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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!
A stunningly beautiful, courageous read, one that crosses through time to 1612, when witchcraft allegations went hand in hand with fear, power and corruption. This is a work of fiction based on real people, local residents, Pendle witches and all. Let me tell you about the cover of this book, which really is very gorgeous indeed. The green leaves sooth, with fiery bursts of orange-red and gold, I then noticed the fox, the ring, pendant, feather… and last of all, the noose, which of course once I had seen, reached out and became all I could see. I tell you this, because the cover reminds me of how I felt about the book, mysterious, yet almost gentle, I let the words take me, I felt myself floating, and then bites of uncertainty and disquiet started gnaw at my awareness. The persecution of the women hammered home while an otherworldly existence lodged itself in my thoughts, and remains there. Deceptively powerful, moving and provocative, Stacey Hall writes with an eloquent pen. Opening a window into a vivid feast of a read, as a debut novel The Familiars stands out from the crowd.
A hard-hitting punch of a crime thriller is waiting to be discovered, but also within the pages lies a provocative and emotionally stunning read too. This debut was the winner of the 2018 Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award, and believe me, I can completely understand why. Lelle has been driving the silver road looking for his missing daughter for three years, his endless search consumes his very being. Within the first page I knew I had fallen in love with the writing, which is exquisitely translated. The words connected with my very being, I could feel the words, look around me and see my surroundings. Stina Jackson balances the dark and light quite beautifully, while tense and foreboding, there is also a silvery thread of hope to be found that thrums gently in the background. The cover of The Silver Road beckons, it leads to a read that emotionally connects, opens feelings and allows access to thoughts. Oh, and that ending… the ending sent goosebumps shivering down my arms. A highly recommended read indeed and one of my picks of the month.
Gosh, this is an absolute treat of a debut novel, so different, so compelling, so fabulously readable! Circling a past that isn’t actually that long ago, the Cold War battle between the USA and USSR intertwines with the background tale to the novel that became Doctor Zhivago. The prologue wonderfully and thoroughly sets the scene. The story spins and spins again, and as several tales are told from different perspectives, we hear from an unknown voice in the typing pool, from a muse, from a carrier… Women take centre stage, even when in a supportive role. Lara Prescott kept my attention as taut as razor wire throughout, the words ganging up to give my thoughts little shoves. I have been left with a thirst for more information about the history of this time, yet thoroughly satisfied by the tale on offer. The Secrets We Kept is many things, spy story, love story, cold war story, it is also an eloquent, surprising read and highly recommended.
Bea is the kind of open, honest, amusing character readers immediately care about. Told through her wittily illustrated diary, Bea’s tale begins with a(nother) upheaval. She and her family have just moved to their new Chinese takeaway, but her hopes for a fresh start are immediately dashed when she sees there’s no living room, and she has to share a room with little sister Bonny while big brother Simon lives with their grandparents. Bea’s experience of feeling “doubly different” is poignantly portrayed – she’s an outsider at school because she’s Chinese, and an outsider among her wider Chinese family because her own family is dysfunctional, and because she doesn’t speak the same language. Thank goodness, then, that she forms a friendship with fellow outcast, Tina the Goth, who stands up to racist school bullies. But while Bea begins to feel hopeful about her future and takes steps towards realising her dream of working in fashion, she and Bonny are increasingly neglected by their parents, and then there’s Dad’s aggressive outbursts. The mid-1980s setting prompts many amusing references, from ra-ra skirts and Gary Kemp’s perm, to sending drawings to Take Hart and going to Wimpy for a Knickerbocker Glory - but above all this is a highly readable, highly empathetic, impactful novel about familial abuse and neglect, trying to fit in, and finding your way in the world. Based on her own experiences, author Sue Cheung’s big-hearted story will chime with readers of 12+ who know how it feels to fall between cracks and dream of a different life.
September 2011 eBook of the Month.A magical and wonderfully inventive story about passion. An American in Paris falls in love with two women, one of whom he can only imagine, in this wonderful debut. A box full of century-old artifacts begins the love affair but why were they so conveniently put on his desk to find?It unlocks a dramatic and romantic story of a French woman who lived in Paris through both world wars and a present day story runs with it. The letters, jottings, photos etc are reproduced throughout the novel.
After living wild in the forests for years, carrying a terrible secret, all Silvana knows is that she and Aurek are survivors. Everything else is lost. While Janusz, a Polish soldier who has criss-crossed Europe during the war, hopes his family will help put his own dark past behind him. But the war and the years apart will always haunt each of them unless they together confront what they were compelled to do to survive.
Shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Award 2010. Sarah Sargeant has been single for three years and nine months, and has just suffered a humiliating rejection from a bald man with a paunch who works in her local pub. In an attempt to revive her love life, Sarah’s family and friends persuade her to start a blog, and a mission. A mission to explore 50 ways to find a lover.
A gritty examination of the underbelly of 1950s Soho. Gangsters, drugs, crime and sex provide the background to this novel set around an illegal drinking den populated by a host of colourful characters. It's certainly a far cry from the 50s stereotype of pinafore-clad housewives in suburbia. Great dialogue a good pace, and characters with a lot of depth make this a worthwhile read.
February 2012 Debut of the Month. A beautiful, haunting literary debut from an extraordinary new talent who we can see scooping future literary prizes. When you are the Director of the Creative Writing Course at Oxford University there is, understandably, quite a lot of interest when you decide to write your first novel but Clare Morgan clearly hasn’t let it effect her.Looking at the lives of two academics through their passions for the philosopher Nietzsche and novelist Virginia Woolf, A Book for All and None, is highly accessible and thought provoking. Why not try the free Opening Extract?
June 2011 Debut of the Month. A beautiful, haunting literary debut from an extraordinary new talent who we can see scooping future literary prizes. When you are the Director of the Creative Writing Course at Oxford University there is, understandably, quite a lot of interest when you decide to write your first novel but Clare Morgan clearly hasn’t let it effect her. Looking at the lives of two academics through their passions for the philosopher Nietzsche and novelist Virginia Woolf, A Book for All and None, is highly accessible and thought provoking. Why not try the free Opening Extract?
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A brilliant debut from a fresh and unique voice, ‘A Boy Made of Blocks' is a book that will make you laugh, cry and think to yourself ‘thank goodness, it’s not just me!’ This wonderful book is one that every parent, every friend of a parent and every person who ever raised a judgemental eyebrow whilst witnessing a ‘difficult’ child should read. Alex is reeling from life. He's left the family home and has never felt further from his wife and son. He loves them both dearly but parenthood can put a strain on any relationship and having an autistic son adds even more pressure. Sam, his beautiful yet unreachable son, is a problem that Alex is finding impossible to solve and whilst suffocating under the responsibility he feels towards his family Alex finally hits rock bottom. Until that is Sam discovers Minecraft and so begins an adventure of a father finally finding a way to understand his son and maybe himself too. I adored Keith Stuart’s writing style. It was fresh and honest but with no trace of bitterness. Some moments were so beautifully written they made my heart ache and moved me to tears. He captures so much in so few words and I came to love his characters and felt truly sad when I reached the final sentence. A beautiful debut that not only changed the way I look at autism and children considered ‘different’, but also the struggles we all face within our lives today.' ~ Shelley Fallows September 2016 Debut of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'It’s hard for me to be objective about A Boy Made of Blocks: it’s the book I most want people to read, partly because when they do, they universally love it. It both has massive commercial potential and is a singularly modern, heartfelt and meaningful piece of writing. It is absolutely not an ‘issues’ book, but a wonderful, funny, emotional story full of memorable characters, wit, and warmth. It’s the kind of novel people fall in love with – I certainly did – and has one of the most uplifting finales I can ever remember reading.' ~ Ed Wood, Editorial Director – Sphere Fiction
February 2014 Debut of the Month. A challenging, big, historical novel steeped in fact and really quite an excellent history lesson. It seems Geoffrey Chaucer has lost an important book that has been tampered with and its content now treasonable. It contains a secret some will murder for. But this is no Dan Brown. This is serious historical stuff, difficult to know where fact and fiction part. It concerns a plot against Richard II and if you are into medieval history it is superb, full of lovely names of different areas depicting the trades associated with it, like Gropecunt Lane! Fascinating. In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for A Burnable Book a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'London 1385. A missing book filled with dark prophecy. A monarchy under threat. Murder, conspiracy and treason. A debut tour de force which will keep you hooked from the first page.' Anita Wallas. Scroll down to read more reviews.
Contemporary Botswana but this is not the land of Mma Ramotswe of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. This is a dark, tough Botswana of diamond smuggling and corruption, and this stars Assistant Superintendent David Kubu Bengu. I liked him which is good news for he’s going to reappear in several more books. The traditional cultural background is here but this is a modern land where global influences prevail. It’s good. Comparison: Peter Temple, Colin Cotterill, Matt Rees.
April 2017 Debut of the Month. All aboard for an Agatha Christie-esque mystery set on a ship bound for the distant shores of Australia in 1939. As the world teeters on the edge of another war, working class Lily is about to plunge headlong into a new life. She’s leaving her family and her little room in Hammersmith to work in domestic service in Australia. While she’s on a lowly assisted-passage scheme, once aboard the ship she “feels like a person of substance”, enjoying cocktail parties in the company of flirtatious Edward Fletcher and the decadent Campbells as they stop off at the likes of Pompeii, the Pyramids and Colombo. But, as Lily’s Jewish friend Maria remarks, “on a boat like this everyone is running away from something”, and that certainly turns out to be true when a succession of misdemeanors strike; an assault, a disappearance, and then murder. All in all, this is a scrumptiously entertaining, read-in-one-sitting mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue and the sting of an unexpected twist, while also exploring sexual, racial and class prejudices. ~ Joanne Owen
May 2016 Debut of the Month. Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016. A bittersweet, page-turning love story which jumps back and forth in time. It tells of a Japanese couple, Ameterasu and Kenzo, now living in America and the loss of their daughter and grandson after the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. We learn of Ameterasu’s great love before she married and then of their daughter’s great love. The identity of these men is at the centre of this tale. We start it as a very disfigured man arrives on widowed Ameterasu’s doorstep claiming to be her grandson. So the past is revealed to us in dramatic bursts and Ameterau tells us of the emotional conflict between her and her daughter: so sad. At the beginning of each chapter there is a Japanese word and an explanation of its meaning and usage, not always relevant but always interesting, hence the title. Highly recommended.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008 One of two debut novels in the 2008 Man Booker shortlist and it certainly deserves the recognition. Great characterisation, plot and observations on a disjointed family.
Fabulous First-time Fiction
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