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Informative, candid and trusted, book reviews by our own book experts are unique to Lovereading. But within our loyal members and browsers of Lovereading are also prolific readers with years of experience and a real passion for sharing their love of books. So, we decided to invite them to join the Lovereading Reader Review Panel. All the titles in this category have been selected and reviewed by our own Lovereading editorial experts but also reviewed by members of our Reader Review Panel, a panel of book lovers across the UK.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. September 2016 Book of the Month. This is the third in the ‘DI Marnie Rome’ series, and is just as distinctive, powerful and enthralling as the first two (Sarah Hilary’s debut won the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year). In a detached and indifferent London, an offer of shelter, food and warmth for those in need may not be all that it seems. Marnie and Noah find themselves thrust into an investigation where a series of events start to merge into the perfect nightmare. The writing ensures that you invest in these people, care about them, and in just a few perfectly chosen words you can catch an emotion, see their surroundings, feel their fear. Sarah Hilary has a knack of being able to knock your thoughts off balance, and she’s particularly sneaky about it too! I’ve been a dedicated follower of DI Rome since ‘Someone Else’s Skin’, and having snatched ‘Tastes Like Fear’ up the moment it appeared in the office, was immediately captivated. I couldn't put this particularly riveting tale down until I had reached the final, shiver-inducing page. Sarah Hilary, you rock! A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'TASTES LIKE FEAR, Sarah Hilary’s fantastic new novel is the third in the DI Marnie Rome series and is equally as brilliant as Sarah’s debut SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN and her second novel NO OTHER DARKNESS. In this novel Marnie and her sidekick Noah Jake are searching for a young girl who causes a car accident, believing she may be linked to another young girl who disappeared a few weeks before. As with her previous novels, Sarah explores devastating issues with care and sensitivity and, at its heart, this is a story about identity and how it can be eroded. It’s about being homeless, and how hopelessness and loneliness can dominate your life. It’s about control and what happens when you let someone into your life who doesn’t respect your independence. Above all, it’s frightening and tense and gripping. Sarah has an innate talent for characterisation and pace and this novel shows an author who is honing all her skills to become someone absolutely standout in the crime and thriller genre, and beyond. I absolutely loved working with her on this novel and urge you all to read it.' ~ Vicki Mellor, Editor, Headline
One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Post-Apocalyptic setting is so popular today that it is becoming annoying, so it is great to get a book like this one; not only well written but offering a new angle on the old story. Lone survivors must cope with harsh conditions, that’s always a given, but the protagonist of this story is already lost and surviving alone as part of a reality-TV wilderness show. Her first-person narrative alternates with scenes from the show’s early days of filming, when it was just a game. What results is not just a journey through the wilds but a personal struggle with inner darkness and the nature of reality. No zombies, thank goodness, just an honest and plausible thriller obviously written by someone with a brain as hints, threads and twists weave together in a compelling and disturbing tale. Excellent stuff. July 2016 Debut of the Month and eBook of the Month.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Dinah Jefferies has presented another beautifully told and vividly stunning tale, this time set in 1950’s Vietnam. The story revolves around 18 year old Nicole, half French and half Vietnamese, Nicole finds herself torn as war between the ruling French and indigenous population prowls ever closer. Nicole hovers between two men, both from opposing worlds, both with their own journey to take. It feels as though you are watching a wide framed view of history, from the personal perspective of Nicole, her disorientation and heartfelt feelings clamour and writhe from the pages. It is the moments of quiet that really set this story apart, the descriptions of the surroundings, of the small and simple but oh so important things that shape, colour and bring this world to such vibrant life. The colours, smells and heat are all within touching distance, allowing Vietnam to sit beguilingly in the background, adding depth and flavour to the story of Nicole. Visually and emotionally powerful, ’The Silk Merchant’s Daughter' is quite simply a gorgeous read.
August 2016 New Gen Book of the Month. In a Nutshell: * Dystopian deception * Greek myth * Survival A labyrinthine world of brutality, deception and monstrous creatures awaits in this intense coming-of-age fantasy about fighting to survive. Being chosen to enter the angel-guarded labyrinth is the greatest honour that can be bestowed on the children of Daedelum. That's what people pray for, and that’s what Clara wants; to be chosen, and reunited with her brother. But the reality of life within the labyrinth is very different. Shortly after entering it, Clara is attacked by terrifying screeching creatures, and the novel’s unnamed protagonist is left without her cherished childhood friend. She’s taken in by the Fates, a group of Icarii dedicated to teaching newcomers “how to adapt and survive”. Within the labyrinth, people are either scavengers or caretakers. Whichever you are, it's a brutally basic existence, plagued by the ever-present threat of the screechers. “This isn't the kind of place where you play at being a hero,” she’s warned. “Escape when and however you can”. Crippled by introversion, the protagonist ends up adopting Clara's name after a Fates companion overhears her crying it out her sleep, and she can’t face correcting the mistake. But trouble comes when the truth emerges, and then there's the Executioner… Soon enough, there's danger from every quarter. Who to trust? Where to go? What to do? The tension is high, the writing is taut, and this sharp, strident fantasy will be relished by fans of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. A Piece of Passion from editor, Penny West; I read Children of Icarus in two days, and I would have read it in one, had I taken all of the manuscript home with me. If I can recommend one book that will captivate you into turning the pages to find out what happens next, this is it. Behind the book is an author with a story of her own. At 18, her first book was published in her home country of Canada, with the sequel following a year later. She has travelled internationally as guest author to book festivals and spoken in many schools about following a dream and never giving up. Now still only 21, with Children of Icarus publishing in the UK in July and in the US in August, Caighlan is coming to the UK this summer to promote her new book. I can’t wait for her fans to get to meet her and be inspired by her love of writing. Icarus was the surprise hit at Book Expo America. We gave away promo copies and just weren’t prepared for the queues and excitement over what fans had heard so far. One pair talked about how they follow the author online and can’t wait for the chance to meet her one day. As for the book itself, it starts with a delicious dread as the narrator spends her days secretly wishing she won’t be chosen to enter the labyrinth. Worthy teens are chosen every year to make the sacred journey that will end in them becoming angels and immortal. Why shouldn’t she be desperate to take part? But she is chosen and is, of course, right to fear the labyrinth. Then there is a twist you will never see coming that changes everything. The build-up explodes as all hell breaks loose. I fell in love with the central character in the first chapter – she’s quiet, scared, not your typical female ultra-hero, but she has an inner strength that unfolds as the story progresses, and I could really connect with that. You see, female protagonists are analysed in a way their male counterparts aren’t. Katniss has set the bar – a female lead must be strong, a born warrior. But what if she isn’t? What if she’s traumatised by the horrors she’s seen and suffers from possible social anxiety? What if she’s always lived in the shadow of a best friend she idolises and doesn’t know how to cope when forced into the spotlight? Everyone deserves to be represented in literature and told it’s ok if sometimes you’re afraid or don’t know what to do. She makes a choice to keep going and that’s when she finds true strength. The kick-ass moments we later see are all the more satisfying because we travelled alongside her and saw how hard she fought to get there. (And she is absolutely not saved by a love interest.) This is a book close to my heart and the labyrinth is one of my favourite worlds to get lost in. I can’t wait for other fans of YA to experience the same.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. August 2016 Book of the Month. A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories of our true self exist. The memories that we'll do anything to keep hidden. Alice Lake is drawn to a man she spots sitting on the beach. He simply stares out to sea oblivious of the rain, a man who remembers nothing of who he is or where he came from. Alice offers him shelter and the opportunity to attempt to rediscover what or who he is running away from. But something sinister is lurking in his memory and as the past begins to come back to him he wonders if he is running away from a monster or if indeed the monster is actually him. This gripping read is not only a thrilling mystery but is also about accepting the past and learning to find a way to move on. Jewell keeps you guessing what the connections between threads and subtexts are until they all come gloriously together. A wonderful novel to escape in to. ~ Shelley Fallows Click here to read an exclusive interview with Lisa Jewell by Mary Hogarth.
A masterful tale from beginning to end, quite literally unputdownable. If you are a fan of his terrific Lewis trilogy, then you’ll not be disappointed; if anything this is even better. We are still in the Outer Hebrides, now on the Isle of Harris, and still steeped in beauty and history. Here a man loses his memory, a bludgeoned body is found on remote rocks and back in the 19th century three lighthouse keepers disappeared. Linking these mysteries in a scientific discovery that must be kept secret, a mystery based on the drastic loss of bees around the world. There is big money involved and much at stake … terrific stuff, plausible and frightening. He really is very good indeed. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Two parallel stories, set in two time frames, where second chances and the links between two women flicker and burn with energy. In Chicago during 1999, Madeleine tells her own story as she flounders in a loveless marriage, she finds a journal and as she reads, describes her Grandmother’s story, which begins in 1919. As Madeleine discovers her grandmother, can she also re-discover herself? Eleanor Brown has a wonderful eye for detail, the descriptive detailing encouraged smells, sights and sounds to travel from the page into my consciousness. The two stories, full of life and emotion, twist and merge together into a beautiful relationship tale, yet for me, it was the subtle bitter sweet notes of reality that really added substance to this novel. ‘The Light of Paris’ traverses time and continents, in a captivating and gorgeously told, hope filled tale, it really is very lovely indeed.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. July 2016 Debut of the Month Penetrating and intense, ‘Try Not to Breathe’ is a chokingly dark debut thriller. Amy and Alex are the same age, Alex is divorced and drinking herself to an early grave, while Amy is trapped inside her own teenage mind in a hospital bed, 15 years after a brutal attack. Alex begins to investigate the assault, at the same time as she struggles to deal with her own demons. Fast moving chapters are headed with characters names and dates, and slide around in time from 1995 to 2011. Holly Seddon writes with a sharp intensity, casting at times a desperately sad shadow, yet there is still an element of hope that struggles for survival. There is more than one jigsaw with missing pieces here, which creates a balance to the storyline. Enough information is given to allow suspicions to grow, and flourish. As each piece slots into the jigsaw, and a clearer picture starts to emerge, the writing begins to feel lighter, just as the story moves on with a harsh and bleak intensity, ensuring this is a thought provoking and riveting read. Click here to read an interview with Holly Seddon about this book.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. A most unexpected, if gripping thriller from the author of the much-admired LAST POLICEMAN trilogy. The book takes place in an America where the Civil War came to a different conclusion and agreements were fudged to divide the country into two zones, in one of which slavery is still tolerated, while in the North a compromised state of affairs reigns in which a black slave catcher becomes the involuntary hero of the proceedings where he has to smuggle himself behind southern lines to investigate a fiendish plot which could well involve his employers and the so-called liberal North. Intricate, at times breath-stopping, this is a hell of a thriller and one which although set in a dystopian imagined world remains so believable. Will Victor prevail or is he being manipulated and what secrets are kept behind the borderline and the omnous plantations and factories? Answers are provided and they are anything but reassuring. A thriller that dares to ask questions. ~ Maxim Jakubowski Sarah Broadhurst's view... The premise is that four southern states in America did not abolish slavery and formed a republic within the USA. Tightly controlled borders exist and escaped slaves are ruthlessly hunted down. Our protagonist is an escaped slave who tracks down his own in exchange for his “liberty”. He is very good at what he does and goes under many different names. This exciting story centres on a hunt to find Jackdaw, only our hero realises something is slightly off kilter. A relationship develops between him and a white girl with a mixed-race son and so some nice ambiguities are introduced. There is some heavy secret hanging over our hero and as the tale progresses we are never sure if he is good or not. A lot of deal making and double crossing occurs between a group helping slaves, “the underground airlines”, and the marshals, leaving us uncertain as to whom the goodies and baddies are. Then there is an extra twist. Brilliant. A good story on all levels. ~ Sarah Broadhurst July 2016 Book of the Month.
July 2016 Book of the Month. Lovely, warm and engaging, 'The Perfect Gift’ is just that, a delightful treat of a book. Loveable, spirited Roisin always knew she was adopted, she came back home to start up her food emporium and lick her wounds after a doomed love affair, then a 30th birthday letter from her birth mother speaks to her soul. Roisin may be the main character, however this is a proper family and friends story, with a range of catastrophes, thrills and celebrations all jumping up and down and adding to the drama of the tale. Emma Hannigan doesn't just bring the wonderful characters to life, I felt as though I could step into the story, walk down the streets of Ballyshore, buy yummy foodie items in Roisin’s shop and have a natter with Mo to pick up all the gossip. The pages just flew by, and although on occasion my heart ached, this is basically a book to make you smile. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2016. July 2016 Debut of the Month. A detailed, intriguing and highly enjoyable debut historical thriller. James Greenacre is accused of murdering his bride and his mistress, Sarah Gale, is convicted of aiding him in disposing of her body. Public opinion flares up against Sarah and the Home Secretary gets a young lawyer, Edward Fleetwood, to investigate the police evidence. May there have been something amiss? Certainly the facts are puzzling. Sarah's incarceration in Newgate Jail, we are in 1837, is particularly vicious and vividly described. Our young lawyer has a deadline to deliver his evidence and a conscience to battle with. This builds to a terrific and unexpected conclusion. I was totally hooked in the last unputdownable 160 pages. Good stuff.
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.
Real Reviews from Real Passionate Readers
Since its inception Lovereading has taken a different approach to book reviews relying uniquely on the selection and review of books by editorial experts, all of whom have had many years of experience working within the book trade. They know what makes a good read whatever the genre and actually read the whole book before telling you what they think - radical we know, but sometimes old fashioned ways are the best.
In 2012 however, to complement our expert reviews and human-based Like-for-Like comparisons we decided to invite Lovereading members to join the newly created Lovereading Reader Review Panel. It has been a massive success.
We've now attracted over 1000 and 100's of books have now been read and reviewed by them. Many of them have their own book blogs and help us to spread the word of mouth on a book they've enjoyed. Panel members put themselves forward to read and review a book that we have advance copies of and their reviews are then loaded onto the site and complement those of our own Lovereading editorial experts. We're even now receiving feedback from visitors to Lovereading that the 'Reader Review Panel' reviews are as valued as those of our own Lovereading book experts!
With that in mind we thought it would be very helpful to everyone if we created a category and put all the books that have also been reviewed by some of our Reader Review Panel members, in one easy to find place.
Here are a few testimonials from some of our 'Reader Review Panel' members:
If I can ever do another review for you, it would be my pleasure. Thanks again Josephine S
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to review for Lovereading, it's a great site Lindsay H
Thanks for sending me another fantastic book to review! Emily W
The book reviewing has been a real treat, thank you for a wonderful experience. Tracey U
Just click on any title in this category and you will, in addition to the review from one of Lovereading's editorial experts also see a link through to reviews by members of our Reader Review Panel.