Book Recommendations

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

silentcompanionsA superb, cleverly written, tense and chilling novel. Pregnant Elsie, both newly married and newly widowed, arrives at her late husband’s country estate. It is in disrepair and worrying rumours swirl around it. The finding of a painted wooden figure, a silent companion, who looks rather like Elsie, adds to her unease. I was so disquieted that I had to finish it on a sunny afternoon.

Review by Katie.

Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers

9781783963621This is the most beautifully written book. Reading it takes you on a journey into Mytholmroyd with the rock as a constant companion. The observations on nature are glorious whilst not flinching from describing the raw and gritty side.  At the end of each part are poems which make you feel like you accompanied the author on his walks around the valley. I was fully immersed in the landscape, the water, the woods, the rock. Lyrical, powerful, engaging, moving and fascinating. Highly recommended.

Review by Katie.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The thing aroundA beautiful collection of short stories that linger and play through your mind long after you have closed the book. The characters jump off the page in vivid reality within the first sentence of each story. They became as real to me as people in my life. Months later the stories and places still come back to me. The stories take you away from England and into the smells, sights and sounds of Adichie’s world. Just brilliant.

Review by Hetty.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.

9781406378795I read this over a weekend as I was so gripped by the story that I could not put it down. Sam has just moved to Salem and finds that her ancestors, linked to the Witch Trials, are causing her trouble. The Descendants, a group whose ancestors were persecuted as witches, are set against her. Add in a ghost named Elijah, her neighbour Jaxon, a secret room, magic and a curse that must be broken and you have all the ingredients of a pacey, interesting read. Issues such as bullying, being an outsider and fitting in at school are also covered.

Review by Katie.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

art of being normalThis book is honestly so life changing for people that need someone to relate to or if they feel like their transition is taking too long. Being a trans person myself this book hit really close to home and I loved it so much. I always recommend it to people who want a new read.

Review by Bluseph – Young Adult Book Club member. 



Eden Summer By Liz Flanagan

Eden SummerSo, ‘thriller/suspense’ aren’t usually a genre I go for and I do tend to stay away from them as sometimes they can be a bit too much. Eden Summer has changed my mind about how I look at thrillers/suspense immensely and helped introduce me softly into books like that. I really like stories that are written in the first person as I feel like I am the character when reading the book. Eden got on my nerves a bit but she was going through a lot so I let it slide. Jess took a while to warm to and once I was used to her as a character it got better. Their friendship was so important and it really does get you thinking about your friends and how you would feel if this happened to one of them, or you. The book tackles some quite sensitive yet important subjects. The book made me feel a whole mixture of feelings. It makes you think about how we might unconsciously judge people at first glance without knowing anything about their life and what is going on with them. Liz Flanagan has created a wonderful piece of work that I enjoyed.

Review by Emily – Young Adult Book Club member.

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani

LullabyLullaby is an unsettling but compelling novel about an ageless nanny who seeps into her employers’ lives like curdled milk. Initially, Louise is a veritable Mary Poppins who arrives at the well-heeled Massés’ Parisian apartment as though she has been sent from above. But her compliant servitude soon begins to wane under her peter-pan collar as her personal demons and extreme loneliness threaten the very charges she is meant to protect. It is no secret that the two children are killed by the nanny in the first few pages with the rest of the novel dedicated to unravelling why such a brutal attack of innocents can occur. It is chilling, troubling and thought-provoking; definitely a tale that will stay with you long after the final page.

Review by Louise.

Running For My Life by Rachel Ann Cullen

Running For My LifeHalifax author Rachel Ann Cullen’s Running for My Life is  a heart-breakingly funny account of her recovery from depression. Part diary, part prose, Cullen shares moments of her life from childhood to adulthood in a no-frills, highly personable memoir that charts her healing journey from self-loathing to self-worth with the help of a pair of trainers. This book is for anyone who is looking for inspiration on how to break a negative cycle and find a happier, better version of themselves. Brave, honest and uplifting, this is the ultimate couch-to-marathon tale that will warm your heart and most likely encourage some blisters too.

Review by Louise.

 Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

things a bright girl can doBeginning in 1914 this book follows the story of three strong young women. May is a Quaker and suffragist who campaigns tirelessly for the vote and to improve women’s lives. Nell is a suffragette who comes from a poor background and is angry at, and fighting against the injustice around her. Nell and May fall in love despite their diverse experiences. Evelyn wants nothing more than to be allowed to go to university. When this is denied her she channels her anger into the suffragette movement. All three are fighting for women’s freedom. Then the war begins and their lives change in unexpected ways. A fantastic read and a great way to introduce the fight for suffrage to children and young adults.

Review by Katie.

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin

The Wicked ComethSet in 1831 in the grimy, murky, crime ridden streets of London this novel follows the story of Hester White. She wishes to escape her surroundings and is becoming worried about the number of people in her area who are disappearing. A chance meeting with a gentleman and his sister, Rebekah Brock, leads to a change in Hester’s circumstances. She becomes caught up in a perilous attempt to solve a grim mystery and finds love and belonging along the way. An atmospheric and gripping tale.

Review by Katie.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

tattooist of auschwitz

This is the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz. His job, tattooing the numbers on the prisoner’s arms, allowed him to move more freely around the camp. He used his position to aid fellow prisoners; he shared his extra food and traded smuggled jewels for food and medicine. He met a young woman, Gita, as he tattooed her number and they fell in love. This book tells their struggle for survival in the most harrowing of places. It is a moving, powerful and important read.

Review by Katie.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor OliphantThis is a debut novel and a really great read. It is very enjoyable. It is warm, funny and tragic in equal measure. Eleanor Oliphant has many quirks and a decided way of doing things. Throughout the book we realise that this is to do with a tragic event in her early life which she has not/can not deal with. She has everything that she needs on the surface, a job, a flat, some interests but it becomes clear that she is existing rather than really living. Making a friend changes all that and we watch Eleanor change in ways that she never imagined.

Review by Katie.

 The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

The red ribbonThis is an incredibly powerful young adult book which centres on four young women – Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. It is told from Ella’s point of view and follows her from her first day in her new job in a sewing workshop. Only it is no ordinary first day as the workshop is in Birchwood (Auschwitz) and this is a story all about hope, friendship and survival. It is based on real sewing workshops within concentration camps. It is a wonderfully written story which brings home the horror of it’s setting in a way which is all the more powerful because it is dealing with sewing and clothes, things that are not out of the ordinary.

Review by Katie.

 Pax by Sara Pennypacker

PaxThis is a children’s story about a boy and a fox and a war. Peter rescued Pax when he was a cub and they have grown up together. With a war coming Peter is forced to return Pax to the wild; a decision he regrets as soon as he makes it. The book is the story of Peter’s hunt to find Pax and Pax’s story of what happens in the meantime. Peter and Pax get alternate chapters to tell their stories which works very well and the fox’s voice is believable. It is an enjoyable and moving read, a little weepy in places. It would also be a good book to read aloud although you would need to judge the sensitivity of your audience. It is beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Review by Katie.

The Book of Dust Volume One La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Book of dustThe main character in Northern Lights, Lyra, is a baby in this book. The main character in this book is Malcolm, a publican’s son who lives in the pub on the banks of the Thames. He has a beloved canoe called The Belle Sauvage and he canoes on the Thames, helps in the pub and does odd jobs in the nunnery across the river. But then it rains and rains and Malcolm meets friends and enemies and learns about politics and religion and science. He finds himself swept into a dangerous adventure. This book was thrilling and exhilarating and nerve wracking and gripping.

Review by Katie.

The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers

Gallows Pole

The Gallow’s Pole is a visceral re-telling of the Cragg Vale Coiners’ efforts to ‘clip’ the late 18th century England’s economy into devastation. Myers dives head first into the murky world of pseudo King David Hartley and his gang of land-workers as they bully and spit their enterprising scheme across the Calder Valley. No man will stand in their way but can they avoid the hangman’s noose? Myers weaves a rich, authentic tale full of poetry, landscape and Yorkshire vernacular that has you grasped by the throat long after the final page has been turned.

Review by Louise.

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe

Black Teeth

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is a gritty debut novel based on and inspired by Bradford born playwright Andrea Dunbar. Affectionate but never sentimental, Stripe tells the story of Dunbar’s working class life on the infamous Buttershaw Estate, battling alcoholism and domestic violence to become one of her generations most important playwrights. The double narrative warmly gives voice to someone often described as a lost genius.

Review by Sarah.

The Companion by Sarah Dunnakey

The Companion

The Companion is an atmospheric novel of mystery and secrets hidden in the past.  Set around the local beauty spot of Hardcastle Crags and drawing on the history of the area, the story moves between the present day and the 1930’s. The author deftly handles the two time lines as researcher Anna uncovers the secrets of the past and in the character of Billy, has created a character who will stay with you after reading.

Review by Kate.