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Blog Book Review: Jodie and the Library Card by Julie Hodgson

Book-loving children and teens will find it hard to tear themselves away from this fantastically bitter-sweet tale of friendship, growing up…and time-hopping adventures.

In the first of what looks set to be a series of adventures for time-travelling bookworm Jodie Broom, author Julie Hodgson takes us on a thrilling hop skip and jump through history, seen through the eyes of a smart and engaging young heroine.


Jodie is 12 (“nearly 13!”) and in many ways she is like most young girls growing up in 2017 – she loves music, books, and hanging out with her friends.


But Jodie Broom is growing up in 2075 and in this future books have been banned for over 50 years.


There are no physical books, no newspapers; everything is consumed electronically – even food and music are simulated versions of the real thing. Robo-nannies are on childcare duties, and anybody found in possession of ‘real’ books faces stiff punishment.


Thankfully, Jodie is given a library card that allows her to venture into the past  – setting the scene for a rollicking adventure and bring back some precious books to store in a secret hiding place.


But when her stash of contraband books is discovered, Jodie faces the wrath of teachers and parents, and the excitement steps up a gear as she and Pacman attempt to outsmart the authority figures.


Jumping through time zones at will, the pair meet a new friend, Kai, and all three set off on a challenge involving an intriguing cast of characters including Attila the Hun, and a kindly, bearded man who absolutely denies being an off-duty Santa Claus (as Jodie and her friends strongly suspect).


The book has moments of high tension, particularly when the youths make the somewhat unwise decision to zap themselves back to the deck of the Titanic.


And it’s a page-turner that doubles as a handy history lesson. From the Blitz to Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, the book visits pivotal moments in history, sneaking interesting facts and information about historical events into an addictive read.


Jodie and the Library Card has already picked up a string of awards – including a New Apple Award for Excellence, Readers’ Favourite Book Award and Wishing Shelf Book Award – and it’s not hard to see why.


In Jodie, the author has created an engaging, likeable and believable character for her target nine to 12-year-old audience, while the travels through the fourth dimension grip from the get-go.


That being said, parents picking up the book out of curiosity may well find themselves quickly drawn into the action, and learning a thing or two in the process, and it’s easy to imagine the book playing out on the silver screen.


With several more Jodie Broom books in the pipeline, this promises to be the start of something very enjoyable – and should inspire armies of young readers to appreciate the importance of books.


Jodie and the Library Card (Lulu Books) by Julie Hodgson is out now in paperback, priced £5.38. Visit

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Mid-April eNewsletter

We hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable Easter and found the time to enjoy a bit more reading time than usual. Our mid-month email is packed with book recommendations from the Lovereading editorial experts including a virtual shelf full of titles you can read opening extracts of before they hit the virtual and physical bookshops!


Why wait for the publication date?

Sneak a peek at some carefully selected novels we rate very highly, before they’re published. You know you want to


Making History! – The Wolfson History Prize

A quick reminder for fans of brilliant non-fiction that you can now see the shortlisted titles vying for the top spot in the Wolfson History Prize 2017. We’ve added our Lovereading Expert Reviews and free downloadable extracts to help you choose your favourite. Click here for more and don’t miss the chance to win all the shortlisted titles worth £175!

And speaking of prize-winning fiction…

If you are part of a reading group why not read The Blood Miracles, the follow-up novel from last year’s Desmond Elliott Prize winner Lisa McInerney.

It’s outstanding, compelling, convincing, captivating and very, very readable.

In the Bag! – April Highlights

These are the best books this month that may just have escaped your beady eye. Must-haves for your book-bag! Books like:

The Museum of You by Carys Bray – 2nd novel from the author of award shortlisted A Song for Issy Bradley. Sarah Broadhurst described it as ‘sad, poignant and tender with some lovely secondary characters’. And Reader Reviewer Janet said ‘A magical thought-provoking book.’ Billionaires’ Banquet by Ron Butlin – An exceedingly original novel that evokes the zeitgeist of Thatcher’s Britain with wit, humour and an exhilaratingly zesty touch. Complex, astute and often acerbic, this is an utterly involving depiction of a transformative period in British history. Well of the Winds by Denzil Meyrick – A stimulating, fascinating and so very readable addition to the D.C.I. Daley Series, this time set on an island off the coast of Kintyre. If you’ve not yet met Daley and Scott, do sink into the pages and introduce yourself.



The eye-opening account of a refugee’s incredible strength and bravery

Nujeen is a teenager. She loves TV and wants desperately to fit in and be normal. Yet Nujeen has also travelled an arduous journey through seven borders in a wheelchair in the hope of finding a better life.

The Girl from Aleppo: Nujeen’s Escape from War to Freedom will give you the opportunity to understand the plight of the people fleeing. The story, although personal and unique, is still the story of many, many ordinary people seeking safety and deserves to be heard and better understood.


Transportive Historical Fiction – Karen Maitland

Fans of Kate Mosse and C.J. Sansom may already know the novels of Karen Maitland. Her impeccable research and deep understanding of community have helped craft some truly brilliant works of historical fiction. It’s no wonder she’s a firm favourite with reading groups up and down the country. Her latest title, The Plague Charmer, is a harrowing, enthralling and ultimately exciting look at the horror of apocalyptic illness in an age of superstition and its effects on real people. Find out more.

I Came, I Read, I Recommended! – Reader Highlights

Some of the popular books with our band of book lovers on our consumer Reader Review Panel, all gathered into one place to help you find your next great read!

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova – A beautifully crafted novel told in beautiful, descriptive prose. Watching Edie by Camilla Way – A truly compulsive read. Menace hangs over the whole story. The Lauras by Sara Taylor – A captivating and subtle novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait.
The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – Oh my word, this is an eyebrow-raising, mouth openingly good read. The Cutaway by Christina Kovac – A compelling and stylish psychological thriller from a fine new voice in crime fiction. A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys –  A scrumptiously entertaining mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue.

Take it from the Max! – Maxim Jakubowski Recommends

Crime guru Maxim Jakubowski has been reflecting this month that the genre seems to go from strength to strength in spite of all the greats that have gone before.

With no signs of a slowdown in exciting plots, incredible twists and engaging protagonists, crime writing is alive and well. Good news for avid fans! See all his picks for the month here, or go straight to his top two:

Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker – Reminiscent of Twin Peaks and Fargo, a small-town missing child story that is poignant and comic as well as dark and disturbing.

And What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney – Atmospheric and gripping psychological crime thriller where lives are changed forever in a dark, wonderfully voiced page-turner.

Gritty, Real, Northern Crime Saga

Julie Shaw’s grandparents were Annie and Reggie Hudson, the crime lords of the infamous Canterbury Estate in Bradford. Her gripping series ‘Tales of the Notorious Hudson Family’ based on real events is provocative, edgy and at times unbelievably sad but highly readable. The 6th in the series, Blood Sisters, is just out and is perfect for fans of Martina Cole.

That’s it from us this month. We’ll be back in May with more top tips for your next great read. Happy Reading!

P.S. Are you a fan of Ian Rankin’s Rebus? Find out more about RebusFest happening at the end of June in Edinburgh… but be quick, events are selling out fast.

P.P.S. The Baileys Women’s Prize shortlist has recently been announced and we are rooting for Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. You can find all the shortlist in our book awards category.

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Top 10 most popular books on Lovereading 2 – 9 April 2017

Lovereading Top 10

Black Water Lilies Black Water Lilies
Michel Bussi
April 2017 Book of the Month.
Simply superb, ’Black Water Lilies’ has leapt straight into my heart and soul. Thirteen days in the heart of Claude Monet’s homeland, where murder, death, lies, and deceit stalk the village of Giverny. Three women …
Download free opening extract
The Cows The Cows
Dawn O’Porter
April 2017 Debut of the Month.
Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur …
Download free opening extract
The People at Number 9 The People at Number 9
Felicity Everett
April 2017 Debut of the Month.
Solid, surburban couple with two boys at the local school have their safe, perhaps a little monotonous, life disrupted by the arrival of an artistic golden couple next door. All glitter and shine, oozing charisma …
Download free opening extract
The Stolen Child The Stolen Child
Sanjida Kay
April 2017 Book of the Month.
Terrific, truly a one-sitting read so be warned and allow space for it to be so.  Zoe and Ollie adopt baby Evie, the unwanted child of a drug addict, father unknown.  Premature, incubated and fighting …
Download free opening extract
Sometimes I Lie Sometimes I Lie
Alice Feeney
A novel to meddle with your reasoning and taunt your gut instincts… Amber is in hospital in a coma, her thoughts are knocking at the door of her awareness as she attempts to remember what has happened to her. The …
Download free opening extract
Before the Fall Before the Fall
Noah Hawley
April 2017 Book of the Month.
A striking thriller from an established US author and Golden Globe award winner of the Fargo TV series scriptwriter. When a private aircraft returning from a wealthy holiday hideout plunges into the sea off New …
Download free opening extract
The Shadow Land The Shadow Land
Elizabeth Kostova
April 2017 Book of the Month.
This is a beautifully crafted novel. Those familiar with Kostova’s writing will be delighted to know that her beautiful, descriptive prose has yet again created a masterful novel that will hold you entranced throughout as …
Download free opening extract
Reservoir 13 Reservoir 13
Jon McGregor
April 2017 Book of the Month.
Aged 13 a girl goes missing.  The whole village turns out to search.  Over the course of thirteen chapters and thirteen years we follow the affect of this tragedy on the villagers.  We meet them …
Download free opening extract
A Dangerous Crossing A Dangerous Crossing
Rachel Rhys
April 2017 Debut of the Month.
All aboard for an Agatha Christie-esque mystery set on a ship bound for the distant shores of Australia in 1939.
As the world teeters on the edge of another war, working class Lily is about to …
Download free opening extract
When I Was Invisible When I Was Invisible
Dorothy Koomson
April 2017 Book of the Month.
An absolute page-turner of a novel, at times uncomfortable, yet powerful and oh so compelling. Roni and Nika meet when they are 8 years old, as the years pass their relationship changes, yet in their …
Download free opening extract
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April eNewsletter

Sebastian Faulks, famed writer of Birdsong always wanted to be a taxi driver. That is until he read George Orwell in 1968 and changed his mind. That’s the power of books! And that’s why we’re 100% dedicated to bringing you our top recommendations for the best books about, whatever your taste. Read on for your next adventure…

Books of the Month

This month’s bookshelf is burgeoning with brilliant titles just waiting for your love! Books like:

The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay – Captivating, terrifying and deeply moving thriller about a fragile family and haunting tragedy. The Lauras by Sara Taylor – An amusing and tender road trip coming of age story that will have you looking at your parents and yourself in a whole new light! Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor – ‘A beautifully written novel of ordinary life transformed by tragedy.’ (Reader Review). The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova  – Author of The Historian gives us an intelligent and beautifully crafted tale of humanity, history and the effects of grief.

Factual & Satisfactual! – Non-Fiction Books of the Month

For fans of non-fiction, there is no better place to look than right here! Check out:

Four Mums in a Boat – Ordinary women doing the extraordinary. This book is testament to following your dreams and that you can do anything you put your mind too if you work hard enough… even if that includes rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean!

East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity by Philippe Sands – An immersive and compelling multi-prize-winning book that explores personal and public legal attempts to hold Nazi warmongers to account at Nuremberg and the first stirrings of international law. 


The Firsts of April – Debuts of the Month

Delectable debuts that we are tipping for the top! Books like:

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – Eye-brow raising, wince-inducing and warm tale about three women’s muddled battle through modern life. The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett – Clever sharply-observed examination of an intense friendship between new neighbours and the disastrous fallout. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito – Provocative, compelling Nordic mind-bender! ‘An excellent, if unnerving read.’ (Reader Review). A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys – Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in a mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue.

Malorie Blackman, Crossover Author of the Month

With her heart-rending story of love and space exploration Chasing the Stars out in paperback this month, there’s no better time to dive into the wondrous world of Malorie Blackman.

She is also the author of the groundbreaking and award-winning Noughts and Crosses series. Her novels are primarily aimed at Young Adults but they easily ‘crossover’ into adult fiction with her unique blend of wit, thrill and emotional realism. See our special category to find out more.

Pre-Publication Exclusives!

A chance to read exclusive extracts of highly recommended books before they even hit the shelves. You’re welcome! Don’t miss:

The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork – A chilling, stimulating, intensely dark tale. Second in the ‘Munch and Kruger’ series which started with I’m Travelling Alone. Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi – Captivating, intimate and fiendishly puzzling exotic crime drama with an unmissable, heart-stopping finale. Night Market by Daniel Pembrey – Following up on his highly accomplished debut The Harbour Master is Henk van der Pol’s next thrilling and convoluted case.

A History Hand-out! – The Wolfson History Prize 2017 Shortlist

We’re delighted to be supporting The Wolfson History Prize that honours (with a sizeable cash sum) the best historical writing in the UK, combining readability with excellence in research. History fans will be thrilled to know that the shortlist has just been announced and you can find it here. History in the making! Three lucky readers also have the chance to win all the shortlisted books, worth £175!

Debutants’ Ball! – The Desmond Elliott Prize 2017 Longlist Announced

Supported by Lovereading and the most coveted prize for UK first novelists, The Desmond Elliott Prize is as characterful as its eponymous patron. Three expert judges lovingly assess the hopefuls for compelling narrative, arresting character and confident storytelling.

Last year’s winner The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney will be a hard act to follow. Check out the longlist here and the newest voices in great literature.

The Cream of Historical Fiction –  The Walter Scott Prize 2017 Shortlist

The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, founded in 2009 is the largest annual fiction prize to be judged outside London, and the winner receives £25,000!

The shortlist for 2017 has seven novels that, through insightful research and impeccable writing, will transport you to unusual subjects and times. You can see them all in our special category. The winner is announced at the Borders Book Festival on 17 June and one lucky reader can win tickets to the prize-giving!


Not Read Rebus? Criminal! – Rebus 30 Category

Fans of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels will be aware that we are celebrating the 30th year of this eponymous crime series with a special category featuring all of the gritty Edinburgh cop’s cases. It’s a fest of crime fiction!

Talking of festivals did you know about REBUSFEST in Edinburgh at the end of June?  Hosted by Ian Rankin and the Orion Publishing Group REBUSFEST is a weekend of literature, art, film, music and more to celebrate 30 years of the iconic detective. Taking place in Rankin and Rebus’ hometown of Edinburgh, this is your chance to step into the world of your favourite detective for an unmissable weekend. Find out more by visiting our Rebus category!

What to Read when The Girl on the Train has Alighted?

Some novels are hard to follow. After the last page is turned, you feel a sort of bereavement. Well, we think we’ve found the next must-read thriller. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.

It is a novel to meddle with your reasoning and taunt your gut instincts that is, on occasion, uncomfortable and challenging and walks a razor sharp edge of belief and understanding. Will you discover the truth?

One Reader Reviewer wrote:  ‘Sometimes I Lie has to be THE BEST novel I have read, it is clever, unsettling, intriguing and utterly convincing.‘ Don’t just take their word for it, find out for yourself!

More If You Like… You’ll Love recommendations

If you like Jojo Moyes or Jodi Picoult you’ll love This Love by Dani Atkins. If you like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you’ll love Good as Gone by Amy Gentry.  If you like Kate Mosse or C.J. Sansom you’ll love The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland.
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Scroll down to see more hand-picked selections in the categories you have told us you like to be kept up to date with. To change them just log in to your account.

Happy Reading.

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Blog Book Review: An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Victorian scientist Alfred Russel Wallace has been dubbed the ‘the forgotten naturalist’ and for over 100 years has been in the shadow of his more celebrated peer, Charles Darwin.


In recent years, however, there has been renewed interest in the work of this pioneering and exceptional figure, co-credited alongside Darwin with the theory of evolution by natural selection, and An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles will do much to drive forward this Wallace renaissance in the public’s mind.


This fully revised and expanded edition of the book, first published in 2013, offers the reader a unique mix of meticulously-researched biography, travelogue and contemplation of contemporary conservation and human rights concerns — with a healthy dose of boy’s own adventure thrown in for good measure.


‘Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes,’ as the old proverb goes, but author Paul Spencer Sochaczewski has gone much further to get under the skin of Wallace, retracing his steps across South-East Asia in a 40-year odyssey that took him far off the beaten path in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.


As such, this is far more than a dry, academic examination of his subject. Instead, the wild, often contrary and above all, extraordinary, mind of Wallace is vividly presented to the degree that you sometimes feel he is alongside Sochaczewski on his travels.


As we learn, Wallace was as much a force of nature as a devotee of the natural world. Born into financial hardship at a time when the rigid social hierarchy presented significant barriers to advancement for those without pedigree or capital, he was effectively a self-made man. His achievements are even more impressive considering Wallace left school at the age of 13.


The sheer magnitude of his intellectual curiosity and genius for new insights, combined with a staggering amount of good old-fashioned pluck, led him to venture to the Amazon at the age of 25 without any money or backing, any grasp of the native languages or, indeed, having any experience of overseas travel at all.


Wallace’s four-year Brazilian adventure was followed by his eight-year sojourn in Southeast Asia, which resulted in his classic book The Malay Archipelago.


By the time of his death in 1913 he had been hailed far and wide as the UK’s greatest living naturalist, while author G.K. Chesterton went so far to describe Wallace as one of the two “most important and significant figure[s] of the nineteenth century.”


As Sochaczewski explains, at first he followed Wallace’s path more by accident rather than design, arriving in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, after joining the United States Peace Corps in 1969, before taking up an advertising job in Singapore.


Once he realised the parallels, however, he threw himself into his physical and intellectual quest with gusto, having many memorable escapades in the process such as venturing through seldom-visited rain forests on the look-out for birds of paradise, finding new species with over-excited botanists, getting acquainted with orangutans or searching for tiger magicians or mythical giant cannibal tribes, to name but a few.


He uses these experiences as a frame to introduce Wallace’s many interests and contributions to human understanding, not only in the fields of biology and evolution, but also many other disciplines such as geology, ecology, climatology, humanism and even, in his later days, spiritualism.


Each chapter of the book follows a theme. Creationism vs evolution,  Why Boys Leave Home, Women’s Emancipation, Animal Intelligence, Our Need/Fear Relationship with Nature, and Environmental Challenges are all covered in thoughtful detail — and each could be read as a fascinating piece of long-form journalism in its own right.


And despite his clear admiration for Wallace, Sochaczewski is not afraid to point out the perplexing contradictions in his character, such as on matters of slavery, the Western definition of the “savage,” and colonialism, where at various points he is either staunchly of his time or far ahead of it.


The author, a noted conservationist and the former head of communications at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also uses his (and Wallace’s) experiences to make trenchant comments on contemporary issues such as the replacement of British colonialism with ‘brown-brown colonialism,’ abuse of human rights, and the ongoing destruction of habitat.


Further depths to these musings are added by the judicious inclusion of extracts from Wallace’s own papers and journals, as well as conversations with local people. The reader is spoilt for perspective and context, coming away with a well-rounded impression of the man and his world, both then and now.


The final chapter provides the author’s take on the lingering Darwin-Wallace Controversy, which still rages to this day over which man deserves the main credit for the key concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’.  Many readers may come away from this feeling that Wallace not only has the better claim, but was morally the superior as well.


Fitting for an examination of one of life’s most ardent collectors, An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles is packed with collected anecdotes, reminiscences and fun facts.  It has been widely praised by many VIPs active today in the study of nature and conservation, and it’s clear to see why.


There are two equally engrossing narratives to enjoy — Wallace’s and Sochaczewski’s — and with a shared brio for discovery that’s utterly engaging and infectious, you’ll reach closer for the passport with every page. Highly recommended.


An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles – Campfire Conversations with Alfred Russel Wallace (Didier Millet Pty) by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski is published on April 24, priced £16.95 in paperback and £7.95 as an eBook. Visit Amazon UK

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Cityread London announces its 2017 programme and partnerships

Cityread London, which is featuring Elizabethan thriller Prophecy by S. J. Parris (HarperCollins) as its 2017 title, will be celebrated with a month long programme of events including a specially commissioned immersive theatre production at the Charterhouse, a talk by S.J. Parris at Lambeth Palace Library, a 1000 book giveaway at The Golden Hinde, Tudor foodie events including a history of gin workshop and a medieval feast as well as historical and author focused events across Greater London, Reading and Slough.


Prophecy is a gripping Elizabethan spy thriller, focused on the plot against Elizabeth to put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne. Set in 1583 its protagonist is the real life shadowy Giordano Bruno, an Italian “monk, scientist, philosopher, and magician” and excommunicated heretic.


HarperCollins have printed 7,000 branded copies for Cityread which are available via libraries across London where reading groups and book clubs will be reading the books alongside locally organised events. OverDrive are sponsoring the festival for a third time, and readers can borrow the Prophecy ebook for free from their local library and read via the OverDrive app.  In addition a Quick Read about life in Elizabethan London by Rupert Colley has been specially commissioned as part of the History in an Hour series and will be distributed free of charge via libraries and prison reading groups for adults who struggle with reading.

Click here to below to hear a sample of the book


Audible, the world’s leading provider of spoken audio entertainment first sponsored Cityread London in 2016 and is again confirmed as sponsors for 2017.

J. Parris said:

“I’m thrilled that Prophecy has been chosen as London’s CityRead for 2017 and really excited to take part in this fantastic programme aimed at bringing old and new readers together. I hope readers will enjoy discovering Tudor London through the book and the events, and perhaps realising that it’s not as far removed from our own world as we might imagine.”


Anthony Hopkins, President of the Association of London Chief Librarians said:

“Cityread presents a special time of the year where London’s libraries get together to promote a book for Londoners and deliver a range of activities in our libraries. We are looking forward to working again with Cityread and to another successful year.”


Andy Ryan, Director of Cityread London said:

“Cityread is London’s huge, exciting, interactive, annual citywide book group.  Take part by picking up a copy of Prophecy from your library, bookshop or from the Golden Hinde on 31 March – we’ll be giving away 1000 copies.  Join in a library book group, chat about it to a friend., or tell us what you think on Twitter and Facebook.  Throw yourself into the sights, feels and tastes of London 1583 by taking part in our performances, supper club, gin tasting and book handling events.  Codpieces optional.’

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Lovereading Top 10 book 12 – 19 March 2017

Lovereading TOP 10

The Cows The Cows
Dawn O’Porter
Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur at any age, life doesn’t …
Download free opening extract
I Found You I Found You
Lisa Jewell
March 2017 Book of the Month.
A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories …
Download free opening extract
The Lauras The Lauras
Sara Taylor
A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here …
Download free opening extract
Don't Let Go Don’t Let Go
Michel Bussi
A captivating, fiendishly puzzling crime drama with an exotic, fascinating backdrop. Martial, Liane, and their daughter Sopha are on holiday on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, then Liane disappears and Martial finds himself the only suspect. The …
Download free opening extract
The People at Number 9 The People at Number 9
Felicity Everett
Solid, surburban couple with two boys at the local school have their safe, perhaps a little monotonous, life disrupted by the arrival of an artistic golden couple next door. All glitter and shine, oozing charisma and chasing fun, they dazzle …
Download free opening extract
A Dangerous Crossing A Dangerous Crossing
Rachel Rhys
All aboard for an Agatha Christie-esque mystery set on a ship bound for the distant shores of Australia in 1939.
As the world teeters on the edge of another war, working class Lily is about to plunge headlong into a new …
Download free opening extract
The Chilbury Ladies' Choir The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir
Jennifer Ryan
An engaging and charmingly bittersweet slice of fiction set during the Second World War. In a Kent village during 1940, the vicar closes the choir, as the ladies of the village start their own choir, the small rebellion creates a …
Download free opening extract
Behind Closed Doors Behind Closed Doors
B. A. Paris
February 2016 Debut of the Month.
‘Behind Closed Doors’ is an intriguing, sharply gripping debut thriller, where for a fairly short novel, there’s an awful lot packed into the pages. Jack and Grace appear to be a perfect couple however on …
Download free opening extract
When the Sky Fell Apart When the Sky Fell Apart
Caroline Lea
March 2017 Debut of the Month.
Prepare for your heart to break… this is a powerful, evocative tale of life during the Nazi occupation of Jersey in the 1940’s. The first page made me flinch, yet I couldn’t, didn’t want to …
Download free opening extract
Rather Be the Devil Rather Be the Devil
Ian Rankin
A truly fabulous blast of crime fiction. John Rebus continues to ignore retirement, and an unsolved case haunts his thoughts as he shoulders his way into the middle of a current investigation. Ok, hands up, I confess… this is my …
Download free opening extract
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Blog Book Review. A Practical Guide to Your Human Rights and Civil Liberties by Dr Michael Arnheim

With the UK entering a new phase in its dealings with Europe, this comprehensive and clearly-worded guide will be a great help to people trying to understand their rights in the wake of the Brexit vote.


Written by experienced Human Rights barrister and noted author Dr. Michael Arnheim, A Practical Guide to Your Human Rights and Civil Liberties takes a broad look at all aspects of human rights and liberties for UK citizens.


There is no shortage of books on human rights, but where this title differs is that it not only covers the Human Rights Act but the whole span of human rights, including Magna Carta and the Common Law, which embody fundamental rights that are often ignored or misinterpreted.


In straightforward prose that avoids complicated language, and which succinctly explains the meaning behind the common legal jargon, the book clearly structures its content to be easily accessible and highly practical.


The first chapter outlines where British citizens’ rights actually come from, including the Magna Carta, natural rights, acts of parliament including the Human Rights Act and the powers held by bodies under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).


The second chapter, “A Fistful of Fallacies,” exposes the ”politically correct”  hype surrounding human rights put out by the civil rights “lobby” and also shows how to recognise and react against ‘judicial supremacism’ – that is, judges interpreting the law with their own agenda in mind.


The remaining chapters address specific rights, many of which are in practice enjoyed primarily by special interest groups, such as terror suspects, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and even convicted killers – at the expense of law-abiding members of society.    These include the Right to Life, the Right to Freedom of Expression, the Right to Privacy and the Right to a Fair Trial. The last chapter is a lively Socratic Dialogue in Q&A format.


Arnheim, the author of 19 books including two previous books on human rights, looks at the subject from the perspective of those who might find themselves accused of human rights breaches as well as of those making such allegations. 


Likewise, the book recognizes that both parties in a human rights dispute have rights, how different human rights can clash, and also provides winning strategies for human rights cases in court as well as how to avoid such a case ending up in court in the first place.


By so doing, it’s likely to be a huge help to law students and legal professionals but will also appeal to the ‘man on the street’ looking to gain a better understanding of where they stand in relation to the sovereign powers at home, at work and in public places.


Arnheim, a Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, has an enormous amount of experience in the field, and his straight-talking (though never dumbed down) approach to our rights offers an excellent and valuable go-to resource.

A Practical Guide to your Human Rights and Civil Liberties by Dr Michael Arnheim (Straightforward Publishing) is available now in paperback, priced £10.99, and as an eBook priced £4.99.

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Mid-March Newsletter

Mid-March already! Read on for news of unmissable books in April you can start reading now… 30 years of Rebus… more of Maxim’s marvellous recommendationsthe chance to win exclusive book goodies… and much more.


April Pre-Publication exclusives

A packed virtual shelf of books that we have exclusive Opening Extracts of ahead of publication. Enjoy…

Well of the Winds by Denzil Meyrick – Next instalment of the The D.C.I. Daley Series. Past and present collide in a gripping web of secrets and small community lives. Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi – A captivating, fiendishly puzzling crime drama with an exotic, fascinating backdrop. Like the title we simply couldn’t put it down. The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork – Nail-biting suspense combine with masterful writing to compete with the very best of Nordic Noir. A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys – Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in a mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue.

Spotlight on Rebus.  Top Rankin!

Ian Rankin has a huge throng of dedicated followers the world over for his eponymous Rebus mysteries and amazingly it is 30 years since the first one hit the bookshops; gritty detective stories on the dirty streets of Edinburgh with a delightfully anti-social hero. If you have never read any of his books do take a look at what other ‘newbie’ Rebus readers think by checking out their reviews.

Also the 21st and latest Rebus, Rather Be the Devila tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, has been reviewed by one of our Lovereading experts who herself was a ‘newbie’ to Rebus and she loved it saying “I found myself well and truly caught in the snare of Ian Rankin’s writing“. If you haven’t discovered his stand-out crime writing yet, we envy you for the joy you will have in reading all 21. You can find all of the darkly addictive Rebus cases here. And, tickets have just gone on sale for an exclusive Rebus event – RebusFest – in Edinburgh over the weekend of 30 June to 2 July – more details in our special category.

E is for Reee-ading – March eBooks of the Month

Whatever device you use, we have scoured the digital delights of the literary world for the best books for downloading denizens! This month, we love:

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary – Silence is deadly in this chilling, dark and cold crime drama from an award-winning author. Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey – An absolute belter of a crime novel, and the seventh in the ‘Maeve Kerrigan’ series. The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott – Powerful and expressive, an extraordinary tale, based in reality, set in the London underworld of the 1720s.

Horses’ Mouths – Reader Highlights

Every month we list the books most loved by our dedicated Reader Reviewers. Great recommendations from book lovers like you.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo – ‘This story is a joy to read and be part of. Full of heartache, enduring love and desperation that will bring you to tears.’ (Julie, Reader Reviewer). Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal – ‘Addictive, funny yet serious… will have you thinking about this book long after the last page is reached.’ (Pearl, Reader Reviewer). Waking in Time by Angie Stanton – ‘I loved the concept of the book; two time travellers, one moving forward the other backwards and meeting in the middle, each with different memories.‘ (Olivia, Reader Reviewer).

A Basket of the Best – Mid-March highlights

These are our mid-month highlights, all gathered into one handy place, so it’s now even easier to find your next great read!

The Soldier, the Gaoler, the Spy and Her Lover by Simon Parke – A captivating and fascinating novel, where fact blends seamlessly with fiction, set from 1647-1649 during the final months of Charles I.


A Crown on the Jewell. All Hail, Lisa Jewell!

If suspenseful family drama is your thing, look no further than the books of the brilliant Lisa Jewell. Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a newly redundant secretary started to pen the first tentative chapters of a story. That secretary was Lisa Jewell and the chapters were the first of Ralph’s Party, the bestselling debut novel of 1998. The rest is history! Her latest, a Book of the Month for us, is I Found You: a page-turning delve into the darkest corners of memory and identity. A gripping, psychological treat that is just a little different from what she’s written before. Find out more here.

Just Great Stories! – That’s our Maxim!

Every month, editorial guru Maxim Jakubowski takes us through his choices of the best books about in the crime fiction, literary and sci-fi genres. This month his top two picks are:

Amor Towles A Gentleman in Moscow – Epic historical masterpiece that never even moves outside a hotel’s lobby!

Michael Farris Smith Desperation Road Harsh and beautiful, very human thriller that manages to sing of the human spirit but grip vice-like on your nerves!

But visit his category to see them all.

More of the same? MUCH More! If You Like You’ll Love

Know what you like but not sure where to look? Our If You Like, You’ll Love section keeps your bedside table piled high with writers right up your street.

For instance, if you liked The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, you’ll LOVE Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney, an extraordinary, thought-provoking and ultimately life-enhancing novel that walks a razor-sharp edge of belief and understanding, will you discover the truth?

Reader Reviewer Caz said ‘an extraordinary book… you will exhale slowly once you have finished it, vowing to live life to the full.’

If you like Santa Montefiore you’ll love The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry. If you like Sophie Kinsella you’ll love Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone. If you like Helen Simonson you’ll love The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan. If you like Louis de Bernieres you’ll love When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea.

Why not give your Mum a book on 26 March?

By now you know that we believe a book is a perfect gift for any occasion. Lasting, thoughtful and non-expensive. What better way to show Mum that she matters this Mother’s Day? But which one? That’s where we come in! Check out our selection of ideas here. Ideas like:


Finally… From ‘Self’ to Shelf – Spring 2017 Independent AuthorsDon’t miss our latest selection of self-published titles worth a peruse.

That’s it from us this month. We’re looking forward to giving you more recommendations next month, so watch this space for some great new adventures in April!

P.S. Perfectly timed for International Women’s Month is the inspirational Modern Women: 52 Pioneers by Kira Cochrane.

P.P.S. If you live in the South East of England why not put The Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival in your calendar from 30 April – 1 May? Also, find out how you can win one of 4 pairs of tickets to see historical novelist Alison Weir discuss her books.

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Jesus, King of Edessa by Ralph Ellis

In the realm of biblical archaeology it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to provide an objective historical reality to figures of the Old and New Testaments.


Of these, probably the most problematic is Jesus. If the Gospels are put aside then there is precious little evidence attesting to the actual existence of the Christ figure.


While this may not necessarily be a problem for those who are satisfied to rely on faith alone or the literal truth of the Bible, it leaves a yawning and troubling gap in the historical record for historians.


Author Ralph Ellis has made it his life’s work to reconnect events and persons from the Bible with empirical facts. Though he makes clear that his interest is from a purely areligious perspective, any endeavour that puts the foundations of a religion under scrutiny is unavoidably contentious – and his latest book, Jesus, King of Edessa, could be the most controversial of all.


Was Jesus Christ, in fact, a little-known warrior king of Syria who led a failed Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire? Was the New Testament actually a work of political propaganda on behalf of Emperor Vespasian that portrayed his beaten foe as a passive messiah to quell further rebellion?


These are bold claims indeed, but they are argued with conviction and a wealth of supporting evidence. Including gospel evidence, which records Jesus as being a king who jailed alongside rebels who had committed murder in the Revolt.


Based on a 30-year quest that has taken the author all around archaeological sites and dusty archives in the Near East, the book puts forward a plausible explanation for the true identity and genealogy of the biblical Jesus


Previous books by Ellis have made the case for a connection between the patriarchs and events of the Old Testament with the Pharaohs of Egypt, in that they were historically one and the same, much as the 1st century AD chronicler Josephus Flavius attests. And Jesus, King of Edessa – the third and final book in his ‘King Jesus’ trilogy – follows a similar line in exposing a forgotten or erased dual identity.


Essentially, Ellis contests that although Jesus has long been placed in the public consciousness as a lowly pauper, in reality he was a son of King Abgarus of the Syrian kingdom of Edessa. The master of a small realm, but with a large treasury and lofty ambitions.


His son, King Izas-Manu, became a minor prince of Judaea and, according to Josephus, the instigator of the Jewish Revolt of AD68 – 70. This Jesus-Izas aimed to seize upon instability within the Roman Empire left by the death of Nero and take control of the levers of power.


However, he was defeated by commander-cum-emperor Vespasian and, as the history books are always written by the victors, deleted from the historical record. The emperor, Ellis contends, then instructed historian Josephus Flavius to distort Jesus-Izas Manu and his motives to avoid future uprisings in a book that has come down to us today as the New Testament.


Ellis points to startling parallels between Izas and Jesus, such as the traditional royal plaited crown of thorns that the kings of Edessa were pictured wearing; the similarities in their names, as well as the figurehead of a king leading the Jewish people in revolt.


He also calls upon overlooked accounts by Syriac historians of the period that provide an alternate perspective on the events surrounding the revolt from that of Josephus or the Bible.


Ellis describes his latest work as “The book the Catholic Church has been dreading for 1700 years”, which should give an idea of how explosive are the claims he makes within its 500-plus pages.


If he’s right then our understanding of Jesus will be completely overturned. For a start it would shift Jesus in the historical timeline from the AD30s to the AD60s, and make him a key figure in the Great Jewish-Roman War. And the huge implications for the identification of King Izas Manu as the Christian saviour and the basis of orthodox Church teachings can only be imagined.


Ellis has painstakingly cross-referenced all his findings, and the inclusion of maps, photographs of key locations and religious and historical artefacts, and even video links, brings the text alive for the curious reader.


They’re not claims to be taken lightly – to put it lightly – and whether you end up agreeing with the conclusions or not, Jesus, Kind of Edessa puts forward a fascinating case for consideration.


Jesus, King of Edessa by Ralph Ellis (Edfu Books) is available now, priced £6.90 as a Kindle eBook and £19.50 in paperback. Visit


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