August Book Club by Camilla Leask


Camilla Leask, our brilliant Book Club guru, gives us her top picks for August!

Freelance books publicist and mum of two, Camilla has worked predominantly with children’s authors for 14 years. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about books, hot off the press new releases and what our members and their families will enjoy reading.

Here she gives us her top picks for August – get on that sun lounger now!


FOR KIDS:

 A GIRL CALLED JUSTICE: THE SMUGGLERS’ SECRET by Elly Griffiths (Quercus Children’s, £6.99)

My resident 10-year old reviewer devoured both books in the new-ish JUSTICE JONES murder mystery series from bestselling adult crime writer Elly Griffiths.

Set in the late 1930s, junior super-sleuth Justice Jones was packed off in book one to Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentelfolk by her widowed father, a criminal barrister. Justice navigates the ritual complexities of an all- girls school while uncovering mysteries, secrets, disappearing teachers and rising body counts.

In the recently-published second book, Justice returns for spring term at Highbury House and it isn’t long before her suspicions are raised by nighttime corridor creeps and locked basements. When the elderly Mr Arthur dies in mysterious circumstances in his home close to school, Justice Jones must use her detective skills once again to uncover the truth behind his death and his murderer’s identity.

This fun series is perfect for fans of Enid Blyton’s school and mystery series, Katherine Rundell and Robin Stevens.

RIDE THE WIND by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino (Walker Books,£12.99)

A picture book as much for adults as for young children, Ride the Wind is an emotional tale about a young boy called Javier and his seemingly brutish fisherman father, both grieving in different ways for Javier’s dead mother.

On one of his father’s fishing trips, an albatross is caught on the hooks. Against his father’s orders, Javier smuggles the bird to shore and nurses her back to life. She accepts his food but refuses to fly back to her home. After a confrontation with Tomas who has sold the bird to a local fairground owner, Javier finds and frees the magnificent bird once again, refusing her to suffer the same fate as his mother who had left them for the city, where she was ‘alone and sick and far from home.’

This picture book from one of our best children’s writers packs a powerful punch, enhanced by Salvatore Rubbino’s beautiful illustrations, which capture the mood of the story and the dramatic Chiloe Archipelago where it is set.


FOR TEENS:

The latest novel from award-winner Patrick Ness is set in 1950s America against a backdrop of the cold war, one where  dragons exist – menacing fire-breathing creatures that have struck an uncomfortable truce with humans. Racism is rife, with heavy-handed police patrolling the roads. The mixed-race heroine, 16-year old Sarah, suffers the butt of their prejudice, made worse because she is in love with a local Japanese boy.
Sarah’s mother has recently died and her father is struggling to keep the family farm going. His only solution is to hire a dragon, a rare Russian blue called Kazimir, to clear some fields by burning them, in return for gold.
A friendship forms between Sarah and Kazimir, who supposedly doesn’t have a soul but seems intent on keeping her safe from the brutal attentions of the Deputy Sheriff and the FBI as a deadly plot unravels, one that seems to involve Sarah.

Romance and friendships balance the drama and paranormal in this story of revenge and redemption, which questions who the real monsters are.

 

HELLO NOW, Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins Children’s £4.01)

This is the ethereal story of Jude (gender undefined, let’s say her), a teenager who constantly moves home according to her mother’s relationships. The novel is set in the latest home, scruffy seaside house replete with sitting tenant Henry, an old man who is expected to die soon.
When a boy called Novo arrives in town in a battered black car, the novel turns into a lyrical love story, the intensity of those heady moments of first love captured brilliantly. But Novo is not normal, he seems to live outside of normal time and has a magical aura that draws Jude into his world, spending hours on the sea and underwater, losing all sense of time and place.
Their heightened experience of love teaches Jude how to appreciate and live in the moment. Henry, who can’t go outdoors, also has magical secrets and lessons for Jude, who has a gut-wrenching choice to make.
A beautiful book that perfectly captures the heart-stopping business of falling in love.

FOR ADULTS:

The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig (LittleBrown £12.99)

The eighth book from Amanda Craig is a hugely satisfying novel that weaves modern-day inequality into a gripping part-thriller, part-romance.

When struggling single mum Hannah is invited into First Class on the London to Penzance train by the glamourous Jinni, a wicked web begins to form. Crushed by her abusive, philandering husband, Hannah believes she has found an ally in Jinni, equally bitter about her own divorce. Fuelled by loathing and wine, the two women agree to murder each other’s husbands. As strangers, what could possibly connect them?

But when she visits the crumbling Cornish pile of Jinni’s ex, not far from where she grew up, Hannah meets Stan, a hirsute, bloated drunk drowning in sadness. Chance brings Hannah close to Stan, who reveals himself to be entirely different to the beast Jinni portrayed and who Hannah came close to murdering.  Who is Jinni and what are her real intentions?

Craig draws on fairy tales, legends and the peculiarities of our multi-layered society to bring readers a tightly woven story featuring a cast of credible characters.

The Other Passenger by Sunday Times bestseller Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster £8.99)

THE OTHER PASSENGER is the new pulse-raising, sinister psychological thriller from award-winner Louise Candlish.

The first person narrative pulls readers into a gripping plot that jumps seamlessly back and forth over the course of a year in a dank, grey London.  Scarred by claustrophobia, 40-something Jamie has given up the rat-race for a quieter life and commute by riverboat that comes with a new set of ‘water rat’ friends, led by the hedonistic young Kit.  Soon Jamie and his long-term girlfriend Clare have formed an uneasy friendship with Kit and his unhinged girlfriend Melia, both embittered by debt and gaping property disparities.

When Kit is reported missing after the water rats’ Christmas session, the police zone in on Jamie. Seen by another passenger to have argued with Kit on the last boat home, the police believe Jamie has motives to have wished Kit dead. But Jamie knows he is totally innocent. Isn’t he?

Candlish masterfully unpicks a cast of unlikeable characters and entirely plausible twists to create an atmosphere of mounting dread and distrust with an unsettling conclusion. This is a hard book to put down.


Camilla Leask has worked with literary giants including Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate 2019-2022 Cressida Cowell, the late Michael Bond and Paddington Bear, Enid Blyton Entertainment and the Narnia Estate among many others.



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