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Madonna of the Mountains

Elise Valmorbida’s Madonna of the Mountains was released on the 29th of March and is a marvellous Historical Fiction novel that as captured the minds of our Expert Reviewers and Consumer Reader Review Panel. Our Editorial Expert Sarah Broadhurst has ‘highly recommended’ this book which she describes as ‘stylish and beautifully archaic in its writing’.

A Bit About the Book

The novel is set in 1923 and centres around Maria Vittoria, who is preparing to be married, working on the embroidery of a sheet for her dowry trunk. A photograph of Maria has been taken by her father as well as the mule and a pack of supplies as he goes out to find her a suitable husband. Maria is slightly older that the usual prospective bride, but she is more than capable of being the ideal wife. However, Fascism is blooming in the country at the same rate as the ripening crops and the story follows her through the war and in to the 1950s. The beautifully descriptive novel will have you tasting the bigoli co l’arna as you read of a woman struggling to keep her family safe in very dangerous times.

What Our Reviewers Thought of Madonna of the Mountains

Sarah Broadhurst, our Editorial Expert who reviewed the book and said that ‘it is a very fine novel indeed’ and ‘difficult to draw yourself away from’. The historical story tells of a family’s struggle that and a Mother’s love for her family. This book has also been reviewed by some of our Consumer Reader Review Panel. Here is what a few of them thought:

Lynette McCann – ‘An inspiring novel about survival during hard times in Italy during the war and one woman’s determination to raise her family as well as she could. A totally riveting novel.’

Pauline Braisher – ‘A lovely, well-written book, set in rural Italy, beginning just after the first world war. It’s Maria’s story but it’s also the story of Italy and how, in the end, there is hope for both.’

Rachel Aygin – ‘The moment I read the first paragraph, I knew I was going to enjoy reading this book.’

To see more reviews from our consumer panel, visit the Madonna of the Mountains Book Page. Here you can also find the extended reviews from our panel.

 

 

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2018 UKLA Awards Shortlist Announced!

It is that time of year again to announce the Shortlist for the 2018 UKLA Book Awards. This year, the judges for these unique book awards will come from Wales. The UKLA Awards are the only awards that are judged solely by active classroom teachers.

About the UKLA

The UKLA is a registered charity that works to improve and advance education in literacy. The charity is completely focused on promoting good practice in literacy and language teaching and research nationally and internationally. The Awards prides itself on being the only national book awards which are judged by teachers.

UKLA understands how important it is to encourage children to read and to promote the place that books hold for young people across all educational settings. The Association works to promote this outlook from nursery all the way though to key stage 4. Supporting their hard work and co-sponsoring this year’s awards alongside Micro Librarian Systems (MLS) are our very own LoveReading4Schools and LoveReading4Kids. One of our Directors, Deborah Maclaren says:

LoveReading4Schools and its sister site LoveReading4Kids are delighted to again support the UKLA Book Awards in 2018. Under new ownership the brand has been re-launched and the sites are being re-designed to bring them bang up-to-date and will continue to develop further to further support our mission to promote a love of books and reading by offering the tools, advice and information needed to help our members and browsers to find their next favourite book.

The fact that the teacher judges reflect on their students’ responses to the books gives these Awards huge credibility and trust so that schools know the books will be in turn loved by their own pupils. The awards are equally valuable for parents looking to support the school environment and further engender a love of reading at home. We can’t wait to see the eventual winners as the shortlisted books are all simply wonderful.

These literacy awards are judged by 8 groups of judges across three different age ranges, before coming together to decide the shortlists for each category.

More Information about the UKLA Awards

The titles that are celebrated through the UKLA Awards are titles that teachers can and do share with their pupils as a part of their regular classroom experience. It is great to highlight the diversity in children’s literature and using high quality and enjoyable books throughout education is a great way to get more children reading for pleasure. The titles that already feature in the UKLA 2018 longlist have been highlighted for their ability to inspire an extended dialogue about the books. Whether this is a wider discussion of the book and its themes, a creative interaction with the topic or a better understanding of the wider curriculum. The association also want to make sure that the books they celebrate in the awards work to enhance all aspects of literacy learning as well as literary study.

The choices made by the judges as a part of this awards programme reflect the teachers’ preference for the diversity and quality of reading material offered by small independent publishers such as Andersen Press, Barrington Stoke, Gecko Press, David Fickling Books, The Bucket List, Two Hoots and Words & Pictures, who all feature on the shortlist.

The Shortlist

Now that the shortlist has been announced, the next stage for the judges will be to narrow the books chosen down even further, and eventually choose a winner. The winner of the 2018 UKLA Awards will be announced on the 6th July at the UKLA International Conference. The shortlist for the 2018 UKLA has been announced today, keep reading to see which books managed to make the cut for each category. The books that feature in this shortlist have the unique guarantee that they have been tried and tested in the classroom.

Past winner Jason Wallace has proven to be a hit once again. Jason won the 12-16 category in 2011 with Out of the Shadows, his debut novel. This year, his second novel is featured in this year’s shortlist. Featuring alongside him in the shortlist are the Current Carnegie medal shortlistees Geraldine McCaughrean with Where the World Ends and Marcus Sedgwick with Saint Death. Past winner Sarah Crossan co-authored We Come Apart with Brian Conaghan, a verse novel also featuring on the shortlist. 2018 sees the first graphic novel featuring on the UKLA Awards shortlist with Alpha: Abidjan to Gare du NordFrogkisser! By Garth Nix completes the line-up for the 12-16 category.

The 7-11 category features a book in translation from Gecko Press publishing with Megumi Iwasa’s Yours Sincerely, Giraffe which goes up against the powerful refugee story written by Elizabeth Laird, Welcome to Nowhere. The brilliant debut novel from Maria Farrer Me and Mister P. and the gorgeously illustrated The White Fox by Jackie Morris also feature in this category alongside two information books: Lesser Spotted Animals by Charlotte Gullian and The Street Beneath My Feet by Yuval Zommer

The final category, focuses on titles aimed at children aged 3-6. This category sees Eric and Terry Fan, or The Fan Brothers pitted against themselves, as they have illustrated two of the titles on the shortlist: The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and The Night Gardener. The brothers will be competing to win this category with two English Association award winners including the inaugural winner of the Margaret Mallet Award for Children’s Non-Fiction Laura Knowles (It Starts With a Seed) and the 2017 4-7 picture book category winner Oi Dog by Kes and Clair Gray and Jim Field. Also competing in this category is the debut from Morag Hood Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea and Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph.

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Best Selling Simone Buchholz Breaks British Market with Blue Night

Bestselling German author, Simone Buchholz has come to the shelves of Britain’s bookstores with Blue Night. This book is the first of an incredibly popular German series that has been brilliantly translated by Rachel Ward. The series of books that open with Blue Night follows Chastity Riley as she navigates her life as the most hard-bitten state prosecutor in Hamburg. This gripping new novel has been described by our Editorial Expert Liz Robinson as a ‘dream of a read’.

Blue Night is the first of Simone’s titles to be published by Orenda, and the gripping tale told within its pages means I’m sure it won’t be the last! This fabulous author may be new to us but was the winner of the Crime Cologne Award in 2016 and the German Crime Fiction Prize. Blue Night is published on the 30th March and is a ‘firecracker’ and the perfect starter for what is bound to be an action-packed set of books.

So, if you’re looking to sink your teeth into a new crime fiction series, or just looking for an excellent new book to relax and enjoy, read Blue Night and you won’t be disappointed!

A Bit about the Book

Blue Night starts in the aftermath of excitement, Chastity Riley has been transferred to the relative tedium of witness protection after successfully convicting a superior for corruption and managing to shoot off a gangster’s crown jewels. This transfer is a misled attempt to keep Chastity out of trouble, but her latest case sees her thrown back into the thick of it.

Chastity is assigned to an anonymous man lying in hospital under police guard with nearly every single bone in his body broken and a finger missing. Chastity must work hard to gain the patient’s trust who is evasive and answers everyone’s questions in riddles. However, Chastity’s instincts are being put to good use and soon her new case takes her to Lezpig, finds her a new ally and sees her in a world where synthetic drugs are available in abundance.

If all this action and mystery wasn’t enough Chastity could also be called upon to help to a friend and former colleague who is working to single-handedly take on the Albanian Mafia kingpin in Hamburg. The quiet life is not for Chastity and boy aren’t we glad! This fast-paced and gripping start to an exceptional series. To read our Editorial Expert’s full review, head to the Blue Night page on the LoveReading site.

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B. A. Paris is Back with a Brand New Thriller

As we celebrate B. A. Paris’ third gripping thriller novel, Bring Me Back, here at LoveReading we have had a look back at B. A. Paris’ previous titles in order to celebrate this latest release.

B. A. Paris first came to our bookshelves with the release of Behind Closed Doors in 2016, a gripping debut thriller that is jam packed with twists, turns and revelations. This thriller was adored by our Consumer Reader Review Panel and our Editorial Experts. Among the positive reviews, B. A. Paris was described as ‘an author to keep a watch out for’ as she tells a compelling tale of Jack and Grace, a charming and graceful couple on the surface, with further investigation revealing lies and secrets. An amazing first novel and featured as one of LoveReading’s Debuts of the Month.

B. A. Paris returned in February 2017 with The Breakdown. Featuring on LoveReading as one our Books of the Month, this latest Crime, Mystery and Thriller is a story of trust. Cass Anderson made the choice to not help a woman in a car. However, that same woman was found dead and since then, Cass has been bombarded by silent calls and now the fear is setting in. Is someone watching her every move? To make matters worse, Cass is starting to forget everything, from where she parked her car to whether or not she has taken her medication. Described by our Consumer Reader Review Panel as ‘a very gifted author’ this thrilling author released yet another exceptional book. Our Expert Reviewer, Shelley Fallows called The Breakdown an ‘exciting read’ that offers the reader the opportunity to ‘work out what really happened that night and how much memory affects us’.

A year later and after much anticipation, B. A. Paris is back with the thrilling Bring Me Back. A three part story centring on the disappearance of Layla from a petrol station one day. During a road trip a couple, Finn and Layla stop to refuel. Finn goes inside to pay, but when he returns, Layla has disappeared, and is never seen again. Ten years later, Finn is married to Layla’s sister, but a lost object resurfaces, raising questions about what really happened. This gripping psychological thriller is packed full of tension in order to keep you hooked until you reach the conclusion. Described by our Consumer Reader Review Panel as ‘taut and tight’, ‘a great read [with] believable characters and a real twist at the end’, Bring Me Back is a book that will have you on tenterhooks.

So clear your schedule, lock the door, grab your favourite snacks and be prepared to be blown away by this astonishing new novel.

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Mark International Women’s Day with LoveReading!

International Women’s Day has become increasingly prominent over the course of the past few years, and 2018 could see the event reach its largest so far. The Day has been observed for more than 100 years and is recognised around the world as a time to celebrate the achievements of women, from political to social and everything in between. IWD is a great catalyst for a louder call for equality and unites global governments, women’s organisations, businesses and charities together under one banner.

This year the theme is #PressforProgress and is a call to motivate and unite friends and colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. Here at LoveReading we are taking the opportunity to celebrate IWD with the promotion of some amazing female authors.

This year, LoveReading is celebrating the centenary of one of the greatest female writers in history, Muriel Spark. Dame Muriel was a poet, writer of fiction, criticism and literary biography at the top of her profession for more than half a century. Muriel’s works have never gone out of print and include the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Driver’s Seat and Memento Mori.

The History of Women Re-written

I Know a Woman, by Kate Hodges and Lucy Mangan unveils the amazing and extraordinary achievements and stories of 84 pioneering women the perfect book to show the relentless strength of womankind! This tome of women’s history and endeavour includes women from ground-breaking  Marie Curie, to the game changing Billie Jean King.

A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf, has been created by Emily Midorikawa, Emma Claire Sweeney and Margaret Attwood. The group have worked to resurrect four literary collaborations have been kept in the shadows, until now! Previously unpublished material unveils creative connections for these four giants in female-authored literature. The story of brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt who married the Charles Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough is told in Julie Ferry’s Million Dollar Duchesses. One of a number of matches between America’s heiresses and the elite of British society. Filled with scandal, illicit affairs, spurned loves and unexpected deaths, this is a great book.

Tessa Boase’s Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism- Women’s Fight for Change is a shocking and entertaining book about the women’s movement that captured the public’s imagination. This book covers the events of this period with Emmeline Pankhurst; but also focuses on Etta Lemonwo, with a handful of other women who together created the conservation charity the RSPB.

Penguin are also helping to host a wide range of events between the 5th and the 9th March.  Their pop-up bookshop can be found at 1-3 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3DT. Their #LikeAWoman women’s empowerment blog has information about the events on offer. You can also see a wide range of books that feature in their women-author only pop-up bookshop, interviews and features from some amazing writers.

Educating the Future Generation

It is important that everyone celebrates the achievements of women and men while working for equality. This is most important when it comes to educating the future generation. Have any children you would like to learn more about suffrage for International Women’s day? Head over to our LoveReading4Kids blog post. You can also check out a range of books about Women’s Suffrage and the Vote 100 centenary.

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Cathy Kelly’s The Year That Changed Everything Released Today!

Cathy Kelly's The Year That Changed Everything

Cathy Kelly is back with the release of The Year That Changed Everything. The popular author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters.  Published By Orion and out on the shelves today, the book is a comforting hug, and ideal to curl up and immerse yourself in. Cathy Kelly has received great reviews from Good Housekeeping, The Lady and, of course, our Expert Reviewers and Reader Review Panel. The No.1 bestselling author has released yet another great new book. You can check out the other fabulous books written by Cathy here.

This latest novel follows three characters as they reach milestone birthdays. Ginger, Sam and Callie are celebrating their 30th, 40th and 50th with life changing consequences. Ginger’s birthday has the potential to be the first day of the rest of her life, or a complete disaster. Sam has spent ears trying to have a baby, and on her 40th birthday her waters break. With this also comes the realisation that she has no idea how to be a mother. Callie is throwing a party to celebrate her 50th, but an uninvited guest turns everything on its head.

Audiences able to sit back and enjoy the wisdom and humour that flows through the pages. The variety of main characters used offers something that everyone could relate to. Also with Mother’s Day just around the corner, Cathy Kelly’s latest release would be a great gift. Click here to read the extract, and to see the Expert and Consumer Reviews for yourself.

Our Expert Reviewer Liz Robinson is one of the many fans of Cathy Kelly. Liz has said that The Year That Changed Everything is  “uplifting” and “delightful”. Also, Liz described the characters as “just so likeable and relatable, I would be more than happy to be their friend…to hug, to console to cheer them on”. This lighthearted read is full of wisdom and shows that your life can change completely at any point. Click here to Read Liz’s full review and see what our Consumer Review Panel had to say.

Cathy Kelly is a bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Based in Ireland, witty storytelling comes easily to Cathy, with tales about modern life delivered  with a captivating, uplifting voice. To find out more and keep up to date with Cathy Kelly, check out her Facebook.

So, if you’re wanting to check out a charming new book that offers a story about  finding happiness with an emphasis on strong female characters from a number one bestselling author, then head to LoveReading and use our selection of online retailers to get your hands on a copy of The Year That Changed Everything today!

 

 

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LoveReading Reader Review Panel Insight

LoveReading’s Reader Review Panel helps us to deliver a more accurate service to our users, allowing people to have their say on a book before it is released, and help those that visit LoveReading choose what book they want to read next. We love sharing a wide range of fabulous books with our readers and with around 1,000 people signed up to our panel, and only ever a limited number of review copies available to share with you all, it is vital that we work to distribute opportunities as fairly as possible. Keep reading to find out more about our Reader Review Panel, and the answers to some FAQs.

How are invites sent out?

We aim to send out at least one email a month which will invite our panel members to put themselves forward to review a selection of titles. However, depending on demand, and the number of titles that we have available, this could vary.

Once we have received your responses, and have allocated names to the different books we have on offer we will send you a follow up email, telling you whether or not you have been successful. If you missed out this time, don’t lose heart and keep your eyes peeled for other opportunities in the future.

We focus on making sure that everyone gets to read what they ask for, and expressed preferences when responding to our invite are great. It is also brilliant to have reviewers that are happy to read anything, so if more than one book tickles you fancy, let us know! A prompt response to the invite also allows us to act quicker, allocate the copies we have available and get them sent out to you.

Often, LoveReading promotes books in the weeks and months leading up to their publication. A great way of advertising a book is to show those searching for a new book what other readers have thought about it. There are always reader reviewed titles in the LoveReading Top 10 and this is because the response you have really does make a difference. It is also great to get reviews submitted as early as possible so that we can pass them back to the publisher for their own advertisement. It is great to see one of LoveReading Review panel members used on the cover of a book, or in the publisher’s marketing campaign (All uses of you reviews well be credited accordingly).

How can I guarantee that I get to review the book I choose?

As mentioned earlier, we have around 1,000 people signed up to review pre-publication titles for the LoveReading site. Unfortunately because of this, we can’t ‘guarantee’ that you will be able to receive every book that you request. We try our hardest to be fair when it comes to selection reviewers from our panel and try to give books to those who have been waiting the longest, or randomly selected if this isn’t the case. We also have a small number of trusted ambassadors, who are known for being prompt and consistent in review quality.

There a number of areas that can be worked on in order to increase your chances of selection. These include

  • Responding to our initial invite promptly.
  • Make sure that the details we have on our system for you are up to date. This will avoid any delays or problems in receiving you invite or books.
  • Let us know if, for whatever reason you are unable to submit a review. We will them make sure that it isn’t marked as outstanding on our system and affect any future invites.
  • Submitting detailed and good quality reviews through our submission form. More on this later.
  • Submitting your reviews as early as you can.

What should my review look like?

On our blog there is the LoveReading Reader Review Entry page:

http://blog.lovereading.co.uk/make-the-most-of-lovereadings-unique-features/helping-you-choose-your-next-book/reader-review-entry/#.WnsOw6hl_cc

This submission form is a handy way of gathering all of your reviews, so we can get them uploaded quickly. The form is quick and easy to use. Just fill in the boxes, type up your reviews and press send. We also like to return the favour, so if you have a blog or public social media page, pop it into the box at the bottom and we will attach a link to your review.

On the site there are two spaces for you review. This is because we ask for a full review which is longer and more detailed. This review is shown on the site in PDF form and passed back to the publishers. We ask that this review is around 200 words, with a maximum of 1,500 characters.

The Short Review is also required as a succinct summary of your overall opinion of the book. This, also credited to you, will feature on the main book page on the LoveReading site. The short reviews act as a quick snippet for those looking at our site. For this short review we ask that you submit no more than 200 characters, which is around 30 words.

We upload these reviews manually and may tweak them slightly. This is to make sure that the best quality reviews a featured on the site and to make sure that there are no spoilers. We do try not to edit them, to allow your true voice to shine through.

Do you have any tips for writing a review?

We love to hear you express your opinions on the books we feature. If you are wanting a couple of tips to make your review shine then look for:

  • Passion- whether you feel positively or negatively towards the book, let us know how this book made you feel. Explain your why you felt this way to offer more detail.
  • If perhaps you didn’t quite enjoy this book as much as you thought, we would still like your honest feedback. Why not let us know who you think would enjoy the book?
  • Don’t worry, we don’t want an essay! Try to give your review as though you were chatting to a friend.
  • Try not to give away the story. We will make sure that any spoilers are removed so that other readers can discover the story for themselves.

There are a few more tips here that one of our Expert reviewers came across and could also be useful.

It is also great if panel members could feature their reviews or snippets in their blog, vlog or through social media. We really hope all our panel members will get involved in these social media activities and credit/link to LoveReading/Lovereading4kids so word of mouth can be spread on the titles you’ve read and loved.  Do follow/like us too – we have absolutely thriving Facebook/Twitter communities so if you’ve not joined us there yet, please do. Also please share your reviews on sites like Amazon and GoodReads (it’s great for both the book and author). Please just remember to credit LoveReading/Lovereading4kids for your review copy.

We hope that this will offer you more of an insight in to the reader review process. We are very grateful for the members of our review panel across LoveReading and LoveReading4Kids. You provide a valuable contribution to the website. A great book becomes part of our life, part of who we are and your reviews help people to choose those books.

Best Wishes.

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LoveReading Expert on Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year Judging Panel

The Romantic Novelists’ Association has announced the judges for this year’s Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year. Among the judging panel this year is our very own LoveReading Expert Reviewer, Liz Robinson. Liz is joined by Fiction Buyer Matt Bates, editor Alex Hammond, and writer Elizabeth Buchan on the judging panel.

300 books have been submitted by hopeful writers to this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. The submissions are narrowed down, with a shortlist to be announced on the 8th February. The winner will be announced by Richard Coles at the RoNA Awards in London on the 5th March. This prestigious event will be hosted by a familiar face, the Reverend Richard Coles. Rev. Richard will present the winner with a trophy and a cheque for £5,000 at The Gladstone Library in London. The event’s host first became famous as a part of the 80s chart-topping bands Bronski Beat and The Communards. Following his musical success, Richard became a Church of England priest. However, he remains a popular figure, most recently appeared as a contestant in the latest season of Strictly Come Dancing.

There will be seven awards up for grabs at the Romantic Novel Awards: Contemporary, Epic, Historical, Paranormal or speculative Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Young Adult and the RoNA Rose Award for Shorter Romantic Novel. The four independent judges will read the winners of each category and then decide the overall winner of the Award. The RNA Chair Nicola Cornick has said that they are “thrilled to have such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable panel of judges with such a commitment to the romantic fiction genre”.

We look forward to finding out the winner of the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year!

A Bit More About the Judges

Matt Bates is a Fiction Buyer for WH Smith Travel. He featured in the Evening Standard Top 1000 most influential Londoners. Aside from his work, Matt has also contributed to book-related articles for The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and The Bookseller. The RNA awarded Matt Bates the Bookseller of the Year Award in 2015, and he was a judge for the Novel category of The Costa Book Prize and The Booksellers’ Association Debut Fiction Category Prize in 2016.

The editor, Alex Hammond holds a BA (Hons) in American Literature with Creative Writing and an MA in Creative Writing. Alex is also currently working towards his PhD in Creative Writing. With a CV that includes working with literacy agency Rogers, Coleridge & White, with a number of different authors such as Zadie Smith, Phillip Henser and Joe Dunthorne, Alex is now an editor, mentor and scout as part of the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in 2014.  

Elizabeth Buchan had a job in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. Consider the Lily won he Romantic Novel of the Year in 1994, and Middle-Aged Woman not only became an international bestseller but was transformed into a CBS Primetime Drama. The author was also the chair of the RNA, the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. Elizabeth has also been a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the 2014 Costa Novel Award. Her vast judging experience will mean she knows exactly the quality required for an award-winning book.

Liz Robinson has been a part of the team at LoveReading since the start of 2014. Liz is an integral member of our panel of expert reviewers and the editorial team. Before this Liz worked as a Police Civilian for twenty years. During this time, one of her roles was a Criminal Intelligence Analyst. Her well-honed scrutiny will be perfect when working to choose the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year. Liz enjoys all genres from crime, mysteries and thrillers to romance, family dramas and relationship tales.

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Feel Better this Blue Monday with LoveReading

Blue Monday at LoveReading

“Good Morning, Pooh Bear” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it IS a good morning… Which I doubt”- A.A Milne

We will relate to one of the gloomiest characters ever created today, according to scientists. January 15th 2018 has been named as Blue Monday, calculated to be the most depressing day of the year, with New Year’s Resolutions left in the dust, the January pinch growing ever tighter and the distinct lack of any festive cheer while the weather reminds us it is still winter. Depression is not dictated by the date, and the seriousness of such an illness is not to be overstated. However, the middle of January can leave a lot of us looking for distractions while waiting for temperatures to rise.

While we hunker down and wait for the rain to stop, according to our favourite sad donkey “it always does. Eventually.” we’ve had a look at things that could brighten Blue Monday, the gloomiest day of the year.

Of course LoveReading recommends curling up with a good book, a blanket and a warm drink on this miserable Monday. Why not try one of our weekly staff picks, like the heartfelt ‘Three Things About Elsie’ by Joanna Cannon? For those wanting a peek in to the past, how about Alison Weir’s ‘Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn, A King’s Obsession’? We also have a wide range of non-fiction, encouraging you to have another crack at your New Year’s resolutions. For the health-conscious we have Roger Frampton’s ‘The Flexible Body’, Tom Kerridge’s ‘Lose Weight for Good’ or ‘James Duigan’s Blueprint for Health’.

It is vital that we all remember Depression isn’t reserved for one day each year, despite how much we relate to Blue Monday. For those of you wanting to be more mindful and less anxious; or perhaps wanting to be more of a glass half full kind of person, why not have a read of ‘The Little Book of Happiness: Live. Laugh. Love’ by Kim Quadrille, ‘Calm’ by Fearne Cotton, or James Cowart’s ‘The ABCs of Coping with Anxiety’. Jennie Miller and Victoria Lambert’s self-help book ‘Boundaries’ has transformed a long known genre for today’s world. The book offers a four step programme could help to change your life for the better.

Another great way to feel better is to support those who suffer with mental health issues no matter the date. One option is to perhaps make a donation some fantastic charities such as MINDCALM or the Samaritans.

 

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Mid-June Summer Reading

A mid-month reminder that as we stroll into summer, there is no better time to look for your next fantastic read. Outside in a tranquil spot, or by an open window, these are the days to kick back and get lost in the stories of others. But what to choose? Pop into our newly launched Summer Reading category, a lovingly hand-picked picnic of perfect summer books.

Start planning your Summer Reading

Have a look at the shelf below for some of our favourites, scroll down to see more or visit the special category on the site to see them all.

Deserved Debut – Desmond Elliott Prize Winner Announced








Possibly the most coveted prize for UK first novelists, The Desmond Elliott Prize was founded in 2007 to celebrate the best 1st novel by a new author and to support writers just starting what will be long and glittering careers. Ten years on it has succeeded in its mission in a manner that would make Elliott proud.

This year’s winner has just been announced and it is Golden Hill by Francis Spufford. Chair of the judges Sam Leith, Literary Editor at the Spectator, described the novel as, “miraculously constructed… at once so fabulously entertaining, so exquisitely wrought and so moving that it stands among not just the best first novels of the year, but the best novels of this or any year.” Find out more.

One for the Mantel-piece? The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction








Founded to honour the legacy of historical novelist Sir Walter Scott, this is the largest prize, outside London, to reward the best in historical fiction. The first winner was Hilary Mantel who remains an avid supporter of the Prize, describing it as ‘much the best thing that has happened for fans of historical fiction‘.

The winner was announced on 17 June at the Borders Book Festival and was awarded to the big-hearted, beautiful and splendidly sweeping tale of war, survival and love in the American West, Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.

Start choosing your July reads today!

Our gift to you! A chance to read extracts of excellent books before they’re published. You’re welcome!

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon – A brilliantly conceived, jaw-dropping, incredibly realistic psychological thriller. From the author of Try Not to Breathe. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce – From the author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes a heartrending, gloriously life-affirming, ode to vinyl, love story. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter – A dramatic, powerful, and so incredibly addictive, breathtaking whammy of a read, pure escapism at its best.
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You liked that? Try this! – If You Like You’ll Love

This is our no-brainer category for people looking for new authors with the talent to match their favourites. You tell us authors you like and we introduce you to others you’ll love. Simple!

If you Like Victoria Hislop or Rosie Thomas you’ll love The Invitation by Lucy Foley, a captivating story of dark secrets and forbidden love. If you like Erica James you’ll love The Forever House by Veronica Henry, a gorgeously affectionate, loving, and generous read.
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The Cream! – Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction





With a widely varied judging panel from the top of their professions, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is the most prestigious award to honour fiction written by a woman. Previous winners include: Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain and Ali Smith.

This year’s gong went to The Power by Naomi Alderman. Chair of the judges Tessa Ross said that while her judging panel debated the shortlist “for many hours“, they “kept returning to Naomi Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia – her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.

     

Mid-June Highlights

Take a moment to discover the top titles that may have passed you by this month. Books like:

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – A dark, harrowing and weirdly uplifting future vision from the celebrated author of the creepily brilliant, post-apocalyptic Southern Reach Trilogy.

The Floating Theatre by Martha Conway – Brimming with stunning writing and historical illuminations. Perfect for fans of Gone with the Wind and Tracy Chevalier’s The Last Runaway.

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Mid-June ‘New Gen’ Highlights

Younger (or young at heart) readers take note of three cracking novels out this month:

After the Fire by Will Hill – Inspired by the Waco siege in Texas in 1993. The tension rarely abates and we think it is one of the most gripping and suspenseful books you’ll read all year. A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard – Be prepared to be moved, enthralled, heartbroken and inspired by this moving tale of hope and survival, set in a bleak, war-torn world. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord – A moving story of a teenage girl coping when her world turns upside down. A thoughtful and well-written book that tugs at the heartstrings. The Scattering by Kimberly McCreight – The nail-bitingly tense sequel to the original and incredible The Outliers.  ‘Action packed and gripping – I flew through the pages’ Amy, 15.

Dear (e)Reader! – eBooks of the Month

For all you digi-book doyens out there, a perfect selection of terrific tales to take away whatever your taste. Here’s what’s up for download (or is it ‘down for upload’? – Ed) this month.

The Girl Who Ran by Nikki Owen – The final book in the ‘Project Trilogy’ and it’s an absolute belter as the story surges to a fittingly dramatic conclusion. The River at Night by Erica Ferencik – Fast-paced, suspenseful and travels the gamut of life experiences as the narrative races towards a splendid climax. The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne – Hugely compelling and highly recommended. Second adventure for a Jack Reacher/Superman cross with shades of Jason Bourne called Solomon Creed.

The Big Jakubowski – Maxim’s Top Tips for June

Crime aficionado Maxim Jakubowski has been delving deep into the underworld of wonderful writing again this month to bring you the best books about for lovers of thrill, suspense and edge-of-your-seat reading. It’s a labour of love, he says. 








This month his top tips take you on a whirlwind tour of the world from Bosnia to Mount Everest, without ever needing to leave your favourite chair! See the whole lot here, or check out the top two titles:

His Book of the Month is Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang by Mike Ripley – Witty, entertaining and meticulously researched exploration of British thrillers that will have you scouring the second-hand shelves for classics of a bygone era.

And Highly Recommended is The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker – A humdinger of a serial killer thriller in sheer overdrive, it is a winner from the get go.

Read, Loved and Highly Recommended! – Reader Highlights

We take the views of our Consumer Reader Reviewers (many of them bloggers) very seriously and we’ve collected the books they loved the most into one handy section of superstars. Click here for more.

The Bureau of Second Chances by Sheena Kalayil – A wonderfully atmospheric picture of life in India ‘A gem of a novel! A delight to read!’ (Reader Review). Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – ‘I feel deeply privileged to have read such an exceedingly exceptional book….heart wrenching and yet light-hearted and funny.‘ (Reader Review).
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Barnett Fare – The Books of Laura Barnett





Author, journalist and theatre critic Laura Barnett is a versatile and powerful writer whose understanding and deep affection for her characters practically drips off every page.

Versions of Us is a heartbreaking and beautiful love story about the ‘what if’ moments in our lives and Greatest Hits, her brand new novel is ‘ … a lyrically soulful novel, full of warmth, passion … that rocked to the core of my heart.’ (Reader Review). Find out more.

The Queen of Social Commentary

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. Her novels continue to delight and there have been numerous TV and film adaptations of them (who can forget Colin Firth after the swim in the lake?). So, we have created a special category where you will find some of her classic novels along with modern re-workings of them and also a selection of non-fiction titles that explore her life and work and the continuing fascination it exerts upon readers. Discover more today.

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Don’t forget to visit the site to see more Summer Reading Selections.

P.S. Find out more about a unique event, REBUSFEST, in Edinburgh at the end of the month. And don’t miss the chance of winning some exclusive Rebus books and other exclusive book goodies in our free prize draw category.

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