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.

The Clockwork Girl

The Clockwork Girl

Author: Anna Mazzola Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/03/2022

Hugely provocative, powerful, and suffused with a stinging, haunting beauty, The Clockwork Girl thoroughly deserves its inclusion as a LoveReading Star Book. Set in Paris during 1750, Madeleine is tasked with discovering the truth about a clockmaker who designs mechanical objects that appear to come to life. Three women sit centre stage, all from different backgrounds, yet struggling to survive in a male dominated world.Oh my word, from the very beginning this made me flinch, unapologetically raw and intense the words burrowed their way inside me. Anna Mazzola really is the most gifted storyteller, I was taken captive as I read, consumed by the fierce thrilling plot and the characters who invaded, and still remain in my mind. I loved the sharp edge of the unreal I found myself hovering over, the insinuations and suggestions that allowed my thoughts to run riot. While the spellbinding clockworks danced eerily featherlight in their own world, the reality of the time created a layer of foreboding that sat glowering, waiting, ready. As it soared into chilling evocative life in front of my eyes I fell in love with this tale. I just had to include The Clockwork Girl as a Liz Pick of the Month, it’s an entirely and gloriously captivating stunner of a read.

Star Books
The Legacy

The Legacy

Author: Caroline Bond Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

A death in the family rarely brings out the best in people - even the deceased Jonathan Coulter planned for his death meticulously, leaving nothing to chance. His will states that his three adult children must decide between them how to dispose of his estate. If they cannot come together over their inheritance, then they risk losing it. But Liv, Noah and Chloe never agree on anything. And now, with only one weekend to overcome their rivalry, tensions begin to rise. Why has Jonathan left the decision to them? And why has he made no mention of his new partner, Megan, or the children's mother, Eloise? If he wanted to teach them a lesson from beyond the grave, what is it? And can the siblings put their differences aside for long enough to learn it? A powerful novel about love and loss, and what we truly pass on to our children.

Star Books
The Herd

The Herd

Author: Emily Edwards Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Though told with clarity and balance, Emily Edwards’ The Herd is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel for readers who like their fiction to have real-life resonance, and family life at its heart. Exploring both sides of the child vaccination debate through two women, its themes and heated scenarios chime with current vaccination debates and conflicts. Namely, how societies and individuals navigate and reconcile public health needs with personal beliefs and fears. Super-organised, methodical Elizabeth and bohemian Bryony “weren’t exactly chalk and cheese; more like cheese and pineapple - a weird, unexpected pairing that just worked”. Close friends and now neighbours, they’re godmothers to one another’s daughters, and have found a way to balance each of their differences, except on one big issue - vaccinating their daughters. The unravelling of their friendship begins with a birthday party and ends up with tragic consequences, explosive public show-downs and unexpected revelations. Powerful, pertinent stuff.

Books of the Month
The Leviathan

The Leviathan

Author: Rosie Andrews Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Set in the 17th-century during “a time of witches, a time of saints”, an era of “Gods and monsters, myths and legend”, Rosie Andrews’ The Leviathan smoulders with atmosphere and the tension of its turbulent political context. It’s unique enchantments will surely delight fans of The Essex Serpent, The Binding and The Familiars. It’s 1643 and England is in the throes of civil war when Esther Treadwater calls her brother back to their family farm fearing their father has been drawn into the “corruptions” of their new servant. From the off, the writing dances and enthrals with absorbing imagery and detail to create an utterly immersive world. By the time Thomas reaches home, their father has suffered a stroke and the servant has been accused of witchcraft, whereupon readers are plunged into village life, the courtroom, rural inns, and the increasingly beleaguered family home. Indeed, the siblings’ conflicts and predicaments have you in their thrall as much as the richly-realised world - these are characters who feel thoroughly alive. Considering himself a forward-thinking man, Thomas has little time for superstition, but it’s not long before Esther is afflicted by unknown internal torments, and he uncoils an uncanny ancient event that might explain their present tribulations. What a divinely dark, accomplished debut this is.

Star Books
Lives Like Mine

Lives Like Mine

Author: Eva Verde Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

I’m thrilled to introduce you to the most thought-provoking and intoxicating debut novel. Constantly ambushed by prejudiced in-laws and estranged from her own parents, Monica struggles to play happy families. Her loving husband fails to challenge his racist family, however a chance meeting on a school outing brings Joe into her life. The style of writing conjures a conversation, Monica pours out feelings, occasionally fractured but flowing into your own thoughts. Spaces lurk, they caught me unaware, and I stumbled before I settled in and started to feel at home. This novel really spoke to me, it slowly gathered me up, allowing me to get to know Monica at her pace, and she is the most fascinating, flawed, yet beautiful character. I felt as though she was speaking directly to me, trusting me with her honesty. Eva Verde has the most compassionate yet bold writing style, there is a subtlety at play even when the words gang up and get punchy. I flinched, laughed, raged, ached, as emotions hurled and curled themselves around me. I have given Monica a piece of my heart, her authenticity shines, as does this fiery, powerful story. Lives Like Mine, a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, is hand on heart gorgeous and I proclaim it a must-read.

Star Books
Black Cake

Black Cake

Author: Charmaine Wilkerson Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Taking in generations of troubled lives, reinvented identities and family connections across the Caribbean diaspora, Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake is a stirring triumph with an unforgettable matriarch, and love, at its heart. When she dies in California, Eleanor Bennett's children are forced to face a succession of long-buried secrets about their mother’s life  - and to confront their own estrangement - when she leaves them her Caribbean black cake and a recording in which she tells the story of a young female swimmer who fled her Caribbean island in the aftermath of a murder. In her message, Eleanor instructs Byron and Benny to “share the black cake when the time is right”. The novel unravels the siblings’ journey towards this “right time” through a masterful switching between the swimmer’s story and their present-day struggles with personal hurt, and the revelations of their mother’s recording. Spanning sixty years, the novel’s scope is immense, with nuanced detail on island life, the racism encountered by Caribbean commonwealth citizens in 1960s England (and by Byron in the present-day), and women’s struggles (“Why do we women let shame get in the way of our well-being?”). Like the cake of its title, this is a richly flavoursome read. At once intense and subtle, it’s a story to savour and return to, when the time is right.

Star Books
We Are All Birds of Uganda

We Are All Birds of Uganda

Author: Hafsa Zayyan Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/01/2022

'You can't stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will...' 1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built. Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew. Moving between two continents and several generations over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a multi-layered, moving and immensely resonant novel of love, loss, and what it means to find home. It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers' Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today. 

Books of the Month
The Key In The Lock

The Key In The Lock

Author: Beth Underdown Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/01/2022

I read this beautifully stormy dark gothic mystery while perched high up on the edge of my seat. A dreadful fire has haunted Ivy for years, she mourns two deaths, and now seeks the truth. Beth Underdown’s debut  The Witchfinder's Sister was a bestseller and winner of the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown Award 2017, this is her second novel and it more than lived up to my expectations. The two time frames, sitting either side of the First World War, are initially fractured before they gradually fuze together. Information dripped and then seeped into the pages before hiding in my thoughts. The story is secretive, occasionally sullen as it begins to unfurl. Cornwall, and the house in particular cast a brooding presence which adds to the intensity of this tale. The characters are perfectly imperfect, trust is a scare commodity, and each casts a deep shadow. I was held in limbo while I read, totally immersed in the writing. Expressively powerful The Key in the Lock thrills and chills in equal measure. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book, this historical mystery is a worthy contender for the very top of your reading list.

Star Books
Mrs Death Misses Death

Mrs Death Misses Death

Author: Salena Godden Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn't met Death in person - a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen. Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death's scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced - or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated - their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans' fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . .

Star Books
Fragile

Fragile

Author: Sarah Hilary Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Everything she touches breaks . . . Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong. So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own. But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . . A dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

Star Books
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Author: Honorée Fanonne Jeffers Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/01/2022

A soaring, sweeping, truly beautiful and far-reaching novel that calls for emotions to respond on every level. Ailey’s maternal line has lived in a small Georgia town since arriving from Africa in bondage, as she grows up she begins to uncover her family’s past. Author Honoree Fanonne Jeffers is a published award-winning poet, and it shows. This debut novel feels urgently and vibrantly alive and yet also slips into feelings like a lyrical dreamy song. While Ailey and her family remain as a constant through the book, other stories enter and initially read as a separate tale before slowly joining to create a whole. I felt as though I was part of a wave on the ocean and I was gathered in to live in each moment. This story breathes. It exists. It was. It will be. The intensity of the pain flows through every page, gaining strength, knowledge, and love. Already published in the US, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois was chosen as an Oprah Book Club pick, it was a New York Times bestseller, and the Washington Post stated it is: “The kind of book that comes around only once in a decade”. This is a novel to read slowly, to allow yourself to feel, to soak up the words. I hope you get a sense in my review of just how stunning it is. For me, it’s a must-read and I will be recommending this book far and wide. Both hugely epic and intimate in scale, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is extraordinarily powerful. Convincing and commanding, we declare it a LoveReading Star Book as well as Liz Pick of the Month, it deserves to be on everyone’s reading lists and a future classic.

Star Books
Unsettled Ground

Unsettled Ground

Author: Claire Fuller Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/01/2022

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back? Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother's secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake. Unsettled Ground is a heart-stopping novel of betrayal and resilience, love and survival. It is a portrait of life on the fringes of society that explores with dazzling emotional power how we can build our lives on broken foundations, and spin light from darkness. 

Star Books