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For all of you in reading groups and need guidance to select your next group read look no further than our reading group category. Why not print off a few opening extracts to read before you decide?
A family drama full of suspense, tension and heartache. Nina’s 15 year old daughter Scarlett is pregnant, and the father is a married man. As the main story moves from before to after the revelation, Scarlett also tells her story, however she won’t say who the father is. Amanda Brooke lights the fuse and then fans the flames, encouraging questions as Nina turns her family inside out in an attempt to find answers and understand what has happened. This is a story deliberately set to challenge, prod and provoke, yet there is an undeniable sense of compassion and empathy touching the pages. As manipulation is revealed and answers haunt the final pages, ‘The Affair’ stands out as an entirely captivating and thought-provoking read. ~ Liz Robinson
January 2017 Debut of the Month. An enjoyable yet penetrating read, one that can lull you into a false sense of security before it jabs and stings at your awareness. A mystery sits centre stage, yet there is much more on offer here than may first appear. Set in the 60’s, the fabulous descriptive detailing ensures you are set firmly not only in the place, but also the time. This story feels like a tapestry of different threads that are slowly twisting together to create one intense and vibrant picture. There is a subtlety at play here, the story can float in different directions before it blasts your thoughts aside in a hit of raw, flinch-inducing reality. I loved the echoes of disappointment and hope that brought ‘Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars’ to life, this really is a rather lovely and engaging read. ~ Liz Robinson
Sharp, poignant and amusing, this is a beautifully observed novel about growing up during the 80’s as a child of divorced parents. The prologue is short, quirky and full of feeling, it sets the stage perfectly for what is to come. 12 year old Harper is different, her friends include her dictionary, a lady riddled with dementia, and the (dead) occupants of a graveyard. Julia Forster writes with a light, yet spiky and witty touch, however deeper darker tones lie in wait. The descriptive detail is stunning, images danced across my consciousness as I read. The humour slides across the page, there were parts that made me belly laugh out loud and others that caused me to wince, to pause and think. ‘What a Way To Go" touches on pain, death and sadness, yet the unpredictable, entertaining and often ludicrous side of life shines through, this is a wonderfully engaging debut, and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson
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 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
One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Post-Apocalyptic setting is so popular today that it is becoming annoying, so it is great to get a book like this one; not only well written but offering a new angle on the old story. Lone survivors must cope with harsh conditions, that’s always a given, but the protagonist of this story is already lost and surviving alone as part of a reality-TV wilderness show. Her first-person narrative alternates with scenes from the show’s early days of filming, when it was just a game. What results is not just a journey through the wilds but a personal struggle with inner darkness and the nature of reality. No zombies, thank goodness, just an honest and plausible thriller obviously written by someone with a brain as hints, threads and twists weave together in a compelling and disturbing tale. Excellent stuff.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | January 2017 Debut of the Month. The title refers to a Bible quote and two 10-year old girls are greatly mystified as to its meaning and where to find God. They spend the hot summer of 1976 looking for answers. Set in a small town housing estate, the girls’ avenue is a close-knit community of busy bodies. They all know everyone else’s business, they all have secrets they are trying to hide. Beautifully told in multi first-person narratives and nipping in and out of several houses, many of these secrets are drip-fed to us. At its heart is the disappearance of Mrs Creasy from No 8 and the neighbours ostracising Walter Bishop from No 11 whose house mysteriously burnt in 1967. Then there was the “taking of a baby” in the same year. All these mysteries and more bounce round the houses in a charming tale of ordinary folk sweltering in the heat. I loved it. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Fiction and Breakthrough Author Award 2016. Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2016.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. December 2016 MEGA Book of the Month. A short, emotional and entirely captivating novel based on the real events that surrounded, enclosed and smothered the notorious Mata Hari. Mata Hari is a name that still evokes and conjures vivid images, this is a story that releases fact and weaves in fiction, until you're left with a concentrated, intense tragedy. The prologue introduces the end, a chillingly evocative photo followed by a news report, this may be a novel, but it doesn't feel like one, instead it feels as though reality is spilling from the pages. Several photos add an intensity to the already striking and memorable tale. By writing in letter form, Paulo Coelho allowed me to touch, to feel, to question, he made me look at Mata Hari as a woman rather than an exotic creature. ‘The Spy’ strips glamour, discards enchantment, yet there still remains an air of mystery about the fascinating Mata Hari, and I’m left with her still in my mind, I’m left wanting to know more. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2016. The publisher’s blurb for this quirky novel certainly drew me to it especially since I am an enormous fan of his first, A Man Called Ove. I’m afraid I didn’t read his second (shame on me!). Here we have a woman who is definitely on ‘the spectrum’, who has at last left a cheating, domineering husband (when he had a heart attack in the arms of another woman) and must now earn a living. She will not accept that the Job Centre has nothing for her and is eventually given a dead-end, short-term job as caretaker in a closing sports centre in a dying town. She ends up coaching the local kids’ football team in a delightful, warm-hearted tale of great charm. How she wins everyone round and makes a life for herself is poignantly realised. A lovely read.
This latest novel from the acclaimed author of the Orange-longlisted The Pink Hotel is an exploration of memories, consequence and the difficulties of living with the past. Cathy is a curator of natural history in Berlin. She is engaged, about to receive an award for her work and beginning to feel that she has finally escaped her past, a past that she keeps locked away within her own museum of curiosities. Yet on the day she is due to receive her award she receives a gift that tells her that a shadow that haunts her memories has resurfaced to claim back what he feels belongs to him. I was completely swept away with this story. Stothard’s technique allows us to watch events unfold with regular insights into Cathy’s past that slowly reveal the reality of what she has been hiding from with a steadily rising sense of foreboding. I found the exploration of characters sensitively handled and yet provided enough suspense and contained a level of sinister tension that had me guessing just what each one may be capable of. This is exquisite, beautifully written prose and the use of the museum as a theme throughout with setting, a means of storytelling and metaphor, is quite brilliantly executed. It is personal, it is universal and it is something that lives within each of us and the memories we hold. Cathy’s story moved me and I so wanted her to find the escape she desperately needed. Highly recommended. ~ Shelley Fallows November 2016 Book of the Month.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Flora Mackie leads a remarkable life. Daughter of a whaling captain, with her mother dead, she spent many of her teenage years sailing with him and living with the Inuit of Greenland. When grown, it naturally suits her to join an Arctic expedition with a British scientific team. Jakob de Beyn’s obsession with ice and glaciers also leads him north with an American expedition. Though they meet only briefly, he and Flora live similar lives with many parallels and some extraordinary stories. Hardship and determination colour both to the point where it is the Arctic that feels like home and the civilised Victorian world that seems hostile, and it is those sections that I found the most thrilling. Stef Penney’s book is huge; in length, in distances crossed, in ideas, in drama. Her elegant prose is a joy to read. Stretching from 1883 to 1948, it is not a novel of one thing only; not a portrait of a time, not a love story, not a cultural exploration, not an adventure story but all these things together, making it, above all, an excellent read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst November 2016 Book of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... Dear Reader,I hope you’re wrapped up warm. Within these pages are driving blizzards, weeping glaciers and a sea frozen into concrete – all conjured so realistically that you may find your breath misting in front of you as you read. Stef Penney’s power to create a world remote in time and place that feels as real as the book you are holding is unparalleled, and in Under a Pole Star she outdoes even her stunning achievements in The Tenderness of Wolves.Although this book has a cold setting, it has a warm heart. I fell completely in love with clever, wry Flora Mackie and her determination to be an Arctic explorer. As she overcomes all obstacles to be seen as a real scientist and a true leader, I hope you will be as swept up in her adventures and her life-changing love affair as I was.Under a Pole Star is a truly epic story that will stay with you long after you read it. Enjoy the journey.Jane Wood, Publisher, Quercus
Told by many voices, some wise, some wicked, this is the story of a close community under unbearable strain. What is the breaking point where neighbours and even sisters will turn against each other? The older people remember the Great Plague of 1348, an unimaginable horror that decimated Europe, England and the village of Porlock. Now Porlock is threatened once again, but is this natural disease God’s will or the curse of a witch? A mother of lost sons, a religious fanatic, a dwarf ex-jester, a lonely noble woman and others each tell their side of this harrowing story. Charm and sensitivity run throughout the narrative making this a frighteningly believable story. Medieval Porlock is skilfully evoked and some of the landmarks of the story are still visible today. A moving and disturbing tale of humanity pushed to the edge of society and beyond collapses. Those who fear the fashionable modern ‘zombie apocalypse’ would do well to read this and remember that the past also held life-changing horrors. Exciting, enthralling, enticing, disturbing and enjoyable, this is a wonderful read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst October 2016 Reading Group Book of the Month. Click here to view a Reading Guide for The Plague Charmer.
A smart and sassy take on a 21st century mum making her way in the world, trying not to cause too much damage but also hoping that maybe, just maybe she may be able to find the contentment within herself that she so badly craves. For one day we enter the life of Eleanor and she’s determined that today will be different and if nothing else she’s determined to leave the world a better place than she found it. Then her day takes an unexpected turn as the past creeps into her present. Suddenly there are questions demanding to be answered. Why is her husband on a ‘vacation’ she knows nothing about? Where is he disappearing to each day? How will she explain to Timby about the sister she never talks about? And what will happen to The Flood Girls? Long since consigned to the back of the closet. Maria Semple’s fresh, unique voice is full of humour and yet also captures the same complexities we all experience trying to find our place in the world. Through this novel we have a snapshot of Eleanor’s life, her fears, her pain and the thing that makes it complete in so many ways. We also experience the crazy thoughts that often flit in and out of her head. Thoughts we can all relate to and the unexplained conclusions we leap to and in turn the consequences they have on our happiness. Semple expertly weaves past experiences into Eleanor’s day as we see her trying to track down her husband whilst also being confronted by a sister that she no longer acknowledges. Today Will Be Different shares the hope that we can learn to be more accepting of who we are and allow ourselves to be happier. Semple’s writing style is sharp and one that you may either love or hate but it’s bold and distinctive and personally I loved it. ~ Shelley Fallows October 2016 Book of the Month.
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 dicussed. 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.
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