‘Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.’ —Vera Nazarian
If you’re able to, please try and make any upcoming book purchases from an independent bookseller as opposed to Amazon. Please support your local bookshops during this tumultuous and uncertain time for them, doing so could be truly invaluable. Hive is a fantastic website for coordinating purchasing from local bookshops. Most independent bookshops will send books directly if you give them a call, this directory will help you find your nearest store.
(Here’s the list for 9-12 and here’s the list for 13+)
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
This quickly became an exceptionally compulsive read! Such A Fun Age is told from two points of view – Emira (mid-twenties) and Alix (mid thirties). When the former is apprehended for ‘kidnapping’ the child of the latter – who she was actually babysitting – a series of events are triggered. A scathing, regularly funny and continuously profound exploration of society. Fantastically constructed, it’s stayed with me for days since finishing providing much food for thought!
The Binding by Bridget Collins
I was bereft from the instant I finished this book. A truly one of a kind, utterly spell-binding read. I was hooked from the first page, so much so I tried to make it last as long as possible – it’s just so delightful and charming!
If I Never Met You by
Mhairi McFarlane is easily my favourite writer of RomComs. Whilst I’ll always have a special place in my heart for ‘Who’s That Girl?’ (it was my first of her books), this one is very close to gazumping it! The book opens with Laurie getting dumped by her boyfriend of 18 years, Laurie’s heartbreak is presented in a truly believable manner – one that many of us will relate to on some level. When Jamie and his grandiose scheme enter her life, it could easily have been cheesy or cliché. But McFarlane is a master at her work, and what plays out is a truly delightful and heartwarming story. A total must-read for fans of RomComs. Think of this as a grown-up ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.’
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Loved it. The story was unique and so well told. I was hooked almost immediately and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. The characters felt like friends by the end. The story alternates from two characters perspectives – Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
The Flatshare was one of my favourite reads of 2019. This book, the author’s follow-up, is just as good. As with The Flatshare, the book adheres to the conventions of romantic comedies – you know exactly what’s going to happen. And yet, she creates characters that are so wonderful, and warm that you root for them all the way! We once again hear from two different characters – this time around it’s London-based Leena (in her late 20s) and her Yorkshire-based Grandmother Eileen (soon to be turning 80). A year on from the death of Leena’s beloved sister, Leena and her Grandmother switch things up by swapping lives – Eileen goes to London in search of love, Leena goes to Yorkshire to find herself again. And it’s all so bloomin’ lovely. The array of supporting characters are so wonderfully constructed, forming communities you wish you could be a part of. This was such a pleasure to read that I was genuinely sad to finish it as it meant I had to say goodbye to the characters.
Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth
A truly superb read, and a fantastic follow-up to Unsworth’s previous book ‘Animals’. It’s funny, painful, hilarious, sad, profound, real and raw. Few books are this relatable and empathetic towards love, friendships, relationships and social media. I binged it in less than a day.
Are We Nearly There Yet by Lucy Vine
I’ve loved Lucy’s previous two books so had high expectations for this one. I was not let down. This book is a properly fab read. The greatest thing about Lucy’s characters is how believable they are. Quite often fiction will feature perfect characters or evil characters, Lucy’s books feature characters who seem real. This book exemplifies her skill at writing grey area characters. A read that is funny as it and reflective – fully recommend!
Our House by Louise Candlish
FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE. When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most? FOR RICHER, FOR POORER. Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house? TILL DEATH US DO PART.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Another very entertaining read by Lucy Foley! Just like with her last book, The Hunting Party, this is a crime novel which plays out in a remote location with class & culture clash told through multiple points of view. On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. Old friends. Past grudges. Happy families. Hidden jealousies. Thirteen guests. One body. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .
Help Me by Marianne Power
Marianne Power was stuck in a rut. Then one day she wondered: could self-help books help her find the elusive perfect life? She decided to test one book a month for a year, following their advice to the letter. What would happen if she followed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Really felt The Power of Now? Could she unearth The Secret to making her dreams come true? What begins as a clever experiment becomes an achingly poignant story. Because self-help can change your life – but not necessarily for the better . . .
Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronovitch
My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden … and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying. (With book eight having just come out, it seems like the perfect time to promote this fantastical series once more)
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends – once inseparable roommates – haven’t spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice – she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.
The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton
A really compelling thriller, in the vein of Lianne Moriarty. A middle class community of an affable part of North London is rocked when one of their sons is injured in an accident. Lies, concealments and manipulation all play a part in a story packed full of tension. An anxiety-inducing un-put-down-able read!
Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
A fantastic concept that was an enjoyable and easy read. I quickly grew fond of Nadia and Daniel; I found myself willing them to get together from the outset. The sign of a great romcom. Alternating pov was a great choice – I particularly enjoyed seeing the same occurrence from the alternate perspective. Recommended to fans of One Day, Sliding Doors and The Flat Share.
Almost Adults by Ali Pantony
A really well-told story, that hops between the 4 different women in the friendship group. Each woman is flawed, real and so easy to love. It’s more apt to say I consumed this book that read it, I wanted desperately to know what was going to happen next. It felt like they quickly became my friends, and I was slightly bereft to be leaving them when I finished it!
The Foundling by Stacey Halls
I loved The Familiars and this, Stacey Halls’ follow-up is just as good. Set in London in the mid 18th Century, it’s the story of two women from different backgrounds. There’s Bess Bright, a poor and hard-working young woman who gives birth out of wedlock. With no means of looking after her daughter, she leaves her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital until she can return with enough money – which she does 6 years later; only to find that someone else has already claimed her. Less than a mile away in an introverted and agoraphobic young widow looking to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter. The two women’s lives will clash with devastating consequences.
Having two main female characters is something both books share, but the difference here is we get accounts from both women. Hearing from their separate points of view adds so much depth and power to the story, reiterating the fact that no-one, especially no woman, could win in 18th Century London. A powerful and gripping historical novel that I quickly became addicted to and binged as quickly as I could.