75+ Books for Every Dad this Father's Day

It's the annual celebration of our dads coming up, with Father's Day on Sunday 19th June 2022

If your father is an avid reader, why not select one of our highly recommended titles from this special Father's Day Collection. Whatever his interest, or genre of choice, we're sure there will be some reading material here to tickle his fancy.

Even if he's not the most prolific of readers, books are a special gift and definitely more interesting than a pair of socks!

You can find a great selection of books, below...dive in and take a look.

Recent research which demonstrated that whilst women read novels by men and women, fiction written by women is rarely read by men. Women's Prize for Fiction also launched a vote to find 10 essential books for men, written by women, in order to encourage more men to read novels by women. In this vein, we've included some of the most voted titles as well as some recommendations to encourage the men in our lives to read out of their comfort zone and enjoy something deliciously different to their usual fodder. 

If you are looking for a Father's Day gift from younger children, check out our collection on LoveReading4Kids, a selection of gorgeous books, perfect to read with dads, step-dads, grandads and other father figures who fill the role.

Thanks dads out there for all you do.

Where Did I Go Right? How the Left Lost Me

Where Did I Go Right? How the Left Lost Me

Author: Geoff Norcott Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Comedian Geoff Norcott’s Where Did I Go Right? How the Left Lost Me is an honest, amusing and thought-provoking account of how a working-class lad raised on a council estate by a unionised father and matriarchal mother ended up voting (wait for it…) Tory. Framed as his journey to discover how this unlikely turn of events came about (he was surely destined to be Labour red - how on earth did he turn blue?), this lively memoir is packed with engaging anecdotes and provocative reasoning. While I stand firmly at the other end of the political spectrum, it provided fascinating and well-considered insights into how the half think and, as such, should be read by both Reds and Blues. “Given my solid working-class background and performing arts job, it’s obvious to everyone I meet that I should be Labour through and through. I’m a comedian who grew up on a council estate with two disabled parents, and my dad was a trade union man. But that’s not how I voted.” So Norcott states near the beginning of the book, setting out his unusual stall before tracing his  left-to-right swing back to his adolescence. “My dial was moving all the time”, he recognises amidst growing disillusionment with New Labour - though his first non-Labour vote didn’t go to “those Tory bastards”, to quote his dad. From the 2008 collapse of the Lehman Brothers and credit crunch, through to Brexit, Norcott’s funny (and moving) personal experiences are smartly woven into his political musings and analysis.

Get Your Head in the Game

Get Your Head in the Game

Author: Dominic Stevenson Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/12/2020

Shot-through with the author’s personal experiences as a coach, player and all-round football obsessive, Dominic Stevenson’s Get Your Head in the Game is a timely must-read for fans, players, coaches - the whole kit and caboodle of anyone involved with football. Sharing the experiences of internationally renowned players, figures from top clubs, trailblazers of the women’s game (and many more besides), and offering legions of insights into how sport and the mind could be reconnected, this might just make the beautiful game yet more beautiful - and transformative.   Stevenson’s context will strike a powerful chord with fans: “Football is the universal leveller. It speaks in a way that no language does. It is poetry without the pontification, a novel without the concentration, and it changes the world in minutes.” What’s more, football’s “community spirit, the sense of comradeship and the provision of a social lifeline for those who may otherwise be alone are enormous, and they have great potential to be positively exploited for the greater good of society.”   Despite these huge positives, mental health “is still an issue that doesn’t get the exposure it deserves, in spite of well-meaning link-ups between football clubs and mental health charities”, and the testimonies from players under pressure feeling they’ve failed even after playing for top clubs, and those blighted by injury and abuse, cut to the core. Then there’s the lack of support from clubs, and heart-breaking accounts of suicide attempts. The book also covers football’s efforts to become truly inclusive, acknowledging that while steps have been made, the game still has a long way to go before racism, homophobia, sexism and transphobia have been totally kicked out. Concluding with a range of tips for improving mental health in the context of football, and confident that “the glory days of football are still ahead of us”, this book is a game-changer.  

eBooks of the Month
The Siege

The Siege

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

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

Star Books
Lying Beside You

Lying Beside You

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

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

Star Books
Hostage

Hostage

Author: Clare Mackintosh Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/06/2022

Hostage would make the most perfectly fabulous holiday read, if you’re brave enough! On board the first non-stop flight from the UK to Australia, a flight attendant is given a horrifying either/or decision to make. Author Clare Mackintosh sets emotions rocketing from the get-go. I love her writing, she always successfully captures the entirety of my concentration and I know I need to set plenty of read-in-one-sitting time aside. This is incredibly visual, people, places, and the plot all popped into my minds eye and I felt, really felt as though I was there. The first person narrative is used to great effect, it allows you access to a number of people, toying with preconceived ideas and encouraging thoughts to explore. The tension keeps expanding, gathering new observations, and I can honestly say that I had absolutely no idea where I was going to end up. The last few chapters hit hard, and as for the epilogue, well, I’ll just proclaim it, and the last sentence in particular, an absolute doozie! Hostage is a monster of a fabulous read, clever yet entertaining, thoughtful yet provocative, I declare it a LoveReading Star Book. * The less said the better about this latest nail-biter from Mackintosh. A kind of locked-room mystery aboard an intercontinental flight in which a flight attendant is given an impossible choice by terrorists: bring down the plane if you want your daughter at home to live. But there is a dark underbelly to this tale, and the stunning, unsettling conclusion will stick with you long after you’ve put that jaw of yours back in place. - Selected by Linwood Barclay, Our Autumn 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.

Star Books
The Murder Book

The Murder Book

Author: Mark Billingham Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/06/2022

A satisfyingly shocking and oh-so-readable novel, make sure you’re sitting comfortably when you begin! When your home life feels settled you have the most to lose, and Tom Thorne comes to realise this in the most horrifying way when the past screams hello. The Murder Book is the eighteenth in the addictive Tom Thorne series which began with the fabulous Sleepyhead, and Mark Billingham’s writing is as on-point as ever. These police procedurals have it all, a tight knit policing team, flawed characters that you’d still want on your side, and twisty plots alongside skilful writing. The writing is such that I do believe you could read this as a standalone even with the references to what has gone before, but of course, this being Mark Billingham, I have to recommend that you go back and start at the beginning. This is a book that fires-up and teases the accelerator, gradually building up until it hits top speed and then, well, it just doesn’t let up. I was genuinely fearful for Thorne and co, for their physical and mental welfare, as their opponent is truly terrifying. I read late into the night, not wanting to leave them, desperately needing to know the outcome. With a hoard of reading gold to discover, The Murder Book electrifies as it corkscrews through to a heart-pounding conclusion. Highly recommended, and a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
The Botanist

The Botanist

Author: M. W. Craven Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/06/2022

As far as booky thrills, entertainment, and satisfaction goes, I declare this is pure reading gold and a LoveReading Star Book. Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are back, their skills are needed for two investigations. They unofficially involve themselves in the first after their friend Estelle Doyle is arrested for murder, and in the second a formidable poisoner is courting social media. The Washington Poe series sits towards the very top of my favourites of all time. It started with the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award Winning The Puppet Show and here we are at book five, each and every one has been fabulous and The Botanist joins the team in swaggering style. I’m actually not quite sure how M.W. Craven does it, he maintains the most exquisite balance of blurt-worthy humour, eyebrow-raising plots, and as for the characters! Each and every person to step on the page becomes fully formed in my minds-eye, even if on the page for a moment. I rubbed my hands with glee when I realised that we had a locked room mystery on our hands and my second, third, and fourth thoughts were feverishly working away in the background as I settled in and sank into the pages. Poe and Tilly, or the reactions of others to Poe and Tilly had me snorting with laughter. They are almost polar opposites, and their friendship is heart-warming in its genuine simplicity. The plot more than happily allowed me to feel chuffed as I started to work certain aspects out before it slammed the door shut again. Oh, and I loved, loved, loved that ending! Sharply focused with on-point humour, and somehow joyfully warming while hunting the most chilling of foes, The Botanist is my current favourite of the series (each one always is). Yet again I will be haunting the book aisles until the next appears.

Star Books
All the Seas of the World

All the Seas of the World

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

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

Star Books
Razorblade Tears

Razorblade Tears

Author: S. A. Cosby Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/07/2021

A BLACK FATHER. A WHITE FATHER. TWO MURDERED SONS. A QUEST FOR VENGEANCE. *SUNDAY TIMES THRILLER OF THE MONTH* Ike Randolph left jail fifteen years ago, with not so much as a speeding ticket since. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid. Ike is devastated to learn his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah's white husband, Derek. Though he never fully accepted his son, Ike is broken by his death. Derek's father Buddy Lee was as ashamed of Derek being gay as Derek was of his father's criminal past. But Buddy Lee - with seedy contacts deep in the underworld - needs to know who killed his only child. Desperate to do better by them in death than they did in life, two hardened ex-cons must confront their own prejudices about their sons - and each other - as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys. A provocative revenge thriller and an achingly tender story of redemption, this novel is a ferocious portrait of grief; for those loved and lost, and for mistakes than can never truly be undone.

Star Books
Take Your Breath Away

Take Your Breath Away

Author: Linwood Barclay Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Fiendishly full of twists and turns this is one heck of a thrilling domestic mystery. Andy has finally moved on after his wife disappeared in suspicious circumstances, having been number one suspect he has hidden his past, however it refuses to remain concealed. I always look forward to a new Linwood Barclay novel, he has the ability to send chills coursing through your veins, while encouraging thoughts to rummage in dark recesses. I always have confidence in the writing and throw myself in with abandon, giving myself up to the new world I’m about to enter. The characters here are intriguingly complicated and various viewpoints hit thoughts and sending them spinning. My suspicions levels spiralled and worked overtime, I didn’t trust anyone and my wariness conspired against me. While the main storyline runs, various subplots dig in alongside and ensure you never settle. Highlighting the secrets and lies that can rip apart second chances, Take Your Breath Away is an absolute blast of a read.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
England on Fire

England on Fire

Author: Stephen Ellcock Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/05/2022

A stunningly provocative and thought-provoking book viewing England from a different perspective, one where: “magic and rebellion and destruction are the horses to which the country is hitched. On these fabled shores we are all castaways, whether our family has lived here for four thousand years or four”. Stephen Ellcock’s books are particular favourites of mine, I regularly dip into All Good Things, and The Book of Change. Here he has joined forces with Mat Osman, whose short texts sit as an introduction to each chapter where the images chosen are allowed to sing. I love Mat’s introduction! He perfectly describes Stephen’s talent for choosing images and picking up on the thoughts and feelings of the moment. He also brings England to life: “Like a teenager sulking in their room, England is in one of its periodic spasms of insularity - but no matter, we’ve been here before”. Look deeper, explore roots that are bound to the ancient and to wilderness, join protests and anti-fascist marches, adore our absurdity while remaining aware of our capacity for division  and discord. While our dark times are explored, hope springs in the form of a new breed of artists, the images chosen here matter, they speak of and to our deepest emotions. This book has helped me to feel connected again with the country in which I live, my eyes opened in a new awareness. A LoveReading Star book, England on Fire is truly beautiful, it’s astute, inclusive, and absolutely magical.

Star Books
Go Camping

Go Camping

Author: Katherine Latham Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Go Camping is a celebration of the freedom that camping brings - the perfect gift either to yourself or for a friend who may be toying with the idea of taking the plunge into this world of wilderness, wonder and escapism. This is a book to keep close at hand, to pick up and put down between tasks and chores to remind yourself that there are big and small adventures out there just waiting for you to turn up and have them. The book is packed with inspiring tips, info, quotes and photographs which beckon to your inner explorer from every page, willing you to get out there and do it! Open the book at random and you’ll discover pitching tips, turn a few pages and you’re checking out tasty camping recipes… from bushcraft to foraging, in tents or in campervans… kit lists, destinations, birdwatching, wild swimming, games… you name it. Go Camping feeds your camping dreams and introduces you to one of life’s purest and most fulfilling experiences. Don’t miss it.

Superheroes, Orphans and Origins

Superheroes, Orphans and Origins

Author: Foundling Museum Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/03/2022

What a fascinating, thought-provoking, and fabulous book this is! I am a bit of a comic fan, have been since I was a child, and yet I’d never, not once, considered just how many of the characters found in comics and graphic novels were orphaned or abandoned children. Just think about some of the iconic superheroes, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine, and there are many more who are also orphaned, adopted, and fostered. The Foundling Museum and Unicorn Publishing explore the last 125 years of comics and graphic novels, travelling to nine different countries and three continents in order to encourage: "a new way to experience comics”. In her foreword, Caro Howell the Foundling Museum Director mentions Lemn Sissay’s poem, Superman was a Foundling, which sits as a mural in the museum, and says it: “presents an implicit challenge to the viewer: Why, when looked-after children have such a powerful presence in culture, are they so marginalised in real life?” she hopes to: “raise awareness of the immense resilience needed to overcome separation, loss, stigma and society’s indifference, and to build a sense of self and self-worth”. Brilliant, vividly vibrant artwork appears, along with the thoughts and perspectives from different contributors who have been in care. I found my thoughts exploring new paths, and I want to stand up and applaud this book. Superheroes, Orphans and Origins is an eye-opening exploration that I can highly recommend, and it’s been chosen to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
The Man with the Silver Saab

The Man with the Silver Saab

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2022

An alluring blend of English and Scandi wit and whimsy, Alexander McCall Smith’s Detective Varg series is an addictive joy. The Man with the Silver Saab, the third in the sequence, sees Ulf, of Malmo’s Department of Sensitive Crimes, fall for a colleague as he tries to solve a case involving a respected art historian who’s been implicated in fraudulent misidentification.   As always, Ulf’s hearing-impaired dog, Martin, is prominent. In this instance, the novel kicks off with an unfortunate incident involving Martin and an aggressive squirrel that prompts Ulf to muse on the fact that “a big thing happens while small things are going on around it”.   Ulf’s internal dialogues remain at the fore, too, and really they’re at this heart of this series, along with the first-rate, funny dialogue, and a twisting, labyrinthine plot that sees Ulf and Blomquist almost lose themselves in a maze of art world intrigue. 

The Death of Remembrance A D.C.I. Daley Thriller

The Death of Remembrance A D.C.I. Daley Thriller

Author: Denzil Meyrick Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/06/2022

It’s been a rollercoaster of a decade for DCI Jim Daley. Fresh from the mean streets of Glasgow, he arrived in the fishing community of Kinloch on Scotland’s west coast to investigate the washed-up body of a young woman 10 years ago. Thankfully for fans of Denzil Meyrick’s bestselling detective, the drama and body count in this small corner of the world isn’t showing any sign of slowing! Violence, prejudice, deceit and corruption bubble under the surface of this latest outing for Daley and less-than-sober sidekick, Brian Scott. Life in gangland Glasgow may seem a lifetime ago for the unorthodox duo, but the discovery of a fisherman’s body on the shoreline and the reappearance of a notorious criminal force them both to relive events from their murky past. Meyrick’s storytelling skills are second to none, weaving together a narrative that spans time and location without dropping an inch of suspense along the way. And what a compelling cast of characters that come out to play in this special anniversary novel! From mystic old Hamish to the most brutal of Glasgow criminals, Meyrick treats each with just the right touch to ensure authenticity. His use of Scots dialogue is gritty and hilarious in equal measure, with Brian Scott’s turn of phrase the real star of the show. The Death of Remembrance is a compelling novel from one of Scotland’s favourite writers – expect high drama…and high praise.

Kalmann

Kalmann

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

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

Star Books
The Dying Squad

The Dying Squad

Author: Adam Simcox Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

DYING IS HELL . . . SOLVING YOUR OWN MURDER IS PURGATORY When Detective Inspector Joe Lazarus storms a Lincolnshire farmhouse, he expects to bring down a notorious drug gang; instead, he discovers his own dead body and a spirit guide called Daisy-May. She's there to enlist him to the Dying Squad, a spectral police force made up of the recently deceased. Joe soon realises there are fates far worse than death. To escape being stuck in purgatory, he must solve his own murder. A task made all the more impossible when his memories start to fade. Reluctantly partnering with Daisy-May, Joe faces dangers from both the living and the dead in the quest to find his killer - before they kill again.

Star Books
Young Mungo

Young Mungo

Author: Douglas Stuart Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Powerful, thought-provoking, and stunningly eloquent, this remarkable novel will be one of my books of the year. Two young men meet, under normal circumstances they would battle on different sides of the Glaswegian Catholic and Protestant divide, instead they fall in love. Although no date is given, this potentially takes place in the 90’s. Two different time frames slip into and through each other, with the past rushing to meet the present. Gangs of words squared up, pushing and shoving their way into my thoughts. While the focus remains on the main character Mungo, Booker prizewinner Douglas Stuart doesn’t skim the surface of the other characters, he took me deep down into who they truly were. Mungo will remain a part of me, he feels entirely real, and I lived every exquisitely written second alongside him. This travels into extremely dark places, and yet it’s full of love too. Family obligations, abuse, self-worth, violence, religion, toxic relationships, the struggle of being different, the purity of first love all swirl together, creating a darkly addictive pull that on occasion threatens to overwhelm. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, Young Mungo is a swaggeringly beautiful novel that I recommend, heart and soul.

Star Books
The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime

Author: Vaseem Khan, Maxim Jakubowski Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

It’s rub your hands in glee time with this collection of 22 hugely engaging and eloquent crime stories from around the world. The editors for this book are Maxim Jakubowski who is current chair of the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), author, and former publisher, and Vaseem Khan author of two crime series set in India, co-host of the Red Hot Chilli Writers podcast, and who currently sits on the board of the CWA. In their introductions, Maxim and Vaseem both note that until this century, there was a lack of diversity in crime writing. Maxim says that he is privileged to have witnessed an explosion of crime writing by authors of all colours and ethnic backgrounds which has encouraged a new readership in the process. While Vaseem speaks more personally about his journey into publishing and is passionate about literature being a powerful means to change society for the better. Together they have invited authors from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds to contribute, and in reading these stories you can not only travel the globe but also experience new thoughts and feelings. Some of the authors are well known to me, and particular favourites, so I immediately turned to their fabulous tales. That’s the joy of an anthology isn’t it, dipping in and out, returning, sinking in and letting go. Then I explored the stories where I hadn’t yet met the author’s writing. Oh boy, what a reading thrill that was, I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for them in the future. With an assortment of writing styles, locations, times in history, and characters, the plots sizzle and evoke a variety of emotions. The Perfect Crime comes with a massive thumbs up from me and marches straight in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
Gardening for Mind, Body and Soul

Gardening for Mind, Body and Soul

Author: Annie Burdick Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/02/2022

This is a joyful and handy book which focuses on guidance for finding happiness and living in tune with your own personal piece of the great outdoors. Over the past few years we’ve found ourselves at home more than we might normally wish to be, and for those of us lucky enough to have them, we have grown to love our gardens even more. Gardening for Mind, Body and Soul cuts to the chase, zooming in on anything and everything in the garden that can bring you fulfilment, calm and well-being. Turning the traditional gardening book on its head this comes from the point of view of why gardens are good for us and includes sections on everything from mood-boosting and fitness to sensory experience and spiritual wellness. I particularly liked the pages dedicated to creativity and the ideas around music, art and writing in the garden - a far cry from facing up to the chores of weeding or mowing the lawn! This book has given me all sorts of inspiration for turning my garden into a stress-busting source of energy and has opened me up to the possibilities of its healing gifts. If you ever find yourself wanting to run away and escape the stresses of modern living, you may discover through this book that the answer is closer to home than you thought.

Riding Out

Riding Out

Author: Simon Parker Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/04/2022

Simon Parker’s 3,400 mile bike ride which begins and ends at Muckle Flugga in Shetland would have been remarkable at any time. Instead he ventures out into the murky throes of a pandemic, pursued by his own troubles which are then further exacerbated by news of a close friend’s death. His journey, like all journeys, is a metaphor for life, a journey of self discovery interwoven with observation and the freedom granted by just ‘passing through’. This metaphor is brought into sharp focus when he is unable to attend the funeral of his friend but pays his respects from a pavement. It is a heartbreaking picture that like much of the book exposes the author’s vulnerability but also the truth that every moment is a crossroads - even when it’s an ending. Despite some moments of darkness the book is very humorous and Parker spins many a good yarn as he pedals down and then back up the country. Collectively the land is broken, fractured by a virus, confused by rules and moral dilemmas, tormented by grief and worry. In all this our traveller finds hope through adventure. Somehow by threading his way around our island it is as if the author has stitched it back together again, patching things up and making it strong once more. Riding Out can be read as an inspiring cycling travelogue, but it is also a record of a very strange time for which many of us paid a price, not only for a lockdown bike, but with our mental health.

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century

Author: Jessica Vincent Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/03/2022

This is an impressive collection of travel writing taken from British media which finds untold stories in all corners of the world. Night trains, diving, pilgrimages, coastal walks … the Congo, Iraq, Kent, the Ganges… this single volume hits you hard with the overwhelming possibilities of travel with no less than thirty brilliant writers assembled. This century brought fresh challenges for these journalists in a world well-explored and now widely reported by visitors with bucket lists and armed with social media. But good writing is good writing, and here it is in abundance seeking out characters landscapes and histories converging in a fast-changing world and requiring a special talent to nail down. It may seem a little early in the century to be presenting such a compilation but of course the pandemic has provided a natural break for travellers to be still and reflect. For once, editor Jessica Vincent was spending more time reading than writing and this led to a reassessment of her motives for travel - not to tick off sights and cover as much ground as possible in an endless drive to ’see’ or ‘move’ - but the true essence of travel - which she says is to feel. Co-editor Levison Wood had a similar experience exploring from his armchair and finding a new level of appreciation for his own adventures and the stories that inspired him. You will also be inspired by these stories, perhaps to read more and learn more, or even to travel, but most of all to feel.

The Slow Road to Tehran A Revelatory Bike Ride through Europe and the Middle East

The Slow Road to Tehran A Revelatory Bike Ride through Europe and the Middle East

Author: Rebecca Lowe Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/03/2022

This is a brilliant travel adventure that scratches so far beneath the surface it might have struck oil. Rebecca Lowe’s rich knowledge of the Middle East is fascinating enough in itself to keep the pages turning, but add to that a rookie cyclist going for a risk-filled 11,000km ride to Iran and the results are not only culturally enlightening but hilarious. The author has a wickedly witty style that weaves effortlessly between her day to day travails and the people, mosques and historical sites that she seeks out to bring Islamic history to life. A talented journalist, Lowe is equipped to cut through the media image of the region that we have lazily settled for, and her description of why the bicycle is the best way to uncover what somewhere is truly like is the best I have read. Her observations in places once held under Ottoman rule, or in cities such as Venice where Muslim commerce made such an impression, turn the dial from negative towards positive in measuring the impact the Muslim world has had on western heritage and economies. There is an ingenious arc to this book from an early conversation with Muslim ‘outsiders’ in France to her own experience as an outsider in Tehran where western journalists are met with suspicion. Ultimately The Slow Road to Tehran follows a path full of human kindness, bravery and compassion through a world unnecessarily divided.

Himalaya

Himalaya

Author: Ed Douglas Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/07/2021

The mountains of the Himalaya, prised up by tectonic plates, emerged from the ocean ahead of any other land mass on our planet and are therefore not only the highest, but also the oldest in the world. No wonder then that the human stories to subsequently be written upon this landscape should be so unique, so extraordinary and so often full of remarkable bravery and endeavour. Ed Douglas, the author of Himalaya: A Human History has entwined these stories together in what will surely come to be regarded as the definitive account of this region. It is certainly difficult to see how it might be improved. The book is dense, detailed and written with wit, wisdom and deep knowledge undoubtedly acquired to large extent through the author’s years editing the Alpine Journal. A mountaineer as well as an exceptional journalist, Douglas brings together tales of cultures, trading, adventures, myths, arts, religions.. but also sciences such as geology, genetics and botany, which all feature in the tapestry of the Himalaya. This writer has mastered the art of opening a chapter with a modern day scenario or incident - often outside Asia - only to skilfully escort you back through time in order to find its roots in the region. His eye for connectivity, for threading history, is what allows the reader to relate to such a distant and perhaps alien place that has nevertheless across the centuries embedded itself in all our minds on the strength of its majesty and mystery. At the centre of the Himalaya is of course Nepal, and above it the Tibetan plateau, which together separate China from India. This fragile geo-political position, combined with the challenges provided by altitude, are what makes the future of the area such a concern and the consequences of climate change will fall heavily here, and indeed already are. Himalaya: A Human History is an impressive work and an epic love letter to an unequalled place which deserves to feel the embrace of the whole world.

Edgware Road

Edgware Road

Author: Yasmin Cordery Khan Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Taking in two timeframes, Yasmin Cordery Khan’s Edgware Road is an engrossing debut that lays bare the ways we’re haunted by our pasts, and driven to pursue paths that may bring about our downfall. On one level, Edgware Road tells the tragic story of a man desperate to give his family the best, so caught up in an unattainable dream of unimaginable wealth, that he loses everything that matters. At the same time, it explores long-lasting connections across time and continents. And all this against a backdrop of corrupt business practices that have catastrophic consequences for smaller cogs in the machine. It’s 1981, and Khalid has big dreams for his future. He works in the West End, determined to attain the wealth displayed by the clients he encounters in the Playboy casino, determined “to be the paymaster. Nothing else in the world could give you authority, and respect”. He’s also married to a beautiful woman and has a daughter, Alia. Always the optimist, when London Playboy is shut down, he’s not worried about losing his job. He’ll take a position with the company in the Bahamas. But alongside this optimism, Khalid is a gambler. He makes bad decisions, his relationship breaks down, he’s in serious debt, and so throws himself into an investment opportunity he's certain will solve all his problems, until his body is found washed-up far from home. Sliding to 2003 (the narrative masterfully moves between the two timeframes) and Alia, now a Junior English tutor at Oxford University, is drawn to visit her father’s extended family in Karachi to discover what really happened to him. A gripping family mystery with emotional depth and intriguing social context – Edgware Road is a riveting, smartly-written debut. The LoveReading LitFest invited Yasmin to the festival to talk about Edgware Road. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

Debut Books of the Month
The Attic Child

The Attic Child

Author: Lola Jaye Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Lola Jaye’s The Attic Child is a truly exceptional novel. An utterly immersive dual-narrative experience that will break your heart as it lays bare atrocious abuses of power and privilege. An illuminating story that enriches understanding of Black British history with tremendous courage and storytelling verve – I can’t recommend it highly enough. In 1903, following the murder of his father at the hands of Belgian oppressors, 11-year-old Dikembe leaves his Congolese village with an English explorer, Mr Richard. The youngest of five siblings, Dikembe’s beloved mama saw this as a means of protecting him from the oppressors, a way of offering him a future. On arrival, Dikembe poignantly states, “Walking into that house was the beginning of an ending that would change everything about my life forever. Starting with my name”. Renamed Celestine, he assumes he’s here to work, but the servants address him as “Master Celestine”, and he’s told he will live a “splendid existence” as Mr Richard’s companion. But that’s soon undercut when Richard declares, “You are my prized possession from the Congo! The most valuable, and one I will make sure is looked after and taken care of to the best of my abilities”. Though ostensibly free, Celestine is powerless, a possession. While people heed Richard’s incorrect accounts of Africa, “no one ever saw who I was or what my life had been before”. And, though afforded the privilege of a fine education, Celestine’s loneliness and desperation to return home are painfully palpable, and his situation worsens when Richard dies. The novel’s second powerful narrative shifts to 1993, when 30-year-old Lowra inherits Richard’s former house. With him generally esteemed as a great explorer and philanthropist, selling the house is subject to review by heritage bodies, but for Lowra, it’s a place of painful memories. Like Celestine, she was confined in the house as a child, which was when she discovered an old porcelain doll, a beaded claw necklace and writings on the wall. As Lowra states while deep into her quest to discover who the objects belonged to, “we were two children born in different centuries; lost and alive yet connected by a set of experiences I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy”. The discoveries she makes expose horrifying abuses of power, but also tremendous dignity in the face of such abuses, a sense of pride and justice, and a man who devoted his life to empowering others through education and employment. Sweeping, haunting, and deeply affecting, this really is outstanding.

Star Books
The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment

Author: Lucy Foley Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Populated with dysfunctional, unreliable characters who live in the eponymous upmarket building, Lucy Foley’s The Paris Apartment is as potent as its stifling, steamy summer-in-the-city setting. With this clearly-defined space providing the tingling tension of a classic mystery, this will have fans of twisty, psychological thrillers on the very edge of their seats. Pretty much penniless, Jess has fled her bar job in Brighton hoping to start afresh in Paris, where her half-brother Ben is working to make a name for himself as a journalist. Though they shared a mother, their lives took very different paths when Ben was taken-in by a well-to-do family who helped him make it to Cambridge University, which is kind-of how he came to be living in a stunning Paris apartment while Jess has been struggling. But Jess’s hopes for a new life are immediately thrown off-course when Ben’s not home when she arrives. As the hours - and days - pass, with Jess wondering how Ben can possibly afford to live in a place like this, she begins to ask questions of the apartment’s extremely well-heeled residents. It’s clear all the dysfunctional occupants are harbouring secrets (and carrying a whole lot of high-end Hermès baggage), but what might they have to do with Ben’s disappearance? And who is the most likely suspect? Readers are led on a grippingly twisting journey alongside Jess, one that lays bare many monsters beneath the luxury beds.

Audiobooks of the Month
Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2022

“Once a research chemist, Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanour of someone who was not average and never would be”. So we are introduced to gloriously unconventional Elizabeth near the opening of Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, an enchanting, uproariously witty novel that I cannot recommend highly enough — think a funny, feminist Mad Men set in the world of science, in a “patriarchal society founded on the idea that women were less. Less capable. Less intelligent”.  With her doctoral career cut short after daring to defend herself against the groping hands of a tutor, in 1951 Elizabeth is working as a chemistry researcher, surrounded by men who overlook her work and treat her with sexist disdain. One of her colleagues is Calvin, an introverted, socially awkward Nobel-prize nominated scientist with a penchant for holding grudges, which is one of the things Elizabeth first admires in him, for “Elizabeth Zott held grudges too”, especially against a society that all but forbade women to do anything of importance. Elizabeth and Calvin strike up a sparring working relationship, start dating, and move in together — unmarried (the horror!). She suggests paying her share of the rent by cooking dinner, declaring that “Cooking is a serious science. In fact, it’s chemistry”. Meanwhile, while the unique chemistry between the couple is a delight to devour. Some years later, Elizabeth finds herself single again, and a single mother to boot. And it’s through her daughter (specifically, the delicious, nutritious lunches she cooks for her) that she’s offered a slot on a TV cookery show. True to form, Elizabeth refuses to play ball with the producer, declaring that “There’s nothing average about the average housewife”, and using the show to deliver cracking advice: “Courage is the root of change…Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future”. Guaranteed to have you roaring with laughter, weeping in empathy, and fist-pumping the sheer joy of Elizabeth’s indomitable spirit, Lessons in Chemistry is a revitalising, stirring triumph.

Star Books
Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line

Author: John Sutherland Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

An incredibly thoughtful, eloquent, and revealing book about policing by John Sutherland. Not only is it absolutely fascinating, there are also a whole heap of lessons that can and should be learned within its pages. John spent 25 years with the Metropolitan Police, during that time working his way to Borough Commander, leading teams as they dealt with some of the most sad and incredibly damaging aspects facing our society. Now retired on medical grounds, John is a sought-after public speaker and commentator, he regularly speaks on TV and radio, and writes for major newspapers. I can highly recommend his first book, Blue: A Memoir, this new book goes a step further. John issues an invitation to walk with him and witness the scenes behind the blue and white cordon tape. He talks about ten issues we face in the modern world, from domestic violence through to terrorism. He still cares about and loves policing, he also has huge compassion, this, linked with his ability to see the reality of policing, means he can open our eyes. Accessible, considered, meaningful, shocking, inspiring… Crossing the Line has been chosen as LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. It really is the most crucially important piece of writing for the whole of our society to absorb, all I can say is, read it! Read our Q&A with John Sutherland.

Star Books
World Travel

World Travel

Author: Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/04/2021

Conceived a year before his tragic death as “an atlas of the world through his eyes”, Anthony’s Bourdain’s World Travel is a glorious testament to the unique wit and worldview of a chef, food writer and travel documentarian who was, above all else, a brilliant storyteller. Put together by his long-time assistant Laurie Woolever, with contributions from friends, family and colleagues in place of Tony being around to write some of the planned pieces himself, this is a travel guide like no other - unsurprising given that Bourdain was a character like no other. From Argentina to Vietnam, Australia to Uruguay, this A-Z travelogue includes information you’d expect to find in a conventional guidebook (how to get there, where to eat, where to stay) but beyond these basics, it dishes up Bourdain’s distinctly personal take on the many places he’s explored. His words are always incisive; always a brutal blend of raw candour and decadent description. There are thoughts on food, history and culture, sometimes contextualised by Tony’s companions, while at other times all it takes is a straight-talking, straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth quote from the man himself, like these words of caution for first-time tasters of Brazil’s potent dendê oil: “You know, it takes some getting used to. The first time I was here, you eat it, you shit like a mink for hours afterwards. But now, no problems! Lovin’ it.” There’s passionate political commentary too, notably when he talks about Cambodia (“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands”) and Mozambique, a beautiful nation that has, to Tony’s anger, been “relentlessly screwed by history”. Honest, insightful and salty, this is a delicious antidote to formulaic travel writing; a rejuvenating blast of anti-blandness that stirs an urge to explore the world with even a soupçon of Bourdain’s fearless, flamboyant spirit.

True Genius: George Best

True Genius: George Best

Author: Wayne Barton Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/04/2021

Published to coincide with what would have been Best’s 75th birthday, Wayne Barton’s True Genius is a must-read for football fans. What sets this apart from other Best biographies is its introduction by the Best family, rare archive images, and the author’s exhaustive research, coupled with deep insights and an affectionate, amiable style. As befits its subject, True Genius is in a league of its own. “Our George was a funny, kind, shy and intelligent boy. Then he belonged to the world, and he came to be perceived as something quite different. Sometimes the perception was quite different to the truth.” So writes the Best family in the book’s moving, open-hearted introduction, setting the tone and approach for the entire book - an approach that sees the author present the full truth about George, beginning with his Belfast childhood, when he was the only boy in his class to pass the eleven-plus. With fascinating contributions from Best’s former team-mates, managers, family and friends, this is as comprehensive as it gets when it comes to understanding George’s on-the-pitch panache and off-the-pitch struggles. As the book reminds readers, George’s last wish was that people “remember me for the football”, and this book’s in-depth coverage of his exceptional talent certainly honours that wish, alongside providing a deeper understanding of the man behind the footballer.

Living Our Best Lives Cannon Hall Farm

Living Our Best Lives Cannon Hall Farm

Author: Nicholson Family Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/2021

What an uplifting and joyous book this is, the blend of family warmth and hard work at Cannon Hall Farm makes for a fascinating read. You may have already heard about The Nicholson’s, or even feel as if you know them if you’ve watched them on Springtime on the Farm or This Week on the Farm on TV. Cannon Hall Farm is known as ‘the perfect family day in Yorkshire’, it’s an award-winning farm that has grown to become a true tourist attraction. At its heart though it’s still a family farm and its success is down to teamwork, tenacity through hard times, and enthusiasm for exploring new ideas. Author Nicole Carmichael has captured the story of this family and the farm from the beginning. I was enveloped in their love for animals, nature, and life in the country. I travelled through the years with the Nicholson’s and was there as the tearoom started and they diversified to become a full tourist attraction. I loved seeing the photos and hearing about the various animals at the farm, particularly how they are named! You also meet the current team and wider family members, plus focus on different aspects of the current farm, such as the farm shop. Living Our Best Lives is a celebration of farming, and more importantly family, it’s absolutely gorgeous and has been chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.   

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Birds, Beasts and Bedlam

Birds, Beasts and Bedlam

Author: Derek Gow Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/06/2022

At times provocative, often humorous, always fascinating, wander through the life of a rewilder and discover new thoughts forming and a little joy. Derek Gow’s work to save native species and return them to the wild is eye-opening. He writes with a heartfelt yet cheerful abandon, thoughts and feelings spill onto the page and reach out. It feels as though his words are him, you can feel his intense passion for his work. Along the way Derek Gow introduces other passionate leading figures of this world and the various stories had me blurting with laughter. His journey to rewilding his Devon farm has been long and sometimes torturous, particularly when being savaged by somewhat feisty animals and battling the bureaucrats. Working with and saving animals is often painful, there is a stark reality to be found within this book, death is faced head on. If you’re looking for fairytales and sugary sweet happy endings, look elsewhere. If you want to learn, discover, explore, become excited by the possibilities that rewilding offers then you will find plenty on offer. I fell in love with this LoveReading Star Book, these thoughts, this much needed passion for our land and animals. Birds, Beasts and Bedlam is refreshingly bold and filled with gutsy energy, it’s also a hugely inspiring read. 

Star Books
Structured Chaos The unusual life of a climber

Structured Chaos The unusual life of a climber

Author: Victor Saunders Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/03/2021

Structured Chaos is the latest volume of memoirs from one of the world’s leading mountaineers. While it contains accounts of Alpine and Himalayan exploits at least equal to any of those in its predecessors, this a more wide ranging and contemplative work. From an early childhood in colonial Malaysia via a bleak Scottish boarding school and a haphazard introduction to rock climbing in the Avon Gorge to the lofty heights of the Karakoram and the presidency of the Alpine Club (although of course he’s too modest to mention the latter), Saunders’s focus is very much on the personalities, friendships and occasional frictions experienced during the ‘unusual life of a climber’.   The descriptions of the rigours, terrors and elations of high altitude climbing are leavened by a thread of understated but appealing lunacy running through the book including a brutal boxing match in a terrifying East End pub with his friend and climbing partner Mick Fowler, and the establishment of the longest continuous traverse in the British Isles; the 33 pitches of vertical mud and crumbling sandstone that is Reasons to be Fearful, a project described at the time by his co-ascentionist Phil Thornhill as “probably the silliest route on the silliest cliff ever climbed”.   Ultimately, however, the lasting impression is of the author’s infectious enthusiasm for the landscapes and the people he encounters as he pursues the obscure ambitions of the exploratory mountaineer. The book opens and closes with a quote from Colin Kirkus; “Going to the right place, at the right time, with the right people is all that really matters. What one does is purely incidental”. Whether he’s working his passage as the “oily rag” in the engine room of a cargo ship or being blown, inside a tent, across a glacier by a huge avalanche, it’s this world view which makes Saunders book such an engaging read. Sam Huby, climbing enthusiast   Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021 - plus extra festival news!

The Island House

The Island House

Author: Mary Considine Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/06/2022

“Twenty-two acres, a mile round, the island could just be a large field, were it not for the steep hill at the west, the darkness of the woodland to the north, the distinct areas of grassland and shingle, gardens and cliffs. Because of that, that isolation, it is automatically romantic, fat with legend and history”. So the landscape is set for Mary Considine’s beautifully-written memoir of returning to rugged St George’s Island, a place she loved from childhood. When Mary and Patrick’s London life all but disintegrates during a year of tragic loss, feeling “caught between the loss of my old family and any new one”, Mary longed for the island, for any contact with it. It called to me”. So, the couple put their house on the market and seize an opportunity to becomes tenants of Island House, on condition that they renovate it. The work is hard, the winters are harsh (the island is inaccessible in winter), and the raw beauty is palpable as Considine relates their experiences, sharing stories of former tenants and local friends, Cornish history and legends, island nature and wildlife.  Skipping with poetic style and shot-through with a profound love for this specific island, this personal memoir also speaks of the power of place more generally. It’s a mesmerising read that will enchant all of us who’ve fallen for a place and felt that longing to return, that longing to belong. In Mary’s case, her island “speaks to us with the voice of a gull, a seal, a storm, with the voices of the drowned and the departed”. Beautiful. 

A Tidy Ending

A Tidy Ending

Author: Joanna Cannon Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

A uniquely twisted and thought-scrambling psychological thriller set in the most routinely humdrum of circumstances, it made me think, wince, raise my eyebrows, and even cackle! Linda lives a mundane life, she looks out and dreams of more, but then her neighbourhood is shattered when young women start to go missing just as her husband begins to act differently, secretively even. I so love Joanna Cannon’s writing, she has real compassion and yet the ability to turn things, everyday normal things, inside out so that you see them differently and question your own thoughts. The prologue caught me, it felt like a truth, and I was held in thrall for the rest of the book. This is all about Linda, her thoughts, her feelings, she is different, wonderfully and deliciously different. I found myself wondering, doubting, hesitating, questioning my reactions to her choices and actions. The plot twists and turns and yet feels remarkably real, I believed! There is a quiet, but decidedly menacing dark edge to the fabulousness that is A Tidy Ending, it’s one heck of a compelling and entertaining read.  

Star Books
Geezers

Geezers

Author: Monica Lavers Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/03/2021

So good, I read it twice.  In recent years, television reality shows and documentaries have provided an insight into what it takes to become a badged member of our Special Air Service, the highly skilled and largely anonymous elite soldiers who stand at the very pinnacle of the UK’s armed services. Many, many books – non-fiction and fiction – have been written about the exploits of these soldiers. Some have been auto-biographical; most have described life at the sharp end – from the Iranian Embassy to Afghanistan – where the blades, as they are often called, pursue their dangerous profession. Following a traumatic departure from a corporate career, Monica began working at the SAS Headquarters as a kitchen hand. The blades – geezers as we discover they are now more often called – discovered someone they could talk to, someone who would listen, someone who cared. In the main, Geezers is a series of anecdotes; stories of conversations, of characters, of situations and challenges. At times it is tragic, at times it is very funny. Always, it is fascinating. Never before, has the public been given the opportunity to read a lay person’s account of what life away from the front line is like for these men – during selection, during training, in their down time and when they are at rest and play. What do you talk to your wife or partner about when so much of what you do is secret? What is it like to work away from home, cut off from friends and family for months at a time? How do men adjust from kicking down doors and fire-fights to playing with their children, mending a leaking tap or dealing with mounting household bills when they eventually return? The fact this is a book written by a civilian is key to the engaging quality of Geezers. Monica Lavers is observant, intelligent and articulate. She is not constrained by military training or doctrine. As a result, this book is really quite unique. Which explains why I read it twice. Because, at first, I was sceptical. By the time I was half-way through Geezers, I was hooked. And so, I went back and read it again. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The 50 Greatest Architects

The 50 Greatest Architects

Author: Ike Ijeh Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/01/2022

Underpinned by a desire to “awaken a greater appreciation of your built environment”, this elegant anthology from award-winning architect Ike Ijeh showcases the world’s fifty greatest architects, through time, and across the globe. Framed in a compelling relatable context (“Of all art forms, architecture is ultimately a human story, and the most rewarding aspect of unravelling that story and shedding light on those who have made it great is that we learn a little something about ourselves”), Ijeh provides us with engaging biographies of each architect, alongside showstopping photos and illustrated plans of their major creations. Featuring key figures from every major era and movement - among them Hemiunu, creator of the Great Gaza Pyramid, Brunelleschi, the founding father of Renaissance architecture, Sinan, who designed almost 400 buildings in Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Middle East at the peak of the Ottoman Empire, and exceptional present-day practitioners - the author offers insights into why their work may be deemed “great” to create a book that’s both enlightening and beautiful.

Lost & Found

Lost & Found

Author: Kathryn Schulz Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Lost & Found is a memoir by Kathryn Schulz and a rich exploration of what it is to live in a complex world where we both delight in the joy of ‘finding’ while simultaneously dealing with the despair of loss. On the Loss side of the equation Schulz delves into everything from the frustration of losing everyday objects to the devastation of grief, and on the Found side she reflects on love and marriage and moments where ‘things’ are either recovered having vanished or are discovered anew. In the space of eighteen months two life-changing things happen in her world. First she meets the woman she will later marry, and then she loses her father - a man so remarkable and rich in character I would happily read a book just about him. In the way that life completes such circles, Schulz has fallen in love with her partner having recognised within her something of her father, and then her partner is there to support her through her grief. The stories flow easily between the broad and the narrow - the unimaginable loss her grandparents felt through exile during the war, to finding a pair of sunglasses lost to the ocean, to laying hands on a freshly landed meteorite, and to the author’s home town baseball team losing the world series. In addition to being a thought-provoking memoir this is also a guide book on how to move on when anything is lost and how to fully appreciate gifts when they come to you. The writing is beautiful and the philosophy insightful. In itself the book is a journey of discovering new ideas even as page after page it turns towards its inevitable end. I have been given books to read about grief before but they are never like this. Lost & Found goes deeper but also offers a much wider perspective and reveals a world held together by these moments that seem to tear it apart.

Otherlands

Otherlands

Author: Thomas Halliday Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/02/2022

Otherlands succeeds in covering millions of years of paleobiological history and life on earth in a way that is more accessible and enlightening than any previous written attempt to do this that I can think of. That is a remarkable achievement when you consider that if the entire 4.5 billion years of our geological history were condensed into just one hour, then human history would only last two thousandths of a second. Halliday’s approach is to drop in on specific moments in time on this planet and then create a reconstruction of what that would have looked like. Each reproduction is detailed, beautifully imagined and vividly portrayed by this scientist with an extraordinary writing talent. There are sixteen chapters, starting with the Northern Hemisphere 20,000 years ago and concluding with Ediacaran Earth 550 million years ago. The effect of this approach is to explain the title of the book - you really do feel as though you have travelled through time to other lands and that you are witnessing our deepest origins. I found myself thinking of the parallel worlds of Philip Pullman, or even the planets visited by Captain Kirk - often they would be familiar but unrecognisable, our memory scrambled and repurposed in a way that makes some sort of sense, like a weird dream. The moon may be brighter, the penguins may be larger, there are camels in what is now Alaska, and so on. Otherlands is an incredible achievement of the imagination, anchored in scientific fact and travelling through time.

The Last Days of Roger Federer

The Last Days of Roger Federer

Author: Geoff Dyer Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/06/2022

In reading The Last Days of Roger Federer I found myself wondering if I was in a puzzle rather than a book. The theme is ‘endings', or more often ‘giving up’ in which Geoff Dyer explores his many passions - one of which is tennis - by studying how those people whose work he has devoted so much time to have gone about the business of bringing their careers to a conclusion. Federer, Dylan, Turner, Coltrane.. and so on, a fabulous list of iconic figures from the worlds of sport and art (which seem to merge here) are investigated in a collection of short and witty pieces. The structure of the book is in itself intriguing because, I suppose, a book which analyses endings might aim to avoid a conventional beginning/ middle/ end format. Instead we have four sections titled only by a quote, within which the writings are simply numbered. It would seem to be a catalogue of thoughts and essays until you realise there is no obvious order to it, as though each piece has been drawn at random from a hat of torn up notebooks. And on top of that the topics themselves are revisited again and again like thoughts swirling in your head, nagging away and hanging on. And always there is an elephant in the room, though Dyer does not entirely avoid the subject of his own ending as a writer it was constantly on my mind while reading the book that this is the underlying point and something which weighs upon us all. I hope The Last Days of Roger Federer is not the final such work by this remarkable writer, but should it turn out to be, what an even cleverer thing it is.

Good Intentions

Good Intentions

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

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

Star Books
Sins of Fathers

Sins of Fathers

Author: Michael Emmett Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/01/2021

An interesting and thought-provoking step into a world most of us won’t have an understanding of. Michael Emmett grew up with a career criminal for a father and joined the family business of organised crime. With links to the Kray Twins, drugs, sex, and violence he lived the high life before being sentenced to 12 years in prison after a huge drugs smuggling conviction. In prison he joined an Alpha Prayer Group, and after leaving began to turn his life around, he is now committed to helping prisoners and ex-offenders. Together with journalist Harriet Compston, he has written the story of his life of crime and consequently finding Christian faith. I think that it is important to try to reach for an understanding of the difficulties faced by children and young adults when immersed in crime from the moment they are born. This is a story that is simply told with verve and colour, though the violence and criminality sits uneasily alongside the glitz and glamour. The author uses the word ‘naughty’ to describe his criminality on several occasions, as though he is talking to the child that was. Sins of Fathers is a fascinating, eye-opening and convincing memoir from a man who is still dealing with his past.

eBooks of the Month
Behind the Granite Walls

Behind the Granite Walls

Author: Jamie Morgan Kane Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

As recounted in his autobiography, 34 Years in Hell, Isle of Man-born Jamie Morgan Kane was taken to Canada as a child, then sold to an American couple whose adopted child had disappeared. So far, so shocking, with worse to come, for Jamie was sentenced to 30+ years in prison after being persuaded to plead guilty. In the introduction to Behind the Granite Walls, he explains how he came “home to find a corpse in the living room of my young family’s home”, and so his 34 years of hell began. Telling all about his experiences in US prison, Behind the Granite Walls was written in response to the countless people who all had the same question – what was it really like in prison? With clarity and honesty, that’s exactly what this memoir does. We read of the day-to-day experiences of what Jamie and his fellow inmates did to survive, the violence, the toll on mental health, the relationships formed and lost, and the lessons learned. We also learn the secrets of prison tattoos - what they symbolise, the allegiances they represent. Fascinating stuff. Often shocking, this answers the question the author intended to with raw candour.

Chasing Smoke

Chasing Smoke

Author: Sarit Packer, Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co. Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Honey & Co’s Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich have struck culinary gold in Chasing Smoke, a gorgeous grill-focussed cookery book that takes readers on a tasty tour of the authors’ favourite food locations - rural Jordan, Alexandria, southern Turkey, Israel, Thessaloniki - with all manner of dishes and eateries covered, from kerbside kebab joints to swanky grill houses. Organised by food type (fruit and veg; fish and seafood; birds; lamb and other meat; bread and unmissables), the recipes are wonderfully varied and easy-to-follow. Grilled peaches with almond tahini, chicken wings in spicy pomegranate molasses, classic Adana kebabs, herby cheese-filled griddle bread - from this small selection of recipes, it’s plain to see how beautiful banquets might be born from this book.   With stunning photos of places and people alongside vibrant visuals of the delicious dishes and raw ingredients, plus lively accounts of the authors’ culinary journeys, this is so much more than a recipe book - it’s as much about exploration and friendship, and discovering the region’s culinary culture, though cooking remains at its heart, of course, supported by practical tips on techniques, such as how to start (and mellow) your fire, top tools of the trade, and to how to construct you own home-smoker. Bog-standard burger-and-banger-BBQs, your time is up!

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman

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

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

Star Books
Traitor King

Traitor King

Author: Andrew Lownie Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Always compulsive, often jaw-dropping, and written in crisply readable style, Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King begins where most Edward and Wallis Simpson biographies end, for it explores the couple’s controversial lives from the Duke’s Abdication in December 1936. The author has no truck with any notion of the couple’s relationship being a “great love story”. Rather, with clarity and much evidence, the book reveals their controversies and flaws - extra-marital affairs, talk of illegitimate children, foolhardy tours of Germany, meetings with Hitler, manipulation of a murder investigation in the Bahamas. The list goes on. They’re both evidently, incorrigibly obnoxious and self-centred, with the Duke revealed as an arrogant, perilously bumbling figure who never grows up. Crucially, the author convincingly argues that in their relations with Germany, “the Windsors were not foolish and naïve, but actively engaged with the German intrigue”. Throughout readers are presented with astounding details about the couple’s decadent, self-absorbed daily lives - the arrogance of never paying bills, never tipping, and never thanking staff. Their lavish food and decor, the bespoke livery of their servants, their staged social gatherings - “with little else to occupy them, the devil was in the detail.” While the couple desired a permanent return to Britain, the Duke is horrified at the thought of ever having to pay tax, and interferes in politics, making an astonishingly ill-timed broadcast to America, and exchanging telegrams with Hitler as the world teeters on the brink of war. Though given a war-time liaison role, the Duke was considered a “serious security leak”, with Churchill believing his free movement on the continent to be a “real danger”.  As a result, the Duke was offered as job as Governor of the Bahamas, which was “regarded as a hardship posting” and “so low in the pecking order that the appointment did not even carry a knighthood”. Their arrogance persists on arrival, as does their interference in the war. They insist renovations be made to the newly-renovated Government House in Nassau. They fly in hairdressers, send clothes to be dry-cleaned in New York. Wallis does, however, engage in public life as President of the Red Cross, and roll up her sleeves to serve bacon and eggs in a canteen for airmen. Such details abound in every paragraph. Controversy continues to engulf the couple throughout their lives, as this relentlessly gripping biography reveals with incisive gusto. Traitor King is an un-put-down-able must-read for anyone interested in the British monarchy and social history.

How to Survive Family Holidays

How to Survive Family Holidays

Author: Jack Whitehall, Michael Whitehall, Hilary Whitehall Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/07/2022

Award-winning actor, writer and comedian Jack Whitehall is the author of this very funny “How to.." book about the trials of family holidays - a natural follow-on to the five Netflix series Travels with My Father he made with his dad, retired theatrical agent Michael Whitehall. Jack has written most of the book packed with so many one-liners that it could be delivered direct from stage. His parents Hilary and Michael's contributions are written with less pace, as though penning an amusing letter to a friend, but are no less hilarious and appear as testimony against the accusations made by Jack relating to holiday traumas. The chapter list in itself was enough to bring me out in a cold sweat - Packing and Passports, Travel Games and Cultural Etiquette to name but a few. Perhaps inevitably the book is also an exploration of the differences between generations, never more under stress than on a family holiday. Michael comes across as a curmudgeonly traditional Conservative, Jack his critical worldly son and Hilary being occasionally embarrassing but mostly holding the whole thing together. They are certainly a well-travelled family with stories to tell from Cumbria to Cambodia, which invariably seem to involve alcohol at some stage or another. Jack Whitehall writes well and with the skill of a true comedian, able to describe scenes that we can all relate to which speak to our anxieties and make us laugh at ourselves. This book made me recall the pressure that is created by a family holiday - they can be expensive, they can be intense, they can feel claustrophobic, they can include mortifying moments.. but in the end of course the pressure is there because of how important they are to the fabric of a family. This is a great holiday read, unless of course you’re there with the kids.

Sundial

Sundial

Author: Catriona Ward Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/03/2022

So exquisitely haunting it hurts, Sundial slithers into thoughts to carve out a spot and make itself at home. Fearing for the future of both her daughters, Rob takes troubled Callie to her own childhood home in the Mojave Desert and revisits the past. I have been of fan of Catriona Ward since her debut Rawblood, each of her subsequent novels has become my new favourite, and that is most certainly the case here. Just reading the synopsis sent a shiver through me, I had to have this book! As I started to read, goosebumps shivered and skittered their way down my skin to declare just how special this was going to be. A quiet menace slipped past my boundaries to create a heightened sense of fear for what was to come. The smallest yet most vital of moments are created to tip feelings already in the balance. Trust is a scarce commodity, love though, love is more than evident as mother and daughter test their relationship. There is also a grace to be found, in the eloquence of words as they slice and then stitch to form the most vividly real and vibrant story. Sundial is an intensely dark and blazingly beautiful novel about the love that can hold us together, or shatter us into pieces. This stunning tale that hovers on a sharp edge of horror has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month, it will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.

Star Books
The National Trust School of Gardening

The National Trust School of Gardening

Author: Rebecca Bevan Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/04/2021

Written by Rebecca Bevan (Gardens Researcher for the National Trust, RHS Horticultural Adviser, and BBC Gardeners' World Researcher) in a spirit of wise accessibility, The National Trust School of Gardening strikes a brilliant balance between being a beautiful book to take inspiration from, and an unintimidating practical guide to designing and maintaining your own garden, with hundreds of colour photographs and clear step-by-step, how-to diagrams. Though the book showcases some of the grandest National Trust estates, among them Sissinghurst Castle and Packward House, the advice shared can be applied to more modest private gardens. Indeed, Bevan also refers to some of the Trust’s smaller cottage gardens as she unearths guidance on everything from borders, roses, lawns and meadows, to shrubs and trees, topiary and hedges, fruit and veg. The breadth of tips is impressively exhaustive, including, for example, how to choose the best lawnmower and greenhouse to suit your needs, how to create low-maintenance small-scale displays, and an excellent chapter devoted to sustainable gardening practices. As its charming cover states, The National Trust School of Gardening is indeed a treasure chest of gardening advice and inspiration - a book to give as a gift to green-fingered friends (or yourself).

A Man Who Is Not a Man

A Man Who Is Not a Man

Author: Thando Mgqolozana Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/01/2021

Thando Mgqolozana’s A Man Who is Not A Man is a coming-of-age tour de force. The writing is exceptional - always muscular, often raw, occasionally wry - as it explores masculinity through a young man’s journey to selfhood in the wake of a rite of passage that goes devastatingly wrong. After going off the rails in Cape Town, Lumkile resolves to put his days of drugs, theft and violence behind him when he moves to his mother’s rural village. Here he “went clean” and “decided to make something of myself”, and it’s not long before “Item One on my grand plan was just around the corner”. Namely, Lumkile begins the initiation process that will lead to his circumcision, to his journey to manhood. Above almost everything, he’s warned by elders to avoid hospital at all costs, for that would mean failure and “there is no living space for failed men in our society. Either you become a man in the expected way, or you are no one at all.” After being circumcised, he remains alone in the mountains, alone with his “burning agony”, alone with the stench of putrefying flesh - such is his fear of the shame and social ostracism seeking medical assistance would bring. Lumkile’s resistance to hospitalisation is incredibly harrowing, and there’s little respite when he’s admitted and continues to suffer in silence. But through surviving this physically and mentally excruciating experience, he summons the strength to speak out, realising that “Survival starts from within... As a so-called failed man, I have had to gain a new understanding of myself in context...My self-image is no longer dependent on what my society thinks of me but what I think of it.” Powerful stuff from an exceptional writer.

Star Books
How to Grow Your Family

How to Grow Your Family

Author: Adam Shaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/03/2022

When pregnant, Shaw is right, food is framed in negatives, what you can't eat when you're pregnant rather than eating food that will make you feel good. And so At Dad's Table was born...different recipes for different trimesters when the nutritional requirements change. From eating well in the secret trimester, to a spotlight on six awesome folate-rich pesto recipes, I almost wanted to be pregnant again to try the recipes out and feel their impact. And I will absolutely be thrusting this book at all of my pregnant friends. With over 110 recipes beautifully presented in this hardback book, Shaw presents his food in a no-nonsense, inclusive and non-condescending way. The book is bursting with delectable and nourishing recipes to enjoy throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning and beyond. My favourite section was eating well as a tired new parent with a spotlight on one-handed foods and healthy dips and spreads for when you can't put baby down. Shaw has thought of everything for fresh, tasty and nutritious family eating including batch cooking and quick high-energy meals.  With brunch, main meals and dessert recipes for every mood and every stage of parenthood, this book is about focusing on what you can eat, and giving you delicious fuel for every stage of your journey. A brilliant book with recipes to feed your family at  every stage of your parenting cycle and with most recipes on the table in 30 minutes, there's no excuse not to eat well, eat healthily and grow your family.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/03/2014

Nigeria in the 1960s and the birth of Biafra, a time of massacre, bloody conflict and the end of colonialism. We experience this strife through the household of a university lecturer, his houseboy, his lover and a white man seeking something we are never sure of. It is a tale of class more than race, of tribal differences and of the horrors of the period. It is immensely impressive, a big novel in every sense. Highly recommended.   The film version of Half of a Yellow Sun is released in UK cinemas on Friday 11 April 2014. Click below to view the trailer. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month
The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/05/2017

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs...

Audiobooks of the Month
To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2015

You may have read this but it certainly deserves another read.  It’s the sort of book that becomes more profound with each reading.  It is quite simply brilliant, a tale of prejudices and injustice in small town America which should be part of everyone’s collection. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Comparison: J D Salinger (Catcher in the Rye), William Golding (Lord of the Flies), Joseph Heller (Catch 22).

eBooks of the Month
Girl, Woman, Other

Girl, Woman, Other

Author: Bernardine Evaristo Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2020

This is an astounding novel telling the stories of twelve characters living across the country and through the years.  Each character is vivid as they take centre stage to share their story with us. Whether it's the sassy, argumentative Yazz, or the devastating narratives of Carole and Dominique. This book is filled with humour, culture and passion and I think it is a must-read for everyone. Composed as poetic prose, Bernadine Evaristo's lyricism throughout makes the sections flow, hammers home key points and gives each character their own unique tone. This is a book that will stop you in your tracks as you find out more about the characters but will also stop you reading as you contemplate the beauty in Evaristo's style of writing. "It's a novel about who we are now". Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Color Purple

The Color Purple

Author: Alice Walker Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/08/2017

Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave. She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life. 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.

eBooks of the Month
The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/09/2017

A beautiful new limited edition paperback of The Song of Achilles, published as part of the Bloomsbury Modern Classics list. The god touches his finger to the arrow's fletching. Then he breathes, a puff of air - as if to send dandelions flying, to push toy boats over water. And the arrow flies, straight and silent, in a curving, downward arc towards Achilles' back.A breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War - a devastating love story and a tale of gods and kings, immortal fame and the human heart. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012. The Bloomsbury Modern Classic Series Restless by William Boyd Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale The Little Friend by Donna Tartt  

eBooks of the Month
The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Author: Donna Tartt Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2014

Shortlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards RTE Listeners' Choice Award 2013. Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

eBooks of the Month
Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/10/2018

In an age of gene splicing, stem cell research and Computer Artificial Intelligence, Mary Shelley’s dark gothic tale contains a stark warning message for us all in this modern age. The novel is as much about the struggle that Dr Frankenstein’s creature has with what it means to be human as it does about the creation of life itself. The key takeaway for the reader is just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

Author: Barbara Kingsolver Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/04/2013

One of Susan Fletcher's favourite books. A fascinating story told from the perspective of a mother and her four daughters who have been taken to the Congo, by the father of the family, on a mission to bring God to the people there. Politics, religion, feminism….it’s all here as they cope with the extreme differences from Georgia, USA, in a country going through it’s own political and social upheavals. A thoroughly satisfying read.   March 2010 Guest Editor Susan Fletcher on The Poisonwood Bible... Kingsolver's novel follows the fortunes of the Price family - a fanatical Baptist preacher from Georgia, his wife and their four daughters - as they go to the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s, as missionaries. It instantly ticks boxes for me, in its poetical language, and in how richly and convincingly Kingsolver portrays the Congo - its heat, noise, smell, discomforts and beauty pour off the pages. But what I was most taken with was how deftly Kingsolver writes as five different people. All four daughters and the mother tell their tales - and every voice is her own. Moreover, I loved the fact that the mother - speaking retrospectively - mentions early on that one of her daughters "remains in the dank red earth." I could not guess which daughter would die, or how. And for all the preparation, when the death came I was genuinely bereft - it's an extraordinarily quiet, painful scene. I see this book as a wonderful example of how to write in many voices.

eBooks of the Month
The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Supple and immersive, Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half is an epic, elegant story of sisters and mothers, of identity, and divisive racist and colourist mentalities that tear communities, families and individuals asunder. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful book, peppered with lines that latch (“When he visited, Desiree felt like a girl again, the years falling away like meat off the bone”), and an exquisitely crafted plot that threads generations through time, and across America - the Deep South, California, New York, and back.  “In Mallard, nobody married dark. Nobody left either.” But that’s exactly what identical twins Desiree and Stella do at the age of sixteen - they flee their “strange town” to start a new life in New Orleans. But after a time, Stella realises she can pass for white. After taking a job as a typist, she abandons Desiree for another new life as a white woman, eventually marrying her wealthy white boss who has no clue she’s black, and with whom she has a daughter who looks entirely white, to her relief. Meanwhile, Desiree’s path couldn’t be more different. She’s also married, with a “blueblack child”, and now, ten years after leaving, desperation forces her back to Mallard - she and her daughter need to escape domestic abuse. Through Stella’s fiercely emotive storyline we witness the most despicable bigotry when a Black family moves into her white neighbourhood. She’s agonisingly conflicted and tangled, especially when facing an unravelling of her fabricated identity. “She was one of the lucky ones. A husband who adored her, a happy daughter, a beautiful home. How could she complain about any of it?” And yet she’s desperately unfulfilled. Emptiness eats away at her; she feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. As she says early on, she’s “split in two”. While following the sisters’ stories, Bennett brings in their daughters, and generations of secrets begin to bleed, creating a compelling, compassionate, consummately outstanding novel.

Star Books
Smoke Hole

Smoke Hole

Author: Martin Shaw Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/05/2021

A small thought-provoking book that holds huge impact, I recommend opening your heart and mind and letting the stories in. Martin Shaw, author, mythologist, and wilderness guide, describes himself as a teacher of old stories and a guide into deep places, which resonates profoundly with the contents of this book. He invites us to step into three stories and register, in fact, properly absorb their meaning. If you have an interest in stories, if you currently look around you and feel that there is something missing in your world, then allow yourself to fall through the layers of the story and explore. He mentions that he’s always written for those at a crossroads, and that now he finds we’re all at one, Smoke Hole is his attempt to meet one infection with another: beauty. I found myself nodding in agreement, his words make sense as does the way he sees the world. I enjoyed the way he brought meaning to the stories, he encourages you burrow and hunt and search before then letting the stories sit in their own glory and be truly themselves. Smoke Hole is a wonder of a book, beautiful in itself, and in what it encourages you to find, to be. I absolutely adored it. 

Beauty in Letters

Beauty in Letters

Author: John Wilson Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A truly beautiful and stimulating book that can be devoured in one heady go or dipped into and adored. Meet and wonder over illuminated addresses, books, scrolls or certificates in celebration of events. Covering a hundred years, sitting mainly in Victorian times, each is its own masterpiece, the designs so colourful and intricate, they shine from the page. On display are 50 letters with a particular theme, from royalty, to civic duty, to clubs and societies. John P Wilson explains that the recipient could be wealthy or famous, or an ordinary person who had provided special service. He states these letters: “provide an opportunity to obtain an insight into someone’s life and achievements, and allow a brief historical opening into social history”. Each letter sits with an explanation, but the focus here is the beauty of the letter. In our current times, the art of the letter is all but forgotten, and these treasures appear to be almost jewell-like in their wonder and intensity. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it really speaks to me. Beauty in Letters is a wonderful insight into the past, and a stunning display of true creativity and artwork.

Star Books
21 Breaths

21 Breaths

Author: Oliver James Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2021

21 Breaths by Oliver James is a gorgeous little yellow hardback book. It’s excellent quality, inside and out. The first section of the book focuses on the benefits of breathing techniques. Oliver James relates the story of when he discovered breathing techniques could change his life, followed by simple explanations of how these can affect different parts of your body, and how they may help to change how you feel too. Then there’s a chapter with four simple tests to check how to assess whether you’re breathing correctly – it really did make me think about ‘how I breathe’ and how my breathing could be improved. In the main section of his book, Olive James describes breathing techniques to suit various physical and mental needs, including pain, constipation, sleep, confidence, anxiety, posture and stress. Each breathing technique is explained clearly, with simple tips to follow. The book contains beautiful black-and-white drawings of the author demonstrating each breathing exercise, and these really helped me to get my posture and positioning right. A fascinating book that’s easy to dip into or read all the way through – and it looks great too!

We Begin at the End

We Begin at the End

Author: Chris Whitaker Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/04/2020

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

Star Books
The Art of Crime Diary of A Prison Art Tutor

The Art of Crime Diary of A Prison Art Tutor

Author: Steven Tafka Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Packed with insights, surprises and a darkly witty sense of the absurd, Steven Tafka's The Art of Crime documents his experiences as a prison art tutor in a frank and often funny style. “I was a qualified teacher, I’d done my PGCE, I had years of experience as a lecturer in art and design, but nothing in my training quite prepared me for this” — and so the scene is set for a unique and often extraordinary diary-style book. A book that served as a tool for the author’s own survival of extremely challenging circumstances. From the author’s first moments in prison, any idealist notions of his tutoring role are quickly crushed. The conditions are often brutal, as are the crimes of the inmates he works with — murderers, gangsters and violent armed robbers whose art often reveals what they’ve done and how they feel about their offences. There are small triumphs, and big setbacks; monumental psychological strain, and life-affirming successes, and all shot-through with a sense of pride, humanity and the power of finding a creative outlet. A fascinating read for anyone who needs to know what art is for.

Barn Club

Barn Club

Author: Robert Somerville Format: Hardback Release Date: 11/03/2021

Our March 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. This is such a welcoming and warming read with community spirit, traditional craft, and the environment at its heart. Author Robert J Somerville was commissioned to build an elm barn by hand in Hertfordshire. Over the course of a year volunteers gathered together to help build the barn, and this is the story. There are so many positive elements to this read. A community of volunteers come together to: “teach, practice and celebrate skilled rural craftsmanship”. And while Dutch elm disease has decimated our Elm population, there is hope for the trees survival. As Robert Somerville says: “Elm is a species that suffered a major pandemic, but its incredible determination to survive prevails. Elm is proving itself to be a tree with an enduring life force, and, to my mind, is an appropriate icon for getting closer to nature, the resurgence in making things by hand and for bringing old skills back to life”. The book contains a myriad of interesting illustrations and photos as well as the story from concept to raising of the barn. At a time when community really matters, when our environment needs love and nurturing, Barn Club echoes with all that is good. It is a wonderful read that lightened my spirits and made me smile.   

Star Books
On Assassinations

On Assassinations

Author: Kenneth Baker Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2020

This most certainly isn’t just a fright-fest, it is an intelligent, interesting foray into the world of assassinations. Featuring over 100 cases from Julius Caesar to President Kennedy, we explore the victims and assassins themselves as well as failed assassinations. Just as a word of warning, this book is also full of photos relating to their history (including in some cases the dead victims). The chapters highlight geographic areas, before near the end, there is the eye-opening section on investigative journalists. The move through time from individual assassins to political and religious terrorists, and state sponsored killings is examined. British politician and author Kenneth Baker states that: “All assassins believe that by killing their target they will change the world”. He has personally known eight people who were assassinated, including two who were personal friends, and says: “their deaths did not change history”. He: “wanted to explore whether the assassination of other public figures had resulted in a poisoned chalice for the assassin”. On Assassinations is a quality book, and while this may sound somewhat macabre, it would actually make an excellent gift for those interested in exploring these savage moments of history.

Your Mental Health Workout

Your Mental Health Workout

Author: Zoë Aston Format: Ebook Release Date: 13/05/2021

Your Mental Health Workout focuses on giving your mind some attention, in the same way you might change your eating or exercise habits to get physically fitter. Think of it as the mental health equivalent of a five-week gym membership, focusing on your thoughts and feelings and how you respond to them. The book was very easy to navigate, with weekly checklists and planners at the beginning to keep me on track (printable copies are available from the author’s website). Everything in the book is very practical and explained in simple terms and a friendly tone. I loved the way Zoe Aston, a psychotherapist, approaches a mental health workout in the same way we would approach a physical one – setting goals, warming up, weekly workouts and daily workouts – with easy exercises to build ‘mental muscle’. There’s even an additional chapter on ‘Physio for your feelings’. A fun and informative way to look after my mental health and keep stress and anxiety at bay. 

eBooks of the Month
Find You First

Find You First

Author: Linwood Barclay Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

A thrilling reading feast awaits in this absolute belter of a read by one of my favourite authors. When a tech billionaire learns he has a terminal illness he begins to track down the children he never knew, but a killer is also on their trail. Linwood Barclay is one of the most consistently fabulous authors around, and each new title becomes my new favourite. I can just throw myself in, knowing that each time I’m going to get a sucker-punch read. Here the prologue holds huge intrigue before ripping back time to three weeks earlier. This is a story that builds tension and suspense with almost every page, and I read well into the night in order to finish in one exhilarating sitting. The characters got inside my head, the storyline held me captive. A LoveReading Star Book, Find You First is the real deal, it’s incredibly readable, thought-provoking, and hugely entertaining!  The LoveReading LitFest invited Linwood Barclay to the festival to talk about Find You First. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
In Search of Mycotopia

In Search of Mycotopia

Author: Doug Bierend Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/04/2021

An interesting and immersive book about the undeveloped potential of mushrooms. If our relationship with nature interests you, if you believe that in order to thrive we should live in harmony with nature, then I can highly recommend reading In Search of Mycotopia. Doug Bierend is an American journalist who writes about science and technology, food, education, and how we can live in a sustainable world. Here he looks at the potential of fungi, and we meet a variety of people and ideas that could contribute to our working in harmony with nature. The author challenges the reader throughout this book, he questions our idea of expertise and asks us to look at fungi in a completely new way. The various chapters include a section at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London where it is clear that amateurs and experts have worked together throughout its history in the study of fungi. This is readable, inclusive, and the big messages that I kept hearing throughout this book, were about bringing people together and working together in order to gain a better relationship with nature. In Search of Mycotopia highlights the importance of fungi in an eloquent and engaging way.

eBooks of the Month
How to Run a Marathon

How to Run a Marathon

Author: Vassos Alexander Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

In addition to all the essential technical advice and insider knowledge that one would expect from a solid “How to..” book, the first half of How to Run a Marathon is very much focused on the “Why?". A few chapters in, you realise why radio presenter and sports journalist Vassos Alexander has afforded as much time to inspiration as he has to execution. Unless, deep down, you really want to run a marathon, it simply isn’t going to happen. To help you find the itch there are many inspiring (and funny!) tales of why running 26.2 miles is something so life-changing. From the blind to the barefoot, we hear the running stories of some extraordinary people from a man who seems to know everyone in the game. From Athens to Boston we run alongside a community where love and support are as present as personal achievement. And from Vassos himself we get the inside track on the very personal journey of the marathon runner in all its fun-loving, food-poisoned, rain-soaked and wall-hitting glory. Learn how to train, how to stretch, how to ‘respect the taper’.. and gain some crucial nuggets of wisdom: “A good laugh and a long run are the two best cures for anything”. This book has everything to get you over the line.    Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.

100 Great Walks with Kids Fantastic stomps around Great Britain

100 Great Walks with Kids Fantastic stomps around Great Britain

Author: Jen Benson, Sim Benson Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

There are so many great things about this book, but perhaps the greatest is the way in which the authors have found the story in each walk. Kids love stories so what better way to get them into the car than with the promise of “The mystery of the four stones at Clent”, “Beaches and battles at Bamburgh” or “Giants and glaciers on Cadair Idris”? This collection of 100 walks is spread out across the country which make it the ideal staycation companion for families. Graded for difficulty, every page turned brings a new map, great photographs, a written overview and a new adventure! The secret to any good guide book is trust and having done quite a few of these walks I can vouch for their accuracy - but what surprised me is what I’d missed! Jen and Sim Benson know their walks but they also know kids. Brilliant! ~ Greg Hackett Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.  

The Return

The Return

Author: Nicholas Sparks Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/09/2020

Full of captivating charm this is a novel where secrets shelter, friendships form, grief is exposed, and romance hovers in the background. Injured army doctor Trevor Benson returns from Afghanistan to an inherited cabin in North Carolina, he is immediately attracted to deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson and intrigued by teenager Callie who was friends with his grandfather. It’s been 24 years since his wonderful debut The Notebook was published, and The Return is Nicholas Sparks 22nd novel. His books have been translated into 55 languages, all have been international bestsellers, 11 have been adapted into major films and you can see why. The prologue took me to 2019 and sent a hint of mystery thrumming through the pages before returning to five years earlier. The Return blossomed into a vividly painted picture in my mind, which in turn set in motion a moving story. It is slow to build, to reveal itself, yet is full of interest and gave access to knowledge which enabled me fill in the jigsaw pieces. I occasionally felt a little uncomfortable with Trevor’s unwavering pursuit of Natalie, but don’t forget this is very much written from his perspective and for a while the full picture hovers just out of sight. When the ending neared and understanding came, I settled in and waited with interest to return to Trevor in 2019. The Return is a thoroughly enjoyable and effortlessly readable romantic mystery, oh, and you get to meet some bees too!   

Books of the Month
50 Ways to Cycle the World

50 Ways to Cycle the World

Author: Belen Castello, Tristan Bogaard Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/05/2021

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if you were to pursue everything your heart desired? 50 Ways To Cycle The World shares the stories of over 70 cyclists who did just that. Written by Belén Castello and Tristan Bogaard, the book features people from all over the world who packed their life into panniers and set off in search of adventure. What sets this community apart is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. With stunning photography and incredible journeys, this book will inspire you to slow the pace, protect the environment and live with purpose. ~ Harriet Osborne, Sidetracked Magazine   Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.  

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!

Star Books
Empire of Ants

Empire of Ants

Author: Olaf Fritsche, Susanne Foitzik Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/05/2021

What a fabulously readable and eye-opening book this is. With experts guiding your way, visit the amazing world of ants as they build, raise, grow, and hunt, raid and devour. I’ve always been enthralled by ants and have watched in fascination as they purposefully march their way through life. I’ve also wondered what happens to the lone lost explorer who ends up on your clothing potentially miles away from home, well I found out the answer to this and learned a whole host of other interesting facts in Empire of Ants. Yet this isn’t a data and statistic gala, the writing duo of Susanne Foitzik and Olaf Fritsche have ensured an engaging and absorbing read. One of the first things we are told is that: “If all the ants suddenly disappeared, terrestrial ecosystems across the word would be on their knees… Without ants, the natural world would suffer a long period of instability and would never look the same again”. They’re important then, these bustling ants who exist and create and invent, there’s plenty to learn as we are introduced to them by biologist Susanne. There are so many similarities with humans, and yet their structure could quite easily sit in the realms of fantasy. Empire of Ants is an intensely satisfying and entertaining read that opens up a whole new world.  

Days of Wonder

Days of Wonder

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

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

Books of the Month
The Prisoner's Wife

The Prisoner's Wife

Author: Maggie Brookes Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/04/2020

Set in one of the most harrowing times in history, this powerfully beautiful relationship and friendship story shines a blazing torch on the very best that humanity has to offer. When British prisoner of war Bill, while on work duty from a labour camp in the depths of Czechoslovakia in 1944, meets farmer Izabela, love blossoms. They secretly marry, go on the run and determine that they will never be separated, not even if captured by the German army. Based on a true story it feels as though Maggie Brookes was destined to meet Sidney Reed who told her this tale, and that as a historical documentary researcher and producer for the BBC she was perfectly placed to write this as a novel. The prologue starts with the couple on the run from the German army, Izabela has disguised herself as a man, and by pretending to be mute when finally captured, is taken with Bill to a prisoner of war camp. Setting the scene so thoroughly heightened my emotions as chapter one then took me back to their first meeting. I’ve already read a number of novels and non-fiction books relating to this time, including one of the books Maggie Brookes mentions as further reading. My prior reading and knowing what was to come from the prologue, still in no way prepared me for what Bill and Izabela were to face. This intimate, vivid and compelling account reaches through the nightmare and finds true love and friendship, all of which is written beautifully by the author. The Prisoner’s Wife meets horror head on, so prepare yourself, but it also filled me with hope, and this comes as highly recommended by me.

Audiobooks of the Month
Entangled Life

Entangled Life

Author: Merlin Sheldrake Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Truly fascinating, this is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in a while. Seriously, I could rave on and on about it! Journey to what feels like an entirely different planet and explore the wonder of fungi. “Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live...Yet they live their lives largely hidden from view , and over 90% if their species remain undocumented.” Author Merlin Sheldrake caught and held my attention from the outset. I had to stop reading every so often just to contemplate the world that was opening up in front of me. I still feel gobsmacked days after reading it. Fungi has shaped our history and “the ability of fungi to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in breakthrough technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘wood wide web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems.” Entangled Life made me reconsider established thoughts and opened my eyes to new ones. I want to recommend it to everyone, for me it’s a genuine must-read and just had to be included on my list of Liz Picks of the Month and as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
When She Was Good

When She Was Good

Author: Michael Robotham Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/07/2020

This Liz Pick of the Month, is a thrilling yet thoughtful, highly charged read. Criminal psychologist Cyrus delves into the past of Evie, who was found hiding in a secret room after a murder six years ago. It’s the last thing Evie wants, as if Cyrus discovers the truth, death will soon start to hunt her down. This book follows on from Good Girl, Bad Girl (a particular favourite of mine), and boy is it shaping up to be an absolute belter of a series. If you haven’t yet read the first, you most definitely need to before starting here, as the development of the relationship between Cyrus and Evie is crucial. They both tell us their own stories in alternating short punchy chapters. This is a read where I was head down and totally absorbed. Evie as per the previous book, drew me in and I was desperate (like Cyrus) to find out what had happened to her. Michael Robotham deals with the crimes that are uncovered with consideration and compassion, yet we are left in no doubt as to their nature. I was on high alert throughout and the ending struck with an unexpected blow. When She Was Good comes out swinging after the fabulous first book in the series, and I can highly recommend it (just make sure you read Good Girl, Bad Girl first).

Star Books
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.

Star Books
The Man Who Died Twice

The Man Who Died Twice

Author: Richard Osman Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

It's the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He's made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn't bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Audiobooks of the Month
The Nothing Man

The Nothing Man

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2021

Razor-sharp tightrope time with this belter of a read, it is as dramatic and different as it is fabulous. Discover two books in one novel as true crime is enveloped by breathtaking storytelling. Read Eve Black’s memoir as she searches for the man who murdered the rest of her family 20 years ago. Sitting by its side is the story of the killer Jim Doyle as he reads the book and fears he will be unmasked. This has such a clever premise, Catherine Ryan Howard ensures that this is one of the few instances where knowing the identity of the killer actually adds to the intensity and drama. The change from one book to the other doesn’t jar in the slightest, each embraces and calls to the other and the transition is seamless. The tension increases until it is fairly reverberating through the pages. I let myself be carried away in the story, and don’t forget, this is a story, and it works because there is no sneaking a peek at the end! The Nothing Man is a blast of pure reading entertainment, and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Nothing Man.

Star Books
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!

Star Books
How to Betray your Country

How to Betray your Country

Author: James Wolff Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/04/2021

An absolutely cracking spy thriller with a difference, this is one to put to the top of your reading pile. Disgraced spy August Drummond finds himself up to his neck in trouble when he steps into the middle of an Islamic State plot. Author James Wolff (a pseudonym) has worked for the British government for over ten years. There is an undeniably sharp edge to this story that feels all too real, and yet the fabulous writing ensured I couldn’t determine what was outrageously inventive or shockingly authentic. One thing I would definitely recommend, and that’s starting with the first in this trilogy, Beside the Syrian Sea. While you could read How to Betray Your Country as a standalone, to fully understand what has come before is an important part of this tale. August is a loose cannon with a conscience, the loss and sadness that directs his every move is clearly felt. And yet, there is an underlying wit, smirk, and dark humour that skulks through the pages. This is a story that skips and flits and burrows and teases. As the file excerpts filled in missing information and as the plot sky-rocketed towards its conclusion I became more and more consumed. A LoveReading Star Book, How to Betray Your Country is ever so smart, provocative, and thought-provoking, its also thoroughly entertaining. It comes with the hugest of thumbs up from me.

Star Books
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.

Star Books
The Last House on Needless Street

The Last House on Needless Street

Author: Catriona Ward Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/03/2021

Quite simply a wow of a book, it’s almost too difficult to describe as I’m wary of spoilers. This story involves murder, abduction, and revenge, and yet, and yet, that is just a part of what lies before you in this beautifully written and startling read. The first few pages made me sit up with all my senses on full alert, Ted narrates, with his thoughts and feelings tumbling out, and I reread the first chapter to fully settle into the unique writing style. Catriona Ward’s ghostly and beautiful Rawblood was one of our debuts of the month back in 2015, it’s fabulous but I feel she has gone several steps further with Needless Street. You’ll enter heartbreak territory, but also find an enthralling and truly worthwhile read. Her exquisite writing almost hurts with where it takes you. She breaks down barriers to thought and throws open the door to exploration. The press reviews are fabulous, from Joanne Harris to Stephen King. Just one piece of advice, no matter how tempted, don’t read the Afterword until you’ve finished. With twisted poignancy The Last House on Needless Street squeezes, taunts, and heightens emotions. This is a book that will stay with me, tucked in my heart and soul, and of course it just had to be a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Star Books
The Englishman

The Englishman

Author: David Gilman Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Klaxon alert! Discover full-on heart-pounding action, plus smart, sharp writing in this absolute reading feast of a book. Travelling from Africa to the UK and ending in Russia, former Foreign Legion Commando Dan Raglan is on a hunt that guarantees death. This is the first in what promises to be a smash-hit spy thriller series and I already can’t wait for the next book. The prologue throws you straight into October 2019 with a man running through a frozen Russian forest while bullets whip towards him. Chapter one turns to 2013 and from here we get to know Dan Raglan. As an introduction, it’s spot on, within pages I was on board and by his side. Author David Gilman is a former firefighter, paratrooper, and photographer and now writes full time. His words build a vivid picture, this world feels authentic and I read with full confidence. I was so involved in the unfolding story that my thoughts didn’t skim backwards or forwards, I purely existed in each moment as it hit. And boy, each moment lands with ferocious intensity. Shockwaves of action expanded and the storyline tripped me with unexpected developments. Even though I had read the prologue, the ending still came with a whammy. LoveReading Book of the Month - tick, LoveReading Star Book - tick, one of my personal Picks of the Month - tick! The Englishman comes with a tremendous thumbs up from me, more please!

Star Books
Betrayal

Betrayal

Author: David Gilman Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/01/2022

If you get your reading kicks diving into an espionage thriller full of heart-pounding action running alongside a wickedly intricate plot, then hello, THIS is your book. Former Foreign Legion operative Dan Raglan is called to support a Pentagon intelligence officer and ex-comrade. Joining the first novel The Englishman as a LoveReading Star Book, Betrayal continues The Englishman Series in fine style and cements these books as ones to follow. This is a series where you can just throw yourself in with abandon and trust in David Gilman. The main man Raglan is most definitely someone you would want on your side, however he operates within a murky field of grey obeying his own set of rules and conscience. The other characters support the energy that builds around Raglan, and highlight his essence and caliber. The highly volatile nature of work within the intelligence community is confirmed and trust is in very short supply. As with the first novel Raglan travels to different countries, and the fiery finale plays out in the Honduran rainforest. Charging around the world works so successfully as it not only adds to the intensity but also confirms Raglan’s skills and willingness to do whatever is needed. Allowing a much-needed escape from reality, Betrayal is an absolute corker of a read and as energising and satisfying as can be.

Star Books
Lightseekers

Lightseekers

Author: Femi Kayode Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

An intelligent, brooding yet vibrant crime thriller debut that just thrums with atmosphere. Investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo walks straight into trouble when he is hired to investigate the brutal crowd murder of three students known as the Okiri Three in Nigeria. It is an absolute thrill to be in at the start of a new series that promises so much. Femi Kayode has created a relatable and likeable main character who is quickly out of his depth, and Philip tells his own tale. The setting was brought so vividly to life I found myself wide-eyed as I looked around and soaked up the sense of place. I could reach out and touch, could feel Nigeria and it’s history. Another story sits alongside Philip’s, it’s intense and provocative, it felt as though it was hunting down the main tale, ready to attack. While Philip investigates, the link to his home life allows a further connection and understanding of his background. There are a number of other characters that I sincerely hope will make a return and I am already excitedly waiting for the next book in this series. Lightseekers is a smart, action-packed and intriguing read. I want to shout about this one, so it’s not only a Liz Pick of the Month, it’s also a LoveReading Star Book too.   

Star Books
A Question of Time

A Question of Time

Author: James Stejskal Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/01/2021

A thrilling, riveting, and whip-smart novel that feels as though you are being served a slice of Cold War military history. When a CIA asset in East Germany is compromised, a team of unconventional warfare specialists are charged with extracting him. This is the first in the Snake Eater Chronicles by James Stejskal who spent 35 years in the US Army Special Forces and CIA. He is now an author (previously writing non-fiction), military historian, and conflict archaeologist. These stories are based in reality using his real-world experience and the author himself calls it “faction”. This is an absolutely fascinating read, all the cogs within the CIA and Special Forces machine spin into action. The Cold War history of Berlin, different characters, methods and processes are included and explained without upsetting the flow of what is a gripping story. I didn’t question, I quite simply read and believed. A Question of Time is a fabulous start to a series that promises to deliver in spades and it comes with a whopping thumbs up from me.  

Star Books
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! 

Star Books
Of Ants and Dinosaurs

Of Ants and Dinosaurs

Author: Cixin Liu Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

So, so readable, Of Ants and Dinosaurs with the lightest and brightest of touches, made my brain itch with its creativity and klaxon alarm. Perfect for readers from young adult on, this sets itself as a “satirical fable, a political allegory and ecological warning”. In a time long long ago ants and dinosaurs joined forces to build a magnificent civilisation, when doom threatens will the dinosaurs listen to the ants? Cixin Liu is China’s number one science-fiction writer and his The Three-Body Problem was the first translated novel to win a Hugo award. I just love the cover, and the ants marching across the chapter pages had me smiling. As soon as I started to read my attention was well and truly caught. The prologue sets the scene with wonder and I read and believed without a moment's doubt. While portraying the ant and dinosaur alliance, there is very much a warning to the human race here. Deceptively simple and brilliantly clever, Of Ants and Dinosaurs just has to sit as a Liz Pick of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book, I simply adored it. 

Star Books
That Reminds Me

That Reminds Me

Author: Derek Owusu Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/11/2020

Beginning with an address to Anansi, the trickster story teller god of African folklore, (“Anansi, your four gifts raised to nyame granted you no power over the stories I tell”), Derek Owusu’s That Reminds Me is a one-of-a-kind reading experience. K’s story will break your heart, and heal it. And Owusu’s writing will leave you stunned - it’s that unique, that honest, that impactful. K is a working-class boy born to Ghanaian parents in Tottenham. Fostered as a child, he’s relocated to an unfamiliar rural environment, where there are woods and fields instead of flats and video shops. When he returns to London at the age of eleven, the city has become alien to him - and his birth parents have too. Once again K must re-find himself. Piece himself together, and perhaps find friendship and love along with his identity. Told through K’s fragmented memories, this is an exceptional coming-of-age story that lingers long in the soul. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Star Books
Cesare: A Novel of War Torn Berlin

Cesare: A Novel of War Torn Berlin

Author: Jerome Charyn Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/11/2020

Exquisitely weaving fact and fiction this heart-rending yet fascinating historical novel is set during a time of clandestine opposition to the Nazis. Chief of the Abwehr, spymaster Wilhelm Canaris, creates an almost mythical figure when he recruits a young man and calls him Cesare. The story centres around  Canaris, Erik (Cesare) and Lisa, the woman who effectively set Erik on his course. Using the real-life Canaris ensured my mind almost played tricks on me, and at times I struggled to remember that this was fiction, as it felt all too real. Jerome Charyn successfully highlights the contradictory nature of Canaris, this is the man who suggested the yellow Star of David in 1935 to identify Jews, but by 1939 and the outbreak of war began attempts to undermine the Nazi regime. There is a raw, almost brutal quality to the all-consuming storyline. Yet this is intoxicatingly readable and the central relationships encouraged me on to the finish. By the end I was mentally shattered, this most certainly isn’t an easy read, but it is enthralling. This novel encouraged me to research the history of Admiral Canaris, to consider the nature of good and evil and how it combines when contained within human nature. Cesare is haunting, traumatic, and yet I wholeheartedly recommend, and include it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month.

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Fortune Favours the Dead

Fortune Favours the Dead

Author: Stephen Spotswood Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/11/2020

A fabulously entertaining absolute romp of a murder mystery set in 1940’s New York. Famous private detective Lillian Pentecost, and her assistant Willowjean Parker are hired to track down the murderer of a wealthy young widow who was bludgeoned to death with a crystal ball at a seance. This is the debut novel and first in the Pentecost and Parker series from Stephen Spotswood, who is an award-winning playwright, journalist, and theatre educator. He quite obviously knows how to tell one heck of a captivating story, and this sits somewhere between hard-boiled and cosy! The first sentence is a corker, and sets up Willowjean (Will) as the most engaging and one-of-a-kind narrator. This is very much a character-led story, the feeling of the time is created with dialogue, which snaps and crackles with energy. Both Lillian and Will are fascinating characters, with more than a few tricks hidden up their sleeves. With a locked-room mystery, wonderfully diverse central characters, and a cracking storyline, Fortune Favours the Dead is a dream of a read and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. 

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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.

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Starve Acre

Starve Acre

Author: Andrew Michael Hurley Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/10/2020

So beautifully written, the chills prowl with unexpected menace to climb inside your thoughts, to lurk and provoke. Richard and Juliette’s son Ewan died at the age of 5, Juliette, convinced that her son is still in the house turns to a group of occultists, while Richard searches for the remains of a hangman’s oak tree opposite their home Starve Acre. Andrew Michael Hurley doesn’t waste a single word, each forms a web to create a picture as he captures the essence of a thought or thing. As the story grows, as the oak planted itself in my minds eye, the unsettling force of grief came to settle over everything. I sank into this tale and couldn’t leave, reading from the deep, dark and incredibly soulful first page through to the startling last in one heady afternoon. Folklore gathers in the background, grief preys on the unsuspecting, and a compelling story unfolds. Highly recommended, I have chosen Starve Acre as one of my picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.

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The Devil and the Dark Water

The Devil and the Dark Water

Author: Stuart Turton Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

Be prepared for a reading maelstrom to suck you in whole when you open this LoveReading Star Book. Set in 1634 a boat leaves the East Indies with a detective duo on board. Although one is locked up and facing execution, their skills are very much needed when the voyage is beset by a terrible forewarning. Stuart Turton’s debut picked up the Costa First Novel Award Winner for 2018. The Devil and the Dark Water is just as fabulous and will be going straight onto my list of favourite books this year. It is the perfect novel to read as the nights are drawing in, the story built itself into a reality, I was there, bearing witness. Surprises wait in store, strange beings stalk the decks, and several locked room/ship mysteries just beg to be solved. My thoughts were broken open, and exploded one way then the other as I sought answers. All of the characters are fascinating in their own unique way and while I initially thought I was meeting a Holmes and Watson pair, I quickly realised they were very much their own men. The Devil and the Dark Water crosses genres in the most wonderfully entertaining way and sails straight onto my list of Liz Picks of the Month. I’ll be standing and applauding this one!

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The Food Almanac

The Food Almanac

Author: Miranda York Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

A clever concept, delectably delivered - featuring a feast of recipes and tales to inspire readers around the table, around the year, Miranda York’s The Food Almanac will make a piquant present for gourmands and bibliophiles. With a bounty of stories, pieces of passion, stylish illustrations and reading lists accompanying the recipes, this is a book to relish over time rather than scoff down in one sitting, though the delicious results might make that quite a feat of restraint. Each chapter covers a month of the year and opens with a handy checklist of seasonal ingredients to look out for, with an in-depth focus on star ingredients  - lemons that “bring flashes of brightness to the dull grey days of January”. Gooseberries that “perform their spritely dance” in July puddings. September’s “tiny, tangy, ancient” crab apples. The “smoky sweetness” of December chestnuts. It’s global in outlook too, with poets, novelists and acclaimed food writers and chefs from around the world sharing stories, memories and insights alongside coverage of food-focussed feasts deserving of a fanfare, among them New Orleans Carnival and Anzac Day in Australia. The roll-call of writers provides a rich range of voices and views too, with contributions from chefs Raymond Blanc and José Pizarro, chef, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi, writer and cook Zoe Adjonyoh, novelists Kit de Waal and Deborah Levy, and many more besides.

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City of Margins

City of Margins

Author: William Boyle Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/09/2020

The past haunts the present and future in this dramatic, compelling and memorable crime novel. It’s the early 1990’s in South Brooklyn and a number of characters, from crooked cops to heartbroken widows, stand staring into the valley between life and death. The prologue focuses on three men, within a few words I knew them, their structure and substance. Each chapter highlights a different character, with individual stories spiralling together, the twists and turns a consequence of actions taken. This is a ballsy read, a dark path to take, and yet there is a purity to the writing. The lightest of touches direct moments that slide together in an inevitable collision course. I love the way William Boyle writes, and can also highly recommend another of his novels, Gravesend. He has the wonderful ability to allow you to see people from the inside out, their essence paints a vivid image even in the darkest of moments. There are times when it feels as though you are watching a film, descriptions build the most comprehensive of pictures. City of Margins is a first-rate read and a LoveReading Star Book, highly recommended.

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Silver

Silver

Author: Chris Hammer Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

A cracking and class-act of a crime novel stuffed full of atmosphere and detail which skilfully sits alongside a truckload of tension. Journalist Martin Scarsden plans on a new start in Port Silver, Australia. On arrival he finds his childhood friend murdered, and his partner is number one suspect. While this could be read as a standalone novel, I recommend starting with Scrublands, Chris Hammer’s debut novel which won The Crime Writers’ Association John Creasy New Blood Award in 2019. The author has been a journalist for over 25 years and I feel his knowledge is anchored in this tale. This is a satisfyingly long read which sets a quite wonderful scene before the story really takes off. Australia sings and Port Silver becomes a known town, with a map planting the locations firmly in mind. I sank in and only came up for air a couple of times. I feel this a beautifully balanced novel, the storyline, setting, characters, and potential for the next book all smoothly combining into one effortlessly compelling read. Silver just has to be included as a LoveReading Star Book, it is a vibrant, sweeping, fabulous read.

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Born Killers?

Born Killers?

Author: Dr Kris Mohandie Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2020

At times uncomfortable and chilling (as it should be) this is nonetheless absolutely fascinating, and a must read for anyone interested in law enforcement and the way minds work. Dr Kris Mohandie is a clinical police and forensic psychologist, in other words, a “detective of the brain”. He has worked on high profile cases and encountered some of the most dangerous people in the USA. Here he provides “an informed peek behind the curtain of criminality in a world that’s getting darker and more dangerous by the day” “providing insight into why these people do what they do and lessons we can learn as a society to help stop or at least reduce the bloodshed”. He highlights a number of cases he has worked on, from serial killers, to hostage takers, right through to mass casualty shooters. He looks at cases that are known throughout the world, such as Columbine, O.J Simpson, and Oklahoma City. Starting his career with LAPD, Dr Kris Mohandie was a consultant, working with units including SWAT. This is a man who has had to make incredibly difficult decisions, in horrendously difficult circumstances. He is honest, at times blunt, and says it as he sees it. He discusses the death penalty, the nature of evil, and mental illness. If you take a look at the press reviews on our LoveReading book page, you can see reports from people who have worked with him. Words such as “outstanding”, a “true subject matter expert”, “one of the best in the business” ring out. Born Killers? is a truly gripping read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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The Assistant

The Assistant

Author: Kjell Ola Dahl Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Taut, intriguing and compelling, this story just flies as it weaves through the interwar years in Norway. A private investigator and his assistant take on what appears to be a straightforward case but their past haunts their present and they soon find themselves caught up in Nazi schemes. I adore Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detectives Series, and now his latest novels including The Courier, take a step into the past. He writes with an assured hand and translator Don Bartlett brings his world to life without you even realising he is there. The story flips between 1938 and 1924, each turn releasing information and tightening the connection between the two time periods. The plot is powerful, my thoughts spun, my feelings hesitated and altered as I read. It was fascinating to dwell in the time just before the Second World War, before the world experienced the full force and terror of the Nazi’s. A standalone novel, The Assistant is not only an action-packed, thrilling and chilling tale, it’s also smart and thought-provoking too. The LoveReading LitFest invited Kjell to the festival to talk about this thrilling and chilling tale.  The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

eBooks of the Month
Hamnet

Hamnet

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

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

Star Books
The Red Arrow

The Red Arrow

Author: William Brewer Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Brutally, bravely honest in its portrayal of depression, suicidal tendencies, failing to fulfil obligations, and failing to live up to one’s promise, William Brewer’s The Red Arrow also offers a luminous sense of hope that it is possible to emerge from the dark mist of depression experienced by his protagonist. Our narrator was once a promising young writer with a big book deal to write a big American novel about a chemical spill in West Virginia. But, crippled by depression since childhood, he’s unable to write the book and winds up with a huge debt to his publisher. A way to work himself out of debt presents itself when an esteemed physicist requests that the narrator ghost-writes his memoirs: “the more of his life I write, the more of my life I get back”. This is why the writer finds himself travelling through Italy with his wife, on a second honeymoon, but also on the trail of the physicist. As he digs deeper into his subject’s life, he peels back layers of own life, revealing what led him to this point, memories of his Italian grandparents, family arguments, a succession of obsessive distractions, worsening depression, and the transformative psychedelic treatments that saved him. His eventual meeting with the physicist is a devastating denouement - clever, unexpected and radiant.

Shtum

Shtum

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

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

eBooks of the Month
Coincidence of Spies

Coincidence of Spies

Author: Brian Landers Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/01/2021

Intricate, intriguing and aglow with authenticity, Brian Landers’s Coincidence of Spies, the third in his Dylan series, explores the threat of fascism in post-Communist Poland. It’s 1981. Communism is teetering on the brink of collapse and MI6 agent Thomas and his agent wife Julia are instructed to leave Moscow after she witnesses a murder. In Warsaw, the couple are sent on a top-secret mission with minimal detail. During a mysterious trip to the countryside (it involves the lost crown of an ancient king), bullets are fired and their American agent companions vanish without trace. Back in Blighty, there’s a killer to be found, and innumerable twists and tangles to be followed, unravelled and made sense of. Befitting of a spy narrator, the writing is crisp and matter of fact, which adds to the tension, with plenty of interwoven historic, political and personal particulars creating layers of compelling atmosphere. It’s a tightly-woven web of international espionage suited to readers who delight in puzzling over and unpacking deep detail.

eBooks of the Month
Exodus of Spies

Exodus of Spies

Author: Brian Landers Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/04/2021

Hot on the heady heels of Coincidence of Spies, Exodus of Spies by Brian Landers, the fourth thrilling instalment of his Dylan series, sees MI6 agent Thomas Dylan sent to Angola, where South African troops are gathering to uphold apartheid. He’s been instructed to provide support, though this must be done with the utmost discretion. Meanwhile, a recently-retired, longstanding figure in British Intelligence is killed in the Caribbean and electrifying questions arise around his loyalty, and his connections to Angola, and it falls to Thomas and his wife Julia to disentangle the disorder. I found the novel’s international scope particularly fascinating - Landers has sure done his research to fashion a gripping, authentic-feeling thriller that traverses the globe. Tingling with the intrigue of politics, the torment of betrayal, and question after question after question, this is a complex espionage thriller that will surely entice many readers to immerse themselves in the Dylans’ world in a single satisfying sitting.

eBooks of the Month

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