Narrative theme: Death, grief, loss

Breathless

Breathless

Author: Amy McCulloch Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/02/2022

When struggling journalist Cecily Wong is invited to join an expedition to climb one of the world's tallest mountains, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. She doesn't realise how deadly the climb will be. As their small team starts to climb, things start to go wrong. There's a theft. Then an accident. Then a mysterious note, pinned to her tent: there's a murderer on the mountain. The higher they get, the more dangerous the climb becomes, and the more they need to trust one another. And that's when Cecily finds the first body . . .

Breaking Point

Breaking Point

Author: Edel Coffey Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/01/2022

An innocent mistake. A lifetime of guilt. Susannah has two beautiful daughters, a high-flying medical career, a successful husband and an enviable life. Her hair is glossy, her clothes are expensive; she truly has it all. But when - on the hottest day of the year - her strict morning routine is disrupted, Susannah finds herself running on autopilot. It is hours before she realises she has made a devastating mistake. Her baby, Louise, is still in the backseat of the car and it is too late to save her. As the press close in around her, Susannah is put on trial for negligence. It is plain to see that this is not a trial, it's a witch hunt. But what will the court say?

Debut Books of the Month
Quicksand of memory

Quicksand of memory

Author: Michael J. Malone Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/12/2021

Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge ... An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles. Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships. Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner's young son, following a devastating tragedy. When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need. And yet, someone is watching. Someone who has been scarred by past events. Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge... Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder... 

The Visitors

The Visitors

Author: Caroline Scott Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/12/2021

This thought-provoking and exquisitely written novel has touched my heart. In 1923, Esme Nicholls travels to Cornwall in the hope of learning more about her husband who died in the First World War. This is the first book I’ve read by Caroline Scott, and it won’t be my last. Her debut The Photographer of the Lost set in 1921 was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, and When I Come Home Again set in 1918, was one of The Times Best books of 2020. The Visitors is so eloquently emotional and earthy it will stay with me for some time. The Cornish setting just sings, the house full of former soldiers where Esme stays made me feel welcome. The garden and natural surroundings soothe and act as a foil for the feelings of the people who reside there. Diary entries and articles add hidden thoughts and an awareness of the war. I adored the ending, the closing information so simply imparted, yet so satisfying and fulfilling, made me smile. The Visitors is beautifully expressive and heartfelt, and I’ve chosen this gorgeous novel as both a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month. 

Star Books
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Author: Marianne Cronin Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/12/2021

The One Hundred years of Lenni and Margot is so special, it’s gentle yet pointed and warmly amusing as it highlights life within sight and touching distance of death. To celebrate their joint 100 years, 17 year-old Lenni and 83 year-old Margot paint their life stories while in hospital. Singing of friendship, love, and family, we discover how they can all be found in the most unexpected of places. This is Marianne Cronin’s debut novel, and I’ve added her to my list of authors to look out for. While Lenni and Margot are the stars, the other characters add essential energy. She brings these characters to vibrant life with a few perfectly chosen words. The smallest of details matter, in fact are vital. This book is so visual, slipping backwards and forwards in time, snapshots of the years appeared like magic to paint their own picture in my mind. The pages dance with joy and hope, while being realistic about death. I laughed and I cried, yes this novel is emotional, yet it also delivers the most heart-warming hug too. A well-deserved LoveReading Star Book, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot comes with a 'must-read' label of recommendation from me.

Star Books
Never

Never

Author: Ken Follett Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/11/2021

In Follett’s first contemporary thriller for more than a decade, he imagines the unimaginable, a cat and mouse game of brinkmanship between nuclear powers.  Expertly researched and brilliantly crafted, this 800 page epic is unputdownable. It’s a cover-to-cover action-packed mammoth tale of weaving multiple interrelated story lines, with captivating characters and intriguing plots with tension, terror, heartache, love, betrayal.  US President Pauline Green fights at home and abroad to prevent nuclear disaster as the book moves from Defcon 5, the lowest state of readiness, to Defcon 1, the brink of war. We follow the incredible work of Abdul Haddad, a spy working undercover with jihadis in Chad. Nearby, a beautiful young widow Kiah and her son Naji want to leave the shrinking shores of Lake Chad, escape their fate and travel illegally to Europe, no matter how terrifying the journey is with human traffickers. We fall for Tamara Levit a CIA operative attached to the American embassy in N’Djamena and her French counterpart Tab Sadoul, an attaché at the European Union Mission who are following the trail of a powerful group of drug-smuggling terrorists. In China, we support the machinations of Chinese spymaster Kai Chang, an ambitious senior government official battling against the old guard. Covert operations, terrorist activities, arms dealers, drug smugglers, human traffickers, government coups, military skirmishes – it has it all. And Ken Follett delivers it with aplomb. Hold on to your seats, it’s a bumpy rollercoaster ride!  

Audiobooks of the Month
The Man Who Died Twice

The Man Who Died Twice

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

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 Cat Who Saved Books

The Cat Who Saved Books

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

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

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Sugar

Sugar

Author: Bernice McFadden Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

An absolute beaut of a debut which we get to enjoy thanks to Vintage, 21 years after its debut in the US. The book opens in Spring 1940 with a dead child, raped, killed and abandoned by the roadside in the small town of Bigelow, Arkansas. An event from which the family and the town would never recover. Pearl’s heart broke that day when she lost her Jude, and so did mine. We fast forward to Spring 1955 as we are introduced to Sugar who arrives in the small southern town like a storm with her red lips, in her red high heels and blond wig. She was labelled right then and there. Abandoned at birth by her mother, and raised in a brothel, Sugar has been to hell and back and comes Bigelow to settle. In spite of their differences, Sugar bonds with her god-fearing, pious next door neighbour Pearl over sweet potato pie and pain. It’s a beautifully crafted journey of love, of loss, of understanding, of friendship, of rehabilitation. It’s a reawakening, an unforgettable one of two incredible characters who you come to care for deeply and I for one cannot wait for the sequel This Bitter Earth, published in summer 2022.

Star Books
Should We Stay or Should We Go

Should We Stay or Should We Go

Author: Lionel Shriver Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/06/2021

Lionel Shriver’s Should We Stay or Should We Go is an of-the-moment novel if ever there was one. With whip-smart dialogue and thought-provoking internal monologues cutting to the core of its characters, it tackles the topic of ageing through a playfully inventive structure involving twelve parallel universes and two principle protagonists who’ve made a suicide pact. Should We Stay or Should We Go boasts a smart concept that’s been cleverly executed - think Life After Life meets Sliding Doors delivered in Shriver’s distinctive style. After watching her father’s demise during ten years of Alzheimer’s, Kay struggles to cry for him when he dies: “I feel absolutely nothing… I feel as if he’s been dead for years.” Both fifty-something NHS medical professionals, Kay and her husband, Cyril, move to discussing everything from the nature of memory to universal social care. They’ve seen far too many of their patients suffer like Kay’s dad and their discussion leads Cyril to propose they agree to a suicide pact to avoid a similar fate - they will kill themselves on turning eighty. Of course, when that time comes, they must confront their decision.  Each chapter serves up an alternate ending for the couple, with the likes of the ethics of suicide, cryogenic preservation, and ageing cures explored along the way. By turns amusing, moving and provocative, it examines the biggest of questions through personal detail, and will surely provoke thought as to how readers themselves wish to bow out.

eBooks of the Month
One Last Time

One Last Time

Author: Helga Flatland Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/06/2021

A deeply layered, emotional and compelling novel that examines and contemplates family relationships. A terminal cancer diagnosis results in reflection for Anne and her daughter Sigrid. This is award-winning Helga Flatland’s fifth book, and her second to be published in English, it was shortlisted for the Norwegian Booksellers Award and topped the bestseller lists there. Her first English translation A Modern Family which was a number-one bestseller in Norway is another beautifully written book I can highly recommend. Both books have been translated by Rosie Hedger, and it is superbly done, you can feel Norway and the differences, yet an exquisite connection to the story makes you a part of the words. Anne and Sigrid narrate, the chapters aren’t headed yet each character’s voice is distinctive and any momentary hesitation between chapters soon clears. This joining of voices yet fragmentation of thoughts as the voices change, helps not hinders as it establishes the tone, the feeling of these women. Helga Flatland is a writer who is able to directly touch innermost thoughts and set them free to explore. She knows how to display the raw yet real side of what it is to be human. Using small slices of humour to break tension, she allows emotions to form, alter, sway. The ending, that engaging eloquent ending, sent goosebumps skimming down my arms. One Last Time is a beautiful meaningful expressive read and I truly loved it.

Star Books
The Promise

The Promise

Author: Damon Galgut Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/06/2021

Winner of the 2021 Booker Prize - A Reader's Review This one felt a bit personal to me, having just moved back from 8 years living in Cape Town. I love Damon Galgut and I've read a few of his books, and he's from Cape Town, so I hope he wins (yay, he won!). It's undeniably well written and the characters buzz, and even amuse, but it's South Africa at its dismal apartheid and post-apartheid bleakness..South Africa as much of the rest of the world see it. Much of which is even, sadly, undeniably accurate, but at the same time not accurate...or at least there's much more to it when you live there and know it. What I'm trying to say I guess is that I loved it, but it also made me feel sad, and somewhat homesick to see South Africa through foreigners' eyes again now I'm no longer there. - Tanya Carus Find out more about the 2021 Booker Prize Winner & Shortlist

Audiobooks of the Month