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Here we have chosen a selection of feel-good or uplifting books. A book can deliver a hug in many different ways. You could disappear into a deep and squashy, stay-with-you-forever read. Some novels may make you smile with their friendly laughing nudges and squeezes, while others deliver a truly heartfelt emotional embrace. With one or two in our collection here, you could even find yourself searching for a tissue as you sob within the pages. We would however, just like to reassure you that there is always a lovely, heartfelt, glorious message to be discovered too.
We just had to include the wonderfully uplifting The Lost Words by Rob Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, who wrote the book after noticing certain words from nature were disappearing. The Lost Words set people's imagination on fire; crowd-funding around the country ensured the book was delivered to schools, while music was set to the bewitching words and The Lost Words Prom appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in 2019. The book itself is a treasure, and what has happened since it was published is inspirational.
This list wouldn't have been complete without a mention of Anstey Harris and her second book Where We Belong. This is an author who knows how to capture and squeeze your emotions. We love her writing style which is so expressive, and gloriously readable; her books are charming but come with the occasional bite too. You also may have already seen that we adore Saving Missy by Beth Morrey, which also deserves a shout out here. It’s her debut, and it’s a complete stunner but be warned, you may well cry!
There are certain authors that you just know you can turn to when you need a book hug. The fabulous Carole Matthews, Fredrik Backman, and Milly Johnson regularly sit in our lists of favourite books. Veronica Henry is another author who knows how to set and stage a story. She delivers every single time, although we're not quite sure how she manages to offer something completely different, yet utterly gorgeous, in each book. We love her!
And then of course there are the individual books that have captured our hearts, almost too many to mention, even within this collection, but have you read Sourdough by Robin Sloan, Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans, or My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal? All of these caused an almost physical ache with their beautifully simple eloquence and emotion.
We hope you enjoy the list below. Are there any books you would have liked to include, whereby you can still feel the virtual hug right now?
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.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A book to make you think and feel, this is an important, beautiful, spellbinding treasure. Words from nature are disappearing, being removed, left to one side to be forgotten. Some words are in real danger of being lost forever, this book reveals those words, sings them, shows them, reminds us how to love them. Spell-weavers Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris have created a bewitching ode to nature, reminding us of the danger of absence, highlighting beauty, whispering to our soul. It feels as though the words, the poems, and vividly beautiful pictures are as one, the essence of the word, of the being, escapes the page to wrap itself around you. ‘The Lost Words’ is suitable for all ages, and should find a special place in all homes, all libraries, all schools, all hearts. Do read the spell-poems out loud, listen, look, feel, touch, allow your awareness to open and receive these gifts. I found myself entranced, I fell completely under the spell of ‘The Lost Words’, I simply can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
Oh, this is almost too gorgeous for words, thoughtful and full of emotion, it’s a simply wonderful story that connected to my heart and soul. Cate Morris has no option other than to leave everything she knows and move to Hatters with her son Leo, will they be welcomed with open arms? Anstey Harris writes with beautiful eloquence, her debut novel The Truths of Triumphs of Grace Atherton was one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading Star Book, and I’ll let you into a not so secret secret, Where we Belong is too. I was completely charmed by the first sentence, settled in with joy and then the end of chapter one caused me to take a deep breath. This is emotionally intelligent writing and perfectly timed reveals of information lay in wait. Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World is just lovely, do I want to go there? Yes I most certainly do, so was captivated to learn that it is based on a real location. Where We Belong bewitched me with its secrets and beauty, Anstey Harris really is the most wonderful storyteller and I salute her.
From the bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan, comes another irresistible novel of unexpected friendships, second chances ... and dark secrets. Gloriously gorgeous in every way. After tragedy crashed into her life, Masha often sits on the bottom of the pool at the local lido, unable to look forward, to join in. Sally Red Shoes and Kitty Muriel nudge Masha’s awareness, and life begins to look interesting again. I absolutely adored ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ which was one of my books of the year 2017, so looked forward with relish to Ruth Hogan’s next offering. ‘The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’ is just as special, and cements this particular author as one of my firm favourites. Ruth Hogan has the very special ability to look beyond the veil of unremarkable to find a sometimes painful, yet beautifully quirky existence. Each character (and I include the dogs in this), is fully realised and absolutely essential to the storyline. Kitty and Sally are so stuffed full of life I found myself wanting them in my life too. Words such as enchanting, captivating, and charming are spilling out of my mind, yet this is not a sickly sweet tale, also added to the mix are poignant, emotional, heart-ache…and I both laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time. Quite simply, ‘The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’ is a must-read, and I adored every single second of it.
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015. This is a completely charming and very different slice of World War Two fiction. ‘Crooked Heart’ explores the relationship of Vera, and ten year old Noel, who has been evacuated from London. The prologue sets the story beautifully, releasing snippets of information yet encouraging you to feel, to appreciate the heart and soul of Noel. Lissa Evans balances a gentle charm with barbed spikes of wit and reality. Noel and Vera are amazingly resourceful (that’s the polite way of describing it), yet wonderfully odd, and I couldn't help falling in thoughtful love with them. The other characters are as vibrant and fully formed, even those with walk on parts light up the pages. After initially skulking in the distance, World War Two hammers into their lives, thoroughly testing Noel and Vera’s mettle. With fizzes of quirky wry humour holding hands with contemplative emotions, ‘Crooked Heart’ has craftily slipped into my heart, and I declare it a gorgeous warm hug of a read. ~ Liz Robinson
Oh what a lovely summery ray of sunshine this book is, it made me smile from ear to ear! Robyn and Jake are planning a wedding at the beach hut, but secrets are lurking in the background, ready to cause a little turbulence along the way. Veronica Henry really does excel in creating hugely entertaining, captivating and uplifting reads. She has the wonderful ability to cross generations and time frames with her characters and storylines. The characters, from the leads to those who hover in the background, are beautifully well-rounded, and I loved discovering the inner tales contained within the main story. The smallest of details succeed in making this a vibrant and sparkling read. I could picture the setting so vividly I’m still hankering after Everdene, I want to traverse the dunes and wander down to the beach huts! I’ve chosen A Wedding at the Beach Hut as one of my Liz Picks of the month because it really is the most delightful hit of escapism, I adored it!
I must confess that I exclaimed with delight when I saw All Good Things for the first time. It is fabulously described as “a treasury of images to uplift the spirits and reawaken wonder”. The size is perfect, the cover divinely enticing, and it just beckoned me in. I simply sank into the pages of the most beautiful images of art from around the world and through time. You may already have heard of, or indeed follow Stephen Ellcock on social media. Over the last ten years he has shared his images with the world. And we have taken them to our heart. Here he “explores our world and the human response to it one realm at a time”, and so we visit various realms from ‘The Face of the Water’, through to ‘The Human Realm’ and ‘Gods and Monsters’. The images and their explanations sit patiently, just waiting for you to turn the page. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it is gorgeous. September Publishing has created a little masterpiece, and it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and one of my picks of the month. All Good Things is a treasure of a treasury and would make the most perfect gift (but make sure you keep a copy for yourself!).
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!
January 2018 Book of the Month A gorgeous magical, quirky dream of a story. Lois exhausts herself everyday as a software engineer, she orders her food from two local cooks, when they leave the country, they also leave Lois with their sourdough culture, to feed, to look after, to keep alive. As her life alters, Lois learns more about, and creates a connection to the sourdough culture. Robin Sloan establishes with beautiful simplicity, a story that weaved a spellbinding path through my mind. I sank into and became one with the story, tasted, smelled, touched, felt. Sourdough with almost hypnotic, yet gentle intensity, takes on a life of its own to become a charming, irresistible read and I loved it.
‘Making It Up As I Go Along’ was just as I imagined it would be, warm, honest, lovely, funny and highly entertaining. This is a collection of articles written by Marian Keyes, some previously published, some not, from health and beauty, to things she loves, to people she has met. The Lexicon at the beginning of the book is an extremely informative and chuckle inducing read and you can learn the meaning of various words including ‘agin’ and ‘craythur’. As Marian herself says, this is a book you can start wherever takes your fancy and you can dip in and out along the way. You know you really love a book when you insist on reading the good bits out loud to whoever happens to be closest to you at that time, my husband has consequently heard almost as much as I’ve read. I now feel as though I know Marian, enough indeed, to know that even though tempted, I wouldn't want to stow away in one of her suitcases when she travels to far flung places with ‘Himself’, and thats because her luggage so often goes walkabout/missing at airports. Oh, and I probably wouldn't want to go shoe shopping with her either! ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read some of Marian's hilariously candid and heartfelt observations on modern life…
April 2016 Book of the Month. Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable. The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and charm you, there is a hint though, of the difficulties that seven (nearly eight) year old Elsa is experiencing. Elsa’s shrewd, wonderful bonkers of a Granny tells her fairy tales, and like all good fairy tales there's more than a dollop of truth and reality mixed in, so ensure you're sitting comfortably and the tale can begin. There is a beautiful simplicity to the writing, yet this is not a simple book by any means, there is a complexity to the emotions it evokes and explores. Elsa and her Granny are two of the most astonishingly different characters to ever appear in print (and that’s a compliment by the way). Set aside some quality time, so you can laugh and cry undisturbed, as the author is able to enchant, to capture your imagination and hold it spellbound from the first to the last page; this is a must have, must read, must treasure book.
A wonderfully warm, bright book to escape into, to give yourself up to and just enjoy. Jodie Jackson leaves everything she knows for a houseboat in the Isle of Wight, she soon finds herself falling for the island and its inhabitants, but London is calling and won’t take no for an answer. I always look forward to reading the latest book by Carole Matthews, they wrap me up and give me a massive loving squeeze. Having said that, this isn’t syrupy sweet, oh no, some real life dilemmas and mistakes sneak in to ensure a feeling of connection, that this could be you, or someone you know. I loved Jodie’s voice and how she talks to the reader, it not only created a bond, I ended up feeling as though I had made a brand new friend. Pure, wonderful escapism, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes really is the most lovely relationship tale and I can thoroughly recommend picking up a copy and just allowing yourself to sink into the pages. We simply adored this book in the office and so it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book as well as a Book of the Month.
What a wonderful, charming, readable story to simply fall into, and fall in love with. When cooly glamorous Sophie runs away from her high profile life, she ends up back in her childhood stomping ground. Taking time to relax and enjoy her neighbours and surroundings, she discovers a community that could have been ready made, just for her. But… Sophie has a difficult decision to make. I started reading, and didn’t come up for air. This is a book that is all too easy to sink into and not want to surface from, so ensure you pop your ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. Milly Johnson expertly built the story, successfully keeping me on tenterhooks before Sophie breaks ranks and escapes. There are some rip-roaringly fabulous characters on offer here, including some that I could quite happily have booed and hissed at. I loved getting to know Sophie, she really is quite delightful, as I read, I smiled and cheered her on. The Magnificant Mrs Mayhew is a gorgeously lively, affectionate and satisfying read. It comes as highly recommended from me, and deservedly sits in our star books selection.
A delightfully readable, emotional, warm and witty relationship tale. This is Milly Johnson’s 17th novel, and I still look forward to them, each feels fresh, different, and I just know I will have a lovely reading experience. Friendships form and love whispers hello at a counselling group, will it be recognised or even welcomed? If you haven’t read any of her books before, just be aware that there are plenty of emotional subjects to discover along the way, you just have to read the book synopsis here to know that! The prologue sent a shiver coursing through me, grief has kept company with many of the characters. Milly Johnson approaches the more difficult side of life with true compassion. Here, there are also some wickedly funny excerpts from the local paper which balance the story beautifully. Although your heart may well ache during, the overall feeling that I was left with after, was that I had just been given the hugest, squashiest hug. My One True North is a truly lovely read, and after I had turned the final page was left feeling fully satisfied and contented.
An exciting change of direction by Sarah Morgan has led to a deliciously entertaining and heartfelt read. Sisters Lauren and Jenna find that a life based on a secret can be a very destructive thing, yet love, compassion and honesty are waiting in the background, ready to be called. I’ve always loved Sarah Morgan’s novels, they’ve been beautifully simple and full of romance, now she has added a real depth, creating a world surrounding, yet entirely part of the story. The characters within this family, from teenager Mack to grandmother Nancy have a real energy and feel relatable. This is a standalone read, one that you can properly sink into, become a part of and enjoy. I feel as though Sarah Morgan has kept the best of her previous writing, and added a new, more poignant and expressive dimension. A relationship tale with romance and family drama, ‘How To Keep A Secret” is a warming delightful read.
One of our Books of the Year 2015. November 2015 Debut of the Month. Oh, this is such a charming and gloriously delightful short tale, about friendship, facing your fears and looking beyond the obvious. The Fox and the Star is a visually stunning story book and would make a perfect present (for others of any age, or yourself!). As soon as you touch the cover, you know that you are holding something special, it reminds me of the Arts and Crafts period, where love and attention was bestowed on every individual piece. The paper is lusciously thick and beautiful, the illustrations are fabulous, mostly black, grey and blue with occasional vibrant splashes of rich orangey red and yellow. Each time you look there is something different to catch your eye, from a scurrying beetle to a hidden rabbit. The striking illustrations wrap around, through and under the text, becoming at one with the words. Coralie Bickford-Smith, an award-winning designer, encourages the story to become a living tangible thing, making this is a book for your forever shelf, it is quite simply, a book to love and cherish. PS: Make sure you see the short video clip in the synopsis as it reveals a tantalising glimpse of the beauty of this book. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A lovely, gentle read, full of interesting characters, and at the heart of it all, a rather wonderful book shop called Nightingale Books. In this charming romance, we take a peek into the lives of a number of people, and all have a link of some kind, with the book shop. The range of characters means you dip in out of lives, witness a flirtation here, and moment of drama there. You don't get the chance to know anyone very intimately, rather this is a dance across a world of relationship possibilities. Every now and then Veronica Henry includes a list of top ten books for the characters, ranging from novels set in Ireland, to cult classics, this alone made for an interesting read, and I wondered what type of book list I would have. With some rather neat endings to be discovered, ‘How to Find Love in a Bookshop’ is a delightfully easy and heart warming read. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'What’s not to love about a novel that celebrates book shops, bookselling, and the joy of sharing the books that matter to us. When Ronnie first had the idea for HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOK SHOP, I knew she’d hit on something special. Through Nightingale Books, tucked in a little Cotswold village, Ronnie introduces us to a beautifully-drawn cast of characters: Emilia, grieving for her father but hoping to continue his legacy through his book shop; Sarah finding solace among the book shop shelve from a disappointing marriage; and my favourite, Thomasina, the painfully shy, mousy teacher who cooks like Nigella, but has no one to share her feasts with. Nightingale Books plays a special part in their lives, albeit in very different ways. Tender, touching and full of Ronnie’s trademark warmth and joie-de-vive, this is a delicious novel. Sometimes a book comes along that makes you want to pack up your life and live in its very pages. This is exactly that book. I hope you enjoy it.' Kate Mills, Publishing Director, Orion
Absolutely adorable, this is an autobiography full of eccentricity, charm and a penguin called Juan Salvador. As a young man in the 1970’s Tom Michell travelled to Argentina to teach at a boarding school. While in Uruguay Tom rescued a penguin from an oil slick and found himself with an unexpected companion. Writing in a fresh, chatty and friendly style, Tom introduces his colleagues, students and the beautiful country of Argentina. With super little titbits and recollections of his time in South America this a beautifully written memoir, however, I have to confess, that it is Juan Salvador who truly enchanted me. This confident, sociable little penguin must have been a joy to get to know. ‘The Penguin Lessons’ has left me with a lovely warm glow of optimism, there’s far more to be gained from these lessons than you would originally suspect.
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!
Winner of the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 How one book can hold such aching heartbreak, beautiful tenderness, and vibrant emotion, I really don’t know. Sophie works from home and keeps her heart hidden, then in one life-changing night she meets Ben. Dani Atkins’s words have the ability to make me truly feel, and I impatiently waited for ‘This Love’ to arrive in the office. Once in my hands I didn't want to let it go, I sank into the story and read in just one sitting. This feels like real life, so authentic, but with an added glow of magic, not a breezy hocus-pocus, but an honest, heartfelt, revealing, soulful magic. Dani Atkins allows snippets of knowledge to fly free, small pieces of the puzzle start to drift together in front of your eyes. I will admit to sobbing my heart out, yet I also smiled, laughed, and was transported by the essence of the story. ‘This Love’ is a truly enchanting read, it captivates, and connects with vibrant intensity to the beauty of life. ~ Liz Robinson
I have completely and irretrievably fallen in love with this book. I entered thinking one thing, and left feeling so, so much more. Billy at over one hundred years old, decides to look back over the loves of his life. Richard Lumsden has created a wonderfully rounded and appealing main character, surrounded by an equally gorgeous supporting cast. I slipped into the pages and just wanted to remain there, the past calls and cajoles, intriguing suggestions form and grow, before the present enters once again. There were times when my heart broke, each piece forming a collection of love just for Billy. The Six Loves Of Billy Binns is a beautifully readable and emotional tale, full of laughter and tears you really couldn’t ask for much more, highly recommended.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Gorgeously affectionate, loving, and generous, this is a read to escape into and really enjoy. Hunters Moon is a forever home, yet the current occupants are selling up and when Belinda takes on the sale, she finds herself becoming emotionally attached to Sally and Alexander. Veronica Henry sets the story so beautifully in two time frames, it feels completely natural to journey back to the late 1960’s as well as spend time with Belinda in the present. I was completely enchanted, both with the characters and the setting in the beautiful Peasebrook. If you are an existing fan, then you will recognise locations and a few of the people you meet along the way, however this can very easily be read as a standalone. I have to say that ‘The Forever House’ is one of my favourite reads by Veronica Henry, and the honey glow of Hunters Moon sweeps you up in a deliciously warm embrace. ~ Liz Robinson
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.
Just one huge loving hug from start to finish. Felicity flees as fast as her heart and mind will let her when she realises her ex-husband is back in town. Seth last saw Felicity ten years ago, he still has feelings for her, does the fact that she has run, mean that she returns them? I just love a Sarah Morgan novel, she delivers every time, with friendship as much at the heart of the story as the romance. With both Felicity and Seth the focus, we are given more of an insight into relationship dance between them, and I cheerfully tutted, raised my eyebrows and encouraged them along the way. While the characters link to previous novels, if this is your first novel by Sarah Morgan, you could quite happily treat yourself to the delightful ‘Holiday in the Hamptons’ and read it as a standalone romantic feast. ~ Liz Robinson
Cecelia Ahern’s debut novel propelled her in to the public eye and quite rightly so. This is a good romantic comedy with plenty of weepy bits, so get the tissues out and indulge in some harmless romantic fun. Easy to see why Hollywood picked it up and made it a summer blockbuster film.
Huge, in fact, huger than huge klaxon alert as Cecelia Ahern has written a sequel to her truly wonderful debut, P.S. I Love You. It’s been seven years since Gerry died, and after Holly talks about his letters in a podcast, a group approaches her asking for help. I adore Cecelia Ahern’s writing, it just speaks to, and connects with my entire being. Confession time, I didn’t write any notes as I read, I just read for the pure pleasure of it. Which in itself, really makes a statement doesn’t it? Holly is honest, and entirely human as she initially tries to distance herself from the group. This is an older Holly, an altered Holly, she has moved on while Gerry and the letters have remained anchored in time. The other characters are absolutely fascinating, I grew to care about the group members and fell completely in love with Ginika. After reaching the end I found myself reflecting, the writing not only entered my heart, it also still sits in my thoughts. Postscript is just as brilliant, just as emotional, just as gorgeous, as P.S., and while linking so effectively to the past, grows into a truly beautiful novel in its own unique right.
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. ~ Liz Robinson
Quite simply stunning. From the moment I turned the first page, right through to the moment I finished and beyond, I have been transfixed by this beautiful yet heartrending novel. The first few pages set events in motion that will transform the lives of the characters forever. I say characters, but they quickly became known, cherished and loved, they are not perfect, but they live on the pages with warmth and vitality. Dani Atkins writes with heartfelt compassion, yet a lightness of touch, all the while, intense emotions sit waiting to make themselves felt. There are parts that shock, that are unexpected, others where an inkling may have been knocking at the door of your consciousness for some time. The story flows between the current day and the past with ease, letting understanding settle, bringing a feeling of inevitability, that this was meant to be. This novel should possibly come with a warning, that it’s best not to read it in public, as the emotions it can evoke are so vibrantly strong. I sobbed, I smiled, and I fell in love with ‘Our Song’. ~ Liz Robinson
June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A book to put a great big beaming (and somewhat tearful) smile on your face. ‘Finding Gobi’ documents the quite amazing story of one man’s quest to find the little dog who had stolen his heart. Dion Leonard was a serious ultra marathon competitor in a race through the Gobi Desert, when a little street dog joined him, running by his side. We hear about Dion’s childhood, why he started running, what it takes to be an ultra competitor, and we meet Gobi, the dog with eyes that appear to see into your soul. You may already be aware of this story, as it took social media by storm, if like me, you weren’t, then the prologue sets your mind at ease before you start this simply sensational story. ‘Finding Gobi’ joins man and dog in a story to warm the cockles of your heart, I absolutely adored it. It is worth noting that a children’s version of the story is also available. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2018 Debut of the Month Ahh, this is just so, so lovely… a debut that made me smile, weep, and smile some more. Rosemary is 86, she has lived in Brixton all her life, watching as Brixton has changed a building at a time, from fruit and veg shops to trendy bars. 26 year old journalist Kate is surrounded by people, yet feels completely and utterly alone, when the local lido is threatened by closure, an alliance and unexpected friendship is formed. Libby Page has a lovely quick-witted, gently quirky writing style, surprising me with observations and unexpected detail (adored the fox!). I loved travelling through memories, getting to know Rosemary and Kate, and seeing the small snapshots of the lives they touch. While it is a truly beautiful read, part of the beauty is in the emotion I felt, pain and heartache is embraced, hugged, soothed. ‘The Lido’ is a deliciously warm and entertaining slice of wonderful, and I absolutely adored it.
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. ~ Liz Robinson 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.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A beautifully quirky, yet at the same time completely logical love story (well it is logical once you've realised that you too, have fallen in love with an alligator). ‘Carrying Albert Home’ is a nine part tale, detailing an odyssey that took place during the 1930’s, interspersed with snappy little introductions to each part of the story by the author. As Homer (the elder) and Elsie his wife, adventure their way down the east coast from West Virgina to Florida, with Albert the alligator and the Rooster, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Homer Hickam (the younger and author) is telling the ‘somewhat true’ story of the early years of his parents marriage, surely this is the most fantastical tale ever told! I believe that John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway would remember their parts in this tale with glee, who wouldn't want to have been introduced to the charming and rather glorious Albert? I quite simply devoured this enchanting book in one sitting, and I will want to read it again and again. One of our Books of the Year 2015.
Winner Romantic Comedy Category - Romantic Novel of the Year 2016. They say revenge is sweet and there’s nothing sweeter than chocolate! Cheryl, Connie and Della, respectively in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s could be your neighbours, colleagues or relatives. Each of them has been let down in some way and is feeling unloved and angry, each of them makes a huge life-changing decision. Milly Johnson writes in short snappy chapters about real life, with added special ingredients of friendship, encouragement and support (plus a sneaky helping of just deserts). The descriptions of the alchemy of chocolates being crafted are delicious, you can almost smell and taste them. Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe has you rooting for these ladies and is a winning recipe for a few hours down time and enjoyment. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2015 Debut of the Month. Eloquently emotional and amusingly witty, this is a beautifully written and utterly compelling relationship tale. It’s easy to find yourself falling in love with this book as you read, the author has the ability to make your heart weep, your thoughts laugh and your soul sing. There are some genuinely funny, sharp and perceptive laugh out loud moments to be had along the way, often alongside or next to the sad, poignant and heartrending. You are encouraged to emotionally connect with Fisher, he feels real, as though you're hearing one of your best friends confide in you. Because it’s Fisher disclosing their story, there is often an enigmatic veil covering Ivy's thoughts and therefore when revealed, her feelings are particularly highlighted and emphasised. There is an abundance of heart and soul emanating from the pages and this wonderfully moving novel is one to cherish. ~ Liz Robinson February 2015 eBook of the Month.
October 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month So good, I wanted to give both the book, and Sarah Millican a thank you hug. I will admit to almost mugging my boss to get my hands on this book. I have sat in a theatre, with this wonderful, funny woman up on the stage in front of me and grinned, chuckled, and plain roared with laughter. I opened the book and settled in for a fascinating read. I could hear her voice in my head as I devoured the pages, simply because no one else could say what she says, the tone is beautifully and unmistakably her. In my opinion Sarah Millican speaks a heck of a lot of sense, she is positive and sunny, even when describing bullying, or the more difficult side to fame. She also stands up for decency, and kindness, and is just so, so honest (particularly about poo and periods). Occasionally I felt sad, I often snorted with laughter, and once laughed so hard I cried. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘How to be Champion’, Sarah Millican is in every word, in every sentence, and it’s just fabulous! ~ Liz Robinson
A different, emotionally beautiful and rewarding debut about love, hope, and all the strange little things that come together to make up a family. Augusta and Parfait, born on different continents into different worlds, both want to leave everything behind but does that ever solve anything? What a first sentence! Those few words stayed with me throughout the entire book, sitting, waiting, every now and then tapping me on the shoulder to say hello. I so love how this story unfolds, two separate tales, are they on a collision course or destined to remain forever apart? Joanna Glen has set intricate strands from the past coiling and twisting together through to the present to create a feeling of tension and mystery. While undeniably and wonderfully quirky, there is a real sense of warmth here, even when your heart may feel as though it is about to crack in two. As I read I found myself filling up with love for The Other Half of Augusta Hope. It has been chosen as a Debut of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book too, as it really is that gorgeous!
July 2015 Debut of the Month. A fabulous debut novel, You, Me and Other People is clever, wistful and endearing. Beth and Adam have been married for years, secrets also kept for years are set to rampage though and trample over their lives. In alternate chapters over several months we hear from them both, as time passes, shocks, surprises and all the emotions they bring, lie in wait. While Fionnuala Kearney covers heartbreak and despair, this is not a melancholy book, instead it is full of smiles, warmth and hope. The author writes with a beautiful heartfelt balance, it feels as though she has reached into her characters hearts and minds and exposed their inner core. it is difficult to put this wonderful book down, each page encourages you to keep reading and once finished, to look forward with anticipation to the author's next novel. ~ Liz Robinson
59-year old Ove is quite possibly one of the grumpiest people you’ll meet but, he has been an upstanding pillar of the community for decades. The last six months have taken their toll and he decides perhaps that life is not worth living. Ove lives in a residential area of which he is fanatical about maintaining and keeping to the rules. A family of a pregnant mother, two daughters and an IT consultant dad move in next door. Ove resents them. He resents everything and everyone and so he plans his death but each attempt is thwarted mostly by people needing help. Ove is a very practical man and so he helps, yet he remains exasperated that other people’s lives are beginning to intrude upon him. Quirky, uplifting, charming, sad, life-affirming and totally irresistible, this is a perfect gem that will leave you with a spring in your step. ~ Sarah Broadhurst One of the Top 10 books in the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014. One of our Books of the Year 2014.
Absolutely delightful! Cecelia Ahern always writes with stirring compassion and a delicious secretive quirk, so I was really looking forward to starting this, her twelfth novel. ‘The Marble Collector’ lived up to my expectations as a really touching, quite, quite beautiful read. Not exactly a slow burner, as the writing is so eloquent, however the more you read, the more you understand, and the more you are enveloped by and become absorbed in the story. The chapters are either from daughter Sabrina’s perspective (over one day), headed ‘Pool Rules’ or from her father Fergus’s entire lifetime of ‘Playing with Marbles’. Focusing on secrets and how well we know and understand ourselves and our loved ones, this engaging novel thoroughly provokes thoughts and feelings. As I closed the last page, and had a little ponder, I found myself giving ‘The Marble Collector’ a warm and loving hug.
A delightful tasty treat of a Christmas (or any time of the year) read, set on a fascinating Cornish tidal-island village. Polly, Huckle and friends return, with Neil the Puffin often stealing the limelight, this could though, easily be a standalone read. The first few sentences stimulate your interest as an announcement is made, something bad has happened! Can “the Bad Thing” be made good in time for Christmas? Jenny Colgan excels at a light, fresh tone, yet she ensures a feeling of real life infuses the story, with twists, and bumps joining the loveliness. ‘Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery’ is an absolutely gorgeous tale, so readable and charming, and of course, you really shouldn't miss out on the chance of getting to know Neil the Puffin! ~ Liz Robinson
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.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | February 2017 Debut of the Month. A rather special read indeed… there are times when you wonder how you've missed sight of, or hearing about a book, and for me this is one of them. This is a treat, a heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, jam-packed full of love treat. Ben shares his story as he literally battles to place his autistic son Jonah, into what he considers is the right school. Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s dad and we see what life is like for these three men as their worlds revolve around each other. Jem Lester writes with experience, yet he adds bittersweet, aching emotion, biting wit, and a lightness of touch that manages to skim joyfully across the pages. Letters from social services, the school, medical information, and receipts all find their way into the book, often bringing me up short and creating a link to the authenticity of the situation. ‘Shtum’ is brave, bold, and wonderful, it made me cry, rage, and laugh, and I loved every single beautiful second of it. ~ Liz Robinson
A gorgeous, loveable read, this hovers on the edge of the feel of a fairytale, of being almost dreamlike, yet at the same time it is startlingly believable and real. Nina Parr is 25, divorced, living at home and working in a job that she doesn't belong to. As Nina begins to learn about her family and a house called Keepsake, her world is turned upside down. There are two tales being told here, when in the depths of one, I almost forget there was another waiting to be revealed. Harriet Evans not only breathes life into these fascinating characters, she also excels in describing locations so they become a vital part of the story, the houses in particular were vibrantly intense in my minds eye. As you sink into the swirling depths of the story, you may have suspicions about the outcome, yet there are still surprises in store and ultimately, ‘The Butterfly Summer’ isn't about an ending, instead it’s discovering the beautiful pathway that leads to it.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Oh my, this is totally and completely gorgeous, in fact, an absolute treasure! An author leaves all his worldly possessions, and a hoard of lost lonely items, to his assistant Laura, can Laura reunite the lost things with their owners? Ruth Hogan writes with a beautiful lyrical whimsy, yet sharp edges and biting realism ensure this is a stunning, thought-provoking read. Each lost thing mentioned comes with an explanation, not the whole tale, instead snippets of information and emotions float free, helping you to feel the story. Each character, each lost thing, is imbued with love and sincerity, they become known, loved, and I cared about their wellbeing, their happiness. Links and connections create a chain reaction, ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ is more, much more than a relationship tale, it is a discovery of enchantment and delight. ~ Liz Robinson
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!
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!
The brand-new feel-good story from bestseller Veronica Henry - a perfect mix of family, friends and delicious food. So absolutely and completely gorgeous in every way! I do look forward to the latest Veronica Henry, I fairly danced with glee when ‘A Family Recipe’ arrived. Number 11 Lark Hill, Bath sits centre stage in this story, set during the Second World War and 2017. The house connects two tales, two women and the people they love. I read this in one sitting, once started, I quite simply didn’t want to stop. Jilly and Laura became known and loved, each and every character pops with intensity, fully realised, touchable, real. Veronica Henry has such a beautiful touch, she paints an entire world, deeply rich and vibrant, bringing to life thoughts, emotions, heart-ache, joy. I stepped though the pages into Bath, wandered the streets, travelled back in time, and salivating, I even looked up the food market to see if I could visit! I know I say this every time, but each new novel becomes my favourite by Veronica Henry, that is her gift, and ‘A Family Recipe’ most certainly continues that tradition.
Anne entered my heart in my childhood, I devoured this book and fell in love. There is something about the setting of Prince Edward Island in Canada that charms. The characters feel so very real, and Anne Shirley, well, she is completely delightful. As I entered my teenage years Anne grew with me and I still call this series one of my favourites. These are books that I return to again and again, they deliver the most wonderful hug. Anne of Greengables: 1. Anne of Green Gables 2. Anne of Avonlea 3. Anne of the Island 4. Anne of Windy Poplars 5. Anne's House of Dreams 6. Anne of Ingleside Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
April 2016 Book of the Month. An expressive, moving novel with the ability to reach out, connect with and yet bruise hearts. Frankie and Scott, both in their forties, both with children, meet and fall in love at first sight (well, perhaps second), their positivity obliterates the distance between Norfolk and the west coast of Canada as their romance blossoms. If you've read and adored the author’s earliest novels you'll expect the lightness of touch, but perhaps not the intensely hard hitting depth of emotion contained within this beautifully readable book. This change in direction opens the door to a whole new audience, yet the unmistakable sweet spicy tone will be recognised by existing fans. Freya North has a wonderfully distinctive writing style, she has a real gift for bringing thoughts and emotions to life, so that they feel real, feel known and understood. Descriptions of the ordinary somehow become special moments, while the complex and complicated are so simply yet vividly expressed. This is a gorgeously eloquent and touching novel, it is also a celebration of the wonderful glory of love and life. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read an exclusive interview with Freya North by Mary Hogarth. Like-for-Like Reading: Jojo Moyes, Lisa Jewell, Jane Green One of our Books of the Year 2015.
‘The Song Collector’ subtly tiptoes under your skin, the first few sentences call to you, draw you in, envelop you… and then it doesn't let you go until the very last page. Fox recollects meeting the love of his life just after the Second World War, while in the present, grieving the death of his wife, his grandson helps him reconnect with music and the world around him. There is a beguiling sense of honesty to the story, it feels as though Fox is seeking peace and reconciliation not only with others, but also with himself. Natasha Solomons has a wonderful ability to connect to thoughts and feelings and bring them to life, make them feel totally and completely real. There aren't any cunning tricks, hidden mysteries or unpredictable events lurking to hijack you, just a beautifully written, special and moving story waiting to be heard. One of our Books of the Year 2015.
What a gorgeously emotional and heart-warming read this is. Two women linked by an event that occurred eight years ago, find themselves at the centre of storm that could change their worlds forever, both will fight for what they believe in. The first chapter slams with impact. Oh Dani Atkins, you really know how to make me cry! In the very best possible way of course, with a heart full of emotion and feeling and wonder. The words reached inside me, made me ponder, and truly affected me. The characters are so engaging, the ups and downs so accessible. This is a relationship story with real personality, yes there is some anguish along the way, there is also plenty of hope, love, and feel-good too. I chose the hardback as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. If you choose to read A Million Dreams, and I really hope you do, I’ll just leave this here… have some tissues close to hand.
A loveable hug of a book, one that retains a positive feel of realism while embracing you with its warmhearted wit. Rachel can’t foresee a time when she will ever want to rejoin the dating game, while Patrick has created an emotional fence around his world; a Thirty List is just what they need in order to appreciate life again. The author creates an authentic setting for this romance, problems and issues arise and are dealt with or occasionally swept under the carpet. Sweet or wryly diverting lists pop up throughout the book, while the main Thirty List makes rather a lot of appearances as items are crossed off it. Engaging and believable, this is a charming romantic comedy to curl up with and quite simply enjoy. ~ Liz Robinson
November 2013 Book of the Month. Christine, very conscientiously, runs an employment agency where she takes a great interest in her clients, attempting to assist them in every way she can. She is also slightly obsessed with self-help books. She inadvertently stumbles across two young men bent on suicide. She feels confused about the first which encourages her to change her life. The second produces a challenge for, as she saves the young man, he agrees to give her two weeks to persuade him to live. Bouncing from one crisis to another we discover a little of Christine’s background and her attitude to life as she embraces the mission. What a clever writer Cecilia is for despite the sadness of the suicide theme this lovely novel succeeded in being warm, at times funny and eventually heart-lifting. A great read. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for How to Fall in Love a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'Absolutely adored this book! An easy read with a feel good factor about it, tear jerking but beautifully happy and heart warming!' Scroll down to read more reviews.
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.
This gorgeous festive book sweeps you up in a great big squishy loving hug. A glorious beach hut acts as a haven for Lizzy after she runs away from the stress of Christmas. Will her family realise what they are missing without her there to cater to their every need, and can Lizzy fall back in love with Christmas? I simply adore Veronica Henry’s writing, I smile as I’m reading, and she has the wonderful ability to make feelings, moods and issues relatable. From little tots, charming dogs, and tricky teens, through to a despicable bully, weary mum, and lonely grandmother, the characters fill the pages with a vibrant energy. There is a warmth to the writing that just settled over me in a lovely affectionate embrace. Christmas at the Beach Hut is a book you can curl up with, relax into, and really enjoy, and it is also perfect for anyone who adores Christmas in all its wonderful slightly mad glory. Featured in the LoveReading Christmas Gift Guide.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. April 2016 Book of the Month. Absolutely enchanting, and not in a sugary syrupy sweet way, oh no, instead this is earthy and vibrant and real. Miss Ona Vitkus is 104 years old, she lives on her own, relatively undisturbed, and then the 11 year old boy turns up on her doorstep. The two become unlikely friends, with world records, birds and life histories becoming main topics of conversation. Monica Wood writes with beautiful empathy, she doesn't judge, or even provoke, she sets this gorgeous story in motion and allows you, as the reader along on the journey. I particularly loved the transcripts of the tape recordings, it just consists of “shards” of thoughts, and the replies of Miss Vitkus to questions, however the boy is there, his presence is undeniable and the pages simply overflow with his energy. ‘The One-In-A-Million Boy’ is about a meeting of minds and hearts, of friendship and living life, it’s a particularly lovely and charming read, and you might just raise your eyebrow at a world record or two along the way.
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.
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 in ‘Chance Developments’ five charming and poignant short stories. I absolutely adore the premise for this little book and the stunning hardback cover made me ooh with delight. Alexander McCall Smith has imagined a background tale to the five black and white photos that appear at the beginning of each short story. The photos are eloquent and moving, the stories delve deeply into possibilities, love and friendship, joy and melancholy. From Sister Flora to a circus performer, each story is a small snapshot of what might have been, and as I read, I found myself drawn back to the photo, to look again and ponder. Alexander McCall Smith has transformed five forgotten photos into a discovery of delight. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read an exclusive interview with Alexander McCall Smith by Mary Hogarth. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'If you come across an old photograph what do you think about the people staring back out at you? Maybe that they are just anonymous people from another age, as if from another planet. Or do you, like McCall Smith, hear their voices, know their names, sense their hopes and dreams and imagine how their lives might have turned out.Blessed with a wonderful, humane imagination, McCall Smith brilliantly constructs paths for these forgotten people - some joyous, others bumpy and winding, all with unexpected twists and turns. An astonishing achievement: original and moving.' ~ Neville Moir, Editor of Chance Developments
An affectionate, heartfelt, uplifting novel about the wonders of friendship and having a dream. Spend a full day at the 24-hour Cafe in London, meet the staff, and the customers too, sit for a while, observe, enjoy. I adored Libby Page’s first novel The Lido, rest assured this is equally as gorgeous, and a truly lovely, lovely read. The story unfolds beautifully, starting at midnight we meet Hannah and Mona, friends, flatmates, and waitresses who will be working double shifts to cover the 24 hours. Stella’s cafe is a little community in its own right, small stories are contained within, with perfectly observed characters entering and exiting the cafe. I felt so invested in all of them, yet it is the two waiting staff who really touched me. As Hannah’s shift comes to an end and Mona’s starts, this simple, yet full and rich story opens up and flies. The 24-Hour Cafe is full of compassion and warmth, yet it doesn’t shy away from the darker side of life. It has been chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month because it celebrates friendship and dreams in the best possible way.
Just as special and completely lovely as you would expect. Veronica Henry’s novels are must-reads for me. I set aside plenty of reading time, then overindulged in one sitting and felt full to overbrimming with book love by the time I finished. After the death of their adored Great Uncle, cousins Tabitha and Georgia inherit Dragonfly Farm alongside a completely unknown third party. What secrets will be unearthed as they hunt for answers, and will the farm remain intact? Veronica Henry has created characters that become known and loved within a short space of time. Even if on the page for moments, each sings with colourful, vivid intensity. The storyline flows beautifully, easy to follow, yet delightfully dynamic and compelling. I felt a connection with, and cared about the farm and everyone linked to it. The past comes to visit every now and then, filling in the jigsaw puzzle of secrets. A Home From Home is an absolute treat of a read and I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Whimsical yet sharp and perceptive, ‘The Portable Veblen’ is an absolute treat of a read. Veblen is eccentrically wonderful, she lives in California, is followed by a squirrel and has a fiancé (yes the order of the squirrel and fiancé is deliberate). Veblen is influenced by Thorstein Veblen, an American sociologist and economist, her fiancé Paul is apparently influenced by achievement and success, and is determined to rid Veblen’s attic of its noisy invader. Occasional photos, letters and little extras crop up through the book, making the journey from beginning to end feel even more intense and physically real. At times I felt as though I was floating directly above Veblen, connected yet apart, and able to pick up on the smallest but most significant details. Elizabeth McKenzie writes with a beautifully considered yet free hand, with my feelings ranging from amused to curious, frustrated to sympathetic, and I also fell in love with a squirrel. This is a book to keep near at hand, a book to love and to cherish, to savour and to treasure. ~ Liz Robinson Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016.
July 2016 Book of the Month. The publisher’s blurb for this quirky novel certainly drew me to it especially since I am an enormous fan of his first, A Man Called Ove. I’m afraid I didn’t read his second (shame on me!). Here we have a woman who is definitely on ‘the spectrum’, who has at last left a cheating, domineering husband (when he had a heart attack in the arms of another woman) and must now earn a living. She will not accept that the Job Centre has nothing for her and is eventually given a dead-end, short-term job as caretaker in a closing sports centre in a dying town. She ends up coaching the local kids’ football team in a delightful, warm-hearted tale of great charm. How she wins everyone round and makes a life for herself is poignantly realised. A lovely read.
April 2014 Debut of the Month. A gorgeously generous, warm-hearted read, which will hold your hand as you face a poignant wave of emotions. Take in Rachel’s everyday reality, a reality where she is desperately trying to wrest back control of her household, her emotions, her life. The author encourages you to actively care about Rachel and her extended family, you urge her to succeed and noisily cheer her on as she tackles each obstacle placed (and sometimes hurled) in her path. The descriptions, particularly of the Care Home residents, are so vivid and eloquent you can see, hear and sometimes even smell each character. With some genuine, laugh out loud moments to be had along the way, this book is a little treasure! ~ Liz Robinson In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
July 2016 Book of the Month. Lovely, warm and engaging, 'The Perfect Gift’ is just that, a delightful treat of a book. Loveable, spirited Roisin always knew she was adopted, she came back home to start up her food emporium and lick her wounds after a doomed love affair, then a 30th birthday letter from her birth mother speaks to her soul. Roisin may be the main character, however this is a proper family and friends story, with a range of catastrophes, thrills and celebrations all jumping up and down and adding to the drama of the tale. Emma Hannigan doesn't just bring the wonderful characters to life, I felt as though I could step into the story, walk down the streets of Ballyshore, buy yummy foodie items in Roisin’s shop and have a natter with Mo to pick up all the gossip. The pages just flew by, and although on occasion my heart ached, this is basically a book to make you smile. ~ Liz Robinson
An absolutely delightful story ready and waiting to wrap you up in a delicious blanket of warming feel-good. Ellie thinks she is happy, assumes she is happy, but a present from a harp-making stranger heralds change. Oh I did enjoy this story, told in alternate chapters by Ellie and Dan, I settled myself into a comfy spot and stayed there until I had finished. Dan introduces himself in the most simple and beautiful way, he is able to see through clutter to the heart of things and I have to admit to rather falling in love with him. Hazel Prior doesn’t spell things out for you, instead I felt that I was able to explore and encouraged to contemplate. The descriptions of Exmoor, nature, and colour are particularly special, and I now find myself taking the time to look properly, to really see, to feel, to smile. Ellie and the Harp Maker is truly lovely and rather special, if you feel like a hug, then read this book!
One of our Books of the Year 2014. A remarkable and thought-provoking debut novel, which immediately becomes a compulsive read. Written with great eloquence, the tale transports you into an everyday reality filled with exquisite loss and longing. With harrowing memories of the savagery of Nazi Germany, tantalising glimpses into the 1930’s film industry and the wonderfully enigmatic Ruby Slippers (which introduce a dusting of glittery optimism); the novel focuses on the very human traits of hope and love. The wonderfully wide range of interwoven characters become tangible living breathing people who entice you into the story and help you feel and empathise with their emotions. The faded yet enchanting Delicatessen sits central in the story and binds together the disparate group. As you dance across the decades, the truth of the tales behind the characters slowly and tantalisingly reveals itself. The tortuous relationships take on a new energy and meaning and brings an understanding of deeper hidden thoughts and feelings. This is a book to cherish, to become friends with; the encounter leaves you thoroughly satisfied and yet still wondering… can the hope of something actually be more magical than the reality of it? ~ Liz Robinson
Take a romp through your childhood memories and observe the villains of Wild Wood with new eyes. Mr Toad, Ratty and Mole from 'The Wind in the Willows' are most definitely ‘Haves’ so it’s fascinating to see the story from a different angle, that of the ‘Have Nots’. In this retelling of Kenneth Grahame’s magical story you can almost hear Needle's thought process as he read the original adventures and pondered.. ahhh but, what if! For anyone concerned about a much loved treasure being tarnished, worry not. A delight for adults and children alike, the author successfully ridicules human folly and although Mr Toad is shown up as the selfish, thoughtless, spendaholic that he is, he's actually still as captivating as ever! ~ Liz Robinson Wild Wood is as funny, as relevant and as pleasurable in 2014 as it was on first publication in 1981.
"The hamlet stood on a gentle rise in the flat, wheat-growing north-east corner of Oxfordshire. We will call it Lark Rise.” And henceforth we were introduced to Flora Thompson's immortal trilogy, containing "Lark Rise", "Over To Candleford" and "Candleford Green". Originally written as three separate novels, together they deliver a heart-warming portrayal of everyday country life in the 1880s and 1890s as told by Laura. This story of three closely related Oxfordshire communities - a hamlet, the nearby village and a small market town - is based on the author's experiences during childhood; a simplicity of life seemingly lost forever. In its beautifully nostalgic way, the story chronicles social attitudes, May Day celebrations, forgotten children's games, the daily lives of farmworkers and craftsmen, tales of friendship and family life - all constructed to make this trilogy an affectionate and evocative memorial to Victorian rural England
November 2017 Debut of the Month A gentle, yet powerful and stimulating novel about friendship and love. 15 year old Steffi who is being bullied at school, meets Alvar who lives in a retirement home, their shared loved of jazz creates a beautiful healing bond. The story is told in the present, and we also travel with Alvar through time to 1942, when he first discovers the jazz scene in Stockholm. Sara Lovestam writes with a lovely lyrical, light touch, yet effectively highlights the pain Steffi feels at the hands of her tormentors. I fell in love with both Steffi and Alvar, their friendship feels so real, you can reach out and touch it. There were sections where I felt an almost physical reaction to the bullying, yet the love and compassion continues to shine through. ‘Wonderful Feels Like This’ touched my heart, it is provocative yet hopeful, and an entirely captivating read indeed. ~ Liz Robinson
Just so, so gorgeous! Laura lives on her own in the woodland wilds of South West Ireland, a film crew discover she has a special gift, will she be exploited or set free? I always know a book is fabulous when I forget I’m meant to be reviewing and instead find myself completely transported to another world. Cecelia Ahern writes with such a light, magical touch, yet she opens up feelings and allows you to see, to feel, to think. Each part of the story is introduced by a fascinating section taken from a book written in 1933, and links beautifully to Laura. This story is alive with the mystical and unknown, yet is a very modern tale indeed. The writing is so perfect, I actually heard sound… noise touched me, clearly, effortlessly and beautifully, making my heart ache. A delicious enchantment underpins and threads through the story, yet there is also an undertone of unease and foreboding that lingers as you turn the pages, ensuring ‘Lyrebird’ is a bewitching, gloriously delightful read. ~ Liz Robinson
A short, seemingly simple, yet complex and rather wonderful novel about a young boy coming to terms with life, death, and everything in-between. Eleven year old Michael believes that a murder has taken place, and he tells his own story. The first sentence sets the scene with dramatic intensity, and left me with the hint of raised eyebrows, the possibility of a smirk. The tale begins the day before the murder, and background information is gradually filled in, allowing the connection to Michael to grow, to be nurtured. Maria Donovan explores sorrow, confusion, anger, friendship and love, all from the viewpoint of an eleven year old, with such thoughtfulness and compassion. I loved getting to know Michael and his companions, he entered my heart, he made me smile, and occasionally wince. ‘The Chicken Soup Murder’ is a thought provoking, yet gentle heartfelt hug of a tale, and a very lovely read indeed. ~ Liz Robinson
Winner of the Selo Catedra Award, Brazil in partnership with UNESCO Gorgeous, fascinating and heartwarming, this is a book to put a smile on your face. In 2013, aged five and a half, Toby decided to write a letter to someone in every single country in the world. His Mum Sabine, embraced the challenge and started to seek out people who would be interested in writing back to Toby. A website was started as a means of storing the letters, social media leapt aboard and Toby’s dream started to come true. This is a book containing just a few of the letters, to and from the world, and what a special book it is too. Suitable for children as well as adults, each letter is a snapshot of the country and the people that live there. You can dip in and out, and each time you visit somewhere new, learn something new and wonder at the magic that has been created. In ‘Dear World, How Are You?' you can see how Toby has spread love and cheer around the globe, one letter at a time, how fabulous! Click here to read a special blog by Toby's Mum about the book and how it has changed alot of people's lives. April 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul. At the heart of the story - and of run-down Unity Street - is Frank, steadfastly selling vinyl (no cassettes, and definitely no CDs) from his decaying shop: “With vinyl, you couldn’t just sit there like a lemon. You had to GET UP OFF YOUR ARSE and TAKE PART”. The polar opposite of Black Books’s Bernard Black, Frank is one of life’s altruists. He “knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves”. But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street. Ilse sets Frank’s heart-a-pounding, and his nerves-a-tingling, but his past pains (particularly his relationship with his music-obsessed mother) have left him emotionally impotent, and he’s at risk of losing his once-in-a-blue-moon chance to truly take part in life. The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured. It’s a newly-heard riff you can’t get out of your head, and the favourite album you’ll return to in times of need. I loved it. ~ Joanne Owen
June 2017 Debut of the Month. A dazzling debut about a fostered autistic girl’s poignant search for her Forever Home, and her acute need to be needed. Truly a gem that will satiate an abundance of literary tastes, this is surely set to become a must-read sensation. Ginny Moon is almost fourteen, and has autism. After years of neglect and abuse at the hands of her Birth Mother, followed by troubled spells with a succession of foster families, she’s now much more settled with her Forever Parents, Maura, and Brian. But something is playing on Ginny's mind. Really playing on it. Someone needs her, much more than Maura, Brian and new Baby Wendy do, and so Ginny becomes desperate to find her Birth Mother so she can take care of the Baby Doll she left in a suitcase in her mother’s apartment all those years ago. Ginny will do anything to reach her goal - lie, scheme, steal, set up her own kidnapping. There’s tremendous tension, shock, horror and heartache, and you feel desperately for both Ginny and her Forever Parents, to whom the search feels like rejection. Ginny's journey will break your heart, but it will also heal it, for there are many moments of love and kindness along the way, and humour too. Ginny’s Michael Jackson obsession brought many smiles, as did Larry, her adorable classmate and not-so-secret admirer. While Ginny’s worldview is uniquely her own, we can all identify with her deep-rooted desire to be needed. Her unforgettable voice is conjured with tender authenticity, and the shifting, increasingly on-the-edge family dynamics are incisively evoked. This is a wondrous page-turner, with all the appeal of books such as The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time and The Rosie Project. ~ Joanne Owen
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Gosh, this is absolutely and completely enchanting. The moment I laid eyes on ‘The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow’ I knew I had fallen in love, I hugged the book before even opening the pages. I felt like a child again, it’s beautifully sized, it’s big, the cover stunning, it just invites you to pick it up. The story began when Jackie Morris created Christmas cards, one a year for Help Musicians UK, the words, while there all along, arrived later, in the creating of this book. The illustrations speak so eloquently and beautifully they brought a tear to my eye and goose bumps magically appeared on my arms. This is a book where you just sink into the pages, drift away on the words, and it feels like a half remembered dream. I whole heartedly recommend ‘The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow’, it would make a perfect gift (even for yourself), and is a fairy tale delight of a read. ~ Liz Robinson A message from the author, Jackie Morris: Between the covers of this book there is a gathering, of images* and stories. The words tell only a small part of what can be found in the images. These stories ask more questions than they answer. Look at the paintings and find within them more answers. The book is a harbour in which to rest, a catalyst for the imagination, and the stories are a series of lullabies for grown-ups. My hope is that the threads of stories will wrap around the dreams of others and spin fine gold threads to catch the imagination. * - The illustrations were originally commissioned Christmas card designs for the charity Help Musicians. The brief was always the same: anything, so long as there were musical instruments or musicians in it. A message from Jon Boden, singer, composer and musician: A tantalising glimpse into an enigmatic, free-flowing world with music at its heart... Music, painting and words have long been close acquaintances, but in The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow Morris has discovered a way of bringing the three art forms together in a truly organic, intuitive amalgam. Click here to read more about Jackie's inspiration for this title and also a word from Jon Boden.
One of the Top 10 Lovereading Reader Review Panel Summer Read selections. A thoroughly charming book from this witty and intelligent Australian writer. Don leads a very ordered life. He does not consider himself odd, does not notice how much he shares with a group of children with Asperger’s syndrome, approaches everything in a completely logical way. This logic extends into his search for a wife. It is easy to mock Don and see this purely as a kooky rom-com, but it is more. It is an exploration of society with all its preconceptions and unwritten rules. To fit in or not? How much to fit in? Should one try to change just to fit in? And change how much? Rosie guides Don and the reader through these challenges in what must be one of the most endearing books I have ever read. It will probably be one of my most memorable books of the year. ~ Sarah Broadhurst One of our Books of the Year 2014. Click here to view The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project which is out in paperback in February 2015. January 2014 MEGA Debut of the Month. We defy you not to absolutely love this quirky romantic gem of a book, that weirdly sits somewhere between One Day by David Nicholls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time from Mark Haddon and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Professor Don Tillman leads a v. v. structured life; single, intelligent, tall, fit, heathy - unable to see why he can’t find a wife and unable to see he is really rather autistic... His hyper-rational solution is a 16 page questionnaire. But love does work in mysterious and irrational ways. Touching, insightful and v v funny, please read the Opening Extract - you will be hooked! In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Rosie Project a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'What a brilliant book... Please read it, he [the protagonist] will change your life' – Jayne Burton. Scroll down to read more reviews.
March 2013 Book of the Month. A wonderful book full of political and social comment along with some brilliant characters and an impressive portrayal of the global financial crisis. Add her normal wit and a smattering of the unexpected and you have a major success. And for those of you who enjoyed A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka has returned to the characters in that book with a hilarious erotic twist in A Shorter History of Tractors in Ukrainian with Handcuffs, available to download in eBook format. Click here to find out more.
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.
A gloriously evocative and touching read, capable of chattering with energy one minute and settling into an expressive silence the next. It feels as though the author has a cherished connection to the memories of 11 year old Anthony during the Second World War; she skillfully captures his playfulness, excitement, bewilderment and fear. The Welsh mining village and surrounding hills where Anthony lives is brought vibrantly to life, full to the brim with gossip, bustle and affection. The villager’s war is fought on the home front; from the inadequately provisioned home guard, to the men down the mine and most intimately of all, in the mind of one small boy. Through the smiles, laughter, sorrow and tears this novel leaves a satisfying feeling of warmth, and is quite simply a joy to read. One of our Books of the Year 2015.