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Each week our team of book lovers choose a selection of books they have loved and think deserve an extra shout out. Everyone fights to get theirs on the list. Here are this week’s faves…
Unusual, intriguing, interesting… this very readable family drama set on Gibraltar focuses on the secrets within relationships. Sebastian and Eva move with his sister Mimi to Gibraltar so he can oversee his project to build a cantilevered shelf city jutting out from the rock. As Mimi embarks on a relationship with someone desperate to stop the development, Sebastian becomes increasingly concerned. Kitty Sewell opens with an intense prologue which arrows through the rest of the story, remaining in the back of my mind as I read. The chapters focus on one of the main characters, interchanging, slowly releasing information. As I learned more about them, and came to understand their thoughts and feelings, certain answers remained just out of reach. Gibraltar is a fascinating part of this tale, the tunnel system and social position of the inhabitants of the rock with Spain balance the concentrated story between the three main characters. The Fault sets a fascinating scene and takes time to build, before racing to a compelling end.
Beautiful Delilah’s arrival on a one-village island off Cape Cod (“not the tropical breeze and swaying palm tree kind”, but the “sea gusts and unexpected hurricanes...Atlantic kind”) creates restless ripples among the islanders. She’s an outsider and, since this is the kind of place where everyone knows each other and each other’s business, Delilah is subject to the scrutiny and suspicions of locals who pass comment on all she does and how she does it. “She showed no sign of employment - or any sign of being independently wealthy”, and she even plants a garden at the front of her house. The front - such scandal! Delilah is alone but for occasional weekend visits from her boyfriend, until she becomes close to the island’s sheriff, who gives her gardening advice (and more), but it’s her unconventional, slow-to-emerge relationship with a reclusive neighbour - also the subject of gossip and wild speculation – that creates the most life-changing ripples. Tense, earthy, calmly commanding and written with refreshing clarity, this is a spellbinding triumph of short fiction.
A beautifully constructed, absolute dream of a read. Three women (including the wickedly wonderful Emily from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’) join forces when one of them is set up, publicly discarded and viciously humiliated by her husband. Emily, Miriam and Karolina live what may appear to be a charmed jet-setting, party-licious life, however there is a very long way to fall when the knives are out. I absolutely adore Lauren Weisberger’s novels, they read as a master class in setting the scene and creating an eloquently enjoyable and pointedly wicked read. Each chapter focuses on one of the women, so perfectly describing their life I could not only picture myself there, I was there. My eye-popping disbelief mounted at the tactics, the lifestyle, and I seethed away, joining ranks, willing them on. A quick note, just in case you’ve already hunted this down and read it, ‘The Wives’ was published in the USA as ‘When Life Gives you Lululemons’. ‘The Wives’ is a hugely entertaining, read in one sitting, smoking-hot loaded gun of a read - and I highly recommend it.
This light-hearted, easy-to-read tale set in the USA, is told through emails, texts, diary entries, and extracts from stories. When her relationship falters Crystal finds herself living back with her loving but interfering Mom. Crystal decides her mum needs a boyfriend and signs her up for a lifelike experimental robot, what on earth could go wrong?! I started reading with a slight hesitation but soon settled down as I got used to the texts and emails laid out on the page in front of me. The characters are inventively introduced by Crystal Hemmingway through different forms of electronic communication. The individual personality traits start to shine through and I was able to connect with them even with the limited descriptive detailing. I recommend throwing yourself and letting go, as Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend is a fun, bright and animated read.
Fabulously darker than dark, this psychological thriller hurls a firecracker into online relationships and stands watching, waiting for the fallout. Author Tom is somewhat addicted to social media, when one particular follower starts harassing him, Tom calls the police, but will a restraining order magic his problems away? The first few pages sent an icy shiver of foreboding coursing through me. Travelling immediately from that knowledge, to eight months previously set certain thoughts and questions quivering. I believe that you don’t have to like a character in a novel to love them, and for me that was the case here. Paul Burston has created fascinating, flawed characters and the more I got to know them, the further I was sucked into the story. Social media, judgement, victimisation, our social and personal responsibility for each other, all gather on the page waiting your thoughts. The Closer I Get is a fiercely provocative novel, and as well as being a boldly entertaining read, it really, really made me think.
Gosh, what a striking and chillingly provocative tale this is. Geo’s best friend disappeared when they were 16, 14 years later a body is found, a serial killer is suspected, Geo knows the truth, has always known the truth, but then the murders start again. This has such a clever premise, the choices Geo made at 16 continue to play havoc, I questioned her, and my own thoughts and feelings about her as I read. I was wholly consumed by the writing, Jennifer Hillier has created a world that feels entirely real, I was taken inside the words, to think and feel and ponder. This isn’t about good and evil, or even whether monsters are born or created, it felt to me as though it was about decisions, choices, hearts and minds, in very, very human bodies. The climax sent a shockwave through me, when I reached the end I was left feeling unsettled, in the best possible way. Jar of Hearts is an observant, penetrating read, one that grabs and shakes you, and leaves you thinking about the characters for a goodly while afterwards. Highly recommended.