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80+ Humorous Novels - from Wry and Sly Observations to Outright Chuckles and Laughter.

Humour can come in many different forms in literature, from boldly declaring itself from the very beginning to keep you smiling with feel-good emotions, right through to arriving with stealth and making you blurt with laughter while almost blushing at your own audacity. Laughter can be used to ease pain, highlight experiences and topics, or simply give you a welcoming hug. And of course, it is subjective, one person’s guffaw is another’s momentary cringe. Differences in life experience will affect our humour, something we found funny at eighteen might pass us by at seventy and vice versa of course. 

Look hard enough and you can find humour in every genre. A skilled writer can hide moments of laughter in the most poignant and sensitive of places. Unexpected comedic moments can actually accent other emotions, and bring welcome relief before the reader heads back off into the darkness again. 

One of my favourite books, Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald is a: “seriously fabulous, gritty and whip-cracking humour filled read… The first line smacked me in the face, I half flinched, half blurted with laughter. Just a note of warning, while I discovered a smirk lurking on early every page, some may see the humour as warped. It is the type of dark humour typical of anyone who has worked in some seriously difficult situations, where if you didn’t laugh you’d cry”. Helen is an author with a seriously skilled pen, she highlights emotions, heads into dark places, and yet brings laughter too.

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe deservedly won the 2020 Comedy Women in Print Prize. This is a: “smirky, fabulously quirky, poignant novel and an absolute joy to read… I snorted (yes actually snorted) out loud with laughter and while heartache and break is never far away, thoroughly loved every word, it’s just gorgeous!”. Nina Stibbe excels in the smallest of details that are beautifully observed and help paint a fully vibrant picture.

Spook Street by Mick Herron forms part of the Slough House Thriller Series. Maxim Jakubowski said: “Herron’s Slough House series just keeps on getting better and better, both on the sly humour front and with the Machiavellian variations it offers on the level of deception that operate within the British secret service”. I adore this series too, Mick Herron has formed a deviously twisted world, with plenty of smirky laughter blurting moments along the way.

Editorial Expert Joanne Owen loves The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa. She declared: “Hats off to the author for interweaving a rambunctious, read-in-one-sitting rollercoaster with shining a light on real-life struggles… Balancing outrageous entertainment with exposing ugly underbellies and a young woman’s realignment of a life swerved off-course, readers who enjoyed Sarong Party Girls will adore this.”

From crime to romance, horror to family drama, we’ve brought together a collection of books that contain elements of humour, whether it encourages a wry smile or smirk, right through to giddy inducing bursts of laughter. We hope you enjoy, and find plenty of moments to make you smile. Leave a comment below with  books you've enjoyed and that are filled with humour.

Worst Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario

Author: Helen FitzGerald Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/05/2019

A seriously fabulous, gritty, and whip-cracking humour filled read. Mary Shields is a menopausal probation officer on the edge, when a murderer is released into her care events soon spiral out of control. The first line smacked me in the face, I half flinched, half blurted with laughter. Just a note of warning, while I discovered a smirk lurking on nearly every page, some may see the humour as warped. It is the type of dark humour typical of anyone who has worked in some seriously difficult situations, where if you didn’t laugh you’d cry. Helen Fitzgerald is the author of the BBC TV series The Cry, and previously worked as a criminal justice social worker. Her knowledge shines through, I didn’t stop, I didn’t question, I simply sank into the deep murky depths of the story and believed. When I reached the oh so beautiful end I wanted to leap to my feet and give Helen Fitzgerald a standing ovation. I absolutely adored Worst Case Scenario, this is short, sharp storytelling at its very best, which has earned it a place as one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading star book.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful

Author: Nina Stibbe Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2020

Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020 Winner A smirky, fabulously quirky, poignant novel and an absolute joy to read. It is 1980, Lizzie is 18, she starts a new job working for a dentist, moves into her own flat, and thinks she may have got herself a boyfriend (but isn’t entirely sure). Lizzie is a total delight, her courage, spirit and pithy observations mix into a heady cocktail alongside her apprehension and doubt. The other characters are beautifully realised in their own right, every utterance perfectly placed, it is difficult to pick just one out as when I called them forward in my mind, they clambered over each in a riot of energy. Nina Stibbe excels in the small, in fact the incy wincy details that are so beautifully observed you didn’t know they were missing until you read them, and could see and feel the entire picture. The understanding of human frailty and poignancy of human absurdity is so wonderfully explored. There is something compelling about the writing that lodged in my mind, and took up residence in my heart. I snorted (yes actually snorted) out loud with laughter and while heartache and break is never far away, thoroughly loved every word of Reasons To Be Cheerful, it’s just gorgeous!

Spook Street

Spook Street

Author: Mick Herron Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/09/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 |  A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Herron's Slough House series just keeps on getting better and better, both on the sly humorous front and with the Machiavellian variations it offers on the levels of deception that operate within the British secret service. This is John le Carre territory with added dollops of sheer mischief as well as pathos as familiar, larger than life characters navigate another tortuous case, with the monstrous but endearing boss of the disgraced spy unit Jackson Lamb as ever pulling invisible strings and his ill-assorted team barely keeping their head above the water level. River Cartwright's grandfather who was once one of the stars of the great game is now old and senile and presents a danger to the new powers-that-be, while on the other side of town a terrorist attack on a shopping center triggers a whole series of new threats. Is there a connection between the two events and how will our motley group of losers come out of it all alive? Or will they? Great stuff. More, please! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Whoo hoo! The Slough House misfits return, with the fourth of the series, and the horrendously brilliant Jackson Lamb at the warped helm. Former spook David Cartwright may be retired, his grandson and Slough House resident River may be worried about his health, however you wouldn't want to underestimate this old man’s capabilities, oh no… If you've not yet discovered the seriously wicked pen of Mick Herron, do start at the beginning with ‘Slow Horses’, as although this could be read as a standalone, you wont get the best result if you step into the middle of this fabulous series. Mick Herron has created a deviously twisted world, it sticks two fingers up at, well, everyone really, as the team manage to create as many issues as they solve. The intricate layers build slowly in what is actually a fast moving story, so don't get left behind, as you may feel a bit daft when you catch up. There are plenty of smirky laughter blurting moments, as well as wince and whimper inducing ones, along the way. ‘Spook Street’ is a wonderfully crooked, scalding hot, absolute crackerjack of read, and it’s part of a series that just shouldn't be missed.

The Blessed Girl

The Blessed Girl

Author: Angela Makholwa Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/06/2019

Angela Makholwa’s The Blessed Girl is a wildly witty South Africa-set novel underpinned by smart and serious commentary on corruption, duplicity, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and what it’s like to be “blessed” (“a person, usually female, who lives a luxurious lifestyle funded by an older, often married partner, in return for sexual favours”). Hats off to the author for interweaving a rambunctious, read-in-one-sitting rollercoaster with shining a light on real-life struggles. Super-confident Bontle has been “charming the pants off people since the day I was born” when her parents “knew that I was destined to go far because of the way I looked, hence they named me Bontle – The Beautiful One… Watch out, world!” Bontle sure knows how to get what she wants from one of the many men she has falling over her, paying for her penthouse, flash cars, designer clothes, cosmetic surgery - luxuries her hair extension business would never give her. Bontle may not have excelled at school, but she does have a “PhD in MENcology, baby!” and manages to juggle several men at once, putting her troubled past behind her – for a time at least. Cracks begin to show when some of the men slip from her manicured grasp, when her past starts snapping at her heels, and Bontle must piece herself back together. Balancing outrageous entertainment with exposing ugly underbellies and a young woman’s realignment of a life swerved off-course, readers who enjoyed Sarong Party Girls will adore this. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Something to Live For

Something to Live For

Author: Richard Roper Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/07/2020

Our July 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. A completely divine and ultimately uplifting debut, I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I loved it. With the best intentions Andrew has told a fib which has grown to surround and become a part of him, his life is then thrown up in the air when he meets Peggy. Ahh, Andrew, I admit to completely falling for this shy, kind, thoughtful man. The first few pages had me smiling, humour finely balancing and holding hands with poignancy. Richard Roper has developed the most fabulous characters and one heck of an emotional setting, which he handles with beautiful sensitivity. As the story developed, I hoped, oh how I hoped for a happy ending but I really couldn’t tell what the final outcome was going to be. With heartache tempered by gentle good humour Something To Live For casts the warmest of glows. I have no doubt that it will be topping my favourite reads of the year. We adore this quirky must-read and have chosen it to sit as a Debut of the Month, Liz Pick, and LoveReading Star Book! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

The Carer

The Carer

Author: Deborah Moggach Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/04/2020

Clever, sharp, and yet wonderfully poignant, this is a hugely entertaining multi-generational family drama. After hiring highly recommended carer Mandy for their father James, Phoebe and her brother Robert begin to wonder if all is as rosy as they first thought. Deborah Moggach excels in opening a window to all generations, there is a feeling of truth to her descriptions. With a different character heading each chapter, I soon felt as though I was diving deep into their thoughts. An ongoing rivalry for their father’s attention has kept Phoebe and Robert company through into middle age. All aspects of their personality spilled out onto the page, from selfish to thoughtful, fractious to charming, and so while not necessarily always likeable, it felt as though they were in the room with me. There are a few surprises in store, you know when you’re cringing and wincing, but can’t stop reading and almost want to peek at the pages between your fingers? That’s exactly what happened to me here! Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, and one of our LoveReading Star Books, The Carer is a vivid, colourful, smirky, yet penetrating and compelling read. Loved it!

Tiny Tales

Tiny Tales

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/08/2020

This may be a small book in size, but it is mighty of heart and contains 226 pages of delight. I think it would make the most wonderful gift, if not for yourself, then perhaps for someone who would appreciate a smile or hug in book form. This wonderful little treasure contains a myriad of short stories, sitting in sections that range from kindness to poignancy, and from school life to meeting in lifts. There are also some decidedly witty amuse-bouche stories (in cartoon strip form with illustrations by Iain McIntosh) to be found between the pages. It is no secret that I adore Alexander McCall Smith’s writing. He has the ability in a few sentences, to make me stop and think, or splutter and chortle. Every word counts, and each joins to create the most wonderful journey as you travel the world and through time. You can either dip in and out, or binge read like I did as I snickered and smiled my way through the pages. Short and sharp, yet bountiful and considerate, Tiny Tales really is the most fabulous book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

The Coffinmaker's Garden

The Coffinmaker's Garden

Author: Stuart MacBride Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Outrageously good reading entertainment awaits in this punchy, smirky, dark crime thriller set in Scotland. Ex-DI Ash Henderson from the Lateral Investigative and Review Unit finds himself working two cases after human remains are found in a garden that is collapsing into the sea. Ash has previously been central to two of the Oldcastle Novels by Stuart MacBride, do you need to have read the other Ash Henderson thrillers first? I really think you do, as though it is possible to read The Coffinmaker’s Garden as a standalone, you will miss out if you don’t know the back story. I threw all my thoughts and knowledge out of the window as I read and just enjoyed the spunky characters and blood-tingling plot. Spinning between the two investigations kept my armchair-sleuth thoughts from settling too deeply. Instead I rode the wave, fell for the repartee and characters, and found my eyebrows more than once shooting skywards. A round of applause to Stuart MacBride for ensuring a balance between the horror and tragedy of the storyline with the humour that peppers the pages (the inventive insults are hugely diverting). The Coffinmaker’s Garden played out in gloriously vivid colour in my mind, atmospheric and gripping, this is a corker of a read and comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval.

Big Girl, Small Town

Big Girl, Small Town

Author: Michelle Gallen Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2021

This is such a beautifully handled startling wow of a read, it has gone straight in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book. Spend a week with Majella as the routine of her life changes, she just wants to go to work, watch Dallas, and eat the same dinner each night. However… her mother is an alcoholic, her dad disappeared in the Troubles, and her gran has just died. The synopsis tells you that Majella is autistic, but this is her story, and she doesn’t know she is, so I met, I saw, I got to know Majella, as Majella. The extensive list of things she isn’t keen on are announced as the story progresses. The humour Michelle Gallen delivers is punchy, the swearing is particularly sweary, while the heartachy emotion wormed its way into my heart and squeezed. In fact Majella marched her way into my thoughts, she is one of the most wonderful characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and I’d go so far as to say that she is unforgettable. The repetition of her life, echoed through the book, adding emphasis to each new experience. The surrounding town and its folk slipped and exploded into play while the chip shop sits centre stage. Simple and raw yet richly complex, Big Girl, Small Town comes with huge applause and recommendations from me.

The Thursday Murder Club

The Thursday Murder Club

Author: Richard Osman Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Our October 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. An absolutely charming and thoroughly entertaining mystery debut starring four septuagenarians. A real-life murder tickles the detective fancy of certain members from a well-to-do retirement village. Led by Elizabeth they sneakily make themselves indispensable to the investigating officers. I’m already working out who I would cast as Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron if this was made into a TV series. Each character in this amusing (yes it is charming and amusing even with a murder to solve) story is perfectly placed. There is a sense of ease, an inviting warmth, and a hint of old-fashioned, yet this story is actually bang up-to-date. A sharp edge to observations slices through any thoughts of cosy, while there is a gentle poking of fun at middle England. Richard Osman has created a wonderfully readable story that is the perfect introduction to a new series. I can't wait to see what comes next! The Thursday Murder Club has waltzed its way into my heart and the LoveReading Star Books list - highly recommended.

The Neighbours

The Neighbours

Author: Nicola Gill Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/02/2020

So very readable, this debut is an amusing, sparkling and smart look at contemporary life. When separate calamities hit publicist Ginny and her neighbour, actress Cassie, they might just find a helping hand closer than they thought. While the friendship between the two women grows, potential love interests also enter their lives. I adore the fact that the occasionally feisty friendship between two neighbours of different ages takes centre stage. Can I say that Cassie rather steals the show with her antics, she certainly made me smirk, but this isn’t all fun and frothy frolics. Nicola Gill takes a thoughtful step into the more challenging and emotional side of life, handling the difficulties experienced with beautiful consideration. Fresh, witty and sharp, yet warm, wise and loving, The Neighbours really is a rather gorgeous read!

Inheritance

Inheritance

Author: Jenny Eclair Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

A hugely dramatic, intimate and yet expansive family saga that comes with ‘LoveReading Highly Recommended’ stamp, stamped, stamped all over it. Kittiwake, a Cornish holiday mansion originally bought by American heiress Peggy in the late 1940’s, has been handed down through the family. In 2018 the property has been returned to its former glory and a hugely elaborate party is planned, yet echoes of the past have come to haunt the present. The half page prologue most definitely intrigues, it captured my attention and left me wanting more. The story slinks around in time, fleshing out events while creating more questions and all the time singing with lush vibrancy. With several individuals highlighted and featuring throughout the story, Jenny Eclair also turns a short spotlight on other family members. She has created the most beautifully observed characters, small details form an inner core and in a few sentences I felt I knew every last atom of them, and yet, and yet… they were still capable of surprising me. Circles of consequences spiral together and shape the most wonderfully readable story. I gobbled up the words, loved every minute, and the ending sent a shiver of goosebumps down my arms. Inheritance is a story that whispers, suggests, cajoles, sings, shrieks and it is a thoroughly amusing, entertaining, yet also fiercely emotion-packed read.

This Time Next Year

This Time Next Year

Author: Sophie Cousens Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/10/2020

The perfect pick-me-up, this book delivers plenty of romance, smiles, and most importantly enfolds you in a lovely satisfying storyline too. Minnie would rather spend her birthday on New Years Day hiding under her duvet, as far as she’s concerned the last and first day of the year is jinxed. Then she meets Quinn who shares her birthday but otherwise appears to waltz through life, and the attraction is undeniable. Sophie Cousens has the most lovely refreshing style, a lightness of touch and sparkling wit walks hand in hand with considerate contemplation and emotion. Travelling back to the past ensured we saw what had affected, shaped and changed these two characters. I loved the ping-pong of little morsels of information, popping up to build a picture that we had access to, but Abbie and Quinn remained unaware of. Missed chances is the main theme here, but there is so much more on offer too, with access to Quinn ensuring this wasn’t just a one way Minnie street. The supporting characters are a lively bunch, with a mixture of personalities and issues keeping things interesting. Romantic, yes most definitely, This Time Next Year is also an amusing, thoughtful, and friendly read too.

Palm Beach, Finland

Palm Beach, Finland

Author: Antti Tuomainen Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2018

A quirky, smirky, entertaining slice of fabulous. Covert ops detective Jan Nyman finds himself investigating a death in a holiday village in Finland and a rather striking lady just happens to be the suspect. I will admit to being rather excited about this novel, Antti Tuomainen’s last offering was the wonderful The Man Who Died which was shortlisted for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. The first paragraph of Palm Beach, Finland is beautifully written, it quite literally slapped my attention and I settled in with something approaching ghoulish glee! A wonderful wave of dark humour rolls through this novel gathering raised eyebrows and snorts. The cast increases, the action builds, and oh how my tummy and mind tied themselves in knots as the story spun in ever decreasing eccentric circles. I just want to applaud David Hackston as I completely forgot I was reading a translation. I thoroughly, completely and totally recommend Palm Beach, Finland, do grab yourself a copy and pop a do not disturb sign on your door!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/09/2017

An enchanting story with real strength, oodles of charm, warmth and laughter. When Nikki starts a teaching job at a temple, she discovers a class of widows full of earthy tales. Her unauthorised story time with the women brings unwanted attention and danger into their lives. Balli Kaur Jaswal writes with a beautiful balance, humour walks alongside menace, while challenging preconceived ideas. I felt as though a door was opened, allowing more than a glimpse into the lives of these Punajbi women. I met them, grew to love them, laughed, celebrated, cried with them. The eye-opening colour and wit of the stories within the story highlight the fear and resignation they feel. With a real sense of community, yet not shying away from darker and more sinister topics, I flew through this novel on rollercoaster rails of emotion. ‘Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows’ is a fiercely alive and resilient tale with real heart and passion, I adored it.

A Promise of Ankles

A Promise of Ankles

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2020

Hugely entertaining in a wonderfully witty and gentle way, this forms part of the 44 Scotland Street Series. While you could read A Promise of Ankles as a standalone novel and be perfectly and completely happy, you would be missing out on forming a relationship with the rest of series. From young Bertie (what a joy he is), through to student Torquil, and the Duke of Johannesburg, the variety of residents that greet you ensures an engaging read. As is the case with all of his books, the beauty of this read is in the detail. Alexander McCall Smith exquisitely places the finer points, delivering a lightness of touch that hits with precision. The detail matters, expanding and filling the space, allowing feelings freedom to mutter against Irene and delight in Cyril. By the way, the title is gorgeous, and connected to a certain someone, all will become clear! Chosen as a LoveReading star book, A Promise of Ankles delivers real life with a little extra sparkle and is the most lovely reading experience.

Thirty-One Bones

Thirty-One Bones

Author: Morgan Cry Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/07/2020

A thoroughly entertaining, fast-moving and smirky crime caper. When Daniella arrives in Spain for her estranged mother’s funeral, she finds herself in the middle of a property scam, things soon get rather… complicated. The storyline has the feel of an old black and white crime comedy film, but this is bang up to date and in spectacular colour. The chapter titles act as a heads up and several times Morgan Cry tells you what is to come, which just ratchets up the tension. Words jabbed at my awareness, the characters are larger than life, and even when being vile, have the potential to be somewhat loveable. The police transcripts that are scattered through the book are extremely diverting and left me smiling. I read this in one sitting, and the ending arrived with a blast. I would describe Thirty-One Bones as a crime-laden romp, it is pure escapism, and I enjoyed it so much, I’ve included it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.  

The Homeless Heart-Throb

The Homeless Heart-Throb

Author: Crystal Jeans Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/08/2019

A sweary, sexy, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining tale set in a Welsh town. A homeless man sits just off centre stage, though this is actually very much an ensemble piece. Individual stories, each able to exist on their own, combine to become a complete and oh so fabulous community tale. The chapter headings serve as a siren like call to read. Crystal Jeans has created fascinating and unique snapshots, some made me shout with laughter, while in others I flinched. There are some very human attributes and an awful lot of feeling to be found and explored along the way. I particularly enjoyed the apparently randomness of the time line, which zig-zags and throws thoughts skywards. The Homeless Heart-Throb is clever, different, and it just roars along as it fans the provocative flames - loved it!.

Vintage 1954

Vintage 1954

Author: Antoine Laurain Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/06/2019

Romantic, wry and fragrant with the intoxicating bouquet of la vie Parisienne, this book will brighten the greyest of days with Gallic charme and enchantement. Paris, 2017, and Hubert invites a few associates to share a bottle of exquisite 1954 Beaujolais. Among his guests are American tourist Bob, and neighbour Julien. For Julien, 1954 has extra significance, for that was when an ancestor of his experienced “something extraordinary”. Namely, he sighted a flying saucer in a year that became known as “The Year of Flying Saucers” due to the prolific number of sightings. Next morning, each of Hubert’s guests themselves experience something extraordinary as they realise they’ve been transported to a Paris of the past, to a city in which citizens exchange lighthearted bonhomie on buses, and cafes allow patrons to “smoke with impunity”. Initially Bob amusingly muses that “despite globalisation, the French had not lost their soul!” Then it dawns on the wine-sharing group how they came to voyage through time: “when the flying saucer flew over, it changed the Saint-Antoine wine and since then whoever drinks it will go back to 1954”.    Despite enjoying a very pleasant sojourn in the past - encountering Audrey Hepburn in a bar, dining with Edith Piaf - the question is: how can they return to 2017? Driven by droll humour and romance, and with a miraculous climax, this is a fabulously full-bodied-book with crisply sweet undertones.

The Death of Mungo Blackwell

The Death of Mungo Blackwell

Author: Lauren H Brandenburg Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2019

I stepped willingly inside the pages and gave myself up to the story in this quirky, feel-good tale. When Charlie Price has to relocate his family, they end up in the small town of Coraloo where the Blackwell’s rule the roost at the market. As Charlie, Velveteen, and their son Gideon find their lives turned upside down, will the Blackwell’s be a help or hinderance? Alongside the main story, sits another from long ago, it almost feels like folktale as it meanders along, yet is completely in tune with the occurrences of now. I was absolutely charmed by the characters, town, and storyline on offer. Lauren H .Brandenburg adds enchantment to this tale, without using magic or wizardry. My expectations altered as I read, and the story developed beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed The Death of Mungo Blackwell, it is gorgeous escapism while focusing on love, family, and friendship.  

How to Build a Boyfriend from Scratch

How to Build a Boyfriend from Scratch

Author: Sarah Archer Format: Ebook Release Date: 22/07/2019

A thoughtful, comical, thoroughly entertaining relationship story with a difference.  Kelly is an introverted perfectionist, she is also a leading robotics engineer. When she feels overwhelming pressure from her family to find a date for her sister’s wedding, it makes complete sense to build her own boyfriend… doesn’t it? I instantly fell into the pages, this is such a delightfully readable tale, made all the more refreshing by Kelly’s family and friends. If this were a film, it would be billed as an offbeat Hollywood romcom. It borders on the quirky (perhaps more than borders with a robot as the romantic interest!). The chaos surrounding Kelly’s decision snowballs, creating smirks, and also intrigue, how on earth was she going to rescue the situation? While Sarah Archer embraces fantastical, she also focuses on legitimate thoughts and feelings, creating a wonderful and original balance. How to Build A Boyfriend From Scratch is a positive, smile-filled, engaging read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Author: Abbi Waxman Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/07/2019

Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill will raise many smiles as it follows twenty-nine-year-old Nina’s journey from self-contained bookworm to open book (pun entirely intended). LA resident Nina is perfectly happy with her life, thank you very much. She loves working in a bookstore, loves her cat Phil, loves excelling at quiz nights and loves how organised her life is. Yet “she had a niggling suspicion she was underperforming in some way. Surely her purpose in life wasn’t simply to read as many books as possible?” And she’s also aware that “the trivia, the reading, the book club... they were simply weapons of self-defense.” These niggles escalate when Nina’s regimentally planned life is disrupted by falling for a member of an opposition quiz team, and discovering a huge new family when the father she never knew passes away and leaves her something in his will. Suddenly – horrors of horrors! – Nina is forced to interact with a whole bunch of strangers, but to her surprise she discovers she actually likes spending time with other people, and that maybe – just maybe – she does have space in her life for a significant other.  Truly a treat for bibliophiles who’ll nod knowingly at Nina’s devotion to reading, her complex home library cataloguing system, her observation that “coming out of a book was always painful”, this is also excellent on female camaraderie, anxiety and the complexities of family bonds. Awash with whimsy and peppered with amusing asides addressed to the reader, this is romantic fiction at its feel-good, funny, outlandish best. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Joe Country

Joe Country

Author: Mick Herron Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/02/2020

This new story in the Jackson Lamb Thriller Series of awkward back room spies, just fills my slightly warped little heart with joy. Slough House is full of exiled spooks, led by the indomitable Jackson Lamb who somehow manages to keep the slow horses moving. Here, the team are hunting down a man who could just break them. One particular sentence had me snorting, and reading it out to a friend, who also snorted. But, if I told each of my friends in order, about every clever sentence I came across in Joe Country, I would probably run out of friends to be able to tell. This is a series that makes me shout with laughter, cringe as things go from slightly to spectacularly wrong, and wince as the barbs shoot home. Mick Herron started with Slow Horses, and each book has been as skilfully written as the first, earning him amongst other accolades two Crime Writers’ Association Daggers. Joe Country is the the sixth in the series, it’s amusing with cracking writing and a storyline that kept me wide-eyed until the early hours. Loved, loved, absolutely loved it, and I’ve chosen Joe Country as one of my Liz Picks of the Month.

Three's A Crowd

Three's A Crowd

Author: Simon Booker Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/08/2021

A thoroughly modern, wonderfully readable and clever romantic comedy that acts as a perfect pick-me-up. Tom, Dick, and Harry (well actually it’s Tom, Richard, and Harriet but who could resist!) find themselves in the most awkward of situations when they start dating. Estranged father and son Tom and Richard don’t share the same surname and when Harriet decides to date them both, by the time they realise, love has already worked its magic. I was hooked from the very first sentence, an entertaining web is woven as each distinct voice tells their own side of the story. The age range of characters is handled beautifully and there are a few knotty intrigues to unravel along the way. Simon Brooker writes with a truly witty pen, I smiled, laughed, and even exclaimed out loud. There are also sweet notes, canny moments, and a penetrating blast of reality. I genuinely had no idea where this diverting tale was going and I just want to applaud the ending, for me it was perfectly placed. Three’s A Crowd is a romantic comedy with bite, it’s a glorious blend of sweet and sharp, and sits very nicely in our LoveReading Star Books.

The Second Worst Restaurant in France

The Second Worst Restaurant in France

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/05/2019

Gentle and pointed good humour abounds in this lovely read, Alexander McCall Smith excels in creating whimsical yet sharply observed novels with real heart. He was the winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2015 with Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party which I absolutely adored, and The Second Worst Restaurant in France certainly lived up to my expectations. Food writer Paul Stewart escapes to France to stay with his cousin Chloe in order to finish his latest book, however, located in the village is the restaurant aptly known as second worst in France. Within a few pages I had an understanding of Paul, he very simply makes himself known and acts as a perfect foil to Chloe, who on occasion rather steals the limelight! A whole host of wonderful characters enter the story as Paul’s livelihood is threatened and everything is thrown into a delightful muddle. The Second Worst Restaurant in France is a gorgeously easy read, I smiled, I laughed, and enjoyed every moment… PS I would love to see Chloe feature in her own story, what a woman! 

Why Mummy Swears

Why Mummy Swears

Author: Gill Sims Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/12/2018

You don’t have to be a Mummy to read this, or in fact to absolutely adore it. I am not a member of the Mummy club, yet I laughed hard, I smirked, I felt the pain, and the love too. This is set over a year in the life of frustrated mum Ellen, who has an eleven and a nine year old (oh and a husband and dog who convincingly add to the chaos). I would imagine there will be parents breathing a huge sigh of relief as they think, ‘I’m glad it’s not just me’. Just in case you aren’t keen, yes there is a fair bit of swearing, including some fantastically imaginative pairing of words that I definitely want to remember. Gill Sims keeps the tone light and bright, yet the pressure of balancing work and children can definitely be felt. I feel as though Ellen could be my friend, I could hear her voice as clearly as anything as I read. I actually could have been on the phone to Ellen, with her offloading her woes (while I tried unsuccessfully to stop snorting with laughter). I simply raced through ‘Why Mummy Swears’, it is a knockout read, great fun, full of empathy, and highly entertaining. 

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.

Pondweed

Pondweed

Author: Lisa Blower Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/07/2020

Wonderfully quirky and yet earthy and tangible, this is an engaging and entertaining read. When is a holiday not a holiday? When 71 year old pond supplies salesman Selwyn Robby arrives home towing the work caravan, he tells his childhood sweetheart Ginny she has to pack her bag as they’re off to Wales. What follows is a road trip full of strange encounters, soul-searching and revelation. With a few words Lisa Blower allowed me to not only see, but feel the words. Descriptions slipped from the page into vibrant life. I could vividly picture the saucy mermaid curtains and fully stocked bar in the Toogood Aquatics caravan which becomes their world and future. I floundered alongside Ginny and Selwyn and I ached for the two of them even as I smiled. Pondweed flipped me onto a different thought path, where I strolled for a while and thoroughly enjoyed my journey.

There's Only One Danny Garvey

There's Only One Danny Garvey

Author: David F. Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/01/2021

A powerful, eloquent, earthy and emotional novel about family, regret, hope, and redemption. Former footballing prodigy Danny Garvey returns home to manage the local football team, yet past secrets haunt the present. I simply fell into this novel, fell in love with both the writing and storyline, and similarly adored Welcome to the Heady Heights. David F Ross writes so beautifully, images spark into life, so vibrantly real they almost hurt. During the course of this novel I found myself roaring with laughter, high on feel-goods, then caught up in plummeting emotions that caused a physical ache… this is a novel with real heart. The direct thoughts of the other headline characters appear in italics, and boy does it create atmosphere. My head was full of the added information, creating a jigsaw, while searching for the missing pieces without realising it. The ending gave me full-on goosebumps, and I sat for a goodly while in contemplation after finishing. I want to shout from the rooftops about There’s Only One Danny Garvey, hand on heart it’s blimmin brilliant! 

One in a Million

One in a Million

Author: Lindsey Kelk Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/07/2018

A bang up-to-date, bright, hugely entertaining read set in the world of social media. Digital marketing agency owner and ultra competitive Annie and her business may be up for three awards, however they still need their clients to pay on time, otherwise the business may be over before it can really establish itself. A rather demanding bet, to make a stranger famous on instagram in just 30 days, leads Annie into a Pygmalion dance of discovery. Lindsey Kelk really does have the most delightfully amusing and engaging writing style. I often found myself smirking and at several points actually snorting with laughter. The supporting characters surrounding Annie are wonderful in their own right, and help create an all-embracing world. The romance element forms beautifully, in no particular rush, allowing time to get to know Annie and friends and really care about them. ‘One in a Million’ is lively, lovely, friendly and absolutely perfect if you like your romance served with wit and humour.

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/08/2020

So beautifully written you can just slip into this gentle wander through Botswana alongside the kind and astute investigations of Mma Ramotswe. During a quiet patch at the agency, Precious has friends in need and Charlie is placed in a difficult position. If you haven’t read any of this much loved series, do start at the beginning with the aptly named The No:1 Ladies Detective Agency. We are now at the twentieth novel and the absolute charm of these books is in getting to know the characters (Mma Makutsi is a personal favourite). Alexander McCall Smith excels in creating a light yet warm atmosphere where he quietly looks at complex issues. Human nature in all its wonder is examined with mellow observations and compassionate wit sitting alongside the vivid heat of Botswana as it waits for rain. To The Land Of Long Lost Friends is a lovely, affectionate read and a fine addition to this celebrated series. Find out more about Alexander McCall Smith in our Book Chat blog post.

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.

Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/05/2019

What a lovely, charming, friendly read this is, an enticing ‘will they, won’t they’ romance is equally matched by the story of animals in need and children requiring an alternative learning environment. Molly Baker runs her beloved farm as a school, when a new student arrives, Molly’s life is turned thoroughly upside down and in to a roundabout spin. I adored the explanation at the beginning of the novel by Carole Matthews that Hope Farm is based on the real Animal Antiks Farm. The first sentence had me chortling and I settled further down into the comfort of my sofa to enjoy the read. Molly tells her own story, I could really hear her voice and her personality shines through. Can I say that the animals very nearly steal the show for me, having had a downright grumpy (read that as flesh tearing vampire) rescue cat myself, their individual quirks made me smile. ‘Happiness for Beginners’ is entertaining, heart-warming and ever so readable, I raced through in one sitting and enjoyed every second. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

The Cows

The Cows

Author: Dawn O'Porter Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/04/2017

April 2017 Debut of the Month. Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur at any age, life doesn't run smoothly, and these three women hold out the hand of friendship to all of us. We see and feel deeply hidden thoughts, witness shockingly embarrassing moments, and I found myself wincing at their pain, snorting with laughter, and cheering them on. Dawn O’Porter has written a stonkingly good read, I stayed up well past my bedtime into the early hours in order to finish it in one sitting. My feelings went into free fall and occasionally tied themselves up in knots as I read. ‘The Cows’ slams with impact, slaps adversity in the face, and offers supportive understanding in our modern world. Highly recommended! ~ Liz Robinson

The Exact Opposite of Okay

The Exact Opposite of Okay

Author: Laura Steven Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/03/2018

Comedy Women in Print Prize 2019 Winner A witty, sharp, provocative tale full of heart… this is a book that made me smile and ache with sadness, sometimes at the same time. 18 year old Izzy O’Neill finds that the world is bewildering place when explicit photos of her with a politicians son emerge online. Why is she is the one who is trolled, bullied, torn apart in the press? Thank goodness for her friends! Laura Steven has created a spiky, sharp-shooting, wonderfully endearing character in Izzy. Her diary-like entries are vividly expressive, and full of humour and attitude. I wanted to shout and berate the unfairness of the situation, to fling out my arms in protection. Written for Young Adults, I would recommend this for older teens and upwards. Teenagers and adults alike should be aware of the importance of what is written here. The Exact Opposite of Okay is an edgy, penetrating, thoughtful read with a very pertinent sting, I simply adored it.

Killing It

Killing It

Author: Asia Mackay Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/07/2018

Oh, how I thoroughly enjoyed this feisty, entertaining, full-on read. Working mum Alexis returns to the office after maternity leave. She’s one of only a few women agents at Platform Eight, an especially secret part of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. She now has to prove she can fit motherhood around the male dominated world of being a spy. Alexis stamps her personality all over the prologue, convincingly setting the scene. She tells her own story in a fast, tongue-in-cheek, bright tone, and I immediately warmed to her. Firmly on side and by her side as she races through her first operation I smirked and chortled as I read. Asia Mackay balances the theme of working mum with spy just perfectly, and I didn’t question it once. Killing It is uniquely fabulous and full of attitude, The Nursery is next in what will hopefully continue as a series, and just can’t come soon enough.

Rescue Me

Rescue Me

Author: Sarra Manning Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/01/2021

A sparkling bright and entertaining contemporary romance, and just to make you smile even more there’s a rescue dog who shares (steals) the limelight. When Margot and Will meet and both fall in love with Blossom at the rescue centre, they reluctantly agree to share custody. Sarra Manning has the most wonderfully light touch, she adds notes of sunshine to proceedings even when darkness threatens. With poo bags, dog treats, and increasingly bad behaviour Blossom is an absolute delight. Margot or Will head each chapter with each given equal billing, they feel entirely relatable, flaws and all. The background characters add colour and vibrancy to an already lovely novel. This really is the perfect read for anyone wanting to escape from reality for a while. So, wrap yourself up in the comforting embrace of an uplifting modern romance and sit back and relax with Rescue Me.

The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson

The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson

Author: Lauren H Brandenburg Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/10/2020

A really lovely, definitely quirky and uplifting tale that makes for a perfect pick-me-up read. While this could be read as a standalone it is actually a sequel, and I really do recommend first introducing yourself to the town of Coraloo and its inhabitants via The Death of Mungo Blackwell. Here, the focus moves to Roy and Margarette who have just become engaged. Their families are sworn enemies and either try to disrupt proceedings or lord it over their rivals. A mystery also flits between the pages, with Roy on the case. I really have fallen in love with Coraloo, it calls to me and is somewhere I’d love to visit if I could, even though as I’m not a citizen of the town and I’d be known as an ‘other’. The bizarre walks hand in hand with good old-fashioned hospitality. Lauren H Brandenburg balances sweet humour, crafty shenanigans, and glorious characters with an artful pen. There is something joyous about the The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson, it’s a little bit different, and a lot of fun.  

Would Like to Meet

Would Like to Meet

Author: Rachel Winters Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/04/2020

An absolute delight of a romantic comedy debut, stuffed full of smiles, flirtations, and feel-good moments. Evie has to prove that it is possible to meet and fall in movie-style love, her job depends on it, and so her life is taken over by arranging ridiculously cheesy meet-cutes. The intriguing chatty prologue made me snort with laughter and I found myself relaxing and sinking into the story. Text messages, emails, and screenplay excerpts appear within the pages (but not too many), which keeps things interesting. Anette, and Evie’s friends are a fabulous supporting cast, while the two leading men add an edge to the will-they-won’t-they potential! Rachel Winters keeps things beautifully bright and breezy, bringing out the very best of the romcom. Would Like To Meet is very lovely indeed, in fact, it allows you to properly escape reality for a while and I really didn’t want to leave the pages!   

Gravity Is the Thing

Gravity Is the Thing

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/01/2020

If books were friends (and more than a few are) then I feel as though I have met the most wonderfully quirky forever friend. Gravity is the Thing is a complete joy of a book, and one that refuses to be pigeonholed into a genre. Abi, a Sydney cafe owner, has been invited to attend a retreat to learn the truth about ‘The Guidebook’, chapters have been arriving since she was a teen, and have kept her company in the darkest of times. The book floats between 1990 and 2010, and as Abi opens up her life, she revisits, examines, and searches for answers. Jaclyn Moriarty writes with the most beautiful eloquence, sharp pointed observations sit alongside the tightest of warm hugs. I wanted to meander, to wander, to eke out my reading time, and yet hoover up the words and the feelings they created in one heady go. I contemplated loss and grief, I smiled, laughed, and believed… oh how I believed! Gravity is the Thing is different (in the best possible way), and I predict that this will be one of my favourite books of the year. So, as well as being one of our Books of the Month, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. It really is that gorgeous!  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Sarong Party Girls

Sarong Party Girls

Author: Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/08/2019

Written in Singlish - “a tossed salad of the different languages and Chinese dialects that the country’s multiethnic population speaks” - this exhilarating novel follows brazen Jazzy’s mission to marry a wealthy “ang moh” (white) man. Almost 27, she warns her friends that ”if we don’t get married, engaged or even nail down a boyfriend soon—my god, we might as well go ahead and book a room at Singapore Casket… But luckily for us, we still have one big hope: ang moh guys”, because “if you wear a tight tight dress or short short skirt, these ang mohs will still steam over you”. To this end, Jazzy’s life is an intense cycle of spending her days working for a newspaper editor who likes to “rubba rubba” his employees, followed by long nights at fancy clubs. Through her predatory attitude and enduring of a whole lot of objectification, this novel is razor-sharp on male entitlement, inequality, racial stereotypes and global capitalism. Indeed, Jazzy wasn’t always a Sarong Party Girl herself: “I would see women who are so obviously going after guys just for status and really look down on them. What kind of woman is so pathetic to chase after a husband just for the kind of handbag, car or condo they can buy them?” And then one night, it seems that enough is enough. Jazzy has an epiphany at dawn after a one hell of a wake-up call night out. What a fresh, funny and wildly acerbic treat this is. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

The Big Chill

The Big Chill

Author: Doug Johnstone Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/08/2020

A stimulating, provocative brew containing drama, intrigue, dark humour, and thoughtful contemplation. It shouldn’t work, yet it does! The Skelf women return for a second outing running their funeral home and private investigation business side by side. Still affected by the turmoil from the first book in the series A Dark Matter (do read this first), investigations begin after a car crashes into the grave at a funeral. The first sentence is a corker, and sets the tone. Each chapter is headed by one of the three Skelf women, with the individual voices of grandmother Dorothy, her daughter Jenny, and granddaughter Hannah independently vibrant. I particularly like the multi-generational aspect to this series with the storyline bustling from one woman to the next. There is a fair bit of death to be found here, but where there’s death there is life too. All the small things that make up our existence, plus some huge pummelling emotions such as grief and anger are on offer. Doug Johnstone paints a multi-dimensional 360 degree vibrant view, and sparked a heady mix of thoughts and feelings as I read. The Big Chill is an energetic, colourful, and dare I say entertaining read that encourages both smirks and reflection.

Queenie

Queenie

Author: Candice Carty-Williams Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/02/2020

A sharp and smart debut novel, containing real heart (both ache and joy). 25 year old Queenie is on a break from her boyfriend, can’t concentrate at work, and is having a hard time balancing her life. Feeling trapped as she moves in with her grandparents, she soon finds her life closing down. Within a few pages I was settled in my chair and didn’t budge as I read this in one wonderfully heady sitting. Popping backwards and forwards in time Candice Carty-Williams opens a doorway into Queenie’s soul. She created a connection for me to reach out and touch and I felt as though I had become a part of Queenie’s life. I was there with her as things went wrong, wanted to reassure, vent, be there to support her. There are parts that tiptoed across my awareness, spiking stray thoughts. Elsewhere is raw and unflinching making my senses burn, before a moment later I was tipped into a sunshiny smile and chortle. While Queenie herself breaks down stereotypes about black women, her friend Cassandra doesn’t do the same with  regards to Jewish stereotypes. Big bad life in all its pain and glory stamps across the page. Queenie is a bold, fiercely provocative and thought-provoking read.

How to Raise an Elephant

How to Raise an Elephant

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/09/2020

An absolutely charming addition to a much loved series. There is something so uplifting about these novels, Alexander McCall Smith has the ability to embrace the intimate in order to open far-reaching views. Mma Ramotswe is troubled by a strange smell in her van, her new neighbour causes concern, and a distant cousin asks for help. Can you believe that we are now at book twenty-one in this evocative series which began with The No:1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in 1998? Do you have a favourite, I think this could well be mine…though as with all good series that create a world for you to inhabit, the latest usually becomes your most treasured! There is a graceful ease to the words of Alexander McCall Smith, he is so gently yet evocatively descriptive and as soon as I started to read a sense of ease enveloped me. The pace slows, the small things matter, and Mma Ramotswe is just glorious. How to Raise an Elephant really is the most delightful read, and it deserves to be included as a LoveReading Star Book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Frankissstein

Frankissstein

Author: Jeanette Winterson Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/05/2019

Darkly playful, Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein is an astonishing intertextual re-conjuring of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, melding an interpretation of Shelley’s novel and life with an exploration of what it is to be human, freedom, sex, gender and love. It’s thought-provoking, thrilling, and funny to boot.  Contextualised in - and interspersed with - Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein, we are transported to Memphis where modern-day transgender Dr Ry Shelley attends a robotics expo to “consider how robots will affect our mental and physical health.” Here Ry encounters Ron, the Welsh inventor of a new range of Sexbots he believes will provide a woman to satisfy every male need, from deluxe bots who can hold a conversation (“she waits till you’re finished, of course, no interrupting”), to Germaine, a “70s feminist version with no bra, messy hair and a dildo for anal play”. It’s at the expo that Ry first encounters - and later falls for - Professor Victor Stein, a leader in the field of Artificial Intelligence who has dealings with The Alcor Life Extension Foundation, an Arizona facility that processes dead bodies with the aim of indefinitely extending life. Alongside the love story, and the juxtaposition of Frankenstein with contemporary conversations around A.I., the novel also addresses Brexit, bigotry, racism and English insularity: “The English are serial racists – one group gets accepted, another group becomes the scapegoat”. And back in Shelley’s day, England is described as, "small-minded, smug, self-righteous, unjust, a country that hates the stranger, whether that stranger be a foreigner or an atheist, or a poet, or a thinker, or a radical, or a woman.” Profound, absurd and mischievous, this is an incisive, suggestive romp for our times.

Johnny and the Dead

Johnny and the Dead

Author: Terry Pratchett Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/06/2018

Fantastic, funny and weirdly wonderful, with beautifully apt illustrations by Mark Beech. Johnny can see and talk to the dead, not scary zombie ghostly dead people, just rather ordinary dead people who don’t want anyone to build on their cemetery. ‘Johnny and the Dead’ was first published in 1993, yet is still bang up to date in terms of humour, wit, and observations. Terry Pratchett was wonderfully clever at pointing out just how absurd humans can be sometimes. He takes the dead, from the First World War Blackbury Pals, to former magician Mr Vicenti and brings them to life, well, perhaps to life isn’t quite the best way to describe it, but he certainly makes them accessible and approachable. Terry Pratchett makes me laugh, most importantly he makes me think, and I absolutely adore his books. ‘Johnny and the Dead’ walks into ghostly graveyards and makes them interesting, fascinating places, full of information that we really shouldn’t forget, or build over!

The Man Who Died

The Man Who Died

Author: Antti Tuomainen Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/10/2017

Ooh, this is a different offering from Antti Tuomainen, and I absolutely loved it! Short it may be, but boy does this novel pack a belter of a punch, and the blows just keep on being delivered. 37 year old Jaakko learns that he is dying, he has been poisoned and sets out to discover who his murderer is, before he actually succumbs to the poison. At my first smirk I almost felt guilty, should I be laughing… further occasions of raised eyebrows and blurts of laughter escaped, so I relaxed and really settled in to this fabulously entertaining read. Antti Tuomainen has hit just the right notes, and I can picture Jaakko and the other characters lighting up the big screen. Devilishly dark humour abounds in ‘The Man Who Died’ paired with an absolutely cracking storyline, earning a tremendous thumbs up from me.  ~ Liz Robinson

Ashes of the Sun

Ashes of the Sun

Author: Django Wexler Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Immensely enjoyable, this high fantasy novel contains characters and a storyline to die for. Oh, and if you think you don’t like fantasy, you might want to think again - this has heaps of drama, action, and thoughtful intrigue, as well as allowing an escape from the reality of the world we are living in. Ashes of the Sun is the first book in the new Burninglade and Silvereye Series. Gyre seeks revenge on the Twilight Order who took his little sister Maya twelve years ago, but when the siblings meet again they find themselves on opposing sides in a war for survival. When it comes to fantasy novels I am a reading fiend, I find that this particular genre offers some of the very best series going and can already safely say that this will be a series I will be camping outside of bookshops for. Django Wexler has built a post-apocalyptic world that you can immerse yourself in, I didn’t stop, doubt, question, just wholeheartedly believed. I grew in knowledge alongside Gyre and Maya, and absolutely loved the combination of technology and inner power. Not only is this a fast-paced beautifully diverse read, I found the humour perfectly timed. In the acknowledgements Django Wexler says that the novel originated after a series of conversations about Star Wars, and you can definitely see some influences as you read. Ashes of the Sun has it all, and comes with the higher than highly recommended tag from me.

The Mum Who'd Had Enough

The Mum Who'd Had Enough

Author: Fiona Gibson Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/06/2018

Tremendously entertaining, and truly captivating. Nate is in for a shock, after 16 years of marriage his wife has left him and their son, with just a note listing all of his faults. Nate is determined to right his wrongs, and win Sinead back. I always smile when I pick up a Fiona Gibson book as I know I’m in for a real treat, she has the ability to connect, to enter thoughts and feelings while delivering a wonderfully humorous and enticing read. This is a beautifully balanced novel with a decidedly knowing edge. It may well provoke thoughts, and create moments of awareness, as there are occasional provocative stings along the way. I found my feelings unravelling and then tangling again, there are some unexpected moments and I have to say that I absolutely adored that ending! ‘The Mum Who’d Had Enough’ is a joyful corker of a read, thoroughly recommended.

Bottled Goods

Bottled Goods

Author: Sophie van Llewyn Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/07/2018

Oh my, must-read needs to be stamped all over this book as it is 188 pages of simply wonderful storytelling, with each short chapter building to create a cohesive, biting, beautiful whole. Set in Romania in the 1970’s, Alina and her husband find themselves confronted by the secret service when her brother-in-law defects, can the hidden old folk ways be the answer to their problems? While this is a truly stunning read, it isn’t always comfortable or easy, there were occasions when I really flinched, took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, but each time I was drawn back in as I also smirked, laughed, felt wonder and had moments of real discovery. The first chapter sent my thoughts scuttling and seeking answers, did I believe, did I understand? Sophie van Llewyn is an award-winning flash fiction author, each chapter of ‘Bottled Goods’ is short, could almost exist in its own right, yet remove one and the entire story would fracture. The ending is utterly perfect, and had me sitting in contemplative silence. I want to shout about Bottled Goods from the rooftops, I adored this thought-provoking unique novella and have chosen it as one of my picks of the month.

Sweetpea

Sweetpea

Author: C. J. Skuse Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/11/2017

The first adult novel by an acclaimed children's book author, Sweetpea hits all the right buttons. A dark, twisted read about a female serial killer with dollops of humour, sarcasm and a lightweight approach to a serious subject that shouldn't work but does! Rhiannon loves her pet dog and her doll house and works in a menial position at her local newspaper. She also kills people in imaginative ways. None of them are actually innocent; well, maybe one was... Her boyfriend is cheating on her with a friend to his peril. You can't help but smile along with Rhiannon as her diary unfolds, bitchy, sarcastic, lethal. Skuse is clever and maintains just the right balance of immorality, belly laughs, sinister actions and eye-opening commentary on the absurdities and pettiness of everyday life to, keeping you gripped and on the hook, both smiling and squirming. I'm looking forward to her next 'grown-up' book, as this one will be hard to beat! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The LoveReading view... Oooh, this is a truly cringe-inducing, yet addictive, whammy of a read. ‘Sweetpea’ is the diary of a serial killer, Rhiannon may look sweet and innocent, but inside that shell, is a plotting, deviously twisted mind. The first chapter shocked me, in fact every chapter shocked me, I blurted with laughter and then burned with guilt at my reaction as words spilled from Rhiannon’s mind onto the page. If you find the thought of an evil-thinking, murdering psychopath, who tosses imaginative profanities like litter a little off-putting, then do think twice before opening this book. If you do peek, be warned, I found it impossible to put down, this is a psychopath whose words struck a chord and made me wonder at my own propensity for wickedness. This is the first novel for adults from C. J. Skuse, and I think she must have an evil little monster residing in her pen, yet as information was revealed, my thoughts halted, coiled, altered. ‘Sweetpea’ is a wonderfully surprising novel, obvious, a shock-fest, in your face… yet incredibly subtle and thought-provoking too, I loved it, I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson Books in The Rhiannon Series: 1. Sweetpea 2. In Bloom Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.

Mrs Death Misses Death

Mrs Death Misses Death

Author: Salena Godden Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/01/2021

February 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. Excuse me while I rave about this book, it’s so different, so powerful, so fabulous that I’m experiencing reading elation after finishing it. When Wolf Willeford meets Mrs Death, he becomes her scribe and travels with her to view humanity as it circulates from life to death. A renowned performance poet, this is Salena Godden’s debut novel. In 2018 a BBC Radio 4 documentary was broadcast as it followed the novel as it was written over twelve months. Containing poetry, chants, commentary, recollections, moments in time, and all within the most wonderful story, this is a recognisable yet totally unique take on death. Her words entered my thoughts and made me see, search, examine, they entered my heart and made me feel. Small intimate and intricate moments sit alongside huge stories that are all linked by death. My feelings span from humour to heartbreak, from darkness to light, and all the while the story flows with strength and beauty. There may well be some emotionally difficult paths to explore along the way, and while uncomfortable reading in places this is as much about life, love, and hope as it is death. This is a reading experience I won’t forget and I just had to choose it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month and of course a LoveReading Star Book. Celebrating life and opening up questions on how we view death, Mrs Death Misses Death is a wake-up call of a book that I will be recommending far and wide.

Bear Head

Bear Head

Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/01/2021

An absolute whammy of a read, and a must for anyone who enjoys a smart, fast-paced, hugely entertaining blast of speculative fiction. When Jimmy agrees to smuggle data in his headspace, he really didn’t expect it to start talking to him. Honey the bioform bear needs to make contact with an entity on Mars, and Jimmy finds himself an unwitting accessory. While you could definitely read this as a standalone, I really do recommend reading Dogs of War, in which Honey also appears, as an introduction to this fabulous bioform world. Arthur C Clarke Award winning Adrian Tchaikovsky has successfully combined weighty, thought-provoking moments, with a Trump-like baddie, full-on action and smirky humour. And oh, how I smirked, Jimmy acts as a beautifully timed foil to the powerfully intense Honey. This is one of those books where you can just throw yourself and abandon yourself to a fabulous story, knowing you will be entertained throughout. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, Bear Head comes with a colossal thumbs up from me. 

Three Little Truths

Three Little Truths

Author: Eithne Shortall Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2019

Pure, wonderful, gobble-it-up reading entertainment. Really, what more could you want… friends, gossip, and a mystery that connives and conspires its little socks off! Pine Road, Dublin houses your usual group of very different people, all trying to live together as neighbours. Martha and her family have moved in, everyone wants to know why, and tongues are soon wagging! The first few pages made me laugh and set the group of residents up beautifully as a WhatsApp group overflows with juicy gossip on Pine Road. While I often chuckled, Eithne Shortall also sensitively and thoughtfully handles the more difficult sides to life. The characters, even if on the page for moments, simply burst with vivid intensity. This is one of those books that not only entertains, it also holds the most rewarding and satisfying story. If Pine Road and its fabulous inhabitants actually existed, I would want to pay a visit, and perhaps even stay a while, not for too long though, as parking is a problem! Three Little Truths is an absolute joy of a read, and comes as highly recommended by me.

Wrapped Up In You

Wrapped Up In You

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2019

Full to overflowing with love and laughter, this is a simply wonderful Christmas treat. Janie Johnson comes back from safari having fallen in love with with her tour guide, everyone warns her against following her heart, will she listen? Originally released in 2011, and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2012, this is the perfect time to reissue this wonderfully uplifting story. It now includes a follow-up short story, and an extract from Carole’s new novel. Carole Matthews has combined the African Maasai Mara with Christmas, snow, and a bad-tempered cat which ensures this festive offering is just that little bit different. I knew I was in safe hands and just settled down for a lovely read. I smiled, chuckled, and felt that wonderful warm glow that comes from a double-serving of romance and the most wonderful time of the year. Wrapped Up In You, with its huggable characters and storyline, is a smile in a book, how lovely! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

A Ration Book Wedding

A Ration Book Wedding

Author: Jean Fullerton Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2020

Take a compelling step back in time to London of the Second World War, then stroll behind the obvious and meet a family full of rich, gossipy, vibrant life. Francesca Fabrino has intimate ties to the Brogan’s, she is best friends with Mattie, and has always held a torch for Charlie. As the Blitz rages, Francesca has a life changing decision to make. Part of the Ration Book series, we see the Brogan’s return, they really are a vividly dramatic group, almost larger than life, yet you don’t actually have to already know them in order to enjoy A Ration Book Wedding. Grandmother Queenie continues her reign (her ferociously wielding a cudgel made me blurt with laughter), while the rest of the family deal with relationship highs and lows, and some of them, the occasional wheel and deal. Jean Fullerton allows access to the seedier side of wartime London, with a visit or two to strip clubs. She also knowledgeably highlights life as it would have been for people living under bombing raids and rationing. A Ration Book Wedding is a simply lovely escape, full of drama and family intrigue, it really is a terrific addition to this series.

The Juniper Gin Joint

The Juniper Gin Joint

Author: Lizzie Lovell Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/07/2018

Gin-inspired joie de vivre and fresh starts abound in this surefire summer tonic for fans of Jenny Colgan. This spritely, lighthearted tale of loss, love and picking up the pieces with gin-infused panache sees soon-to-be-fifty-year-old Jen (Juniper to her loveably eccentric dad) take on the council when the museum she works in faces closure at the hands of a slimy local businessman and councillor she has history with. Jen has been having a tough time of late, what with her husband abandoning her for a younger woman, her son off travelling in Canada, her mum’s death and her daughter recently departed for uni. But with the support of her characterful colleagues and family, not to mention “sexy silver fox” Tom, Jen finds renewed vigor for life when they hatch a plan to save the museum by transforming it into a gin distillery.  Serving up a cocktail of Victoria Wood-esque quips and droll domestic observations with a chaser of romance, this makes for a funny sunny day read.

The Family Gift

The Family Gift

Author: Cathy Kelly Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/10/2020

The ups and downs of real life sparkle with an extra glint in this thoughtful, warm, uplifting read that I completely adored. We focus on one family and 42 year old Freya as she tries to juggle her family, career, and a secret that is eating a hole inside her. Cathy Kelly has the most wonderful way with words, this book feels like a friend, and friendship comes with fabulous as well as thought-provoking times. While there are some unsettling moments, the author also knows when to gather you up in the most enormous hug. Oh how I loved Freya, she has an inner voice that is rather wicked and prods Freya’s insecurities into being. Teddy is the most wonderful little pickle and along with Mildred adds some well-timed moments of humour. Perfectly bittersweet, amusing, and big-hearted, I have included The Family Gift as a Liz Pick of the Month, it’s gorgeous.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All

Author: Jonas Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/04/2016

May 2016 Book of the Month. What do you get if you add together one receptionist, one priest, one very hard to control hitman, and 19 criminals on the warpath… you get an unholy, riotous whirlwind of a read, that’s what! Jonas Jonasson has done it again, ‘Hitman Anders and the Meaning Of It All’ is a wonderfully quirky and amusing must read tale. Jonasson’s trademark gentle yet sharply observant humour, balances out the criminal element of this story beautifully. Hitman Anders is going to join my list of favourite characters of distinction, I wonder what dastardly deeds he’ll get up to when he meets the one-hundred-year-old man, who also resides on that list! From the first paragraph, right through to the last, this is a gorgeously readable walk on the darker and lighter side of life.

The Charmed Wife

The Charmed Wife

Author: Olga Grushin Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/01/2021

A powerful, provocative and quite wonderful modern literary fairy tale, but if you enter expecting ‘happily ever after’ you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather than sugar and spice and all things nice, you’ll instead find a novel brimming with exquisitely sharp and pointed attitude. Thirteen and a half years after Cinderella married the man of her dreams and she’s had enough, she wants out. The prologue pierces love, and binds hate, firmly setting the tone, yet wicked humour and gentle observations also tickle the page. The echoes of well known fairy tales make themselves felt, adding to the enchantment. There is much to take delight in, yet beware, all magic is paid for and you’ll need to be on the look out for hidden snares. I adore the tale that runs alongside the main story, of the two mice that accompanied Cinderella and live in a world circling through an entire civilisation. How easy it is to view what you want to see, rather than what is actually there. As the fairy tale splinters and a shimmer of reality breaks through, I found my thoughts tossed high in the air, and where they will land, I still don’t know. So bright, so clever, and thought-provoking this just had to sit as a Liz Pick of the Month. I danced through the deep dark magic of The Charmed Wife, long live the fairy tale that lives beyond 'happily ever after'.

Saving Missy

Saving Missy

Author: Beth Morrey Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

A debut novel to read slowly, to savour, to adore. Yes, this is a rather special and beautiful read, and I want to climb a few rooftops to shout about it. Missy Carmichael is lonely, she lives by herself in a huge house, when opportunities arise for friendship and more, can she reach out and take them? I admit to having fallen in love with Missy, she isn’t perfect and she makes mistakes (who doesn’t!), yet there is something about her that tiptoed into my heart and soul and has taken up residence. So often we just see a snapshot of someone, a moment or period in their life, however not here. Beth Morrey has not only brought her to life, but by also dipping into the past, we discover the gems that make Missy, well, Missy! The surrounding characters are a wonderfully quirky bunch, and Bob is an absolute delight. I laughed and I cried (oh how I cried). Saving Missy meanders gently, poignantly, beautifully, to what was for me, a perfect ending. I adored meeting Missy and so have chosen this lovely debut novel as one of our star books.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

The Wee Free Men

The Wee Free Men

Author: Terry Pratchett, Laura Ellen Andersen Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/04/2017

A rib-tickling, rollicking (all the rollicking it has to be said, is done by the 6 inch high Wee Free Men) adventure with just enough scary fairies to make anyone a little wary of Fairyland. Tiffany Aching has decided she would like to be a witch, which is good, as the land needs Tiffany to be a witch to stop the bad things from Fairyland crossing over into reality. Forming part of the truly wonderful Discworld series, the five Tiffany Aching books are described as being for ‘younger readers’, and I’m quite happy to class myself in that category as Terry Pratchett’s books have the ability to reach out and touch (and sometimes rugby tackle) your thoughts no matter how old you look on the outside. Terry Pratchett hatched a world that is nearly as absurd and almost as sane as our own, and then he ran with it…a long, long way. ‘The Wee Free Men’, the first of the Tiffany Aching books, is a very funny, slightly scary, fizzing fire-cracker of a read, and I whole heartedly recommend it. PS - leave the frying pans to Tiffany!

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Author: Phaedra Patrick Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/09/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. October 2016 Debut of the Month. Gosh, this is an absolute treasure of a debut… and it’s full of delightful, delicious quirkiness. 69 year old widower Arthur sets out to find the truth behind a charm bracelet he discovers when sorting through his wife’s wardrobe. Arthur quickly realises that before she met him, his wife had a whole host of experiences, and Arthur knew nothing about them! Phaedra Patrick writes with a beautifully light touch, yet imbues each page with a meaningful eloquence. Arthur is a joy to get to know, you feel his sadness and bewilderment at his loneliness and loss, then as he steps out on his quest, you witness his cloistered heart and mind unfurling towards the possibilities that life can offer. ‘The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper’ fizzes with gentle humour, it encouraged my thoughts to wander in new directions, and charmed the cockles of my heart. This is a beautiful little gem of a read and I highly recommend it.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Welcome to the Heady Heights

Welcome to the Heady Heights

Author: David F. Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/03/2019

A smirky, fierce, heartachingly provocative read set in the Glasgow of the late 1970’s. 52 year old Archie is a bus conductor, however he dreams of bigger and better things, can he leave behind Glasgow, the gangsters, the corruption and make something of himself? Within just a few paragraphs, I knew exactly where I was and who I was with, the characters sit on the page with vibrancy and in some cases brooding attitude. I could hear the voices rising from the page into my head, they took on my here and now and slapped it straight into 1975. Glasgow screams with attitude, sauntering, sulking, yet with moments of real beauty. David F. Ross doesn’t overplay the vivid characters, they feel as real as real could be, not necessarily likeable, in fact some are defiantly abhorrent, though I do have a soft spot for Archie! Each moment swaggered into being, opening a window through into another world. ‘Welcome to the Heady Heights’ is powerful and punchy, with well placed, darker than dark humour highlighting a visual feast of a read.

The Coral Bride

The Coral Bride

Author: Roxanne Bouchard Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/11/2020

There is a decidedly unique and expressive tone to this beautifully written crime novel. Set on the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, The Coral Bride is the sequel to fabulous We Were the Salt of the Sea and forms part of the Detective Morales Series. What at first is treated as a missing person enquiry turns bleakly sinister after an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift. A chilling first chapter set my thoughts whirling and it took me a little while to settle. I most definitely felt as though I was in a different country, sometimes almost, another world entirely. Roxanne Bouchard conveys the mystical loneliness of the ocean with the charm of the small coastal towns, and it blends into a mysterious, perfumed and heady tale. She and translator David Warriner have created the silences, trips, and hesitations that appear in real conversations. These are words that sank into my thoughts and as I read, I felt as though I was caught up the depths of the tale. Snippets of viewpoints from others slip-slapped into my awareness, while occasional moments of smirky lightness added texture. This is an author to remember and a truly worthwhile series that I can recommend introducing yourself to. The Coral Bride transports you to an ocean community, sets thoughts adrift, and creates exquisite tension. A wonderful read, and so it slips straight into my monthly Liz Picks.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/07/2015

Surprising, deliciously quirky and amusing, this gem of a book is one to treasure. Quite literally climbing out of his window, one hundred year old Allan disappears on an adventure, but this isn't his first. Alternating between the present and the past is extremely entertaining, nothing is lost but everything gained in discovering what makes Allan, Allan! While he is one of the most captivating characters to ever appear in print, Allan accrues some truly fascinating travelling companions. You get the feeling that Jonasson really enjoyed writing this novel and let his imagination run riotous rings onto the page. This is a book for adults of any age, with a reminder that to reach a century you are likely to have some pretty remarkable stories to tell (if not quite to this level of creativity). This is most definitely a must, must read… and once you’ve read it, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden should be next on your list.  The film version of The Hundred-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared was released in UK cinemas on Friday 4 July 2014. Click below to view the trailer. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party

Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/04/2015

Winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2015. A scrumptious, joyous read, stuffed full of sharp wit, laugh out loud frolics and gentle soothing compassion. Fatty and his loving, loyal saint of a wife Betty leave the comforts of home for a holiday to Ireland in 1979. A number of lamentable and often laughable events befall Fatty and because she is at his side, Betty too. The author as well as pointing out the ridiculous, also allows us to see Fatty from Betty’s eyes and therefore opens ours. Completely charming, this is a little gem of a book and an absolute pleasure to read. ~ Liz Robinson

In Bloom

In Bloom

Author: C. J. Skuse Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/08/2018

So deeply dark (and satisfying) this book just might locate a tad of the dark side in you too. Rhiannon is back! If that doesn’t mean anything to you, stop here and do not pass go, head straight out and buy yourself a copy of Sweetpea first. You have to read Sweetpea (one of my books of 2017) followed by In Bloom (which will be one of my books of 2018) because there is no other way. I simply adored the shock-fest that introduces serial killer Rhiannon and wondered how on earth C. J. Skuse could top the thrill of discovering Rhiannon for the first time. The answer is that I fell head long into the story and refused to come up for air until I had finished, I found a darker, and perhaps if possible, a more provocative read, though one that still delivers killer blows of humour. Quite how the writing doesn’t tip over into a farcical blood-bath I’m not sure, it just proves the beautiful balanced touch to the writing that encourages thought, while inducing cackles. The truly fabulous kill list continues, more of Rhiannon’s back story is revealed, a certain little voice adds a delicious note of reasoned absurdity, and oh my word that ending! Trampling over conventionality and kicking conscience in the face, In Bloom is an immensely powerful and stimulating read.

The End of Men

The End of Men

Author: Christina Sweeney-Baird Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

An exquisitely unsettling and fabulous blast of speculative fiction awaits in this provocative, hard-hitting debut novel. An unknown virus that only kills men hits Glasgow in 2025, as it spreads, confusion, lies, and heartbreak follows. As Christina Sweeney-Baird explains in her author’s note, she wrote The End of Men before Covid 19 affected the world. While the current pandemic remained tucked away in my thoughts as I read, this is very much a work of fiction and the focus lies with a female lead society coping with life during and after a pandemic. This is told on a world scale over five years and is set as a gathering of memories, as though this event has already come to pass and you are reading a piercing slice of history. This novel contains a huge number of characters, and I felt as though I was observing them at a distance. Having said that, some characters return throughout the book, and I formed more of a bond, felt more of a connection with them. Short chapters, headed by the day after the outbreak and name of the character ensured my focus remained sharp and on point. There are bubbles of humour to be found along the way, as well as the more obvious emotions. Yes this is so very close to what is happening right now, but it is different enough to make this novel more readable as a result. Joining our LoveReading Star Book collection, The End of Men is a powerful, thought-provoking read that is both epic in scale and intimate in memories. The LoveReading LitFest invited Christina to the festival to talk about The End of Men.   You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Christina in conversation with  and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here

Christmas for Beginners

Christmas for Beginners

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/10/2020

A fabulously perfect festive read that delivers oodles of heartwarming charm. This could easily be read as a standalone novel, but I do recommend starting with Happiness for Beginners as Christmas for Beginners continues the lovely story of Molly and Hope Farm.  When I read the first few sentences: “One of the alpacas has eaten the Baby Jesus. I’m not sure which one. Frankly they all look the picture of innocence, but I know them better.” I knew I was in for a treat of a read. Carole Matthews takes the ‘up’ in uplifting and elevates it to a whole new level. She doesn’t shy away from the aches and pains of real life and it is this that makes her books so relatable. The characters of the farm animals ensure they sit front and centre, often eclipsing their human counterparts. Even here, in the middle of a freezing cold farm yard you can also discover humour, hugs, and merrymaking. Carole Matthews really is the most beautifully consistent writer and we just had to pop this into our LoveReading Star Books category. Christmas for Beginners is an absolute gift of a book and comes as highly recommended by me.

The Louisiana Republic

The Louisiana Republic

Author: Maxim Jakubowski Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/05/2018

A bold, hugely original, multi-genre, cracking read. A private eye in a reimagined New York, where the internet and electronic data is as dead as a dodo, is asked to trace a woman. Within the first few words Maxim Jakubowski thoroughly set the scene, within a short time I felt a part of this world, could stand in the streets and take a gawking look around me. The clipped sentences of the investigator hark back to private eye novels, yet this is no caricature. The characters sing with intensity, sitting on the edge of larger than life, they feel as real as real can be. I smirked, raised my eyebrows, and flinched (oh how I flinched), as we cleaved through dystopian, slipped inside erotica, and smashed into supernatural. Right up my street, I absolutely adored this read. ‘The Louisiana Republic’ is a tale that refuses to be labelled, it is quite simply a raw, provocative, unique experience for lovers of the written word. ~ Liz Robinson

The Ringmaster

The Ringmaster

Author: Vanda Symon Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/04/2019

A crime series you can really get your armchair sleuthing teeth into, Detective Sam Shepherd is back in her typical headstrong (oh so fabulous) style. I have quite simply adored the first two books in this award-winning New Zealand based series, which starts with ‘Overkill’ and is followed by ‘The Ringmaster’. A murder is linked to a travelling circus, and Sam wants in on the detective action. Cracking whip-fast action goes hand in hand with Sam telling her own story. Vanda Symon has the wonderful knack of conjuring Sam into being before my very eyes. I can hear her talking as plain as plain can be, her voice magically transfers from the page, straight into my head. Sam makes me flinch, smirk, even laugh out loud as she makes her way through life, I really do have a soft spot for her and would be more than happy to go out for a drink (perhaps just the one though). The author allows you to be several steps ahead of Sam, sometimes it is a case of waiting for her to catch up, which I found to be exceedingly entertaining! ‘The Ringmaster’ is an absolute beauty of a read, well-written, absorbing, and extremely enjoyable.

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.

The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic

Author: Terry Pratchett Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2005

Who would have believed back in 1985 that this first introduction into the madcap Discworld which satirised fantasy novels and introduced us to some fantastic characters would turn into the Discworld series numbering some forty works.  If you have wondered where to start in this huge series (which need not be read in order) then start here and read The Light Fantastic straight after it.  They are great books.   A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... ‘The very first novel in what turned into the celebrated, magisterial Discworld series, this novel was first published by Corgi in 1985.  Although the more recent novels in the series have become more layered, satirical and thoughtful (number thirty-seven, Unseen Academicals, is the most recent) The Colour of Magic must remain one of my all-time favourites, for its soaring inventiveness, sparky parody and madcap humour – and for introducing us in the first place to that flat World so very different from, yet so very like our own. ' Marianne Velmans, Publishing Director at Transworld Books in The Discworld Novels Series: 1. The Colour of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards! Guards! 9. Eric 10. Moving Pictures 11. Reaper Man 12. Witches Abroad 13. Small Gods 14. Lords and Ladies 15. Men At Arms 16. Soul Music 17. Interesting Times 18. Maskerade 19. Feet of Clay 20. Hogfather 21. Jingo 22. The Last Continent 23. Carpe Jugulum 24. The Fifth Elephant 25. The Truth 26. Thief of Time 27. The Last Hero 28. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 29. Night Watch 30. The Wee Free Men 31. Monstrous Regiment 32. A Hat Full of Sky 33. Going Postal 34. Thud! 35. Wintersmith 36. Making Money 37. Unseen Academicals 38. I Shall Wear Midnight 39. Snuff 40. Raising Steam 41. The Shepherd's Crown Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.

The Story of Our Lives

The Story of Our Lives

Author: Helen Warner Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/02/2018

A dynamic, dramatic, and deliciously entertaining tale exposing friendship flaws, secrets and lies. Sophie, Emily, Amy, and Melissa go away for a weekend break once a year, and we see how their lives change for both better and worse between 1997 and 2012. These are women who make mistakes, occasionally get it wrong as well as right, and rely on their friends for advice, help, and love. Helen Warner allows direct access to the holidays, the rest of the year remains either hidden or briefly reviewed, ensuring the story just whizzes along. The movement through the years allows you to quickly form a relationship with these women, it also raises questions, and suspicions. While I found myself occasionally tutting and frustrated, I also celebrated, smiled and laughed, and then in the next moment my heart ached for them. ‘The Story of Our Lives’ is so readable, it beckons you in, and then gathers you up in an intimate, weaving dance of friendship… what a fascinating, lovely read this is.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Author: Jonas Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/04/2014

One of our Books of the Year 2014. May 2014 Book of the Month. If you have read his debut, The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared then you will know the delightful, wacky style of this fellow.  Newcomers will get caught up in the easy, conversational flow which really is the most enormous fun.  Here our central character is a black girl from the slums of Soweto with a flair for numbers.  She starts her young working life as a latrine emptier, educates herself through a fluke set of circumstances and becomes as ‘assistant’ in a very secret operation that makes nuclear bombs.  How she ends up saving King Gustaf V is one of those mad coincidences of life that never really happen but make such excellent reading.  Jonasson is ace at creating odd-ball characters and we certainly meet our fair share of them here.  As mischievous as the first, spotted with actual people and real events, it is pure escapist, feel-good fun. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Little Siberia

Little Siberia

Author: Antti Tuomainen Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/10/2019

Expect the unexpected from the get-go as the prologue lights the touch paper to an intense, smirky, carnival ride of a fabulous read. You wont want it to stop! A valuable meteorite crash lands in a small Finnish town causing absolute mayhem. As Joel, the local pastor, guards the meteorite, he not only faces a crisis in his marriage but also a number of people who decide that the meteorite should be theirs, come what may! After the fiery prologue, chapter one slapped my attention to face a different direction. By the time chapter two arrived, I was sitting wide-eyed, this was setting itself up for a cracking read. I adore Antti Tuomainen’s books, he writes with a finely balanced pen, darker than dark humour hits with a provocative wallop, while feeling fresh and different. I was consumed by Little Siberia and all too soon, as the events around Joel unraveled, the ending hurtled towards me. Not only sharp, amusing, and provocative, this is also an incredibly thoughtful read, so Little Siberia receives an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

Jeremiah's Bell

Jeremiah's Bell

Author: Denzil Meyrick Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2020

Dark, gutsy, and smirky Tartan Noir. Secrets overflow and violence spills into the community when Alice Wenger arrives from America, Daley and Scott have a race on their hands to solve a long-standing mystery. This is the eighth in the DCI Daley thriller series (plus there are some short stories on offer too). The series started with the focus on the small town policing team before branching out beyond Kinloch. Here we return again to the heart of the town and I love the quirky characters (Hamish has to be a favourite) and hefty dose of humour. The pages are peppered with colloquial dialogue in the form of Brian Scott. A vivid picture forms of Kinloch and the surrounding countryside. As a former officer Denzil Meyrick has the ability to highlight the reality of policing, including the home lives, and successfully mix it with some wonderful storytelling. Jeremiah’s Bell continues the series in fine style, if you haven’t yet discovered them, do start with the fabulous Whisky from Small Glasses.  

Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears

Author: Mercedes Rosende Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2021

Containing more than a smirk of humour, this is a bold, vibrant crime caper set in Uruguay. When Diego is released from prison he reluctantly agrees to hold up an armoured truck. Along the way we also meet a crooked lawyer, brutal psychopath, amateur con artist, and police inspector, two of whom are women and fighting to hold their own with the men. Award-winning author Mercedes Rosende from Uruguay is also a lawyer and journalist. Her writing is sharp and pointed yet rich and earthy. I initially felt as though I was observing from a distance, then as I got to know each character I edged closer and closer to the action. I found myself completely caught up in the words, the translation by Tim Gutteridge placed me within a country I don’t know, yet enabled me to feel a connection. I didn’t question, just sank completely into the storyline, and as the synopsis declares: “never, ever underestimate the women”. Hugely entertaining, Crocodile Tears is a full-on, fresh yet heady read.  The LoveReading LitFest invited Mercedes Rosende and translator Tim Gutteridge to the festival to talk about Crocodile Tears. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Mercedes and Tim in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why people are talking about this stunning thriller. The Sunday Times called it "a marvellous mash-up of Anita Brookner and Quentin Tarantino." Check out a preview of the event here

The Children God Forgot

The Children God Forgot

Author: Graham Masterton Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Oh wow, this is a stunningly readable supernatural crime horror. DS Jamila Patel and DC Jerry Pardoe investigate suspicious and unexplainable happenings in the sewers below London. The Children God Forgot includes the policing team from Ghost Virus, though you can easily read this as a standalone, which in my opinion is always the mark of a great book within a series. I love horror like this, it feels so real you could almost reach out and touch it (though you seriously wouldn’t want to!). While I didn’t want to run screaming, there is enough to make the hardiest of people wince and flinch. There is a goodly amount of horrific gore to be found within the pages including supernatural violence involving pregnancies. Graham Masterton has created a colourful and believable London, fabulously relatable characters, and a supernatural shockwave that carves its wave through both. A number of story lines converge, and meld into one cracking tale. There is a fine balance on hand, plenty of blood and guts yes, there is also fabulous writing, smirky humour, and thought-provoking themes waiting to be found. Raw and smart, the blast of horror from The Children God Forgot makes you wonder what the heck is beneath your feet. Loved it so much, it just has to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.

Highfire

Highfire

Author: Eoin Colfer Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/01/2021

This high-octane, smart, whip-sharp novel is one heck of a reality and fantasy clash. It perhaps shouldn’t work, but it does, it really really does and has popped itself on my list of favourite reads. Meet Vern, he is currently hiding out in a Louisiana swamp, he doesn’t trust anyone, loves his vodka, has a thing for Flashdance, oh, and he’s a dragon. Having lived a few thousand years he really doesn’t need the escalating feud between Squib Moreau and crooked Officer Hooke to spoil his peace and quiet. This is the first novel for adults from the bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer. I feel as though Highfire has been waiting for me, to welcome it to my bookshelves. The balance between the different genres is beautifully done. Different emotions skittered through me as I read, there’s violence aplenty, and some wicked smirks waiting to be found too. Highly entertaining and exciting, Highfire is my kind of book, in fact if you could marry books, I’d be Mrs Highfire in no time!

Containment

Containment

Author: Vanda Symon Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2020

Raw, honest, punchy and smirky, Containment, the third Sam Shephard book, continues the series in fabulous style. When a container ship spills its cargo on a New Zealand beach it sets in motion a series of events that puts Sam right in the middle of a whole heap of trouble. To have an understanding of Sam and what makes her just that little bit different, you really do need to start with Overkill and The Ringmaster. Vanda Symon has written a bold, gutsy protagonist who fights her way through life. Sam’s thoughts and feelings stamp her way all over this book, ready to kick and squabble just to keep her head above water. There is a relationship in the background, and that is where we see Sam’s vulnerable side (have to say that I wanted to settle her down for a good old chat on occasion). If you enjoy a quick-firing, fast-moving tale with a tight storyline then Containment could just be the very book for you.

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness

Author: Sophie Jenkins Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/08/2018

Absolutely and completely adorable, this all embracing story will break, mend, and fill hearts with warmth, humour and love. Lana is bitter after her break-up and pours her angst into her new book, while much admired author Nancy often finds dementia leaves her in a confusing world. Jack acts as matchmaker with Lana and Nancy and they find their lives forever altered. The main characters light up the pages, Nancy in particular has taken up residence in my heart and soul. Sophie Jenkins has the most beautifully light and thoughtful touch, little bits of heartache sit right next door to gulps of laughter, while gorgeous literary snippets and references sprinkle the pages. As I finished reading, I actually said out loud “I blimmin love this book” and gave it a hug (it was witnessed, I got a couple of strange looks, but hey ho). Sophie Jenkins has written a relationship tale for book lovers of all kinds, for people who love hope and even need hope in their lives. I raise my glass to The Forgotten Guide to Happiness and what really matters in this world… love, in all its different shapes and sizes. 

Hangman

Hangman

Author: Daniel Cole Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2018

Oh my word! This is knock-out of a read, punchy and raw, it made me flinch and yet I couldn’t stop, didn’t want to stop reading. If you haven’t yet read ‘Ragdoll’, do start there, mostly because it’s truly fabulous, but also because it’s the beginning of the ‘Fawkes and Baxter’ trilogy and you don’t want to lose out on any part of this story.  ‘Hangman’ starts with the most intriguing prologue, I read it twice to let it sink in. It’s 18 months since the conclusion of the Ragdoll Murders for Baxter, a new chilling and gruesome killing spree begins, targeting both New York City and London, and Emily finds herself with two new partners. My advice is to set plenty of time aside, as once I started reading, I couldn’t bear to put this book down for a single second, and I read late into the night in order to finish. I find Daniel Cole’s writing compulsive, it makes me sit up and take note, I was on high alert at all times, buzzing with anticipation. The humour has a definite dark tone, yet it is there, and a welcome addition as an avalanche of horror descends. I wasn’t sure if Daniel Cole could live up to my expectations, he actually manages to exceed them, as ‘Hangman’ stands defiant, mind-blowing, striking… joining ‘Ragdoll’ as most definite must-reads.

The Plus One

The Plus One

Author: Sophia Money-Coutts Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/08/2018

A sparkling, witty, occasionally rather sexy debut that made me nod in agreement and splutter with laughter. 30 year old Polly works for Posh! magazine, she excels in making the aristocracy look spectacular on paper, however her love life is wilting dramatically… and she needs a Plus One for her best friend’s wedding. Polly quickly settled into a fabulous friend status, we sat together gossiping, I giggled, winced, and regularly raised my eyebrows as I read. Sophia Money-Coutts has a wonderfully light touch, she also keeps laughing gas in her pen, and isn’t afraid to use it. I alternated in reading bits out loud to my husband (who was as shocked as I’d hoped he’d be), and just sinking into, and enjoying the story. There is a heart-felt reality kick along the way, however for me this was an outrageously feel-good read. ‘The Plus One’ became my best friend while I read it, very funny, sometimes shocking, always extremely entertaining.

Squeeze Me

Squeeze Me

Author: Carl Hiaasen Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2021

An absolute monster of a fabulous read! I smirked and chuckled my way through this thoroughly entertaining and smart comedic crime novel. It’s charity ball season in Palm Beach, when a prominent high-society member of the POTUSSIES (a group of women who support the President) goes missing, the President declares it was the fault of immigrant hordes. However, wildlife wrangler Angie Armstrong has just been tasked to deal with an influx of huge pythons, so the President might just be talking out of his behind. By the way, I am a titchy bit scared of snakes, but this didn’t affect my reading of this novel in any way. The President’s name is never mentioned, but Carl Hiaasen brilliantly lampoons the President that came between Obama and Biden, and I actually snorted with laughter on a number of occasions. I first read Carl Hiaasen’s novels for young adults, including Skink No Surrender but this is my first of his novels for adults. If you’re already a fan then you might just bump into a much loved character in Squeeze Me. This is a book that you can just throw yourself into and trust in the talent of the author. He isn’t just funny, the humour is pointed and makes a point. Squeeze Me is so irreverent, stimulating, and gorgeously readable, I already know that it will be one of my books of the year. Chosen as a Liz Pick and a Star Book, in the middle of dark times this is just what we needed, unless of course you are a fan of a certain someone!

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. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Tracy in conversation with Julia Wheeler and find out why you won't want to miss this witty and uplifting read. Check out a preview of the event here

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