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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.
In a nutshell: auld lang syne with the Spinster Club The end of What’s A Girl Gotta Do saw the three members of the Spinster Club heading off their different ways, now in this special short novel, Holly Bourne reunites them in the pressure cooker of a New Year’s Eve party: how have they coped? We discover that Lottie is planning to move to America, that Amber isn’t enjoying uni life as much as she’s been making out, and that Evie is struggling to support her boyfriend with his anxiety disorder. After an awkward start, they finally have one of those conversations that characterise their friendship, helping each other realise what is best for them, and giving themselves the confidence to go after it. Bourne understands her readership perfectly and writes for them with huge insight and affection, and this is a typically authentic, funny, and inspiring read. Readers will also enjoy Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. ~ Andrea Reece
It seems there’s no end to QI facts or the public fascination for them. Here are another 1339 QI facts, a great gift for the person who has everything or perhaps you need a book for the smallest room or entertainment for friends and relations or even for your own personal enjoyment – warning, it’s addictive reading. Like for Like ReadingQI: The Book of General Ignorance, John Lloyd and John MitchinsonAfterliff. John Lloyd and Jon Canter
It seems there’s no end to QI facts or the public fascination for them. Here are another 1339 QI facts, a great gift for the person who has everything or perhaps you need a book for the smallest room or entertainment for friends and relations or even for your own personal enjoyment – warning, it’s addictive reading. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like ReadingQI: The Book of General Ignorance, John Lloyd and John MitchinsonAfterliff. John Lloyd and Jon Canter
Being a small “instant” humour book there is no bibliography telling you where these facts originate but we now have google so can read up on such things as why Horatio Nelson’s pension continued to be paid to 1947. Harris Hawks standing on each other’s shoulders to get a better view was quite flabbergasting although I was more horrified to read that slugs have about 27,000 teeth. It is, of course, a book designed to entertain and it certainly does that in fine style. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like ReadingFascinating Footnotes from History, Giles MiltonThe Ultimate Book of Heroic Failures, Stephen Pie
1,227 QI Facts blew your socks off. 1,339 QI Facts made your jaw drop. Now the QI team return with this year's groaning sack of astonishment. Prepare to be knocked sideways...Orchids can get jetlag. Lizards can't walk and breathe at the same time. There are 177,147 ways to tie a tie. Ladybird orgasms last for 30 minutes. Traffic lights existed before cars. Sir Bruce Forsyth is four months older than sliced bread. The soil in your garden is 2 million years old.
You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make your body, there are nine impostor cells. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but bacteria and fungi. You are not an individual, but a colony of microbes. Far from being passive, the trillions of microbes that live on and in you are intimately involved in running your body. Even aspects that you think of entirely as 'you' turn out to be run by 'them' - like your immune system. In this riveting, shocking and beautifully-written book Alanna Collen explores the modern epidemics of 'Western' diseases - obesity, autism, mental health problems, gut disorders, allergies, auto-immunity, and even cancer - and argues that most have their root in our failure to cherish our most fundamental and enduring relationship: that with our personal colony of microbes. Antibiotics, antibacterial cleaners, rapidly changing diets and our obsession with hygiene alter the microbe community we carry. Unlike our human cells, though, we can change our microbes for the better.
As the author, Kate Sorrell, is a former associate editor of Homes & Gardens magazine this practical, no-nonsense guide really is ‘straight from the horse's mouth’. Covering the home, garden, workplace and beyond half the fun of this guide is simply to open a page and see where you find yourself - you are practically guaranteed to find out some new useful nugget. Save time, money and re-discover lost skills. I’ve not been able to see a copy of 10,000 Tips in advance so can only advise that the author is a former editor of Homes and Gardens magazine so presumably knows her stuff. The book covers advice on improving life at home, at work, at play and how to cope with sudden problems of anything from health to dicky plumbing - all this packed into 416 pages. Very interesting to compare this to Mrs Beeton which I’ve recommended as a Like for Like read, the changes in household management are both illuminating and a great comment on our changing lives. Like for Like ReadingThe Art of Good Housekeeping, Good HousekeepingMrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, Isabella Beeton
Willem loves his children but finds them exhausting. Then, one day, he challenges them to find games that require him to lie on the sofa. They have the best day ever! This witty new book features an eclectic range of activities for kids and their dads - and all without the adult's boredom and exhaustion that often accompanies 'child's play'. Written from a personal perspective, Willem gives every activity a suggested age range and provides tips and golden rules along the way. The book includes games for at home, in the car, at the park, in the pool, at the forest - pretty much anywhere where parents and children spend time together. All games are fun for both and relaxing for dads, and none of them require money or preparation. After a long day at work, your children can either finish you off or get you to recover - depending on how you play it.
February 2012 Travel Book of the Month. Presents the 1,000 most astonishing destinations in the world and brings them to life in lively, evocative prose that reveals why the place is so wonderful. This title offers a greater variety of hotel and restaurant choices, including more budget-conscious options. Click here to read a Q & A with Patricia Schultz about this book.
February 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Ten centuries' worth of French historical 'facts' bite the dust as Stephen Clarke looks at what has really been going on since 1066... It's a light-hearted but impeccably researched account of all our great fallings-out. With Clarke's trademark humour and lightness of touch that will be remembered with fondness from A Year in the Merde and Talk to the Snail, among others this is a brilliant take on the history of our near neighbour.
What would you do if someone bet you they could balance a coin on the edge of a banknote, walk through a postcard, or make you move your limbs through the power of suggestion? Would you take that bet? From Richard Wiseman, the creator of the 350-million-view YouTube phenomenon, Quirkology, comes a thrilling mix of lateral thinking, magic tricks and scintillating science stunts which is sure to appeal to curious minds everywhere.
This tells you all the things you need to know about losing weight – diet and exercise but it also gives you great hints and tips on how to make the most of what you’ve got and how to feel good about yourself even with a few extra pounds. There may not be too much new to learn in here but it reminds you about the important things in life and is written in a very entertaining way.
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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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