What to read next? Here’s our latest book club shortlist…

JUNE 2017

A couple of times a year we put together a shortlist of books and our (Women Aloud St Albans) members vote on the ones they’d like to read for our monthly book club. The list includes books suggested by our members and those that have been bestsellers, up for literary awards, recommended by other book clubs or popular picks on sites like goodreads.

Members of our Women Aloud St Albans group will be voting over the next few weeks. If you’re local to St Albans and want to come along to our monthly book club you can reserve your place on meetup. If you can’t join us in person; we’ll post each time we’re reading a new book….and you’re very welcome to get involved by commenting on the blog post to let us know what you thought of the book.

If you’re not keen to be a book critic but you’re looking for some inspiration on what to read next. Our second shortlist of 2017 is below. If you didn’t see our previous shortlist, click here >

  1. A Life Without You by Katie Marsh
    It’s Zoe’s wedding day. She’s about to marry the love of her life. Then she gets a phone call, with the news that her mum Gina has been arrested. Zoe must make a decision: should she leave her wedding to help? Zoe hasn’t seen Gina for years, blaming her for the secret that she’s been running from ever since she was sixteen. Now, Gina is back in her life, but she’s very different. Gina is losing her memory. As Zoe struggles to cope with Gina’s illness, can she face up to the terrible events of years ago and find her way back to the people she loves?
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  2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    If you are to survive, you must believe. Shadow Moon has served his time. But hours before his release from prison, his beloved wife is killed in a freak accident. Dazed, he boards a plane home where he meets the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who professes both to know Shadow and to be king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange road trip across the USA, encountering a kaleidoscopic cast of characters along the way. Yet all around them a storm threatens to break. Now a TV series on Amazon Prime.
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  3. False Hearts by Laura Lam
    One night Tila stumbles home covered in blood. She’s arrested for murder. The police suspect that the drug Verve is involved, and offer her sister Taema a deal to save her sister’s life. Posing as Tila, she must infiltrate the crime syndicate running the drug to help bring it down. However, Taema’s inquiries raise dangerous questions. The sisters were raised by a cult which banned modern medicine. Yet as conjoined twins, they needed surgery to replace their failing heart, so had to escape. Now Tila discovers disturbing links between their past and present.
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  4. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
    Shortlisted for man booker prize 2016. The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? This is a story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear.
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  5. Island of Secrets by Patricia Wilson
    All her life, Angelika has been intrigued by her mother’s secret past. Now she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in. Angie’s estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms – it’s time to unburden herself, and tell the story she’ll otherwise take to her grave. It’s the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it’s the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart.
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  6. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
    1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, and her life is about to change. Her survivalist father, who’s been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared. Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.
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  7. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    The limits of 15-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her fanatic father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer. When Nigeria is shaken by a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible secret deep within her family. A novel about the blurred lines between the old and new, childhood and adulthood, love and hatred – where truths are revealed and real life is lived.
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  8. The Dry by Jane Harper
    Set amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century; three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty. Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him 20years earlier. Falk and Luke shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth.
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  9. The Girl Before by JP Delaney
    Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house, on the condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.
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  10. The Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins
    Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit. At the reading of their mother’s will, the estranged women are aghast to discover their inheritance comes with strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’. How will they move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings? Can they see that Iris’ bucket list was about so much more than money…
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  11. The Legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington
    Maggie O’Hara knows better than most that life can change in a heartbeat. Eighteen years ago she was given a second-hand heart, and a second chance at life. Always thankful, Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte – the little girl who saved her life. But as Maggie’s own life begins to fall apart, she loses sight of everything she has to live for…Until an unexpected letter changes Maggie’s life. It seems Lucy’s final gift to Maggie is a legacy to live, laugh, fall in love, to make every cherished second count.
    ********************
  12. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes
    Tina longs to escape her violent husband. She works all the hours God sends to save up enough money to leave, also volunteering in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. Whilst going through the pockets of a second-hand suit, she finds an old letter, which she opens and reads – a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever. Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does – in more ways than he can ever imagine.
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  13. The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins
    Olivia has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career, three children and a talented husband. But at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she’ll lose everything. Vivian is the socially awkward 60-year-old housekeeper who found the diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She’s become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And she has secrets of her own. As the relationship between the two women grows more entangled, a bizarre act of violence changes everything.
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  14. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    Lily has grown up believing she accidentally killed her mother. She has a memory of holding the gun, and her father’s account of the event. Now aged 14, she yearns for her mother, and for forgiveness. Living in South Carolina, she has only one friend: Rosaleen, a black servant. South Carolina in the Sixties is a place where segregation is still considered a cause worth fighting for. When racial tension explodes and Rosaleen is arrested, Lily is compelled to act. Fugitives from justice and Lily’s father, they find sanctuary in the home of beekeeping sisters. Here Lily starts a journey to understand the world, as well as the mystery surrounding her mother.
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  15. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
    An 11-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder is inspired by historical cases of ‘fasting girls’ between the sixteenth and twentieth century. This is a psychological thriller about a child’s death threatening to happen in slow motion. This is a tale of the intense relationship between a woman and a child. Pitting the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.
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I hope there might be a book or two in this list which sparks your interest. And if you’ve read a good book recently, I’d love to know what it is [pop a comment on this post]. Happy reading. x

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