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Our Team’s Favourite Books:

Asking a book lover to pick their favourite read is always tricky, but our team really love these books and wanted to share them with you.

Hope you find some inspiration for your next great read!

We’d love to know your favourite book, join the book chat in our Facebook group

Meet Our May Books:

Last Night

by Mhairi Mcfarlane

"You MUST read Last Night - it’s the perfect blend of hilarious, heart-breaking and relatable. I loved the tone, the clever observations, warm characters and laugh-out-loud moments. A contemporary romcom that tackles the tricky topic of grief in such a tender way, plus lead character Eve is a woman you just want to be friends with.

Don’t miss author Mhairi Mcfarlane telling us more about her book in this exclusive video." Jen, Content Editor

Behind the Book with Mhairi Mcfarlane

How would you describe Last Night?

It’s about four friends in their mid-30s, who’ve known each other since sixth form. One night blows the friendship group apart. Our heroine, Eve, who is in unconsummated, if not unrequited, love with her long-term friend Ed, has a LOT of unexpected learning to do about those closest to her.
It’s about our love for our friends, it’s about the secrets we all keep, it’s about grief and loss. Hopefully there’s some romance and comedy too!

Do you remember the moment you were inspired to write Last Night?

I never recall ‘moments’ as such, which I know is a slightly disappointing answer – we all like to think of it as a bolt from blue (and as an author I have to say, how lovely and easy if the whole idea dumped itself into your lap in one go!)

I think I’ve only ever had that with my first novel, You Had Me At Hello. Ever since it’s been a case of carefully sticking pieces together and seeing if it all fits, like building with Lego. I knew I wanted to write about the shock of grief, but after that it’s all a bit of a blur as to the process, to be honest! I know that I never considered the death being anyone other than the person who dies. It felt very right, gutted though I was that the character leaves the narrative. (Other than in Eve’s head.)

I loved the balance you created between funny and heart-breaking in the story, how did you approach that?

Thank you so much! One word, nervously. I tried very much to reflect British behaviour around death, and we do laugh at the darkest times. It helped that the person they’re grieving was not averse to being rude, witty and shocking, as characters point out. But I was very determined that the bereavement did not get pushed aside once it had served a plot purpose.

‘I don’t think humour is what offends people around sadness, it’s cheapness or insincerity, and hopefully Last Night isn’t ever that.’

What did you enjoy most about writing Last Night?

Either the prologue or those closing pages. I’m my own fiercest critic and dislike a lot of what I produce (this is absolutely standard for all writers I think!) but I knew those scenes were times when I was doing the best work I could, and I felt emotional writing them.

Which character do you relate most to?

Hah! Eve! I too love cats and polka dots and morbid songs.

What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

I always just hope any book of mine entertains and saddling them with a message seems almost arrogant! But, if I had to have one? That recovery from unimaginably awful things is possible.

Are you working on another book at the moment?

Yes! My eighth for HarperCollins. Never gets easier. Unfortunately. But it’s also the best job in the world so I am definitely not complaining.

What was the last totally brilliant book you read?

Can I mention a film instead? I watched Promising Young Woman this week and was totally blown away by it. I’m just about to start reading Second First Impressions by the obnoxiously talented and lovely Sally Thorne.

What authors do you always look forward to reading?

David Nicholls and Kate Atkinson have never let me down.

What fictional character would you like to go for a drink with?

Hmmmm, I imagine Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair would be a cracking laugh over Martinis in The Savoy.

Thank you so much for talking to us, Mhairi! Get your copy of Last Night here.

We'll be discussing the book over in our Facebook group, so make sure you join us there!

The Reading List

Our team have picked their favourite books - have you read any of these?

The Binding

Before the coffee gets cold

The night circus

The wicked deep

The Binding

By Bridget Collins

Loved by Tania Gammon, Group Customer Service Manager:

“The most beautifully poetic LGBT love story with Emmet, a book binder’s apprentice, at the heart of the plot. Only, at this bindery, it’s not books that are bound; people come to have their unwanted memories extracted and bound into tomes kept locked away, never to be revealed again. Emmet discovers a book with his name on it and sets out to uncover the secrets of his past. The Binding is fantastical, thought provoking and heart-warming with stunningly written characters and an ending that will make you want to go back and read the whole thing again.”

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

By Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Loved by Judith Willis, Junior Copywriter:

“A charming and unique read, Before The Coffee Gets Cold comprises of four interweaving short stories centred around customers of a mysterious café that, urban legend has it, offers time travel to its patrons.

But time travelling in this café is no easy feat – there are many rules that must be followed, the most important being that one must return from the past before their coffee gets cold, or else…”

The Night Circus

By Erin Morgenstern

Loved by Sophie Harkup, Senior Customer Service Advisor:

“This is a story full of magic, power, and romance. Two duelling magicians must showcase their power and strength within the arena that is the circus by creating and maintaining spectacular displays and tents. But as more lives get entangled in the game, how do they keep going and decide on the winner?

Beautifully written and with many character stories intertwined, there is never a slow or dull moment. It is full of magic and wonder; it makes you wish the Night Circus was real.”

The Wicked Deep

By Shea Ernshaw

Loved by Bethany Gerrish, Senior Customer Service Advisor:

“Following the story of the mysterious Swan sisters who are drowned 200 years ago for being witches. Every summer solstice, they return to seek revenge on the men of the town.

This book is full of plot twists that keep you guessing, magic, mystery, and a love story full of secrets. The chapters are so magically woven together, they leave you with that ‘oh just one more chapter’ feeling. An enchanting contemporary take of the story of Hocus Pocus!”

Greenwhich Park

By Katherine Faulkner

This is an excellent, riveting read. Helen, her husband Daniel, her brother Rory and his wife, Serena, all live a seemingly idyllic life in Greenwich, London. However, an encounter with a woman at an antenatal class turns Helen’s world upside down and brings secrets from the past crashing into their lives now, with page-turning consequences.

We enjoyed it right until the very last tantalising sentence...

READ OUR AUTHOR INTERVIEW

The Party

By Elizabeth Day

“That’s the problem with charm. It means you get away with stuff. It means you never have to develop a real character because no one remembers to.”

Why we love The Party:

Elizabeth Day’s dark, psychological thriller, The Party is a tale about obsession, misplaced loyalty and the utmost betrayal. Written in a dual narrative, the story is told by Martin Gilmour and his wife, Lucy, who gives us an outsider’s perspective on Martin’s deeply unhealthy attachment to his best friend of 28 years, Ben.

What we loved most about this book was its unpredictability. Every time we thought we had figured out what was going to happen next, Elizabeth threw in a plot twist that kept us guessing, right up until the last page. And isn’t that what we all want from a great thriller? We think so.

The Brighton Mermaid

By Dorothy Koomson

“Was she a mermaid somewhere? Was that why I hadn’t heard from her?”

Why we love The Brighton Mermaid:

This is a fantastic emotional thriller, both in how you care about the characters and through its pacy structure. A young woman is found dead on Brighton beach by Nell and Jude when they are teenagers. Unidentified, she becomes known as ‘the Brighton mermaid’ and the story looks at how this affects both Nell and Jude. Then when Jude goes missing, things really ramp up…

This felt like such a poignant book to be reading at the moment. Dorothy Koomson talks about the police's abuse of power - both towards black people and women, bringing thought-provoking issues into this read.

The Castaways

By Lucy Clarke

Why we love The Castaways:

So many people have a fear of flying or, rather, being on a plane that crashes, and that is what The Castaways brilliantly taps into. Sisters Lori and Erin book a luxury holiday to Fiji, however, the night before they are due to fly, they have an argument that results in Erin not getting on the plane.

That flight then goes missing and through a mix of Lori’s chapters we discover what happened when the plane crashed. Through Erin’s chapters, we are right there with her in her grief, guilt and mission to find out what happened to her sister.

Both parts of the story are so gripping. A visceral thriller that also celebrates the powerful bond of sisters. It’s so well paced and with just the right amount of didn’t-see-that-coming moments. A perfect slice of escapism – just maybe don’t read it on a plane.

Watch Her Fall

By Erin Kelly

“What they didn’t understand – what nobody understood – was that the higher you flew, the farther you had to fall.”

Why we love Watch Her Fall:

Erin Kelly’s eighth novel is a brilliant psychological thriller - a wonderfully tense, sharp and immersive plunge into the power and determination of ballerinas to succeed – at any cost. All set to the backdrop of the iconic ballet, Swan Lake.

Ballet is the perfect backdrop for this high-stakes, high adrenaline read. I loved learning more about the inner-workings of the ballet world and the tone was pitched at just the right dark place to keep you turning those pages. An excellent psychological thriller!

READ OUR AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Dangerous Women

By Hope Adams

“That’s what we, too, are like, us women. We’re a patchwork.”

Why we love Dangerous Women:

A gentle burner of a whodunnit that pulls you into the heart of its story, while celebrating redemption, rehabilitation and the good in people. All set to the backdrop of a truly fascinating slice of history. In 1841, female convicts were sent from London to Tasmania. Convicted of petty crimes, banishment was their punishment. On this ship, the Rajah, the women created an amazing quilt that still hangs in the National Gallery of Australia today. Throw in a little murder mystery and you have an excellent story on your hands.

An excellent, riveting read. We enjoyed it right until the very last tantalising sentence.

READ OUR AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Asking for a Friend

By Andi Osho

“They'd been best friends for over a decade and were so entangled in each other's worlds, it was hard to know where one began and the other ended.”

Why we love Asking for a Friend:

Forty-something Jemima is trying to get her life back on track whilst simultaneously trying to avoid her needy ex. Twenty-something Meagan is looking for a relationship, while thirty-something Simi has almost given up hope of finding one.

These best friends decide it's time to play the dating game by their own rules. They're going to ask people out in real life, but for each other…and it doesn’t quite go to plan.

A wonderfully warm and funny story that celebrates female friendships and having the courage to be your true self.

READ OUR AUTHOR INTERVIEW

The Transcendent Kingdom

By Yaa Gyasi

“I am looking for new names for old feelings. My soul is still my soul, even if I rarely call it that.”

Why We Love Transcendent Kingdom:

Gifty is a neuroscientist and Transcendent Kingdom is her coming-of-age story, albeit in her late 20s. Her complex nature is captured so well; her relationships with her mother, with being a black woman in such a white, male industry and Gifty’s rumination on how science and religion coexist and how (if) they can answer questions for each other.

But the heart of this book is Gifty. A strong woman who is doing everything she can to navigate life and thrive in the best way she can. A truly thought-provoking, wonderfully written story that packs an emotional punch.

The Soul of a Woman

By Isabel Allende

“I never accepted the limited feminine role imposed upon me by my family, society, culture and religion.”

Why we love The Soul of a Woman:

From legendary Chilean author, Isabel Allende, this is a wonderfully lyrical part memoir, part feminist musing. This is a really honest, thought provoking read that truly champions women’s equality and packs so many ideas and things that need to be discussed into less than 200 pages. It is a delight to read, while giving so much food for thought about women’s equality.

Circe

By Madeline Miller

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment's carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.”

Why we love Circe:

Circe is a complex, strong, independent woman. She also happens to be an ancient Greek Goddess who can cast spells. The Gods hadn’t seen witchcraft before and scared by any new power, they exiled Circe. As she is immortal, that is a long exile. What Madeline Miller does so well is humanise iconic characters so that you become invested. Circe is a fast-paced, wonderfully captivating story of a truly enchanting Goddess making her place in the world.

We hope you find some great new reads this month, we’d love to know your thoughts.

Join the book chat in our Facebook group