Thanks to Dawn Annandale’s monthly wade through new and all-time-favourite titles, our selection of books never fails to impress. Why are our final choices all four- and five-star worthy? Simple… Dawn discards the average and focuses on the outstanding. Nothing else is good enough for this author and book club host.

By Matt Haig
Publisher: Canongate Books
Genre: Contemporary fiction

Can you imagine having the chance to go back in time and make those life-changing decisions all over again? Would you have taken that job, split up with your ex or had that argument?

Nora Seed is given that chance. She finds herself in the Midnight Library surrounded by an eternal wealth of books telling alternative versions of her life. She is free to read them all, re-visit her decisions, her regrets and undo them all if she wishes. She can pick the one that will take her on the path to how she would have liked her life to travel rather than the life she actually has.  All starts off swimmingly but soon turns to danger…

An interesting concept, it had me thinking about some of the huge decisions I’ve made over the years which haven’t quite worked out the way I would have liked but, conversely, I’m quite content with him indoors and maybe life is best left to fate? I dunno – it’s a hard one.

What would have happened if I hadn’t been in a certain place at a certain time?  Would I have the courage to change any decisions in the way Nora was challenged?  Hmmm… food for thought.

By Mark Edwards
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Genre: Psychological thriller

The thing about Mark Edwards’ books is that these dreadful tales of terror and persecution are all so plausible and you can see it happening to you. This one had me shouting at the young couple the book centres on not to do it, don’t let her in, but obviously they couldn’t hear me and they did anyway.

Ruth and Adam are in their twenties, are British, and are offered the opportunity of house-sitting for the summer in New York.  Such an exciting adventure has to be had, so off they go to the Big Apple.

All is hunky-dory until one stormy night there’s a knock at the door and a young lady who introduces herself as Eden is standing there, soaked to the skin, surprised to find Ruth and Adam in place of the homeowners.

I won’t give the game away but in a nutshell, our lovely heroes accept Eden at face value.  She tells them she is a good friend of the owners and has an open invitation to stay anytime she is in town. Ruth and Adam are nice people, and Eden comes to stay – that’s when the fun and games begin.

This is a cautionary tale and reading it objectively, I was saying don’t be daft – she’s a mad axe-murderer but in reality (and yes, I do know it’s only a book!) I think the vast majority of us are too trusting.

By Lindsey Hilsum
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Biography

IN EXTREMIS – The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin
Marie Colvin wasn’t just a journalist – she was a freedom fighter. She fought for freedom of speech, for the right to be heard in a democratic and just society, to report truthfully and without glorification. I am in awe of this remarkable woman. This book was written by her friend and fellow journalist, Lindsey Hilsum, who adds humanity to the persona we possibly only regard as tough and hard-drinking, heroic and possibly a little foolhardy. Colvin was without doubt one of the most tenacious and unrelenting war correspondents ever to have reported from the front line. She was under fire in Lebanon, Chechenya, Sri Lanka and and finally in Syria where she was killed in 2012. She reported first hand on the suffering of the people, the innocents entangled in political wars not of their making and of the consequences suffered.

Colvin was a complex character, undeniably brave, often reckless and totally unreliable in her personal life. Although, in her defence, taking off at the drop of a hat to a war-ravaged Syria is possibly not conducive to conducting a long-term, 2.4 kids-style relationship. She was a legend, determined to find the truth and share that truth; her legacy will endure.

By Conn Iggulden
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Historical fiction

What an utterly swash-buckling, blood and guts, fabulous tale of ancient battles and daring deeds.  Featuring two of the most famous battles of the ancient world – the Battle of Marathon and the Last Stand at Thermopylae – this is a bravura piece of storytelling in which a people, driven to preserve their freedom at any cost, committed acts both base and noble.

The politics and intrigue of ancient Greece is fascinating. Iggulden is renown for his factually accurate renditions of historical events and this book is no exception. I don’t claim to be a classics scholar in any way but do recall my Greek Literature lessons of far too many years ago. I loved the intricacies, the complex but clearly explained relationships between the warring factions, the kings, the emperors and the heroes.  It’s not a history lesson but a thoroughly compelling tale of ancient Greece which I adored.

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