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Looking to try something new? Check out our Debuts of the Month selection. You never know, one might become your favourite new author and a special discovery!
Based on her great-great grandparents’ experiences, Tammye Huf’s A More Perfect Union is a heart-rending, soul-stirring story of the love between a black slave and an Irish immigrant. A lucid, bold tale of the despicable brutality of slavery, personal conflicts, and a bond that will not be broken. Henry O’Toole fled Ireland in 1848 to escape the famine. On arriving in New York, “America stabs me with homesickness” and he can’t find a job - “Every day it’s the same. No Irish”. Compelled to flee the city, he changes his surname to the English-sounding ‘Taylor’ and heads to Virginia. House slave Sarah is separated from her Momma and brother when she’s sold as a “quick-cleaning-slave-who-don’t-get-sick”. She and Henry meet when he comes seeking work as a blacksmith at the plantation she’s been sold to. Here Henry is moved by the sound of slaves singing at night, while Sarah paces her hoe in the kitchen garden to “the rhythmic strike of the blacksmith’s hammer”. The stirring attraction between them is palpable, but theirs is a forbidden relationship - inter-racial marriage is illegal, and viewed as an abomination. What’s more, she’s owned by another man. The couple are in an excruciating situation, their complex personal conflicts evoked with shattering clarity. Sarah has to reconcile loving a man whose white skin represents her oppression, and she’s also ostracised by fellow slaves. Then there’s the searing exchange when Sarah sees Henry making neck rings and shackles. When he protests that he has no choice, that he needs to earn money, that he knows what it is to be shackled by poverty, Sarah’s response captures the despicable inhumanity of enslavement: “’I know you been through a hard, hungry life,’ she says. ‘I want you to understand that slave suffering is a different thing. When somebody owns you, there ain’t nothing they can’t do to you.’” Both their voices are conjured with brilliant authenticity, and their story builds to an agonisingly edgy crescendo as the risks they take are as immense as their love. I cannot recommend this enough. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Set within the viciously violent reign of Jack the Ripper this is a historical crime novel with real attitude. When Susannah reads newspaper reports detailing a number of ferocious murders, she fears her new husband may be involved as he has been disappearing at night and returning bloodied and secretive. Goodness what a premise this is! While blood-soaked and brutally descriptive, it feels convincing and authentic rather than glorified and salacious. Clare Whitfield doesn’t hold back, but I felt she looked beyond the obvious violence with thoughtful consideration. Not only does she explore the Jack the Ripper case with this novel, she also highlights violence against women, abject poverty, and prejudice. Through the novel we are shown a glimpse of other lives, a connection begins to form before deliberately slicing away again to the main story. This is one of those books where there is no perfect shining light of a character to attach yourself to, life is a struggle, at times a battle, just to survive. Compelling, thought-provoking, and powerful, People of Abandoned Character has been chosen as a LoveReading Debut of the Month.
A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.
If you need a slice of pick-me-up then stop right here. Dean Nicholson is famous on social media as 1bike1world. His original aim to cycle solo around the world changed when he rescued abandoned kitten Nala and she joined him on his travels. The book charts his and Nala’s story and contains some squeezably lovely photos too. It seems as though Dean is still in shock at how quickly people took to his story (their instagram page at the time of writing sits at 810k followers). Dean comes across as completely down to earth and appreciative of the small things in life, the things that actually matter and mean the world. He has seen the very best of people, while also bearing witness to the sorrowful treatment of animals by some. Dean has raised a huge amount for charity since Nala came into his life. She is one photogenic cat, and her utter trust and love for Dean shines through. A hugely glorious bundle of feel-good, Nala’s World comes with beaming smiles of recommendation from me. Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, this would make a perfect gift for a loved one (don’t forget to buy a copy for yourself too!). Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
Our October 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. An absolutely charming and thoroughly entertaining mystery debut starring four septuagenarians. A real-life murder tickles the detective fancy of certain members from a well-to-do retirement village. Led by Elizabeth they sneakily make themselves indispensable to the investigating officers. I’m already working out who I would cast as Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron if this was made into a TV series. Each character in this amusing (yes it is charming and amusing even with a murder to solve) story is perfectly placed. There is a sense of ease, an inviting warmth, and a hint of old-fashioned, yet this story is actually bang up-to-date. A sharp edge to observations slices through any thoughts of cosy, while there is a gentle poking of fun at middle England. Richard Osman has created a wonderfully readable story that is the perfect introduction to a new series. I can't wait to see what comes next! The Thursday Murder Club has waltzed its way into my heart and the LoveReading Star Books list - highly recommended.
October 2017 Debut of the Month The author is an American psychotherapist who sets her first novel in a Manhattan mental institute so bringing a large amount of authenticity to this thriller. Samantha, Sam, the golden girl is the obvious therapist to take on the newest, reputedly dangerous patient. At work she can do no wrong, at home she is a mess. In an abusive relationship, an alcoholic and badly lacking in self-esteem we do wonder if this isn’t the case of the blind leading the blind, hence the title. In fact one of her group session patients asks if a therapist should have suffered an addiction to truly understand the patients. Sam’s new, dangerous patient is a total enigma and it is around him the mystery of the novel revolves. With a fantastic twist which socks it to you in the closing lines, this tale, delivered in short, sharp chapters, over five months is a hugely intriguing read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
February 2018 Debut of the Month. Oh my word, this is an absolutely cracking psychological thriller. Anna is unable to leave her house, she views the world from her window and connects with it on her laptop, when she witnesses a horrific incident in a neighbouring house, turmoil awaits. The first few pages set me on edge, and I remained on high alert throughout the story, doubting and questioning my own reasoning. Even if you suspect, you can’t be confident, and there are plenty of shocks and surprises lying in wait. Set over a few weeks, the short chapters whipped into my consciousness, yet the story reveals itself gradually. A. J. Flynn allows the tension to build, slowly, torturously, and exquisitely. Anna tells her own story, wounded herself, can she be trusted? When the revelations came, they spilled from the page and slapped my thoughts. So clever and focused, yet utterly mind-bending, ‘The Woman in the Window’ is a heart-hammering read and I highly recommend stepping into Anna’s world.
What a truly beautiful read this is, light, bright and cheerful (yet not at all frothy), there are also some heartachingly deep and dark depths waiting to be discovered. It’s 1941 and Emmeline desperately wants to become a war correspondent, she somehow finds herself working for an agony aunt and begins to secretly reply to the letters Mrs Bird refuses to answer. Emmeline tells her own tale in the most wonderfully spirited tone of voice, I could hear her so clearly, and immediately warmed to her energy and courage. A.J. Peace weaves the story of sparkling, heartfelt friendship quite marvellously through the air raids, dances, blackouts and rationing. I found myself immersed in 1941, I opened my eyes and my heart to the characters and evocative descriptions. Part of me wanted to encourage Emmeline, to clap and smile as her subterfuge escaped notice, while the other part offered caution, a number of ‘eeeks’, and I had a cushion ready to hide behind just in case. Dear Mrs Bird is just so gloriously readable, it really is an entertaining, affectionate discovery of delight and I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed that there is more to come from the gorgeous Emmeline.
June 2015 NewGen Debut of the Month. An enthralling and profoundly exciting dystopian novel; set aside plenty of reading time, as once you start you just won’t want to stop. It’s fascinating when an author explores a possible future, this particular future feels as though it could be just around the corner. The concerns of mental trauma, violence and social unrest exist today; ‘Mindwalker' is set after a war involving internal terrorism and the state has intimate and invasive access to peoples minds in order to stop violence from occurring. Lain is sensitive, strongly principled and becomes involved in a thrilling race for the truth, she has a captivating romantic interest, and rather than detracting from the storyline, it cleverly adds an intensity. The novel roars towards the ending, quietens then settles, as you turn the final page you can’t help but feel that a ferocious storm is gathering and waiting for release. This absorbing and thought provoking read is a gloriously impressive debut. ~ Liz Robinson
March 2013 Debut of the Month. A compelling, genre-bending crime debut packed full of atmospheric detail that brings a dark and macabre Cambridge to life. The author studied English at Cambridge, hence the pin-sharp detail, and the plot has you moving between the present day and the seventeenth century with an elusive, violent serial killer who seems to have all the time in the world. If you are looking for something a little different in the crime genre, look no further ... In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Beauty of Murder a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'It kept me guessing and gasping when I turned the page and there was another twist'. Scroll down to read more reviews.
December 2013 Debut of the Month. Shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger - Best First Novel 2014. A very simple story with no surprises (until the end) but told with such perceptive insight into the characters and so beautifully written it grips the imagination. It’s about a long-term partnership shattered by a young woman tempting the ‘husband’ Todd away. ‘Wife’ Jodie now has no financial or proprietary rights and things start to get ugly. This could have been banal, like a 60’s American crime TV show but no, this slowly unfolding tragedy becomes a deeply disturbing tale leaving you quite wrung-out. An excellent read.
One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011. Shortlisted for the Galaxy New Writer of the Year Award 2011. January 2011 Debut of the Month. Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger 2011. A chilling, intensely riveting psychological drama of love and moral freefall: of the corruption, by a corrupt society, of a corruptible young man. It is taut, intense and has a momentum as irresistible to the reader as the moral danger that first enchants, then threatens to overwhelm, its narrator. CWA Judges’ comments: 'An alarming and sinister story set in decadent 1990s Moscow, and narrated by a confessional ex-pat British lawyer caught up in property scams and honey-traps. A hypnotically seductive and compelling exploration of moral danger in a society driven by greed and corruption at all levels.'
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010. Novels set in modern day India are very much in vogue at the moment but what makes this one stand out is the assured and accomplished writing and this is reflected in the fact it was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award recently. The Temple-goers introduces us to a sensational new storytelling talent - and a shocking new side of Indian society. An author to watch out for. It tells the story of two young men from very different sides of the tracks: one cast adrift in a world of fashion parties, media moguls and designer labels, the other who reveals to him the city's hidden and squalid underbelly. But when a body is found floating in the canal and one of them is accused of the murder, some deeply unsettling truths begin to emerge, exposing their friendship and the dark and troubled heart of the city in which they live...
Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010.Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment: "We loved Aatish Taseer's audacious and disturbing multi-layered story of modern Delhi."
June 2016 Debut of the Month. A light, flirty and oh, so much fun, debut novel by model and TV presenter Abbey Clancy. 22 year old Jess, a party entertainer from Liverpool has always dreamed of being a famous singer, so she can live like a star and look after her family. When she gets offered the chance of a lifetime, will it live up to her dreams? This is a wonderfully down to earth tale, even as it explores the heady price of fame. Jess is a loveable main character, she makes plenty of mistakes along the way, yet it is easy to emphasise with her. The quick, lively wordplay makes this a very modern romantic story and an enjoyable and entertaining read.
An eye-opening novel that feels like a blistering, witty, understanding-of-self travel diary, and an insight into 19 year old Erin’s soul. Erin travels around the top of the globe to Alaska, as she wants to burst the image of the rugged male explorer. I saw the synopsis for The Word For Woman is Wilderness and just had to read it as I’ve been to Alaska, and read various books set there, including Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer, based on the true story of a traveler who died while trying to live off the land. Erin has read the same books, feels the same pull by the wilderness, and she has been written so beautifully by Abi Andrews that she slipped into a state of reality in my mind. I adored travelling with Erin, she took me to familiar and sometimes entirely unexpected places. It took me a little while to settle in and feel the words, the pace, the tone. I was surprised by her observations, so pithy, so huge, so spot on, it feels at times as though her thoughts have been bottled, shaken, and then explode out of her. The Word for Woman is Wilderness is a beautifully surprising, clever, startling novel and I adored it.
An eye-opening novel that feels like a blistering, witty, understanding-of-self travel diary, and an insight into 19 year old Erin’s soul. Erin travels around the top of the globe to Alaska, as she wants to burst the image of the rugged male explorer. I saw the synopsis for The Word For Woman is Wilderness and just had to read it as I’ve been to Alaska, and read various books set there, including Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer, based on the true story of a traveler who died while trying to live off the land. Erin has read the same books, feels the same pull by the wilderness, and she has been written so beautifully by Abi Andrews that she slipped into a state of reality in my mind. I adored travelling with Erin, she took me to familiar and sometimes entirely unexpected places. It took me a little while to settle in and feel the words, the pace, the tone. I was surprised by her observations, so pithy, so huge, so spot on, it feels at times as though her thoughts have been bottled, shaken, and then explode out of her. The Word for Woman is Wilderness is a beautifully surprising, clever, startling novel and I adored it. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
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