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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?
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. July 2016 Debut of the Month and eBook of the Month.
As decadent and scandalous as New York Society in the roaring twenties, A Certain Age will whisk you back to a time of Jazz, elegance, charm, and murder as only Beatriz Williams can. The world is slowly recovering from the horrors of the Great War. Women’s hemlines are rising and the world offers new freedoms to them. Mrs Theresa Marshall loves her husband but she’s also fallen for her young lover, Captain Octavian Rofrano. After Theresa’s brother announces his engagement to a young, beautiful heiress he asks her to find him a Cavalier to propose to the girl in question in true Marshall tradition. She turns to Rofrano to carry out this small favour and sets in motion a string of events that will change their lives forever. Thrilling and heady, A Certain Age is a delightful novel to escape into. ~ Shelley Fallows Click here to read a Q&A with Beatriz Williams. Click here to view the Reading Group Notes for this title.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. August 2016 Book of the Month. A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories of our true self exist. The memories that we'll do anything to keep hidden. Alice Lake is drawn to a man she spots sitting on the beach. He simply stares out to sea oblivious of the rain, a man who remembers nothing of who he is or where he came from. Alice offers him shelter and the opportunity to attempt to rediscover what or who he is running away from. But something sinister is lurking in his memory and as the past begins to come back to him he wonders if he is running away from a monster or if indeed the monster is actually him. This gripping read is not only a thrilling mystery but is also about accepting the past and learning to find a way to move on. Jewell keeps you guessing what the connections between threads and subtexts are until they all come gloriously together. A wonderful novel to escape in to. ~ Shelley Fallows Click here to read an exclusive interview with Lisa Jewell by Mary Hogarth.
Two parallel stories, set in two time frames, where second chances and the links between two women flicker and burn with energy. In Chicago during 1999, Madeleine tells her own story as she flounders in a loveless marriage, she finds a journal and as she reads, describes her Grandmother’s story, which begins in 1919. As Madeleine discovers her grandmother, can she also re-discover herself? Eleanor Brown has a wonderful eye for detail, the descriptive detailing encouraged smells, sights and sounds to travel from the page into my consciousness. The two stories, full of life and emotion, twist and merge together into a beautiful relationship tale, yet for me, it was the subtle bitter sweet notes of reality that really added substance to this novel. ‘The Light of Paris’ traverses time and continents, in a captivating and gorgeously told, hope filled tale, it really is very lovely indeed.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected 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 July 2016 Book of the Month.
From the author of Possession and The Children's Book comes an extraordinary tale, inspired by the myth of Ragnarok. Intensely autobiographical and linguistically stunning, this book is a landmark work of fiction from one of Britain's truly great writers. You might also say it's timely in that it is a book about how stories can give us the courage to face our own demise. So just as Wagner's Ring Cycle was inspired by Norse myth so Byatt has taken this remarkable finale and used it as the underpinning of this highly personal and politically charged retelling.
July 2016 Book of the Month. 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.
The story of the Trojan War told by two of its most important, yet often overlooked, characters: Briseis, the slave girl Agamemnon and Achilles fought over, and Krisayis (Shakespeare’s Cressida) promised to the Gods but lover of a prince. Also very present are the Gods themselves, playing with lives, betting on battles and arguing amongst themselves. It is a well-known tale, moving, frightening, bloody. This re-telling shows a feminine side, away from the battles but still dependent on their outcome. It is an engrossing world, easy to fall into. As spies, lovers, slaves and prophets these women of Troy show themselves the equal of the more famous men. Even if you know the story well this is still an entrancing read.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A beautifully quirky, yet at the same time completely logical love story (well it is logical once you've realised that you too, have fallen in love with an alligator). ‘Carrying Albert Home’ is a nine part tale, detailing an odyssey that took place during the 1930’s, interspersed with snappy little introductions to each part of the story by the author. As Homer (the elder) and Elsie his wife, adventure their way down the east coast from West Virgina to Florida, with Albert the alligator and the Rooster, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Homer Hickam (the younger and author) is telling the ‘somewhat true’ story of the early years of his parents marriage, surely this is the most fantastical tale ever told! I believe that John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway would remember their parts in this tale with glee, who wouldn't want to have been introduced to the charming and rather glorious Albert? I quite simply devoured this enchanting book in one sitting, and I will want to read it again and again. One of our Books of the Year 2015.
It is easy to think of the Celts as savages and the Romans as the bringers of civilisation when in fact Celtic society was complex and well-structured. Skin captures the flavour of that ancient time beautifully. The people feel a strong connection to nature and magic is everywhere. Within this ordered society Ailia is a misfit. A wonderful narrator full of youthful fire, fear, confusion and joy. Her journey is strange and compelling, for her and the reader, as she is torn between loves and duties in two different worlds. It’s an extremely enjoyable historical fantasy and I look forward to the next one which will finish the story.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. July 2016 Book of the Month. For the readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in. A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour. You will find it difficult to put down. Charting the lives of two families, the Sels and the Duquets from 1693 to 2013, it tells of the rape of the Canadian natural resources, namely timber and fur but predominantly timber. Hard men made fortunes with little regard for anything but power and wealth, certainly not for their workers’ lives or limbs. The first of the immigrant Sels married an Indian; their offspring are then trapped between two cultures. As you would expect, there is a huge number of characters for characters is what Proulx is all about. This is a truly impressive work detailing the destruction of the forests to the point of ecological disaster.
A thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is difficult to know if this huge, sprawling novel would have quite the same appeal if you had not read the first two but I suspect you could probably dive into this as a complex historical adventure of India and China in the middle of the 19th century when the East India Company had great power. It mostly revolves round opium. Here four main characters relate the tale in different voices creating their own individual atmosphere, for the fans let me tell you they are Bhyro Singh’s secretary, his wife, his assistant and a soldier, Kesri Singh. The story jumps from one strand to another for the first half of the book with some truly lovely cameo pieces, a joy. It is also a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - the bestselling Ibis trilogy from the author of Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies - it is nothing short of a masterpiece. The Ibis Trilogy:1. Sea of Poppies2. River of Smoke3. Flood of Fire
Perfect Books for Reading Groups
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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