Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month

Liz Robinson has been an Editorial Expert writing reviews for LoveReading since February 2014. At LoveReading we only recommend books we love, and each month Liz now has the tricky task of choosing a small selection that really caught her eye. All are highly recommended and come with Liz's seal of approval.

October 2021 Featured Books

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Author: Lucy Mangan Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Oh what fun this is, written in diary form, the year in the life of Liz is a cackling, absolute fire-cracker of a read. Liz deals with all that life throws at her, from impossible questions from her two children, through to navigating family, neighbours, friendship, and work. I loved Lucy Mangan’s quick-firing and witty, yet compassionate and inclusive writing. I don’t have children, despite this, I fully participated in the family life on offer here. I could relate to the dilemmas and plights, joy and love, I sympathised, empathised, smirked, and on several occasions even laughed out loud. Although all the characters stand independently proud and fabulous, my favourite just has to be five year old Evie, who rules with an iron fist and is described as a gangster and anarchist. Author and journalist Lucy Mangan’s first novel is an absolute belter. Are We Having Fun Yet is a warm, uplifting, gloriously funny read and comes as highly recommended and a Liz Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book.   

eBooks of the Month
The Library

The Library

Author: Arthur der Weduwen, Andrew Pettegree Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

A fascinating in-depth history of the library, this book weaves its way through time and is overflowing with tidbits and facts. The Library calls itself a: “fragile history”, and as beleaguered as our public libraries are today, you can see their past suffering too. This isn’t a light and breezy offering, it is serious, and seriously epic in its scope. I took my time, and soaked up the information, from learning about the gathering of baked clay tablets in Mesopotamia, how Popes, Kings, and Monasteries affected Libraries, the arrival of vertical shelving rather than trunks, all the way through and past the Second World War. I have always supported the idea of the library, but never before really thought about how they came into being, how books are selected, the discrimination and censorship that has taken place. Libraries should be a safe welcoming place for everyone, but that of course depends on a huge range of factors, all of which are detailed here. Arthur der Weduwen and Andrew Pettegree have spent time in over 300 libraries and archives, their acknowledgements and research material is listed. If you are interested in a detailed thought-provoking look into the history of the library, then The Library will answer your call. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Wheel

The Wheel

Author: Jennifer Lane Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

This fascinating and engaging read will satisfy the reading curiosity of anyone who has an interest in witchcraft, pagan paths, or those who miss nature in their stressful daily lives. Nature journalist Jennifer Lane charts a year in her life after realising that she needed to step outside of the anxiety of her office based environment. I travelled with Jennifer as she looked back to her past and began to reconnect with her love for nature and witchcraft. I joined her in festivals and rituals, various courses including Shamanism and Astrology, and on her walks in our natural environment. This is a gentle and thoughtful introduction to Witchcraft and Paganism, a group of contemporary religions based around a reverence for nature. Jennifer describes her beliefs as: “balance, harmony, and living seasonally”. In the 2011 census, over 56 thousand people identified as pagan, however it is likely that numbers are far higher, as due to other people’s misunderstanding or falsification of the religion, it can remain a hidden part of their lives. The Wheel is a thought-provoking and interesting glimpse into Jennifer’s love for nature and witchcraft. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Nesting

The Nesting

Author: C.J. Cooke Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2021

Atmospheric, gothic, spine-chilling... The new thriller from C.J Cooke will haunt you long after you turn the last page... It was like something out of a fairytale... The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it's as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale. But this family has a history - and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory. Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don't make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks. With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care. But protect them from what?

Star Books
Once Upon A Broken Heart

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Last House on Needless Street

The Last House on Needless Street

Author: Catriona Ward Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies. You think you know what's inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you've read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it's not what you think...

Star Books

September 2021 Featured Books

Daggers Drawn

Daggers Drawn

Author: Maxim Jakubowski Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2021

Dive in and discover 19 winning short stories by some of the greats in the crime writing world. You can sink in and totally immerse yourself in the writing, or pick and choose at your leisure. The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) was founded in 1953, and they have run their annual awards, The Daggers, since 1956. Take a look at the shortlists of each Dagger and you are set up with a beautifully meaty reading list, the Short Story Dagger is no exception. Maxim Jakubowski, the current chair, has assembled this collection and as he declares in his introduction: “Every story a winner!”. The first, Swiftwing 98 by Peter O’Donnell in 1985 was from a time when the Short Story Dagger had to submitted and include certain ingredients. He had to work in a bottle of champagne, a cryptic message on a micro computer screen, a beautiful blonde Hungarian pianist and Victoria Station, and it is fascinating to see how these feature in the story. Maxim explains that not long after, the rules changed, and the award was given to what was judged to be just the best crime short story of that year. Particular stand outs for me were the amusing intrigue of Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin, the slicing horror of the Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah, and the heartbreak of Martha Grace by Stella Duffy. Chosen as one of my Liz Picks of the Month, Daggers Drawn is a perfect gift for any crime fiction lovers and short story aficionados out there.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Man Who Died Twice

The Man Who Died Twice

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

A simply glorious reading feast awaits in this crime novel that I'd describe as warm and cosy with a healthy dose of feisty attitude and smirky humour. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron find themselves on the trail of stolen diamonds and before too long, a murderer. I roared my appreciation of the first in this series, the best-selling and LoveReading Star Book The Thursday Murder Club, so I’ll admit to approaching Richard Osman’s second novel with an intriguing mix of excitement and apprehension. I am absolutely thrilled to say that The Man Who Died Twice more than exceeded my expectations. The superb introductory chapters sucked me straight in, and this is one of those books that I wanted to read in one sitting. I cackled and read with glee as I ran to keep up with these four septuagenarions. While I adore all of the main characters, Joyce is a particular favourite, quite possibly because we continue to get an outpouring of her thoughts, I so wish I had this woman in my life! The relationships evolve beautifully, and the humour tickles and flirts as the plot just hums along. The ending is rather wonderful and I predict that Richard Osman’s second novel will be just as big a hit as his first. So, of course The Man Who Died Twice comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval, and sits as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, what are you waiting for, go grab yourself a copy!

Books 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
Several People Are Typing

Several People Are Typing

Author: Calvin Kasulke Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/09/2021

Super smart and a little weird (in the best possible way), Several People are Typing comes served with a huge dollop of darkly quirky, smirky humour. This novel, which comes in at under 250 pages, is all written in the workplace chat function of the app Slack. Gerald is uploaded into the Slack while working on a spreadsheet, his pleas for help initially go unanswered by his work colleagues. We use Slack at LoveReading, but you really don’t need to be aware of it in order to ‘get’ this book, anyone who uses a workplace communications channel, apps or social media will just slide into this book and within a couple of pages feel right at home. Gerald and his colleagues could be anyone, anywhere, the little darts of jealousy, humour, support, showboating, flirting, and all the other emotions that highlight office life can be found on display. In terms of characters, Slackbot is a particular favourite of mine, the horror of the situation is deftly handled with humour by Calvin Kasulke. While office politics and shenanigans are front and foremost, I really enjoyed the relationship element sneaking in to stir things up. And it really did stir things up as it also poked a thought-provoking elbow into sexual consent. Several People are Typing is a fabulously ballsy read that edges along a tightrope between provocative and humour.  

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Entangled Life

Entangled Life

Author: Merlin Sheldrake Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

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.

Star Books
Find You First

Find You First

Author: Linwood Barclay Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

It’s a deadly race against time… Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past. Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister. So Miles decides to track down his missing children. But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
A Slow Fire Burning

A Slow Fire Burning

Author: Paula Hawkins Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/08/2021

Subtle and smart yet intense and thrilling, this story builds with each turn revealing another set of steps in front of you. Within a corner of London a murder sets questions hunting through secrets and the past. I was caught sleeping at the start and was given a huge shove, from that moment on my attention didn’t waver. This is all about the characters, yet the beautifully intricate plot more than holds its own. What Paula Hawkins does so successfully, is to allow you to see the inner being of people, the shadows that dwell within, without ever losing connection with their humanity. Every person in this story feels authentic, relatable, and that dreaded word, normal. It made me question what I would do in the same circumstances, could this in fact, be me. Oh, and just as an aside, great map! A Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, A Slow Fire Burning wanders through the everyday, before reaching under the surface and pulling out darkness.

Audiobooks of the Month

August 2021 Featured Books

Three's A Crowd

Three's A Crowd

Author: Simon Booker Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/08/2021

A thoroughly modern, wonderfully readable and clever romantic comedy that acts as a perfect pick-me-up. Tom, Dick, and Harry (well actually it’s Tom, Richard, and Harriet but who could resist!) find themselves in the most awkward of situations when they start dating. Estranged father and son Tom and Richard don’t share the same surname and when Harriet decides to date them both, by the time they realise, love has already worked its magic. I was hooked from the very first sentence, an entertaining web is woven as each distinct voice tells their own side of the story. The age range of characters is handled beautifully and there are a few knotty intrigues to unravel along the way. Simon Brooker writes with a truly witty pen, I smiled, laughed, and even exclaimed out loud. There are also sweet notes, canny moments, and a penetrating blast of reality. I genuinely had no idea where this diverting tale was going and I just want to applaud the ending, for me it was perfectly placed. Three’s A Crowd is a romantic comedy with bite, it’s a glorious blend of sweet and sharp, and sits very nicely in our LoveReading Star Books and as a Liz Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Origins of Iris

The Origins of Iris

Author: Beth Lewis Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Gosh, this original and thought-spinningly intricate yet quietly simple read speared my emotions. I found myself utterly consumed by The Origins of Iris and absolutely adored every word. When Iris leaves her abusive wife for the wilds of the mountains, she quite literally finds herself when she comes face to face with another version of Iris. Being described by Hodder Studio as Wild meets Sliding Doors was an immediate hook for me, yet there is so, so much more on offer here. Love of course isn’t simple, it can be complex, cruel, even dangerous, and as this novel allowed me access to the layers of emotions within Iris, it entered my inner thoughts too. Beth Lewis skirts the obvious to open unrecognised pathways, she gradually opens up the story and sets information free. Goosebumps skittered down my arms as I felt understanding enter my awareness. I love the way you’re left to explore the complexities, I didn’t question, just let myself and my feelings go. Come the end, the fascinating, wonderful end, I didn’t make a decision as to exactly where I had travelled, I just knew that I had. Delving deeply into what it is to be human, The Origins of Iris is a truly unique and wonderful read.

Star Books
The Book of Two Ways

The Book of Two Ways

Author: Jodi Picoult Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2021

Who would you be, if you hadn't turned out to be the person you are now? Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully. But when the plane she's on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago - when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved. Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to - but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain. As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she's never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us? Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
On the Bright Side

On the Bright Side

Author: Nell Carter Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

A simply gorgeous and emotional tale about love and all the different forms it can take. Jack and Clare have the chance to learn that leaving love behind can potentially allow it back into your heart. Just one thing to note, while this is a relationship tale, it comes with an edge so be prepared for some thought-provoking themes. The characters in On The Bright Side make mistakes, find themselves on unexpected paths as thoughts alter and grow, and really put my feelings through the wringer! Jack, Clare, and Grace entered so fully into my heart that I truly cared about them, while certain other characters got so far into my head, that they evoked other strong feelings! I love how Nell Carter writes, she has the ability to encourage feelings to falter, fall, and soar, all while expressing herself with beautiful compassion. Plus she has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of what it is to be human. On the Bright Side is a truly lovely novel that I can wholeheartedly recommend as a Liz Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Silver Collar

The Silver Collar

Author: Antonia Hodgson Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

A tremendously provocative yet entertaining historical crime thriller set in 1728, it’s worth noting that while this takes a journey through some very dark places, a light touch is on hand when needed.  Thomas and Kitty find themselves in the happiest of times, until they discover that someone wants Thomas dead. I’ve always loved this series, which began with Crime Writers' Association Historical Dagger award winning  The Devil in the Marshalsea, and it has progressed with such vivid intensity. While I recommend starting at the beginning, you can actually read these as standalone novels. Thomas and Kitty definitely deserve double billing, each ensures a balance is maintained and allows the plot to really sing (and occasionally glower and smirk). Antonia Hodgson not only encourages us to see and feel the times, she also shows the difficulties that humankind still fall foul of to this day. We really don’t learn do we! Exploring love, friendship, revenge, and the very nature of evil itself, the ending sliced through my thoughts and stayed with me for some time. You can feel the research behind the story, and I delved into her historical notes at the end. The Silver Collar is a cracking and thought-provoking read, and comes as highly recommended in my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month.   If you enjoyed Andrew Taylor’s James Marwood and Cat Lovett series which started with The Ashes of London set in 1666 and The Jackdaw Mysteries Series by S. W. Perry which began with The Angel's Mark set in 1570 then you should most definitely check out The Thomas Hawkins Series.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
All My Mothers

All My Mothers

Author: Joanna Glen Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/08/2021

What a truly special book this is, thoughtful, refreshing and comforting, this novel has entered my heart and soul. From a young age Eva has questions about who she is and where she has come from. As she grows up, alters and changes, the questions remain and she begins to find answers. I adored Joanna Glen’s debut, The Other Half of August Hope which hurtled straight into our LoveReading Star Books collection, and this, this is just as memorable, just as beautiful, and firmly cements this author as one I will be looking out for. Eva has the most honest and contemplative voice, her voice is so individual that you can hear her, even feel her as she speaks. Even the smallest of her small thoughts planted seeds which rooted, grew, divided, and she entered my awareness and took up residence. Joanna Glen has a real gift, she is able to go beyond the surface of things to find the unfamiliar and make it feel like home. I love it when a book provokes new thoughts and feelings, and that is exactly what All My Mothers does. It also joins the LoveReading Star Book list, and becomes one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. Congratulations to Joanna Glen, All My Mothers balances fear and wonder, loneliness and belonging, despair and elation, it is a true joy to read.  

Star Books
Savage Road

Savage Road

Author: Chris Hauty Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

AMERICA IS THREATENED BY CYBER ATTACKS ONLY ONE WOMAN CAN PUT A STOP TO THEM Running a double agent from inside the White House to spy on the Russians is not easy, but Hayley Chill has never backed down from a challenge. Then suddenly her whole operation is at risk as a series of cyber-attacks are launched on Washington, D.C. Tasked by the covert organisation she works for to solve the situation, her hunt for the hacker takes her straight to the heart of the intelligence community. SAVAGE ROAD - address The location of Fort Meade, headquarters for the NSA and Cyber Command. Hayley must stop the hacker quickly, before global politics is disrupted and World War III breaks out. But when she uncovers dark truths about her own past, her characteristic calm is threatened... Nothing is as it seems. Nobody can be trusted. Hayley Chill is on her own. Savage Road is a political thriller of our time, perfect for fans of Gregg Hurwitz and Terry Hayes and series like The Bodyguard and Designated Survivor. 

Books of the Month
Dead Ground

Dead Ground

Author: M. W. Craven Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/06/2021

A ferociously entertaining, sharply amusing, hard-hitting wow of a read. DS Washington Poe and programmer Tilly Bradshaw are faced with an apparently clear cut case that becomes more convoluted the deeper they delve. Excuse me while I rave about this book and series, it’s worth hearing me out! M.W. Craven is winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for his first in this series, The Puppet Show, and the other two books have been long-listed for the Gold Dagger which in itself should tell you just how good this series really is. The combination of superbly readable characters, thrilling plots, and authentic voice ensure these novels are always on my must-read list.  M.W. Craven’s mind just blows me away, he is able to hook, twist, and throw my thoughts as well as make me cackle like a demented thing. Poe and Tilly are among my favourite characters in the crime fiction world, they are both treasures (of the reading variety) waiting to be found if you’ve not yet met them. A stunner of a stimulating ride, Dead Ground comes with a whopping thumbs up from me, and of course it’s one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. 

Star Books

Liz Robinson has been an Editorial Expert writing reviews for LoveReading since February 2014. Reading has always played a huge part in her life and she can quite happily chat books all day. Liz previously spent twenty years working as a member of police support staff, including roles as Criminal Intelligence Analyst, Briefing Officer and Crime Reduction Advisor. She relishes her time spent exploring all genres, and particularly enjoys novels that encourage her emotions to run riot, or fling her back in time or to unknown places, Liz is also thrilled when broadsided by an unexpected twist. Liz was delighted to have been asked to be a judge for the Romantic Novelists' Association Goldsboro Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2018, the LoveReading Very Short Story Award 2019, and the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival Short Story Competition 2019. She would describe herself as a reader, a lover of all things books, and can be found on twitter as @LRLizRobinson.