Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Must-Reads: Five Books We’ve Been Loving This Month

Hachette x Capsule

Here at Capsule, it’s safe to say that we’re absolute book lovers – although, we don’t all necessary rush to read the same titles. This month, we’re taking a look at our recent favourites from the different genres and niches that we love most. We hope you’ll love them too!

Alice’s Picks:

A fast-paced psychological thriller…

Tell Me Lies, by J.P. Pomare
I made the mistake of taking this book away with me on a little beach holiday, which promptly made me the most unsociable member of the family. There was no swimming to be had, no beach cricket, no doing anything other than getting through this page-turner!

To be fair, the premise of this book already had me hooked from the get-go. It follows a psychologist, Margot Scott, who has a picture-perfect life: the beautiful house, husband, two kids, thriving career – the complete package. 

But, as we learn on the very first page, one warm spring morning she walks up behind one of her clients and promptly shoves him in front of an oncoming train.

You’re immediately thrown into a tailspin of, BUT WHY? And WHO IS IT?!?!? 

In the following chapters you’re introduced to all the clients she is currently seeing  as you attempt to solve the mystery as to who she attacks, and why. It soon appears as though all of her clients are lying to some degree – but which one of them will cost her everything?

This thrilling novel by Kiwi J.P. Pomare (the best-selling author of Call Me Eve and In The Clearing) gets to the action quickly, but then really picks up the pace in the final third of the novel. Warning: if you’re keen on getting a good night’s sleep, be sure to put it down before you get to that point!

You’ll love it if you also enjoyed: The Silent Patient, The Girl on the Train, Her, The Woman in the Window. 

An enchanting tale of courage and betrayal, set in war-time Paris…

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
“‘Libraries are lungs,’ she scrawled, her pen barely able to keep up with her ideas, ‘books the fresh air breathed in to keep the heart beating, to keep the brain imagining, to keep hope alive. Subscribers depend on us for news, for community. Soldiers need books, need to know their friends at the Library care. Our work is too important to stop now.’”

When my feet have been at their itchiest lately, my go-to has to been to try to transport myself to the cobblestone streets of Paris, where I ate the most delicious raspberry tart and espresso of my life. But this month, I found an even better vehicle to transport myself to a whole other country – and time! – with this truly enchanting, delightful novel.

It’s exquisitely written and feels like a true love letter to books – all set in two countries, over two time periods, which are beautifully woven together.

In Odile Sochet’s narrative, we’re in Paris in 1939, where she is completely and utterly obsessed with books. She has landed her dream job – surrounded by books, students, writers and fellow book lovers at the American Library in Paris. When war is declared, the Library is determined to stay open – but then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes.

Meanwhile it’s 1983 in small-town Montana and Lily is a lonely teenager desperate to escape from her humdrum life. She begins to grow close to her neighbour, Odile, discovering that the share the same love of language and the same longings. But as Lily uncovers more about Odile’s mysterious past, she discovers a dark secret, closely guarded and long hidden…

I really didn’t want this book to end, it was such a joy to read – although it has more than its fair share of heartbreak in it. It’s delivers plenty of suspense, betrayals and surprises, whilst still managing to offer so much heart and warmth, as it celebrates the power of friendship, hope and the written word.

I absolutely loved it, even before I discovered it’s based on the true WWII story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris (that’ll teach me for not reading through the whole blurb before starting the book!). And you don’t just have to take my word for it – The Paris Library was an instant New York Times bestseller.  

You love it if you also enjoyed: The Lilac Girls or The Paris Wife.

Emma’s Picks:

A sad and inspiring memoir about a dark chapter of our recent history…

All The Young Men by Ruth Coker Burns
When visiting a sick friend in hospital, Ruth Coker Burns heard crying coming from behind a hospital door marked with a biohazard sign and observed the nurses drawing straws as to who would go in there. It’s 1986 and ‘the gay disease’ has spread from the big cities into Ruth’s hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas – and no-one is willing to look after the young men dying of it. Ruth goes into the hospital room and holds the hand of the boy who is dying – and then helps bury his body, when no funeral directors will take him. Inadvertently, she becomes an ally to an ever-growing numbers of sick young men who are being abandoned by their families and their government as the AIDs crisis hits. 

This is a memoir that is both devastating and uplifting as it shows how much of a difference one person can make and how valuable kindness is to those who are being ignored by society. The AIDs crisis – and the generation of gay men it took from the world – is a harrowing part of recent history and this book is a hard but excellent read; if you’re someone who has recently watched It’s A Sin, you’ll find this book a great companion piece to a time we need to keep remembering.

You’ll love it if you also enjoyed: As the book blurb says, think Dallas Buyers Club meets Erin Brockovich 

An mesmerising, evocative novel set in Baghdad…

When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson
Written with incredibly evocative detail, this story delves into the hidden lives of three women living in Baghdad. Each of them are trying to balance the normal battles of motherhood and womanhood with the intense added pressure of living in a country where the government’s deep suspicions mean that general life is that much harder.

The themes of friendship, parenting and money are made universal in this debut novel from Gina Wilkinson, an award-winning foreign correspondent who spent a year living in Baghdad under the rule of Saddam Hussein, where the country was sealed off from the rest of the world and her role as a journalist meant she was under tight monitoring. She perfectly captures the claustrophobic feel of living under such a regime but what’s also so beautiful is the love she clearly has for the Iraqi culture. This isn’t just a ‘living in a hard country is so hard’ story of misery, it’s a beautiful love letter to a rich and diverse culture of art and music and wonderful people and delicious food (my god, the food descriptions. Do not read this book while hungry, that is my warning to you). All in all it’s a wonderfully descriptive and brilliantly paced book that balances out the suspense with a lot of beauty.

You’ll love it if you also enjoyed: The Stationery Shop of Tehran or The Lady from Tel Aviv

Kelly’s Pick: 

A mystery-thriller with a female lead…

Sister to Sister by Olivia Hayfield 
If there’s a specific niche genre I love in a summer read, it’s a female-driven mystery-thriller set amongst the backdrop of a warring media family. (Apparently all of those years working in magazines hasn’t worn off yet). 

However, author Olivia Hayfield has also loosely based the plot of her novel on the turbulent reigns of Tudor Queens Mary and Elizabeth, with the threads of historically-inspired drama and modern-day rich people behaving badly expertly interwoven to create a thrilling book I actually couldn’t put down. 

Beginning in a very 2021 manner, head of Rose Corp and disgraced media mogul Harry Rose has been forced to step aside after some rather scandalous revelations about his private affairs. His two daughters, shiny, bright and happy Eliza, and dark, twisty and religious Maria, have taken over but damn, they’ve made some big changes to his beloved company. 

Drama obviously ensues, with Harry still meddling, an evil cousin turning up (who I’m pretty sure is based on Mary, Queen of Scots) who causes havoc and the sisters battling for control of the company. 

It’s a wonderfully well-written book, with clever Tudor references sprinkled throughout – Will and Kit loosely translate to William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe for those familiar – while still being wildly entertaining, contemporary romp that’s perfect for Sunday afternoon me-time. 

You’ll love it if you also enjoyed: You love a rompy chick-lit or anything by Louise Bagshawe

Did you miss our last selection of fab books to read? Make sure you catch up on it here!

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