Narrative theme: Love and relationships

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Author: Emily Austin Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/06/2022

Meet Gilda. She cannot stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her anxious mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church and finds herself abruptly hired to replace the deceased receptionist Grace. It's not the most obvious job - she's queer and an atheist for starters - and so in between trying to learn mass, hiding her new maybe-girlfriend and conducting an amateur investigation into Grace's death, Gilda must avoid revealing the truth of her mortifying existence. A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration - and the expiration of those you love - is the only certainty.

Star Books
The Man Who Died Twice

The Man Who Died Twice

Author: Richard Osman Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/05/2022

It's the following Thursday. Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He's made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn't bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Audiobooks of the Month
The Red Arrow

The Red Arrow

Author: William Brewer Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Brutally, bravely honest in its portrayal of depression, suicidal tendencies, failing to fulfil obligations, and failing to live up to one’s promise, William Brewer’s The Red Arrow also offers a luminous sense of hope that it is possible to emerge from the dark mist of depression experienced by his protagonist. Our narrator was once a promising young writer with a big book deal to write a big American novel about a chemical spill in West Virginia. But, crippled by depression since childhood, he’s unable to write the book and winds up with a huge debt to his publisher. A way to work himself out of debt presents itself when an esteemed physicist requests that the narrator ghost-writes his memoirs: “the more of his life I write, the more of my life I get back”. This is why the writer finds himself travelling through Italy with his wife, on a second honeymoon, but also on the trail of the physicist. As he digs deeper into his subject’s life, he peels back layers of own life, revealing what led him to this point, memories of his Italian grandparents, family arguments, a succession of obsessive distractions, worsening depression, and the transformative psychedelic treatments that saved him. His eventual meeting with the physicist is a devastating denouement - clever, unexpected and radiant.

One Good Thing

One Good Thing

Author: Alexandra Potter Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

Discover a hugely squishy, compassionate, and affectionate hug in book form. After her divorce, Liv leaves London behind for the Yorkshire Dales and discovers new beginnings aren’t that easy to find. While main character Liv narrates her own story, we also enter the lives of other characters from across the generations, and in dog form. Their stories surround Liv and as friendships begin to blossom, I fell in love with all of them (particularly Harry who rather steals the show!). Life in all its impossible, heart-breaking, fabulous glory sweeps across the pages, and took me with it. I love how Alexandra Potter balances different themes, characters, and the plot. You’ll greet dementia, grief, aging, teenage angst, fear, courage, friendship, autism, and love. I laughed, cried, raised my eyebrows, kept my fingers crossed, and basically felt as though I was a part of this little gang. For the feel-good factor alone I would have chosen this novel as a Liz Pick of the Month, but there’s more than that to discover within the pages. With oodles of warmth and charm One Good Thing is a lovely, thoughtful, and rewarding read.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
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.

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
What Eden Did Next

What Eden Did Next

Author: Sheila O'Flanagan Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

When loved ones from the past reappear in our lives unexpectedly, they have a habit of shaking things up. And not always for the bad. For Eden Hall, the return of an old childhood friend - five years after the death of her beloved Andy – forces her to re-evaluate emotional connections to the past and the relationships that will shape her future. Her late husband’s family have been nothing short of perfect. But when Eden and daughter Lila show signs of moving on, ties with her controlling in-laws become strained. Will Eden have the resilience to put her own happiness first? And will she ever let go of her one true love? Sheila O’Flanagan is a masterful storyteller who delves into female relationships, and the female experience, with authenticity and energy. The friendship between Eden and an elderly patient is particularly special, and for a Desperate Housewives measure of sex, gossip and flirtation, the women of Sycamore Grove, O’Flanagan’s fictional Dublin neighbourhood, are the perfect tonic! Their short, sassy WhatsApp messages offer light relief to the heart-breaking love letters Eden pens to her dead husband. What Eden Did Next is a captivating exploration of how friendship and love can help us overcome adversity. How lives really can be rebuilt after trauma. And why we should always, always listen to our heart. A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read for the new season.

Books of the Month
Not a Happy Family

Not a Happy Family

Author: Shari Lapena Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2022

The chilling Sunday Times bestseller perfect for fans of Knives Out. The new unputdownable thriller from the multi-million-copy bestselling author of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR. In this family, everyone is keeping secrets - even the dead. In the quiet, wealthy enclave of Brecken Hill, an older couple is brutally murdered hours after a tense Easter dinner with their three adult children. Who, of course, are devastated. Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you'd know. Wouldn't you? 

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
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.  

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
Wild and Wicked Things

Wild and Wicked Things

Author: Francesca May Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Darkly suggestive and consuming, this historical fantasy novel offers a nod to The Great Gatsby. Annie Mason finds herself in an unknown world of blood magic and murder when she investigates her inheritance. This is set just after the First World War, where witchcraft, which had a huge influence in the war, has been all but banned. At the beginning I wondered if I had entered a realm already formed as I found myself hesitating and searching for information that wasn’t immediately available. However, I soon settled in and immersed myself in the stormy and decadent atmosphere, where the urge to live as large a life as possible after the effects of the war hits hard. The plot bubbled along in the background as the characters took centre stage. While Annie and Emmeline throbbed with energy as they explored their feelings for each other, the secondly characters added real depth and flavour before pulling the story together. Author Francesca May successfully evokes the excess of the time, and also balances the abuse, dark magic, and violence that can be found in the story with the innocence of Annie, love and friendship. Chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month, Wild and Wicked Things successfully steals into thoughts and thoroughly provokes feelings.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month