No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
Oh my word, as I sank into the pages of this brilliantly addictive psychological thriller I actually forgot that I was reviewing and just read for pure pleasure. Sisters Lori and Erin are travelling to a remote part of Fiji for a holiday, after an argument before the final inter-island flight, only one leaves on the small plane, which then goes missing. Lucy Clarke takes psychological thrillers to a whole new level. I adored You Let Me In, and The Castaways now ensures she is a must-read author for me. Set in two time frames, as the story progresses ‘Then’ inches, then hurtles towards ‘Now’. Each change in time frame felt like a hammer blow before I was immediately gathered up in the story again. The most exquisite tension builds and thrums with increasing intensity. The release of information is so clever, almost teasing, and I balanced on a razor sharp wire of awareness. I felt a deep connection with the sisters, their relationship was wonderfully complex yet tangible. If you love intelligent, yet hugely entertaining psychological thrillers, then put this to the top of your list. Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, The Castaways really is the most compulsive, enthralling and beautifully written tale, it’s a 2021 sure-fire winner.
A twisty, intriguing, multi-layered mystery and fascinating fictional foray into the past from award-winning author Andrew Taylor. It’s 1668, James Marwood is tasked with finding out why Oliver Cromwell’s son has returned to London while Cat Lovett is drawn into a conspiracy, and both are soon in grave danger. This is the fourth in a terrifically readable series which began with the Ashes of London. I have to say that I just throw myself into each of these reads with abandon, completely trusting that what is to come will be a vividly convincing and exciting read. What a fabulous period in history this is, James and Cat really do live in interesting times! I love how each individual story twists around the other until they join together. I really do hope we will see more from these two. I can highly recommend this bestselling series, it’s just fabulous!
An absorbing, penetrating, and intricately plotted spy novel that just thrums with tension. Former CIA officer Alex Garin is asked to return to Moscow in 1985 to assist with the exfiltration of a senior KJB officer. Garin himself is a complete enigma and trust is a valuable commodity. Linking to the espionage novels featuring George Mueller, which began with his debut An Honorable Man you don’t need to have read the other books by Paul Vidich to be able to fully enjoy this story as it successfully stands alone. However, I would recommend hunting down the previous novels because they come highly recommended and if you’ve read them, you’ll note the jump forward to the 80’s. This is a novel that you can just throw yourself into, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Paul Vidich kept me off balance and encouraged my thoughts to explore and at times run full tilt in different directions. The sense of place is vividly realised, Moscow broods and swaggers, while Garin is wonderfully complex. Everything begins to slides into place, and then the incredibly powerful ending hits. Highly recommended, Mercenary is a wonderfully crafted, convincing, and thrilling novel.
An incredibly engaging, fascinating, and rather beautiful read, this book will stay with me for some time. A couple seek refuge after the Spanish Civil War and end up in Chile, where years later they again face exile. Covering the period from 1938 through to 1994, this is a story that crosses continents, examines topics such as fascism, war, and migration, yet is as intimate as intimate can be. I entered and thought no more about the fact that this was translated from Spanish by Nick Caister and Amanda Hopkinson, it is so clearly, simply, and fabulously done. Within the first few pages there were tears in my eyes. I couldn’t stop reading, thoughtful and sensitive, yet not afraid to focus on unbearable sorrow, this feels as though it could be a biography. As Isabelle Allende explains in the acknowledgments, while this is a novel, with fictional characters (though based on people she has known), the historical events and people are real. She says: “This book wrote itself, as if it had been dictated to me” and I truly felt that. A Long Petal of the Sea opened my eyes and my heart, and has left me wanting to know more. Coming as highly recommended by me, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
A moving and engaging addition to the family saga and drama of The Four Streets series set in 1950’s Liverpool. The Doherty’s, who everyone relies on have moved to Ireland, another family is in serious trouble, and corrupt police officer Frank the Skank is about to move into the street. After several standalone novels, Nadine Dorries returns to the series that launched with her debut The Four Streets, and continued with Hide Her Name, and The Ballymara Road. The characters and location are still firmly stamped into my mind and I looked forward to their return. This is just as warm, gossipy and familiar as I remember, though among the ups, there are plenty of downs for the families on the street to contend with. Vibrancy and colour warm the pages, while the villain of the piece adds tension, and oh how I hoped that he would received his comeuppance! Coming Home to the Four Streets will appeal to anyone who loves an entertaining family saga, this is a satisfying and rewarding return to the series.
If you’re in need of a truly lovely and heart-warming relationship tale then I can recommend that you stop right here. If the thought of a rescue dog and a Scottish island also appeal, then you really have come to the right place. An abandoned small terrier enters the lives of residents and visitors on the Island of Sgadansay. I do so love Fiona Gibson’s writing, as I’ve said before, she writes with empathy, and the extra sparkle of romance and wit is just delightful. Her tales feel as though they are grounded in reality and I always find myself really connecting to her characters. This is a multi-generational tale and we meet 10 year old Arthur through to 78 year old Harry. Suzy and Ricky who are both in their late 40’s head the chapters, each telling their own tale and living life with its ups and downs. I love the dog sharing aspect of this story, connections form, seconds chances beckon, and friendships begin to flourish. There may well be a heart-stopping moment or two to encounter, but ultimately this is as feel-good as it gets. As a ray of sunshine to combat darkness, The Dog Share is a wonderfully engaging and entertaining read.
Co-written by Brendan Kiely and the always-exceptional Jason Reynolds, All American Boys is an immensely powerful, timely novel about police brutality against young Black men. Shining a stark light on white privilege and the racism implicit in not speaking out, it’s a punch-packing wake-up call for us all to stand up and plant ourselves on the right side of history. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong colour. It all goes wrong for Black sixteen-year-old Rashad when a cop jumps to the unfounded conclusion that he’s shoplifted a bag of chips. Rashad’s arrest is brutal and the cop, Paul, leaves him with internal bleeding and broken bones. There were witnesses though, among them Quinn, a rising basketball star from Rashad’s school who also happens to know Paul. In fact, Paul has been like a father to Quinn since his dad died on service in Afghanistan, which puts him in a tricky situation - speaking out against Paul would sever his friendship and support ties. But Quinn’s decision to keep quiet unravels when footage of the incident is picked up by the media, with everyone in town taking a side. As a powerful “Rashad is absent” school campaign gains momentum along with plans for a big protest march, Quinn realises that not speaking up is a form of racism, that as an “All-American” white boy he can walk away from anything. “Well, I was sick of it,” he decides. “I was sick of being a dick”. Aware that his dad had inspired Paul to become a cop to “make a difference in the world”, Quinn resolves to be like his dad too, but not in the sense of being loyal to his country and family, which is how people always frame his father’s heroism. Quinn means in the sense of standing up for what he believes in; being “someone who believed a better world was possible - someone who stood up for it.” Packed with plenty of moments that will make you melt and tear up (such as Rashad’s relationship with the hospital shop volunteer, and the bonds between him and his buddies and big brother), this is a smart, incisive, rousing read for our times.
Who was Nick Carraway before he stepped into the world of The Great Gatsby? Michael Farris Smith sets out to explore these questions in Nick, a darkly absorbing, brilliantly accomplished literary undertaking provoked by the author’s complex relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. With themes of isolation and dislocated identity at its heart, this masterful novel opens in Paris when Nick leaves his lover to return to the horrors of war, ever conscious of death. Imagining his own demise, he wonders, “Who would be there to mourn?... Did anyone truly love him and did he love anyone?” Nick is also constantly consumed by an impulse to escape, juxtaposed with wondering what it is “know your place in the world”. Unable to find his lover when the war is over, and unable to bring himself to return to the family home, he transports himself to Frenchtown, New Orleans, with its drinking dens, whorehouses and vicious vendettas. The world over seems to be filled with folk floundering, people desperate to escape or obliterate their tattered lives, and time and time again Nick’s life entwines with fellow broken, lost souls. This curious magnetism is pertinently expressed by sick bartender Judah when he says, “if there’s one thing the lost are able to recognise it is the others who are just as wounded and wandering.” Ending on a radiant dawn epiphany scene, with Nick on the verge of moving East, this left me longing to re-visit The Great Gatsby, and keen to read the rest of Farris Smith’s novels.
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!
A thoroughly modern, wonderfully readable and clever romantic comedy that acts as a perfect pick-me-up. Tom, Dick, and Harry (well actually it’s Tom, Richard, and Harriet but who could resist!) find themselves in the most awkward of situations when they start dating. Estranged father and son Tom and Richard don’t share the same surname and when Harriet decides to date them both, by the time they realise, love has already worked its magic. I was hooked from the very first sentence, an entertaining web is woven as each distinct voice tells their own side of the story. The age range of characters is handled beautifully and there are a few knotty intrigues to unravel along the way. Simon Brooker writes with a truly witty pen, I smiled, laughed, and even exclaimed out loud. There are also sweet notes, canny moments, and a penetrating blast of reality. I genuinely had no idea where this diverting tale was going and I just want to applaud the ending, for me it was perfectly placed. Three’s A Crowd is a romantic comedy with bite, it’s a glorious blend of sweet and sharp, and sits very nicely in our LoveReading Star Books.
Set in AD 74, Elodie Harper’s The Wolf Den tells the enthralling tale of Amara, a prostitute enslaved to Pompeii’s lupanar brothel. Serving a rich feast of historic atmosphere with all the pace of popular drama, fans of spicy historic fiction will be left longing to devour the second course of this trilogy - think TV show Harlots set in ancient Pompeii. Educated doctor’s daughter Amara once lived free, but the poverty that came in the wake of her father’s death led to enslavement to the Wolf Den brothel, where her cell is adorned with a picture of “a woman being taken from behind” and a terracotta lamp “modelled in the shape of a penis” (the real-life lupanar brothel is famed for its erotic frescos). By day, the she-wolves visit the women’s baths and stalk the streets to draw business to the Den. By night, “the brothel passes like a scene from Hades: the endless procession of drunken men, the smoke, the soot, angry shouting,” until Amara lies in her cell, “unable to sleep, suffocated by rage”. When fellow she-wolf Victoria says how lucky they are, Amara’s retort is characteristically sharp: “Here we all are…Four penniless slaves sucking off idiots for bread and olives. What a life.” And a life she refuses to settle for when “the desire to escape takes hold, its roots digging deep under her skin, breaking her apart.” Harper’s style is exhilaratingly direct, with images lingering long in the mind’s eye. You smell the oil lamps and temple incense, taste sticky figs, feel physical blows, and the dialogue packs powerful punch too. It’s a vivacious piece of work, and all underpinned by a woman’s longing for freedom.
Always engaging and illuminating, Laura Galloway’s Dálvi is an uplifting ode to doing something different. A testament to how a person can flourish after fleeing the monotony of the work, spend, socialise, show-off-on-social-media cycle of modern life to live by an entirely different kind of cycle - the kind that’s directed by nature’s shifting seasons in a unique environmental and cultural setting. Threaded with themes of flourishing through adversity, and finding home and love in unexpected places, this remarkable memoir is as stirring as it is gripping.The author’s journey began when a genetic test revealed that she shares DNA with the indigenous Sámi people of the Arctic tundra. Having endured a disastrous marriage, and growing increasingly dissatisfied with her life in NYC, Galloway ventures to the Norwegian town of Kautokeino, ostensibly to discover her roots, but in actuality discovering herself and her future way of life. Here, in this remote reindeer-herding region she meets and falls for a herder and decides to stay - even after he leaves her just six months later. With only very limited knowledge of the Sámi language, Galloway lives a largely solitary life with little money, and yet this life is so much better for her: “Now it is simple. There is no noise and no distraction. I have to be with myself, whatever that means, in the silence, listening to nature, being still.” In contrast, “When I left New York, I was exhausted – emotionally, financially and physically, as if I had been on a giant rat wheel.”Galloway is an amiable, amusing companion - never self-indulgent and always honest, not least when writing about her traumatic childhood (the death of her mother when she was only three, and the unrelenting vindictiveness of her father’s second wife). In time, little by little through her six years in the Arctic, she realises, “I’ve moved between two worlds.” And, at the heart of this transition, and a consequence of living in nature, her “endlessly fascinating companion”, is the realisation that “home is inside you and all around you.” Home whispers, “’I am here’, when you are most alone.” What a joyous life-affirming read.
A death in the family rarely brings out the best in people - even the deceased Jonathan Coulter planned for his death meticulously, leaving nothing to chance. His will states that his three adult children must decide between them how to dispose of his estate. If they cannot come together over their inheritance, then they risk losing it. But Liv, Noah and Chloe never agree on anything. And now, with only one weekend to overcome their rivalry, tensions begin to rise. Why has Jonathan left the decision to them? And why has he made no mention of his new partner, Megan, or the children's mother, Eloise? If he wanted to teach them a lesson from beyond the grave, what is it? And can the siblings put their differences aside for long enough to learn it? A powerful novel about love and loss, and what we truly pass on to our children.
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.
If you’re looking for a unique, transportive, immensely satisfying read then I’ll wave frantically and recommend you stop right here. Laura agrees to assess Will to establish if he is still capable of living on his own, she begins to suspect that Will isn't suffering from dementia and that his strange story may actually be true. Keith Stuart is the author of the truly beautiful Days of Wonder and A Boy Made of Blocks, books that touch emotions, encourage thoughts, and cast a spellbinding atmosphere. I was hugely excited to read his latest and it effortlessly joins the others as particular favourites of mine. Each of his novels have been completely different, yet there is a thread of connection. He opens a door to a side of being human that you might not have seen and encourages emotions to flood your heart and soul. The Frequency of Us takes a step outside of what is known, edging into fantastical and I joined the story with trust and belief. Laura and Will formed a connection with each other and in turn with me. Two time frames allow access to the past, creating intrigue and a mystery that just begs to be solved. The ending really spoke to me and set my feelings free to soar. The Frequency of Us is a mesmerising read full of love and hope, and I’m thrilled to recommend it as one of our LoveReading Star Books.
In Between Two Kingdoms, Saleika Jaouad traces her journey from her diagnosis of a rare form of leukaemia at a young age to remission and beyond. This deeply moving book is dark, raw and honest. The first half follows her experiences of the cancer treatments and how these affected her own identity, as well as her relationships with loved ones. The second half follows her fluctuating emotions as she shifted from being a cancer patient to being a cancer survivor with a ‘new normal’ way of living. After doctors told her she was ‘cured’, she took a road trip across the country with just her dog at her side, meeting strangers who had written to her in hospital offering their support. Saleika Jaouad is an exceptional storyteller and her book is beautifully written – I could feel the pain, anger, fear and passion behind her words as she learnt how to find meaning in life again. It’s a book about survival and support, hope and healing – not always an easy read but well worth the journey.
A smart, enthralling historical thriller with real attitude, this LoveReading Star Book is the sixth in the Bruno Giordano series. Bruno is tasked by Sir Francis Walsingham to go under cover after he arrives with information about a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. What a cracking series this is, each book can easily be read as a standalone, but oh, you really would be missing out if you didn’t read them in order, so do start with Heresy if you are a newcomer. S. J. Parris creates delicious intrigue and suspense as Bruno embeds himself in the plot. She takes fact, and welding it to fiction forges a seamless and fascinating tale. I would like to go on record as saying that I adore Bruno, I felt as though he was beside me as he told his story, and I found myself leaning in to hear more. Digging deep into the corners of history, Execution is a pacy, fabulously entertaining story that I can highly recommend.
Another truly lovely and heart-warming romantic saga from the award-winning Dilly Court. When Kate arrives back in London from India in 1858, she determines to help the poor and opens a soup kitchen however rival gangs place her life in danger. Dilly Court opens up a world and allows entry for your reading pleasure as the settings come alive under her pen. Kate is bright, courageous, and determined to do the very best she can. There are several potential matches for Kate, who will you warm to? Romance is also on offer for a number of other characters which creates a delightful will-they-won’t-they atmosphere. Each character adds depth, even if only on the page for a moment. The tension is high with scoundrels and out-and-out villains trying to outwit each other. This novel really does fulfil all the requirements of a romantic saga. The Reluctant Heiress contains wonderful courtship, dastardly deeds, and plenty of family drama, ensuring a riveting read. If you'd like to read more about Dilly Court, do take a look at our LoveReading Loves Channel - Fall in Love with Dilly
A beautifully written, smart yet dark novel novel of suspense and tension. A family from a small nearly abandoned village in northern Sweden find themselves a target when rumours suggest that they own a fortune. I absolutely raved about Stina Jackson’s award-winning debut, The Silver Road, and this her second novel hits the just the right notes too. She has the ability to inject moments of light and hope within the darkness that holds the story in its grasp. Translated by Susan Beard, I could feel all the differences of Sweden yet felt entirely at home within the words. The background tale from 1998 begins to fill in the gaps in the present. A real sense of menace is created, and something unforgivable lurks, waiting to be found. The characters are as deep as the tone is dark, and I read with bated breath. The Last Snow cements Stina Jackson as an author to watch, this is a story that just thrums with foreboding atmosphere and demands to be read, highly recommended.
Oh wow, this is a stunningly readable supernatural crime horror. DS Jamila Patel and DC Jerry Pardoe investigate suspicious and unexplainable happenings in the sewers below London. The Children God Forgot includes the policing team from Ghost Virus, though you can easily read this as a standalone, which in my opinion is always the mark of a great book within a series. I love horror like this, it feels so real you could almost reach out and touch it (though you seriously wouldn’t want to!). While I didn’t want to run screaming, there is enough to make the hardiest of people wince and flinch. There is a goodly amount of horrific gore to be found within the pages including supernatural violence involving pregnancies. Graham Masterton has created a colourful and believable London, fabulously relatable characters, and a supernatural shockwave that carves its wave through both. A number of story lines converge, and meld into one cracking tale. There is a fine balance on hand, plenty of blood and guts yes, there is also fabulous writing, smirky humour, and thought-provoking themes waiting to be found. Raw and smart, the blast of horror from The Children God Forgot makes you wonder what the heck is beneath your feet. Loved it so much, it just has to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.
Forna has taken her own experiences of sexism and racism that she experienced as a woman from Sierra Leone living in the US on which to base this novel. This has created a powerful depiction of the oppression and cruelty meted out to women who are different from a society’s accepted roles. Set in the patriarchal fantasy world of Otera, this is based in an ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is only as good as her proven purity. This purity is proven by the woman being made to bleed – in a brutal ceremony when they reach the age of 16. When Deka bleeds gold this is deemed the colour of impurity, and she is declared a demon. Not only is she thrust out of the home and society she has known since birth, but she is also subjected to unspeakable acts of brutality and violence by the ruling priesthood. The fact Deka does not die from all the brutality gives one hope she is different and may have some role in the future of Otera. This proves so – Deka is rescued and taken to a training ground for women where she finds a friendship and sisterhood amongst others also found to be impure. As they train the ‘impure’ girls are paired with soldiers from the Imperial jatu fighting force – and some form deep and lasting friendships with their partners. The characters here are hugely diverse with Black, Asian and Brown main, and minor characters, with a recognition of diverse sexuality too. The power of this novel is in the strong, horrifying but ultimately hopeful end of this story. There is much violence – in both punitive killing and re-killings of demons by the priests, but also in the violent backstories of some of the girls (including an instance of rape.) The book explores themes of feminist possibility whilst being based in a fantasy world taking inspiration from ancient West African culture. A powerful read, not for the faint-hearted but very definitely giving hope for the future, showing that there is a place to be whatever you wish to be – homemaker or fighter. This is a strong start to what promises to be a trilogy.
At Lovereading we’re passionate about all the books we feature.
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'.
You’ll find those titles here in our Books of the Month page.
Keep up to date by signing up for our free regular emails.