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.
This is quite simply a wonderfully gorgeous must-read! My whole being poured into ‘The Possible World’, soaked up the words, the feelings, the story. Six year old Ben is left traumatised after a violent crime, Lucy the doctor who initially treats Ben in the Emergency Room has her own issues, while Clare has lived a lifetime of secrets, is she ready to tell her story? Each chapter is headed by one of the characters, each story, stands resolute, almost isolated, and yet a transparent thread weaves between them, creating a cobweb of a connection. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz writes with such beautiful heartfelt emotion, yet is also able to communicate stark realism. At certain points, my mind clouded in confusion, before clarity hit me like a hammer blow. I adored the storyline, the mysterious, spellbinding route that is taken almost feels as though you happen upon it by chance. I read without stopping, completely consumed by the story and it hurt when I turned the final page, when I had to come back into my world. I still ache when I think about ‘The Possible World’, it truly is a beautiful read and will topping my books of the year.
An electrifying and riveting tale, my thoughts and feelings were captured from the moment I opened ‘Watching You’. Joey returns home to Bristol, she soon becomes rather obsessed with an older man, however doesn’t realise that while she is watching him, someone else is watching her. I was absolutely thrilled to hear I would be reviewing Lisa Jewell (sharp elbows and pushing to the front of the queue may have been involved), as her books have the ability to really get under my skin. Intrigue and suspicion smiled slyly as they settled over the first page and prologue. I adored the way this book opened out in front of me, tight fast moving chapters created a throbbing energy which played havoc with my emotions. I met each character with a certain amount of uncertainty, weighing, judging, evaluating as I got to know them. Information is steadily and exquisitely revealed, a beautiful balance is maintained, keeping thoughts on a knife edge. ‘Watching You’ is a completely wonderful, intensely satisfying tale. I can highly recommend just letting go and sinking into the pages, be warned though, I didn’t want to come up for air and it was a one-sitting read for me.
A steaming hot and beautifully tender love story, with an added element to appreciate and connect to. Stella Lane is a successful business woman in San Francisco, she has Asperger syndrome and has never had a relationship. Determined to learn how to be a good girlfriend with all that entails, Stella hires Michael a male escort, and the more time they spend together the closer they become. In 2016 the author was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (Asperger syndrome), and felt inspired to write ‘The Kiss Quotient’. Helen Hoang releases short sharp bursts of words and feelings, then allows them to settle, encouraging the storyline to build. Asperger syndrome is very much a part of this book, however it isn’t the sum of it, the connection between two people takes centre stage, with all that they have to discover about each other. ‘The Kiss Quotient’ is an intoxicating tale, it wraps itself around thoughts and releases stings of awareness, creating a feast of a read.
Three young friends set out on a summer road trip, each one carrying secrets and sorrows. Squashed into a battered old car, fuelled by warm beer and pub pies, they bicker and tease, with the ease that only comes from deep familiarity. We know even as they set out that they will never make another trip like this, that it’s the closing moment to one part of their lives. Filled with the sense of hot, dusty days, the lull between end and beginning, this is a classic summertime novel. More than just a coming-of-age story, it perfectly captures a transformative moment in the lives of its three central characters, and turns it into something that rings true for us all. ~ Andrea Reece
'WONDERFULLY UPLIFTING' Trisha Ashley Sometimes, happiness can be found where you least expect it... Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She's perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that's what she tells herself. Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she's doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy's grip on the world. When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don't realise they need to be saved? An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.
A short, sharp, shock of read and it’s absolutely fabulous! Maxwell is determined to win his ex-wife Lily back even though she has moved on and found love with Sebastian, jealousy, spite, and rage enter their lives, laying waste. This is just so incredibly easy to read, even though the prologue cranks up the tension, and each chapter adds a whip-crack of suspense I simply galloped my way through ‘Do No Harm’. L. V. Hay has created characters who entered my mind in vibrant colourful intensity, the different points of view clear to see and feel yet disquiet fills the pages. Maxwell’s conversational diary-like entries as he makes his feelings clear slices through the new relationship. My thoughts almost turned themselves inside out as I read and the ending… oooh that ending! ‘Do No Harm’ is a little cracker, bursting with fiery energy, it certainly creates a stir.
Gorgeous, just gorgeous! This is a gentle, loving, beautiful romance set in Australia and I loved every single second of it. Gracie has severe amnesia after a car accident, escaping to the flower farm of her past, does she choose the safety of the people who know and love her, or start all over again? The prologue sets the story up wonderfully, with just enough information to take up residence in my mind. I have to admit that once I started reading, I forgot that I was meant to be reviewing and just became a part of the story. I let the contents waft over me and through me, I became friends with Gracie and the people in her life, could smell the flowers, feel the emotions. Vanessa Carnevale writes with a sensitive, heartfelt pen, she has the ability to put the feel in good. ‘The Memories of Us’ is a joyful hug of a book that reaches out, soothes, cares, and encircles with warmth - as I say, it’s all rather gorgeous!
In a Nutshell: Mystery, memory, manipulation | A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ten steps ahead of everyone around her. But further tragedy follows at her new school when Hanna, her roommate, falls to her death. While Jess tries to figure out who’s behind the mysterious postcards she finds in the wake of Hanna’s death, she falls for new boy Dan and confides in him as it emerges that Professor Coleman wants her back. A tangle of questions arise as Jess tries to keep herself safe, and the answers are revealed with terrific tension as a series of damning discoveries set the stage for an explosive showdown. Recommended for YA readers who like their fiction fast-paced and full of psychological thrills and chills. Do you have a memory for faces? Could you be a Super Recogniser? Head over to the University of Greenwich website to take the test… greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com
Make no mistake, this debut novel is startling and often painfully uncomfortable, yet it is a stunning, actually breathtaking piece of literature. 14 year old Turtle is strong, capable, different, she is also suffering… deeply and painfully. Within the first few pages I knew that ‘My Absolute Darling’ was going to be an unforgettable read. By the end of the first chapter, ice-cold fingers had run down my spine and sent my whole system into shock. I felt as though I was viewing life from an entirely different perspective, one absolutely humming with intensity. I wanted to stop the feelings of disbelief and horror that were crowding into my mind, but I knew that I had to bear witness. Gabriel Tallent’s writing is surprisingly simple, yet he paints a vibrant pulsating picture, this man sees life, sees beneath the surface, and grants you access too. The plants, wildlife, and surrounding countryside, so beautifully described, link with the reality of Turtle’s life and on occasion act as a buffer to what is happening. There were times when ‘My Absolute Darling’ made me scream inside, yet I couldn't stop reading this remarkable and actually rather beautiful novel. It will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year.
An emotionally tough read that tells a story which must not be forgotten. Based on the lives of two of the central characters, Sophia and Misha, it centres on an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War and of the work of Dr Janusz Korezak, the Good Doctor of the title. The story begins in 1937 when Poland is independent. The anti-Jewish bigotry festering in fascist Germany is slowly spreading throughout Central Europe but life is still pleasant in Warsaw. Misha and Sophia are in love. There is a charming chapter when, in July 1939, the children from Korezak’s orphanage are taken to the country for a month of games and fresh air; an idyllic time and a poignant contrast to the horror to come. I do not need to tell you what happens, just to mention the word Treblinka is enough. Getting there in August 1942 is harrowing yet compulsive reading as we follow the adventures of Misha and Sophia and indeed the wonderful Dr Korezak. There is a postscript about the site today where a large stone monolith commemorates the awful events carried out there. It is surrounded by smaller stones each representing a village, town or city from which the Jews and Romanies were taken. Only one stone has the one word, Korezak.
A bang up-to-date, bright, hugely entertaining read set in the world of social media. Digital marketing agency owner and ultra competitive Annie and her business may be up for three awards, however they still need their clients to pay on time, otherwise the business may be over before it can really establish itself. A rather demanding bet, to make a stranger famous on instagram in just 30 days, leads Annie into a Pygmalion dance of discovery. Lindsey Kelk really does have the most delightfully amusing and engaging writing style. I often found myself smirking and at several points actually snorting with laughter. The supporting characters surrounding Annie are wonderful in their own right, and help create an all-embracing world. The romance element forms beautifully, in no particular rush, allowing time to get to know Annie and friends and really care about them. ‘One in a Million’ is lively, lovely, friendly and absolutely perfect if you like your romance served with wit and humour.
A beautifully constructed, absolute dream of a read. Three women (including the wickedly wonderful Emily from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’) join forces when one of them is set up, publicly discarded and viciously humiliated by her husband. Emily, Miriam and Karolina live what may appear to be a charmed jet-setting, party-licious life, however there is a very long way to fall when the knives are out. I absolutely adore Lauren Weisberger’s novels, they read as a master class in setting the scene and creating an eloquently enjoyable and pointedly wicked read. Each chapter focuses on one of the women, so perfectly describing their life I could not only picture myself there, I was there. My eye-popping disbelief mounted at the tactics, the lifestyle, and I seethed away, joining ranks, willing them on. A quick note, just in case you’ve already hunted this down and read it, ‘The Wives’ was published in the USA as ‘When Life Gives you Lululemons’. ‘The Wives’ is a hugely entertaining, read in one sitting, smoking-hot loaded gun of a read - and I highly recommend it.
‘Mine’ is a sharply focused, edgy, wonderfully compelling read, where the tension tightens into a lightning ball before powerfully exploding. Lawyer Francine Day begins an affair with client Martin Joy after taking on his divorce, when his wife goes missing danger edges ever closer. The prologue, particularly the first sentence hit me with a whammy, I was instantly hooked. There is a lot of information to take on board, yet I felt alert and energised as I read. My feelings for Fran tossed and turned, the more I learned, the closer I became, and the more real she felt to me. J. L. Butler is a former lawyer and journalist, the credibility of the writing can be felt through every word. Just as a little aside, this particular author also writes under another name (whose bestselling books I adore), I wouldn’t have recognised the writing style as it is so completely different, yet equally as enthralling. As the suspense multiplied, transferring from the page into my mind, I tested my suspicion against the characters, yet still didn’t expect the ending as it hurtled towards me. ‘Mine’ is a delicious serving of fiery drama and chilling darkness, it was a breath-taking non-stop read for me and I can whole-heartedly recommend it.
Warm, enticing, and hugely enjoyable, ‘A Summer Scandal’ is a perfect summery read to take a moment for yourself and relax into. Oh what a joy of read this was, deliciously entertaining and just so easy to just sink into and become a part of. 25 year old vintage costumer Violet follows her heart after receiving an inheritance and moves to Swallow Beach to breathe life back into an abandoned pier. Meeting resistance from some locals, she also finds friends, including the rather lovely Calvin. Kat French has a wonderfully light touch, crafting entertaining, welcoming books with a beautiful heartbeat. I loved getting to know Violet, discovering her background, and what made her tick. The romance is heavenly but not the be all and end all, Violet’s family, friends and the exquisite pier ensures even more meaning and satisfaction. Warm, enticing and hugely enjoyable, ‘A Summer Scandal’ is a perfect summery read.
In a Nutshell: Rebellion, romance and an imprisoned princess set on revenge This ambitiously epic fantasy debut sees a captive princess rise from the ashes of her traumatic childhood to combat a cruel Kaiser. At the tender age of six Theodosia witnessed the brutal murder of her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury. Now, ten years on, and backed deeper into a no-hope situation by the cruel Kaiser who’s forced her to live in a degraded state as the Ash Princess, Theodosia is driven to concoct a scheme to exact her revenge. With the assistance of a band of magical rebels she will seduce the Kaiser’s son and ruin him from within in order to reclaim the throne. While this motif is far from new, the writing is bold and fresh, and this promising debut sparkles with Theodosia’s drive and desire. But, while she’s a straight-talking, sharp-thinking young woman, her lively first-person narrative also reveals hidden fears, doubts and personal conflicts which, alongside the gory grimness of the political climate (slavery, brutal colonisation) and a backdrop of elemental gods, makes for a riveting reading experience that comes recommended for fans of Sarah J Maas and Victoria Aveyard.
Tremendously entertaining, and truly captivating. Nate is in for a shock, after 16 years of marriage his wife has left him and their son, with just a note listing all of his faults. Nate is determined to right his wrongs, and win Sinead back. I always smile when I pick up a Fiona Gibson book as I know I’m in for a real treat, she has the ability to connect, to enter thoughts and feelings while delivering a wonderfully humorous and enticing read. This is a beautifully balanced novel with a decidedly knowing edge. It may well provoke thoughts, and create moments of awareness, as there are occasional provocative stings along the way. I found my feelings unravelling and then tangling again, there are some unexpected moments and I have to say that I absolutely adored that ending! ‘The Mum Who’d Had Enough’ is a joyful corker of a read, thoroughly recommended.
A touchingly intimate yet scorchingly dramatic and fully realised view of a couple who meet just before the Second World War. This is a relationship tale that took hold of me, brought me to its very centre and allowed me access to innermost thoughts and feelings. Martin and Nancy fall in love, as Martin departs for the battlefields of France, they continue to communicate by letter, until suddenly Martin’s letters stop. My advice to you is to pick this book up, start to read, and whatever you do, do not allow the final few pages to fall open before you reach them. For me the ending was a heart-stopping moment, and is still very much in my mind, the emotion of the realisation continues to affect me. The letters are exquisitely crafted, with real heart, tying into the story perfectly and bringing a sense of nostalgia for this type of communication. S. C. Worrall allows the war to edge ever closer, until it strikes with a sharp hammer blow. ‘The Very White of Love’ takes you step by step into another time, heartfelt and beautiful I can wholeheartedly recommend this read.
A scorching and beautifully written epic tale set in 1348, a time that sends a jagged screech of fingernails down the blackboard of history. Step away from the present into the midst of the Black Death, to overwhelming fear and confusion. The moated centre of one estate in Dorset appears to offer sanctuary, yet the treacherous play of human emotions wreaks havoc. I am a fan of Minette Walters, she has the ability to look behind and beyond the obvious, and she is eminently suited to this new genre. A lot of characters are introduced, yet there is no confusion, each was clear in my mind, known to me and vibrantly alive. The descriptions took me directly through the words and into this compelling story. ‘The Last Hours’ is the first of two novels, it quickly puts down roots and takes hold, ensuring a gripping, striking and remarkably readable tale.
The heartwarming new novel from the No. 1 Irish bestseller Emma Hannigan, author of The Wedding Promise, The Perfect Gift and the memoir All to Live For. Letters to my Daughters will make you laugh and it will make you cry. This books tells the tale of three close knit sisters who have been devastated by the loss of one mother figure and are at the end of their tether with another. The loss of Nanny May profoudly effects Beatrice and twins Jeannie and Rose as well as Rose's daughter and their father. Their loss at the start of the novel is only the beginning of a series of lifechanging events for the whole family. Each of the daughters have their own secrets and their bond as sisters could be the only thing that will stop them from falling apart completely. Their mother, Martha, is struggling with retirement and Jim is the glue that holds the mother and daughters together. This book has as many funny moments as heartbreaking ones, and makes you realise the importance of family and doing what makes you happy. The author's acknowledgements at the end of the novel reinforces this and had me in tears. I would definately recommend that you read this book from cover to cover.
An exciting change of direction by Sarah Morgan has led to a deliciously entertaining and heartfelt read. Sisters Lauren and Jenna find that a life based on a secret can be a very destructive thing, yet love, compassion and honesty are waiting in the background, ready to be called. I’ve always loved Sarah Morgan’s novels, they’ve been beautifully simple and full of romance, now she has added a real depth, creating a world surrounding, yet entirely part of the story. The characters within this family, from teenager Mack to grandmother Nancy have a real energy and feel relatable. This is a standalone read, one that you can properly sink into, become a part of and enjoy. I feel as though Sarah Morgan has kept the best of her previous writing, and added a new, more poignant and expressive dimension. A relationship tale with romance and family drama, ‘How To Keep A Secret” is a warming delightful read.
An absorbing, twisting, uneasy reflection of a marriage, as it is being lived with an untold secret at its heart. Kate and Paul have been married for ten years, as they celebrate their anniversary Kate looks back to the time they met as children, and to what could lie ahead in their future. Holly Seddon has become a must-read author for me, each book has had different themes, even edged into different genres, yet the undeniable authenticity of each really shines through. Her writing feels heartfelt, honest, and she has the ability to create such tangible characters, I could turn to them, talk to them, explore their thoughts and feelings. I felt as though Kate was being candid as she spoke, yet information arrives gradually, slowly revealing truths, creating a feeling of uncertainty, building tension. I found myself holding my breath as the ending neared, wanting to know, yet almost afraid to reach for the answers. ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is a cracking read, stimulating, engaging and also rather beautiful, I loved it.
To those around her she was a loyal subject. In her heart she was a traitor. The Queen of the title is Elizabeth Mortimer 1371-1417, married to Sir Henry Percy (known as Hotspur) and upon his death to Thomas de Camoys. This is another of the author’s excellent retelling of the lives of medieval women. Written in the first person, this untangles history in a highly readable manner. It seems Elizabeth loved her first husband who assisted Henry IV to dethrone Richard II and was killed in battle. But in fact Elizabeth wanted her nephew, eight-year old Edmond, to become King but she kept this to herself. Upon Hotspur’s death he was pronounced a traitor and Elizabeth arrested. The King then gave her a choice, marry de Camoys or go into a nunnery. She married de Camoys, he was in his sixties, and the books ends with her settling into a harmonious relationship. I think the strength of this is that it is written in the first person, highly enjoyable.
Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself. Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought-provoking novel.
NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR Sophie Kinsella's emotionally charged, witty new standalone novel about love and long-term relationship survival - and how those we think we know best can sometimes surprise us the most . . . After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it's casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years... and panic sets in. They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me - anything from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots - mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all... ***** EVERYBODY LOVES SOPHIE KINSELLA: ***** 'Left me giddy with laughter. I loved it' JOJO MOYES 'One of the most relatable books I've read in a long time, I couldn't put it down.' LOUISE PENTLAND (SprinkleofGlitter) 'Life doesn't get much better than a new Sophie Kinsella novel' RED
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | In a nutshell: the unforgettable story of a girl with no memory. Can there ever have been a heroine like Flora Banks? She’s 17 when the book opens, but an accident aged 10 has left her with no short term memory. Then a secret kiss on the beach – with her only friend’s boyfriend – lodges in her mind. Inspired, she sets off alone to follow him, a heart-stopping journey that takes her deep into the Arctic landscapes of Norway, scribbled messages she writes to herself on her arms her only reassurance or guide. Flora does find out the truth about the boy and about herself, but she needs all her courage. A unique mix, part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, with an almost fairy-tale setting, this is a story that readers will want to read more than once, and one they will want to share with friends too. Unforgettable!
May 2018 Book of the Month An intimate, beautifully told, occasionally rambunctious tale set in 17th century England. Ursula Flight was born at an inauspicious time, she tells her own highly entertaining, yet poignant tale from birth. Ursula bounded from the page into wondrous life, I could feel her emotions, her wild, kind, impetuous nature spoke to me. Anna-Marie Crowhurst has created a vibrant, stunning setting for Ursula, the countryside of her childhood is so beautifully imagined, I found myself looking around, smelling, touching, feeling. Ursula’s own writing is scattered through the novel, her thoughts, letters and plays allow direct contact with her, as when she writes she is free, and unencumbered by the morals of the time. I have to admit to feeling a certain amount of disquiet as I read, one part of me was in the present, living life with Ursula, the other part was wondering what would become of this spirited young woman. A blistering darkness slices through ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ taking its turn in the orbiting dance of life alongside the colour and passion, which creates a truly wonderful captivating read, and I loved it.
In a Nutshell: A feel-good feast of romance, writing and one glorious gran 13+ “When your whole family is obsessed with Love and Romance it sets some pretty high expectations, believe me”, explains 16-year-old Tilly, the witty narrator of this bright and breezy book. Tilly’s on tenterhooks as her grandmother’s highly anticipated romance novel is published. Nothing unusual there - aspiring writer Tilly has long been involved with Gran’s work, from filing, typing and researching, to suggesting improvements. But this book is different. It almost wasn’t completed, due to Gran being hospitalised while writing it, which meant Tilly took on the tasks of copy-editing, proof-reading and (wait for it...) secretly rewriting the ending to Gran’s successful series. From her myriad “Meet cute” date moments, to her ritual of choosing a hat before writing a new book, Gran’s quirks are a joy, and the portrayal of her illness is incredibly touching. Tilly’s massively relieved when Gran is delighted with her ending, so much so that she asks Tilly to write her next novel. Tilly accepts the challenge, but how can she follow the “write what you know” rule when she’s never been in love? What’s more, after boldly resolving to fall in love for real, she discovers that real-life romance can’t be plotted. Rather, it brings twists and turns that are way beyond the author’s control. Delightful on the everyday dramas of family life, first love and fiction’s edifying allures, this is perfect for aspiring writers and fans of funny contemporary YA.
April 2018 Book of the Month “It’s a bit weird,” says Danny to James and indeed it is. Here are two thirty-six year old single young men who were once rival star scholars at an elite public boarding school now damaged. Danny was the scholarship student from a council estate, James an upper-class lad from wealthy parents. Both have sunk into a pit. How they got there and are desperately trying to climb out makes for a sensitive and highly compulsive read. Danny suffered loss and has been unable to get over the trauma, James had an “incident” which has left him brain damaged, he is now looked after by his restrictive parents. James is inadvertently responsible for Danny quitting his job and so hits upon the idea of being able to get away from his parents by having Danny look after him. A bit weird indeed. I truly loved this book, unusual for Mike Gayle and very special indeed.
May 2018 Debut of the Month A poignant, inspiring debut to really immerse yourself in, to feel and become a part of. Hero De Vera originally from the Philippines, joins her Uncle and his family in California, she arrives with secrets, and enters a house with secrets, can the family unite as one? The prologue sets the stage, another woman, not Hero, speaks. Elaine Castillo placed me entirely into an unknown world, her words took me there so completely I felt empathy, warmth, remorse resonating through me. Each central character has a distinctive voice, the different women take centre stage, strong, vibrant, hurting, resilient. The feeling of not belonging, of fear, sat uncomfortably within me, slicing through my thoughts. I felt as though I was being told a direct recollection of events, as though I was sitting by their side, listening, and becoming one with the words. Provoking thoughts and feelings ‘America is not the Heart’ is a fascinating, often painful, yet entirely stimulating read.
Henry dies on page 11 in a dreadful cycling accident. Grace is waiting for him to join her viewing another house. Their life together stretching out in front of them is cut dead. Grace is forced to cope and it is that coping and healing that this highly accomplished author leaves us through. There has to be a buried secret, it is that sort of book, but the secret, when revealed, is totally unexpected by all parties except Henry’s parents. They have long buried it and are loathe to face it. Now, of course, the twist unwinds and Grace has a dilemma. Then another complication arises. As the story progresses and you run with it, you are forced to turn the pages faster and faster to an unexpected conclusion with a neat little twist on the penultimate page. Nice one.
A striking, rambunctious, Tom Ripley-ish debut about cuckoos in the family nest, the death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of corrupt Zimbabwe. This is a slow and challenging read about the change of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. It centres on an orphan boy, Zamani, who longs to be accepted as the “son” of his surrogate family with whom he lodges. Their natural son, Bukhosi, has disappeared during the internal struggle between rival supporters of Mugabe and Nkomo which followed independence. The boy’s father won’t talk about his past but Zamani needs the details filled in so he can feel he belongs and also to hopefully help him find Bukhosi. He plies the man with whisky to get him to talk and so the background unfolds. In a novel of genocide there is a great deal of violence and actually little historical detail. The concentration is on the effect of the conflict on individual lives in a tale of deceit and deception. Horrific stuff.
An entertaining and readable foray into a fascinating veiled world, this is the third novel in the Diplomatic Crime Series and can easily be read as a standalone. Set in a duel time frame, in the present Diplomat Jess Turner and DI Tom Sangster are in London for the visit of the Chinese Premier, while in the past Marianne Henderson finds herself in the firing line when she discovers the British Ambassador dead in a Shanghai hotel room. Author Jean Harrod was a British diplomat and has lived and worked in China, her voice rings with authenticity and she has the ability to take you into her world. Parallel lines run between Jess and Marianne creating tension and I sat with my thoughts, waiting, on alert. I worried for Jess and Marianne, and was reluctant to trust anyone! The ending of ‘Missing in Shanghai’ rather rushed towards me to wrap up proceedings, though I was pleased to see that the door is left open for a return.
Prepare yourself, this is a slicing, clever, wonderfully captivating tale ready to twist thoughts, to skewer feelings. Thomas falls in love with Darling, his 16 year old daughter Lola is horrified, each woman is determined not to lose Thomas. The intriguing prologue immediately hooked my attention, my eyebrows raised, my eyes opened wide, my mind gasped. We hear from both Darling and Lola, each so different, so vibrantly alive with conviction. Darling’s voice is rich and full of flavour, I could close my eyes and still hear her, while Lola is sharp with a head full of thoughts, brittle, yet flaming, fiery. I found myself reading faster, wanting to gobble up the pages, yet was determined not to miss a single word. By the time awareness started to prickle my consciousness, by the time understanding crashed in around me, I was on a non-stop collision course with the end. ‘Darling’ is a powerful read, a vibrant, punchy, thoughtful wow of a read, and I loved it.
`The American girl has the advantage of her English sister in that she possesses all that the other lacks...' - Titled Americans On 6th November 1895, the young and brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt wedded the near-bankrupt Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. A dazzling yet miserable match was made - one which glittered above all others for high society's unofficial marriage brokers who, in a single year, initiated and manipulated a series of spectacular transatlantic pairings. Injecting millions of dollars into the ailing aristocracy; fame, money, power and prestige were all at play. Characterised by scandal, illicit affairs, spurned loves and unexpected deaths, The Million Dollar Duchesses reveals the machinations which led to these most influential matches between America's heiresses and Britain's elite. The Gilded Age was a tumultuous period for society's most eligible.
From the bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan, comes another irresistible novel of unexpected friendships, second chances ... and dark secrets. Gloriously gorgeous in every way. After tragedy crashed into her life, Masha often sits on the bottom of the pool at the local lido, unable to look forward, to join in. Sally Red Shoes and Kitty Muriel nudge Masha’s awareness, and life begins to look interesting again. I absolutely adored ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ which was one of my books of the year 2017, so looked forward with relish to Ruth Hogan’s next offering. ‘The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’ is just as special, and cements this particular author as one of my firm favourites. Ruth Hogan has the very special ability to look beyond the veil of unremarkable to find a sometimes painful, yet beautifully quirky existence. Each character (and I include the dogs in this), is fully realised and absolutely essential to the storyline. Kitty and Sally are so stuffed full of life I found myself wanting them in my life too. Words such as enchanting, captivating, and charming are spilling out of my mind, yet this is not a sickly sweet tale, also added to the mix are poignant, emotional, heart-ache…and I both laughed and cried, sometimes at the same time. Quite simply, ‘The Particular Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’ is a must-read, and I adored every single second of it.
'If you like Jodi Picoult try Melissa Hill' Woman and Home Good mother or bad ... who decides?' With clever writing, this provocative tale is just so, so readable. Rosie can’t have her childhood vaccinations due to a medical condition, while Clara’s parents have decided not to vaccinate for personal reasons. When measles strikes both girls, is anyone to blame, and will life ever be the same again? Melissa Hill writes in such a compassionate and measured way, neither judging nor condemning, yet she brings this highly sensitive and volatile subject vibrantly to life. Mums Kate and Madeline take centre stage, allowing you an insight to their parenting decisions. I changed my mind as I read, thoughts flowing one way, then the other, understanding choices, questioning opinions, and thoroughly becoming part of this tale. ‘Keep You Safe’ lights the touch paper to a dramatic finale, all the while allowing you to make up your own mind, creating an absorbing, fascinating novel.
Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you've finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple one, but he regularly sneaks a peek into other peoples worlds by reading their handwritten letters; events take a darker turn as he deviates from voyeur into an obsessive usurper. The author uses Japanese haiku and tanka poetry to allow Bilodo to converse with the woman of his dreams; exquisite clusters of words will snag your attention and demand that you re-read them. This is essentially a book of love, of what might have been and of what could still come… One of our Books of the Year 2014. Selected as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club title in September 2014.
Explore in ‘Chance Developments’ five charming and poignant short stories. I absolutely adore the premise for this little book and the cover just invites you in. Alexander McCall Smith has imagined a background tale to the five black and white photos that appear at the beginning of each short story. The photos are eloquent and moving, the stories delve deeply into possibilities, love and friendship, joy and melancholy. From Sister Flora to a circus performer, each story is a small snapshot of what might have been, and as I read, I found myself drawn back to the photo, to look again and ponder. Alexander McCall Smith has transformed five forgotten photos into a discovery of delight. ~ Liz Robinson May 2017 Book of the Month. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Alexander McCall Smith by Mary Hogarth. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'If you come across an old photograph what do you think about the people staring back out at you? Maybe that they are just anonymous people from another age, as if from another planet. Or do you, like McCall Smith, hear their voices, know their names, sense their hopes and dreams and imagine how their lives might have turned out.Blessed with a wonderful, humane imagination, McCall Smith brilliantly constructs paths for these forgotten people - some joyous, others bumpy and winding, all with unexpected twists and turns. An astonishing achievement: original and moving.' ~ Neville Moir, Editor of Chance Developments
Aisling is 28, and she's a complete ... Aisling. Living `Down Home' with Mammy and Daddy, she commutes to her good pensionable job in Dublin and stays two nights a week with her boyfriend of seven years, John. But Aisling wants more. She wants the ring on her finger. She wants the hen with the willy straws. She wants the grand big house with the utility room of her dreams. When a week in Tenerife doesn't result in a proposal, Aisling decides she's had enough. It's time for a change. A new start, a love triangle (well, more of a square) and some home truths force Aisling out of her comfort zone and into a life she never imagined.
'Katherine Heiny's work does something magical: elevates the mundane so that it has the stakes of a mystery novel, gives women's interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve - and makes you laugh along the way' Lena Dunham In the title story, we meet Maya, who is torn between her wryly funny boyfriend and the allure of her veterinarian. In Andorra, a woman's lover calls her every Thursday as he drives to meet his wife at marriage counselling. How to Give the Wrong Impression shows us a woman pining for her roommate, a man who will hold her hand but then tell her that her palm is sweaty. In The Dive Bar a girl agrees to have a drink with her married lover's wife. Revisiting Maya in several stories, chronicling her various states of love, this is a collection about how we are unfaithful to each other, both wilfully and unwittingly. Populated with unwelcome house guests, disastrous birthday parties, needy but loyal friends, and flirtatious older men, the stories are emotionally astute, sexy, and disarming-and they introduce us to a tart, and marvellous, new voice.
Makes the World Go Around
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!
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A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: