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July Book Club by Camilla Leask

Camilla Leask, our brilliant Book Club guru, gives us her top picks for July!

Freelance books publicist and mum of two, Camilla has worked predominantly with children’s authors for 14 years. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about books, hot off the press new releases and what our members and their families will enjoy reading.


SORROW AND BLISS by Meg Mason (Weidenfeld £14.99), out now

Sorrow and Bliss is the story of clever, beautiful, privileged Martha Friel. Her dysfunctional, bohemian family includes an adored poet father with writer’s block; a functioning alcoholic and almost-famous sculptor mum; and her adored sister Ingrid, who is mostly pregnant and provides some of the novel’s funniest moments. And this exquisitely dark novel is VERY funny.

Their aunt Winsome and her rich husband Rowland live in a vast townhouse in Belgravia, the setting for the annual, formal Christmas family gathering. One Christmas, when Martha is 16, Winsome and Rowland’s son Oliver brings a stray home from boarding school – the motherless Patrick, whose father forgot to book him a ticket home to the Far East.  Patrick and Martha eventually marry, after a disastrous 6-week marriage to a grotesque art broker, which adds fuel to the slow bleed of Martha’s debilitating mental illness. Nudging 40, Martha finds herself sad, friendless, practically jobless, terrified of having children and unspeakably horrible to Patrick, who’s the very best human being in fiction. Writing herself off as broken and forced to return to her childhood home, Martha makes a final effort to help herself and rebuild her life.

Simply put, Sorrow and Bliss is breathtaking. You’ll laugh and cry, and you’ll want to share this book with everyone you’ve ever met.


THE COUSINS by Karen McManus (Penguin Random House Children’s, £7.99), out now

The Story family is the envy of their East Coast neighbours: rich, beautiful and tight-knit, until it all falls apart. The four Story children are dropped suddenly by their mother with a single sentence: You know what you did.  They never hear from her again and the siblings lose contact with each other.

Years later, 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly, and Jonah Story, who have never met, receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer working at their grandmother’s resort. Determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family and curious to meet their enigmatic grandmother, the teenagers – harbouring secrets of their own – begin to unveil local legend and realise that some secrets are best left alone.

Full of unexpected twists and turns and a touch of romance, The Cousins is perfect summer reading from the queen of teen crime.


PREP (9-12 year olds)

THE SECRET DETECTIVES by Ella Risbridger (Nosy Crow, £7.99), out now

When Isobel Petty – ‘a funny little girl’ – is orphaned, she finds herself being taken away from her home in India and sent to live with an uncle in England. On board the S.S. Marianna, Isobel goes on a night walk and witnesses a shocking act – somebody being thrown overboard. But when the ship’s captain insists that nobody is missing, Isobel and two reluctant new friends must solve the identities of the murderer and of the victim before they reach England, and the culprit has the chance to escape.

This beautifully crafted tale revisits the untold story of The Secret Garden, offering readers an absorbing detective yarn that will delight fans of Robin Stevens and Katherine Rundell.

Camilla Leask has worked with literary giants including Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate 2019-2022 Cressida Cowell, the late Michael Bond and Paddington Bear, Enid Blyton Entertainment and the Narnia Estate among many others.

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