While our libraries are closed we would like to continue to recommend some of our favourite reads to you, for future reading lists or for right now, available on our eBooks and eAudiobooks app, Borrowbox.
Enjoy this list of recommended reads from our staff and check out Borrowbox to download some of our favourites.
The High Moments by Sara – Ella Ozbek
She’s not perfect, she has a tricky relationship with her mother and is desperate for people to like her.
She repeatedly goes back to the people that hurt her, no matter how badly.
She moves to London with no plan (of course), but manages to land a job at a modelling agency. Finally, she’s getting her life on track, but the fashion industry is a murkier place than she had imagined.
She changes herself to please others.
Just as she starts to find her place, Scarlett’s life begins to spiral. But at least people know her, she is starting to become someone. And surely it’s better to be someone – even if it’s someone you hate?
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Grace Park and Shawn Mathews share a city – Los Angeles – but seemingly little else. Coming from different generations and very different communities, their paths wouldn’t normally cross at all. As Grace battles confusion over her elder sister’s estrangement from their Korean-immigrant parents, Shawn tries to help his cousin Ray readjust to city life after years spent in prison.
But something in their past links these two families. As the city around them threatens to erupt into violence, echoing the worst days of the early 1990s, the lives of Grace and Shawn are set to collide in ways which will change them all forever.
Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage?
David thought so. But when his wife Mary Rose dies suddenly he has to think again. In reliving their twenty years together David sees that the ground beneath them had shifted and he simply hadn’t noticed. Or had chosen not to.
Figuring out who Mary Rose really was and the secrets that she kept – some of these hidden in plain sight – makes David wonder if he really knew her. Did he even know himself?
War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Shortly before his death, Stefan Hertmans’ grandfather Urbain Martien gave his grandson a set of notebooks containing the detailed memories of his life. He grew up in poverty around 1900, the son of a struggling church painter who died young, and went to work in an iron foundry at only 13. Afternoons spent with his father at work on a church fresco were Urbain’s heaven; the iron foundry an inferno.
During the First World War, Urbain was on the front line confronting the invading Germans, and ever after he is haunted by events he can never forget. The war ends and he marries his great love, Maria Emelia, but she dies tragically in the 1919 flu epidemic. Urbain mourns her bitterly for the rest of his life but, like the obedient soldier he is, he marries her sister at her parents’ bidding. The rest is not quite silence, but a marriage with a sad secret at its heart, and the consolations found in art and painting. War and Turpentine is the imaginative reconstruction of a damaged life across the tumultuous decades of the twentieth century; a deeply moving portrayal of family, grief, love and war.
A Bicycle Built for Sue by Daisy Tate
Sue Young has never asked for much apart from a quiet life. She’s always been happy with her call centre job and dinner on the table at six o clock; that was until her husband’s suicide tore her tranquility into little shreds.
With the script of her life in tatters, Sue is persuaded to join a charity cycle ride led by Morning TV’s Kath Fuller, who is having a crisis of her own ─ stay married to her famous (and controlling) husband, or dare to follow her own dream?
Sue’s self-appointed support crew are struggling with their own issues. Pensioner Flo Wilson is refusing to grow old, gracefully or otherwise, and Raven Chakrabarti, a teenaged goth, is determined to dodge the path her family have mapped out for her.
Can saddle sores and chaffed thighs give them validation, or will pushing themselves to the limit prove harder than they thought?
My Crazy World (The Autobiography) by Christy Dignam
Growing up in Finglas, Dublin, there was only one thing Christy Dignam ever wanted to do – and that was sing. By the early 1980s, he had formed the band Aslan, part of a new wave of acts coming out of Ireland. Repeatedly chewed up and spat out in the feeding frenzy to sign ‘the next U2’, they stuck to their principles. developed a loyal following, and their first album Feel No Shame went to No 1 in their home country, showcased by the song ‘This Is’, which Christy proudly acknowledges has become ‘part of Ireland’s DNA’.
But just as America seemed ready to fall for Aslan, Dignam was battling with heroin addiction, perhaps caused by having been sexually abused as a child, and so he was kicked out of the band. In 1993, after five years in the wilderness, he rejoined Aslan, leading the outfit to a triumphant second coming, despite struggling with further drug problems and serious illness. In this compelling memoir, Dignam looks back over his long career, vividly bringing to life the good times and the bad, but always remembering that at the heart of it all are his songs and his family.
I Follow You by Peter James
To the outside world, suave, charming and confident doctor Marcus Valentine has it all. A loving wife, three kids, a great job. But there’s something missing, there always has been. . . . or rather, someone . . .
Driving to work one morning, his mind elsewhere and not on the road, he almost mows down a female jogger on a crossing. As she runs on, Marcus is transfixed. Infatuated. She is the spitting image of a girl he was crazy about in his teens. A girl he has never been able to get out of his mind.
Lynette had dumped him harshly. For years he has fantasized about seeing her again and rekindling their flame. Might that jogger possibly be her all these years later? Could this be the most incredible coincidence?
Despite all his attempts to resist, he is consumed by cravings for this woman. And when events take a tragically unexpected turn, his obsession threatens to destroy both their worlds. But still he won’t stop. Can’t stop.
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
Set in the fictional African village of Kosawa, How Beautiful We Were tells the story of a people living in fear amidst environmental degradation wrought by an American oil company. Pipeline spills have rendered farmlands infertile. Children are dying from drinking toxic water. Promises of clean-up and financial reparations are made – and ignored. The country’s government, led by a brazen dictator, exists to serve its own interest only. Left with few choices, the people of Kosawa decide to fight back. But their fight will come at a steep price . . . one which generation after generation will have to pay.
Told through the perspective of a generation of children and the family of a girl named Thula, How Beautiful We Were is a masterful exploration of what happens when the reckless drive for profit, coupled with the ghost of colonialism, comes up against one community’s determination to hold onto its ancestral land and a young woman’s willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of her people’s freedom.
The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen
On an island off the west coast of Ireland, the Moone family are shattered by tragedy.
Murtagh Moone is a potter and devoted husband to Maeve, an actor struggling with her most challenging role yet – being a mother to their four children. Now Murtagh must hold his family close as we bear witness to their story before that tragic night.
We return to the day Maeve and Murtagh meet, outside Trinity College in Dublin, and watch how one love story gives rise to another. And as the Moone children learn who their parents truly are, we journey onwards with them to a future that none of the Moones could predict . . .
Except perhaps Maeve herself.
When You See Me by Lisa Gardner
In a small town in the Deep South, Flora Dane is part of a task force committed to hunting down every last trace of notorious serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. As his last victim, imprisoned by Ness in a small box for over a year, she knew him better than most. Even after his death, his evil still lingers.
But this is the kind of town that doesn’t take kindly to strangers asking questions.
The kind of town where dark secrets lurk just beneath the surface.
Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski
Poland, 1980. Anxious, disillusioned Ludwik Glowacki, soon to graduate university, has been sent along with the rest of his class to an agricultural camp. Here he meets Janusz – and together, they spend a dreamlike summer swimming in secluded lakes, reading forbidden books – and falling in love.
But with summer over, the two are sent back to Warsaw, and to the harsh realities of life under the Party. Exiled from paradise, Ludwik and Janusz must decide how they will survive; and in their different choices, find themselves torn apart.
Swimming in the Dark is an unforgettable debut about youth, love, and loss – and the sacrifices we make to live lives with meaning.
Expectation by Anna Hope
Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.
Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?
The Weight of Love by Hilary Fannin
London, 1996. Robin and Ruth meet in the staff room of an East London school. Robin, desperate for a real connection, instantly falls in love. Ruth, recently bereaved and fragile, is tentative.
When Robin introduces Ruth to his childhood friend, Joseph, a tortured and talented artist, their attraction is instant. Powerless, Robin watches on as the girl he loves and his best friend begin a passionate and turbulent affair.
Dublin 2017. Robin and Ruth are married and have a son, Sid, who is about to emigrate to Berlin. Theirs is a marriage haunted by the ghost of Joseph and as the distance between them grows, Robin makes a choice that could have potentially devastating consequences.
The Weight of Love is a beautiful exploration of how we manage life when the notes and beats of our existence, so carefully arranged, begin to slip off the stave. An intimate and moving account of the intricacies of marriage and the myriad ways in which we can love and be loved.
Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys
Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …
1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.
But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.
By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.
Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin
How do you pick up the pieces when the person that held them together is gone?
When forty-year-old Rabbit Hayes dies, she leaves behind a family broken by grief. Her mother Molly is distraught and in danger of losing her faith. Her father Jack spends hour upon hour in the family attic, poring over his old diaries, losing himself in the past.
Rabbit’s brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Juliet might be able to fill a hole in Davey’s heart – but how can he help Juliet through her grief when he can barely cope with his own?
Meanwhile, Rabbit’s sister Grace is struggling with the knowledge that she carries the same gene that made her sister ill, and Rabbit’s best friend Marjorie is lost, struggling to remain a part of a family she has always wished was her own now that her link to them is gone.
From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes a huge-hearted novel about death, family and finding laughter in the most unexpected of places.
The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
The Other Woman by debut author Sandie Jones, is a gripping psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Michelle Frances’s The Girlfriend and B A Paris’s Behind Closed Doors.
When Emily meets Adam she knows he is the One.
That together they can deal with anything that is thrown at them.
But lurking in the shadows is another woman, Pammie. Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother.
There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants…
An Ark of Light by Dermot Bolger
Having surrendered her happiness to raise her children, Eva Fitzgerald defies convention in 1950s Ireland by leaving a failed marriage to embark on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery. It takes her from teeming Moroccan streets and being flour-bombed in radical marches in London to living in old age in a caravan that becomes an ark for all those whom she befriends amid the fields of Mayo.
An indefatigable idealist, Eva strives to forge her identity while entangled in the fault-lines of her children’s unravelling lives. An Ark of Light is a devastating portrayal of a mother’s anxiety for her gay son in a world where homosexuality is illegal and explores a terse relationship between a mother and daughter with nothing in common beyond love.
Remarkably affecting and gorgeously rendered, this standalone novel completes the real-life story of the unforgettable heroine of Bolger’s bestselling novel, The Family on Paradise Pier, in following a free spirit trying to hold her family together while striving to be happy. This struggle is often heartbreakingly lost, but Eva never loses her indomitable spirit. A towering achievement by one of Ireland’s best-loved authors about the unshakeable bonds of family, the indestructability of love and the price a woman pays for the right to be herself.
The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood
Eccentric and alluring, the more time Paul spends with his new friends the closer they become, and the deeper he falls in love with the mesmerising Charlotte. But Paul is not the only one vying for her affections, and soon an insidious rivalry takes root.
As political tensions escalate in Germany, the Bauhaus finds itself under threat, and the group begins to disintegrate under the pressure of its own betrayals and love affairs. Decades later, in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy, Paul is haunted by a secret. When an old friend from the Bauhaus resurfaces, he must finally break his silence.
Beautifully written, powerful and suspenseful, Naomi Wood’s The Hiding Game is a novel about the dangerously fine line between love and obsession, set against the most turbulent era of our recent past.
Forgive Me by Susan Lewis
This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.
But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.
Tense, emotional and gripping, Susan Lewis’s latest novel is a spellbinding story of love, family, and the price of forgiveness.
The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey
1950: late summer season on Cape Cod. Michael, a ten-year-old boy, is spending the summer with Richie and his glamorous but troubled mother.
Left to their own devices, the boys meet a couple living nearby – the artists Jo and Edward Hopper – and an unlikely friendship is forged. She, volatile, passionate and often irrational, suffers bouts of obsessive sexual jealousy. He, withdrawn and unwell, depressed by his inability to work, becomes besotted by Richie’s frail and beautiful Aunt Katherine who has not long to live – an infatuation he shares with young Michael.
A novel of loneliness and regret, the legacy of World War II and the ever-changing concept of the American Dream.
Spy by Danielle Steel
It is 1939 and although she doesn’t know it, it will be the last normal summer Alexandra Wickham will spend for more than thirty years. Alexandra is a young woman who sees her brothers fight and die for their country, and, inspired by their heroism, she is determined to do what she can for the war effort.
As a volunteer for the First Aid Corps, her courage, intelligence and talent for languages do not go unnoticed. Before long, she is approached by MI6 to go undercover and work as a spy. Undertaking some of the most dangerous missions of the war in France, she falls in love with a young soldier, who leaves the army behind for the relative security of the diplomatic corps. They marry, but her identity is a secret, even to her husband.
Over the next thirty years – as she raises a family – Alexandra continues to work undercover in some of the most dangerous trouble spots in the world under the perfect guise of a diplomat’s wife. From India to Hong Kong, Morocco to Moscow, she puts her life on the line serving her country, whilst never receiving recognition.
It starts with a shocking accusation . . .
Stephanie and Patrick are recently married, with new-born twins. While Stephanie struggles with the disorienting effects of sleep deprivation, there’s one thing she knows for certain – she has everything she ever wanted.
Then a woman from his past arrives and makes a horrifying allegation about his first wife. He always claimed her death was an accident – but she says it was murder.
He insists he’s innocent, that this is nothing but a blackmail attempt. But is Patrick telling the truth? Or has Stephanie made a terrible mistake?
How will it end?
The Nesting Dolls by Alina Adams
Spanning nearly a century, from 1930s Siberia to contemporary Brighton Beach, a page turning, epic family saga centring on three generations of women in one Russian Jewish family—each striving to break free of fate and history, each yearning for love and personal fulfilment—and how the consequences of their choices ripple through time.
Odessa, 1931. Marrying the handsome, wealthy Edward Gordon, Daria—born Dvora Kaganovitch—has fulfilled her mother’s dreams. But a woman’s plans are no match for the crushing power of Stalin’s repressive Soviet state. To survive, Daria is forced to rely on the kindness of a man who takes pride in his own coarseness.
Odessa, 1970. Brilliant young Natasha Crystal is determined to study mathematics. But the Soviets do not allow Jewish students—even those as brilliant as Natasha—to attend an institute as prestigious as Odessa University. With her hopes for the future dashed, Natasha must find a new purpose—one that leads her into the path of a dangerous young man.
Brighton Beach, 2019. Zoe Venakovsky, known to her family as Zoya, has worked hard to leave the suffocating streets and small minds of Brighton Beach behind her—only to find that what she’s tried to outrun might just hold her true happiness.
Jack & Bet by Sarah Butler
Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.
All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.
When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.
Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.
Rabbit Foot Bill by Helen Humphreys
Canwood, Saskatchewan, 1947. Leonard Flint, a lonely boy in a small farming town befriends the local tramp, a man known as Rabbit Foot Bill. Bill doesn’t talk much, but he allows Leonard to accompany him as he sets rabbit snares and to visit his small, secluded dwelling.
Being with Bill is everything to young Leonard—an escape from school, bullies and a hard father. So his shock is absolute when he witnesses Bill commit a sudden violent act and loses him to prison.
Fifteen years on, as a newly graduated doctor of psychiatry, Leonard arrives at the Weyburn Mental Hospital, both excited and intimidated by the massive institution known for its experimental LSD trials. To Leonard’s great surprise, at the Weyburn he is reunited with Bill and soon becomes fixated on discovering what happened on that fateful day in 1947.
House on Fire by Joseph Finder
Nick Heller, private spy, exposes secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden.
At the funeral of his good friend Sean, an army buddy who struggled with opioid addiction, a stranger approaches Nick with a job. The woman is a member of the Kimball family, whose immense fortune was built on opiates. Now she wants to become a whistleblower, exposing evidence that Kimball Pharmaceutical knew its biggest money-maker was dangerously addictive.
Nick agrees instantly – but he soon realizes the sins of the Kimball patriarch are just the beginning. Beneath the surface are the barely concealed cabals and conspiracies: a twisting story of family intrigue and lethal corporate machinations.
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’
Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.
Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.
Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Welcome to The Farm.
Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules…
Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry. There, women get the very best of everything: organic meals, fitness trainers, daily massages and big money. Provided they dedicate themselves to producing the perfect baby. For someone else.
Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?
The Women of Waterloo Bridge by Jan Casey
After her fiancé breaks off their engagement, Evelyn decides to do her part for the war effort by signing up for construction work on Waterloo Bridge. Enjoying the physical work and her newfound purpose, she begins to realise that there could be so much more to her life than anything she’d ever dared to dream of.
Grieving after her little boy dies in an air raid, Gwen is completely lost when her husband sends their younger children to the countryside for safety. Enlisting as a construction worker, she is partnered with cheerful Evelyn. Despite Gwen’s initial reticence, the two women strike up a heart warming friendship – but will it be enough to save Gwen from her sorrow?
Musical prodigy Joan’s life has always been dictated by her controlling mother. When an affair nearly ends in scandal, Joan finally takes her life into her own hands. Determined never to touch a violin again, she soon finds work at Waterloo Bridge. Yet there are other troubles for her to overcome…
For these three women, only one thing is certain: the Second World War will change their lives forever.
Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. by Joyce Carol Oates
The bonds of family are tested in the wake of a profound tragedy, providing a look at the darker side of our society Night Sleep Death The Stars is a gripping examination of contemporary America through the prism of a family tragedy: when a powerful parent dies, each of his adult children reacts in startling and unexpected ways, and his grieving widow in the most surprising way of all.
Stark and penetrating, Joyce Carol Oates’s latest novel is a vivid exploration of race, psychological trauma, class warfare, grief, and eventual healing, as well as an intimate family novel in the tradition of the author’s bestselling We Were the Mulvaneys.
I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston
My Life, My Family, My Father
Drawing on his memories, Chris will describe a vivid life of growing up in a Salford, working-class household in the 1970s with his siblings, a loving mother, and the totemic figure of his hardworking, serious-minded and socialist father – Ronnie. How his life changed from a potential future as ‘factory fodder’ in his native Northwest, to a deep-rooted desire to perform on stage, and what developed into a burgeoning acting career – from his stunning film debut Let Him Have It; to the BBC’s landmark drama miniseries Our Friends in the North; his remarkable relaunch of the iconic Doctor Who franchise; and many more BAFTA-nominated roles over the past three decades such as starring in the current production of Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford; and, playing the role of the grandfather in the BBC1 hit drama series The A Word.
Along this path of fame and fortune also lay a man still bonded to his home city of Salford, his politics, his family, and especially his beloved parents. Chris will discuss openly the loss of his father and his family’s struggle to cope with his condition over the past decade of his life as they watched his health deteriorate.
The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley
Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her own idyllic childhood catching butterflies with her beloved father, and raised her own children, Posy knows she must make an agonizing decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she has spent twenty-five years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell it.
Then a face appears from the past – Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken fifty years ago. Already struggling to cope with her son Sam’s inept business dealings, and the sudden reappearance of her younger son Nick after ten years in Australia, Posy is reluctant to trust in Freddie’s renewed affection. And unbeknown to Posy, Freddie – and Admiral House – have a devastating secret to reveal . . .
The Butchers by Ruth Gilligan
A photograph is hung on a gallery wall for the very first time since it was taken two decades before. It shows a slaughter house in rural Ireland, a painting of the Virgin Mary on the wall, a meat hook suspended from the ceiling – and, from its sharp point, the lifeless body of a man hanging by his feet.
The story of who he is and how he got there casts back into Irish folklore, of widows cursing the land and of the men who slaughter its cattle by hand. But modern Ireland is distrustful of ancient traditions, and as the BSE crisis in England presents get-rich opportunities in Ireland, few care about The Butchers, the eight men who roam the country, slaughtering the cows of those who still have faith in the old ways. Few care, that is, except for Fionn, the husband of a dying woman who still believes; their son Davey, who has fallen in love with the youngest of the Butchers; Gra, the lonely wife of one of the eight; and her 12-year-old daughter, Una, a girl who will grow up to carry a knife like her father, and who will be the one finally to avenge the man in the photograph.
The Second Chance Tea Shop by Fay Keenan
Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it’s time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie, move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.
But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto to the new life she has built.
This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
‘They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.’
When Hen and Lloyd move into their new house in West Dartford, Mass., they’re relieved to meet, at their first block party, the only other seemingly-childless couple in their neighborhood, Matthew and Mira Dolamore. Turns out they live in the Dutch Colonial immediately next door.
When they’re invited over for dinner, however, things take a sinister turn when Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study. Could this charming, mild-mannered College Professor really be hiding a dark secret, one that only Hen, whose been battling her own problems with depression and medication, could know about? Lloyd certainly doesn’t seem to believe her, and so, forced together, Hen and Matthew start to form an unlikely bond. But who, if anyone, is really in danger?
From its deeply unsettling opening, Peter Swanson, the master of contemporary domestic thrillers, fashions a novel as brilliant, dark, coruscating and surprising as Patricia Highsmith and Ira Levin at their very best.
My Name Is Why a memoir by Lemn Sissay
At the age of seventeen, after a childhood in a fostered family followed by six years in care homes, Norman Greenwood was given his birth certificate. He learned that his real name was not Norman. It was Lemn Sissay. He was British and Ethiopian. And he learned that his mother had been pleading for his safe return to her since his birth.
Here Sissay recounts his life story. It is a story of neglect and determination. Misfortune and hope. Cruelty and triumph.
Sissay reflects on a childhood in care, self-expression and Britishness, and in doing so explores the institutional care system, race, family and the meaning of home. Written with all the lyricism and power you would expect from one of the nation’s best-loved poets, this moving, frank and timely memoir is the result of a life spent asking questions, and a celebration of the redemptive power of creativity.
The White Girl by Tony Birch
Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves. In The White Girl, Miles-Franklin-shortlisted author Tony Birch shines a spotlight on the 1960s and the devastating government policy of taking Indigenous children from their families.
Need You Dead by Peter James
Roy Grace, creation of the CWA Diamond Dagger award winning author Peter James, faces his most mysterious case yet in Need You Dead.
Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, life seldom follows the plans you’ve made. A chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her.
When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open and shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalizingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined.
This Green and Pleasant Land by Ayisha Malik
Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?
For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.
On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.
Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.
Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.
February 2021 Ireland Reads
Clear My Name by Paula Daly
When Carrie was accused of brutally murdering her husband’s lover, she denied it. She denied it when they arrested her, when they put her in front of a jury, and when they sent her to prison.
Now she’s three years into a fifteen-year sentence, away from the daughter she loves and the life she had built. And she is still denying that she is to blame.
Tess Gilroy has devoted her life to righting wrongs. Through her job for Innocence UK, a charity which takes on alleged miscarriages of justice, she works tirelessly to uncover the truth.
But when she is asked to take Carrie’s case, Tess realises that if she is to help this woman, she must risk uncovering the secrets she has struggled a lifetime to hide . . .
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey.
When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.
The Familiars by Stacey Halls
Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.
Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.
As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?
Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.
Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.
Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
Widely regarded as D. H. Lawrence’s greatest novel, Women in Love is both a lucid account of English society before the First World War, and a brilliant evocation of the inexorable power of human desire.
Women in Love continues where The Rainbow left off, with the third generation of Brangwens: Ursula Brangwen, now a teacher at Beldover, a mining town in the Midlands, and her sister Gudrun, who has returned from art school in London. The focus of the novel is primarily on their relationships, Ursula’s with Rupert Birkin, a school inspector, and Gudrun’s with industrialist Gerald Crich, and later with a sculptor, Loerke.
Quintessentially modernist, Women in Love is one of Lawrence’s most extraordinary, innovative and unsettling works.
Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park
I am entering the frozen land, although to which country it belongs I cannot say.
The world is shrouded in snow. Transport has ground to a halt. Tom must venture out into a transformed and treacherous landscape to collect his son, sick and stranded in student lodgings.
But on this solitary drive from Belfast to Sunderland, Tom will be drawn into another journey, one without map or guide, and is forced to chart pathways of family history haunted by memory and clouded in regret.
Written in spare, crystalline prose by one of the most important voices in contemporary Irish writing, Travelling in a Strange Land is a work of exquisite loss and transformative grace. It is a novel about fathers and sons, grief, memory, family and love; about the gulfs that lie between us and those we love, and the wrong turns that we take on our way to find them.
Longbourn by Jo Baker
‘If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats,’ Sarah thought, ‘she would be more careful not to tramp through muddy fields.’
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and raw. Domestic life below stairs, ruled with a tender heart and an iron will by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman, bearing secrets and the scent of the sea.
The Visitor by Lee Child
Jack Reacher – Book 4
Sergeant Amy Callan and Lieutenant Caroline Cooke have a lot in common.
Both were army high-flyers. Both were aquainted with Jack Reacher. Both were forced to resign from the service.
Now they’re both dead.
Found in their own homes, naked, in a bath full of paint.
Apparent victims of an army man. A loner, a smart guy with a score to settle, a ruthless vigilante.
A man just like Jack Reacher.
Baghlan Boy by Michael Crowley
His brother sells the family sheep to pay an ‘agent’ to take Farood to the West, not knowing when he will be back but being hopeful that he’ll one day return with liberating wealth.
Farood’s journey is one of pain and endurance across Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, in the boots of cars at border crossings and waiting with others in basements and trailers, afraid and confused.
We skip forward eight years to a prison where nineteen-year-old Farood is beginning a life sentence for a crime he says he didn’t commit. He can fight better than most, but it’s not easy negotiating a way through hierarchies and alliances on the wing.
Forever a captive, despite his will to escape, can Farood Abdali break the mould and forge a better life?
29 Seconds by T. M. Logan
What if a single 29 second phonecall could change your life forever? ‘Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . .’
When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.
He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.
No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.
All it takes is a 29 second phone call.
BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A NAME TO GIVE. DON’T THEY?
The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox by Claire Gradidge
Everyone has secrets, some are just more deadly than others . . .
April 1941, Romsey, England.
Josephine ‘Josy’ Fox hasn’t set foot in Romsey in over twenty years. As an illegitimate child, her family – headed by her controlling grandfather – found her an embarrassment. Now, she wants to return to what was once her home and uncover the secret of her parentage. Who was her father and why would her mother never talk about him?
Josy arrives the day after the Luftwaffe have bombed the town. The local pub, The Cricketers’ Arms, has been completely destroyed and rescue teams are searching for the remains of the seven people known to be in the pub at the time the bomb hit. They are shocked, however, to uncover eight bodies, not seven. The eighth, unidentified, body is that of a teenage girl, who no one in the town claims to know. Who is she, how did she get there, but most importantly – who killed her?
Teaming up with local coroner and old friend, Bram Nash, Josy sets out to establish the identity of the girl and solve the riddle of her death. In doing so, she also uncovers her own personal mystery.
As You Were by Elaine Feeney
Sinéad Hynes is a tough, driven, funny young property developer with a terrifying secret.
No-one knows it: not her fellow patients in a failing hospital, and certainly not her family. She has confided only in Google and a shiny magpie.
But she can’t go on like this, tirelessly trying to outstrip her past and in mortal fear of her future. Across the ward, Margaret Rose is running her chaotic family from her rose-gold Nokia. In the neighbouring bed, Jane, rarely but piercingly lucid, is searching for a decent bra and for someone to listen. Sinéad needs them both.
As You Were is about intimate histories, institutional failures, the kindness of strangers, and the darkly present past of modern Ireland. It is about women’s stories and women’s struggles. It is about seizing the moment to be free.
Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan
In 1973, twenty-year-old Moll Gladney takes a morning bus from her rural home and disappears.
Bewildered and distraught, Paddy and Kit must confront an unbearable prospect: that they will never see their daughter again.
Five years later, Moll returns. What – and who – she brings with her will change the course of her family’s life forever.
Actress by Anne Enright
This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings.
But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime.
Actress is about a daughter’s search for the truth: the dark secret in the bright star, and what drove Katherine finally mad.
Brilliantly capturing the glamour of post-war America and the shabbiness of 1970s Dublin, Actress is an intensely moving, disturbing novel about mothers and daughters and the men in their lives. A scintillating examination of the corrosive nature of celebrity, it is also a sad and triumphant tale of freedom from bad love, and from the avid gaze of the crowd.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett’s classic historical masterpiece.
The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect – a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.
The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore
Leningrad, 1952. Andrei, a young hospital doctor and Anna, a nursery school teacher, are forging a life together in the post-war, post-siege wreckage. But their happiness is precarious, like that of millions of Russians who must avoid the claws of Stalin’s merciless Ministry for State security. So when Andrei is asked to treat the seriously ill child of a senior secret police officer, he and Anna are fearful. Trapped in an impossible, maybe unwinnable game, can they avoid the whispers and watchful eyes of those who will say or do anything to save themselves?
The Betrayal is a powerful and touching novel of ordinary people in the grip of a terrible and sinister regime, and a moving portrait of a love that will not be extinguished.
Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home; food on the table; a high school he can attend for more than part of a year; and some structure to his life. But as the son of a single father working at warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, he’s been pretty much on his own for some time.
Lean on Pete opens as he and his father arrive in Portland, Oregon and Charley takes a stables job, illegally, at the local race track. Once part of a vibrant racing network, Portland Meadows is now seemingly the last haven for washed up jockeys and knackered horses, but it’s there that Charley meets Pete, an old horse who becomes his companion as he’s forced to try to make his own way in the world.
A portrait of a journey – populated by a vivid cast of characters against a harsh landscape – Lean on Pete is also the unforgettable story of a friendship and of hope in dark times.
Roads Ends by Mary Lawson
On a perfect August morning in 1967, above a river just outside a small town in the north of Canada, a young man meets his death. And so begins the unravelling of his best friend Tom’s already precarious family…
Eighteen months on, and the town of Struan is in the grip of winter. Still reeling from his friend’s death, Tom has dropped out and spends his days driving a snow plough. His mother has yet another new baby and is nesting upstairs, increasingly lost in her own world. His father, Edward, retreats to his study and his diaries, unable to cope with his growing, unruly family. There are so many brothers in the house that Tom has almost lost count, but Adam, who is only four, somehow can’t be ignored… Their one sister – capable, dependable, formidable Megan – who used to run the show, has escaped to London and is finally living her own life. But then come disturbing letters from home…
In this masterful, enthralling, and tender novel, which takes us from the silver rush in Northern Ontario in the early 1900s to London in the 60s, Mary Lawson gently reveals the intricacies and anguish of family life, the push and pull of responsibility and individual desire, the way we can face tragedy and, in time, hope to start again.
Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams
Nicholas Coughlan and Isabel Gore are meant for each other – they just don’t know it yet. Though each has found both heartache and joy in the wild Irish landscape, their paths are yet to cross. But as God, ghosts, fate and the sheer power of true love pull Nicholas and Isabel together, so too does life threaten to tear them apart. . .
Magical, lyrical and deeply romantic, Niall Williams’ Four Letters of Love moved readers the world over and became an international bestseller. It is a life-affirming paean to human folly, to fate, and to the miracle of love.
Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent
Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.
Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother’s unequal love. As men, the competition continues – for status, money, fame, women …..
They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.
But which brother killed him?
The Heights by Parker Bilal
The discovery of a severed head on a London Tube leads private investigators Crane and Drake on a dark journey into the past – and a personal quest for retribution.
In this second title in the London-based Crane and Drake mystery series, Cal Drake has left the police force and is now working as a private detective, having teamed up with the motorcycle-riding Dr Rayhana Crane.
The chilling discovery of a severed head on the Tube draws Calil Drake back to the case he failed to solve four years ago which left his police career in tatters. Crane and Drake investigate while also searching for Howeida Almanara – a young international student from the Gulf and the missing girlfriend of a Crane family friend. Could her disappearance be linked to Cal’s past and the gruesome discovery on the Tube? Crane and Drake are plunged into the dark underworld of London and international crime, and must risk their lives to uncover the truth.
Under a Wartime Sky by Liz Trenow
1936: The dark clouds of war are gathering across Europe and the brightest minds in Britain have been brought together in a grand manor on the Suffolk coast. These select few have been tasked by Churchill to develop, in utmost secrecy, an invention that will help win the war and alter the course of history.
In this tense atmosphere, an unlikely friendship develops between Vic, a brilliant but shy physicist, and Kathleen, a cheerful local girl helping her mother in the kitchens. Following the news that her brother intends to join the RAF, Kath yearns to do her bit for the war effort. So when Vic tells her they are recruiting women to operate his top secret system, she makes a choice that will change her life forever.
As war is declared, the manor finds itself on the front line of a ferocious battle being fought in the skies as waves of German bombers set their sights on Britain. With the ever-present threat above them, Vic fights to solve problems that threaten to endanger the country, and Kath is forced to make a desperate, life-or-death decision . . .
The Art of the Glimpse 100 Irish Short Stories selected by Sinéad Gleeson
There have been many anthologies of the short story as it developed in Ireland, but never a collection like this.
The Art of the Glimpse is a radical revision of the canon of the Irish story, uniting classic works with neglected writers and marginalised voices – women, LGBT writers, Traveller folk-tales, neglected 19th-century authors and the first wave of ‘new Irish’ writers from all over the world now making a life in Ireland. Sinéad Gleeson brings together stories that range from the most sublime realism to the downright bizarre and transgressive, some from established literary figures and some that have not yet been published in book form.
The collection draws on a tremendous spectrum of experience: the story of a prank come good by Bram Stoker; Sally Rooney on the love languages of the new generation; Donal Ryan on the pains of ageing; Edna O’Brien on the things we betray for love; James Joyce on a young woman torn between the familiar burdens and oppression of her home and the dangerous lure of romance and escape; and the internal monologue of a woman in a coma by Marian Keyes. Here too are vivid and less familiar stories by Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Oein De Bharduin, Blindboy Boatclub and Melatu Uche Okorie.
Sinead Gleeson’s anthology is a marvellous representation of a rich literary tradition renewing itself in the 21st century.
The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn
Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.
So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.
But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.
Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?
And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….
Black Light stories by Kimberly King Parsons
A black light illuminates that which the eye doesn’t see, uncovering what is hidden in plain sight.
In this raw, compassionate, debut collection Kimberly King Parsons casts light onto the weird, the intimate, the eerie and the sublimely beautiful with unflinching gaze and ferocious eloquence. Over twelve crackling stories, each a glorious escape hatch, she captures the bright ache of first love, the claustrophobic shadows of desire, the obsessive nature of friendship and the rapturous pull of taboo. Filled with a frenetic longing for connection, her reckless yet resilient heroines exhilarate and charm as they pursue the promise of elsewhere.
With psychedelic energy and deep humanity, Black Light chews over the messiness of being alive, the unsteadiness of hope and the ecstasies of coming of age.
The Spinster Diaries by Gina Fattore
Our heroine, a moderately successful TV writer in L.A., wants her life to be as sunny and perfect as a Hollywood rom-com: a cool job, a wacky best friend, and lots of age-appropriate hot guys just dying to date her. Instead, she’s a self-described spinster who is swimming in anxiety and just might have a tiny little brain tumor. So she turns to an unlikely source for inspiration: the eighteenth-century novelist and diarist Frances Burney, who pretty much invented the chick-lit novel.
A semi-autobiographical unromantic comedy, The Spinster Diaries is a laugh-out-loud satire of both the TV business and the well-worn conventions of chick lit—as well as the true tale of the forgotten writer who inspired Jane Austen to greatness. It’s an endearing and refreshingly honest testament to how one person’s life can reach out across the centuries to touch another’s.
Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan
As the country bakes under the relentless summer sun, a young doctor is found brutally murdered at his home in a picturesque Cambridgeshire village.
Is his death connected to his private life – or his professional one?
Dr Joshua Ainsworth worked at an all-female detention centre, one still recovering from a major scandal a few years before. Was he the whistle-blower – or an instigator?
As Detective Sergeant Ferreira and Detective Inspector Zigic begin to painstakingly reconstruct Dr Ainsworth’s last days, they uncover yet more secrets and more suspects. But this isn’t the only case that’s demanding their attention – a violent criminal has been released on a technicality and the police force know he will strike again: the only question is who will be his first victim…
The Convert by Stefan Hertmans
In the small village in Provence where Stefan Hertmans has made his home, people have long spoken of an ancient pogrom and hidden treasure. Then, at the end of the nineteenth century, an extraordinary collection of Jewish documents was found in a synagogue in Cairo.
Hertmans has based The Convert on these historical sources, tracing the life of a young Christian noblewoman who abandoned everything for the love of a rabbi’s son. In this startlingly contemporary novel, Hertmans follows in her footsteps as the lovers flee through France together, pursued by crusading knights, and recounts her dazzling journey full of love and hardship, courage and hate, as she journeys on towards Jerusalem alone.
The Convert brings the chaos of the Middle Ages to life with boundless imagination and stylistic ingenuity, portraying the tragic love story of a woman in exile and a world in flux.
Against The Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa
Nahr has been confined to the Cube: nine square metres of glossy grey cinderblock, devoid of time, its patterns of light and dark nothing to do with day and night. Journalists visit her, but get nowhere; because Nahr is not going to share her story with them.
The world outside calls Nahr a terrorist, and a whore; some might call her a revolutionary, or a hero. But the truth is, Nahr has always been many things, and had many names.
She was named for the river her pregnant mother crossed when she fled from Palestine, but her feckless father called her Yaqoot, Ruby. For a time when she came of age she was Almas, Diamond, a girl who went to hidden parties in Kuwait with powerful men, who sold off parts of herself to keep her family together. She was a girl who learned, early and painfully, that when you are a second class citizen love is a kind of desperation; she learned, above all else, to survive.
She was a girl who went to Palestine in the wrong shoes, and without looking for it found what she had always lacked in the basement of a battered beauty parlour: purpose, politics, friends. She found a dark-eyed man called Bilal, who taught her to resist; who tried to save her when it was already too late.
Nahr sits in the Cube, and tells her story to Bilal. Bilal, who isn’t there; Bilal, who may not even be alive, but who is her only reason to get out.
Red/Black by Rachel Atherton-Charvat
Sarah Hughes. Wife, mother, secret gambler.
Her life is one of stability and security. Settled in Cheltenham, married for over twenty years, lovely children… but her inner trauma of losing a child in a car accident in which she was driving is reopened when her husband accepts a full-time posting to a military camp in Germany. Upon arriving in Germany, her underlying depression returns and she starts gambling online. The isolated posting and pressures of army life exacerbates her struggle and exposes the frailties of her marriage.
The stakes rise as her gambling escalates and she starts to realise her husband is not all she believed…
Red/ Black is a carefully constructed story that deals with very modern themes of mental health and gambling.
The Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
When Jessica signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. But as the questions grow more and more invasive, she begins to feel as though they know what she’s thinking . . . and what she’s hiding.
As Jessica’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life, and what is one of Dr Shields’s manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
The Shelf by Helly Acton
What starts as a frenzied look at a bizarre new reality show, where women are dumped live on air and have to compete to prove their eligibility to the public of the UK, moves to a more considered look at female friendships and confidence. The sometimes foolish, sometimes symbolic activities of the reality show and the selfishness of ex partners offers comedic enjoyment as lead character Amy goes reluctantly on a journey of self exploration where she realises her strengths, her dissatisfaction with her life and the strength of the women that surround her. Fresh, funny and light, this is thought provoking enough to keep you pondering and kind enough that its never mean spirited.
The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
Catherine Ryan Howard is bringing serial killer novels to an Irish setting in a realistic way. Eve Black, one of the only survivors of 1990’s killer and rapist, the Nothing Man, named as the police had nothing on him and no leads. Eve’s modern day research has shed some light on the Nothing Man and her True Crime memoir causes a big splash in Ireland, especially in her native Cork where security guard Jim Doyle seethes and sweats about the details of the case’s Eve has written about, and considers how the Nothing Man can put the facts straight.
The definition of a psychological thriller, Jim and Eve narrate alternate chapters as they circle around each other and approach the real truth of what happened twenty years ago.
The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
A smart, modern story about Tiffy and Leon who move in as strangers to a one bedroom flat to save money. Tiffy works 9 – 5 in a quirky publishing house that doesn’t pay much and needs an affordable London home since her relationship break up, and Leon a hardworking nurse on the night shift, needs someone to help share the expenses on his apartment so he can support his mother and brother. The solution they come up over the phone is to share the bed as their lifestyles don’t overlap. But as they reach out to each other in notes and kindnesses, both start yearning to meet their new friend. A slow burn love story with lots of humour of two damaged people finding each other in the same flat, and working to connect.
Little Sister by Lucy Dawson
Sisters Kate and Anya have suffered tragedy together and grown up supporting each other as their parents pulled apart, leaving the girls to be family for each other. Kate is devastated to get a late night phone call from Mexico, saying her sister never returned from a diving trip – a trip Kate never knew Anya went on, that Anya hid from her. What else has Anya hidden? Kate’s frantic journey to impel Mexican police to search for Anya while working through her own guilt from their youth is emphasised by the time ticking away on Anya – is she alive and can she be found in time?
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
The first novel by pod caster and journalist Dolly Alderton, this book is careful not to update Bridget Jones for a new generation. Food writer Nina is starting dating again after spending two years getting a book deal and buying her first home. Her peers are marriage focused, sometimes to the detriment of their independence and good sense but Nina remains realistic and focused on what she’s looking for.
Her first relationship blossoms and turns into something real, just as Nina is getting her head around her dad’s health and his age-related memory loss. But how much can you trust someone else? Nina recognises in herself as in the failing memories of her father, that we carry the ghosts of everyone we’ve ever loved, whether they deserve it or not. A touching and illuminating novel of love and maturity with a confident and self-assured heroine.
Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris
The gritty follow up to bestseller Tattooist of Auschwitz, Cilka’s Journey follows Auschwitz survivor Cilka Klein, liberated but not yet free as the tortured politics of post-war Europe forces her into a Siberian Gulag as punishment for colluding with Nazis to survive. Distrusted, defamed and disempowered, her survival instinct rises once again and she forms a community within her fellow prisoners, unified by her strength, generosity and loyalty. Through kind staff she trains in the Gulag hospital, makes solid friends, exhorts change within the camp, and finds love. But the Gulag’s crushing injustice is always close by to remind her of human frailty.
Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
A suspenseful historical story about a tense and distrusting marriage. Set in 18th century Bristol, reeling from shocking events in revolutionary France, Lizzie Fawkes is the new wife of a Bolshy developer building impressive houses in the rapidly growing city.
Her mother is a philosopher and writer,who inspires Lizzie’s curiosity and independence of thought, as her husband’s business failing drive him to greater paranoia and cruelty.
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
A terrible action by a desperate couple – the chain continues. What if you were forced into a pyramid scheme by a stranger, told to pay an impossible amount to stay in the chain, with your child kidnapped as collateral? Rachel Klein is fighting breast cancer and crippling debts after her divorce when her teen daughter Kylie is snatched and a phone call tells her about the Chain. The Chain is administered by shadowy overloads who can see Rachel’s, calls, emails and movements and threaten annihilation if the Chain is broken. But is it really unbreakable, if you have nothing left to lose?
The Chain is a fast paced thriller with twists and clues to help plot our way to the Chain’s masterminds.
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Solicitor Laurie is stunned when her partner of 16 years leaves her, effective immediately. To add insult, he is still the golden boy of the law firm where they both work and Laurie is cast as the pathetic ex when he announces his new girlfriend’s pregnancy. Striking up a friendship with office bad boy Jamie, Laurie agrees to pretend to date Jamie to help Jamie get a promotion and Laurie keep her dignity.
A typical romance novel set-up but this novel is full of charm, realistic humour and chemistry and realistic repercussions for Laurie and Jamie’s social media-conducted hoax romance. Hilarious and heart-breakingly real on the pain of break-ups and realising you’re stronger for them.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The story of two couples raising families in suburban New York in the 1980’s. Francis and Lena are hard working, friendly parents of three girls; Brian and Anne raise their son in a atmosphere of tension and secrets. When their children form a devoted and lifelong friendship, both families will be joined together for decades, through tragedy and forgiveness. A study of family dynamics and the work that goes into making marriage more than romance.
An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope
A light but thoughtful novel following divorced Rose, mid sixties and rediscovering what makes her happy after her marriage break up, falling in love with old flame Tyler, who seems to offer her all the romance and devotion she was denied by her first husband. Her adult children are divided when Tyler proposes to Rose and work to delay the wedding – uncovering revelations about their own life choices as they struggle to control their mother’s choices. Privileged and well drawn characters move from complacency to light conflict in this enjoyable family drama.
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
A modern update of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Kate is a blunt, cranky teacher’s assistant who’s workaholic scientist father uses her as a housekeeper and to help raise her young sister Bunny. Then he asks her to marry his research assistant Pyotr to get him a Green Card and Kate is furious. But Pyotr seems to be the only person who appreciates her personality and Kate starts to recognise him as a method of escaping her father’s house.
Light and funny, this family comedy has fun with family dynamics and reinvents a well known tale.
Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth
30 something Jenny is falling apart, deserted by her shallow boyfriend, harried by her flaky mum and disregarded by her best friend who doesn’t want to help Jenny fact check her Instagram posts anymore. Jenny, a journalist for a zeitgeisty woman’s magazine, has lost herself in social media and shallow longings.
A witty and sensitive look at modern life and the ways we can distract ourselves from what we really want by listening to what everyone else wants for us.
One Perfect Christmas and other Stories by Paige Toon
In this irresistible collection, Paige Toon reunites a much-loved cast from across her sixteen bestselling novels. Catch up with Johnny Be Good’s rockstar Johnny Jefferson and his wife Meg as a shocking family secret is revealed; see what happens when Pictures of Lily’s leading lady gets the exclusive chance to photograph Hollywood’s hottest new couple; and find out whether Bronte from Thirteen Weddings chose the right man to spend her life with after all . . .
This Christmas, Paige Toon brings you nine witty and heartfelt romantic stories PUBLISHED IN PRINT FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, as readers are whisked across the globe from movie premieres in LA to frosty Christmases in England.
Christmas for the District Nurses by Annie Groves
The East End of London has been devastated by the Blitz and the people are struggling to come to terms with their ravaged city. Rationing bites ever deeper and and everything that makes life better is in short supply.
For the district nurses, the challenges are tougher than ever. Gladys loves her work in the Civil Nursing Reserve, but just when she needs to rely on her sister at home to help out with the chores, she turns into a handful of trouble. Edith is learning to cope with her boyfriend’s injuries after Dunkirk but will she have to choose between her love for him and her career?
With no end in sight, the war reaches its darkest moment … Can the nurses – and the families and patients that rely on them – find the strength to carry on?
Christmas in The Snow by Karen Swan
No secret stays buried forever . . .
In London, the snow is falling and Christmas is just around the corner – but Allegra Fisher barely has time to notice. She’s pitching for the biggest deal of her career and can’t afford to fail. And when she meets attractive stranger, Sam Kemp, on the plane to the meeting, she can’t afford to lose her focus either. She learned to shut off her emotions long ago and only her sister and best friend Isobel knows why. But when Allegra finds herself up against Sam for the bid, their passion quickly turns sour.
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to LA in time for Christmas.
Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight ‘misunderstanding’ at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic.
He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, where he will rediscover people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it’s the culmination of years of yearning to be reunited with Cicely, her oldest friend and secret love, who left home years before for the ‘land of opportunity’. Patsy’s plans do not include her young daughter, Tru, whom she leaves behind in a bittersweet trail of sadness and relief. But Brooklyn is not at all what Cicely described in her letters, and to survive as an undocumented immigrant, Patsy is forced to work as a bathroom attendant, and ironically, as a nanny. Meanwhile, back in Jamaica, Tru struggles with her own questions of identity and sexuality, grappling every day with what it means to be abandoned by a mother who has no intention of returning.
Passionate, moving, and fiercely urgent, Patsy is a haunting depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the silent threads of love stretching across years and oceans.
Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healy
Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed.
The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.
With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?
HARVESTING BY LISA HARDING
Sometimes it feels as if three minutes has passed when it’s been three days, and three nights pass like a shiver of wind through the trees.
Sammy is a spiky, quick-witted and sharp teenager living in Dublin; Nico is a warm and conscientious girl from Moldova.
This is a novel about a flourishing but hidden world, thinly concealed beneath a veneer of normality. It’s about the failings of polite society, the cruelty that can exist in apparently homely surroundings, the bluster of youth and the often appalling weakness of adults.
Harvesting is heartbreaking and funny, gritty, raw and breathtakingly beautiful, where redemption is found in friendship and unexpected acts of kindness.
Harvesting was inspired by Harding’s involvement with a campaign against sex trafficking run by the Children’s Rights Alliance. Although it is a fictionalised account, the text has been read and approved of by representatives for NGOs in both Moldova and Dublin.
Available from BorrowBox as an eBook
BITTER ORANGE BY CLAIRE FULLER
From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them – Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours’ private lives.
But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don’t quite add up – and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. Amid the decadence of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.
A WOMAN IS NO MAN BY ETAF RUM
‘Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard of – dangerous, the ultimate shame.’
Three generations of Palestinian-American women living in Brooklyn are torn between individual desire and the strict mores of Arab culture in this heart-wrenching story of love, intrigue and courage.
Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honour, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.
Available on BorrowBox as an eBook
PLATFORM SEVEN by Louise Doughty
Platform Seven at 4am:
Peterborough Railway Station is deserted. The man crossing the covered walkway on this freezing November morning is confident he’s alone. As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic – he’s as far away from the night staff as he can get.
What the man doesn’t realise is that he has company. Lisa Evans knows what he has decided. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge.
Two deaths on Platform Seven. Two fatalities in eighteen months – surely they’re connected?
Available on BorrowBox as an eBook
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
The Man Booker Prize Winner 2020
The sensational Dutch bestseller: Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s extraordinary portrait of a Dutch farming family distorted by grief, translated by Michele Hutchison.
Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all.
The Discomfort of Evening is a radical reading experience that will leave you changed forever.
Available on BorrowBox as an eBook
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person you’ll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world.
Redhead by the Side of the Road is an intimate look into the heart and mind of a man who sometimes finds those around him just out of reach – and a love story about the differences that make us all unique.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo ebook and eaudiobook on reserve
Kim Ji Young, a young mother with lingering post-natal moods, is acting erratically and confusing her husband. Her family can’t reconcile her dissatisfaction with her life. Chapters, told by her psychiatrist, recount her upbringing and her parents’ approach to her education, employment and value as a woman in Korean society. An insight into workplace and homelife issues for women in modern Korea and the gender discrimination women face.
A view of MI5 from the side of the female transcriptionists who worked behind the scenes on counter intelligence in 1940s London. Juliet, now working for BBC in the 1950s, is haunted by memories of her intelligence career during the war – the undercover work, the subterfuge and the innocents caught up in the bureaucracy of war intelligence. Clever, witty and surprising.
A murder within a book, with Horowitz himself as narrator, and his enigmatic and Holmes-like detective Hawthorne clashing over the telling of a murder investigation as Horowitz asks the wrong questions of the suspects and generally infuriates Hawthorne. An enjoyable and inventive read for detective fans with a satirical look at Horowitz’ own career changes, through children’s writing to screenwriting and writing for adults.
Set in a harsh society where women are treated as dangerous slaves, this is an exciting and evocative read for fans of the Handmaids Tale. 16 year old Tierney must face the challenge for all girls her age: to be isolated for a year with the rest of the girls from her village until their female ‘magic’ that seduces and destroys men is driven out of them, even if they are maimed or murdered by the murky poachers who stalk the young women for their parts. At times gruesome and poetic, this is a compelling story of resilience and courage.
Available on BorrowBox as an eAudiobook
It’s 1941 and London is experiencing the horrors of the Blitz. Emmeline, a young and enthusiastic woman, longs to become a Lady War Correspondent. Thinking she is being interviewed for an important role on a newspaper, she mistakenly takes a job as a junior typist on the problem page of a magazine, The Woman’s Friend and soon finds herself wrapped up in the problems of her readers.
Meanwhile, as times grow harder and more of Emmy’s friends become involved in the war effort, Emmy struggles with a number of problems of her own.
A warm-hearted read about life during a very difficult time and the ways in which people coped. Emmy’s positive outlook and compassionate nature will have readers falling in love with her and her attempts to ‘keep up a good face’ during war-time.
Gil is browsing the shelves in his local second hand book shop when he glances out the window and catches a glimpse of his dead wife. Ingrid has been missing for eleven years though it is commonly believed that she drowned. Still mystery surrounds her disappearance and her youngest daughter Flora believes she may still be alive. Gil’s chase after his wife leads to a serious accident and both his daughters return home to care for their father. This story is told through a series of letters from Ingrid to Gil which she hides in various books around the house. In between these letters are chapters about the two daughters, in particular Flora, as they gather around to care for Gil who is struggling with memories of his past.
A gripping read that will leave readers guessing even after the last page.
Available on BorrowBox as an eBook.
It’s 1968 and in England a budding photographer Veronica Moon is struggling to make her way in the male dominated world of photojournalism. When she meets feisty Leonie Barrett, her whole world view changes and she starts to challenge all of her previously held ideas about the world and what it means to be a woman. Leonie and Veronica’s friendship plays out against the backdrop of the women’s movement with Leonie’s ardent views influencing Veronica both personally and professionally. Fifty years after they first meet Veronica has a become a recluse, her career ending with one famous photograph. Leonie is gone and Erica, Leonie’s niece, is eager to put on an exhibition of Veronica’s work. Veronica agrees despite her reservations. The story moves from the present day to the past, chronicling Veronica’s friendship with Leonie. Bringing the reader to the heart of the feminist movement, The Woman in the Photograph challenges its audience and asks the question – how much has really changed for women since 1968? A thought-provoking and insightful read.
Although Moriarty is perhaps best known for her novel turned TV drama ‘Big Little Lies, this is one of her earlier outings. It’s a lighter read than ‘Big Little Lies’ but none the less enjoyable. This is the story of Alice who wakes up to find she has lost ten years of her life. Young Alice is not very happy with the choices her older self has made and sets about ‘fixing’ things. This is the ultimate comfort read – to be enjoyed with chocolate and a cup of whatever you fancy.
This is a retelling of Homer’s great poem ‘The Iliad’ but with a twist; events are played out through the eyes of Briseis, the woman taken prisoner by Achilles – the great ‘Greek Hero’ – or is he?
Briseis gives us a clear-eyed view of her new life as Achilles’ ‘prize’ and how the lives of all women depended on the whims of the winning army. Fans of Madeline Miller’s ‘Circe’ will enjoy this alternate look at Homer’s world but don’t be put off by the historical slant; the writing is fresh and contemporary and makes for an enjoyable read.
Don’t be fooled by the cover, this is no ordinary romance and is really more thriller than love story. Perfect for anyone after a good mystery and who doesn’t mind staying up to the early hours to read ‘just one more page’. Unexpected twists and turns make this the ideal distraction for those of us staying home at the moment.
Cleverly told through interviews with fictional 70s supergroup The Six, this novel combines the story of the rise of a band with the trials and heartbreak of the people behind it. The music makers seem like real artists, and the song lyrics sing off the page. Daisy herself is a charismatic romantic with a talent for hits only matched by her skill for self destruction. Wonderfully engaging and enjoyable story of how music is made and the musicians whose lives inform it.
A very enjoyable story of a privileged young woman moving to New York in 1940, her encounters with actors, showgirls, and celebrities and her own growth into recognising the seriousness of the world around her. This book, by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, is delightfully escapist and a good snapshot into life in New York in the mid century, full of the romance and heartbreak of youth.
This novel follows Wade and Anne’s marriage, the tragedy of Wade’s past and Anne’s part or knowledge of it. As memories fade, Anne tries to piece together the motives for the deaths of Wade’s children, and the novel moves to the children’s mother, Jenny in jail, and others who had known the children, to help us see a fuller picture of their life in rural Idaho and what led to their deaths. Written in beautiful, haunting prose, this book explores it’s characters’ emotional landscape within the landscapes of Idaho.
At an expensive, luxury spa retreat, most of the participants don’t expect much more than some pampering and perhaps some weight loss. The Spa’s director has her own plan for the group, who come to know each other more closely as the spa becomes more confrontational in it’s plans for ‘wellness’. Witty and surprising, this book manages to make all its narrators individuals and understandable, if not always likable.
Currently available as part of our Borrowbox Unlimited selection, available for immediate eAudiobook download, no queues!
This is an exquisite read; at times heartbreaking, at times full of beauty and hope. It is one of those books whose characters will stay with you long after their story has ended. It doesn’t always make for the easiest of reads but once you have started, you’ll be glad you did as ultimately it’s a hopeful book about the strength of the human spirit.
Available on BorrowBox as an eBook.
The latest offering from prolific writer Diane Chamberlain introduces the reader to two characters; both young and creative women but one is living in 2018 and the other is in 1940. 1940s Anna has been hired to paint a mural for the local post office while in 2018 Morgan is struggling with life after being released early from a three year prison sentence. Morgan has been freed so that she can restore Anna’s mural but why was the mural hidden away for so long? And why has the artist never been seen or heard from since? A mystery that slowly unravels while introducing the reader to the prejudices of 1940s small town America and the difficulties of starting over after life in prison.
If you enjoy this read why not sample some of Chamberlain’s other work on BorrowBox. Her novels usually deal with heavy topics but they are dealt with in a hopeful and often inspiring tone.