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Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
A stark, fierce, and fascinating start to what promises to be a rewarding trilogy. The Swords of Silence is set in Japan during 1626 as the Shogun slams shut the door to outside influences. If Father Joaquim Martinez and the village he tends, fail to renounce their religion, they face a hideous death. It took a little time for me to settle into the names, the time, the land, however I was soon gripped by the story on offer. The dedication at the beginning states that between 1614 and 1643 the Shogun executed almost 5,000 Christians. Shaun Curry writes with a simplicity that to be quite honest, feels necessary in the bloodshed that follows. He doesn’t revel in the gore, instead quite matter-of-factly describes incidents that somehow feel all the more real. I have to say that I have rather fallen for Master Watanabe and do hope that he makes a reappearance in the trilogy! Exploring a time and place from long ago, The Swords of Silence took me with picture sharp clarity into a compelling story.
Huge, in fact, huger than huge klaxon alert as Cecelia Ahern has written a sequel to her truly wonderful debut, P.S. I Love You. It’s been seven years since Gerry died, and after Holly talks about his letters in a podcast, a group approaches her asking for help. I adore Cecelia Ahern’s writing, it just speaks to, and connects with my entire being. Confession time, I didn’t write any notes as I read, I just read for the pure pleasure of it. Which in itself, really makes a statement doesn’t it? Holly is honest, and entirely human as she initially tries to distance herself from the group. This is an older Holly, an altered Holly, she has moved on while Gerry and the letters have remained anchored in time. The other characters are absolutely fascinating, I grew to care about the group members and fell completely in love with Ginika. After reaching the end I found myself reflecting, the writing not only entered my heart, it also still sits in my thoughts. Postscript is just as brilliant, just as emotional, just as gorgeous, as P.S., and while linking so effectively to the past, grows into a truly beautiful novel in its own unique right.
A beautifully engaging novel that both broke and truly captured my heart. We travel with Laure through three time frames, from Prague of 1986, through to Paris of today. She finds love, and founds a museum based on promises broken, discarded, forgotten. Elizabeth Buchan writes with such eloquence, compassion and meaning. I felt, really felt the history and heartache. The past and the present somehow balance, as they move backwards and forwards slowly cutting snippets of information free. I fully existed in each moment, almost forgetting another point existed until I found myself there and became immersed once more. I really cared about the characters, including the museum, the idea is captivating, and so completely believable I feel as though I should be able to walk through its doors. The Museum of Broken Promises is for a me a must-read, I’ve chosen it as one of our star books, and one of my picks of the month, it is quite simply, glorious.
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!
A lovely, gentle exploration of a bygone time, yet there is a quiet strength to this compelling read. It is also one of those books that just may surprise you. Violet Speedwell, still suffering the loss of both her fiancé and brother in the First World War, moves to Winchester in search of a new life. Canvas embroidery, bellringing, the surplus of women after the war, expectations and the judgement of society, all sit alongside each other as Violet explores new thoughts and feelings. Tracy Chevalier writes with true eloquence, the descriptions bloom, the characters sing, and she allows you to ponder, to consider. Notes of caution and unease pierce the tale, with occasional moments of biting intensity. Violet is fascinating, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her. In the acknowledgements I found out about the character who actually did exist, and I now want to explore Winchester Cathedral. Expressive and beautifully readable, A Single Thread is an engaging and rewarding tale.
Hitting rock bottom, hanging on, and coming back from the edge. Brian Conaghan has an incredible talent for telling it like it is. His characters are authentic and absorbing; flawed underdogs with serious troubles, like 17-year-old Maggie whose dad “drank his liver into a spreadable pâté”, and whose laid-off dinner lady mum is “gifted in the art of attracting pure dickheads”. And Maggie? Maggie’s “an island: the way I dress; the music I listen to; the patter my brain discharges; everything”. Maggie’s struggling to deal with the tragic loss of her best friend Moya whose death she feels excruciatingly guilty about. Moya was a “mad riot” of a girl, but as Maggie “couldn’t be arsed with all the love-struck vom” Moya was spewing, because she didn’t speak out against the Internet trolls, she believes she was a “failure friend”. Alongside her grief, guilt and self-harm, Maggie struggles with her mother’s severe depression, but also tingles with the hope that comes from starting art college: “now’s the time to make something of myself.” Indeed, she soon forms a band with new friends. Throughout, Maggie’s love of bands like The Smiths looms large, as does her relationship with her depressed mother. Maggie’s rage at her mother’s condition derives entirely from her primal love for her. She’s desperate for Mum to be happy, and her scheme to help her find happiness is heart-achingly poignant. Grief, depression, self-harm, online abuse, this novel is no walk in the park, yet it never drags the reader down. On the contrary. It’s sensitive, insightful, funny (Maggie is a master of biting one-liners), and genuinely uplifting as Maggie and Mum begin to find their way back to the world, with glinting prospects of love and new life.
March 2012 Book of the Month. This highly original, dark (v v dark) and sinister thriller breaks all the rules; such as switching from 1st, 2nd and 3rd person and having a highly fragmented timeline, but it delivers something thrillingly different. Four friends set up an agency to say ‘sorry’ and allow company executives to be absolved of guilt - but does that mean anyone can be absolved of anything with a simple transfer of cash?
May 2012 New Gen Book of the Month. Matters of life and death and the role of a passionate romance in them lie at the heart of this spellbinding story of how the worlds of the dead and the living cross over and collide. Gottfried Academy is no ordinary school… It’s a place where Latin thrives and the Undead and the living make friends. Renee is a Monitor at the Academy; she can sense death even though she can’t predict it. And she has a vital role to play among the Undead. When Renee meets Dante she knows he is her soulmate. But he is an undead. Will Renee give up her life to save him?
April 2015 Book of the Month. In Iceland grandparents and a young child go to the port to meet a yacht with the girl’s family on board (parents and twin sister). The yacht smashes into the quay empty. So begins this terrific thriller. In alternating chapters of the yacht with seven people on board coming across from Lisbon and arriving empty and the police investigation in Iceland we, the reader, are drip-fed the mystery with our hearts in our mouths. The crew and passengers have simply disappeared. It’s creepy, chilling, compulsive and very, very good. I so dreaded being fobbed off at the end but no, the outcome was completely feasible and very satisfying. Do read it. In Iceland, Sigurdardottir is crime royalty, alongside Arnuldur Indridason and her series featuring local lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir has always been a personal delight. Offsetting the sometimes grim northern landscape with meticulous sleuthing, she brings a new, unique dimension to the genre. When a luxury yacht arrives in Reyjkavik harbour with no passengers left onboard, Marie Celeste-like, Thora is recruited by a relative to solve the mysterious case. As usual this is just the beginning and an inevitable trail of bodies soon has Thora dashing in all directions. Chilling, spooky and at times gruesome, Sigurdardottir's books (she also writes the occasional horror tome) are compulsive page-turners and prove fascinating eye-openers into the complexities of Icelandic life and its bleak exoticism.
One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011. July 2011 Book of the Month. This is an utterly beguiling, magical, fable-like story that uses the relationships between humans and animals to address much bigger themes including those about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity. Like his multi-million copy selling and Booker Prize winning Life of Pi, the reader is taken on an odyssey but this time to address the emotional legacy of the holocaust through Henry, an ordinary man with whom the reader will care greatly for and through Beatrice and Virgil, a donkey and a howler monkey. It’s written on many different levels so it’s a book that is bound to create a big buzz both for and against it. Views are divided here but lovers of Life of Pi will I think find this an absorbing but possibly heart-breaking tale.
June 2010 Book of the Month. This is an utterly beguiling magical, fable-like story that uses the relationships between humans and animals to address much bigger themes including those about life and art, truth and deception, responsibility and complicity. Like his multi-million copy selling and Booker Prize winning Life of Pi, the reader is taken on an odyssey but this time to address the emotional legacy of the holocaust through Henry, an ordinary man with whom the reader will care greatly for and through Beatrice and Virgil, a donkey and a howler monkey. It’s written on many different levels so it’s a book that is bound to create a big buzz both for and against it. Views are divided here but lovers of Life of Pi will I think find this an absorbing but possibly heart-breaking tale.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. A fascinating erotica debut for famed children's book author Sally Gardner and, most definitely, a change in register as a tale of 18th century debauchery unfolds in the tradition of FANNY HILL and other historical jolly naughtiness. Tully Truegood is incarcerated in Newgate prison in 1756, accused of murder, with the gallows perilously on the horizon and, in the traditional manner, relates the tale of her life and how she arrived here. It's an animated story of rags to riches from London back street chambermaid to courtesan at the celebrated Fairy House brothel run by her own stepmother, including time as a conjurer's assistant. Picaresque, bawdy, at times magically realist but always warm and affectionate for its sometimes reprobate characters, this is a novel, which albeit graphic retains a true sense of colour and place and pulls you along with vigour in its wake as it immerses the reader into older, momentous times. ~ Maxim Jakubowski November 2016 Book of the Month. The Lovereading view... A captivating, earthy, and striking novel set in the 18th century, one that reaches into the heart of friendship and love, and prods, provokes…inflames. Tully Truegood tells her tale from the bowels of Newgate Prison, she is desperate for one particular person to hear her story. Tully doesn't hold back, she graphically explains her route from childhood to courtesan, to alleged murderer, and some of it is uncomfortable and disturbing to hear. Wray Delaney brings Tully to vibrant, heart-rending, beautiful life, she tells her tale with a down to earth honesty, yet a fragile, sometimes chilling otherworldly presence dances over the pages. Wray Delaney is the pen name for children’s author Sally Gardner, the change of name for her first adult novel is entirely appropriate as this is most definitely an adults only, provocative read. Fascinating recipes, riddles and quotations slide into the novel, capturing the essence of the time, linking fantasy and reality. ‘An Almond For A Parrot’ is a rather spicy, yet sensitive and poignant read, and I truly do recommend introducing yourself to Tully Truegood, then settling down to hear her remarkable tale. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2012 Food and Drink Book of the Month. It’s the second part of the title – “in 100 Recipes” that makes this stand out from the usual plod from hunter-gathering to yesterdays sushi craze. Instead we start with flat bread and gradually follow man’s culinary progress through “Muscules in shelle”, Trifle, Peas Soope, Brussels Sprouts, Rice Krispies treats and ending with Heston Blumenthal’s Meat Fruit. A switch-back of a journey through food good and bad, cooks wild and wily and a public palate that knows no bounds. Contained within the history is a progress through the communication of recipes, how they were first written down and how they changed and developed to encompass radio, TV, magazines and now the computer and aps. I had doubts about the format when I first started reading it but soon settled in and while it lasted A History of Food in 100 Recipes was an excellent bedtime reading treat. Like for Like ReadingA History of English Food, Clarissa Dickson WrightFood in England: A Complete Guide to the Food That Makes Us Who We Are, Dorothy Hartley
June 2011 Book of the Month. Nicholson casts an unflinching eye on men's attitude to sex, on women, love and family life. This is our own familiar world rendered pacy, funny, emotionally on the button and hugely entertaining.
May 2010 Book of the Month. A wonderful collection of characters, in a small Sussex village, all have their secrets, resentments, heartache and desires. A book that will keep you gripped from page one. This author is perhaps better know for his teen fiction but this book shows his talents cross over in to the world of adult fiction too.
April 2010 'new gen' Book of the Month title. Full of the myriad and criss-crossing emotions of adolescent love, this is a warm-hearted and finely observed view of two teenagers’ experience. Sixth-formers Maddy Fisher and Richard Ross both want to fall in love. Both want the heady experience of the real thing. They want all the craziness, all the pain that goes with the intense emotions but neither knows who they will fall for. Luckily, after complications and crossed lines, the two find each other gradually building a relationship and coming together for their first sexual experience. William Nicholson is the April 2010 Guest Editor on Lovereading4kids. Click here to find out more...
January 2011 Book of the Month. Wonderful storytelling is the hallmark of all William Horwood's novels. Here in the first of four, William has returned to his fantasy routes in this epic series that follows the flow of the seasons. The Hydden are little people with big beliefs who live on the borders of the human world and one of them, Jack is sent to live amongst humans in order to try and find a long lost object that is so dear to them but can he and his loved one that he meets in the human world find their true destiny and complete the quest he was set to do and save both worlds? This journey begins in Spring and will continue in Summer and Autumn before culminating in Winter.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | In a nutshell: tense, super-suspenseful novel based on harrowing real life events After the Fire was inspired by the Waco siege in Texas 1993 when 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect and four US government agents died in a fire fight after a long siege. It’s not a fictionalised version, but Hill imagines life in the camp and as a survivor. Moonbeam, his central character, is beginning to doubt the teaching of Father John and to comprehend the methods he uses to control his followers. A survivor, she’s being coaxed to tell the story of the events that led up to that deadly confrontation with ‘The Authorities’. The tension rarely abates, and Hill makes readers empathise with Moonbeam’s confusion and fear. He also makes us desperate to discover the secrets she’s keeping, and long for her to achieve the freedom that’s always been denied. One of the most gripping and suspenseful books you’ll read all year.
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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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