Literary Fiction

This is where you will find stunning books from literary masters past and present. Literary fiction doesn’t just mean good or valued, as brilliant writing can be found in any genre. These are serious stories with high artistic qualities that strike at the heart of what it is to be human.

October 2021 Featured Books

The Manningtree Witches

The Manningtree Witches

Author: A. K. Blakemore Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/10/2021

WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2021 England, 1643. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation. In Manningtree, depleted of men since the Civil War began, the women are left to their own devices and Rebecca West chafes against the drudgery of her days. But when Matthew Hopkins arrives, asking bladed questions and casting damning accusations, mistrust and unease seep into the lives of the women. Caught between betrayal and persecution, what must Rebecca West do to survive?

In Every Mirror She's Black

In Every Mirror She's Black

Author: Lola Akinmade Akerstrom Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/10/2021

Through the finely-nuanced narratives of three Black women from very different backgrounds, Lola Akinmade Åkerström's In Every Mirror She’s Black is a remarkable feat of fiction. Teeming with hope, desire, struggle and love, this powerful page-turner pulls no punches as its engagingly three-dimensional characters strive for better lives in a world that makes it anything but easy for them to be themselves. It also dismantles any notion of there being a monolithic Black culture, and lays bare the unjust multiple standards by which Black women are judged - and all this through dazzling story-telling that will leave readers desperate to read the author’s next novel. The three female protagonists are linked by one wealthy man - Jonny Lundin, born into one of Sweden’s most privileged families, and CEO of the country’s biggest marketing company. Bored and frustrated by work, and by the men she meets on US dating apps, award-winning marketing executive Kemi is ripe for change when Jonny invites her to become his new Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion. While on a flight to woo Kemi from America to Stockholm, Jonny encounters Brittany, a former model who now works as a first-class flight attendant. Initially dismissive of Jonny’s attention, she finds herself drawn to him - he seems to worship the ground she walks on, and lavishes her with unimaginable devotion and wealth. Then there’s refugee Muna, who lost her mother and younger brother during a treacherous sea crossing, and now works as a cleaner in Jonny’s office, while dreaming of becoming an accountant and having a group of good friends. True to life, the women variously make mistakes, face excruciating decisions, and long to feel fulfilled. Their finely-drawn stories are equally as engaging as they struggle to feel at home in a city that’s supposedly egalitarian, but turns out to be rife with implicit racism, tokenism, and injurious stereotyping. Riveting, moving and stirring (with punch-packing endings you won’t see coming), In Every Mirror She’s Black is a magnificent must-read.

Debut Books of the Month
Robinson Crusoe A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Robinson Crusoe A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Author: Daniel Defoe Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Michael Morpugo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom is just one of the very many stories for adults and children alike that have been inspired by Daniel Defoe’s classic shipwreck story. Written over 300 years ago, the story of Robinson Crusoe, an impulsive young man who runs away to sea against the best efforts of his parents to stop him, is packed full of gripping action as Crusoe survives the worst the elements throw  at him before he is shipwrecked on an apparently uninhabited island. The story of Crusoe’s life on an island is a lyrical study of a place as well as an inspiring story of one man’s resourcefulness. In this adapted edition award-winning illustrator Robert Inkpen’s illustrations bring Daniel Defoe’s classic story to life in timeless images. 

Gulliver's Travels A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Gulliver's Travels A Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classic

Author: Jonathan Swift Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

When ship’s surgeon Gulliver sets off across the seas in search of adventure he has little idea what he will find. His two greatest discoveries are the countries of Lilliput and Brobdingnag.  In Lilliput he finds a population of tiny people to whom he appears as a giant while in Brobdingnag the roles are reversed: Gulliver is tiny and Brobdingnags are giants.  Swift uses Gulliver’s descriptions of his experiences in these contrasting countries to write a satirical commentary on his own society. His use of Gulliver’s altered relative size gives great scope for studying everyday events in a new way and makes a fine vantage point for telling the contrasting stories. Gulliver is an iconic figure in literature. Read aloud, this abridged edition with is impressionistic yet detailed illustrations by Robert Ingpen will make an excellent way to introduce the story about him to young readers.

Books of the Month
Lemon

Lemon

Author: Kwon Yeo-sun Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Taking in the absurdities of life, misfortune and tragedy, Kwon Yeo-sun’s Lemon is an engaging, read-in-one-sitting novella of remarkable intensity. In some regards, it’s a crime novel, but one that turns the genre on its head to create an enigmatic emotional puzzle in which a woman warped by grief engages with the person she believes killed her sister. Back in 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became called the High School Beauty Murder. There were only ever two suspects, one of whom had an alibi, while no evidence was found to convict the second, so the case was never solved. Seventeen years later, Kim Hae-on’s younger sister, Da-on, remains utterly eaten up by the murder. Her life is on hold, her mind trapped in twisted stasis. Fixated on finding out what happened to her sister, she discovers unexpected truths that strike her to the core. Told from multiple perspectives and times, the story sparks with descriptive perfection, such as this evocation of the victim: “She was very pretty, but not in a typical way. How could I describe it? Her beauty was urgent, precarious, like the piercing wail of a speeding ambulance. I could not look away”.  It also swirls with powerful undercurrents of raw emotion - desperation, regret, longing, guilt, the brutal ripples of grief. Presented in all their ludicrous complexities, such raw states are overlaid with the mundanities of everyday life. Though short, this is an intensely gripping and profound reading experience. As Lemon ponders: “Couldn’t each moment we’re living now be the meaning of life?”

Debut Books of the Month
Silverview

Silverview

Author: John le Carré Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the City for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian's evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish emigre living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian's family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise. When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . . Silverview is the mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience and between public duty and private morals. In this last complete masterwork from the greatest chronicler of our age, John le Carre asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.

Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body

Author: Jeffrey Archer Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/10/2021

An unputdownable story of murder, revenge and betrayal from international number one bestseller Jeffrey Archer. THE CLOCK IS TICKING IN THIS ROLLERCOASTER RIDE OF A THRILLER... In London, the Metropolitan Police set up a new Unsolved Murders Unit - a cold case squad - to catch the criminals nobody else can. In Geneva, millionaire art collector Miles Faulkner - convicted of forgery and theft - was pronounced dead two months ago. So why is his unscrupulous lawyer still representing a dead client? On a luxury liner en route to New York, the battle for power within a wealthy dynasty is about to turn to murder. And at the heart of all three investigations are Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick, rising star of the Met, and ex-undercover operative Ross Hogan, brought in from the cold. But can they catch the killers before it's too late? 

eBooks of the Month
The Cabinet

The Cabinet

Author: Un Su Kim Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/10/2021

Winner of the Munhakdongne Novel Award, South Korea's most prestigious literary prize Cabinet 13 looks exactly like any normal filing cabinet. Except this cabinet is filled with files on the 'symptomers', people whose weird abilities and bizarre experiences might just mark the emergence of a new species. But to Mr Kong, the harried office worker who spends his days looking after the cabinet, the symptomers are just a headache; from the woman whose doppelganger broke up with her boyfriend, to the man with a ginkgo tree growing from his fingertip. And then there's that guy who won't stop calling, asking to be turned into a cat... A richly funny and fantastical novel about the strangeness at the heart of even the most ordinary lives, from one of South Korea's most acclaimed novelists. Translated by Sean Lin Halbert

Memorial

Memorial

Author: Bryan Washington Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

Wisely comic, soul-searchingly tender, and defiantly unsentimental, Bryan Washington’s Memorial is a brilliant bittersweet debut. Really it’s a story of many things that matter most in life, when it comes down to it - family, emotional closeness, physical closeness, the urge to break free, and the compulsion to return. It’s also about the unexpected experiences and discoveries that come in the wake of strangers being thrown together, in this case when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying as his mother is due to stay with him, and as his two-year relationship teeters into fizzling-out territory While Mike heads to Osaka, boyfriend Benson plays host to Mike’s mother in Houston. Benson’s never met straight-talking Mitsuko, but little by little they form an unlikely and profound bond. Meanwhile, after meandering memories and feeling the strange melancholia of being reunited with his dying, distant dad, Mike is transformed by his Osaka experience. Through all this richness, Memorial is an absorbing, funny, stirring achievement told in lucid, elegant style.

Star Books
A Woman Made of Snow

A Woman Made of Snow

Author: Elisabeth Gifford Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/10/2021

Rich with romance, mystery and family drama, Elisabeth Gifford’s A Woman Made of Snow is a delicious treat for readers who like their historic fiction seasoned with haunting atmosphere. It’s 1949 and Caro and Alasdair Gillan are newly married Cambridge graduates living near his Scottish family home. Though elegant, crumbling Kelly Castle has seen better days, and hides many secrets, as Caro discovers when she accepts her mother-in-law’s suggestion that she research the Gillan family history. Her academic career curtailed when she falls pregnant soon after marriage, Caro is glad to have something to occupy her mind, and the mystery of a missing bride is certainly intriguing. The woman in question was married to Alasdair’s great-grandfather, Oliver, whom we meet when the narrative slips back to the late 1800s. As a boy, Oliver resolved to explore the frozen north, and later read medicine at Edinburgh University. Then, as broken-hearted young man, Oliver signs up to board a ship bound for the Arctic. In the present, as a shocking find is made in the castle grounds, there are tensions between Caro and Alasdair’s family - she’s not the kind of woman they’d envisaged him marrying, yet she is the kind of woman who can uncover Oliver’s past, not least when she finds the diary of his voyage aboard the Narwhal whaling ship and pieces together a tragic and beautiful tale of love that exposes abhorrent Western notions of “savages”.  With a fine evocation of time, place, and Inuit society, A Woman Made of a Snow is a moving, captivating read.

Books of the Month
Four Dervishes

Four Dervishes

Author: Hammad Rind Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/10/2021

Four Dervishes draws on a long tradition of storytelling as it skewers issues like religious bigotry, injustice, the denial of women’s rights, and class division. Lavishly inventive, verbally rich, an exotic confection, this novel is both darkly thematic and humorously playful.

Star Books
The Nesting

The Nesting

Author: C.J. Cooke Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Atmospheric, gothic, spine-chilling... The new thriller from C.J Cooke will haunt you long after you turn the last page... It was like something out of a fairytale... The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it's as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale. But this family has a history - and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory. Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don't make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care. But protect them from what?

Star Books
The Piano Room

The Piano Room

Author: Clio Velentza Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Fabulously inventive, and laced with evocative detail and intrigue, Clio Velentza’s The Piano Room boasts bite and a beautifully crafted plot. Taking inspiration from the timeless tale of Faust, this keenly accomplished debut sees an entitled young man make a deal with the devil in order to forge his own destiny, so intense is his desire to renounce the weight of his family’s musical genius. Sandor Esterhazy comes from a long line of formidably talented pianists. His family are also immensely wealthy - his father, for example, dresses in embroidered slippers, shiny tuxedoes, and soft leather gloves; the opulence and elegance of his background are tangible. Sandor, on the other hand, seems cut from a different cloth - “There was no spirit to his music: instead of rising into the air with warmth and spice, the melody clambered out of the instrument and lay on the floor like a lifeless thing.” And so Sandor decides to summon the devil himself to escape his fate. Relieved when nothing happens (“I’m such an idiot. It was all a joke. It’s all right. It’s over”), he’s overwhelmed when the devil later appears and promises, in return for his soul, that Sandor “will be free to lead the life you choose rather than the one laid out for you.” Sandor is left with a mysterious creature, Ferdi, whom he locks in his basement piano room, for a time at least. Exploring self-determination and what it is to be human with wit, delicious gothic atmosphere and a compelling sense of ennui, The Piano Room is an immersive joy.

eBooks of the Month
Once Upon A Broken Heart

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Freckles

Freckles

Author: Cecelia Ahern Format: Audiobook Release Date: 02/09/2021

The brand new, instant Sunday Times top ten novel from million-copy bestselling author Cecelia Ahern. Five people. Five chances. One woman’s search for happiness. Allegra Bird’s arms are scattered with freckles, a gift from her beloved father. But despite her nickname, Freckles has never been able to join all the dots. So when a stranger tells her that everyone is the average of the five people they spend the most time with, it opens up something deep inside. The trouble is, Freckles doesn’t know if she has five people. And if not, what does that say about her? She’s left her unconventional father and her friends behind for a bold new life in Dublin, but she’s still an outsider. Now, in a quest to understand, she must find not one but five people who shape her – and who will determine her future. Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from modern Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and of growing into your own skin.

Audiobooks of the Month
Snow Country

Snow Country

Author: Sebastian Faulks Format: Audiobook Release Date: 02/09/2021

1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers. 1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick. 1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time. Sweeping across Europe as it recovers from one war and hides its face from the coming of another, SNOW COUNTRY is a landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope. In elegant, shimmering prose, Sebastian Faulks has produced a work of timeless resonance.

Audiobooks of the Month
Ghosts

Ghosts

Author: Dolly Alderton Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Nina George Dean on the surface has it all. Fantastic friends, a new home all of her own, a successful career as a food writer and a loving family. Saying that, her thirties thus far haven't been all they were cracked up to be...and so she decides to dive into online dating. This is a funny observational debut novel by Dolly Alderton, a voice we recognise from her best-selling memoir Everything I Know About Love and her podcast The High Low. But it's fresh, it's so relatable, so real. We've all been through it or know someone who has - and because of that it's so heartfelt and sad and tender and true. But funny; I chuckled, laughed and nodded along on every step of Nina's journey. And it's not an easy journey as love interest Max isn't quite what she hoped he'd be with his good looks and prepackaged charm and we hope she doesn't fall hard when after two hours she "wants to touch his face which looked like it belonged to a Viking warrior". Her doting dad shows more and more signs of dementia, and her friendships drift as friends become consumed with kids, love and moving out to the 'burbs. Whatever decade you're in, this will serve as a witty warning, a reeling realisation or a magnificent memory and I can't recommend it enough. 

Books of the Month
Crash

Crash

Author: J.L. Harvey Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Crash starts off as the perfect thriller novel. We follow a character called Alex Taylor who has woken up in a hospital after a near fatal car crash but he has no memory of the event. With such an exciting premise, it really hooks and pulls you into a world of unknowns that promises suspenseful mystery. But as the plot progresses it simmers down into being humdrum realist fiction that looks at the everyday, banal workings of village life. The affair that becomes the main focus of the story later on felt too rigid and elements of the writing such as the overuse of exclamatory sentences, meant to emphasise strong feelings of emotion, ended up having the opposite effect. However, I did enjoy its use of characterisation; Crash is a novel about people and in this regard it has a firm hold on human interaction and thought. This book is the ideal slow burn, character-driven story for the traditional reader. Lois Cudjoe, A LoveReading Ambassador

little scratch

little scratch

Author: Rebecca Watson Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2021

Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2021 little scratch tells the story of a day in the life of an unnamed woman, living in a lower-case world of demarcated fridge shelves and office politics; clock-watching and WhatsApp notifications. In a voice that is fiercely wry, touchingly delicate and increasingly neurotic, the protagonist relays what it takes to get through the quotidian detail of that single trajectory - from morning to night - while processing recent sexual violence. little scratch is about the coexistence of monotony with our waking, intelligent lives. It is a powerful evocation of how the external and internal aspects of our lives exist in a helix, and what it means to live out the course of a single day consumed by trauma. 

Impostor

Impostor

Author: LJ Ross Format: Audiobook Release Date: 31/10/2019

From the International Number 1 Bestselling Author of the DCI Ryan Mysteries. Impostor is the first instalment in Ross' brand new Dr Alex Gregory series, narrated by actor Hugh Dancy. After an elite criminal profiling unit is shut down amid a storm of scandal and mismanagement, only one person emerges unscathed. Forensic psychiatrist Doctor Alexander Gregory has a reputation for being able to step inside the darkest minds to uncover whatever secrets lie hidden there and, soon enough, he finds himself drawn into the murky world of murder investigation. In the beautiful hills of County Mayo, Ireland, a killer is on the loose. Panic has a stranglehold on its rural community and the Garda are running out of time. Gregory has sworn to follow a quiet life but, when the call comes, can he refuse to help their desperate search for justice? Murder and mystery are peppered with dark humour in this fast-paced thriller set amidst the spectacular Irish landscape. LJ Ross is a self-published literary sensation whose books have sold over 4 million copies in paperback, ebook and audio. We are proud to bring her work to libraries for the first time.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Witchfinder's Sister

The Witchfinder's Sister

Author: Beth Underdown Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/12/2017

Guardian: "A clever debut, with a slow burn of horror, sees the 17th-century witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins confronted by his fictional sister" Don't miss the world premiere of Beth Underdown's The Witchfinder's Sister! Playing at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch until 30 October 2021.

eBooks of the Month

September 2021 Featured Books

The Couple at No 9

The Couple at No 9

Author: Claire Douglas Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

It was the house of their dreams. Until the bodies were found . . . BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body. Two bodies, in fact. POLICE INVESTIGATE Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years, which leads the police to question the cottage's former owner - Saffy's grandmother, Rose. OWNER QUESTIONED Rose's Alzheimer's means her memory is increasingly confused. She can't help the police - but it is clear she remembers something. A KILLER AT LARGE? As Rose's fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched . . . What happened thirty years ago? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger? . . .

The Animals in That Country

The Animals in That Country

Author: Laura Jean McKay Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/09/2021

WINNER OF THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD A SUNDAY TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR Out on the road, no one speaks, everything talks. Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandma Jean has never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. Then, a strange pandemic begins sweeping the country, its chief symptom that its victims begin to understand the language of animals. Many infected people lose their minds, including Jean’s son, Lee. When he takes off with Kimberly, Jean follows, with Sue the dingo riding shotgun. As they travel, they discover a stark, strange world in which the animal apocalypse has only further isolated people from other species.

Beautiful World, Where Are You

Beautiful World, Where Are You

Author: Sally Rooney Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/09/2021

One of literature’s brightest talents and most talked about authors of her generation, Sally Rooney follows up 2018 Waterstones Book of the Year and Costa Novel Award Winner Normal People with another sure-fire award winner. Once you get past the fact that Sally Rooney isn’t a lover of conventional punctuation (there are no speech marks in her work), you sink into this beautiful novel following the life and love, the trials and tribulations of four young Irish friends. Yet again you are gripped from the first page with her searingly honest observational prose and dialogue. Both first books Normal People and Conversations with Friends featured characters in late adolescence and early adulthood struggling through first relationships whilst starting to find their way in the world. Just four years after her debut, this is another twenty-first-century love story of sexual entanglements and love lives of two best friends on the eve of their thirties. Alice, a successful novelist who has moved to the Irish countryside following a breakdown meets Felix a warehouse worker with a troubled past, via Tinder. Her best friend Eileen is in Dublin, working for a literary magazine, working through a painful break up and still battling with the on-off “friends with benefits” relationship between her and one of their oldest friends Simon. Her compelling writing just grabs you and her way of investigating the complexity of relationships and dynamics is just so incisive. Whilst you feel they are “ordinary”, “normal” people, the beautiful dialogue is interspersed with long narratives on email between Eileen and Alice. So cleverly done, rhetorical and didactic and it really serves to getting you thinking about the current state of our social fabric, of society, our global challenges, day to day political helplessness and environmental collapse. And it gets you to thinking: beautiful world, where are you? Beautiful? Yes. Serious? Definitely. I loved it. Barriers and all. Magnum opus. Without a doubt.

Star Books
NICK

NICK

Author: Michael Farris Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/09/2021

Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this exhilarating imagination of his life before The Great Gatsby. Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first-hand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance – doomed from the very beginning – to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavour of debauchery and violence. An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.

Star Books
Bewilderment

Bewilderment

Author: Richard Powers Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2021

Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade, for smashing his friend's face with a metal thermos. What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, while all the while fostering his son's desperate campaign to help save this one.

The Man Who Died Twice

The Man Who Died Twice

Author: Richard Osman Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/09/2021

A simply glorious reading feast awaits in this crime novel that I'd describe as warm and cosy with a healthy dose of feisty attitude and smirky humour. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron find themselves on the trail of stolen diamonds and before too long, a murderer. I roared my appreciation of the first in this series, the best-selling and LoveReading Star Book The Thursday Murder Club, so I’ll admit to approaching Richard Osman’s second novel with an intriguing mix of excitement and apprehension. I am absolutely thrilled to say that The Man Who Died Twice more than exceeded my expectations. The superb introductory chapters sucked me straight in, and this is one of those books that I wanted to read in one sitting. I cackled and read with glee as I ran to keep up with these four septuagenarions. While I adore all of the main characters, Joyce is a particular favourite, quite possibly because we continue to get an outpouring of her thoughts, I so wish I had this woman in my life! The relationships evolve beautifully, and the humour tickles and flirts as the plot just hums along. The ending is rather wonderful and I predict that Richard Osman’s second novel will be just as big a hit as his first. So, of course The Man Who Died Twice comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval, and sits as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, what are you waiting for, go grab yourself a copy!

Books of the Month
The Cat Who Saved Books

The Cat Who Saved Books

Author: Sosuke Natsukawa Format: Hardback Release Date: 16/09/2021

An absolute little treasure! After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro finds himself on an adventure with Tiger the talking cat, to help books that desperately need saving. This incredibly quirky and beautiful novel highlights the importance of books, friendship, and self-belief. The simplicity of the story highlights the warmth, the love, and the true power of books. It also encouraged me to explore my own relationship with books. Sosuke Natsukawa painted images straight into my thoughts, simple, clear, vividly bright, they still sit in my minds eye. A shout out to the translation by Louise Heal Kawai, as I felt as though I was reading the original Japanese version. If you, like me, think of books as being more than words on paper, if you talk to them and pat them, are moved by them and have thoughts altered by them, then I recommend The Cat Who Saved Books with my heart and soul. Chosen as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, it really would make the perfect gift, either for you, or another book-lover in your life.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Black Reed Bay

Black Reed Bay

Author: Rod Reynolds Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

When Orenda Books decides to back an author, whether they write in - or are translated into - English, it’s wise to pay attention as they have an uncanny knack for finding and signing up writers of great quality in publishing’s busiest and most competitive genre. Rod Reynolds is no exception. Having gained plaudits aplenty for his excellent Charlie Yates 1940’s noir series; The Dark Inside, Black Night Falling and Cold Desert Sky, Reynolds then diverted to the brutal London-based stand-alone thriller, Blood Red City, and gained a long-listing for the CWA Steel Dagger for his troubles.  Pivoting ‘back to black’ with Black Reed Bay, Reynolds introduces us to his newest creation, Detective Casey “Big Case” Wray, through a superbly crafted contemporary who-why-how-dunnit.  Set in the fictitious Hampstead County - which bears a striking resemblance to Nassau County N.Y - on Long Island, with windswept Atlantic beaches and the cookie cutter beachfront McMansions of a comfortable community, each scene is imbued with a sense of location so real, you can feel the salt spray and neighbourly judgment sting your skin. On the face of it it’s a standard crime/thriller narrative: something bad happens and the police investigate. For some the female victim trope will rankle, but the story and cast are introduced with such nuance and style and then, credentials established, around the 100 page mark Reynolds moves up through the gears to deliver a beautifully paced, smartly plotted read that really delivers. And Wray? Well she is the real star of the story. Somewhere between Frances McDormand’s “Marge Gunderson” in Fargo and Helen Mirren as “Jane Tennison” in Prime Suspect; too good a human and too big hearted to be hard boiled, but à point cynical and with a great store of whip-crack one-liners. Mark these words, Reynolds is going to good places fast if he can repeat the magic of Black Reed Bay in his next few books. Join in and get reading, it’s going to be quite the journey.

Books of the Month
The Joy and Light Bus Company

The Joy and Light Bus Company

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Mma. Ramotswe may have a tiny white van that is kept on the road by her devoted husband, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, and not a tank, but when she parks it on your lawn, you know you’re in trouble. Not that this is a key part of this particular story, but it is a rare act of challenge to an unfortunate character that comes to Mma. Ramotswe’s attention as she ponders on the happiness of men, the lateness of her much loved father and J.L.B Matekoni’s troubling new foray into business development, with a company that echoes his initials. For No 1 fans, everything we love and adore about these stories is included, the value of quiet wisdom in a world of crass celebrity, the importance of good traditional cattle and of course plenty of tea and cake, as befits the reflectively minded and traditionally built. This pearl of story has some grit to it too, touching on issues of slavery, child labour and violent abuse, and is a superb new addition to the series, a beautifully crafted and elegantly told story of much loved characters doing what they have always done; their best in the circumstances and doing it with dignity, tolerance and understanding. Unless we’re talking about Violet Sephotho, of course, the shameless hussy of the tales, who here gets into a spot of bother with chocolate biscuits. McCall Smith is one of our most gifted and indeed prolific writers, as we know, but he is also that rarest of folk, a true storyteller of the first order who can transport us in fiction, time after time, to a land few of us will be fortunate enough to travel to in reality, a place of big skies, warm welcomes, and respect for your fellow humans.

Books of the Month
The Dragonfly Sea

The Dragonfly Sea

Author: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Sensuous, lyrical, and suffused in the natural world, especially a sense of the ebb and flow of the ocean, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s The Dragonfly Sea shimmers with passion, humanity, and quickening waves of history. And all this unfolds and undulates through tracing the journey of a young girl, Ayaana, forming a novel to take your time over, to luxuriate in and return to. It’s a rich banquet of beautiful words. Beginning on an Indian Ocean island in the Lamu Archipelago, off the coast of Kenya, fearless Ayaana and her mother live a kind of lonely, haunted existence. She has no father, nor a father figure, until a sailor comes into their lives. Without her mother’s approval, Muhidin becomes Ayaana’s friend and teacher. Her life reels and realigns in cycles, seeing her voyage to China with the promise of education and a different future. As her journey surges and ebbs, ebbs and surges, the author lays bare conflicts of the both personal and political kind (colonialism, radicalisation) with individuals and nations caught in the nets of global forces. Through loss and longing, there’s a sense of becoming whole again, finding refuge, and finding oneself.

Books of the Month
The Last Library

The Last Library

Author: Freya Sampson Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/09/2021

June Jones is a library assistant who has not moved much further than her fiction section. It’s where she grew up and it feels like home. She picks up the role after her mum passes away, and what tough shoes they are to fill. Incredibly shy and socially awkward June is forced to come out of her comfort zone and fight for what she believes in when the library is forced with closure. It’s such a warm and uplifting story of community, of kindness, of love and libraries. And along the way you really come to care for the characters who frequent the library: from Stanley Phelps, the Wodehouse-like gentleman who enjoys WWII historical fiction to the irascible Mrs B who complains about every book, to romance lover Linda.  This heart-warming tale takes you on a journey through books and characters, reminding you of everything you’ve ever read since you were a child. It’s a story of personal growth, of finding strength, the importance of friendships and love. I devoured it.

Piranesi

Piranesi

Author: Susanna Clarke Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims? Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

Audiobooks of the Month
Edge of the Grave

Edge of the Grave

Author: Robbie Morrison Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Shortlisted for The Bloody Scotland Crime Debut of the Year 2021 Longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2021 and the HWA Debut Crown 2021  Glasgow, 1932. When the son-in-law of one of the city's wealthiest shipbuilders is found floating in the River Clyde with his throat cut, it falls to Inspector Jimmy Dreghorn to lead the murder case - despite sharing a troubled history with the victim's widow, Isla Lockhart. From the flying fists and flashing blades of Glasgow's gangland underworld, to the backstabbing upper echelons of government and big business, Dreghorn and his partner 'Bonnie' Archie McDaid will have to dig deep into Glasgow society to find out who wanted the man dead and why. All the while, a sadistic murderer stalks the post-war city leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake. As the case deepens, will Dreghorn find the killer - or lose his own life in the process? Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison is a dark historical crime novel set in Glasgow, 1932. A city still recovering from the Great War; split by religious division and swarming with razor gangs. For fans of William McIlvanney's Laidlaw, Denise Mina and Philip Kerr.

A Slow Fire Burning

A Slow Fire Burning

Author: Paula Hawkins Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/08/2021

Subtle and smart yet intense and thrilling, this story builds with each turn revealing another set of steps in front of you. Within a corner of London a murder sets questions hunting through secrets and the past. I was caught sleeping at the start and was given a huge shove, from that moment on my attention didn’t waver. This is all about the characters, yet the beautifully intricate plot more than holds its own. What Paula Hawkins does so successfully, is to allow you to see the inner being of people, the shadows that dwell within, without ever losing connection with their humanity. Every person in this story feels authentic, relatable, and that dreaded word, normal. It made me question what I would do in the same circumstances, could this in fact, be me. Oh, and just as an aside, great map! A Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, A Slow Fire Burning wanders through the everyday, before reaching under the surface and pulling out darkness.

Audiobooks of the Month
Circles a Clover

Circles a Clover

Author: Michael Egan Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/08/2021

Egan’s finely tuned skill as a storyteller seduces you. Right from the opening chapter he sets up a delicious, nerve-tingling sense of foreboding, with references that range from Game of Thrones and mushroom clouds to Afghanistan, Iraq and the impending end of the world. He doesn’t so much hook you into his imagined world, as gently caress a net around you, coaxing you onto each page after the next. And what a story he tells.  Plucky, thoughtful Kyle Halfpenny, year 11,  lives with her Dad who is either a mad drunk or prescient seer. She sees bigger pictures and small details and has views, thoughts and fears that all speak of a profound understanding and compassion for the lot of those in her world.  She communes with foxes, mourns for a lasagne that had ”shrunk in on itself, like it was trying to hide from it’s own failings” and through the absence of her mother and missing her brother, she cares for her Dad, a lasagne made mortal, who seeks sanctuary with Kyle on a island imbued with history, overrun by rabbits and the home of hope. This is a one hell of a read, for YA readers as much as for the intended adult audience. It is a cautionary tale of the corrosive effect on life of unfettered fear, the acid that eats joy. It is a sad and lyrical hymn to our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other. And, with its exquisite, magical, story-within-a story, it is an enchanting fable about the gritty beauty of life and of all lives. Unless you’re a rabbit.

Men Don't Cry

Men Don't Cry

Author: Faiza Guene Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/08/2021

Faïza Guène’s Men Don’t Cry is an absolute triumph - wise, funny, enthralling, thought-provoking. At its heart, the novel explores the age-old (and sharply pertinent) pull between one’s land of heritage and one’s land of birth, in this case generational and family conflict between Algeria and France. It’s an incredibly powerful commentary on a very real conflict in contemporary France, perfectly summarised when the novel’s protagonist comments that “to be fully French you have to deny part of your heritage, part of your identity, part of your history, part of your beliefs, and yet when you succeed in achieving all that, you’re still reminded of your origins…So what’s the point?” Men Don’t Cry is also a superb coming-of-age story that sees an awkward young man, Mourad, find his feet, and his voice. He was born in Nice to Algerian parents, the youngest of three children. His eldest sister Dounia, a devoted feminist, leaves home without looking back, while his middle sister marries, has kids, and is happy. Mourad is between the two - neither desperate to leave home, nor especially looking to settle down. He’s insular, doesn’t have many friends, so he’s there when his dad has a hugely debilitating stroke. He’s there when his hypochondriac mum needs to vent (which she does a lot, about anything and everything, to comic and poignant effect). But then the time comes for Mourad to leave home too - he has a teaching job in Paris. A few weeks into his new post, he reconnects with Dounia, now a public figure feminist activist who’s stepped onto the political ladder. Her interviews in high profile publications and the book she writes about her upbringing and experiences rile Mourad. For example, she describes their dad as “authoritarian, change-averse, illiterate.” But, nevertheless, it’s Mourad who bridges the chasm between Dounia and the rest of the family, not least at the unexpected, heartrending end of this remarkable novel. Mourad’s voice is engrossing, and feels unfailingly authentic. On that note, deep appreciation must go to the novel’s award-winning translator, Sarah Ardizzone - rendering Mourad’s voice so dazzingly into English, is a tremendous achievement. The result is a novel that reads like a dream - vibrant, nuanced, thought-provoking, funny, and shot-through with Mourad’s wit.

Star Books
The Silence of Scheherazade

The Silence of Scheherazade

Author: Defne Suman Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Taking in the cultural complexities of the Ottoman Empire through the compelling, criss-crossing stories of Levantine, Greek, Turkish and Armenian characters, Defne Suman’s The Silence of Scheherazade is an astounding feat of historical fiction - tremendously ambitious, and dazzlingly realised through the author’s exquisitely-threaded plotting and lush storytelling. It’s September, 1905, and one moment seals the fates of four very different families. This is the moment Scheherazade is born in cosmopolitan Smyrna to a mother numbed by opium. Though her namesake is the legendary storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights, she’s mute. A silent girl who grows up to bear witness to the brutality that eventually besets her city - the death and destruction, the expulsion of communities, the impending outbreak of WWI, and the burning. The magic of the city is dazzlingly evoked and intertwined with both the socio-political context and the very moving, very personal stories of this novel’s vast cast of characters. This is a novel to savour, to be dazzled by, to learn from, and reflect on. It invites utter immersion. The LoveReading LitFest invited Defne to the festival to talk about The Silence of Scheherazade. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Defne in conversation with Deborah Maclaren and find out why this is such a sumptuous tour de force of a book that everyone needs to read. Check out a preview of the event here.

Audiobooks of the Month
History

History

Author: Miles Jupp Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Our September 2021 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. History, the first novel from actor, comedian and writer Miles Jupp (you’ll know him from his roles in Balamory and The Durrells, and appearances on popular comedy panel shows like Would I Lie To You?) is a funny, moving tale of modern family life and a man in the throes of midlife unravelling. Clive is a history teacher at a private school - he moved from a comprehensive as a result of his wife wanting a more rural life for them and their two daughters. Feeling increasingly stifled by school, and generally let down by life, Clive suggests they take a half-term holiday to France just as an incident at school throws his integrity into question. Their break turns out to be anything but the tonic Clive had sought for his well-being (and his marriage). It’s peppered with funny farcical moments - torrential rain followed by sun-burn; incidents with cars and a painful bike-ride accident - and on their return, Clive is more aware than ever of the need to change how he deals with life, and his actual life, for that matter. Underpinned by poignant realisations, Clive’s story has authentic, funny charm. If you’re aware of the author’s TV and radio persona, you’ll hear him narrating Clive’s character - a blend of hesitant, bumbling action and a realistic voice that’s both assured and endearingly rambling. Oh, and the ending is entirely surprising and leaves one desperate to know what Clive is about to do, and what path his life takes a little further down the road.

Debut Books of the Month
Land of Big Numbers

Land of Big Numbers

Author: Te-Ping Chen Format: Audiobook Release Date: 19/08/2021

A dazzling debut collection which, deftly and urgently, tells the stories of those living in the biggest and most complicated country on earth. A brother competes for gaming glory while his twin sister exposes the dark side of the Communist government on her underground blog; a worker at a government call centre is alarmed one day to find herself speaking to a former lover; a delicious new fruit arrives at the neighbourhood market and the locals find it starts to affect their lives in ways they could never have imagined; and a young woman's dreams of making it big in Shanghai are stalled when she finds herself working as a florist. These are just some of the myriad lives to be evoked in The Land of Big Numbers, a collection of stories which - sometimes playfully, sometimes darkly - draws back the curtain on the realities of modern China and unveils a cast of characters as rich and complicated as any in world literature. With virtuosic brilliance, Te-ping Chen sheds light on a country much talked about but little understood and announces the birth of a bright new star in the literary firmament. 

Audiobooks of the Month
The Ex-Husband

The Ex-Husband

Author: Karen Hamilton Format: Ebook Release Date: 19/08/2021

Charlotte and Sam were partners. In life, and in crime. They never stole from anyone who couldn't afford it. Wealthy clients, luxury cruise ships. It was easy money, and harmless. At least, that's what Charlotte told herself, until the world caved in on her. But now, years after she tried to put that past life behind her, it comes rushing back when her estranged ex-husband Sam suddenly goes missing - and someone threatens to expose what they did. Desperate to escape whoever is tormenting her, Charlotte takes a job as events planner for an engagement party onboard a superyacht in the Caribbean. For a while, her plan seems to have worked, nothing but open ocean and clear skies ahead. Until it becomes clear that she's no longer a thousand miles away from harm. Because whoever is behind it all is onboard too. And now there's nowhere left to run.

eBooks of the Month
The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing

The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing

Author: Andrew J H Sharp Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/07/2021

The bold, bright and colourful cover image for ‘The Chef, the Bird and the Blessing’ by Andrew J H Sharp grabbed my attention immediately. I was then intrigued by the images on the cover and wanted to know how they were connected to the story. Lead character Savalamuratichimimozi “Mozzy” Mlantushi works as a Safari Chef for a struggling bird observation business but has higher than high aspirations of travelling to the most reputable of restaurants in New York or London as a renowned and applauded Head Chef.  Mozzy sees his visiting VIP guests as an opportunity to make new connections and progress, and when a new opportunity arises he looks before he leaps. The supporting characters are just as vibrant and interesting to get to know as Mozzy. His wife, Dorothea is devoted to her Divine Prosperity Assembly, and guests Miss Camlyn and Mr Summerberg are determined to hear the call of the illusive Brackish Akalat. A tale of friendship and healing, Mozzy’s journey is one about chasing aspirations and knowing when to realise that the grass isn’t always greener. I found Mozzy to be perhaps too selfishly steadfast to his dreams and I didn't really warm to him until the second half of the book, however I enjoyed the flow of the story and the pleasant outcome. This is an interesting contemporary fiction tale filled with hope that I’d be happy to recommend.

That Summer in Nautilus Cove

That Summer in Nautilus Cove

Author: Julie Holland Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2021

What a transportive read ‘That Summer on Nautilus Cove’ by Julie Holland is. Mixing summer and festive vibes, I think that this is a relationship story to be enjoyed in all seasons. Marnie Fawkner heads from Melbourne to Queensland to house sit for her sister, divorced and unemployed Marnie is at a crossroads and the time in Nautilus Cove will give her the seaside break she needs. Once there, Marnie becomes involved with the community and her sister’s business, but with her stay there only supposed to be temporary and plenty of troubles still waiting for her in Melbourne, will there be an opportunity for a fresh start? This is a really sweet and entertaining relationship story that reminded me of Carole Matthews. Marnie is lovable although frustrating in her attempts at self-sabotage and I was invested in seeing what would happen to her throughout the book. Interweaving family dynamics of a divorce, grown up children and new relationships, I feel that this is a nice and romantic story that will have broad appeal across the age ranges. A slice of sunshine with a side of feel-good that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and would highly recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Then a Wind Blew

Then a Wind Blew

Author: Kay Powell Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/01/2021

Kay Powell’s Then a Wind Blew is at once atmospheric, lyrical, poignant and enlightening, made all the more engaging by the distinct and captivating voices of the three woman whose lives and experiences it lays bare, during the final months of brutal war in Rhodesia, ahead of it becoming Zimbabwe. Throughout, personal details and circumstances are finely enmeshed with historic and political contexts, with the gripping, smoothly-paced story suffused in the author’s clear love for the country. The three women we meet in these pages could hardly be more different, yet the war entwines their lives, and through them we encounter a rich, rounded range of experiences. White Rhodesian settler Susan has lost a son in the war, while Beth is a missionary nun on an African Reserve. Then there’s Nyanye, a freedom fighter who’s fled to a guerrilla camp in Mozambique in the wake of her village being destroyed. Offering lesser-seen insights into women’s direct experiences of war, this book is both deeply personal and universal, showing - ultimately - how we are linked by common bonds in the most horrific, divisive of circumstances. If you read and enjoy this, you’d do well to check out other works published by Weaver Press, an independent Zimbabwean publisher that works closely with NGOs in the fields of arts, culture, development and human rights.

The Friends of Allan Renner

The Friends of Allan Renner

Author: Dave J. Andrae Format: Ebook Release Date: 11/11/2020

‘The Friends of Allan Renner’ by Dave J Andrae is an intriguing concept. We follow the story of Allan Renner, not directly, but through his connection with a circle of his friends. I liked this as it brings the secondary characters into the foreground, while also revealing more and more about Allan in each chapter. Looking at the chapter headings, named after Allan’s friends, one name in particular does stand out, and without including any spoilers the progression of the philosophical conversations about the past and what technological advances and societal changes could mean for our future in each chapter seems to lead us gradually and naturally to the final chapter. With references throughout the story to a ‘fateful day in 2017’ the plot strolls on, creating intrigue as you try to work out what’s going to happen to Alan. There are elements of science function but I think that this book demonstrates most strongly the bonds made by and between people. We read about the human condition when we read about Alan Renner’s connections and interactions with his friends and family. An innovative concept that I feel has been well executed and makes for an interesting read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Darcy Lane

Darcy Lane

Author: James T. Graham Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/10/2020

Elise Rose lives with her mother and one night whilst sitting on her bed reading, she hears raised voices. These noises pull her out of her room and so she witnesses a horrific and violent altercation between her mum and a drunk man. Move forward and after a period away, Elise is now living with her grandad, while helping run his shop. You get the impression that Elise is very uncomfortable with her life and where she lives, and because of this she stumbles across a house in Darcy Lane. She spends many hours thinking about the house, drawing pictures and dreaming of all the improvements she would make if the house was hers. Back in real life, Elise meets someone who has ties to the past and soon becomes entangled in his life. He gives her the means by which to improve her standing and fulfil her dreams. However, he is not all that he seems, and Elise learns this in a horrific manner.  Life turns full circle for Elise, but by the end of the book you feel that she is now settled and is hopeful for her future. This is not the usual sort of book that I would read. However, I really enjoyed it and it gave me a few things to think about, even after I had read the final page. Gail Phillips, A LoveReading Ambassador

Rone Isa

Rone Isa

Author: Robin Murarka Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2020

Being a fan of Philip K. Dick, I was interested as soon as I saw a comparison to ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ in the synopsis of ‘Rone Isa’ by Robin Murarka. This book sees the creation of an AI which calls themselves Enoya by the engineer Dargaud. It is dystopian, with the odd jarring reference but ultimately uses Enoya and their position as “other” to really delve into and analyse the human condition. As Dargaud questions Enoya, exploring the workings of this new AI that’s able to self-monitor and evolve, it becomes clear to the reader that Enoya is also watching and learning more about Dargaud. As the book develops we learn more about the engineer, he is a flawed, and not particularly likeable character who is rather self-absorbed, only really paying attention to his own desires and needs. Because of this as the reader follows his story we brush by key information that hints at this story’s dramatic end. ‘Rone Isa’ is a very well-crafted narrative that will demand your complete attention. The literary style flows well and adds some complexity, but also draws you into the story and encourages you to explore and dissect human nature as Enoya questions and grows. An intriguing storyline that leaves you pondering even as you reach the final page, I would recommend this book to readers of literary fiction that are looking for something with a science fiction twist. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador 

Indie Books We Love
It Ends With Us

It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2016

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST. Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his no dating rule, she can't help but wonder what made him that way in the first place. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened. With this bold and deeply personal novel, It Ends With Us is a heart-wrenching story and an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

What We Find

What We Find

Author: Robyn Carr Format: Audiobook Release Date: 05/04/2016

Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman's journey to finding the happiness she's long been missing Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a lawsuit-and experiencing levels of anxiety she's never faced before. She knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan's Crossing. Named for Maggie's great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide Trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie's eccentric father, Sully. When she shows up unannounced, he welcomes her with open arms, and she relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life. But shortly after arriving, Maggie's world is rocked once again and she must take on more responsibility than she'd planned. Though she's relieved a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, is willing to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man's eagerness to help-until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon.if only they can learn to find peace and healing-and perhaps love-with each other.

Audiobooks of the Month

August 2021 Featured Books

How to Kill Your Best Friend

How to Kill Your Best Friend

Author: Lexie Elliott Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/09/2021

How to Kill Your Best Friend is a taut psychological thriller. Featuring a small group of friends in a luxury hotel at its core, it's also an engaging lockdown mystery. Each main character has plenty of secrets to hide, resulting in a tangled web of lies that's desperate to be unravelled. And the two main narrators view key events very differently, adding to the intrigue. The book is beautifully written, with a slowburning narrative that reveals the dynamics of the group, amid vibrant descriptions of the beautiful island setting. The tension ramps up as the plot gains pace, with a sense of danger lurking in every corner and unease hovering below the surface. The book's twisty journey kept me guessing until its dramatic action-packed ending. As an aside, if you ARE thinking of killing your best friend, this book has plenty of suggestions, though read the pros and cons very carefully first.

Afterparties

Afterparties

Author: Anthony Veasna So Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties is a box of fireworks that crackles with characterful portraits of California’s Cambodian immigrant community, and with bittersweet, universally resonant observations and truths. Perfectly-formed, with wham-bam impact, each and every short story in this anthology gets to the heart of what makes us strive to live our version of a good life through its sharp exposition of distinct - and distinctly memorable - characters and circumstances. The stories typically teeter on that heady hi-wire between the absurd and the poignant, as in Superking Son Scores Again in which a grocery store owner and badminton coach experiences a downfall to rival that of any Shakespearean tragicomic hero. Then there are characters grappling with their identities as the children of Cambodian refugees, and with the weighty legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide. By turns gritty and wildly funny, poignant and thought-provoking (and often all of these at once), Afterparties is an exceptional collection.

eBooks of the Month
No Honour

No Honour

Author: Awais Khan Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Centred on a young woman who strikes free from the misogynistic confines and culture of her small Pakistani village, Awais Kahn’s No Honour tells a brutally honest story of courage, strength and father-daughter bonds in searingly clear style. The novel’s shockingly arresting opening sets the tone and themes in no uncertain terms as it recounts a brutal scene in which an unmarried young woman’s new-born is snatched from her before she’s subjected to public horrors. When it looks like sixteen-year-old Abida might face a similar fate, she’s driven to flee her small village for the city of Lahore, aided by her forward-thinking father, Jamil. When she vanishes, Jamil is compelled to go after her, leading to an entanglement of love, corruption and a lethal conflict between age-old practices and integrity, with a sense of place vividly evoked through the escalating pace. Exposing disparities between rich and poor, and the corruption of people in public office as it also exposes the plight of women, this wends to a tense end, driven by Abida’s indomitable spirit of survival. 

eBooks of the Month
The Origins of Iris

The Origins of Iris

Author: Beth Lewis Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Gosh, this original and thought-spinningly intricate yet quietly simple read speared my emotions. I found myself utterly consumed by The Origins of Iris and absolutely adored every word. When Iris leaves her abusive wife for the wilds of the mountains, she quite literally finds herself when she comes face to face with another version of Iris. Being described by Hodder Studio as Wild meets Sliding Doors was an immediate hook for me, yet there is so, so much more on offer here. Love of course isn’t simple, it can be complex, cruel, even dangerous, and as this novel allowed me access to the layers of emotions within Iris, it entered my inner thoughts too. Beth Lewis skirts the obvious to open unrecognised pathways, she gradually opens up the story and sets information free. Goosebumps skittered down my arms as I felt understanding enter my awareness. I love the way you’re left to explore the complexities, I didn’t question, just let myself and my feelings go. Come the end, the fascinating, wonderful end, I didn’t make a decision as to exactly where I had travelled, I just knew that I had. Delving deeply into what it is to be human, The Origins of Iris is a truly unique and wonderful read.

Star Books
The Book of Two Ways

The Book of Two Ways

Author: Jodi Picoult Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Who would you be, if you hadn't turned out to be the person you are now? Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully. But when the plane she's on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago - when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved. Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to - but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain. As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she's never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us? Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah

Author: Marcel Proust Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/08/2021

An authoritative new edition of the fourth volume in Marcel Proust's epic masterwork, In Search of Lost Time series Marcel Proust's monumental seven-part novel In Search of Lost Time is considered by many to be the greatest novel of the twentieth century. The fourth volume, Sodom and Gomorrah, is notable for its pioneering discussion of homosexuality. After its publication, Colette wrote to Proust, No one has written pages such as these on homosexuals, no one! This edition is edited and annotated by noted Proust scholar William C. Carter, who endeavors to bring the classic C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation closer to the spirit and style of the original.

Secrets of Happiness

Secrets of Happiness

Author: Joan Silber Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

Ethan’s father is outed as a man living a double life with another family on the other, less salubrious, side of New York. Who are they? Certainly nothing like Ethan; this newly-discovered household are Thai, live in Queens and serve and wash dishes at the local Thai restaurant. He, meanwhile, is a lawyer residing in West Village, often found in Katz.  This discovery introduces us to an ensemble cast and we delve deep into their lives until a bigger picture unfolds. After Ethan we hear from others; some tell us about losing parents, bailing out siblings on the other side of the world, leaving lovers and rekindling old flames.  Silber is as incise and skewering as Woody Allen, delivering needle-sharp observation that we associate with the best American writers. But it’s the ghost of Charles Dickens who’s really flickering on the margins and Silber takes on his themes of family inheritance, class and wealth to underpin her characters’ search for happiness. 

Patience

Patience

Author: Victoria Scott Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

This poignant page-turner switches between the four members of the Willows family - a sixty-something couple and their two daughters, one of whom, 38-year-old Take That fan Patience, has Rett syndrome, a progressive genetic neurodevelopmental disorder that almost exclusively affects females. While she can’t speak or move, Patience is incredibly perceptive. She takes everything in and knows everyone’s secrets. She’s wryly funny too, remarking to herself that, “I’m still lying here, like Miss Havisham’s mouldering wedding cake, at least ten years after I should have left.” Former nurse Louise has devoted her life to Patience and understands her daughter better than anyone. Meanwhile, Patience’s 36-year-old sister Eliza is in denial about being dumped by her fiancé, while Dad Pete works overseas most of the time. Then comes a ray of hope, in Louise’s eyes at least. She takes on a job with a leading Rett syndrome consultant, essentially so Patience can be part of his potentially ground-breaking gene therapy trial. While Professor Larssen thinks the therapy could reverse the syndrome’s symptoms, Pete is vehemently against Patience’s participation - he thinks the risks are too great.  Despite the dangers, they go ahead, and the story accelerates to an emotional, edge-of-your-seat ending, underpinned by a fine exposition of how humans weather the worst of life’s storms to cope with the unexpected hands we are dealt.

Debut Books of the Month
Looking for the Durrells

Looking for the Durrells

Author: Melanie Hewitt Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

The Durrell family and their writings have been a source of wonder and inspiration to book illustrator, Penny, since her Father read Gerald Durrell’s “Corfu trilogy” to, and with, her when she was young.  Now an enduring bond between them as his life nears its end, when the dread day comes, Penny, grieving and needing time and space, embarks on the promise that she and her dad couldn’t fulfil together, a Durrells’ pilgrimage. Suffused throughout with the scent of flowers, lemon and garlic and the dual salves of sunshine and sea, Hewitt’s tale weaves the lives of fishermen, restaurateurs, holiday company representatives and more into a loving nurturing community, offering a balm to Penny’s spirits. Each character so perfectly drawn and credible, that you feel you know them, might even have actually met them. At heart this is a story of belonging, proof of the Edna Buchanan phrase that “friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” Penny’s quest for the Durrells’ various homes and the restaurants they ate in, slowly revealing that while she can’t live their lives, she can and should live hers and live it well. There ought to be a better word for the way sunlight sparkles so brilliantly on the sea, thought “glisters”, as a conflation of “glistens” and “glitters”, gets close, and this book does exactly that, shining calmly and thoughtfully from beginning to end. This is such a enchanting, uplifting story of love for Corfu, for Corfiots and for life rediscovered, that one wonders why Hewitt has waited to debut.  That she has done so with such a perfect story, written with charm, insight and an utterly captivating sense of humane sensitivity, augurs well for future novels. And yes, tissues are advised while reading, there may be tears!

Books of the Month
 The Pavilion in the Clouds: A new stand-alone novel

The Pavilion in the Clouds: A new stand-alone novel

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

Alexander McCall Smith’s The Pavilion in the Clouds is a stirring, evocative psychological mystery set in 1938 as the British Empire limps through its final days. A Scottish family in Ceylon, as Sir Lanka was then known, live in the Pavilion in the Clouds on their tea plantation. Yet for all the idyllic beauty of their bungalow, the surrounding jungle represents the unknown - snakes might strike at any moment. Indeed, when eight-year-old Bella sets off unpleasant suspicions about her governess, Miss White, her mother, Virginia, comes to believe a snake might live among them. Virginia’s sense of being an outsider, uncomfortable being in someone else’s country, is palpable. Then there’s the boredom and ennui of having no purpose: “Time was an emptiness. It was a billowing, echoing void… We were just a little rock, hurtling through space, and we were the tiniest things on that rock”. Add to this the paranoia that’s intensified by Bella’s words and deeds, and by a friend Virginia confides in, and we have a tinderbox situation. The novel is also excellent on relating how children view the world and make sense of adult behaviour - in Virginia’s words, “Children were unpredictable. They accepted so much because they were used to things happening to them, rather than making things happen themselves.” Bella’s relationship with her two dolls - she talks to them, and they offer her advice - is used to great symbolic effect towards the end the novel, years later, when Bella visits Miss White as a young adult to say sorry, now she’s old enough to make things happen herself. Engaging in a read-in-one-sitting kind of way, Miss White sums up the novel’s most lingering theme when she remarks, “It’s strange isn’t it, how we carry some bits of the past with us for a long, long time – when we don’t really need to.”

eBooks of the Month
All My Mothers

All My Mothers

Author: Joanna Glen Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

What a truly special book this is, thoughtful, refreshing and comforting, this novel has entered my heart and soul. From a young age Eva has questions about who she is and where she has come from. As she grows up, alters and changes, the questions remain and she begins to find answers. I adored Joanna Glen’s debut, The Other Half of August Hope which hurtled straight into our LoveReading Star Books collection, and this, this is just as memorable, just as beautiful, and firmly cements this author as one I will be looking out for. Eva has the most honest and contemplative voice, her voice is so individual that you can hear her, even feel her as she speaks. Even the smallest of her small thoughts planted seeds which rooted, grew, divided, and she entered my awareness and took up residence. Joanna Glen has a real gift, she is able to go beyond the surface of things to find the unfamiliar and make it feel like home. I love it when a book provokes new thoughts and feelings, and that is exactly what All My Mothers does. It also joins the LoveReading Star Book list, and becomes one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. Congratulations to Joanna Glen, All My Mothers balances fear and wonder, loneliness and belonging, despair and elation, it is a true joy to read.  

Star Books
Moonfleet (Wordsworth Exclusive Collection)

Moonfleet (Wordsworth Exclusive Collection)

Author: J. Meade Falkner Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

With its swashbuckling scenario and big themes of betrayal, revenge and sacrifice, J. Meade Falkner's Moonfleet is an undeniable classic of adventure fiction. And, with its embossed gold foil features and beautiful cover, this edition (part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection) makes a great gift for readers young and old. Fifteen-year-old orphan John Trenchard lives in Moonfleet with his aunt. When she banishes him, John is looked after by grumpy innkeeper Elzevir Block, whose son was killer by customs officials. In the smuggler’s care, John falls under the spell of the local legend of ghostly Blackbeard, who’s said to rise each winter to search for a missing diamond. As John sets out on his own quest to find Blackbeard’s gem, he becomes embroiled in the village’s real secret - and Elzevir’s. Brimming with bravery, atmosphere and all-out action, this is a tale to be dazzled by, and lose yourself in.

The Railway Children

The Railway Children

Author: Edith Nesbit Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

With its gold foil embossing and warm-hued cover illustration, this edition of E Nesbit’s The Railway Children (part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection) makes a great gift. If you’ve seen and loved the film, but not read the book, you’re in for a treat. This is your chance to experience the story’s timeless charms afresh. Though suffused in enchanting nostalgic charm (it was first published as a series of stories in 1905, and as a novel in 1906), The Railway Children remains appealing to contemporary readers as it tells the moving, gripping story of three children whose comfortable lives are swept from under their feet when their daddy is compelled to leave their London home. Life couldn’t be more different in the country - their mother works as a writer to keep food on the table, and the children take comfort from the railway they live near to. They befriend the station’s Porter and Master, and even save a train from calamity, but the mystery and ache of their father’s disappearance looms large, until the Old Gentleman lends a hand. Packed with drama and adventure, this wonderful story delicately explores the emotional strains of coping with an absent parent, and shows how people can adapt in order to survive - and thrive - in challenging, changed situations.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Author: Lewis Carroll Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

With its gold foil embossing and enchantingly atmospheric cover image, this edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection) makes a great gift for readers young and old, and also includes the book’s sequel, Through the Looking Glass, and Sir John Tenniel’s unforgettable illustrations that bring all those iconic characters to life - Alice herself, of course, plus Tenniel’s unmistakable representations of the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee. An undeniable classic of children’s literature, this is also the kind of extraordinary seminal story that transcends age boundaries. Indeed, re-reading this as an adult is likely to illicit all manner of different responses and interpretations from childhood reading experiences. 

Little Women

Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new gift edition of Little Women features embossed gold foiling, coloured endpapers and attractive bespoke cover illustrations. If you’ve yet to read this classic, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. Once encountered, either on the page, or on-screen, the four New Englander March sisters are never forgotten, and between them they represent all kinds of young women, with vastly different personalities, outlooks and dreams. The eldest, Meg, aspires to be a fine-living lady, while fifteen-year-old tomboy Jo dreams of being a writer. Then there’s sensitive music-lover Beth, and Amy, the baby of the family who they all indulge. Though rich in period detail, the sisters’ story resonates still.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L Frank Baum Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also includes LF Baum’s Glinda of Oz, the final book in the series in which Dorothy and Princess Ozma see Glinda's help after finding themselves in danger on the Magic Isle of the Skeezers. At £3.99, and featuring a gorgeous gold-foiled cover with enchanting artwork, this edition makes a great, affordable gift, or a treat for yourself if you’ve yet to read the book. We’ve all seen the movie, but returning to its source - this timeless tale of recognising the attributes, skills and magic that lies within yourself - comes highly recommended. There’s a reason movie-makers took inspiration from it, and this new edition is the perfect way to do the same yourself.  While reading the book, it’s worth considering the alleged political undertones of the story - the author was a political activist in the 1890s, and especially interested in the monetary standard of gold and silver. As a result, it’s been asserted that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written as an allegory about the demonetisation of silver, with the tornado symbolising economic upheaval, the yellow brick road symbolising the gold standard, and Dorothy's silver shoes symbolising the pro-silver movement. Yep, you read that right - in the book, her ruby slippers are silver. Film-makers made them red so they'd show up more strikingly against the yellow brick road.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Author: L. M. Montgomery Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this gorgeous gift edition bind-up of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea boasts embossed gold foiling and an attractive bespoke cover illustration. Anne is truly an adorable, endearing, inspiring character, and her life at Green Gables after being taken in by the Cuthberts is evoked with lively detail, atmosphere and emotion. While prone to creating chaos, impossibly romantic, and headstrong (often self-destructively so), Anne has the hugest of hearts and reading this book - the first two novels in the series - is guaranteed to have readers hooked on her exploits as she moves from girlhood to womanhood. If you’ve yet to read these enchanting, amusing, heart-stealing classics, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. 

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Author: Henry Gilbert Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new gift edition of Robin Hood is resplendent with embossed gold foiling and an attractive bespoke cover illustration. If you’ve yet to read it, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. What’s more, Robin’s action-packed escapades are perfect for sharing aloud with the young adventurers in your life. Henry Gilbert’s story of legendary English outlaw Robin Hood has entertained and enthralled since it was first published back in 1819. In all likelihood, though, most people have encountered this champion of the poor through films or TV, so now’s your chance to enjoy the story in written form. As for that story, Robin is the arguably the world’s best-loved outlaw whose adventures with the Merry Men of Sherwood, Maid Marian, good King Richard (and encounters with enemies Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham) have inspired writers for centuries. It’s an archetypal tale of goodies versus baddies here delivered in a spirit of derring-do.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L Frank Baum Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also includes LF Baum’s Glinda of Oz, the final book in the series in which Dorothy and Princess Ozma see Glinda's help after finding themselves in danger on the Magic Isle of the Skeezers. At £3.99, and featuring a gorgeous gold-foiled cover with enchanting artwork, this edition makes a great, affordable gift, or a treat for yourself if you’ve yet to read the book. We’ve all seen the movie, but returning to its source - this timeless tale of recognising the attributes, skills and magic that lies within yourself - comes highly recommended. There’s a reason movie-makers took inspiration from it, and this new edition is the perfect way to do the same yourself.  While reading the book, it’s worth considering the alleged political undertones of the story - the author was a political activist in the 1890s, and especially interested in the monetary standard of gold and silver. As a result, it’s been asserted that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written as an allegory about the demonetisation of silver, with the tornado symbolising economic upheaval, the yellow brick road symbolising the gold standard, and Dorothy's silver shoes symbolising the pro-silver movement. Yep, you read that right - in the book, her ruby slippers are silver. Film-makers made them red so they'd show up more strikingly against the yellow brick road.

Little Women

Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new gift edition of Little Women features embossed gold foiling, coloured endpapers and attractive bespoke cover illustrations. If you’ve yet to read this classic, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. Once encountered, either on the page, or on-screen, the four New Englander March sisters are never forgotten, and between them they represent all kinds of young women, with vastly different personalities, outlooks and dreams. The eldest, Meg, aspires to be a fine-living lady, while fifteen-year-old tomboy Jo dreams of being a writer. Then there’s sensitive music-lover Beth, and Amy, the baby of the family who they all indulge. Though rich in period detail, the sisters’ story resonates still.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Clean Sweep  A Novel

Clean Sweep A Novel

Format: Ebook Release Date: 20/07/2021

‘Clean Sweep: A Novel’ by E. B. Lee is a modern fiction story focused on family and community set amongst the homeless in New York. The story develops gradually, we learn more about Carli Morris, her desire to give back now she's retired and her loss-filled past. The plotline develops gradually, as Carli’s time helping those on the streets leads to her own gut-wrenching revelations. As you read, you get to know and learn to love each of the characters in ‘Clean Sweep’. We’re walking side by side with Carli as she works to make a connection with each person in order to try and get them inside and any support they need. I enjoyed the pace of the plot as it gives you time with a fully formed cast of characters. There are questions that need to be answered in this book, but it does so at it’s own pace as opposed to being a frantic mystery to be solved. As with the outreach work in the book, things take time. A serious book that focuses on the very important topic of homelessness in a way that is engaging and compassionate. This is a very worthwhile read and I would recommend it.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Nine Lives

Nine Lives

Author: Danielle Steel Format: Audiobook Release Date: 08/07/2021

Nine Lives is a thought-provoking story of lost love and new beginnings, by the number one bestseller Danielle Steel. After a carefree childhood, Maggie Kelly came of age in the shadow of grief. Her father, a pilot, died when she was nine. Maggie saw her mother struggle to put their lives back together. As the family moved from one city to the next, her mother warned her about daredevil men and to avoid risk at all cost. Following her mother's advice, and forgoing the magic of first love with a high-school boyfriend who she thought too wild, Maggie married a good, dependable man. Together they had a son and found happiness in a conventional suburban life - until tragedy struck again. Now on her own, feeling a sense of adventure for the first time, Maggie decides to face her fears, setting off on a whirlwind trip from the US to Rome, Paris, London and Monaco. But when her travels reconnect her with the irresistible, thrill-seeking man she's spent thirty years trying to forget, Maggie is terrified that rushing into love and sharing his life may end in disaster. But while Maggie tries to outrun her fears and painful memories, fate will surprise her in the most astounding of ways, as she walks the tightrope between danger and courage, and between wisdom and love.

Audiobooks of the Month
A Different Kind of Happy

A Different Kind of Happy

Author: Rachaele Hambleton Format: Audiobook Release Date: 08/07/2021

Happiness comes in all shapes and sizes. Jo said goodbye to peace and quiet when she got pregnant at 19, but now she has a chance to hit refresh. A partner she loves, five amazing kids and a house by the sea. But life is never simple and there is more than a little emotional baggage coming along for the ride. Starting with that tw*t of an ex-husband who doesn't pull his weight. Then there's the untrained puppy, the work/life balance, a custody battle for the children and all the everyday ups and downs and chaos of being a patchwork family. Surrounded by family dramas and mums who seem to have all their sh*t together, Jo must find a way to make friends and make it work in this new town. Barbecues on the beach and dog walks open up new conversations, but as Jo gets to know everyone better, the picture perfect families might be in need of more help than she first thought... When normal is not an option, surprises can lead to a different kind of happy family.

Audiobooks of the Month
A Case of Royal Blackmail

A Case of Royal Blackmail

Author: Sherlock Holmes Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2021

I never expected to ever be given the opportunity to read a book by consulting detective Sherlock Holmes(!). Until very recently, I didn't even know that he wrote any books! Yet here one is - A Case of Royal Blackmail. Written in 1881 when he was in his late 20s, the book features Sherlock Holmes's personal musings on several entertaining cases of his, including blackmail of the Prince of Wales in 1879. His narrative is filled with his trademark astute observations, unconventional humour and remarkable reasoning skills. None of the characters evade his intense scrutiny or suspicion, and his sharp attention to detail eventually solves several mysteries and discovers the culprits. The historical and forensic content within the book is enlightening, along with the insight into his personal life and eccentric behaviour. I loved the 'Finder's Notes' at the end too (revealing how his book came to exist). A fascinating – and slightly off-the-wall – read for Holmes fans and for anyone who loves authentic historical crime fiction. 

Yours Cheerfully

Yours Cheerfully

Author: A. J. Pearce Format: Audiobook Release Date: 24/06/2021

London, September, 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Editor, Henrietta Bird, from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, is still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, but bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It. When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty, and standing by her friends. Every bit as funny, touching and cheering as AJ Pearce's debut, Dear Mrs Bird, Yours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship, a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.

Audiobooks of the Month
Unbury Our Dead with Song

Unbury Our Dead with Song

Author: Mukoma Wa Ngugi Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/06/2021

Setting out its stunning stall as “the story of how a Tizita musician stopped the Ethiopian-Eritrean war”, Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s Unbury Our Dead with Song casts a uniquely beguiling spell. Its narrator, tabloid journalist John Thandi Manfredi, has an engaging, down-to-earth style that shifts as he himself falls under the spell of tizita - usually translated as ‘nostalgia’, or ‘longing’, tizita is form of bluesy, folksy ballad music from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Through Manfredi we meet four musicians - The Diva, The Taliban Man, The Corporal and septuagenarian bartender Miriam - who are in Nairobi, Kenya, competing to be hailed the best tizita performer. Their music has Manfredi in their thrall, to the extent that he journeys to Ethiopia to discover more about them. During their meetings, Manfredi uncovers raw truths and secrets about each artist, and through them he learns to read the layers of life and longing he’s heard (and felt) in tizita performances: “I knew enough about telling stories - they were also about the storyteller,” he says. In this case, the four musicians have very different stories to tell - hugely different histories and longings - as imparted through their performances. Propelled by a subtly mounting sense of mystery and discovery to a stirring tizita soundtrack that plays out in your head, this captures the indefinable, almost magical, power of music and art to inspire awe - which is exactly what this novel does with sweeping verve.

eBooks of the Month
The Lantern Boats

The Lantern Boats

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2021

Beautifully-written, smoothly-readable, and waltzing with elegance and the intrigue of espionage, Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s The Lantern Boats is an accomplished work of historical fiction. Melding criss-crossing personal stories with the bigger-picture political climate of occupied Japan, it’s rich in details of time and place, with swathes of charisma that make single-sitting readings all but impossible to resist. Adding to the intrigue, the book’s characters are based on real people. The novel opens with an evocative scene describing the swell of the Sumida River illuminated by paper lanterns in a ritual for the dead, of which there are many as a result of the US firebombing raids that ended six years ago. Then we meet Kamiya Jun, a young war orphan with nothing - “no home, no family, no documents, no identity.” Being invisible makes him ideal spy material, and so he’s tasked by the Americans to spy on Vida Vidanto, a beautiful Japanese poet they suspect of being a communist spy. Meanwhile, part-Japanese, part-Scottish Elly Ruskin feels compelled to spy on Vida herself - she suspects her journalist husband, Fergus, of having an affair with the poet, and all while they’re in the process of adopting a child. The worlds of spy and spied-on intermesh powerfully when Fergus finds Vida’s strangled body, and then follows a gripping quick-fire succession of secrets unveiled, a tragic casualty, and hopeful beginnings.

Books of the Month
Relative Secrets

Relative Secrets

Author: Helen Stancey Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/03/2021

Helen Stancey’s Relative Secrets is a highly readable story for readers who like to get lost in the drama and intrigue of other people’s relatable lives. Told in a straightforward style, with domestic detail and emotional ups and downs to heighten engagement, three generations of women are at the heart of this saga of family secrets. It’s set in 1999 and follows the family from the 1920s through to the millennium. The eldest of the women, Mary, is in a care home, her mind deteriorating. During a visit from grand-daughter Lucy, Mary makes strange statements that arouse Lucy’s curiosity. She tries to put them out of mind - until she finds a locket while clearing out Mary’s former room. Not wanting to upset her mother (not with her father gone, her elder brother away, and her little brother misbehaving), Lucy takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of the mystery - risking discovering truths that might unsettle the very foundations of their family.    The drama builds slowly at first - there’s a considered, unhurried build-up, with lots of family backstory delivered before the revelations come. Then tension builds as Lucy delves deeper, and the questions keep coming - not merely what the secret is, but why it was covered-up. And, a question with universal resonance - is it sometimes better to simply let things be?

eBooks of the Month