You loved your last book...but what are you going to read next? With expert recommendations made by people with a passion for books and some unique features we will help you find great books to read that will keep you inspired and entertained. Below are LoveReading's Top 10 most popular books, based on the number of page views in the last 7 days.
The second adrenaline-charged instalment of Elodie Harper's Pompeii-set trilogy (we adored The Wolf Den), The House with the Golden Door picks up Amara’s gripping story after she’s been freed from Pompeii’s most notorious brothel, though that comes at a perilously high price, and she’s far from a free woman. Richly evocative, and reeling with drama and the determined passion and conflicts of its unforgettable heroine, this is historical fiction at its most thrillingly entertaining. Though Amara’s shift in status from Wolf Den whore to courtesan brings some freedom and a better standard of living, her life now depends on her new patron, a wealthy, well-connected man who wants her to remain thin and has her at his whim — she’s his “little bird”, his “pretty little thing”. While adjusting to her new life, and taking enormous risks in the name of true love, Amara frees some friends from the Wolf Den, but at great financial and emotional cost, for this results in her becoming indebted to the man she was freed from, "the most violent pimp in Pompeii". Though owned and forced to lead grossly subservient lives, the women of The House with the Golden Door are guileful and ambitious. Fierce Britannica, for example, wants to be a gladiator. But betrayals, bribery, and a persistent “crushing sense of powerlessness” ensures readers are in for an irresistibly exhilarating ride. That said, Amara is a woman who refuses to be crushed. In her words, “there is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman”. With a heady climax leaving Amara on the brink of tremendous change, the final book can’t come quick enough.
Always compulsive, often jaw-dropping, and written in crisply readable style, Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King begins where most Edward and Wallis Simpson biographies end, for it explores the couple’s controversial lives from the Duke’s Abdication in December 1936. The author has no truck with any notion of the couple’s relationship being a “great love story”. Rather, with clarity and much evidence, the book reveals their controversies and flaws - extra-marital affairs, talk of illegitimate children, foolhardy tours of Germany, meetings with Hitler, manipulation of a murder investigation in the Bahamas. The list goes on. They’re both evidently, incorrigibly obnoxious and self-centred, with the Duke revealed as an arrogant, perilously bumbling figure who never grows up. Crucially, the author convincingly argues that in their relations with Germany, “the Windsors were not foolish and naïve, but actively engaged with the German intrigue”. Throughout readers are presented with astounding details about the couple’s decadent, self-absorbed daily lives - the arrogance of never paying bills, never tipping, and never thanking staff. Their lavish food and decor, the bespoke livery of their servants, their staged social gatherings - “with little else to occupy them, the devil was in the detail.” While the couple desired a permanent return to Britain, the Duke is horrified at the thought of ever having to pay tax, and interferes in politics, making an astonishingly ill-timed broadcast to America, and exchanging telegrams with Hitler as the world teeters on the brink of war. Though given a war-time liaison role, the Duke was considered a “serious security leak”, with Churchill believing his free movement on the continent to be a “real danger”. As a result, the Duke was offered as job as Governor of the Bahamas, which was “regarded as a hardship posting” and “so low in the pecking order that the appointment did not even carry a knighthood”. Their arrogance persists on arrival, as does their interference in the war. They insist renovations be made to the newly-renovated Government House in Nassau. They fly in hairdressers, send clothes to be dry-cleaned in New York. Wallis does, however, engage in public life as President of the Red Cross, and roll up her sleeves to serve bacon and eggs in a canteen for airmen. Such details abound in every paragraph. Controversy continues to engulf the couple throughout their lives, as this relentlessly gripping biography reveals with incisive gusto. Traitor King is an un-put-down-able must-read for anyone interested in the British monarchy and social history.
If you're looking for your next book fix, stop right now and read Twelve Secrets. Twenty years ago Ben Harper's world was turned upside down when his older brother Nick and best friend are murdered by two school friends. Ten years later he lost his mother and the story rocked the little town and the whole country. Now an award-winning investigative journalist his boss asks him to relive his traumas on the tenth anniversary of his mother's death. Ben has a decision to make. Does he want to go there? What will he find? Will be be able to write this story? Set in fictional town of Haddley, based on Gold's hometown of Putney, Twelve Secrets is a cracking psychological thriller. When another murder brings it all back to haunt the idyllic town we see how secrets are a dangerous thing and the book grabs you in a vice like grip as you uncover them all. This is an assured debut, the start of a series and we can't wait to read more of Ben Harper. Bring it on, Gold!
Brimming, barely contained, with bone-deep grief and all-consuming awakenings of the sexual and soulful kind, Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is a uniquely compelling story about bravely risking setting lives aflame for love, for a chance to embrace a new, fulfilling life. Five years have passed since Feyi’s husband died in a car accident. Though still grieving, her life is beginning to shift. She’s getting herself together as an artist in Brooklyn and, with the encouragement of her straight-talking, loving best friend, she’s ready to have sex for the first time since her husband’s death — urgent sex with no strings: “Feyi didn’t think she could stand it, to be touched so tentatively. People had turned her into webbed glass after Jonah died; it made her feel like a relic, not a person.” Feyi’s first frantic carnal encounter spirals into her jetting to a Caribbean island with a guy whose well-connected art collector father, also a famous celebrity chef, has seen her art and offered to introduce her to a major curator who wants to show her work in a major exhibition of Black diaspora artists on the island. Seismic emotional shifts erupt the moment Feyi steps foot in the stylish, tropical mountain home, where she faces tremendous conflicts of loyalty and pulls between the past and her possible future. Messy, moving, heart in-your-mouth stuff, told in dazzling prose.
Losing a child is an unthinkable, unbearable, life-changing event. Losing a child to a horrific knife crime at the hands of a so-called friend adds an extra element of heartbreak. When Yousef Makki, a bright 17-year-old with everything to live for, was stabbed through the heart by a privileged school friend in March 2019, the grief felt by his family was too much to bear. But when Yousef’s killer was cleared of all murder and manslaughter charges just months later, it awakened in them all an inner calling: to fight for justice for Yousef. Narrated by Yousef’s older sister Jade Akoum, The Boy with a Pound in his Pocket is a powerful, poignant exploration of the events leading up to and after Yousef’s killing. It is a celebration of the young man that Yousef had become, but an equally tragic account of the weaknesses that Jade’s family see rooted in the British justice system. Presented with the facts, can we really argue that wealth and class played no part in the sentencing of Yousef’s killer? And would a black teenager from a neighbouring council estate have received the same sentencing? Although this is a moving, personal story about Yousef Makki’s case, it is a hugely valuable one for society as a whole. It holds up a mirror to the system, and those working within it – but most importantly, it reminds us that knives remain a real and terrifying threat to all sections of UK society. A thought-provoking, gut-wrenching and important read.
A satisfyingly shocking and oh-so-readable novel, make sure you’re sitting comfortably when you begin! When your home life feels settled you have the most to lose, and Tom Thorne comes to realise this in the most horrifying way when the past screams hello. The Murder Book is the eighteenth in the addictive Tom Thorne series which began with the fabulous Sleepyhead, and Mark Billingham’s writing is as on-point as ever. These police procedurals have it all, a tight knit policing team, flawed characters that you’d still want on your side, and twisty plots alongside skilful writing. The writing is such that I do believe you could read this as a standalone even with the references to what has gone before, but of course, this being Mark Billingham, I have to recommend that you go back and start at the beginning. This is a book that fires-up and teases the accelerator, gradually building up until it hits top speed and then, well, it just doesn’t let up. I was genuinely fearful for Thorne and co, for their physical and mental welfare, as their opponent is truly terrifying. I read late into the night, not wanting to leave them, desperately needing to know the outcome. With a hoard of reading gold to discover, The Murder Book electrifies as it corkscrews through to a heart-pounding conclusion. Highly recommended, and a LoveReading Star Book.
It’s hard to believe it’s a debut as the challenging subject matter of depression is handled with such a deft touch. So dark, it’s pitch, pitch black. Yet so so sensitive. It’s a masterclass in ascerbic narration and perfectly pitches the dark and the light. When we first meet Martha, she talks about her husband Patrick with such disdain, such boredom and he comments that Martha can supply anyone with an inventory of his flaws. But then everyone thinks he’s perfection, so sweet, so kind, living his life in the middle setting with Martha swinging between the extremes. So where does it all go wrong? Narrated in the aftermath of their separation, Martha is forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, eccentric, bohemian parents this book is filled with laughs and tears. At the heart of the novel is long term mental illness, the crushing depression with which Martha has battled since childhood, a depression which comes in waves for weeks or months at a time. However, it’s never named in the book; what is more important is Martha’s quest to know herself, to work out who is she is and why she never seems able to find contentment. It’s hilarious. It’s brilliant. It’s a sharp observational and witty book of huge talent and I can’t wait to read more of what Meg Mason has to offer.
Neil Lancaster has written a twisty, high-octane police procedural that thrilled and intrigued me from beginning to end. Starting with several dramatic scenes, this book drew me in straightaway, following DS Max Craigie and colleagues as they investigate two seemingly linked deaths. I've not read the first book in this series - Dead Man's Grave - but this didn't matter at all, as The Blood Tide works well as a standalone, with enough back story to fill in any gaps. The writing is beautifully descriptive, bringing the diverse characters, stunning Scottish countryside and fast-paced action scenes to life (it seemed as though everything was springing out of the page in front of me), and the humorous banter between the team brought some light relief to break up the darkness of the plot. The author's own police background provides realism, authenticity and insights to a gripping and gritty read. Highly recommended Scottish Noir - I'll be picking up the first book in this series soon, and look forward to the third.
“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.
As far as booky thrills, entertainment, and satisfaction goes, I declare this is pure reading gold and a LoveReading Star Book. Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are back, their skills are needed for two investigations. They unofficially involve themselves in the first after their friend Estelle Doyle is arrested for murder, and in the second a formidable poisoner is courting social media. The Washington Poe series sits towards the very top of my favourites of all time. It started with the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award Winning The Puppet Show and here we are at book five, each and every one has been fabulous and The Botanist joins the team in swaggering style. I’m actually not quite sure how M.W. Craven does it, he maintains the most exquisite balance of blurt-worthy humour, eyebrow-raising plots, and as for the characters! Each and every person to step on the page becomes fully formed in my minds-eye, even if on the page for a moment. I rubbed my hands with glee when I realised that we had a locked room mystery on our hands and my second, third, and fourth thoughts were feverishly working away in the background as I settled in and sank into the pages. Poe and Tilly, or the reactions of others to Poe and Tilly had me snorting with laughter. They are almost polar opposites, and their friendship is heart-warming in its genuine simplicity. The plot more than happily allowed me to feel chuffed as I started to work certain aspects out before it slammed the door shut again. Oh, and I loved, loved, loved that ending! Sharply focused with on-point humour, and somehow joyfully warming while hunting the most chilling of foes, The Botanist is my current favourite of the series (each one always is). Yet again I will be haunting the book aisles until the next appears.
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