Lovereading.co.uk

Search
Categories
Pages
Recent Posts
Archives

Book Review. The Pearl and the Carnelian, by Annabel Fielding

Dark secrets, hidden desires and forbidden encounters abound in this absorbing work of historical fiction, which blends racy romance with astute political observations.

 

pearl-and-the-carnelianThe Pearl and the Carnelian, by Annabel Fielding, calls to mind the works of acclaimed historical novelist Sarah Waters as much as it does the upstairs-downstairs power games at play in Downton Abbey, it’s an engrossing tale set in the paranoid period between the two World Wars, and raises questions about the rise and attraction of fascism that feel startlingly relevant today.

 

The book is set in mid 1930s England, when Hester Blake, a bright young girl from an insalubrious Northern town, takes a job as lady’s maid to the enigmatic Lady Lucy Fitzmartin.

 

Despite doing their best to keep up appearances of grandeur, the Fitzmartins’ fortunes are fading and mistrust, resentment and barely-concealed contempt are as much a part of family life as grand society balls.

 

Hester is startled to find that, far from displaying the aloof attitude she had been expecting, the isolated Lucy is quick to confide in her, and the pair soon become much more to each other than merely Lady and her maid in waiting.

 

A budding writer who fills her time writing frothy society columns, Lucy harbours ambitions to achieve greater literary acclaim, and to live independently from the family she resents.

 

Embarking on a passionate affair with her mistress, Hester is drawn into a glitzy world of travel and high society, but knows that her true relationship with Lady Lucy must remain a closely-guarded secret.

 

Meanwhile, Hester’s clandestine meetings with her jazz-singing sister spark an irrational jealousy in Lucy, whose own white-skinned, delicate beauty appears to mask a dark determination.

 

With war clouds looming menacingly on the horizon, Lucy finds herself drawn into a political world of lies and subterfuge, and is readily convinced that, by forging bonds with the Germans, she is acting in her country’s best interests.

 

“After all, we all have an interest in not being killed”, as she bluntly puts it.

 

Issues of race, of ‘pure blood’ and of the reasoning that leads people along dubious political paths are key themes in this book – Hester’s olive skin and a family legend lead Lucy to dub her ‘My Moorish girl’, while her darker-skinned sister is beaten for her apparent ‘foreign’ status.

 

Deepening the plot, a clandestine relationship between a member of Lucy’s elite social circle and a black musician provides Lucy with ammunition to further her political ambitions, while Hester begins to resent her mistress’s increasingly inflammatory newspaper columns.

 

This is a cleverly-paced, intricately-plotted novel whose diverse range of female characters engage our sympathies even when we can’t condone their actions.

 

Lucy and Hester are particularly well-drawn, but side characters, such as Lucy’s sister Sophie, are also interesting enough to linger in the memory after the book has been put down.

 

The author has a clear interest in the history of inter-war Britain, marked by rapid and alarming social and political upheaval, and her writing provides a ‘girl’s eye view’ of a turbulent and relatively little known era.

 

And while this is very much a work of fiction, aspects of the book have taken influence from real-life events.

 

The politics of the time, with the chilling popularity of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts and the early attempts at appeasement towards Nazi Germany, feel disconcertingly similar to present-day Britain where, post-Brexit, growing dissatisfaction with the establishment and xenophobic sentiments are sending seismic shocks through the fabric of society.

 

The Pearl and the Carnelian is a novel that succeeds on many levels: as a gay romance, a solid work of historical literary fiction told through a female perspective, and a thought-provoking piece of social commentary on a fascinating and dynamic time.

 

The Pearl and the Carnelian by Annabel Fielding is out now, priced £12.30 in paperback and £4.61 as an eBook.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Book Review. BeautyFull Secrets by Deepa D’Angelova

Having enjoyed a highly successful career as a beauty therapist in some of London’s most exclusive spas, author Deepa D’Angelova has chosen to reveal the well-kept beauty secrets that will soon have readers looking, and feeling, like a new person.

 

beautifulsecretsBut BeautyFull Secrets doesn’t just focus on the outside. It also covers ‘inner beauty’, adding a refreshing spiritual dimension alongside the author’s sensible, tried-and-tested guidance on all aspects of beauty — from the proper health and diet regime to follow to the right products to use.

 

D’Angelova’s core message is that the current global fixation on external beauty — one that has been greatly exacerbated by the advent of social media – is damaging to both men and women, causing people to have both negative and harmful perceptions of themselves.

 

Instead, BeautyFull Secrets offers an alternative path to beauty, far removed from the impossible ideals of the size zero supermodel.

 

In fact, the book firmly states that anyone can be beautiful, if only they close down their negative belief patterns regarding image and learn how to harness their assets properly, building their self-esteem and confidence in the process and letting this shine through.

 

The author reveals early on that the genesis of the book came out because she felt ‘ugly’ about herself, both in terms of her looks and life situation at the time.

 

The author is a single mum and knows only too well how hard it can be to find ‘me time’, but without a dedication to looking after yourself, and a little pampering now and then, the potential mental impact can be devastating.

 

Her own transformative journey saw her following the guidance that she has been providing to her clients for the last 15 or so years, which have included A-list celebrities.

 

This, she discovered, made her not only a more positive person but also more outwardly beautiful and attractiveness to others.

 

Drawing on this expertise and personal insight, BeautyFull Secrets provides a one-stop shop to beauty across twelve informative and accessible chapters filled with inspirational and full-colour photographs by talented artist Karlo Arkhieri.

 

For instance, an early chapter demonstrates how we should harness nature’s gifts — sun, water, food and oxygen — to help us improve our beauty naturally.

 

Another teaches how to look after our skin, the largest organ of the body, including how to hydrate and massage it, avoid spots and wrinkles, and generally take good care of it through such simple things as regular facials and remembering to remove make-up after a night out.

 

There’s also a chapter providing a handy overview of beauty products. This can prove a daunting topic given the vast range of items available to buy these days, but the author is on hand with top tips to look like a million dollars without having to spend the same amount.

 

Later chapters in the 240-page book cover embracing and developing a personal style, the art of seduction and the concept of beauty across different cultures — highlighting its diversity and the futility of the search for the perfect face or body.

 

There is also a chapter specifically devoted to men, who are becoming increasingly interested in looking after their appearance, following in the footsteps of such metrosexual role models such as footballing icon David Beckham.

 

Balancing the advice on outer beauty is an equal focus on inner beauty, making the soul radiate by freeing the mind from negativity and investing the time to become comfortable in your own skin, through meditation, yoga, exercise, reading and listening to music, for example.

 

The author says that such relaxing and stimulating activities will bring a noticeable difference in posture, demeanour, character and, ultimately, self-belief and attitude.

 

Having taken all the advice in, and to further inspire readers, Deepa rounds things off with a simple yet powerful two-week programme to achieving your beauty goals, instilling new daily rituals and observations that will soon become habit.

 

Following the book’s guidance, the author states, will bring about a fresh charisma and charm, confidence and elegance that she describes as “the true face of beauty”.

 

In short, BeautyFull Secrets, is a valuable companion for anyone interested in becoming a more beautiful and rounded person.

 

BeautyFull Secrets by Deepa D’Angelova (Infinity Space Publications) is out now, priced £20 in hardcover. Visit deepadangelova.com

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Book Review. Invisible Ink by Pippa Kelly

In everyday life, Pippa Kelly is one of the UK’s foremost writers on dementia, having chronicled her own mother’s slow decline and eventual death from the condition in the national press.

 

pk-Invisible-Ink-FCHer frank account has touched many people and her blogs have won her a prestigious award for helping to raise awareness of dementia, which is still wrapped in ignorance, fear and misconceptions, at a time when it is becoming one of the UK’s biggest health problems.

 

Kelly, a former civil servant, has now produced a stunning debut novel that combines her own experiences with an emotive and mesmerising story of love, guilt, loss and betrayal within one family.

 

It tells the story of Max Rivers, a London-based lawyer who appears to have it all: a financially rewarding career, a beautiful girlfriend and an exclusive address.

 

But two things are weighing him down – his elderly mother who is in the grips of dementia and cannot see through her confused mental fog, and a long-buried secret that threatens to destroy his carefully-constructed world and bring up a past he is desperate to keep suppressed.

 

Punchy and quick, the action starts in the opening scenes, where the reader sees the crisis bubbling up in Max’s life, when his ailing mother injures herself when she falls.

 

Knowing he has to take care of her, Max becomes overwhelmed by emotions welling up from his past – namely the guilt he feels over the disappearance of his younger brother, Peter, when they were children.

 

The story then unfolds through two narratives – the first told through Max’s eyes as a solicitor trying to hold it all together, and the second through Max as a young boy.

 

This narrative of Max as a youngster begins with the arrival of baby Peter which coincides with his dad walking out on the family.

 

This emotional turmoil leads to a distinct jealousy emanating from Max towards Peter. He learns to write in invisible ink and, in a harrowing scene, sets his brother a trail of clues to follow after school one day, leading to his mysterious disappearance.

 

This results in a huge but ultimately fruitless police search, led by the avuncular DI Gould, with Peter’s ultimate loss hanging over the family forever.

 

As the novel progresses, the two halves of Max’s life – past and present – slowly come together.

 

In the present, we see Max’s girlfriend Eleanor struggle to keep her pregnancy secret. The two of them move in together, and Eleanor gives birth to their son, Ben, as Max has to face up to the realities and duties of being a father.

 

But this fresh renewing of life also has drastic consequences for Max’s buried past.
When his mum’s worsening dementia results in her coming to stay with them, she believes baby Ben to Peter and the two sides of Max’s life, which he had fought so hard to keep apart, finally collide.

 

Max’s buried emotions begin to surface and although he is determined to remain tight-lipped, his confused mother reveals all to Eleanor. Unable to cope with what this means, Max reacts by trying to remove the immediate problem and places his mother in a nursing home – an act that causes him immense guilt and grief.

 

Eventually, in a climactic scene set on Christmas day , Max finally decides to air his darkest secrets, leading to an unexpected and gripping conclusion.

 

Invisible Ink is a haunting and moving debut that excels at drawing attention to dementia in a thought-provoking way, while at the same time providing a fantastic emotional read.

 

In Max, Pippa has created a poster boy for the so-called ‘sandwich generation’, who have the double responsibilities of a young family to care for, and elderly parents. His attempts to brush his mother’s illness under the carpet run parallel to his wish to keep the past, and the deep pain of losing a brother, at arm’s length.

 

In both, he ultimately, and inevitably, fails to achieve his aims, but adult life is as much about accepting and dealing with loss as it is about enjoying the fruits of hard-earned success.

 

The author says she wrote the novel in part as a way of working through the raw feelings at the death of her own parents, and Invisible Ink certainly offers a deft exploration of the complex emotions hidden beneath the surface of our lives, drawing its readers into Max’s story and leading them, step by cautious step, towards a somber yet cathartic dénouement.

 

Invisible Ink by Pippa Kelly (Austin Macauley) is out now, priced £6.99 in paperback, £12.99 in hardback and £3.50 as an eBook. Visit pippakelly.co.uk

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Lovereading most popular books 20 – 27 November 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow
Jackie Morris
Gosh, this is absolutely and completely enchanting. The moment I laid eyes on ‘The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow’ I knew I had fallen in love, I hugged the book before even opening the pages. I felt like a …
Download free opening extract
2
The Beautiful Dead The Beautiful Dead
Belinda Bauer
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Oh my, this is a clever, chilling, and penetrating read. 29 year old TV crime reporter Eve Singer looks for murder and mayhem, but she needs to watch out, as one particular killer is staring …
Download free opening extract
3
The Sellout The Sellout
Paul Beatty
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016.
Amanda Foreman, 2016 Chair of judges, comments: ‘The Sellout is a novel for our times. A tirelessly inventive modern satire, its humour disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon …
Download free opening extract
4
An Almond for a Parrot An Almond for a Parrot
Wray Delaney
November 2016 Book of the Month.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
A fascinating erotica debut for famed children’s book author Salley Garner and, most definitely, a change in register as a tale of 18th century debauchery unfolds in the tradition of FANNY …
Download free opening extract
5
Small Great Things Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Just incredible… this punchy, beautiful, readable story vibrates with a powerful energy. After Turk Bauer accuses nurse Ruth Jefferson of murdering his new born son, Kennedy McQuarrie defends Ruth in court. Each of the three …
Download free opening extract
6
The Spy The Spy
Paulo Coelho
November 2016 MEGA Book of the Month.
A short, emotional and entirely captivating novel based on the real events that surrounded, enclosed and smothered the notorious Mata Hari. Mata Hari is a name that still evokes and conjures vivid images, this …
Download free opening extract
7
This Must be the Place This Must be the Place
Maggie O’Farrell
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016.
Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Fiction Award 2016.
June 2016 Book of the Month.
Award-winning novelist Maggie O’Farrell returns with her latest breathtaking novel.  This Must Be The Place is a story about journeys, …
Download free opening extract
8
Behind Her Eyes Behind Her Eyes
Sarah Pinborough
Oh my word, this book is devious, twisted, and an absolute knockout! The story, revolving around love, passion, suspicion, and deceit kept me teetering on a razor sharp wire of uncertainty. Sarah Pinborough’s writing is sublime, it’s shrewd, artful, cunning, …
Download free opening extract
9
1588: A Calendar of Crime A Novel in Five Books 1588: A Calendar of Crime A Novel in Five Books
Shirley McKay
St Andrews in the 16th century is once again brought to captivating vibrant life. With allegations of ghosts, witches, the Spanish Armada and high jinks, the year 1588 is full of life… and death. If you adore the ‘Hew Cullan …
Download free opening extract
10
Offshore Offshore
Penelope Fitzgerald
Winner of the Booker Prize 1979. Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker Prize-winning novel of loneliness and connecting is set among the houseboat community of the Thames and has a new Introduction from Alan Hollinghurst.
Click here to read Penelope Fitzgerald’s son-in-law discuss her legacy to …
Download free opening extract

KIDS SITE TOP 10

1
There May be a Castle There May be a Castle
Piers Torday
November 2016 Book of the Month
In a nutshell: the unbeatable power of the imagination  |   Piers Torday’s beautifully written book is an extraordinary allegory, a story of courage and love, and of the life-affirming importance of stories. It’s Christmas …
Download free opening extract
2
The Song from Somewhere Else The Song from Somewhere Else
A. F. Harrold
A Julia Eccleshare Book of the Month November 2016   Award-winning A.F. Harrold blends reality and imagination in a moving and thought-provoking story about friendship, loneliness and being brave when things are difficult. Bullied at school and unsupported at home, …
Download free opening extract
3
The Midnight Gang The Midnight Gang
David Walliams
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | November 2016 Book of the Month  | In a nutshell: comedy capers on the NHS from everyone’s favourite storyteller!
The spirit of Roald Dahl lives on in David Walliams, and Dahl’s influence …
Download free opening extract
4
Winter Magic Winter Magic
Amy Alward, Emma Carroll, Berlie Doherty & others
Get into the Spirit of Christmas!   I’ve always thought books were magical.  It’s always a wonder that a simple combination of words can have such meaning, take us on so many adventures. This short story collection encapsulates that belief perfectly. …
Download free opening extract
5
An Eagle in the Snow An Eagle in the Snow
Michael Morpurgo
November 2016 Book of the Month   A ‘what if’ story based on a true life events, full of descriptions of heroism and selflessness: for any good writer this would make excellent material for a book, but in Michael Morpurgo’s hands, …
Download free opening extract
6
The Giant's Necklace The Giant’s Necklace
Michael Morpurgo
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2016    Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo’s short story is a small gem. Part adventure, part ghost story it slips easily between past and present as a little girl, determined to collect all …
Download free opening extract
7
The Christmasaurus The Christmasaurus
Tom Fletcher
Get into the Spirit of Christmas! A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2016   Celebrity Dad of the Year 2016, Tom Fletcher brings Christmas and Dinosaurs together in a warm hearted, rollickingly magical story inspired by his love of …
Download free opening extract
8
The Christmas Eve Tree The Christmas Eve Tree
Delia Huddy
Get into the Spirit of Christmas!  This absolutely beautiful book will really instil the true Christmas spirit in all who read it. Planted carelessly, the little fir tree has no chance to grow, so stays small and stunted. No wonder …
Download free opening extract
9
The Snow Cat The Snow Cat
Holly Webb
In a nutshell: a seasonal story of snow, cats and happy endings!
Young readers will very much enjoy Holly Webb’s typically touching new story, in which a mischievous cat works magic across the generations. Bel is staying with her grandma in …
Download free opening extract
10
The White Fox The White Fox
Jackie Morris
One of our Super Readable Books of the Year 2016 | November 2016 Book of the Month
Interest Age 8-12  |  In a nutshell: a wild creature leads a boy home  |   Full of magic, myth and a wonderful sense of …
Download free opening extract
1

The LisztsThe Liszts
Kyo Maclear
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | November 2016 Debut of the Month Welcome to the wonderful world of the Liszts. This somewhat eccentric family all make lists – mama, papa, the children, even the cat. They make …
Download free opening extract

2

Time Travelling with a HamsterTime Travelling with a Hamster
Ross Welford
Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, Children’s Book category, 2016 | One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award and Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2016. January 2016 Debut of the Month  This …
Download free opening extract

3

The Racehorse Who Wouldn't GallopThe Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop
Clare Balding
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | October 2016 MEGA Debut of the Month |  In a nutshell: follow your dreams  |  Young readers will gallop through Clare Balding’s utterly delightful book – in fact, they’ll be smiling …
Download free opening extract

Books for Babies and Toddlers

1
Gordon's Great Escape Gordon’s Great Escape
Sue Hendra
November 2016 Book of the Month  Hurrah for Gordon the Balloon! Gordon’s life story, including time at balloon-school learning just what a balloon does, his first true love whose pets are porcupines and his important role in rescuing his friends …
Download free opening extract
2
Wolves Wolves
Emily Gravett
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | Celebrating 10th Anniversary of Wolves!  Rabbit borrows a book about wolves from the library. He can’t put it down! But soon a sinister figure with sharp claws and a bushy tail …
Download free opening extract
3
Dinosaur Roar! Single Sound Board Book Dinosaur Roar! Single Sound Board Book
Henrietta Stickland
Dinosaur roar, dinosaur squeak! This fabulous rhyming book of opposites is deservedly recognised as a classic and this new edition comes complete with a fantastic dinosaur sound. A herd of dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments race or lounge …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for Young Adults

1
The Sun is Also a Star The Sun is Also a Star
Nicola Yoon
November 2016 Book of the Month
In a Nutshell: Race against time | Racing hearts | The difference a day makes |   Intense tale of fate, fraught families and migrant lives told over the twelve hour period in which a teenage girl …
Download free opening extract
2
The Diabolic The Diabolic
S. J. Kincaid
In a Nutshell: Intergalactic Identity Epic     Action and intrigue abound in this high-stakes, high-concept sci-fi thriller from the acclaimed author of Insignia.
Nemesis is a Diabolic. They ‘look like us, but they aren’t truly human beings.’ They’re predators who must kill …
Download free opening extract
3
Dear Charlie Dear Charlie
N. D. Gomes
November 2016 Debut of the Month
In a Nutshell: Shocking school shooting | Heartache behind headlines    A thoroughly thought-provoking tale of a family’s struggle with grief and guilt in the aftermath of an atrocious act committed by a loved one.
It’s …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for 3+ readers

1
The Christmas Eve Tree The Christmas Eve Tree
Delia Huddy
Get into the Spirit of Christmas!  This absolutely beautiful book will really instil the true Christmas spirit in all who read it. Planted carelessly, the little fir tree has no chance to grow, so stays small and stunted. No wonder …
Download free opening extract
2
Snowflake in My Pocket Snowflake in My Pocket
Rachel Bright
Get into the Spirit of Christmas! This charming story of a little squirrel’s first adventure in the snow is also a gentle reflection on the things we should really treasure. Little Squirrel lives in an oak tree with wise old …
Download free opening extract
3
Blue Penguin Blue Penguin
Petr Horacek
November 2016 Book of the Month   There are some breathtakingly beautiful illustrations in Petr Horacek’s new picture book, and a story to bring a lump to the throat. Blue Penguin does the same things that the other penguins do but, …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for 5+ readers

1
Magnificent Creatures Magnificent Creatures
Anna Wright
In a nutshell: patterns and personalities in the animal world captured in words and beautiful pictures.
This beautiful book will inspire children to look at the world around them with new eyes. Anna Wright is fascinated by the extraordinary patterns and …
Download free opening extract
2
Pandora Pandora
Victoria Turnbull
Victoria Turnbull is a very gifted picture book creator and Pandora is a beautiful story of friendship, hope and renewal. All alone, in a land of broken things, lives Pandora, a little fox. She spends her time gathering and repairing …
Download free opening extract
3
Penguin Problems Penguin Problems
Jory John
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2016      Ever thought you had problems? Try being a Penguin! There’s too much snow, it’s too cold, the sea has too …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for 7+ readers

1
The Giant's Necklace The Giant’s Necklace
Michael Morpurgo
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2016    Former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo’s short story is a small gem. Part adventure, part ghost story it slips easily between past and present as a little girl, determined to collect all …
Download free opening extract
2
The Snow Cat The Snow Cat
Holly Webb
In a nutshell: a seasonal story of snow, cats and happy endings!
Young readers will very much enjoy Holly Webb’s typically touching new story, in which a mischievous cat works magic across the generations. Bel is staying with her grandma in …
Download free opening extract
3
The Fox and the Star The Fox and the Star
Coralie Bickford-Smith
October 2016 Debut of the Month  This is such a charming and gloriously delightful short tale, about friendship, facing your fears and looking beyond the obvious. The Fox and the Star is a visually stunning story book; the illustrations are fabulous, …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for 9+ readers

1
There May be a Castle There May be a Castle
Piers Torday
November 2016 Book of the Month
In a nutshell: the unbeatable power of the imagination  |   Piers Torday’s beautifully written book is an extraordinary allegory, a story of courage and love, and of the life-affirming importance of stories. It’s Christmas …
Download free opening extract
2
The Song from Somewhere Else The Song from Somewhere Else
A. F. Harrold
A Julia Eccleshare Book of the Month November 2016   Award-winning A.F. Harrold blends reality and imagination in a moving and thought-provoking story about friendship, loneliness and being brave when things are difficult. Bullied at school and unsupported at home, …
Download free opening extract
3
Winter Magic Winter Magic
Amy Alward, Emma Carroll, Berlie Doherty & others
Get into the Spirit of Christmas!   I’ve always thought books were magical.  It’s always a wonder that a simple combination of words can have such meaning, take us on so many adventures. This short story collection encapsulates that belief perfectly. …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for 11+ readers

1
The Midnight Gang The Midnight Gang
David Walliams
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | November 2016 Book of the Month  | In a nutshell: comedy capers on the NHS from everyone’s favourite storyteller!
The spirit of Roald Dahl lives on in David Walliams, and Dahl’s influence …
Download free opening extract
2
An Eagle in the Snow An Eagle in the Snow
Michael Morpurgo
November 2016 Book of the Month   A ‘what if’ story based on a true life events, full of descriptions of heroism and selflessness: for any good writer this would make excellent material for a book, but in Michael Morpurgo’s hands, …
Download free opening extract
3
Spirit of the Jungle Spirit of the Jungle
Bear Grylls
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | October 2016 Book of the Month  | In a nutshell: jungle survival in the footsteps of Mowgli  |  More than 120 years after publication of The Jungle Book, and following the …
Download free opening extract

Featured Books for 13+ readers

1
Black Light Express Black Light Express
Philip Reeve
November 2016 Book of the Month
In a nutshell: dazzling journeys into other worlds  |   Philip Reeve continues to turn us all into railheads in his glorious new sci-fi adventure. The follow up to Railhead, this is set in a gleaming …
Download free opening extract
2
The Lie Tree: Illustrated Edition The Lie Tree: Illustrated Edition
Frances Hardinge
A beautiful illustrated gift edition of Frances Hardinge’s hugely entertaining and dramatic Victorian thriller. When Faith’s father dies suddenly she knows she must try to find out exactly what he was hiding in the local caves she had recently visited …
Download free opening extract
3
Reckless III: The Golden Yarn Reckless III: The Golden Yarn
Cornelia Funke
November 2016 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: mesmerising tale of love and adventure set in a dark fairy tale world  |  Cornelia Funke has an extraordinarily fertile imagination, which is fed and inspired by the old fairy …
Download free opening extract
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Lovereading most popular books 13 – 20 November 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Art of Beatrix Potter Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations The Art of Beatrix Potter Sketches, Paintings, and Illustrations
Emily Zach
A beautifully presented celebration of the art of one of our most famous and well-loved children’s author, this collection shows us the wealth of material she produced and the true extent of the legacy she left behind.  The key to …
Download free opening extract
2
The Secret The Secret
Katerina Diamond
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Intense, shocking, thrilling… this is a fast-paced read, so as curveballs and whammies ricochet towards you, make sure you’re on your toes and ready to keep up. DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles are …
Download free opening extract
3
The Beautiful Dead The Beautiful Dead
Belinda Bauer
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Oh my, this is a clever, chilling, and penetrating read. 29 year old TV crime reporter Eve Singer looks for murder and mayhem, but she needs to watch out, as one particular killer is staring …
Download free opening extract
4
The Museum of Cathy The Museum of Cathy
Anna Stothard
November 2016 Book of the Month.
This latest novel from the acclaimed author of the Orange-longlisted The Pink Hotel is an exploration of memories, consequence and the difficulties of living with the past. Cathy is a curator of natural history in …
Download free opening extract
5
Lyrebird Lyrebird
Cecelia Ahern
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Just so, so gorgeous! Laura lives on her own in the woodland wilds of South West Ireland, a film crew discover she has a special gift, will she be exploited or set free? I always …
Download free opening extract
6
Under a Pole Star Under a Pole Star
Stef Penney
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Flora Mackie leads a remarkable life.  Daughter of a whaling captain, with her mother dead, she spent many of her teenage years sailing with him and living with the Inuit of Greenland.  When grown, it …
Download free opening extract
7
The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow
Jackie Morris
Gosh, this is absolutely and completely enchanting. The moment I laid eyes on ‘The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow’ I knew I had fallen in love, I hugged the book before even opening the pages. I felt like a …
Download free opening extract
8
Deep Water Deep Water
Christine Poulson
November 2016 Book of the Month.
A quietly dramatic novel, ‘Deep Water’ thrusts questions forward, and I found myself asking ‘what would I do?’ as I read. Several interlinked stories weave their through and around a clinical trial into obesity, and …
Download free opening extract
9
Small Great Things Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Just incredible… this punchy, beautiful, readable story vibrates with a powerful energy. After Turk Bauer accuses nurse Ruth Jefferson of murdering his new born son, Kennedy McQuarrie defends Ruth in court. Each of the three …
Download free opening extract
10
Himself Himself
Jess Kidd
November 2016 Debut of the Month.
Dublin-wise, orphaned young man goes in search of his birth mother. He has a photograph with a note on the back and the name of a village. This is very Irish and completely charming. The …
Download free opening extract
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Author Talk: Five minutes with Lucy Dawson

Former magazine editor Lucy talks to Mary Hogarth about characters, lessons learned and inspiration for her latest novel, Everything You Told Me

 

Lucy-Dawson---photo-credit-Roddy-PaineSince her debut novel in 2008 Lucy has written five more books and is currently working on the seventh. Having read Psychology at Warwick she has an insight into human behavior, which is apparent in her work.

 

Her novels are dark, gritty and real – reflecting those personality traits many of us hope we never encounter for real.

 

What did you take from your experience as an editor of a children’s magazine?

That writing for children is something lots of people think is easy, and it’s actually incredibly hard. Give me psychological thrillers any day of the week.

 

You studied psychology at university, why didn’t you choose it as a career?

I wasn’t up for any more academic study, I only wanted to get out into the world and earn some money. It was absolutely the right decision. And I know that when I do go back to psychology (which I almost certainly will), I’ll be aiming for the specialism that is the best fit for me, which I’m certain I would have got wrong in my twenties.

 

How did your career as a novelist evolve?

I made the classic mistake of knowing I wanted to write, and getting into editing thinking it would lead to writing – and it didn’t. I had to make a conscious decision to career change, and re-trained as a Pilates instructor so I could teach morning and evening, then write during the day. I definitely used those editing skills and have no problem with viciously cutting my own work.

 

Everything-You-Told-MeTell us about your first book deal for His Other Lover

The only agent I sent His Other Lover to – because I really wanted her to represent me – offered to take me on straight away. It was sold very quickly to Sphere and they published it brilliantly.

It’s not always that easy, I was very lucky.

 

Your inspiration for Everything You Told Me?

I lost my phone and realized I had no idea how to contact anyone at all. I didn’t even know my husband’s number off by heart. So I imagined how it would feel to be miles away from home with no phone, no keys, no money . . . and no idea how you got there. It didn’t take long for that idea to snowball into a whole book.

 

When beginning a new book where do you start?

At the beginning with an opening scene. I don’t plan anything or make notes – I just sit down and write it from start to finish. I’ve never been someone who can write scenes out of sequence. For me discovering the story as I go along is the best bit about writing.

 

Which is more important character or plot?

Unless you have both – you’re doomed.

 

How do you develop your characters? 

I don’t consciously develop characters. I usually have a start point scenario that begins each book – and a character somehow just seems to tag along as part of that. In Everything You Told Me – I knew Sally had to be a normal, far from perfect mum, but hugely resilient and able to withstand the situations I was going to put her in, while vulnerable enough that you’d worry for her. The more I threw at her, the more her character emerged. I also knew I needed a character who was going to be Sally’s nemesis – enter Kelly, her future sister-in-law . . . who seems hard as her polished nails, and yet has secrets of her own.

They were a LOT of fun to write, and when I put them together, I could see exactly where the story was going to go.

 

Has the degree helped you shape your characters?

My degree was very science based, rather than social psychology, which is the study of what motivates behavior, so it wasn’t hugely helpful. However, anyone who studies psychology has, I think, a good sense of empathy – which is crucial for developing characters. If I don’t understand what is motivating a character, they always wind up feeling 2d, which is useless.

The part of my degree that probably helped me the most was psychopathology, which put crudely, is the study of mental disorders, and their causes, development and treatment. I found that fascinating and it’s probably what has influenced my writing most – the very fine line between what is considered normal mental health, and what is not.

 

Having written five books to-date, which is your favourite?

My favourite is always the one I’m writing at the time, because I get such a kick out of seeing the story emerge. That said, I’ll always have a soft spot for His Other Lover, because I had no expectations, I just enjoyed every minute of writing it.

 

Are you working on a new book, if so can you give us a preview?

I’m just about to finish my seventh book. It’s about a woman’s 10-second encounter with a stranger, and the devastating consequences of their meeting. . .

 

Is it hard to make a good living from fiction?

The thing most people struggle with is the irregularity of income from writing. You can have really good years and really bad ones. If you like the security of a regular monthly salary, then writing isn’t for you.

 

The three most important lessons you’ve learned about writing?

  • If you wait for the muse to strike you, you’ll be waiting a long time. It takes genuine discipline to be a writer.
  • If it’s not fun to write, it won’t be fun to read.
  • You can’t be precious about your writing if you want to be published. Be prepared to listen, and take advice. Editors and agents know what they’re talking about.

photo credit Roddy Paine

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Book Review Kasztner’s Crime by Paul Bogdanor

Few historical figures divide opinion as dramatically as Jewish wartime figure Rezső (Rudolf) Kasztner.  

 

As the leader of ‘rescue negotiations’ between the Nazis and the Hungarian Jews during the dark days of the Second World War, he has been hailed by some as a hero who saved the lives of thousands, and by others as a traitor who was complicit in the deaths of half a million of his own people.

 

Kasztner's-Crime-CoverWith painstaking attention to detail, author and researcher Paul Bogdanor convincingly and coherently sets out to prove the latter assertion: that the man who set out to rescue Jews from the Nazis indeed became an SS collaborator and an accessory to the genocide of the Jewish masses.

 

Whatever the reader’s initial stance on the Kasztner debate – if, indeed, they are familiar with the figure at all – Kasztner’s Crime is an incredible work of investigative writing that merits full attention.

 

According to Bogdanor, Kasztner was willing to sacrifice the many for the few because of an overwhelming drive for power and recognition; something that the Nazis were happy to play along with as long as it served their purpose.

 

Bogdanor calls upon forgotten evidence including the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and Kasztner’s own confessions to provide a definitive answer to the nature and extent of Kasztner’s staggering betrayal of the Hungarian Jews.

 

Introducing the reader to his subject, Bogdanor chronicles Kasztner’s rapid rise from journalist and lawyer to a key figure in the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee at the outbreak of war.

 

During this time he helped in the rescue of some 25,000 Jews from neighbouring countries, and also helped fund Oskar Schindler’s famous rescue operation in Poland.

 

But what followed was a tragedy – the story of a hero who became an instrument of the Nazi killing machine.

 

In March 1944, the Nazis occupied Hungary and set into motion the plan to deport and exterminate the country’s entire Jewish population.

 

Kasztner ignored orders to take the rescue committee underground to form an effective resistance movement and instead chose to negotiate with the Nazis. It was to be his undoing.

 

His dealings with senior SS officer Adolf Eichmann, charged with carrying out the Holocaust in Hungary, trapped Kasztner into a deplorable pact: saving the lives of just over 1,600 Jewish VIPs, including members of his own family, in return for the deaths of hundreds of thousands at the Nazi death camps.

 

The story of the ‘Kasztner Train’ that carried these lucky few to a safe haven in Switzerland is an emotionally-charged one, and the basis for Kasztner’s ongoing reputation as a hero.

 

But based on the shocking evidence he has uncovered, Bogdanor convincingly argues that the widely-held belief that Kasztner could not have saved more lives than the 1,684 Jews aboard the ‘Kasztner Train’ is false.

 

The book details how Kasztner, at the Nazis’ bidding, actively sabotaged efforts to save more lives, preventing thousands of ordinary Jews from fleeing to Romania by falsely claiming that an escape route had been blocked.

 

He also misled Jewish communities and the outside world into thinking that the Hungarian Jews would be resettled for agricultural work inside Hungary until the end of the war when, instead, they were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz.

 

The book pulls no punches in retelling the brutal truth about the slaughter of millions of Jews at Nazi extermination camps. It’s a poignant and painful reminder of the horrific treatment of Jews during the Second World War that must never be forgotten.

 

In writing Kasztner’s Crime, Bogdanor aims to right a great injustice to the memories of the Holocaust victims by exposing Kasztner for what he was.

 

The intelligent and well-supported case he puts forward is certainly damning, and tallies with the verdict of the Israeli court in 1955, which concluded that Kasztner had “sold his soul to the Devil”.

 

Within the space of a few years, however, Kasztner had been assassinated and posthumously exonerated by Israel’s Supreme Court. Since that point he has been widely celebrated in popular culture.

 

Kasztner’s Crime argues that his heroic reputation could not be further from the truth and that his actions need an urgent re-evaluation, with Rezső Kasztner being recognised as nothing less than the last Holocaust traitor to be brought to justice.

 

Kasztner’s Crime by Paul Bogdanor (Transaction Publishers) is out now, priced £27.50 in paperback. Visit www.kasztnerscrime.com

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Book Review: Beat The Rain by Nigel Jay Cooper

The genre of contemporary women’s fiction is seen almost as the preserve of women authors, but in Beat the Rain, debut writer Nigel Jay Cooper can hold his head high for penning a moving and gripping read that stands up against the work of his best-selling female peers.

 

Beat-The-Rain-High-Res-CoverThe novel, which has been voted a Good Reads Awards 2016 semi-finalist by the reading public, is a psychological thriller that tells the dysfunctional and tragic love story of a couple with issues, Louise and Adam, and the dramatic consequences of a marriage in decline.

 

It opens with a glimpse into Louise’s life after her boyfriend, Tom, dies suddenly, leaving her heart-broken.

 

Lost and alone, six months later she receives a video from Tom – a message from the grave. He urges her to move on and reveals that he knew she was secretly in love with his twin brother, Adam.

 

Tom believes they can help each other, and so it follows. Adam and Louise go against the wishes of their families to start a relationship, both hoping it might fill the holes in their lives.

 

The couple marry and start a family, but as the years roll by the pressures that come with a long-term relationship, once the initial blaze of passion has long since burned out, takes its toll, exacerbated by deep-seated psychological issues.

Struck by post-natal depression, Louise becomes introspective, recalling her sad and troubled childhood – one that saw her mother abandon her and her father die.

 

Driving Adam further away in the mistaken belief that their relationship is not worth saving, she encounters a man named Jarvis at the café she owns.

 

At first Louise is only mildly obsessed with this intriguing, charismatic man, but in her troubled state, this soon manifests into voyeurism.

 

Eventually, her erratic mind spins out of control, and she convinces herself that Jarvis is falling for her, forcing a friendship between her husband and Jarvis just to have an excuse to meet him more often.

 

But Jarvis is in love with someone else close to Louse, and more than this, it transpires Jarvis has not been strictly honest about his role in their lives, and has his own shocking agenda for becoming close.

 

Though they try to make the marriage work, Adam’s and Louise’s relationship continues to falter, stifled by the grief and pain they are both trying to deal with.

 

Adam descends into alcoholism while Louise tries to distract herself by becoming a workaholic, and as argument follows terrible argument, the novel gallops towards a climatic ending packed with startling revelations.

 

Structured in a non-linear fashion with chapters told alternatively from Louise and Adam’s perspective, Beat The Rain is an unforgettable story of love and loss propelled by blockbuster twists.

 

At times humorous; at others downright tragic, it runs the full gamut of emotions that would be encountered in a relationship spinning dangerously out of control.

 

Cooper has a rare knack for presenting flawed characters and their grubby domestic lives, yet in a way that makes the reader care about what happens to them.

 

We discover the emotional pains that drive the characters, the guilt and grief that they won’t let heal, and the desires and yearnings so woefully misdirected.

 

The most devastating thing is not what ultimately happens to them, but that it could all have been avoided if Adam and Louise had only been able to grasp the deeper truths, both of themselves and each other.

 

Haunting, touching and at times lyrical, Beat The Rain will undoubtedly draw comparisons with bestseller thrillers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

 

It sends you on an emotional ride that is equal parts rollercoaster and ghost train, and proves that a male author can dare to take on women’s fiction and succeed with aplomb.

 

Beat The Rain (Roundfire Books) by Nigel Jay Cooper is out now in paperback, priced at £10.99 or £4.99 for an eBook. For more information, visit www.nigeljaycooper.com.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Most popular books on Lovereading 30 October – 6 November 2016

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Secret The Secret
Katerina Diamond
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Intense, shocking, thrilling… this is a fast-paced read, so as curveballs and whammies ricochet towards you, make sure you’re on your toes and ready to keep up. DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles are …
Download free opening extract
2
Small Great Things Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Just incredible… this punchy, beautiful, readable story vibrates with a powerful energy. After Turk Bauer accuses nurse Ruth Jefferson of murdering his new born son, Kennedy McQuarrie defends Ruth in court. Each of the three …
Download free opening extract
3
Himself Himself
Jess Kidd
November 2016 Debut of the Month.
Dublin-wise, orphaned young man goes in search of his birth mother. He has a photograph with a note on the back and the name of a village. This is very Irish and completely charming. The …
Download free opening extract
4
The Beautiful Dead The Beautiful Dead
Belinda Bauer
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Oh my, this is a clever, chilling, and penetrating read. 29 year old TV crime reporter Eve Singer looks for murder and mayhem, but she needs to watch out, as one particular killer is staring …
Download free opening extract
5
The Museum of Cathy The Museum of Cathy
Anna Stothard
November 2016 Book of the Month.
This latest novel from the acclaimed author of the Orange-longlisted The Pink Hotel is an exploration of memories, consequence and the difficulties of living with the past. Cathy is a curator of natural history in …
Download free opening extract
6
An Almond for a Parrot An Almond for a Parrot
Wray Delaney
November 2016 Book of the Month.
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.
A fascinating erotica debut for famed children’s book author Salley Garner and, most definitely, a change in register as a tale of 18th century debauchery unfolds in the tradition of FANNY …
Download free opening extract
7
Lyrebird Lyrebird
Cecelia Ahern
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Just so, so gorgeous! Laura lives on her own in the woodland wilds of South West Ireland, a film crew discover she has a special gift, will she be exploited or set free? I always …
Download free opening extract
8
Under a Pole Star Under a Pole Star
Stef Penney
November 2016 Book of the Month.
Flora Mackie leads a remarkable life.  Daughter of a whaling captain, with her mother dead, she spent many of her teenage years sailing with him and living with the Inuit of Greenland.  When grown, it …
Download free opening extract
9
The Sellout The Sellout
Paul Beatty
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016.
Amanda Foreman, 2016 Chair of judges, comments: ‘The Sellout is a novel for our times. A tirelessly inventive modern satire, its humour disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon …
Download free opening extract
10
Where Dead Men Meet Where Dead Men Meet
Mark Mills
November 2016 eBook of the Month.
Absolutely thrilling… this is a fast paced, firecracker of a read, set in Europe as the Second World War is brewing. Why is Luke Hamilton, intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris the target …
Download free opening extract
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share

Book Review. The Messiahs of Princep Street by Moshe Elias

This astutely-observed, tragi-comic novel from Moshe Elias is at once a warming coming-of-age tale, a nuanced account of growing up in a Jewish community in Singapore, a touching romance and an unflinching account of the treatment of Jews during WW2.

 

me-FC-The-Messiahs-of-Princep-StreetThe events of the book are told from the perspective of Adam Messiah — a man who, in his late 40s, has reached a moment of crisis and decides to stitch together the interweaving stories of his life in order to find out where he went wrong.

 

The book begins from the very first moments of his birth, and the benefit of hindsight has allowed Adam to equip his infant self with an astute observational eye. So readers see Adam’s first experiences — from the shock of his circumcision to the rather racy conversations of his mother’s friends — as he silently takes it all in.

 

Rich in descriptive language that brings to life a world that, for many readers, will be totally unfamiliar — from the vivid characterisation to the passages describing the ‘exotic’ foods sold by hawkers that Adam says changed the sights, smells and sounds of Princep Street to suit the time of day — Moshe draws you in to this Jewish corner of Singapore.

 

The book takes place at a time when the sun is setting on the British Empire, and Adam is being brought up in a Singapore shophouse, where his devout father scratches a living selling stationery products (but without resorting to anything as vulgar as a sign above the door to announce what he’s selling).

 

Adam’s father, Judah, teaches him that the Torah, the Jewish Bible, has all the answers to life’s questions, but Adam’s faith in his father’s deeply-held beliefs are shaken to the core with Japan’s invasion of Singapore.

 

It is an interesting historical note that, shortly after the much-documented 1941 invasion of Pearl Harbour, the Japanese swept through Southeast Asia and occupied much of the region for over three years — sending Jews to internment camps.

 

Through Adam’s viewpoint, the terrifying events — from the first bombings to the herding and deportation of the Jewish community to the camps — are given a human warmth and even a wry wit, without losing their power to shock, and it’s a stark and important reminder that the Holocaust extended far beyond Europe.

 

Adam’s father dies shortly after the end of the war, and though a now 17-year-old Adam will remember his teachings throughout his life, he begins to eschew strict religious values, convincing his mother to open the shop on Saturdays, moving in non-Jewish circles, and beginning a relationship with Penelope, a Catholic girl.

 

When Adam’s fears about religious and cultural differences lead him away from this deep love and into a less-than-passionate marriage with a Jewish girl, his questioning about life’s true meaning grow deeper, until he follows life’s path back to Penelope’s door, and the book reaches a moving and somewhat tragic conclusion.

 

Casting aside the old adage about never judging a book by its cover, the beautifully-drawn front cover does give a hint at the colourful characters and settings within its pages.

 

The Messiah family’s shophouse is flanked by a packed Chinese home on one side, and an Indian family on the other. It is unique in offering a ‘slice of life’ from a multicultural community at a crucial point in history. The 1942 Fall of Singapore was described by Winston Churchill as the worst defeat in British military history, and is seen by many as the beginning of the end for the British Empire.

 

Highlighting political and religious issues from a deeply personal viewpoint, the book is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, and its sharp observations and dry humour make it a pleasure to read, even when the events described are deeply troubling.

 

The book’s main themes are the twin crises of faith and authority, misplaced beliefs and the perils of blind obedience to duty. Adam suffers greatly for his mistaken belief that he must be a ‘good Jew’, losing the love of his life in the process, while on a wider canvas the British Empire loses its colony in part because of a mistaken distrust of arming the colonists so they could protect themselves.

 

But above all, The Messiahs of Princep Street is a warm and witty tale that in places calls to mind coming-of-age classics such as The Catcher in the Rye in its questioning of precepts and social expectations.

 

Moshe Elias was born and lived half of his life within the Jewish community of Singapore, and later lived in India, Scotland, England and Israel, and these wide travels seem to have given him a sharp eye for cultural detail.

 

His ability to paint vivid scenes from a now distant world are terrific, and this book is sure to appeal to those who enjoy reading well-observed and sensitive stories of war and the British Empire in its final throes, or simply accounts of far-flung places and different cultures.

 

The Messiahs of Princep Street by Moshe Elias (Writersworld Ltd) is out now, priced £12.99 in hardcover, £3.47 in paperback and £5 as an eBook.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Share