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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.
May 2015 Book of the Month. Having given us Hannibal and Spartacus, this excellent historical adventure author now features an experienced Roman centurion, Lucius Tullus, and places him against the German tribesmen of the Rhine (AD9) in the battle of Teutoburg Forest, one of the greatest defeats Rome ever suffered. A trap is set and the final march, battle and conclusion are very powerfully written. With horrendous scenes of slaughter and close shaves for our hero, this is almost impossible to put down. It begins a trilogy. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
May 2015 MEGA Debut of the Month. An intriguing and successful experiment in presenting a crime thriller from a different angle, Richmond's accomplished debut encourages the reader to become the sleuth. Alice Salmon dies in what initially appears a tragic case of drowning. An academic tries to assemble the pieces together and get to the bottom of the mystery and we follow his attempts through the traces of herself Alice scattered in her wake, online and elsewhere: tweets, newspaper cuttings, blogs, diaries, letters, emails. An ever-shifting perspective blurs before the reader's eyes until the whole begins to coalesce and unpeels layers and layers of deceipt and secrets. Another variation on the currently thriving unreliable female narrator bandwagon but one that makes it work in a unique manner. Will give you a lot of second thoughts about what you leave behind in your own day to day life! Genuinely chilling. ~ Maxim Jakubowski A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. The Lovereading view... This is likely to be one of 2015's most haunting and unforgettable debuts. Accident, murder or suicide? The whole mystery of Alice Salmon’s death is revealed in a series of letters from Professor Jeremy Cooke to an old friend which he never sends (why?) and Alice’s diaries, tweets, blogs, Facebook entries, emails, newspaper articles and the like. This adds a huge amount of suspense to the tale. Alice is fairly unstable, self-harming in her teens. She uses her diary for release, like blood-letting, but how reliable is her narrative? She was a young journalist (25) when she died. Jeremy Cooke had a long ago affair with her mother and knew Alice at university. He wants to write about her final days/hours, hence his research. The police are completely baffled! This shocking story of love, loss and obsession where everyone - including himself - has something to hide. It is a great read.
Fifteen year old Pearl has lived all her life at Seed, a nature-worshipping cult led by a self-imposed father figure, Papa S. Pearl is happy, despite, or maybe because of, her extreme naivety. Contact with the outside world is practically forbidden, those that live at Seed know very little other than what they are told by Papa S – the young people aren’t even allowed to know who their real mothers are. The arrival of a new family with a teen boy disrupts the equilibrium, and makes Pearl realise life in the cult may not be the paradise she thought. Narrated by Pearl in the present tense, this is a convincing and disturbing portrayal of life in an oppressive, controlling society, and will prompt readers to think about self-determination, and women’s rights.~ Andrea Reece
April 2015 eBook of the Month. A captivating and very human tale that transports you to the heart of what really matters. Although set before, during and after the Second World War, this is by no means a novel just about war, it is rather, an insight into an internal battle and conflict. Initially it feels as though you are viewing Aldo from a distance, then his feelings and emotions start to push in and invade your thoughts until they are so close you could almost absorb them. The author handles the savagery and also the resilience and compassion of mankind with a deft and considerate touch. At times the feelings evoked are uncomfortable and difficult to digest, yet all feel necessary, realistic and authentic. With the ability to capture, influence and then hold fast to your heart and mind, this is a hauntingly beautiful and captivating read. ~ Liz Robinson
The Second World War looms and young, curious Cecily desperately wants to know her 16-year old sister’s secret. But there is a lot more she wants to know too. Why is her mother’s sister, Kitty, always staying on their Suffolk farm? Who is the sinister stranger Robert Wilson? Where does her sister go as she climbs out of her window at night? Then her charred remains are found on the burnt out pier and strangely Cecily feels it is somehow her fault. The poetic narrative flits between past, present and future most effectively. The lyrical prose allows the reader to feel the tension and dismay building up to the approaching war. We also follow an Italian family who own the local ice-cream parlour and their fears of the future. The plot is full of secrets which Cecily tries to uncover with devastating results. Highly recommended.
Winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2015. A scrumptious, joyous read, stuffed full of sharp wit, laugh out loud frolics and gentle soothing compassion. Fatty and his loving, loyal saint of a wife Betty leave the comforts of home for a holiday to Ireland in 1979. A number of lamentable and often laughable events befall Fatty and because she is at his side, Betty too. The author as well as pointing out the ridiculous, also allows us to see Fatty from Betty’s eyes and therefore opens ours. Completely charming, this is a little gem of a book and an absolute pleasure to read. ~ Liz Robinson
A fantastic opening plot that pulls you straight in to the story and makes you have to read in one or two sittings as curiosity just gets the better of you. Fourteen year old Cynthia wakes up one morning to find her mother, father and brother have all completely disappeared without trace. 25 years later Cynthia might just start to get some answers as to what happened to them. The feelings of abandonment, doubt, anger and anguish that Cynthia feels are brought across through the main narrator of the book, Cynthia’s husband, which is clever way of getting the sense of frustration both feel, her because she needs answers and him because he wants her to be able to close that chapter of her life and move on. Apart from a slight lull in the middle this book will sweep you up with it’s pace and intrigue, perfect for a holiday read. Winner of the Richard & Judy Summer Read 2008 Reviewed on Richard & Judy on Wednesday 2 July 2008.
The second instalment following Stormbird. It is 1454, Henry VI is ill. Richard of York is Regent in conflict with Queen Margaret who is determined her infant son Edward will succeed Henry. So the treachery, campaigns and manipulation begin with infighting between the Dukes of Warwick and Salisbury and the Percy family. It is a very complicated period beautifully explained and related to us, mostly through the Queen’s spy-master John Derry. For now Henry hangs on to the throne. It’s a vivid story of the life and times, its glamour and squalor interspersed with little known incidents to expand on the greater story.
A scary coming-of-age tale set in Berlin which has been a huge bestseller in its native Germany. We follow two fourteen year old girls longing to lose their virginity but frightened of sex. One is from a tragic Iraq childhood, the other the child of an alcoholic mother. Hidden from view they witness an honour killer resulting in colossal conflict. The guilt, betrayal, emotional agony and unexpected conclusion make for a gritty, gripping, excellent read. In an interesting stylistic choice the author has gone for almost no punctuation and has written a first-person, present tense narrative. This makes it a little hard to follow at first but does give the story an incredibly raw feel, creating a unique, powerful voice. It is not an easy read but a very rewarding one.
April 2015 eBook of the Month. With hints of the supernatural and several sneaky red herrings laid in your path to trip you up, this sinister and murderous tale gradually creeps under your skin. ‘The Detective’s Secret’ is the third in this series, although you can certainly start here, some of the relationship nuances will cause you to wonder at what has gone before. Two different time spans swing to and fro, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the chapter headings until the switches become second nature. Jack and Stella are complex individuals, and as far away from your generic detective as you can possibly get; they also on occasion keep vital information from each other, ensuring an arresting suspense runs along side their inquiries. While the investigating duo pull all the pieces together, something shadowy, chilling and deadly lies in wait and as the end nears, you may well find yourself on the edge of your seat, advising them caution and administering warnings. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2015 Book of the Month. A stunning murder mystery, yes, Tana French has awards that say so, but as with all her novels it is so much more. An exploration of friendship, the deep do-or-die kind, and an intricate peek into the teenage psyche, a forgotten world for many of us. It steps right up to the cusp of the supernatural, it draws you in and sweeps you along. Told partly in first person by Stephen Moron, who we know from a previous book (which you do not have to read to enjoy this) and partly as the narrative of what happened the year before, the events lead slowly and inevitably to a killing. It is a beautiful book, a compelling book, an amazing book. And check out her others; they’re amazing too.
April 2015 Book of the Month. The basis of this novel is a porn video that goes viral and the story behind those involved and those affected, told partly by the 17-year old girl of the film and partly in the third person by those who surround her. It is pretty raw stuff with the teenage characters behaving as teenagers do amongst their peers, which may be shocking to some readers. A number of the adults don’t behave a lot better either! There are many plots and sidelines within the book but the main theme, or moral if you like, is that nothing is secret in today’s world. If you commit something to your mobile or your computer it can be there for any interested party to find. This is an extraordinary book which teenagers will identify with and parents should read to better understand their hormonal children.
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.