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Lovereading Top 10 book 12 – 19 March 2017

Lovereading TOP 10

1
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
2
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
3
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
4
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
5
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
6
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
7
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
8
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
9
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
10
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.
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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.

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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:

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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 wedfu-books.uk

 

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Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival Sunday 30 April-Tuesday 2 May

CLICK HERE to win tickets to see Alison Weir – Sunday 30 April 2017.

 

With 22 authors appearing over the three days of the literary festival, highlights include appearances from Terry Waite, Rev Richard Coles, Artemis Cooper, Nicholas Crane and prize-winning children’s authors Piers Torday, Lauren St John and A F Harrold.

There’s something for everyone in our impressive line-up this year. We have authors of biography, memoir and musings; writers of fiction, historical and heroic; stories for children of nature, family and friends; lively storytelling shows and a musical theatre performance for all the family. From the making of the British landscape, to the history of the Great War, from good mood food to coping with bereavement, from Brexit and Trump to great lives well lived – we’ve got a surplus of literary treats lined up, and a few surprises.

Adult events will take place on Sunday, whilst Bank Holiday Monday sees a range of author events for all the family along with storytelling shows for children, a Comic Art Masterclass, Sock Puppet Shakespeare, a tour of Chiddingstone with a local historian and much more. Tuesday’s Schools Day offers local pupils the chance to hear top children’s authors inspire and celebrate reading and imagination.

Come for one event or stay all day. Enjoy delicious food from our vintage vans, tea and cakes from our tea rooms, drinks from the bar and Larkins beer. All tickets to the festival include free entry to the castle and its collections.

Find out more and buy tickets at chiddingstonecastle.org.uk/literary-festival/

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Most popular titles on Lovereading 5 – 12 March 2017

Lovereading Top 10

1
Black Water Lilies Black Water Lilies
Michel Bussi
March 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
2
Let the Dead Speak Let the Dead Speak
Jane Casey
March 2017 Book of the Month and eBook of the Month.
An absolute belter of a crime novel, and the seventh in the ‘Maeve Kerrigan’ series. 18 year old Chloe returns home to find her mum missing and the house drenched …
Download free opening extract
3
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
4
Birdcage Walk Birdcage Walk
Helen Dunmore
March 2017 Book of the Month.
A breathtaking, evocative, and stormy tale set in the early 1790’s, just as the fallout from the French Revolution was spilling over into life in Britain. Lizzie Fawkes, daughter of a radical thinker and writer, …
Download free opening extract
5
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
6
The Riviera Express (A Miss Dimont Mystery, Book 1) The Riviera Express (A Miss Dimont Mystery, Book 1)
T. P. Fielden
March 2017 Debut of the Month.
A snappy, vibrant, romp of a read, set in a 1950’s Devonshire seaside town. Miss Judy Dimont (in her forties), the shrewd and very able journalist for The Riviera Express, investigates the suspicious deaths of …
Download free opening extract
7
Modern Women 52 Pioneers Modern Women 52 Pioneers
Kira Cochrane
March 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
To quote from Jacky Fleming’s book, The Trouble with Women (listed in Like for Like Reading below) “Why did we only learn about 3 women in school – What were the others doing?” Well, …
Download free opening extract
8
Ragdoll Ragdoll
Daniel Cole
March 2017 Debut of the Month.
A simply sensational and thrilling debut! Met police detectives William Oliver Layton-Fawkes and Emily Baxter find themselves smack bang in the middle of the hunt for a serial killer. A hammer hard prologue slapped my …
Download free opening extract
9
Her Perfect Life Her Perfect Life
Sam Hepburn
March 2017 Debut of the Month.
Stuffed full of intrigue, suspicion, and mistrust, this is a dramatic psychological thriller. Gracie, balancing her career and home with a finely judged hand, meets Juliet, who faces chaos on a daily basis; harassment threatens …
Download free opening extract
10
Secrets of a Happy Marriage Secrets of a Happy Marriage
Cathy Kelly
March 2017 Book of the Month.
A gorgeously warm, loving, and occasionally tempestuous tale set within a large family as they learn to cope with grief, new loves, and family revelations. Bess has found love in her sixties, Jojo is desperate …
Download free opening extract
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Author Talk with Jake Arnott

We recently caught up with Jake Arnott, author of The Long Firm and The Fatal Tree to talk more about his books and his writing.

1: You create a mesmerising time and place in your novels, how do you research different time periods?

Well, that does depend on the period. For ‘The Fatal Tree’ I had lots of primary sources: court reports, criminal narratives, pamphlets, slang dictionaries as well as modern histories of the period. It’s always good to start with what has been written at the time – it doesn’t just give you the hard facts, it gives you the language and intonation, maybe even how people spoke. So it’s always good to look at the fiction of the era you’re working on too, you sort of enter into a conversation with the authors of that time, they keep you company. I was lucky to have Daniel Defoe and John Gay as companions.

2: Where has your interest in the light and shade of the underworld, and criminality come from?

The ‘underworld’ is merely a shadow of what lies on the surface. I’m interested in how a ‘legitimate’ world is so often rife with corruption. Jonathan Wild sets himself up as ‘Thief-Taker General’ whilst operating a massive criminal racket. This contradiction happens all the time in history it’s worth bearing in mind when we look at our own times.

3: What is your earliest memory of reading and the feeling it evoked in you?

Letters and words fascinated me from a very early age. They appeared to be alive for me. I remember first seeing the letter ‘g’ and thinking how much the shape of it looked like a goose. In many ways I was a lonely child and words kept me company. They still do. When I read ‘Treasure Island’ as a boy it felt like the best game of pirates and one that I could play on my own.

4: How have your writing habits changed since your novel ‘The Long Firm‘?

My writing habits change all the time. Each book determines its own routine, as it were. It’s just got more and more complicated, I’m afraid. If I look back at my at ‘The Long Firm’ there’s a single notebook, with clear clues of how the novel came into being. Now I have box files of stuff I don’t know what to do with.

5: What did it feel like to see characters from your mind end up on the screen?

Immensely privileged. I’ve been lucky enough to have great actors embody my characters. Mark Strong did amazing things with Harry Starks -he found a deep sadness I merely hinted at. Rafe Spall played Frank, the corrupt detective in ‘He Kills Coppers’, with such astonishing range –going from a cocky, ambitious 20-year-old to a cynical, world-weary middle-aged man.

6: You use real life figures in your novels, such as the fascinating Jack Sheppard from ‘The Fatal Tree‘, do you already have a time period in mind and find the characters, or do you know them already?

I knew about Jack Sheppard and Jonathan Wild as they’ve been written about and fictionalised many times, most notably in John Gay’s The Beggars Opera. Then I found Elizabeth Lyon, Jack’s mistress, the notorious Edgworth Bess. I had a story that hadn’t been told before and an intriguing one. Jack said of her: ‘a more wicked, deceitful and lascivious wretch is not known in England’ -so here was a 18th century femme fatale, or so it seemed. But when I found out more about her and what little remains of her testimony in court reports I discovered a more complex and sympathetic story. This is what led to ‘The Fatal Tree’.

7: Which two characters from history, either real life or fictional, who have never met in life or on the page, would you like to meet each other, and where would you set their meeting?

I’d love to sit on a meeting between William Shakespeare and Jorge Luis Borges. Somewhere quiet where I could earwig their conversation and maybe ask a few questions.

8: If you could travel in person to one moment in time, when would it be, and what is it about that moment that resonates with you?

That moment when humanoids came out of the trees and started to walk on two legs, just to try and see what drove us to make such a risky move. And maybe pick up a few tips about posture.

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March eNewsletter

In the month that saw the birth of sci-fi comedy genius Douglas Adams, why not hitchhike a ride on our stellar book-bus this month and let us guide you through a galaxy of great reads? The best books about for bibliophiles of all tastes and interests, lovingly hand-picked by our team of experts, so you can find your next flight of fancy with minimal fuss! Read on for more.

March On! – Books of the Month

As always, our lovingly hand-picked virtual bookshelf is tantalisingly teeming with top tomes. We particularly love:

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly – Secrets lies and family ties. Heartwarming and wise, compassionate and characterful. Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey – Gripping and relentlessly paced, blood-drenched suburban nightmare. Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi – ‘Shocking and engrossing… Expect to finish this book and be both amazed and astonished’ (Reader Reviews).
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore – A breathtaking, evocative, and stormy tale set in the early 1790’s, just as the fallout from the French Revolution was spilling over into life in Britain. Modern Women: 52 Pioneers by Kira Cochrane – A rainbow representation of female brilliance perfectly timed for International Women’s Month and International Women’s Day on 8 March.
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Springing up! – March’s Debuts of the Month

Championing brilliant, brand new writers is one of the great things about having an office full of book-boffins. This month, we think you’ll love:

When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea – Compelling, powerful and evocative wartime story of life under occupation. Prepare for your heart to break. The Riviera Express by T P Fielden – Snappy, vibrant and fun classic-style murder mystery: ‘light and pleasant … hours of innocent pleasure’ (Reader Reviews). Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo ‘Oh my! … a totally addictive read … relationships, family betrayals, secrets and cultural differences.’ (Phylippa, Reader Reviewer).
Ragdoll by Daniel Cole – Mind-whirling crime drama, gritty, gripping and fresh. A fantastic new voice in crime writing. Her Perfect Life by Sam Hepburn – Previous YA author has written a fascinating and seductive psychological thriller, frothing with foreboding.
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Marvellous Book Goodies Up-For-Grabs

We love a good give-away! This month we’re jumping for joy to give you the chance to run off with a copy of the DVD of ground-breaking and devastating French TV drama, No Second Chance, adapted from the novel by Harlan Coben, together with a copy of the book. Perfect, as his newest novel Home is just out. It’s an explosive and deeply moving thriller about friendship, family, and the meaning of home. See what else is up for grabs here.

If You Haven’t Yet, You Should! – The Books of Jake Arnott

Jake Arnott is a formidable writer who scratches the surface of life and writes the dirt under his fingernails. Underworld tales of immense power and transportive quality.

The Long Firm, set in 1960s London, is a cult classic first published in the ’80s, that immerses you in a world of violence, glamour, sex and crime and leaves you gasping for air. Take a deep breath then and read his latest, The Fatal Tree, where Jake Arnott does for the 18th century what he did for the ’60s in The Long Firm. This journey through the criminal underworld of London in the 1720s is a seductive, clever tale of crime, punishment and love among thieves that is a vibrantly striking, sordid wonder. Find out more.

Reading with (or for) Mother!

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:

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If you like Maeve Binchy make some time for Patricia Scanlan

Dublin born Patricia Scanlan has been writing absorbing family dramas since 1991 and her 20th, Orange Blossom Days, is loved by our editorial expert Sarah Broadhurst who said of it ‘lively, sensitive and insightful with plenty to get your teeth into‘.

If you are a fan of Maeve Binchy and haven’t discovered Patricia’s books, we think it’s well worth the click.

Get ahead of the crowd with our Pre-Publication Exclusives

  1. Like reading the first chapters of a book in the shop, but without the staff glancing at you suspiciously?
  2. Free extracts to browse at your leisure? A chance to see what’s out there and try the books that take your fancy before you buy them. You’re welcome!

See the shelf below for books not published until the end of March. We especially like A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in a scrumptiously entertaining mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue.

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Happy Reading.

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Author Talk: Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

We recently caught up with Ayobami Adebayo to ask her a few questions about her debut novel Stay With Me published by Canongate Books.

 

The majority of your debut novel ‘Stay With Me’ is set in 1980’s, what is it about that time period in Nigeria that you felt your characters should dwell in?

 

In 1983, a coup put Nigeria under military rule and for the next sixteen years, the country moved from one dictatorship to another. One of the things I find fascinating about that period is that no one imagined that it would take so long for Nigeria to return to democracy. The military ruler in power from 1985 kept unveiling electoral plans that he would then modify and postpone for some reason or the other. He had people hoping and sometimes believing that military rule would soon be over but those hopes were ultimately dashed, over and over again.

 

I found some parallels between this state of limbo that the Nigerian polity was in and Yejide and Akin’s marriage. For a long time, Yejide keeps hoping and believing that she will get pregnant while Akin thinks that having children will somehow fix the things that are fundamentally wrong with their marriage. When they both get what they want, it’s not quite as they had imagined it would be.  It was interesting to put these characters in a time period when the events unfolding in the country mirror the course of own marriage in some ways.

 

This wasn’t the first time Nigeria would be under military rule, but from the mid-eighties, we entered a period uniquely characterised by attempts to use language and propaganda to legitimise what was an illegitimate and dangerous government. So, with Akin and Yejide, I was also very interested in the ways they would use language to describe their realities and feed their respective insecurities and illusions.

 

 

How long had the story been inside you, did you have it mapped out or did the story occasionally surprise you and tell itself?

 

I began thinking about Yejide and Akin in 2008 but I didn’t start working on the novel until 2010 and it took some five years to shape it into that even resembles the final draft. I spent the first couple of years trying to map things out and control the narrative but that approach only resulted in failed drafts. In retrospect, it’s funny because I’d written several short stories before I started working on the novel and I’d never mapped out any of them. I was so intimidated by the novel form that I believed everything would fall apart if I didn’t make a plan and stick to it.

 

It wasn’t until I read what I had already written, tried to figure out how the characters wanted to tell their stories, and finally allowed them to lead the way and surprise me at almost every turn that Stay With Me began to evolve into the novel it is now.   

 

We understand ‘Stay With Me’ grew from a short story you had written, what was it about the story that suggested it wanted to grow?

 

The characters just wouldn’t go away. I was an undergraduate in the university when I wrote that story and even after I’d completed it, I’d be walking down the hall in my hostel and think – Yejide was living here when she met Akin. The next day, I might look up a statue erected in honour of students who had died in a protest in the eighties and realise that Akin and Yejide also marched in that protest. It felt as though they were both real people who kept following me around and telling me random things about their lives, so I started taking notes.

 

 

Akin and Yejide feel so very real, they are touchable relatable people, how did you form their characters and encourage them to reveal their flaws?

 

They were always quite real to me. Many times, I felt as if I was bearing witness to events that had actually occurred. I had to write myself into their flaws, particularly with Akin, because he’s so reticent, it took several drafts to get him to actually open up.

 

As I worked on the novel, it was important to make sure that I saw the world primarily from Yejide and Akin’s perspective so that the plot could unfold in a way that is consistent with their personalities and experiences. Every time I went back to edit, I would delete or rewrite sections I could recognise as narrated in my own voice and bits that did nothing but expound my own opinion about an issue. The truth is that because of their own peculiar circumstances, they weren’t always interested in the things that I cared about. I had to learn to make peace with that in order for them to really come to life on the page.

                                                                                                           

 

What three words best sum up Nigeria for you and, and when you aren’t there, what do you miss most?

 

Indescribable, beautiful and perplexing.

 

I always miss hearing people speak Yoruba around me. There’s something about how its tonality lends  rhythm to the language and the way metaphor is such an integral part of everyday speech that just feeds my mind.  When I’m away, though I hardly watch movies, sometimes I play Yoruba movies on You Tube just to hear conversations play out in Yoruba.

 

Who is your favourite fictional character? What is it about them that speaks to you?

 

This keeps changing but I continue to find Sethe from Toni Morrison’s Beloved very intriguing. She is such a strong, flawed and complex character. I love the fact that she isn’t put forward as some ‘ideal’ mother figure, she is just herself in a very real and human way. I find it so remarkable that she is a person who is broken yet undeniably strong.

 

Who has inspired you the most with your writing and why is that?

 

My mother. She just believes I can be exceptional at pretty much anything I want to do including writing. I don’t usually feel that way so it’s great to have someone who is so sure about my potential.

 

If you could choose anywhere in the world to sit down and write, where would it be and what would you like to write?

 

I’d pick a house somewhere in Jos, Nigeria. I would want to write another novel. Though I’ve carried some of the characters around with me for a while now, I don’t know what the novel would be about. Maybe they’ll reveal that while I’m writing it.

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Lovereading most popular books 19 – 26 February 2017

Lovereading Top 10

1
The Moment She Left The Moment She Left
Susan Lewis
February 2017 Book of the Month.
Another completely captivating, and tension filled dramatic tale from Susan Lewis. I look forward to each new book and have to say, I think this just might be my favourite to date. The rather wonderful …
Download free opening extract
2
Black Water Lilies Black Water Lilies
Michel Bussi
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 and two investigators dance through …
Download free opening extract
3
A Summer at Sea A Summer at Sea
Katie Fforde
February 2017 Book of the Month.
One of our Books of the Year 2016.
A comforting, delightful tale about taking chances, trusting instincts, nourishing friendships and finding love. If you’re a fan of Katie Fforde, then you know you’re about to be …
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4
A Secret Garden A Secret Garden
Katie Fforde
Another joyful hug of a read from Katie Fforde, what more could you want, than to settle down with her latest book! Philly, Lorna and Anthea, all wonderful ladies, in various stages of their lives, sit centre stage in this …
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5
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
Joanna Cannon
January 2017 Debut of the Month.
One of our Books of the Year 2016.
The title refers to a Bible quote and two 10-year old girls are greatly mystified as to its meaning and where to find God. They spend the hot …
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6
Orange Blossom Days Orange Blossom Days
Patricia Scanlan
A large collection of multi-national, mostly retired couples, invest in a new development of luxury apartments, La Joya, in Andalucia on the Costa del Sol in Spain.  We follow a securely married Irish couple with a demanding family, an American …
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7
When the Sky Fell Apart When the Sky Fell Apart
Caroline Lea
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 stop reading. Ten year old …
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8
The Breakdown The Breakdown
B. A. Paris
February 2017 Book of the Month.
Right from the start Paris throws you into an intense atmosphere of confusion, suspense and fear.  Taking a shortcut home on a stormy, summer night proves to have life-changing consequences for Cass when she spots …
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9
Behind Her Eyes Behind Her Eyes
Sarah Pinborough
February 2017 Book of the Month.
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 …
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10
Her Perfect Life Her Perfect Life
Sam Hepburn
Stuffed full of intrigue, suspicion, and mistrust, this is a dramatic psychological thriller. Gracie, balancing her career and home with a finely judged hand, meets Juliet, who faces chaos on a daily basis; harassment threatens the fledgling friendship and worms …
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