Hallowe'en

Close the curtains, lock the doors and settle down with one of our spooky reads!

Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women

Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women

Author: Sharon Blackie Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/09/2019

Stunningly gorgeous short stories and wonderful illustrations make for an absolute treasure trove of a book. I have quite simply fallen in love with Foxfire, Wolfskin, it makes my heart sing. Discover 13 short stories about shapeshifting women, the shortest story being three and a half pages long. All are “either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales”. On opening the book, I felt as though I was walking into an age old story, the descriptions are startling, vivid, touchable. I began with Wolfskin, which is sharp and edgy, it hurts, it feels… right. After finishing Wolfskin, I immediately read it again, this time out loud. I fell headlong in once more, and at the extraordinary end, emotional goosebumps skitter-scattered down my arms. All of these stories have a unique strength to them and I disappeared into each one. Just a note on the accompanying illustrations by Helen Nicholson. They are fresh, original, and yet have that same age old feel of the stories. At the very end you will find notes on each tale, the inspiration behind them and where the idea appears in folklore. Foxfire, Wolfskin is full of beautiful stories that take hold, bite, leave their mark and I adored it so much I had to add it as one of my picks of the month! 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Ninth House

Ninth House

Author: Leigh Bardugo Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/10/2019

A blazing storm of a novel, big, bold, different, and so readable the words left the page and entered my entire being. The Ninth House was formed at Yale in 1898 to monitor the top eight secret societies using magic (of the deep and dark kind). When a murder darkens the door to Yale, newcomer to Ninth House Alex Stern investigates. This may be Leigh Bardugo’s debut adult novel, however she is already an award-winning young adult novelist (this is not intended for young teens). The plot sparks provocatively, the characters shine rather ferociously, and the fantasy elements just feel as real as real can be. As I read, the thought of this being a fantasy novel didn’t even cross my mind, I entered, I witnessed, I felt, I believed. The first few chapters slowly reeled me in, gradually releasing information until I was a part of my surroundings. Leigh Bardugo visits the past and steps forward into the present, hinting, suggesting, letting the reader form their opinion, come to their own conclusion. The fabulous ending left me hungering for more, there just has to be a sequel to Ninth House, which has the hallmark of must-read stamped all over it! Chosen as one of my picks of the month and also a LoveReading Star Book, I absolutely loved it!

Star Books
Starve Acre

Starve Acre

Author: Andrew Michael Hurley Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/10/2019

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.

Star Books
Wolves at the Door

Wolves at the Door

Author: Gunnar Staalesen Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/06/2019

Steadfast, tenacious and fascinating can be used to describe both the book and lead character in ‘Wolves at the Door’. Private Investigator Varg Veum was previously set up and linked to a horrifying case, now the men actually found guilty of the crime are dying one by one, is Varg next on the list? Gunnar Staalesen was in at the beginning of Nordic Noir, he started this series 40 years ago (there is a statue of Varg Veum in Bergen where the series is set) and has been published in 24 countries. This book does specifically link to previously translated novels so if thinking of stepping into the series you might want to start with ‘Where Roses Never Die’, followed by ‘Wolves in the Dark’ as a lead into this particular novel (‘Big Sister’ also sits in there too). Don Bartlett successfully ensured the thought of a translator didn’t enter my head as I was reading, I was sucked straight into the story and stayed there. I particularly enjoyed the slow slog of the investigation, each piece of information entering the fray and increasing the tension until it reached breaking point. With short, smart, darkly punchy chapters ’Wolves at the Door’ is a provocative and gripping read.

The Last Stage

The Last Stage

Author: Louise Voss Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/07/2019

Putting the thrilling into psychological thriller, this is one compelling and stimulating read. For over twenty years former singer Meredith Vincent has shunned the spotlight. When her past crashes into her present with an unexpected visit, suspicious events start to occur, and later a dead body is found. Meredith may have to revisit the terrifying events she has been desperately trying to forget. The prologue set in 1995 was half a page of intensely chilling writing and ensured I was gripped right from the start through to the riveting end. A number of different time frames, from the eighties through to 2018 allowed me, with each change, to see Meredith with fresh eyes. Louise Voss excels in keeping suspicion moving, it never quite settles, creating a taut atmosphere. Other characters are introduced, adding intrigue, and as baited traps of information are released, layer upon layer of information builds. The Last Stage is a highly entertaining, thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read.

eBooks of the Month
A Breath on Dying Embers

A Breath on Dying Embers

Author: Denzil Meyrick Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/07/2019

An enthralling read from the provocative prologue through to the whammy of a final chapter. DCI Jim Daley and DS Brian Scott have a nose for trouble, but Jim’s thoughts are elsewhere when a cruise ship carrying some of the worlds leading business people sails into Kinloch on a UK trade mission. This is the seventh in the cracking series of D.C.I Daley thrillers and if you’ve not read them, having been in at the start I can highly recommend beginning with Whisky From Small Glasses and enjoying the journey through to here. The prologue remained with me as I read. With several strands of the story weaving together, we also hear from an unknown person as he pours his feelings onto the page and plots destruction. While highly entertaining big action pieces take place, there are also some raw heartfelt moments closer to home. Denzil Meyrick allows enough information to escape to appeal to those who enjoy piecing together the evidence yet also uses multiple sleights of his writing hand to lay traps along the way. A Breath of Dying Embers is a rewarding, satisfying read and fabulous addition to the series.  

Books of the Month
Jar of Hearts

Jar of Hearts

Author: Jennifer Hillier Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/07/2019

Gosh, what a striking and chillingly provocative tale this is. Geo’s best friend disappeared when they were 16, 14 years later a body is found, a serial killer is suspected, Geo knows the truth, has always known the truth, but then the murders start again. This has such a clever premise, the choices Geo made at 16 continue to play havoc, I questioned her, and my own thoughts and feelings about her as I read. I was wholly consumed by the writing, Jennifer Hillier has created a world that feels entirely real, I was taken inside the words, to think and feel and ponder. This isn’t about good and evil, or even whether monsters are born or created, it felt to me as though it was about decisions, choices, hearts and minds, in very, very human bodies. The climax sent a shockwave through me, when I reached the end I was left feeling unsettled, in the best possible way. Jar of Hearts is an observant, penetrating read, one that grabs and shakes you, and leaves you thinking about the characters for a goodly while afterwards. Highly recommended. 

eBooks of the Month
The Closer I Get

The Closer I Get

Author: Paul Burston Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/07/2019

Fabulously darker than dark, this psychological thriller hurls a firecracker into online relationships and stands watching, waiting for the fallout. Author Tom is somewhat addicted to social media, when one particular follower starts harassing him, Tom calls the police, but will a restraining order magic his problems away? The first few pages sent an icy shiver of foreboding coursing through me. Travelling immediately from that knowledge, to eight months previously set certain thoughts and questions quivering. I believe that you don’t have to like a character in a novel to love them, and for me that was the case here. Paul Burston has created fascinating, flawed characters and the more I got to know them, the further I was sucked into the story. Social media, judgement, victimisation, our social and personal responsibility for each other, all gather on the page waiting your thoughts. The Closer I Get is a fiercely provocative novel, and as well as being a boldly entertaining read, it really, really made me think.

Books of the Month
The Fault

The Fault

Author: Kitty Sewell Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/07/2019

Unusual, intriguing, interesting… this very readable family drama set on Gibraltar focuses on  the secrets within relationships. Sebastian and Eva move with his sister Mimi to Gibraltar so he can oversee his project to build a cantilevered shelf city jutting out from the rock. As Mimi embarks on a relationship with someone desperate to stop the development, Sebastian becomes increasingly concerned. Kitty Sewell opens with an intense prologue which arrows through the rest of the story, remaining in the back of my mind as I read. The chapters focus on one of the main characters, interchanging, slowly releasing information. As I learned more about them, and came to understand their thoughts and feelings, certain answers remained just out of reach. Gibraltar is a fascinating part of this tale, the tunnel system and social position of the inhabitants of the rock with Spain balance the concentrated story between the three main characters. The Fault sets a fascinating scene and takes time to build, before racing to a compelling end.

Hunter

Hunter

Author: Lars Kepler Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/03/2019

It begins with a nursery rhyme. Nineteen minutes later you die... The sixth gripping thriller in Lars Kepler's internationally bestselling series featuring Joona Linna. Perfect for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. A hard-hitting rocket of a ride, if you’re squeamish, you may well be peeking between your fingers as you read. Superintendent Saga Bauer enlists the help of Joona Lina, who is serving time in prison, in order to stop to a killer named the Rabbit Hunter. The authors are a well established, internationally best-selling writing duo, they seamlessly blend their skills into a story that blasts with fury and intensity. This is the sixth in the series, and if you’ve not come across Lars Kepler before, I would advise you start at the beginning with ‘The Hypnotist’, purely because it’s such a cracking series. I love the feeling of danger and menace that stalks the policing team themselves, who is to be trusted, who will survive, my heart was in my mouth on more than one occasion. As a nursery rhyme plays, the killer stalks his prey, violent, creepy and addictive, the tension in ‘The Rabbit Hunter’ sky-rockets through to the utterly gripping conclusion… and left me wanting more.

Run Away

Run Away

Author: Harlan Coben Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Does a Harlan Coben novel really need an introduction… if you’ve not read this wordsmith’s work before then yes, of course it does! I have to say that I am never disappointed, his are thrilling novels that you can completely disappear into as they spear emotions and provoke thoughts. In Run Away a father searches for his daughter, she ran, and he has been searching ever since, when he finds her, he and the rest of his much-loved family find themselves in terrible danger. The first chapter snared my imagination, you know when you fall so deeply into a book that nothing else exists, well that was me. Each character dove into my awareness, so clearly defined, I could hear them and feel for them, even if I feared them. I didn’t want to stop reading and so waved hello to the very early hours (tip: start in good time if you don’t want to pull an all-nighter!). Run Away is a pure, addictive reading feast for the eyes and mind, if you haven’t yet tried A Harlan Coben, now is the perfect time.

Books of the Month
Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever

Author: Joshilyn Jackson Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Startling. Clever. Thrilling. Different. This book snatched my attention from the moment I entered, and the ending siren-called to me throughout. When new neighbour Roux joins the local book group, she suggests a game that quickly turns Amy’s life upside down. Amy has a secret, and Roux threatens to reveal all, unless Amy plays by her rules. The first chapter is oh so clever, my thoughts twisted, scattered, re-grouped. I was desperate to know where this was heading, and what was coming. I am not often tempted to peek at the ending, as I love the build, the tension, the reveal. I admit that I almost had to sit on my hands to stop myself from looking! Joshilyn Jackson has created two main characters who entered my mind, knocked down thoughts, and created turbulent feelings. I bristled with indignation, winced and flinched as I read. Never Have I Ever isn’t an easy, obliging read, instead it is wonderfully shocking, completely addictive, and thoroughly entertaining. I’ve chosen the fabulous Never Have I Ever as one of my picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man

Author: Alex North Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/06/2019

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

Audiobooks of the Month
These Our Monsters

These Our Monsters

Author: Various Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/10/2019

Discover and be transported by eight wonderfully diverse stories based on the myth, legend and folklore at eight English Heritage sites from the toe of Cornwall to the tip of Northumberland. Editor Katherine Davey, English Heritage, and September Publishing have worked their magic alongside the authors while Clive Hicks-Jenkins has created striking and disquieting illustrations to accompany each story. To give you an idea as to the quality on offer, the authors in order are, Edward Carey, Alison MacLeod, Paul Kingsnorth, Sarah Hall, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Sarah Moss, and Fiona Mozley. Journalist James Kidd introduces the tales, highlighting the importance of folklore, and states that: “The moods of the eight stories are similar eclectic, by turns comic or uncanny, absurd or scholarly, angry or fanciful, unsettling of poignant”. The location each story has been based on, sits at the end of the story, as while some are obviously of the site, others hover, offer, suggest. The afterword by the knowledgeable Charles Kightly explains the background to each of these new stories, the history and tradition that each site is steeped in. From sharp and pointed, to lyrical and whimsical, the creative and inspiring stories in These Our Monsters twisted in my mind. If you enjoy an original and wonderful blend of folklore, myth and legend, stop right here!

Star Books
Endgame

Endgame

Author: Daniel Cole Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/09/2019

This is the final book in Daniel Cole's Ragdoll series. As mentioned in Cole's letter to the reader, for this one you really will benefit from reading Ragdoll and Hangman. The plot kicks off in the immediate aftermath of Hangman too, it might also be a good idea to have a refresh, but I didn't find it absolutely necessary. After what feels like forever, police detectives Wolf and Baxter are finally back! This time they're working on a case much closer to home. A Christie-esque mystery ensues - a completely sealed room with no way out and only one set of prints on the gun. Is it suicide as it first appears, or something more? This book highlights some of the best aspects of the previous books: the characters. Wolf's wonderful and hilarious (if somewhat misplaced) sense of humour and Baxter and her endearing standoffishness remained. I felt like I was greeting them as old friends.  This is simply an amazing end to one of the best series I've read in recent years and is a must-read for all crime fans. I'm heartbroken that the series is over, but I know I will return to read it again and again.

Rewind

Rewind

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/09/2019

With a wonderful premise and on point storytelling this is a truly fabulous and thrilling read. The manager of a set of holiday cottages has a hidden camera in the bedroom of a guest. The guest is murdered and the camera destroyed. What next? Hit rewind! I adore Catherine Ryan Howard’s novels, she plays with time and creates plot lines that deceive, outwit and impress. The chilling prologue to Rewind, so matter of fact yet descriptive, really hammers home. It feels like the end, it is the end for someone, yet of course it is just the beginning of the tale. As information is revealed and more characters introduced, even more questions are created. As I travelled backwards and forwards in time, the skill of the writing ensured I stayed fully involved and a part of the storyline. Rewind, so different, clever and powerful, is a sure-fire winner of a read for me, I absolutely loved it!

Books of the Month
Whiteout

Whiteout

Author: Gabriel Dylan Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/01/2019

A group of Bristolian sixth-formers experience a whole lot more than the thrills and chills of the ski-slopes they’re expecting when one of their party discovers a trail of blood in their lodge. For outcast Charlie this trip was supposed to be a break from his troubled homelife, but he and his peers are now up to their necks in a gruesome, gory nightmare. Matters take a monstrous, mythical turn after ski instructor Hanna tells the students a tale “about things that lived in the woods. Things that only came out at night”… The action is jumpy, the writing sparse and direct, with plenty of unexpected twists to keep readers on the edge of their seats alongside the characters’ varied backstories. An accomplished debut for fans of atmospheric horror.

Books of the Month
The Institute

The Institute

Author: Stephen King Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/09/2019

It is time to celebrate a new and truly fabulous Stephen King novel. Children with special gifts such as telepathy and telekinesis are being abducted from across the USA, then they are tested, exploited, and kept prisoner. Is there any hope left for the kids incarcerated in the Institute? I opened the first page, settled in, and just read… isn’t it wonderful when you can do that? When you so implicitly trust the author, trust that they are going to take you on amazing journey? Stephen King has written the most readable and electrifying tale here, I didn’t doubt for one second that any of this wasn’t true, wasn’t possible, wasn’t happening right now. I just inhaled the words, fully immersed myself in the story, and squirmed on the edge of my seat as the ending hurtled towards me. The Institute knocked my socks off, it is a thrilling, chilling ride, and sits not only as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, but one of our LoveReading Star Books too.

Star Books
In the Absence of Miracles

In the Absence of Miracles

Author: Michael J. Malone Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/09/2019

Sneaking into an everyday life, this powerful and darkly dramatic tale smashes open the past to create a compelling read. When his mother goes into a home, John Docherty starts to sort through her belongings. The mention of a brother he knew nothing about sends his life into a downward spin. Orenda Books describe this novel as domestic noir, which is absolutely perfect. The writing is punchy tight, Michael J. Malone immediately gave me a sense of who John was as his thoughts travelled into mine. This is a book that crawled under my skin and had a good creep around. As John investigates and his every moment is consumed, his memories start to return. I knew that something was coming, the hints tripped me up and laid me flat. Challenging and emotional, In the Absence of Miracles enthrals as it corkscrews to a shocking, yet ultimately rewarding end.

eBooks of the Month
Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch

Author: Linwood Barclay Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/09/2019

Oomph, my stomach went into free-fall as I read this clever, on-point, and absolutely thrilling tale. Manhattan’s elevators have been taken over, as the death toll rises and Manhattan comes to a stop, a journalist and two New York Detectives investigate. The prologue sets a chilling scene, I knew what was coming, it was peek through fingers time! Linwood Barclay adds new characters to the boiling pot without missing a beat. Layers of intrigue coupled with heart pounding action ensured I was on high alert at all times. As the tale slid forward, chimes and occasionally towering bells of realisation rang out. I adore Linwood Barclay’s books, I always throw myself in with abandon and know I can just enjoy a stunningly good read. Elevator Pitch is a flaming humdinger of a novel, it’s one of those, where at the end and I thought back, I slapped my hand to my head and exclaimed “of course!”. Dynamic and because it is just so readable, I’ve added Elevator Pitch as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Devil Aspect

The Devil Aspect

Author: Craig Russell Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2019

This is an absolute belter of a novel. Awaiting you is a stunning, murderous mix of Eastern European folklore and a serial killer, set during 1935 in rural Czechoslovakia. Psychiatrist Dr Viktor Kosarek takes up a position in Hrad Orlu Asylum for the criminally insane to study the ‘Devil’s Six’, while in Prague, a serial killer is announced. The page and a half prologue sets the novel up brilliantly, the last sentence, so starkly delivered, chilled me to the bone. My mind entered the most vividly real locations, I slipped through the streets of Prague and flinched as I entered the Castle. Craig Russell crosses several genres and balances a number of themes seamlessly, which I just adored. My thoughts pushed and pulled at my emotions as they balanced together on a cliff edge. The Devil Aspect, is a dark, haunting whopper of a story and it set my imagination on fire. So good, it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and just had to be one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.

Star Books

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