We’ve revamped our Book of the Month selections in tandem with our brand new Pick & Mix subscription boxes, launching in August – take a look here.

Red Island House by Andrea Lee

At first she’s content to be an observer of the passionate affairs and fierce rivalries around her in Madagascar, but over twenty tumultuous years of marriage and family life, Shay finds herself drawn ever deeper into a place where a blend of magic, sexual intrigue, and transgression forms a modern-day parable of colonial conquest. Soon the collision of cultures comes right to Shay’s door, forcing her to make a life-altering decision that will change her and her family’s lives forever.

Andrea Lee has brought to life a world that feels vivid and interesting, allowing readers to explore a portrayal of Madagascar with a complex personality and identity. At its core, this is a story of culture, power, entitlement, and the exploitation of territory, but shrouded in darkness and intrigue.

The novel is told in vignettes, travelling through time and spanning decades, but from the perspective of a single protagonist. The immersive writing allows this book to feel like a journey, a tour of the island told in stories. Red Island House fully entangles you in the lives of Shay and Senna, their island home and the magic of Madagascar.

Maisie’s pick
July’s Fiction Paperback

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987. Their love of video games becomes a shared world — of joy, escape and fierce competition. When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, the spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – making games to delight, challenge and immerse players, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives.

This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

This novel is masterful. It’s an incredibly accessible take on what is often a winding and convoluted contemporary style, and it succeeds at everything it sets out to do.

Zevin touches on almost every topic you could hope for — love (romantic at times, but more importantly platonic, and a love for art and creativity), the highs and lows of working in a creative field, the highs and lows of being a woman in a male-dominated career, disability, trauma, and even questions the point at which admiration and inspiration become appropriation.

Don’t shy away from this book if you don’t know much about video games or online culture. Whilst it is pivotal to the characters and their lives, there’s nothing that will completely shut out an unfamiliar reader. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a love letter, with references to art and video games and literature woven seamlessly into the narrative.

Maisie’s pick
July’s Fiction Hardback

Sentient: What Animals Reveal About Our Senses by Jackie Higgins

Jackie Higgins assembles a menagerie of zoological creatures – from land, air, sea and all four corners of the globe – to understand what it means to be human. Each zoological marvel illustrates the surprising sensory powers that lie within us and enables us to engage with the world in ways we never knew possible.

I think most of us could easily name the 5 senses we were taught at school, but what if you were suddenly told there’s 33, and quite probably more? That’s the world that Jackie Higgins introduces us to, a world that explores what it is that makes us sentient beings. From the very first animal we are introduced to, a diminutive crustacean that punches it’s way out of an aquarium tank and with more ways of detecting light that we could ever imagine, she shows us how as humans we have an incredibly nuanced way of interpreting what our senses perceive.

Each chapter introduces us to another creature and sense, relating it to our own experiences and understanding. Whilst very well researched and scientific it is simultaneously incredibly readable and entertaining, perfect to dip in and out of.

Eloise’s pick
July’s Non-fiction paperback

The Draw of the Sea by Wyl Menmuir

The ocean fires our imagination, provides joy, solace and play but also wields immense destructive power. The Draw of the Sea explores communities whose lives revolve around the coasts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. In the specifics of these livelihoods and their rich histories and traditions, Wyl Menmuir captures the universal human connection to the sea and weaves the story of how the sea has beckoned, consoled and restored him.

The Draw of the Sea is a fascinating, heartfelt, personal delve into Cornwall’s coastal waters, beaches, and everything in between. With beautiful pictures and distinctive stories, the narrative takes you to every part of the shoreline, from beachcombing for hidden treasures and rockpooling, to diving, surfing, fishing, and wild swimming in the Cornish waves.

This exploration of what the sea means to us is deeply comforting and captivating, and a book I will not forget reading.

Kayleigh’s pick
July’s Non-fiction hardback

The Forevers by Chris Whitaker

They first saw the asteroid ten years back, when it was far away in space and time and meaning. The changes were gradual, and then sudden. Now they are facing thirty days until the end of the world.

Seventeen-year-old Mae is navigating a life where action and consequence are no longer related. Where the popular are both trophies and targets, and where petty grudges turn deadlier with each passing day. With the end rushing ever closer, everyone is facing the same question: What would you do if you could get away with anything?

This book has such a simple premise but is incredibly compelling and heartfelt. Any story with an inevitable ending is tinged with a sense of foreboding, and needs to work hard to cultivate enough hope and reason to keep the characters motivated. Chris Whitaker manages this really well in a novel that remains witty and interesting when tackling some dark themes and heavy topics.

Maisie’s pick
July’s Young adult fiction

(deals with sensitive issues that some may find triggering)

The Great Dream Robbery by Greg James & Chris Smith

Have you ever had a really strange dream? Maya Clayton definitely has. Last night she dreamt that her dad, the brilliant but slightly odd Professor Dexter, had been trapped in a nightmare by his evil boss Lilith Delamere!

But it’s not just a dream – it’s real and Maya and her new friends, the Dream Bandits, must rescue the Professor before it’s too late! All they need is a bit of courage and a LOT of imagination.

Any book that has a talking cat and llamas with bananas in is exactly the sort of story I love. This is a book filled to the brim with imagination and adventure with just the right amount of silliness. From wonderful contraptions to repeating the word cow until it sounds faintly ridiculous, this book magically captures the utterly bizarre world of dreams.

With a heartfelt thread of courage and friendship weaving through the non-stop mad-capped hijinks, this is a fantastic, fun read.

Eloise’s pick
July Children’s fiction