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September 17
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

the knife of never letting go
 

Todd Hewitt can hear the thoughts of every man in Prentisstown and they can hear his. This is known as the ‘noise’. Although unexplained, the phenomenon is part of everyday life for Todd who has grown up with no privacy. But this all changes when Todd is forced to abandon Prentisstown with his dog Manchee only for them both to bump into something extremely unexpected, something that neither Todd nor Manchee has ever seen before. A girl named Viola.

The Knife Of Never Letting Go is book one of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy. Despite being part of the young adult dystopian genre, The Knife Of Never Letting Go is extremely underrated within the community. The novel has many science fiction elements while also delving into adventure as well as romance, making it an interesting and multifaceted story. All of Patrick Ness’ characters throughout the series are extremely well developed and complex. Their thoughts, objectives and actions are on display for the reader throughout the duration of the story, allowing the reader to gain and understanding of everyone’s intentions whether they happen to be good or bad. The imaginative idea for the story is extremely strong and is able to stem outwards into what is an unbelievably enjoyable read.

As The Knife Of Never Letting Go film is being released in March, 2019 directed by Doug Liman and starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. Now is the perfect time for potential fans to read the novel and experience the incredible world that is the Chaos Walking series.

Submitted by Rachel

Available as a book and eBook

Reserve a copy here or download it here​


September 10
The Outsider by Albert Camus

the outsider
 

When Meursault’s mother dies he doesn’t cry, not even at the funeral. In fact, when Meursault’s mother dies, Meursault goes to see a comedy show at the pictures. While Meursault finds this behaviour acceptable, he soon discovers that society doesn’t feel the same way, particularly during his trial for killing a man on a beach on one very sunny day.

The Outsider or The Stranger is a French novella by author and philosopher Albert Camus. Published in 1942, Camus’ work was extremely profound for its time as it forced its readers to consider the absurd nature of human society. Absurdism was a poignant element in all of Camus’ writing. His exploration into the pointless nature of humans and the general lack of reasoning in the world greatly impacted The Outsider as an existential story, something which makes it unique to many other books. Albert Camus’ belief in the “gentle indifference of the world” is clearly seen in Meursault’s characterisation as he comes to accept the sentence made against him.

This book is very accessible for any reader as it is relatively short and not overly complex in terms of language or style. The two-part structure also makes it an easy read. Thus, The Outsider would be a great story for anyone who wants a new perspective on life or just wants to read from the point of view of a unique individual whose rationale is different to most. It’s most definitely a novella that will resonate with anyone who reads it whether they agree or disagree with Mersault.

Submitted by Rachel

Available as a book

Reserve a copy here​


September 06
All That Was Lost by Alison May

All That Was Lost by Alison May.png

Patrice Leigh is a celebrity. She makes her living helping the bereaved talk to their loved ones. As a teenager she realised she was very good at reading people, at knowing what they wanted to hear, so she channelled that skill to make her rich and famous and simultaneously provide herself with a persona within which she could hide from the world.

Leo has been hired to write Patrice’s biography but is finding her carefully crafted shell so well-honed that he doubts he can find enough real material to work with.  He is himself struggling with the disappearance of his son and the impact it has had on his family. The other pivotal character is Louise who is grief-stricken by the recent violent death of her son.

While there are other interesting characters, these are the three around which the story unfolds.  Their similarities and differences are mapped in such a way that they feel bound together from the beginning.  You feel that you are being invited to get to know these people, their life experiences and how they tick, and despite their flaws a sense of empathy is evoked. 

This is a gentle yet heartbreaking story, highlighting how we are shaped by the world that we live in, the people around us and our own coping mechanisms. Patrice is a fascinating creation, a product of the 1960s but in many ways a mirror to the contemporary cult of celebrity, self-obsession and the prioritisation of public self over private.

A touching, compassionate and uplifting read.

Submitted by Lorna

Available as paperback​

September 05
The Accusation by Zosia Wand

The Accusation by Zosia Wand.png

After years of trying for a child, Eve and Neil are in the end stages of adopting four year old Milly.  Milly is still under the guardianship of social services, but if the three month settling in period goes well, the adoption will be finalised and their longed for family will be complete.

Eve’s happiness motivates her to try to mend her relationship with her own mother, a small olive branch of a photo of Milly, her soon to be granddaughter.

That our quality of life depends on well-informed, intelligent decisions, rather than wistfulness could never be better illustrated than this one act.  Soon after, all their lives are altered irrevocably.

As Eve becomes more and more stressed she finds herself doubting everything she knows about herself and her family, caught between the two people who should love her most, her mother and her husband, she struggles to find a balance but is paralysed by guilt, misplaced loyalty, and inability to break free from manipulative bonds.

This is a breathless domestic thriller wrapped up in a powerful exploration of what it means to be a parent. How do we know how to parent?  Is it intuitive, a deep instinctual drive, or are we primed to replay a version of our own childhood, however much we want to reject that?

Submitted by Lorna

Available as hardback​


September 05
The Date by Louise Jensen

The Date by Louise Jensen.png

Ali is persuaded by her friends to try out an online dating website.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Waking bruised, bloodied and with no memory of the previous night’s events seems pretty bad, but not being able to recognise your own face in the mirror was probably not even on the list. 

A diagnosis of prosopagnosia, a condition where facial recognition and memory is impaired, gives her the why but does nothing to help her remember or understand the events that led to her impairment and makes everyday life a living nightmare.  How do you know who to trust, when you can’t be sure you even know who they are?

It’s hard to even imagine how living with such a condition would affect you in normal life but the supposed violent attack adds another dimension.  Jensen describes both the medical and emotional impact of prosopagnosia with clarity and sensitivity but also harnesses its limitations to forcefully drive home an omnipresent tension, and it’s not long before it becomes clear that Ali’s fears are completely justified.

This is a book that starts slowly, even though the alarm bells start ringing as soon as 'blind date', 'online dating', and ‘it’ll be really good for you’ make an appearance.  It builds up pace quickly though, and you will be racing through the helpfully short chapters like a rat through a maze, hitting one blind alley after another, not unlike Ali.

If you’ve read Jensen’s other books you know what to expect and then some.

Submitted by Lorna

Available as paperback​


September 04
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

the reluctant fundamentalist
 

When a Pakistani man named Changez and an American stranger meet at a café in Lahore Changez’s story is revealed. Over the course of an evening meal, Changez explains his initial love and patriotism yet eventual disconnect from America and the factors that caused his feelings to change.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid is an extremely poignant novel as the topics uncovered are extremely relevant for today’s society. Some of these issues include identity, prejudice and The American Dream, all of which are things that Changez fights to confront and overcome throughout his early adulthood in New York City. The format of the novel as a frame story is particularly interesting and unique as each chapter’s exposition and ending is narrated by a future Changez who speaks directly to the reader as if they are the American stranger. This personal style is very effective as it helps to bring you into the story as you experience a meal and a conversation in Punjab, Pakistan. The Guardian selected it as a book that “defined the decade” which is a title it most definitely deserved due to its current themes and eye-opening storyline which follows Changez’s experiences in New York before and after the 2001 Twin Tower crisis.

The accessible writing style within ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ makes it an ideal novel for most readers. The book itself isn’t that long and so can be read quickly and with ease. The denouement is particularly impressive and draws the novel to an unexpected yet impactful close.

Submitted by Rachel

Available as a book

Reserve a copy here


September 04
Almost Love by Louise O'Neill

almost love
 

Almost Love is the third novel by Irish author Louise O’Neill and the first of her novels to be categorised as adult fiction.

For anyone unfamiliar with O’Neill’s other novels, her stories explore the issues affecting women today. She has frequently been called a feminist author but for me, what is most striking about her stories is the dark side of human nature that comes to the surface with her characters. The novel follows protagonist Sarah, a young teacher who falls for and begins an affair with the parent of one of her students, Matthew, a man who is not only twenty years older than Sarah but also much wealthier. I’ll admit, when I read the first few chapters and realised this was the plot I was a bit hesitant because I thought that the rest of the story would just be the conventional rise and fall of an affair between a young naïve woman and a powerful man, but thankfully, the story became much more complicated than that!

This is because throughout the novel the narrator flashes back and forth between the present day and the past, giving us insights into Sarah’s life that help you to understand why she allows herself to be used by a man who clearly doesn’t care for her. There is much more to Sarah’s character than a woman who is just a desperate and clingy lover. O’Neill’s story paints a vivid and harsh picture of the intricacies involved in any relationship, everything from the emotional highs of a first kiss to the lows of psychological abuse. For this reason it is a highly emotive novel and so if you really like to connect with the characters that you read about then this is the story for you! 

Submitted by Michelle

Available as a book

Reserve a copy here​



August 30
The Final Hour by Tom Wood

 ​The Final Hour by Tom Wood.jpg 

 

This is the seventh novel in the “Victor” series, so you might want to race right back to the first in the series “The Hunter” to get the full effect, but jumping in at number seven, when number eight is due out this year would be the way to go if you’re impatient to get to the really good stuff. 

There’s speculation that the series will get picked up for movie rights and it’s not difficult to see why.  The protagonist is true antihero material – he’s a professional assassin and he really loves his job.  Violence comes easily to him; he generally lacks remorse or conscionable feelings towards his victims and takes a pride in his expertise in their creative despatch. 

He is joined in this novel by Raven, another assassin who almost died at his hand previously, in the interests of pooling resources to defeat their collective foes and evade capture by Agent Antonio Alvarez. 

Antonia Alvarez has had Victor in his sights for years, but lack of agency support kept him from active pursuit.  Now he has been promoted and with a team of staff at his disposal, he is determined to de-rail the killing machine and bring him to justice. 

It’s a rare skill to be able to create a character so void of morality and yet make him so appealing that you find yourself actually rooting for him.  The writing is uncomplicated but the storytelling is first class. It is an immersive experience to read this book, one you won’t want to emerge from.  Number eight can’t come soon enough… 

Submitted by Lorna 

Available as paperback and hardback

 
August 28
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
 

When Dante Quintana teaches Aristotle Mendoza how to swim a life-changing relationship begins to bloom. The two boys share their 1987 summer together creating an unbreakable bond that develops beautifully throughout the course of the novel, resulting in a poignant and captivating story that perfectly captures what it is like to be young and in love.

Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe has been met with plenty of critical success since its 2012 publication. A Publisher’s Weekly review called it “a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality,” referring to Aristotle and Dante’s love for each other as well as their shared Mexican-American heritage. The young-adult novel’s countless positive reviews are not difficult to comprehend as the author Benjamin Alire Saenz offers his audience immense character representation, something which has helped to earn it first place on Goodread’s list of popular LGBT fiction for 2016. 

The differences between Aristotle and Dante as characters adds greatly to the realistic nature of the novel. While Aristotle is reserved and uncertain, Dante unabashedly displays his love for Aristotle in a way that is inspiring and uplifting for any reader to witness. Themes within ‘Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe’ include sexuality, ethnic identity and the negative impact of male stereotypes on young men, something that both protagonists deal with on multiple occasions throughout the story. Saenz’s poetic and emotive language is breath-taking to read, resulting in an endless supply of memorable quotations straight from the heart.

Submitted by Rachel

Available as a book and downloadable audiobook

Reserve a copy here or download it here​


August 28
To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

to all the boys I've loved before.
 

Sweet like cookie cutters, girly like a hatbox, catchy like a Taylor Swift song.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han it’s the story of Lara Jean, the second of the Song sisters, who secretly keeps five love letters in her deceased mother hatbox. They aren’t common love letters someone wrote for her, she wrote them when she felt ready to let her loves go and move on for good. Lara Jean has jelously kept these letters private, but one day they are gone from her beloved hatbox. Who has sent them? She is too busy too even care.

Josh, Lara Jean’s family neighbour and older sister Margot ex-bofriend, now admits that he also had a crush on her before she committed to her sister. Lara Jean’s still in love with Josh, but she has sworn again and again she’ll never be in a relationship with him, because Margot’s trust means more than anything else.

Here comes Peter Kavinsky, the most popular guy at school, who also is among the addressees of Lara Jean’s love letters and happens to have just broken up with his school life lasting girlfriend Genevieve.

Two birds with one stone: Peter and Lara pretend to be girlfriend and boyfriend, so he makes Genevieve jealous and she stays away from Josh. Is this just a business deal or is there more between the two of them? To All the boys I've Loved Before 2

Every small chapter of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a window to Lara Jean’s world, a curtain to the love life of an old-fashioned teenager, who has strong family values, believes in true love and who has more confidence than she thinks.

It’s a modern, girly, fluffy, sweet fairy tale, that will undisturbedly capture your attention with a simple fluid writing style, and it’ll full your days with the warmth of a handmade baking tray of Christmas cookies and the unpredictable butterflies we all have felt the first time we have fallen in love.

Submitted by Federica

Available as a book

Reserve a copy here​


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