Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
May 2018 Book of the Month Sixteen-year old Tamsin envies the life of the Davenports up in the Cliff House. Life is hard for her widowed mother supporting an unemployed brother and a dying grandfather. She craves the life of the rich family she spies on. Unknown to her they are highly dysfunctional. She develops a friendship with the daughter of a similar age and all is good. Of course it is not, and an unfortunate series of events blows their friendship apart. It does sound a bit light and fluffy but actually this is a gripping human drama which deals with real and tragic situations. There is no happy ending, no magic wand to make it all better, no perfect solution but what there is is a well-written page-turner. The flow of the story is well paced and very readable. The characters are damaged and needy but you can understand and sympathise with them. They are real people coping with grief and loss and failing. A very sad, yet thrilling read, highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
May 2018 Book of the Month A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller in which nothing is as it seems, every truth might be a lie, and the past looms ever larger over the present, The Old You is a nail-bitingly modern slice of domestic noir. The Old You by Louise Voss A clever, gripping and thrilling tale that just demands to be read in one sitting. Lynn’s husband Ed has been diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a rare form of progressive dementia. As their world is turned upside down, odd things start to happen, and the past begins to cause waves in the present, causing Lynn to question her life and the man she married. Louise Voss writes with a cunning pen, snippets or huge wallops of information are slowly revealed, encouraging suspicion and turning thoughts on their head. I found my mind constantly ticking over and questioning everything. Lynn tells her own story, creating an immediate connection, yet it takes a while to get to know her, to understand her. ‘The Old You’ is a surprising, stimulating read, just be careful that it doesn’t lull you into false sense of security!
May 2018 Book of the Month An intimate, beautifully told, occasionally rambunctious tale set in 17th century England. Ursula Flight was born at an inauspicious time, she tells her own highly entertaining, yet poignant tale from birth. Ursula bounded from the page into wondrous life, I could feel her emotions, her wild, kind, impetuous nature spoke to me. Anna-Marie Crowhurst has created a vibrant, stunning setting for Ursula, the countryside of her childhood is so beautifully imagined, I found myself looking around, smelling, touching, feeling. Ursula’s own writing is scattered through the novel, her thoughts, letters and plays allow direct contact with her, as when she writes she is free, and unencumbered by the morals of the time. I have to admit to feeling a certain amount of disquiet as I read, one part of me was in the present, living life with Ursula, the other part was wondering what would become of this spirited young woman. A blistering darkness slices through ‘The Illumination of Ursula Flight’ taking its turn in the orbiting dance of life alongside the colour and passion, which creates a truly wonderful captivating read, and I loved it.
May 2018 Book of the Month Deliciously and thrillingly creepy, The Craftsman is an intensely gripping, superb read. Thirty years ago Larry Glassbrook confessed and was imprisoned for a series of child murders. Florence Lovelady was at the beginning of her career when she was involved in the case, now Larry is dead, however hauntingly similar events start to surface. The first chapter has huge impact, a mystifying and unexpected blast hit me full on, and then gently faded into the background. Set in two time frames, with thirty years between them, the story is brisk, and I loved the fact that you are expected to keep up. Sharon Bolton balances the knife edge between reality and extraordinary with a beautiful subtlety. This is just so, so readable, once in, I didn’t want to stop, and found myself reading into the small hours, be warned though, reading at night doubles the chill factor. As I raced through the final few chapters, I almost didn’t want the journey to end, yet the last few words sent the most delightful icy goosebumps snaking down my arms. I highly recommend stepping inside the pages, just give yourself up to the glory of the The Craftsman... this I have no doubt, will be one of my favourite reads of the year.
April 2018 Book of the Month Oh wow, this is a slicing, chilling, whammy of a read that has left me reeling. In 2015 an actress is abducted, the case has all the hallmarks of a murderer who was locked up in Broadmoor ten years previously, then a body appearing to link to the abduction and murders is found in Sweden. The second in the 'Roy and Castells' series continues with sharp, fast-paced drama. I really do recommend starting at the beginning with the fabulous ‘Block 46’, you need to get to know the characters, as to try to step into the middle of the storyline would be almost impossible. The translation is spot on, at no time did I stop to consider this originated in a different language. Set in two countries, and two storylines, with one story steadily advancing through the years, I found myself on full alert and at times racing to keep up. There are sections that are so horrifyingly descriptive they are almost impossible to read, yet the story is so gripping, it is impossible not to. Johana Gustawsson delivers morsel upon morsel of information, and stomach-churning shivers raced down my body. An inkling of what is happening zipped into my thoughts, however I couldn’t have even begun to imagine the final outcome. ‘Keeper’ isn’t an easy read, it isn’t meant to be, it is thought-provoking, challenging, and an absolute knock-out…I’m still in shock - highly recommended.
April 2018 Book of the Month A searingly honest memoir of the uplifting highs and crushing lows of a life spent policing on the front line. A Sunday Times top-five bestseller 'This is a remarkable book . . . profound and deeply moving . . . It has as much to tell us about mental illness as it does about policing' Alastair Stewart A candid, objective, cooly passionate, and often unsettling account of policing from a police officer. John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992 aged 22, we see snapshots of his life as an officer, as he progresses up the career ladder, as he deals with all the horrors and glory a life in blue has to offer. From the very first page my attention was sucked in whole, I come from a family of blue, married blue, and spent 20 years as a member of police support staff. Even then, I was on the edge of understanding, I didn't ever have to run towards danger, tell someone a loved one had died, sit with death, experience the bitter lows, the jubilant highs of being a police officer, yet John Sutherland takes you there. As we read we step in and out of a series of events that have all added up to create this man, it isn’t a glittery or gory descriptive feast, but it doesn't have to be, he simply and clearly gives you a connection, and an understanding that under that uniform is flesh and blood and feelings. One thing is abundantly clear, this man loves his job, he feels the continued effort is worth it, and yet it very nearly broke him. It is truly captivating, whether you nod, smile wryly, and wish he could have been your boss, or feel the shock and admiration as you learn what our police are exposed to day after day. ‘Blue A Memoir’ is a worthwhile and fascinating read, I really do recommend it with my heart and soul. John has written an epilogue to his story, which has been included in the paperback of ‘Blue A Memoir’. He speaks with his normal good sense, and he has the remarkable ability to put into words the thoughts and feelings so many officers struggle to properly articulate. He speaks from the heart, and his words made me cry. I wish him every success in his future, and whatever path he decides to explore, I’m quite sure to the many who know him, follow him on twitter, and read his blog, he will forever remain a true inspiration. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2018 Book of the Month Want to cook ridiculously good plant-based food from scratch but have no idea where to start? With over 140 incredibly easy and outrageously tasty all plants meals, BOSH! The Cookbook will be your guide. “Simple recipes. Amazing food. All plants.” This smart vegan cookbook from the creators of the “biggest plant-based online channel in the world” does exactly what it says on the tin, except the last thing your shopping list needs is a tin - the 140 recipes are 100% fresh in every way. Fresh food, fresh approach, fresh results. Covering everything from creative Quick Eats (creamy carbonara, pad Thai), Big Eats (mushroom and Guinness pie, rogan Bosh!) and Showpieces (jerk jackfruit and plantain pizza, the Big Bosh! Roast), to decadent drinks (easy almond Baileys, Salted caramel espresso Martini), this no-fuss cookbook will convert even the most committed carnivore to appreciating and devouring a vegan diet. The ingredients are easy to come by, the recipes easy-to-follow, and the results are fabulous – filling, flavoursome, and packed with hearty goodness. I can’t wait to work my way through each and every recipe. ~ Joanne Owen
April 2018 Book of the Month In Solomon Creed we were introduced to a mysterious hero, a Jack Reacher/Superman cross with shades of Jason Bourne. This is his second adventure which, if you’ve not read the first you will certainly be compelled to do so after this. He is an unusual and involving hero who may or may not be linked to an ancient tomb some 4000 years old or the holocaust now 70 years ago. He has no memory but an inner drive to do things the reason for which he has no inkling. I love him. Here he knows he must save a boy and in doing so unearths a sinister plot with links to the German Reich and the end of the war. It opens with a gruesome murder of an old Jewish tailor and it is this man’s grandson Solomon must save. Along with the child’s mother they flee across France in search of three other Jews who survived with the old tailor. Wonderful chase scenes, near capture, many tense moments and lots of action before they do eventually find one of the other survivors. Now comes the twist as the plot is turned on its head and an extraordinary confession is revealed. Wonderful stuff. We learn lots more about Solomon. He has escaped a mental institution and is under the care of a Doctor Megellen who does seem awfully sinister! The plot thickens. Solomon has extraordinary mental abilities of memory and smell plus fighting skills and superfast reactions. There is indeed a great mystery surrounding the man which definitely draws you into wanting the next. Let’s hope it is not too long in coming. Hugely compelling and highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
April 2018 Book of the Month “It’s a bit weird,” says Danny to James and indeed it is. Here are two thirty-six year old single young men who were once rival star scholars at an elite public boarding school now damaged. Danny was the scholarship student from a council estate, James an upper-class lad from wealthy parents. Both have sunk into a pit. How they got there and are desperately trying to climb out makes for a sensitive and highly compulsive read. Danny suffered loss and has been unable to get over the trauma, James had an “incident” which has left him brain damaged, he is now looked after by his restrictive parents. James is inadvertently responsible for Danny quitting his job and so hits upon the idea of being able to get away from his parents by having Danny look after him. A bit weird indeed. I truly loved this book, unusual for Mike Gayle and very special indeed.
April 2018 Book of the Month A heart-wrenching and powerful YA story about friendship and finding yourself from award-winning, bestselling author, Gayle Forman The story is told over the course of one day with flash backs to the past to help us engage with the characters and understand what has brought them to this place and this moment in time. Through Harun we learn to understand love through his own loss and fears. The love he feels is alien and not acceptable within the society he lives in. He is ashamed, obsessed and utterly lost. Freya is a star in the making but is following a difficult path and is torn between the need for adoration and the ‘friends’ and sense of belonging she fears she will lose if she can no longer sing. Her lack of self-love is evident as she fears losing her voice will mean losing her place in the world and the acceptance she craves. Nathaniel is a tortured soul and his sadness pours from the pages as we slowly discover the tragedy that has driven him to New York. Each character is suffering their own pain and yet when they are brought together they find the strength to try a different path. But is friendship enough to heal the pain of the past? This is a tender, sad and yet uplifting tale that shows the power of friendship in times when we feel desperate and unable to find a solution. Three strangers come together and show that strength can be found with each and every one of us no matter what our individual troubles may be. That we too can find our way to a life we truly deserve when we are true to ourselves. Beautiful, tender and very important, Gayle Forman has yet again captured a coming of age take that will fill you with hope, love and courage.
April 2018 Book of the Month The nostalgic memoir of a young man, eldest of fourteen, growing up in 40s Wednesbury. The heartbreaking true account of his son struggling to come to terms with his father's dementia. A tribute to the unbreakable bond between father and son. 'At once a touching tribute to a beloved music-loving dad with Alzheimer’s and a poignant portrait of the love between a father and son, this written-from-the-heart memoir will warm the soul, and undoubtedly further the author’s magnificent endeavour to raise awareness of this devastating disease. Simon McDermott’s cherished dad, Ted, was born in the Black Country in 1936 and always loved singing. In his early twenties, following National Service, Ted seized an opportunity to air his voice publicly by becoming an announcer for Walsall Football Club, which provided him with plenty of opportunities to entertain the crowd, while coming up with ideas to draw more women to matches. Also enjoying stints as a Butlin’s redcoat and singing in clubs up and down the country, Ted never lost his love of music - not after settling down and working in a factory, and not after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013. In fact, as Simon discovered during drives to calm his dad’s angry outbursts, singing has the power to bring back the old Ted. And so Simon posted a clip of his dad, the clip went viral and now, one single and full-length album later, Simon and Ted have raised over £150,000 for The Alzheimer’s Society. Peppered with moving and amusing family anecdotes from all stages of Ted’s life, and suffused in love and light through even the most harrowing moments, this heart-wrenchingly honest memoir is powerfully compelling, and should offer succour to others in similar situations.'
April 2018 Book of the Month 'A gloriously uplifting story about love in all its forms from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author of The Reading Group and Things I Want My Daughters to Know.' This author has certainly not lost her touch despite it being six years since her last book. This is warm, affectionate, engaging and insightful. Well written with well portrayed characters who interconnect with each other in a tale that grabs your interest from the first chapters and holds it to the satisfying final page. The story revolves around two women, young pregnant Tess who has just left her boyfriend and gone home to mum, and middle-aged Gigi who has just left her husband and needs to sort her life out. Her three kids have grown up and her marriage is stale. The person Tess loves most in her family is her grandmother Iris who is slipping away in a home. The same home houses Gigi’s father-in-law. Here then is a wonderful multi-generational cast. Mix them together, plus Gigi’s family, and you get a tale of real depth and emotion. The letters of the title are from Iris’ brother during and just after World War II plus some from her grandfather from the same period. They are poignant and affect Tess greatly. A wonderful read, highly recommended.
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All the books we feature on the site are featured because we think they deserve to stand out from the crowd of the many thousands of other titles published each month. However, sometimes in a month, we wish to give that little bit more emphasis to a title and to make it a 'Book of the Month'.
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