Popular & Romance Book Reviews

                                      All you need to know about books at www.booksmonthly.co.uk                          Issue 4 July 2008

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 Feature Articles & Stories

 New & Coming Soon Titles

 

If you were lucky, and you're a dad, you might have received a copy of this fantastic book on Father's Day! Neil Oliver, the historian from the smash BBC series COAST, retells the stories that inspired us to be better men during the last century. He laments... more

Amanda Greenslade is a fantasy writer, like me (except she's young enough to be my granddaughter, and therefore has time on her side!). Her ASTOR CHRONICLES look fantastic, and I hope it won't be long before she finds a publisher. In the meantime, there's an interview with Amanda in this issue, together with information on TALON, the first book in the series.

KELLEY ARMSTRONG's latest book, THE SUMMONING, is so good I had to give it joint book of the month in the fantasy section; Kelley never lets you down, and this is a terrific read, chilling and entertaining at the same time - don't miss it!

And don't forget to let me know what you think of this issue of BOOKS MONTHLY ~ you can e-mail me at [email protected]

All of the titles listed or reviewed in Books Monthly are available from the store. Click on the Amazon logo to check availability as many are not yet published.

 

Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo. A dazzling imaginative reversal of the slave trade, in which the Africans are the masters and the Europeans the slaves. Doris Scagglethorpe was playing with her sisters when she was snatched away from her home and sold into slavery. Now grown up, Doris has a chance to escape, to return home and perhaps find her family. Betrayed, she loses her privileged position in her master's home, and is sent to his sugar plantation, where she understands for the first time the enormity and cruelty of the slave trade. Interspersed with Doris's experiences in the New World, we learn of her own history: of her lost children, lost lover and lost family, and of her first, terrifying voyage across the Atlantic. Written with Bernardine Evaristo's customary wit and zeal, Blonde Roots is at once a free-wheeling comic fantasy, a tragic family saga and a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

What is the What by Dave Eggers. 'It is impossible to read this book and not be humbled, enlightened, transformed' Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. The life story of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achek Deng, as told by Dave Eggers in this breathtaking novel, is an unforgettable tale of tragedy and triumph.

 

Buy it from Books Monthly 

KATIE CROUCH: GIRLS IN TRUCKS ~ Sarah Walters is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the old-fashioned gentility of Southern womanhood and family life, but in Charleston, established rules and manners mean everything. As Sarah grows older, moving north and navigating love and life in New York, she and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, illness, addiction, career disappointments: this was not the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers. But events outside her control - an unplanned pregnancy, a family death - lead Sarah back home to Charleston and to some difficult choices. And only then does she realise that as much as she tries to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. Perhaps the motto 'Once a Camellia, always a Camellia' has more of a power over her than she would care to admit. Tender, hilarious and immensely readable, "Girls in Trucks" is a debut by a unique new voice. Fabulous! I can just see someone like Drew Barrymore playing the part of Sarah in this fresh, frank and lively look at southern USA conventions. Katie Crouch has a bright and gorgeous way with words that make this an utter delight to read. Superb.

ALAN BENNETT: THE UNCOMMON READER ~ HM the Queen stumbles upon a mobile library in the Palace grounds while in pursuit of her wayward corgis. She feels obliged to investigate; apart from the librarian its only occupant is Norman, a ginger haired young lad who it appears works in the Palace kitchens. HM leaves the mobile library not only with a new interest about to blossom, but also having met her unlikely ally in her new hobby. For Norman is soon promoted from the kitchens to find himself advising HM on her reading matter, that he has a predilection for gay authors simply adds to entertainment. The Queen's new interest causes consternation in both Palace and Government circles, and unsurprisingly Norman is not particularly popular either. Of course the real delight of this little book is the premise that HM should be so distracted by something as seemingly ordinary which we, the reader, take such pleasure in. That she should be aided and abetted by a gawky teenager makes it particularly delicious. Her reaction to the various authors she stumbles upon, and the innocence and broadmindedness with which HM pursues her new found distraction makes her all the more endearing. This is an absolute gem of a book, full to the brim with wit and humour; perhaps a certain waiting Prince might get some ideas. Priceless. Alan Bennett treats us to a great helping of his dry humour at the expense of HM The Queen and her rather pompous retinue. A great little read, with moments of sheer joyous hilarity. I should think the Queen loved it...

CARMEN REID: LATE NIGHT SHOPPING ~ Uber-busy Annie Valentine - mum to two demanding children and personal shopper in a swanky London fashion store - is now intent on setting up a shoe and handbag empire of her own, and she'll do anything to get there. But what about her adorable new man? As someone who wants nothing more than a quiet life, Ed is shocked to discover Annie staking their home on her success, and now their relationship is on the line. Is Annie's surprise remedy - an extravagant friends and family holiday to Italy - really what they all need? Especially when a dashing Italian businessman promises to fulfil Annie's every dream. This title arrived too late for me to review this time around, so I'll give you my opinion in the August issue, but don't let that stop you from buying it - it'll be fabulous! You can read my review of Carmen's terrific school story SECRETS AT ST JUDE'S on the children's reviews page, where it's my book of the month, and there will be an interview with and feature on Carmen in August too! Can't wait!

LINDA GILLARD: STAR GAZING ~ Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her forties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister, Louisa, a successful novelist. Marianne's passionate nature finds solace and expression in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, a man she encounters on her doorstep one winter's night. Whilst Marianne has had her share of men attracted to her because they want to rescue her, Keir makes no concession to her condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, and yet oddly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his island home on Skye, to 'show' her the stars? Marianne tells her own story, interspersed with her sister's view of things, and so we get a balanced view of Marianne's life and encounter with dour Scotsman Keir. Beautifully written, a real tearjerker, particularly the scenes where Marianne reminisces about her husband's appalling death in the Piper Alpha disaster.

ROGER GRANELLI: RISK ~ James Read is a troubled man in his forties. A gambling addiction has destroyed his life, career and marriage. After a period living on the streets he ends up in a hostel, where he meets Colin, a Falklands war veteran with schizophrenia. The novel is played out against the backdrop of Colin's crazed mind and insane plans. As James' life begins to recover, so the danger that Colin represents begins to escalate. Colin becomes James' nemesis and pushes him toward the limit of endurance. The novel concludes in climactic and dramatic fashion. Granelli paints a realistic picture of a man on his uppers but trying to reform - excellent story, characters, and a satisfying plot make this a really enjoyable read.

 

There's a huge market for erotic short stories, and the four pictured above coming from XCite are among the very best. Each carries a "Warning: sexually explicit" notice on the back, and that's just what they are - reminiscent of the Fiona Richmond books from the 70s/80s, when the laws on pronography were as relaxed as they've ever been. If you're looking for "sexually explicit", these are for you. Great fun and guaranteed to turn you on if that's what you want!

CONSTANCE O'BANYON: DAUGHTER OF EGYPT ~ From the winding alleys of Rome. After a childhood spent living on the streets, Thalia had survived more danger than most men saw in a lifetime. Perhaps that was why she could not bring herself to accept one of the inexperienced young suitors her adoptive Bedouin mother encouraged her to marry. But when a stranger with silver eyes appeared in her garden, Thalia felt a fear she had almost forgotten…and a desire she’d never known. To the shimmering dunes of the Egyptian desert
They called him the Destroyer, a commander of men, but at the first sight of his lost betrothed, Count Ashtyn’s heart surrendered. He made a vow then to win her love and restore the heritage that was stolen from her as a child. But another man had followed her into the desert, one that served a dark figure who had sworn never to rest until the formidable beauty had taken her proper place as his bride. He would do anything to own her, but Ashtyn would dare anything to stand at her side.

LISA SEE: PEONY IN LOVE ~ Peony has neither seen nor spoken to any man other than her father, a wealthy Chinese nobleman. Nor has she ever ventured outside the cloistered women's quarters of the family villa. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, she finds herself betrothed to a man she does not know, but Peony has dreams of her own. Her father engages a theatrical troupe to perform scenes from "The Peony Pavilion", a Chinese epic opera, in their garden amidst the scent of ginger, green tea and jasmine. 'Unmarried girls should not be seen in public,' says Peony's mother, but her father allows the women to watch from behind a screen. Here, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man and is immediately bewitched. So begins her unforgettable journey of love, desire, sorrow and redemption.

WALTER MOSLEY: DIABLERIE ~ Is there anyone who doesn't wonder now and again about how differently their life could have turned out? About a more interesting, more adventurous, more dangerous past they could have had? Ben Dibbuk is married to the beautiful Mona, has a lovely daughter and a well-paid job in NYC - but he's been locked in this dream for more years than he can say. But nothing can prepare Ben for his chance meeting with Star, a mysterious woman at a launch for the hip magazine Diablerie - because Star claims to share a gruesome secret that Ben just can't remember.Has Star spun a diabolical web of lies, or could it be that something terrible really did happen back in June 1979? Ben's grip on the truth begins to falter, and the line between what really happened and what might have done becomes harder and harder to negotiate Walter Mosley, creator of sometime-fixer Easy Rawlins who appeared in classic thrillers such as "Devil in a Blue Dress", and recently, the shocking deliciously scandalous "Killing Johnny Fry", is one of former US president Bill Clinton's favourite authors.

MIGUEL SOUSA TAVARES: EQUATOR ~ Equator is a compellingly seductive historical novel set in early twentieth-century Lisbon following the story of Luis Bernardo, who gives up the hedonistic Lisbon life to become governor of the smallest Portuguese colony – the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe off the coast of equatorial Guinea. Tavares creates an engaging, urbane hero with a historical mission – to end slavery on the island’s coffee plantations and thus foil attempts by British imperial interests to stop trade with the chocolate manufacturers who do not want their chocolate contaminated by the sweat of slave labour. From the heat and dust of colonial politics Tavares masterfully conjures up a passionate story of love and betrayal, friendship and infidelity and the unravelling of a dark chapter in Portuguese history. Miguel Sousa Tavares was born in Oporto and is the author of several books of non-fi ction. Equator is his fi rst novel, the product of a long period of maturation and historical research inspired by a complex chapter in Portuguese history.

KATIE CROUCH: GIRLS IN TRUCKS ~ Sarah Walters is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the old-fashioned gentility of Southern womanhood and family life, but in Charleston, established rules and manners mean everything. As Sarah grows older, moving north and navigating love and life in New York, she and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, illness, addiction, career disappointments: this was not the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers. But events outside her control - an unplanned pregnancy, a family death - lead Sarah back home to Charleston and to some difficult choices. And only then does she realise that as much as she tries to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. Perhaps the motto 'Once a Camellia, always a Camellia' has more of a power over her than she would care to admit. Tender, hilarious and immensely readable, "Girls in Trucks" is a debut by a unique new voice.

PATRICK McGRATH: TRAUMA ~ Charlie Weir is a man who tackles other people's demons for a living. He has seen every kind of trauma during his years as a psychiatrist in New York City, and yet hasn't found a way to resolve the conflicts within his own family - his bitter rivalry with his brother Walt, a successful painter, his estrangement from his shiftless father and his stifling relationship with his dying mother. And he has never overcome the terrible blunder, seven years before, that lost him his wife and daughter, leaving him prone to corrosive loneliness and restless anger.When Walt introduces Charlie to Nora Chiara, he is drawn as much to her air of suffering as he is to her striking beauty. They fall for each other quickly, hungrily, but their bliss is short-lived. Her vulnerability, once so irresistible, begins to sour their life together, and Charlie realises that she is now patient first, lover second. And as he probes at the source of her distress, a half-memory from deep in his own unconscious mind begins to arouse a horrifying suspicion.

ANITA JAIN: MARRYING ANITA ~ You are a single woman in your thirties, fed up with the singles scene. You are tired of singles dinner parties, and exhausted by phone calls, e-profiles, and forced dinner conversation. You fear you will never marry. What do you do? Anita Jain, a New York-based Indian-American journalist, is just such a woman. Even her parents despair of her and have logged her details on to an Indian dating internet site. For years she has trusted the Western way of finding a husband, but maybe there's something in arranged marriages after all. It certainly can't get any worse. So she's travelling to India in search of a perfect husband. "Marrying Anita" is a refreshingly honest look at the modern search for a mate set against the backdrop of a rapidly modernising New India. Will she find a suitable man? If so, will he please her nosy parents, aunts, uncles and cousins? Is the new urban Indian culture all that different from New York? And is any of this dating worth the effort?

MATT RUFF: BAD MONKEYS ~ Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder. During questioning, she tells the police that she is a member of a secret organisation. Her division, the Bad Monkeys, is an execution squad, determined to rid the world of evil people. But the man she has just killed was not on the target list. As her story becomes more bizarre the question becomes: Is Jane lying, crazy - or playing a different game altogether?

 

 

MARY HOFFMAN: STRAVAGANZE CITY OF SECRETS ~ Matt is dyslexic and extremely intelligent. When he is unexpectedly transported to the Scriptorium of Padavia (real-life Padua) University, he discovers he is a Stravagante who can travel through time using his talisman, a leather-bound book. Together with Luciano, now studying at the University, and Arianna, in disguise as a boy, he must fight the dangerous di Chimici clan who are on the verge of making a terrifying breakthrough into our world. This is a breathtaking and thrilling novel that will delight all Stravaganza fans.

 

 

LISA SEE: PEONY IN LOVE ~ Peony has neither seen nor spoken to any man other than her father, a wealthy Chinese nobleman. Nor has she ever ventured outside the cloistered women's quarters of the family villa. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, she finds herself betrothed to a man she does not know, but Peony has dreams of her own. Her father engages a theatrical troupe to perform scenes from "The Peony Pavilion", a Chinese epic opera, in their garden amidst the scent of ginger, green tea and jasmine. 'Unmarried girls should not be seen in public,' says Peony's mother, but her father allows the women to watch from behind a screen. Here, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man and is immediately bewitched. So begins her unforgettable journey of love, desire, sorrow and redemption.

JENNIFER STEVENSON: THE BEARSKIN RUG ~ In the third volume in a back-to-back trilogy of humorous romantic fantasies, three unlikely sleuths--Jewel, a fraud investigator; sexy con man Clay; and Randy, a sex demon--put Randy's special skills to work when they investigate trouble at a Chicago erotic film studio. Original.

 

 

 

ROGER GRANELLI: RISK ~ James Read is a troubled man in his forties. A gambling addiction has destroyed his life, career and marriage. After a period living on the streets he ends up in a hostel, where he meets Colin, a Falklands war veteran with schizophrenia. The novel is played out against the backdrop of Colin's crazed mind and insane plans. As James' life begins to recover, so the danger that Colin represents begins to escalate. Colin becomes James' nemesis and pushes him toward the limit of endurance. The novel concludes in climactic and dramatic fashion.

 

 

PETER KERR: THE GANNET HAS LANDED ~ In this humour-tinged romantic adventure, Doogie O'Mara, a young Scottish veterinary student, applies for a gap-year job as a tour rep in Africa, where he also hopes to find time to study the wildlife. Instead, he finds himself on Mallorca, thrust in at the deep end of the madcap package tour business - a fish out of water, for whom the nearest thing to wildlife appears to be the hordes of rowdy holidaymakers pouring off the gannets (charter planes) from the UK. Problems are bound to arise, and they do, as does the bewitching influence of Mallorca and a beautiful young Mallorquina called Catalina. When the time finally comes for Doogie to leave the island, he must decide if there's more to life than a secure career as a vet back in Scotland.

WENDY SOLIMAN: BITTERSWEET PROPOSAL ~ When Marcus Rothwell, Earl of Broadstairs, is forced to spend the night alone with Harriet Aston he willingly does the honourable thing. Harriet, not content with a marriage of convenience, determines to engage Marc's affections but before she can put her plan into action she is brutally attacked.Suspicion falls upon the dowager countess, who does not approve of Marc's choice of bride, but there is also the village beadle's unaccountable behaviour to be considered. And what about Marc's Machiavellian steward?Determined to protect Harriet, Marc delves deeper into the mystery surrounding her attack. Now he must examine his feelings for the woman he married on a whim. But he too is in mortal danger...

SANDRA HEATH: LORD KANE'S KEEPSAKE ~ Gerald Kane made Miss Emma Rutherford an offer unthinkable to refuse. The handsome lord had both title and wealth to support his suit, plus Emma's father's emphatic approval. He had even given Emma the fabulous Kane diamonds to seal their troth.How then could Emma let Lord Kane's affair with the most stunning beauty in London interfere with her engagement? How could she listen to the seductive suggestions of Lord Kane's archrival, the irresistible if infamous Lord Avenley? And how could she possibly hold out for the one thing that LordKane neglected to pledge?

His love.

JUNE GADSBY: VOICES OF THE MORNING ~ The last thing Patrick Corregan wants is another mouth to feed so he does his best to ensure that Billy does not survive. But survive he does, with the help of a warm-hearted prostitute and Laura Caldwell, the daughter of a wealthy local family.Patrick deserts his family and Billy struggles to eke out a meagre living, all the while looking after his alcoholic mother. As he matures, so does his obsession with Laura. One day, he dreams, he will win her heart, but Laura has other ideas, and it is with Bridget, the prostitute's daughter, that Billy joins the Jarrow crusaders marching to London to demonstrate against unemployment.Neither of them, however, is prepared for the reappearance of the evil Patrick Corregan...

MARGARET FRAZER: THE TRAITOR'S WIFE ~ Rebellious factions, determined to unseat King Henry from the throne, have been staging uprisings throughout England. In the midst of this unrest, Dame Frevisse of St. Frideswide's nunnery has come to her cousin's side. Lady Alice, the widowed duchess of Suffolk, needs Frevisse's support in burying her unlamented husband, and when men in Suffolk's employ start disappearing, Frevisse fears for her cousin's safety.Wandering player Simon Joliffe has also come to London, filling the role of courier for the exiled duke of York and bringing vital information - a list bearing the names of the English noblemen who purportedly betrayed their King by conspiring with the French.Now Frevisse starts to wonder whether or not the list is real or part of an even greater conspiracy against the crown.

JEANNE WHITMEE: YOU'LL NEVER KNOW... ~ Hazel, Lillian and Ruby might never have become friends if it hadn't been for the war. Hazel is a young teacher with a guilty secret; Lillian, sole carer to her domineering invalid mother and Ruby, an evacuee waif from the east End of London, abandoned by her feckless mother and left to the mercies of an uncaring and resentful foster family. The three find pleasure and support in one another's friendship. For the three girls the final years of the war bring new, undreamed of experiences, friendship and, for Hazel and Lillian, true love.For each girl life changes direction. Will it lead to a happier future?

 

CHRISTINA GREEN: RIVER'S REACH ~ In 1887 Rose Victoria Adams resolves to find a better life. Her home beside the river is comfortless, her father unloving and dictatorial. As a certified teacher in the village school, she tries to stop the children fighting, suggesting new ideas about education. But problems mount when she meets an artist, Lawrence Vane, with a mysterious past who asks her to model for him, and the new schoolmaster, Thomas Devlin, who takes exception to her ideas of reform. Rose becomes companion to the artist's sister, Elizabeth and finds life in the Big House even more complicated.Then, when tragedy comes and the answer to an old mystery is made clear, she must make a fateful decision.

PAMELA FIDGE: A BLESSING IN DISGUISE ~ When Alex Siddons suddenly discovers she is pregnant after twenty-five years of a childless marriage, her comfortable life is turned upside down and her relationship with her husband, Phil, hangs in the balance.A child at their time of life is the last thing either of them want or need and yet, despite pressure from Phil, Alex cannot bring herself to terminate the pregnancy, even if it is the only thing that will save her marriage.Facing up to the prospect of life as a single mother, Alex finds unexpected support from within the Siddons' family.Now she finally learns the true meaning of family and love.

 

ELIZABETH OLDFIELD: VINTAGE BABES ~ VINTAGE BABES tells the story of three older women whose friendship changes their outlook and their lives. Carol, the narrator, is a divorced woman in her mid 50s who works for the local Dursleigh newspaper. At the beginning, Carol's fantasy is to have a young escort by her side to take her to all those twosome affairs and parties but go away when she doesn't need him. Carol wants all the would-be matchmakers to leave her alone. An escort seems the best solution to being a single woman of her age. Tina, a glamorous but widowed former media star, does not like getting older. When her husband dies, she feels helpless in managing her financial affairs and the town's residents prefer to gossip rather than lend a helping hand to this talked about gold-digger. Jenny, a plump stay-at-home mom and Carol's close friend, lacks confidence to enter the career world against the wishes of her husband. After some funny escapades and meetings at Tina's husband's funeral, Carol has some encounters with the new young editor replacement who wants to bring change to the paper. Despite initial impressions and comical encounters with Tina, Carol and Jenny get roped into coming to Tina's aid. The two friends congregate at Tina's house around a young hip gorgeous personal trainer and the three exercise together. Their friendship, courage and spunk lead them in directions they never would have imagined at the beginning.

WENDY PERRIAM: LITTLE MARVEL AND OTHER STORIES ~ A girl with a crippling pea-phobia, a woman driven to murderous rage in an Anger Management Workshop, a wife torn between her dashing artist-lover and her uptight accountant-husband - these are some of the characters in Wendy Perriam's fifth short-story collection. Whatever the scenario, Perriam is alive to the raw emotion and underlying drama in even the most limited of lives, combining the daily dilemmas of personal relationships with a deeper exploration of psychological complexities.Many of the stories focus on some triumph or trauma of the human heart. Thirteen-year-old Kirsty is heartbroken on account of her father leaving home; Lynn eats her heart out over the mysterious Indonesians she has invited in off the street; stolid, suburban Ian undergoes a heart-transplant that not only saves his life, but changes his whole life and personality. And not forgetting Brian, the freckled, sandy-haired credit controller who, on his first-ever trip abroad, loses his heart to sultry Fiorella in Sorrento.Haunting and humorous by turns, this new collection depicts that a world of happiness and heartache lie perilously close.

DELLA GALTON: HELTER SKELTER ~ Brought up on a seaside fairground, Vanessa knows all about what a rollercoaster ride life can be. Tragedy forces her to flee but when she discovers that her husband, a property developer, is cheating on her she returns. But the fair has gone, the land, brought by her husband, is now covered by luxury flats. Going back can be painful but this is just the start of the Helter Skelter for Vanessa. While she feels her life is spiralling ever downwards, there are the strong arms of a passion from her past to catch her at the end.

 

 

Caddy is just 40, blonde and beautiful. She has a wonderful man who loves her, and yet she's running away from him and from a secret and painful past. Her friend Ros works in advertising, writing pithy slogans for dog food, but she yearns to be a proper writer. Tom Armstrong dreams of being a famous photographer, but instead he's selling mobile phones and has a son he never sees. And Dan, already a famous actor with Hollywood at his feet, only wants Caddy...At times poignant and hilarious, "Ready or Not?" charts the romantic progress of four star-crossed lovers over a Dublin summer as they make mistakes, take chances and try to live their dreams.

 

LYNNE BARRETT-LEE ~ 'My mother has just the two modes of operation. Either slightly dramatic or seriously dramatic. That this is the latter means just the one thing. That my day is about to get worse...' And for single mum, Abbie, life is complex enough. So once her eldest son, Seb, has gone on his gap year, she's decided it's time to make changes. She's just left her old job and started a new one (to escape the gorgeous man-who-turned-out-to-be-married), and is planning some space for herself at long last. But fate seems to have something else in mind for Abbie, in the shape of her demanding and incorrigible mother, whose feckless fourth husband, Hugo, has just died. Temporarily in a wheelchair after a recent knee op, Diana - retired TV fitness icon and dancer - will need looking after, so will have to move in. Still, Abbie tells herself - gritting her teeth - it won't be for more than a few weeks...However, Abbie hasn't figured on the sudden arrival of Hugo's 20 years' estranged son. A suave TV Weatherman, Gabriel Ash not only owns the deeds to what they thought was Hugo's house, but also has plans of his own...

SEXY SHORTS FOR THE BEACH ~ A true 'feel good' and 'do good' book - each copy sold will raise GBP 1 for Cancer Research UK. "Sexy Shorts for the Beach" is the perfect summer read. Aimed at the mainstream women's fiction market, the book will attract readers familiar with the top name contributors and followers of contemporary short fiction. This will be the sixth book in the bestselling charity range, which have featured in "The Bookseller" Top Ten charts. From the Publisher
Full list of contributors to Sexy Shorts for the Beach:- Shelia Alcock, Lynne Barrett-Lee, Kelly Rose Bradford, Maureen Branigan, Tina Brown, Catrin Collier, Christine Emberson, Elaine Everest, Penny Feeny, Kelly Florentia, Della Galton, Zoë Griffin, Rosie Harris, Sue Houghton, Karen Howeld, Dawn Judd, Jeannie Johnson, Jan Jones, Ruth Joseph, Bernardine Kennedy, Sophie King, Maggie Knutson, Heather Lister, Mo McAuley, Collette McCormick, Lauren McCrossan, Linda Mitchelmore, Linda Povey, Sally Quilford, Brenda Robb, Rosemarie Rose, Gerry Savill, Jill Steeples, Jill Stitson, Ginny Swart, Fran Tracey, Phil Trenfield, Nina Tucknott, Jane Wenham Jones, Ann West, Dee Williams, Dawn Wingfield, Jackie Winter, Lorraine Winter, Jan Wright

CHARLES MARTIN: WHERE THE RIVER ENDS ~ 'Nobody fights forever, so I prepared myself for two battles. The first was fighting alongside her. We've done that. As well as two can. But, as the years have ticked by, I've seen a second front coming - and it's the tougher of the two. Abbie might still be swinging but she was beat. To be honest, I think she was still in the ring fighting, simply for me. Lately, the thing that had been keeping me up nights was wondering what would happen if I told her that she could let her guard down - that she could stop fighting. What if she was just waiting on me?'Doss Michaels and Abbie Colman should never have met let alone fallen in love. As the only child of South Carolina's most senior senator, Abbie's father had wanted better for her than Doss, who grew up in a trailer park next to the St Mary's river. Abbie and Doss had married quickly and secretly, returning to face her parents' objections that haven't faded even after over fourteen years of marriage. But now Abbie and Doss are coming to the end of the road. Diagnosed with breast cancer four years before, Abbie's case is now terminal and they've run out of options. Rather than letting Abbie spend her final days in a cold, sterile hospital room, Doss packs their bags and steals away with her in the middle of the night. They carry with them Abbie's 'wish list' - ten things she wants to do before she dies. The wishes are simple, normal; because after four years of non-stop invasive medical treatments, 'normal' is a fleeting memory.Along with taking a final trip with Doss on the river that holds so many memories for them both, Abbie wants to dance with her husband, drink wine on a beach, laugh until it hurts. But as they head for river's end, racing against weather and time, Abbie's father, the press and the police are determined to find them and bring Abbie home...

KERRY COHEN: LOOSE GIRL ~ There is a new boy I like. I see him every other day when our classes let out at the same time. He has long, dark hair and unbelievably beautiful eyes. Almost immediately I can feel the energy between us, the promise of something to come.' Kerry first noticed the power she had over the opposite sex at the age of eleven. By the time she was in her teens she was obsessed by boys, and soon she needed sex just to feel alive. Sleeping with countless partners, Kerry's misguided search for love was getting out of hand. But would she ever find what she really needed?

 

SEAN DIXON: THE LAST DAYS OF THE LACUNA CABAL ~ The Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women's Book Club is THE premier book club in the world. What they won't admit is that a) some of them are not as young as they like to say they are b) they are not all women and c) lately they haven't spent that much time reading. But one monumental book leads them to break all their rules, shed members who end up missing out on EVERYTHING, and travel across the open seas in search of a wise man who'll hopefully have all the answers. Voted one of the books of the year in Canada, 'The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal' is set in a time of upheaval: the Iraq war is exploding and people across the world are marching in protest. It's a funny, quixotic and ultimately very moving story of a group of friends who find a family of sorts within their book group, who learn to cope with love, and the lack of it, loss, and the lack of that, and with growing up in a world that is falling apart.

BARBARA DELINSKY: THE SECRET BETWEEN US ~ One lie sends a family into turmoil in a heart-rending new novel from a worldwide bestselling author, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult When Deborah Monroe's car hits and kills a man on a deserted road on a dark and rainy night, questions of who is to blame muddy the already complicated life of a woman who is newly divorced and struggling with emotions that are rampant in a house with two vulnerable children. Deborah's daughter, 16-year old, Grace, was behind the wheel but, desperate to protect her daughter, Deborah covers for her and takes responsibility for the death of the man. But, when it seems that the victim may or may not have been suicidal, issues of guilt and responsibility, truth and honesty, are all brought into sharp focus.

A contemporary retelling of Hamlet of stark and striking brilliance set on a farm in remote northern Wisconsin. On a farm in remote northern Wisconsin the mute and brilliant Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents Gar and Trudy. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomised by Almodine, Edgar's lifelong companion. But when his beloved father mysteriously dies, Edgar blames himself, if only because his muteness left him unable to summon help. Grief-stricken and bewildered by his mother's desperate affair with her dead husband's brother, Edgar's world unravels one spring night when, in the falling rain, he sees his father's ghost. After a botched attempt to prove that his uncle orchestrated Gar's death, Edgar flees into the Chequamegon wilderness leading three yearling dogs. Yet his need to face his father's murderer, and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs, turn Edgar ever homeward. When he returns, nothing is as he expects, and Edgar must choose between revenge or preserving his family legacy!

NATHALIE ABI-EZZI: A GIRL MADE OF DUST ~ A rich and beautiful novel set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict. Ten-year-old Ruba lives in a village outside Beirut. From her family home, she can see the buildings shimmering on the horizon and the sea stretched out beside them. She can also hear the rumble of the shelling -- this is Lebanon in the 1980s and civil war is tearing the country apart. Ruba however has her own worries. Her father hardly ever speaks and spends most of his days sitting in his armchair, avoiding work and family. Her mother looks so sad that Ruba thinks her heart might have withered in the heat like a fig. Her elder brother, Naji, has started to spend his time with older boys -- and some of them have guns. When Ruba decides she has to save her father, and when she uncovers his secret, she begins a journey which takes her from childhood to the beginnings of adulthood. As Israeli troops invade and danger comes ever closer, she realises that she may not be able to keep her family safe. This is a first novel with tremendous heart, which captures both a country and a childhood in turmoil.

PENNY SMITH: COMING UP NEXT ~ A darkly comic novel about the fall and rise of a TV presenter. Written by an insider, it's a page-turning account of life on the sofa and in front of the cameras. When Katie Fisher, morning TV presenter, returns from holiday it's to discover that she's literally yesterday's news. Publicly sacked from her job as anchor of Hello Britain! and replaced by a pert young thing, she does what any self-respecting thirty something would in these circumstances -- she makes a dash for her parents and hits the bottle. But Katie, sooner or later, has to face the world, the photographers, and the backstage intrigue of morning television: the cut-throat, lecherous producers, the ambitious but vacant Keera, and Mike, her co-host, a trustworthy friend or just another one of the many back-stabbers? Humour is Katie's only weapon and, as things hit rock-bottom, it could provide a perfect solution to life after the sofa. Knowing, insightful and darkly comic, Penny Smith's novel is the insider's view of TV.

AMANDA EYRE WARD: FORGIVE ME ~ A stunning and compelling novel of love and ambition. Nadine is a 35-year-old journalist at a crossroads in her life. She longs for Pulitzer-prize winning success but her career seems to be going nowhere until the story of a lifetime comes up. Faced with the choice of following the story and leaving behind her boyfriend, who has just proposed, she leaves America for Capetown. There she meets war photographer George, whose rage at the death of his lover during apartheid seems bottomless. As events unfold, Nadine discovers she is pregnant and is forced to choose whether to return home to a secure married life with her boyfriend or pursue a life of independence and adventure -- a life like George's! Set partly in Mandela's South Africa, where individuals must weigh the cost of following their dreams against the high price of truth, 'Forgive Me' is the unputdownable story of a woman who has to decide between security and adventure in life and love.

LOLA JAYE: BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS ~ The smash hit debut novel for this summer This is my (Kevin Bates) manual for my daughter Lois. The love of my life. Rules of the manual: 1.You must only read each new entry on your birthday 2.This is a private manual between you and me. 3.No peeping at the next entry unless it's your birthday! When Lois Bates is handed the manual, she can barely bring herself to read it as the pain of her dad's death is still so raw.Yet soon Kevin's advice is guiding her through every stage of her life -- from jobs to first loves and relationships. The manual can never be a substitute for having her dad back, but through his words Lois learns to start living again, and finds that happiness is waiting round the corner !

JOJO MOYES: NIGHT MUSIC ~ The Spanish House is a hotch-potch of designs, Georgian, Gothic and Moorish, as if whoever started it had simply got bored. It has long been known as an architectural folly to locals, and is now nearly derelict to boot. When its reclusive owner dies intestate the Spanish House is left to his city-dwelling niece. For Isabel, recently widowed, the house is a potential lifeline -- the only hope she has of providing for her two children without having to sell her most treasured possession. But for neighbour Matt McCarthy, the house is revenge -- on the family who ruined his father. For his wife it's the key to the perfect family life, while a struggling property developer sees in it a whole new future. As desires clash and intertwine, lives and loves are demolished -- and the Spanish House becomes a true folly indeed...

JAMES MILLER: LOST BOYS ~ After the oil company that employs Arthur Dashwood fails to protect him from a kidnap attempt in Baghdad, he returns to his traumatised family in London. But everything is not as it should be. Having quit the blistering heat and swimming pool luxury of Saudi Arabia for fear of terrorist attack, Arthur finds that danger is closer to home. Arthur's young son Timothy is struggling in the hostile terrain of his new public school. Bullied by other pupils and neglected by his preoccupied parents, he withdraws into a fantasy world, a hybrid of computer-generated guerrilla warzone and exotic dreams of his time in Saudi Arabia, a place where boys can fight and escape their teachers and families. As one middle-class boy from Timothy's school and then another disappears, so evidence emerges of an extreme and disturbing rejection of the adult world. And then it is Timothy's turn to disappear. Haunted by memories of post-Saddam Baghdad, Arthur embarks on a terrifying search for his son, one that will reveal his own complicity in the brutal consequences of Western power.

JANE GARDAM: THE PEOPLE ON PRIVILEGE HILL ~ This is a lovely collection of short stories---they will stay in your mind long after you've read them. Such elegant, finely honed prose, so much humanity and wit, is rare in a world where cynical, sharp-edged fiction dominates---to the detriment of literature. (Who wants to read Will Self---well, certainly not me!) Admirers of Jane Gardam's masterpiece , 'Old Filth', will be delighted by the return of Sir Edward Feathers (and his old adversaries!) in the first story in this collection, (the wonderful image of the three old judges under three contrasting umbrellas is a delight) but there are so many more brilliant short stories to enjoy here:--'Babette', with its chief protagonist, the bath, 'The Latter Days of Mr Jones' (a powerful indictment of the witch hunts and 'procedures' sadly prevalent in present day Britain,) 'Pangbourne' and 'Flight Path' amongst others. Jane Gardam is a genius---don't miss this!

KERRY REICHS: THE BEST DAY OF SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE ~ Vi Connelly got the wedding bug at just six years of age. The thrill, the attention, the big white dress - it's the Best Day of Your Life, and it's seriously addictive! Unless, of course, it's always the best day of someone else's life. Now in her late twenties, Vi finds herself a bridesmaid time and again. She's honoured to perform her wedding duties, but watching everyone else's big day begins to make Vi wonder about her own. After years of dating, Vi's got an arsenal of funny stories to tell her friends, but deep down, her heart's still stuck on her ex - the gorgeous, eternally unobtainable Caleb. Then she meets someone new, someone who could turn out to be more than just another dating war-story. But just as love finally seems to be within reach, matters take an unexpected turn. To top things off, Vi is about to embark on the mother of all wedding seasons - her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to attend eleven weddings in eighteen months, and survive with her sanity, and her relationships, intact. THE BEST DAY OF SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE is a funny, fresh and touching debut about relationships, marriage, girlie cocktails and complicated love.

CATRIN COLLIER: MAGDA'S DAUGHTER ~ Stateless and destitute after the Second World War, Magda Janek settles in the Welsh town of Pontypridd, in the hope of building a new life for herself and her baby daughter, Helena. All Magda has to give Helena are the ambitions she had once cherished for herself; dreams cruelly snatched from her by the war and its terrible aftermath. But 1960s Pontypridd is a place of opportunity - at twenty-one, Magda's daughter has beauty, confidence and prospects beyond even her mother's wildest imaginings. With a university degree behind her, a coveted teaching post in her old Grammar school, and marriage to the love of her life, Dr Eddie John, the son of an old Pontypridd family to look forward to, Helena couldn't have been happier. Until tragedy strikes. A tragedy that robs Helena of the only family she has ever known and everything she has ever believed in; Helena uncovers a bitter secret, so explosive that her mother carried it to the grave...

EMILY GIFFIN: LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH ~ The New York Times bestselling author of SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE, and BABY PROOF delivers another captivating, straight-from-the heart novel. This is a story for everyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I'm with, when I can't forget the one who got away? Ellen and Andy's first year of marriage doesn't just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she's living is the one she's meant to live. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH is a powerful story about one woman at the crossroads of true love and real life.

Gypsy by Lesley Pearse. Another surefire Top 5 bestseller from Lesley Pearse, one of our best loved novelists. When teenagers Beth and Sam Bolton are orphaned, their baby sister is taken into a new home and they decide to set sail for a new life too ... in America. On board the steamer to New York, Beth and Sam meet charismatic gambler, Theo, and quick-witted Londoner Jack and the four band together to seek their fortunes.Beth has always dreamed of playing her fiddle to large audiences ... and finds herself doing so in the saloons, where she is a huge success and lovingly nicknamed Gypsy by her fans. But the foursome fall foul of local gangsters and flee to Canada, as word gets out that gold has been found in the Klondike. They embark on a dangerous and epic journey to reach the Yukon valley, trailing across snowy mountains and treacherous rapids. Who will break first? Theo, the handome yet greedy bounder? Dreamy Sam, so easily influenced by money? Practical Jack, a man devoted to his friends? Or Beth, the woman with the gypsy in her soul, who cares more for music than gold? She's a born survivor ... but is that enough to see her through the peril and heartache to return to England and her long-lost sister?

Wife In The North by Judith O'Reilly. One wife, mother and blogger's determined attempts to make some friends, find a decent cup of coffee and build a new life in the North. When Judith O'Reilly left hectic London to raise her brood in rural Northumberland, something had to fill the gap of working too hard and bustling around town. Within weeks her daily blog, www.wifeinthenorth.com, had won fans on both sides of the Atlantic with its humorous tales of unexpected encounters and poignant musings on homesickness and readjustment. 'Wifey' has swapped her café lattes for pease pudding and lifelong friends for new neighbours ranging from evangelical Christians to sheep farmers. She's faced the issues that modern mothers contend with — juggling career and family, caring for young children and elderly parents, choosing between healthy countryside and vibrant town life — and seen a tidal wave of agonizing trials, surreal tribulations and unexpected delights. Come December 2007, she and her husband will have a decision to make. Will they be settled by the Aga waiting for Father Christmas, or will the boxes be packed for an escape back to London?

Spook Country by William Gibson. Thrilling, sharp, edgy and utterly original — William Gibson invites you to take a trip to Spook Country. Tito and Alejandro's Aunt Jauna had all the skills that were needed in Cuba — a thousand tricks of the forger's art.  But now the boys are in New York, and it's a new world.  Soon they're dealing with a mysterious American who can speak Russian and who seems to be on the trail of something big, something political. Trouble is, as the Cubans find to their cost, he's competing with a few other parties, too. Praise for Pattern Recognition: 'A big novel, full of bold ideas. Races along like an expert thriller' GQ 'Elegant, entrancing. Gibson’s most complex, mature gloss on the artist’s relationship to our ever more commercialized globe' New York Times 'The best for ages from the godfather of cyberpunk' FHM 'Part-detective story, part-cultural snapshot . . . all bound by Gibson’s pin-sharp prose' Arena 'More insight, wit and sheer style than any of his contemporaries' Charles Shaar Murray, Independent

The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson. What would we do if we found a new world? An interplanetary love story; a traveller's tale; a hymn to the beauty of the earth: The Stone Gods is Jeanette Winterson at her brilliant best.

 

 

 

The Anti-Social Behaviour of Horace Rumpole by John Mortimer. ASBOs may be the pride and joy of New Labour, but they don't cut much ice with Horace Rumpole. John Mortimer's delightful new Rumpole novel sees the magician of the Old Bailey at his implacable best as he takes on an apparently hopeless murder case, and defends our ancient freedoms when threatened with a personal ASBO . . .

 

 

DONNA HAY: THE TWO MRS ROBINSONS ~ Anna lives with Oliver Robinson and their 3-year-old son Charlie. But Oliver is still married to his first wife Eve, mother of his two teenage children. Eve is a dominant figure who insists on making her presence felt; Anna is young and beautiful, with a bright future. Each woman is weary of the other, insecure and jealous about the relationship Oliver has with the other. Petty squabbles about the division of Oliver's time and money drag on indefinitely until a terrible tragedy leaves both women shattered. Forced to pull together through their shared loss, can they put their differences aside to emerge from the adversity?

 

JANET FRAME: TOWARDS ANOTHER SUMMER ~ 'The Southern Cross cuts through my heart instead of through the sky' Grace Cleave is spending a weekend away from London, where she has been battling with writer's block. But on holiday in the north of England she feels more and more like a migratory bird as the pull of her native New Zealand makes life away from it seem transitory. Grace longs to find her own place in the world ? if she can only decide where that is. But first she must learn to be comfortable in her own skin, feathers and all. From the author of An Angel at My Table comes an exquisitely written novel of exile and return, homesickness and belonging. Written in 1963 when Janet Frame was living in London, this is the first publication of a novel she considered too personal to be published in her lifetime.

In this issue: interviews with ELIZABETH GEORGE and AMANDA GREENSLADE plus fe

Books Monthly (formerly Gateway Monthly) is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. You can contact me via e-mail at: [email protected]. If you'd like to get a story published in Books Monthly just e-mail it to me and I'll consider it - no payment though, I'm afraid!