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Did you know that the first recorded reading groups were among women working in factories in the nineteenth century? And now, according to research undertaken a few years ago, there are tens of thousands of groups meeting regularly in the UK reading everything from literary classics to technical manuals! Of course, if you are in a book group, choosing what to read next can be a serious matter as not every book has subject matter that can really be discussed. So to help you LoveReading has decided to lend a hand by, each month, selecting a number of books we feel are perfect and will give your group a rewarding discussion as well as a rewarding read.
June 2017 Debut of the Month. Winner of the Writers’ Guild Best First Novel Award 2017 - This gentle yet beautifully told story follows recently-widowed Thomas on a journey back to the India of his birth, where he rediscovers not only himself but also the Bureau of Second Chances. Thomas and his wife Nimmy, had planned to retire together in the small fishing village of Kerala but life doesn’t quite go to plan when Cancer takes Nimmy from him. After a lifetime in London, Thomas returns to their homeland alone and soon begins to reacquaint himself with the traditions and life he left behind. When a friend in need asks him to help run his Optical Store, Thomas soon suspects that there is certainly more at work than meets the eye in the store. For the efficient and trusted assistant Rani is also providing lonely men and women the opportunity for a second chance in life and love. Before long Thomas is discovering himself in a way he hasn’t dared before and begins to hope that life may still yet hold a few surprises and the chance of happiness for him again too. Sheena Kalayil paints a wonderfully atmospheric picture of life in India and captures her characters perfectly so that I became invested in their stories and longed for them to find the happy ending they so deserved. ~ Shelley Fallows
June 2017 Debut of the Month. A thought-provoking and wittily pointed debut, about the life and loves of the Plumb family. There are four siblings at the centre of this novel, Leo causes uproar when a chunk of their common nest egg is syphoned off for him. A tale of love, hate and everything inbetween, complicated layers are peeled away, revealing a family in turmoil. There were times I almost felt as though I was eavesdropping, hearing a particularly juicy piece of gossip, could it possibly be true! The tale occasionally slips and slides away from the siblings, to other characters, the links combine to create moments of stillness and thought, or expose and cause mayhem. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney writes with eloquence, she has a beautifully light touch as she captures moods and feelings and sets them free in your mind, to flicker and provoke. ‘The Nest’ is a gorgeously expressive and captivating read and I highly recommend making room for it on your bookshelf.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | June 2017 Book of the Month. Wow! This is a cracking psychological thriller. Told in first person from two different viewpoints it causes you to question the reliability of both women. Smart, sensitive, talented Bo, always mothering, always looking to save someone and Alice, young, damaged and a drifter. The two meet at a writers retreat and a spark sets off an unexpected chain of events that will change the lives of both women. Alice is in awe of the successful author and in turn something in Alice’s writing captures Bo’s attention. The two embark on an intense, complex relationship which soon becomes obsessive and destructive. I was completely swept up in the brilliance of Sarah’s carefully constructed plot that had me constantly questioning the outcome and eagerly turning the page. The beautifully atmospheric setting of the Lake District and bustling, bohemian Brighton echo the different characters at the heart of this story. It was a chilling read, expertly crafted and difficult to put down. ~ Shelley Fallows Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
June 2017 Debut of the Month. A dazzling debut about a fostered autistic girl’s poignant search for her Forever Home, and her acute need to be needed. Truly a gem that will satiate an abundance of literary tastes, this is surely set to become a must-read sensation. Ginny Moon is almost fourteen, and has autism. After years of neglect and abuse at the hands of her Birth Mother, followed by troubled spells with a succession of foster families, she’s now much more settled with her Forever Parents, Maura, and Brian. But something is playing on Ginny's mind. Really playing on it. Someone needs her, much more than Maura, Brian and new Baby Wendy do, and so Ginny becomes desperate to find her Birth Mother so she can take care of the Baby Doll she left in a suitcase in her mother’s apartment all those years ago. Ginny will do anything to reach her goal - lie, scheme, steal, set up her own kidnapping. There’s tremendous tension, shock, horror and heartache, and you feel desperately for both Ginny and her Forever Parents, to whom the search feels like rejection. Ginny's journey will break your heart, but it will also heal it, for there are many moments of love and kindness along the way, and humour too. Ginny’s Michael Jackson obsession brought many smiles, as did Larry, her adorable classmate and not-so-secret admirer. While Ginny’s worldview is uniquely her own, we can all identify with her deep-rooted desire to be needed. Her unforgettable voice is conjured with tender authenticity, and the shifting, increasingly on-the-edge family dynamics are incisively evoked. This is a wondrous page-turner, with all the appeal of books such as The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time and The Rosie Project. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
Oh what a thrilling and gloriously dramatic tale this is! A violent attack on a parent takes place within the grounds of a private school in Brighton, just days later, Cece moves into the area, her two youngest start at the school, and she becomes friends with the very women the police suspect of the crime. Each chapter is headed by one of the women, each story told in the first person, ebbing and flowing between time periods. Within a short time I didn't have to look to see who was heading each chapter, each voice is absolutely individual and distinctive. I became so caught up in the story, I didn't want to miss a single sentence or word, this really is very clever, compelling writing indeed. I truly love reading Dorothy Koomson’s novels, I think it’s her ability to look beyond the obvious, to seek out hidden feelings, to look underneath our uppermost thoughts, to what really lies within our hearts and minds. As it explores relationships and exposes lies and secrets, ‘The Friend’ reveals itself to be a striking and deliciously entertaining read.
June 2017 Debut of the Month. Right from the start we realise this is a Montague/Capulet situation; a feud between families, in this case from Crete, that spills blood only here our Juliet (Poppy) lives and has a child. It is this London born girl, Angelika, who goes in search of her past and unearths the tragic tale which she shares with us. She is due to get married and would like her estranged family at her wedding. Her mother left Crete before Angie was born and has severed herself from her previous life. Why? Angie finds her grandmother, aunts and uncles and is very slowly told of the atrocities of the Nazi occupation, civil war and then the junta. Graphic, bloody and horrific much is described in gory detail. Families are torn apart. Angie has problems of her own. As her wedding day draws close so the revenge and secrets of the two families come poring out. We race to the end with our hearts thumping. Full of local colour and tradition this is a little slow to start but certainly builds to unexpected conclusions. Terrific stuff. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Click here to view all of the eBook formats for this title.
A most unexpected, if gripping thriller from the author of the much-admired Last Policeman trilogy. The book takes place in an America where the Civil War came to a different conclusion and agreements were fudged to divide the country into two zones, in one of which slavery is still tolerated, while in the North a compromised state of affairs reigns in which a black slave catcher becomes the involuntary hero of the proceedings where he has to smuggle himself behind southern lines to investigate a fiendish plot which could well involve his employers and the so-called liberal North. Intricate, at times breath-stopping, this is a hell of a thriller and one which although set in a dystopian imagined world remains so believable. Will Victor prevail or is he being manipulated and what secrets are kept behind the borderline and the omnous plantations and factories? Answers are provided and they are anything but reassuring. A thriller that dares to ask questions. ~ Maxim Jakubowski Sarah Broadhurst's view... The premise is that four southern states in America did not abolish slavery and formed a republic within the USA. Tightly controlled borders exist and escaped slaves are ruthlessly hunted down. Our protagonist is an escaped slave who tracks down his own in exchange for his “liberty”. He is very good at what he does and goes under many different names. This exciting story centres on a hunt to find Jackdaw, only our hero realises something is slightly off kilter. A relationship develops between him and a white girl with a mixed-race son and so some nice ambiguities are introduced. There is some heavy secret hanging over our hero and as the tale progresses we are never sure if he is good or not. A lot of deal making and double crossing occurs between a group helping slaves, “the underground airlines”, and the marshals, leaving us uncertain as to whom the goodies and baddies are. Then there is an extra twist. Brilliant. A good story on all levels. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
June 2017 Book of the Month. A fascinating foray into the past, and the intriguing missing period of time so well documented, yet little known about in Agatha Christie’s life. I’ve visited the Silent Pool and Newlands Corner where Agatha Christie went missing, so for me this was a must read. Andrew Wilson seamlessly blends fact and fiction, and has obviously thoroughly researched this period in Christie’s life. The Editor’s Note cleverly sets the scene, and then chapter one begins, Agatha Christie, speaking in the first person, oh my word! Andrew Wilson effectively took me back in time to 1926, creating an engaging, readable, and oh so colourful story. This is most definitely not a whodunit, rather it’s an imagined how and why did she do it. ‘A Talent for Murder’ is wonderful escapism, and a worthwhile, thoroughly enjoyable read. ~ Liz Robinson
Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 Category Winner for the Costa Book Awards 2017, First Novel Award June 2017 Debut of the Month. It is the standard reply when people ask, “How are you?” ....you say “I’m fine.” Well, Eleanor is most definitely not fine and has not been since she was 10 years old. Shifted from one foster home to another, she does eventually go to university where she ends up in an abusive relationship. On graduation she gets a job in the accounts department of a graphic designer and there she is when we meet her, aged 31 and desperately lonely. Eleanor is on the spectrum with her life overshadowed by some dreadful childhood tragedy which has left her face badly scarred. She keeps her head down at work and spends the weekends with two bottles of vodka. She speaks to her mother on the telephone on a Wednesday and dreads the call. We are uncertain as to whether her mother is in prison or an asylum. Life ticks by until her works’ computer needs attention and enter one geeky IT man. How he and others break down her barriers is beautifully done. Very slowly we learn more about Eleanor and her past. Very slowly a future develops but once the geek (Raymond) arrives the novel is by no means slow. It becomes a page-turning, compulsive read of great charm.
Explore in ‘Chance Developments’ five charming and poignant short stories. I absolutely adore the premise for this little book and the cover just invites you in. Alexander McCall Smith has imagined a background tale to the five black and white photos that appear at the beginning of each short story. The photos are eloquent and moving, the stories delve deeply into possibilities, love and friendship, joy and melancholy. From Sister Flora to a circus performer, each story is a small snapshot of what might have been, and as I read, I found myself drawn back to the photo, to look again and ponder. Alexander McCall Smith has transformed five forgotten photos into a discovery of delight. ~ Liz Robinson May 2017 Book of the Month. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Alexander McCall Smith by Mary Hogarth. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'If you come across an old photograph what do you think about the people staring back out at you? Maybe that they are just anonymous people from another age, as if from another planet. Or do you, like McCall Smith, hear their voices, know their names, sense their hopes and dreams and imagine how their lives might have turned out.Blessed with a wonderful, humane imagination, McCall Smith brilliantly constructs paths for these forgotten people - some joyous, others bumpy and winding, all with unexpected twists and turns. An astonishing achievement: original and moving.' ~ Neville Moir, Editor of Chance Developments
May 2017 Book of the Month. Gosh, what a stunning read this is, I simply couldn't put it down and devoured it in one glorious sitting! Cassy travels half way around the world to New Zealand with her boyfriend, when they separate, Cassy is left stranded, and a split second decision changes the outcome of her life. I admit to grabbing this book as soon as it arrived in the office; Charity Norman has the ability to strike a chord, to answer a feeling, yet open your eyes and mind to new thoughts, and I simply love her writing. The prologue, set in 2016, sent chills racing down my arms, I almost had to sit on my hands to prevent me from sneaking a peak at the ending. As soon as I started to read chapter one, set in 2010, I was swept away, and stayed immersed in the story as the tension escalated to almost unbearable levels. I chided, fumed, beseeched, pondered and considered. Charity Norman has once again created a searing, expressive, and absolutely cracking read, I adored and highly recommend ‘See You In September’. ~ Liz Robinson
A gorgeously eloquent and powerfully expressive novel, ‘The Essex Serpent’ explores an unusual relationship in the 1890’s. This isn't exactly a love story, it is rather, a tale about love, in all its different forms. While Cora and Will form the heart of this novel, every member of the surrounding cast is as important as these two, each fitting into a perfectly formed relationship jigsaw. At times they may not be likeable, they may have their quirks, their differences, yet they are so well formed, it is possible to feel empathy as you question a decision or comment made. The Essex serpent coiled and waiting, exploits fear and mistrust, creating a fascinating setting in which connections flourish and wither. Sarah Perry’s ability to paint a picture with her beautifully chosen words is extraordinary. At times the Victorian setting vanished and the relationships felt very current and modern, while at others the different time period proclaimed the complications and difficulties faced by anyone judged as being different. ‘The Essex Serpent’ isn't a story to be rushed, it should be savoured, and valued, and most of all, enjoyed for the truly beautiful novel it is. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016. Costa judges' comment: “This is the best kind of historical fiction – brimming with ideas and energy.” A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... 'As an editor, there are books to which you become deeply connected. And then there are those books that you become so close to that you almost feel as though they are a part of you. The Essex Serpent, the second novel by Sarah Perry, is one such rare book, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world. It is a sumptuously imagined novel of lives playing out against bigger historical moments, and it is the most unusual and moving love story I have ever read. It confirms Sarah Perry’s place among the finest novelists of her generation.' ~ Hannah Westland, Editor, Serpent's Tail
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016. A gorgeously eloquent and powerfully expressive novel, ‘The Essex Serpent’ explores an unusual relationship in the 1890’s. This isn't exactly a love story, it is rather, a tale about love, in all its different forms. While Cora and Will form the heart of this novel, every member of the surrounding cast is as important as these two, each fitting into a perfectly formed relationship jigsaw. At times they may not be likeable, they may have their quirks, their differences, yet they are so well formed, it is possible to feel empathy as you question a decision or comment made. The Essex serpent coiled and waiting, exploits fear and mistrust, creating a fascinating setting in which connections flourish and wither. Sarah Perry’s ability to paint a picture with her beautifully chosen words is extraordinary. At times the Victorian setting vanished and the relationships felt very current and modern, while at others the different time period proclaimed the complications and difficulties faced by anyone judged as being different. ‘The Essex Serpent’ isn't a story to be rushed, it should be savoured, and valued, and most of all, enjoyed for the truly beautiful novel it is. June 2016 Book of the Month and eBook of the Month. Costa judges' comment: “This is the best kind of historical fiction – brimming with ideas and energy.” A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... 'As an editor, there are books to which you become deeply connected. And then there are those books that you become so close to that you almost feel as though they are a part of you. The Essex Serpent, the second novel by Sarah Perry, is one such rare book, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world. It is a sumptuously imagined novel of lives playing out against bigger historical moments, and it is the most unusual and moving love story I have ever read. It confirms Sarah Perry’s place among the finest novelists of her generation.' ~ Hannah Westland, Editor, Serpent's Tail