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.
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.
July 2016 New Gen Debut of the Month Absolutely compelling. I have to admit to being rather surprised by ‘The Otherlife’, I think I was expecting a rollicking fantasy adventure, instead a startling, yet subtle and thought-provoking read awaited. Either told from the viewpoint of Ben as he is about to take his GCSE’s in 2012, or through his classmate Hobie’s journal in 2008, The Otherlife focuses on the importance of friendship and a variety of issues such as the pressure of being a teenager and parent’s expectations. While Ben copes with pain, both physical and mental, Hobie bulldozes his way through the school year, with few morals, and little thought. Julia Gray sets the Otherlife flickering on the edge of the page, on the knife edge of reality... waiting. As I settled in and felt as though I was beginning to understand, the writing ripped my thoughts apart and set me off on a new path. An intruiging, slicing read, The Otherlife, is also warmly tender and compassionate, and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson
A courageous, unflinching and emotionally challenging novel, focusing on sexual consent and the issues surrounding social media commentary and uprisings. Covering two time periods, a year apart, a vivid picture emerges of Emma. Emma is a fascinating character, bright and beautiful, she loves to be the centre of attention, however she is manipulative and able to use her looks to her advantage. Beneath the surface, there is much more to discover, and as her story is written in the first person, a fuller picture of Emma starts to emerge. Louise O’Neill describes the events that occur with consideration, yet most importantly with a frank honesty, meaning at times this is not only an uncomfortable but also achingly difficult read. Distressing, bleak yet compelling, this is a significant novel that will encourage contemplation and discussion, about a painful and challenging subject. This title is recommended for older teens due to the content.
July 2016 Book of the Month. The publisher’s blurb for this quirky novel certainly drew me to it especially since I am an enormous fan of his first, A Man Called Ove. I’m afraid I didn’t read his second (shame on me!). Here we have a woman who is definitely on ‘the spectrum’, who has at last left a cheating, domineering husband (when he had a heart attack in the arms of another woman) and must now earn a living. She will not accept that the Job Centre has nothing for her and is eventually given a dead-end, short-term job as caretaker in a closing sports centre in a dying town. She ends up coaching the local kids’ football team in a delightful, warm-hearted tale of great charm. How she wins everyone round and makes a life for herself is poignantly realised. A lovely read.
The story of the Trojan War told by two of its most important, yet often overlooked, characters: Briseis, the slave girl Agamemnon and Achilles fought over, and Krisayis (Shakespeare’s Cressida) promised to the Gods but lover of a prince. Also very present are the Gods themselves, playing with lives, betting on battles and arguing amongst themselves. It is a well-known tale, moving, frightening, bloody. This re-telling shows a feminine side, away from the battles but still dependent on their outcome. It is an engrossing world, easy to fall into. As spies, lovers, slaves and prophets these women of Troy show themselves the equal of the more famous men. Even if you know the story well this is still an entrancing read.
Jojo admits that this follow-up to Me Before You came as a result of popular demand. Fans wanted to know what happened to Lou after Will died. However if you haven’t read the first book it matters not for this is complete in itself. A tale of a young woman hurting badly after death by assisted suicide of the love of her life. It tells of her sad coping, of stumbling, existing and trying so hard to heal. It is a very fine novel in its own right. If you have read Me Before You then this will mean a lot to you. Lou discovers Will had more to his life than she realised and discovering bits about him makes for a fascinating read. Suffice to say that it is good and that is all you need to know before buying it. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
An outrageously stunning read, that takes a tight hold from the outset and continues to squeeze until the shockingly intense end. Maya, a former Army Captain, finds herself caught up in a nightmare scenario after her husband is gunned down and events start to spiral out of control. Harlan Coben writes with a masterly hand, descriptions shot straight into my minds eye and the tale continued to twist and writhe with intrigue. Powerful and addictive, clever and memorable, ‘Fool Me Once’ is a brilliantly escapist read, the story whips along, and I just had to read it in one sitting.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A beautifully quirky, yet at the same time completely logical love story (well it is logical once you've realised that you too, have fallen in love with an alligator). ‘Carrying Albert Home’ is a nine part tale, detailing an odyssey that took place during the 1930’s, interspersed with snappy little introductions to each part of the story by the author. As Homer (the elder) and Elsie his wife, adventure their way down the east coast from West Virgina to Florida, with Albert the alligator and the Rooster, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Homer Hickam (the younger and author) is telling the ‘somewhat true’ story of the early years of his parents marriage, surely this is the most fantastical tale ever told! I believe that John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway would remember their parts in this tale with glee, who wouldn't want to have been introduced to the charming and rather glorious Albert? I quite simply devoured this enchanting book in one sitting, and I will want to read it again and again. One of our Books of the Year 2015.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A sweeping saga of a tale, linking the past and the present through two women’s dreams and a house that straddles time. This is the first Barbara Erskine novel I’ve read, for those that have been with her since the beginning, this has been written 30 years after the best selling ‘Lady of Hay’ was published. In the present Andy moves to Sleeper’s Castle as an escape from the nightmare her life has become, while in the past Catrin is trapped between the English and the Welsh as her father plays a dangerous game. This could almost be read as two separate novels, yet as we float between the stories, the house of Sleeper’s Castle controls the strings and begins to tighten the links between the two women. With two unsettling, oppressive characters haunting Andy and Catrin, there were times when, particularly in Andy’s case, I wanted to step into the pages and lend a helping hand. With dream walking and ghostly presences stalking menacingly through the tale, ‘Sleeper’s Castle’ is an intriguing foray into the story of a house that remains outside of time. July 2016 Book of the Month.
A historical family drama to sink into, to feel a part of, to be surprised by. in 1860, Florrie, a 15 year old orphan, yet raised with love, finds herself departing the Cornish Moors for the centre of London society. Flung into a harsh and uncaring household, Florrie must hold her nerve as her life changes beyond all recognition. This is a readable and engaging story, Tracy Rees ensures Florence is a captivating and loveable leading lady. The story remains focused on Florence, yet the surrounding characters add a sparkle of diversion and intensity to the story. With a tantalising love affair, yet firmly planted in the reality of the times, ‘Florence Grace’ is an engaging historical 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.