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Welcome to the present, here we have some fabulous reads set in the modern era. From provocative to beautiful, open your heart and mind and discover strong, believable stories that hammer at your awareness and cause thoughts to hesitate, develop, and flow.
A powerful, eloquent, earthy and emotional novel about family, regret, hope, and redemption. Former footballing prodigy Danny Garvey returns home to manage the local football team, yet past secrets haunt the present. I simply fell into this novel, fell in love with both the writing and storyline, and similarly adored Welcome to the Heady Heights. David F Ross writes so beautifully, images spark into life, so vibrantly real they almost hurt. During the course of this novel I found myself roaring with laughter, high on feel-goods, then caught up in plummeting emotions that caused a physical ache… this is a novel with real heart. The direct thoughts of the other headline characters appear in italics, and boy does it create atmosphere. My head was full of the added information, creating a jigsaw, while searching for the missing pieces without realising it. The ending gave me full-on goosebumps, and I sat for a goodly while in contemplation after finishing. I want to shout from the rooftops about There’s Only One Danny Garvey, hand on heart it’s blimmin brilliant!
Thando Mgqolozana’s A Man Who is Not A Man is a coming-of-age tour de force. The writing is exceptional - always muscular, often raw, occasionally wry - as it explores masculinity through a young man’s journey to selfhood in the wake of a rite of passage that goes devastatingly wrong. After going off the rails in Cape Town, Lumkile resolves to put his days of drugs, theft and violence behind him when he moves to his mother’s rural village. Here he “went clean” and “decided to make something of myself”, and it’s not long before “Item One on my grand plan was just around the corner”. Namely, Lumkile begins the initiation process that will lead to his circumcision, to his journey to manhood. Above almost everything, he’s warned by elders to avoid hospital at all costs, for that would mean failure and “there is no living space for failed men in our society. Either you become a man in the expected way, or you are no one at all.” After being circumcised, he remains alone in the mountains, alone with his “burning agony”, alone with the stench of putrefying flesh - such is his fear of the shame and social ostracism seeking medical assistance would bring. Lumkile’s resistance to hospitalisation is incredibly harrowing, and there’s little respite when he’s admitted and continues to suffer in silence. But through surviving this physically and mentally excruciating experience, he summons the strength to speak out, realising that “Survival starts from within... As a so-called failed man, I have had to gain a new understanding of myself in context...My self-image is no longer dependent on what my society thinks of me but what I think of it.” Powerful stuff from an exceptional writer.
A thoughtfully intricate and fascinating novel which tells two stories in a most unusual way. Yoel Blum, grandfather and famous Israeli author, travels to Amsterdam and finds that everything he thought he knew about himself has been turned on its head. Setting forth into the history of his family and the Jewish community within Amsterdam during World War Two, Yoel Blum begins to understand himself and his relationships. This isn't a loud or boisterous tale, yet the clarity is piercing. The detail of the underground networks hiding Jewish children in the Second World War is full of impact. Emuna Elon has the most beautiful way with words, her descriptions took me by the hand and led me into their very midst. There are no speech marks or indications of changing time frames, however I never felt out of place. The translation from Hebrew has been completed with great skill by Anthony Berris and Linda Yechiel. Chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, this is a novel to read slowly, to experience, to become a part of. House on Endless Waters is a beautifully eloquent family mystery highlighting human tragedy and resilience.
Katie Hale is our January 2020 Debut Author of the Month. Click to find out more about Katie on our blog. Oh… my… word, this is one fabulous debut! I found a deceptively simple, and stark dystopian foray into a world blighted by bombs and sickness. Monster is completely alone until one day she finds a child. She becomes mother and passes on her knowledge, but are her mothering skills being received in the way she is expecting them to be? Told in the first person, Katie Hale has created short chapters where thoughts scatter, bounce, zigzag. I filed away feelings and emotions as I read, each within touching distance, lying in wait to prod and provoke. This feels honest, as though looking at a future just within grasp, or back to a history that has already happened. The feelings are raw, sometimes painful, yet relatable and believable. I found the premise of this novel absolutely fascinating, I explored interpretation of meaning, motherhood, and thoughts on the basic cycle of life. ‘My Name is Monster’ is poignant, moving and wonderfully different, it is also incredibly intimate, readable and surprisingly beautiful, I adored it. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
Our January 2021 Book Club Recommendation Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. A complete joy of a debut, bright, observational and incredibly intimate, this book has lodged itself in my heart. Take twelve independent yet linked stories over twelve months about people who are connected to a London park community. The focus changes with each month, allowing individual stories to shine, yet they add up to a vibrantly wonderful whole. Gemma Reeves is beautifully eloquent, she has the ability with a few words, to give you admittance to someone’s soul. While she creates penetrating access to each person, there isn’t always a conclusion, instead life carries on, suggesting potential pathways. I fell in love with this powerfully blended infusion of life. The variety of characters, in age, personality, and beliefs crackle with energy. A new character might wander in for a few moments and then star in the next tale. Some connections may be obvious and linger, others lightly touch before moving on. The stories themselves tug at heartstrings and encourage thoughts to roam, the ending is simply divine and brought tears to my eyes. Thought-provoking and emotionally intelligent, Victoria Park slips with glorious ease onto our LoveReading Star Books list and is a Liz Pick of the Month, it really is very special indeed.
This intelligent, beautifully eloquent and powerful crime novel thoroughly provoked my feelings, and still remains in my thoughts. Mickey Fitzpatrick is a police officer patrolling the area she grew up in. Kensington in Philadelphia is known for drugs and sex workers, when a killer arrives on the streets, Mickey prays that her little sister doesn’t become a victim. The author Liz Moore has an intimate knowledge of the real Kensington, she has interviewed the people drawn there by drugs, written non fiction, and completed community work, she obviously cares a great deal for this neighbourhood and its people. Her novel set in Kensington has been a long time in the coming, she wanted to: “do this world justice”, to: “fairly represent”. As I started to read, the ‘list’ stopped me in my tracks, I read it again, pondered, and then moved on to the first two pages which hit my mind with a wallop and gave it a good shake. Mickey narrates her story, she is so clear, sharp, on point, and I could see, feel, taste her words. Kensington, Mickey and her family flooded my mind in short, fierce, expressive chapters of ‘then’ and ‘now’. I felt a connection to emotions, to this story, it truly spoke to me. I feel this novel will be one that I regularly return to, and I’ll take away something a little different each time. Long Bright River is a stunning read, it aches with poignant, vivid intensity and I absolutely loved it. There is no other option for me, than to choose it as a LoveReading Star Book.
Cassidy is running away from his past on Alabama Chrome, but his ghosts never leave. With little other than his campervan, he doesn’t seem to settle anywhere. But a snowstorm changes all that, bringing Cassidy into contact with Lark, and a community he might be able to feel at home in. With more complications on the way, from an inscrutable new waitress and the arrival of a reality TV host with a full crew in tow to shoot a new TV show, will Cassidy be able to share his truth, or will he return to the road? A story that will bring your emotions to the front but in an enjoyable way. Alabama Chrome is written from the first person perspective of Cassidy; he shares the life of a small, close-knit community, featuring family bonds, the looming presence of domestic violence as well as a critique on reality TV. I was intrigued by the story throughout and I found the characters to be very well-rounded, with each past event revealed adding nuance and believability to the story. The author definitely has a detailed knowledge of people, their quirks, traits and behaviours and is good at crafting believable characters that evoke sympathy and empathy.
Shortlisted for the 2006 Duncan Lawrie Dagger.A real page turner with a surprising twist in the tail. Set in small town America the book explores dysfunctional families and the difficult subject of a missing child. Although a tricky theme Cook injects it with both suspense and pathos. It is beautifully written and full of good characterizations. If you enjoyed this then do try some of his earlier novels including Evidence of Blood and Interrogation.
A comprehensive reading guide packed with 100 recommended titles from classics to current bestsellers … in fact a rival to me! But joking apart, it’s an excellent little book giving you a synopsis, background information, discussion points and reviews to a diverse selection of titles. Something for everyone.
A terrific collection of short stories from bestselling authors including Kate Mosse, Katie Fforde, Lee Child, Sophie Kinsella and Jodi Picoult. Here are stories of love, passion, mystery and hope - and the discovery that some of the more surprising things in life are often the most important...This is the must-have collection of the year.
This box set of the 80 books in the Little Black Classics series showcases the many wonderful and varied writers in Penguin Black Classics. From India to Greece, Denmark to Iran, and not forgetting Britain, this assortment of books will transport readers back in time across numerous centuries and around the world.
To whip up your own Literary Lunch, just follow this simple recipe...Take a generous helping of Ian McEwan and leave to marinate overnight; Add some Sebastian Faulks to a pan and saute on a high heat; mix in a dollop of Louis de Bernieres (don't stint) and shavings of Mark Haddon and bring to the boil; add a rounded teaspoon of Anne Tyler, a smidgen of Neel Mukherjee and a pinch of Julian Barnes, according to taste. You may also wish to add a sprinkling of Salman Rushdie to add some heat; reduce the mixture down and add a splash of Irvine Welsh, skimming off excess expletives; remove from the heat and add essence of Haruki Murakami slowly, drop by drop, making sure to mix in thoroughly; meanwhile, using a rich brandy or calvados, flambe thinly sliced extracts of Simon Schama - to avoid a scorching, avert face and be prepared for a flare of potentially large flames; and, finally, bring all the elements together and plate up with a dash of Jeanette Winterson and garnish with a sprig of Helen Fielding. Enjoy with a full-bodied red wine.
A woman goes about certain rituals of sex with her second husband, sharing the bed with the ghosts of her sexual past. A beautiful young art student embarks on an affair with a much older, married, famous artist. A middle-aged woman struggles with the decline of her mother, once glamorous and still commanding; their fraught relationship causes unexpected feelings both shaming and brutal. A man finds that his father has died while in the midst of extra-marital sex and wonders what he should do with the body. And a boy sits in his Calculus class, fantasizing about a schoolmate's breasts and worrying about his father lying in hospital, as outside his classroom window the Twin Towers begin to fall.
Congratulations to publisher Barrington Stoke for this new edition which is specifically designed to be accessible to all readers, including those with dyslexia. The text is exactly as Steinbeck wrote it and hasn’t been abridged or altered, but features such as the font (a typeface designed to be easy to read), a larger point size and cream pages to help relieve the effects of visual stress, make this special edition of his great novel ‘super readable’ for all. Steinbeck’s classic is a regular examination set text and no wonder: the tragic story of George and Lennie struggling to get by in the California of the Great Depression, it’s a masterpiece, a tale of hope and almost unbearable loss mediated by clear, honest and sympathetic writing. ~ Andrea Reece Note: A stunning dyslexia-friendly package for Steinbeck's classic novel, ideally suited to anyone, young and old, who might benefit from a super-readable layout.
Twice chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, this author’s writing is fabulous. I suspect that Paradise is in the bottle.Comparison: Rachel Cusk, Jane Gardam, Jeanette Winterson.Similar this month: None but try Roddy Doyle or David Maine.
Appeared on “Hay-on-Sky” 25 May. Winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Novel Award 2007.Costa Book Awards 2007 Judges' comments: ”Day is an example of excellence in its category and a book ultimately to recommend. It is perfectly and beautifully written by an author who is an extraordinary stylist.”"An exceptional feat of research and an astonishing effort of the imagination, A.L. Kennedy's Day is both terrifying and hilarious. Alfred Day's war stays with the reader as it stays with him."
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.The cover of this book is a triumph of marketing over good sense. The title is, I guess, a parody and, along with the doughnuts (sorry, donuts), it makes the book look like yet another diet manual. All very smart, but it doesnâ€™t do justice to what is a hugely enjoyable and amusing story about a man who has the misfortune to be very rich and living in one of the most affluent and beautiful places in the world. Richard Novak has amassed a fortune by trading on the stock market and lives in a house on millionaireâ€™s row in LA. But somewhere along the way he has shut down emotionally and withdrawn from the world, his only contact being through the internet and with the various people who service his house needs. It takes a physical crisis and a visit to A & E to start his journey back to being a fully-feeling human being. Richard the recluse suddenly finds himself a local super-hero who saves a horse (hoisted out of a hole by a movie star with a helicopter), a woman kidnapped by a psycho and a man drowning at sea, amongst others. His ex-wife keeps turning on the television to see him at the centre of yet another drama. It is very funny and there are some telling off-camera moments, like the childâ€™s birthday celebration in a restaurant where the child, given a knife to cut the cake, repeatedly stabs it while his parents look on, bewildered.Through his random acts of generosity, Richard becomes involved with some great characters and goes some way towards redeeming his self-centred loveless years. He also, poignantly, begins to repair the pain he caused by abandoning his son, Ben.So, ignore the cover and the really rather embarrassing endorsement by Mark Haddon (â€œWeird and warm and wise and really rather wonderfulâ€), and read it. It wonâ€™t change your life but itâ€™ll certainly give you some pleasurable hours as well as an insight into California life as the apotheosis of consumer culture.
Reviewed on Richard & Judy on Wednesday 7 March 2007.This review is provided by bookgroup.info.The cover of this book is a triumph of marketing over good sense. The title is, I guess, a parody and, along with the doughnuts (sorry, donuts), it makes the book look like yet another diet manual. All very smart, but it doesnât do justice to what is a hugely enjoyable and amusing story about a man who has the misfortune to be very rich and living in one of the most affluent and beautiful places in the world. Richard Novak has amassed a fortune by trading on the stock market and lives in a house on millionaireâs row in LA. But somewhere along the way he has shut down emotionally and withdrawn from the world, his only contact being through the internet and with the various people who service his house needs. It takes a physical crisis and a visit to A & E to start his journey back to being a fully-feeling human being. Richard the recluse suddenly finds himself a local super-hero who saves a horse (hoisted out of a hole by a movie star with a helicopter), a woman kidnapped by a psycho and a man drowning at sea, amongst others. His ex-wife keeps turning on the television to see him at the centre of yet another drama. It is very funny and there are some telling off-camera moments, like the childâs birthday celebration in a restaurant where the child, given a knife to cut the cake, repeatedly stabs it while his parents look on, bewildered.Through his random acts of generosity, Richard becomes involved with some great characters and goes some way towards redeeming his self-centred loveless years. He also, poignantly, begins to repair the pain he caused by abandoning his son, Ben.So, ignore the cover and the really rather embarrassing endorsement by Mark Haddon (â€œWeird and warm and wise and really rather wonderfulâ€), and read it. It wonât change your life but itâll certainly give you some pleasurable hours as well as an insight into California life as the apotheosis of consumer culture.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Coming after Snowdrops, A.D. Miller's Booker-shortlisted Moscow spy thriller, The Faithful Couple is a very different sort of creature altogether, a novel about male bonding, class and the vagaries of life, growing up and passing years that resonates deeply with both sometimes the voice and structural touch of David Nicholl's measured novels of ordinary people. Two young Englishsmen meet in California on an American gap year and forge a fascinating friendship in which envy and admiration make for awkward companions. An encounter they make whilst on a trip to Yosemite in which neither comes off with much honour will mark the rest of their lives and the ties binding them. The progress of their careers and love lives is examined at regular intervals with irony and acuity and their paths take surprising turns. A slow building novel of British manners that grows on you page by page. Essentially this is a book about friendship, the very flawed yet compelling relationship between two men, based on experience, elation and remorse. With strong psychological and sexual components, the terse prose style draws you into a very recognisable world yet seen through an intensely strange filter. A literary human drama of the highest calibre.