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In The Museum Makers Rachel Morris, director of museum company Metaphor, plots an enthralling personal and professional journey from finding a box of family belongings beneath her bed, to the beating heart of Bloomsbury’s bohemian circles in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This journey is underpinned by the very essence of what museums are and do: “Museum-making is about sorting often quite ordinary objects to make meaningful patterns out of the muddle and confusion of the universe; thoughtful, beautiful patterns that have something to say. Museums are where we go to make sense of the world and the pasts that have gone. And what we do in museums we also do with our own histories.” Which is exactly what Morris does when she digs into the contents of the box and is led to discover secrets about her father, Gran, and great-grandmother Nona, which she curates into her Museum of Me. Illuminated by the power of objects to stir memories, and to make sense of oneself, the journey also delves into women’s involvement with, and relationship to, museums: “Museums have a special appeal for women whether as places to work in or as places to visit.” While men may have curated early museums (as an extension of their curation of the world), women were key collectors, donors and fundraisers from those nascent days. At once an absorbing history of museums, and a profoundly personal memoir of detection and discovery, this has all the delightful universal appeal of a cabinet of curiosity.
A thoughtful yet suspense filled novel introducing the first Sarah Sutherland thriller. Sarah, in her 40’s and divorced, rushes from her day job to care for her father who lives alone. She delights in a second role telling chilling stories to tourists about the Scottish witch trials of the 17th century. I have read Sandra Ireland’s previous three standalone novels and love her blend of piercing reality and folklore. Here we step into a new series and as Sarah narrates, I felt myself sympathising, smiling, and investing in her as a character. Both Sarah and her father John head chapters, with information about Alie Gowdie who lived in Sarah’s cottage and was executed in 1648 also slipping between the pages. A clever brew of tension, diversions and suspense takes hold, with questions forming and sitting at the back of my mind, waiting, biding their time. With an unexpected bite Sight Unseen challenges and provokes thoughts and I thoroughly enjoyed this start to a new series.
A full-on “wrecking machine” from the get go, take a deep breath and just fall right on in to this action thriller. Taking place over a week, the Pike Logan series continues with Pike under threat; his team are being targeted and he will do anything to protect them. This is my first foray with The Taskforce and it won’t be my last. Even though I joined an already established series, I felt right at home. If you are also new, let me tell you a little about the author Brad Taylor, and you will know all you need to about the tone and authenticity of these novels. He served for more than 21 years in the US Army, retiring as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel. He has conducted operations all over the world, and his final assignment was as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at The Citadel in Charleston. He holds a Master’s of Science in Defence Analysis with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. If you are looking for a new action series and haven’t yet met The Taskforce, then look no further. In 2011 Brad Taylor published his debut One Rough Man which launched the Pike Logan series and now contains over twenty books and novellas. I was sucker-punched at the outset of this novel and as a newbie may have been racing to catch up, but that only added to the tension. The notes at the end are fascinating reading as the author explains how the novel came into being. Hunter Killer allows you to enter a hidden world of fast moving action from the comfort of your armchair, it’s a whammy of a novel and thoroughly entertaining.
A powerful, provocative and thought-provoking mystery. Rachel’s next true-crime podcast season focuses on a live rape trial in a North Carolina coastal town, while en route she receives an anonymous plea to help solve an old case. At times a difficult and uncomfortable read due to the content, it deals with the subject of consent with consideration. Megan Goldin writes with sharp clarity, she covers the difficulties faced when bringing rape cases to court, in particular for the victim. She used to work as a journalist and has covered war zones, the credibility of her writing shines through here. The two time frames sit 25 years apart but cling to each other. There are enough hints and suggestions to have some idea of where the story is going, yet there is so much more to discover. I really am hoping there is more to come, could this be the start to a new series? Fiercely intense and incredibly readable, The Night Swim is a biting compelling read.
The perfect pick-me-up, this book delivers plenty of romance, smiles, and most importantly enfolds you in a lovely satisfying storyline too. Minnie would rather spend her birthday on New Years Day hiding under her duvet, as far as she’s concerned the last and first day of the year is jinxed. Then she meets Quinn who shares her birthday but otherwise appears to waltz through life, and the attraction is undeniable. Sophie Cousens has the most lovely refreshing style, a lightness of touch and sparkling wit walks hand in hand with considerate contemplation and emotion. Travelling back to the past ensured we saw what had affected, shaped and changed these two characters. I loved the ping-pong of little morsels of information, popping up to build a picture that we had access to, but Abbie and Quinn remained unaware of. Missed chances is the main theme here, but there is so much more on offer too, with access to Quinn ensuring this wasn’t just a one way Minnie street. The supporting characters are a lively bunch, with a mixture of personalities and issues keeping things interesting. Romantic, yes most definitely, This Time Next Year is also an amusing, thoughtful, and friendly read too.
Twisty-turny and oh-so provocative, this is the type of book that will stick a sneaky foot out to trip you up. Spend five days in Hinton Hollow as it welcomes home Detective Sergeant Pace, who is being followed by Evil (yes, that’s right, Evil). Wait until you can give Hinton Hollow your full attention, because it deserves it. The town starts with a population of 5,120, what will it be by the end? Narrated by Evil, you are warned right at the very beginning that you can walk away and not read further. If you continue you may feel uncomfortable, start to self-reflect, even flinch, but remember, you were warned! Is this part of a series - well, there are now three books featuring Detective Sergeant Pace, but each reads equally well as a standalone. Having said that, I recommend starting with Good Samaritans and following it with Nothing Important Happened Today before starting here. As always with Will Carver, I couldn’t begin to guess how it would end, so didn’t even try, I just enjoyed the ride. If you like something just a little different then Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an original, thought-provoking and hugely entertaining read.
A stimulating, provocative brew containing drama, intrigue, dark humour, and thoughtful contemplation. It shouldn’t work, yet it does! The Skelf women return for a second outing running their funeral home and private investigation business side by side. Still affected by the turmoil from the first book in the series A Dark Matter (do read this first), investigations begin after a car crashes into the grave at a funeral. The first sentence is a corker, and sets the tone. Each chapter is headed by one of the three Skelf women, with the individual voices of grandmother Dorothy, her daughter Jenny, and granddaughter Hannah independently vibrant. I particularly like the multi-generational aspect to this series with the storyline bustling from one woman to the next. There is a fair bit of death to be found here, but where there’s death there is life too. All the small things that make up our existence, plus some huge pummelling emotions such as grief and anger are on offer. Doug Johnstone paints a multi-dimensional 360 degree vibrant view, and sparked a heady mix of thoughts and feelings as I read. The Big Chill is an energetic, colourful, and dare I say entertaining read that encourages both smirks and reflection.
Corkscrewing through Italy, there is a tangled web of intrigue to unravel in this stimulating spy novel. We start during the summer of 1977 and the murder of relatives of the Director General of Defence Intelligence. The second in the Dylan Series highlights a mystery under the cloak of espionage thriller. I advise that you begin with Awakening of Spies, as I don’t feel that this is a series you can step into the middle of due to the intricacies of setting. Knowing the central characters meant I could focus on the rest of the plot (again though, no wandering off as you need to concentrate). The writing feels as though you are reading a memoir, with Thomas Dylan’s memories spilling forth onto the page. Brian Landers ensured that I was in the 1970’s and I really felt the history and spirit of the time. Families of Spies, delving as it does into the not too distant past, is an interesting and convincing read.
A delightfully readable, emotional, warm and witty relationship tale. This is Milly Johnson’s 17th novel, and I still look forward to them, each feels fresh, different, and I just know I will have a lovely reading experience. Friendships form and love whispers hello at a counselling group, will it be recognised or even welcomed? If you haven’t read any of her books before, just be aware that there are plenty of emotional subjects to discover along the way, you just have to read the book synopsis here to know that! The prologue sent a shiver coursing through me, grief has kept company with many of the characters. Milly Johnson approaches the more difficult side of life with true compassion. Here, there are also some wickedly funny excerpts from the local paper which balance the story beautifully. Although your heart may well ache during, the overall feeling that I was left with after, was that I had just been given the hugest, squashiest hug. My One True North is a truly lovely read, and after I had turned the final page was left feeling fully satisfied and contented.
Evocative, emotional and compelling, this historical novel may centre on a relationship, yet it throws open a door to the Second World War. Meet Spitfire pilot Eddie and painter Eva as they leave their teenage years at the onset of war. The prologue in late 1940 sets the scene for what is to come, I found myself in the clouds in the middle of a dogfight between Spitfire and Messerschmitt, the outcome of which stayed with me as I read on. Chapter one took me back to March 1939, I slid effortlessly in as Rachel Billington ensures the small and intimate elements are as well crafted as the more obvious aspects of war. The two main characters are fascinating, Eddie is self-centred yet not overwritten as unlikable, while Eva is finding her path, and both feel as real as can possibly be. Surrounding them are family and friends, all helping to create a vivid view of the times. The ending sliced into my emotions, and left me sitting for a while in contemplation. Expressive, rich and sharp, Clouds of Love and War is an engaging and worthwhile read.
Wonderfully quirky and yet earthy and tangible, this is an engaging and entertaining read. When is a holiday not a holiday? When 71 year old pond supplies salesman Selwyn Robby arrives home towing the work caravan, he tells his childhood sweetheart Ginny she has to pack her bag as they’re off to Wales. What follows is a road trip full of strange encounters, soul-searching and revelation. With a few words Lisa Blower allowed me to not only see, but feel the words. Descriptions slipped from the page into vibrant life. I could vividly picture the saucy mermaid curtains and fully stocked bar in the Toogood Aquatics caravan which becomes their world and future. I floundered alongside Ginny and Selwyn and I ached for the two of them even as I smiled. Pondweed flipped me onto a different thought path, where I strolled for a while and thoroughly enjoyed my journey.
A thoughtful, sometimes emotionally painful, yet unforgettable medical memoir I feel everyone should read. Our expectations of our medical and emergency teams are high, we trust, we rely, we hope. When a best-selling novelist, with the most beautiful way with words, tells the story of her time as a junior doctor, you just have to sit up and listen. Each chapter begins with thoughts from different people and roles within the medical profession. Joanna Cannon opens her arms wide and lets you in to her story, her way with words ensures you can see a full and vivid picture. Heartbreakingly honest, we see how she is overstretched, twanging like elastic that is on the point of completely fraying. A number of times her words resonated so strongly, they gave me goose-bumps. She not only made me look with different eyes at our medical practitioners, she also made me think about my own thoughts and words. I don’t think I will ever forget her “we each measure words with different scales”. Breaking and Mending is a LoveReading Star Book... I smiled, I cried, afterwards I sat and hugged it!
With a stabbing intensity and glowering atmosphere this is a crime novel with huge attitude. As it becomes apparent that the police have missed connecting a number of violent and brutal crimes against women, an officer on the edge begins to link the offences. This is the second in the Axel Steen Series by Jesper Stein but my first, and I was more than happy jumping straight in, so like me you can start here. Also like me, you then may well want to hunt down a copy of Unrest! Translated from Danish by Charlotte Barslund, the social and everyday differences of Denmark are still wonderfully tangy and sharp. The prologue sets the scene in Copenhagen 2004, blunt and dark I flinched as Axel Steen stamped his way into my mind. I was well and truly hooked, and set everything aside while I read. I wasn’t sure that I was going to like Axel, but as a cop in a novel, I loved him! The word gritty is often scattered through reviews for crime novels, but gritty is absolutely appropriate here and comes with extra emphasis. Die for Me is a wonderful addition for the list of any Scandi noir fans, and I say: it’s a Liz Pick of the Month for me, bring on the third in the series!
An interesting, expressive, and bittersweet dual time frame novel. Marine archaeologist Rachel investigates a shipwreck with links to the slave trade, while in 1763 Abigail falls in love with a tobacco trader in Whitehaven. This is the fourth in the Tales from Goswell series. These books feature the village of Goswell in Cumbria and a new main lead (or two) is introduced each time. A slice of history creates a dual timeline, with the present linking to the past and the focus equally on both. Characters from previous books are mentioned which adds continuity, it almost feels like a much loved holiday cottage, returning to a place that feels comfortable and homely. The slave trade spears this storyline, with Katharine Swartz balancing the thoughts of the time with love and as usual with her books, hope. What it is to be family sits centre stage in The Widow’s Secret, and while a tale full of warmth, there is also an undeniable flinty and provocative edge.
A rather lovely, incredibly thoughtful and moving memoir that drifts into an observation of memory, love and bereavement. Nicholas Royle writes about the feelings surrounding his mum, a nurse, nature lover and voracious reader who died in 2003. He says “it seems less a record of events than a grappling with what escapes words. Not just love and loss but fire and air and water and earth. Smell and music. Voice and touch”. I felt an affinity with those words, and entered the book with my heart and mind open. This feels like a wander down memory lane, stopping for a letter here, a song there, allowing thoughts to have their say before moving on. Nicholas Royle ponders the use of photos in a memoir, I’m so glad that he included them as I feel it brings an even greater connection. There’s no set menu on offer, “I’m losing my marbles” appears and reappears, those words so knowing, so full of knowledge and awareness, yet also full of loss. Mother: A Memoir takes an intimate and meaningful look at one woman, yet throws open thoughts to so, so much more.
“Take what you need from these pages; and most of all, enjoy what you do. Joy is such a vital part of creative writing – because if you don’t enjoy what you write, how can you expect anyone else to?” So begins Joanne Harris’s invaluably inspirational - and practical - Ten Things About Writing. Reading this book is rather like having a wise writer as a best friend, on hand to offer pragmatic and energising advice, with many unhelpful myths about writing crumbled, and an emphasis on the fact that writing is to be worked at, not something a wand can be waved at: “The ability to spin words into gold is a skill that comes from hard work, patience and lots of practice. Some people may have an aptitude; others will struggle to gain momentum.” I particularly loved the author’s unravelling of the myth of inspiration: “The idea that we must wait for the Muse to inspire us was invented by effete young Victorians who wanted an excuse to sit around doing nothing all day. Most of us don’t have that luxury, which means forgetting about the Muse and doing some actual footwork instead.” And this gem: “Don’t write because you want to be a writer. Write because you want to write.” In bracing style, Harris covers everything from doing proper research, finding your voice and effectual use of description (“If a passage doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s just pointless decoration. Kill it”), to drafting (“all first drafts are terrible... Just get on with it”), re-writing, and what to expect if you’re lucky enough to be published. And she doesn’t stop there, in the way that writing doesn’t either. She also covers dealing with fear, failure, rejection and writer’s block, with every stone turned and looked at from fresh angles, ending with an uplifting reminder that no matter how your writing journey turns out, “just writing is an act of bravery”. I’ll leave you with this typically droll nugget from the section on writing about women: “Top tip: real women very rarely think about their breasts at all – and certainly never in the way in which some male writers think they do.” I know this is a book I’ll keep coming back to, along with checking-in on the author’s #TenThings tweets.
What a gorgeously emotional and heart-warming read this is. Two women linked by an event that occurred eight years ago, find themselves at the centre of storm that could change their worlds forever, both will fight for what they believe in. The first chapter slams with impact. Oh Dani Atkins, you really know how to make me cry! In the very best possible way of course, with a heart full of emotion and feeling and wonder. The words reached inside me, made me ponder, and truly affected me. The characters are so engaging, the ups and downs so accessible. This is a relationship story with real personality, yes there is some anguish along the way, there is also plenty of hope, love, and feel-good too. I chose the hardback as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. If you choose to read A Million Dreams, and I really hope you do, I’ll just leave this here… have some tissues close to hand.
Stuffed full of captivating drama, wiles, and deception this is a thoroughly entertaining read. When Freddy returns home after 22 years she knows that old childhood alliances have deteriorated, so who can she trust when everything starts to go wrong? This is a standalone read from Lesley Thomson, if you love her successful Detective’s Daughter series, then you should definitely put this to the top of your reading list. The prologue nails intrigue and suspense to the mast, setting the tone for what is to come. The title stayed in my mind as the first few pages opened. Give yourself time to get to know all of the characters, each chapter is headed by one of them, and there are a fair few to meet. I settled into the conversational tone, which changes with the characters, occasionally unsettling with its staccato style. The coast and fishing community is vibrantly evocative. The drama ramps up before seriously kicking off and Lesley Thomson set my mind conspiring against itself. Death of a Mermaid is a stimulating read, the characters weave their way through the plot which spins to a dramatic conclusion.
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eBooks have at last come of age and although you have been able to see if an eBook is available on a title by title basis on Lovereading for a while now, we also wanted to create a special section which features all of our eBook recommended reads.
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