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Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
This is a totally unique and breathtaking introduction to what lies beneath us, to the earth below our feet. Let this very special and beautiful book take you by the hand and lead you through the sunlit fields to the place where the underland begins, a place most human thoughts shy from in fear and confusion. This is a sequel to The Old Ways, yet you can begin here without concern, you can trust and join Robert Macfarlane as he explores the underland. I will admit that I am in love with the writing, the words, the vision that allows you to see and feel in darkness. I haven’t ever considered our deep connection to this stunning underworld in the way you are encouraged to here. Robert Macfarlane meets and shares experiences with people who have chosen to explore, to look beyond the obvious. I absolutely adored how much he shares, how accessible Underland is, his words reached out and connected with my thoughts and feelings, altering, reshaping, transforming. While there is plenty to fear for our future, all the time there are humans with this amount of love for our natural world, there is also hope. Underland is one of my picks of the month, and also one of our star books - it is quite simply stunning.
This highly readable slice of suspenseful noir sees a couple on the brink of losing everything. Emma thought she had it all with second husband Paul - a big house, new daughter Mollie, a fine step-dad for her son from her first marriage. But Paul’s been hiding things from her, not least the debts he’s been racking up, and the seriousness of his work situation. Forced to come clean (about some of his misdemeanors, at least) when he’s made redundant, they escape to the dilapidated French property Paul randomly bought during a holiday. While Paul flits between France and London - ostensibly for work - resourceful Emma turns things around by making a go of a bar business in their new village. But her blossoming is thwarted when a glamorous stranger infiltrates her life and a hideous web of deceit, blackmail, entrapment and violence unravels with heart-pounding urgency that will have readers rooting for Emma every step of the way. This is a real read-in-one-sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of book.
A beautifully powerful read that sits in darkness, not an all-consuming menacing murk, but one with pinpricks of light that can be found and felt if you open yourself to the discovery. Stella McKeever is working on her final radio show, she is encouraging listeners to divulge their secrets and waiting another call from a man who claims he knows who murdered the pregnant woman in the city three weeks previously, but should some secrets stay secret? There are times when I think it might be slightly distracting to label a book with one specific genre and for me this is one of them. I know Call Me Star Girl is a psychological thriller, it certainly does thrill, it also made me feel a whole host of other emotions too. Louise Beech excels in writing about people, at their very best, very worst, and everything in between, so I’d rather not pop this book into a pigeon hole but let it fly. Each chapter is headed by a name, and either ‘then’, ‘now’ or ‘with’. I quickly settled into the story while getting to know the characters, they became entirely real to me as I explored the how and why of who they were. While suspicion cut through my thoughts, unexpected slices of deep, aching surprise were served, and there is one particular moment that will stay with me for a very long time. Call Me Star Girl explored my feelings, touched my heart, and is one of my picks of the month, it is a truly glorious read.
Stop here to discover a terrific new voice in mystery and suspense, a voice owned by an established and truly eloquent author. Within a period of three weeks in 1993 the body of a young woman is discovered on the beach by teenagers Nell and Jude, then Jude disappears, twenty-five agonising years later Nell begins to uncover the truth. If you already love Dorothy Koomson, then you’re in for a real treat as she has combined her wonderful ability to observe human relationships with mystery and shivery suspense. The change in direction is beautifully subtle as her previous books have been moving this way and existing fans can still feel her unmistakable touch, yet she has opened the door to a whole new audience. Each short chapter remains very much in its moment as the story swings between the past and present. As I read and peeled each layer by exquisite layer I found surprises waiting to snare me, to make me exclaim and sit up. The characters are individual, fascinating (even when displaying hideous character traits), and Nell is an absolute delight to get to know. The Brighton Mermaid is a compelling, fabulously readable story full of energy and tenacity - highly recommended.
Razor-sharp, focused and absolutely fabulous, Critical Incidents is the first in what promises to be a stunning new series by Lucie Whitehouse. Detective Inspector Robin Lyons has been dismissed from the Met, turned down a proposal, and is heading back to her Mum and Dad in Birmingham with her daughter Lennie. Home isn’t necessarily a sanctuary when Robin starts to investigate a shocking crime and violence creeps ever closer. Keep You Close was one of our Books of the Year in 2016, so I had high hopes for Critical Incidents and it certainly lived up to expectations. I sat and read non-stop, just gobbling up the pages. There is an addictive quality to the writing, pithy, witty, stinging sentences walk hand in hand with compassion and emotion. The ending has left me wanting more, so I already can’t wait for the next in the series. Critical Incidents is escapism at its very best, it is also provocative, eloquent and extremely rewarding, earning itself a pick of the month from me.
Pieces of Her blew me away, it’s sharp, edgy, and compulsive. I foolishly started late in the evening and ended up keeping the early hours company for some time as I simply had to finish it! 31-year-old Andrea finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about her mum Laura when a birthday trip ends in horrific violence, further danger rushes in and Andy desperately needs to find answers. The prologue encourages intrigue to bubble away nicely then, oh my word… chapter one! Chapter one brilliantly sets the scene before exploding in the most shocking way, I gulped, settled further into my chair and braced myself for the experience. Karin Slaughter has the ability to set a tale on fire, she fans the flames, and I needed my wits about me as the time frame changed and left my understanding floating for a while, searching for answers. Andy and Laura are fascinating characters, they challenged my thoughts and feelings in the best possible way. Incredibly stimulating and enthralling Pieces of Her has left me on a heart-hammering high!
Bold, beautiful, provocative… and I mean provocative in the very best possible way. One compromising photo is all it takes for the lives of two families to be forever altered by the decisions made and actions taken. Each chapter is headed by a character and they tell their own story, the voices are distinctive and undeniably theirs, you could actually start to read without seeing the chapter heading and know within a few sentences who was talking to you. This story just feels so incredibly real, from the social media reaction to the human emotions on display, each moment could be happening to someone right now, at this very second. Emily Giffin writes with consideration and considerable empathy, yet she doesn’t shy away from the darker side of society. I felt I was being allowed to find my own way, to reach my own conclusions, and loved how my thoughts skittered in my mind. This is so incredibly readable, in the US it was a New York Times bestseller and deserves to be a bestseller in the UK too. All We Ever Wanted leapt into my head and then danced into my heart, I really, truly loved it.
I’ll let you into a secret, I have a bit of a reading crush on Natasha Solomons as she writes such beautifully observed and engaging books. Each time I am transported, and her previous title ‘The Song Collector’ was one of my books of the year in 2015. I’m more than happy to announce that ‘House of Gold’ is another triumph. Set between 1911 and 1917 this is a story that reads on an epic scale. Europe sits at the forefront as World War One marches forwards, and for one particular family the Goldbaum’s, their whole existence is fractured and forever altered. In such a huge arena we meet Greta who is sent from Austria to England to marry a distant cousin, her thoughts and feelings create a touchable, emotionally rich and moving story. I felt her pain, the ache of loneliness, and her relationship with her husband and brother are exquisitely realised. I just sat and read from start to finish in one wonderful afternoon. ’House of Gold’ is an absolute treasure, it made me feel, it made me think, it made me realise the knife edge on which humanity sits is razor-sharp indeed.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Dinah Jefferies and this is as beautifully and vividly readable as one would expect. Slip back into history and join Belle Hatton who travels to Burma in 1936 to become a nightclub singer, accompanying her is a newspaper clipping suggesting her parents left Ragoon 25 years previously in mysterious circumstances. Two time frames sit side by side, in 1921 we meet Belle’s mother, lost and traumatised, while in 1936 Belle finds her life increasingly in danger. I adore the descriptive detailing, you can almost close your eyes and take in a deep breath of a bygone era. The colour of the place and people just pops with intensity. Belle begins a relationship with a man, yet it doesn’t take centre stage, it is important but certainly not the be all and end all of this particular story. There is one unforgettable moment, using an event from history that is shockingly dramatic and provocative, I saw with Belle’s eyes, felt the pain and fear. I feel as though I could pick up a Dinah Jefferies book without knowing the author and would instinctively know it was hers, each book is completely individual yet the style of the author remains. The Missing Sister is richly and expressively eye-catching, it swept me up into the pages, releasing me only at the very satisfying ending.
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.
What an addictive and powerful book this is, I gobbled it up in one heady sitting and then sat and had a good ponder as certain aspects of this read knocked at the door to my consciousness. Two people have spent the last twenty-two years trying to forget, but someone is determined, no matter what, that they will remember. The first few pages really set the scene in a simple yet clever way, then I was hit by a wallop of an opening. Each chapter is headed by a character and a date, two main time frames are explored, time is sliced, spliced, offering a doorway to answers. As I read my mind explored possibilities, evaluated decisions, examined each character, their thoughts, their feelings. C. J. Cook balances the plot beautifully, keeping it taut, yet encouraging exploration in the moment. ‘The Blame Game’ (which is an absolutely perfect title) is a dramatic, enthralling and ultimately very satisfying read.
A feverishly seductive story, it whispers, cajoles, beckons from history until the past forcefully assaults the present. When Ruth’s estranged father dies she returns to Edinburgh and discovers the hidden diary of her ancestor Thomas Erskine. Fascinated by his story Ruth finds herself in extraordinary danger when she starts to delve into the past. The prologue offers a warning, while the first chapter thoroughly sets the scene in 1760 as 10 year old Thomas witnesses a murder and sees the shadow of the dead man as it leaves the body. Barbara Erskine has based the story on her own family history, she paints a picture with a beautiful delicate balance and inner strength as the drama starts to unfold. Ruth’s story stands resolute in this time, and with a delicious shiver of fear I let the story take me where it willed. I always knew where I was, even as the past pushed ever closer. Spellbinding and gorgeously readable, as all becomes clear The Ghost Tree really is the most perfect title - highly recommended. Take a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Ghost Tree.
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All the books we feature on the site are featured because we think they deserve to stand out from the crowd of the many thousands of other titles published each month. However, sometimes in a month, we wish to give that little bit more emphasis to a title and to make it a 'Book of the Month'.
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