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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.
This latest novel from the acclaimed author of the Orange-longlisted The Pink Hotel is an exploration of memories, consequence and the difficulties of living with the past. Cathy is a curator of natural history in Berlin. She is engaged, about to receive an award for her work and beginning to feel that she has finally escaped her past, a past that she keeps locked away within her own museum of curiosities. Yet on the day she is due to receive her award she receives a gift that tells her that a shadow that haunts her memories has resurfaced to claim back what he feels belongs to him. I was completely swept away with this story. Stothard’s technique allows us to watch events unfold with regular insights into Cathy’s past that slowly reveal the reality of what she has been hiding from with a steadily rising sense of foreboding. I found the exploration of characters sensitively handled and yet provided enough suspense and contained a level of sinister tension that had me guessing just what each one may be capable of. This is exquisite, beautifully written prose and the use of the museum as a theme throughout with setting, a means of storytelling and metaphor, is quite brilliantly executed. It is personal, it is universal and it is something that lives within each of us and the memories we hold. Cathy’s story moved me and I so wanted her to find the escape she desperately needed. Highly recommended. ~ Shelley Fallows November 2016 Book of the Month.
December 2016 NewGen Book of the Month. In a Nutshell: Race against time | Racing hearts | The difference a day makes | Intense tale of fate, fraught families and migrant lives told over the twelve hour period in which a teenage girl falls madly in love while desperately seeking to save her family from deportation. Natasha has been making solitary pilgrimages to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office for some time, but time has all but run out. On this morning’s last ditch visit the worst is confirmed: she and her family must return to Jamaica in ten hours. “What about college?” she pleads. “Do you have any idea what it’s like not to fit in anywhere?” While she's angered by the officer’s naïve assumption that her life will turn out irie in Jamaica, he offers Natasha a lifeline when he sets up a meeting with a top attorney, and so she sets off across New York to meet him. Meanwhile, Daniel’s story begins to unfold. Born in the US to South Korean migrants, Daniel is on his way to an interview for Yale when he’s smitten by a girl he happens to see. That girl is Natasha, and their attraction is mutual, and strong. But Natasha believes in science, not in “unprovable” things like love, though she can’t deny her rapidly intensifying feelings for Daniel. But it’s not long before Natasha has to meet the lawyer, and Daniel has his interview and so they must part. Then a combination of snap decisions and chance throws them back together, and they fall deeper in love as time ticks down. I adored the author’s debut, Everything, Everything, and this confirms her status as a writer of considerable talents. Expansively thought-provoking, incisively told and breathtakingly smart on love, identity and the shifting relationships between young adults and their parents, this is YA at its finest, and its exploration of migrant experiences (“for most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith”) is insightful and timely. ~ Joanne Owen
Ahhh, who could resist Percy the Pug! A lovely, heartwarming story set from the point of view of an adorable little dog. Percy, abandoned at an animal rescue centre soon finds a new family, however happily ever after may be on hold, as Gail and Simon are warring with each other while their 12 year old daughter Jenny is in and out of hospital. Fiona Harrison ensures Percy is a waggy delightful chap, his antics with his doggy friends made me smile, while the background story certainly tugs at your heartstrings. Simply told, with bags of love and energy, and just a touch of the fantastical thrown in, ‘A Pug Like Percy’ is an easy, charming and very sweet read indeed. ~ Liz Robinson
One of our Books of the Year 2016. Just so, so gorgeous! Laura lives on her own in the woodland wilds of South West Ireland, a film crew discover she has a special gift, will she be exploited or set free? I always know a book is fabulous when I forget I’m meant to be reviewing and instead find myself completely transported to another world. Cecelia Ahern writes with such a light, magical touch, yet she opens up feelings and allows you to see, to feel, to think. Each part of the story is introduced by a fascinating section taken from a book written in 1933, and links beautifully to Laura. This story is alive with the mystical and unknown, yet is a very modern tale indeed. The writing is so perfect, I actually heard sound… noise touched me, clearly, effortlessly and beautifully, making my heart ache. A delicious enchantment underpins and threads through the story, yet there is also an undertone of unease and foreboding that lingers as you turn the pages, ensuring ‘Lyrebird’ is a bewitching, gloriously delightful read. ~ Liz Robinson December 2016 Book of the Month.
What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true? It's the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together. But Kirsty soon learns that it's not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there's Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after...or reveal their love to be nothing but a 'showmance'?
One of our Books of the Year 2016. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. A fascinating erotica debut for famed children's book author Sally Gardner and, most definitely, a change in register as a tale of 18th century debauchery unfolds in the tradition of FANNY HILL and other historical jolly naughtiness. Tully Truegood is incarcerated in Newgate prison in 1756, accused of murder, with the gallows perilously on the horizon and, in the traditional manner, relates the tale of her life and how she arrived here. It's an animated story of rags to riches from London back street chambermaid to courtesan at the celebrated Fairy House brothel run by her own stepmother, including time as a conjurer's assistant. Picaresque, bawdy, at times magically realist but always warm and affectionate for its sometimes reprobate characters, this is a novel, which albeit graphic retains a true sense of colour and place and pulls you along with vigour in its wake as it immerses the reader into older, momentous times. ~ Maxim Jakubowski November 2016 Book of the Month. The Lovereading view... A captivating, earthy, and striking novel set in the 18th century, one that reaches into the heart of friendship and love, and prods, provokes…inflames. Tully Truegood tells her tale from the bowels of Newgate Prison, she is desperate for one particular person to hear her story. Tully doesn't hold back, she graphically explains her route from childhood to courtesan, to alleged murderer, and some of it is uncomfortable and disturbing to hear. Wray Delaney brings Tully to vibrant, heart-rending, beautiful life, she tells her tale with a down to earth honesty, yet a fragile, sometimes chilling otherworldly presence dances over the pages. Wray Delaney is the pen name for children’s author Sally Gardner, the change of name for her first adult novel is entirely appropriate as this is most definitely an adults only, provocative read. Fascinating recipes, riddles and quotations slide into the novel, capturing the essence of the time, linking fantasy and reality. ‘An Almond For A Parrot’ is a rather spicy, yet sensitive and poignant read, and I truly do recommend introducing yourself to Tully Truegood, then settling down to hear her remarkable tale. ~ Liz Robinson
Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017. One of our Books of the Year 2016. December 2016 Debut of the Month. Dublin-wise, orphaned young man goes in search of his birth mother. He has a photograph with a note on the back and the name of a village. This is very Irish and completely charming. The village characters are beautifully drawn. Our young protagonist has a gift; he can see (and converse with) the dead. This is neither ghost story nor detective novel although both elements are present, more it is a human story of an odd community of slightly over-the-top country people who might all have something to hide. Certainly finding out what happened to his young, teenage mother proves to be tricky with most folk seeming to conceal a secret. The dead are not sinister, they are just there, being themselves. I loved the pictures the author paints, the dog lying by its master’s feet, the man trying to hang up his hat. Lovely images in a lovely debut. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
December 2016 NewGen Debut of the Month. In a Nutshell: Shocking school shooting | Heartache behind headlines A thoroughly thought-provoking tale of a family’s struggle with grief and guilt in the aftermath of an atrocious act committed by a loved one. It’s Britain, 1996, and sixteen-year-old Sam is plunged into unimaginable turmoil the day his brother Charlie walks into their school and shoots his peers before turning the gun on himself. From that fateful day, Sam’s mum lunges from denial to utter distress, while his dad shuts himself away in the garage (the moment readers discover what he was doing there will bring a lump to the throat, at the very least). In addition, the entire family is ostracised by their community. “Perhaps people thinks it’s a disease they might catch - a contagious need for death and disorder”, Sam wonders. Already eaten up by guilt - would this have happened if he’d been a better brother to Charlie? - Sam is asked not to return to school, which leaves him feeling like he’s being forced to do his brother’s life sentence. His therapist suggests that starting a new school might be his “turning point” and, as things turns out, he’s unexpectedly invited into a new social circle: “They were accepting...they offered you a place without condition or question”. But, while Sam finds strength in these new friendships, not least in his burgeoning romantic feelings for Izzy, his home life is deteriorating further, and the hate mail and abuse intensifies as a petition to ban hand-held guns gains ground nationally. This big-hearted book doesn’t shirk from tackling big issues, emotions and questions - how do we survive and recover a sense of hope through the most destructive personal tragedies? What leads an individual to commit mass murder, and where does the blame lie? What role does the media play in inciting abuse and prolonging grief? It also gives voice to the oft-forgotten victims of such tragedies, and will make readers think, and see comparable real-life events through different lens.~ Joanne Owen
A light, flirty and oh, so much fun, debut novel by model and TV presenter Abbey Clancy. 22 year old Jess, a party entertainer from Liverpool has always dreamed of being a famous singer, so she can live like a star and look after her family. When she gets offered the chance of a lifetime, will it live up to her dreams? This is a wonderfully down to earth tale, even as it explores the heady price of fame. Jess is a loveable main character, she makes plenty of mistakes along the way, yet it is easy to emphasise with her. The quick, lively wordplay makes this a very modern romantic story and an enjoyable and entertaining read.
Another lovely, heartfelt, so very readable tale from Cathy Kelly. Sisters Cassie and Coco find plenty of bumps and difficulties in their path, and slowly begin to realise how trauma from their childhood is still affecting them today. Cathy Kelly excels in creating a diverse cast of characters, with females taking centre stage. From little ones, to teenagers, sisters, Mums and Grandmothers, they all add to the inclusive cooking pot of warmth and emotion. I particularly enjoyed how several enticing small individual stories took place alongside and melded into the main one. ‘Between Sisters’ welcomes you into the pages, to become one of the family, to smile, comfort and cheer on these women, and is an engaging, charming read. ~ Liz Robinson
A delightful tasty treat of a Christmas (or any time of the year) read, set on a fascinating Cornish tidal-island village. Polly, Huckle and friends return, with Neil the Puffin often stealing the limelight, this could though, easily be a standalone read. The first few sentences stimulate your interest as an announcement is made, something bad has happened! Can “the Bad Thing” be made good in time for Christmas? Jenny Colgan excels at a light, fresh tone, yet she ensures a feeling of real life infuses the story, with twists, and bumps joining the loveliness. ‘Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery’ is an absolutely gorgeous tale, so readable and charming, and of course, you really shouldn't miss out on the chance of getting to know Neil the Puffin! ~ Liz Robinson
A spicy, amusing, magical story, just perfect for Christmas, or any time of the year. I do so enjoy a Sarah Morgan romance, you know exactly what you're going to get, yet she manages to make each novel feel fresh and new, while still comforting and warm. This is the third in the ‘From Manhattan with Love’ series, Paige and Frankie are all loved up, yet positive, romantic and lovely Eva still hasn't found the man of her dreams. Eva has been commissioned to spread the Christmas cheer in crime novelist Lucas’s apartment while he is away, however a blizzard (and a Grandmother) are conspiring to throw Lucas and Eva together. I’m a bit of crime novel addict, so Lucas and Eva were a match made in heaven for me. ‘Miracle on 5th Aveneue’ is the perfect blend of a romance, waiting, ready to put a smile in your heart and mind. ~ Liz Robinson
Makes the World Go Around
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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