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Not all great books come through big publishers. Check out some of our favourite indie books on the market.
Not in my Name by Michael Coolwood is an interesting mix of political fantasy and murder mystery. It is earnest and passionate but quite straightforwardly written, which makes it also suitable for younger adult readers. The plot revolves around a group of activists living in a commune in an imaginary version of 2003. Each of the group has their own reasons for being there and their own personal problems that they have brought with them. The trust and camaraderie that the group feel towards each other is suddenly put in jeopardy, however, when they discover that they have been infiltrated and then...the murders begin. The writer has cleverly used authentic but edited contemporary quotes from public figures, applying them to a different situation, thus underlining his premise that politicians will say, do, promise almost anything in order to gain or remain in power, a very high profile scenario happening right now in the U.S. The book is also timely in the descriptions of the way the activists are treated at the hands of the police, very reminiscent of the BLM protests. The ending is slightly unexpected but perfectly reasoned and inevitable, going a long way to restore the reader's faith in human nature and family ties. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Available as part of Kindle Unlimited or for £1.99 I absolutely loved this book and the further into it I got, the harder it was to put it down. Sometimes it went into too much detail for me and there are some spelling and grammar mistakes, but if you can get past those, I think you will love it. I grew up in Guildford where Dark Corporation HQ are, so that was fun thinking about where the offices could be. The characters are all very believable. The story builds up gradually and then suddenly, it is all over. You are finished. I would have loved the suspense to continue a little longer. I am purposefully not wanting to give any spoilers. I am really looking forward to reading book 2 in the series now. Alison Bisping, A LoveReading Ambassador
This book shares Peter’s journey through contracting Meningitis. Having experienced this awful illness through a close family member, I really wanted to read this book. Peter speaks of his illness, his hospital stay and recovery in a very insightful out way. He goes into very interesting detail, explaining how he felt, the terrible side effects of his Meningitis and his gradual recovery. The journey is interesting, heart-breaking, and funny in places too. Peter also includes many of the doctor’s notes, so you also follow his experience from another perspective. The notes are easy to read and are not peppered with lots of medical terminology, something which I have experienced in other such books. I am so glad that Peter felt the need to share his journey and I am even more glad that I read this book. Gail Phillips, A LoveReading Ambassador
Stylish in form and content, this A-Z encyclopaedia of 200 classic cocktails serves up intriguing origin stories alongside inspiring recipes. Written and curated by London bar expert Cas Oh, whose impressive CV includes helming The Club at The Ivy, this gorgeously-produced book (think black-and-gold art deco elegance) represents the distillment of tens of thousands of cocktail recipes into 200 classics - nice work if you can get it! Chicly presented and organised A-Z, it covers everything from the Absinthe Frappé that originated in New Orleans in 1874, to the Espresso Martini of the 1980s, to the triple-rum Zombie of 1930s Hollywood. With the provenance and recipes of many cocktails keenly contested, this seeks to set the record straight, with beautiful reproductions of pages from recipe books of the past revealing the origins and evolution of each concoction. Alongside learning about well-known favourites like Margaritas, Mai Tais, Piña Coladas and Daiquiris, I loved discovering new bizarre brews, such as The Black Velvet, a blend of Guinness and champagne created to commemorate the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Designed to inspire and guide professional bartenders and home-mixers alike, CO-Specs will certainly add more than a dash of glamour to coffee tables. It’s a book to be dipped into, sipped and savoured, rather than downed in one. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
Colony by Benjamin Cross is an action packed Arctic thriller that kicks off with a bang as we witness the death of a Neolithic hunter at the hands/claws of a mysterious creature. When Professor Callum Ross discovers the mummified remains he knows he must find out more, but there are other people out to stop him and something else seems to be watching. I loved the descriptions of the setting and the work put into creating the backstory. Colony reminded me of a Indiana Jones / Nathan Drake plotline, as our archeologist protagonist puts work before his family, and sets out against competition to uncover the truth. I liked the way that the author built tension throughout as well as the brief moments of humour to lighten the atmosphere as I read. There were lots of twists and turns and I was eager to find out what would happen in the end. I would say that Colony is a great book for those who like thrilling adventures with elements of horror, as well as tension filled reads set in the Arctic. An entertaining book.
You've Got Some Nerve is Derryen’s autobiographical account of a traumatic brian injury and her recovery. Dealing openly and honestly about the traumatic events as well as the impact that they have had on her life and outlook, this book is frank without being too intimidating. Shedding much needed light on the impact of brain injuries as well as allowing the reader in to her struggle with PTSD and depression, You’ve Got Some Nerve is an interesting book that offers first hand insight into how to support someone suffering from the long-term effects of an invisible injury. The writing is detailed, evocative and gripped me from the introduction. The intention of this book is to offer some insight into the effects of trauma, and as an account to help those experiencing something similar or know someone who is, feel less alone. There’s sections in the book that include ways that you can offer help and support to someone suffering from the effects of a brain injury, PTSD or depression as well as a ‘wish list for medical providers’ of behaviours that the Derryen found most helpful. I think that this is an interesting read not only for the intended audience of those who have experienced similar trauma to Derryen, but anyone who feels that their life has been taken of course. This book is an honest insight into how drastic life changes can impact you, but also how you can begin to work through them to forge a new path.
The End of Everything is a fantasy that uses Norse mythology to develop a dystopian world where Alira, the prophesied new end of everything following Ragnarok, must find a way to survive long enough to work out who she is. I enjoy reading fantasy novels and Norse Mythology, with faint echoes of storylines like Game of Thrones and Horizon: Zero Dawn, this book is right up my alley. I liked the flawed characterisation of Maya as she struggles to understand her importance and her purpose. I immediately liked her and jeyed watching her character arc develop. This is a brilliant fantasy storyline and the start of what will no doubt be an action-packed series. The plotline is full of twists and turns. The descriptions of the setting and the different peoples were vivid. I was hooked from the first page and I am eager to read more of this story in future books. With truly evil villains, complex and entertaining characters, twists, turns, companionship and love I think that this is a brilliant recommendation for anyone who enjoys YA fantasy and is looking for a little more grit, or simply looking for their next epic fantasy read. I am eager to read the next books in the series.
Listen to the Colours by J.L.Dupont is a well researched WW2 story but like no other war story you will have ever read before. Seen through three very different pairs of eyes, a German soldier, a Polish prisoner of war and a young French boy, we read how the lottery of birth affects life experiences and how these can be made sense of and coped with, even manipulated, under very difficult circumstances. We first meet Heinrich and Hanusz, long time friends and now studying together at the technical college in their home town of Gdansk/Danzig, in 1939, when the city is seized by the Nazi regime and the Pole is forced to complete his studies elsewhere in Poland. Heinrich joins and rapidly rises through the ranks of the German army, whilst Hanusz is soon captured by this rapidly advancing force. The contrast between the privileges of the former and the privations of the latter are really well written and will take the reader right there. But what sets this book apart is the heart wrenching story of Remy, who is 12 years old at the start of the war and severely autistic. The author manages to take us right inside the boy's mind in a way that is quite remarkable and explains just what it means to live in a world that largely follows a different set of rules. A quirk of fate brings these three characters together in a forest in Northern France in 1945 and bonds, both old and new, prove stronger than ideologies but only one of the three will survive. The title of the book refers to the way Remy experiences music, amongst other things, and as another character says 'one French hand, one German hand, a Polish composer and together one performance...that's the Europe I hope will rise from the ruins', a sentiment that is in danger at the present time. This is definitely a must read for anyone interested in people and what makes them tick. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
A tensely twisty, read-in-one-sitting family mystery in which a son races against time to find the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. Fans of family-focussed mysteries will be enthralled by this haunting tale of a son’s search for the truth behind his mother’s disappearance. It’s a gripping story, made all the more edgy by the outwardly composed first-person, present tense narration of the son, Sam, whose inner state is anything but calm. Sam has been a lost soul since the day his mother vanished without trace, leaving her wedding ring and a note to his dad on the kitchen table: “I’ve left you. Look after the boys.” Now, some twenty-five years later, Sam’s aggressive father calls to let him know that his grandmother doesn’t have long left, so Sam visits her realising that “when Gramma dies, her knowledge will be lost…And with that, it is likely that any chance of a resolution will be lost forever”. As Gramma edges closer to her end, fractured threads connecting the characters come to light - spindly strands between Gramma and grandchildren; between Sam and his estranged wife; between father and son; between brothers - and then comes a finale worthy of Eastenders’ style drum booms that leave one wondering how (or if) the family will recover. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
In 'New Beginnings' Victoria Day-Joel chronicles some of the more important recent events in her life in verse. From finally meeting her 'man of the earth, mind of the universe' to looking for her 'home in the sun.....my new beginning' the poems describe the development of her relationship and the processes in her decision to move abroad in intimate and relatable detail. Each individual poem is followed by an eloquent explanation of the circumstances that gave rise to it. I really enjoyed the honesty and beauty of these verses and their imagery and I think readers will be left hoping that she successfully makes the move to Spain in the search for her spiritual home. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Learning to Love is the second in the Make me a Match series. This book follows a different character to the first book in the series, Steeped in Love, so it can be enjoyed as a standalone or out of release date order. This is a lovely relationship story that introduces us to Rebecca Ledgerwood and William Whitney, both teachers but from entirely different backgrounds. Will they manage to overcome their differences and personal challenges in order to be together? You’ll have to read to find that one out for yourself. I enjoy reading relationship stories like this and I was immediately drawn into both Rebecca and William’s lives. I loved the quirky supporting characters, the setting and the fact that the Make me a Match series seems to be introducing us to each of them, I plan on going back to read the first book in the series and I look forward to reading more books in the series. Although this is a lovely relationship story, similar to Carole Matthews and other authors, there are real and difficult issues addressed throughout the plot including poverty, bereavement and eating disorders. The sensitive handling of these subjects made me even more invested in the characters and I hoped throughout that they would get their happy ending. This is a great story and I think the perfect weekend or holiday read.
Really enjoyed this book. I felt I was part of Bel's life in Sant Marti getting to know all the locals and solving crimes. A young florist suddenly and unexpectedly goes missing and a spate of unexplained pet thefts sees Bel, a former detective inspector, brought back in to help the local police force track down the culprits. Attention to detail is amazing, I couldn't read fast enough at times to see what happened - I can highly recommend this book and hope to read more of Anna Nicholas' work. Jayne Burton, A LoveReading Ambassador
I Am The Sand is an intense and graphic psychological thriller with a unique perspective. The plotline pivots around the abduction of Chloe Thomas, while she was on her way home from school. From the reader’s distanced viewpoint we are not only given access to the investigation and Chloe’s fight to survive her capture and endure abusive treatment, we are also able to follow the captor and learn more about his public perception. From this outside perspective, we are also able to enjoy the author’s skill at characterisation, with vital side characters coming to the forefront of story to add an extra twist. This book is incredibly tense and there were times where my heart was racing for Chloe and I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough, at certain points shouting in frustration as hope ebbs away. I also think that the author handles the topic of mental illness well in this book. I am usually hesitant when mental health is incorporated almost as an explanation of a villain’s behaviour, however I appreciated the work carried out by the author to present these themes in a different light, through Sarah’s perspective as well as providing more detail of an aftermath towards the end of the book. I thought I Am the Sand was a highly gripping read and I would recommend it for anyone looking for a page-turning psychological thriller.
Blurry Lines is a tale of family, grief and loss set amongst the current coronavirus pandemic. This story is not like a lot of the pandemic fiction I have come across over the course of the past year. It’s not a science fiction take that places everything we’ve seen into some sort of dystopian, medical drama reality. This book, to play with the title slightly, blurs the lines between fact and fiction with a family’s story. The details and confusion of the spreading pandemic looming in the background, but existing as a catalyst to the experiences within the plot as opposed to the main focus. Nathan, a physician, is a widower and single father who is in lockdown with his sister-in-law and her two children, all coping with the sudden death of Nathan’s brother from COVID-19. As he works to support Maria and her children, Nathan is also able to re-evaluate his life, with the distance from his normal routine during lockdown allowing him to see what impact his actions have on his family. I’m sure a lot of people, myself included, will have taken the time to reflect on their lives and look for opportunities to change, develop and improve going forward. I think the author expertly uses the coronavirus outbreak to spark recognition in the readers, allowing them to connect deeply with the characters as well as take the time to remember their own perspective as they read. The author then manages to develop this further by going on to incorporate an evaluation of the human condition in a way that feels, if not relatable because the reader has already done it, but inspiring, allowing the reader to take a moment to reflect on their own life and experiences. All of the characters in this book are very well-crafted, believable and endearing. Tayo Emmanuel also offers an insight into a different culture throughout the book, including details of Nathan’s upbringing in Lagos. To me, this adds even more depth and detail to an already immersive book. This book is created with honesty and vulnerabilities, and I think it is a brilliant literary insight into the realities of a family, love, loss and grief in this unprecedented world.
Merchants of Hate is Jack Jardel's first novel and what an entrance onto the literary scene! Set in the near future at the time of writing, the author has imaginatively and, in some cases prophetically, described events, which could or are about to happen in real life. An unprecedented natural disaster disables all the manmade satellites orbiting the Earth and with them all digital forms of communication. Through the experiences of several people in different countries around the world, we learn of the unfolding chaos that this catastrophic event causes. Written in short sections, the book keeps readers on their toes, with this constant change of voice and location and the emerging pattern of the relationships between the characters. The writer examines some of the most pressing issues of modern times in this chillingly detailed dystopian scenario, especially the impact of fake news and social media on democracy. This is a bold and powerful story, convincingly exposing the vulnerability of the society we have sleepwalked into. The players are frighteningly realistic and their actions, in the light of recent news, not so improbable or farfetched as we might once have thought. A gripping read for anyone who cares about the future of this uncertain world. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
In The Aviculturist a horrific event from Alice’s childhood, secrets, lies and romance all take place in Penwyth House, Cornwall. When Alice’s mother dies, Alice returns to Cornwall and uncovers a web of family secrets that she must unravel in order to find peace with her past and discover the reason for the nightmares she’s had since she was a child. This book is really enjoyable. It is a quick easy read, and well paced. It has everything you need in a good book, a big old gothic house, and a beautiful remote and rugged location. I enjoyed the writing style and felt that the author really knew and loved her characters, as they felt very real, and I just wanted to love them too, and although there were some parts that did seem a bit implausible, all was forgiven as you just want everything to work out well for everyone.