60 + Novels Highlighting Empathy and Compassion - for National Empathy Day 9 June

Empathy Day on June 9 is organised by Empathy Lab, a not-for-profit organisation, and a : 'powerful book-based empathy movement” seeking to "inspire children and young people to learn more about empathy, have transformational experiences through stories and put empathy into action!”

We are supporting Empathy Day by focusing on novels for adults where empathy can be felt on many levels. I’ve chosen a wide range of novels here. It could be that the book is full of feel-good emotions and empathy soaks through the very pages into your thoughts. It may be that heartbreak or distressing subjects can be found, but that the author deals with them in the most compassionate way possible. Or it could even be that the book is written in such a way as to evoke empathy and compassion in you as a reader. So from reading the synopsis of a few of these novels, it’s not necessarily immediately obvious as to why they are included on the list, but by immersing yourself in the story you can feel that the author cares, really cares about their subject matter. And so you’ll find thrillers, crime, family drama, and historical fiction, as well as romance, humour, and uplifting novels. Empathy, the most beautiful of responses, can be found in all of these books, even if it sometimes lies hidden, waiting to be discovered.

The Reading List

The Reading List

Author: Sara Nisha Adams Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/07/2022

When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey. From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds - just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home. And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two. Inspiring and heartwarming, The Reading List is a love letter to storytelling - its power to transport us, connect us, and remind us that a new beginning is only a page away... 

eBooks of the Month
Em & Me

Em & Me

Author: Beth Morrey Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Beautifully glorious, this book danced into my heart and soul and I want to dangle from the rooftops to shout about it. Since Em was born Delphine has spent her time as a single mum protecting her daughter and a secret, as she begins to taste the joy of life, her past starts to unravel. This compassionate, generous, and heart-warming novel about being brave and second chances deserves to be a huge hit. I adored Beth Morrey’s debut, the LoveReading Star Book, Saving Missy, and Beth’s unique touch is just as evident in Em & Me. She has the ability to take your thoughts into unexplored places yet plant the story in vibrantly authentic circumstances. She also develops the most charmingly relatable characters, they become known, cared for, a part of you. The plot weaves and flows through good and dark times with eloquence and empathy. I stepped into this book with trust, and came out with my heart full of warmth and emotion. Yes, I know I’m being rather gushy, but I seriously love this book! A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, the wonderful Em & Me is delightfully rewarding novel I’ll be recommending far and wide. The LoveReading LitFest invited Beth Morrey to the festival to talk about Em & Me. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. And see why you'll love Beth and this book as much as us!

Books of the Month
Razorblade Tears

Razorblade Tears

Author: S. A. Cosby Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Hitting with hammer hard precision, thrilling storytelling is balanced with pointed social commentary in this fabulous novel set in the USA. Two fathers, both ex-cons, seek revenge for the murder of their sons. One of my favourite books from last year was S. A. Cosby’s debut Blacktop Wasteland which I read for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award judging, it spoke to us all and was a highly commended shortlisted title. So I came to this, his second book, with a huge sense of anticipation. The writing style is passionately and fiercely bold yet holds moments of quiet gentleness and real compassion. The characters rumble with authenticity and charged with emotion, I could see, hear, touch them. Delivering an all-consuming blast of violence, raw grief, and blistering regret, I was taken to an unknown place which made me feel the social issues on offer. The plot screams, really screams at the top of its voice as it races along and as with his first book I was left feeling stunned and emotionally drained after I had finished. This is a writer who is able to touch hearts and minds, all while offering an immensely entertaining read. Razorblade Tears is a provocative, powerful, beautiful novel that is both a LoveReading Star Book, and a Liz Pick of the Month.

Star Books
This is How we are Human

This is How we are Human

Author: Louise Beech Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

A beautifully poignant, thought-provoking and special novel that really does travel to the heart of what it is to be human. 20 year old Sebastian knows exactly what he wants, his hormones are raging and he is desperate for sex however his autism limits his ability to meet girls. When Sebastian’s mother Veronica contacts escort Violetta, the lives of all three change forever. The novel focuses on the three main characters, each is vividly realised and I positively ached for and adored all three. Their individual stories weave through and under and around each other, the short chapters tying them together, creating one whole tale. Louise Beech often crosses genres in her novels, and has explored crime through to relationship stories. Her particular skill, on display in all of her novels, is allowing us to connect and sink in to what it means to be human, she takes us below the surface, below the obvious, and allows us to explore. My emotions sang throughout this novel, I balanced the exquisite tightrope that swings from the pages, stepped out, and fell in love with the words, the feelings they evoked. The title is absolutely perfect, and when I had finished, I just sat pondering its meaning. The Author’s Note at the end shows just how connected Louise is to this story, how she was inspired by her experience of autism as ‘an outsider’ and she also talks about #OwnVoices. This is How we are Human is bold and provocative, thoughtful and warmhearted, and I declare it is completely gorgeous!

Star Books
Lives Like Mine

Lives Like Mine

Author: Eva Verde Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

I’m thrilled to introduce you to the most thought-provoking and intoxicating debut novel. Constantly ambushed by prejudiced in-laws and estranged from her own parents, Monica struggles to play happy families. Her loving husband fails to challenge his racist family, however a chance meeting on a school outing brings Joe into her life. The style of writing conjures a conversation, Monica pours out feelings, occasionally fractured but flowing into your own thoughts. Spaces lurk, they caught me unaware, and I stumbled before I settled in and started to feel at home. This novel really spoke to me, it slowly gathered me up, allowing me to get to know Monica at her pace, and she is the most fascinating, flawed, yet beautiful character. I felt as though she was speaking directly to me, trusting me with her honesty. Eva Verde has the most compassionate yet bold writing style, there is a subtlety at play even when the words gang up and get punchy. I flinched, laughed, raged, ached, as emotions hurled and curled themselves around me. I have given Monica a piece of my heart, her authenticity shines, as does this fiery, powerful story. Lives Like Mine, a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, is hand on heart gorgeous and I proclaim it a must-read.

Debut Books of the Month
The House of Ashes

The House of Ashes

Author: Stuart Neville Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Compelling, compassionate, yet deeply unnerving and dark, this is a novel that will delve into and haunt your thoughts as you’re reading it. Mary knocks at the door to Sara’s new home claiming it’s hers and demanding to know what she has done with the children. As Sara begins to investigate, she opens up a chilling and shocking window to the past. Stuart Neville writes with huge empathy, yet he doesn’t hold back, and I felt a shiver of dread as I began to read. Featuring the two women in the tale, two time frames vibrate with tension. Their voices are as individually distinctive as can be, yet there are aspects within the two stories that mirror the other. The sense of place is piercing, with the house featuring as a third main character. A supernatural element hides in the shadows, it brushed against my awareness then kept me company, blending with the entirely realistic and harrowing story, heightening emotions and keeping nerves taut as can be. I found myself wincing with regret and anguish while hopeful for the present, and the writing ensures this balance is encouraged and maintained with care and attention. I felt, really felt the ending as it resonated within my heart and soul and I sat a while, contemplating. While The House of Ashes is a formidable and provocative read, a contemplative beauty can be found within the pages and I’ve chosen this stunner as a Liz Pick of the Month.  

Star Books
The Woman Who Took a Chance

The Woman Who Took a Chance

Author: Fiona Gibson Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

Light and bright yet tackling difficult subjects with compassion, this is a ray of reading sunshine. 50 years old and single, flight attendant Jen dips her toe in on-line dating waters in an attempt to find a partner after she wins an exclusive romantic holiday. It’s always rather fabulous when menopausal women star in the leading role, the sense of affinity, the smirk of recognition! Fiona Gibson creates layers of fun, warmth, empathy, tenderness, and affection as she builds the tale around the rather wonderful Jen. Anyone who has ever tried on-line dating will smile and even wince in sympathy as she learns to navigate that very peculiar world! Friendship is the major theme on offer here, proper loving, supportive, heartfelt friendship, and it’s rather lovely to feel as though you are being welcomed in to that special group as your read. I particularly enjoyed the fact that this story didn’t have a foregone conclusion, I was kept guessing until I settled into the ending with a feeling of satisfaction. Amusing, thoughtful, and uplifting, The Woman Who Took a Chance is heart-warming delight and Liz Pick of the Month.  

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Theatre of Marvels

Theatre of Marvels

Author: Lianne Dillsworth Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

This magical debut set in Victorian London is bold and profound yet somehow uncomplicated as it lays out a mosaic of vibrant themes and characters for your reading pleasure. Star theatre performer Zillah has climbed out of the slums, so while uncomfortable with the part she performs, she does what it takes to remain the headline act until one day she is faced with a life-altering and dangerous decision. Zillah tells her own story, I immediately heard her voice, so vibrant and alive. Lianne Dillsworth ensures all of the characters have an individual vital energy, they can be seen, felt, sensed. While the era throws itself around you and immerses you in all things Victorian, it feels as though the human responses are timeless. That feeling echoes through the plot as Zillah’s mixed heritage, and the fact that she was born free in London, marks her as different. All of humanities character traits are on offer from greed, selfishness, ignorance and indifference through to empathy, kindness, and courage. The mystery aspect of the plot was thrilling, yet it was Zillah’s personal journey that will stay with me and that is why I’ve chosen this novel as a Liz Pick of the Month. Vivacious, provocative, and compelling, Theatre of Marvels comes with a standing ovation stamp of approval from me.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Lying Beside You

Lying Beside You

Author: Michael Robotham Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

Powerful and addictive reading heaven. Cyrus is called in to help investigate the case of a missing woman while preparing for the release of his brother from a secure psychiatric hospital. If you haven’t yet met Cyrus and Evie then I would advise starting with the first in the Cyrus Haven series Good Girl, Bad Girl, which I absolutely adored and was chosen as the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger winner for 2020. We are now at book three, and I have camped out for each new addition. I read Lying Beside You in one absolutely thrilling sitting, I was as hooked as a hooked thing can be. Cyrus and Evie are equally fascinating, the separate traumas from their childhoods create an invisible thread that ties them together. The calm and the storm that they individually offer shapes an unforgettable pairing that is one of my favourites in the book world. Michael Robotham knows how to capture and hold the readers interest as Cyrus and Evie tell their own stories in alternating short sharp shocks of chapters. The other characters feel fully fleshed even if only on the page for a short time and oh, how I absolutely loved the addition of Elias to the tale, someone who has been a shadowy figure until now. The pace of the plot is brilliantly handled, and while I wanted to gallop through as quickly as I could, there are undercurrents of empathy and compassion that hold you to the here and now. Lying Beside You is just as good, just as compelling and ferociously readable as the first two in the series, and joins them as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Author: Emily Austin Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/06/2022

Meet Gilda. She cannot stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her anxious mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church and finds herself abruptly hired to replace the deceased receptionist Grace. It's not the most obvious job - she's queer and an atheist for starters - and so in between trying to learn mass, hiding her new maybe-girlfriend and conducting an amateur investigation into Grace's death, Gilda must avoid revealing the truth of her mortifying existence. A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration - and the expiration of those you love - is the only certainty.

eBooks of the Month
Reasons To Go Outside

Reasons To Go Outside

Author: Esme King Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/05/2022

If you are in need of a comforting slice of feel-good then I can recommend this absolutely charming debut with my heart and soul. Pearl has crippling agoraphobia and hasn’t stepped outside her Dartmoor home in 43 years, Connor has been trapped within his father’s expectations since his mother died, while in London Nate is just as lonely as can be. The prologue creates intrigue by offering the suggestion of a traumatic event, one that will sit in the background throughout the book. While the unknown incident hovers, soothing humour, true empathy, and heartwarming affection surrounded me as I sank into the story. Author Esme King allows time to weave gently to and fro, gradually revealing information, encouraging understanding to grow. The featuring of two locations, Dartmoor and London, creates an initial distance and separation between the two threads of the story, yet the flowering of friendships sits as a central linking theme. One of the highlights for me in this novel is the successful and rewarding friendships that begin to develop between characters from different generations. The characters became known, loved, even cherished as I read, oh, and the crows, I adored the crows! After I reached the satisfying end I just had to include this lovely novel as a Liz Pick of the Month. So gentle and compassionate as it welcomes courage and love, Reasons to Go Outside is an engaging and wonderfully rewarding read.

Star Books
One Good Thing

One Good Thing

Author: Alexandra Potter Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Discover a hugely squishy, compassionate, and affectionate hug in book form. After her divorce, Liv leaves London behind for the Yorkshire Dales and discovers new beginnings aren’t that easy to find. While main character Liv narrates her own story, we also enter the lives of other characters from across the generations, and in dog form. Their stories surround Liv and as friendships begin to blossom, I fell in love with all of them (particularly Harry who rather steals the show!). Life in all its impossible, heart-breaking, fabulous glory sweeps across the pages, and took me with it. I love how Alexandra Potter balances different themes, characters, and the plot. You’ll greet dementia, grief, aging, teenage angst, fear, courage, friendship, autism, and love. I laughed, cried, raised my eyebrows, kept my fingers crossed, and basically felt as though I was a part of this little gang. For the feel-good factor alone I would have chosen this novel as a Liz Pick of the Month, but there’s more than that to discover within the pages. With oodles of warmth and charm One Good Thing is a lovely, thoughtful, and rewarding read.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Woman of a Certain Rage

Woman of a Certain Rage

Author: Georgie Hall Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/07/2021

The most wonderful, funny, and engaging novel, Woman of a Certain Rage simply danced into my hands and I read with true glee. Eliza has hit middle age and the menopause, as she navigates all that her hormones throw at her, can she rediscover the joys of her youth? I wanted to wriggle with excitement when I heard that this was Fiona Walker taking a writing step in a new direction as Georgie Hall. I completely understand why she is using a different name, as she says on her site: “I don’t want to mislead readers into expecting a big-cast Walker romp”. I genuinely feel as though I have been waiting for this novel, she takes the menopause years and runs with it, with laughter, warmth, and most of all empathy. She explores family life with teens and parents while maintaining a career, a relationship and home-life while the menopause is on the rampage. She made me snort with laughter on a number of occasions, and I frequently exclaimed as I recognised and related with different scenarios. While the midlife years and all the trials and tribulations that come with it sit centre stage, this is a book that can be read right through the age groups. All hail Georgie Hall as she uncovers the menopause with wit and honesty, excuse me while I find a few rooftops to camp out and shout from. Beautifully readable and laugh-out-loud funny, Woman of a Certain Rage is a LoveReading Star Book with attitude.

Star Books
Good Intentions

Good Intentions

Author: Kasim Ali Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Hugest of huge recommendations from me for this bold, provocative, compassionate and thoughtful, yet real as heck debut novel. I adored the characters, plot, and writing, Kasim Ali is an author to watch. After falling in love Nur is welcomed into Yasmina's family, but after four years he can’t bring himself to tell his own that he’s even got a girlfriend let alone living with Yasmina. Love, it should be simple, but with outside influences so often isn’t. Kasim Ali zigzags through the years of the relationship, allowing you to see ahead of time, to feel the weight of the decisions taken. As the little pops of understanding were released Nur, Yasmina, and their friends and family slipped into my heart. The characters are finely drawn, the flaws, the imperfections all add credibility. This is just so easy to read, yet the bittersweet plot ensures a level of tension remains throughout. I cared so much for these characters I was genuinely fearful of what was to come. I thought the ending was perfect in every way, standing ovation time for Kasim Ali. Wonderfully stimulating yet subtly thought-provoking Good Intentions emotionally connects with heart and mind. I’ve chosen this absorbing and rewarding read as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month. 

Star Books
The Hidden Child

The Hidden Child

Author: Louise Fein Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Thought-provoking, challenging, and hugely compassionate, this historical family drama pierces emotions as it combines fact and fiction. Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have a bright future in the eugenics movement, however their world begins to crumble when their daughter is diagnosed with epilepsy. Author Louise Fein takes a difficult subject and creates a world that feels all too real. The eugenics movement, which was widespread in the UK and US before it moved to Nazi Germany is difficult to fully process. The thoughts of the time seem so very distant, and yet look around today and more than echoes remain which ensures this is a riveting yet disturbing theme. The personification of epilepsy as it travels alongside the family is interesting and creates an intimacy. The main characters feel incredibly authentic, they couldn’t be anything other than flawed, yet the writing is such that you can still connect with them. The inclusion of real characters alongside what has obviously been meticulous research ensures this novel creates an unsettling edge, and yet hope blossoms. The fascinating Author’s Note brings even more understanding. The Hidden Child is a touching and powerfully compelling story as it explores a time in history that should never be forgotten. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Author: Marianne Cronin Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/12/2021

The One Hundred years of Lenni and Margot is so special, it’s gentle yet pointed and warmly amusing as it highlights life within sight and touching distance of death. To celebrate their joint 100 years, 17 year-old Lenni and 83 year-old Margot paint their life stories while in hospital. Singing of friendship, love, and family, we discover how they can all be found in the most unexpected of places. This is Marianne Cronin’s debut novel, and I’ve added her to my list of authors to look out for. While Lenni and Margot are the stars, the other characters add essential energy. She brings these characters to vibrant life with a few perfectly chosen words. The smallest of details matter, in fact are vital. This book is so visual, slipping backwards and forwards in time, snapshots of the years appeared like magic to paint their own picture in my mind. The pages dance with joy and hope, while being realistic about death. I laughed and I cried, yes this novel is emotional, yet it also delivers the most heart-warming hug too. A well-deserved LoveReading Star Book, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot comes with a 'must-read' label of recommendation from me.

Star Books
One Split Second

One Split Second

Author: Caroline Bond Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Emotionally haunting, dramatic and provocative, yet ultimately this is a novel full of hope. On the day the car collides with a wall, five sets of parents attend hospital not knowing if their child has survived. What follows isn’t an easy read emotionally as death, turmoil and loss features heavily, but… but… I was completely gripped and couldn’t stop turning the pages. Caroline Bond introduces the characters perfectly, I immediately felt as though I knew everyone. The interplay feels so very real and as the book skips backwards and forwards again, understanding of the personalities, relationships, and secrets seeped into my awareness. There is a thoughtful balance to this novel, no judgement is made by the author, rather she encourages contemplation. The drama sweeps across the stage, the readability factor is huge, and still One Split Second is full of empathy and compassion, earning it a place as a LoveReading Book of the Month. 

Books of the Month
The Siege

The Siege

Author: John Sutherland Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/06/2022

An enthralling, rewarding, and ever so satisfying debut crime thriller. Covering ten hours, from beginning to end, a far-right extremist takes nine people from an immigrant support group hostage. Author John Sutherland is a retired Borough Commander with the Metropolitan Police, during his time in the job he was a hostage negotiator, in other words he knows his stuff. Not only that, he is also a gifted, passionate, and compassionate speaker and I’ve listened to his inspiring words on several occasions at Literary Festivals. This may be his debut novel, but he already has two non-fiction books to his name, Blue: A Memoir and Crossing the Line are both fascinating books about policing. When I knew he was venturing into fiction I grabbed a proof just as fast as I could with one question on my mind, could his knowledge and abilities translate into a novel? Yes, yes they can. If you’ve read his books, newspaper articles or his blog, heard him on the TV, at talks or worked with him then you will know he is principled, honourable, thoughtful, and that clearly comes across in his writing. Yet being from the policing family means he has seen it all, experienced the highs and lows that this job throws at you. So while the tone is unmistakably him, calm with no fuss or bluster, it feels real, right up in your face real. The three main characters have equal billing, concentrating in turn on their lives, who they are, what makes them tick. There is a straightforward clarity to the writing that ensures the words hit with intensity. As the story gained momentum, as the lives of these people began to really matter to me, I couldn’t put the book down. At one point I cried, and I know how good a book is by how it makes me react, how it makes me feel. So, this novel joins our LoveReading Star Book community, it also sits as a Liz Robinson Pick for its month of publication. For those of you who have been waiting, hand-on-heart, it’s worth it. The Siege is not only thrilling and entertaining, it’s also engaging and meaningful, and comes with the hugest of ticks in the must-read box from me.

Star Books
Take My Hand

Take My Hand

Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Haunting and powerful Take My Hand burrowed its way into my awareness and will stay with me. Newly qualified nurse Civil Townsend is set to truly take care of her African American community, but a shocking discovery tests her resolve and courage. This skilful blend of fact and fiction is set in 2016 and early 1970’s Alabama, and the sense of place and time is extraordinary. The writing brings to life the characters and period, and surround the facts of the case so that it is all too easy to see, believe, begin to comprehend the enormity of actions taken. Author Dolen Perkins-Valdez explains the case in the Author’s Note and why she wrote a novel rather than non fiction. Not only does she bring a horrifying time in the not too distant past to life, she also highlights current issues too. This is a superbly readable and rewarding book, with a moral and ethical messaging that soaks into and carries through each page. Deep breath time, I want to shout about this novel, yes, it is at times painful, but it is also imbued with hope and just had to be included as a LoveReading Star Book, Take My Hand is provocative, emotional, and so relevant it hurts.

Star Books
On the Bright Side

On the Bright Side

Author: Nell Carter Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

A simply gorgeous and emotional tale about love and all the different forms it can take. Jack and Clare have the chance to learn that leaving love behind can potentially allow it back into your heart. Just one thing to note, while this is a relationship tale, it comes with an edge so be prepared for some thought-provoking themes. The characters in On The Bright Side make mistakes, find themselves on unexpected paths as thoughts alter and grow, and really put my feelings through the wringer! Jack, Clare, and Grace entered so fully into my heart that I truly cared about them, while certain other characters got so far into my head, that they evoked other strong feelings! I love how Nell Carter writes, she has the ability to encourage feelings to falter, fall, and soar, all while expressing herself with beautiful compassion. Plus she has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of what it is to be human. On the Bright Side is a truly lovely novel that I can wholeheartedly recommend as a Liz Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The World That We Knew

The World That We Knew

Author: Alice Hoffman Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/08/2020

This moving, thoughtful, and expressive historical novel walked into my heart with deep empathy, and more than a hint of fantasy. Set during the Second World War, between 1941 and 1944, The World We Knew explores the nature of war, anti-Semitism, and what people can become when faced with the hardest of choices. When Hanni Kohn approaches her rabbi to help save her 12 year old daughter from the Nazi regime, assistance comes from the least likely of places. The first chapter, stark, urgent, and compelling was so intense I almost stopped breathing. As the chapter came to a close I sat for a moment in contemplative silence. I simply adored how Alice Hoffman balances the fantasy element of the novel, it feels as though a truth has been sent free. I disappeared into the words, and took to my heart that survival isn’t just a matter of life or death. One word of advice, you may need to have tissues close to hand, I cried at the beauty of the ending. The World That We Knew is not only one of my picks of the month, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
All the Seas of the World

All the Seas of the World

Author: Guy Gavriel Kay Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/05/2022

With echoes of the Renaissance Guy Gavriel Kay brings intrigue, revenge, war, and exile face to face with love, friendship, and hope. This powerful and striking story begins with those tasked with an assassination, and grows to encompass many more people and places. Here we continue on in the times from A Brightness Long Ago featuring new as well as previously met characters. If you’ve not yet stepped foot into this particular world (not all of his novels are from these lands), then the quality of writing is such that you can most certainly read All the Seas of the World as a standalone. Please do though visit past books as not only are there truly beautiful stories to discover and the obvious connection to the previous novel, there are other whispers too from longer ago. The map had me poring over memories, and within the list of principal characters I welcomed old friends. While I immediately felt a sense of coming home, my emotions were hung above a sharpened knife edge. The narrator, occasionally present, sits in overview, words sinking into thoughts and feelings, and a little way in I met one particular friend from Brightness who again spoke directly to me. I folded into and around a story that boldly and brilliantly ventures onto the seas. I particularly loved the small slices of individual lives and how they knitted together and influenced the larger scale events. The most inconsequential moment could seem momentous as it formed around one person. It felt as though both history, the present, and the future was being told. Just as a little aside, I have been reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels since I tipped into my twenties. He is one of two authors who I count as being hugely positive influences, and from my late teens on I have been able to trust in their integrity, empathy, and principles as I read. You can probably tell from my thoughts and feelings about All The Seas of the World, that I still hold Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing in the highest regard and this new book will sit as a particular favourite. His words, they really make my emotions sing, and that was certainly the case here. So it will come as no surprise that All the Seas of the World sits as a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick for its month of publication, it also comes with a standing ovation from me.

Star Books
A Family Recipe

A Family Recipe

Author: Veronica Henry Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/05/2018

The brand-new feel-good story from bestseller Veronica Henry - a perfect mix of family, friends and delicious food. So absolutely and completely gorgeous in every way! I do look forward to the latest Veronica Henry, I fairly danced with glee when ‘A Family Recipe’ arrived. Number 11 Lark Hill, Bath sits centre stage in this story, set during the Second World War and 2017. The house connects two tales, two women and the people they love. I read this in one sitting, once started, I quite simply didn’t want to stop. Jilly and Laura became known and loved, each and every character pops with intensity, fully realised, touchable, real. Veronica Henry has such a beautiful touch, she paints an entire world, deeply rich and vibrant, bringing to life thoughts, emotions, heart-ache, joy. I stepped though the pages into Bath, wandered the streets, travelled back in time, and salivating, I even looked up the food market to see if I could visit! I know I say this every time, but each new novel becomes my favourite by Veronica Henry, that is her gift, and ‘A Family Recipe’ most certainly continues that tradition. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
The Flatshare

The Flatshare

Author: Beth O'Leary Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/02/2020

A refreshingly different, sparkling romantic comedy with real depth and heart. Tiffy and Leon agree to share his flat, which has just the one bedroom. They’ve never met or want to meet, he works nights and stays away at the weekend and she works days, what could go wrong? I absolutely adore this premise, it feels as though it shouldn’t work, but oh, it so does! I settled in straight away, with chapters either headed by Tiffy or Leon. They are both wonderful characters, and I felt as though I really got to know them, the more I read, the closer friends we became. The surrounding cast are fabulous and add real flavour. There are some darker and disquieting aspects to explore, which are handled with sensitivity and empathy by Beth O’Leary, while the humour dances feather-light across the page. The Flatshare is an original romantic comedy debut that made my heart smile. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Everything is Beautiful

Everything is Beautiful

Author: Eleanor Ray Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

When Amy Ashton's world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection. Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been. Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves - soon there'll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy's carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she'd lost still be hers for the taking? Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places 

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While Paris Slept

While Paris Slept

Author: Ruth Druart Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/01/2022

On a platform in occupied Paris, a mother whispers goodbye. It is the end. But also the beginning. Beautiful. Powerful. Unforgettable. A stunning portrait of the brutality of war and the tenacity of love. In the tradition of Virginia Baily's Early One Morning and M. L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans. Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door. Paris 1944. A young woman's future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope. On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined. Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

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The Goodbye Man

The Goodbye Man

Author: Jeffery Deaver Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/03/2021

A whammy of a read that fires intense shots of action into a slow burn investigation of a cult. Colter Shaw goes undercover to check out the Foundation, a community with a charismatic leader and a seemingly dark purpose. I adored The Never Game, which is the first in the Colter Shaw Thrillers, this continues the series in fine style. Shaw is a resourceful professional reward seeker with a heart and a conscience, he is easy to like and believe in. Jeffery Deaver’s writing style ensures suspense overlays proceedings and that the tension ramps up as you read. He purposefully leaves information out, and then allows understanding to explode into your awareness, so expect surprises along the way. This cult feels all too believable, and the research behind the story is clearly felt. The Goodbye Man is a fabulous burst of escapism, it comes served with combat and empathy, a mix that ensures it a place as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
My One True North

My One True North

Author: Milly Johnson Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/07/2020

A delightfully readable, emotional, warm and witty relationship tale. This is Milly Johnson’s 17th novel, and I still look forward to them, each feels fresh, different, and I just know I will have a lovely reading experience. Friendships form and love whispers hello at a counselling group, will it be recognised or even welcomed? If you haven’t read any of her books before, just be aware that there are plenty of emotional subjects to discover along the way, you just have to read the book synopsis here to know that! The prologue sent a shiver coursing through me, grief has kept company with many of the characters. Milly Johnson approaches the more difficult side of life with true compassion. Here, there are also some wickedly funny excerpts from the local paper which balance the story beautifully. Although your heart may well ache during, the overall feeling that I was left with after, was that I had just been given the hugest, squashiest hug. My One True North is a truly lovely read, and after I had turned the final page was left feeling fully satisfied and contented. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

Author: Julietta Henderson Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Our May 2021 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is one of the most squeezable and loveable books going, yet it comes with sharp and poignant notes as well as a dancing wit and humour. Norman’s best friend and comedy partner dies before they turn 12, in his grief Norman decides he’s going to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe, and his mum Sadie is determined to help him. The focus here is on family and the many different forms it can take. Chapters are headed by either Norman or Sadie, each has the most wonderfully distinctive voice. Julietta Henderson has created a cast of beautifully individual characters, they walk off the page, with little snippets of information filling in their spirit and letting you see who they truly are. Norman is a complete joy to get to know, he entered my heart and let me see with fresh eyes. There is an exquisite balance here, between heartache and warmth, piercing and diverting, amusing and engaging. The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman proclaims that empathy and kindness are winning combinations and is completely gorgeous in every way. This LoveReading Star Book is an absolute delight of a debut, it will be one of my highlights of the year.

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The Wife Who Got a Life

The Wife Who Got a Life

Author: Tracy Bloom Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Light, bright, and tremendously entertaining, The Wife Who Got a Life also tackles some difficult subjects with balance and consideration. After years of putting her family first, Cathy decides to take back control of her life and sets up a list of monthly goals. Over the year I spent with her, I smirked, sniggered, and laughed, oh how I laughed! While Cathy is heading towards menopause, the writing ensures this is a read that everyone could enjoy. Tracy Bloom has a seriously witty pen, and knows exactly when a smile is needed, there were times when the words buffeted my thoughts and then in the next moment hugged me. She has the ability to write about tough times with love and empathy while being sharply aware and ensuring Cathy has an authentic voice. I absolutely adored this novel and would describe it as a wonderfully smart and joyous celebration of life. The Wife Who Got a Life is feel-good writing at its best as it lifts you up while remaining completely aware of the sharp reality of life. A LoveReading Star Book, this is one to pop to the top of your reading pile. The LoveReading LitFest invited Tracy to the festival to talk about the fabulously readable The Wife Who Got A Life. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

Audiobooks of the Month
Taking Flight

Taking Flight

Author: JT Torres Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

A gorgeously simple yet heartbreakingly complex debut that strays into magic realism and explores the meaning of family. Tito and his grandmother probe the magic of family bonds, as they grow older, their struggle to keep loved ones close takes its toll. Fairlight Moderns are little gems of books, small and compact, beautiful inside and out, each story packs a punch. J T Torres writes with a compassionate and thoughtful yet penetrating and provocative pen. A chain reaction of emotions ran through me as I joined Tito and his Nana and echoes of Cuba slid into Florida and Alaska. It feels as though the magic of Taking Flight will release a totally different experience to each person who steps between the pages. While readers always take a part of themselves into a book, here that piece of me stayed within it. With a devastating delicacy, Taking Flight delves into the intricate complexities of family, migration, and mental health and has been chosen as one of our Debuts of the Month.

Debut Books of the Month
Unsettled Ground

Unsettled Ground

Author: Claire Fuller Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/01/2022

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back? Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother's secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake. Unsettled Ground is a heart-stopping novel of betrayal and resilience, love and survival. It is a portrait of life on the fringes of society that explores with dazzling emotional power how we can build our lives on broken foundations, and spin light from darkness. 

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The 24-Hour Cafe

The 24-Hour Cafe

Author: Libby Page Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2021

An affectionate, heartfelt, uplifting novel about the wonders of friendship and having a dream. Spend a full day at the 24-hour Cafe in London, meet the staff, and the customers too, sit for a while, observe, enjoy. I adored Libby Page’s first novel The Lido, rest assured this is equally as gorgeous, and a truly lovely, lovely read. The story unfolds beautifully, starting at midnight we meet Hannah and Mona, friends, flatmates, and waitresses who will be working double shifts to cover the 24 hours. Stella’s cafe is a little community in its own right, small stories are contained within, with perfectly observed characters entering and exiting the cafe. I felt so invested in all of them, yet it is the two waiting staff who really touched me. As Hannah’s shift comes to an end and Mona’s starts, this simple, yet full and rich story opens up and flies. The 24-Hour Cafe is full of compassion and warmth, yet it doesn’t shy away from the darker side of life. It has been chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month because it celebrates friendship and dreams in the best possible way. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Breakers

Breakers

Author: Doug Johnstone Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/05/2019

This piercing and raw, yet sensitive and beautiful read really spoke to me, it’s a stunner. 17-year-old Tyler finds himself caught between a rock and an impossibly hard place. Forced to break into houses by his older brother, life heads in a hopeless downward spiral when they disturb an occupant coming home and violence shatters Tyler’s life. Doug Johnstone writes with true eloquence, you really don’t need more than 230 pages when the writing is this good. True empathy and joy dance across the page even when chased down by brutality. I read this in one sitting, absolutely hooked yet almost afraid to reach the end. I had no idea as to how the story was going to finish, a part of me felt hopeless, yet I was full of hope at the same time. Tyler is going to stay with me, as he has taken up lodging in my heart. ‘Breakers' is meaningful, moving, undeniably wonderful storytelling, I adored every single word and it comes as highly recommended from me.

The Library of Lost and Found

The Library of Lost and Found

Author: Phaedra Patrick Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/06/2019

A beautifully charming, amusing, and gentle read, visiting with great empathy and grace occasional cloudy darkness. Library volunteer Martha Storm is a quietly helpful, book-loving hoarder. When she finds a mysterious book relating to her past, Martha begins to see the possibilities life can offer. I have used the word quirky previously for Phaedra Patrick’s writing and it again popped into my mind for ‘The Library of Lost and Found’. This is an author who explores different, cheers on quiet, and celebrates the unique properties to be found in each of us. The words sang to me, I gathered them up and hugged every single one as they arrived in my mind. I adored this read, my heart filled with love for the characters as I smiled and felt heart-ache alongside them. Other magical stories can be found within the pages, they arrive and make a considerate, thoughtful point. ‘The Library of Lost and Found’ is there waiting for anyone who has ever felt a little lost or lonely, it is a wonderful read and I have chosen it as one of my picks of the month. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Moth

Moth

Author: Melody Razak Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/06/2021

Moth is absolutely gorgeous. Fair warning, it broke my heart, but is still completely and utterly gorgeous! Partition in India slices the country through its soul, one liberal family find themselves adrift and battling for survival. Set in 1940’s Delhi this story focuses on family, and in particular women as the world around them boils with political unrest and danger. The beauty and pain of the prologue turned my thoughts inside out, I had to stop for a moment before carrying on. The awareness of the prologue stayed with me as I continued to read, consume, feel. This is Melody Razak’s debut novel and was written on long train journeys across India. Here she takes an intimate story set in an epic, huge moment in history, and makes it feel real. Snippets and slices of all emotions are brought together to form the most wonderfully told story that highlights the tragedy that falls. Her writing caught me, lulled me, shocked me, seduced me. She writes with huge compassion, the smallest of details weave together to form a vivid and vibrant tapestry of life. It is all too easy to imagine this happening anywhere in the world, yet among all the pain is strength and hope. The moments of calm, love, humour, sharing, and kindness all combine to ensure that you can still feel delight among the pain. Oh, and I must just mention the stunning cover too, it matches the beauty within. Moth, so exquisitely emotional, powerful, and harrowing, will be one of my favourite books of the year, it is so special, I just had to choose it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

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The End of Time

The End of Time

Author: Gavin Extence Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/01/2020

A lovely, heartfelt, oh so readable and occasionally quirky story containing huge empathy and thoughtfulness. Two teenagers, refugees without their parents, set off from Syria in the hopes of reaching the UK. I am a huge fan of Gavin Extence, as he has the ability to write with an incredibly light touch while exploring hugely provocative topics. His books often contain a waft of magic, not hocus pocus exactly, but something that makes you stop and think. The story here is told by 19-year-old Zain, older brother to 14-year-old Mohammed, and we meet them as they begin the swim from Turkey to Greece. Simply told, the words hit my thoughts with hammer-hard intensity, and yet there were smiles on hand too. There is a gentle compassion to be found in Zain, and as I read, I took him, and his football-loving brother to my heart. All I will say about the third absolutely fabulous character in this tale is that I won’t forget him! ‘The End of Time’ doesn’t preach, it lets you discover thoughts and feelings for yourself, it just exists, as it is, as the most wonderfully compelling and beautiful story. I have chosen ‘The End of Time’ as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month - it has a massive tick in the 'fabulous read' box from me. Gavin Extence is our author in the picture for July 2019, do take a look at the photos he chose in answer to our questions. Read our Putting Authors in the Picture blog post with Gavin.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
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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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. 

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Critical Incidents

Critical Incidents

Author: Lucie Whitehouse Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/12/2019

Razor-sharp, focused and absolutely fabulous, Critical Incidents is the first in what promises to be a stunning new series by Lucie Whitehouse. Detective Inspector Robin Lyons has been dismissed from the Met, turned down a proposal, and is heading back to her Mum and Dad in Birmingham with her daughter Lennie. Home isn’t necessarily a sanctuary when Robin starts to investigate a shocking crime and violence creeps ever closer. Keep You Close was one of our Books of the Year in 2016, so I had high hopes for Critical Incidents and it certainly lived up to expectations. I sat and read non-stop, just gobbling up the pages. There is an addictive quality to the writing, pithy, witty, stinging sentences walk hand in hand with compassion and emotion. The ending has left me wanting more, so I already can’t wait for the next in the series. Critical Incidents is escapism at its very best, it is also provocative, eloquent and extremely rewarding, earning itself a pick of the month from me.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man

Author: Alex North Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/12/2019

So, so incredibly good, now that I have finished, I actually feel bereft. This book called to me, the cover design is divine, the synopsis gave me chills, and when I started, well, it was a non-stop absolute feast of a read. Tom hadn’t heard of the Whisper Man, he didn’t know about the murder of five young boys. Tom just wanted a new start, but then his son starts to hear whispering at his bedroom window. The prologue sent shivers coursing down my arms, it is followed by short, enthralling chapters that pushed and pulled at my emotions. Chapters change focus with no introduction, however the writing is such that they immediately connected and fell into place. I entered a mind space that made me feel entirely uncomfortable, yet set my thoughts on a different path. This is clever, beautifully compassionate writing by Alex North. While the tension reaches almost unbearable levels, there is a heartfelt balance of empathy and thoughtfulness that packs a huge punch. ‘The Whisper Man’ has left a lingering ache, it is an emotionally beautiful and terrifying read. I’ve chosen it as a LoveReading star read and one of my books of the month. I’m telling everyone I know - this is a must-read!

Audiobooks of the Month
The Lost Girl

The Lost Girl

Author: Carol Drinkwater Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/06/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | July 2017 eBook of the Month. A mesmerising, haunting, and extraordinarily relevant yet beautifully evocative read. Kurtiz arrives in Paris after a sighting of her missing daughter, as the tale begins to unfurl, humanity at its very best and worst is revealed in several time frames. There is a slight departure in tone from previous novels, however the deep emotion and captivating writing is still reassuringly in evidence for existing fans. Carol Drinkwater explores thoughts and feelings during and after war, and immediately after an act of terrorism, her empathy shines a light on the darkness of the story. The movement in time allows more information to slot into place and the relationships between the characters began to connect like lightening strikes in my mind. ‘The Lost Girl’ is a story about relationships, family, and love during heartbreak, doubt and apprehension, yet rather than oppressive, I found an entirely captivating and beautiful read awaited. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted

Author: Emily Giffin Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2019

Bold, beautiful, provocative… and I mean provocative in the very best possible way. One compromising photo is all it takes for the lives of two families to be forever altered by the decisions made and actions taken. Each chapter is headed by a character and they tell their own story, the voices are distinctive and undeniably theirs, you could actually start to read without seeing the chapter heading and know within a few sentences who was talking to you. This story just feels so incredibly real, from the social media reaction to the human emotions on display, each moment could be happening to someone right now, at this very second. Emily Giffin writes with consideration and considerable empathy, yet she doesn’t shy away from the darker side of society. I felt I was being allowed to find my own way, to reach my own conclusions, and loved how my thoughts skittered in my mind. This is so incredibly readable, in the US it was a New York Times bestseller and deserves to be a bestseller in the UK too. All We Ever Wanted leapt into my head and then danced into my heart, I really, truly loved it.

Books of the Month
The Crossing

The Crossing

Author: Andrew Miller Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/08/2015

September 2015 eBook of the Month. Prepare a space in time for ‘The Crossing’, float on the surface of awareness before taking a deep breath and sinking slowly into a truly captivating read. Maud is different, a survivor, she exists in a state of solitude, yet she has an essence that other people want to charm, to capture. There is an edge of detachment, of looking out rather than in, yet somehow Andrew Miller lays a cord of connection and empathy. At times matter of fact, at times beautifully descriptive, the words become vivacious living pictures capable of evoking intense feeling. The sea journey is terrifyingly exquisite, the matter of fact recounting of informative activity, yet highly descriptive detailing of the physical world ensures each action, each hurt, each terror, is felt, it’s almost as though you are feeling and living Maud’s emotions, in her place. Beautifully mesmerising and on occasion painfully provocative, this is a stimulating and highly recommended novel. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
America Is Not the Heart

America Is Not the Heart

Author: Elaine Castillo Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2018

May 2018 Debut of the Month A poignant, inspiring debut to really immerse yourself in, to feel and become a part of. Hero De Vera originally from the Philippines, joins her Uncle and his family in California, she arrives with secrets, and enters a house with secrets, can the family unite as one? The prologue sets the stage, another woman, not Hero, speaks. Elaine Castillo placed me entirely into an unknown world, her words took me there so completely I felt empathy, warmth, remorse resonating through me. Each central character has a distinctive voice, the different women take centre stage, strong, vibrant, hurting, resilient. The feeling of not belonging, of fear, sat uncomfortably within me, slicing through my thoughts. I felt as though I was being told a direct recollection of events, as though I was sitting by their side, listening, and becoming one with the words.  Provoking thoughts and feelings ‘America is not the Heart’ is a fascinating, often painful, yet entirely stimulating read. 

eBooks of the Month
Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us

Author: Francesca Hornak Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/10/2017

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 For fans of David Nicholls and Richard Curtis movies, this is an observational, tender and heart-warming drama about the trials and tribulations of spending a week with your family at Christmas.   What a beautiful, perceptive, absorbing read this is. Family drama… yes, yet it’s more. Relationship tale… yes, yet it’s much more. Incredibly readable… oh yes yes yes! The Birch family are due to spend the seven days over Christmas at their holiday home in Norfolk in strict quarantine, as doctor Olivia has been in Liberia treating a serious epidemic. The prologue and first chapter take hold of this family, and toss their lives sky-high, I was well and truly hooked, and found myself reluctant to put the book down, even for a second. Francesca Hornak writes with empathy yet she cuts through to the heart of things, creating a believable, relatable, touchable family. As events spiralled out of control, yet in ever decreasing circles, and relationships unravelled, I wondered where on earth we were all going to end up. The ending is as satisfying and emotionally enthralling as the journey to reach it. ‘Seven Days of Us’ is a terrific read, I savoured every word, and I can’t wait to see what Francesca Hornak offers next. ~ Liz Robinson

Kalmann

Kalmann

Author: Joachim B. Schmidt Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/05/2022

Thoroughly provocative, punchy, thoughtful and empathetic, I found this novel and its narrator to be an unforgettable reading experience. While his thoughts often put him on a different track to others, Kalmann is a hunter. His discovery of blood in the snow lead the police to believe a missing businessman has been murdered, even though there is no body. Kalmann has the most wonderfully distinctive voice, it feels open and trusting, and he appears to see the small almost inconsequential things that actually really matter. The plot hums along, the connection to Kalmanm grows, and Joachim B Schmidt encouraged the suspense to hover over me as I read. I found myself waiting, ready to tip one way or the other as my thoughts tripped and twisted. Translator Jamie Lee Searle does a cracking job, I felt as though I belonged, even while exclaiming at the differences. The impact of Kalmann shouldn’t be underestimated, he creeps under your skin and sits there quite contentedly waiting for your reaction. A worthy LoveReading Star Book, Kalmann is strikingly vivid, surprising, and incredibly powerful too. Loved it! The LoveReading LitFest invited Joachim B. Schmidt to the festival to talk about Kalmann. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

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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 Chicken Soup Murder

The Chicken Soup Murder

Author: Maria Donovan Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/09/2017

A short, seemingly simple, yet complex and rather wonderful novel about a young boy coming to terms with life, death, and everything in-between. Eleven year old Michael believes that a murder has taken place, and he tells his own story. The first sentence sets the scene with dramatic intensity, and left me with the hint of raised eyebrows, the possibility of a smirk. The tale begins the day before the murder, and background information is gradually filled in, allowing the connection to Michael to grow, to be nurtured. Maria Donovan explores sorrow, confusion, anger, friendship and love, all from the viewpoint of an eleven year old, with such thoughtfulness and compassion. I loved getting to know Michael and his companions, he entered my heart, he made me smile, and occasionally wince. ‘The Chicken Soup Murder’ is a thought provoking, yet gentle heartfelt hug of a tale, and a very lovely read indeed.   Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Woman Who Walked into the Sea

The Woman Who Walked into the Sea

Author: Mark Douglas-Home Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2016

Another intriguing and fascinating mystery from the author of ‘The Sea Detective Series’. Oceanographer Cal McGill finds himself in a small Scottish costal town attempting to solve a 26 year old mystery. Violet was abandoned as a baby, the day before her mother walked into the sea and disappeared. This story has a menacing depth to it, it has a more intimate feel than the first in the series, and we get to know more about Cal. Cal is 29 years old, yet it feels as though he has an old soul, I felt his love for the ocean, his kindness, yet he is somehow set apart. Mark Douglas-Home’s writing dances on the darker of life, though whether covering world wide issues, or more family orientated problems, an empathy shines through. ‘The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea’ is a gripping tale, full of family drama, with the twist of a mystery, and an enigmatic investigator, what more you could want!

eBooks of the Month
The One in a Million Boy

The One in a Million Boy

Author: Monica Wood Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. April 2016 Book of the Month. Absolutely enchanting, and not in a sugary syrupy sweet way, oh no, instead this is earthy and vibrant and real. Miss Ona Vitkus is 104 years old, she lives on her own, relatively undisturbed, and then the 11 year old boy turns up on her doorstep. The two become unlikely friends, with world records, birds and life histories becoming main topics of conversation. Monica Wood writes with beautiful empathy, she doesn't judge, or even provoke, she sets this gorgeous story in motion and allows you, as the reader along on the journey. I particularly loved the transcripts of the tape recordings, it just consists of “shards” of thoughts, and the replies of Miss Vitkus to questions, however the boy is there, his presence is undeniable and the pages simply overflow with his energy. ‘The One-In-A-Million Boy’ is about a meeting of minds and hearts, of friendship and living life, it’s a particularly lovely and charming read, and you might just raise your eyebrow at a world record or two along the way. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Books of the Month
Green Island A Novel

Green Island A Novel

Author: Shawna Yang Ryan Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/02/2016

‘Green Island’ is a breathtaking novel, it’s emotional, thought-provoking and absolutely fascinating. Set in Taiwan and the USA between 1947 and 2003, the novel focuses on one family, yet the story is presented on an epic scale. This is a work of fiction, however elements are based on fact, and the tale weaves its way through shocking, brutal times. Shawnee Yang Ryan sets the tale in motion using an unnamed narrator, she is the youngest daughter of the family set in the novel, and as the narrator she adds an intensity and greater connection to the story. There is a perceptive understanding of human nature portrayed in this tale and it all feels so very very real. The writing is expressive, vibrant and able to touch feelings with a raw intensity, yet it can also hold a moment of beauty with delicate empathy. ‘Green Island’ is a novel that encouraged me to look further into this time in Taiwan’s history, it is also, quite simply, a beautifully touching read.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

Author: Renee Knight Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/12/2015

Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016. An absolutely stunning tale, one that walks a tightrope of tension, is at times uncomfortable, yet impossible to put down. A novel appears in the life of someone who never expected to read her own tale between the pages. Two stories are told, one is removed, never completely in touch, sometimes even awkward, while the other is so personal and impassioned, the thoughts and feelings drive up and out from the page. This concept highlights the differences between the two tales, yet the connection between them burns with intensity. Renee Knight writes with empathy, yet penetrating sharpness, the clever writing keeps hitting you with the unexpected, tripping up your understanding and stamping over any speculation. My compassion danced one way and then the other, and it took until the very end for it to settle. ’Disclaimer’ is a debut with attitude and I highly recommend it.

eBooks of the Month
Before the Fall

Before the Fall

Author: Noah Hawley Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2017

May 2017 Book of the Month. A striking thriller from an established US author and Golden Globe award winner of the Fargo TV series scriptwriter. When a private aircraft returning from a wealthy holiday hideout plunges into the sea off New York and there are only two survivors: the young son of a powerful media mogul and a painter with a troubled past, speculation grows rife as to true story behind the tragedy, because of the presence on board of the TV network head and a wealthy banker who was about to be indicted for fraud. Accident or sabotage? The mystery behind the accident is not just the only theme of the novel, but also the way the American media moves. Through flashbacks to the various passengers in the days leading up to the crash, a tangled network unfolds, making this a complex and meditative examination of both the corridors of power and the affective ties that bind the two unlikely survivors. Ambitious and rewarding. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Just stunning! A novel that surprises, seduces, and impresses. A private plane crashes into the ocean on a trip back to New York. Struggling artist Scott Burroughs not only survives, he also rescues 4 year old JJ, the son of the family who chartered the jet. This novel tells the story of each person on the plane, the investigation after the crash and focuses on Scott, is he a hero or villain? The writing dances across the characters, floating yet somehow reaching into their innermost depths and revealing hidden thoughts, desires and feelings. Noah Hawley takes us backwards and forwards in time, the writing is strangely beautiful, even when in the depths of the nightmare, the descriptive detailing has the ability to caress your senses. I found myself spinning unexpectedly as the focus changed direction, ensuring I was on high alert, seeking and grasping for answers. Occasionally, outside of each individual story, little jolting snapshots can be found, that sow both seeds of disquiet and empathy. ‘Before the Fall’ is a striking and completely captivating read, do I recommend it, yes, yes, yes…wholeheartedly! ~ Liz Robinson

Books of the Month
Vermilion Skies

Vermilion Skies

Author: Wendela Lumley Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/06/2015

A gorgeously evocative tale, ‘Vermilion Skies’ may be classed as a love story, however there is far more on offer here. Set mainly in Chile, where the scenery and society paint a vivid scene, 14 year old Milana has an understanding of humanity far beyond her years. As Milana struggles with tragedy and to find life beyond the shanty town where she lives, she explores life and love. Wendela Lumley writes with a beautiful empathy and tenderness yet she doesn't shy away from reality. The fragility and harshness of life provokes and prods at your awareness, while in the next moment, joy in the beauty that can be found in the smallest thing, shines through the pages. Travelling across years, searching for truth and understanding, this is an engaging and captivating love story. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Ghostwritten

Ghostwritten

Author: Isabel Wolff Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/03/2014

Stolen childhoods and harrowing memories haunt lives in this moving and fascinating novel. Written with tremendous compassion and eloquence, the author reveals two tales, two time frames, two tragedies and two guilt-ridden women seeking redemption. The different time frames work perfectly alongside each other, each tale is anchored by the heartrending secrets that have been hidden for years.You are taken on a journey through time and across seas to the inconceivable world of a Japanese Internment Camp during the Second World War.  Wolff discloses the unbelievable horrors that terrorised the inhabitants, simply yet vividly bringing to life a different world.  Closer to home, the breathtaking Cornish coast has harboured another childhood sorrow. Guilt has been a distressing yet accepted companion for these two women, can reliving the past lay to rest the ghosts that have besieged them? Compelling and convincing, this poignant tale deserves to be heard. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Buddhaland Brooklyn

Buddhaland Brooklyn

Author: Richard C. Morais Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/01/2014

Another ambrosial gift is delivered with clarity and fluidity by this wonderfully talented author. Seido Oda is instructed to leave the sanctuary of his Japanese temple to introduce his particular sect of Buddhism to the people of Brooklyn. Oda, knowing great sadness and perhaps hiding from reality, is forced to face himself when thrust from peaceful serenity into the maelstrom of a bustling noisy New York. It feels as though a friend is telling you his life story, these memorable, expressive characters could be just about to bump into you as you walk around a corner. Morais has the very great gift of taking everyday life and describing it with such simplicity, compassion and beauty that it becomes a little piece of heaven. If you love this, dive straight into The Hundred Foot Journey, another completely huggable read by Morais.

eBooks of the Month
The New Woman

The New Woman

Author: Charity Norman Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/07/2015

So completely, effortlessly and joyfully readable, this is a beautifully compassionate story highlighting the essence of humanity in us all. The introduction snares and intrigues your attention, which is then held captive until the very last page. The lives of Luke and Eilish, successfully married for thirty years, are altered forever when disruptive turmoil howls into their lives. Covering the thoughts and feelings of the immediate family, the fact that only Luke and Eilish’s are in the first person ties their story together, confirming their deep connection and the fact that this is their tale. Charity Norman creates a believable and loveable family, each member has their faults, effectively drawing you closer and welcoming you further into the story. Feeling part of the family encourages both fear and tears for each of the characters. This heartfelt intimate journey plays with heartstrings and nudges thought processes ensuring, ‘The New Woman’ is a wonderfully moving read. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
No One Belongs Here More Than You

No One Belongs Here More Than You

Author: Miranda July Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/02/2015

Often provocative, intriguing and challenging yet with the wonderful ability to offer gentle affection and compassion, this collection of 16 short stories is a thought provoking read. Some of the stories are shorter than short, some are likely to raise eyebrows by focusing on the different, peculiar and sometimes taboo, all however are impactive. With a cast of distinctive characters, often isolated and lost, the author never offers judgement, she discloses the details and outcomes of deepest darkest thoughts with consideration and care. While these stories may occasionally skim and skip across the surface of bizarre, there is a whisper and caress of truth, of optimism and hope floating across the pages, that makes this an absolutely fascinating little book.

eBooks of the Month
Whispering Shadows

Whispering Shadows

Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/06/2015

A 2016 World Book Night selection. ‘Whispering Shadows’ may be classed as a murder mystery, however it is one with true heart and soul, and is a sincerely beautiful read. The first in a trilogy, Jan-Philipp Sendker has departed from the format of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and A Well-Tempered Heart, yet the enticing mix of East and West again weaves its magic touch. Paul Leibovitz has spent 30 years living in Hong Kong, he has experienced tragedy and has cut himself off from the rest of the world; a chance meeting sets him on a collision course with his feelings, his past and a possible future. Sendker obviously has a profound connection with China, his writing not only allows you to open your eyes in a different land, but also to feel, to touch, to think with consideration and compassion. Ranging from delicate and thoughtful to commanding and persuasive ensures this a convincing and fascinating read. ~ Liz Robinson

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
Precocious

Precocious

Author: Joanna Barnard Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/03/2016

Uncomfortable, sorrowful, challenging - yes Precocious is all of these, however it is also a memorable, powerful and fascinating read. Fiona reconnects with Henry, one of her teachers from Secondary School and starts to mentally revisit events from her younger years. Fiona herself tells the story, she is abrasive, different and insightful, it takes a little while to get used to how she darts around in her mind and in time. Don't be in too much of a rush to make your mind up about Fiona, her journey has to be experienced and there is understanding to be discovered. Joanna Barnard has skilfully, subtly and with great compassion written a gripping and provocative tale that deserves to be read. ~ Liz Robinson One of our Books of the Year 2015.

eBooks of the Month
Fishbowl

Fishbowl

Author: Bradley Somer Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2016

A dive in head first and refuse to come up for air book - it’s unique, clever and quite quite wonderful. If at first you just dip your toe in and wonder where on earth you're being taken, don't bail out, as this quickly becomes a delightful and compelling read. Meet some of the occupants of the apartment building of Seville on Roxy, they are everyday typical people (apart from Ian the skydiving goldfish), however this 30 minute peek into their lives makes you feel as though you are simultaneously viewing the whole world. With beautiful compassion, Bradley Somer allows you to observe people from a different perspective. The short chapters, capable of evoking an assortment of emotions, flow as quickly as Ian does past each window. This isn't about answers or knowledge, instead Fishbowl encourages you to open your eyes, to ponder, to smile, to mourn… and applaud this refreshingly quirky tale. ~ Liz Robinson One of our Books of the Year 2015.

eBooks of the Month
The Marble Collector

The Marble Collector

Author: Cecelia Ahern Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2016

Absolutely delightful! Cecelia Ahern always writes with stirring compassion and a delicious secretive quirk, so I was really looking forward to starting this, her twelfth novel. ‘The Marble Collector’ lived up to my expectations as a really touching, quite, quite beautiful read. Not exactly a slow burner, as the writing is so eloquent, however the more you read, the more you understand, and the more you are enveloped by and become absorbed in the story. The chapters are either from daughter Sabrina’s perspective (over one day), headed ‘Pool Rules’ or from her father Fergus’s entire lifetime of ‘Playing with Marbles’. Focusing on secrets and how well we know and understand ourselves and our loved ones, this engaging novel thoroughly provokes thoughts and feelings. As I closed the last page, and had a little ponder, I found myself giving ‘The Marble Collector’ a warm and loving hug. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Railwayman's Wife

The Railwayman's Wife

Author: Ashley Hay Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/08/2014

Savour every second of this stunning novel, take your time, don't rush, don't miss a single solitary word. The setting, Thirroul in Australia at the end of the Second World War, is described with such heartrending and vibrant beauty, you can quite literally feel the caress of the breeze, the grit of the sand, the thunder of the train on the track. The main characters are all lost and in search of something just beyond reach or possibly comprehension, the compassion the author feels for them is quite evident. Yes, this is a book about loss and love, yet at it’s heart feels as though it’s a celebration of life, in all it’s vital wonderful glory. This is a book to fall in love with, once finished to read again or dip in to, so you can re-capture the essence of the beautiful lyrical verse. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month
Nothing Else

Nothing Else

Author: Louise Beech Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/06/2022

Beautifully emotional writing expanded to fill my heart and soul as I sank into and explored this meaningful family drama. Heather steps outside of her comfort zone and begins to search for clues about the sister she hasn’t seen since their parents died when they were children. Before I talk about Nothing Else, can I just say that I absolute adore the way that Louise Beech writes. If you’ve not yet read her books, then step inside and discover a fabulous writer who understands what it is to be human. Louise Beech has the talent of being able to reach inside my mind and make me feel as though she’s writing especially for me. Nothing Else is just so wonderfully easy to read, and by that I refer to the reach of the words, I had the luxury of just letting the story loose, allowing it to slip past any defences to affect my emotions. A tension is created as a mystery is probed, loss and grief are considered as the past opens up. I have zero musical ability, yet found myself understanding the language of music. I don’t have siblings, yet ached with the heartbreak of loss that Heather was feeling. The words connect, haunt, influence. As I finished I felt a wash of feelings sing through my body, and that is the wonder of reading isn’t it! Perceptive, penetrating, and gorgeously emotional, Nothing Else declares just how powerful love, perseverance, and music can be.

Books of the Month

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