Modern and Contemporary Fiction

Welcome to the present, here we have some fabulous reads set in the modern era. From provocative to beautiful, open your heart and mind and discover strong, believable stories that hammer at your awareness and cause thoughts to hesitate, develop, and flow.

May 2022 Featured Books

One Last Letter from Greece

One Last Letter from Greece

Author: Emma Cowell Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/05/2022

The breathtaking, escapist debut novel from Emma Cowell, perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop, Carol Kirkwood and Karen Swan. Devastated by her mother’s death, Sophie longs to get away from an empty house full of memories and a life that hasn’t quite turned out as she had imagined. So when a chance discovery among her mother’s belongings hints at a past Sophie knows nothing of, she jumps at the opportunity for escape and a chance to heal. The magical, idyllic Greek town of Methoni awaits… But Sophie – determined to uncover her mother’s secrets – is about to discover so much more. Among the tranquil waters and cosy tavernas, Methoni’s locals offer Sophie the answers she craves, along with unexpected romance and, if she’ll take it, a chance at her own happiness… Will walking in her mother’s footsteps help Sophie discover who she was meant to be all along…?

Vladimir

Vladimir

Author: Julia May Jonas Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/05/2022

Charged with sexual and moral tensions, Julia May Jonas’ Vladimir debut is tantalisingly provocative from start to finish. Its complex, fallible characters are nigh unforgettable as they storm, teeter and flounder on multiple brinks of human experience. Shot-through with dark humour, with a cunning, unexpected sense of hubris rearing forth in the feverish finale, Vladimir is a tragi-comic gem of our times, and incredibly compelling as it lays bare extra-marital affairs with dubious imbalances of power, fulfilling desire through devious means, and middle class, middle-age crises. “When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me”. “I’ve always felt the origin of anger in my vagina and am surprised it is not mentioned more in literature”. These are the kinds of declarations made by the novel’s narrator, a middle-aged English professor at a liberal college in the US. Though long accepting of her husband’s affairs (they’ve always had an open agreement about extra-marital sex), he’s now facing accusations of sexual misconduct from former students. Since they teach at the same college, his actions are making her life pretty difficult. At the same time, “trapped in the prison of vanity”, she develops an obsession with a younger novelist. Through the extraordinary escalation of the narrator's infatuation, we see the extremities of manipulation, desire, and the desire to be desired. She becomes, in her words, an “evil puppeteer”. But this is no straightforward story of affairs and lust. The novel careers to a crazy, unexpected, and quite brilliant denouement, with a sense of tenderness and gallows humour through the darker subject matter. At once edgy, playful and serious, Vladimir is a compulsive triumph.

Debut Books of the Month
Thrown

Thrown

Author: Sara Cox Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

The wise and gloriously big-hearted debut novel from the much-loved broadcaster, Sara Cox Becky: a single mum who prides herself on her independence. She knows from painful experience that men are trouble. Louise: a loving husband, gorgeous kids. She ought to feel more grateful. Jameela: all she's ever done is work hard, and try her best. Why won't life give her the one thing she really wants? Sheila: the nest is empty, she dreams of escaping to the sun, but her husband seems so distracted. The inhabitants of the Inventor's Housing Estate keep themselves to themselves. There are the friendly 'Hellos' when commutes coincide and the odd cheeky eye roll when the wine bottles clank in number 7's wheelie bin, but it's not exactly Ramsay Street. The dilapidated community centre is no longer the beating heart of the estate that Becky remembers from her childhood. So the new pottery class she's helped set up feels like a fresh start. And not just for her. The assorted neighbours come together to try out a new skill, under the watchful eye of their charismatic teacher, Sasha. And as the soft unremarkable lumps of clay are hesitantly, lovingly moulded into delicate vases and majestic pots, so too are the lives of four women. Concealed passions and heartaches are uncovered, relationships shattered and formed, and the possibility for transformation is revealed.

The House with the Golden Door

The House with the Golden Door

Author: Elodie Harper Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

The second adrenaline-charged instalment of Elodie Harper's Pompeii-set trilogy (we adored The Wolf Den), The House with the Golden Door picks up Amara’s gripping story after she’s been freed from Pompeii’s most notorious brothel, though that comes at a perilously high price, and she’s far from a free woman. Richly evocative, and reeling with drama and the determined passion and conflicts of its unforgettable heroine, this is historical fiction at its most thrillingly entertaining. Though Amara’s shift in status from Wolf Den whore to courtesan brings some freedom and a better standard of living, her life now depends on her new patron, a wealthy, well-connected man who wants her to remain thin and has her at his whim — she’s his “little bird”, his “pretty little thing”. While adjusting to her new life, and taking enormous risks in the name of true love, Amara frees some friends from the Wolf Den, but at great financial and emotional cost, for this results in her becoming indebted to the man she was freed from, "the most violent pimp in Pompeii". Though owned and forced to lead grossly subservient lives, the women of The House with the Golden Door are guileful and ambitious. Fierce Britannica, for example, wants to be a gladiator. But betrayals, bribery, and a persistent “crushing sense of powerlessness” ensures readers are in for an irresistibly exhilarating ride. That said, Amara is a woman who refuses to be crushed. In her words, “there is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman”. With a heady climax leaving Amara on the brink of tremendous change, the final book can’t come quick enough.

Books of the Month
The Echo Chamber

The Echo Chamber

Author: John Boyne Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

What a thing of wonder a mobile phone is. Six ounces of metal, glass and plastic, fashioned into a sleek, shiny, precious object. At once, a gateway to other worlds - and a treacherous weapon in the hands of the unwary, the unwitting, the inept. The Cleverley family live a gilded life, little realising how precarious their privilege is, just one tweet away from disaster. George, the patriarch, is a stalwart of television interviewing, a 'national treasure' (his words), his wife Beverley, a celebrated novelist (although not as celebrated as she would like), and their children, Nelson, Elizabeth, Achilles, various degrees of catastrophe waiting to happen. Together they will go on a journey of discovery through the Hogarthian jungle of the modern living where past presumptions count for nothing and carefully curated reputations can be destroyed in an instant. Along the way they will learn how volatile, how outraged, how unforgiving the world can be when you step from the proscribed path. Powered by John Boyne's characteristic humour and razor-sharp observation, The Echo Chamber is a satiric helter skelter, a dizzying downward spiral of action and consequence, poised somewhere between farce, absurdity and oblivion. To err is maybe to be human but to really foul things up you only need a phone.

The Hidden Child

The Hidden Child

Author: Louise Fein Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Thought-provoking, challenging, and hugely compassionate, this historical family drama pierces emotions as it combines fact and fiction. Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have a bright future in the eugenics movement, however their world begins to crumble when their daughter is diagnosed with epilepsy. Author Louise Fein takes a difficult subject and creates a world that feels all too real. The eugenics movement, which was widespread in the UK and US before it moved to Nazi Germany is difficult to fully process. The thoughts of the time seem so very distant, and yet look around today and more than echoes remain which ensures this is a riveting yet disturbing theme. The personification of epilepsy as it travels alongside the family is interesting and creates an intimacy. The main characters feel incredibly authentic, they couldn’t be anything other than flawed, yet the writing is such that you can still connect with them. The inclusion of real characters alongside what has obviously been meticulous research ensures this novel creates an unsettling edge, and yet hope blossoms. The fascinating Author’s Note brings even more understanding. The Hidden Child is a touching and powerfully compelling story as it explores a time in history that should never be forgotten. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Dark Hours

The Dark Hours

Author: Michael Connelly Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

A CRIME BURIED FOR YEARS. AND ONE THAT'S JUST BEGUN... 'An authentic, topical and terrifying thriller: one of Michael Connelly's very best' THE TIMES 'Yet another superb thriller from a writer at the top of his game' SUNDAY EXPRESS 'Consistently excellent' MAIL ON SUNDAY * * * * * A MURDER YEARS IN THE MAKING A murder in the middle of a street party seems a senseless tragedy. But the victim had a dark past which came back to haunt him. THE DEEPER YOU LOOK Detective Renee Ballard connects the killing to an unsolved case last worked by ex-LAPD legend Harry Bosch. But then a new crime shatters the night shift... THE DARKER IT GETS The Midnight Men are a deadly pair of predators who stalk the city during the dark hours and disappear without a trace. Ballard once believed her job was to bring the truth to light. In a police department shaken to the core by protests and pandemic, both cases have the power to save her - or end her... * * * * * CRIME DOESN'T COME BETTER THAN CONNELLY: 'One of the very best writers working today' Sunday Telegraph 'The pre-eminent detective novelist of his generation' Ian Rankin 'The best mystery writer in the world' GQ 'A superb natural storyteller' Lee Child 'A master' Stephen King 'Crime thriller writing of the highest order' Guardian 'America's greatest living crime writer' Daily Express 'A crime writing genius' Independent on Sunday

Assembly

Assembly

Author: Natasha Brown Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2022

Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going. The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend's family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself. As the minutes tick down and the future beckons, she can't escape the question: is it time to take it all apart? Assembly is a story about the stories we live within - those of race and class, safety and freedom, winners and losers. And it is about one woman daring to take control of her own story, even at the cost of her life.

Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss

Author: Meg Mason Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

It’s hard to believe it’s a debut as the challenging subject matter of depression is handled with such a deft touch. So dark, it’s pitch, pitch black. Yet so so sensitive. It’s a masterclass in ascerbic narration and perfectly pitches the dark and the light. When we first meet Martha, she talks about her husband Patrick with such disdain, such boredom and he comments that Martha can supply anyone with an inventory of his flaws. But then everyone thinks he’s perfection, so sweet, so kind, living his life in the middle setting with Martha swinging between the extremes. So where does it all go wrong? Narrated in the aftermath of their separation, Martha is forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, eccentric, bohemian parents this book is filled with laughs and tears. At the heart of the novel is long term mental illness, the crushing depression with which Martha has battled since childhood, a depression which comes in waves for weeks or months at a time. However, it’s never named in the book; what is more important is Martha’s quest to know herself, to work out who is she is and why she never seems able to find contentment. It’s hilarious. It’s brilliant. It’s a sharp observational and witty book of huge talent and I can’t wait to read more of what Meg Mason has to offer.

Books of the Month
The Attic Child

The Attic Child

Author: Lola Jaye Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Lola Jaye’s The Attic Child is a truly exceptional novel. An utterly immersive dual-narrative experience that will break your heart as it lays bare atrocious abuses of power and privilege. An illuminating story that enriches understanding of Black British history with tremendous courage and storytelling verve – I can’t recommend it highly enough. In 1903, following the murder of his father at the hands of Belgian oppressors, 11-year-old Dikembe leaves his Congolese village with an English explorer, Mr Richard. The youngest of five siblings, Dikembe’s beloved mama saw this as a means of protecting him from the oppressors, a way of offering him a future. On arrival, Dikembe poignantly states, “Walking into that house was the beginning of an ending that would change everything about my life forever. Starting with my name”. Renamed Celestine, he assumes he’s here to work, but the servants address him as “Master Celestine”, and he’s told he will live a “splendid existence” as Mr Richard’s companion. But that’s soon undercut when Richard declares, “You are my prized possession from the Congo! The most valuable, and one I will make sure is looked after and taken care of to the best of my abilities”. Though ostensibly free, Celestine is powerless, a possession. While people heed Richard’s incorrect accounts of Africa, “no one ever saw who I was or what my life had been before”. And, though afforded the privilege of a fine education, Celestine’s loneliness and desperation to return home are painfully palpable, and his situation worsens when Richard dies. The novel’s second powerful narrative shifts to 1993, when 30-year-old Lowra inherits Richard’s former house. With him generally esteemed as a great explorer and philanthropist, selling the house is subject to review by heritage bodies, but for Lowra, it’s a place of painful memories. Like Celestine, she was confined in the house as a child, which was when she discovered an old porcelain doll, a beaded claw necklace and writings on the wall. As Lowra states while deep into her quest to discover who the objects belonged to, “we were two children born in different centuries; lost and alive yet connected by a set of experiences I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy”. The discoveries she makes expose horrifying abuses of power, but also tremendous dignity in the face of such abuses, a sense of pride and justice, and a man who devoted his life to empowering others through education and employment. Sweeping, haunting, and deeply affecting, this really is outstanding.

Star Books
True Biz

True Biz

Author: Sara Novic Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/04/2022

Driven by the interlinked lives of a headteacher and one of her pupils, Sara Novic’s True Biz is an incredibly compelling, stirring story that takes in civil rights and disability rights through the coming-of-age tumult of a rebellious deaf teenager. As Charlie tackles the challenges of being brought up in a hearing household and how she’s been treated by the medical profession, headteacher February faces a fight to keep her school open, and her marriage on track. Until she starts at River Valley School for the Deaf, Charlie has never met a deaf person. Her hearing parents are divorced, and her relationship with her mother has always been a fractious tinderbox. Amidst this turmoil, Charlie arrives at her new school unable to sign, with a cochlear implant that’s done little to help her — “the language acquisition skills the doctors had promised post-implant had been slow to materialise”. Through Charlie’s longstanding, painful problems with her implant, True Biz addresses the ethics of non-consensual implants, and also tells of “hospital horror stories” experienced by deaf patients, with medical professionals overlooking, disregarding, or not recognising cries for help. The story is also interspersed with information on ASL (America Sign Language) and Deaf history. For example, we learn how Alexander Graham Bell propagated eugenics in his belief that sign language should be eradicated, and that Black ASL (BASL) developed as a result of the segregation of students. True Biz also reveals enduring racism towards BASL — how the language is stigmatised. At school, while Charlie tries to fit in and find friends, she experiences the awakenings of first love and lusts, and comes to a political awakening, too. The various characters’ stories are brilliantly interlinked, and make for a tremendously powerful novel that’s tender, absorbing and altogether illuminating.

Books of the Month
Who's Lying Now?

Who's Lying Now?

Author: Susan Lewis Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Emotions are running high in the coastal town of Kesterly-on-Sea. It’s the height of a pandemic; an important friendship is in tatters and more than one marriage hangs in the balance. But for high-flying couple Jeannie and Guy Symonds, life couldn’t be sweeter. Until 6 January 2021 - the day Jeannie mysteriously disappears. Fans of Susan Lewis won’t be disappointed, those new to her books will be sucked right in. This is a novel that exudes suspense, sexual tension and a cast of perfectly developed characters who all have their own stories to tell and secrets to hide. With each chapter comes a new revelation or encounter that has you questioning what you know and who you believe, who you are rooting for and who you are slowly beginning to mistrust. This is page-turning, nail-biting stuff! Thankfully, Trainee Investigator, Cara Jakes, and Detective Andee Lawrence – a much-loved figure from Lewis’ earlier novels – are on hand to help us unravel the truth. The camaraderie between the newbie detective and Lawrence, along with various other female relationships in the novel, adds real warmth to this otherwise bleak world. A world in which the mistakes of the past are never forgotten and negative childhood experiences are woven into the very fabric of our futures. Who’s Lying Now? is a piece of wonderfully crafted crime fiction – but it also captures the very real world inhabited by us all in pandemic times. Add it to your reading list!

Books of the Month
Shapeless Summers

Shapeless Summers

Author: Hayden Thompson Format: Ebook Release Date: 27/02/2022

‘Shapeless Summers’ by Hayden Thompson depicts a nomadic middle-aged William Greenwood on a journey of self-discovery. Unlucky in love and seemingly always missing the boat when it comes to lasting long term relationships, the former sea captain travels to the Pacific as a data analyst, finding peace and self-understanding amongst the beautiful islands and its people but not the family and home life he yearns for. This is a character driven story that maintains hope throughout. Despite missed chances and failed relationships, William still works to regain his happiness following his divorce and look for someone to share his future with. Even as everyone else around him appears to forge ahead and leave him in their wake, with new families and children, Wiliam remains focused on finding contentment in his own way. I found William’s character to be endearing, prone to missed opportunities in his personal life but seemingly not one to wallow despite the pain and loss.  This is an interesting character focused story about one man’s journey of self discovery and a search for a sense of home that takes him around the world. With beautiful and vibrant settings, displayed for the reader in photographs throughout the book, this first-person narrative is a deeply personal and personable story filled with infectious optimism and hope.

Indie Books We Love
Flo

Flo

Author: Rosie Brooks Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/02/2022

Flo has a slow start as the reader learns about the central character. A break-up after being cheated on, a search for somewhere to live, an invite to be a bridesmaid for a 'not' friend and many more situations that readers will identify with, including the 'pressure' of her own thoughts (and that of her mother) of being a female of a certain age to get married and have children. Flo is very self-absorbed and will make readers feel sympathetic, angry, empathetic and frustrated. Flo's mother, dying of cancer, is poignant and relatable. Intermingled with all that is going on in Flo's life, Flo just wants her mother to tell her for once that she is proud of her. But all her mother is interested in is Flo's friend's upcoming wedding and Flo's lack of a husband and children. Flo experiences continual self doubt and always feels second best after her brothers. By the end, Flo appears to be stronger and determined not to settle for a 'last chance' husband. The book is an 'anxious' read where you want to help her, give her a shoulder to cry on and shake her. Bridget Jones but with more angst and less comedy. Jill Barton, A LoveReading Ambassador

The Colletta Cassettes

The Colletta Cassettes

Author: Bruno Noble Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2022

Secrets are revealed and summer romances blossom against the backdrop of the 1978 Argentina World Cup. ‘The Coletta Cassettes’ by Bruno Noble takes place on the Kentish family holiday to Colletta, Italy. A working trip for the father, Peter Kentish, as he schedules interviews with an ex-CIA member about the CIA complicity with the mafia and their involvement in the government following WWII. As his secrets are revealed and the extent of their involvement in political events after the war are shared, Peter Kentish’s new knowledge could put himself and his family at risk. Alongside his father’s interviews we follow sixteen-year-old Sebastian, keen to find teenagers his own age and eager to experience a summer romance. He sets his sights on Rosetta, who works as a chambermaid and around the restaurants, and we witness Sebastian’s tentative steps to get closer to her. This book seems to have a mix of everything, historical fiction, espionage inspired by true events, coming of age and family drama. I liked the subtle characterisation that has been used by the author, we learn a lot about Peter and Jacqueline Kentish through Sebastian’s eyes, the dawning realisation that his parents can be snobby, aloof and stubborn. I also liked the clumsy nature of Sebastian and Rosetta’s interactions and the naivety of Dominic that adds humour to most moments throughout the book. I found Sebastian’s narrative more engaging that Peter Kentish’s interviews and I found myself thinking “is that it?” as we see where the evidence of Peter’s interviews ends up - surely he would still be at risk based on the information he remembers from those conversations? I would have preferred a comment that it is the evidence of his interviews with Bravo that put him at risk to make this more believable. Overall this is an engaging summer read which I think would have a broad appeal. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

It Happened One Summer

It Happened One Summer

Author: Tessa Bailey Format: Audiobook Release Date: 13/07/2021

Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who’s cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town... where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong. Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar... in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

Audiobooks of the Month
Arsenic and Adobo

Arsenic and Adobo

Author: Mia P. Manansala Format: Audiobook Release Date: 04/05/2021

A RUSA Award-winning novel! The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer.... When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case. With the cops treating her like she's the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila's left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

Audiobooks of the Month
The Dictionary of Lost Words

The Dictionary of Lost Words

Author: Pip Williams Format: Audiobook Release Date: 08/04/2021

In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it. Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme's place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme seizes the word and hides it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world. Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women's experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words. Set when the women's suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. It's a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape our experience of the world.

Audiobooks of the Month
Open Mind

Open Mind

Author: Luna David, Morningstar Ashley Format: Audiobook Release Date: 24/09/2019

At twenty-eight, Jamie Gray has realized his dream of becoming a traveling nurse. After years of moving from place to place, he's met so many new people but hasn't formed any true connections. Jamie knows it's time to stop avoiding his life, like he's been doing since the death of his mother; his only family. Moving to the big city of Powell's Point to share an apartment with his best friend is exactly what he needs. It feels like the best time to set down some roots and get into a routine . . . and maybe, just maybe find love. Ronan Kincaid comes from a long line of doctors. Not being one to conform to the desires of his parents or society, his small practice focuses on the people in the BDSM community of Powell's Point. Often misunderstood, the community needs someone who knows and lives their lifestyle . . . someone who will take care of them the way they deserve. With his well-respected practice and exceptional bedside manner-coupled with after hours scenes and kinky house calls-the nickname Dr. Kink takes hold, much to his dismay. Needing to replace his long-time nurse, he hires the best candidate for his growing practice. Contains mature themes.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Night Circus

The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern Format: Audiobook Release Date: 15/09/2011

In 1886 a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Reves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire. There are contortionists, performing cats, carousels and illusionists - all the trappings of an ordinary circus. But this is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the reveurs - the dreamers. And who is the sinister man in the grey suit who watches over it all? Behind the scenes a dangerous game is being played out by two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who, at the behest of their masters, are forced to test the very limits of the imagination - and of love.

Audiobooks of the Month

April 2022 Featured Books

Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility

Author: Emily St. John Mandel Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

The award-winning author of Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel returns with a wondrous novel of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment. Sea of Tranquility is a virtuoso performance and an enormously exciting offering from one of our most remarkable writers. In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. In British Columbia, he enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and for a split second all is darkness, the notes of a violin echoing unnaturally through the air. The experience shocks him to his core. Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth, far away from her home in the second moon colony. Within the text of Olive's bestselling novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him. When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe. Sea of Tranquility is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. Perceptive and poignant about art, and love, and what we must do to survive, it is incredibly compelling.

The Paper Palace

The Paper Palace

Author: Miranda Cowley Heller Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

A PAGE-TURNING SUMMERTIME READ FOR FANS OF WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING AND LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE On a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the pond below 'The Paper Palace' - her family's holiday home in Cape Cod. As she dives beneath the water she relives the passionate encounter she had the night before, against the side of the house that knows all her darkest secrets, while her husband and mother chatted to their guests inside... So begins a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and fifty years, as Elle's shocking betrayal leads her to a life-changing decision.

Silverview

Silverview

Author: John le Carré Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

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.

This One Sky Day

This One Sky Day

Author: Leone Ross Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/04/2022

Dawn breaks across the archipelago of Popisho. The world is stirring awake again, each resident with their own list of things to do: A wedding feast to conjure and cook An infidelity to investigate A lost soul to set free As the sun rises two star-crossed lovers try to find their way back to one another across this single day. When night falls, all have been given a gift, and many are no longer the same. The sky is pink, and some wonder if it will ever be blue again.

The Berserkers

The Berserkers

Author: Vic Peterson Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/04/2022

This novel starts with the discovery of a beautiful woman who has been found stabbed and frozen in the ice of Lake Munch; she is dressed only in the costume wings and tight corset of a Norse Valkyrie. From here, the life of Grammaticus will never be the same again, a police records clerk by day and a member of the Viking heavy metal band The Berserkers by night. His life is usually uneventful, and this, it seems, is how he likes it.    The Constable, who is leading the investigation, seems to have other ideas for Grammaticus and sends him out with the police to be a note-taker, throwing him into a succession of eventful situations. He knows nothing about police procedures or how to apprehend a murderer. Only after the death of the little woman from the mead factory, he decides to team up with Snorri and Aud and embark on a mystical and magical adventure that will change his outlook on life completely.   This story is beautifully written with magic and myths along with horror and humour, it will have you enthralled as it takes you along on this journey of three people who have nothing in common but form a very special bond. Alison Hartley, A LoveReading Ambassador

The Kiss

The Kiss

Author: Santa Montefiore Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Sometimes your biggest mistake can also be a blessing . . . Madison has always known she had a different father to her siblings. But it wasn't until she turned eighteen that she learned his name. And now she wants to meet the man who shares her fair hair and blue eyes. Robert is a very lucky man. A big house, beautiful wife, three handsome sons. Eighteen years ago, he made a mistake. A brief fling that resulted in a daughter nobody else knows about. Robert must finally tell his family the truth. Will they ever be able to forgive him and accept Madison as one of their own?

Witness

Witness

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

To tell the truth? Or protect his family? Cornell is having a bad time. Kicked out of secondary school for a fight he didn't start, he finds himself in a Pupil Referral Unit. Here he makes friends with one of the Sinclair family. You don't mess with the Sinclairs, and when Ryan Sinclair demands Cornell comes with him to teach another student some respect, Ryan witnesses something that will change his life. Torn between protecting his family and himself, Cornell has one hell of a decision to make. This is published as part of the Quick Reads series, which aims to share the joy of reading with adults who are improving their literacy. It is Alex Wheatle at his best: a thrilling, pacy story that is full of moral complexity and insight into gang violence.

The Maid

The Maid

Author: Nita Prose Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

I am your maid. I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry. But what do you know about me? Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She's used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She's just a maid - why should anyone take notice? But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn't a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She's just a maid - but what can she see that others overlook? Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn't always black and white - it's found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

Audiobooks of the Month
Young Mungo

Young Mungo

Author: Douglas Stuart Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Powerful, thought-provoking, and stunningly eloquent, this remarkable novel will be one of my books of the year. Two young men meet, under normal circumstances they would battle on different sides of the Glaswegian Catholic and Protestant divide, instead they fall in love. Although no date is given, this potentially takes place in the 90’s. Two different time frames slip into and through each other, with the past rushing to meet the present. Gangs of words squared up, pushing and shoving their way into my thoughts. While the focus remains on the main character Mungo, Booker prizewinner Douglas Stuart doesn’t skim the surface of the other characters, he took me deep down into who they truly were. Mungo will remain a part of me, he feels entirely real, and I lived every exquisitely written second alongside him. This travels into extremely dark places, and yet it’s full of love too. Family obligations, abuse, self-worth, violence, religion, toxic relationships, the struggle of being different, the purity of first love all swirl together, creating a darkly addictive pull that on occasion threatens to overwhelm. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, Young Mungo is a swaggeringly beautiful novel that I recommend, heart and soul.

Star Books
The Swimmer

The Swimmer

Author: Graham Norton Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Helen is a retired teacher living on the Irish coast. She enjoys the peace and quiet - despite the burden of Margaret, her unpleasant sister. Margaret arrived three years ago for a short holiday, but somehow managed to stay and worm her way into Helen's life. One day, Helen sees a man struggling in the sea and decides to investigate. She doesn't quite know what it is, but something about it feels very strange...

Red, White and Royal Blue

Red, White and Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius-his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.  

Shadow Girls

Shadow Girls

Author: Carol Birch Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

I loved this atmospheric, coming-of-age novel, with its ghostly and tragic undertones. Shadow Girls explores the fragility and intensity of teenage friendships in the mid-1960s. The book instantly conjured up memories of my own school days in the 1980s – adolescent emotions, rebellious behaviour, first relationships and cliquey peer groups. The characters leapt out of the page, thanks to the stunning, highly descriptive prose and believable dialogue. The first half of the book is a slowburn, building up the tension and feelings of nostalgia; the second half is unsettling and much darker. The supernatural element of the book worked well for me too, sending a chill down my spine, and with an unreliable narrator it was very difficult to know what was real and what wasn't. Shadow Girls is also a beautiful written novel about mental health and the psychological impact of grief. It's a haunting read, and one that stayed with me long after I turned the final page. 

Books of the Month
How to Kill Your Family

How to Kill Your Family

Author: Bella Mackie Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Kill my family Make a claim on their fortune Get away with the above Adopt a dog Meet Grace Bernard. Daughter, sister, colleague, friend, serial killer… Grace has lost everything. And now she wants revenge. How to Kill Your Family is a fierce and addictive novel about class, family, love… and murder.

Audiobooks of the Month
Witches

Witches

Author: Brenda Lozano Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/04/2022

Ancestral legacies and the power of female voices — Brenda Lozano’s Witches is a beguiling Pandora’s box of a book. Exploring two Mexicos through three women – an indigenous healer, a trans woman, and a journalist – the parallel narratives of two of the women are divinely interwoven to create a uniquely captivating story that packs long-lingering punch. “I am a shaman but most call me a curandera, that is how I am known. Some call me a bruja, a witch…I heal things people have lived in the past, so I heal what they live in the present. And so people say also that I heal their future”. So speaks the enticing voice of Feliciana, an indigenous healer who lives in a traditional-minded village in the Mexican province of Jalisco. When her cousin Paloma, a fellow healer, is murdered, a journalist from Mexico City goes to Feliciana’s village to report on her death. The challenges of being female in a macho society, the tussle between values of the past and the present, and the elemental need to understand one’s place in the world are potently evoked through the women’s stories, with the journalist discovering her true voice  through embracing Feliciana and Paloma’s experiences.

The Distant Shores

The Distant Shores

Author: Santa Montefiore Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

THE BRAND NEW NOVEL FROM THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR Pure escapism on every page, The Distant Shores tells the story of a family torn apart, and the woman who will bring them back together. Margot Hart travels to Ireland to write a biography of the famous Deverill family. She knows she must speak to the current Lord Deverill - JP - if she is to uncover the secrets of the past. A notorious recluse, JP won't be an easy man to crack. But Margot is determined - and she is not a woman who is easily put off. What she never expected was to form a close bond with JP and be drawn into his family disputes. Shouldering the blame for running up debts that forced him to sell the family castle, JP is isolated and vulnerable. With help from his handsome son Colm, it seems as though Margot might be the only one who can restore JP's fortunes. Will the family ever succeed in healing rifts that have been centuries in the making?

The Caretakers

The Caretakers

Author: Amanda Bestor-Siegal Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/04/2022

Haunting and compelling, Amanda Bestor-Siegal’s The Caretakers unveils the secrets of the inhabitants of a wealthy Paris suburb, with the spectre of the 2015 terrorist attacks as a backdrop, and the unthinkably tragic death of a child at home at its heart. We’re introduced to the set of characters when a young American au pair is arrested on suspicion of killing one of the children in her care. Her host family live in an affluent suburb on the edge of Paris, where hiring an au pair is pretty much de rigueur, where cracks glint beneath the polished veneer. Both the wealthy women and au pairs lay bare complex issues around class, privilege, coming-of-age and midlife shifts on both sides of the Atlantic as the novel slips in time and place to reveal the events that led to the au pair’s arrest. Revenge is exacted in the form of affairs. People hide secrets of their past. These are a collection of lost, lonely souls, with their backstories adding further depth, among them a story of Czech immigrants in the US, and a French woman hiding her provincial past. Exuding the enthralling pace of a thriller and the emotional depth of a literary family drama, The Caretakers is a thoroughly thought-provoking, un-put-down-able read.

Debut Books of the Month
None of This Is Serious

None of This Is Serious

Author: Catherine Prasifka Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2022

Dublin student life is ending for Sophie and her friends. They've got everything figured out, and Sophie feels left behind as they all start to go their separate ways. She's overshadowed by her best friend Grace. She's been in love with Finn for as long as she's known him. And she's about to meet Rory, who's suddenly available to her online. At a party, what was already unstable completely falls apart and Sophie finds herself obsessively scrolling social media, waiting for something (anything) to happen. None of This Is Serious is about the uncertainty and absurdity of being alive today. It's about balancing the real world with the online, and the vulnerabilities in yourself, your relationships, your body. At its heart, this is a novel about the friendships strong enough to withstand anything.

The Liberation's Child

The Liberation's Child

Author: Lucy Cruickshanks Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2022

This is Britain – but not as we know it. The country is reeling in the aftermath of the Free and Equal Britain (FEB) movement, a political regime that dismantled the structures of society and brought about the unjust killing of millions of citizens. Dom and Thea, two survivors trying to move on with their lives, face a race against time to discover the truth behind a child trafficking ring somehow connected to FEB-era politicians. Their desperation is present at every turn of this haunting fiction. Every move they make is riddled with tension; who is watching over them? Who can really be trusted? Cruickshanks' prose is beautifully taut – not a word is wasted – and her short, punchy paragraphs add pace to the thriller when it’s most needed. The narrative shifts between Thea’s and Dom’s stories with ease, both characters and their tragic pasts treated with emotional sensitivity rather than pity. Their resilience and integrity shine in an otherwise corrupt world – it’s impossible to not get swept along with them and their cause. The Liberation’s Child is dystopian fiction at its finest…but don’t be fooled. Although this version of London may be far removed from any modern reality, the unnerving themes that lie at the heart of this harrowing story - human trafficking, political unrest and genocide – will undoubtedly strike a chord with many.

Amongst Our Weapons

Amongst Our Weapons

Author: Ben Aaronovitch Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/04/2022

PRE-ORDER THE HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED BRAND NEW NOVEL IN THE #1 BESTSELLING RIVERS OF LONDON SERIES NOW There is a world hidden underneath this great city... The London Silver Vaults - for well over a century, the largest collection of silver for sale in the world. It has more locks than the Bank of England and more cameras than a celebrity punch-up. Not somewhere you can murder someone and vanish without a trace - only that's what happened. The disappearing act, the reports of a blinding flash of light and memory loss amongst the witnesses all make this a case for Detective Constable Peter Grant and the Special Assessment Unit. Alongside their boss DCI Thomas Nightingale, the SAU find themselves embroiled in a mystery that encompasses London's tangled history, foreign lands and, most terrifying of all, the North! And Peter must solve this case soon because back home his partner Beverley is expecting twins any day now. But what he doesn't know is that he's about to encounter something - and somebody - that nobody ever expects... Effortlessly original, endlessly inventive and hugely entertaining - step into the world of the much-loved, Number One bestselling Rivers of London series. 

Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2022

“Once a research chemist, Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanour of someone who was not average and never would be”. So we are introduced to gloriously unconventional Elizabeth near the opening of Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, an enchanting, uproariously witty novel that I cannot recommend highly enough — think a funny, feminist Mad Men set in the world of science, in a “patriarchal society founded on the idea that women were less. Less capable. Less intelligent”.  With her doctoral career cut short after daring to defend herself against the groping hands of a tutor, in 1951 Elizabeth is working as a chemistry researcher, surrounded by men who overlook her work and treat her with sexist disdain. One of her colleagues is Calvin, an introverted, socially awkward Nobel-prize nominated scientist with a penchant for holding grudges, which is one of the things Elizabeth first admires in him, for “Elizabeth Zott held grudges too”, especially against a society that all but forbade women to do anything of importance. Elizabeth and Calvin strike up a sparring working relationship, start dating, and move in together — unmarried (the horror!). She suggests paying her share of the rent by cooking dinner, declaring that “Cooking is a serious science. In fact, it’s chemistry”. Meanwhile, while the unique chemistry between the couple is a delight to devour. Some years later, Elizabeth finds herself single again, and a single mother to boot. And it’s through her daughter (specifically, the delicious, nutritious lunches she cooks for her) that she’s offered a slot on a TV cookery show. True to form, Elizabeth refuses to play ball with the producer, declaring that “There’s nothing average about the average housewife”, and using the show to deliver cracking advice: “Courage is the root of change…Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future”. Guaranteed to have you roaring with laughter, weeping in empathy, and fist-pumping the sheer joy of Elizabeth’s indomitable spirit, Lessons in Chemistry is a revitalising, stirring triumph.

Star Books
Voting Day

Voting Day

Author: Clare O'Dea Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2022

Threaded with engaging detail on class, and the pull between traditional ideas about how women should live and the drive for female independence from men, Clare O’Dea’s Voting Day is an absorbing, read-in-one-sitting novella. Told from the perspectives of four women in 1959, on the day Swiss men voted against giving women the right to vote, the author reveals the differences between women’s lives and attitudes, and also what unites them. It’s a delicate, illuminating and immediately engaging work, told with elegance and insight as the women’s lives intersect on this decisive day. First we meet Vreni, a hardworking farmer’s wife who’s heading from the countryside for an operation in Bern, but not before she’s prepared her household for her absence. In Bern, Vreni meets Margrit, her daughter. With Margrit trying to forge an independent life, their time together reveals the pull between the old and the new, country and town, and intergenerational conflicts, but also the persistence of male control over women no matter what their age or location. The fact that it’s Vreni who tackles her daughter’s predicament also sheds light on the way assumptions about people can blind us from seeing the truth. While outwardly confident, in reality Margrit feels like she’s in a “thorny, overgrown forest from the most frightening fairy tales…lost and helpless”, while her apparently old-fashioned, downtrodden mother asserts herself with glorious verve. At the hospital we switch to Esther’s narrative. She’s a cleaner with connections to Verni and Margrit, a young mother who’s been abandoned by her husband and left in dire straits. In turn, hospital administrator Beatrice has been campaigning for the “yes” vote and is determined to help Esther. The four characters, and the connections between them, embody and amplify varied realities of women’s lives at this time — still restricted by men clinging onto power over public and private life, but straining towards a new era of greater equality. 

Early Morning Riser

Early Morning Riser

Author: Katherine Heiny Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Tender and comic, with a devilishly addictive wry tone and incredibly drawn characters, reading Katherine Heiny's Early Morning Riser is akin to being transported to the beating heart of an eccentric, entirely relatable small-town community. It really does make for a headily blissful reading experience, as befits a story that delves deep into the heart of all forms of love and human connections. Despite having had a whole lot of girlfriends who are everywhere around town (and beyond), Jane can’t help but fall for charismatic woodworker Duncan, though she’s less happy about the constant presence of his ex-wife, and it look like their love might be lost when he says he has no intention of getting married a second time. Then, a tragic accident sees them reunite in a way that will transform their lives forever, when they’re brought together with Jimmy, Duncan’s developmentally-challenged employee, in a truly unexpected, wondrous way. Witty, with exquisitely fitting, perfectly-placed imagery, such as this evocation of Jane snatching a moment of peace on the fraught eve of her ill-fated wedding day, “The sky was lavender-colored now. The sun had set, but the light lingered, like a child reluctant to go to bed”, Early Morning Riser is a magical, absorbing feat of fiction, and incredibly funny with it.

Star Books
Woman, Eating

Woman, Eating

Author: Claire Kohda Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/03/2022

Funny, unsettling and searingly affecting Claire Kohda’s Woman, Eating is a devour-in-one-sitting kind of novel. A feverish feast of female-centred fiction that explores our fundamental yearning to belong, and our complex relationship with food, hunger and our bodies through a brilliantly-bold, freshly-told twist on vampire tales. Lydia’s vampiric condition is revealed in wry style when she rents a studio space for artists. For a few pages, her sensitivity to sun and light could be interpreted as a medical affliction, before bam! We learn of Lydia’s struggle to source fresh pigs’ blood, and that her institutionalised, centuries-old mother was responsible for turning her into the part-human, part-demon she now exists as. An existence that’s left her unbearably isolated, feeling “like my body is a puppet”, and with a complex relationship to hunger and food. While she can’t digest the kind of sustenance humans enjoy, Lydia is acutely aware of the way humans “give food a lot of power…If you lose control in your life, you can find control in your food”. This is the first time Lydia has lived apart from her mother. Her loneliness is excruciating, and exacerbated when she meets new people at the studio and during her gallery internship. Lydia’s longing for physical and emotional closeness is palpable, as is her struggle to contain her impulse to feed herself fresh blood. Alongside this, the novel explores colonialism as vampirism — Lydia is a young British woman born to a Japanese father and a Malaysian mother whose father was “a white British man who had arrived in Malaysia as part of a colonising power. He ate many women, but for some reason had her drink from him so she would become what he was”. Such questions around identity and an intense sense of hunger sear through this uniquely powerful novel.

Books of the Month
The One

The One

Author: Claire Frost Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

When Lottie Brown bumped into Leo she was convinced he was “The One”. Their three months together were pretty much perfect. She was the happiest she’d ever been. Until she lost him. As she mourns the man snatched from her too soon, she crumbles, her heart breaks and Lottie struggles to get her life back on track. They hadn’t had time to meet their family and friends, to fully know each other. Leo had never met Lottie’s two sisters, the remainder of their trio. She’d met his cousin Ross briefly but that hadn’t gone too well. Having already been unlucky in love this is a step too far for Lots. A heartwarming read with a little heartbreak, just don’t forget the tissues.

eBooks of the Month
Sofia Khan and the Baby Blues

Sofia Khan and the Baby Blues

Author: Ayisha Malik Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/02/2022

Sofia Khan is going about everything the wrong way. At least, that's what her mother, Mehnaz, thinks. Sofia is twice-divorced, homeless and - worst of all - refusing to give up on a fostered baby girl. Sofia's just not behaving like a normal woman should. Sofia doesn't see it like that. She's planning to adopt Millie, and she's sure it'll be worth it. (Even if it means she and Millie have to stay at Mehnaz's place for a while.) And as Sofia finally begins to live the life she's chosen, she finds both romance and happiness start to blossom. But then someone comes back from the past - and not even Sofia's own past. Suddenly, she's faced with a choice. To do what's best for those she loves, Sofia might have to break her own heart. And she might find herself needing the last person she expected...

March 2022 Featured Books

A Man of Understanding

A Man of Understanding

Author: Diana Janney Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2022

Loss and grief across the generations is the focus of ‘A Man of Understanding’ by Diana Janney. When Rufus (renamed Blue) loses his parents he travels to Mallorca to stay with a grandparent he’s never met before, his Granga Horatio. A challenging new relationship begins and the pair slowly bond, learn about each other and figure out how to communicate through their love of poetry, art and culture.  This is a well-written and flowing story and the poetry included is elegant - simple yet beautiful. The narrative drew me in and as I read I was urging both Blue and Horatio to just talk to one another and be honest, settling back slightly when the breakthrough moments happened and they gradually overcame their communication struggles. Blue’s friend John Thompson brings an interesting new dynamic. I think I liked his character the most as I found his clear minded straight-forwardness was sometimes a refreshing palate cleanser in between Blue and Horatio’s more vague and metaphorical style. This is a story of bereavement and a story of healing. ‘A Man of Understanding’ follows a road with several bumps, twists and turns but is ultimately a heart-warming tale. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Last Library

The Last Library

Author: Freya Sampson Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2022

You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum - the beloved local librarian - passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village's memory of her mum. Instead, she's retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home. When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There's gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause? If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .

French Braid

French Braid

Author: Anne Tyler Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/03/2022

The major new novel from the beloved prize-winning author -- a brilliantly perceptive, painfully true and funny journey deep into one family's foibles, from the 1950s right up to the changed world of today When the kids are grown and Mercy Garrett gradually moves herself out of the family home, everyone determines not to notice. Over at her studio, she wants space and silence. She won't allow any family clutter. Not even their cat, Desmond. Yet it is a clutter of untidy moments that forms the Garretts' family life over the decades, from giving a child a ride to a painstaking Easter lunch, a fateful train journey to an unexpected homecoming. And it all begins in 1959, with a family holiday to a cabin by a lake. It's the only one the Garretts will ever take, but its effects will ripple through the generations.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Author: Dawnie Walton Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/03/2022

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2021 A queen of punk before her time. A duo on the brink of stardom. A night that will define their story for ever. Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, a Black punk artist before her time. Despite her unconventional looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together. In early seventies New York City, just as she's finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal's bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially Black women, who dare to speak their truth. Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo's most politicized chapter, but as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens everything. Provocative and haunting, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev introduces a bold new name in contemporary fiction and a heroine the likes of which we've not seen in storytelling.

Reptile Memoirs

Reptile Memoirs

Author: Silje O. Ulstein Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/03/2022

Uncoiling monstrous extremes of human behaviour through traumatised, obsession-driven characters, Silje Ulstein’s Reptile Memoirs is a thriller like no other. An audaciously bizarre, taboo-tangled marvel of a debut. Guilefully plotted, the multi-timeframe, multi-voiced narrative is wildly original. In 2003, Liv becomes obsessed with the idea of having a snake, so she and her flatmates buy Nero, a young Burmese python that comes to dominate her life, evoking unnervingly intense emotions, and providing her with a strange sense of security. In 2017, Mariam’s daughter goes missing, prompting a twisting, shifting investigation that unveils the long-submerged secrets and traumas of everyone involved, including one of the chief investigators. Reader, there’s no escape from the serpentine onslaught of this story. Reptile Memoirs takes the notion of unexpected plot twists to seething, shocking extremes as characters slough their identities and the timelines converge, with the snake-narrated “reptile memoirs” of the title providing an unnerving, cold-blooded perspective on cold-blooded human actions.

Star Books
The Exhibitionist

The Exhibitionist

Author: Charlotte Mendelson Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

The longer the marriage, the harder truth becomes . . . Meet the Hanrahan family, gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art - the first in many decades - and one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good. His three children will be there: beautiful Leah, always her father's biggest champion; sensitive Patrick, who has finally decided to strike out on his own; and insecure Jess, the youngest, who has her own momentous decision to make . . . And what of Lucia, Ray's steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist, too, but has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? For Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice. The Exhibitionist is the extraordinary fifth novel from Charlotte Mendelson, a dazzling exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics, queer desire, and personal freedom.

Lucky

Lucky

Author: Rachel Edwards Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

A tense, twisty novel about love, betrayal, survival - and an addiction so compelling it threatens to destroy everything in its path   Etta is in her mid thirties and keen to nudge her loving but commitment-phobic partner, Ola, towards marriage and children. Ola is reluctant to get engaged before they have enough saved for a house deposit, so Etta takes matters into her own hands and finds a way to start secretly making money: online gambling. What a delightful discovery! And what a stroke of luck that Etta just happens to be so brilliant at it.   Soon she's playing quite a lot. She doesn't like lying to Ola, but it's all for the good of their relationship. She's even made a friend on the site, StChristopher75, and she's invited to a special VIP party. And even if she is losing a little money here and there - or even quite a lot of money - she'll win it back eventually. Or maybe even StChristopher75 can help her out with a little loan, once she's met him in real life. He's just won big, and he's been so friendly and helpful on the site.   Why wouldn't he want to help her?

eBooks of the Month
The Day I Fell Off My Island

The Day I Fell Off My Island

Author: Yvonne Bailey-Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

Telling an absorbing, boldly honest story of resilience as it charts a girl’s life from rural Jamaica through her struggles to survive and thrive in London, Yvonne Bailey-Smith’s The Day I Fell Off My Island is a storytelling triumph. Shot-through with the stirring conviction that a person can come to control their own destiny, it’s told in elegant style, with perfectly-placed Jamaican patois making the story even richer. It’s 1968 and 13-year-old Erna is living in the care of her loving Grandma Melba and Grandpa Sippa with her three younger half-siblings. Erna’s world revolves entirely around her family and remote Jamaican village, until her mother visits them ahead of making a big move to England. After she leaves, life settles until Erna’s siblings are taken to live in London by their father, a man Grandma Melba calls the “Ugly Satan Devil Man”, leaving Erna bereft. After meeting her own father for the first time, Erna is also uprooted from her beloved island and finds England to be “an unfriendly, upside down world that made little sense.” In time though, despite racist attitudes initially curtailing her education, and despite enduring toxic masculinity and a traumatic home life, Erna begins to feel like she’s in control of her own destiny, echoing words of advice once said by her father: “Wi run things. Things nuh run wi”. Alongside exploring the trauma of being uprooted, The Day I Fell Off My Island is also incisive on the complexities of returning home, such as when Erna feels she’s seen as a “jumped-up islander who had lived abroad and now thought I was better than everyone else”. But, while Erna’s sense of displacement is powerfully palpable, so too are her triumphs. What a stirring, beautifully-told story. I certainly won’t forget Erna in a hurry.

Star Books
The Book of Form and Emptiness

The Book of Form and Emptiness

Author: Ruth Ozeki Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/03/2022

After the tragic death of his father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house and sound variously pleasant, angry or sad. Then his mother develops a hoarding problem, and the voices grow more clamorous. When ignoring them doesn't work, Benny seeks refuge in the silence of a large public library. There he meets a mesmerising street artist with a smug pet ferret; a homeless philosopher-poet who encourages him to find his own voice amongst the many; and his very own Book, who narrates Benny's life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter. Blending unforgettable characters with everything from jazz to climate change to our attachment to material possessions, this is classic Ruth Ozeki - bold, humane and heartbreaking.

Careering

Careering

Author: Daisy Buchanan Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/03/2022

careering (verb) 1. working endlessly for a job you used to love and now resent entirely 2. moving in a way that feels out of control There's a fine line between on the right track and coming off the rails. Imogen has always dreamed of writing for a magazine. Infinite internships later, Imogen dreams of any job. Writing her blog around double shifts at the pub is neither fulfilling her creatively nor paying the bills. Harri might just be Imogen's fairy godmother. She's moving from the glossy pages of Panache magazine to launch a fierce feminist site, The Know. And she thinks Imogen's most outrageous sexual content will help generate the clicks she needs. But neither woman is aware of the crucial thing they have in common. Harri, at the other end of her career, has also been bitten and betrayed by the industry she has given herself to. Will she wake up to the way she's being exploited before her protege realises that not everything is copy? Can either woman reconcile their love for work with the fact that work will never love them back? Or is a chaotic rebellion calling... Hilarious and unflinchingly honest, Careering takes a hard look at the often toxic relationship working women have with their dream jobs.

Homesickness

Homesickness

Author: Colin Barrett Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/03/2022

From the prize-winning author of YOUNG SKINS, comes HOMESICKNESS - a quietly caustic, startlingly beautiful and wonderfully wry new short story collection. In these eight stories, Barrett takes us back to the barren backwaters of County Mayo, via Toronto, and illuminates the lives of outcasts, misfits and malcontents with an eye for the abrupt and absurd. A quiet night in the neighbourhood pub is shattered by the arrival of a sword wielding fugitive. A funeral party teeters on the edge of this world and the next, as ghosts won't simply lay in wake. A shooting sees an everyday call-out lead a policewoman to confront the banality of her own existence. A true follow-up to his electrifying debut collection, HOMESICKNESS marks Colin Barrett out as our most brilliantly original and captivating storyteller.

The Devil Inside Us

The Devil Inside Us

Author: Sabahattin Ali Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2022

The Devil Inside Us by Sabahattin Ali follows the impulsive affair of Ömer and Macide in 1930s Istanbul. Both very different characters, and struggling to study, make a living and survive, this story follows the challenges throughout their relationships and Ömer’s many monologues about the devil inside of him that makes him do things that aren’t conducive to his happiness or helpful to his situation. This story is translated from Turkish and was initially published in the 1940s by Sabahattin Ali. The translation by Bill Welsh is strong and maintains the key concepts of the original while also creating a character driven literary story. ‘The Devil Inside Us’ is heavily focused on the characters as opposed to dramatic events or action to drive the plot forward. I felt this allows for a traditionally literary feel to the novel as it exposes and explores the human condition at length. The most powerful part of the book for me was Ömer’s acceptance “The devil inside us is a means to excuse ourselves from not being all that shrewd […] the custom of avoiding seeing the truth”, a statement that I as a reader found quite obvious while I was reading, but seeing Ömer reach this moment and the shift following still seemed quite poignant. It’s great to have the opportunity to read good translations of  literary classics from other countries and The Devil Inside Us, even though it’s set against the backdrop of Istanbul in the 1930s, has themes that are still relevant and spark introspection from the modern reader. A good recommendation for anyone looking for a classic literary read.

Indie Books We Love
Good Intentions

Good Intentions

Author: Kasim Ali Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Hugest of huge recommendations from me for this bold, provocative, compassionate and thoughtful, yet real as heck debut novel. I adored the characters, plot, and writing, Kasim Ali is an author to watch. After falling in love Nur is welcomed into Yasmina's family, but after four years he can’t bring himself to tell his own that he’s even got a girlfriend let alone living with Yasmina. Love, it should be simple, but with outside influences so often isn’t. Kasim Ali zigzags through the years of the relationship, allowing you to see ahead of time, to feel the weight of the decisions taken. As the little pops of understanding were released Nur, Yasmina, and their friends and family slipped into my heart. The characters are finely drawn, the flaws, the imperfections all add credibility. This is just so easy to read, yet the bittersweet plot ensures a level of tension remains throughout. I cared so much for these characters I was genuinely fearful of what was to come. I thought the ending was perfect in every way, standing ovation time for Kasim Ali. Wonderfully stimulating yet subtly thought-provoking Good Intentions emotionally connects with heart and mind. I’ve chosen this absorbing and rewarding read as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month. 

Star Books
The Choice

The Choice

Author: SJ Ford Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Hero or villain? Right or wrong? You decide, in this fast-paced thriller fraught with conundrums and contradictions, forged by the love we have for our children. The curiosity, the confusion, the suspicion, the creeping fear, the panic, the anger, the hopelessness, the protective fire of a mother. Which side will you be on? She did it, you see. She killed him.  She pointed her car at him and slammed down the accelerator. Jane Bell, mother of two, frustrated and terrified about being ignored by the police, takes matters into her own hands when she uncovers plans for her neighbour to bomb the local primary school. The school and nursery which her children attend.  What would you do? What do you think? Your conscience screams alongside Jane’s as the story unfolds, as we find out more chapter by chapter from each standpoint, from each perspective, from each of the bystanders. The husband Neil. The Detective Inspector Bill Simmons, the senior officer at the scene. Aneesa Khan, the journalist following the story for the Birmingham Gazette. Simon Rafferty, the barrister who decides to grab Jane’s case and attempt to change the course of legal history. As a mother myself this sucker punched me, and tears were streaming.  It’s thought-provoking, captivating. And not always in a comfortable way. What if this were my children’s school? But thou shalt not kill. It’s black and white isn’t it? Or is it… With twists and turns along the way, you follow the story of Jane and her incredible journey through the media firestorm and the trial. Would you take one life to save hundreds? Let’s talk about it after you’ve read this book.

Debut Books of the Month
Edgware Road

Edgware Road

Author: Yasmin Cordery Khan Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Taking in two timeframes, Yasmin Cordery Khan’s Edgware Road is an engrossing debut that lays bare the ways we’re haunted by our pasts, and driven to pursue paths that may bring about our downfall. On one level, Edgware Road tells the tragic story of a man desperate to give his family the best, so caught up in an unattainable dream of unimaginable wealth, that he loses everything that matters. At the same time, it explores long-lasting connections across time and continents. And all this against a backdrop of corrupt business practices that have catastrophic consequences for smaller cogs in the machine. It’s 1981, and Khalid has big dreams for his future. He works in the West End, determined to attain the wealth displayed by the clients he encounters in the Playboy casino, determined “to be the paymaster. Nothing else in the world could give you authority, and respect”. He’s also married to a beautiful woman and has a daughter, Alia. Always the optimist, when London Playboy is shut down, he’s not worried about losing his job. He’ll take a position with the company in the Bahamas. But alongside this optimism, Khalid is a gambler. He makes bad decisions, his relationship breaks down, he’s in serious debt, and so throws himself into an investment opportunity he's certain will solve all his problems, until his body is found washed-up far from home. Sliding to 2003 (the narrative masterfully moves between the two timeframes) and Alia, now a Junior English tutor at Oxford University, is drawn to visit her father’s extended family in Karachi to discover what really happened to him. A gripping family mystery with emotional depth and intriguing social context – Edgware Road is a riveting, smartly-written debut. The LoveReading LitFest invited Yasmin to the festival to talk about Edgware Road. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

Debut Books of the Month
All My Mothers

All My Mothers

Author: Joanna Glen Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

MEET EVA MARTINEZ-GREEN, AN ONLY CHILD FULL OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HER BEGINNINGS. Between her emotionally absent mother and her physically absent father, there is nobody to answer them. Eva is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why are there no baby pictures of her? Why do her parents avoid all questions about her early years? When her parents' relationship crumbles, Eva begins a journey to find these answers for herself. Her desire to discover where she belongs leads Eva on a journey spanning decades and continents - and, along the way, she meets women who challenge her idea of what a mother should be, and who will change her life forever...

eBooks of the Month
The Summer That Changed Us

The Summer That Changed Us

Author: Cathy Bramley Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2022

The new feel good read about three women searching for friendship in a sparkling seaside town, from your favourite storyteller Cathy Bramley The sparkling seaside village of Merle Bay, with its beautiful beach scattered with seaglass, is a place where anyone can have a fresh start. For Katie, it is the perfect hideout after a childhood trauma left her feeling exposed. For Robyn, the fresh sea air is helping to heal her scars, but maybe not her marriage. For Grace, a new start could help her move on from a heartbreaking loss. When they meet on Seaglass Beach one day, they form an instant bond and soon they're sharing prosecco, laughter - and even their biggest secrets... Together, the women feel stronger than ever before. So can their friendship help them face old fears and find happy endings - as well as new beginnings?

Wahala

Wahala

Author: Nikki May Format: Audiobook Release Date: 06/01/2022

See me, see trouble Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English, though they don't all choose to see it that way. Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her 'urban vibe' yet again. When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them. Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself. A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on love, race and family, Wahala will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Boldly political about class, colorism and cooking, here is a truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.

Audiobooks of the Month
SKIN

SKIN

Author: Caroline Venetia Annis Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2021

This book hooked me from the start, the writing style, the characters, all fantastic. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I ended up reading the second half of the book all in one go as I just had to find out what happened. Thirteen-year-old Chloe and her family, Mum, Dad, and younger sister Ella go on holiday every summer to a caravan by the sea where they meet another family, the Rossi’s. For Chloe, this year is going to be different as she has decided that she likes one of the Rossi boys, who is a similar age to her. It then starts the awkward coming of age scenarios which brought me right back to when I went through similar myself! The frustrations, self-awareness and thought processes of being a teenager is encapsulated brilliantly in this book, showing the high and lows of a family holiday with a holiday crush thrown in. A highly recommended book, and I cannot wait to read more from this author! Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Author: Anthony Doerr Format: Audiobook Release Date: 28/09/2021

When everything is lost, it’s our stories that survive How do we weather the end of things? Cloud Cuckoo Land brings together an unforgettable cast of dreamers and outsiders from past, present and future to offer a vision of survival against all odds. Constantinople, 1453: An orphaned seamstress and a cursed boy with a love for animals risk everything on opposite sides of a city wall to protect the people they love. Idaho, 2020: An impoverished, idealistic kid seeks revenge on a world that’s crumbling around him. Can he go through with it when a gentle old man stands between him and his plans? Unknown, Sometime in the Future: With her tiny community in peril, Konstance is the last hope for the human race. To find a way forward, she must look to the oldest stories of all for guidance. Bound together by a single ancient text, these tales interweave to form a tapestry of solace and resilience and a celebration of storytelling itself. Like its predecessor All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s new novel is a tale of hope and of profound human connection.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners

Author: Christina Lauren Format: Audiobook Release Date: 14/05/2019

For two sworn enemies, anything can happen during the Hawaiian trip of a lifetime—maybe even love—in this romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling authors of Roomies. Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion...she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas. Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo. Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is...Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be. With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Audiobooks of the Month
Daisy Jones and The Six

Daisy Jones and The Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid Format: Audiobook Release Date: 01/05/2019

Everybody knows Daisy Jones and the Six. From the moment Daisy walked barefoot on to the stage at the Whisky, she and the band were a sensation. Their sound defined an era. Their albums were on every turntable. They sold out arenas from coast to coast. This is the story of their incredible rise: the desire, the rivalry - and the music. Then, on 12 July 1979, Daisy Jones and the Six split up. Nobody knew why. Until now...

Audiobooks of the Month