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All relationships have their ups and downs, whether it’s struggles with a partner or difficulties in the family. Our Relationship Stories section shows the unique features of relationships in gloriously written technicolour.
September 2016 Debut of the Month. A tension-filled family drama, which encourages thoughts to twist and turn. The prologue sets questions in motion, trapping them in the back of your mind, ready to pounce. A chance meeting places Carmen on a path of no return when she starts to investigate the death of her husband’s previous partner. Carmen’s thoughts fly one way and then another as different events warp her feelings, creating tense uncertainty. Elizabeth Heathcote leaves deliberate gaps in the time frame, I found myself unsettled as I wondered at the missing information. ‘Undertow’ encourages questions, prods at feelings and is an intriguing, provocative read. ~ Liz Robinson
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Some books are claustrophobic as they isolate their characters in a constricted setting, but Norwegian crime author Ravatn achieves the curious exploit of making a novel mostly set in the vast open air of the fjords claustrophobic as its two sole characters (aside from just a couple of outside 'extras') stew, fight, love and so much more in a cabin by a lake under the wide open sky. Allis, a journalist in disgrace, seeks a new life as a cook, gardener and helper with Sigurd, a taciturn older man who owns a cabin in a remote region of Norway, and whose wife is mysteriously absent. The psychological cat and mouse game is gripping as they clash, repel and attract and questions soon are raised about their previous lives and how past events will affect their future together or apart. Intense, lapidary, dream-like and streaked with anxiety, this is not a comfortable book, with not always likeable obsessive characters, but it proves rewarding as an investigation into the blank darkness of lost souls. ~ Maxim Jakubowski One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Lovereading view... A subtle, quietly sinister tale, where the tension slowly creeps and coils around the edge of your understanding. Allis removes herself from her previous life to become a housekeeper for Sigurd. On the edge of a fjord in a lonely existence, can Allis make sense of her life and reveal the secrets that cloak the house? Agnes Ravatn hasn't used quotation marks, this creates an intimacy with the words, yet they somehow echo with desolate intensity. The translation by Rosie Hedger is perfectly and completely in tune with the story. Gradually, slowly and almost silently, information is revealed, which kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘The Bird Tribunal’ unsettles, agitates and unnerves before a fierce concentrated rush of drama filled pages… and yet at the end, I detected a whisper of uncertainty floating in my mind, which actually left me feeling very satisfied indeed with this enthralling read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher...I had my eye on The Bird Tribunal for quite some time before I was in a position to acquire rights to publish in English, and I watched it win countless awards in its native Norway and go on to be made into a stage play. When a reader’s report and then the fabulous translation came in, I was not disappointed. It is one of the most captivating, tense, dramatic thrillers I have read in years. With only two characters and a Rebecca-esque plotline, it is beautifully written, with the isolated Norwegian fjord and the gardens of the solitary house situated there exquisitely described, and the sense of foreboding, the slow building of tension, the trickle of insights into the characters and the secrets they are hiding, make it an exceptional read. It’s already won an English PEN Translation Award, and been chosen for WHSmith’s Fresh Talent for the Autumn, and I could not be prouder to publish a book that takes Nordic Noir to fabulous new heights and marks the arrival of a major new talent in the genre. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A brilliant debut from a fresh and unique voice, ‘A Boy Made of Blocks' is a book that will make you laugh, cry and think to yourself ‘thank goodness, it’s not just me!’ This wonderful book is one that every parent, every friend of a parent and every person who ever raised a judgemental eyebrow whilst witnessing a ‘difficult’ child should read. Alex is reeling from life. He's left the family home and has never felt further from his wife and son. He loves them both dearly but parenthood can put a strain on any relationship and having an autistic son adds even more pressure. Sam, his beautiful yet unreachable son, is a problem that Alex is finding impossible to solve and whilst suffocating under the responsibility he feels towards his family Alex finally hits rock bottom. Until that is Sam discovers Minecraft and so begins an adventure of a father finally finding a way to understand his son and maybe himself too. I adored Keith Stuart’s writing style. It was fresh and honest but with no trace of bitterness. Some moments were so beautifully written they made my heart ache and moved me to tears. He captures so much in so few words and I came to love his characters and felt truly sad when I reached the final sentence. A beautiful debut that not only changed the way I look at autism and children considered ‘different’, but also the struggles we all face within our lives today.' ~ Shelley Fallows September 2016 Debut of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'It’s hard for me to be objective about A Boy Made of Blocks: it’s the book I most want people to read, partly because when they do, they universally love it. It both has massive commercial potential and is a singularly modern, heartfelt and meaningful piece of writing. It is absolutely not an ‘issues’ book, but a wonderful, funny, emotional story full of memorable characters, wit, and warmth. It’s the kind of novel people fall in love with – I certainly did – and has one of the most uplifting finales I can ever remember reading.' ~ Ed Wood, Editorial Director – Sphere Fiction
September 2016 NewGen Debut of the Month. Set 100 years in the future in a world of unimaginable luxury and wealth, Katherine McGee’s slick, savvy debut explores an age-old theme: money doesn’t make you happy, and it certainly can’t buy you love. It opens dramatically with a girl plunging from the top of the 1000 storey tower that now houses all the inhabitants of Manhattan. The story then goes back to explore events that led to the tragedy, following five teenagers: Avery, flawlessly beautiful; Leda, struggling with addiction; Eris, suddenly and shockingly deprived of her privileged lifestyle; Rylin, working as a maid; and Watt, the boy who knows everything about everyone. A heady mix of gossip, scandal, love, jealousy and intrigue makes for addictive reading. Fans of smart futuristic fiction like this will also enjoy Matched by Ally Condie or the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver." Andrea Reece
One of our YA Books of the Year 2016. Set in a society in which those deemed ‘flawed’ are branded and ostracised, Cecelia Ahern’s debut YA novel will talk directly to its readers. Every teenager wants to be perfect, to fit in and look like they know what they’re doing, so the thought of being marked as different, and more than that, as imperfect, out of step with everyone else, is terrifying. A moment of compassion leads Celestine to be accused of being Flawed. Former poster girl for the authoritarian government, she’s made an example to others, only to become a hero to the opposition. Raising interesting questions about society, and personal responsibility, and set against a convincing background of family, friends and first love, this will get young people reading and thinking. The Hunger Games books offer more thought-provoking dystopian adventures, as does Lois Lowry’s classic The Giver, or Jeannie Waudby’s recent One of Us. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Nick Lake, Publishing Director: “Cecelia has a unique gift for creating stories that hook the reader in, and Flawed grabs from the first page. Beautifully realised, tender and thought-provoking, this is a book that makes you care – about Celestine, about fairness, about freedom. The only flaw is having to wait for the second book…”
A tale that creeps under your skin, worms its way into your thoughts, and spins to an all consuming end. I’ve devoured Mary Kubica’s other novels, and personally, this is my favourite so far. Quinn and Alex tell their own tales, Quinn’s room mate Esther has unexpectedly disappeared, while Alex becomes a tad obsessed with a girl who turns up in his small lakeside town. There is a slow intensity to the writing, it isn't immediately obvious as to what is happening and I found my thoughts scrabbling for purchase and understanding. Quinn and Alex are beautifully written, from the Sunday when the tale begins, through to the Thursday when it ends, I lived their life alongside them, experiencing every moment, getting to know their intimate thoughts and feelings. ‘Don’t You Cry’ is a fabulous slow burner of a read, with an undertone of suspense that steadily increases until it comes crashing down around you. ~ Liz Robinson
A thriller, full of family drama and suspense… this is a story that sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of tense uncertainty. The short prologue set my mind racing, the few lines on the following page, proceeded to knock my thoughts right off course. Lily and Ed are married, are they both keeping secrets? Part one is set fifteen years before the prologue and Lily tells her own story. As you settle in, you're suddenly spun away to Carla and her Mum, who live in the same block of flats, although not told in the first person, Carla’s story feels more intimate and exposed. This is a novel that explores guilt, blame and hidden thoughts and feelings. Jane Corry creates fully fleshed characters, Lily and Carla are particularly fascinating, there were times when I could have hugged them, and others when I wanted to shout and stomp as they made their decisions. Containing so many twists, it almost turns itself inside out, ‘My Husband’s Wife’ is an extremely entertaining read. ~ Liz Robinson
September 2016 eBook of the Month. A stirring and intoxicating story of love and twisted secrets waiting… lurking. Spanning twenty years, this tale introduces Jim and Jennifer in 1995 when they meet in Savannah, before a traumatic event forces them apart. In 2015 they meet again, with secrets snapping at their heels, will their feelings remain intact? The bewitching hot heady Deep South, encouraged me to explore the past, so evocatively described and full of promise. Waves of emotion, spilling the ups and downs of life, feeling touchable and realistic wash the pages. Tasmina Perry has the ability to immerse you entirely within the story, I lived in the moment, whether it was 1995 or 2015. 'The House on Sunset Lake’ surges towards a climatic ending, it is a moving, and truly very lovely story indeed. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Poignant, moving and funny, I chuckled my way through this delightful (but no longer secret) diary from the rather lovable Hendrik Groen. Hendrik has reached the age where his address book is depressingly empty and his life has become an endless string of funerals and conversations concerning bowel movements, the latest list of ailments and euthanasia. The care home he lives in is like a waiting room for death and so in an effort to keep his own sanity he decides to write his memoir. He intends to record it all, the mystery of the fish murderer, the suspicious activities being carried out by those who run the establishment and last but by no means least the happenings of THE-OLD-BUT-NOT-DEAD club. Hendrik is an endearing character who I very much enjoyed spending time with in this gentle read that left me feeling a little sad but hopeful. Snippets of the life he lived and what remains of it filter in throughout the book and have a greater sense of poignancy as they merge in with the everyday happenings of the here and now. When we are old we are still very much the person we have always been, hopefully reading this will remind us all that behind each and every elderly person lies a story. ~ Shelley Fallows September 2016 Debut of the Month. Sarah Broadhurst's view... An old people's home in the Netherlands is the setting for this satire but it could be anywhere except for the small amount of political references. But Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela's deaths are commented upon too. With a vast cast of residents and all kinds of worries and problems we concentrate mainly on a group of friends who form the 'old-but-not-dead club' where each member organises an outing. They do more than most old people ever think of: take a cookery lesson, wine-tasting, painting, synchronized swimming, tai chi, bowls, golf and such. Hanging over the home is the threat of renovation, therefore change. Our narrator is determined to get sight of the regulations and decides to challenge the board. Solicitors become involved. His three closest friends have a dramatic and sad year which is sensitively portrayed. The action takes place over that year and is written in diary form. Personally I feel that if you are involved with the elderly you might find this all a bit disturbing despite it's amusing style. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Witty, romantic and very modern, The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts is the first in a new series set in a quaint old bookshop, for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan - where happy ever after is only a page away. And some terrific reviews have come in to us via our Facebook and Twitter communities too: The story is really sweet, I found Posy so relatable and like her, I do love a bit of romance! It's a modern update of a classic genre, without losing the charm or humour, I loved reading it. Leanne I found the book hilarious, romantic and the perfect book to curl up on the sofa and read. I loved the characters Posey, Sebastian, Nina (tattoo girl), they were all fab, even Piers. Without saying too much the ending was just perfect! Laura Coutts
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A 17 year old Muslim girl relates this story of her childhood in Lahore, Pakistan, her flight to Clerkenwell, London, the loss of her mother, her arranged marriage at 16 and her extraordinary ability to pour out love. She clings on to the essence of it to help keep her safe. This is a frightening tale of the dominance of the man in the Muslim society and the horrors that some women suffer. It does get a bit over indulgent in its message of love but there is a very strong reason for that which adds to the extraordinary conclusion. I will give you no plot detail for any would spoil the power of the tale.
Sparkly, fun and entertaining, even with a light touch of darker emotion, this is a bright summery read. 27 year old Kate dreams of Poldark, when she accepts a wedding invitation from the girl who shunned her at school, Kate invents steamy landscape designer Ross to be her plus one. Where better to hunt down her very own Ross Poldark before the wedding, than Cornwall? Along with Samantha Tonge’s trademark sweet wit, ‘will they won’t they’ romance, and variety of refreshing characters, she introduces a moving tender tone, that is none the less, full of hope. ‘Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun’ is a breezy, romance-filled, lovely holiday read. ~ Liz Robinson
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More than just romance, Relationship Stories can really strike a chord with us, at every stage of life. Just like relationships themselves, these books and there authors come in all shapes, sizes, atmospheres and aspirations. So, if something was missing from your last relationship read … we’ll help you find it in your next one! Here you’ll find the warm and the wise (Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Rosamunde Pilcher), the deliciously sexy (Jilly Cooper, Veronica Henry), the humourous and honest (Nick Hornby), the insightful (Joanna Trollope) and the … Perhaps, though you’re looking for a new relationship? Why not try our’ Author Like for Like’ tool or make a date with our Book of the Month recommendations and find your perfect match … for now, at least!
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