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June 18
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

scrappy little nobody
 

I wasn’t sure what to expect before listening to this, but having seen a few movies that Anna Kendrick stars in, I was fairly interested to find out more about the actress. 

Anna is brutally honest the whole way through her book, not only about her experiences but she also candidly critiques herself. I found her self-insight surprising and somewhat endearing. As the book is read by her, it is flooded with her perky personality, certain parts being read with her intended inflection which might not have come across if being read by someone else. 

Anna doesn't hold back and at times her self-assessments in certain scenarios are extremely witty. The first three quarters of her book hold some structure, she talks about her upbringing and how at a young age she worked on Broadway in New York before moving to Los Angeles in her late teens. 

I thought that the last quarter of the book was written a bit haphazardly, she dips in and out of various spans of her life along with some of her musings, for example there is a chapter named 'Fake parties I have planned with the detail of a real party', and it does what it says on the tin I suppose! I was a little disappointed towards the end as the thought occurred to me that these ramblings were padding to achieve the required length of the book but it was still interesting to listen to and portrayed the way her mind works! 

Submitted by Ruth

Available as a downloadable audiobook and book

Download it here or reserve the book here​


June 18
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.
 

‘There’s always a person for every book. And a book for every person’ sums up the key themes in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. What is fundamentally a book about books is replete with references to books of all genres and characters discover how reading can help them escape from their everyday problems, albeit that escape is sometimes only temporary. By her own admission, the author Katarina Bivald cannot decide whether she prefers books or people.

This is a dilemma shared by the novel’s protagonist, Sara who is 28 and has left her native Sweden for the first time to visit Amy, an elderly penfriend who shares her love for books. However, Sara arrives in the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa only to discover that Amy has died but Sara is still made feel welcome and even invited to stay in Amy’s now empty house. Many of Amy’s friends and neighbours are already familiar to Sara through Amy’s letters, which are reproduced sporadically throughout the novel and help fill in the back stories. Sara devises a scheme to make Amy’s extensive book collection available to everyone which causes the town to undergo a transformation with relationships being built or rebuilt, including a “will they, won’t they” romance between Sara and Amy’s nephew, Tom.

While it is clear from the start that The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a “happy ever after” story, the characters are likeable and, provided you are not looking for something deeper or more insightful, the novel can be enjoyed as a quick and light read. 

Submitted by David

Available as a book or eBook

Reserve a copy here or download it here​



June 11
Night moves by Jonathan Kellerman

Night moves by Jonathan Kellerman.jpg
 

This is a novel of intrigue and suspense. Experienced LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis is aware that there are some crimes that demand more than skill and savvy to solve. This is another case demanding the assistance of L.A. psychologist Alex Delaware.

A family return to their home after a meal out and discover to their horror that a dead man is in their basement. They have no idea who the man is or why he is in their basement. His face has been shot off at close range and also his fingertips have been sliced off. This will make identification very difficult.

The man of the house Chet Corvin manages to cast suspicion on his neighbour Britt, helped by the fact that Britt a talented comic book artist, as created violent disturbing images for his comic book work.

This is n excellent procedural test and as the case slowly unravels, Delaware and Sturgis race to figure out what is really happening.

Even veteran, psychological thriller readers will not see the end of this one coming. A very satisfying crime thriller.

 

Submitted by Paula

Available as a book

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June 11
Anatomy of a scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a scandal by Sarah vaughan.jpg


This a high-octane thrilling read, with plenty of social commentary in-between. The timing could not be more effective with the #MeToo movement continuing to grow. Fiction is a great medium to examine our culture, and process our own experiences and the author has managed to create a well written and pacy psychological drama thriller which explores the timely issues of consent, harassment, privilege and anachronistic attitudes to women in politics.

The storyline is set in and around the corridors of power. James is a rising star within parliament and has the ear of the Prime minister.  James was born in to privilege and has made all of the correct moves and his illustrious career is now poised to reach new heights. James also has an adoring wife, secure family life and a secret mistress. But the secret mistress accuses James of rape, and it all comes out in the wash.

Kate is the prosecution barrister and she is extremely successful and has made her name prosecuting the very worst cases of sexual assault. The story unfolds through the perspectives of Sophie, James’ wife, Olivia his mistress and Kate the very experienced prosecution barrister in the area of sexual assault.

Time itself is used to thrilling effect; as we see the main characters develop from young people with bright futures, becoming complicated adults who have learned to hide their true natures.

Timely and effective, what more can you expect thrilling political scandal.

Submitted by Paula

Available as a book

Reserve your book here​

 
 

June 08
From The Heart by Susan Hill

from the heart
 

 

Susan Hill, possibly best known for The Woman in Black, has been writing for over fifty years and her latest novel provides a worthy addition to an extensive back catalogue.

From the Heart is set in the late 1950s/early 1960s and traces Olive Piper’s life from A-levels, through university to her early working years. Although Olive’s mother dies early in the novel, Susan Hill captures the impact a dominant matriarchal figure can have on the self-esteem of a typical teenager when she pointedly asks Olive ‘whoever would be drawn to you?’. Olive’s self-confidence is further challenged as she attempts to establish herself in a world that is male dominated, particularly in a society which believes a debt must be repaid to those men who fought during the Second World War. 

I particularly liked that I could not predict what would happen next, yet no matter how often I was wrong footed the storylines remained credible. Susan Hill has created a protagonist we can believe in and care about because, as the title suggests, Olive’s thoughts and actions come From the Heart. Consequently, Olive’s motives are sincere, albeit at times misguided, which ensures readers will relate to the twists and turns faced by a young woman as she matures and becomes worldly wise.

From the Heart is very readable because of Susan Hill’s straighthood style and, although it is short, the novel contains more insights than many much longer works by other authors. Therefore, From the Heart is recommended for those who enjoy literary fiction which reflects a world that really existed. 

Submitted by David

Available as a book or eBook

Reserve a copy here or download it here​

 


June 07
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz.jpg

This is a truly compelling remarkable story which deserves a wide audience. Originally written as a script (and I do feel this is evident from some of the Hollywood –style dialogue between Lale and Gita), I personally feel this is a first-hand account of life in Auschwitz that for many, is very accessible

Lale Sokolov was born Ludwig ‘Lale’ Eisenberg to Jewish parents in Slovakia in 1916. Lale surrendered himself in 1942, believing that this act would spare the lives of his parents and siblings. He was wrong and it didn’t.

On arrival at Auschwitz he became number: 32407. Originally, he worked on the rooftops as a skilled and strong labourer but later contracted typhoid. He was cared for by Pepan- a French academic -and the man who had given him his own identification tattoo. Pepan disappeared and Lale was put to work as the camp’s tätowierer, tasked with tattooing a serial number on all camp inmates. This position put Lale a step further away from death than most this role within the camp was actually part of the Politische Abteilung, in other word Lale now worked as part of the Political Wing of the SS. This meant he had some privileges, like eating in the administrative building, getting extra rations and sleeping in a single room.

Lale never saw himself as a collaborator saying he “took whatever was being offered. You took it and were grateful because it meant that you might wake up the next morning” Apart from an immense capacity to adapt and survive his used knowledge of other languages to befriend others and seek favours in return.

In 1942, he encountered Gita Fuhrmannova, as he tattooed her identification:  34902 in to her left forearm. He would never forget those eyes and fell in love. He went on to utilise his privileged position to help Gita when she fell ill and others in her camp. He traded on his skills and provided food and supplies in addition to those being rationed out.

In 1945 Gita disappeared, but Lale never lost hope. After liberation from the camps Lale re-encountered Gita going through Bratislava as he made his way back in to Czechoslovakia. She stepped in front of his horse and they were reunited.

My only issue with the text, is that it is conceived as a work of fiction rather than as a biography. However, this is a remarkable uplifting story of endurance and triumph of the human spirit, particularly when hope and courage are concerned.

 

Submitted by Paula

Available as a book​​

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June 06
The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick

the hanged man
 

Simon Kernick's The Hanged Man is a sequel to The Bone Field, written a year prior, however reading this without any knowledge of the first book, I think it reads well as a standalone. The plot revolves around the main detective on the 'Bone Fields case'; Ray Mason along with his new partner Dan, both of whom get heavily entangled while investigating the mass murder case which stretches back years previous. 

Impulsive, devil may care character Ray, formulates plans that are not always on the right side of the law which lands him in hot water with his superiors. Adversely, his partner, Dan prefers to do things by the book although he does turn a blind eye to some of Ray's more questionable actions. 

Ray's interest in this case is deep rooted and it’s clear that he is willing to do anything to bring the criminal family and their associates to justice. An alternative story line with Ray’s love interest, Tina, a Private Detective, ties in with the overall story and towards the end Tina’s investigation comes to a head together with the main plot. 

It is a gritty, fast paced novel with a turbulent back story. At the start I did find that there were a lot of characters to keep up with but once I got into the story, I found it hard to put the book down. Although the ending does draw a conclusion, there is a potential for another book in the series which I will be keeping an eye out for!

Submitted by Ruth

Available as a book and eBook

Reserve a copy here or download it here​



June 04
Silhouette in Scarlet by Elizabeth Peters

Silhouette in scarlet
 

Elizabeth Peters is one of the foremost cosy mystery writers out there – Vicki Bliss is one of her more contemporary heroines, a tall, striking academic with a talent for getting involved with gangs and criminals and a weakness for dashing men of dubious quality.

When art-historian Vicki receives a red rose and a ticket to Stockholm she is 100% sure that only one person could be behind this – international jewel thief and sometime-boyfriend John Smythe. While she has mixed feelings about John and is wary of his motives she cannot resist the invitation and a chance for an adventure. When she arrives in Stockholm she finds that things are more convoluted and dangerous than she could ever have imagined. Vicki gets involved with a handsome Swedish police officer, stalked by a dangerous criminal mastermind, whisked away to the private island of a rich long lost relative and involved in a treasure hunt for a priceless chalice from the 5th century.

Vicki’s shenanigans are sometimes over the top and while her character is sharply intelligent she often show surprising gullibility which inevitably leads into peril – but her humanity and aplomb at dealing with even the most dangerous situation make her a sympathetic heroine and ‘Silhouette in Scarlet’ is the perfect quick read to while away an afternoon on the sun lounger.

Submitted by Bettina

Available as a book

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June 01
Teardrop by Lauren Kate

teardrop
 

Lauren Kate is usually defined as an author of teenage fiction, however I think that her novels can be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages. Teardrop follows a teenage girl named Eureka who is trying to cope with her mother’s sudden death following a tragic accident. When we first meet her in the novel she is struggling with her grief, feeling aimless and hopeless. However she begins to have strange encounters with a boy called Ander; she finds him attractive, mysterious and as she begins to try and find out more about him she also realises that there may have been more to her mother’s death than just unfortunate circumstances.

The variety of themes in this novel is what makes the story so exciting and keeps you turning the page. Reading about Eureka setting out on her explorations to figure out what really happened to her mother has that wonderful level of detective-genre intrigue and of course, the burgeoning relationship between Eureka and Ander has all the excitement and frustration that you would expect from a great love story.

But the best thing about this novel, and what makes it stand out from a lot of other teenage novels I think, is the supernatural elements. Without giving too much away, the mystery of Eureka’s mother’s death is related to the myth of Atlantis, which opens up a whole world of fantasy and possibility in the story. The exploration of ancient mythology is really engaging and it gives you a whole wealth of knowledge about mythical stories that you might not have known that much about.

So, if you want a story that has love, mystery and a lot of history then this would be a great novel for you!

Submitted by Michelle

Available as a book

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June 01
The Woman In The Window by A J Finn

the woman in the window.
 

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn, published just this year, is a psychological thriller/mystery and holds the reader in suspense, tantalising right up till the end.

The novel revolves around the main character, Dr. Anna Fox, a former child psychologist who has agoraphobia (an irrational fear of the outdoors) after experiencing a trauma. Confined to her home, she has little to do except watching movies, going online and watching her neighbours out of the window and it's this last activity which sets the story off in motion when she sees a shocking event take place in a neighbouring house that she wasn't meant to see. Unfortunately, due to her overuse of prescription medication and alcohol, the police don’t believe her story and she even starts to doubt herself. 

Admittedly it took me a while to get really into the story but once I did, I was hooked! It is full of twists and turns, just when I thought I knew where it was leading, I was hit with another surprising revelation. Along with the main character, we question whether her memories can be trusted and if there is more than meets the eye. The author has set up the characters’ backstories very well and has really gotten into their psyches which is clear to see, especially towards the end from their priorities, secrets and fears. 

Overall it's a thrilling read and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future publications by the same author. 

Submitted by Ruth

Available as a book and eBook

Reserve it here or download it here​​


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