Enchanted Island: Where Love and Hate Collide

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While the incisively and honestly drawn characters are largely unlikable, their stories are compelling. Their flaws are artfully portrayed, and hold a mirror to many middle class conceits with razor sharp cunning. This is no conventional contemporary novel in which characters journey down an obvious narrative path, battling obvious obstacles along the way.

Rather, it takes in the inner and outer lives of three protagonists, each of whom, in differing ways, are beset by self-delusions. They are connected via Pippa, a writer desperate for success and adulation. She tweets lies about damning reviews from her readers, spinning unfettered criticism into pseudo-self-effacing gold. Deeply nuanced, and highly readable, this is an exhilarating breath of fresh air. January Book of the Month A gorgeous magical, quirky dream of a story.

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Lois exhausts herself everyday as a software engineer, she orders her food from two local cooks, when they leave the country, they also leave Lois with their sourdough culture, to feed, to look after, to keep alive. As her life alters, Lois learns more about, and creates a connection to the sourdough culture. Robin Sloan establishes with beautiful simplicity, a story that weaved a spellbinding path through my mind. I sank into and became one with the story, tasted, smelled, touched, felt.

Sourdough with almost hypnotic, yet gentle intensity, takes on a life of its own to become a charming, irresistible read and I loved it. Author: J. January Book of the Month A masterclass in suspense awaits the reader in this almost understated, yet powerfully intense and dark novel. A family needing a fresh start move into a house where an unsolved double murder occurred twelve years previously, their actions set in motion an alarming chain of events.

The first chapter was sharply powerful, yet almost dispassionately described by an observer, allowing me to bear witness, to remain on the edge. The characters are fascinating, each nudging feelings and thoughts in different directions as the various points of view created small time warps, as deception altered the vivid picture in my mind. Robert Lennon sets small seemingly inconsequential moments spinning together to create a throbbing tension which breaks with dramatic energy.

Broken River is an intelligent, entirely captivating read with a hint of the uncanny skating over the pages - highly recommended. As he adapts to his house arrest, we follow his encounters with the motley denizens, employees and visitors of the hotel and watch how his state of mind changes alongside the Russia outside the walls of the hotel. Both meditative and, at times, truculent, this also forms a parallel history of Russia over the following forty years or so until the death of Stalin and for a narrative isolated inside a closed locale becomes amazingly broad in scope, reflective, expansive and so often terribly moving, albeit with much wit and humour.

Unforgettable characters, both fictional and real life, a web of subtle relationships: all human life is here and a triumphant follow-up to Towles' debut novel which had been set in the glitter of New York in the s. Long but wonderfully rewarding, this will make you laugh, cry and smile, an epic that never even moves outside the hotel's lobby! Loved it. The Lovereading view Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the gentleman of the title, is not executed with his fellow aristocrats for he had already left Russia at the start of the Revolution and he returns in This mystifies the Bolshevik tribunal he stands before in He wrote a poem which is deemed a call to arms, but for which side?

So he is placed under house arrest for life. Conveniently his address for the last four years has been The Hotel Metropol, the best in Moscow. Now moved to humble rooms in the old servant quarters in the belfry, he nonetheless has the run of the beautiful establishment, the restaurants and bar.

Intrigue, romance and friendship pepper the years as we follow the Count from to , a time of huge change as a new Russia is created. It is a comfortable book to be with despite its horrific span in history for imprisoned in his hotel, Rostov is indeed one of the luckiest in Russia. October Book of the Month A short, emotional and entirely captivating novel based on the real events that surrounded, enclosed and smothered the notorious Mata Hari.

Mata Hari is a name that still evokes and conjures vivid images, this is a story that releases fact and weaves in fiction, until you're left with a concentrated, intense tragedy. The prologue introduces the end, a chillingly evocative photo followed by a news report, this may be a novel, but it doesn't feel like one, instead it feels as though reality is spilling from the pages. Several photos add an intensity to the already striking and memorable tale. By writing in letter form, Paulo Coelho allowed me to touch, to feel, to question, he made me look at Mata Hari as a woman rather than an exotic creature.

This book seemed to come out of nowhere. It was the first Afghan novel to be written in English and it became a word-of-mouth bestseller in no time at all. Telling a tragic story of childhood jealousy and fear, it covers a bitter part of Afghan history in a painful tale that truly pulls at the heartstrings. A brilliant book. Absolutely fascinating, a beautiful yet quirky read, this is a tale to make you wonder, to make you feel… A grandfather, on his deathbed, tells his grandson about his life, from rocket ships to prison, from love to aching for revenge, all is revealed. The story isn't released in sequence, instead it flits around in time, I was initially thrown but soon got used to, even welcomed the sudden disturbance to the storyline.

Michael Chabon writes with an understated, elegant, yet wickedly spiky hand. There were times when I lost myself in the words that danced across the pages, others when I was brought up short, shocked and surprised. Three women are at the heart of this beguiling, elemental novel, in which the dialogue dances, and the force of Irish fairy lore weaves its eerie, all-consuming ways through a superstitious rural community in the early nineteenth century. As further misfortunes are blamed on the child, the three women work to restore him amidst an atmosphere charged with increasing hostility.

Inspired by a real-life event, this is an absolutely stunning account of a poor community clinging to superstition and ritual in order to make sense of their isolated world. Chilling, and charged with earthiness, I loved it. With a cracking good narrative, Hannah Kent has conjured up an entire world that most of us would never see or know about, and has created three entirely different female characters who resonate long beyond the novel.

The hold of the church and of superstition over the people is both totally believable and plausible. Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave.

She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life.

The classic, Pulitzer-Prize winning novel that made Alice Walker a household name. Now re issued for by her new publisher Orion. Her life is dull. She does tele-ad sales for a trade mag and then suddenly she gets postcards from Greece addressed to a S. Ibbotson at her address.

She loves them and sticks them to her flat wall. After a few months she is inspired to go there herself. As she leaves for the airport she picks up a small package from her post pigeon hole. He was in Greece researching a book and has the advance which will last a year if he is careful.

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The Pitfall by bentnotbroken1 reviews "I It's fiesta time and everyone's invited! A compulsive liar with delusions of grandeur, Aubrey meets his match in Mrs Fisher, the crusty, no-nonsense matriarch of the family. Page 3 of love wallpapers and desktop backgrounds. Yet, raised a foster daughter, she yearns for paternal love and a sense of home. Now something has happened and Delphine must finally face the joys and difficulties of adult freedom. Tre Davis and Aaron's drug dealer Manny Jose Joaquin Perez to come up with the perfect pitch to save the company, his relationship with his environmentally conscious wife Brittany Eliza Huberth , and his stolen dog [or sh-t hits the fan].

Dejected and in despair he goes travelling to forget, escape, lose himself … all those things Greece can offer, plus fantastic scenery and sunshine. As he is alone the locals embrace him and many tell him tales. There follows a series of short stories as he moves from village square to village square and listens. They are gentle, poignant, very Greek and quite charming. Some have religious undertones, some touch on mythology, quite a few are just human drama tales of love, deception, loss and sadness, although many do have happy endings.

Daughter of a whaling captain, with her mother dead, she spent many of her teenage years sailing with him and living with the Inuit of Greenland. When grown, it naturally suits her to join an Arctic expedition with a British scientific team. Though they meet only briefly, he and Flora live similar lives with many parallels and some extraordinary stories.

Hardship and determination colour both to the point where it is the Arctic that feels like home and the civilised Victorian world that seems hostile, and it is those sections that I found the most thrilling. Her elegant prose is a joy to read. Stretching from to , it is not a novel of one thing only; not a portrait of a time, not a love story, not a cultural exploration, not an adventure story but all these things together, making it, above all, an excellent read. Within these pages are driving blizzards, weeping glaciers and a sea frozen into concrete — all conjured so realistically that you may find your breath misting in front of you as you read.

Although this book has a cold setting, it has a warm heart. I fell completely in love with clever, wry Flora Mackie and her determination to be an Arctic explorer. As she overcomes all obstacles to be seen as a real scientist and a true leader, I hope you will be as swept up in her adventures and her life-changing love affair as I was.

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ENCHANTED ISLAND: WHERE LOVE AND HATE COLLIDE Somewhere in this world exists a charming place called Enchanted Island, where two towns stand. Read "Enchanted Island: Where Love and Hate Collide" by Frances Vidakovic available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your.

Under a Pole Star is a truly epic story that will stay with you long after you read it. Enjoy the journey. Ooh, this truly is a fabulously captivating and unpredictable tale, and it kept me clinging to the very edge of my seat. Immediately from the start this feels different, my mind flashed onto high alert setting and remained there for the entire story.

Annie's name is changed to Milly and she tells her own tale, speaking in short, sharp, powerful sentences. I felt her confusion, loneliness, and wanted to hug her as her thoughts tumbled in limbo. Her feelings wormed their way into my mind, making me think, making me question. August Debut of the Month Provocative and stimulating, this debut crime thriller set in Canada, slams with impact.

Two detectives begin an investigation into the death of a man who may have been involved in the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war in Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a PhD in International Human Rights Law with a research specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans, her experience and knowledge sets the tone of the novel as she takes fact and blends in fiction. It did take me a little time to settle into the story, and I appreciated the setting of the background of the Canadian police unit and politics. Each chapter is headed by a compelling, sometimes heartbreaking quotation which is explained in the notes.

The story slowly grows and gathers pace, creating an intricate, intriguing moving jigsaw of pieces. The most striking part of the story for me, was when the past began to speak, I found myself flinching and yet I couldn't turn away. An enjoyable yet penetrating read, one that can lull you into a false sense of security before it jabs and stings at your awareness.

A mystery sits centre stage, yet there is much more on offer here than may first appear. This story feels like a tapestry of different threads that are slowly twisting together to create one intense and vibrant picture. There is a subtlety at play here, the story can float in different directions before it blasts your thoughts aside in a hit of raw, flinch-inducing reality. A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul.

But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street. The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured.

I loved it. The party is where it all unravels and where the dark secret between rich, aristocratic Ben and poor, middle-class Martin is exposed. We are kept very much in the dark about the secret until nearly the end of the book. The story is set in different time zones and locations. We start with Martin being questioned by the police just after the party. We flick to school and university days. We move to the party itself and so on as the mystery builds and the two young lives are mapped out.

This is dark stuff. All the way through doom hangs over the pages. Will Martin get his revenge? Poignant, moving and funny, I chuckled my way through this delightful but no longer secret diary from the rather lovable Hendrik Groen. Hendrik has reached the age where his address book is depressingly empty and his life has become an endless string of funerals and conversations concerning bowel movements, the latest list of ailments and euthanasia. The care home he lives in is like a waiting room for death and so in an effort to keep his own sanity he decides to write his memoir.

Hendrik is an endearing character who I very much enjoyed spending time with in this gentle read that left me feeling a little sad but hopeful. Snippets of the life he lived and what remains of it filter in throughout the book and have a greater sense of poignancy as they merge in with the everyday happenings of the here and now. When we are old we are still very much the person we have always been, hopefully reading this will remind us all that behind each and every elderly person lies a story. An old people's home in the Netherlands is the setting for this satire but it could be anywhere except for the small amount of political references.

But Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela's deaths are commented upon too. With a vast cast of residents and all kinds of worries and problems we concentrate mainly on a group of friends who form the 'old-but-not-dead club' where each member organises an outing. They do more than most old people ever think of: take a cookery lesson, wine-tasting, painting, synchronized swimming, tai chi, bowls, golf and such. Hanging over the home is the threat of renovation, therefore change. Our narrator is determined to get sight of the regulations and decides to challenge the board. Solicitors become involved.

His three closest friends have a dramatic and sad year which is sensitively portrayed. The action takes place over that year and is written in diary form. Personally I feel that if you are involved with the elderly you might find this all a bit disturbing despite it's amusing style. June Book of the Month. Brimming with stunning writing and historical illuminations, this captivates the heart and enlightens the mind.

While actress Comfort is taken in by wealthy abolitionist Flora Howard, and hired to give speeches for her cause, there's no role for May. What follows is the captivating account of a young woman's serpentine navigation of ghosts from her past, secrets, betrayal, and love, at great personal risk, in a land split by slavery.

Dazzling, involving, and immensely memorable, I was swept away by the flow of this remarkable novel. A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher And in May Bedloe she creates a heroine whose quiet strength and inquisitive nature makes for a page-turning read. I hope you love this as much as I do. With that in mind Borne could be described as a post-apocalyptic thriller with squishy bits, or possible human drama with tentacles. Scavenger Rachel finds a squid-like plant and takes it home where, in true Little Shop of Horrors style, it grows.

It is not a plant; it is not a child; it is Borne. All she has to do is convince her secretive and paranoid lover, avoid the enigmatic magician, find enough food and salvaged scraps to survive and hide from the giant bear which is destroying the city. Told in a bold, clear voice, with humour, love and no small amount of graphic violence, Borne is a stunning book. Secrets, twists and unreliable memories keep Rachel and the reader on their toes, and the dilemma of raising a child who might be a monster, is compelling. In that sense this is truly a human drama of how far the bonds of love will stretch in adversity.

Rachel is an excellent narrator and I really enjoyed her no-nonsense tone, upbeat despite the atrocities around her. June Debut of the Month. After a lifetime in London, Thomas returns to their homeland alone and soon begins to reacquaint himself with the traditions and life he left behind. When a friend in need asks him to help run his Optical Store, Thomas soon suspects that there is certainly more at work than meets the eye in the store. For the efficient and trusted assistant Rani is also providing lonely men and women the opportunity for a second chance in life and love.

Sheena Kalayil paints a wonderfully atmospheric picture of life in India and captures her characters perfectly so that I became invested in their stories and longed for them to find the happy ending they so deserved. A thought-provoking and wittily pointed debut, about the life and loves of the Plumb family.

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There are four siblings at the centre of this novel, Leo causes uproar when a chunk of their common nest egg is syphoned off for him. A tale of love, hate and everything inbetween, complicated layers are peeled away, revealing a family in turmoil. There were times I almost felt as though I was eavesdropping, hearing a particularly juicy piece of gossip, could it possibly be true!

When Love & Hate Collide

The tale occasionally slips and slides away from the siblings, to other characters, the links combine to create moments of stillness and thought, or expose and cause mayhem. This is a cracking psychological thriller. Told in first person from two different viewpoints it causes you to question the reliability of both women.

Smart, sensitive, talented Bo, always mothering, always looking to save someone and Alice, young, damaged and a drifter. The two meet at a writers retreat and a spark sets off an unexpected chain of events that will change the lives of both women. The two embark on an intense, complex relationship which soon becomes obsessive and destructive. The beautifully atmospheric setting of the Lake District and bustling, bohemian Brighton echo the different characters at the heart of this story.

It was a chilling read, expertly crafted and difficult to put down. Truly a gem that will satiate an abundance of literary tastes, this is surely set to become a must-read sensation. Ginny Moon is almost fourteen, and has autism. But something is playing on Ginny's mind. Really playing on it. Ginny will do anything to reach her goal - lie, scheme, steal, set up her own kidnapping. Ginny's journey will break your heart, but it will also heal it, for there are many moments of love and kindness along the way, and humour too. Her unforgettable voice is conjured with tender authenticity, and the shifting, increasingly on-the-edge family dynamics are incisively evoked.

Oh what a thrilling and gloriously dramatic tale this is! A violent attack on a parent takes place within the grounds of a private school in Brighton, just days later, Cece moves into the area, her two youngest start at the school, and she becomes friends with the very women the police suspect of the crime. Each chapter is headed by one of the women, each story told in the first person, ebbing and flowing between time periods.

Within a short time I didn't have to look to see who was heading each chapter, each voice is absolutely individual and distinctive. I became so caught up in the story, I didn't want to miss a single sentence or word, this really is very clever, compelling writing indeed. It is this London born girl, Angelika, who goes in search of her past and unearths the tragic tale which she shares with us. She is due to get married and would like her estranged family at her wedding.

Her mother left Crete before Angie was born and has severed herself from her previous life. Angie finds her grandmother, aunts and uncles and is very slowly told of the atrocities of the Nazi occupation, civil war and then the junta. Graphic, bloody and horrific much is described in gory detail. Families are torn apart. Angie has problems of her own. As her wedding day draws close so the revenge and secrets of the two families come poring out. We race to the end with our hearts thumping.

Full of local colour and tradition this is a little slow to start but certainly builds to unexpected conclusions. Terrific stuff. Author: Ben H. A most unexpected, if gripping thriller from the author of the much-admired Last Policeman trilogy. The book takes place in an America where the Civil War came to a different conclusion and agreements were fudged to divide the country into two zones, in one of which slavery is still tolerated, while in the North a compromised state of affairs reigns in which a black slave catcher becomes the involuntary hero of the proceedings where he has to smuggle himself behind southern lines to investigate a fiendish plot which could well involve his employers and the so-called liberal North.

Intricate, at times breath-stopping, this is a hell of a thriller and one which although set in a dystopian imagined world remains so believable. Will Victor prevail or is he being manipulated and what secrets are kept behind the borderline and the omnous plantations and factories? Answers are provided and they are anything but reassuring. A thriller that dares to ask questions. The premise is that four southern states in America did not abolish slavery and formed a republic within the USA.

Tightly controlled borders exist and escaped slaves are ruthlessly hunted down. He is very good at what he does and goes under many different names. This exciting story centres on a hunt to find Jackdaw, only our hero realises something is slightly off kilter. A relationship develops between him and a white girl with a mixed-race son and so some nice ambiguities are introduced. There is some heavy secret hanging over our hero and as the tale progresses we are never sure if he is good or not. Then there is an extra twist. A good story on all levels.

Andrew Wilson effectively took me back in time to , creating an engaging, readable, and oh so colourful story. I absolutely adore the premise for this little book and the cover just invites you in. Alexander McCall Smith has imagined a background tale to the five black and white photos that appear at the beginning of each short story.

The photos are eloquent and moving, the stories delve deeply into possibilities, love and friendship, joy and melancholy. From Sister Flora to a circus performer, each story is a small snapshot of what might have been, and as I read, I found myself drawn back to the photo, to look again and ponder. Alexander McCall Smith has transformed five forgotten photos into a discovery of delight. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher Maybe that they are just anonymous people from another age, as if from another planet.

Or do you, like McCall Smith, hear their voices, know their names, sense their hopes and dreams and imagine how their lives might have turned out. Blessed with a wonderful, humane imagination, McCall Smith brilliantly constructs paths for these forgotten people - some joyous, others bumpy and winding, all with unexpected twists and turns.

An astonishing achievement: original and moving. May Book of the Month. Gosh, what a stunning read this is, I simply couldn't put it down and devoured it in one glorious sitting! Cassy travels half way around the world to New Zealand with her boyfriend, when they separate, Cassy is left stranded, and a split second decision changes the outcome of her life.

I admit to grabbing this book as soon as it arrived in the office; Charity Norman has the ability to strike a chord, to answer a feeling, yet open your eyes and mind to new thoughts, and I simply love her writing. The prologue, set in , sent chills racing down my arms, I almost had to sit on my hands to prevent me from sneaking a peak at the ending. As soon as I started to read chapter one, set in , I was swept away, and stayed immersed in the story as the tension escalated to almost unbearable levels. I chided, fumed, beseeched, pondered and considered. Lisa McInerney can really, really write, she can connect horror and beauty, violence and sweetness, she allows your mind to enter a world that feels scarily real, within touching distance.

Long may Lisa McInerney reign. For the readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in. A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour. You will find it difficult to put down. Charting the lives of two families, the Sels and the Duquets from to , it tells of the rape of the Canadian natural resources, namely timber and fur but predominantly timber. The first of the immigrant Sels married an Indian; their offspring are then trapped between two cultures.

As you would expect, there is a huge number of characters for characters is what Proulx is all about. This is a truly impressive work detailing the destruction of the forests to the point of ecological disaster. Two parallel stories, set in two time frames, where second chances and the links between two women flicker and burn with energy. As Madeleine discovers her grandmother, can she also re-discover herself? Eleanor Brown has a wonderful eye for detail, the descriptive detailing encouraged smells, sights and sounds to travel from the page into my consciousness.

The two stories, full of life and emotion, twist and merge together into a beautiful relationship tale, yet for me, it was the subtle bitter sweet notes of reality that really added substance to this novel. This is such a gorgeously expressive novel, it just sings with intensity, and is impossible to put down. Nine year old Leon loves his little brother Jake and his mum, he looks after them both as best he can, when Leon and Jake have to go and live with Maureen, Leon hatches a plan.

Kit de Waal writes with a beautiful, sincere energy, the simplicity of the tale told from Leon's point of view allows a complicated backdrop of emotions to shine through. At times my heart absolutely ached, yet there are also proper laughter blurting moments, and I just wanted to gather everybody up into a huge, squashy hug.

A gloriously motley collection of characters come to life, each and every one of them is indispensable, and each affected me in some way. Told by many voices, some wise, some wicked, this is the story of a close community under unbearable strain. What is the breaking point where neighbours and even sisters will turn against each other? The older people remember the Great Plague of , an unimaginable horror that decimated Europe, England and the village of Porlock.

A mother of lost sons, a religious fanatic, a dwarf ex-jester, a lonely noble woman and others each tell their side of this harrowing story. Charm and sensitivity run throughout the narrative making this a frighteningly believable story. Medieval Porlock is skilfully evoked and some of the landmarks of the story are still visible today. A moving and disturbing tale of humanity pushed to the edge of society and beyond collapses. Exciting, enthralling, enticing, disturbing and enjoyable, this is a wonderful read.

A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer.

The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. A large collection of multi-national, mostly retired couples, invest in a new development of luxury apartments, La Joya, in Andalucia on the Costa del Sol in Spain. We follow a securely married Irish couple with a demanding family, an American mother of twin girls with a serial-womanising husband and a Spanish control freak with a wife who is attempting to find inner peace.

Frequently visiting the complex is a German interior designer and letting agent married to a Spanish property developer and a highly efficient female Spanish community manager who looks after the place. In clean strokes the author paints their portraits in swift, interlocking sections, you get to know them all very quickly.

All appears blissful until the Spanish economy plummets and the Irish euro hits rock bottom. Problems ensue both financially and emotionally with many a twist and surprise thrown at you. This is lively, sensitive and insightful, a big novel with plenty to get your teeth into. March Book of the Month. A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal?

Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories of our true self exist. The memories that we'll do anything to keep hidden. Alice Lake is drawn to a man she spots sitting on the beach. He simply stares out to sea oblivious of the rain, a man who remembers nothing of who he is or where he came from.

Alice offers him shelter and the opportunity to attempt to rediscover what or who he is running away from. But something sinister is lurking in his memory and as the past begins to come back to him he wonders if he is running away from a monster or if indeed the monster is actually him. This gripping read is not only a thrilling mystery but is also about accepting the past and learning to find a way to move on. Jewell keeps you guessing what the connections between threads and subtexts are until they all come gloriously together.

A wonderful novel to escape in to. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Lisa Jewell by Mary Hogarth. Three women and two investigators dance through a weaving, magical, almost dreamlike story. The prologue sent a thrilling chill coursing through me, I was immediately captivated and remained that way for the entire tale. This is most definitely a crime novel, yet it is also a mystery, and a story about love, I almost feel as though it shouldn't be categorised, but enjoyed instead for what it is, a stunning piece of literature.

Michel Bussi is an award-winning French novelist, this is the second of his novels to be translated into English. Descriptions are so immediate and evocative I felt as though I was about to step into a Monet painting. The plot kept me on the edge of the frame, just on the edge of understanding as I viewed the scenes in front of me. As soon as I had finished, I just wanted to start reading again from the beginning. Why I love it is that it is such a clever and compelling read — mystery after mystery is revealed as the story unfolds, and at every turn you meet a new and fascinating character.

I immediately wanted to go back and read the whole thing again! Despite the title — The Summer Before the War — which this terrific novel does indeed trace, it also spills into the horrors of the war years and eventually releases us back into some sort of very different peace. Set mostly in pretty coastal Rye, full of the strictures of Edwardian Society, it is evocative and very moving, highlight the prejudices and injustices of the early 20th Century.

Agatha, whose husband is in the Foreign Office, is campaigning for a woman to replace the Latin Master in the local Grammar School. War arrives and the author powerfully highlights the ignorance, stupidity and insensitivity of those in command against the resilience and courage of the ordinary soldiers. It is heartbreaking, beautifully written and well researched. An excellent read. One of our Books of the Year The first page made me flinch, yet I couldn't, didn't want to stop reading.

Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction A surprising, emotional, and courageous novel, one where the words and feelings gradually unwind from the page and take up residence in your mind. Set in Nigeria during the s, this is a story that at first feels like a window into another world, yet one that is somehow recognisable, as feelings are translatable, wherever they may be felt.

Yejide desperately wants a child, her entire world collapses when her in-laws insist on her husband Akin marrying a new wife, in order to bear him children. We see the couple, feel their thoughts, the hurt and sorrow on both sides. I couldn't stop reading, yet the rawness, the pain was in every turn of the page. Unexpected revelations smacked into my awareness, turned my thoughts, captivated me further.

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Ayobami Adebayo, in her debut novel, writes with a clear and simple intensity. Click here to read Ayobami Adebayo discuss her debut novel Stay with Me. Maxim Jakubowski's March Book of the Month.

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Shortly after the Russian revolution, a White Russian count is spared execution because of a subversive poem he wrote defying authority before the fall of the Czar and is, instead, exiled to an attic room in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow, where he once enjoyed a luxurious suite and all the amenities that wealth could provide. Author: Janice Y. A remarkably touching and quite, quite beautiful read. Set in Hong Kong, the prologue is teeming with people making their way to this remarkable city.

Margaret, Mercy and Hilary are three expatriate women learning to survive heartache in a different and sometimes difficult world. Three distinct lives, at first separate, step closer to each other, then the links between the three women tighten, almost to choking point. Janice Y. Lee writes with an exquisite, startling intensity, she provokes thoughts and feelings into exploring identity, grief and a fluttering of possibilities.

Hong Kong is breathtaking, with the mix of East and West acting as a vibrant backdrop to the intimate story of these women. There is a real depth and energy to the writing, yet the thread of compassion that weaves through the pages ensures a delicate balance. Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you've finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple one, but he regularly sneaks a peek into other peoples worlds by reading their handwritten letters; events take a darker turn as he deviates from voyeur into an obsessive usurper.

The author uses Japanese haiku and tanka poetry to allow Bilodo to converse with the woman of his dreams; exquisite clusters of words will snag your attention and demand that you re-read them. This is essentially a book of love, of what might have been and of what could still come… One of our Books of the Year February eBook of the Month.

A rather special read indeed… there are times when you wonder how you've missed sight of, or hearing about a book, and for me this is one of them. This is a treat, a heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, jam-packed full of love treat. Ben shares his story as he literally battles to place his autistic son Jonah, into what he considers is the right school.

Jem Lester writes with experience, yet he adds bittersweet, aching emotion, biting wit, and a lightness of touch that manages to skim joyfully across the pages. Letters from social services, the school, medical information, and receipts all find their way into the book, often bringing me up short and creating a link to the authenticity of the situation. Occasional photos, letters and little extras crop up through the book, making the journey from beginning to end feel even more intense and physically real.

At times I felt as though I was floating directly above Veblen, connected yet apart, and able to pick up on the smallest but most significant details. Elizabeth McKenzie writes with a beautifully considered yet free hand, with my feelings ranging from amused to curious, frustrated to sympathetic, and I also fell in love with a squirrel. This is a book to keep near at hand, a book to love and to cherish, to savour and to treasure. Absolutely enchanting, and not in a sugary syrupy sweet way, oh no, instead this is earthy and vibrant and real.

Miss Ona Vitkus is years old, she lives on her own, relatively undisturbed, and then the 11 year old boy turns up on her doorstep. The two become unlikely friends, with world records, birds and life histories becoming main topics of conversation. Monica Wood writes with beautiful empathy, she doesn't judge, or even provoke, she sets this gorgeous story in motion and allows you, as the reader along on the journey. Can there ever have been a heroine like Flora Banks?

Inspired, she sets off alone to follow him, a heart-stopping journey that takes her deep into the Arctic landscapes of Norway, scribbled messages she writes to herself on her arms her only reassurance or guide. Flora does find out the truth about the boy and about herself, but she needs all her courage. A unique mix, part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, with an almost fairy-tale setting, this is a story that readers will want to read more than once, and one they will want to share with friends too.

A family drama full of suspense, tension and heartache. Amanda Brooke lights the fuse and then fans the flames, encouraging questions as Nina turns her family inside out in an attempt to find answers and understand what has happened. This is a story deliberately set to challenge, prod and provoke, yet there is an undeniable sense of compassion and empathy touching the pages. January Debut of the Month.

julzhp | FanFiction

The prologue is short, quirky and full of feeling, it sets the stage perfectly for what is to come. Julia Forster writes with a light, yet spiky and witty touch, however deeper darker tones lie in wait. The descriptive detail is stunning, images danced across my consciousness as I read. The humour slides across the page, there were parts that made me belly laugh out loud and others that caused me to wince, to pause and think. The Post-Apocalyptic setting is so popular today that it is becoming annoying, so it is great to get a book like this one; not only well written but offering a new angle on the old story.

What results is not just a journey through the wilds but a personal struggle with inner darkness and the nature of reality. No zombies, thank goodness, just an honest and plausible thriller obviously written by someone with a brain as hints, threads and twists weave together in a compelling and disturbing tale.

Excellent stuff. Alex is reeling from life. He's left the family home and has never felt further from his wife and son. He loves them both dearly but parenthood can put a strain on any relationship and having an autistic son adds even more pressure. Sam, his beautiful yet unreachable son, is a problem that Alex is finding impossible to solve and whilst suffocating under the responsibility he feels towards his family Alex finally hits rock bottom.

Until that is Sam discovers Minecraft and so begins an adventure of a father finally finding a way to understand his son and maybe himself too. It was fresh and honest but with no trace of bitterness. Some moments were so beautifully written they made my heart ache and moved me to tears. He captures so much in so few words and I came to love his characters and felt truly sad when I reached the final sentence. It both has massive commercial potential and is a singularly modern, heartfelt and meaningful piece of writing.

A short, emotional and entirely captivating novel based on the real events that surrounded, enclosed and smothered the notorious Mata Hari. She will not accept that the Job Centre has nothing for her and is eventually given a dead-end, short-term job as caretaker in a closing sports centre in a dying town. How she wins everyone round and makes a life for herself is poignantly realised. A lovely read. This latest novel from the acclaimed author of the Orange-longlisted The Pink Hotel is an exploration of memories, consequence and the difficulties of living with the past. Cathy is a curator of natural history in Berlin.

She is engaged, about to receive an award for her work and beginning to feel that she has finally escaped her past, a past that she keeps locked away within her own museum of curiosities. Yet on the day she is due to receive her award she receives a gift that tells her that a shadow that haunts her memories has resurfaced to claim back what he feels belongs to him. I was completely swept away with this story. I found the exploration of characters sensitively handled and yet provided enough suspense and contained a level of sinister tension that had me guessing just what each one may be capable of.

This is exquisite, beautifully written prose and the use of the museum as a theme throughout with setting, a means of storytelling and metaphor, is quite brilliantly executed. It is personal, it is universal and it is something that lives within each of us and the memories we hold. Flora Mackie leads a remarkable life. Jane Wood, Publisher, Quercus. Author: M. Isolated at the tip of Australia as a lighthouse keeper, emotionally traumatised World War I veteran Tom fears for his wife's sanity after her third miscarriage.

Then a boat turns up carrying a dead man and a newborn baby. They bring the baby girl up as their own. The repercussions of this on the girl's biological family, and eventually Tom's guilt, are movingly portrayed. This covers vast themes, moral dilemmas and heartbreaking decisions. A doom-laden tale which really does make you question the rules as along the way someone has to get very hurt indeed Powerful stuff and highly recommended.

What a brilliant and memorable debut. Superb characters, heart-rending plot and, set on an island miles from Australia, a uniquely beautiful setting. After the horrors of WW1 Tom finds first solace as a lighthouse keeper and joy as he shares the experience with his young wife. Then one morning a decision they take, seemingly for the best, has devastating consequences. We think this is a perfect book for reading groups. A smart and sassy take on a 21st century mum making her way in the world, trying not to cause too much damage but also hoping that maybe, just maybe she may be able to find the contentment within herself that she so badly craves.

Then her day takes an unexpected turn as the past creeps into her present. Suddenly there are questions demanding to be answered. Where is he disappearing to each day? How will she explain to Timby about the sister she never talks about? And what will happen to The Flood Girls? Long since consigned to the back of the closet. We also experience the crazy thoughts that often flit in and out of her head. Thoughts we can all relate to and the unexplained conclusions we leap to and in turn the consequences they have on our happiness.

Today Will Be Different shares the hope that we can learn to be more accepting of who we are and allow ourselves to be happier. Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize Our first-person narrator, Anne Jaccobs, is an extraordinary young woman for her period. This is Georgian London in and she a lady eager to learn. Her well-to-do family have plans for her but year old Anne is an interesting, forceful character. In a novel rich in period detail we follow this spirited girl through some highly unexpected scenarios which two-thirds of the way through the book turn into a bawdy romp.

At times dark, at times humorous, this is an historical novel not to be missed, a debut from the much-loved Blue Peter presenter. Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize He takes it to a Lovell, a banker based on Golden Hill Street, in order to have it cashed. Speculation is duly aroused: what on earth is Smith planning to do with such a quantity of cash? The depiction of place is gratifyingly sensory. While the puzzle at the heart of the novel is not revealed until the very last pages, the plentiful and nimbly executed plot twists provide much satisfaction throughout.

Part mystery, part homage to eighteenth century literature, this is an exuberant literary delight with all the readability of a page-turner. A great, unruly city is being born. Francis Spufford creates a world that is hypnotic and believable, brought to life in sparkling prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, and tells a gripping story that's full of tension and surprise, with characters who live on after the book is closed.

His non-fiction writing has been much-admired. This first novel is an astonishing achievement because his novelist's voice is already enticing, rich and mature. An eighteenth-century treat. October Debut of the Month. Arthur quickly realises that before she met him, his wife had a whole host of experiences, and Arthur knew nothing about them! Phaedra Patrick writes with a beautifully light touch, yet imbues each page with a meaningful eloquence.

Arthur is a joy to get to know, you feel his sadness and bewilderment at his loneliness and loss, then as he steps out on his quest, you witness his cloistered heart and mind unfurling towards the possibilities that life can offer. This is a beautiful little gem of a read and I highly recommend it. Sarah Broadhurst's view Early on we meet Lucy, twenty-four, who needs a heart transplant. She is a plucky girl trying to live a normal life greatly hampered by her sad ill health. For eighteen months she has been on the transplant list.

Preparing to go on her first holiday ever with just her sister her family watch the television News and a report on a train crash which eventually turns into a motorway crash. Among the victims are three close women friends, all badly injured. We swing back four months and get to know these three, their reliance on each other and their reason for being in that crash.

Interspersed with their lives is their post-accident hospital treatment where surely one will die for Lucy to get her heart. This is a tale exploring many strong issues; fertility, loyalty, betrayal, responsibility, young motherhood, divorce, independence, dementia and much more. Pretty powerful stuff and excellent for reading groups. This witty and twisty tale of an elderly con man intent on a final hurrah when he initially goes on a blind date with a retired, wealthy woman, brings more than smiles to the face. However she is not all she appears to be and as his own past is slowly unveiled in parallel to the con he studiously devotes himself to, increasing layers of lies and domestic intrigue are revealed which often turn the elaborate plot upside down.

With echoes of Patricia Highsmith but without the die-hard cynicism, this is an affectionate and deliberately old fashioned psychological thriller with just the right touch of humour and humanity. Engrossing and with a tightly-engineered plot that holds surprises at every corner and what is there to dislike in a thriller where the main character is in his 80s? Just fabulous. This is one of those wonderfully rare books that sets you in the middle of a familiar location and then prowls down a previously unexplored and unexpected path.

Exquisitely pitch perfect, with clear and self assured writing, the story slides backwards in time, releasing information, raising suspicions and spiralling down into darkness. As I turned the last page, I paused, and felt within, one of those electrifying moments before applause bursts forth. I want to tell you about this fabulously compelling novel Viking is publishing in January. The response within Penguin has been extraordinary so far — with staff in every department raving about it.

His target is Betty, a woman whom he is planning to seduce and then run off with her life savings. Roy is incredibly creepy and Betty is wonderfully admirable, if a little mysterious. The twists and turns of the narrative are endlessly surprising. I have also, only very occasionally witnessed such an amazing in-house response.

It would be terrific if you liked the book as much as we all do. Thanks so much for your time. Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize Traversing continents and generations, this sublime debut explores identity, self-sacrifice and dislocation with elegance and wit. Despite sharing a bed with Odile, Yuki never feels close to her.

Odile is wrapped up in forging a modeling career, and then heads to Italy, abandoning Yuki to Lillian and her violent boyfriend. Abandonment, loneliness, and seeking solace from loneliness are recurring themes. Some years later, when she has a home, a husband who loves her, a baby son, and the talent to be an artist, Yuki remains unsettled, and feels a desperate desire to leave. August Book of the Month. Tense and full of intrigue, this is a novel that sinks into the depths of obsession and discovers a very dangerous game afoot.

The newly opened, glamorous lido calls to Natalie and in one summer her life changes beyond all recognition. The prologue and first chapter declare from the outset that a dramatic event has occurred. The story explores the whole of the summer, occasionally touching on the past and then suddenly switching directly to the aftermath.

These jarring changes in time create a feeling of foreboding as the timelines slide towards their inevitable collision. Louise Candlish excels in looking at the darker side of relationships, she discovers thoughts and feelings that are recognisable but at the same time feel dangerously untouched. As decadent and scandalous as New York Society in the roaring twenties, A Certain Age will whisk you back to a time of Jazz, elegance, charm, and murder as only Beatriz Williams can.

The world is slowly recovering from the horrors of the Great War. She turns to Rofrano to carry out this small favour and sets in motion a string of events that will change their lives forever. From larders to nurseries and from high-rises to subway systems, Attenborough shows that the animal architects have designed it long before humans. David Attenborough has a passion for birds' eggs. These remarkable structures nurture new life, protecting it from the outside world at the same time as allowing it to breathe.

They are strong enough to withstand the full weight of an incubating parent and weak enough to allow a chick to break free. But how is an egg made? Why are they the shape they are? And perhaps most importantly, why lay an egg at all? Piece by piece, from creation to hatching, David reveals the wonder behind these miracles of nature. The squirrel family is one of the most widespread on earth, so what is the secret to their success? There are squirrels that can glide through the air, outwit rattlesnakes and survive the coldest temperatures of any mammal.

We uncover the extraordinary abilities of these cheeky characters, putting their problem solving to the test on a specially designed assault course. We team up with some of the world's top squirrel scientists who are making groundbreaking discoveries - from the fox squirrel who can remember the location of 9, nuts to the grey squirrel whose tree-top leaps are the basis of new designs in robotics.

We also see the world through the eyes of an orphan red squirrel called Billy, as he grows up and develops all the skills he will need to be released back to the wild. It is time to meet the animal family we should never underestimate - the super squirrels. The world's biggest beasts have always captured the imagination. But whilst being big can have its advantages, it also comes with sizeable challenges. Take the world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, whose huge appetite means it must take on prey ten times its weight, or the tallest animal of them all - the giraffe - who, with such a long neck, must control immense blood pressure.

Nature's biggest beasts must go to extraordinary lengths to thrive. These are their epic survival stories! Peanut, Hero and Tarzan are three cheeky monkeys.

Love, Death & Robots

They live on the paradise Indonesian island of Sulawesi with the rest of their gang of crested black macaques. These very special primates are found nowhere else in the world. Twenty-five years ago, wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson visited Sulawesi for the first time and now he's returned. Fascinated by the monkeys, Colin hopes to reveal their sometimes violent, often playful and, just like our own, highly political world.

What he discovers leads him on a much bigger journey than he was ever expecting. Who are you going to call when beavers are behaving badly? Drew works as a wetland conservationist, helping to keep the peace between beavers and people. These busy rodents are incredibly industrious - felling trees and building dams are two of their favourite occupations. This can be good news in the wild, helping create rich habitats for a variety of wildlife, but in back yards it can spell disaster.

A beaver is more than capable of bringing down a tree large enough to damage property, and their dam building can result in flooded homes. Drew must do what he can to steer beavers away from trouble and stop their so-called bad behaviour. On 12th September , a ton humpback whale breached and landed on Tom Mustill and his friend Charlotte Kinloch as they paddled a sea kayak in Monterey Bay, California.

Incredibly, both survived the incident, but the near-death experience haunted documentary maker Tom and left him wondering if the whale was deliberately trying to hurt them. To find the answer, Tom returned to California in to investigate. Tom meets those who have survived similar hair-raising encounters and the experts who know the whales best. What he discovers raises far bigger questions, not just about what happened that day but also about our relationship with whales and their future alongside us.

Diablo the giant otter lives in a lake in the jungles of Peru, with his unruly family of six cubs. Even at the tender age of six months, they need to learn how to survive in this dangerous paradise. Their dad teaches them to swim and eventually to catch piranha for themselves, but they must also learn to stay away from the neighbours from hell - the giant caiman. These large members of the crocodile family are a real threat to the giant otter family and Diablo must go to extraordinary lengths to try to protect his cubs. Charlie Hamilton-James returns to the place he first filmed Diablo.

Following the family over several months, sometimes in very difficult conditions, he discovers how perilous a home this is for the cubs and watches them develop under the careful guidance of their father. He also films remarkable scenes of the giant otters fighting caimans. Vultures are the birds that many people love to hate, but cameraman and naturalist Charlie Hamilton James sees them as beautiful and intelligent creatures that deserve respect.

He believes that to appreciate them, people just need to spend time with them and he headed to East Africa to do exactly that. His journey exposes not only a softer, more caring side to these maligned birds but also a much bigger story, one that leaves vultures needing many more admirers. David Attenborough reveals that the animal inhabitants of this vast wilderness are every bit as extraordinary as they are bizarre.

Unearthly calls of the notorious Tasmanian devil echo through the land, but following them over the course of a year reveals a surprisingly gentle side. In the dry east, rare white wallabies graze on the plains and jack jumper ants build huge nests — these venomous ants are amongst the most dangerous on earth. In the west, where it can rain nearly every day of the year, caves light up with the magical spectacle of thousands of glow-worms, and the trees are metre towering monsters. Miniature penguins come ashore to breed, and as winter approaches, the southern lights dance in the sky.

Africa's largest herd of elephants and a fearless pride of young lions come face to face in an epic fight for survival. Rarely do their worlds collide, until now. This is no chance conflict; nature has played its part. Drought has weakened the elephants, and the lions are desperately hungry.

The dawn of the giant killers has arrived. Florida is famous for its beaches, blue water and year round sun — but it also has a surprising wild side. It's home to pine forests, coral reefs and the famous Everglades wetland, the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the US. Here, manatees swim in crystal clear rivers, baby alligators practice their hunting skills and miniature deer roam free. Every year, this state faces the full forces of nature - from wildfires to flooding and powerful hurricanes. And today, a growing human population and a cast of animal invaders are threatening this wild paradise.

Every summer, the frozen waters of Hudson Bay partially thaw for a few short months. For migrating beluga whales, it's a seasonal window of feeding and breeding opportunities, but for polar bears, it's a famine-filled test of their survival. Explore the shifting fortunes of a vibrant Arctic world. Visit the Bismarck Sea, a region forgotten by civilisation, where life goes on in harmony with nature as it has for thousands of years, untouched by the troubles of the modern world.

In this final episode we complete our journey, travelling back from the March equinox to the end of June. Kate Humble is in the Arctic at a place where spring arrives with a bang, whilst Helen Czerski chases a tornado to show how the earth's angle of tilt creates the most extreme weather on earth.

Focuses on our skin, our armpits, belly buttons. We are not alone. We are home to a trillion cells that are not our own, but are very much the making of us.