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PHOTOS.COM
BOOK CLUB: Curl up with a good book.

Do you fondly remember the days when you could relax on the couch with a good book (one without pictures or rhymes)? As much as we love Hairy Maclary, we want to help you reclaim some 'me time', in the form of an Essential Mums book club.

Each month we'll give away five copies of a novel, memoir or biography to readers, courtesy of our friends at Random House. All you have to do in return is chat about the book in our forum.

This month we have a selection of books to choose from. Read the plot synopses and then vote in our poll on which book you'd most like to read. (We're keen to get this up and running fairly soon, so voting will only run for a couple of days). Once we've picked a book, we'll ask for volunteer readers and then send the books out.

Here are the options.

Sisters of Mercy , by Caroline Overington

Sisters of Mercy tells the story of two sisters - Snow Delaney and Agnes Moore - who were born a generation apart and only learnt of each other's existence when their father's will was read. Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing. Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence.

A good read for fans of Jodi Picoult and Susan Lewis.

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis

Hattie's saddled with a husband who brings her nothing but disappointment as she raises nine children. She knows the world won't be kind to her children and wants to prepare them. Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson describes the book as "a vibrant and compassionate portrait of a family hardened and scattered by circumstance and yet deeply a family. Its language is elegant in its purity and rigour."

This debut novel of Ayana Mathis has been compared to the likes of Toni Morrison.

Two Brothers, by Ben Elton

A novel by the British comedian Ben Elton, Two Brothers tells the story of two boys brought up as twins in a Jewish family in 1920s Germany. As the country's political landscape changes they are forced to make unimaginable choices.

The book is based on experiences from Elton's family history.

A Gift of Hope, by Danielle Steele

This inspirational non-fiction book from romance queen Danielle Steele charts her grief following the death of her son and her desire to channel that grief into something positive. At this low period in her life she decided to help some of the thousands of homeless people in her hometown of San Francisco. The book doesn't just tell Steele's story, it also gives a voice to some of the many people she has helped over the years.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce

This is the story of the recently retired Harold Fry, who sets out one morning to post a letter to a dying friend. On impulse, he keeps walking - hundreds of miles from home. Along the way he not only meets new people but also reflects on tragic events from his past.

Angels at the Table, by Debbie Macomber

The latest novel in Debbie Macomber's hugely popular Christmas series featuring angels Shirley, Goodnes and Mercy. They have apprentice angel Will under their wings as they descend on Times Square in New York on New Year's Eve. When Will spies two lonely strangers in the crowd he decides to lend a heavenly helping hand - resulting in a mix of true love, second chances and mischief.

The Book of Secrets, by Fiona Kidman

First published over 25 years ago, this New Zealand novel tells the story of a group of settlers at Waipu in the northern part of the country in the 1850s. The community is led by the stern Scottish preacher Norman McLeod, whose harsh leadership means anyone who runs counter to him has to live a life of 'secrets'. Kidman tells the story of three women, Isabella, her daughter Annie and granddaughter Maria and their reactions to McLeod's strict edicts.

Have you voted in the poll?

- © Fairfax NZ News

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