Author: Louise Beech Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 |  October 2017 Book of the Month A beautiful, and heart-achingly touching read, step outside of yourself, and into Catherine’s world. A world where a slice of Catherine has been missing since she was nine years old. Set after the devastating Hull floods in 2007, a crisis helpline sits at the centre of the story. Catherine was a bewitching, intriguing, puzzle. As her missing memories began to unfurl, the tale weaved through time, unsettling and thoroughly provoking my thoughts. My heart both cried and soared as I read, Louise Beech writes with quiet, subtle, painful beauty. Her ability to create hope in loss, to reach into darkness and find flashes of light is magical. Memorable, sorrowful, fascinating and yet full of love, Maria In the Moon has possessed my thoughts and taken up residence in my soul - highly recommended.  ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Nina is Not Ok

Nina is Not Ok

Author: Shappi Khorsandi Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/07/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. August 2016 Debut of the Month. With a fierce, biting sense of reality, this is a provocative, yet beautifully worthwhile, must read. Nina is 17 years old, her best friend and worst enemy is alcohol, when she forgets one time too many the night before, her life starts to unravel before her eyes. If you're expecting a comical, light, coming of age novel, from comedian Shappi Khorsandi, then brace yourself, this is uncomfortable, and occasionally jaw droppingly shocking stuff. ‘Nina is Not OK’ made me flinch, made me cry, and made me think. Nina tells her own story, it feels as though there’s no filter, she thinks it and she says it, we hear her innermost thoughts and feelings. The voice Shappi Khorsandi gives Nina ensured I fell in love with her, although I positively ached for her, and her journey was at times so very painful to watch, she made me smile, even made me laugh. This is compassionate, beautiful writing at its best, ‘Nina is Not OK’ is an outstanding debut and I really, really do, with all my heart, recommend it. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'When we commissioned Shappi Khorsandi to write a novel we knew it was going to be funny – after all she’s absolutely hilarious. We also knew it was going to be wonderfully written – we’d previously published her lovely childhood memoir, A Beginner's Guide to Acting English. What I hadn’t expected was just how emotionally invested I was going to become in her heroine, Nina.  Nina is Not OK is a big, bold, beautiful novel written with heart, humour and courage. I’m so proud of what Shappi has accomplished with her debut - it’s an important book, dealing as it does with issues such as  teenage self-esteem, alcoholism, consent, victim blaming  and the pressures we put on girls in our society.  But it is Nina who stays with you: Nina who takes you from tears to laughter in a paragraph and who you’ll want to hug/slap/rescue/shout at/be your friend.'Gillian Green, Publishing Director. Ebury Fiction

eBooks of the Month
Ginny Moon

Ginny Moon

Author: Benjamin Ludwig Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/06/2017

June 2017 Debut of the Month. A dazzling debut about a fostered autistic girl’s poignant search for her Forever Home, and her acute need to be needed. Truly a gem that will satiate an abundance of literary tastes, this is surely set to become a must-read sensation. Ginny Moon is almost fourteen, and has autism. After years of neglect and abuse at the hands of her Birth Mother, followed by troubled spells with a succession of foster families, she’s now much more settled with her Forever Parents, Maura, and Brian. But something is playing on Ginny's mind. Really playing on it. Someone needs her, much more than Maura, Brian and new Baby Wendy do, and so Ginny becomes desperate to find her Birth Mother so she can take care of the Baby Doll she left in a suitcase in her mother’s apartment all those years ago. Ginny will do anything to reach her goal - lie, scheme, steal, set up her own kidnapping. There’s tremendous tension, shock, horror and heartache, and you feel desperately for both Ginny and her Forever Parents, to whom the search feels like rejection. Ginny's journey will break your heart, but it will also heal it, for there are many moments of love and kindness along the way, and humour too. Ginny’s Michael Jackson obsession brought many smiles, as did Larry, her adorable classmate and not-so-secret admirer. While Ginny’s worldview is uniquely her own, we can all identify with her deep-rooted desire to be needed. Her unforgettable voice is conjured with tender authenticity, and the shifting, increasingly on-the-edge family dynamics are incisively evoked. This is a wondrous page-turner, with all the appeal of books such as The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time and The Rosie Project.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew

Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew

Author: Susan Fletcher Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2017

This soulful portrait of a woman’s friendship with Van Gogh, imagined from letters exchanged between the artist and his brother, is a richly-rewarding reverie about longing, loneliness and renewing life. Jeanne is an outsider in her Provencal village. She and her husband, Charles, live in the warden’s cottage of a psychiatric hospital, which renders her “too close to lunacy” for the other wives to feel safe, while she also feels invisible to Charles. Jeanne had loved the joy of discovering “new, small pleasures”, but she and Charles have slept apart for twenty years, and life is “ordered, disciplined”. Then a Dutchman arrives, the asylum’s first new patient in years, and Jeanne is immediately drawn to him, to this red-haired artist who is “not like other men”. Disobeying her husband, Jeanne watches Vincent paint, and his presence, his art, his “strong unwashed smell” heighten her restlessness. “Where is my wife?” Charles wonders, noticing a change in Jeanne, and yet there she is, dressed in the dazzling sunshine-yellow dress she last wore in her youth, radiating the promise of being seen anew, and of living life afresh. The descriptions of Van Gogh’s familiar works (“yellow swirled stars...that seem to move above the little sleeping town”), and the Provencal landscape are glorious, while the unsettled landscape of Jeanne’s heart is evoked with affecting poignancy. Truly a novel to pore over and savour. ~ Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

Author: Graham Swift Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/03/2017

Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017. From the jubilant “You shall go to the ball!” of the preface, and the “Once upon a time” opening, this glorious feminist-hued fable tells of a young woman’s transformation from domestic servant to liberated writer. Sunday, 30th March, 1924. It’s Mothering Sunday and, as is customary, book lover Jane Fairchild has been relieved of her housemaid’s duties. But (in true fairy tale fashion), Jane has no mother to visit, and instead jumps at the chance of enjoying an intimate liaison with her lover. Cue much delicious anticipation: “Her heart had soared. Feast your eyes. A story was beginning". By lunchtime, Jane is alone again, but she leaves her lover’s house feeling “a sudden unexpected freedom”. While tragic news is but a blink away, the disrupted chronology of this exquisitely written novel reveals the storyteller’s life that Jane later carves for herself, with only the tale of this momentous Mothering Sunday left untold to her readers.With such an abundance of life, soul, sensuality and style packed into less than 150 pages, I can’t recommend this flawless, life-affirming nugget enough. ~ Joanne Owen The Walter Scott Prize Judges said:‘It is March 30, 1924. Mothering Sunday. The day that servants were allowed to return to their families.  Jane Fairchild is a housemaid and orphan with no prospect of a visit home but she has a rendezvous, nevertheless.  It is that encounter and its consequences that are described in this short novel by Graham Swift. Jane’s life will never be the same as she begins a journey from servitude to independence. It is a perfect and life-affirming novel.’

eBooks of the Month
We Are All Made of Stars

We Are All Made of Stars

Author: Rowan Coleman Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/01/2016

Beautifully thought-provoking and yet simply and effortlessly readable, this is an intimate compassionate dance with life, death and hope. Read the first letter, followed by the prologue and you think you know exactly what this is going to be, a book that makes you cry, however there is so, so much more to be experienced than heartache. The author allows us to see moments in time for four different people, it feels as though she has a deeply affectionate link to all four, all the more so when we see their inner confusion, agitation and pain. The fleeting links become important and create stories within stories. The individual letters, so expressive and eloquent, sad, sometimes funny, create a pause, yet at the same time unify the feel and the emotion of this story. There is an honesty and truth to this tale, it’s captivating and stimulating and thoroughly wonderful. ~ Liz Robinson   Rowan Coleman on the importance of writing letters... 'Writing and receiving handwritten letters has always given me a special thrill, since I was quite young. A teenager in the eighties and nineties, before any one had heard of emails or texts, I always wrote to old school friends to keep in touch, and they always wrote back. Letters would be long-winded, funny, fully illustrated, addressed to made-up names. Then gradually over the years that followed it stopped being necessary to put pen to paper, in almost any form. Now we can say - to a loved one, and old friend, even a celebrity - what ever we want to say, instantly and often, publicly. So I’ve been trying to think about the piece of post that has come through my letterbox that has meant the most to me, and there have been a few really important letters in my life. But I think if I am going to choose a series of letters, that have meant more to me than any, it’s the handwritten letters I received last summer from some of my best friends. I had started 2014 with a plan to write a letter, and post it every week, and it had been going really well. And then in the summer my youngest son was injured, in a deeply traumatic way, that although was not life threatening, shook my family very deeply. My letter writing stalled, and never really found its feet again, but over those difficult, deeply upsetting weeks of summer, I got three letters from dear friends. Friends who knew what our family was dealing with, who knew how hard it had hit me, who knew that I was finding it difficult to find my feet again. Those three letters, each one unique, were little pieces of the people who wrote them, coming through my letterbox to offer me a hand of friendship. And I took enormous comfort in them, because what I learnt, through writing letters myself, and during the writing of ‘WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS’ is that a handwritten letter does something that an email, or a text, or a tweet can’t do. It captures a moment in time, a feeling, a thought and a sentiment and it preserves it, for as long as the letter is preserved. It becomes a lasting token of what would otherwise be fleeting. So I keep those three letters in a special place, with my special things, because it meant so much to me that my friends took the time to think of me, and write those thoughts down.' The hardback was One of our Books of the Year 2015.

eBooks of the Month
This Love

This Love

Author: Dani Atkins Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/03/2017

Winner of the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 How one book can hold such aching heartbreak, beautiful tenderness, and vibrant emotion, I really don’t know. Sophie works from home and keeps her heart hidden, then in one life-changing night she meets Ben. Dani Atkins’s words have the ability to make me truly feel, and I impatiently waited for ‘This Love’ to arrive in the office. Once in my hands I didn't want to let it go, I sank into the story and read in just one sitting. This feels like real life, so authentic, but with an added glow of magic, not a breezy hocus-pocus, but an honest, heartfelt, revealing, soulful magic. Dani Atkins allows snippets of knowledge to fly free, small pieces of the puzzle start to drift together in front of your eyes. I will admit to sobbing my heart out, yet I also smiled, laughed, and was transported by the essence of the story. ‘This Love’ is a truly enchanting read, it captivates, and connects with vibrant intensity to the beauty of life.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Wakenhyrst

Wakenhyrst

Author: Michelle Paver Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/04/2019

Wakenhyrst is a glorious darkly gothic feast of a read, and I really had no option other than to choose it as one of my picks of the month. Folklore and superstition are bound up in the Fens, Maud Steame has grown up there, surrounded by gossip, rumours and terrible secrets, will releasing her story set her free? Michelle Paver excels in quietly setting fear loose and disquiet scurrying free. Simply and beautifully descriptive, words leave the page and settle together to gradually create an entire picture. I found myself hooked, then completely snared as Maud’s life unfolds over 60 years revealing the very essence of her being. I feel deeply connected to Maud, and she continues to exist in my thoughts. Wakenhyrst is a fascinating, deeply emotional, and surprisingly beautiful read, I highly recommend stepping inside and setting your feelings free to explore.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
In Paris With You

In Paris With You

Author: Clementine Beauvais Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/06/2019

Cleverly and playfully-formed, this is a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel of love, heartbreak and second chances. Eugene and Tatiana are 27 and 24. They’re both unsettled by a fortuitous encounter on the Paris Metro ten years after they last met, and the significance of the moment is made potently clear when the omniscient narrator interjects, “Look how shaken they are to see each other again. Look at their eyes”. Throughout, the all-knowing narrator directs readers’ responses in this way, introducing episodes with foreshadowing commentaries that tell us what to watch out for. It’s the narrator who announces “it’s time to go back about ten years into the past, back where it all began.” And so we’re presented with the origin of their connection, when Tatiana was a self-conscious bookish fourteen-year-old, and Eugene was the enigmatic, pessimistic seventeen-year-old friend of her older sister’s boyfriend. The narrative slips between the frisson of their re-acquaintance and the tragedy that struck their teenage years. In some ways, reading this is like observing an intense play. In others, it’s like being granted access to Eugene and Tatiana’s innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires through their impassioned soliloquies. In every way, it’s a unique and emotionally honest portrait of the grip and ache of young love.

Books of the Month
Clap When You Land

Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2020

From the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High comes Elizabeth Acevedo’s exceptional dual-voiced novel about loss, love and sisterhood across the sea, a story partly sparked by the fatal crash of a flight from NYC to Santo Domingo in 2001.   Camino Rios has always lived in the Dominican Republic with her aunt Tia, “a woman who speaks to the dead, who negotiates with spirits”, a woman who’s like a mother to her: “Even when Mama was alive, Tia was the other mother of my heart.” Life’s not easy for them on the island, but they have it better than their neighbours as a result of Camino’s beloved Papi working in the US for most of year. To Camino, Papi is a “A king who built an empire so I’d have a throne to inherit”, and she lives for the summer months when he comes home to them. But all life is thrown into terrible disarray when she goes to meet Papi at the airport and learns that his plane has fallen from the sky, and then: “I am swallowed by this shark-toothed truth.” This story is blessed with such divinely piercing language throughout. At the same time, across the Atlantic, Yahaira Rios learns that her hero Papi has died in a plane crash. She already knew he had a wife on the island (but not of his secret daughter), and has always longed to reconcile her Dominican heritage with her American life: “Can you be from a place you have never been? You can find the island stamped all over me, but what would the island find if I was there? Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?” When it emerges that Papi wishes to be buried back in DR, Yahaira’s Mami insists that she will never let her “touch foot on the sands of that tierra.” But Yahaira has other plans, not least when she’s contacted by a girl named Camino Rios who bears an undeniable resemblance to Papi, and to her too.   As well as being exceptionally affecting on grief, forgiveness and family secrets, Clap When You Land is also devastatingly sharp on the exploitative tendencies of tourism. In Camino’s words: “I am from a playground place…Our land, lush and green, is bought and sold to foreign powers so they can build luxury hotels...Even the women, girls like me, our mothers and tias, our bodies are branded jungle gyms…Who reaps? Who eats? Not us. Not me.” Overflowing with truths of the heart, and truths about inequalities that need to be broken, while also addressing the complexities of what it means to be of a place, I can’t praise this highly enough. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Audiobooks of the Month
Stay With Me

Stay With Me

Author: Ayobami Adebayo Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/03/2017

Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2017. A surprising, emotional, and courageous novel, one where the words and feelings gradually unwind from the page and take up residence in your mind. Set in Nigeria during the 1980s, this is a story that at first feels like a window into another world, yet one that is somehow recognisable, as feelings are translatable, wherever they may be felt. Yejide desperately wants a child, her entire world collapses when her in-laws insist on her husband Akin marrying a new wife, in order to bear him children. We see the couple, feel their thoughts, the hurt and sorrow on both sides. I couldn't stop reading, yet the rawness, the pain was in every turn of the page. Unexpected revelations smacked into my awareness, turned my thoughts, captivated me further. Ayobami Adebayo, in her debut novel, writes with a clear and simple intensity. ’Stay With Me’ is utterly compelling, provocative, and a truly beautiful read. ~ Liz Robinson March 2017 Debut of the Month. Click here to read Ayobami Adebayo discuss her debut novel Stay with Me. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month
Every Note Played

Every Note Played

Author: Lisa Genova Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/04/2018

An emotional, touching and provocative novel highlighting the effects and impact of motor neurone disease. Concert pianist Richard is diagnosed with ALS (motor neurone disease), the progressive paralysis begins with his right hand, no longer able to work, unable to use his arms, his condition quickly deteriorates, and his ex-wife Karina and estranged daughter Grace find themselves stepping back into the picture. Lisa Genova writes with incredible sensitivity, the words can be factual, blunt, yet the almost diary like feel allows the feelings to take centre stage. Focusing on Richard and Karina, on living with dying, memories, triumphs and regrets scatter the pages. Both have cause for remorse, both display unlikeable attributes, and yet, and yet…  This isn’t a fairytale, I knew there wasn’t going to be a happy ending, yet I was surprised at the amount of love and hope between the pages. ‘Every Note Played’ is powerful, stark, and strangely beautiful, I truly loved it ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
The Other Half of Augusta Hope

The Other Half of Augusta Hope

Author: Joanna Glen Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/12/2019

A different, emotionally beautiful and rewarding debut about love, hope, and all the strange little things that come together to make up a family. Augusta and Parfait, born on different continents into different worlds, both want to leave everything behind but does that ever solve anything? What a first sentence! Those few words stayed with me throughout the entire book, sitting, waiting, every now and then tapping me on the shoulder to say hello. I so love how this story unfolds, two separate tales, are they on a collision course or destined to remain forever apart? Joanna Glen has set intricate strands from the past coiling and twisting together through to the present to create a feeling of tension and mystery. While undeniably and wonderfully quirky, there is a real sense of warmth here, even when your heart may feel as though it is about to crack in two. As I read I found myself filling up with love for The Other Half of Augusta Hope. It has been chosen as a Debut of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book too, as it really is that gorgeous! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
While Paris Slept

While Paris Slept

Author: Ruth Druart Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/03/2021

A truly beautiful and powerful debut, it is haunted with exquisite emotion, but that emotion comes with an uplifting feeling of hope. Towards the end of the Second World War two people meet on a platform next to a train bound for Auschwitz, the exchange that takes place between them will have a bearing on their lives forever more. I entered this novel thinking I knew what to expect, I left having experienced an entirely unexpected read. Set in several time frames, While Paris Slept opens a sequence of doors as new aspects of the story emerge and converge. Each chapter is headed by one of the characters. Ruth Druart uses different points of view to great effect, ensuring each chapter took hold of my thoughts and retained my focus. I invested in each of the characters, the empathy on display here left the page and entered my heart. I would describe this as a positively emotional read, yes it features man’s inhumanity to man, but the intimacy of this particular story lies in a different direction. While Paris Slept is an intriguing, compelling story full of love and hope. It enters our LoveReading Star Books and comes with a highly recommended seal of approval. 

Star Books
Montpelier Parade

Montpelier Parade

Author: Karl Geary Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/01/2017

Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards 2017, First Novel Award Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. A deeply affecting debut about limitations and longing, lust and devotion between a working class boy and an enigmatic older woman.Dubliner Sonny first meets Vera while he’s helping his labourer dad work at her well-to-do Montpelier Parade house. He’s a directionless working class boy who thieves, fights and doesn’t fit in. His dad is a gambler and his mum works hard to keep their family afloat. Vera is beautiful, richer, older and English, and has no family, as far as Sonny is aware. A second chance encounter further arouses his fascination, and then she turns up at the butcher’s he works in and offers him odd job work. When Vera collapses, Sonny is the only one there to come to her rescue, while she, in turn, opens his eyes and heart to a hitherto hidden world of literature and art. Until meeting Vera, he “never had a book”, since “books were not meant for boys who cut meat”. Their relationship is evoked with sharp intensity, and a cutting awareness that this is transitory for them both. “I think years from now you’ll understand this and hate me for it”, Vera remarks as they lie in bed. The uncommon use of a second person narrative has a mesmerising and intensifying effect. Throughout we listen in on Sonny addressing himself; lonely, drifting, struggling, with an especially moving epiphany coming when he feels “sudden emotion” for his mother and plans to buy her “something nice”. This is a tender, tense coming-of-age story, with a masterfully executed denouement. ~ Joanne Owen The Costa Judges say: ‘A beautifully-written story about the pain and wonder of love found in unexpected places.’

eBooks of the Month
Dragonfly Eyes

Dragonfly Eyes

Author: Cao Wenxuan Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Taking in five decades, three generations and the tender love between a girl and her grandmother, Dragonfly Eyes is an exquisitely-written novel set against a backdrop of unrest and change in 1960s Shanghai. With celebrated Chinese author Cao Wenxuan at the helm, readers are taken on an enthralling journey from a Golden Age in 1920s France, to poverty in post-war Shanghai, to rural Cultural Revolution China, in the beguiling company of Ah Mei and her French grandmother, Nainai.

Star Books
How Not to Disappear

How Not to Disappear

Author: Clare Furniss Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/07/2016

August 2016 NewGen Book of the Month. Hattie’s life changes forever when she meets the great aunt she never knew she had. Gloria by name, and glorious by nature, this headstrong former actress, who likes a gin sling (or three), is in the early stages of dementia. “Memories are what make us who we are,” Gloria remarks. “Without them we are nobody,” and so she and Hattie embark on an emotional road-trip, retracing significant paths from Gloria’s past. While Gloria battles memory loss and the turmoil that comes from disturbing one’s ghosts, Hattie has her own problems. She’s pregnant by her close friend Reuben. She hasn’t told him, and he’s just got together with a new “hot” French girlfriend… As Gloria relives and reveals the heartache around own experience of motherhood, there’s a strong sense of time running out for them both. Gloria doesn’t know how long she’ll have her memories, while Hattie has to make a decision about her pregnancy. “You can't be scared of regret,” Gloria advises. “All you can do is make the choice that seems right at the time." And that’s what Hattie does, as Gloria did before her.This is a beautiful, bittersweet story about family bonds, the cycle of life and love in all its forms. ~ Joanne Owen   Publisher Passion Piece: Non Pratt's Trouble meets Thelma and Louise with a touch of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Clare Furniss' remarkable How Not To Disappear is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and break your heart.  

Books of the Month
Unsettled Ground

Unsettled Ground

Author: Claire Fuller Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/03/2021

Our April 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. With love and family sitting centre stage, this is an emotionally intelligent and beautiful novel. Reclusive 51 year old twins Jeanie and Julius find their lives in disarray when their mother dies and secrets spill forth. At LoveReading we have adored Claire Fuller’s novels since her debut Our Endless Numbered Days which won the Desmond Elliott Prize in 2015. I love her writing style, she has the ability to take you to known yet entirely unexpected places within the human soul and your own subconscious. Her descriptions almost hurt as they land with apparently effortless precision. This has a seemingly simple premise, yet it thoroughly provokes thoughts and contemplation. The words danced from the pages into my mind, and pieces of my heart cracked and broke away. A wonderful balance is maintained as hope is allowed to remain within touching distance. These are characters that will stay with me, this is a story that I will return to. Unsettled Ground evokes raw emotions and yet it is a thoughtfully compassionate and gorgeous read. Highly recommended and a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
The Museum of Broken Promises

The Museum of Broken Promises

Author: Elizabeth Buchan Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2020

A beautifully engaging novel that both broke and truly captured my heart. We travel with Laure through three time frames, from Prague of 1986, through to Paris of today. She finds love, and founds a museum based on promises broken, discarded, forgotten. Elizabeth Buchan writes with such eloquence, compassion and meaning. I felt, really felt the history and heartache. The past and the present somehow balance, as they move backwards and forwards slowly cutting snippets of information free. I fully existed in each moment, almost forgetting another point existed until I found myself there and became immersed once more. I really cared about the characters, including the museum, the idea is captivating, and so completely believable I feel as though I should be able to walk through its doors. The Museum of Broken Promises is for a me a must-read, I’ve chosen it as one of our star books, it is quite simply, glorious. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Museum of Broken Promises.

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Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie

Author: Joanna Cannon Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/01/2018

January 2018 Book of the Month Abundant in moving insights into identity and memory, this charming slice of humanity is as elegantly formed and sweetly satisfying as the Battenberg cake depicted on its cover. Eighty-four-year-old Florence (Flo to her best friend Elsie) has fallen in her flat and, as she awaits help, wondering whether she’s “reached the end of her story”, her musings reveal a long-buried secret. “Everyone’s life has a secret, something they never talk about,” she remarks. “It’s what you do with your secret that really matters”, and what Elsie does with hers is determined by the unlikely reappearance of a man from her and Elsie’s past. Florence’s reflections on she how hasn’t done enough with her life, how life takes you down paths you hadn’t intended to wander, are wholly heartrending. She wanted to be a scientist, to devise a world-changing invention, but instead she and Elsie ended up in a factory for the entirety of their working lives. While there’s loss and sadness as the twisting tale unfolds, this is also a tonic for the soul - upliftingly wistful, poignantly funny, and the relationship between Flo and Elsie is wonderful. At once a bittersweet ode to the elderly and the passing of time, and a compelling mystery, this proves that sometimes it’s entirely appropriate to judge a book by its cover. I adored it.  

eBooks of the Month
Ithaca

Ithaca

Author: Alan McMonagle Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/03/2017

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. Provocative, sharply witty and rather beautiful, Ithaca is a breathtaking read. 11 year old Jason, full of attitude and bravado seeks to escape the here and now of the world around him. The first sentence, paragraph, then chapter, roared into my mind, Jason tells his own story, his personality doesn't just light up the page, it sets fire to it. All of the characters teeter on the edge of being larger than life, Alan McMonagle fills them full of vivid colour, and zips the bulging seams tight. Words ganged up into one  swaggering rioting mass and assaulted my senses. While laughing my soul weeped, while sitting in shock my fist pumped the air, I wanted to hug Jason tight, and as a piece of my heart broke apart, I handed it to him. ‘Ithaca’ filled me full of contrary feelings then gave them a good shake, what a wonderful, heart-breaking, mesmerising read this is. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
One Would Think the Deep

One Would Think the Deep

Author: Claire Zorn Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/08/2018

A deeply emotional, dramatic, and refreshingly original story for young (or older) adults, set in the late 1990’s in Australia. Teenager Sam’s mother dies in his arms on New Year’s Eve, mourning and traumatised, he moves in with his estranged Aunt and cousins, and his life is forever altered. The first chapter simply and vividly set the scene, I could look around me, almost touch, smell, hear my surroundings. Claire Zorn writes with eloquent empathy, yet doesn’t hide from heartache. As I read I could see Sam’s pain as a stinging physical entity. I found myself completely immersed in the story, the words caught hold of me, picked me up and ran. Sam’s raw emotions scorch the pages, he is the focus, yet the surrounding characters are fascinating in their own right. I adored the ending, where it left me, how it left me feeling. At times hope seems so very far away, yet it is very much a part of this story. ’One Would Think The Deep’ is a beautifully written tale, tender yet penetrating and powerful, it offered itself to me and let me sink into its depths.

Books of the Month
Toffee

Toffee

Author: Sarah Crossan Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/05/2019

Another insightful and compassionate free verse novel from the queen of this increasingly admired form, this time exploring the transformative relationship between an abused runaway teenager and an elderly lady with dementia. Allison has grown up “stepping on eggshells” to circumvent her father’s violence. While she often wonders whether his behaviour was “all my fault”, one of his outbursts compels her to run away. With nowhere to go, she finds sanctuary in the house of an elderly woman called Marla. Marla has dementia and thinks Allison is Toffee, her best friend from childhood. After spending some time in Marla’s company, Allison decides to “stop correcting her… I like the idea of being sweet and hard, a girl with a name for people to chew on.” Moreover, in meeting Marla, Allison has found an unlikely kindred spirit: “I am not who I say I am. Marla isn’t who she thinks she is… Here, in this house, I am so much happier than I have ever been”. Returning the favour, Allison enriches Marla’s life – she listens, she indulges Marla’s desire to dance - while Marla’s carer and son show no real regard for her happiness, as if she’s beyond life, which makes Allison’s attentiveness all the more heart warming. Both vulnerable, they find strength through each other. With incredibly moving insight, Marla says of Allison’s dad, “none of it was about you. It was about him. It’s always about him. Surely you know that.” The writing is compellingly fluid, flowing freely between Allison’s precarious present and the tragic, abusive circumstances that sent her careering down this path. While fleeting, the impact of their time together is monumental, and I felt privileged to have spent time in their company.

Books of the Month
Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter

Author: Gary D. Schmidt Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/03/2017

Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award  Before meeting his new foster brother, Jack understands what he and his family are ‘getting into’. Fourteen-year-old Joseph almost killed a teacher, and he has a three-month-old daughter, Jupiter, whom he’s never seen. But from the outset, when Joseph storms off the school bus and Jack joins him on the freezing two mile walk, we know he’s found a friend and ally. We know Jack ‘has his back’. At first Joseph won’t be touched, barely speaks and is nervous of milking the cows on Jack’s farm but, as Jack comments, “you can tell all you need to know about someone from the way cows are around him”, and the cows love Joseph. Slowly-slowly, Joseph opens up and begins to smile - Jack counts each one of them – but he’s haunted by memories of the girl he loved, Jupiter’s mother, and by her tragic death. Joseph can’t get Jupiter out of his mind either, and so his nightly sky-search for her planetary namesake becomes a heartrending real-world search; he has to find his baby daughter. While further loss lies ahead, this is, ultimately, a remarkable read-in-one-sitting story of friendship, love and the glow of hope that comes from second chances and new life. Joseph’s tragic tale will break your heart, but the tenderness that flows from this flawlessly compact novel will also piece it back together. ~ Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Author: Julie Israel Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2017

June 2017 Debut of the Month  | In a Nutshell: Love, loss, friendship and secrets A tear-jerking, soul-stirring, heart-warming debut about losing a sister, and the ensuing aftermath of grief and mystery. Sixty-five days have passed since Juniper’s effervescent big sister, Camilla, was killed in a car crash on their way home from a party. Since that devastating event, she’s been holding herself together by rating each day on cards in her Happiness Index. No wonder then, that losing one of the cards throws Juniper into further turmoil, especially when this particular card reveals a secret she’d rather no one knew. While frantically searching for the missing card - befriending bad-boy Brad as she does so - Juniper is also determined to discover the identity of her sister’s secret love. The mystery surrounding Juniper’s missing card untangles compellingly, as do the personal revelations (sometimes hard-coated bad boys have the softest of centres). While the novel doesn’t shirk from showing the shattering effects of loss, Juniper’s desire to help others, her zesty, sardonic outlook, and the friendships she forms, are hugely uplifting. The characters feel poignantly true-to-life, making this a richly rewarding must-read for fans of Jandy Nelson and aficionados of authentically-voiced contemporary YA. ~ Joanne Owen

The Enchanted

The Enchanted

Author: Rene Denfeld Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/03/2014

One of the Top 10 books in the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014. One of our Books of the Year 2014. Once you start, you will find it difficult to put down this compelling and totally captivating novel, so set aside some quality time and take a step into the unknown. The story is understated, yet builds powerfully, drawing you deeper into the dungeon of lost dreams, where there is just the slightest, meagre window of hope. The central characters are all damaged in some way, although many sit on opposite sides of the barbed wire fence. The connections and contrasts throughout the novel should fight against each other and yet with great sensitivity, the author balances this knotty tightrope of challenging emotions.  The Enchanted is a heart-rending and harrowing novel, written with great compassion.  The authors career working with death row clients prowls in the back of your mind.  While you may suspect the ending, it is so shockingly intimate and arresting, it touches deep inside and leaves you feeling raw, battered and somehow, full of hope.Let yourself be taken by the hand by the narrator (yes, a monster) and observe with fresh eyes, our world, by one condemned to die. ~ Liz Robinson   March 2014 Debut of the Month.  

eBooks of the Month
We Begin at the End

We Begin at the End

Author: Chris Whitaker Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/08/2020

Achingly painful and stunningly beautiful, be prepared to fall long and hard for We Begin at the End. This is a crime novel that will stay with me, and is now firmly ensconced on my list of favourite books. Duchess, full of awareness of the difficulties of life at just 13 years old, throws her family’s life into chaos when Vincent King is released from prison after 30 years. The first few sentences caught and held me, the prologue sets a shiver inducing scene. By the time the first chapter began I was already in thrall to Chris Whitaker’s writing. I felt, really felt the pain, the love, the joy, the desolation, each feeling clamouring to have its say. Duchess has stamped her way into my mind and will remain there, occasionally elbowing my attention into remembering. I adore her, she feels vibrantly alive to me. The ending felt truly perfect, and not that I would deface a book of course, but imagine ‘Highly Recommended’ stamped all over We Begin at the End. We have chosen this as a Book of the Month, Liz Pick of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book too, because it is so completely gorgeous. I’m just sad that I don’t have the opportunity to experience it again for the very first time.

Star Books
The Illustrated Child

The Illustrated Child

Author: Polly Crosby Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/10/2020

Our November 2020 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. A powerful, provocative, and darkly stunning debut. This is a book that tore my heart into pieces while simultaneously showing me the wonder of love and imagination. Romilly’s childhood is one of fame and isolation when her father includes her as the main character in his books for children. While the world believes that the books lead you on a treasure hunt, a more private and heartbreaking journey awaits Romilly. This isn’t an easy read, but it is a beautiful one. Polly Crosby somehow balances some incredibly difficult issues with a sense of wonder, she really does have the most eloquent pen. The prologue has huge impact, sweet, sharp, and bitter notes struck my awareness, and I reread the words before allowing them full access into my thoughts. I initially felt as though I was stepping into a half remembered mysterious photograph. As bites of reality began to appear, they caused a mental and physical ache for all that was lost and uneasy. As the ending settled and I sat back and contemplated, I concluded that it was the most pure and perfect conclusion. Romilly is so special, she has taken up residence inside my thoughts, and she is more than welcome to spend time there. The Illustrated Child is a vibrantly unique and thought-provoking read, it has been included as one of our LoveReading Star Books, and will sit as one of my favourite novels of the year.

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