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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…
Discover and be transported by eight wonderfully diverse stories based on the myth, legend and folklore at eight English Heritage sites from the toe of Cornwall to the tip of Northumberland. Editor Katherine Davey, English Heritage, and September Publishing have worked their magic alongside the authors while Clive Hicks-Jenkins has created striking and disquieting illustrations to accompany each story. To give you an idea as to the quality on offer, the authors in order are, Edward Carey, Alison MacLeod, Paul Kingsnorth, Sarah Hall, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Sarah Moss, and Fiona Mozley. Journalist James Kidd introduces the tales, highlighting the importance of folklore, and states that: “The moods of the eight stories are similar eclectic, by turns comic or uncanny, absurd or scholarly, angry or fanciful, unsettling of poignant”. The location each story has been based on, sits at the end of the story, as while some are obviously of the site, others hover, offer, suggest. The afterword by the knowledgeable Charles Kightly explains the background to each of these new stories, the history and tradition that each site is steeped in. From sharp and pointed, to lyrical and whimsical, the creative and inspiring stories in These Our Monsters twisted in my mind. If you enjoy an original and wonderful blend of folklore, myth and legend, stop right here!
I stepped willingly inside the pages and gave myself up to the story in this quirky, feel-good tale. When Charlie Price has to relocate his family, they end up in the small town of Coraloo where the Blackwell’s rule the roost at the market. As Charlie, Velveteen, and their son Gideon find their lives turned upside down, will the Blackwell’s be a help or hinderance? Alongside the main story, sits another from long ago, it almost feels like folktale as it meanders along, yet is completely in tune with the occurrences of now. I was absolutely charmed by the characters, town, and storyline on offer. Lauren H .Brandenburg adds enchantment to this tale, without using magic or wizardry. My expectations altered as I read, and the story developed beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed The Death of Mungo Blackwell, it is gorgeous escapism while focusing on love, family, and friendship.
This moving, thoughtful, and expressive historical novel walked into my heart with deep empathy, and more than a hint of fantasy. Set during the Second World War, between 1941 and 1944, The World We Knew explores the nature of war, anti-Semitism, and what people can become when faced with the hardest of choices. When Hanni Kohn approaches her rabbi to help save her 12 year old daughter from the Nazi regime, assistance comes from the least likely of places. The first chapter, stark, urgent, and compelling was so intense I almost stopped breathing. As the chapter came to a close I sat for a moment in contemplative silence. I simply adored how Alice Hoffman balances the fantasy element of the novel, it feels as though a truth has been sent free. I disappeared into the words, and took to my heart that survival isn’t just a matter of life or death. One word of advice, you may need to have tissues close to hand, I cried at the beauty of the ending. The World That We Knew is not only one of my picks of the month, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
I was completely and utterly consumed by this debut, it slowly took hold, crept into my thoughts, drew me in, and then refused to let me go. I really didn’t want to stop reading, and even now Cora Burns enters my mind and stops for a while. Cora Burns born in gaol and raised in a workhouse, finds herself in gaol once again before a scientist takes her on as a servant, just what exactly is his current experiment? The story starts in savage darkness, then spins forward in time before rolling between 1865, 1874 and 1885, slowly answering questions yet creating more. Carolyn Kirby has created the most deeply felt and amazing character in Cora (to me she isn’t a character but as real as real can be). There were times when I almost didn’t want to read her story, I wanted to shut my eyes, hum, and put my hands to my ears, and yet I simply couldn’t stop, the words haunted me, called to me, devoured me. The Conviction of Cora Burns enthralling, fascinating and so incredibly worthwhile, developed into the most unexpectedly fierce and beautiful read (I think you will understand if you step between the pages).
I absolutely adored this very special, surprising and exquisitely written novel focusing on the period between the First and Second World Wars. In 1925 Selina Lomax regularly appears in the papers as she and her friends attend parties and live life to the full. When Selina meets struggling artist Lawrence Weston her life changes beyond all recognition. I entered ‘The Glittering Hour’ expecting the beautiful relationship tale that I found. However I also left having experienced so, so much more. Iona Grey has created sentences that caught and transported me with their stunning descriptions. The story slinks through time and space, effortlessly revealing links from the past that become present in the future. As I read, moments of understanding speared my awareness and left me reeling. I felt joy, tenderness, aching sadness, and I cried, really, really cried at the beauty in front of me. I wield my highly recommended stamp of approval all over The Glittering Hour, it really is the most wonderfully heartfelt and meaningful read, and so sits as a LoveReading star book.
From iconic favourites like the Grand Canyon to up-and-coming destinations like Tiblisi, this stunning photography collection willl inspire even the most intrepid traveller. Over 150 high-quality images bring the 100 places to life, spanning atmospheric hilltop pagodas, dramatic mountain scenery, and sparkling urban citiscapes. Lively descriptive text accompanies each entry, capturing the destination's spirit and exactly what makes it so special. Organized geographically by region, the book reaches every corner of the world, with each place carefully selected by Rough Guides' experienced team of authors and editors. Features of the Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth - Uncovers the top places to visit in 2020 - Stylish coffee-table book with more than 150 inspiring photographs - Employs Rough Guides' "tell it like it is" ethos - Organised geographically by region - Carefully curated by Rough Guides' team of expert authors and editors