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“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.
Best friends since girlhood, and now in advanced age, Anna and George meet weekly to chat about their former mischiefs, regrets and day-to-day lives over a few glasses of wine. While their stories elicit many laughs, the dear friends have also experienced much sadness, with Anna raised by a critical, unloving mother and never finding the right man, and George having endured much tragedy. George lives comfortably now and has a loving, affectionate husband, though as the novel progresses she becomes more haunted by her losses, while Anna’s story takes a more uplifting trajectory when she agrees to look after a neighbour’s child and discovers the joys of making new friends, and even falls in love. “How odd I have reached an end and you are just beginning,” George poignantly observes of this unexpected turnaround. With a cast of endearing supporting characters, this novel radiates a lovely sense of community alongside being a touching tribute to the elemental importance of true friendship. Written with a lightness of touch and packed with funny, bittersweet life reflections, this will surely resonate with fans of warm-hearted, female-fronted fiction.
Take a compelling step back in time to London of the Second World War, then stroll behind the obvious and meet a family full of rich, gossipy, vibrant life. Francesca Fabrino has intimate ties to the Brogan’s, she is best friends with Mattie, and has always held a torch for Charlie. As the Blitz rages, Francesca has a life changing decision to make. Part of the Ration Book series, we see the Brogan’s return, they really are a vividly dramatic group, almost larger than life, yet you don’t actually have to already know them in order to enjoy A Ration Book Wedding. Grandmother Queenie continues her reign (her ferociously wielding a cudgel made me blurt with laughter), while the rest of the family deal with relationship highs and lows, and some of them, the occasional wheel and deal. Jean Fullerton allows access to the seedier side of wartime London, with a visit or two to strip clubs. She also knowledgeably highlights life as it would have been for people living under bombing raids and rationing. A Ration Book Wedding is a simply lovely escape, full of drama and family intrigue, it really is a terrific addition to this series.
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. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
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.
You just have to say Oslo Detectives series and it conjures up everything you need to know, this is Nordic Noir with knobs on! Detective Frolich investigates a simple missing person case, but as a killer strikes, so the complexity rises. This could be read quite successfully as a standalone novel as Frolich has turned private investigator and it suggests a beginning. Do pop Faithless and The Ice Swimmer on your list though and start with these if you can! Kjell Ola Dahl writes with such crisp clarity, and translator Don Bartlett is on point as it feels as though not a word has been wasted. Short, sharp sentences pounce. I love how the story builds, the plot almost turns itself inside out, and yet is kept as tight as can be. There are no easy tick-box answers on offer here. Bang up-to-date, Sister is a raw, real, and fabulous read.
A dramatic yet entirely believable and oh so readable cross-generational family drama. As her husband walks out, ghost writer Joely enters recluse Freda’s life to help her right a wrong. The latest Susan Lewis novel means it’s time to settle back and let yourself disappear into the pages. The prologue and first chapter set a trap for my interest and caught it as surely as could be. We start in the present day with Joely, then another story emerges, a memoir that is being written by Joely and Freda. I really did feel as though I was reading two separate books, and as the tales began to entwine, the mystery started to slowly reveal itself. As always, the intrigue, emotions, and revelations are all beautifully handled. By the way, there is a lovely link to Andee for those of you, who like me, have read The Detective Andee Lawrence Series. My Lies, Your Lies is a tale that opens up to reveal a riveting, satisfying and convincing tale.
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.
Wing Commander Frank Brock OBE was a daredevil adventurer who made a unique contribution to the British war effort during World War I. Gunpowder and Glory tells the story, not just of Frank Brock, but of the family business he was born into. Brock is a name synonymous with fireworks and November 5th. Brock himself was an inventor who is one of very few people to have been commissioned in all three of our armed services. He designed weapons that included the incendiary device that brought an end to Zeppelin domination of British skies. This book has all the ingredients for an explosive and entertaining yarn. It doesn’t disappoint. A fascinating and well-researched read, not just for military enthusiasts but for anybody interested in fireworks, and the workings of a successful family business.
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.
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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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