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Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts. Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Some short stories feel as though you’d like more, want more, these leave more questions than answers and yet are perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories, that I really do wholeheartedly recommend.
A thought-provoking relationship tale with an edge. The relationships on offer here explore the nature of family, friends and colleagues, as well as love. While revenge headlines, this is a novel that focuses on empathy and compassion. Surgeon Rachel finds her world is turned upside down when she is targeted by a vengeful mother. This is very much a novel of two halves with author S. L. Russell ensuring tension kept intrigue company before leaving speculation and hope to take their place. The story grew on me, as did Rachel, and I felt this was a very deliberate decision taken by the author. There is an element of faith in this novel, I am not at all religious and was quite content and interested by the direction it took. The Healing Knife really is the most perfectly chosen title for a stimulating and thoughtful novel.
Fast and furious yet complex and intricate, discover a faceless, handless corpse, and a missing child case in this twisty and fascinating investigation. It’s always good to find a new series isn’t it, but if you weren’t aware, this is actually the 19th Temperance Brennan novel. And yet, and yet… I truly do think you can start here, I was completely comfortable stepping in without the back story, and while you may choose to read it as a standalone, believe me, you will probably want to go and hunt down the first 18 after you’ve finished! Author Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, the TV series Bones is based on her work and novels. She obviously knows her stuff, and that comes through in spades, this feels like a proper investigation, with all the leg work that involves. Temperance is fabulous, thoughts spill from her, fast, yet to the point. The plot spins from intrigue to conspiracy, it’s oh so smart and I simply revelled in the story. A Conspiracy of Bones whips into thoughts, forthright and sharp, this is an entertaining and rewarding read.
A captivating, intricate and thoroughly satisfying thriller. Reporter Rebecca Connolly returns to investigate the murders of two men, one found at the site of the Battle of Culloden in Highland dress, the other in a graveyard in Redcoat uniform. If you haven’t yet read the first in the Rebecca Connolly Thriller series Thunder Bay, please do, as it fully sets the scene for Rebecca. More characters are introduced, most noticeable among them a prominent Inverness crime family and a far-right group, adding to the intrigue and creating some seriously fascinating layers. Douglas Skelton set my mind ticking over in the background as the story weaved its magic and gathered me in. An unknown child speaks on occasion, the voice creating a discordant and unsettling note that grows in intensity. Looking back after finishing, it felt as though the ending was inevitable, and yet I had absolutely no idea where it was heading as I read and that is down to the skill of the writer. With an artful plot and crammed full of captivating characters, The Blood Is Still is a compelling and cracking read.
A scaldingly intimate, powerful, and actually rather beautiful autobiography where the author reflects on her relationships and love. Lucy Fry is a journalist and currently training to be a psychotherapist, here she tells her story which includes her mental health, polyamorous relationship, and parenthood. It is pointed out that the truth is always someone’s story, but this just feels so incredibly heartfelt and rawly honest. It is as though she has reached inside herself, split open and poured out her innermost feelings and thoughts; and yet the way she writes ensured that I didn’t ever, ever feel as though I was intruding. She examines the hidden, concealed, and mysterious side of love, and as I read, I thought… of course, I see, yes! Easier Ways to Say I Love You is unflinching and intense, yet incredibly thoughtful and warm, it touched my heart, and opened my mind, in fact, I rather fell in love with this book.
Into the Abyss sees eminent cognitive neuropsychiatrist Anthony David share his considerable professional expertise and experience with lively aplomb. Setting out an overarching aim to “bridge the gulf of understanding between those with disorders and those without,” and explaining that modern psychiatry is an interweaving of biology, psychology and sociology, David elucidates that “every time we meet a new patient, we must decide which of the three, if any, is most important.” This, he argues, is fundamental to understanding and treating mental health disorders, as remarkably demonstrated through the case studies shared here, with each patient requiring complex multi-faceted diagnoses and rehabilitation strategies. Throughout “the tension between the perspective of an individual and that of the broader social world” is laid bare. Disorders might be experienced on an internal personal level, but they also exist and play out in a social context. Indeed, they can be caused and exacerbated by these contexts, be the condition schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or an eating disorder. This complex interplay between mind, brain, body and cultural context is acutely shown in the case of a forty-year-old woman with anorexia nervosa. “Hunger and the drive to eat is...made up of ritual, mores, commercialisation and ethics”; “the control of appetite is managed by a complex but beautifully balanced neural-humeral programme.” The tenacious untangling of the causes of this patient’s disorder is extraordinarily fascinating, with unexpected findings and outcomes. Unflinchingly honest, erudite and humble, this is illuminating reading for anyone interested in mental health and “how brain and mind interact and, in a sense, vie for control.”
A pretty fabulous first book in what I truly hope is a continuing crime series. Bestselling authors Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst have teamed up to create not only some really interesting lead characters, but they also breathe fresh air into the fabulous tradition of Nordic Noir. A famous athlete fails to show at her autobiography book launch, when news blogger Emma Ramm finds signs of a struggle, police officer Alexander Blix begins a missing person enquiry that quickly turns more serious. As is usual with translated Orenda books, I just stepped straight in and read without a thought for the fabulous translation by Anne Bruce. Horst and Enger have set this novel firmly in the here and now, apart from the prologue which sets the scene for Blix. Death Deserved is a fast-moving, punchy, serial killer investigative novel with a whammy of an ending. If this is the first in the Blix and Ramm series, then here’s to many more!
Set between 1917 and 1940, taking in the two World Wars and all the social and political upheaval between them, this intimate and thoughtfully told novel focuses on two women. A mother at 19, Alice is forced to give her up her baby, and that baby, adopted and living life miles away, grows up knowing she is different. As the two women live their lives, their two individual stories begin to intertwine. Rachel Hore shows immense compassion in her writing as this story about family, love, loss and hope travels through the decades. I found myself immersed in the story, hoping and willing for happiness to step into the end of the tale. Peppered with notes from history, the years between the wars were bright and alive in my mind. Simply, almost gently told, as bitingly fierce and emotional subjects are handled with sensitivity, The Love Child is a beautifully poignant and hopeful novel.
An intriguing and altogether thrilling tale that played games in my mind and twisted my thoughts. A man with no memory is found on a Norfolk beach, neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess him. Emma, however, has secrets… and Norfolk is the very last place that she wants to be. The prologue focussed my attention and stayed with me throughout. As chapter one and day one started, followed by chapter two and day six, I realised that an unsettled feeling would also be keeping me company. Time slides forwards from each of these two chapters, the jagged sequence leaving my emotions hanging as the following chapter sped away again. Catherine Steadman allowed me to see, feel, and experience, her descriptions vivid in their intensity. As suggestions whispered and cajoled, the story eventually overtook and whipped them into shape. If you like to be kept on your reading toes then Mr Nobody could just be the very book for you.
Raw, honest, punchy and smirky, Containment, the third Sam Shephard book, continues the series in fabulous style. When a container ship spills its cargo on a New Zealand beach it sets in motion a series of events that puts Sam right in the middle of a whole heap of trouble. To have an understanding of Sam and what makes her just that little bit different, you really do need to start with Overkill and The Ringmaster. Vanda Symon has written a bold, gutsy protagonist who fights her way through life. Sam’s thoughts and feelings stamp her way all over this book, ready to kick and squabble just to keep her head above water. There is a relationship in the background, and that is where we see Sam’s vulnerable side (have to say that I wanted to settle her down for a good old chat on occasion). If you enjoy a quick-firing, fast-moving tale with a tight storyline then Containment could just be the very book for you.
One heck of an eventful read, just let yourself be carried away on a story that really does pack a wallop. This is the fourth book in the Lori Anderson series, do start in order with Deep Down Dead, which was Steph Broadribb’s assured and fabulous debut. Here bounty-hunter Lori and her partner JT face down the head of a Chicago crime family. Set over a short period of time, the main event is a poker game that delivers drama, and then some! Lori is tough as they come, yet has a heart and she isn’t in this situation by choice. To describe this read as action-packed doesn’t really do it justice, so take a deep breath as once you start it’s full-on thrills and spills all the way. Deep Dark Night is a book that squares up and gets in your face, it’s a lively, stimulating, and full-on read.
This is a series that keeps on delivering, here we are at the fourth book, and it is just as addictive and original as the first, Six Stories. I really love the premise for this one, a chilling mix of the occult and an internet craze join the fabulous six stories format with online journalist Scott King. Six podcasts are delivered to us, to digest and form our own opinion after 24 year old vlogger Elizabeth Barton is found dead in The Vampire Tower on the Northumberland coast. Three young men were convicted in what they called a prank gone wrong, are they responsible? With the Beast from the East weather system and vampires haunting the pages, questions started whirling in my mind. As I read I felt as though a number of truths were being set free. As always Matt Wesolowski keeps a fabulously tight rein on the different voices, which so easily could run wild. Each character is unmistakable and I was able to hear them with sharp clarity. Beast is another winner of a read for me, if you haven’t yet joined in, what are you waiting for?!
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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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