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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.
So beautifully written, the chills prowl with unexpected menace to climb inside your thoughts, to lurk and provoke. Richard and Juliette’s son Ewan died at the age of 5, Juliette, convinced that her son is still in the house turns to a group of occultists, while Richard searches for the remains of a hangman’s oak tree opposite their home Starve Acre. Andrew Michael Hurley doesn’t waste a single word, each forms a web to create a picture as he captures the essence of a thought or thing. As the story grows, as the oak planted itself in my minds eye, the unsettling force of grief came to settle over everything. I sank into this tale and couldn’t leave, reading from the deep, dark and incredibly soulful first page through to the startling last in one heady afternoon. Folklore gathers in the background, grief preys on the unsuspecting, and a compelling story unfolds. Highly recommended, I have chosen Starve Acre as one of my picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
Set in 1980s Atlanta, Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow is a rich tour de force that sparkles with wit, warmth and candid lyricism. Exploring the weight of secrets and the complexities of love and family life through the compelling coming of age stories of sisters estranged by their father’s bigamy, this novel lingers long in the soul. “The truth is a strange thing. Like pornography, you know when you see it.” This potent proclamation cuts to the novel’s core, for Dana and her mother Gwen are the other wife, the other daughter, of bigamist James, and they know this truth while his first wife and daughter remain oblivious. Upset when James tells her that being his second daughter “You are the one that’s a secret,” Gwen poignantly informs Dana that rather than being secret, she’s simply “unknown. That little girl there doesn’t know she has a sister. You know everything.” Knowledge that she possesses the truth offers Dana consolation, of sorts. While James’s other family is financially better off, both wives have a distinct lack of agency. Indeed, the novel is sharp on showing how women often have to make their lives from what men decide, such as when Gwen remarks that when you’re four weeks late, “All you can do is give him the news and let him decide if he is going to leave or if he is going to stay.” The novel is also powerful on elemental love and the nature of memory, such as Dana’s response to being gifted a fur coat her father won in a card game: “To this day and for the rest of my life I will always have a soft spot for a man with rum on his breath.” In time, during her own tempestuous teenage years, Dana orchestrates encounters with her sister and they become friends, with tension rising as the secret threatens to detonate. With finely drawn, flawed characters that pull readers’ loyalties in different directions, this commanding, compassionate novel confirms the author’s exceptional gifts. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
A fascinating, and uniquely spellbinding tale that examines life and death, choices and decisions, and encourages thoughts to both reflect and soar. Dawn survives a plane crash and is offered a ticket to wherever she needs to go, that choice sparks two possible futures. I obviously adored this book as it joins my Liz Picks of the month, if you go in unprepared though you may have mixed feelings. Before you start, please note that if you enter just expecting a relationship tale, then you should be prepared to discover, and learn, much much more. This gorgeous read comes with a healthy helping of Egyptology, you’ll learn about hieroglyphs, spells, and translations, all of which I gobbled up. This information does almost dissect the main two stories, occasionally creating a jagged edge, but I found it allowed me time to slow down, to think, to really examine the thoughts that this story was sparking in me. This is a tale that looks at death, and speaks of death in a connected way that perhaps we don’t allow ourselves to do. The Book of Two Ways is both provocative and reflective, joyous and sad, and it’s one that I certainly won’t forget in a hurry.
Sittenfeld's wryly hilarious and insightful new collection, HELP YOURSELF, illuminates human experience and gracefully upends our assumptions about class and race, envy and disappointment, gender dynamics and celebrity. Suburban friends fall out after a racist encounter at a birthday party is caught on video and posted on Facebook; an illustrious Manhattan film crew are victims of their own snobbery when they underestimate a pre-school teacher from the Mid-West; and a group of young writers fight about love and narrative style as they compete for a prestigious bursary. Connecting each of these three stories is Sittenfeld's truthful yet merciless eye, as her characters stagger from awkwardness, to humiliation and, if they're lucky, to reconciliation. Full of tenderness and compassion, this dazzling collection celebrates our humanity in all its pettiness and glory.
Published to coincide with the 124th anniversary of F. Scott Fitzgerald's birth Enigmatic, intriguing and fabulously wealthy, Jay Gatsby throws lavish parties at his West Egg mansion to impress Daisy Buchanan, the object of his obsession, now married to bullish Tom Buchanan. Over a Long Island summer, his neighbour Nick Carraway, a writer and a cousin to Daisy, looks on as Gatsby and Daisy’s affair deepens. Tragedy looms in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, frequently named among the best novels of the twentieth century. This new edition includes a foreword by critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith, as well as an exclusive extract of his forthcoming novel, NICK, which imagines narrator Nick Carraway’s life before The Great Gatsby.
Friends forever is a difficult promise to keep... Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may. After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt - there's simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep.... Packed with all the heart and empathy that made Ruth's name as a screenwriter and now author, Us Three is a funny, moving and uplifting novel about life's complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all. Prepare to meet characters you'll feel you've known all your life - prepare to meet Us Three.
Missing a Beat and Other Stories is a varied collection of short stories. There are 11 different short stories, spanning a variety of genres although contain a similar thread. Each of the main characters seemed a little bit broken in their own way, with additional obstacles and challenges to face. I like the variety within this different collection of short stories, this is a book that you could return to, dipping in and out to find a story to suit your mood. Each short story is well-developed and the characters within them are nuanced and well written. Each story draws you in with fresh questions about what has happened and what will happen. I paused between each story to ponder the events. My favourite story was ‘Out of Sync’, the setting, description and atmosphere really brought this story leaping off the page for me, and I especially like the added touch of the bobble head, it added both whimsy and foreboding and was a good example of small detail bringing everything vibrantly to a life. A great short story collection that I would recommend and return to in the future.
An amusing satire on modern marriage and the mistakes that are made, all set around a beautiful Elizabethan house and estate and a private London Bank. You can see it all going wrong but not how the problems are resolved. Satisfying, luscious and highly absorbing. Anthony is a thoroughly decent man who is really too kind for his own good. A lovely read.Comparisons: Sydney Sheldon, Louise Bagshawe, Penny Vincenzi.
Penguin presents the audiobook edition of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak, read by Alix Dunmore. 'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...' For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...' For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
In the past year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child. Now, in a New York of increasingly frequent superstorms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water. In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called 'hilarious...cracklingly intelligent...and original in every sentence', Lerner's new novel charts an exhilarating course through the contemporary landscape of sex, friendship, memory, art and politics, and captures what is like to be alive right now.
September 2011 eBook of the Month.A magical and wonderfully inventive story about passion. An American in Paris falls in love with two women, one of whom he can only imagine, in this wonderful debut. A box full of century-old artifacts begins the love affair but why were they so conveniently put on his desk to find?It unlocks a dramatic and romantic story of a French woman who lived in Paris through both world wars and a present day story runs with it. The letters, jottings, photos etc are reproduced throughout the novel.
Inspired by George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four , 1Q84 is a magnificent and fully-imagined work of fiction - both a thriller and a moving love-story . It is a world from which the reader emerges stunned and altered. Book Three of 1Q84 is the final volume of Murakami's magnum opus. In Japan, Books One and Two were published on the same day with Book Three following a year later. All three books were received with huge excitement and became instant bestsellers. The UK publication reflects the pattern of the original publication with Books One and Two being released in one volume and Book Three following in a separate edition.
In order to reflect the experience of 1Q84's first readers, Harvill Secker is publishing Books One and Two in one beautifully designed volume and Book Three in a separate edition. A long-awaited treat for his fans, 1Q84 is also a thrilling introduction to the unique world of Murakami's imagination. This hypnotically addictive novel is a work of startling originality and, as the title suggests, a mind-bending ode to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four . (The number 9 in Japanese is pronounced like the letter 'Q'). The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo. Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a stand-still, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult. Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true? Both Aomame and Tengo notice that the world has grown strange; both realise that they are indispensable to each other. While their stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, the two come closer and closer to intertwining.
Madeleine Altimari is a sassy, smart-mouthed nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer, inwardly mourning the recent death of her mother. Little does she know that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day - and night - of her life. After bravely facing down some mean-spirited classmates and a galling rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she's determined to make her on-stage debut. Meanwhile, her fifth-grade teacher Sarina Greene is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high-school crush. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Jack Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever ...As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life's endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving novel, 2 A.M. At The Cat's Pajamas will swell your heart and have you laughing out loud.
War changes us all, and sometimes we no longer recognise ourselves...'Housekeeper or housewife?' the soldier asks Silvana as she and eight-year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England at the end of the war, to Janusz, her husband. But she isn't sure any longer that she is a wife of any kind or whether she has a house. After living wild in the forests for years, carrying a terrible secret, all Silvana knows is that she and Aurek are survivors. In Ipswich, Janusz is getting ready for the arrival of the wife and son he hasn't seen in six years. After fleeing Poland and the war that left him a deserter, he has found his family a house. He works hard planting a proper English garden to welcome them and to distract him from his own secret. But the six years apart have changed them all, and they must learn that love can't work unless there are no secrets. To make Aurek a real home, Silvana and Janusz will have to come to terms with what happened to them during the war, accept that each have changed immeasurably and allow their beloved but wild son to be who he truly is.
Shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award. Wickedly funny and devastatingly moving, 26a is an extraordinary first novel. Part fairytale, part nightmare, it moves from the mundane to the magical, the particular to the universal with exceptional flair and imagination. A coming-of-age novel with a difference. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. The contemporary magician of the post-modern and often quirky novel (maybe equalled by just Haruki Murakami) returns with a doorstepper at nearly 900 pages and apart from the initial concept, it proves wonderfully traditional, if not old-fashioned. From the moment of his birth, we follow the life, or rather the lives, of Archie Ferguson, a bright Jewish boy growing up in America from the 1940s to the 1960s. However, from a similar starting point, we are given four different versions depending on varying circumstances, as events run in parallel, relationships, fortunes and loves change according to the respective life stream. Ambitious but rewarding, an exquisite panorama of the way we live and feel seen through a microscope controlled by a writer in full control of his imaginative powers, which is not a metaphor as the character shares a birth date and a profession with Auster himself. An elegy for what could have been, might have been, could still be or should be. The choice is the reader's. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
Alexander McCall Smith is a favourite in the LoveReading Office. He has the ability to poke fun, exhort chuckles, be sharply pointed, yet retain an overall lightness of touch. He is a wonderful author and here in the 44 Scotland Street Series he shines a light on the inhabitants of a street in Edinburgh in the most delightful way. 44 Scotland Street is a complete delight and comes as highly recommended by our team. The 44 Scotland Street series: 1. 44 Scotland Street 2. Espresso Tales 3. Love Over Scotland 4. The World According to Bertie 5. The Unbearable Lightness Of Scones 6. The Importance Of Being Seven 7. Bertie Plays The Blues 8. Sunshine on Scotland Street 9. Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers 10. The Revolving Door of Life 11. The Bertie Project 12. A Time of Love and Tartan 13. The Peppermint Tea Chronicles Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.