Hive’s February Books of the Month for adults and children

Books-of-the-Month-Feb-2014

Welcome to our Books of the Month where we’ve selected from the many books being published this February the key book for children and the key book for adults.

Our adult book is Jill Mansell’s The Unpredictable Consequences of Love. We’ve written here why we think you should read it, and for children and young adults we’ve chosen is If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. You can read why Emily’s book is our children’s book for February here.

We do hope you enjoy these books and keep following our blog as we recommend the essential new reads for you each month on Hive.

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Hive’s Book of the Month for April: The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait

The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait

Fourteen year old Emma is at the hub of this story, she is such an engaging and brave character that you just want her to be happy but after the devastating death of one of her brothers ( Kit ) her life at home is fractured, her and her parents all live in their own bubbles. Her mother takes refuge in cooking and cleaning and although appears to be affectionate and caring with her daughter, you feel the isolation and grief overlaying all her actions, her father continues to go to work but then disappears into his shed at evenings and weekends. None of them have had any contact with Emma’s other brother Jamie who left home on the day of the funeral 5 years ago, then an ex-girlfriend of Jamie’s contacts the family to say she knows where he is.

What else can I say, to make you want to read this and love it as much as I do …….it’s NOT misery lit, it is a beautiful portrayal of siblings and parents, it is about trying to understand and empathise with an illness that affects many of us, it is going to make you cry, it is brutally honest, it is remarkably well written and plotted and it is about a young girl who just wants to make everything better.

Apparently Rebecca Wait is half way through writing her second novel, I think we have an author here who is really going to shine.

*As nominated by Hive’s resident book guru.

Purchase the hardback edition here

Purchase the eBook edition here

Hive’s Top 10 Favourite Books for April

Black Roses by Jane Thynne

Black Roses by Jane Thynne

Ok although I’m a fan of Phillipa (I’m Queen of historical fiction) Gregory, I’ve found a new pash ………Black Roses is the first of a trilogy set in 1933 Berlin ….oh the decadence, the fashion, the glamour the underlying evil. Check out the jacket which captures the essence of this decade. You should read this with the soundtrack of Cabaret in the background.

Jane Thynne has intriguingly written about a group of women I think we know little about – the wives and partners of the Nazi hierarchy.

Our heroine, aspiring actress Clara Vine travels to Germany to find fame, fortune and hopefully a role in a film being made at the Ufa studios in Berlin, she is consequently drawn into the company of Magda Goebbels and her cohorts.

Clara meets up with Leo, a member of the British Intelligence and he perceives that her growing relationship with these women and their partners could be used to benefit the British spy network, who are gathering information about the rise of Hitler and his plans for a new Germany.

The author has obviously done a lot of detailed research and that is evident in the narrative but she also has a sure touch with her knowledge of fashion and the “hot designers” of the time. Although we are all aware of the atrocities of Hitler, did we know that he formed the Reich Fashion Institute so that the women of Germany were encouraged to embrace Teutonic virtues ?

This is a seriously good read and as is often the case with a “historical novel ” sent me off to the internet to find out more about the women of this era. I of course then linked into HIVE to order background reading and a DVD of Cabaret!

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Accidents Happen by Louise Millar

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar

This is the second novel from the author of The Playdate (never leave your child with anyone, not even your best friend) I’m touching wood that I like this new offering from Ms Millar, well touch wood doesn’t even come into it!

Kate Parker unlucky widow, with a precious son Jack is so paranoid about coincidences and the probability of accidents that she displays characteristics that make you think OCD then, as this plot unravels you think yep, she’s bonkers. However, this is a psychological thriller of superior proportions with many a twist, building suspense worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.

I would have to kill you all were I to reveal the denouement, remember first rule of Fight Club ……….just read it but don’t do the plot spoiler thing with your mates. Certainly one to put on the holiday reading pile.

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Every Contact Leaves A Trace by Elanor Dymott

Every Contact Leaves A Trace by Elanor Dymott

I shall ‘fess up to you all and share, that when this was originally published in April 2012 reviews were very mixed, well I veer to the positive and have no compunction in recommending that you click on buy and order the paperback edition.

It is a slow burn of a read about a grieving widower Alex Peterson, his wife Rachel has been murdered on Midsummer Night in Oxford. Worry not, John Nettles does not pop up as an investigating officer, this is a very dark literary story about grief and revenge.

Alex and Rachel had met as students and gathered around them a clique of very complex characters. Years after they all graduated they return to their old college for dinner and on the same night Rachel is found dead, inevitably Alex is the prime suspect.

The “Dreaming Spires” of Oxford are well represented and provide a suitably elite background for this novel of academic intrigue.

Yes, it does echo Donna Tartt The Secret History but one review from 2012 also referenced Ford Madox Ford The Good Soldier, so with that endorsement I’m pretty confident it’s one to add to your reading list

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Seventy Times Seven by John Gordon Sinclair

Seventy Times Seven by John Gordon Sinclair

Let’s address ” The elephant in the room “Yes, this is he of Gregory’s Girl – and look he’s all grown up now and has written a violent thriller about the IRA in the 1990s.

Danny McGuire is a professional killer and is on a mission to avenge the death of his brother. The locations move between Northern Ireland and Alabama USA and JGS has written a fast moving, pacey tale with 2 incredibly heroic women as key characters however this is not a cosy read, there are some very detailed descriptions of torture but not at all gratuitous (if this was a film, you’d be likely to shut your eyes) these scenarios regrettably, will have been all too real which does lend gravitas to the development of the plot.

The title is taken from a quote from the Bible in which St Peter says, there is no limit to the forgiveness you can have for someone and that it could be seventy times seven.

As a debut novel I think he’s made a great start and despite the violence, it’s a cracking read.

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

One of my heroes of crime writing is Raymond Chandler and the ultimate PI has to be Philip Marlow but hey, there is now someone tugging at his very fine coat tales

Meet Cormoran Strike, Afghanistan war veteran invalided out of the army because he lost a leg in an explosion. Now back in civvy street he sets up as a private eye and takes on the case of the suicide of one of the “hottest” supermodels, her brother thinks she was pushed off the balcony………now read on!

We are taken to the seediest streets in Soho (but where else would his office be ?) to the heart of London’s nightlife and are drawn into the twin worlds of rock music and models –’ twas ever thus.

Cormoran is a true detective he’s methodical, wants to see justice done, sleeps in his office, has a complicated love life, drinks too much and of course has to have a secretary, who turns out be the perfect foil for him. I predict a great new sleuthing partnership.

if you enjoy “old fashioned crime ” and are a little bit tired of Scandi noir, walk this way and meet Mr Strike and his wooden leg……have been agonizing about how to work in a leg based pun, sorry this is my best shot.

Read this and in a year’s time you’ll be able to boast to your friends, oh yes I knew this would be a bestseller.

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Be Awesome: Modern Life For Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

Be Awesome: Modern Life For Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

There are 2 women journo’s who always make me laugh out loud and one of them is Hadley, her weekly ” Ask Hadley” column in the Guardian is a must read and her incisive and witty advice is essential to survive all the challenges of life today. She writes in that wonderful sardonic American style in the tradition of Norah Ephron and Dorothy Parker both of whom are name checked in her list of 10 awesome books.

I really want Hadley as a buddy, as my closest women friends make me howl with laughter and she would be just perfect to “shoot the breeze” with. How can you not love someone who has chapters headed up as You’re never too old for Topshop, The ten commandments of being an un-annoying vegetarian, When to listen to friends and when not to and Sex tips for smart ladies – Parental warning, ladies do not read this chapter, page 38 whilst you are having a drink, you will choke. However do look at 10 awesome women amongst whom is Miss Piggy.

We will all be truly awesome if we read this and gentlemen don’t be shy, it’s for you too – you may learn something

Oh yes, the other journo is of course the sainted Caitlin Moran, so if you enjoy Be Awesome and haven’t yet read Caitlin’s How to be a Woman you have a treat in store.

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That’s Not My Meerkat by Fiona Watt

That’s Not My Meerkat by Fiona Watt

This bestselling series from the ever reliable Usborne publishing is so well loved and respected, that when a new title is published it’s a Yay moment.

This is one of the “Touchy Feely ” series so teeny fingers will enjoy the tactile experience and yes, the mouse is still on every page. The pictures are bright and clear with the usual lovely illustrations.

Note for mum, dad, grandparents, teachers, grown-ups in general……just try and get the TV images out of your head, it should be simples but for those of you that have seen The Life of Pi, not so cuddly now eh? Interested, then click on our DVD section (The film is magnificent).

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Primrose by Alex T. Smith

Primrose by Alex T. Smith

The new book from Alex is truly delightful because he has painted us some glorious pictures of Princess Primrose and the Palace Pug Percy. Oh yes, you’re going to have to purse your lips a lot when reading this with the kiddies.

Primrose is bored because she has to behave, and like Cyndi Lauper ( when you’re older darling ) she just wants to have fun, the royal parents are in despair, how can we get her to act like a princess and they then have a brainwave, let’s roll granny in ! That was not a good idea because we all know how the Queen has behaved recently, co-horting with James Bond and jumping out of helicopters and this Grandmama is just as bad.

This is a lovely cheerful story with vibrant pages and clear text but does end with a moral that life can be fun. Another winner from this talented illustrator and author

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Mrs Vickers’ Knickers by Kara Lebihan and Deborah Allwright

Mrs Vickers’ Knickers by Kara Lebihan and Deborah Allwright

Apparently inspiration for this book came to Deborah when she was out for a walk with her baby, she spotted a sock lying on the pavement and wondered why stray pieces of peoples clothing were often seen in the street or draped over a gate or railing – and what about the single shoe on the hard shoulder of the motorway ?

Mrs Vickers is just pegging out the washing ( don’t you just hate doing that ) and her favourite frilly knickers are caught by the wind and whoosh off they fly. They fly over the town, tangle with a kite, cause mayhem over the Town square and then help a boat win a race, we do have a happy ending though but you have to read it to find out.

The beauty of this, is that every page has such a lot of detail, you’ll have great fun spotting all the animals and people and this is great for boys and girls because these adventurous knickers go over a building site with diggers – one of the workmen even has a tattoo, you spot a fire engine and lots of cars and buses and the wedding looks lovely.

You might remember The Night Pirates, from Deborah, published last year – which was fab because the pirates were girls !

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Tiny Islands: 60 Remarkable Little Worlds Around Britain by Dixe Wills

Tiny Islands: 60 Remarkable Little Worlds Around Britain by Dixe Wills

I know we’ve had a terrible winter and we all desperately need some sunshine and it is very tempting to book that holiday and find that pesky sun but when we have good weather, Britain is beautiful and what larks and adventures we can have on our amazing Island.

Dixe Wills is an outdoor guy – no doubting that, he wrote the bestselling Tiny Campsites and he does have an air of Swallows and Amazons and Secret Seven and Famous Fives about him. In this unique guide to 60 of our islands he paints an idyllic picture of our heritage of lakes, lochs, rivers and the sheer joy of landing on an Island.

Even if you shun our shores this Summer pop this in the suitcase and when you’re sat on that overcrowded beach you’ll think….should have listened to the sage advice of the Hive book guru –happy hols.

All the choices here were nominated by Hive’s resident book guru.

Hive’s Book of the Month: Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star by Tracey Thorn

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star by Tracey Thorn*

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star by Tracey Thorn

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star by Tracey Thorn

Although her and Ben, aka; EBTG were not part of my musical youth (I’m more of an old blues girl, growing up with the John Lee Hooker, The Beatles, Dusty and Motown) the soundtrack of the 80s were for me, not a high point – however, along with Annie Lennox it was always a joy to hear Tracey Thorn sing. She has written an evocative and intelligent memoir of being part of a music industry that was migrating from where she considered her musical roots were based. We see her strive to write and record material that she wrote from the heart and being very politically aware, support causes that this decade became legendary for. Let’s qualify this; by saying she was not a fan of Mrs Thatcher. Each chapter in the book is preceded by one of Tracey’s songs which inevitably makes you want to listen to her music, so I urge you, to either check your dusty shelves of CDs, or better still pay a visit to our music section on Hive and order a CD along with this book. As a bonus, Radio 4 have selected this as a Book at Bedtime which regrettably you probably won’t be able to access now but trust me this is one of the best music biographies I have read in years and if you don’t read this you’re missing a treat…the chapters about nursing Ben through his illness are heart rending.

*As nominated by Hive’s resident book guru.

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Exploring Tracey Thorn further:

Download eBook

Buy Hardback

Tracey Thorn in Music