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reading recommendations

#BlackLivesMatter may not be trending anymore, but that doesn't mean that the problem has disappeared. It's important that as a predominantly white society we continue to actively work towards learning and improving, to strive for better equality. In order to gain a finer understanding of the perspective of Black people, or people of colour (POC), why not read books through their narrative?

Romance and chick-lit books are always fun to read. If ever you're craving a bit of light escapism to distract you from this slightly worrying reality we're all living through at the moment, then romance is the way to go. We've compiled a list of fun romance books, perfect for easy reading, all featuring characters who are Black/POC, to help you diversify your shelves. Because at the end of the day, everyone deserves a happily ever after, no matter the colour of your skin.

You Had Me at Hola

Award Winning author Alexis Daria brings readers an unforgettable, hilarious rom-com set in the drama-filled world of telenovelas—perfect for fans of Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty.

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling, Jasmine, finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she lands a coveted, starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. 

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents.

Naturally though, rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

The Sun Is Also A Star

So much more than a teen love story.

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

This hilarious best-seller is quite frankly, a treat, which perfectly illustrates the age-old relationship trope, when opposites attract.

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost-but not quite-dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”. She’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

That's when she enlists Red to help her out; the tattooed handyman and artist — not to mention he drives a motorcycle!

Now That I've Found You

This is a YA novel about searching for answers, love, and your eccentric grandma in all the wrong places. It features romantic tension, Hollywood scandal and a fun-filled chase all around New York — what's not to love?

Following in the footsteps of her überfamous grandma, eighteen-year-old Evie Jones is poised to be Hollywood’s next big star. That is until a close friend’s betrayal leads to her being blacklisted . . .

Fortunately, Evie knows just the thing to save her floundering career: a public appearance with America’s most beloved actress— her retired grandma, Gigi, aka the Evelyn Conaway.  Days before Evie plans to present her grandma with an honorary award in front of Hollywood’s elite, Gigi does the unthinkable: she disappears.

With time running out and her comeback on the line, Evie reluctantly enlists the help of the last person to see Gigi before she vanished: Milo Williams, a cute musician Evie isn’t sure she can trust. As Evie and Milo conduct a wild manhunt across New York City, romance and adventure abound while Evie makes some surprising discoveries about her grandma — and herself.

The Marriage Game

This entertaining rom-com featuring a high stakes wager between an aspiring entrepreneur and a ruthless CEO, is wonderfully scattered with references of Indian culture.

After her life falls apart, Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco to start a new business above her father's restaurant. But what she doesn’t know, is that her worrisome father has set her up on a dating site and arranged a series of blind dates, just for her — leaving Layla completely in the dark, until the first one comes knocking on her door…

CEO, Sam Mehta, is in search of a quiet new office, when he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

Real Men Knit

After the death of his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, Jesse and his brothers struggle over what to do with her Harlem knitting store. Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out the knitty-gritty of how to run the business. The more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a sweet YA romance, is the story of Lara Jean. She's never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.

But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh.

As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

The Worst Best Man

Critically acclaimed author Mia Sosa delivers a sassy, steamy enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy about a woman whose new job requires her to work side-by-side with the best man who ruined her wedding: her ex-fiancé's infuriating, irritating, annoyingly handsome brother.

If they can survive the next few weeks and nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.

But even the best laid plans can go awry, and soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them.

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Books can change your life for the better. There are so many tales that have shaped me into the 25-year-old woman I am today. Books have educated me, inspired me and encouraged me. They’ve been a form of escapism during dark times and a source of inspiration throughout my entire life.

Brooklyn, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Wuthering Heights are up their with my all time favourites, but it is one of my most recent reads that completely changed the way I think about my life.

That book is How To Fail by journalist Elizabeth Day.

How To Fail is the most eye-opening and reassuring read. It has altered the way I view my past ‘failures’ in life and has helped me embrace the lessons we learn from our failures.

The non-fiction book is inspired by her hugely popular podcast of the same name. The book focuses on the writer's 'failures' and what she has learned from them. Those failures include everything from Elizabeth’s early days as a journalist to her IVF struggles and the breakdown of her marriage.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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It is raw and honest and unbelievably beautiful. Everyone will relate to this book in one way or another, because we have all ‘failed’ at one point in our lives.

Failure shapes us and teaches us vital lessons that improve our lives, even if the failures make us feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. 

This book is full of wisdom and reassurance. It taught me so much about being a writer, being a woman, the desire to be a mum and the importance of being a friend.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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How To Fail reassured me about lost friendships, changed the way I look at my career and taught me so much about fertility and the harrowing experiences women have to go through. This book has been a source of joy, guidance and comfort.

It has educated me in ways I never expected. 

It is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of How To Fail by Elizabeth Day.

How To Fail by Elizabeth Day is published by Harper Collins.

You can buy a copy here.

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We have long been a fan of Shari Lapena so were thrilled to learn that she had a new book coming out this year. Someone We Know is her latest psychological thriller and as you might expect, it does not disappoint.  

The story is set in the affluent neighbourhood outside of Manhattan.  

In a tranquil, leafy suburb, the story unfolds – the focus is on four main families. The book opens on one family (the Sharpes’) whose eldest son has broken into their neighbours house for no other reason than he can. 

This initially seems like an act of a bored and rather foolish teenager, but it swiftly unravels into a key moment of a story that will enrapture your attention from the get-go.  

Image result for someone we know book

Meanwhile, their neighbour, Amanda Pierce has gone missing. Her husband Robert is an unlikeable piece of work, but seems distressed by her absence and after all, no-one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.  Very quickly the book turns into a murder investigation as Amanda Pierce is found by chance in the boot of her submerged car.

This is a story which reminds us that you never really know what goes on behind closed doors or what our neighbours are really like despite seeing them walking their dog in the morning and returning home from work in the evenings. 

From the outset there are many suspects who could have killed Amanda and the tension builds with each turn of the page. Despite the original friendships the book opens with, they quickly disintegrate as neighbour turns on neighbour to distance themselves from what the police are uncovering. 

This is a fast-moving psychological thriller that filled me full of intrigue and excitement. All in all, it’s a finely crafted read that held my attention nicely throughout and left me satisfied at the end.

Someone We Know is fast and twisty; full of intrigue, secrets, lies and murderous intent which you will race through.  

We highly recommend.

Published by Penguin Random House 2019.
 

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August is here and we’re ready for a month full of reading. There are so many titles to choose from but we’ve managed to whittle our August reading list down to six books. There’s something for everyone so we’re sure you’ll find a tale that tickles your fancy on our list.

All The Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (Penguin)

On Deena’s seventeenth birthday, the day she finally comes out to her family, her wild and mysterious sister Mandy is seen leaping from a cliff. The family is heartbroken but not surprised. The women of the Rys family have always been troubled- ‘bad apples’, their father calls them- and Mandy is the baddest of them all.

But then Deena starts to receive letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is a curse, handed down through generations of Rys women. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must begin a desperate cross-country hunt for her sister, guided only by the notes that mysteriously appear in each new place. What Deena finds will heal their family’s rotten past- or rip it apart forever.

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The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton (Penguin)

Neena’s always been a good girl. But when her brother disappears without a trace, her family becomes fractured beyond repair- and Neena finds herself spiralling out of control as she tries to find out what happened to Akash.

Surrounded by broken friendships, a broken heart and an increasingly broken grip on her sanity, Neena’s never felt more hopeless. But, as she’s about to discover, sometimes it’s in our darkest moments that we find our true strength.

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The To-Do List and Other Debacles by Amy Jones (Penguin)

How not to be good? Let me list the ways…

Are you a woman? Do you make to-do lists to stop you losing your mind? Have you ever cried in the toilets at work, had a meltdown in the supermarket, or gone off the rails at a hen party?

And have you ever been saved from any of the above by your truly brilliant friends?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this is the book for you. A moving, funny and brutally honest memoir of one woman’s millennial misadventures, The To-Do List and Other Debacles follows Amy Jones on her journeys through friendship, marriage and mental health disasters in a story that’s as relatable as it is riotous.

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I Confess by Alex Barclay (Harper Collins)

A group of childhood friends are reunited at a luxury inn on a remote west coast peninsula in Ireland. But as a storm builds outside, the dark events that marred their childhoods threaten to resurface.

And when a body is discovered, the group faces a shocking realisation: a killer is among them, and not everyone will escape with their lives.

Published on August 22.

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman (Penguin)

Thirty-four years have passed since Sephy Hadley- a Cross- first met Callum McGregor- a Nought. Their love was forbidden, powerful- and deadly.

Life is seemingly very different now for Noughts and Crosses- including for Sephy and Callum’s families. But old wounds from the past are hard to heal, and when you’re playing a game as dangerous as they are, it won’t be long before someone gets caught in the crossfire.

Published on August 8.

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls (Hodder)

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope. But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling: The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.

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