Things Can Only Get Better

David M Barnett

This book is charming, funny and quintessentially northern – a brilliant combination for a novel. It also comes with a ’90’s playlist.

The characters are a heartwarming blend of age and experience who find themselves thrown together through music and the fight against injustice. I absolutely loved it!

Tiny, Beautiful Things

Cheryl Strayde

This is an utterly beautiful, soul searching, life affirming reminder of what is good and important in this life. It’s a collection of agony aunt letters which the author answers with searing honesty and personal reflection. It’s very American, but if you can get past that, it’s an absolute joy.

My Name is Why

Lemn Sissay

This book tells the story of Lemn Sissay’s experience in the care system in the north of England. It’s about courage, tenacity and a brilliance which could not be dimmed by cruelty, racism and adversity. Great book by a great man.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

John Boyne

This is a compassion filled story of a gay man’s life, beginning in Ireland in the ’50’s, following him through the next 7 decades. It’s hilarious and heart-breaking, beautifully written and very satisfying. Now I’ve finished it, I could quite happily start again.

The Swap

Fiona Mitchell

I couldn’t have imagined the direction this emotionally charged book would take. It’s the kind of family drama that leaves you questioning what you would do in the character’s situation and thankful that you’re not.

I was completely engrossed by this novel, and am looking forward to reading The Maid’s Room by this author.

The Rapture

Claire McGlasson

The Rapture is a story of love, faith, abandonment and coercive control in a real-life religious sect in Bedford in the 1920’s. The Panecea Society has been meticiulously researched by the author who has fictionlised true events in this engrossing debut.

Dilys is an enormously sympathetic protagonist. I rooted for her from the first page to the last. The revelations are dropped so cleverly into the narrative that they made me gasp. I completely lost myself in this fantastic novel, it’s wonderful!

Somewhere Close to Happy

By Lia Louis

This is a book with a big personality. It’s warm, hopeful, often hilarious and sometimes terribly sad. It has a huge beating heart right at the centre. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Lizzie, she is an irresistible mix of swear words and innocence. She’s a breath of fresh air.

The Queen of Bloody Everything

Joanna Nadin

This book brought me joy on every page. Being a child in the ’70’s and teenager in the ’80’s I could related to every word.

There’s humour and poignancy in the telling of Dido and Edie’s stories. I grew to love the messed up mother and daughter and their complex relationship, and rooted for them at every twist in their tumultuous lives.

This is a warm and original story beautifully told and I was sorry it had to end. I’m looking forward to more from Joanna Nadin.

The Summer of Impossible Things

Rowan Coleman

If you could go back and change the past, would you?

Set in an atmospheric, brilliantly painted 1970’s Brooklyn, we follow Luna’s journey as she uncovers the truth about her mother’s past. Complex and intriguing, this time-travel book kept me gripped from start to finish.

A great story of love, family and courage with a dollop of Saturday Night Fever. I’ve loved everything I’ve read from Rowan Coleman, and this is no exception.

Nobody’s Wife

Laura Pearson

This book is an intense exploration of relationships between siblings, spouses and lovers, and Pearson doesn’t shy away from the raw and painful consequences which follow emotionally charged decisions.

It was a very real story and I felt I understood why the flawed characters behaved as they did, even when my head was screaming for them to stop. These characters will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended!

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