Book Club Recommendations

Did you know that the first recorded reading groups were among women working in factories in the nineteenth century? And now, according to research undertaken a few years ago, there are tens of thousands of groups meeting regularly in the UK reading everything from literary classics to technical manuals! Of course, if you are in a book group, choosing what to read next can be a serious matter as not every book has subject matter that can really be discussed. So to help you LoveReading has decided to lend a hand by, each month, selecting a number of books we feel are perfect and will give your group a rewarding discussion as well as a rewarding read.

A Slow Fire Burning

A Slow Fire Burning

Author: Paula Hawkins Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/07/2022

'What is wrong with you?' Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She's seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous. Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn't mean she's a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace? Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill. Look what you started. 

Audiobooks of the Month
Lightseekers

Lightseekers

Author: Femi Kayode Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2022

Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new crime series introducing investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo. When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings - and their killers - are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why. As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son's murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth. Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?

Star Books
The Island House

The Island House

Author: Mary Considine Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/06/2022

“Twenty-two acres, a mile round, the island could just be a large field, were it not for the steep hill at the west, the darkness of the woodland to the north, the distinct areas of grassland and shingle, gardens and cliffs. Because of that, that isolation, it is automatically romantic, fat with legend and history”. So the landscape is set for Mary Considine’s beautifully-written memoir of returning to rugged St George’s Island, a place she loved from childhood. When Mary and Patrick’s London life all but disintegrates during a year of tragic loss, feeling “caught between the loss of my old family and any new one”, Mary longed for the island, for any contact with it. It called to me”. So, the couple put their house on the market and seize an opportunity to becomes tenants of Island House, on condition that they renovate it. The work is hard, the winters are harsh (the island is inaccessible in winter), and the raw beauty is palpable as Considine relates their experiences, sharing stories of former tenants and local friends, Cornish history and legends, island nature and wildlife.  Skipping with poetic style and shot-through with a profound love for this specific island, this personal memoir also speaks of the power of place more generally. It’s a mesmerising read that will enchant all of us who’ve fallen for a place and felt that longing to return, that longing to belong. In Mary’s case, her island “speaks to us with the voice of a gull, a seal, a storm, with the voices of the drowned and the departed”. Beautiful. 

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 House of Marvellous Books

The House of Marvellous Books

Author: Fiona Vigo Marshall Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/05/2022

Drawing on her experience of working in small publishing houses, Fiona Vigo Marshall’s The House of Marvellous Books will elicit knowing chuckles and roars from industry insiders - think fractious cover and acquisition meetings, pre-book-fair frenzies, authors’ idiosyncrasies and copious cake - plus there’s plenty of jaunty drama and human interest to satisfy readers from beyond the book world.  Told from the point of view of junior editor Mortimer Blackeley-Smith as he logs the daily downs of his workplace (there aren’t many ups to speak of), The House of Marvellous Books publishing company is run from a near-ruined library in central London, with an equally ruined bank account. The obscure religious and spiritual subjects the editors commission are hardly likely to storm bestseller lists, as the splendidly bizarre book titles suggest - Twiglets: Poems written sleeping under trees, What Trees Talk About When They Talk About Love, I Messaged God at Bedtime, Deer Scat: Poetic droppings from an earth elder. What’s more, most of their authors fail to deliver what they promised, when they promised, and Production have been known to forget to send books to print. Amidst this maelstrom, aged Chief Editor Drusilla believes the missing - and priceless - Daybreak Manuscript might save the company from ruination, but does it even exist? Most employees are unconvinced, while rumours about being bought by Russians are spreading like wildfire through a book warehouse. With an undercurrent of melancholic optimism, and an amusing cast of eccentric individuals who rather resemble a thrown together, dysfunctional family, this will charm and entertain fans of wry, dry humour. 

Take My Hand

Take My Hand

Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Haunting and powerful Take My Hand burrowed its way into my awareness and will stay with me. Newly qualified nurse Civil Townsend is set to truly take care of her African American community, but a shocking discovery tests her resolve and courage. This skilful blend of fact and fiction is set in 2016 and early 1970’s Alabama, and the sense of place and time is extraordinary. The writing brings to life the characters and period, and surround the facts of the case so that it is all too easy to see, believe, begin to comprehend the enormity of actions taken. Author Dolen Perkins-Valdez explains the case in the Author’s Note and why she wrote a novel rather than non fiction. Not only does she bring a horrifying time in the not too distant past to life, she also highlights current issues too. This is a superbly readable and rewarding book, with a moral and ethical messaging that soaks into and carries through each page. Deep breath time, I want to shout about this novel, yes, it is at times painful, but it is also imbued with hope and just had to be included as a LoveReading Star Book, Take My Hand is provocative, emotional, and so relevant it hurts.

Star Books
A Tidy Ending

A Tidy Ending

Author: Joanna Cannon Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/04/2022

A uniquely twisted and thought-scrambling psychological thriller set in the most routinely humdrum of circumstances, it made me think, wince, raise my eyebrows, and even cackle! Linda lives a mundane life, she looks out and dreams of more, but then her neighbourhood is shattered when young women start to go missing just as her husband begins to act differently, secretively even. I so love Joanna Cannon’s writing, she has real compassion and yet the ability to turn things, everyday normal things, inside out so that you see them differently and question your own thoughts. The prologue caught me, it felt like a truth, and I was held in thrall for the rest of the book. This is all about Linda, her thoughts, her feelings, she is different, wonderfully and deliciously different. I found myself wondering, doubting, hesitating, questioning my reactions to her choices and actions. The plot twists and turns and yet feels remarkably real, I believed! There is a quiet, but decidedly menacing dark edge to the fabulousness that is A Tidy Ending, it’s one heck of a compelling and entertaining read.  

Star Books
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
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
Such a Sweet Singing

Such a Sweet Singing

Author: Kirsty Gunn Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/04/2022

Complied by novelist and short story writer Kirsty Dunn, with its title taken from a Gertrude Stein poem, Such a Sweet Singing is a soul-stirring collection of poems that have been chosen for their power to empower women. Sharing female voices that sing through the centuries - from Sappho through to contemporary writers - it’s a volume to savour and return to. A book to share and gift.  As Dunn sets out in her lucid, rousing introduction, “we go to poetry to be nourished”, and so she’s selected poems that might nourish women from all walks of life - women of “all ages and backgrounds”. The selections have been smartly themed, with chapters covering Courage, Love, Imagination, Family, Home, and Life, and every spread supplemented by stylish, unobtrusive illustrations. Possessing the sway to slow us down, fire us up, and spark meaningful reflection, Such a Sweet Singing is a book worth shouting about, whispering with, and treasuring. 

Books of the Month
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
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