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Bert’s Bundles – May 2019

It’s time to reveal the titles included in the bundles for May.

If you’re looking at these and feeling a bit jealous that you’re not getting them sent to you, then sign up before the end of May to ensure you get your bundles in June.

Use code BUDDY5 to get £5 off your first month!


And in the meantime, if you fancy any of the books below – they’re all available to buy now – just click on the links!


Bert's Best Books

Starting with Bert’s Best Books – I’ve got two brilliant novels – both of which are also available in the General Fiction hardback bundle too!


Paul takes the form of a mortal girl by Andrea Lawlor – Bert’s Book of the Month!

9781529007664I didn’t really like Paul takes the form of a mortal girl to start with – which is a funny thing to say as I’m now billing it as my book of the month! I found Paul quite unlikeable, but after about fifty pages or so, I was glad I stuck with it. The writing is top notch, and you really start to care about Paul – even if you don’t really like him…!


Paul is a shapeshifter. He changes his height, his hair colour even his gender to suit his mood as well as those around him.


He is confident in who he is, but then he falls in love and he starts to question everything. It’s a brilliant metaphor for a young person trying to find their way in the world and one of those books I’ll struggle to forget.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna tells the story of Stella’s life through the eight 9781473686274brushes with death she has. One of the brushes is a distant brush so hard to know whether it counts, hence the title.

To understand Stella’s life, though, you must first understand that of her mother Assunta. Through her we learn about life in their village in the hills of Italy, and of Stella’s early life.

In fact, the stories of Assunta and Stella – spanning more than a hundred years – serve as a social history of Italian-Americans and in a way reminded me of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Sparsholt Affair but better.

Gen Fic PB


Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People has been one of the biggest hits of the last year since it was published in Hardback last August – it has the rare distinction of being shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize a9780571334650nd the Costa Book of the Year.

It was also longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 – so what makes it such a great book?

Rooney is one of the best young writers around and her energy shows in this novel of boy meets girl, bringing to it a believable look at what it means to be growing up in the modern era.

Connell and Marianne are in the same year at school, but they’re very different. For a start Connell’s mother is Marianne’s family cleaner. They don’t have much to do with each other apart from that, but one day, when Connell comes to meet his mother from work, that all changes.

We follow their lives and their on again off again romance through the years, as they both grow and learn to be who they’re meant to be.


Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery
Our Life in a Day is a brand new release but promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.9781409178163

We meet Tom and Esme on the night of their tenth anniversary. Esme has created a game for Tom to play – he has to p
ick the defining moments of their relationship from the past ten years – one for each hour of the day.

The book moves back and forth through time as Tom picks each of the moments that means something to them.

It’s definitely one of my books of the year – not only is a wonderful love story, but it explores male mental health, a subject that is currently not talked about enough.

Crime PB

Picture of Innocence by TJ Stimson

Picture of Innocence is a difficult book to talk about – mostly because I don’t want to spoil 9780008298203anything for you!

Maddie is a busy woman – not only is she looking after three children but she’s also running a charity too. She’s just about keeping it all together on the outside – but a tragedy is set to send her whole life spiralling out of control

One of her children has been hurt – and she starts to suspect everyone of being responsible, even herself!


All the Little Lies by Chris Curran

All the Little Lies is a brilliant thriller full of untrustworthy characters. It all kicks off when Eve receives an email with details the details of her birth mother. 9780008336349


Eve had always known she was adopted, but learning that her mother Stella was killed in a house fire in Italy is new information.


Told from alternating points of view as Eve investigates what really happened to Stella, we get to see it first hand from Stella’s point of view as events build to an unpredictable climax.

Crime HB

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
Little Darlings is a creepy, paranoid story about a woman who begins to believe her new-9780008293673born twins have been taken by a strange a woman.

It starts when Lauren is on the maternity ward overnight and she sees an old looking woman lurking behind a curtain. She is chased into the bathroom and from there she rings for help… but no one believes her.

Only one person believes her, DS Joanna Harper.

Apart from the plot, one thing I liked about this book was that Harper is a bisexual woman, pursuing a relationship with another woman – and no one bats an eyelid. It’s not made a fuss of – and it’s things like this I want to see more of in fiction. Diverse characters where their difference isn’t driving the plot.


Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse
Critical Incidents is a more traditional crime novel. Although our protagonist is female,9780008268992 both her personal and professional life is in tatters. She’s been kicked out of the force she’s single and she’s sharing a bunk-bed with her daughter in her parent’s house.

When her best friend’s husband becomes the prime suspect in a murder she takes it on herself to investigate, but things are further complicated when she discovers the detective actually in charge of the case is her teenage sweetheart.

As well as the dark suspense you’d expect from a crime novel, the characters in this book feel real – all of which means you shouldn’t start this book before bed, else you might be up all night!




It’ll come as no surprise that my book of the month Paul takes the form of a mortal girl is the first title in this bundle, but what’s the second?


Hold by Michael Donkor

9780008280383 Hold starts off in Ghana with Belinda, a seventeen year old housemaid for a couple she knows as Uncle and Aunty. She has to break the news to her co-worker young Mary that she is leaving, being sent with Nana to live in London.


Mary doesn’t want her to go, but Belinda must and there she meets Amma, Nana’s teenage daughter.


The two young women are very different, from very different worlds but they start to form a bond in this beautiful novel. Donkor manages to capture real life so well, that you find yourself laughing at Belinda’s wry observations one moment to worrying for her the next.

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Bert’s Bundles – April 2019

We’ve got some great treats for you this month – those of you have signed up for bundles will be receiving books from the list below.


If you haven’t signed up for a bundle – why not do it now to guarantee your delivery of great books for May? Not only do you get £5 off your first month, but we don’t charge any delivery costs either.


And in the meantime, if you fancy any of the books below – they’re all available to buy now – just click on the links!


Bert's Best Books

Starting with Bert’s Best Books – we’ve got two cracking novels, both of which you’ll be seeing a lot about in the coming weeks.


You Will Be Safe Here – Damian Barr

You Will Be Safe HereEvery month as well as picking two favourites from ALL the books, Bert picks one of those two be our Book of the Month – Damian Barr’s debut novel is that book.

It starts in the last days of what is now known as the Gentleman’s war – the Boer War in South Africa. We follow Sarah van der Waat as she is taken from her home and placed in a concentration camp by the British. These camps would go on to become the blueprint for the Nazi concentration camps – and what happened in those camps had a lasting effect on South Africa that is still being felt today.

As well as Sarah’s story, we move forward through the history of South Africa as we learn just how that war shaped the country today.

Diana Athill put it best by saying ‘You come out of reading it a different person from when you went in’.

A truly brilliant read that will stay with you long after you put it down.

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie is a very different kind of novel to Barr’s – but it also stays with you after reading as well.

It’s funny, but feels heartbreakingly real. Queenie is a young black woman trying to 9781409180050navigate her way through a mini-crisis of self. Who is she? Where does she belong in this world? Does she even like herself?

In short, she’s suffering from all the things we all suffer from, but for Bert it was the insights into her views on race that really made this book. It’s not the big moments, but the small ones, ones where we, the reader, offended on her behalf but Queenie simply shrugs them off as normal.

It might help you see society in a new way – or it will feel horribly familiar. Either way, it will make Queenie feel so vivid and real – you’ll be rooting for her all the way through.

Queenie is published on 11th April, so subscribers to the Bert’s Best Books bundle will receive their books week commencing 8th April 2019.


Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

As well as Bert’s Best Books – Queenie also features in our Proud to be Different Bun
dle it is a startling insight into the life of a young black woman – but it’s not all about her race. It’s about a young woman growing up with all the challenges of life around her.

Take Nothing With You – Patrick Gale

We would normally try to avoid putting a paperback into this bundle, but as it’s our first month we couldn’t resist shouting about this brilliant book and the way it explores the youth of our protagonist Eustace.

Take Nothing With YouHe’s growing up different in 1970’s Weston-Super-Mare – and he has to face all the challenges of growing up alongside trying to work out what these differences are.

But there are moments of Eustace’s older life which frame the younger years which are just as touching.

Patrick Gale is one of our favourite writers here at Bert’s and we mean no disrespect to his previous novels when we say we think this is one of his best yet.

There are moments of Eustace’s childhood which most men – straight or gay – will be able to identify with – but the sections where he describes playing the cello are surprisingly moving and among the highlights of a book filled with special moments.

Queenie is published on 11th April, so subscribers to the Proud to be Different bundle will receive their books week commencing 8th April 2019.

Gen Fic PB

Patrick Gale’s Take Nothing With You is another book that is featured in more than one bundle – it’s also in our General Fiction paperbacks – it really is that good!

The Lido – Libby Page

The Lido is a story about a young journalist and an old lady trying to save Brockwell Lido from developers doesn’t sound particularly likely at first – but it’s a great piece and a really nice commentary on loneliness in all its forms.9781409175223-2

It also explores the changing nature of community – when Rosemary was young, her community were her friends and family who lived around her.

Fast forward to the modern day and both Rosemary and Kate are isolated, not really a part of any physical community as such, but as they start to work on saving the Lido, they find out that community hasn’t disappeared, it’s just changed a bit.

Page does a brilliant job of bringing the reader into the community that she creates as well. Ultimately, it’s a lovely, uplifting read.

The General Fiction paperback bundle is on its way to subscribers now.

Gen Fic HB

It would be a crime if we didn’t include Bert’s Book of the Month so You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr also features here – alongside another fab book:

Things in Jars – Jess Kidd

9781786893765Those of you who like your fiction a little less serious, a little bit more quirky, will love this novel from Jess Kidd – the bestselling author of Himself. It follows Bridie Devine – the most famous female detective of the Victorian era.

She’s fresh off one case that’s gone quite badly wrong, and now determined to do better on her mysterious new case – a girl kidnapped from her father, who seems to have strange abilities.

Bridie is joined by her seven-foot servant Cora and the ghost of an Irish boxer – Ruby Doyle. Somehow, Kidd makes all of this seem very believable and very real.

The General Fiction Hardback bundle is on its way to subscribers now.

Crime HB

Past Life – Dominic Nolan

The first of Crime and Thriller hardbacks follows Abigail Boone – a woman who wakes up in a room that is barely a room. She is being held prisoner and remembers nothing of how she got there, or even who she is.9781472254658

After managing to escape Boone must put her life back together, even if she can’t
remember it.

Discharged from the police force, living with a husband she can’t remember loving and a son she doesn’t remember giving birth to, she decides that the only way to try and start rebuilding her memories is to resume investigating the case she was following before her capture.

The disappearance of a young woman, now missing for five years.


Sleep – C L Taylor

51+5LJfSNcL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAnna is suffering from a chronic lack of sleep – and when she does get sleep, she’s besieged by night terrors and horrible flashbacks to events she wishes she could forget.

Moving to the Isle of Rum in Scotland to avoid her past, she takes a job working in a hotel, where she is joined by seven guests – each of whom has their own secret. One of them appears to be out for murder, targeting Anna.

We were hooked from the blurb of this book straight away and we weren’t at all disappointed by it

The Crime and Thriller Hardback bundle will be dispatched in the week commencing 1st April.

Crime PB

Twisted – Steve Cavanagh

From the bestselling author of Thirteen – this is one of those books you just have to read. It’s received a huge amount of critical acclaim including from C L Taylor – the author of 9781409170709.jpgone of our Hardback titles

So what’s it’s about? We don’t want to give too much away – so we’ll just give you the blurb on this one:


1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.

2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.

3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.


The Night Olivia Fell – Christina McDonald

Our final book of April is this thriller from a debut author.

9780008307660.jpgThe titular Olivia is the daughter of Abi Knight who wakes one night to a phone call from the local hospital with terrible news. Olivia has fallen from a bridge and is now in a critical condition on life support.

We follow the story in two time frames, from Olivia’s point of view in the run up to the accident, and from Abi’s as she tries to find out just what happened on the bridge that fateful night.

A read that you will struggle to put down, early on you will think you know where this is going, but trust us, you don’t.

The Crime and Thriller Paperback bundle will be dispatched in the week commencing 1st April.

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Bert’s Top Nine of All Time*

*Well, the last few years anyway.


To celebrate the launch of Bert’s Books, Bert has picked some of his favourite books from recent times – as a bit of a taster as to the sort of books you can expect in the bundles.

If you’ve read none of them before – you can buy them all here for £59.93 – a 25% saving off RRP.

Or you can buy them individually by clicking on the titles below.

So just why have they made this list? Read on to find out.

Dead Simple ~ Peter James ~ Pan Macmillan (2005)

Dead SimpleThe oldest book in Bert’s Top Nine is the first in the long running Roy Grace series – the fifteenth instalment Dead at First Sight is due out in May 2019.

The Roy Grace books can be read as standalone novels, but the magic of this series is in its continuing characters – Glenn Branson, Bella Moy, Norman Potting and Cleo Morey are amongst those who feature within Roy Grace’s world and continue to grow and develop throughout the books.

These characters along with the underlying mystery of Grace’s missing-presumed-dead wife Sandy help add a sense of jeopardy to the popular crime series, while James’ tireless research brings a gritty realism that other police procedurals lack.

After reading Dead Simple you’ll very quickly want to devour the entire series



A Place Called Winter ~ Patrick Gale ~ Tinder Press (2015)

Place Called WinterThe hero of one of Gale’s finest novels Harry Cane (not the footballer) – is a well-off bachelor, living at the beginning of the twentieth century. His life is ticking along nice, although he has no job to speak of, nor does he have any particular commitments either.

When he helps his brother court his future wife, he meets a woman of his own whom he quickly marries and has a child. Scandal soon threatens to hit however, when his affair with another man is discovered. In order to keep it quiet and protect his wife and daughter from the news, Harry signs over his entire wealth and boards a boat to start a new life in Canada.

This sounds like a novel in itself, but this is merely a prelude to the main thrust of the novel – Cane’s attempts to start a new life in the rural, undiscovered, uninhabited plains of Canada.

All of this unique tale is told in Gale’s beautiful prose that a 200-word summary could never do justice to.



A Little Life ~ Hanya Yanagihara ~ Picador (2015)

A Little LifeThe phrase ‘shortlisted for the Man Booker prize’ will usually have one of two effects on a reader. Either they’ll rush out and buy it, or they’ll avoid it like the plague. This is the book you should cast aside your preconceptions for.

It’s a hefty tome – at 700+ pages, it’s no one session read, but the time invested in this story is immensely rewarding. It follows the tale of four men – Jude & JB & Willem & Malcolm.

The chances are if you’re not aware of the novel, then you’ve at least seen these four names on merchandise in a book shop – or emblazoned across Anton Porowski’s chest in episodes of Netflix’s Queer Eye. They are the four lead characters of what is fast becoming a modern classic.

Yanagihara’s epic tells of the relationships between these four men, particularly their relationships with the enigmatic Jude St Francis. It tells of all kinds of male relationships from platonic to paternal, sexual to fraternal.

This is Bert’s favourite book of all time – and it has created a special bond, a fellowship of knowing looks, between anyone who has read it. Highly recommended, just make sure you have some tissues on hand for the emotional climax



Hex ~ Thomas Olde Heuvelt ~ Hodder (2016)

HexThis spooky offering from Dutch writer Heuvelt sees a town in North America besieged by the ghost of the Black Rock Witch.

For the residents of Black Spring, her presence is tolerated, expected. Both her eyes and mouth are sewn together protecting them from the curse, the myth that the whole town will be destroyed should the stitches ever be removed.

While they live a normal life within the town, none of its population can be allowed to leave. With Black Spring in quarantine, a group of teenagers are starting to grow restless. They set in motion a chain of events that will change their lives forever.

In the tradition of horror maestro Stephen King, Hex is more than just a spooky, gory story. It explores the mass hysteria and paranoia that can fall upon any small community  and it does so in a way that will leave you questioning can you always believe what you’ve always believed?

All of this builds to a heart-pumping, page-turning climax that will leave you reading well into the witching hour.



The One ~ John Marrs ~ Del Rey (2017)

51o9PuyKXxL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_Soon to be made into a Netflix series this is a brilliantly simple yet unique concept. A person’s DNA can reveal the identity of their one true love – but only if they are also on the database.

The One follows five different characters, exploring different questions that would be raised by such a discovery:

Is it ethical to sell this data? What if your one is not the person you’re married to? What if the one lives thousands of miles away? What if the one for you is a serial killer? What if there is no one?

Cycling through our five main characters one chapter at a time, it’s easy to see how this addictive book could be made into an anthology series. Each of the chapters is short, constantly pushing you on to just one more.

The stories are largely unconnected, but they do brush up against each other sometimes – creating some truly gasp-out-loud moments. A fun read, that will leave you eagerly anticipating the TV series.



How to Stop Time ~ Matt Haig ~ Canongate (2017)

How To Stop TimeAnother book that will leave you wanting more – in a good way!

Tom Hazard suffers from a rare genetic condition, he ages at a tenth of the rate as everyone else, which means that while he appears to be a sprightly forty-one years old, he’s been alive for over four centuries.

A brilliant concept that gives huge scope for more tales set within the same world, especially as Hazard starts to look for others like him.

But forget that huge scope for now,  How to Stop Time concentrates on one man’s life. While he may experience life at a slower rate he suffers many of the same emotional problems as the rest of us – he just has to do it over and over again.

Constantly reinventing his life, Hazard avoids making any long term connections, but someone is about to enter his life that will the test this resolve.

Soon to be made into a feature film starring Benedict Cumberbatch, this is another of those read-it-firsts that will soon be everywhere.



Tin Man ~ Sarah Winman ~ Tinder Press (2017)

9780755390977This beautiful novel – almost a novella at just over 200 pages long – is one that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Ellis and Michael are best friends growing up, a twosome that cannot be separated, that is until Annie enters the scene. What happens next is not necessarily what you expect.

The two men do not fight over the woman in their life, instead the three of them become bonded with Ellis at the centre of the triumvirate. Annie, his wife, and Michael his best friend.

With such a short page-length, Winman does not waste a single word in this moving tale of love and grief. By page forty – a point at which longer novels are still only getting to grips with the characters – Tin Man will have you feeling so intensely for its characters, Ellis specifically, that you will find tears pricking the corners of your eyes.

While a novel to be savoured, you will find yourself immersed in its poetry, weeping as it breaks your heart and then heals it all over again. It’s a story you won’t forget in a long time.



This is Going to Hurt ~ Adam Kay ~ Picador (2017)

This Is Going To HurtAnyone that tells you they saw the massive success of this memoir coming is a liar or a witch. Sitting atop the Non Fiction charts for forty+ consecutive weeks if you haven’t yet read This Is Going To Hurt then you’re the only one.

Kay is now a comedian and writer, but in a past life he was a junior doctor specialising in  obstetrics – this is an account of that time of his life, with the names changed to those from the Harry Potter series to protect the innocent.

(If nothing else, spotting the Potter names is a fun game in itself)

Initially this is what might be known as the perfect toilet book. Short diary entries which don’t need a lot of time invested in them, it can be picked up and flicked through at the reader’s leisure. But it builds to a powerful crescendo as you discover the reason why Kay decided to leave the profession.

Like all good books, this is being developed as a TV series, but this truly is one where you should read the source material first, because the first time you don’t want the first time you come across a de-gloving incident to be through a visual medium. Trust us.



Three Things About Elsie ~ Joanna Cannon ~ Borough Press (2018) 

Three Things About ElsieCannon’s debut The Trouble with Goats and Sheep was one of the biggest hits of recent years, but with Three Things About Elsie she brings us a novel that does the almost-impossible and surpasses its predecessor.

Florence lives in a care home, nearing the end of her live. In fact, she’s lying on the floor of her flat in Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly when we meet her. She’s suffering from dementia, but there are some things that are clear as day to her.

As she lies there, waiting to be rescued she reminisces about life with her best friend Elsie, both in the youth they spent together and in their time at the care home.

There are three things to know about Elsie. 1) She’s Flo’s best friend; 2) She always knows what to say to make Flo feel better; 3) And… and… what is the third thing?

As Florence tries to remember what brought her to that moment, we are treated to the tragic, heartbreaking reality of what it means to be elderly, of the effects of dementia – but also the power of friendship.


Which of these is your favourite? Share your thoughts in the comment below.