Word cloud classics, published by Canterbury Classics, are bright, affordable flexibound books all featuring the synonymous word cloud front cover, including key themes and quotes from the books. I adore the colours and the simplicity of the design – as you can see, my collection is growing! They are also more durable than some of the other classics collections around at the moment.
Without further delay, here are all of the word cloud classics in my collection – including where to find them.
Note that these go in and out of stock, so keep checking back if the one you want is currently unavailable.
Whether you’re jetting off to an exotic location or staying home this summer, you’ll want some books to get your teeth into.
I don’t know about you, but my reading tastes change in the summer. I want books that are easy to read – no heavy tomes. I want to be immersed. I want to be entertained. So, that is what you will find on this list. Some are new, some are older, all are perfect for lounging by the pool with a cocktail, reclining on the grass in the park (or, of course, sitting in a cool, shady room wishing for winter).
I didn’t plan for them all to be written by women when I started compiling the list but that, wonderfully, is the way it turned out.
Do you have any you would add to this list? Share them in the comments!
1. Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo or Daisy Jones and the Six, you are going to need to go straight out and get Malibu Rising! It’s a frothy, salty, summer read burning with the heat of the sun and full of everything Taylor Jenkins Reid is great at – beautiful people, full wallets and wild parties. You can find it here.
2. The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
Moving to a very different genre, The Lamplighters is creepy and tense with a strong sense of place. Set mostly on a lighthouse, you will feel the cold in your very bones (perfect to cool you down on a hot day!) and – if you’re anything like be – will be completely unable to put it down until you finish. You can find it here.
3. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
If you are a fan of historical fantasy, this is the summer read for you. Inspired by Mexican folklore, this gorgeous story has a balance of romance, magic, burning heat and adventure. Find it here.
4. Verity by Colleen Hoover
Is it the best book I’ve ever read? No. Did I consume it all in one go, unable to put it down? Absolutely yes. It is the kind of book you’ll be glued to at mealtimes thanks to the exceptional cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. Find it here, and enjoy!
5. Still Life by Sarah Winman
A change of pace for my final pick. Still Life is set between London and Florence, and has all of the Italian smells, tastes and sights that you need for a summer read. You will fall in love with the characters during the meandering plot lines, and may well end up planning your own Italian escape by the end. You can find it here.
If you’re interested in modern literature, you’ll have been hard pressed not to notice the incredible rise of Colleen Hoover. She is the current ruler of best sellers’ lists and her back lists have been pounced upon by hungry fans.
I’m not a big fan of romance so I largely ignored the clamour until I found myself in an airport with nothing to read. Verity was sitting at eye level on a shelf. I had heard that this one was a thriller, so I decided to give it a go.
It was a wild ride. I finished it on the flight home, unable to put it down for one second. It’s similar to The Girl on the Train for its page turnability, so if you enjoyed that I’d definitely recommend you give this one a go.
The story itself is fast-paced, full of intrigue and completely unbelievable. It has plenty of spice – for fans of that – and a handful of wonderfully hateable characters. It was the perfect read for a journey: distracting, immersive and with more cliffhangers than you can shake a stick at.
A crime of passion, that was what they were calling it. A woman scorned. And on the face of it, that was what it seemed to be. All of the evidence pointed to it – the messages to the other woman, the reports of furious rows, the neighbourly gossip about what a nice man he had been, what a difficult woman she had been, who could blame him. This was more than corroborated by the wife herself, who had been deeply unpleasant to everyone who had been unlucky enough to be in contact with her.
But something still didn’t sit right.
Flo eased the key into the lock, glancing left and right down the dark street. There was silence, in the way there can only be at 3am. Inside, darkness. Flo tried the light switch – nothing. They must have cut the electricity. She took her torch from a coat pocket, the thin ray of light illuminating the room.
No one had been inside for months and everything had been cleared out, but the scent hung in the air. A sickly sweet smell of royal icing, sugar roses, vanilla sponge. A memory of the first time she had been in the shop rose unbidden to her mind’s eye. The beautiful display of wedding cakes with their tiers and flowers and golden sashes defaced by the angry blood splatters, Ray Hammond lying face up on the floor with his eyes frozen in horror, his throat a mess of slick crimson.
Now, the surfaces were clean and empty. There was nothing to suggest it had been a wedding cake shop at all. Nothing apart from that lingering smell.
Flo moved over to the spot where the body had been found. Another flash of a memory hit her; Ray, splayed, the blood. She shook it away. There was nothing to be seen now apart from a very well scrubbed patch of floor.
Flo crouched, knelt back on her heels and took out her phone. She located the file she’d emailed to herself, opened the attachment and began to flick through the photos. There was the evidence, every bit of it pointing at Ray’s wife, Jean. The paring knife usually used for trimming icing but most recently used for slicing a jugular, the fingerprints – everywhere, though that wasn’t surprising in her shop, the sweet daisy earring found just beside Ray’s body. So why was it that Flo had this nagging feeling?
She zoomed in on the photo of the paring knife, examining every millimetre. As she stared at the incomplete (and unreadable) fingerprint on the tip, her phone began to ring, the sound shocking in the tight silence. She fumbled to answer it.
“Hello? Ma’am? It’s D. C. Wideacre. Sorry to wake you, but there’s been a development in the work permit case.”
“Go on, John.”
“You’ll want to be here for this. We’ve got someone under caution, interviewing in the next half hour. Can I tell the captain you’ll be here?”
The very last thing she needed. Her mind wanted to be here, poring over the crime scene, not in a dingy interview room talking about work permits. She sighed.
“Yes, but I’ll be a little while. Send me everything you’ve got and keep me up to date with the questioning.”
“Sure thing. See you soon.”
Almost immediately, her phone alerted her to a new email. It looked like they had arrested a woman with a false work permit. The electronic work permit itself was attached – she opened it and immediately saw the problem. It had been granted on the basis of her English spouse, and his name was Grant Owen. This must be the twentieth work permit that had turned up in this small town with a spouse named Grant Owen. It was suspicious, sure, but Flo was too distracted by the Ray Hammond case.
She decided to give herself fifteen minutes before heading to the station. She brought up the video of the first interview with Jean and listened to her chillingly calm voice admitting to murder, a heart-shaped smudge of blood still sitting on her left cheekbone. It looked so cut and dry. But why did something feel off?
Flo ran her fingers over the counter where the till once was, pacing back and forth across the room. Nothing new came to her and, reluctantly, she accepted it was time to leave.
Almost as soon as she had begun her drive to the station, her phone – connected to the car’s handsfree system – rang again.
“John? I’m on my way. Is there a development?”
“Yes, ma’am. There is.” He sounded defeated somehow, his energy sapped.
“It’s bigger than we thought. This Grant Owen, or whatever his real name is, he’s a genuine person. He married them somehow. They paid him, the women, and not only that.” He paused.
“What else?” Flo prompted.
“He made sure the marriages were consummated. Even if the women didn’t want to.” He sounded disgusted, and Flo mirrored his feelings. She felt a renewed interest in the case, a drive to catch this man.
“I’ll be there in five minutes.”
Flo parked up and half ran through the dark station to Interview Room A. Wideacre was waiting outside, looking morose behind his round glasses.
“There you are ma’am. Selina’s in the room. That’s her name. She knows you’re coming. She’s upset, but I think she’ll give us more. Anything to catch this bastard, right?”
Flo gritted her teeth, took a deep breath and walked into the interview room.
“Selina? I’m Flo. Good to meet you.” Flo extended her hand to the woman sitting across the table. A petite, dark-haired woman with a tattoo snaking up the left side of her face. Piercings in her nose, lip and several in her ears. She wore two pairs of hooped earrings and an extra stud in her left auricle. A small stud. Shaped like a daisy. A sweet daisy.
In August 1612, the Pendle witch trials took place in Lancaster, Lancashire. 80 years before the notorious Salem witch trials, these trials against a group of people from a remote area of Northern England set precedents that stretched all the way to Massachusetts and beyond.
My debut novel, The Hellion, is based on some of those who found themselves accused during the trials.
The People Behind the Pendle Witch Trials
Much information is available about the political history of the trials. The king at the time, the lawmakers, the prosecutors and the scribes are all well known and well documented. What is often overlooked in stories of horror such as this one is the victims. The people who lost their lives are overshadowed by the power balance.
It’s natural (though frustrating) that we wouldn’t know as much about these people as we do about the men at the the top of the pile. Often illiterate, certainly without access to record makers, the poor of Pendle would have lived their lives in utter obscurity compared to the ruling classes in London, and even Lancashire.
However, we are lucky – in a way – that such comprehensive records were kept of the trials themselves. From these, we know the names of the accused, where they lived, who they were related to, and – from the often heated exchanges – an idea of their characters.
Malkin Tower and the Devices
Some of the accused lived in a home called Malkin Tower. This gives us an immediate insight into them and how they lived. Although it may sound grand, Malkin Tower was a nickname. Malkin was an old word meaning slovenly or slatternly, and the ‘Tower’ part was likely a joke. The fact that the house had been given this name, that it was widely used – even in official court documents – suggests that it was somewhat infamous. The occupants stated that it was their address – did they encourage the use of the name?
As well as this, we learn a little about what they were like from the things they said in court. From a combative and well-worded speech given in defence, to a sorrowful and genuine confession of guilt, when we read carefully we can find out what they were like, and what they thought of the charges brought against them.
When we take these reactions and consider them within the wider religious and cultural background, we can ascertain much more about their lives.
Reading About the Pendle Witches
It was an honour to research some of the accused for The Hellion. To learn about their lives, and imagine how they may have lived, was a privilege. You can find The Hellion for sale on the Book Depository (for worldwide free delivery), Amazon (for the paperback, ebook and audiobook), and any other good bookshop. You can also request it from your local independent bookshop.
If you liked this, you can buy me a coffee by making a donation below. No pressure and it is certainly not expected, but each donation gives me the sweet caffeine I need to carry on writing. Thank you!
The Hellion is officially released on 15th April, and I am planning a virtual launch party to celebrate. It’s not the launch party I had hoped for (though I will be arranging a physical one when restrictions allow!) but it would still be fantastic to come together with you to mark the occasion.
Nitty gritty: anyone and everyone is invited, so feel free to pass the link on to anyone who you think may enjoy it. You don’t need to have read the book (there won’t be any spoilers!), you don’t even need to own it (though if you do want a copy for launch day you can get one here).
The party will last for around 45 minutes (full schedule to be decided, but it won’t be any longer than this). Glasses of champagne are encouraged, snacks optional. Cameras can be on or off, whatever you’re most comfortable with.
The Hellion will be released on 15th April, and as the publication date gets ever closer, I thought it would be a good idea to share some updates and info.
The Hellion is the story of the Device family, who lived in the shadow of Pendle Hill and were haunted by the whisper of witchcraft. Read the full blurb here. It is being published by Unbound Publishers, and is currently available to preorder from most major bookshops (links below).
The launch party is in the planning stages right now! This will be an online party on the 15th April, with details to be announced shortly. It will be open to anyone, and details will be announced on my Instagram (@thesenovelthoughts) and through the blog soon. If you would like to sign up to receive an email invitation, please enter your email address below.
There will also be a short FAQ session as part of the party, so if you have any questions you would like answering (about me, the book, the publishing process, anything!), pop them in the box below and I will answer as many as I can on the day.
The physical launch party will be going ahead as soon as COVID restrictions allow, so stay tuned for updates.
“I absolutely loved this book, it had me gripped from the beginning and I could not put it down until I finished it.” Alison – Goodreads
Reviews for The Hellion are starting to trickle through online, and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who takes the time to rate or review The Hellion. Reviews are vital for authors, and every review you leave helps to spread visibility and bookish love. Thank you!
If you would like to leave a review, here are some popular places to do so:
Ah, now this is exactly the sort of book I love to pick up. A creepy, energetic thriller with just the right balance of horror, intrigue and fantasy.
The beginning of the novel was similar to many haunted house stories – a young woman must visit an old house in the middle of nowhere. When she arrives, she discovers that it is decrepit, mouldy and its occupants decidedly odd. There are silent servants, lecherous men and a cousin who is acting anything but normal.
The protagonist is Noemi, a character that you can’t help rooting for. She is bright and fun and the perfect antithesis to the bleak surroundings, high in the mountains where the mist is a constant companion.
About halfway through, the plot veers away from that of a traditional haunted house tale and becomes something very different. It surprised me, but I loved it. The plot is imaginative and brave, and I am now looking up Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s other books (Gods of Jade and Shadow next, I think!)
Ah, what a joy this book was to read. I absorbed it slowly, savouring every word and getting to know the sweet characters within.
Still Life is the story of Ulysses, a soldier turned globe maker, and Evelyn, a delightfully witty art historian and lecturer. They are generations apart in age, but their respect for one another is one of the key themes in this book.
Set mostly in Florence, I enjoyed every single one of the hours I spent on an Italian terrace as I made my way through the story. We stay mainly with Ulysses, but also grow to know and love his rag tag group of friends who make the move from London to Italy with him.
The book begins in the Second World War, and spans decades. I eventually adored every character, with all their nuances – there was not one I disliked, and I grieved for them when I closed the last page.
There is great depth to Still Life, with many layers of meaning, but the one that struck me most of all was the fleeting nature of life. Of the snapshots that you remember as time follows its unrelenting path, and the memories and people you treasure along the way. Of the fact that, at the same time, you are tiny and insignificant in this universe and enormous and vital in someone else’s world.
Pick up this book, and fall in love.
You can get a copy here – it’s out on June 10th. Thank you to 4th Estate for sending me an advance review copy.
When I heard that a new book by Kazuo Ishiguro was being released, I was extremely excited. I love Never Let Me Go (you can read my review of that book here), and had very high hopes for Klara and the Sun. My excitement was just tinged with a hint of concern that perhaps it could not live up to those expectations.
Well, I am delighted to announce that it did. As always, the depth of detail in Ishiguro’s world was incredible. Klara and the Sun focuses on an artificially intelligent being who is sold as a companion to a child. I won’t say much more about the contents, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone wanting to read it, but I was blown away by the insights into how an artificially intelligent robot might think. You are party to the learning process, as she becomes more socially aware following exposure to varying events. There are countless curiosities – what would a solar powered robot think of the sun? How would a robot’s programming affect what it thought about humans, their emotions and the hierarchy of problems they may have?
As with Never Let Me Go, you do not get any more information than Klara herself has. This naturally leaves many questions unanswered at the end of the book – which is frustrating but, equally, perfect.
I found the novel intensely moving, thought provoking and a genuinely delightful way to spend a weekend. Highly recommended.