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Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
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.
This intelligent, beautifully eloquent and powerful crime novel thoroughly provoked my feelings, and still remains in my thoughts. Mickey Fitzpatrick is a police officer patrolling the area she grew up in. Kensington in Philadelphia is known for drugs and sex workers, when a killer arrives on the streets, Mickey prays that her little sister doesn’t become a victim. The author Liz Moore has an intimate knowledge of the real Kensington, she has interviewed the people drawn there by drugs, written non fiction, and completed community work, she obviously cares a great deal for this neighbourhood and its people. Her novel set in Kensington has been a long time in the coming, she wanted to: “do this world justice”, to: “fairly represent”. As I started to read, the ‘list’ stopped me in my tracks, I read it again, pondered, and then moved on to the first two pages which hit my mind with a wallop and gave it a good shake. Mickey narrates her story, she is so clear, sharp, on point, and I could see, feel, taste her words. Kensington, Mickey and her family flooded my mind in short, fierce, expressive chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’. I felt a connection to emotions, to this story, it truly spoke to me. I feel this novel will be one that I regularly return to, and I’ll take away something a little different each time. Long Bright River is a stunning read, it aches with poignant, vivid intensity and I absolutely loved it. There is no other option for me, than to choose it as a LoveReading Star Book, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
Pretty Unhealthy is written in a personal and chatty style to educate, inform and entertain. When heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp was diagnosed with high blood pressure, she began to look more closely at not just her own lifestyle but what being healthy really means. In modern society, health and beauty have become intertwined, with people’s looks and size being (falsely) seen as an indication of their overall physical and mental health. This book wades through the barrage of health information reaching us on a daily basis via books, websites, blogs, social media posts and magazines/newspapers. How do we know what to believe? How much of this often-conflicting information is based on actual science and written by qualified experts, rather than the popular so-called ‘wellness experts’? And is it really making us healthier – or just more miserable? Dr Stamp covers various contemporary topics, including diet fads, exercise trends, body positivity & body image and weight bias. This isn’t a diet manual – it’s about how to get back a healthy relationship with food and exercise, concentrating on how we feel rather than how we look. This book won’t tell you what to eat and drink – that has to be your decision – but it will tell you how to be in control of your own choices, rather than be influenced by the pseudoscience, false hope and ‘magic bullets’ around you. I ended the book thinking about my lifestyle and what I enjoy and how, above all, it’s important to be kind to myself. Can’t get better messages than that.
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.
This is everything you could ask of a sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and then some. Readers are returned to the well-formed world of Emberfall and its neighbouring territory of Syhl Shallow, where political ambition and newly revealed secrets threaten Rhen’s crown, and where intriguing new characters take centre stage. Among these is Lia Mara, eldest daughter of Syhl Shallow’s Queen. Lia Mara has been overlooked as heir to the throne in favour of her beautiful younger sister and, in many ways, the driving message of this tale belongs to Lia, a wise, compassionate young woman who’s “used to being underestimated”, but stands her ground in the name of doing the right thing. While Prince Rhen has been freed from the curse of the malevolent enchantress Lilith, his kingdom is now subject to new threats. Rhen’s loyal right hand man, Commander Grey, has gone, assumed dead, and there are rumours that Rhen’s secret half-brother is about to lay claim to the Emberfall throne. In hiding rather than dead, Grey encounters Lia and accompanies her to Syhl Shallow. Handsome and powerful, he would make a fine husband for Lia’s younger sister, but his heart is elsewhere. The enthralling story of political struggle is thrillingly laced with conflicts of the heart - both romantic and familial - to create a satisfying feast of YA fantasy fiction, with a cliff-hanger climax that suggests a yet more explosive third installment is on its way.
If books were friends (and more than a few are) then I feel as though I have met the most wonderfully quirky forever friend. Gravity is the Thing is a complete joy of a book, and one that refuses to be pigeonholed into a genre. Abi, a Sydney cafe owner, has been invited to attend a retreat to learn the truth about ‘The Guidebook’, chapters have been arriving since she was a teen, and have kept her company in the darkest of times. The book floats between 1990 and 2010, and as Abi opens up her life, she revisits, examines, and searches for answers. Jaclyn Moriarty writes with the most beautiful eloquence, sharp pointed observations sit alongside the tightest of warm hugs. I wanted to meander, to wander, to eke out my reading time, and yet hoover up the words and the feelings they created in one heady go. I contemplated loss and grief, I smiled, laughed, and believed… oh how I believed! Gravity is the Thing is different (in the best possible way), and I predict that this will be one of my favourite books of the year. So, as well as being one of our Books of the Month, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. It really is that gorgeous!
Well, this is one seriously addictive and fabulous read. Now that I have finished I feel bereft, exhilarated, and have one humdinger of a book hangover. Set in London, it is 1863 and private detective Bridie Devine is on the case of a stolen child. The prologue hooked me as surely as a fish on a line, I gaped, wondered, and leaned in for more. Descriptions opened with vivid intensity in my mind, creating the most glorious views. There is something about Jess Kidd’s writing that speaks directly to my soul, she knows how to lull, tickle, burn. She created a stinging tension, on a number of occasions leaving me hanging while popping into the past. I have to say that Bridie Devine is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve come across. She has taken up a somewhat boisterous lodging in my mind and she’s more than welcome! Information swirled around, making my thoughts whirl, adding to the torrent that I knew was surely coming. And oh, that ending! Things in Jars is a Victorian detective story with a difference, it crosses genres and set light to my imagination. It has been added to my list of favourite books. Bridie Devine to my list of favourite detectives. Jess Kidd has been confirmed on my list of favourite authors. Things in Jars is LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Robinson Pick of the Month… Need I say more?
October 2015 NewGen Book of the Month. A group of Californian teenagers with superpowers should be having the time of their lives, right? Wrong… This action-packed page-turner about the self-proclaimed Zeroes shows that superpowers come at a cost. In fact, Ethan’s power, an all-knowing voice that speaks through him, has torn the group apart. And that’s also what lands him in serious trouble when he finds himself in the throes of an armed robbery. After being taken in for police questioning, Ethan, aka Scam, is compelled to call on the Zeroes for help. While still angry about the insults his voice poured on them, the old gang comes to his rescue. Chizara uses her superpower to crash the police station's systems so Ethan can escape. But that’s not enough; the shockwaves are already out there and the Zeroes, a collection of six compellingly realised characters, are drawn into increasingly high-stake situations. The first in a trilogy, and the result of a collaboration between three esteemed writers, this is an exhilaratingly original take on superpower-themed fiction. And, as the extraordinary teenagers are forced to find a way to harness their powers, it’s also an allegory about stepping up and taking responsibility. - Joanne Owen
Northern Soul isn't just a music genre, it's a way of life and one that intensely encompasses and overpowers those that fall for it's high energy 'stomping' - dancing. Young Soul Rebels is part personal autobiography of the acclaimed music journalist and presenter Stuart Cosgrove, part biography of the music, fans, DJs, venues and musicians, and part social history. Every song, person, place and event is richly and significantly described. It's passionately and emotionally written with a depth of information that is expertly woven into the story, which informs but never gets in the way of the drive of it's narrative. You can't but help to want to play Northern Soul music whilst reading Stuart's excellent book. The true test for any great book on music.The book journeys through the defining years of Northern Soul - the 1960s through to the 1980s (and it's later rebirth) and it's backdrop is the decline and decay of the industrial north of England. But against this is the driving power of Northern Soul music.It kept the disposed alive, awake and stomping.At the heart of Northern Soul is the the hunt for that mega rare seven inch single, with an addictive beat and heartfelt lyric and then the pilgrimage to the 'all nighters' in jam-packed, drug-fuelled, sweaty clubs. To say that you had to be obsessive to be a true Northern Soul fan is an understatement and it's a music genre that those that love it want kept secret and underground, even to this day. The beauty is, for a lot of people, this book really shines a light on a time, people and music that most people know little of.It's time to go searching for the young soul rebels.' ~ Anthony Keates June 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... ‘One of the most exciting books I've worked on in years. Okay, the most exciting book. Stuart was a joy to work with. He buzzes with ideas and infectious energy, and this jumps off the page. Memoir, true crime, music biog, social history, political history: you've got the lot. This will become the bible for northern soul fans.’ Alison Rae, Managing Editor, Polygon
January 2012 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. The compelling, dynamic, unfussy history of the first 35 years of Henry VIII, a magnificent and ruthless monarch. Readable and very accessible this was a huge success it when it came out in hardback so it’s great it can be enjoyed by a much wider audience in paperback. It is also a great companion to Robert Hutchinson’s earlier book The Last Days of Henry VIII.
June 2014 Book of the Month. Three school friends from the age of nine, two boys, Ben and Robert, one girl, Maddy, are each other’s ‘best friends’ through thick and thin and so they grow up. The book opens with Maddy walking down the aisle to marry Robert but admitting that if the best man, Ben, were to raise his head and say ‘marry me instead’ she probably would. The rest of the book takes us through those years from 9 to 26 from all three points of view, but mostly from Maddy and Ben trying to come to terms with their love. Robert’s input appears to be a diary-like entry. All the way through you wonder if Maddy will say ‘I do’ to Robert.
February 2011 Book of the Month. Mr Apparently Right, Mr Definitely Wrong, and one girl who has to work out which is which - this is clever, sharp and romantic storytelling. Will shy and bookish Neve catch gorgeously handsome William when he returns from being away for 3 years or will she fall for the wicked, shallow yet sexy Max who on the surface anyway has nothing in common with Neve. As her inhibitions recede will her heart take her where she least expects?...
July 2011 Book of the Month. This story is about a girl's compulsive obsession with her teacher and it is a compulsively obsessive book, taking you to the wilds of Dartmoor and the depth of your senses, both physical and emotional. What happens when childish dreams become reality? When emotions stretch across generations? And what if the past comes back to haunt you? This is a dark and moving literary novel, up there with the most evocative women's writing in the English language: the depth of characterisation you might expect from Austen and Bronte but with a modern more sensually explicit approach.
June 2014 Book of the Month. An old case of suicide is reopened in the light of new information, albeit from a dubious source. Anna Travis, La Plante’s popular series character, is joined by an overbearing, self-opinionated FBI agent, Jessie Dewar, and the case becomes complicated. Then they have to ditch it to go on a pre-planned FBI training course in America! Naturally Travis returns to do what she does best and uncovers a network of incest, theft and poisoning, duplicity and more in another thoroughly satisfying read. A superb book. Click here to view Lynda La Plante's new book, Twisted, out in hardback in June 2014.
A seriously fabulous, gritty, and whip-cracking humour filled read. Mary Shields is a menopausal probation officer on the edge, when a murderer is released into her care events soon spiral out of control. The first line smacked me in the face, I half flinched, half blurted with laughter. Just a note of warning, while I discovered a smirk lurking on nearly every page, some may see the humour as warped. It is the type of dark humour typical of anyone who has worked in some seriously difficult situations, where if you didn’t laugh you’d cry. Helen Fitzgerald is the author of the BBC TV series The Cry, and previously worked as a criminal justice social worker. Her knowledge shines through, I didn’t stop, I didn’t question, I simply sank into the deep murky depths of the story and believed. When I reached the oh so beautiful end I wanted to leap to my feet and give Helen Fitzgerald a standing ovation. I absolutely adored Worst Case Scenario, this is short, sharp storytelling at its very best, which has earned it a place as one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading star book.
May 2009 Book of the Month. A lovely book full of nostalgia and warmth. Jessie’s story is set in the 1970’s and finds her coping with a family life that is breaking down around her. In the letters she finds from Edith, a female explorer in the 1930’s we find another life, very different from Jessie’s, but still coping with the same worries and relationship problems. This will make you laugh and cry and laugh a bit more. Thoroughly enjoyable.
August 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A book of essays reflecting Geoff Dyer’s work over the past ten years. Essays covering everything from personal reflections to perceptive critiques of writers and artists, the range spaning humour to insights into military morality. You’ll find yourself furiously scribbling notes on future reading and references to follow up as you follow the author through subjects rare and familiar – and if you haven’t read his work before, I guarantee you’ll want to read more.Like for Like ReadingMe Talk Pretty One Day, David SedarisGhost Milk: Calling Time on the Grand Project, Iain Sinclair
September 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Highly topical and relevant to our world today. Employment has changed so radically in the last decade with fewer of us having full-time jobs with final salary pensions, and the former assumption that if you studied hard you would get the job of your dreams no longer holds. This title will help you gain the skills, aptitude and confidence to adapt and prosper in this world of work - whatever your age or background as well as make time for time outside work.
One of our Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2012. Publisher turned author Fanny Blake has written another insightful, funny, addictive read that women will totally understand and men would do well to read in order to learn more about real women today. On holiday, soon to be divorced Lou meets serial mistress Ali and they strike up an instant friendship but they have a lot more in common than they realise. It raises the question, can you ever truly escape from the mistakes of the past? May 2012 Book of the Month.
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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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