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Ask a Bookseller: Sarah from The Book Nook Stewarton

Bookshops are the very best places to go for book recommendations – and booksellers are the friendliest, most knowledgeable of readers!

Sarah from The Book Nook Stewarton in Ayrshire has joined us to answer your questions and share her favourite crime, mystery and thriller picks.

Want a recommendation of your own? Submit a question for our guest booksellers and if it's answered, we'll send you a £15/€20 National Book Token to spend in your local bookshop.

Sarah at The Book Nook Stewarton

What makes The Book Nook Stewarton a great place to visit?

"The Book Nook Stewarton aims to be a friendly and relaxing place at the centre of the community, where everyone of all ages feels welcome.

We were absolutely thrilled when we won the ShopAppy's award Favourite Family Business UK 2022, beating 4000 other UK businesses to the title. This title is solely awarded on customer nominations submitted, so it really made us happy that customers do indeed love The Book Nook.

That success spurred me on to move The Book Nook into much larger premises, so we have lots of space for events, children's play area and room for people to enjoy a coffee with a browse and chat.

Come along and find out why it is a Favourite Family Business!" Sarah

It's 70 years since the first James Bond book was published. To try something different, I just finished the first Modesty Blaise book. I really enjoyed reading about this sassy, talented female spy and the scrapes she escaped from. Can you recommend any similarly adventurous stories? – Hannah

Hi Hannah, it is great to read a series with a 'kick-ass' female character and I think you would enjoy the Charlie Fox series written by fab author Zoë Sharp. This series features ex-Special Forces soldier turned self-defence expert and bodyguard, Charlie Fox. As the intro to her first adventure says: 'Charlie Fox is one of the toughest cookies you could ever hope to meet. Word of advice, though—don't try to get her to talk about her time in the military. Let's just say it didn’t end well'. There is high praise from Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher books, who says 'if Jack Reacher were a woman, he would be Charlie Fox'. 

Killer Instinct by Zoe Sharp

I'm a fan of comical crime shows. Which cosy crime paperbacks would you recommend to get me started for my summer reads? – Jennifer

Hi Jennifer, if you are looking for crime novels to get you in the mood for summer holidays, I would recommend Morgan Cry's Thirty-One Bones and Six Wounds. Set in an expatriate community in Spain, these thrillers have a great female lead character, Daniella, a really quirky set of ex-pat misfits, lots of humour and are fast-paced and great fun! Many of my customers took these books on holiday last year and agreed they were just right for reading by the pool in the sun.

Thirty One Bones by Morgan Cry

I've just finished reading Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister, which had a brilliant twist that I didn't see coming. Which book has taken you by surprise with an unexpected ending? Thanks! – Kirsten

Hi Kirsten, I also love all Gillian McAllister's books and I agree the twist in Wrong Place Wrong Time was fantastic. All her books are really good and all quite different too, but there is always something I didn't see coming. I do like a twist and I recommend The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C.S. Robertson. This was a favourite read by The BookNookers book club at my bookshop and everyone was wowed with the twist in it. I won't say any more as I don't want to risk any spoilers!

The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C S Robertson

Where were you when you found your favourite book of all time? How long did it take you to finish it? What is it called? – Isabelle

Hi Isabelle, this must be the hardest question of all – picking my favourite book is nearly as hard as picking my favourite child would be! When I was younger, I enjoyed sharing a love of books with my dad and read all Neville Shute's books with him, which is a precious memory.

Coming up to date, I think my favourite read last year was Still Life by Sarah Winman. I loved the settings which went between East London (where I lived for some years) and Florence. Her writing is so evocative, I felt I was sitting in a piazza in Florence having an espresso, and kept coming out of my reading in a daze, to find I was actually still in my bookshop in Ayrshire! I also loved the cast of characters, the quirkiness, the span of decades and the focus on families, friendship and love. It is quite a big book, about 500 pages, and I can't remember how long it took me to read it, but I do read very fast, which is a good thing as I have to read so many books for my bookshop!

Still Life by Sarah Winman

I'd like a recommendation for Mum, who's in her 70s and carer for Dad. She makes little time to read but relaxes when she does, so needs something that catches and holds her attention, with a great story and characters. Thanks – Natalie

Hi Natalie, I hope your Mum manages to get time for reading, such a good way to relax and escape from daily challenges for a while. I think a series would be good, as then you feel you are reconnecting with 'friends' every time a new book in the series comes out. I think your Mum would enjoy the Richard Osman Thursday Murder Club series, which is a mystery series set in a retirement complex. The books don't ignore the challenges that come with ageing but also portray the characters in a very positive light, acknowledging the value of experience that comes with age, with the residents combining their skills to solve mysteries and murders. Full of humour too.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman


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