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From the bestselling author of Lady of Hay, Barbara Erskine‘s The Dream Weavers is a spellbinding saga that spans centuries through a writer’s eerie connections to Anglo-Saxon King Offa and his indomitable daughter. In 2021, writer Simon has decamped to a cottage on the English-Welsh border to finish his book about King Offa. Unsettled by noises in the cottage - a woman’s distant voice, banging on doors in the dead of night - he enlists the help of modern-day mystic Bea. In 775 AD, Eadburh, the youngest daughter of ambitious, aggressive King Offa has inherited her father’s ruthless streak, along with unusual gifts from her mother, and it’s not long before these two time periods and gripping stories are seamlessly interwoven, not least when Simon’s daughter vanishes in our time. While the action is epic, the stakes high, and the historic episodes powerfully evocative, Erskine has an accessible down-to-earth style, with lots of character backstory and side strands feeding into the main narratives. Thronging with mystery, ghostly visions and centuries of secrets, this comes recommended for readers who like historic fiction with meandering intrigue.
Nobody Tells You is a brilliant and reassuring companion for anyone starting out on the path to parenthood, from getting pregnancy all the way through to feeding your baby. Featuring diverse real-life stories, it feels so natural and personal, like you’re chatting with friends. These are real people (with their twitter handles and photos) answering real questions about different types of pregnancies, babycare and parenthood. So you know that whatever you’re thinking – or feeling – is normal, and that you’re not alone. It’s a reminder that parenting may be a struggle at times – all those niggling things that no one else is going to tell you and you’ve not yet dared to ask. ‘Yes, contractions can hurt.’ ‘It’s natural to worry about your baby.’ ‘It may take time to bond.’ This book is packed with simple advice from healthcare professionals too, featuring essential tips on morning sickness, hospital items, and more. I wish I had been given a book like this before my two sons were born.
Spanning twenty years, beginning four years from now, Rosa Rankin-Gee’s Dreamland is a haunting, visionary dystopian novel. Set against a bleak backdrop of escalating inequality, austerity and climate change in post-Brexit Britain, the novel feels both hyper-real and dream-like, suffused as it is in the ethereal melancholy of an abandoned seaside town and the longings of its inhabitants. Seven-year-old Chance and thirteen-year-old JD were born in London, which “was a fourth world country now. A hotbed. A timebomb waiting to go off. That, and an island for rich Russians.” And so their mother accepts a grant from a right-wing foundation for them to move to Margate at a time when droves of people are moving inland to escape the rapidly rising sea. It’s run-down, boarded-up, and subject to the hazardous consequences of climate change, from the rising sea, to the extreme heatwave that hits during their second summer. There are black-outs too, power outages, riots and looting, and then comes the Localisation Act, which grants greater autonomy to smaller regions, resulting in London isolating itself further from the rest of the country and a mass exodus from hard-hit Margate. The creeping sense of change, deterioration and desperation is palpable as Chance seeks to settle into herself, to make a life in Margate while her mother has a new baby to care for and a violent boyfriend to watch out for. And then Chance meets Francesca (Franky), and both their lives change forever thanks to a love that both sets them spinning and roots them, as the world spins out of control. Beautifully-written (the calm, crystalline language is loaded with longing), and powerfully prescient, this is a unique and captivating cautionary tale of our times.
A wonderfully engaging blended mix of spy turned PI novel set in the USA during the 1960’s. When ex CIA spy Vera’s girlfriend leaves her and on the same day she is sacked, Vera decides to turn private investigator. Her first case involves a lost child and a Caribbean Island under authoritarian rule. I haven’t read the first in the series Who is Vera Kelly, yet felt incredibly comfortable stepping midway into the story. Though I have to say that the various mentions of the first book where she was stranded in Argentina during a coup, ensured I wanted to go back and meet her at the start. Vera is very much the star of this story, she survives on instinct and smarts, her vulnerabilities adding an edge. Rosalie Knecht creates a beautifully balanced story, with go-getter Vera marching through the interesting plot and her life during a time of political upheaval and action for LGBTQ rights. The ending arrived at unexpected speed, leaving me wanting to know more about this private investigator. Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery is a short, smart, rewarding detective novel with real heart.
Subtle in style and fierce in characterisation, Carol Birch’s Cold Boy’s Wood is a haunting psychological enigma. Exploring the flux and fallibility of memory, and the effects of loneliness on the human spirit, the novel is a puzzle, of sorts, as two flawed and damaged characters are confronted with long-buried secrets when a mudslide unearths a body outside their village. Visiting his mother’s grave near the site of the mudslide, Dan observes “Ravens. The wet nose of the pregnant doe. A body returned to light. Things falling into sequence. All these things seemed significant.” Embittered, often drunk, and scared stiff by the supernatural, he’s disturbed by a sound in the darkness and locks up. Then there’s Lorna, who lives nearby in the ancient woods that have called her since she saw a strange “cold boy” here as a teenager. The boy haunts her still, along with her past, as she watches Dan, and helps him when he collapses drunk, all the while delivering a feverish internal dialogue. Both of them provoke intrigue, their lives entangle, their stories haunt and pierce to the end.
An interesting and immersive book about the undeveloped potential of mushrooms. If our relationship with nature interests you, if you believe that in order to thrive we should live in harmony with nature, then I can highly recommend reading In Search of Mycotopia. Doug Bierend is an American journalist who writes about science and technology, food, education, and how we can live in a sustainable world. Here he looks at the potential of fungi, and we meet a variety of people and ideas that could contribute to our working in harmony with nature. The author challenges the reader throughout this book, he questions our idea of expertise and asks us to look at fungi in a completely new way. The various chapters include a section at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London where it is clear that amateurs and experts have worked together throughout its history in the study of fungi. This is readable, inclusive, and the big messages that I kept hearing throughout this book, were about bringing people together and working together in order to gain a better relationship with nature. In Search of Mycotopia highlights the importance of fungi in an eloquent and engaging way.
Crossing a number of genres, this is a read that both challenges and provokes thoughts. Gabriela works in the Foreign Office, Isobel is a journalist, both women have a drive to succeed that will ultimately put them in danger. This novel links to Part of the Family, and I would suggest starting there as though the main characters are different, there are connections that are needed in order to fully appreciate the plot. Charlotte Philby has created two women that aren’t particularly likeable, but you don’t have to become friends with them in order to experience the story. The focus here is family life, with an investigation sitting brooding and waiting with menaces. The prologue, so short, has huge impact and left questions buzzing around in my mind spoiling for a fight. The two women and two different time frames remain separate until information slowly bleeds into and connects each story. The ending arrived in an unexpected way, and leaves the story wide open for more. With hovering suspense and intrigue, A Double Life is a provocative and stimulating novel.
March 2012 Book of the Month. This highly original, dark (v v dark) and sinister thriller breaks all the rules; such as switching from 1st, 2nd and 3rd person and having a highly fragmented timeline, but it delivers something thrillingly different. Four friends set up an agency to say ‘sorry’ and allow company executives to be absolved of guilt - but does that mean anyone can be absolved of anything with a simple transfer of cash?
This highly original, dark (v v dark) and sinister thriller breaks all the rules; such as switching from 1st, 2nd and 3rd person and having a highly fragmented timeline, but it delivers something thrillingly different. Four friends set up an agency to say ‘sorry’ and allow company executives to be absolved of guilt - but does that mean anyone can be absolved of anything with a simple transfer of cash?
The chilling new thriller by the author of SORRY When a snowstorm halts traffic on a German autobahn, drivers are forced to spend the night in their cars. As day breaks, scores of people are found dead. Theories are rife. Was it an argument? Was it drugs, revenge or madness? At first everyone agrees that several people must have acted together. No-one could have committed such an atrocity alone. It is only over time that theories come to focus on an individual perpetrator, and the Traveller is born. As he makes his way across a country gripped by fear, he's searching for his next victim...You
December 2014 NewGen Debut of the Month. Vlogger Zoella’s fans will fall headlong into this sharply observed, super-realistic teen story. Against a background of first the ordinary ups and downs of life at school followed by an amazing fairy tale trip to New York with her wedding-planner parents and very best friend Eliot, sensible Penny records the rollercoaster emotions of being a teenager. When the going to particularly tough, Penny shares what she feels on her blog. Through responses to her posts Penny finds support for herself while also learning how much emotional strength she is giving her thousands of followers. Amy McCulloch, editorial director of Penguin Children’s, says “Zoe has an incredible voice for teens and she drew on her wealth of experience dealing with real issues like anxiety and cyber-bullying to deliver a poignant, romantic and heart-warming debut novel. The whole team was bursting with excitement at the prospect of working with Zoe, and we know her fans – and the rest of the world – are going to fall head-over-heels with her writing.”
Vlogger Zoella’s fans will fall headlong into this sharply observed, super-realistic teen story. Against a background of first the ordinary ups and downs of life at school followed by an amazing fairy tale trip to New York with her wedding-planner parents and very best friend Eliot, sensible Penny records the rollercoaster emotions of being a teenager. When the going to particularly tough, Penny shares what she feels on her blog. Through responses to her posts Penny finds support for herself while also learning how much emotional strength she is giving her thousands of followers. Amy McCulloch, editorial director of Penguin Children’s, says “Zoe has an incredible voice for teens and she drew on her wealth of experience dealing with real issues like anxiety and cyber-bullying to deliver a poignant, romantic and heart-warming debut novel. The whole team was bursting with excitement at the prospect of working with Zoe, and we know her fans – and the rest of the world – are going to fall head-over-heels with her writing.”
The sequel to the number-one best-seller Girl Online. Penny joins her rock-star boyfriend, Noah, on his European music tour. Penny's bags are packed. When Noah invites Penny on his European music tour, she can't wait to spend time with her rock-god-tastic boyfriend. But, between Noah's jam-packed schedule, less-than-welcoming bandmates and threatening messages from jealous fans, Penny wonders whether she's really cut out for life on tour. She can't help but miss her family, her best friend Elliot...and her blog, Girl Online. Can Penny learn to balance life and love on the road, or will she lose everything in pursuit of the perfect summer?
November 2016 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: welcome to the wonderful world of Zoella ‘Blogging is all about community’ says Penny, the central character in Going Solo, the third novel from Zoe Suggs. You won’t need me to tell you that Suggs is better known as blogger Zoella, best-online-friend to millions and Penny, it seems, is closely based on the author herself. Like Zoella, Penny shares the ups and downs of her life with her band of online followers, including her details of her anxieties and panic attacks, which are described with impressive honesty. If Penny’s life is rather more glamourous than most – with an on-off pop star boyfriend, and fast-tracked career in photography beckoning – then it’s made clear too that she suffers just as much from insecurity and self-doubt as any of her readers, and that she gets through with the help of friends, family and that online community. It makes for a bright, breezy read and underneath the sparkle there’s a rather important message about life, and how to have a happy one. Ten million Instagram followers can’t all be wrong, you know. Readers who love this will also enjoy Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series and Cathy Cassidy’s Chocolate Box Girls series. ~ Andrea Reece
A prize-winning reinvention of the familiar Cinderella story set in a richly created Japanese setting, this is a powerful and haunting novel shot through with romance. Suzume is a shadow-weaver; she can become whoever she wants except her true self. Armed with her disguises, Suzume forges her way through life. But there is one man who can see through her. Will his love triumph? This richly invented Japanese world provides a fascinating backdrop for a powerful story.
Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce, Maggie Stiefvater and Cassandra Clare this is a literary fantasy about war, racial identity and first love, in which Frost has left her homeland to travel to the neighbouring country of Ruan in the hope of finding a deity she believes will rid her of a curse. It is a refreshing and provocative real-world take on the fantasy genre: in this world there is no magic and the setting is more akin to Northern India or Tibet than the usual Tolkien-inspired pseudo-Europe. Zoe Marriott's first novel, The Swan Kingdom, was chosen as a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Her third book, Shadows on the Moon, won the prestigious Sasakawa Prize.
Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this epic trilogy from an acclaimed fantasy writer. Great for fans of Tamora Pierce, Maggie Stiefvater and Cassandra Clare. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Night Itself a small number of teenagers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster....'I really enjoyed this book, found the characters fun and interesting and liked the cultural aspect of the book. I enjoyed learning a bit about Japanese life and history.!' Scroll down to read more reviews...
Against all odds, Mio, Jack and Shinobu have defeated the terrifying Nekomata and got home alive. But Mio is still compelled to protect the katana, and now the Underworld has spawned a worse monster - one carrying a devastating plague that sweeps through London like wildfire.
A dysfunctional famlily saga that begins in London in 1962 and then moves to Manhattan 40 years later. Heller has created some very memorable characters and skillfully handles them, as a revelation causes the Litvinoff family to reconsider their lives.
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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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