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Can a retelling of ‘Pride and Prejudice' possibly work? Well, this novel proves it can. The Austen Project consists of six contemporary authors, each retelling one of Jane Austen’s novels. Just imagine being paired with Pride and Prejudice, where on earth would you even begin? Well…Curtis Sittenfeld, bestselling author of American Wife, has moved the setting to Cincinnati, has included a reality TV show, sex before marriage and increased the ages of both Elizabeth and Jane to 38 and 40 - gulp! Curtis Sittenfeld has been particularly clever, keeping the essence of the story complete, yet cranking it up to be an eminently readable 21st century relationship story. Mr and Mrs Bennet are an absolute delight (and fright), transferring perfectly and making me both chuckle and cringe, I also have to admit to now seeing Jane Austen’s Elizabeth with new eyes. So, I embraced the changes as I read, stopped analysing and just enjoyed this thoroughly modern tale. The titles in the Austen Project series are: Sense & Sensibility by Joanna TrollopeNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermidEmma by Alexander McCall SmithEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Just one huge loving hug from start to finish. Felicity flees as fast as her heart and mind will let her when she realises her ex-husband is back in town. Seth last saw Felicity ten years ago, he still has feelings for her, does the fact that she has run, mean that she returns them? I just love a Sarah Morgan novel, she delivers every time, with friendship as much at the heart of the story as the romance. With both Felicity and Seth the focus, we are given more of an insight into relationship dance between them, and I cheerfully tutted, raised my eyebrows and encouraged them along the way. While the characters link to previous novels, if this is your first novel by Sarah Morgan, you could quite happily treat yourself to the delightful ‘Holiday in the Hamptons’ and read it as a standalone romantic feast. ~ Liz Robinson
Just so, so gorgeous! Laura lives on her own in the woodland wilds of South West Ireland, a film crew discover she has a special gift, will she be exploited or set free? I always know a book is fabulous when I forget I’m meant to be reviewing and instead find myself completely transported to another world. Cecelia Ahern writes with such a light, magical touch, yet she opens up feelings and allows you to see, to feel, to think. Each part of the story is introduced by a fascinating section taken from a book written in 1933, and links beautifully to Laura. This story is alive with the mystical and unknown, yet is a very modern tale indeed. The writing is so perfect, I actually heard sound… noise touched me, clearly, effortlessly and beautifully, making my heart ache. A delicious enchantment underpins and threads through the story, yet there is also an undertone of unease and foreboding that lingers as you turn the pages, ensuring ‘Lyrebird’ is a bewitching, gloriously delightful read. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Gorgeously affectionate, loving, and generous, this is a read to escape into and really enjoy. Hunters Moon is a forever home, yet the current occupants are selling up and when Belinda takes on the sale, she finds herself becoming emotionally attached to Sally and Alexander. Veronica Henry sets the story so beautifully in two time frames, it feels completely natural to journey back to the late 1960’s as well as spend time with Belinda in the present. I was completely enchanted, both with the characters and the setting in the beautiful Peasebrook. If you are an existing fan, then you will recognise locations and a few of the people you meet along the way, however this can very easily be read as a standalone. I have to say that ‘The Forever House’ is one of my favourite reads by Veronica Henry, and the honey glow of Hunters Moon sweeps you up in a deliciously warm embrace. ~ Liz Robinson
If you have been with this series from the beginning, and this is the 11th, you will be familiar with the characters who live around Scotland Street in Edinburgh. Mr McCall Smith is a natural storyteller who manages to subtly fill in the background so newcomers will soon learn about the personalities and foibles of the inhabitants and they are a fascinating collection of people. Bertie of the title is only seven but has the wisdom of Solomon and the mother from hell. The ‘Project’ of the title refers to his mother, Irene’s plan for his intense upbringing. Yoga, psychotherapy, Italian lessons are in; fun, Swiss army knives, junk food are not in! Bertie’s father, Stuart, is a kind, lovely man but completely overruled by his wife. When Stuart’s mother suspects Stuart is having an affair she is delighted, hoping he will rid himself of her truly awful daughter-in-law. As always, new characters are introduced. In this book it is Clare, a very typical, outdoor-loving, extreme-sports enthusiastic Australian. She and the narcissistic Bruce of earlier books join forces and Clare replaces the two Scandinavian au pairs of familiar Matthew and Elspeth to help with their now walking boy triplets. This is the expected delightful read and leaves one eagerly anticipating the next in the series. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Oh what a glorious treat of a book this is, warm and enticing, with captivating dark and spicy notes. Alice has experienced loss and rejection during her life, baking soothes her soul, and just when she experiences her most heartbreaking low, she finds herself opening a cafe. There’s a veritable feast of characters to be found within the pages, each adds a twist to procedings and are essential to the story. Another voice is heard, one that causes a crack to appear in the mirror of life, plus a contorted fairy-tale hides in plain sight within the story. Trisha Ashley writes with empathy, compassion, and a beautifully light touch, ensuring I simply galloped through this lovely tale. ‘The Little Teashop of Lost and Found’, excites, soothes, tickles, and is the perfect book to cuddle up with and lose yourself in. ~ Liz Robinson
Masterfully told in typical Catherine Alliott fashion, Catherine once again delivers a belly full of laughter as Molly, the key protagonist, makes her life a whole load more complicated and messy, long after the unexpected death of her husband, as she gets caught up in too many relationships of the opposite sex all at one time and without ever really meaning to do so. All of it complicated by her existence in rural Herefordshire on a farm that she never wanted to run, her grown up children, some of which just haven't grown up and then what might otherwise be her saviour, inheriting a beautiful house in London that she never expected. Can Molly get her life in order before she loses everything?
Winner of the Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel Award Initially you think this could be a time travel novel or alternative universe tale but then you discover it is a clever device to allow the protagonist to explore her life. Once you accept there are no explanations offered for the jumps in time and just settle back into the story, then you are in for an excellent experience. Intriguing, sophisticated, astute this follows Maggie through her marriage to Dan, a relationship with charismatic Jude, her children, her empty nest fears, her long-term friendship with Becca and her hard-learned lessons. It is a lovely read. Something a little different and very satisfying. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
This book is easy to fall in love with, it’s delightfully warm and captivating, with gripping notes of intrigue. Saskia returns to her grandparents home of Rosewood after two years spent avoiding her family, can she survive a golden wedding anniversary celebration intact, or will devastating secrets be revealed? Each chapter is headed by excerpts from books or diaries written by Saskia’s grandfather Nathanial. The rest of the family spill out from the pages and make their presence known, while Rosewood sits encircling them all within loving walls. Sophie Pembroke spins a mystery into an enthralling web, human frailties exist yet don't overpower, and stunning vintage dresses waft across the pages. ‘The Last Days of Summer’ is so very readable and engaging, so it’s the perfect companion to steal away with for a few hours. ~ Liz Robinson
A sophisticated, expressive, and emotional story set in the glamorous Italian film promotion world of the 1950’s. Hal and Stella meet at a party, an immediate connection flares into life, yet the spectre of war holds both in a devastating grip. The story in the present focuses on Hal, on the journey he takes with the other fascinating and intriguing characters. Occasionally Stella allows Hal a glimpse of her past. Told in the first person as the described events are happening, creates a separation from the intimacy of the confession, and ensures the innermost being of Stella remains hidden. A 16th century journal finds it’s way into Hal’s hands, as the story takes it’s hold on him, the feelings it evokes begin to combine with the present, creating an undercurrent of unease and tension. Lucy Foley balances a fine silky edge between serenity and passion, her writing caresses obsession, fear, strength and hope. ‘The Invitation’ gently takes hold and becomes a beautifully poignant, yet seductive and heady delight of a read.
June 2017 Debut of the Month. A thought-provoking and wittily pointed debut, about the life and loves of the Plumb family. There are four siblings at the centre of this novel, Leo causes uproar when a chunk of their common nest egg is syphoned off for him. A tale of love, hate and everything inbetween, complicated layers are peeled away, revealing a family in turmoil. There were times I almost felt as though I was eavesdropping, hearing a particularly juicy piece of gossip, could it possibly be true! The tale occasionally slips and slides away from the siblings, to other characters, the links combine to create moments of stillness and thought, or expose and cause mayhem. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney writes with eloquence, she has a beautifully light touch as she captures moods and feelings and sets them free in your mind, to flicker and provoke. ‘The Nest’ is a gorgeously expressive and captivating read and I highly recommend making room for it on your bookshelf.
An entertaining and charmingly poignant portrait of a provincial widower’s burgeoning new life following the death of his wife. It’s 1964, and 57 year-old antiques dealer George has lost his wife after they’ve lived a contented sort of life for the past twenty-six years, but he still has his beloved Bassett hound Monty, along with a heart that aches with a readiness to be filled anew. Indeed, George brims with a swirling sense of new possibilities: “Life. It meant walks holding hands in meadows freckled with buttercups… It swept him across grand landscapes; it meant riding bareback over the plains.” As he gets on with his business, his wife’s friends - an ensemble of larger-than-life, amusingly evoked characters - rally around with pies, while George himself feels frisson after frisson of desire. He’s an endearing, generous-spirited character, a gent who radiates a cosy glow of affection, and readers will truly root for him as he lays his heart bare, sometimes feeling “as if he had strayed off the edge into the unknown, like in the old maps – the mysterious, foggy territory”. Flawlessly rounded off by a heart-lifting twist, this is a delightfully tender read. ~ Joanne Owen
June 2017 Debut of the Month. Right from the start we realise this is a Montague/Capulet situation; a feud between families, in this case from Crete, that spills blood only here our Juliet (Poppy) lives and has a child. It is this London born girl, Angelika, who goes in search of her past and unearths the tragic tale which she shares with us. She is due to get married and would like her estranged family at her wedding. Her mother left Crete before Angie was born and has severed herself from her previous life. Why? Angie finds her grandmother, aunts and uncles and is very slowly told of the atrocities of the Nazi occupation, civil war and then the junta. Graphic, bloody and horrific much is described in gory detail. Families are torn apart. Angie has problems of her own. As her wedding day draws close so the revenge and secrets of the two families come poring out. We race to the end with our hearts thumping. Full of local colour and tradition this is a little slow to start but certainly builds to unexpected conclusions. Terrific stuff. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Click here to view all of the eBook formats for this title.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | July 2017 eBook of the Month. A mesmerising, haunting, and extraordinarily relevant yet beautifully evocative read. Kurtiz arrives in Paris after a sighting of her missing daughter, as the tale begins to unfurl, humanity at its very best and worst is revealed in several time frames. There is a slight departure in tone from previous novels, however the deep emotion and captivating writing is still reassuringly in evidence for existing fans. Carol Drinkwater explores thoughts and feelings during and after war, and immediately after an act of terrorism, her empathy shines a light on the darkness of the story. The movement in time allows more information to slot into place and the relationships between the characters began to connect like lightening strikes in my mind. ‘The Lost Girl’ is a story about relationships, family, and love during heartbreak, doubt and apprehension, yet rather than oppressive, I found an entirely captivating and beautiful read awaited. ~ Liz Robinson
Summer might be fading over the horizon but Straub's new novel is a perfect summer novel for all seasons: witty, touching, humane and gently humorous. A tale of complicated relationships set in Brooklyn this proves as light-hearted as her father, Peter Straub's books are dark and laden with horror, and confirms Emma as a major talent with an equal knack for entertaining. The story of friends who met in college and formed a short-lived rock band, following their fate some decades later as they linger in a state of disaffection and crave earlier glories. Small epiphanies and the weight of regrets, everyday love and companionship are celebrated: a lovely demonstration that book subjects can be small and delicately formed. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... A penetrating, witty and very modern look at family life. Two sets of friends from Brooklyn are now middle aged parents of teenagers, focusing on both generations, we see the highs and lows of growing up and trying to be a grown up! Emma Straub writes with a beautifully light yet discerning touch, little eye opening shots of wit pepper the page. The occasional snippets of information from local newspapers really ground the novel in the setting. As I read, I slipped into the neighbourhood and I felt as though I was a friend, just dropping in for a catch up and gossip. There is a gentle subtlety at play, secrets are slowly revealed, life is seen here, as it really is. ‘Modern Lovers’ is a wrying amusing and observationally astute novel, it crept under my skin without me realising it, and was an absolute joy of a read. ~ Liz Robinson
Ahh, this is a lovely, warm-hearted, treasure of a read. Siblings Ava and Rory take a trip down memory lane when they attend their grandmother’s funeral in Spain. Will a summer in the sun help them find themselves, to rediscover their loves, to laugh, to relax? Jenny Oliver has such a lovely writing style, witty, crisp, yet full of evocative affection and compassion. The characters range from Ava’s young nephew Max, to a handsome television star, through to several fiery Spanish retirees, creating a gorgeously bubbly and fascinating medley. I found myself chuckling out loud, on occasion cringing in sympathy, and cheering them on as they wavered, and sometimes fell off the path to happiness. ‘The Summer House by the Sea’ is a treat, why don’t you settle yourself down and take off to Spain with Ava and Rory. ~ Liz Robinson
A tense, vivid, standalone tale set in the early 1980’s from the author of ‘The Tales of the Notorious Hudson Family’ series. Vicky and Lucy are best friends, when they leave school they take different paths as they fall for two very different men, and an uneasy relationship develops. When Vicky’s life goes into catastrophic freefall, will Lucy still be there for her oldest friend? This story is in the same vein as ‘Blood Ties’ and ‘Bad Blood’, the Hudson’s aren’t to be seen, however the author’s trademark gritty, compelling writing again covers the pages. The story gallops along, fascinating and confrontational in equal measure as I found myself wanting to shake some sense and awareness into Vicky. ‘Blood Sisters’ is a full-on spiky tale of family drama, ghastly deeds, and loving friendship, and it’s another winner from Julie Shaw. ~ Liz Robinson Tales of the Notorious Hudson Family series:1. Our Vinnie2. My Uncle Charlie3. My Mam Shirley4. Blood Ties5. Bad Blood6. Blood Sisters
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
An expressive and heartfelt relationship tale set in a gloriously evocative 1950’s Sardinia. Carmela is engaged to the son of the town’s wealthiest family, however finds herself questioning his overbearing nature when she meets a Captain from the nearby army base. Sara Alexander sets the scene and surroundings so deftly, Sardinia vibrantly comes to life around you. The countryside, villages, culture and people create an intimacy and beautiful backdrop that allows the tale of Carmela to unfold. Carmela is a delight, thoughtful and kind, she constantly strives for greater understanding, will she allow herself happiness? ‘Under a Sardinian Sky’ is an engaging, yet emotional tale, settle in and find yourself transported to another era, a different world. May 2017 Debut of the Month.
May 2017 Book of the Month. Simply fabulous, this is a truly beautiful, mind-popping story. I must admit to jigging up and down with excitement when ‘Truly Madly Guilty’ arrived on my desk, Liane Moriarty has a very special touch, her stories and words caress ordinary and normality and transport them to extraordinary and unique. Friends for forever, Erika and Clementine from Sydney have grown up together, yet their friendship has barbs of resentment that gnaw and sting and bite. Set in two time frames, the truth initially feels too distant to touch, as it slides closer, a feeling that is almost claustrophobic steals through the pages. The day of the barbecue lurks in this story, simmering, waiting to trip, to cause mayhem, to change lives. I couldn't wait to find out what had happened at the barbecue, yet I savoured every second getting there. I lost myself to the story, I resisted reality and read ‘Truly, Madly, Guilty’ in one glorious heady sitting, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
Pacey, poignant and eminently entertaining, this bittersweet book about living life to the full makes a wonderfully warm-hearted companion to take into the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon.Lizzie, Jaddi and Samantha have been planning to take a trip of a lifetime together for a whopping nine years but, sadly, it’s taken Lizzie’s terminal cancer diagnosis to prompt them to actually do it. Well, that and the involvement of a TV production company who are funding the trip and will be there to document every step of the friends’ final shared journey.While Lizzie now feels a strange sense of liberation and is ready to embrace the adventure, stunning Jaddi and (seemingly) sorted Samantha find themselves having to face big questions about their own lives, and the bonds of friendship deepen as their voyage progresses. Naturally, there are moving moments and tears along the way, (not to mention a rather unexpected twist towards the end), but there’s also laughter, and much love. ~ Joanne Owen
Winner of the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 How one book can hold such aching heartbreak, beautiful tenderness, and vibrant emotion, I really don’t know. Sophie works from home and keeps her heart hidden, then in one life-changing night she meets Ben. Dani Atkins’s words have the ability to make me truly feel, and I impatiently waited for ‘This Love’ to arrive in the office. Once in my hands I didn't want to let it go, I sank into the story and read in just one sitting. This feels like real life, so authentic, but with an added glow of magic, not a breezy hocus-pocus, but an honest, heartfelt, revealing, soulful magic. Dani Atkins allows snippets of knowledge to fly free, small pieces of the puzzle start to drift together in front of your eyes. I will admit to sobbing my heart out, yet I also smiled, laughed, and was transported by the essence of the story. ‘This Love’ is a truly enchanting read, it captivates, and connects with vibrant intensity to the beauty of life. ~ Liz Robinson
A stirring and intoxicating story of love and twisted secrets waiting… lurking. Spanning twenty years, this tale introduces Jim and Jennifer in 1995 when they meet in Savannah, before a traumatic event forces them apart. In 2015 they meet again, with secrets snapping at their heels, will their feelings remain intact? The bewitching hot heady Deep South, encouraged me to explore the past, so evocatively described and full of promise. Waves of emotion, spilling the ups and downs of life, feeling touchable and realistic wash the pages. Tasmina Perry has the ability to immerse you entirely within the story, I lived in the moment, whether it was 1995 or 2015. 'The House on Sunset Lake’ surges towards a climatic ending, it is a moving, and truly very lovely story indeed. ~ Liz Robinson
THE THOUSAND LIGHTS HOTEL is the gorgeous new novel from Emylia Hall, author of Richard & Judy Summer Pick THE BOOK OF SUMMERS. Set in idyllic Italy, it's the perfect holiday read, for fans of Louise Douglas and Hannah Richell. When Kit loses her mother in tragic circumstances, she feels drawn to finally connect with the father she has never met. That search brings her to the Thousand Lights Hotel, the perfect holiday escape perched upon a cliff on the island of Elba. Within this idyllic setting a devastating truth is brought to light: shaking the foundations upon which the hotel is built, and shattering the lives of the people within it.
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2017. Inventively entertaining, niftily plotted first novel set in New York during the city’s effervescent infancy. It’s 1746 and a young man by the name of Smith arrives in New York from London with an order for £1000. He takes it to a Lovell, a banker based on Golden Hill Street, in order to have it cashed. “Lord love us,” Lovell exclaims at the sight of so large an amount. “This is a bill for a thousand pound”. Speculation is duly aroused: what on earth is Smith planning to do with such a quantity of cash? And what’s his purpose in the city? But Smith emerges from the counting house as “a young man with money in his pocket, new-fallen to land in a strange city on the world’s farther face”. The depiction of place is gratifyingly sensory. New York and its citizens are vibrantly evoked, from the “perfumes of hot bread and well-ground beans” on Smith’s morning meanderings, to the “African footmen with wigs powdered to the colour of icing-sugar” he sights in a church congregation.While the puzzle at the heart of the novel is not revealed until the very last pages, the plentiful and nimbly executed plot twists provide much satisfaction throughout. Part mystery, part homage to eighteenth century literature, this is an exuberant literary delight with all the readability of a page-turner. ~ Joanne Owen Winner of the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017 | Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2017 | Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017 | Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2016. The Walter Scott Prize Judges said:‘Pre-revolutionary New York, and a stranger arrives in town, where he finds a ferment of social jostling, politics and money that invites adventure. A great, unruly city is being born. Francis Spufford creates a world that is hypnotic and believable, brought to life in sparkling prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, and tells a gripping story that's full of tension and surprise, with characters who live on after the book is closed. His non-fiction writing has been much-admired. This first novel is an astonishing achievement because his novelist's voice is already enticing, rich and mature. An eighteenth-century treat.’ Costa judges' comment: “This spirited, wonderfully witty novel sets sparkling characters and a lively plot against a richly-realised backdrop.”
An enjoyable yet penetrating read, one that can lull you into a false sense of security before it jabs and stings at your awareness. A mystery sits centre stage, yet there is much more on offer here than may first appear. Set in the 60’s, the fabulous descriptive detailing ensures you are set firmly not only in the place, but also the time. This story feels like a tapestry of different threads that are slowly twisting together to create one intense and vibrant picture. There is a subtlety at play here, the story can float in different directions before it blasts your thoughts aside in a hit of raw, flinch-inducing reality. I loved the echoes of disappointment and hope that brought ‘Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars’ to life, this really is a rather lovely and engaging read. ~ Liz Robinson
This begins The West Country Trilogy starting in 1911. It follows two years in the life of young Leo as he skips school as often as he can to help his father, brothers and cousin on one of the six farms on Lord Grenvil’s land. This is the time of the horse, long before tractors. Young Leo, although encountering pigs and cattle, is very much the horseman of the title and as he learns so, too, do we. In fact early on nearly four pages are devoted to the art of grooming. There are long sections on ploughing and horse maintenance, farming and shooting, all slow, detailed and full of country lore. At its centre is the social difference of two children who become friends through the love of horses, a friendship that is sadly misinterpreted. This is elegant, evocative prose with the change of seasons flowing gently through a tale spotted with tragedy and drama. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Poignant, moving and funny, I chuckled my way through this delightful (but no longer secret) diary from the rather lovable Hendrik Groen. Hendrik has reached the age where his address book is depressingly empty and his life has become an endless string of funerals and conversations concerning bowel movements, the latest list of ailments and euthanasia. The care home he lives in is like a waiting room for death and so in an effort to keep his own sanity he decides to write his memoir. He intends to record it all, the mystery of the fish murderer, the suspicious activities being carried out by those who run the establishment and last but by no means least the happenings of THE-OLD-BUT-NOT-DEAD club. Hendrik is an endearing character who I very much enjoyed spending time with in this gentle read that left me feeling a little sad but hopeful. Snippets of the life he lived and what remains of it filter in throughout the book and have a greater sense of poignancy as they merge in with the everyday happenings of the here and now. When we are old we are still very much the person we have always been, hopefully reading this will remind us all that behind each and every elderly person lies a story. ~ Shelley Fallows Sarah Broadhurst's view... An old people's home in the Netherlands is the setting for this satire but it could be anywhere except for the small amount of political references. But Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela's deaths are commented upon too. With a vast cast of residents and all kinds of worries and problems we concentrate mainly on a group of friends who form the 'old-but-not-dead club' where each member organises an outing. They do more than most old people ever think of: take a cookery lesson, wine-tasting, painting, synchronized swimming, tai chi, bowls, golf and such. Hanging over the home is the threat of renovation, therefore change. Our narrator is determined to get sight of the regulations and decides to challenge the board. Solicitors become involved. His three closest friends have a dramatic and sad year which is sensitively portrayed. The action takes place over that year and is written in diary form. Personally I feel that if you are involved with the elderly you might find this all a bit disturbing despite it's amusing style. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
This soulful portrait of a woman’s friendship with Van Gogh, imagined from letters exchanged between the artist and his brother, is a richly-rewarding reverie about longing, loneliness and renewing life. Jeanne is an outsider in her Provencal village. She and her husband, Charles, live in the warden’s cottage of a psychiatric hospital, which renders her “too close to lunacy” for the other wives to feel safe, while she also feels invisible to Charles. Jeanne had loved the joy of discovering “new, small pleasures”, but she and Charles have slept apart for twenty years, and life is “ordered, disciplined”. Then a Dutchman arrives, the asylum’s first new patient in years, and Jeanne is immediately drawn to him, to this red-haired artist who is “not like other men”. Disobeying her husband, Jeanne watches Vincent paint, and his presence, his art, his “strong unwashed smell” heighten her restlessness. “Where is my wife?” Charles wonders, noticing a change in Jeanne, and yet there she is, dressed in the dazzling sunshine-yellow dress she last wore in her youth, radiating the promise of being seen anew, and of living life afresh. The descriptions of Van Gogh’s familiar works (“yellow swirled stars...that seem to move above the little sleeping town”), and the Provencal landscape are glorious, while the unsettled landscape of Jeanne’s heart is evoked with affecting poignancy. Truly a novel to pore over and savour. ~ Joanne Owen
If you are a Margaret Drabble fan then you will know her strength is in characterisation. Here she concentrates on a family and elderly friends with the narrative switching between them as each character analyses the others. It is a novel about growing old and dying, centring mostly on a seventy-plus lady, Fran, working for a care charity. She has two children, one in the Canary Islands licking his wounds after the unexpected death of his lover and the other in the West Country. For a novel which is not crime there are a surprising number of deaths. The author beautifully captures the emotions and actions of the elderly, the signs of aging that only they notice in themselves and their thoughts of death. But this is not a depressing or morbid book, rather it is an insightful and very moving one which is actually in a way comforting. There is a good deal of symbolism and stunning imagery which is coloured with historical, artistic, literary and cultural references, a joy to read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
June 2017 Debut of the Month. Winner of the Writers’ Guild Best First Novel Award 2017 - This gentle yet beautifully told story follows recently-widowed Thomas on a journey back to the India of his birth, where he rediscovers not only himself but also the Bureau of Second Chances. Thomas and his wife Nimmy, had planned to retire together in the small fishing village of Kerala but life doesn’t quite go to plan when Cancer takes Nimmy from him. After a lifetime in London, Thomas returns to their homeland alone and soon begins to reacquaint himself with the traditions and life he left behind. When a friend in need asks him to help run his Optical Store, Thomas soon suspects that there is certainly more at work than meets the eye in the store. For the efficient and trusted assistant Rani is also providing lonely men and women the opportunity for a second chance in life and love. Before long Thomas is discovering himself in a way he hasn’t dared before and begins to hope that life may still yet hold a few surprises and the chance of happiness for him again too. Sheena Kalayil paints a wonderfully atmospheric picture of life in India and captures her characters perfectly so that I became invested in their stories and longed for them to find the happy ending they so deserved. ~ Shelley Fallows
A flamboyantly fantastical literary voyage in which two strangers stranded at a Spanish airport during a strike are brought together by their mutual travel agent, whose Guide for the Perplexed travel book they both have. Executed with intellectual and sensual exuberance, this ingeniously original novel defies definition at every turn as the two marooned women share their remarkable stories. Holland is a British filmmaker and in Spain to interview a reclusive violinist, while Miami widow Hanni is set on finding a letter that will confirm her ancestral connection to Esau, purportedly the real discoverer of the New World. The language dances and sparkles as the narrative traverses time, religions and momentous historical events, and the serpentine structure of stories within stories is a flabbergasting imaginative feat. Truly a Pandora’s box of cerebral delights in the vein of Eco and Calvino, it dazzles, and demands one’s absolute attention. ~ Joanne Owen
As is the case with so many good Irish literary novels, this is poignant, breathtaking and very sad. Following three stories told in three different voices that do eventually come together, it covers the years 1901 to 1941 through the tales of Jewish Lithuathian immigrants bound for New York who inadvertently disembark in Cork (sounds like New York) in Ireland. Ruth is eight years old. The second story is Shem’s who is mute, struck so at his Bar Mitzvah. When we meet him he is eighteen. His is the saddest story of all for his life is irrevocably changed by a misinterpretation of circumstances. The third story is set today where Aisling, an Irish Catholic in love with a Jew, has a huge dilemma. Can she make the ultimate sacrifice and convert to Judaism? She is given a book by her prospective inlaws that outlines the path she must take. It belonged to another and she seeks out the original owners with much then being revealed to us, the reader. It is not an easy read but it is certainly an impressive one. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
For the readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in. A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour. You will find it difficult to put down. Charting the lives of two families, the Sels and the Duquets from 1693 to 2013, it tells of the rape of the Canadian natural resources, namely timber and fur but predominantly timber. Hard men made fortunes with little regard for anything but power and wealth, certainly not for their workers’ lives or limbs. The first of the immigrant Sels married an Indian; their offspring are then trapped between two cultures. As you would expect, there is a huge number of characters for characters is what Proulx is all about. This is a truly impressive work detailing the destruction of the forests to the point of ecological disaster.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Reluctant 1950s spy George Mueller whom we first encountered in the impressive An Honorable Man, is posted to pre-Castro Cuba to investigate the possibility that an old friend, Toby Graham, a friendly CIA agent with whom he worked opposing the KGB back in Europe in earlier times, might have turned unexpectedly rogue and is now manipulating the passage of arms to the rebels that were intended for the Batista regime they are at war with, despite the obvious sympathies at the top of the Washington establishment food chain for the dictator. Unveiling layers of corruption across the board, this is a recognizable take of deceit at the highest level, of compromised ideals and ethics and warring American official agencies set against a lovely evocation of Havana on the eve of the revolution and the turmoil both action-wise and sentimental the protagonists have to steadfastedly beat their way through. A worthy follow-up indeed. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
July 2017 Book of the Month. Four middle-aged women and long-time friends with a checkered history embark for their yearly reunion meeting on a whitewater rafting expedition down the Allagash river in Maine where, inevitably, their heavy-laden past comes rearing its ugly head and the journey turns into an inevitable nightmare at times reminiscent of Deliverance but without the ferocious hillbilly nature of its setting. Both a tale of friendship and the ties that bind and a wilderness thriller where nature and its dark if beautiful side becomes as much a character as the varied female protagonists. Fast-paced, suspenseful and travels the gamut of life experiences as the friends' back stories and characters are unveiled as perils aplenty present themselves and the narrative races towards a splendid climax. Good stuff. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | June 2017 Book of the Month. Wow! This is a cracking psychological thriller. Told in first person from two different viewpoints it causes you to question the reliability of both women. Smart, sensitive, talented Bo, always mothering, always looking to save someone and Alice, young, damaged and a drifter. The two meet at a writers retreat and a spark sets off an unexpected chain of events that will change the lives of both women. Alice is in awe of the successful author and in turn something in Alice’s writing captures Bo’s attention. The two embark on an intense, complex relationship which soon becomes obsessive and destructive. I was completely swept up in the brilliance of Sarah’s carefully constructed plot that had me constantly questioning the outcome and eagerly turning the page. The beautifully atmospheric setting of the Lake District and bustling, bohemian Brighton echo the different characters at the heart of this story. It was a chilling read, expertly crafted and difficult to put down. ~ Shelley Fallows Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
A truly fabulous blast of crime fiction. John Rebus continues to ignore retirement, and an unsolved case haunts his thoughts as he shoulders his way into the middle of a current investigation. Ok, hands up, I confess… this is my first meeting with John Rebus! I will admit to being slightly wary of jumping into the deep end of such a successful and prevalent series, yet immediately felt at home and now can't wait to work my way through the others. John Rebus may wobble on the scales of law and order, but his core sense of integrity, tenacity, and grit, ensure he is someone you would most definitely want on your side. I found myself well and truly caught in the snare of Ian Rankin’s writing; this was so easy to read, yet the story coiled, twisted, and thrashed its way through feuds, murder, and some seriously crooked minds. ‘Rather Be the Devil’ is a compelling, gutsy, proper crime fix, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson June 2017 Book of the Month.
This smart, sharp psychological page-turner will keep crime and thriller fans gripped for ‘just’ one more chapter until the early hours. It’s a riveting, read-in-one-sitting rollercoaster fuelled by engrossing emotional suspense. Hannah is in a high-suicide-risk psychiatric clinic, so when the death of a fellow patient is put down to her having cut her own wrists “with a shard of caramelized sugar” shortly after the suicide of another patient, no one suspects that foul play is afoot. No one except Hannah, that is. “It’s not true”, she asserts, feeling just as frightened of being right as she is of being wrong. If she’s right, maybe she’ll be the next to fall, while being wrong might mean she’s “as crazy as they all think I am”. When more patients die, it seems that everyone’s at risk, and everyone’s a suspect. But who will believe her? The tension mounts to intense extremes as the story snakes in entirely unexpected directions. The twist in this tale is sublimely clever, the characters are consummately well-formed, and this is a masterwork of the genre. ~ Joanne Owen July 2017 Book of the Month.
Oh my, this is intense, shocking, and an absolute winner. Jemma is on an island in the Maldives, her husband of just one week is missing, is he alive, or has the unthinkable happened? Tina Seskis encourages an almost unbearable tension to strum across the pages. I found myself questioning everything, suspecting everyone. Jemma tells her story in the present, while the background of the last seven years is gradually revealed. Provocative, yet subtle, the balance between compassion and misgiving is kept on a razor sharp edge. I found myself completely ensnared, wanting to read faster and faster, yet not wanting the story to end. I will admit to moments of smugness, before the story slapped me quite severely, for being so sure of myself. Thrilling and entertaining ‘The Honeymoon’ is a jaw-dropping, truly fabulous read. ~ Liz Robinson
A dramatic, sinister and deeply tense tale set in Sweden. Prosecutor Jana Berzelius works with police investigators after a man is found murdered in his home. He is the head of a department dealing with asylum cases, and when a child’s handprint is found near the victims body, long hidden thoughts begin to awaken in Jana’s mind. Scattered through the story is someone else’s tale, a young child is torn from her family and in each new chapter, another piece is added to the jagged edged jigsaw. Emelie Schepp ramps up the tension and keeps it bubbling along with each turn of the page. We know just a little more than the investigating team, yet somehow this increases the suspense, and sets questions in motion. ‘Marked for Life’ is the first in a trilogy, the shocks and fast moving action ensure this is a riveting read, and I look forward to book two. ~ Liz Robinson
The final book in the ‘Project Trilogy’ and it’s an absolute belter as the story surges to a fittingly dramatic conclusion. In the present day Maria finds herself back at the Project facility, and feels as though she is home. Piercing the present are flashback views to the time immediately prior to her re-initiation, just as you settle into one time frame, you are thrown again, deliberately making you suspect, and question everything in front of you. If you haven't yet met Dr Maria Martinez, do start with ‘Subject 375’ and ‘The Killing Files’, as to truly appreciate Maria you need to have an understanding of the first two books. Maria speaks in the first person, and due to her Asperger syndrome, I found myself viewing everything differently as my mind evaluated and raced to keep up with hers. Nikki Owen has created a sharp and fast moving storyline, where momentary bubbles of amusement create a welcome diversion in this deeply intense world. ‘The Girl Who Ran’ is a surprisingly intimate and thought-provoking read, in a fascinating, thrilling setting, and when I reached the end I sat back with a contented sigh. June 2017 eBook of the Month.
Another commanding, powerhouse of a read from Daniel Pembrey. Night Market continues on from the first in the series, diving straight into part IV, and while you could enjoy this as a standalone, you would be missing out if you don't enter with the ‘The Harbour Master’. The rather wonderful Henk van der Pol is tasked with infiltrating a jointly policed investigation team. He enters a murky, chilling world, where he not only scrutinises his colleagues, he questions himself, and the world of justice. Set in the main in The Netherlands, we also visit Norway, each location enters the story with vivid intensity. This is such a readable tale, I just gobbled it up, the action constantly evolves, spinning your thoughts, testing your feelings. Tenacious, provocative, and with plenty of surprises in store, ‘Night Market’ really is a story to get your teeth into. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Debut of the Month. Sharp, clever Australian crime thriller constructed around the compelling set-up of Detective Ted Conkaffey being accused - but not convicted - of the abduction, rape and strangulation of a thirteen year-old girl. Now estranged from his family, Ted has moved to Crimson Lake, hoping to escape the constant harassment that comes with being tried for such a crime, but very aware that he could be rearrested at any moment. Ted lives a hermit’s life until he meets straight-talking, effervescent Amanda Pharrell. Being a convicted murderer who’s now working as a private investigator, she also knows a thing or two about being a pariah. She and Ted spark up a joshing, bickering, brilliantly evoked sibling-like relationship as they investigate the disappearance of a local bestselling author, Jake Scully. While forensic evidence confirms that Jake was eaten by a crocodile, how and why this happened is as clear as Crimson Lake’s murky waters. The intense investigation uncovers a veritable viper's nest of secrets and, along the way, both Ted and Amanda discover some revelatory truths about each other’s cases, and the very final twist is a stroke of gasp-inducing genius. Menacing, absorbing and edgily entertaining, it’s no wonder Candice Fox is being celebrated as a new star of crime fiction. ~ Joanne Owen
May 2017 Debut of the Month. What Alice Knew is enough to devastate anyone. Admittedly I would not always have acted as she did but OMG she had some tough choices to make after a dreadful set of circumstances befell her. Poor woman. Much soul-searching and agony ensues. She, Alice, is a portrait painter and we are given an astute insight into the mind of such an artist and her interpretation of the modern art world. He, Ed her husband, is a highly respected obstetrician with a protégé who has a party after his exams and that is where our problem arises. I loved this book, really found it impossible to draw away from, once finished it haunted me for days. Compulsive, informative and very thought-provoking. I admire Mr Cotterell’s ability to portray a woman until the very end when I think he went a tad too far but it makes for a great ending. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Maxim Jakubowski's May 2017 Book of the Month. May 2017 Debut of the Month. A truly stunning debut both powerful and disturbing by a UK-based French author, set in London, the West Coast of Sweden and, worryingly, during WW2 in the Buchenwald concentration camp. The use of such a harrowing location and era might in other less-skillful hands smack of exploitation, but here it just anchors an already scary serial killer investigation in reality with a series of heart-jumping twists you never see coming. When similar mutilations appear in the murder of a female Swedish jewellery designer in Falkenberg and the discovery of young children's bodies on Hampstead Heath, Scotland Yard call on the services of seconded Canadian profiler Emily Roy, and true crime author Alexis Castells who knew the initial victim and feels compelled to become involved. The contrasting couple's investigation alongside both police forces slowly uncovers layers of horror and surprises. The first in a series, winner of several awards in its native France, this heralds the English language debut of a major new talent and will have people talking (DISCLAIMER: I am the translator of this book, which I was pleased to bring to the attention of its British publishers). ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... As the start to a new series, this is a truly menacing, striking and powerful read. Profiler Emily Roy, and Alexis Castells a true crime writer, join forces as mutilated bodies are discovered in Sweden and London. The tale begins in 2013, as a body is hidden and thoughts are revealed in chilling focus. Roy and Castells make a fascinating duo, each adding their own distinct style. Short chapters provoke interest, and set feelings whirling, before moving swiftly on. Buchenwald concentration camp squats with loathing intensity in 1944, breaking into the middle of the story, just how do the atrocities committed there link to the investigation? Maxim Jakobowski ensures a seamless translation as Johana Gustawsson releases evil behind a stark and deceptively simple writing style. ‘Block 46’ left me shuddering as it reached a dramatic conclusion, and yet I couldn’t turn away, oh what a clever and very shocking tale this is! ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... As sometimes happens, Block 46 was recommended to me by a number of authors and reviewers, whose opinion I trust, and I was very excited to meet with Johana’s French publisher at the London Book Fair last year. My eldest son read it in the original French, as did an outside reader, and both come back with stars in their eyes, and a You MUST publish this book message! Maxim Jakubowski was already a fan, and we hired him to translate Block 46. Six months on and I still hadn’t read it. I flew through the first draft of the translation in less than a day, and knew exactly why everyone was raving – exactly why this book has won so many awards in Johana’s native France. This is a stunning piece of crime fiction, with a plot that twists and turns and leaves the reader both breathless and gasping for more. At its heart is a study of the nature of evil that is eye-opening and also terrifying, and the two main protagonists are fresh, never stereotypical, and hugely engaging. I am thrilled and honoured to be publishing such a fabulous series, with its sweeping plot and timelines. In all honesty, it is probably the best Noir to come out of France for a decade, by a young writer with a massive future ahead of her. ~ Karen Sullivan, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with the author.
February 2017 Book of the Month. Oh my word, this book is devious, twisted, and an absolute knockout! The story, revolving around love, passion, suspicion, and deceit, kept me teetering on a razor sharp wire of uncertainty. Sarah Pinborough’s writing is sublime, it’s shrewd, artful, cunning, and as the story sucked me in, I felt the manipulation of the words warping and writhing as they entered my consciousness. I found myself sitting in stunned silence when I reached the very end, then wanted to jump and down and recommend ‘Behind Her Eyes’ to the world. Start reading just as soon as you can so you too, can experience the deep, dark, dangerous depths of this truly bone-chilling and wonderful novel. Make sure you enter with a clear mind, and try not to get too confident as the story will quite happily trip you up and stamp all over you. Sarah Pinborough, I salute you! ~ Liz Robinson Maxim Jakubowski's February 2017 Book of the Month. The considerable buzz building around Pinborough's new novel (following the already mightily impressive The Death House and 13 Minutes) is led not only from her respective publishers' camp but also, more importantly, from advance readers, and is fully deserved. This could well become a massive commercial success along the lines of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and it held me in thrall from beginning to end. The tale of a dark, puzzling and twisted affair that goes horribly wrong for, seemingly, all parties, it's unpredictable, tricky, immediate, gut-gripping and difficult to summarise without giving out any of the shattering spoilers and seduces like no other, with viewpoints changing in front of your eyes as you turn the page, putting all you've read before into question in a most clever way, sowing constant seeds of doubt the moment you begin to identify with one of the characters and sympathise with them. Imaginatively wicked, ingenious, and 'that' ending will leave you open-mouthed. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A hair-raising, chilling and thrilling tale, full of drama and fast-paced action. A suspected serial killer arrives in the UK and settles in Devon, one step out of place and the police are ready to pounce. This is the sixth ‘DI Charlotte Savage’ novel, and my first, yet I found myself ensnared in the story and quite happy to read this as a standalone. Charlotte Savage is a maverick, prepared to be gung-ho, willing to go the extra mile, prepared to risk everything for what she believes in. Savage makes a fascinating central character, and her surrounding colleagues and family give her flesh and make her relatable. Thoughts from an unknown person appear in the tale, allowing a viewpoint from a particularly warped and distorted point of view. Mark Sennen encourages doubts, twists thoughts, and set my mind into fevered action. ‘The Bone Yard’ is a stimulating, high octane tale, step on board, hold on tight, and allow yourself to escape into this wild ride. ~ Liz Robinson
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Sadly missed US crime legend Westlake's books were often the object of many classic Hollywood adaptations, but he is also remembered as the screenwriter for The Grifters as a result of which he was once approached to pitch a James Bond story and treatment by the Bond producers for what could have become Bond 18. This was never used but, waste not want not, Westlake privately decided to write a novel based on it, which has only now come to light and been published, albeit with the character understandly given a new name. To take revenge on the Chinese after their take-over of Hong Kong, Richard Curtis, a sinister businessman plans to steal the city's gold by siphoning it out through a tunnel, and later detonating a terrible doomsday device to annihilate Hong Kong itself. Enter Manville, a Bond ersatz with an engineering background and all the charm, deadly skills of 007. Set partly on a luxury yacht, moving from the Great Barrier Reef to Singapore, the battle between fiend and hero is fast and epic, and ready-made for the big screen and offers thrills a go go. An afterword by a Bond movie producer sets the book in context. Fascinating and a fast, thrilling read. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
Simply fabulous. ‘A Divided Spy’ slices through theatrics and pierces the essential heart of a spy thriller. This is the third in the ‘Thomas Kell’ series, yet my first, and I found it could be read perfectly as a standalone novel. I will definitely nab a copy of the first two, as I forgot I was in reviewing mode and just disappeared into Thomas Kell’s world. The former MI6 officer is seeking revenge, his chance comes when he attempts to recruit a Russian agent, however the small matter of a potential terrorist attack interrupts his personal vendetta. Charles Cumming has won a number of prestigious awards, his writing is subtly powerful, and so very very readable. The terror plot made my mind flinch as it bit with daunting intensity, it felt honest and substantially real. Superbly crafted, ‘A Divided Spy’ weaves a powerful and thrilling web of political intrigue and game playing, and I highly recommend it.
Fresh from fighting death in Ghost Flight, Will Jaeger - The Hunter - returns for his second high-octane adventure.1942, and SS Lieutenant Herman Wirth uncovers an ancient body in a Greenland glacier. But, considering its monstrous state, Wirth concludes that it’s as if her body “had been at war with itself; as if it had rejected its own innards”. She’s the archetypal ice maiden “ancestor goddess” turned “devil woman”, and Wirth wonders what the hell killed her. Meanwhile, skip forward to the present day, and our hero Will is en route to a remote tropical island off the Cuban mainland, set on rescuing a kidnapped member of his expedition team, and soon a fresh feast of thrills unfurls at pulse-quickening speed.Alongside the exhilarating intertwining of four journeys, an extraordinary variety of landscapes are vividly evoked, from the jungle island with its “shoulder-high elephant grass”, to the spider-infested, crystal-stippled Burning Angel cave in Africa. Inspired by the “true life exploits” of Bear's Grandpa Ted, AKA Brigadier William Edward Harvey Grylls OBE, this is peak action-adventure, a real a read-in-one sitting romp. ~ Joanne Owen
A sublimely intense, and heart-pumping psychological thriller. Ten years on from the disappearance of her older sister, Ella begins to uncover some potential leads, yet she feels that someone is watching her, waiting. The story is set over 20 days, I was immediately captivated as my mind started to try to piece together the information alongside Ella. Claire Kendal keeps the tension at an almost unbearable level, yet she writes with such beautiful compassion. The family story is as powerful as the fast paced action, and my brain was working on several levels as I evaluated the various strands. I found myself on high alert throughout, as I devoured the words, I quite simply suspected everyone and almost tied myself in knots! ‘The Second Sister’ is a clever and dramatic read, provoking minds into fevered action and striking at the very centre of your heart, highly recommended… ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Book of the Month. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. The first adult novel by an acclaimed children's book author, Sweet Pea hits all the right buttons. A dark, twisted read about a female serial killer with dollops of humour, sarcasm and a lightweight approach to a serious subject that shouldn't work but does! Rhiannon loves her pet dog and her doll house and works in a menial position at her local newspaper. She also kills people in imaginative ways. None of them are actually innocent; well, maybe one was... Her boyfriend is cheating on her with a friend to his peril. You can't help but smile along with Rhiannon as her diary unfolds, bitchy, sarcastic, lethal. Skuse is clever and maintains just the right balance of immorality, belly laughs, sinister actions and eye-opening commentary on the absurdities and pettiness of everyday life to, keeping you gripped and on the hook, both smiling and squirming. I'm looking forward to her next 'grown-up' book, as this one will be hard to beat! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Oooh, this is a truly cringe-inducing, yet addictive, whammy of a read. ‘Sweetpea’ is the diary of a serial killer, Rhiannon may look sweet and innocent, but inside that shell, is a plotting, deviously twisted mind. The first chapter shocked me, in fact every chapter shocked me, I blurted with laughter and then burned with guilt at my reaction as words spilled from Rhiannon’s mind onto the page. If you find the thought of an evil-thinking, murdering psychopath, who tosses imaginative profanities like litter a little off-putting, then do think twice before opening this book. If you do peek, be warned, I found it impossible to put down, this is a psychopath whose words struck a chord and made me wonder at my own propensity for wickedness. This is the first novel for adults from C. J. Skuse, and I think she must have an evil little monster residing in her pen, yet as information was revealed, my thoughts halted, coiled, altered. ‘Sweetpea’ is a wonderfully surprising novel, obvious, a shock-fest, in your face… yet incredibly subtle and thought-provoking too, I loved it, I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Book of the Month. What a fabulously thrilling and penetrating tale this is. In 1996 Isla Bell found the bodies on the wall, now in 2016, she is a forensic psychologist studying the brains of serial killers, however her life begins to spin apart when dead bodies again appear, positioned with utmost care, leaning against Hadrian’s Wall. This is clever, breathtaking writing, heavy with portent as the past exists in the present, constantly prodding and provoking. Three characters sit centre stage, yet all very much have their part to play, as unexpected hits of information made my mind race around in fevered action as I tested theories. Emma Kavanagh’s background, as a police and military psychologist, is clear to see and feel, there were times when shivers raced down my arms, connecting to the words on the page. With a shocking and quite stunning conclusion, ‘The Killer on the Wall’ is a killer of a must read. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Book of the Month. A striking thriller from an established US author and Golden Globe award winner of the Fargo TV series scriptwriter. When a private aircraft returning from a wealthy holiday hideout plunges into the sea off New York and there are only two survivors: the young son of a powerful media mogul and a painter with a troubled past, speculation grows rife as to true story behind the tragedy, because of the presence on board of the TV network head and a wealthy banker who was about to be indicted for fraud. Accident or sabotage? The mystery behind the accident is not just the only theme of the novel, but also the way the American media moves. Through flashbacks to the various passengers in the days leading up to the crash, a tangled network unfolds, making this a complex and meditative examination of both the corridors of power and the affective ties that bind the two unlikely survivors. Ambitious and rewarding. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Just stunning! A novel that surprises, seduces, and impresses. A private plane crashes into the ocean on a trip back to New York. Struggling artist Scott Burroughs not only survives, he also rescues 4 year old JJ, the son of the family who chartered the jet. This novel tells the story of each person on the plane, the investigation after the crash and focuses on Scott, is he a hero or villain? The writing dances across the characters, floating yet somehow reaching into their innermost depths and revealing hidden thoughts, desires and feelings. Noah Hawley takes us backwards and forwards in time, the writing is strangely beautiful, even when in the depths of the nightmare, the descriptive detailing has the ability to caress your senses. I found myself spinning unexpectedly as the focus changed direction, ensuring I was on high alert, seeking and grasping for answers. Occasionally, outside of each individual story, little jolting snapshots can be found, that sow both seeds of disquiet and empathy. ‘Before the Fall’ is a striking and completely captivating read, do I recommend it, yes, yes, yes…wholeheartedly! ~ Liz Robinson
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. A Charles Thoroughgood spy thriller, authoritative, action-packed and, as ever, all-too topical. The second volume in the series, Legacy, is soon to be on TV and will surely bring much needed attention to an undervalued spy series by an author who is still better known for his automotive adventures and journalistic background. Detailing an unsteady collaboration between MI5 and MI6 when a protest group linked to a major political party is planning acts of terrorism and sabotage which connects with a Cold War case in Charles' own past. Elegant writing, an urbane and imperfect spook in the driving seat whom we have begun to know well over the series as he ages and matures like fine wine, and an unsettling attention to political realities, past and present, on a par with Le Carre, Charles Cumming and other ingenious experts of the genre make this a good read indeed. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. In the initial, bestselling book of the series, ORPHAN X, Hurwitz introduced Evan Smoak, a cross between Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher, a lethally-trained operative who's now gone rogue and instead of acting for shadowy government agencies or the highest bidder now offers his services free of charge to those who are in desperate straits, using his singular talents, tech-savvy zen warrior skills, and enhanced technological arsenal. His second adventure begins with Evan kidnapped and locked in a room with no idea where he is and highly trained guards on surveillance duty outside. Then a call for help comes in and his escape becomes a deadline for both himself and others who rely on him. Will his really particular skills prove sufficient this time? This is a thriller in sheer overdrive, perfectly-paced, fast and violent, heavy on the weaponry and electronic paraphernalia and a genuine page-turner. You can almost visualise the inevitable movie as you speed along the pages. But who indeed might play Evan Smoak? ~ Maxim Jakubowski February 2017 Book of the Month. The Lovereading view... Oh yes! Another adrenaline shot filled book of pure and wonderful escapism. I have to admit to being slightly worried, could the second ‘Evan Smoak thriller’ live up to my expectations? The first few sentences certainly spiked my interest, a few more and I realised what this meant, but I had no idea were it would lead. If this is your first foray, do start with 'Orphan X', the first book in the series is a must read and perfect introduction to Evan. Gregg Hurwitz has slipped a vulnerable edge into his main character, it ensures Evan remains within touching distance, even while killing the bad guys (which he does, rather a lot). The Nowhere Man kicks, punches and shoots his way through this book, he also thinks on his feet, and when off his feet, takes a trip or two down memory lane. I escaped into ‘The Nowhere Man’ in one sitting, and will be keeping watch in the book isle, waiting to see where Evan heads off to next. ~ Liz Robinson
June 2017 Debut of the Month. Longlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017. Dublin-wise, orphaned young man goes in search of his birth mother. He has a photograph with a note on the back and the name of a village. This is very Irish and completely charming. The village characters are beautifully drawn. Our young protagonist has a gift; he can see (and converse with) the dead. This is neither ghost story nor detective novel although both elements are present, more it is a human story of an odd community of slightly over-the-top country people who might all have something to hide. Certainly finding out what happened to his young, teenage mother proves to be tricky with most folk seeming to conceal a secret. The dead are not sinister, they are just there, being themselves. I loved the pictures the author paints, the dog lying by its master’s feet, the man trying to hang up his hat. Lovely images in a lovely debut. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017.
Absolutely thrilling… this is a fast-paced, firecracker of a read, set in Europe as the Second World War is brewing. Why is Luke Hamilton, intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris the target of an assassination attempt? As Luke tries to outrun his pursuers he begins to uncover the secret of his past. The words set the action so clearly in my mind, it didn't feel as though I was looking back in time, it actually felt as though I was there. Mark Mills allows you more knowledge than the characters, consequently, the tension skyrockets as the story constantly accelerates forward. An artful balance is maintained, at no point does this feel out of control as there are moments of stillness, of contemplation and anticipation. I reached the end and felt very satisfied indeed, ‘Where Dead Men Meet’ just begs to be continued as a series, please say it will be, please! ~ Liz Robinson
Another dramatic and engagingly expressive historical novel by Lesley Pearse. Set before and during the Second World War, we follow Ruby and Verity during the ups and downs of their young lives. Ruby has a less than auspicious beginning, while Verity appears to live a charmed life, yet they become friends and each brings the other a much needed perspective on their upbringing. Lesley Pearse has the ability to cover brutal and emotional aspects in a gentle and intimate way, not holding back, yet ensuring hope remains. The captivating and varied cast of characters are brought to vivid life, with the romantic interest taking time to come to the boil. ‘Dead to Me’ swings from despair to anticipation and looks at life during the Second World War from the home front, creating a stimulating and evocative read.
May 2017 Debut of the Month. An enthralling Edwardian espionage thriller featuring an endearing, independent female lead and lashings of intrigue.London, 1905, and Margaret Trant is living a humdrum live until she sees an interest-piquing advertisement for a secretarial position. “Was it really possible that my life could change?” she wonders in response to the ad’s offer of wild new horizons, and she grasps the opportunity with both elegantly-gloved hands. Immediately thrilled by the secrecy surrounding her new employer, an organisation enigmatically known as “Bureau 8”, sharp-minded Margaret discovers that she’s actually working for a secret government intelligence department, and soon finds herself embroiled in their mission to thwart a group of anarchists.I adored Margaret’s resourcefulness and the novel’s period charm, from the “boyish gallantry” of her new colleagues, to the evocations of Edwardian London. Fuelled by the heroine’s immense appeal, and the flawless plotting, this is an engrossing read, with many funny moments, and I rather hope this gifted debut novelist dishes up more detective delights in the very near future. ~ Joanne Owen Click here to read a Q&A with Jane Menczer.
An enthralling and wonderful historical thriller, where the story absolutely thrives in the midst of one of the most famous times in British history. The first chapter not only blasts you immediately into the roaring flames of the Great Fire of London in 1666, it also firmly knocks at the door of intrigue. James Marwood is set the task of hunting down a killer, while Cat is set on a deadly game of revenge. I rubbed my hands with glee and settled in for a thunderingly good read. Andrew Taylor paints a vivid and terrifying scene, I stood in the crowd and witnessed St Paul’s writhing in the flames, he also handles the suspense with a masterly hand. James and Cat’s tales run arm in arm, the storylines tease each other, linked and yet each standing vibrantly strong. I savoured every moment of this readable and fascinating story, ‘Ashes of London’ is a simply fabulous read.
Prepare for your heart to break… this is a powerful, evocative tale of life during the Nazi occupation of Jersey in the 1940’s. The first page made me flinch, yet I couldn't, didn't want to stop reading. Ten year old Claudine, herbalist Edith, fisherman Maurice, and Dr Carter see very different sides of the occupation, using such different characters stops it from being a sweeping historical tale, instead it’s personal, intimate, penetrating. Caroline Lea’s pen gives you a massive shove as you read, and doesn't apologise for it as your stomach goes into free fall. ‘When the Sky Fell Apart’ is at times a truly uncomfortable read, yet it deserves to be read, not only for the blast of reality from the past, but also as a warning for the future. ~ Liz Robinson March 2017 Debut of the Month.
Maxim Jakubowski's March 2017 Book of the Month. Shortly after the Russian revolution, a White Russian count is spared execution because of a subversive poem he wrote defying authority before the fall of the Czar and is, instead, exiled to an attic room in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow, where he once enjoyed a luxurious suite and all the amenities that wealth could provide. As he adapts to his house arrest, we follow his encounters with the motley denizens, employees and visitors of the hotel and watch how his state of mind changes alongside the Russia outside the walls of the hotel. Both meditative and, at times, truculent, this also forms a parallel history of Russia over the following forty years or so until the death of Stalin and for a narrative isolated inside a closed locale becomes amazingly broad in scope, reflective, expansive and so often terribly moving, albeit with much wit and humour. Unforgettable characters, both fictional and real life, a web of subtle relationships: all human life is here and a triumphant follow-up to Towles' debut novel which had been set in the glitter of New York in the 1930s. Long but wonderfully rewarding, this will make you laugh, cry and smile, an epic that never even moves outside the hotel's lobby! Loved it. ~ Maxim Jakubowski February 2017 MEGA Book of the Month. The Lovereading view... Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the gentleman of the title, is not executed with his fellow aristocrats for he had already left Russia at the start of the Revolution and he returns in 1918. This mystifies the Bolshevik tribunal he stands before in 1922. He wrote a poem which is deemed a call to arms, but for which side? So he is placed under house arrest for life. Conveniently his address for the last four years has been The Hotel Metropol, the best in Moscow. Now moved to humble rooms in the old servant quarters in the belfry, he nonetheless has the run of the beautiful establishment, the restaurants and bar. He makes friends with the servants and guests alike and is dubbed by an old student friend who has suffered in the Gulag, “the luckiest man in Russia”. Intrigue, romance and friendship pepper the years as we follow the Count from 1922 to 1954, a time of huge change as a new Russia is created. With a nod towards the period in its style and lots of philosophy, I wouldn’t say this was compulsive but it is strangely hypnotic, one is certainly drawn to it although it isn’t an easy read. It is a comfortable book to be with despite its horrific span in history for imprisoned in his hotel, Rostov is indeed one of the luckiest in Russia. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Click here to read a Q&A with the author about this book.
A gorgeously eloquent and powerfully expressive novel, ‘The Essex Serpent’ explores an unusual relationship in the 1890’s. This isn't exactly a love story, it is rather, a tale about love, in all its different forms. While Cora and Will form the heart of this novel, every member of the surrounding cast is as important as these two, each fitting into a perfectly formed relationship jigsaw. At times they may not be likeable, they may have their quirks, their differences, yet they are so well formed, it is possible to feel empathy as you question a decision or comment made. The Essex serpent coiled and waiting, exploits fear and mistrust, creating a fascinating setting in which connections flourish and wither. Sarah Perry’s ability to paint a picture with her beautifully chosen words is extraordinary. At times the Victorian setting vanished and the relationships felt very current and modern, while at others the different time period proclaimed the complications and difficulties faced by anyone judged as being different. ‘The Essex Serpent’ isn't a story to be rushed, it should be savoured, and valued, and most of all, enjoyed for the truly beautiful novel it is. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016. Costa judges' comment: “This is the best kind of historical fiction – brimming with ideas and energy.” A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher... 'As an editor, there are books to which you become deeply connected. And then there are those books that you become so close to that you almost feel as though they are a part of you. The Essex Serpent, the second novel by Sarah Perry, is one such rare book, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world. It is a sumptuously imagined novel of lives playing out against bigger historical moments, and it is the most unusual and moving love story I have ever read. It confirms Sarah Perry’s place among the finest novelists of her generation.' ~ Hannah Westland, Editor, Serpent's Tail
June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A truly touching, considered, and frank life story. In 1992 Rachel Nickell was sexually assaulted and stabbed 49 times in front of her nearly three year old son Alex while on Wimbledon Common. Alex now tells his story. I will confess to feeling trepidation before starting this tale, I didn't want to intrude, yet Alex invites you follow him through his life. While the focus is of course, on how that day has shaped him, the actions of the murderer are not graphically recounted. Alex is now a grown man, memories of that time and his childhood flicker, some strong, some relived with help. The actions of the press, and the police are examined, yet this isn’t a blame game, even though catastrophic and fatal errors were made. I raged, I felt pain, yet I also felt admiration, and wonderment as difficult choices were made while Alex and his father were in a world of pain and confusion. ‘Letting Go’ is at times a heartbreaking read, of course it is, yet it also compellingly celebrates life, love and family. ~ Liz Robinson
June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A book to put a great big beaming (and somewhat tearful) smile on your face. ‘Finding Gobi’ documents the quite amazing story of one man’s quest to find the little dog who had stolen his heart. Dion Leonard was a serious ultra marathon competitor in a race through the Gobi Desert, when a little street dog joined him, running by his side. We hear about Dion’s childhood, why he started running, what it takes to be an ultra competitor, and we meet Gobi, the dog with eyes that appear to see into your soul. You may already be aware of this story, as it took social media by storm, if like me, you weren’t, then the prologue sets your mind at ease before you start this simply sensational story. ‘Finding Gobi’ joins man and dog in a story to warm the cockles of your heart, I absolutely adored it. It is worth noting that a children’s version of the story is also available. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. This immersive book works as both a personal and public examination of the legal attempts to hold Nazi warmongers to account at Nuremberg, some of the first stirrings of international law. We are introduced to two Nuremberg judges who, after the prosecution of Hans Frank, Hitler’s Governor General of Poland, found he might well have been responsible for the destruction of their people and homeland, circumstances Phillipe Sands finds echoed in his own personal story through his Mother’s family. Already a deserved multi-prize-winner, East West Street manages to thread together multiple strands into one truly compelling history. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like ReadingThe Nuremberg Interviews: Conversations with the Defendants and Witnesses, Leon GoldensohnBloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, Timothy Snyder
May 2017 Book of the Month. Poignant and honest this is one teenager’s experience of fleeing her homeland, a place that had once meant family and tradition but is now torn apart by war. This eye-opening account takes us right to the heart of the journeys that so many have been forced to take. This is happening in our world today and this courageous girl has told us her story so that after all this is done her story and those like her won’t be forgotten. Nujeen is a teenager. She loves TV and wants desperately to fit in and be normal. Yet Nujeen has also travelled an arduous journey through seven borders in a wheelchair in the hope of finding a better life. A life not filled with fear of bombing, rape and murder. Home has become a place of danger, a place where bombs fall and violence reigns. This is a story of incredible strength and bravery. A story of one girl and the sister who helped her as they attempt to escape the horrors that continue to murder their family and friends, that continue to destroy their homeland. By telling her story Nujeen has given us the opportunity to understand the plight of the people fleeing. This story, although personal and unique is still the story of many, many ordinary people seeking safety. Nujeen is a wonderful, funny and spirited girl and I for one, am so glad to have read her story. ~ Shelley Fallows
Much needed light is shed on the isolating world of the deaf through the author’s own personal journey recounting how she gradually lost her hearing leaving her with rage then hard won acceptance only to find she had a condition that could benefit from the most intricate surgery. As a writer and journalist, she deals with the condition in a way natural to her, investigating and explaining, revealing her own story and those of others, a humbling read that brings home the reality of how lack of hearing can lead to exclusion, the sheer exhaustion of trying to live in a hearing world. ~ Sue Baker May 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.Like for Like ReadingSeeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf, Oliver SacksTrain Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World, Leah Hager Cohen, Paperback 296 pages Vintage 1st October 1996 9780679761655
Ordinary women doing the extraordinary. This book is testament to following your dreams and that you can do anything you put your mind too if you work hard enough. Four middle aged friends who met at a local Saturday morning rowing club decide to take on The Talisker Whiskey Challenge – also known as ‘The World's Toughest Row’ - across 3,000 miles of treacherous ocean. All four are mothers, wives and professional women but athletes? No, not athletes, yet they had a dream to follow and follow it they did. This is a story of determination, of pushing past the overwhelming feeling of failing, letting everyone down and of course of silencing the doubters, the people who say ‘You can’t do this’. This is an incredible story about an amazing experience by four amazing women. There were moments that sent shivers down my spine as I followed their journey from the very beginning when even getting to the start line was a massive undertaking. The story is told by all four women, all four friends and it feels like that too. Their warmth and love for each other shines through as they share ever moment, every fear, every failure and ultimately their success. By the end I felt so proud of the achievement and so emotionally engaged with these four ordinary mums who just happened to row an ocean. April 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
It is shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award. Keggie Carew grew up under the spell of an unorthodox, enigmatic father. An undercover guerrilla agent during the Second World War, in peacetime he lived on his wits and dazzling charm. But these were not always enough to sustain a family. As his memory began to fail, Keggie embarked on a quest to unravel his story once and for all. Dadland is that journey. It takes us into shadowy corners of history, a madcap English childhood, the poignant breakdown of a family, the corridors of dementia and beyond.
If you need an illustration of how life can turn from happiness to despair in an instant then read All at Sea an account that shows how, in minutes, Decca Aitkenhead's beloved husband died in front of her. On holiday, their son got into difficulty in the sea and her husband jumped in to rescue him, they both managed to get the boy to shore but her husband drowned. The story of their unlikely relationship and the aftermath of the drowning is told with clarity and a lack of self-pity that makes it hard to read at times. What does shine through is Decca Aitkenhead's tribute to her beautiful husband, her book a way of celebrating his life and considerable achievements. Like for Like Reading. After You by Natascha McElhone. Living on the Seabed: A Memoir of Love, Life and Survival by Lindsay Nicholson
In a nutshell: gripping adventure that keeps readers tense and guessing As revealed in the first book in this spell-binding series, Wylie is one of a group of people known as Outliers, able to read people’s emotions and intentions. It’s a gift that’s already brought her into danger and in this new episode she’s even more exposed: there are creepy government agents tracking her, and she finds herself under lock and key more than once. And Wylie has other things on her mind too, like working out what really happened to her mother, apparently killed in a car crash. Wylie is a terrific central character, tough and determined, and her punchy first person narrative combined with the rising tension makes this unputdownable reading. ~ Andrea Reece
A unique collection of short stories edited by Grammy-nominated YouTube star Ameriie featuring stories from some of the biggest names both in YA publishing and on YouTube. Because You Love to Hate Me pairs one booktuber with one author to write stories from the point of view of famous villains. With contributions from New York Times bestselling authors and booktubers with a collective reach of more than a million subscribers, this will be a must-have collection for YA readers. The Lovereading Review will follow. “Readers today are more interactive with authors and one another than ever,” says Ameriie, who dreamed up this project and will contribute a story and foreword as well as edit the anthology. “The booktube community on YouTube has exploded in the last two years, energizing hundreds of thousands of readers around the world, the majority of whom read YA.”
In a Nutshell: Hyper-tense high school whodunit * Everyone has secrets… Five teens in detention are hit by a storm when one of them of dies. Outsider Simon, creator of the notorious Bayview High gossip app, wryly remarks that they’re all “walking teen-movie stereotypes” and casts himself as the “omniscient narrator” shortly before collapsing to his death. The question is, why was there allergy-inducing peanut oil in Simon’s water? And why were the EpiPens missing from the nurse’s office? His death seems anything but accidental and, since Simon had dirt on pretty much the entire school population, a whole lot of people might have wanted him dead. But when it emerges that he was about to reveal highly damaging secrets about his four co-detainees (we’re talking the kind of secrets that mess-up lives and destroy futures), they’re first in the frame for his murder. A snappy story of cover-ups, lies and unraveling lives unfolds amidst a hotbed of suspicion and the personal plights of the accused teenagers, including two storylines of a romantic nature that truly tug at the heart. Entertainingly addictive, sharply written, with a genuinely jaw-dropping twist, this first-rate thriller exposes the murky morality of social media salaciousness, and questions what lengths a person might go to in order to protect their darkest secrets. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Summer love | Short stories | Poolside pick-me-up Perfect for dipping into between dips in the pool, this varied seasonal anthology features twelve scorching stories by twelve top YA authors. Following last Christmas’s My True Love Gave to Me collection, this is a stunning summer-themed showcase of the dazzling breadth of current YA authors, including Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo and Veronica Roth. Personal favourites include the beautifully bittersweet trapped-in-time tearjerker, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (Lev Grossman), and the satisfyingly sardonic Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron), but the joy of this collection is its variety. It’s a fabulous feast of mix-and-pick treats, from soft-centered romance, to hardboiled thrillers. And the pretty package - a chunky sky-blue hardback resplendent with sunburst yellow edges and pink silk bookmark – makes it an ideal end-of-exam gift to chill-out with.
Skip's an outsider. He's never fitted in. So he takes to the streets and there he teams up with homeless veteran Billy. Then come the bombs which bring little Max and Tia, the teenage dancer with a tiny baby. How long can Skip's fragile new family hold out as war grips the city?
*** Suitable for ages 16+ Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017 | In turns brutal and passionate, Beck is an utterly compelling story of survival and romance which will catch the breath of all readers and inspire them to fight against injustice. And to trust in the power of love. The eponymous Beck’s fate is a bleak one: conceived accidentally, orphaned young and betrayed by all those who might have looked after him, Beck is dispatched to Canada, a country then in the grip of depression. Abused by the Christian Brothers and still a young child, Beck is sent into a life of servitude made worse by prejudice because he is black. Escaping, Beck takes to the road in search of something better. His journey and the experiences on it are harrowing but, when it reaches its end, Beck discovers kindness and love and finds there is a place for him in the world. Award-winning Mal Peet’s final story has been finished by his friend and fellow award-winning novelist Meg Rosoff. Together they have created an unflinching story that tackles the many inequalities of the world head on. ~ Julia Eccleshare
A Review for Changeling, the first in the Order of Darkness series: Best-selling Philippa Gregory’s first book for teenagers is a thrilling story of malice and betrayal, courage and passion. Tricked out of her inheritance by her greedy and duplicitous brother, Isolde must swap ruling over her own castle and estate for a life of confinement as the Lady Abbess of the local nunnery. Bad things are happening among the nuns and soon Isolde’s life is in grave danger as she is accused of heresy, a crime which carries the penalty of being burnt at the stake. How clever and feisty Isolde is rescued from her fate and turns the tables on her persecutors with the help of Luca Vero, the handsome young enforcer of true religion, is a spellbinder of a story. ~ Julia Eccleshare A note from Philippa Gregory: “I am delighted to move into a new area of writing. I know I have many young adult readers already and it will be a pleasure to write a series especially for them. Bringing history alive is a great joy and to bring it to a younger generation doubly so.”
In a nutshell: moving story of a teenage girl coping when her world turns upside down Lucy’s life seems pretty sorted: she’s got a lovely boyfriend, a good relationship with her parents, and as a practising Christian is supported and nurtured by her faith. But then she learns her mother’s cancer has come back, and suddenly everything she’s taken for granted falls away. As she’s struggling to adjust, her mother asks her to take a summer job at a camp for children who’ve experienced trauma. Lucy accepts, and there finds new friends, and a new perspective. Meanwhile though, her mother’s cancer is spreading. Full of interesting, memorable characters, this thoughtful and well-written book tugs at the heartstrings.
July and August are often times for holidays where you have more time to read so our Lovereading Expert reviewers have pulled together a list of books by a mix of authors, some that aren't the household names of your typical summer reading bookshop promotion but they believe are well worth reading.
And others, more well known and equally perfect for that summer break whether on the beach or in the mountains or just curling up in the evenings at home.
For even more choice try some other special categories to help you discover your next great read.
If You Like You'll Love. Perfect for discovering new authors based on ones you already enjoy.
The Desmond Elliott Prize. A must visit for anyone who has to have the latest and best debuts.
Books Reviewed by Readers. Find out what our Reading Panel of passionate readers thought.
Independent Authors. Discover a carefully chosen selection of independently published books to suit a range of tastes.
A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: