Books We Loved in April

Books We Loved in April

Black Water – Louise Doughty

From the author of Apple Tree Yard, a previous Richard and Judy Book Club pick and more recently a thrilling Sunday night drama on BBC one, comes Black Water. Following a turbulent childhood and personal tragedy in adulthood, Nicolaas Den Herder takes on the pseudonym of John Harper and begins working for an international organisation advising companies on their interests following political unrest. He’s also responsible for taking the kind of morally ambiguous actions that no government would ever want to make – or at least own up to making.

Just like Doughty’s previous novels, this is a tense and nail-biting psychological thriller that explores how we justify our actions. Are we responsible for the actions of those we work for? And is it ok to do bad things if it leads to the greater good?

How to Read Water – Tristan Gooley

A must-have book for walkers, sailors, swimmers, anglers and everyone interested in the natural world, in How To Read Water, Natural Navigator Tristan Gooley shares knowledge, skills, tips and useful observations to help you enjoy the landscape around you.

Includes over 700 clues, signs and patterns. You’ll learn how to: Interpret ponds like a Polynesian Spot dangerous water in the pitch black with the help of a clock face Read the sea like a Viking Forecast the weather from waves Find your way with puddles Decipher wave patterns on beaches Decode the colour of water Unravel a river like an expert.

From wild swimming in Sussex to wayfinding off Oman, via the icy mysteries of the Arctic, Tristan Gooley draws on his own pioneering journeys to reveal the secrets of ponds, puddles, rivers, oceans and more to show us all the skills we need to read the water around us.

Arthur – Mikael Lindnord and Val Hudson

When you are racing 435 miles through the jungles and mountains of South America, the last thing you need is a stray dog tagging along. But that’s exactly what happened to Mikael Lindnord, captain of a Swedish adventure racing team, when he threw a scruffy but dignified mongrel a meatball one afternoon. When they left the next day, the dog followed. Try as they might, they couldn’t lose him – and soon Mikael realised that he didn’t want to.

Crossing rivers, battling illness and injury, and struggling through some of the toughest terrain on the planet, the team and the dog walked together towards the finish line, where Mikael decided he would save Arthur and bring him back to his family in Sweden, whatever it took.

Soldier Spy – Tom Marcus

Tom Marcus is the pen name of a former MI5 agent who was the target of a terrorist plot by Islamic extremists. After a narrow escape from being kidnapped and beheaded and leaving his role as an undercover surveillance operative, Marcus now suffers from PTSD and a sense of paranoia that has led to him stitching GPS trackers into his son’s clothes.

This is a fascinating and surprisingly moving first hand account of a job that most of us know nothing about – and for those that do know a little bit about it, Marcus has been allowed to reveal a huge amount of detail which helps us fully understand the dramas that are unfolding, unseen, around us.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus shows us where we’re going. War is obsolete. You are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict. Famine is disappearing. You are at more risk of obesity than starvation. Death is just a technical problem. Equality is out – but immortality is in. What does our future hold?

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling phenomenon Sapiens envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers?

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

A powerful and brave YA novel about what prejudice looks like in the 21st century. Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

Lying in Wait – Liz Nugent

There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder.

However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …

The Bricks that Built the Houses – Kate Tempest

Award-winning poet and rapper Kate Tempest’s electrifying debut novel takes us into the beating heart of the capital in this multi-generational tale of drugs, desire and belonging. Young Londoners Becky, Harry and Leon are leaving town in a fourth-hand Ford Cortina with a suitcase full of money. They are running from jealous boyfriends, dead-end jobs, violent maniacs and disgruntled drug dealers, in the hope of escaping the restless tedium of life in south-east London – the place they have always called home. As the story moves back in time, to before they had to leave, we see them torn between confidence and self-loathing, between loneliness and desire, between desperate ambition and the terrifying prospect of getting nothing done.

In The Bricks that Built The Houses Kate Tempest explores contemporary city life with a powerful moral microscope, giving us irresistible stories of hidden lives, and showing us how the best intentions don’t always lead to the right decisions.

Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait – Steve Parke

Picturing Prince sees the late icon’s former art director, Steve Parke, revealing stunning intimate photographs of the singer from his time working at Paisley Park. At least half of the images in the book are exclusively published here for the first time; most other images in the book are rare to the public eye.

Alongside these remarkable images are fifty engaging, poignant and often funny written vignettes by Parke, which reveal the very human man behind the reclusive superstar: from shooting hoops to renting out movie theatres at 4am; from midnight requests for camels to meaningful conversations that shed light on Prince as a man and artist.

Defender of the Realm – Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby

This is a fast paced, exciting explosion of a book that just gets better the more you read. It draws you in from the first page and then it’s non stop action, with plenty of twists and turns right up until the last page & as soon as I finished it I just wanted to pick up book 2!

If you’ve read Percy Jackson or Alex Rider then Alfie is a new hero for you, heir to the throne and suddenly thrust into the spotlight and his destiny when he least expects it. But his destiny is also to be Defender of the Realm, a legendary superhero, fighting a secret battle to protect the people from monsters and super villains. With brainy Hayley on his side he just about stands a chance as they team up to stay one step ahead. We’re really excited about this new series and you won’t have to wait long for book 2 – hurray!

Tuesday Nights in 1980 – Molly Prentiss

One town. Three people. A single year that will change them all forever. Welcome to the chaotic, seductive, unpredictable world of 1980s, downtown New York Raul is an Argentinian painter, fresh on New York’s downtown scene, about to explode into fame. James is the city’s most notorious critic, known for his unique synaesthesia, his mind ablaze with fireworks and symphonies. And Lucy is just another young girl who escaped suburbia, all too easily dazzled by the brilliant strangers who cross her path.

Exploding with colour and raw energy, this electrifying debut captures the spirit of a New York now long gone, a place of creation and destruction and endless possibility.

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

The best books make you see differently. This is one of them. When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not. Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us. It is about opening your eyes.

Sleeping Giants – Sylvian Neuvel

Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…”We always look forward. We never look back.” That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered.

An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent. “But this thing …it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.” An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from – and how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

And Then We Ran – Katy Cannon

A road-trip story about following your dreams and embracing the unexpected. Megan knows what she wants out of life and she intends to get it, whatever her parents say. Elliott has given up on all his plans for the future – but then Megan bursts into his life with a proposal that could change it forever.

Together they embark on a road trip to escape their hometown and chase their dreams. But life is a journey and not even Megan can control where theirs will lead…Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Rainbow Rowell and Non Pratt.

A Year of Beautiful Eating – Madeleine Shaw

In A Year Of Beautiful Eating, bestselling nutritional health coach Madeleine Shaw shows you how to eat your way to health and beauty all year round. With over 100 nutritious and wholesome recipes packed with flavour and medicinal benefits, Madeleine focuses on the importance of eating in tune with nature and supercharging your plate with what your body needs to look and feel beautiful season by season.

Toast the longer days of spring with Lamb Chops with Parsnip Mash and Asparagus; cool off with a Papaya and Peanut Salad in summer; embrace the autumn with a Pumpkin and Red Cabbage Salad with Miso Dressing and indulge in winter with Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies. No matter your mood, this is good, wholesome eating, every day of the year.

The Giant Jumperee – Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury

Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow. “I’M THE GIANT JUMPEREE AND I’M SCARY AS CAN BE!” When Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help they are each scared away in turn by the mysterious voice.

He can squash you like a flee He will sting you like a bee And he’s taller than a tree! But who is the Giant Jumperee? A new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.

Because I Was Lonely – Hayley Mitchell

Because I Was Lonely follows four lonely people, in two unhappy marriages, and maps the dangerous consequences that can occur when people reconnect online.

Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity – and the safety of her children. She’s lonely. Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house. He’s lonely. So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Four lonely people. Two unhappy marriages. One dangerous, but inevitable climax.

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: A Memoir – Chris Packham

Every minute was magical, every single thing it did was fascinating and everything it didn’t do was equally wondrous, and to be sat there, with a Kestrel, a real live Kestrel, my own real live Kestrel on my wrist! I felt like I’d climbed through a hole in heaven’s fence. An introverted, unusual young boy, isolated by his obsessions and a loner at school, Chris Packham only felt at ease in the fields and woods around his suburban home. But when he stole a young Kestrel from its nest, he was about to embark on a friendship that would teach him what it meant to love, and that would change him forever.

In his rich, lyrical and emotionally exposing memoir, Chris brings to life his childhood in the 70s, from his bedroom bursting with fox skulls, birds’ eggs and sweaty jam jars, to his feral adventures. But pervading his story is the search for freedom, meaning and acceptance in a world that didn’t understand him. Beautifully wrought, this coming-of-age memoir will be unlike any you’ve ever read.