Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
You are Positively Awesome is a book that’s designed to be noticed, from the bright colourful illustrations that cheered me up instantly, the short snappy wording that made me think about my own needs and the self-empowering messages that left me glowing inside. This book could have been written just for me as, like many, I struggle with self-confidence and self-belief at times. It’s important to remember that so many other people – often people we least expect – do feel the same way too. Stacie Swift has written a clear, concise guide to taking care of the number one person in our life – ourselves. Because if we don’t do that properly, we may find it harder to take care of anyone else. It’s easy to forget the positives in our lives if we focus on the negatives, and easy to ignore the giant leaps forward when we dwell on each little step back. This is a perfect book to dip into when you need a boost of self-care; a book that you may want to add to over time, reminding yourself of what you’ve achieved and what you’ve overcome to achieve it. It’s also a lovely gift if you know someone is struggling to cope with life’s ups and downs. You are Positively Awesome made me reflect on the past, think about the present and dream of the future – that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times and focus on my own needs for a while. It made me smile, reminded me of my own strengths and achievements, gave me some valuable ‘me’ time and made me realise just how ‘positively awesome’ I really am!
A beautifully thoughtful, hopeful, and compelling read that ran wild in my mind and tugged at my heartstrings. It’s 1858 and three women are pushing the boundaries of what it is to be a woman. Spiritualism, seances, and the capturing of something otherworldly sit centre stage, dissected by newspaper reports and other material that splinters connections being made. Julie Cohen cleverly reveals information in the reports that increases tension, and left me itching with concern for what was to happen. Occasionally we travel back in time which encouraged my thoughts to hesitate and reform. The relationships unfurled slowly, almost gently, allowing time to become acquainted with each character. Mindful, vivid, and strong, Spirited explores death, grief, faith, class and gender, while at its heart relationships expand to make this such an engaging and rewarding novel.
Hauntingly tender, and written with powerful grace, Clare Chambers’s Small Pleasures is an absolute joy from start to finish. It’s 1957 in suburban Kent, where Jean writes for a local newspaper with every aspect of her life still dominated by her contrary, controlling mother as Jean approaches forty. No post-work drinks with colleagues. No friends. No romance. Enter Gretchen Tilbury, an elegant Swiss woman who writes to the paper claiming her daughter was the result of a virgin birth. As Jean investigates the case, she becomes close to Gretchen, her kind, witty husband Howard, and the alleged miraculous daughter, all four of them finding comfortable joy in each other’s company. “You’ve stirred us out of our routine,” Howard remarks, to which Jean responds, “I would have thought it was the other way about.” While researching Gretchen’s youth, Jean inadvertently sends shockwaves through the Tilbury family when she reconnects Gretchen to a powerful figure from her past. At the same time, she and Howard find themselves falling for each other, both of them remaining faithful to Gretchen, graciously skirting their attraction - until it’s right to act. The novel features some of the most finely drawn, endearing characters I’ve encountered in recent contemporary fiction. For all her lonely frustration, Jean isn’t one to wallow. She’s pragmatic, with ripples of not-quite-regret lapping beneath her smooth, reasoned surface - a woman “who took pride in her ability to conceal unruly emotions.” Her domesticity pieces for the paper have something of Carrie Bradshaw’s musings about them, albeit without any in-your-face sex in the city (or the suburbs, in Jean’s case), with their apparently humdrum themes humorously paralleling soul-stirring events in her own life. Laying bare a quivering three-way tug between obligation, propriety and passion, and the inexplicable way thunderbolt-bonds are formed between similar-souled individuals, Jean’s conflicts and chance to love truly get under your skin. What a remarkable book, with a dagger-sharp climax that will pierce your heart.
With characteristic vision and grace Meg Rosoff has done it again in this exquisite novel that merits a place alongside I Capture the Castle, Bonjour Tristesse and The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) for its coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence excellence. Though contemporary, it feels timeless and elementally affecting, much like the Great Godden’s impact on the family whose story it tells. With an idyllic seaside summer stretching ahead, the tingling anticipation of The Great Godden’s unnamed teenage narrator is deliciously palpable: “This year is going to be the best ever: the best weather, the best food, the best fun. The actors assembled, the summer begins.” But there are still two more actors to take to the stage - enter the Godden brothers in a shiny black car. The narrator’s older sister Mattie is immediately smitten by magnetic, handsome, self-assured Kit: “She was desperate to lose her virginity, and what sort of person would say no to Mattie? Surely not some movie star’s kid, fresh off the plane?” Though Mattie is certainly attractive, it’s obvious that charmer Kit has the upper hand of any situation, but might he also be a trouble-maker, as his curt, less-of-a-looker brother warns? Such wonderings underpin some of this novel’s essence. With the stage fully set and summer speeding towards the climax of a wedding, it poses fundamental questions about motivation, and the nature of agency, of lust, of the desire to be seen for who you are. Quivering with unease, passion and paranoia, it also reveals how past experiences engrave themselves upon us, creating fault-lines that may crack and cause future ructions. Sophisticated, seductive and smoothly readable, this is a summer story par excellence, and a coming-of-age tale for all times.
An intriguing, pulsing, provocative mystery that really kept me on my toes. Olivia is affected by night terrors, her past comes back to haunt her when she wakes in the middle of the night to find herself standing over a body in her garden. We’ve reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed all of Megan Miranda’s novels at LoveReading. I particularly love the sharp teetering edge of the relationship that develops between the reader and the main characters. Here, my trust for Olivia felt patchy and uncertain, her past is everything. Megan Miranda cleverly evoked emotions in me that Olivia had been feeling for years. The balance of suspense and information was held on a wire as my thoughts were nudged one way and then the other. As the pace increased so did the tension. The Girl From Widow Hills really highlights the dangers of secrets and lies, and it was only when I’d finished that I was finally able to take a deep breath and relax!
An incredibly dramatic, graphic and gripping start to a new series. This isn’t just an introduction though, it’s a fabulous full serving in its own, very distinctive right. 15 years ago Kate Marshall solved a high profile murder case and very nearly became a victim herself, now, a copycat killer is on the loose, determined to finish the job. The beginning takes us back to 1995, within a few pages there is a real sense of Kate, and the case. Chapter two is incredibly stark, making me flinch before things seriously kicked off. I was glued to the pages, and read the whole book in one sitting. If you are a little squeamish, then be warned, there are some darker than dark, vivid and violent incidents ahead of you. Personally, I didn’t feel it was overly sensational though, as it felt all too real! Robert Bryndza really has set the scene for a fabulous new series. Fierce, startling and incredibly readable, Nine Elms comes as highly recommended from me.
A wonderfully warm, bright book to escape into, to give yourself up to and just enjoy. Jodie Jackson leaves everything she knows for a houseboat in the Isle of Wight, she soon finds herself falling for the island and its inhabitants, but London is calling and won’t take no for an answer. I always look forward to reading the latest book by Carole Matthews, they wrap me up and give me a massive loving squeeze. Having said that, this isn’t syrupy sweet, oh no, some real life dilemmas and mistakes sneak in to ensure a feeling of connection, that this could be you, or someone you know. I loved Jodie’s voice and how she talks to the reader, it not only created a bond, I ended up feeling as though I had made a brand new friend. Pure, wonderful escapism, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes really is the most lovely relationship tale and I can thoroughly recommend picking up a copy and just allowing yourself to sink into the pages. We simply adored this book in the office and so it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book as well as a Book of the Month.
The Queen of Skin Care Caroline Hirons delivers a beautifully put-together stroke-able book which covers everything you ever need to know about a great skincare routine. Her usual straight-talking non-nonsense advice shines out of the book, and I know this will follow through to my skin as I start to embed these routines into my life. This holds your hand and takes you through how skin works, top tips for great skin, routines, as well as dispelling decades of skincare myths. This is the most comprehensive guide for the perfect complexion, choosing the right products, understanding your skin’s unique needs and feeling gorge. Caroline, I’m hooked, and I promise I will never not double cleanse again.
A hard-hitting, fast-moving slicing wow of a book. An old case is reopened when new evidence appears, and a violent predator hunts his next victim. It’s no secret that I get jump-up-and-down excited about Karin Slaughter’s novels. She has the most wonderful ability to pitch full-on sharp storytelling and blasts of drama alongside thoughtfully handled social issues and relationship dilemmas. This could easily be read as a standalone, however there are two series that link to this novel, Will Trent and Grant County. Both series are just too good to miss, and I highly recommend them. For those who have read both sets, in this particular book time slides along a different path in order to make two time frames work. The author’s note perfectly explains why at the end, but (big but), make sure you don’t read the author’s note until you have read every last drop of the novel! Will Trent and Sara Linton work with the rest of the team, while the past runs alongside and does some serious meddling. Please note there are some fairly graphic descriptions of medical examinations and brutal attacks within the novel. Karin Slaughter doesn’t shy away from highlighting a distressing subject matter, which she mentions in her notes and the last part of her acknowledgments. While graphic, it is not gratuitous, and I felt every word that made me wince was necessary. The Silent Wife is another winner of a read, it sent goosebumps skittering down my arms and this, her twentieth novel, has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Pick.
February 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Ten centuries' worth of French historical 'facts' bite the dust as Stephen Clarke looks at what has really been going on since 1066... It's a light-hearted but impeccably researched account of all our great fallings-out. With Clarke's trademark humour and lightness of touch that will be remembered with fondness from A Year in the Merde and Talk to the Snail, among others this is a brilliant take on the history of our near neighbour.
December 2010 Book of the Month. This is crime fiction at its tip top best from one of Scandinavia’s bestselling female crime writers. It’s modern and a pitch-perfect reinvention of the classic locked room mystery. Retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen has learned the hard way that truth always comes at a price and sometimes that price isn’t worth paying. So when she is caught up on a derailed train, one carriage of which is full of a secret cargo that’s being heavily guarded, in a snowbound mountain pass in a storm of all storms, old betrayals, murder and state secrets come to the fore. Like for like: Val McDermid, Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo.
One of our Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2012. If you love fast-paced, topical thrillers that you simply can't put down, then Andrew Gross and especially 15 Seconds is a great place to go. Pulled over by a traffic cop who is then shot by someone else leaves surgeon Henry Steadman framed for murder and on the run trying to prove his innocence. It's thrilling stuff. May 2012 Book of the Month.
December 2016 Book of the Month. St Andrews in the 16th century is once again brought to captivating vibrant life. With allegations of ghosts, witches, the Spanish Armada and high jinks, the year 1588 is full of life… and death. If you adore the ‘Hew Cullan Mystery’ series then you are in for an absolute treat, as in this ‘Calendar of Crime’ are five different books. They may be short, but each packs a punch as Hew uses his investigative skills in an attempt to solve 5 different mysteries. Shirley McKay sets you so completely in that time that awareness settles over you like a cloak as you read. The very different tales take place in various parts of town, and while the same core characters travel with you through the year, you also greet new ones along the way. The historical notes section and glossary at the end is an interesting read in itself. You can dip in and out of ‘1588: A Calendar of Crime’ and read it as five fascinating stories, or completely immerse yourself in it as I did, and read it one satisfying sitting.
November 2017 Book of the Month A sharp, edgy, yet lovely romance for young adults. Hildy and Paul are paired in a college psychology study about relationships. They are asked 36 questions over the course of the story, and through their answers begin to learn about each other and themselves. As the sparks began to smoulder and then fly we discover heart-ache and strength in unexpected places. Vicki Grant uses various methods to tell the story, including drawings, texts and instant messages. This form of communication ensures the story is quick witted and bounces like a tennis match between Hildy and Paul. The other characters, including a certain fish remain in the background, yet set the scene and give flesh to the main pair. ’36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You’ is an extremely readable and satisfying romance full of spark and attitude. ~ Liz Robinson
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.
April 2014 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. The 1990’s - the last decade and already how far away it seems, some of the attitudes, the fashions and the politics make it seem a distant time, older and wiser, we’re glad to have survived. This attempt to catch the 1990’s and its affect on Britain is largely successful and in its way a triumph. Especially good is the knitting together of high politics and low culture with everything in between and at over 600 pages a long, deliciously detailed trawl through a decade and a bit. Like for Like Reading No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980's, Andy McSmith Austerity Britain 1945-1951, David Kynaston
This really is the most gorgeously scrumptious book, showcasing some truly beautiful and awe-inspiring skies. 365 photographs and paintings, information, science, poetry and quotations all sit inside this rather lovely cover. The book is a great size, not too unwieldy, and after the introduction, which also gives some handy page numbers of some of the highlights, every single page is adorned with clouds. Did you know there was a Cloud Appreciation Society? I didn’t, but of course it makes complete sense! Gavin Pretor-Pinney started the society and says: “Having your head in the clouds, even for just a few moments each day, is good for your mind, good for you body and good for your soul. This book aims to show you why.” It certainly does show you why, you can open it at random, return again and again, and just soak up the images. The next time you head out, you can look up and know a little bit more about our beautiful skies. A Cloud A Day is a stunner, visually and mentally stimulating, it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
May 2011 Book of the Month. The third novel in McCall's acclaimed series about the colourful inhabitants of Corduroy Mansions, Pimlico. This installment follows the adventures of Oedipus Snark, the nasty Liberal Democrat and his mother Berthea who is writing an unauthorised biography of him, and a vegetarian dog called Freddie de la Hay. Corduroy Mansions Series:1. Corduroy Mansions2. The Dog Who Came in from the Cold 3. A Conspiracy of Friends
May 2017 Book of the Month. Author famous for his excellent Logan McRae series presents a new police constable, one DC Callum McGregor. He is a man under internal investigation as he has accepted the blame for a major criminal being acquitted. We discover how and why along with learning a fair bit about the man’s dreadful childhood and his girlfriend problem. So lots of back story. There are chunks of radio conversations too and each chapter has obscure quotations. This bulks the tale out to over six hundred pages and detracts a little from the excellent yarn which shows much of the behind scene politics of a minor section of the police, to whit a unit of drop-outs or outcasts. These are officers who are unwell, have behaved inappropriately or are being investigated, as is our hero. The plot involves a serial killer who mummifies the victims. Initially there is some confusion as to whether the mummy is stolen from a museum. It is gruesome, exciting and unpredictable with a mounting body count. This drop-out unit initially investigating a theft has never handled a murder case before but Callum leads them into the investigation with great aplomb despite being physically assaulted.
June 2012 Book of the Month. Money, power, corruption and the apparent suicide of a media baron... The fourth in the atmospheric and beguiling Quirke mysteries. The Quirke series1. Christine Falls2. The Silver Swan3. Elegy for April4. A Death in Summer5. Vengeance
May 2013 Book of the Month. A tightly woven tale of moral dilemma, bold action and unexpected love from the undisputed master of the spy novel. Le Carré, seemingly effortlessly, delivers a stunningly written, furiously paced yet subtly nuanced and absorbing read - it really is remarkably good. Mary Mount, Editorial Director at Viking/Penguin, on A Delicate Truth... 'A Delicate Truth is one of le Carré’s finest novels. It is unbelievably tense but is also full of wit and brilliantly realised characters. It is extraordinary how le Carré is able to write with such tremendous pace while, at the same time, going right to the heart of who we are. A Delicate Truth is one of his most British books in recent years. I was stunned by it. It is a thrill and a privilege to publish a novel as good as this.'
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