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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.

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
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
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. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month

July 2021 Featured Books

The Dying Squad

The Dying Squad

Author: Adam Simcox Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Vividly bold and full of attitude, in fact it's gutsy as heck, this provocative supernatural crime novel takes a fabulous premise and nails its colours to the mast. While on a drugs operation Detective Joe Lazarus is suddenly faced with his own dead body and a new partner from the other side. I have to confess that while reading I completely forgot to make any notes for my review as I just sank in and was consumed. The live side smacked me in the face with its gritty reality, while the dead side just blew me away. I could see, feel, taste and smell purgatory, it menaced into existence as a fully formed entity in my minds eye. Adam Simcox writes with the most imaginative, smirky, thought-provoking pen. I really had no idea where this reading journey was going to take me, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn that this is the first in a series, I will be camping outside my local bookshop when the next book is due. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, The Dying Squad is a fabulously unique novel that feels as real and yet outrageously inventive as can be. A standing ovation from me to Adam Simcox, absolutely blimmin loved it!

Star Books
The Piper's Dance

The Piper's Dance

Author: Maxim Jakubowski Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/07/2021

A fascinating take on an age old story that led me on a compelling and unique dance. Two of the children spirited away by the Pied Piper of Hamelin escape his clutches centuries later and find themselves attempting to survive in a world they no longer recognise. Maxim Jakubowski has previously written novels that span various genres, here The Piper’s Dance spins between legend and myth, fantasy and relationship (and contains moments of erotism), with Maxim himself describing it as: “hardboiled fantasy”. What awaits is an absorbing, delicious feast of a read. From the first sentence I was hooked, I truly loved where this tale took me, it’s a journey of discovery and I found myself exploring alongside Tristan and Katerina. The brilliant vivid characters feel entirely real, I didn’t stop to question, I just believed. Innocence, experience and knowledge join together in a heady mix that sent my thoughts in new directions. A different, potent and exhilarating read, I’ve chosen The Piper’s Dance to feature as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. Pre-order the signed hardback or the paperback of Piper's Dance from telos.co.uk and get a 20% discount using the code: lovereading

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Rehearsals

The Rehearsals

Author: Annette Christie Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/07/2021

If you’re looking for a lovely hit of romantic escapism then oooh hello, this could well be the book for you. With a Groundhog Day vibe, this thoroughly modern romance makes engaged couple Megan and Tom relive their day of their rehearsal dinner again and again after they call off their wedding. The Rehearsals is Annette Christie’s debut novel, and what a sparkle of a gem it is. The descriptions ensure the setting of San Juan Island just north of Seattle comes alive and acts as the perfect foil for Megan and Tom to be trapped in a time loop. Both are relatable and likeable, I found myself invested in their story and living alongside them every step of the way. This is such an entertaining yet heart-warming read, the delicious mix of will-they won’t-they and second chances is handled beautifully. I loved the surrounding family members, they ensure a wider exploration of relationships (and are rather diverting too). I’ve chosen The Rehearsals as a Liz Pick of the Month as it’s a sunshine dream of a romantic comedy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Mercies

The Mercies

Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Totally, completely, and utterly gorgeous, this is a beautifully written historical relationship tale with real bite. And can I just qualify the word relationship - this is about the relationships with family, community, fear, nature, as well as the more obvious love. A work of fiction inspired by history, the story begins on Christmas Eve in 1617 when a sudden and violent storm takes the lives of forty fishermen, leaving the stunned women folk learning to survive on their remote northerly Norwegian island. Still reeling from the tragedy, their lives turn in the most frightening direction when the King brings in sorcery laws and a commissioner is installed to root out evil. This is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut adult novel, and I feel as though I have been waiting my reading life for it. The prologue hits with a huge sad inevitability. Kiran Millwood Hargrave writes with a sensitive and considerate pen, the descriptions are truly breathtaking. While there are some savage shocks in store, The Mercies is still a warm, thoughtful and touching read. Chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, we also just had to include The Mercies as a LoveReading Star Book too. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Star Books
Everyone Is Still Alive

Everyone Is Still Alive

Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Modern life, the real and vibrantly emotional side of modern life, is on show in this truly lovely and big-hearted novel that I simply adored. A small London community sits centre stage as the residents move about their business and inside and out of each others homes. While the focus remains on Juliet, Liam and their son Charlie, this is a wider look at navigating family and friendships. Everyone is Still Alive is bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink's first novel, and what an eloquently beautiful read it is. The setting is a relatively affluent suburban street that welcomes you in and feels like home. With huge compassion, themes concentrate on the more difficult side of life in our modern world, including grief, anxiety, and envy. I also walked with humour, encouragement and affection, and balanced that exquisite tightrope of emotions that people experience each day. This wonderful novel feels like a celebration, a hand held out in support and in love, and I just had to choose it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. Powerful yet gently soothing, Everyone is Still Alive is a novel that gives a warm embrace as it slips into emotions and makes them sing.   

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Infiltrators

The Infiltrators

Author: Norman Ohler Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/07/2021

Summertime, 1935. On a lake near Berlin, a young man is out sailing when he glimpses a woman reclining in the prow of a passing boat. Their eyes meet - and one of history's greatest conspiracies is born. Harro Schulze-Boysen had already shed blood in the fight against Nazism by the time he and Libertas Haas-Heye began their whirlwind romance. She joined the cause, and soon the two lovers were leading a network of antifascists that stretched across Berlin's bohemian underworld. Harro himself infiltrated German intelligence and began funnelling Nazi battle plans to the Allies, including the details of Hitler's surprise attack on the Soviet Union. But nothing could prepare Harro and Libertas for the betrayals they would suffer in this war of secrets - a struggle in which friend could be indistinguishable from foe. Drawing on unpublished diaries, letters and Gestapo files, Norman Ohler spins an unforgettable tale of love, heroism and sacrifice.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Lucky

Lucky

Author: Rachel Edwards Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/06/2021

Weaving between complex social issues, this is a powerful, tense, and striking second novel by Rachel Edwards. When Etta turns to online gambling her entire life begins to crumble, she is willing to do anything to stop her world from imploding. Rachel Edward’s  wonderfully captivating debut Darling was a LoveReading Star Book which concentrated on the new wife and young daughter of a man as they each fought for his love and attention. Lucky is entirely different in plot, yet a strong central character again sits to the fore. Etta can be stubborn (determined), manipulative (smart), she’s also addicted (lost and confused), kind, thoughtful, and loving. I found her frustrating and appealing in equal measures which lead to me forming a complex yet fascinating relationship with her character. Suspense kept me company throughout this novel, at times I almost read between my fingers as I waited to see what Etta would do next. I explored online gambling, migration, identity, race, and relationship traps and pitfalls all on top of a plot that that had me edging along a towering clifftop of tension. Rachel Edwards has created an intriguing and compelling main character, a cracking plot and sub-plot which collide to create the most fabulous ending. Lucky is an intriguing, smart, and thought-provoking novel I can highly recommend.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Moth

Moth

Author: Melody Razak Format: Hardback Release Date: 24/06/2021

Moth is absolutely gorgeous. Fair warning, it broke my heart, but is still completely and utterly gorgeous! Partition in India slices the country through its soul, one liberal family find themselves adrift and battling for survival. Set in 1940’s Delhi this story focuses on family, and in particular women as the world around them boils with political unrest and danger. The beauty and pain of the prologue turned my thoughts inside out, I had to stop for a moment before carrying on. The awareness of the prologue stayed with me as I continued to read, consume, feel. This is Melody Razak’s debut novel and was written on long train journeys across India. Here she takes an intimate story set in an epic, huge moment in history, and makes it feel real. Snippets and slices of all emotions are brought together to form the most wonderfully told story that highlights the tragedy that falls. Her writing caught me, lulled me, shocked me, seduced me. She writes with huge compassion, the smallest of details weave together to form a vivid and vibrant tapestry of life. It is all too easy to imagine this happening anywhere in the world, yet among all the pain is strength and hope. The moments of calm, love, humour, sharing, and kindness all combine to ensure that you can still feel delight among the pain. Oh, and I must just mention the stunning cover too, it matches the beauty within. Moth, so exquisitely emotional, powerful, and harrowing, will be one of my favourite books of the year, it is so special, I just had to choose it as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.

Star Books

June 2021 Featured Books

When She Was Good

When She Was Good

Author: Michael Robotham Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

This Liz Pick of the Month, is a thrilling yet thoughtful, highly charged read. Criminal psychologist Cyrus delves into the past of Evie, who was found hiding in a secret room after a murder six years ago. It’s the last thing Evie wants, as if Cyrus discovers the truth, death will soon start to hunt her down. This book follows on from Good Girl, Bad Girl (a particular favourite of mine), and boy is it shaping up to be an absolute belter of a series. If you haven’t yet read the first, you most definitely need to before starting here, as the development of the relationship between Cyrus and Evie is crucial. They both tell us their own stories in alternating short punchy chapters. This is a read where I was head down and totally absorbed. Evie as per the previous book, drew me in and I was desperate (like Cyrus) to find out what had happened to her. Michael Robotham deals with the crimes that are uncovered with consideration and compassion, yet we are left in no doubt as to their nature. I was on high alert throughout and the ending struck with an unexpected blow. When She Was Good comes out swinging after the fabulous first book in the series, and I can highly recommend it (just make sure you read Good Girl, Bad Girl first).

Star Books
Fragile

Fragile

Author: Sarah Hilary Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Hauntingly beautiful and full of slicing suspense, this contemporary thriller twisted itself into my thoughts and still hasn’t let go. 17 year old runaway and former foster child Nell Ballard finds herself in London on the doorstop of a new opportunity, but a dark secret is keeping her company. Sarah Hilary is well known for her outstanding DI Marnie Rome crime series (one of my favourites) and this is her first standalone novel. The writing is unmistakably her, yet travels in a different direction. She was inspired by Rebecca and The Handmaid’s Tale and her publisher perfectly describes Fragile as a: “psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist”. She tackles subjects such as child exploitation and homelessness, opening a door and allowing apprehension and awareness in. She has the ability to look between, into the forgotten spaces, either in the outside world or within our own minds, and she successfully reveals what most of us are unable at first to see. There was an almost gentle poetic quality to the words before they ganged together to create uncertainty, concern, and tension. At times, as the quiet moments soothed my thoughts, I was lulled into a feeling of calm. The ending, oh that ending, it hit home hard, and I had to read it again, just to allow it to sink in. Fragile is an achingly dark, wonderfully atmospheric novel, and I will more than happily climb a few rooftops to shout about it.

Star Books
The Dead Line

The Dead Line

Author: Holly Watt Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

A really smart, readable, and pacy novel that not only thrills, it also encourages thoughts to explore beyond the obvious. Investigate Journalist Casey works to expose the horrors that take place in the factories behind the clothes trade. Holly Watt’s debut and start to this series, To The Lions won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2019. Dead Line is the second book and continues the winning format. What I really enjoy about these novels is the knowledge that the author is an award-winning investigative journalist, she knows her stuff. There is an immediate relevance to what you are reading, you could look up from the page at the world around you and see these stories taking place right now. Casey is a tenacious and fabulous main character with depth. This is a book that can make you flinch and feel uncomfortable, it’s also balanced with fabulous storytelling that is full of pace and attitude. One of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month, Dead Line is an intelligent and convincing action-packed thriller.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The House of Lamentations

The House of Lamentations

Author: S. G. MacLean Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Forming part of an incredibly well written, detailed yet vibrant and exciting historical crime series, this is a stonkingly good read. If you’ve not yet explored the Captain Damian Seeker novels (two of them have won the Crime Writers’ Association Historical Dagger Award), then I recommend that you start at the beginning with The Seeker. The House of Lamentations is the final book in the five book series, and while sad that it’s ended, I can shout from the rooftops that this is a series that is most definitely worth reading. Taking place in Bruges in 1658 the Royalists plan to fund a last-ditch attempt to place the exiled Charles on the throne. However, a traitor has been feeding information to Cromwell’s enforcer who now needs all of his wits about him to deal with the threat. While the main story plays out, a number of smaller mysteries weave their way around the plot. As I read my thoughts twisted and turned inside out as I tried to work out who to keep my eye on, and when the ending came it made me smile in satisfaction. The House of Lamentations is a fine final hurrah to the Damian Seeker Novels and I just want to stand up and applaud S. G. MacLean on her wonderful creation, so this sits as a Liz Pick of the Month. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
I Know What I Saw

I Know What I Saw

Author: Imran Mahmood Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/06/2021

An artfully composed and thought-provoking novel covering several sub genres within crime fiction. When Xander Shute reports witnessing a murder to the police, they don’t believe him, and as he begins to search for answers himself, he finds himself lost in his own mind and a vortex of memories. Xander narrates his tale, he lives on the streets and within a few pages his existence stamped itself all over my consciousness. Imran Mahmood is a practicing barrister and his debut novel was long listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger. He writes with cunning pen, an intricate plot slowly and stealthily reveals itself creating the most wonderful page-turner of a story. Short sharp shocks of sentences ganged together driving my thoughts before them. Sometimes I felt as though I was inside Xander’s mind, a part of his awareness, sometimes I was on the outside, trying desperately to work out what was going on. I found this a clever, provocative novel, and when the ending came sat back and travelled back over my suspicions and presumptions. I Know What I Saw is a smart, stimulating, and compelling psychological thriller and mystery, enter the pages and prepare for your thoughts to scatter and explore.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Where We Belong

Where We Belong

Author: Anstey Harris Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/05/2021

Oh, this is almost too gorgeous for words, thoughtful and full of emotion, it’s a simply wonderful story that connected to my heart and soul. Cate Morris has no option other than to leave everything she knows and move to Hatters with her son Leo, will they be welcomed with open arms? Anstey Harris writes with beautiful eloquence, her debut novel The Truths of Triumphs of Grace Atherton was one of my picks of the month and a LoveReading Star Book, and I’ll let you into a not so secret secret, Where we Belong is too. I was completely charmed by the first sentence, settled in with joy and then the end of chapter one caused me to take a deep breath. This is emotionally intelligent writing and perfectly timed reveals of information lay in wait. Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World is just lovely, do I want to go there? Yes I most certainly do, so was captivated to learn that it is based on a real location. Where We Belong bewitched me with its secrets and beauty, Anstey Harris really is the most wonderful storyteller and I salute her. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
House of Correction

House of Correction

Author: Nicci French Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/05/2021

LONGLISTED FOR THE CWA GOLD DAGGER AWARD She's a murderer. Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees - why else would his dead body be found in her shed? So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial. Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn't fit in then, and she doesn't fit in now. That day is such a blur, she can't remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important... She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder. And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself. So she must fight. Against the odds. For her life. Beautifully written about prejudice, loneliness and fighting spirit, this new book by Nicci French is shocking, twisty and utterly compelling.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month

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.