Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
April 2015 NewGen Book of the Month. Half Bad was one of the most talked about Young Adult books of 2014. It pitched Nathan, a Half Code witch, with a Black Witch father and White Witch mother, against the ruling Council, who had persecuted him since birth. Readers will be desperate to read the follow-up (NB starting at book two would be tricky, you do really need to have read Half Bad to get the most from its sequel). Nathan is back, with new magical gifts, still determined to bring down the monstrous leader of the Council, Soul O’Brien and needing to rescue his girlfriend Annalise too. Sally Green has an urgent writing style that puts the reader right at the heart of the action and this is another gripping read, though the gore may be too much for some readers. The conclusion is thrilling, and leaves Nathan with a further challenge – book three can’t come soon enough. ~ Andrea Reece
September 2014 Book of the Month. A major departure for Elizabeth Buchan for this is an espionage tale set mostly in Denmark in the Second World War. If you are wanting a happy ending don’t touch this. English-born Kay, married to a Dane, gets involved with the resistance movement and in particular with the wireless operators. We learn a lot about the training of SOE operators and wireless communication forms a large part of the tale, and we learn a lot about male dominance too. The work of the resistance operators is deglamourised and made out to be of Heath Robinson standard, very chaotic until late in the war. This illustrates the sacrifice, compromise and heroism of ordinary people. Elizabeth Buchan explains how she came to write this book... 'I am intrigued how it is that a writer may have already written on a subject but it refuses to die and it nags away until something is done about it. But, then, who wouldn’t be fascinated by the women who worked in the resistance during the Second World War and/or the Special Operations Executive (SOE) where many of them were trained? My second novel, Light of the Moon, was about an English girl parachuting into occupied France to work undercover as an agent for the Special Operations Executive where she discovers, like Edith Cavell, that patriotism was not enough. Researching the SOE was addictive and I made many contacts and some cherished new friends who worked in the undercover agencies. They told me, among others, about beautiful, fantastically brave Violette Szabo (Carve Her Name with Pride), the equally splendid and intriguing Christine Granville, and the extraordinary Nancy Wake - all of whom my friends had known and revered for their cool bravery and resourcefulness. Many of these women met gruesome ends. Several novels on, my obsession re-surfaced with a splash when I was talking to Noreen Riols about her recently published memoir, The Secret Ministry of Ag & Fish, which describes her work in SOE’s F-section. Back I found myself – deep into histories, biographies, memoirs and anecdotal evidence. It seemed there was no question of dodging the subject any longer and I Can’t Begin to Tell You began to take shape.' - Click here to read more.
December 2012 Book of the Month. From the author of TV Book Club favourite The Legacy, comes an emotionally powerful story exploring the dark heart of love. Just before WW2 Mitzy Hatcher’s lonely Dorset life is transformed by the arrival of a renowned artist for whom she becomes the muse. However, as she grows up innocent love becomes obsessive with consequences that reach forward over 70 years. Webb is simply an excellent storyteller and she is getting better with each book. A few Lovereading members have been lucky enough to read this novel and have written reviews for us. Scroll down to see what they think..
December 2011 Book of the Month. One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011. A mix of the occult, murder and love – dual time; 1911 and 2010. It is sparked off by the discovery of the body of a First World War soldier in France who has two letters on him. It is these letters that give us the bulk of this hypnotic tale. Good old-fashioned storytelling at its best.
April 2015 Book of the Month. A slight departure for this highly regarded author being an historical tale of Edwardian London and Canada based on a true story from his family history. Harry Case, a gentleman in suburban London, marries and has a daughter. Unexpectedly he discovers he is gay and has a passionate carnal affair with an actor. Huge family uproar and Harry is persuaded to cut himself off and emigrate to Canada. Here we follow him through hard grind and tough living as he joins a scheme to claim land on the prairie. He gets befriended and then dominated by a sinister Dane. Eventually Harry finds the partner of his dreams but along comes the war, the flu epidemic and more tragedy. Harry falls into a kind of madness. Finally, though, there is a happy ending of sorts. The frank treatment of gay love and sex is hardly shocking today but think back and relive a tough and sad life beautifully entered here.
April 2015 Book of the Month. In Iceland grandparents and a young child go to the port to meet a yacht with the girl’s family on board (parents and twin sister). The yacht smashes into the quay empty. So begins this terrific thriller. In alternating chapters of the yacht with seven people on board coming across from Lisbon and arriving empty and the police investigation in Iceland we, the reader, are drip-fed the mystery with our hearts in our mouths. The crew and passengers have simply disappeared. It’s creepy, chilling, compulsive and very, very good. I so dreaded being fobbed off at the end but no, the outcome was completely feasible and very satisfying. Do read it. In Iceland, Sigurdardottir is crime royalty, alongside Arnuldur Indridason and her series featuring local lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottir has always been a personal delight. Offsetting the sometimes grim northern landscape with meticulous sleuthing, she brings a new, unique dimension to the genre. When a luxury yacht arrives in Reyjkavik harbour with no passengers left onboard, Marie Celeste-like, Thora is recruited by a relative to solve the mysterious case. As usual this is just the beginning and an inevitable trail of bodies soon has Thora dashing in all directions. Chilling, spooky and at times gruesome, Sigurdardottir's books (she also writes the occasional horror tome) are compulsive page-turners and prove fascinating eye-openers into the complexities of Icelandic life and its bleak exoticism.
March 2015 Book of the Month. What can I say about this fabulous book? That it is classic Erskine time-slip drama of passion and incident; that it covers the war years and today and that it is big and glorious in every sense. I see that her father was a spitfire pilot and she has obviously used his memory in her research. That adds a nice personal touch. The story is of a young author researching a war artist and portraitist so we get her story and that of the said artist, integrated into each other. A lovely, lovely book to get totally lost in.
March 2015 Book of the Month. A surprisingly intimate and compelling read, and one that exposes an emotionally challenging and often hidden world. The diverting way in which the author introduces Abby, suggests that something is essentially different, but at the same time she feels extraordinarily real…not perfect, just some sort of normal. You feel encouraged to invest in Abby, to get to know her, both on the surface as you witness her every day life and occasional escapades but also inside, where you start to explore the motion of her mind. This is clever writing, at times softly blurred around the edges, sometimes amusingly engaging, while at others howling and penetrating in it’s intensity. Prepare to like Abby, to smile and laugh with her, to feel perplexed, to empathise and want to hug her, prepare to be left thoroughly captivated in this thought provoking and stimulating novel.~ Liz Robinson Click here to see The Universe Versus Alex Woods by the same author.
March 2015 Book of the Month. The quest for eternal life; a tale of alchemy and skulduggery in the thirteenth century. Starting in France our young hero, Philippe, in the employment of a count in the court of Louis VIII discovers some false documents which he uses for a bit of blackmail ending with the lad fleeing for his life. He was to deliver a silver raven’s head to another noble man … Making his way to England he ends up with a lord obsessed with finding the secret to bring people back to life who is in cahoots with an abbot obsessed with finding the elixir to eternal life. Young boys are useful in their experiments … oh, and there is a girl … the local apothecary’s niece … so lots to keep you entertained. ~ Sarah Broadhurst A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'I’ve been Karen Maitland’s publisher since her first medieval novel, Company of Liars – which regularly tops lists of favourite historical novels. And working on these books is nothing less than a delight; each is unique and imaginative in its depiction of the Middle Ages. And yet they are all linked by Maitland’s trademark weaving of dark, sometimes deadly, threads of plot and the pleasure she takes in giving readers an insight into how greatly superstition and religion influenced attitudes and ways of life. In her hands the Middle Ages have never seemed so relevant; she finds echoes of our modern issues in the past – whether climate change in Company of Liars, the riots of 2011 in The Vanishing Witch or the power of the tabloid story in The Raven’s Head. Karen Maitland’s novels are supremely entertaining and addictive as well as educative, as any of her ardent fans will tell you.' - Publishing Director, Mari Evans
March 2015 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Can who you are, what you’ve learned and what you know provide a new career path? Andy Harrington says its not paper qualifications you need but passion and knowledge. Learn how to tap into your innate skills, find out how to present yourself and share your knowledge and turn yourself into a consultant, business expert or teacher. Like for Like ReadingBusiness Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game changers and challengers, Alexander Osterwalder and Yves PigneurThe Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses, Eric Ries
March 2015 NewGen Book of the Month. March 15 Book of the Month A thoughtfully provocative and chillingly eerie tale that seizes your attention from the very first page and refuses to let go until the last. 17 year old Sally, quiet and careful good girl meets Molly Sue, who is perceptive, boisterous and extremely powerful. The author has written satisfyingly convincing characters, the friendship between Sally, Stan and Jennie feels very realistic, with squabbling skipping hand in hand with trust and love. Molly Sue is a wonderfully seductive character, she is fascinating and bewitching, just a teensy bit likeable and as you get to her know her, extremely intimidating. The suspense builds slowly, then like a wildfire it snaps and crackles out of control through to the brilliantly surprising ending. This is a fabulously gripping tale, proving that you can find strength in the most unlikely places... you just have to know where to look.~ Liz Robinson A Piece of Passion from Emma Matthewson, Editor-at-Large Wow, James Dawson, Queen of Teen, has done it again. With Under My Skin he has written a chilling, thrilling horror story about a tattoo that comes alive, in fact, a tattoo that decides to take over Sally, the girl she is tattooed onto... brrr ... she really does get under Sally's skin in more ways than one... Anybody who loved Say Her Name (if you don't know it, take a look!) will love this. Maybe read it in daylight? Depends how strong you are feeling, I suppose ... And of course it depends on whether you have a tattoo yourself. That would change how you read this book. Yes, it would. Definitely. James Dawson was awarded the accolade of “Queen of Teen” – voted for by the public and awarded by The Book People.
March 2015 Book of the Month. As one would expect from such a talented writer, this is an intelligent, amusing and intimate novel. Sometimes when you look forward to something too much, you can be disappointed; therefore start with an open mind, so that you can become lost in the narrative and wander the paths of witty repartee.The two principal protagonists are difficult, damaged males bent into shape by their upbringing. They are surrounded by loving, equally difficult females who contort and twist their lives just that little bit more. Discover the clever, complicated characters, warts and all; as their hidden depths, secrets and weaknesses are all deftly exposed. There are real moments of wonder to be had at the author's perception and understanding of the human psyche. At times there are fleeting moments of convoluted and difficult text, before the ready wit and story again lyrically sing from the page.Enjoy the sparring and wordplay as the entire cast battle to have the last word and feel the pain as the two writers strive to have the immortality of everlasting words. ~ Liz Robinson Shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2014.
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