Biographies and Autobiographies

In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.

May 2022 Featured Books

Menopausing

Menopausing

Author: Davina McCall Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/05/2022

'Menopausing is more than just a book, it's a movement. An uprising. Menopause affects every woman, and yet so many approach it with shame, fear, misinformation or silence. Why is no one talking about this? Who has the correct information? And how can we get it? That's how this book has come about. We are going to tell you the truth, so you can make an informed decision about your life and your body ... mic drop.' For too long, women have had to keep quiet about the menopause - its onset, its symptoms, its treatments - and what it means for us. Menopausing will build an empowered, supportive community to break this terrible silence once and for all. By exploring and explaining the science, debunking damaging myths, and smashing the taboos around the perimenopause and menopause, this book will equip women to make the most informed decisions about their health... and their lives. Menopausing will also celebrate the sharing of stories, enabling women to feel less alone and more understood, and talk openly and positively about menopause. No more scaremongering: just evidence-based info No shame: real women, real menopause stories, real empathy, real community Honest, no-holds-barred advice: Dry vagina? Zero sex drive? Hair loss? We've got it covered The start of a movement: to get everyone talking about the menopause in every home, GP surgery and workspace

I Belong Here

I Belong Here

Author: Anita Sethi Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

I knew in every bone of my body, in every fibre of my being, that I had to report what had happened, not only for myself but to help stop anyone else having to go through what I did. I knew I could not remain silent, or still, I could not stop walking through the world. A journey of reclamation through the natural landscapes of the North, brilliantly exploring identity, nature, place and belonging. Beautifully written and truly inspiring, I Belong Here heralds a powerful and refreshing new voice in nature writing. Anita Sethi was on a journey through Northern England when she became the victim of a race-hate crime. The crime was a vicious attack on her right to exist in a place on account of her race. After the event Anita experienced panic attacks and anxiety. A crushing sense of claustrophobia made her long for wide open spaces, to breathe deeply in the great outdoors. She was intent on not letting her experience stop her travelling freely and without fear. The Pennines - known as 'the backbone of Britain' runs through the north and also strongly connects north with south, east with west - it's a place of borderlands and limestone, of rivers and 'scars', of fells and forces. The Pennines called to Anita with a magnetic force; although a racist had told her to leave, she felt drawn to further explore the area she regards as her home, to immerse herself deeply in place. Anita's journey through the natural landscapes of the North is one of reclamation, a way of saying that this is her land too and she belongs in the UK as a brown woman, as much as a white man does. Her journey transforms what began as an ugly experience of hate into one offering hope and finding beauty after brutality. Anita transforms her personal experience into one of universal resonance, offering a call to action, to keep walking onwards. Every footstep taken is an act of persistence. Every word written against the rising tide of hate speech, such as this book, is an act of resistance.

eBooks of the Month
Traitor King

Traitor King

Author: Andrew Lownie Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Always compulsive, often jaw-dropping, and written in crisply readable style, Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King begins where most Edward and Wallis Simpson biographies end, for it explores the couple’s controversial lives from the Duke’s Abdication in December 1936. The author has no truck with any notion of the couple’s relationship being a “great love story”. Rather, with clarity and much evidence, the book reveals their controversies and flaws - extra-marital affairs, talk of illegitimate children, foolhardy tours of Germany, meetings with Hitler, manipulation of a murder investigation in the Bahamas. The list goes on. They’re both evidently, incorrigibly obnoxious and self-centred, with the Duke revealed as an arrogant, perilously bumbling figure who never grows up. Crucially, the author convincingly argues that in their relations with Germany, “the Windsors were not foolish and naïve, but actively engaged with the German intrigue”. Throughout readers are presented with astounding details about the couple’s decadent, self-absorbed daily lives - the arrogance of never paying bills, never tipping, and never thanking staff. Their lavish food and decor, the bespoke livery of their servants, their staged social gatherings - “with little else to occupy them, the devil was in the detail.” While the couple desired a permanent return to Britain, the Duke is horrified at the thought of ever having to pay tax, and interferes in politics, making an astonishingly ill-timed broadcast to America, and exchanging telegrams with Hitler as the world teeters on the brink of war. Though given a war-time liaison role, the Duke was considered a “serious security leak”, with Churchill believing his free movement on the continent to be a “real danger”.  As a result, the Duke was offered as job as Governor of the Bahamas, which was “regarded as a hardship posting” and “so low in the pecking order that the appointment did not even carry a knighthood”. Their arrogance persists on arrival, as does their interference in the war. They insist renovations be made to the newly-renovated Government House in Nassau. They fly in hairdressers, send clothes to be dry-cleaned in New York. Wallis does, however, engage in public life as President of the Red Cross, and roll up her sleeves to serve bacon and eggs in a canteen for airmen. Such details abound in every paragraph. Controversy continues to engulf the couple throughout their lives, as this relentlessly gripping biography reveals with incisive gusto. Traitor King is an un-put-down-able must-read for anyone interested in the British monarchy and social history.

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe

Author: Angela Kelly Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

When Angela Kelly and The Queen are together, laughter echoes through the corridors of Buckingham Palace. Angela has worked with The Queen and walked the corridors of the Royal Household for twenty-eight years, initially as Her Majesty’s Senior Dresser and then latterly as Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor, Curator, Wardrobe and In-house Designer. As the first person in history to hold this title, she shares a uniquely close working relationship with The Queen. Her Majesty has personally given Angela her blessing to share their extraordinary bond with the world. Whether it’s preparing for a formal occasion or brightening Her Majesty’s day with a playful joke, Angela’s priority is to serve and support. Sharing never-before-seen photographs – many from Angela’s own private collection – and charming anecdotes of their time spent together, this revealing book provides memorable insights into what it’s like to work closely with The Queen, to curate her wardrobe and to discover a true and lasting connection along the way. This special edition of The Other Side of the Coin has been revised and updated to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, containing previously unseen chapters covering the Royal Household’s isolation during the pandemic, Angela’s own devotion to service to keep the monarch safe, and the light and laughter that was shared behind closed doors, even in the darkest moments.

The Familia Grande

The Familia Grande

Author: Camille Kouchner Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2022

The family's secret weighs on everyone... THE FAMILIA GRANDE is a tender, groundbreaking and lacerating memoir written by a sister who could no longer remain silent... Set in amongst the French intellectual elite in Paris and their lavender scented estates in Provence, it tells a story of a corrosive secret that sits in a family for decades and ultimately razes it and the political, literary elite that enabled its silence, to the ground. Already an international bestseller, it has touched a nerve across the globe and has brought about a powerful reckoning of incest, and its far-reaching trauma. The Familia Grande is a book of a generation. 

Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History

Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History

Author: Deborah Hart Strober, Gerald Strober Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2022

Freshly updated from its original 2002 edition, Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald Strober’s Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History presents uniquely fascinating insights into a unique figure across a lifetime of experiences. Being a compendium of intimate, eyewitness accounts told by those who were there, the book has a compelling personal quality, with a smoothly readable style coming courtesy of it being an oral history.  With a global outlook and broad range of perspectives (the book gives voice to staff, family, friends and famous public figures), we enter the House of Windsor at the point of the sudden death of Princess Elizabeth’s father. Newly married, we read detailed accounts of the new Queen’s coronation and her consort, with “was the Duke of Edinburgh frustrated in his new role?” among the questions asked and answered by a range of sources. Later chapters cover broader personal and social questions – who is the Queen? What does the monarchy mean? The Queen and the institution of the Monarchy – with sections also devoted to the Queen’s relationships with Prime Ministers, her role as Defender of the Faith, life at court, the Commonwealth, and the lives and marriages of her children. Unquestionably a must-read for those who follow the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II: An Oral History is also a fascinating read for anyone interested in British social history.

The Boy With A Pound In His Pocket

The Boy With A Pound In His Pocket

Author: Jade Akoum, Joe Cusack, Ann Cusack Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Losing a child is an unthinkable, unbearable, life-changing event. Losing a child to a horrific knife crime at the hands of a so-called friend adds an extra element of heartbreak. When Yousef Makki, a bright 17-year-old with everything to live for, was stabbed through the heart by a privileged school friend in March 2019, the grief felt by his family was too much to bear. But when Yousef’s killer was cleared of all murder and manslaughter charges just months later, it awakened in them all an inner calling: to fight for justice for Yousef. Narrated by Yousef’s older sister Jade Akoum, The Boy with a Pound in his Pocket is a powerful, poignant exploration of the events leading up to and after Yousef’s killing. It is a celebration of the young man that Yousef had become, but an equally tragic account of the weaknesses that Jade’s family see rooted in the British justice system. Presented with the facts, can we really argue that wealth and class played no part in the sentencing of Yousef’s killer? And would a black teenager from a neighbouring council estate have received the same sentencing? Although this is a moving, personal story about Yousef Makki’s case, it is a hugely valuable one for society as a whole. It holds up a mirror to the system, and those working within it – but most importantly, it reminds us that knives remain a real and terrifying threat to all sections of UK society. A thought-provoking, gut-wrenching and important read.

Behind the Granite Walls

Behind the Granite Walls

Author: Jamie Morgan Kane Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

As recounted in his autobiography, 34 Years in Hell, Isle of Man-born Jamie Morgan Kane was taken to Canada as a child, then sold to an American couple whose adopted child had disappeared. So far, so shocking, with worse to come, for Jamie was sentenced to 30+ years in prison after being persuaded to plead guilty. In the introduction to Behind the Granite Walls, he explains how he came “home to find a corpse in the living room of my young family’s home”, and so his 34 years of hell began. Telling all about his experiences in US prison, Behind the Granite Walls was written in response to the countless people who all had the same question – what was it really like in prison? With clarity and honesty, that’s exactly what this memoir does. We read of the day-to-day experiences of what Jamie and his fellow inmates did to survive, the violence, the toll on mental health, the relationships formed and lost, and the lessons learned. We also learn the secrets of prison tattoos - what they symbolise, the allegiances they represent. Fascinating stuff. Often shocking, this answers the question the author intended to with raw candour.

Through A Vet's Eyes

Through A Vet's Eyes

Author: Dr Sean Wensley, Miranda Krestovnikoff Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

'A compelling account of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of life as a vet - and a lesson to us all on how we should treat the animals with which we share our lives.' - Stephen Moss, naturalist and author Dr Sean Wensley is an award-winning vet and lifelong naturalist who has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects all over the world. His debut book is about how we can choose a better life for animals, from the chickens we eat to the pets we keep. As our societies become more urbanised, we are further removed from the reality of where and how our food is produced. Surveys suggest that nearly 1 in 4 UK adults don't know that bacon comes from pigs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the humanisation of our pets is a risk to their welfare; with over 60% of UK dogs being overweight or obese, we are effectively killing them with kindness. Through A Vet's Eyes seeks to redress this imbalance so that we see all animals as thinking, feeling beings not dissimilar to ourselves. As he takes us through the years in which he trained to become a vet, and set against a backdrop of inspiring natural spectacles, Dr Wensley shares his first-hand experience of how animals are treated and used for our benefit. He interrogates the different levels of welfare afforded to them and reveals how we the general consumer can reduce our animal welfare footprint through the choices we make every day.

Riding Out

Riding Out

Author: Simon Parker Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/04/2022

Simon Parker’s 3,400 mile bike ride which begins and ends at Muckle Flugga in Shetland would have been remarkable at any time. Instead he ventures out into the murky throes of a pandemic, pursued by his own troubles which are then further exacerbated by news of a close friend’s death. His journey, like all journeys, is a metaphor for life, a journey of self discovery interwoven with observation and the freedom granted by just ‘passing through’. This metaphor is brought into sharp focus when he is unable to attend the funeral of his friend but pays his respects from a pavement. It is a heartbreaking picture that like much of the book exposes the author’s vulnerability but also the truth that every moment is a crossroads - even when it’s an ending. Despite some moments of darkness the book is very humorous and Parker spins many a good yarn as he pedals down and then back up the country. Collectively the land is broken, fractured by a virus, confused by rules and moral dilemmas, tormented by grief and worry. In all this our traveller finds hope through adventure. Somehow by threading his way around our island it is as if the author has stitched it back together again, patching things up and making it strong once more. Riding Out can be read as an inspiring cycling travelogue, but it is also a record of a very strange time for which many of us paid a price, not only for a lockdown bike, but with our mental health.

See No Stranger

See No Stranger

Author: Valarie Kaur Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Valarie Kaur before reading her memoir, See No Stranger. She’s led a fascinating life: from a childhood in California and university education at Stamford, to becoming a legal observer at Guantanamo Bay and documentary-maker on gun violence and racial injustice. Kaur is now a renowned activist championing compassion. Her rallying cry in See No Stranger is for us to embrace ‘revolutionary love’ – a philosophy to show love to everyone, even our enemies. Kaur’s own troubling experiences make her pledge to end animosity all the more applaudable, and she provides steps on how we can reach that stage. Readers who enjoy memoir mixed with self-help and spirituality will find Kaur’s kind words a balm for these divisive times. 

Come Sail With Me

Come Sail With Me

Author: Wendy Leo-Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/09/2021

Adventures and challenges of a life at sea, ‘Come Sail With Me’ by Wendy Leo-Smith describes the moment the author accepts an opportunity to sail a small racing yacht to Brazil from Gran Canaria. Life onboard and its challenges are described as well as the relationship with Rory, the ship’s owner and only other crew. This is an interesting read for armchair travellers and sailing aficionados, the author describes the trials and tribulations of sailing, the myriad of things that break, the temperamental weather and the vital hard graft as well as the moments of peace, stunning experiences of nature and far flung destinations. The author manages to maintain the diary style format when creating ‘Come Sail With Me’ and I found this writing style and format easy to enjoy while it also clearly sets out how much time has passed. Having read about this experience from a different perspective in ‘Jabula’ by Rory Leo-Smith, I found that ‘Come Sail With Me’ went into more detail about the day-to-day life aboard the Zingara. The entertaining trials in order to sort out the laundry, Bella, Zingara’s feline mascot, the Rio carnival and the ventures to find Sloths are just some of the details that I think help this book to appeal to a broader audience interested in travel. There’s a relatable tone to ‘Come Sail With Me’ and I found this a very well-rounded account that I think fans of travel as well as fans of sailing would enjoy. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love

April 2022 Featured Books

Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies

Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies

Author: Stewart Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/04/2022

The longest-reigning monarch in European history! If the news about Harry, William, Kate, Meghan, and the rest of the British royals has you wondering about how this latest generation of princes, princesses, dukes, and duchesses got their start, you’re not alone. Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies takes you on a fascinating journey through the life of Great Britain’s longest-serving monarch. You’ll find revealing stories about Queen Elizabeth II’s family background, her childhood, early ascension to the throne, and her role during times of national crisis and triumph. The book combines must-know facts about the monarchy with details of the remarkable woman who has held the crown for over 68 years (and counting). You’ll also read about: Where shows like The Crown stay true-to-life and where they take artistic liberties with historical fact Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with Prince Charles, the late Prince Phillip, Princess Diana, and the thousands of famous figures she has encountered during her reign The subtle and at times controversial role of a hereditary Head of State in a democracy Perfect for anyone with an interest in the monarchy, British governance, power and society, leadership, or the resurgence of the British monarchy in popular culture, Queen Elizabeth II For Dummies is a cracking read full of trivia, secrets, and history that puts one of the most central figures of the 20th and 21st centuries in the palm of your hand.

My Name Is Why: Quick Reads 2022

My Name Is Why: Quick Reads 2022

Author: Lemn Sissay Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

SPECIALLY ABRIDGED FOR QUICK READS How does a government steal a child and then imprison him? How does it keep it a secret? This story is how. This story is true. My Name Is Why is a true story about growing up in care and fighting to succeed despite the cruelty and failures of the care system.

The Life of an MP

The Life of an MP

Author: Jess Phillips Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

'This book is here to take you inside the daily realities of Westminster. I don't mean that it's going to bore you to death with a blow by blow account of what it's like to sit on the Statutory Instrument Debate on Naval regulations 1968-2020 - but to demystify the places and practice of politics.' From agonising decisions on foreign air strikes to making headlines about orgasms, from sitting in on history-making moments at the UN to eating McCain potato smiles at a black-tie banquet in China, the life of a politician is never dull. And it's also never been more important. But politics is far bigger than Westminster, and in this book Jess Phillips makes the compelling case for why now, more than ever, we all need to be a part of it. With trademark humour and honesty, Jess Phillips lifts the lid on what a career in politics is really like and why it matters - to all of us. This is the inside story of what's really going on.

Cops and Horrors

Cops and Horrors

Author: Matt Calveley Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

In recent times, I’ve read several thought provoking police auto-biographies which describe careers where the author climbed the ranks and achieved high office. As a result, they did not reveal what life was like for the 30-year, career constable who spends his, or her, working life at the sharp-end. Many, I know, enjoy reading about what life is really like in our police service, but would like to hear from someone who wasn’t promoted and who remained in uniform, serving the public. This is the book they have been waiting for. Cops and Horrors fills a void and does so extremely well. From routine day-to-day tasks through to adrenalin-fuelled car chases, this book demonstrates the huge range of responsibilities and roles the modern-day police officer is expected to perform well, without fear or favour, and without making a mistake. I found the one-off use of present tense in the prologue to 'Cops and Horrors' to be a little clunky and, in the opening chapters, the narrative is quite slow. However, this is, however, a book to keep reading because the pace soon increases and it gets better and better, as you progress. It’s informative, enlightening and exciting. It is harrowing, emotionally charged and, at times, tragic. I loved it! Highly recommended.

Books of the Month
Brazen

Brazen

Author: Julia Haart Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/04/2022

“I felt deep within my heart that this story could inspire others to change their lives, to go for their dreams, and to not wait for permission”. So writes Julia Haart, star of Netflix's My Unorthodox Life, in the welcoming, inspiration-charged foreword to her autobiography.  This intention is certainly borne out through Brazen as it takes readers on a poignantly personal journey, revealing how “my present is defined by my past”, where the past was defined by Haart’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish upbringing, and where the present sees her co-owning and leading the Elite World Group modelling agency. Incredibly honest about her experiences and emotions (“I wish I hadn’t spent the first 42 years of my life in utter misery), Haart’s account of her family history and early life are fascinating. Her Russian father was a “committed and faithful Communist”, her maternal grandmother was a dancer in the Bolshoi. Her parents found Judaism to replace Communism, at a time when religion was illegal. After risking their lives for Judaism, they embraced Orthodoxy, which meant every aspect of Haart’s life was controlled, and led to her marrying a man she barely knew at just 19.  After 23 years in the marriage, and sparked by fears for her daughters’ futures, Haart decided enough was enough. Having had the foresight to build a “freedom fund”, she founded a shoe brand within a week and, just a few years later, became of Creative Director of La Perla. That’s some meteoric rise, but one Haart had really been working towards all her life. An ode to believing in yourself, believing in your dreams, and it never being too late to transform your life, Brazen, with its soul-bearing, cathartic style, is set to inspire.

The Art of Crime Diary of A Prison Art Tutor

The Art of Crime Diary of A Prison Art Tutor

Author: Steven Tafka Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Packed with insights, surprises and a darkly witty sense of the absurd, Steven Tafka's The Art of Crime documents his experiences as a prison art tutor in a frank and often funny style. “I was a qualified teacher, I’d done my PGCE, I had years of experience as a lecturer in art and design, but nothing in my training quite prepared me for this” — and so the scene is set for a unique and often extraordinary diary-style book. A book that served as a tool for the author’s own survival of extremely challenging circumstances. From the author’s first moments in prison, any idealist notions of his tutoring role are quickly crushed. The conditions are often brutal, as are the crimes of the inmates he works with — murderers, gangsters and violent armed robbers whose art often reveals what they’ve done and how they feel about their offences. There are small triumphs, and big setbacks; monumental psychological strain, and life-affirming successes, and all shot-through with a sense of pride, humanity and the power of finding a creative outlet. A fascinating read for anyone who needs to know what art is for.

Out of Isolation A Charity Anthology

Out of Isolation A Charity Anthology

Author: Susie Coreth Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/03/2022

Out of Isolation: A Charity Anthology is a collection of poems, essays, diaries and personal reflections from well-known writers, all written during the Covid-19 pandemic. This book provided me with much-needed distraction over a weekend, away from the rest of the world, as I dipped in and out of its written treasures. It took me on a literary journey across time and space. All of the entries were thought-provoking and beautifully written. The most poignant contributions for me included the anonymous contribution by a junior doctor, the diary of a complicated pregnancy, and an amusing poem about being stuck inside during lockdown, when you're naturally an outdoors person (with an outdoors dog) - these are real people leading seemingly ordinary lives struggling to cope with the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic and its impact, particularly on mental health. The anthology is raising money for the charity Shout 8528, which offers free 24/7 mental health text support in the UK. 

The Slow Road to Tehran A Revelatory Bike Ride through Europe and the Middle East

The Slow Road to Tehran A Revelatory Bike Ride through Europe and the Middle East

Author: Rebecca Lowe Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/03/2022

This is a brilliant travel adventure that scratches so far beneath the surface it might have struck oil. Rebecca Lowe’s rich knowledge of the Middle East is fascinating enough in itself to keep the pages turning, but add to that a rookie cyclist going for a risk-filled 11,000km ride to Iran and the results are not only culturally enlightening but hilarious. The author has a wickedly witty style that weaves effortlessly between her day to day travails and the people, mosques and historical sites that she seeks out to bring Islamic history to life. A talented journalist, Lowe is equipped to cut through the media image of the region that we have lazily settled for, and her description of why the bicycle is the best way to uncover what somewhere is truly like is the best I have read. Her observations in places once held under Ottoman rule, or in cities such as Venice where Muslim commerce made such an impression, turn the dial from negative towards positive in measuring the impact the Muslim world has had on western heritage and economies. There is an ingenious arc to this book from an early conversation with Muslim ‘outsiders’ in France to her own experience as an outsider in Tehran where western journalists are met with suspicion. Ultimately The Slow Road to Tehran follows a path full of human kindness, bravery and compassion through a world unnecessarily divided.

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century

The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century

Author: Jessica Vincent Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/03/2022

This is an impressive collection of travel writing taken from British media which finds untold stories in all corners of the world. Night trains, diving, pilgrimages, coastal walks … the Congo, Iraq, Kent, the Ganges… this single volume hits you hard with the overwhelming possibilities of travel with no less than thirty brilliant writers assembled. This century brought fresh challenges for these journalists in a world well-explored and now widely reported by visitors with bucket lists and armed with social media. But good writing is good writing, and here it is in abundance seeking out characters landscapes and histories converging in a fast-changing world and requiring a special talent to nail down. It may seem a little early in the century to be presenting such a compilation but of course the pandemic has provided a natural break for travellers to be still and reflect. For once, editor Jessica Vincent was spending more time reading than writing and this led to a reassessment of her motives for travel - not to tick off sights and cover as much ground as possible in an endless drive to ’see’ or ‘move’ - but the true essence of travel - which she says is to feel. Co-editor Levison Wood had a similar experience exploring from his armchair and finding a new level of appreciation for his own adventures and the stories that inspired him. You will also be inspired by these stories, perhaps to read more and learn more, or even to travel, but most of all to feel.

Roger The Boxer: I am just passing through

Roger The Boxer: I am just passing through

Author: Roger Canon Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/01/2022

An autobiographical narrative with plenty of highs and lows. ‘Roger the Boxer: I am just passing through’ by Roger Canon is an open and honest, no holds barred, no nonsense reflection by the author on his life. Filled with colourful characters and told by someone who was a part of a colourful crowd, this is Roger the Boxer’s story. There are elements of self reflection throughout and although truthfully describing the scrapes and predicaments he finds himself in over the years I liked that the author managed to maintain a more neutral tone - neither glorifying nor excessively condemning his past. Running through his early life, his time in the boxing ring and on the rugby pitch, his tendencies towards violence and use of cocaine, his prison sentence and how he steadily turned his life around and built a successful business. Throughout, Canon portrays himself in a way that's relatable - he’s a human, who has made a lot of mistakes, but has hopefully managed to learn from them and worked on healing their root causes. ‘Roger the Boxer: I am just passing through’ is an interesting read, the life and times of a working class Cockney battled through in ‘a mostly catastrophic manner’. This book delivered insight into a world and perspective I would not have known previously, from the obvious to the author’s seemingly straightforward experience of acquiring his first mortgage. I think that this is an illuminating read for fans of autobiographies. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
You Only Live Thrice Perspective is a Superpower

You Only Live Thrice Perspective is a Superpower

Author: Karl Perry Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/12/2021

 ‘You Only Live Thrice Perspective is a Superpower’ by Karl Perry is the author’s account of undergoing procedures to attempt to correct atrial fibrillation, followed by surviving a cardiac arrest and the heart bypass that followed. Having a close relative experience a heart attack around a year ago, I could relate to and understand the experiences and thoughts that the author describes throughout the book as well as some of the procedures described. I can relate most to witnessing the change in perspective, the letting go of the little stressors (for the most part) and a shift in focus towards the bigger picture. There’s plenty of irreverence and humour at the different awkward situations experienced during his hospital stay alongside the difficulty and worry. I found Chapter 13 and the account of Perry’s cardiac arrest written by his wife to be particularly poignant and emotive. Although the author’s heart issues and recovery from them are the main focus of this book, the author also goes on to include the loss of his mother and the closing of his business as part of this memoir. The writing throughout is open, reflective and despite dealing with loss, pain and trauma has an uplifting tone. The author’s intention to grow from these negative life events and the milestones and achievements that the author has managed to achieve since his cardiac arrest are truly inspiring and demonstrates the power of changing his perspective. This really is an encouraging read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Finding Fame

Finding Fame

Author: Paul Baker Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/11/2021

‘Finding Fame’ by Paul Baker Is a memoir and a look into how one man throughout the many varied experiences of his life managed to find F.A.M.E: Failure, Ambition, Mindset and Exercise. From early years at school to a military career and expeditions to summit Mt Blanc and reach Everest Base Camp, the author reflects on his life and how the discipline and determination taught to him in his earlier years have led him to overcome the challenges he’s faced. Covering the changes in the education system and the removal of corporal punishment to training to be awarded the Kyokushinkai Karate black belt at 16, to military training, his various tours and right up until COVID 19 cut short a ski trip in 2020, this book covers a lot of ground. I liked the chapter ‘Does He Fight It?’ but would have perhaps liked to see it placed at the start of the book, so that the stories can develop from there as opposed to there being a bit of repetition at the end. The author is a fierce advocate of discipline and determination, taught to him through various sporting pursuits, as a way of developing a positive mindset that allows you to continue to grow as a person. Written in a way that’s intended to inspire the reader to identify their own goals and ambitions, to expect knockbacks and to keep going in order to achieve what you really want in life. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Broken Alliances Inside the Rise and Fall of a Global Automotive Empire

Broken Alliances Inside the Rise and Fall of a Global Automotive Empire

Author: Carlos Ghosn, Philippe Ries Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/10/2021

A detailed exploration into the dramatic removal of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn in 2019. ‘Broken Alliances Inside the Rise and Fall of a Global Automotive Empire’ by Carlos Ghosn, Philippe Ries provides an incredibly detailed insight into the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and the events which led to Ghosn becoming the most famous fugitive on the planet when her fled house arrest in Japan. I was previously vaguely aware of Carlos Ghosn, but the full details of this scandal and shock-filled story had passed me by. I found this book to be incredibly well researched and laid out in a way that someone less familiar with the story could follow. The personal insight from Carlos Ghosn added an extra dimension to the clear and comprehensive context and narrative. The mix of business, industry, politics and national identity is a heady one, with lots of parts in play and potential for pitfalls throughout this Franco-japanese alliance. Perhaps from naivety, I was surprised that the respective governments are so involved in the car manufacturing industry and even more shocked at the workings of the Japanese judicial system throughout ‘Broken Alliances’. An alliance between car manufacturers saved Nissan in the 1990s, but when the companies began to show promise, with expansion led by Ghosn from US, China and Russia to Brazil, Morocco and Thailand, it would seem that Japan wants its companies back, by any means at its disposal. An enlightening and shocking look into a modern business and motoring history that is a must read for any motoring enthusiast. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Black, White, And Gray All Over; A Black Man's Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement

Black, White, And Gray All Over; A Black Man's Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement

Author: Frederick Douglass Reynolds Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/08/2021

‘Black, White, And Gray All Over; A Black Man's Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement’ by Frederick Douglass Reynolds is an interesting and informative insight into Reynolds’ experiences as a Black police officer in Compton, USA. The murder of George Floyd in 2020 by police officer Derek Chauvin made the news around the world and acted as a catalyst for widespread protests and calls for changes to policing. The author uses this as a starting off point for this book and an opportunity for him to reflect on his experiences growing up in Detroit and later as a police officer in Compton. Reynolds’ childhood sees him fall into the wrong crowd, which could have led to him taking a very different path. However, through the early sections of the book we see him join the Marines Corps as an infantryman and later Compton PD. This isn’t a complete turnaround in circumstances as the author talks through his experiences of homelessness and the unhealthy coping mechanisms developed by so many officers in order to mitigate the trauma of what they see during their shifts. Alongside Reynolds personal challenges and accomplishments we see the challenges faced by the police department as a whole, impacted by police and municipal corruption which led to the disbanding of Compton PD in 2000, it moving under the umbrella of the Los Angeles Sheriff's department. A lot of detail is packed into this memoir, not mentioned above is the author’s experiences as a bodyguard for Death Row records, experiences of specific call-outs and cases and so much more. I found ‘Black, White, And Gray All Over’ to be an interesting insight into the experiences of a US police officer and I thought that the author was open and honest throughout. The inclusion of life “behind the scenes” as it were, the hazing of certain officers’ lockers and the replication of their, sometimes expletive filled, speech helped to lend the book more authenticity. This is a revealing look into the experiences of a highly decorated Black police officer, and anyone interested in American culture and society may find this book of great interest. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Dolly Parton, Songteller

Dolly Parton, Songteller

Author: Dolly Parton Format: Audiobook Release Date: 17/11/2020

A Recorded Books Audio Original production of songs and stories performed by Dolly herself, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics goes beyond the glitz, glamour, and rhinestones to the warmth, heart, and soul of a treasured pop-culture icon. In this exclusive audio performance, the ten-time Grammy Award-winning artist weaves her words with music and memories to give listeners the stories behind the stories of her most cherished songs. And with some 3,000 songs to her credit, Dolly uses her gift for lyrics to connect to people of all genders, generations, and geographies. Showcasing nearly 100 of her most popular songs, including "Jolene," "I Will Always Love You," "9 to 5," and "Coat of Many Colors," to name a few, this one-of-a-kind audio experience delivers answers to fans' most burning questions: How close did Dolly come to singing "I Will Always Love You" as a duet with Elvis? How did she become an actress? And exactly who was Jolene? Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is a must-have memoir for fans of country music, music history, and (of course!) Dolly herself.

Audiobooks of the Month

March 2022 Featured Books

In the Thick of It

In the Thick of It

Author: Alan Duncan Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2022

As Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Alan Duncan was once described as Boris Johnson's 'pooper-scooper'. For two years, he deputised for the then Foreign Secretary, now Prime Minister. Few are more attuned to Boris's strengths and weaknesses as a minister and his suitability for high office than the man who helped clear up his mistakes. Riotously candid, these diaries cover the most turbulent period in recent British political history - from the eve of the referendum in 2016 to the UK's eventual exit from the EU. As two prime ministers fall, two general elections unfold and a no-confidence vote is survived, Duncan records a treasure-trove of insider gossip, giving biting and often hilarious accounts of petty rivalries, poor decision-making, big egos, and big crises. Nothing escapes Alan's acerbic gaze. Across these unfiltered daily entries, he builds a revealing and often profound picture of UK politics and personalities. A rich seam of high politics and low intrigue, this is an account from deep inside the engine room of power.

Appetite

Appetite

Author: Ed Balls Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

Ed Balls was just three weeks old when he tried his first meal: pureed roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. While perhaps ill-advised by modern weaning standards, it worked for him in 1967, and from that moment on he was hooked on food. Appetite is a memoir with a twist: part autobiography, part cookbook, each chapter is a recipe that tells a story. Ed was taught to cook by his mother, and now he’s passing these recipes on to his own children as they start to fly the nest. Sitting round the table year after year, the world around us may change, but great recipes last a lifetime. Appetite is a celebration of love, family, and really good food.

Audiobooks of the Month
Queen of Our Times

Queen of Our Times

Author: Robert Hardman Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2022

The definitive biography of Her Majesty The Queen by one of Britain’s leading royal authorities. With original insights from those who know her best, new interviews with world leaders and access to unseen papers, bestselling author Robert Hardman explores the full, astonishing life of our longest reigning monarch in this compellingly authoritative yet intimate biography. Elizabeth II was not born to be queen. Yet from her accession as a young mother of two in 1952 to the age of Covid-19, she has proved an astute and quietly determined figure, leading her family and her people through more than seventy years of unprecedented social change. She has faced constitutional crises, confronted threats against her life, rescued the Commonwealth, seen her prime ministers come and go, charmed world leaders, been criticised as well as feted by the media, and steered her family through a lifetime in the public eye. Queen of Our Times is a must-read study of dynastic survival and renewal, spanning abdication, war, romance, danger and tragedy. It is a compelling portrait of a leader who remains as intriguing today as the day she came to the throne aged twenty-five.

The Instant

The Instant

Author: Amy Liptrot Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Wishing to leave behind the quiet isolation of her Orkney island life, Amy Liptrot books a one-way flight to Berlin. Searching for new experiences, inspiration and love, she rents a loftbed in a shared flat and looks for work. She explores the streets, nightclubs and parks and seeks out the city's wildlife - goshawks, raccoons and hooded crows. She looks for love through the screen of her laptop. Over the course of a year Amy makes space hoping for the unexpected. And it comes with an erotic jolt, in the form of a love affair that obsesses her. The Instant is an unapologetic look at the addictive power of love and lust. It is also an exploration of the cycles of the moon, the flight paths of migratory birds, the mesmerising power of Neolithic stonework and the trails followed by a generation who exist online.

The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime

Author: Vaseem Khan, Maxim Jakubowski Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

It’s rub your hands in glee time with this collection of 22 hugely engaging and eloquent crime stories from around the world. The editors for this book are Maxim Jakubowski who is current chair of the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), author, and former publisher, and Vaseem Khan author of two crime series set in India, co-host of the Red Hot Chilli Writers podcast, and who currently sits on the board of the CWA. In their introductions, Maxim and Vaseem both note that until this century, there was a lack of diversity in crime writing. Maxim says that he is privileged to have witnessed an explosion of crime writing by authors of all colours and ethnic backgrounds which has encouraged a new readership in the process. While Vaseem speaks more personally about his journey into publishing and is passionate about literature being a powerful means to change society for the better. Together they have invited authors from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds to contribute, and in reading these stories you can not only travel the globe but also experience new thoughts and feelings. Some of the authors are well known to me, and particular favourites, so I immediately turned to their fabulous tales. That’s the joy of an anthology isn’t it, dipping in and out, returning, sinking in and letting go. Then I explored the stories where I hadn’t yet met the author’s writing. Oh boy, what a reading thrill that was, I will most definitely be keeping an eye out for them in the future. With an assortment of writing styles, locations, times in history, and characters, the plots sizzle and evoke a variety of emotions. The Perfect Crime comes with a massive thumbs up from me and marches straight in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book.

Star Books
The Old Man And Me

The Old Man And Me

Author: Jason Wilson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Few of us stop to think about the effect a life of crime has on a gangster’s family. To the police, Spencer was a ‘villain’ who made a lot of money through the drug trade and other criminal activities. To society, he was a parasite, someone who preyed on the vulnerable, exploiting their desires and addictions for his own gain. To Jason, his son, he was simply ‘the old man’, a mystery, an absent father, and someone he wanted to look up to. The Old Man and Me explores Jason’s journey into his father’s world as he discovers why a man who prized freedom would spend repeated and ever-lengthening periods in prison, and how he made a fortune yet ended up with nothing. At times harrowing, this is, nevertheless, a revealing insight into a criminal underworld many would never imagine existed.

The Dark Queens

The Dark Queens

Author: Shelley Puhak Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Reading Dark Queens by Shelley Puhak, I found myself astounded that the two women at the centre of the book ­– Brunhild and Fredegund – are not known far and wide. This isn’t the kind of feminist retelling of well-known stories we rightly lap up today. It’s simply a telling; proof of their existence at all – and I soaked up every detail. Puhak takes us to Merovingian France during the 6th Century. In this most bloody of bloody Middle Ages, the Romans have left a power vacuum, and the Franks are fighting among themselves for the spoils. This is not a world we would assume is for women, who are normally depicted sewing and sitting dutifully beside their husbands. Brunhild and Fredegund are out to stake their claim to power, with brutal consequences. It’s fascinating how these female characters seem as though they were fashioned in our modern-day image – women who wielded real power and shaped the people and land they presided over for decades. It’s thanks to Puhak’s wonderfully detailed storytelling that we are so engaged. I loved the countless other characters, too, whose lives could fill a dozen sequels. Required reading, for lovers of medieval fiction and non-fiction alike.

I'm the Yorkshire Ripper

I'm the Yorkshire Ripper

Author: Robin Perrie, Alfie James Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Many people have an obsession with true crime books and TV shows and it's easy to see why - a natural curiosity about human nature and what could prompt someone to commit heinous crimes, especially murder. I'm the Yorkshire Ripper explores the mindset of Peter Sutcliffe who died in 2020. He murdered 13 women and attempted to murder seven others (maybe more). As with all crime books, this one is filled with plot twists, red herrings, missed clues and cliffhangers, and it's easy to forget that this is fact not fiction and that these are real events, real places and real people. Using Sutcliffe's own words and the words of people around him (including family, friends and police), along with indepth background material, this is an exploration of his life and the murders he committed. For me, one of the most disturbing aspects of the book is how Sutcliffe had no emotional concept of his victims' tragic deaths at his own hands. Fortunately, this book gives his victims a 'voice' (along wth photographs) to ensure they won't be forgotten. A fascinating, compelling read. 

Albert & the Whale

Albert & the Whale

Author: Philip Hoare Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR AN OBSERVER BEST ART BOOK OF 2021 An illuminating exploration of the intersection between life, art and the sea from the award-winning author of Leviathan. 'This is a wonderful book. A lyrical journey into the natural and unnatural world' Patti Smith Albrecht Durer changed the way we saw nature through art. From his prints in 1498 of the plague ridden Apocalypse - the first works mass produced by any artist - to his hyper-real images of animals and plants, his art was a revelation: it showed us who we are but it also foresaw our future. It is a vision that remains startlingly powerful and seductive, even now. In Albert & the Whale, Philip Hoare sets out to discover why Durer's art endures. He encounters medieval alchemists and modernist poets, eccentric emperors and queer soul rebels, ambassadorial whales and enigmatic pop artists. He witnesses the miraculous birth of Durer's fantastical rhinoceros and his hermaphroditic hare, and he traces the fate of the star-crossed leviathan that the artist pursued. And as the author swims from Europe to America and beyond, these prophetic artists and downed angels provoke awkward questions. What is natural or unnatural? Is art a fatal contract? Or does it in fact have the power to save us? With its wild and watery adventures, its witty accounts of amazing cultural lives and its delight in the fragile beauty of the natural world, Albert & the Whale offers glorious, inspiring insights into a great artist, and his unerring, sometimes disturbing gaze.

Top Girl

Top Girl

Author: Danielle Marin Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Top Girl is a shocking and harrowing account of an impressionable teenage girl's descent into a world of drugs, gangs and crime. Danielle Martin talks honestly about life in London's gangland and how so many vulnerable children are seeking ways to survive in this brutal world. Most importantly, she talks about how she eventually managed to climb her way out of it, providing hope and reassurance that this is possible. Top Girl provides a valuable insight into gang culture - how members use violence and illegal dealings to make money, yet also provide support and protection for one another. The book is highly readable, and I was very invested in Danielle's life, from grammar-school girl to a high-profile drug dealer. Top Girl is the ideal read for anyone who wants to understand what leads so many vulnerable children and teenagers to be sucked into this culture - and how to give them a stable, positive future. Top Girl is a difficult read but it's also an important one - for teenagers, parents, teachers, social workers and anyone trying to change children's lives for the better.

In The Shadow of the Mountain

In The Shadow of the Mountain

Author: Silvia Vasquez-Lavado Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Silvia grew up in Peru, suffered sexual abuse between the ages of 6 and 10 by a family friend. This is such a vivid and honest story which must have taken such strength and courage to write. We join Silvia on her journey to the warrior and absolute "badass" she is today, healing her trauma through nature. Climbing over the Hillary Bridge for the first time to Everest in  2005 Silvia felt at home, that she could breathe more easily, and that for the first time in her life, the shadow of the mountain overpowered her shadow of trauma and she realised your trauma isn’t the same as your identity. Silvia set up her non profit Courageous Girls and tells of the incredible experience hiking to Everest base camp with other survivors of sexual violence. It's a physically tough and emotional journey where the team form an incredible bond and you appreciate fully that sisterhood is not just a phrase. She went on to become one of the first women in the world to climb the Seven Summits. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Selena Gomez who calls Silvia "a warrior", you can't help but love everything she has achieved thus far. And you cant wait to see what comes next. I want to press this book into the hands of everyone I know." The LoveReading LitFest invited Silvia to the festival to talk about In The Shadow of the Mountain. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

Star Books

There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!

Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.