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All relationships have their ups and downs, whether it’s struggles with a partner or difficulties in the family. Our Relationship Stories section shows the unique features of relationships in gloriously written technicolour.
Crossing genres in style, this just has to be one of my favourite novels of the year. Set in the marshlands of North Carolina, the majority of this story takes place in the 1950’s and 60’s. The prologue begins in 1969 with the body of Chase Andrews being found in the marsh. The first paragraph of the prologue introduces surprising beauty, the marsh simply sings, it settled into my mind and became a part of me. The central character is Kya, we meet her as a child, and the truth of her life is immediately apparent. As the novel moves backwards and forwards in time, Kya emerges as the Marsh Girl, and suspicion begins to hound her after the body is found. Author Delia Owens is a wildlife scientist who has worked in Africa and written non-fiction, this is her debut novel. Descriptions entered my mind in wafting movement, I fell in love with the marsh and the girl who lived there. Where the Crawdads Sing is truly touching, almost hauntingly beautiful, and opens a doorway to a different world. It has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
So so readable, this is a throw yourself in and give yourself up to the story kind of book. The disappearance of a young woman means the past comes to haunt the present in a remote town on the edge of New Zealand. Nalini Singh is a New York Times bestselling author for her fantasy novels, this is her debut thriller (with a side serving of romance). The first sentence grabbed me and I read the whole book in one sitting. The story focuses on two main characters, Anahera who is returning home to Golden Cove, and Will the new, and only police officer in town. The town itself is fascinating, not only for the inhabitants and secrets it holds, but the descriptive detailing is so striking. I was able to step inside and see for myself this isolated coastal area. I remained in the story while a part of me dissected and explored the various options. At points I found myself ahead of the investigation, while at others I was racing to catch up. With an underlying tinge of darkness and difference A Madness of Sunshine is a thoroughly entertaining reading experience and has been chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month.
A Midwinter Promise by Sunday Times top ten bestselling author Lulu Taylor, is a dramatic story of loss, grief and the legacy of secrets. The past A lonely and imaginative child, Julia loves her family's beautiful and wild Cornish home with all her heart. But, marked by dark troubles, she enters her adult years determined to leave and seek a new beginning in London. It's there she meets the handsome David. They fall in love, but when Julia becomes pregnant, even he can't stop the terrible echoes of the past from ringing in her ears. The only sound to be heard above the noise is the old Cornish house, calling her home . . . The present For Julia's adult children, Alex and Johnnie, the house hides the history of their family within its walls. For Alex, it is full of memories of her late mother. For Johnnie, it is the house that should have been rightfully theirs after Julia died but has been stolen from them instead. With their father now lying in a hospital bed, time is running out for Alex and Johnnie to uncover the secrets of what happened to their mother all those years ago. Can they discover the truth before the house closes its doors to them forever?
Wow. This is an amazing tale packed with drama on and off the stage. a circular tale of Colonel Tearwood's American Theatre Company. A plot filled with love, loss, anger, jealousy and drama, that I don't think I can sing the praises of enough! How Beautiful They Were is incredibly well-written and drew me in from Jeremiah's introduction to the spectacular candlelit finale. It reminded me quite a lot of The Phantom of the Opera - the idea that life reflects art with secrets, betrayals and deaths happening in the world around the theatre. I thought the setting in 1850s America and the side story / undertone of racism was poignant and very well handled. I've loved following the story of John James Beaufort, my heart broke along with his in the early stages and I was fascinated to see what would become of him on his voyage to America. The adaptations of notable works into plays that reflected their life and surroundings in America and as a way to expose crimes and tell each character's stories was marvellous and when Wuthering Heights was mentioned I couldn't wait to see how it was interpreted. La piece bien faite indeed! Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Bestselling author Jenny Downham (Before I Die) has created a timely masterpiece that captures the true feelings of a teenage girl in a difficult, troubling and all-too-common situation.
Alice had come halfway across the world to find that, yet again, she was considered wanting. Well, she thought, if that was what everyone thought, she might as well live up to it.' England, late 1930s, and Alice Wright - restless, stifled - makes an impulsive decision to marry wealthy American Bennett Van Cleve and leave her home and family behind. But stuffy, disapproving Baileyville, Kentucky, where her husband favours work over his wife and is dominated by his overbearing father, is not the adventure - or the escape - that she hoped for. That is, until she meets Margery O'Hare, a troublesome woman - and daughter of a notorious felon - the town wishes to forget. Margery's on a mission to spread the wonder of books and reading to the poor and lost - and she needs Alice's help. Trekking alone under big open skies, through wild mountain forests, Alice, Margery and their fellow sisters of the trail discover freedom, friendship - and a life to call their own. But when Baileyville turns against them, will their belief in one another - and the power of the written word - be enough to save them? Inspired by a remarkable true story, The Giver of Stars features five incredible women who will prove to be every bit as beloved as Lou Clark, the unforgettable heroine of Me Before You.
The Old Bailey, 1826 and Frannie Langton stands in court accused of the brutal murder of her former master and mistress. But “there was love between me and her”, she tells the court as she relates her story from 1812, when she worked at Paradise plantation, Jamaica. With the skills of reading and writing “packed inside” her, “dangerous as gunpowder”, Frannie is taken to London and sent to work for a man named George Benham. His wife, the beautiful, eccentric Madame Marguerite Benham “stirred a feeling of wanting” in Frannie, and she becomes Madame’s lady’s maid and secretary - and more. But theirs is a complex, volatile relationship. “The truth is there was love as well as hate,” Frannie acknowledges. “The truth is, the love hurt worse”. Speaking at her trial, during which she recounts the inhumane racial experimentation undertaken by the master of Paradise, Frannie asks, “Sirs, I wonder...in the whole sum of human history, by what order have you white men been wrong more than you’ve been right?” She also questions the privileges and entitlements of gender: “how confident a man must be to write down his musings, expecting anybody else to be interested in reading them”. Ablaze with drama, detail, tension and wit, and wise on the nature of agency and freedom, this comes highly recommended for fans of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song, Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women and Sarah Waters. According to Frannie, “A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head”. By her definition, this novel is both these things - as potent as a poem, as addictive as a long, warm drink. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Confessions of Frannie Langton.
If ever there was a book to fall completely in love with, this is it. Grace Atherton keeps certain parts of her deeply buried from everyone, yet it is the revelation of a joint secret that causes her life as she knows it to stop, how can she possibly restart it again? The first few sentences told me I was in for a real treat, I was intrigued, delighted in the style of writing, and then the end of first chapter… it was completely unexpected and caused my stomach to squirm. While this is a book to read with joy, it isn’t a gooey ride, it made me flinch, question and delve into thoughts. Anstey Harris has conjured such beautiful descriptions, they created a fully realised and vivid picture in my mind. Music and friendship pay a hugely important part in this book, the joy of each deeply embedded in the page, the words releasing themselves into my soul. I will admit to knowing next to nothing about cellos and violins, yet somehow I felt as though I did, I understood, I felt, I loved each instrument. I absolutely adore The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, it is completely magical and I suspect that each time I read it (it is a book to return to), a slightly different story will await me. Highly recommended.
Beautifully and deliciously foreboding, this is an eloquent, thrilling treat of a read. Iris and Silas meet as construction begins for the Great Exhibition in 1850, for one it is an experience soon forgotten, for the other the beginning of a dangerous obsession. Members of the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood gather, their ideals and connection to the Arts and Crafts movement fascinating to observe, particularly when compared to the logic and occupation of Silas. The Doll Factory won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018, and it is easy to see why it was immediately snapped up, the storyline while disturbing is enthralling and the descriptive detailing exquisite. Elizabeth MacNeal allows us intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of both Iris and Silas, opening a doorway to the potential and possible future of the story which succeeds in increasing the tension to almost unbearable levels. I felt a duty of care to both parties, wanting to warn, to ease, to prevent harm. As the story gathered me in and opened my eyes, I felt a shiver of chills gathering, forcing goosebumps down my arms. There is a darkness of the gothic variety to be found with The Doll Factory, it is also the most incredibly rewarding read and comes with a highly recommended stamp from me.
Goosebumps still compete in a race down my arms when I think about The Snakes, it is remarkable, truly remarkable, so please just trust me when I say this is a must-read. Bea and Dan rent out their flat so they can travel, stopping off at her brother’s hotel in France on route. When Bea’s parents unexpectedly visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea has kept them at arms length and refused their financial help all of these years, surely it can’t hurt to get to know them? Sadie Jones is a master storyteller, apparently simple sentences gang together to create a slicing tension. There is a purity to the writing, even though the very darkest of human attributes are so wonderfully and tellingly observed as the tale unfolds. This isn’t a comfortable read, but gosh it’s compelling, I sat and read it in one heady afternoon. I felt on high alert, my mind unclouded as I tasted, tested, scrutinised both the thoughts of the characters, and my own. ‘The Snakes’ is powerful and provocative, not in a shouty, boastful way, it slid into my mind, creating and filling secret spaces, and when I reached the last few pages, and read the final words, I just stopped and sat in wondering heart-hammering silence. This is one of my picks of the month, in fact I already know that The Snakes will be one of my picks of the year.
This brilliant novel will be released in February 2020. Click here to pre-order a copy! An exquisitely written and beautifully emotional novel that will remain in my heart and thoughts. Edward survives a plane crash in which every other person, including his parents and brother, die. As the only survivor he becomes the lodestone for the relatives of the other passengers. Ann Napolitano writes with huge compassion as she explores overwhelming grief, and the tragedy is sensitively and skilfully handled. Knowing what is coming, in no way prepares you for the journey. Two time frames travel together, the first immediately leading up to the crash, the second as Edward learns how to survive the aftermath. Scattered within are smaller, intense, briefly short stories that added to, and intertwined with the overall tale. I was allowed to find my own way, to consider and contemplate as I walked alongside Edward. I felt the most profound heartache and joy as I sank into the lives of the passengers, not only incredibly thoughtful, it is also a thought-provoking read. Dear Edward has been chosen as one of our LoveReading Star Books, it is a must-read and truly deserves to be a huge success.
There's never a dull moment at Hope Hall, as its rooms are filled throughout the day with gossipy grandmas, body-popping teenagers, temperamental dancing teachers, a choir without one decent singer to their name, knitters who natter, caterers who bake glorious cakes, slimmers nibbling chocolate, and a nursery group where it's the grown-ups who are near to tears! But it's all in a day's work for administrator, Kath, whose job it is to make sure Hope Hall offers something for everyone! Mind you, she can see that some key members of her team are struggling - like caretaker Trevor, who is nursing his beloved wife who has cancer, and Maggie, their wonderful cook, whose husband of twenty-five years has just left her for a woman half her age. As the team works to pull off their ambitious Hope Hall Centenary Easter Monday Fayre, Kath realizes reinforcements are needed. Brash, loud and inexperienced though she may be, Kath has a feeling that Shirley might be just the ticket! The Fayre is a triumph but when Kath's old flame comes back on the scene, she suddenly has some tough choices to make... Springtime at Hope Hall is the first book in a delightful new trilogy centred on a Victorian church hall, the like of which can be found at the heart of life in so many towns across England - full of friends and neighbours with stories that will have you giggling one minute, and dabbing your eyes the next.
This brilliant debut will be released in February 2020. Click here to pre-order a copy! A debut novel to read slowly, to savour, to adore. Yes, this is a rather special and beautiful read, and I want to climb a few rooftops to shout about it. Missy Carmichael is lonely, she lives by herself in a huge house, when opportunities arise for friendship and more, can she reach out and take them? I admit to having fallen in love with Missy, she isn’t perfect and she makes mistakes (who doesn’t!), yet there is something about her that tiptoed into my heart and soul and has taken up residence. So often we just see a snapshot of someone, a moment or period in their life, however not here. Beth Morrey has not only brought her to life, but by also dipping into the past, we discover the gems that make Missy, well, Missy! The surrounding characters are a wonderfully quirky bunch, and Bob is an absolute delight. I laughed and I cried (oh how I cried). Saving Missy meanders gently, poignantly, beautifully, to what was for me, a perfect ending. I adored meeting Missy and so have chosen this lovely debut novel as one of our star books.
An incredibly engaging, fascinating, and rather beautiful read, this book will stay with me for some time. A couple seek refuge after the Spanish Civil War and end up in Chile, where years later they again face exile. Covering the period from 1938 through to 1994, this is a story that crosses continents, examines topics such as fascism, war, and migration, yet is as intimate as intimate can be. I entered and thought no more about the fact that this was translated from Spanish by Nick Caister and Amanda Hopkinson, it so clearly, simply, and fabulously done. Within the first few pages there were tears in my eyes. I couldn’t stop reading, thoughtful and sensitive, yet not afraid to focus on unbearable sorrow, this feels as though it could be a biography. As Isabelle Allende explains in the acknowledgments, while this is a novel, with fictional characters (though based on people she has known), the historical events and people are real. She says: “This book wrote itself, as if it had been dictated to me” and I truly felt that. A Long Petal of the Sea opened my eyes and my heart, and has left me wanting to know more. Coming as highly recommended by me, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
This is everything you could ask of a sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and then some. Readers are returned to the well-formed world of Emberfall and its neighbouring territory of Syhl Shallow, where political ambition and newly revealed secrets threaten Rhen’s crown, and where intriguing new characters take centre stage. Among these is Lia Mara, eldest daughter of Syhl Shallow’s Queen. Lia Mara has been overlooked as heir to the throne in favour of her beautiful younger sister and, in many ways, the driving message of this tale belongs to Lia, a wise, compassionate young woman who’s “used to being underestimated”, but stands her ground in the name of doing the right thing. While Prince Rhen has been freed from the curse of the malevolent enchantress Lilith, his kingdom is now subject to new threats. Rhen’s loyal right hand man, Commander Grey, has gone, assumed dead, and there are rumours that Rhen’s secret half-brother is about to lay claim to the Emberfall throne. In hiding rather than dead, Grey encounters Lia and accompanies her to Syhl Shallow. Handsome and powerful, he would make a fine husband for Lia’s younger sister, but his heart is elsewhere. The enthralling story of political struggle is thrillingly laced with conflicts of the heart - both romantic and familial - to create a satisfying feast of YA fantasy fiction, with a cliff-hanger climax that suggests a yet more explosive third installment is on its way.
Twenty years ago, Abigail Sorenson's brother Robert went missing one day before her sixteenth birthday, never to be seen again. That same year, she began receiving scattered chapters in the mail from a mysterious guidebook, whose anonymous authors promised to make her life soar to heights beyond her wildest dreams. These missives have remained a constant in Abi's life - a befuddling yet oddly comforting voice through her family's grief over her brother's disappearance, a move across continents, the devastating dissolution of her marriage, and the new beginning as a single mother and cafe owner in Sydney. Now, two decades after receiving those first pages, Abi is invited to learn 'the truth' about the book. It's an opportunity too intriguing to refuse - she believes its absurdity and her brother's disappearance must be connected. What follows is an entirely unexpected journey of discovery that will change Abi's life - and enchant readers. Gravity Is the Thing is a smart, unusual, wickedly funny novel - heart-warming and life-affirming.
Mina is staring over the edge of the George Washington Bridge when a patrol car drives up. She tries to convince the officers she's not about to jump but they don't believe her. Her husband, Oscar is called to pick her up. Oscar hopes that leaving New York for a few months will give Mina the space to heal. They travel to London, to an apartment wall-papered with indigo-eyed birds, to Oscars oldest friends, to a canal and blooming flower market. Mina, a classicist, searches for solutions to her failing mental health using mythological women. But she finds a beam of light in a living woman. Friendship and attraction blossom until Oscar and Mina's complicated love is tested.
What a gorgeously emotional and heart-warming read this is. Two women linked by an event that occurred eight years ago, find themselves at the centre of storm that could change their worlds forever, both will fight for what they believe in. The first chapter slams with impact. Oh Dani Atkins, you really know how to make me cry! In the very best possible way of course, with a heart full of emotion and feeling and wonder. The words reached inside me, made me ponder, and truly affected me. The characters are so engaging, the ups and downs so accessible. This is a relationship story with real personality, yes there is some anguish along the way, there is also plenty of hope, love, and feel-good too. I’ve chosen this as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. If you choose to read A Million Dreams, and I really hope you do, I’ll just leave this here… have some tissues close to hand.
My heart is full of love for this darkly beautiful and mind-twisting novel. Set in the time of Elizabeth I, a curse given in anguish and hate is set to run amok. At birth Beau is burdened with great beauty and is due to be the cause of the death of his father, while unrelated to the curse, Randa is born a mix of beast and human. And, so begins a story of the greatest highs and the lowest lows, of revenge and hope, love and despair. The first sentence sucked me in, and I was held in thrall throughout. This is a completely gorgeous blend of Shakespearean drama, the very darkest of fairy tales, and the simply wonderful pen of Wray Delaney. I felt a reassuring half-formed recognition as I read, yet at the same time, a prickle of awareness that I was an explorer, charting an entirely new world. I highly recommend The Beauty of the Wolf to anyone who hungers for a bite of difference, with a more than a twist of glorious darkness. I have chosen this as both a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book, it’s fierce, it’s wonderful, I adored it.
Sarah J. Maas devotees certainly have a treat in store with this luxurious collector’s edition of the first book in her outrageously popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The story that spurred the series is here presented in a beautiful black slipcase that’s embellished with gold foiling. The book itself features a stunning gold foil depiction of a forest scene on its cover, lavish metallic ink endpapers, intricate fairy tale-esque illustrative detail on every page, plus a handsome newly drawn map of the Faerie Lands of Prythian. It’s a beguiling package that befits the tale itself, an enchanting story that follows nineteen-year-old Feyre’s magical, epic quest through the beautiful, dangerous faerie lands. Reeling with romance, intrigue and outright “immortal horror”, Feyre’s journey feels timeless in setting and atmosphere, and contemporary in much of its straight-talking delivery.
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.
Full to overflowing with love and laughter, this is a simply wonderful Christmas treat. Janie Johnson comes back from safari having fallen in love with with her tour guide, everyone warns her against following her heart, will she listen? Originally released in 2011, and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2012, this is the perfect time to reissue this wonderfully uplifting story. It now includes a follow-up short story, and an extract from Carole’s new novel. Carole Matthews has combined the African Maasai Mara with Christmas, snow, and a bad-tempered cat which ensures this festive offering is just that little bit different. I knew I was in safe hands and just settled down for a lovely read. I smiled, chuckled, and felt that wonderful warm glow that comes from a double-serving of romance and the most wonderful time of the year. Wrapped Up In You, with its huggable characters and storyline, is a smile in a book, how lovely!
More than just romance, Relationship Stories can really strike a chord with us, at every stage of life. Just like relationships themselves, these books and there authors come in all shapes, sizes, atmospheres and aspirations. So, if something was missing from your last relationship read … we’ll help you find it in your next one! Here you’ll find the warm and the wise (Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Rosamunde Pilcher), the deliciously sexy (Jilly Cooper, Veronica Henry), the humourous and honest (Nick Hornby), the insightful (Joanna Trollope) and the … Perhaps, though you’re looking for a new relationship? Why not try our’ Author Like for Like’ tool or make a date with our Book of the Month recommendations and find your perfect match … for now, at least!