Looking to try something new? Check out our Debuts of the Month selection. You never know, one might become your favourite new author and a special discovery!
Through the finely-nuanced narratives of three Black women from very different backgrounds, Lola Akinmade Åkerström's In Every Mirror She’s Black is a remarkable feat of fiction. Teeming with hope, desire, struggle and love, this powerful page-turner pulls no punches as its engagingly three-dimensional characters strive for better lives in a world that makes it anything but easy for them to be themselves. It also dismantles any notion of there being a monolithic Black culture, and lays bare the unjust multiple standards by which Black women are judged - and all this through dazzling story-telling that will leave readers desperate to read the author’s next novel. The three female protagonists are linked by one wealthy man - Jonny Lundin, born into one of Sweden’s most privileged families, and CEO of the country’s biggest marketing company. Bored and frustrated by work, and by the men she meets on US dating apps, award-winning marketing executive Kemi is ripe for change when Jonny invites her to become his new Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion. While on a flight to woo Kemi from America to Stockholm, Jonny encounters Brittany, a former model who now works as a first-class flight attendant. Initially dismissive of Jonny’s attention, she finds herself drawn to him - he seems to worship the ground she walks on, and lavishes her with unimaginable devotion and wealth. Then there’s refugee Muna, who lost her mother and younger brother during a treacherous sea crossing, and now works as a cleaner in Jonny’s office, while dreaming of becoming an accountant and having a group of good friends. True to life, the women variously make mistakes, face excruciating decisions, and long to feel fulfilled. Their finely-drawn stories are equally as engaging as they struggle to feel at home in a city that’s supposedly egalitarian, but turns out to be rife with implicit racism, tokenism, and injurious stereotyping. Riveting, moving and stirring (with punch-packing endings you won’t see coming), In Every Mirror She’s Black is a magnificent must-read.
Taking in the absurdities of life, misfortune and tragedy, Kwon Yeo-sun’s Lemon is an engaging, read-in-one-sitting novella of remarkable intensity. In some regards, it’s a crime novel, but one that turns the genre on its head to create an enigmatic emotional puzzle in which a woman warped by grief engages with the person she believes killed her sister. Back in 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became called the High School Beauty Murder. There were only ever two suspects, one of whom had an alibi, while no evidence was found to convict the second, so the case was never solved. Seventeen years later, Kim Hae-on’s younger sister, Da-on, remains utterly eaten up by the murder. Her life is on hold, her mind trapped in twisted stasis. Fixated on finding out what happened to her sister, she discovers unexpected truths that strike her to the core. Told from multiple perspectives and times, the story sparks with descriptive perfection, such as this evocation of the victim: “She was very pretty, but not in a typical way. How could I describe it? Her beauty was urgent, precarious, like the piercing wail of a speeding ambulance. I could not look away”. It also swirls with powerful undercurrents of raw emotion - desperation, regret, longing, guilt, the brutal ripples of grief. Presented in all their ludicrous complexities, such raw states are overlaid with the mundanities of everyday life. Though short, this is an intensely gripping and profound reading experience. As Lemon ponders: “Couldn’t each moment we’re living now be the meaning of life?”
Four Dervishes draws on a long tradition of storytelling as it skewers issues like religious bigotry, injustice, the denial of women’s rights, and class division. Lavishly inventive, verbally rich, an exotic confection, this novel is both darkly thematic and humorously playful.
'Girl A,' she said. 'The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.' Lex Gracie doesn't want to think about her family. She doesn't want to think about growing up in her parents' House of Horrors. And she doesn't want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can't run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings - and with the childhood they shared. Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.
When Amy Ashton's world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection. Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been. Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves - soon there'll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy's carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she'd lost still be hers for the taking? Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places
Truly fascinating, this is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in a while. Seriously, I could rave on and on about it! Journey to what feels like an entirely different planet and explore the wonder of fungi. “Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live...Yet they live their lives largely hidden from view , and over 90% if their species remain undocumented.” Author Merlin Sheldrake caught and held my attention from the outset. I had to stop reading every so often just to contemplate the world that was opening up in front of me. I still feel gobsmacked days after reading it. Fungi has shaped our history and “the ability of fungi to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in breakthrough technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘wood wide web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems.” Entangled Life made me reconsider established thoughts and opened my eyes to new ones. I want to recommend it to everyone, for me it’s a genuine must-read and just had to be included on my list of Liz Picks of the Month and as a LoveReading Star Book.
An extraordinary and angry Russian novel about poisons of all kinds: physical, moral and political. Untraceable is a wonderful piece of fiction rooted in the recent history of Russia's state assassinations, especially the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Professor Kalitin is a ruthless, narcissistic chemist who has developed an untraceable, extremely lethal poison called Neophyte while working in a secret city on an island in the Russian far east. When the Soviet Union collapses, he defects and is given a new identity in Germany. After an unrelated Russian is murdered with Kalitin's poison, his cover is blown and he's drawn into the German investigation of the death. Two special forces killers with a lot of Chechen blood on their hands are sent to silence him - using his own undetectable poison. Their journey to their target is full of blunders, mishaps, holdups and accidents. Urgently topical and compellingly readable.
Taking in the cultural complexities of the Ottoman Empire through the compelling, criss-crossing stories of Levantine, Greek, Turkish and Armenian characters, Defne Suman’s The Silence of Scheherazade is an astounding feat of historical fiction - tremendously ambitious, and dazzlingly realised through the author’s exquisitely-threaded plotting and lush storytelling. It’s September, 1905, and one moment seals the fates of four very different families. This is the moment Scheherazade is born in cosmopolitan Smyrna to a mother numbed by opium. Though her namesake is the legendary storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights, she’s mute. A silent girl who grows up to bear witness to the brutality that eventually besets her city - the death and destruction, the expulsion of communities, the impending outbreak of WWI, and the burning. The magic of the city is dazzlingly evoked and intertwined with both the socio-political context and the very moving, very personal stories of this novel’s vast cast of characters. This is a novel to savour, to be dazzled by, to learn from, and reflect on. It invites utter immersion. The LoveReading LitFest invited Defne to the festival to talk about The Silence of Scheherazade. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Defne in conversation with Deborah Maclaren and find out why this is such a sumptuous tour de force of a book that everyone needs to read. Check out a preview of the event here.
Our September 2021 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. History, the first novel from actor, comedian and writer Miles Jupp (you’ll know him from his roles in Balamory and The Durrells, and appearances on popular comedy panel shows like Would I Lie To You?) is a funny, moving tale of modern family life and a man in the throes of midlife unravelling. Clive is a history teacher at a private school - he moved from a comprehensive as a result of his wife wanting a more rural life for them and their two daughters. Feeling increasingly stifled by school, and generally let down by life, Clive suggests they take a half-term holiday to France just as an incident at school throws his integrity into question. Their break turns out to be anything but the tonic Clive had sought for his well-being (and his marriage). It’s peppered with funny farcical moments - torrential rain followed by sun-burn; incidents with cars and a painful bike-ride accident - and on their return, Clive is more aware than ever of the need to change how he deals with life, and his actual life, for that matter. Underpinned by poignant realisations, Clive’s story has authentic, funny charm. If you’re aware of the author’s TV and radio persona, you’ll hear him narrating Clive’s character - a blend of hesitant, bumbling action and a realistic voice that’s both assured and endearingly rambling. Oh, and the ending is entirely surprising and leaves one desperate to know what Clive is about to do, and what path his life takes a little further down the road.
Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world Dean Nicholson reveals the full story of his life-changing friendship with rescue cat Nala and their inspiring adventures together on a bike journey around the world. When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson set off from Scotland to cycle around the world, his aim was to learn as much as he could about our troubled planet. But he hadn't bargained on the lessons he'd learn from his unlikely companion. Three months after leaving home, on a remote road in the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia, he came across an abandoned kitten. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. He couldn't leave her to her fate, so he put her on his bike and then, with the help of local vets, nursed her back to health. Soon on his travels with the cat he named Nala, they forged an unbreakable bond - both curious, independent, resilient and adventurous. The video of how they met has had 20 million views and their Instagram has grown to almost 750k followers - and still counting! Experiencing the kindness of strangers, visiting refugee camps, rescuing animals through Europe and Asia, Dean and Nala have already learned that the unexpected can be pretty amazing. Together with Garry Jenkins, writer with James Bowen of the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob, Dean shares the extraordinary tale of his and Nala's inspiring and heart-warming adventure together.
Well, a debut doesn't come more well-honed than Inga Vesper’s absolutely cracking slice of dark Americana, The Long, Long Afternoon, which is set in the summer of 1959 and encompasses a gripping mystery with an excoriating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are under-estimated, silenced and diminished. Beautifully written with scenes and characters that take you right back to a time of mail-order catalogues, mother’s ‘little helper’ and the appalling casualness of race and gender inequality, Inga has created a breath-taking, chromium-shiny, tale of how dark the sunniest places can be and how very desperate things can get. The LoveReading LitFest invited Inga to the festival to talk about The Long, Long Afternoon. 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 Inga in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone is talking about this book. Check out a preview of the event here.
Copenhagen-born Heidi Amsinck, acclaimed for her BBC Radio 4-performed short stories, sure knows how to craft Scandi-noir with style. My Name is Jensen, her debut novel, is a gripping, twisty treat for fans of chic, gusty thrillers; an un-put-down-able rollercoaster through Copenhagen’s underbelly. Journalist Jensen has returned to her native Copenhagen following the closure of the London branch of her newspaper. She goes to work one morning to find a dead young man in a doorway, the word “Guilty” emblazoned on a cardboard sign. This is the second such victim in a few weeks, and Jensen needs to know who did it, and why. When her ex-lover, DI Henrik Jungersen, turns up on the scene, they play a kind-of cat and mouse game as a third body is found. At the same time, Jensen’s having work trouble. She hasn’t filed a big story since returning from London, and she lets a colleague take lead of reporting on these murders, all the while doing her own investigation and discovering more before anyone else, including her ex. The case (and story) unfolds at carefully controlled, intriguing pace - always unpredictable, it will keep readers on their snow-chilled toes. As steeped in atmosphere as it’s driven by Jensen’s dogged commitment to discovering the truth, one hopes this setting and intriguing character feature in future novels.
This poignant page-turner switches between the four members of the Willows family - a sixty-something couple and their two daughters, one of whom, 38-year-old Take That fan Patience, has Rett syndrome, a progressive genetic neurodevelopmental disorder that almost exclusively affects females. While she can’t speak or move, Patience is incredibly perceptive. She takes everything in and knows everyone’s secrets. She’s wryly funny too, remarking to herself that, “I’m still lying here, like Miss Havisham’s mouldering wedding cake, at least ten years after I should have left.” Former nurse Louise has devoted her life to Patience and understands her daughter better than anyone. Meanwhile, Patience’s 36-year-old sister Eliza is in denial about being dumped by her fiancé, while Dad Pete works overseas most of the time. Then comes a ray of hope, in Louise’s eyes at least. She takes on a job with a leading Rett syndrome consultant, essentially so Patience can be part of his potentially ground-breaking gene therapy trial. While Professor Larssen thinks the therapy could reverse the syndrome’s symptoms, Pete is vehemently against Patience’s participation - he thinks the risks are too great. Despite the dangers, they go ahead, and the story accelerates to an emotional, edge-of-your-seat ending, underpinned by a fine exposition of how humans weather the worst of life’s storms to cope with the unexpected hands we are dealt.
The hole in Royd Tolkien’s bucket is his beloved brother Mike who should have been with him to complete their adventure bucket list together. When Motor Neurone Disease hits it does so cruelly and without mercy. After a long battle Royd was alone, but Mike had bequeathed him an unusual gift which would push his risk-averse nature to the limits. There’s a Hole in My Bucket is Royd’s hilarious inheritance journey to complete 50 new and unexpected tasks that Mike has left him. The brief is comprehensive and mischievous, sending him all over the world and including everything from getting a tattoo to taking a terrifying bungee jump. It’s a truly Tolkienesque quest but instead of power, Royd’s reward is that Mike is with him every step of the way, cheering him on and helping him navigate his own grieving process with thrills and laughter. Mike has left Royd the greatest gift of all. Life.
Fabulous First-time Fiction
Reading a fabulous debut is a truly thrilling reading experience. It can feel as though you are discovering a treasure hoard for the fervent bibliophile. Not only do you hold in your hands a gem of a book, but all the books yet to come. If you've been in at the start of a great series you’ll know exactly what we mean. You can rely on LoveReading to tell you about the debut’s that have called out to us, that give us that tingle of revelation. So do keep an eye out for our debut section on the site and in our newsletters where we highlight our favourites of the month. Our competition page is also a good place to haunt too!
Keep up to date by signing up for our free regular emails.