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Historical Fiction Books

Rich and immersive, transporting and informative, good historical fiction is a sumptuous treat. See the past re-written with our Historical Fiction collection. Here to take you to another time without the cost of building a time machine.

June 2021 Featured Books

The House of Lamentations

The House of Lamentations

Author: S. G. MacLean Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Forming part of an incredibly well written, detailed yet vibrant and exciting historical crime series, this is a stonkingly good read. If you’ve not yet explored the Captain Damian Seeker novels (two of them have won the Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger Award), then I recommend that you start at the beginning with The Seeker. The House of Lamentations is the final book in the five book series, and while sad that it’s ended, I can shout from the rooftops that this is a series that is most definitely worth reading. Taking place in Bruges in 1658 the Royalists plan to fund a last-ditch attempt to place the exiled Charles on the throne. However, a traitor has been feeding information to Cromwell’s enforcer who now needs all of his wits about him to deal with the threat. While the main story plays out, a number of smaller mysteries weave their way around the plot. As I read my thoughts twisted and turned inside out as I tried to work out who to keep my eye on, and when the ending came it made me smile in satisfaction. The House of Lamentations is a fine final hurrah to the Damian Seeker Novels and I just want to stand up and applaud S. G. MacLean on her wonderful creation, so this sits as a Liz Pick of the Month. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Fortune's Daughter

Fortune's Daughter

Author: Dilly Court Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Don't miss the brand-new six-part series from the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author Dilly Court! Rockwood was home and she would do anything she could to stop it being stolen from them. Abandoned by their parents and left to fight for themselves, headstrong Rosalind Carey has no choice but to take charge of her younger brothers and sister in Devonshire's grand Rockwood Castle. But their once much-loved home is crumbling like the family that lives within it. Living hand to mouth and desperate to provide for the estate that depends on them, the Carey family are one debt away from ruin. Until the day comes when the dashing Piers Blanchard appears on their doorstep from Cornwall, claiming he is Rosalind's distant cousin and that Rockwood Castle is his. Piers says he wants to help pay off the family's debts. But how can Rosalind be sure he isn't out to take what is his and leave them all homeless? Only a closely-guarded secret will convince Rosalind she can trust Piers to protect her family - and her fragile heart. Book One of The Rockwood Chronicles ...

Dark Tides

Dark Tides

Author: Philippa Gregory Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Number One bestselling author Philippa Gregory's new historical novel tracks the rise of the Tidelands family in London, Venice and New England. Midsummer's Eve, 1670. A wealthy man waits outside a poor London warehouse to meet with Alinor, the woman he failed twenty-one years before. He has everything to offer: money, land, status - and he believes she has the only thing he cannot buy: his son and heir. Meanwhile in New England, Alinor's brother Ned cannot find justice in the New World, as the king's revenge stretches across the Atlantic and turns the pioneers against each other and against the American Indians. Then, a beautiful widow, Livia, arrives from Venice, telling Alinor that her son Rob has drowned and that she needs their help. She enchants the warehouse family with her sensual carefree warmth, and promises of a new profitable trade selling beautiful statues of marble and bronze to fuel the classical craze among the wealthy landowners. But something in Livia's story doesn't add up and the answers lies across the dark tides in Venice...

Books of the Month
A Room Made of Leaves

A Room Made of Leaves

Author: Kate Grenville Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/2021

Our August 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. Glorious! A novel of such startling sincerity, clarity and eloquence it feels as though the narrator herself is stamped onto every page. A Room Made of Leaves is inspired by letters and documents on entrepreneur and pioneer John Macarthur and his wife Elizabeth. They left England in 1788 for New South Wales in Australia when he was posted as Lieutenant to the penal colony of Sydney Town. This is Kate Grenville’s first novel in a decade, she is the author of the 2006 Man Booker shortlisted novel The Secret River. Elizabeth narrates, headstrong and wilful she nonetheless finds she is folding herself smaller and smaller in order to not be observed. Each chapter may be short but they are full of suppressed emotion, candour, and are as compelling as can be. The chapter headings, if all joined together, would create a story in themselves. As each word, as each sentence and chapter flowers, the inner being of Elizabeth opened to allow me to see, and also feel her emotions. The cover is gorgeous and the understanding of the title when it came, made the beauty resonate all the more. Australia is obviously much loved, and I in turn loved reading between the lines of history. Unique and spirited, A Room Made of Leaves truly is a beautiful novel, it also deservedly joins our LoveReading Star Books. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for A Room Made of Leaves. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Star Books
Protector

Protector

Author: Conn Iggulden Format: Audiobook Release Date: 13/05/2021

THE LATEST ANCIENT EPIC IN THE NEW ATHENIAN SERIES FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF EMPEROR AND WAR OF THE ROSES TWO LEGENDARY BATTLES. ONE FEARLESS WARRIOR . . . Themistocles stands as an archon of Athens: the might of the city is his to command. Yet he is no nobleman, distrusted by many for his modest birthright. For his presumption. But those who stand against him cannot argue with two things: his victories as a warrior and the vast Persian force heading their way. And so Themistocles must fight. To survive the game of politics, to make his name, he must prove himself again and again in battle. On the sea. On land. In the arena of public opinion. His enemies are legion, his allies do not trust him and the Persians would corrupt him - but history belongs to the courageous . . .

Audiobooks of the Month
The Mezzotint Man

The Mezzotint Man

Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/05/2021

‘The Mezzotint Man’ by Michael Brewer uses an accessible and informative writing style that shines a light on the history of art and the art world that, for those like myself who don’t have an Art History background, may not have really given much thought about. We live in a world today where reproductions of great artworks are easily accessible and readily available for most budgets. Brewer uses ‘The Mezzotint Man’ to take us back to Victorian London, where the lines between art, culture and commerce were only just starting to blur; where a demand started for reproductions of popular paintings to be displayed in homes throughout the country. The thing that struck me initially, and something that I am assuming differs from today’s reprint market is the implication of collaboration between painter and engraver. It is stated early on that John Constable would only accept the purest form of mezzotint, which allowed for the most rich and detailed reproductions. This dictation of quality by the painter implies to me the teamwork between the craft of the artist in delivering the initial painting and the skill of the artist to create the mezzotint. Despite this teamwork, the mezzotint engravers feel to me to be hidden figures of the art world that Michel Brewer is helping to shine a light on. The focus of this biography, David Lucas, is a 19th century mezzotint engraver, described as ‘a quiet man’ by John Constable and, mostly known today for his engravings of Constable’s English Landscapes series. In a very readable style, with a timeline, index and details for further reading, ‘The Mezzotint Man’ follows the life of this artist, who lived in relative obscurity within Victorian London, creating art in order to earn a living and support his family. I found this book to be an enjoyable and educational look at how Victorian mass production impacted the world of Art, and the life of those working in this new industry. I feel this book is a valuable and intriguing read for those interested in Art History or the Victorian era more widely. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador    

Indie Books We Love
A Lawyer's Story

A Lawyer's Story

Author: Paul Carlin Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2021

Paul Carlin’s ‘A Lawyer’s Story’ is a twisting and thrilling mystery filled with deceit and corruption. John Farrelly is a naïve young lawyer, forever in the shadow of his twin brother James and obsessed with a young single mother, Ava. Drawn into a web of secrets, where old patients are poisoned for their wealth, John has to choose between the object of his obsession and his family.  'A Lawyer’s Story’ focuses on John's reflections on his life, the actions he took early in his career as a young property lawyer in his father’s firm and the consequences of his actions. This is a thrilling read, rich in detail and infused with character. This is one of those books that has imagery that makes you pause and appreciate the writing “like a missing tooth in a punched mouth.” being the first of such instances for me. Taking us from 1947 to 2012, we see the landscape and the characters change from post war to the modern era, we see the characters develop and there’s time for the shadows of the past to slowly creep up and envelop the main characters. I found this novel a tense and gripping read. The flipping of perspectives between John and James allows you to witness events from both brothers, frame your opinions and sometimes have your theories on what happened unravelled. A great read for any crime thriller fans and one I’d recommend. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
 The Girl Who Escaped From Auschwitz

The Girl Who Escaped From Auschwitz

Author: Ellie Midwood Format: Ebook Release Date: 05/03/2021

Poignant, powerful and pacey, Ellie Midwood’s The Girl Who Escaped from Auschwitz tells the remarkable true story of Mala Zimetbaum, a woman who did the all-but-impossible when she escaped Auschwitz with her Resistance fighter lover. It’s an extraordinary tale of courage and heroism in the face of impossible odds and excruciating circumstances - a tale told with much compassion in The Girl Who Escaped from Auschwitz. It’s autumn 1943 and “Edek had had enough. The grim realization of it dawned on him along with the first slanting rays of the sunset bleeding red atop the barracks’ roofs as he watched SS Officer Brück stomp repeatedly on an inmate’s head with the steel-lined sole of his tall jackboot.” This brutally arresting opening is typical of the book’s style - incisive, and physically impactful. A veteran of the camp, Edek is a political prisoner and resistance fighter – and he’s long been determined to escape. Meanwhile, Belgian-born Mala is at Birkenau Women’s Camp, where she works as a “runner in charge of delivering SS orders and official documents from one block to another.” As such, she “no longer had anything to fear from the wardens or the Kapos. An official armband with an insignia of a Läuferin on her left bicep, civilian clothes and dark-blond hair pulled into a bun instantly distinguished her from the general camp population.” But having been through the horrors of arriving at camp (“First, they took her freedom. Then, they took her hair”), and feeling disgust for the utter lack of humanity, she - like Edek - has resolved to regain her freedom. In the meantime, she uses her position to save lives. When they meet, Mala comes to believe in Edek’s escape plan, comes to believe that there might be light through these darkest of days - and through love. Shot-through with tremendous tension and compassion, this comes recommended for readers who enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Purchase The Girl Who Escaped Auschwitz from: Amazon - Currently 99p Apple Kobo Google

eBooks of the Month
In A Town Called Paradox

In A Town Called Paradox

Author: Miriam Murcutt and Richard Starks Format: Ebook Release Date: 19/10/2020

Miriam Murcutt and Richard Starks have aptly titled their fictitious town in the U.S. because the central theme of the book set 'In a Town Called Paradox' is one of conflict. The authors have explored the humanity of their main characters in depth, against the breath-taking but unforgiving background of the Utah landscape, and taken their readers right along with them. The story is about the relationship between two young people, Corin and Ark, who are both torn between love and resentment towards their respective parents for what they see as their betrayal and abandonment at an early age. But this is not simply a story in which a couple find redemption in their love for each other, it touches upon so many other conflicts that were rife in the 50s, when the book is set, and are still present today. We, the readers, are invited to consider the paradox of one person's 'truth' being another's 'fiction', just as in the movies, which feature prominently. Important issues are raised and examined...religious faith and the possibility of an afterlife, race discrimination, protection of the environment, sexual harassment and rape, homophobia, police corruption and euthanasia to name but several. This book will grab your attention from page one and will possibly have you re-thinking your stance on some of these issues but as the authors say, through one of their characters, 'We live in a non-deterministic world - one in which there are no certainties, only probabilities' but I hope that the probability here will be that you will read and thoroughly enjoy this book, as I did.  Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love

May 2021 Featured Books

The Missing Sister

The Missing Sister

Author: Lucinda Riley Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/05/2021

They'll search the world to find her. The six D'Apliese sisters have each been on their own incredible journey to discover their heritage, but they still have one question left unanswered: who and where is the seventh sister? They only have one clue - an image of a star-shaped emerald ring. The search to find the missing sister will take them across the globe - from New Zealand to Canada, England, France and Ireland - uniting them all in their mission to complete their family at last. In doing so, they will slowly unearth a story of love, strength and sacrifice that began almost one hundred years ago, as other brave young women risk everything to change the world around them.

The Assistant

The Assistant

Author: Kjell Ola Dahl Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Taut, intriguing and compelling, this story just flies as it weaves through the interwar years in Norway. A private investigator and his assistant take on what appears to be a straightforward case but their past haunts their present and they soon find themselves caught up in Nazi schemes. I adore Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detectives Series, and now his latest novels including The Courier, take a step into the past. He writes with an assured hand and translator Don Bartlett brings his world to life without you even realising he is there. The story flips between 1938 and 1924, each turn releasing information and tightening the connection between the two time periods. The plot is powerful, my thoughts spun, my feelings hesitated and altered as I read. It was fascinating to dwell in the time just before the Second World War, before the world experienced the full force and terror of the Nazi’s. A standalone novel, The Assistant is not only an action-packed, thrilling and chilling tale, it’s also smart and thought-provoking too. The LoveReading LitFest invited Kjell to the festival to talk about this thrilling and chilling tale.  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 Kjell in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why you won't want to miss this cracking read. Check out a preview of the event here

eBooks of the Month
Ariadne

Ariadne

Author: Jennifer Saint Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2021

A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS. 'ARIADNE gives voice to the misused Princess of Crete who betrayed her father to save Theseus from the Minotaur. Relevant and revelatory.' - Stylist As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur - Minos's greatest shame and Ariadne's brother - demands blood every year. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods - drawing their attention can cost you everything. In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne's decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover's ambition? ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

Mosaic: Life in Pieces

Mosaic: Life in Pieces

Author: Chris Aslan Format: Ebook Release Date: 01/05/2021

Chris Aslan’s Mosaic is an atmospheric novel underpinned by Christian spirituality. Rich in historic and cultural detail, the writing is visual and sensory, evoking the book’s first-century Middle Eastern setting in vivid technicolour. It’s also shot-through with a young woman’s trials and tragedies, and the hopes that bud in the wake of hearing about a miracle worker. Tabita‘s tale opens with her “seething at how unfair life is” as she picks stones from dried lentils in the afternoon sun of her mountain village. It’s located in the "far north of our holy land”, with the foothills below “populated by foreign occupiers with their enormous vineyards, expensive villas, and drunken and idolatrous ways.” Her family is scarred by death, and Tabita feels fragmented, in despair that she might not be repaired. Then comes news of a Teacher who can heal. A Teacher whom some wonder might be a trickster, but a Teacher who himself counsels for people to “put our trust in God and not man, and to be aware of blind guides who lead others into destruction.” Taking portions of the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Acts as its sources, this is steeped in the author’s spirituality and knowledge of its setting.

eBooks of the Month
An Act of Love

An Act of Love

Author: Carol Drinkwater Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A dramatic and enthralling relationship tale that captures emotion and takes you on a journey through the Second World War. When Sara and her parents flee their homeland taking refuge in the French Alps, the full impact of the Nazi oppression edges ever closer. Inspired by her visit to a small museum in the Lower Alps Carol Drinkwater has created the most captivating story of young love, and the courage needed to face the most devastating of times. She has the ability to focus on the things that make us human, to create a link that alters the focus from watching, to actually feeling the events that take place. A balance is created between the intimate moments of relationships and how they sit within the wider fields of battle during the horror of war. This is ultimately as much a story about Sara’s own relationship with, and understanding of herself as it is with the man she falls in love with. The ending came with beautiful words and tears welling up in my eyes, I just had to include this as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. An Act of Love will encourage emotions to dip and soar as it gives hope even in the darkness. The LoveReading LitFest invited Carol to the festival to talk about An Act of Love.   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 Carol in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone should read this book.   Check out a preview of the event here

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Mosaic Life in pieces

Mosaic Life in pieces

Author: Chris Aslan Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/04/2021

Chris Aslan’s Mosaic is an atmospheric novel underpinned by Christian spirituality. Rich in historic and cultural detail, the writing is visual and sensory, evoking the book’s first-century Middle Eastern setting in vivid technicolour. It’s also shot-through with a young woman’s trials and tragedies, and the hopes that bud in the wake of hearing about a miracle worker. Tabita‘s tale opens with her “seething at how unfair life is” as she picks stones from dried lentils in the afternoon sun of her mountain village. It’s located in the "far north of our holy land”, with the foothills below “populated by foreign occupiers with their enormous vineyards, expensive villas, and drunken and idolatrous ways.” Her family is scarred by death, and Tabita feels fragmented, in despair that she might not be repaired. Then comes news of a Teacher who can heal. A Teacher whom some wonder might be a trickster, but a Teacher who himself counsels for people to “put our trust in God and not man, and to be aware of blind guides who lead others into destruction.” Taking portions of the Gospel of Mark and the Book of Acts as its sources, this is steeped in the author’s spirituality and knowledge of its setting.

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
The Letter

The Letter

Author: Barry Cole Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/02/2021

A heart-breaking tale of family and loss, set against the backdrop of a WWII and a war torn Germany. The author’s knowledge of the war shines through in this novel, from the horrifying details of the frontline as experienced by Franz, to the heart-aching wait for families left behind hoping to see their loved ones again.  ‘The Letter’ by Barry Cole follows Franz Mayer, a sergeant in the German army struggling to survive on the Eastern Front and on the way home to his family before braving the threat of war once more. Throughout the novel there’s great characterisation, even for the characters we meet for a brief time, the author makes sure they are rounded out. It’s subtle enough to not detract from the plot, but clear enough to hammer home that despite the broad descriptions of war - the country vs country commentary - the reality involves countless unique and complex individuals. This style of writing made ‘The Letter’ feel even more poignant and emotive to me. Combined with the detailed descriptions of the horrors witnessed and the poverty endured, ‘The Letter’ is a powerful story, that emphasises the loss and pain experienced on all sides. There are moments of hope scattered throughout, and I found Wolfgang in particular helped to bring some levity to the story during the times we spend with Hannah.   This was a fascinating historical war drama. There’s twists and changes that keep you turning the pages, hoping for a positive outcome, but never certain. I think that the author has succeeded in delivering an emotional and immersive story. ‘The Letter’ is a compelling and brilliant look at loss, at family and at the personal costs of war. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
His Name was Wren

His Name was Wren

Author: Rob Winters Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/02/2021

‘His Name was Wren’ is a coming of age story aimed at young adults, but one I feel could be enjoyed by a much wider audience. The plot takes in a small English Town called Hurstwick in WWII and modern day. In 1944 during a WWII blackout the church spire and nearby woods are destroyed and damaged, but was it a Nazi attack or something else? The answer is uncovered by one young resident and tries to keep it a secret. Years later, in 2018, Max Cannon moves to Hurstwick and learns about the town’s mysterious past. I liked both the historic and the modern timelines, and I found that they fit together well.  I found ‘His Name Was Wren’ to be very well written and I related easily into this story. “Max could count the number of friends he had on one hand, and that hand was a fist” Was a particular line that I found quite interesting, the author has a way of cleverly conveying information to the reader without needing to be explicit or getting bogged down in exposition.  The story allows the reader to follow Max landing in a strange new land and finding new friends almost as a parallel to the first contact and meeting of Wren. There are twists and turns in the plot and lots of action to keep the reader engaged. An interesting story that can be enjoyed in a day or so.

Indie Books We Love

April 2021 Featured Books

The Royal Secret

The Royal Secret

Author: Andrew Taylor Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A fabulously pacy, clever, and entertaining historical crime novel packed full of plots and skulduggery. James is asked to investigate a suspicious death while architect Cat finds herself in the middle of a royal secret. This is the fifth book in the highly recommended James Marwood and Cat Lovett series which began so explosively with The Ashes of London. It is such a brilliant set of books that I recommend starting at the beginning even though this could easily be read as a standalone. The intimacy of the story between Cat and James slips so easily into the history and intrigue of King Charles II. I always enjoy following the two stories of the main characters as they gradually merge together. In the third book James held the stage, here Cat takes more of a turn in the spotlight. The sense of time and place just sings, I didn’t question my surroundings, I was there. Andrew Taylor skilfully constructs a number of plot lines which he spins and twists together, the historical note at the end cements this fascinating story in place. The Royal Secret confirms this series as a must-read for any fans of historical crime fiction.

Small Pleasures

Small Pleasures

Author: Clare Chambers Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Hauntingly tender, and written with powerful grace, Clare Chambers’s Small Pleasures is an absolute joy from start to finish. It’s 1957 in suburban Kent, where Jean writes for a local newspaper with every aspect of her life still dominated by her contrary, controlling mother as Jean approaches forty. No post-work drinks with colleagues. No friends. No romance. Enter Gretchen Tilbury, an elegant Swiss woman who writes to the paper claiming her daughter was the result of a virgin birth. As Jean investigates the case, she becomes close to Gretchen, her kind, witty husband Howard, and the alleged miraculous daughter, all four of them finding comfortable joy in each other’s company. “You’ve stirred us out of our routine,” Howard remarks, to which Jean responds, “I would have thought it was the other way about.” While researching Gretchen’s youth, Jean inadvertently sends shockwaves through the Tilbury family when she reconnects Gretchen to a powerful figure from her past. At the same time, she and Howard find themselves falling for each other, both of them remaining faithful to Gretchen, graciously skirting their attraction - until it’s right to act. The novel features some of the most finely drawn, endearing characters I’ve encountered in recent contemporary fiction. For all her lonely frustration, Jean isn’t one to wallow. She’s pragmatic, with ripples of not-quite-regret lapping beneath her smooth, reasoned surface - a woman “who took pride in her ability to conceal unruly emotions.” Her domesticity pieces for the paper have something of Carrie Bradshaw’s musings about them, albeit without any in-your-face sex in the city (or the suburbs, in Jean’s case), with their apparently humdrum themes humorously paralleling soul-stirring events in her own life. Laying bare a quivering three-way tug between obligation, propriety and passion, and the inexplicable way thunderbolt-bonds are formed between similar-souled individuals, Jean’s conflicts and chance to love truly get under your skin. What a remarkable book, with a dagger-sharp climax that will pierce your heart.

Star Books
Daughters of Cornwall

Daughters of Cornwall

Author: Fern Britton Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Three women. A chance to rewrite history… 1918.The Great War is over, and Clara Carter has boarded a train bound for Cornwall – to meet a family that would once have been hers. But they must never discover her secret… 1939. Hannah has always been curious about her mother’s mysterious past, but the outbreak of the Second World War casts everything in a new light. As the bombs begin to fall, Hannah and her brothers are determined to do their bit for the war effort – whatever the cost. 2020. Caroline has long been the keeper of her family’s secrets. But now, with her own daughter needing her more than ever, it’s time to tell the truth – to show Natalie that she comes from a long line of women who have weathered the storms of life, as hardy and proud as the rugged Cornish coastline… From the Sunday Times bestselling author comes a sweeping, epic novel of mothers and daughters, secrets and lies, and a love that lasts a lifetime…

Audiobooks of the Month
The Dream Weavers

The Dream Weavers

Author: Barbara Erskine Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/04/2021

From the bestselling author of Lady of Hay, Barbara Erskine‘s The Dream Weavers is a spellbinding saga that spans centuries through a writer’s eerie connections to Anglo-Saxon King Offa and his indomitable daughter. In 2021, writer Simon has decamped to a cottage on the English-Welsh border to finish his book about King Offa. Unsettled by noises in the cottage - a woman’s distant voice, banging on doors in the dead of night - he enlists the help of modern-day mystic Bea. In 775 AD, Eadburh, the youngest daughter of ambitious, aggressive King Offa has inherited her father’s ruthless streak, along with unusual gifts from her mother, and it’s not long before these two time periods and gripping stories are seamlessly interwoven, not least when Simon’s daughter vanishes in our time. While the action is epic, the stakes high, and the historic episodes powerfully evocative, Erskine has an accessible down-to-earth style, with lots of character backstory and side strands feeding into the main narratives. Thronging with mystery, ghostly visions and centuries of secrets, this comes recommended for readers who like historic fiction with meandering intrigue.

Audiobooks of the Month
Hamnet

Hamnet

Author: Maggie O'Farrell Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Glorious, simply and beautifully glorious! Inspired by Shakespeare’s son Hamnet, this is the imagined story behind the writing of Hamlet, which was written between 1599 and 1601. Hamnet and Hamlet were apparently “entirely interchangeable in Stratford records in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries”. Maggie O’Farrell says she wanted to write this story for over thirty years. “What did it mean for a father to name a tragic hero after his ( ) son. What was this unusual act telling us?” The cover design is beautiful, it called to me. On opening, I slipped into and fell in love with this tale. Hamnet has an almost otherworldly feel, and yet is as earthy and believable as can be. Two time frames sit side by side, Hamnet becoming ill in 1596, and then the earlier story of Shakespeare and Agnes meeting and falling in love. The descriptions became clear bright images in my mind. I could feel the words, they echoed deep inside me, creating pools of emotion. I cried on finishing, all the feelings that Hamnet created slipped out of me and trickled down my cheeks. I adore Hamnet, it now sits on my list of favourite books, and will be one that I reread each year. Chosen as a Book of the Month, LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month.

Star Books
The Heretic's Mark

The Heretic's Mark

Author: S. W. Perry Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/2021

Action-packed and wonderfully sinister, this is a fabulous addition to the Jackdaw Mysteries Series. Nicholas and Bianca flee to Europe after an accusation of treason, en route they are joined by a strange young woman who claims to predict the future. This is a series I can highly recommend, do start at the beginning with The Angel’s Mark so you can witness the relationships as they grow. S. W. Perry conjures 1594 into being, the sights and sounds, the conspiracies and intrigue, all flourish on the page. Within this novel two main tales sit side by side, with Nicholas and Bianca on the road, and Ned and Rose looking after the rebuilding of the Jackdaw. The intimacy of the two tales is severed when trouble begins to hunt them down. Shivers of goosebumps travelled down my arms on meeting Hella, she is a character I won’t forget in a hurry. I found myself devouring the words as they flung themselves from the page and the ending roared towards me. The Heretic’s Mark really is the most thrilling, stimulating and fabulously readable tale.

Books of the Month
The Frequency of Us

The Frequency of Us

Author: Keith Stuart Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/03/2021

If you’re looking for a unique, transportive, immensely satisfying read then I’ll wave frantically and recommend you stop right here. Laura agrees to assess Will to establish if he is still capable of living on his own, she begins to suspect that Will isn't suffering from dementia and that his strange story may actually be true. Keith Stuart is the author of the truly beautiful Days of Wonder and A Boy Made of Blocks, books that touch emotions, encourage thoughts, and cast a spellbinding atmosphere. I was hugely excited to read his latest and it effortlessly joins the others as particular favourites of mine. Each of his novels have been completely different, yet there is a thread of connection. He opens a door to a side of being human that you might not have seen and encourages emotions to flood your heart and soul. The Frequency of Us takes a step outside of what is known, edging into fantastical and I joined the story with trust and belief. Laura and Will formed a connection with each other and in turn with me. Two time frames allow access to the past, creating intrigue and a mystery that just begs to be solved. The ending really spoke to me and set my feelings free to soar. The Frequency of Us is a mesmerising read full of love and hope, and I’m thrilled to recommend it as one of our LoveReading Star Books.  

Star Books
The People of Ostrich Mountain

The People of Ostrich Mountain

Author: Ndirangu Githaiga Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/05/2020

‘The People of Ostrich Mountain’ is a story that spans generations. We first follow Wambũi as she goes to school in the backdrop of the 1950s Mau Mau war, her impressive mathematics skills and intelligence earning her a place in a prestigious boarding school and nurtured by her teacher, Eileen Atwood. The years progress and we follow Wambũi and Eileen’s lives as well as the lives of Wambũi’s children. This is the story of how an intelligent young girl and a compassionate teacher pave the way for generations of success.  I loved reading this well crafted story, each character was brought vibrantly to life and I relished spending time with each character. ‘The People of Ostrich Mountain’ is beautifully written and introduced me to Mau Mau history, a history I was unaware of until now. While navigating the serious issues such as race, gender and immigration, with each character having their own struggles and experiences, I feel the main emphasis throughout the story is on community, goodwill and humanity. This is a book you can relax into, a family and friendship story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and would highly recommend.

Indie Books We Love
Fragments of Tom

Fragments of Tom

Author: J. H. Wallder Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/05/2015

Flo struggles to raise her son Tom in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Being on her own, Tom is the most important person in Flo’s life. When she loses him during World War Two, she doesn’t know how she will be able to continue her life without him. At the end of the war, when everyone must pick up the pieces of their former lives, Flo keeps Tom close to her and begins to find out things about his life that even she was not aware of. Her friends find her actions obsessive and worry about her health.  There is a lot to like about this book. There are many vignettes told through the eyes of Tom and his mother. They are well described, and it is easy to remember or imagine, depending on your age, the world as it was then. The novel passes through decades at quite a pace and I thought that, at times, it was almost too fast, particularly in the second half of the book.  I enjoyed discovering information about these characters and how Flo really begins to discover more about the son she thought she knew so well. Was Flo obsessive or was it Tom’s job to guide her through her loneliness? Lynn Johnson, A LoveReading Ambassador

The Mirror and the Light

The Mirror and the Light

Author: Hilary Mantel Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

The long-awaited sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the stunning conclusion to Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall trilogy. 'If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?' England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith's son from Putney emerges from the spring's bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour. Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry's regime to breaking point, Cromwell's robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him? With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man's vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

With authors like the two-time Man Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel among its illuminati, it’s no wonder that Historical Fiction is arguably more popular than ever. Follow the lives, loves, betrayals, deaths, trials-and-tribulations of those that went before us.

Whether you follow Sebastian Faulks and P.S Duffy to the hell and displacement of the Front in WWI, Philippa Gregory to the intrigue, immorality and perils of the court of Henry VIII, or get rocked on the high seas of the King’s Navy in Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander, there is a wealth of exceptional storytelling to dive headfirst into. Where will you let our time machine take you today?