Top Ten UK Books for February 2017

Deciding our Top Ten each month is always a tough yet hugely enjoyable process – but this month has proved to be the most difficult so far. There were so many exciting titles it took us much longer than usual to finalise the list – and even now it’s a shame that some titles didn’t quite make it.

That said, we really love these books and hope you’ll feel the same way. You’ll probably already recognise Ragdoll and The Girl Before – but do request if you haven’t before as they’ll be some of the most talked about thrillers in 2017. We’re also very keen on The Lonely Hearts Hotel and t hink it could go on to be something of sleeper hit. Do also look out for Pachinko which we think will be one of the books fighting for all the big literary prizes later in the year.

As this is the last Books of the Month for 2016, we’d just like to thank you for being part of NetGalley. We really appreciate your reviews and feedback – and we’d love to see even more in 2017. Wishing you warm and wonderful holidays!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

Ragdoll
Daniel Cole
Trapeze
UK Edition
AU Edition
German Language Edition

Already a massive hit with NetGalley members, Ragdoll is shaping up to be the high-concept thriller of 2017. Its combination of suspense, gore and well-drawn, engaging characters is a real winner. This is mystery writing at its most intense.

When a body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, the press quickly name the horrific discovery the ‘ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer with the eyes of the world watching their every move?

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You In Your Life
Yiyun Li
Hamish Hamilton
UK Edition
US/CA Edition

Yiyun Li’s fiction is marked by telling details, acute insight into the human experience, and sublime sentences – all of which she brings to this searing and luminous memoir of a life lived with books and haunted by depression. Growing up in China, Li watched her mother suffer from mental health issues, and years later, as an immigrant in another country, she battles her own. Through it all she is sustained by her deep connection to literature, and by two central questions: why write? And why live?

My Sister's Bones
Nuala Ellwood
Penguin
UK Edition

In a year that will be dominated by psychological thrillers, My Sister’s Bones already stands out as a complex and intriguing take on the genre. War reporter Kate Rafter is back from Syria, plagued by dreams of the horrors taking place there. But there are other painful memories, ones that her sister and Kate cannot quite escape. When their mother dies, they are forced back to the family home. A home full of deadly secrets waiting to be exposed. Twisty, compelling and consistently surprising.  

The End of Eddy
Édouard Louis
Harvill Secker
UK Edition

On first publication in France, The End of Eddy became a sensation, winning plaudits for its writing, and provoking national debates on social inequality, sexuality and violence. Édouard Louis’s fictionalised account of his life escaping from his unbearable childhood is incendiary yet tender, compassionate yet visceral, and written with startling clarity and vigour. This is vital, unflinching and thought-provoking fiction – a novel that confronts the issues of our time head on .

The Girl Before
JP Delaney
Quercus
UK Edition
US Edition
French Language Edition

The Girl Before takes domestic terror to a new level, in this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller. Jane has found the rental opportunity of a lifetime. It’s a beautiful ultra-minimalist house, but it comes at a cost. She can live there so long as she abides by a long list of exacting rules created by the house’s architect. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before…

Radio Boy
Christian O'Connell
HarperCollins Children's Books
UK Edition

Taking all his experience from his award-winning radio show, Christian O’Connell’s first children’s book is a funny and sweet story of a boy who becomes a star in his own back yard. Spike’s an average 11-year-old, but after becoming the first person ever to be sacked from hospital radio, he sets up  – with some help from his friends – a studio in the garden shed and starts broadcasting as Radio Boy. Week by week, word gets around and soon Spike is a star… if only people knew it was actually him…

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O'Neill
riverrun
UK Edition

Already lauded by the likes of Helen Oyeyemi, Miranda July and Emily St John Mandel, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a riot of invention, love and fairytales. From the underbellies of war-time Montreal and Prohibition New York to a theatre of magic where anything is possible, this is the story of two orphans, Rose and Pierrot, who dreamt as children of a whole invented world, and as adults are determined to make it real. Dazzling, glittering and bursting with imagination, this is a true spectacle of a novel.

Pachinko
Min Jin Lee
Head of Zeus
UK/AU Edition
US Edition

An epic story that encompasses eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is a novel to immerse yourself in, to follow the lives of these exceptionally drawn characters as they traverse the world and the brickbats that come their way. It begins with an unlikely marriage in early-Twentieth Century Korea, and the birth of a beloved daughter, Sunja. It is the beginning of a life that will take in war, immigration, love, death – and everything else life has to offer. 

We Come Apart
Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan
Bloomsbury Children's
UK/AU Edition

Bringing together two of YA’s hottest new properties – Sarah Crossan (One) and Brian Conaghan (When Mr Dog Bites) – We Come Apart is a heart-breaking, beautifully told tale of love, identity and dreams of better lives. When Jess meets Nicu, she can’t imagine she’d ever fall for him. But as they get closer, their secrets come to the surface like bruises. The only safe place they have is with each other. But they can’t be together, forever, and stay safe – can they?

Charlotte
David Foenkinos
Canongate
UK Edition

An international bestseller, Charlotte is based on the heart-breaking true story of an exceptional woman living through terrifying, deadly time. Charlotte Soloman is born into a family stricken by suicide, and in a country beset by war. She escapes through her gift for painting, and later through her love for a brilliant musician. But clouds are forming, not just in her own mind, but over the whole of Europe. And when the Nazi Party come to power, she knows she will have to flee…

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NetGalley UK’s Books of the Year 2016

It would be fair to say that 2016 has been an eventful year – and certainly one that will be hard to forget. With world events rather overshadowing the world of books for most of the year, now is a great opportunity to look back over the best books of 2016. We had an incredibly difficult decision to make to get down to a top ten – but we enjoyed many long and passionate conversations about the books we loved along the way!

Honourable mentions must be made for Dadland by Keggie Carew, The Trespasser by Tana French, The Dark Circle by Linda Grant, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen, The Sport of Kings by CE Morgan, Darktown by Thomas Mullen, Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, East West Street by Philippe Sands, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart, and Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama.

In the end though, the following are the ten we chose as our favourites of the year. While there was always debate over which books would make the list, our number one was absolutely unanimous. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a necessary, inventive, emotionally intense and superbly gripping novel: one that in a year of unforgettable moments remains an indelible part of 2016’s landscape.

Here’s to the best of 2016 – and we hope you find something that you missed over the course of the year!

Book of the Year 2016

The Undeground Railroad
Colson Whitehead
Fleet
UK Edition

In any year, The Underground Railroad would have been a monumental achievement; in 2016, however, its importance was all the more apparent. Colson Whitehead’s epic follows the journey of Cora from slavery to ostensible freedom, the twist being that instead of being a metaphor for the secret routes and safehouses used by Abolitionists to free slaves, the ‘underground railroad’ is physical reality, a steamtrain taking Cora from one city and town to another, hoping to find a true home. 

As affecting and convincing as such treasured novels as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, The Underground Railroad has already been hailed as modern classic – and is sure to be read, studied and marvelled at for many years to come.

 

Missing, Presumed
Susie Steiner
The Borough Press
UK Edition

In a year dominated by psychological thrillers broadly in the mould of international phenomenons such as Gone Girl and The Girl on a Train, Missing, Presumed is our pick of the very best. Edith Hind is missing, the only clues left behind an open door, a smear of blood and her coat. DS Marion Bradley launches an investigation, but is hampered by the evasion and inconsistencies of the girl’s friends and family, as well as an invasive and increasingly feral press pack. Full of twists, turns and switches, this is one of the most gripping books you’ll read all year.

The Girls
Emma Cline
Chatto & Windus
UK Edition

There were many hyped debuts of 2016, but The Girls stood out for its woozy prose stylings, a brilliantly captured late-sixties setting and its intriguing cast of characters. Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. And then she sees them. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. The girls. And at their centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, with its rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings and teen runaways. Is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever? Compelling and startling. 

When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi
Bodley Head
UK Edition

One of the most talked about non-fiction books of the year was also one of the most heart-breaking and profound – one that has moved thousands in its depiction of a man facing his own early death. At the age of thirty-six, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with terminal cancer. One day he was treating the dying, the next a patient struggling to live. Paul died while working on this deeply felt book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

What is Not Yours, Is Not Yours
Helen Oyeyemi
Picador
UK Edition

Helen Oyeyemi has a passionate community of readers who consider her – quite rightly – to be one of the most innovative, unusual and imaginative writers currently at work today. That she has not reached a wider audience is a travesty – and this perfect collection of very loosely linked short stories shows why. This is fiction at its most breath-taking, its unsettling and deeply affecting characters inhabiting a strange netherworld very much like ours, but refracted through a funhouse mirror. If you’ve yet to discover her incredible work, this is the perfect place to begin.

Real Tigers
Mick Herron
John Murray Press
UK Edition

Now firmly established as a modern master of the spy thriller, Mick Herron has redefined the genre for a new age, his Jackson Lamb sequence – of which Real Tigers is the third – becoming one of the most acclaimed of recent years. Jackson Lamb runs a kind of halfway house for exiled spooks, called Slough House. Catherine Standish is one of his agents, and she is being held hostage. But why? Jackson Lamb is determined to find out in this superbly written and tense drama. ‘If you read one spy novel this year, read Real TigersThe Spectator.

Luna
Ian McDonald
Gollancz
UK Edition

Having woven intricate and gripping plots around thought-provoking looks at the future of countries like India, Brazil and Turkey, Ian McDonald turns his attentions skywards in this epic SF exploration of the moon. Five corporate families are caught in a bitter battle for supremacy as they orbit the earth. The moon is a dangerous, desolate place, but also one of vast opportunity – there, people will make their fortunes, but at what cost? And to whom? One of the most acclaimed SF writers in the world is at the very top of his game in this masterclass in speculative fiction. 

Paper Butterflies
Lisa Heathfield
Electric Monkey
UK Edition

Described as a cross between Stand By Me and We Were Liars, this heart-breaking and stunning breakout YA novel from the author of Seed was, for us, the most compelling YA novel of the year. June’s life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises a glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from home and be free. Because every creature deserves their freedom…but at what price?

Infinite Ground
Martin MacInnes
Atlantic Books
UK Edition

This debut novel of considerable imagination and verve flew lower under the radar than its many champions had hoped – but thankfully it is finally getting the recognition it deserves. It is a sweltering South American summer, and during a family meal, Carlos disappears. An experienced, semi-retired inspector takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. Bold and daring, MacInnes’s intelligence and understanding shines through every page, making him the discovery of the year. 

Everything Love Is
Claire King
Bloomsbury
UK Edition

Claire King – the author of The Night Rainbow – has a poignant and unique voice in contemporary fiction, and Everything Love Is stands out as a mysterious, unforgettable story of love, and of the happy endings we conceive for ourselves. Baptiste Molino has devoted his life to other people’s happiness, rather than his own. But a new client may help to change his perspective. When a legacy from the past finally reveals itself, however, he finds himself torn between pursuing his own happiness and safeguarding the one he loves.

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Top Ten UK Books – December 2016/January 2017

With December traditionally the lightest of all the months in the publishing calendar, this month we’re looking forward to the start of 2017 too – and there is so much to be excited about.

Our Book of the Month, Defender by GX Todd, has been wowing early readers and we really think it might be one of those books that comes to define the year. Similarly, Good Me Bad Me is the psychological thriller everyone is talking about.

There’s also quite a lot of historical fiction this month – and we’ve now added this as a category. Do feel free to add it to your category preferences in your Profile!

Defender
GX Todd
Headline
UK Edition
AU Edition

This first volume in a four-book series is one that announces a fully formed, brilliantly accomplished voice in imaginative fiction.

GX Todd – a 34-year-old mobile librarian from the West Midlands – cites Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman as influences, and while these are useful comparisons, this is very much Todd’s own territory and her very own world.

Defender is set in a community parched by lack of water, and by unseen forces. Some hear voices, strong inner voices which are best never mentioned. One of these is Pilgrim. The voices tell him to buy a lemonade from a girl called Lacey. It’s the beginning of a wild wide that will turn you inside out, and have you breathlessly following their compelling story. Read it now before everyone is talking about it!

Good Me Bad Me
Ali Land
Michael Joseph
UK Edition

Already creating a huge amount of buzz with early readers, Good Me Bad Me is the charged and kinetic story of Annie, a girl with a secret she simply cannot escape, no matter how much she tries to change her identity. Though she is looked after by a foster family and has a new name, the fact remains that her mother is a serial killer. She should be able to start afresh, to put the horror behind her. But it’s not as simple as that. As they say, blood is thicker than water, and Annie will always be her mother’s daughter – whatever people call her. Truly gripping.

The One Memory of Flora Banks
Emily Barr
Penguin
UK Edition

Acclaimed author Emily Barr’s first YA novel is a wonderfully controlled mystery centring on an unforgettable – pardon the pun – character who can remember nothing. Flora struggles to retain short term memories, her day-to-day life a battle to hang on to even the most basic of information. There appears no reason for her amnesia and seemingly there is no cure. But then she kisses a boy called Drake. And the next day she remembers everything. But the boy has gone. With the memory of love fresh in her mind, Flora sets out to find Drake, and uncover the secrets she has forgotten.  

The Nix
Nathan Hill
Picador
UK Edition

An instant bestseller when it was published earlier this year in the US, The Nix is a timely epic of one man’s relationship with his mother – and the tumultuous political upheavals of the last sixty years. When a controversial right-wing, anti-immigration presidential candidate, Governor Packer, is attacked, Samuel’s life and his whole world is turned upside down. For the firebrand who committed the crime is his estranged mother. Samuel suddenly finds himself in the middle of a mystery that takes in sixty years of revolution, love and identity. Funny, smart and engaging, this is the real deal.

The Book of Mirrors
E.O. Chirovici
Century
UK Edition
US Edition

This is one of the most inventive and compulsive thrillers you’re likely to read in 2017 – a literary murder mystery that delivers on every level. When big-shot literary agent Peter Katz receives an unfinished manuscript entitled The Book of Mirrors, his interest is piqued. It’s a memoir concerning the brutal murder of Professor Joseph Wieder, a case that remains unsolved some 25 years later. Katz is determined to pursue the manuscript, and also solve the mystery. But can other people’s recollections be trusted? 

Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars
Miranda Emmerson
4th Estate
UK Edition

Set in a London about to swing, Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars is more than just a richly drawn recreation of theatrical Soho in 1965 – it’s an involving mystery, a coming of age story and a subtle examination of how we create our own identities. When American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after performing on the London stage, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate. But as the news grows old, it seems her dresser, Anna Treadway, is the only person left to find out the truth.

Swimming Lessons
Claire Fuller
Fig Tree
UK Edition
US Edition

Claire Fuller’s debut novel, the much-loved Our Endless Numbered Days, won the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize and was a 2016 Richard and Judy Book Club Pick – and this follow up will be a must-read for her legion of fans, as well as those yet to discover her. Gil’s wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years. A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or is there more to her disappearance than anyone expected?

Homegoing
Yaa Gyasi
Viking
UK Edition

A bold and ambitious novel of slavery, America and the birth of a nation, Homegoing heralds the debut of a writer of power and importance. Effia and Esi are sisters with two very different destinies. One is sold into slavery; the other will become a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Spanning seven generations and three continents, this chronicle of small lives buffeted by the winds of history and chance is sure to be much discussed and praised come prize giving season.

Leap In
Alexandra Heminsley
Hutchinson
UK edition

Having taken on running in her previous bestseller, Alexandra Heminsley now turns her attentions to swimming. Though she’d always considered herself a swimmer, one day she found herself flailing in the waves of the sea. As she did, she realised that she was in fact scared of the water. This epiphany led her on a journey in search of her inner fish. From the ignominy of getting into a wetsuit to the triumph of swimming to Ithaca, Alexandra learns to appreciate her body and still her mind in her quest to become a real swimmer. 

Corpus
Rory Clements
Zaffre
World Edition

Rory Clements has long been admired as one of the finest historical crime writers, and this new novel shows him at the very height of his powers. Berlin, 1936. A young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers. It’s the beginning of a series of event which will see maverick history professor Thomas Wilde sucked into a web of murder, conspiracy and lies that could lead to the very highest level of society. 

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NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, November 2016

In terms of fiction, November is probably the most exciting month of the year – with familiar names and brand-new voices up against each other in the pre-Christmas melee. This could easily be the strongest top ten we’ve had in 2016, and one that should give you plenty to review, recommend and champion as the year draws to a close.

Ian Rankin needs no introduction, but this new Rebus mystery is one of his very finest and is a must for everyone interested in how crime has become one of the most vital areas of fiction right now. Zadie Smith returns with her first book since the superb NW, and Swing Time confirms her as the best writer of her generation. There’s also new novels from Orange Prize winner, Linda Grant, and Stef Penny who won the Costa Book of the Year – with novels we can’t recommend highly enough.

Lastly, a quick shout out for Small Great Things – which some of you might recognise as a book that was initially released with no title or author name, simply called #readwithoutprejudice. It’s classic Jodi Picoult, and a terrific read. Enjoy requesting!

Book of the Month

Rather Be The Devil
Ian Rankin
UK Edition

Ian Rankin’s novels are gloriously readable, compelling affairs – but their deep understanding of a compromised and corrupted society means they are mysteries more concerned with motive and human nature than with simply whodunnit. Rather Be The Devil is a perfect example of Rankin’s art, as John Rebus fights the ghosts of his past and the ghouls of his present. 

Forty years have passed since the unsolved murder of Maria Turquand, but her death still weighs heavy on Rebus – though the recent escalation in a turf war, which may or may not involve old enemy Big Ger Cafferty, is perhaps of more concern. With skill and dexterity Rankin weaves these strands into a devastating narrative of twisted power, deep-rooted violence and bitter rivalries. Brilliant.

The Dark Circle
Linda Grant
Virago
UK Edition

Linda Grant has won a loyal following and huge critical acclaim  with her beautifully written, often darkly humourous and elegantly constructed novels. The Dark Circle is a peerless example: an impeccably realised, often deeply affecting novel set in the drab dawning of 1950s Britain. Sent to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kent, twins Miriam and Lenny encounter a bewilderingly wide group of characters within the sterile walls. But when they discover a cure for TB is tantilisingly out of reach, desperate measures are required.

Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
Hodder & Stoughton
UK Edition
US Edition

The twenty-fourth novel from Jodi Picoult is a timely, intricate and thought-provoking exploration of race, prejudice and justice. Told from three different points of view – Ruth, an African-American midwife; Kennedy, a white lawyer; and Turk, a white supremacist – Small Great Things takes us through a tragic event and its aftermath. Ruth is told by the hospital that she must not touch Turk’s newborn son. But when she is alone and the baby suffers cardiac distress, she is put in an impossible situation – one that will change everyone’s lives forever. 

Swing Time
Zadie Smith
Hamish Hamilton
UK Edition
US Edition

It’s been almost sixteen years since Zadie Smith’s iconic debut, White Teeth, was published and in that time she has proved herself to be one of Europe’s most persuasive voices. Swing Time is Zadie Smith at the very height of her powers, a rich, insightful and stunningly written tale of friendship, ambition and where, ultimately, we belong. At its heart is the relationship between two young girls obsessed with dancing – though only one has the talent for it. Their friendship, forged in motion, remains in flux, until sometime in their early twenties it abruptly ends…

Cut to the Bone
Alex Caan
Twenty7
Worldwide Edition

We think this might be the first crime novel to feature a Vlogger at the centre of the mystery – and this is a very modern take on the classic twist and redherrings of a thriller. Ruby is a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. Then a video emerges of her pleading for her life. With the world’s media – both traditional and social – watching her every move, DI Kate Riley is under pressure to crack a seemingly impossible case while the videos just keep coming. Stunningly tense. 

Under A Pole Star
Stef Penney
Quercus
UK Edition
AU Edition

Stef Penny’s debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves was one of the big surprises of 2006 – winning both the coveted Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year and the Costa Book of the Year. Ten years later she returns with another chilly and evocative historical epic. Against the backdrop of the North Pole Penney weaves an irresistible love story, a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, and a mystery that Flora, returning one last time to the North Pole as an old woman, will finally lay to rest.

No Virgin
Anne Cassidy
Hot Key Books
Worldwide Edition

From the author of the critically acclaimed Looking for JJ comes a powerful, harrowing and important exploration of trauma and recovery. Stacey is the victim of a devastating sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than to her best friend, Patrice. But Patrice will not let it slide, and insists that if Stacey will not go to the police, then she must write down everything. No Virgin is Stacey’s story – one told with authority, empathy and understanding.

The Evenings
Gerard Reve
Pushkin Press
UK & EU Edition

Voted the greatest Dutch novel of all time by The Society of Dutch Literature, The Evenings finally gets its first English translation – some sixty years after its first publication. A true masterpiece of outsider fiction, Reve’s novel features ten nights in the life of Fritz van Egters, a disillusioned and disenchanted young man pounding the darkening streets of post-war Amsterdam. A unique, undefinable novel of wit, grace and intelligence that English speakers can at last enjoy. 

The Smoke Hunter
Jacquelyn Benson
Headline
UK Edition

Feted by the likes of Stephen Leather and Scott Mariani, Jacquelyn Benson’s explosive debut novel has drawn comparisons with both Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. London, 1898. Archivist Eleanora Mallory discovers a map to a legendary city. But is it the key to unravelling an ancient mystery or a clever hoax? Compelled to find out, Ellie journeys to Central America and with maverick archaeologist Adam Bates, ventures into an uncharted wilderness where peril and danger awaits them.

The Easy Way Out
Steven Amsterdam
riverrun
UK Edition

Steven Amsterdam draws on his experiences as a palliative care nurse in this absorbing novel exploring one of our age’s most thorny ethical questions: that of euthanasia. Evan is a nurse – a suicide assistant. His job is legal – but as he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against the limits of the law – and his own morality. The Easy Way Out is a brilliantly funny and exquisitely sad novel that gets to the heart of one of the most difficult questions we could face: would you help a loved one die?

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Top Ten UK Books – October 2016

It seems as the nights draw in, books themselves reflect the time of year: either they embrace the darkness or yearn for the light. You’ll find both kinds in this month’s roundup of the best new titles – perfect for the end of another all-too-short summer.

Our top pick this month is the latest from one of the true stars of Young Adult fiction, Jennifer Niven – ideal if you’re looking for the next The Fault in Our Stars. Other favourites include the return of everyone’s new favourite spy writer Mick Herron with Real Lions, Maria Semple’s hilarious Today Will Be Different and The Power by Naomi Alderman – an original and astonishingly brilliant novel that marks her as the true heir to Margaret Atwood.

Book of the Month

Holding Up the Universe
Jennifer Niven
Penguin
UK Edition

The author of the bestselling All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. But what no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. But all that changes when he meets Libby.

This is YA at its transcendent best, and sure to become a favourite for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t quite belong.

The Power
Naomi Alderman
Viking
UK Edition

Naomi Alderman is one of the finest British writers currently at work, her signature blend of fantasy and reality, of myth and truth, recalling such masters as Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter, but with a style all her own. The Power, her fourth novel, imagines a world in which girls discover that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. It’s an evolution that transforms the four lives at the heart of this superb and timely novel.

Today Will be Different
Maria Semple
W&N
UK Edition

Eleanor Flood is going to clean up her act, only change into yoga clothes for yoga, and be a better version of herself. But then, as always, life happens. Her husband goes missing, her son is wearing makeup, and a graphic novel reveals long-buried and unwelcome secrets. With all the artistic madness, genius plotting and bold social observation that made Where’d You Go, Bernadette? a hit, Today Will Be Different is a hilarious and heart-filled day-in-the-life romp filtered through Maria Semple’s brilliant eye.

Real Tigers
Mick Herron
John Murray Press
UK Edition

Mick Herron is the new face of British spy thrillers, his novels a potent mix of convincing characterisation, effortless plotting and cunning twists. This latest instalment of the Jackson Lamb series is a classic example, bearing all of Herron’s hallmarks. When Catherine Standish – a recovering alcoholic and Intelligence Service operative – is taken hostage, she knows that there’s something bigger at stake than just her. Her only hope is that Jackson Lamb can work out what that is. Pure delight.

Holding
Graham Norton
Hodder & Stoughton
UK Edition

There’s a vogue for comedians and actors trying their hand at fiction. The results have been, shall we say, mixed and you’d be forgiven for sighing at the thought of Graham Norton’s debut novel. But Holding is a wonderful novel: funny, sad, wise and offbeat, with a cast of characters that live right on the page. Set in the fictional Irish town of Duneen, Holding is a story of secrets and lies, small town lives and big moral questions. Leave any preconceptions behind and revel in this compelling debut.

Medea's Curse
Anne Buist
Legend Press
UK Edition

Praised by Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing, as plot-twisting and gripping, Medea’s Curse is a crime novel of distinction. Forensic psychiatrist Natalie King works with victims and perpetrators of violent crime. She rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. Likes men but doesn’t want to keep one. But now she’s being stalked. Could it be a former patient? Natalie doesn’t know. And with another missing child case on her desk, the time for answers is running out.

Nicotine
Nell Zink
4th Estate
UK Edition

Nell Zink has been lauded as one of the most original American writers for decades, and her inventive novels Mislaid and Wallcreeper have developed a huge cult following. Nicotine will delight fans old and new. When her father dies, Penny inherits his childhood home, but finds his property occupied by a group of squatters, united in defence of smokers’ rights – and herself unexpectedly besotted, particularly with Rob, the hot bicycle-and-tobacco activist.

Stealing Snow
Danielle Paige
Bloomsbury
UK Edition
US Edition

This is a novel that will inevitably bear comparisons to a more grown-up version of Frozen – but its premise is so well executed and so compelling it really doesn’t matter. Seventeen-year-old Snow wakes one day in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. Snow soon discovers she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …

The Illuminati
Robert Howells
Watkins
World Edition

Surely one of the most fascinating – and important books – we’ve read in a while, The Illumanti traces the story of secret societies down the ages: from the titular Illuminati to Wikileaks and Anonymous today. Such marginalized groups have always rebelled against the establishment; some by spreading progressive ideas through art and literature, others by driving revolution and exposing government secrets. Robert Howells creates a dizzying narrative that will change the way you think about the world.

Our Chemical Hearts
Krystal Sutherland
Hot Key Books
UK Edition

It’s something that people say often: why isn’t life like the movies? But Henry Page says this more than most. A film buff and a hopeless romantic, he’s waiting for that slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love you only see on the silver screen. And when it finally arrives, it’s with the least cinematic person on earth. Grace Town dresses in oversized men’s clothing, smells like she hasn’t washed in weeks and walks with a cane. Henry knows she’s the one for him; but can Grace ever leave the scars of the past behind? Exquisite.

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UK Books of the Month – September 2016

September heralds the start of the big autumn titles, which include more non-fiction and crime than we usually see during the rest of the year. The Book of the Month is one that we’re very excited about – Thomas Mullen’s Darktown – it is certainly shaping up to be one of our favourites of the year. We’ve also been really enjoying the return of Tana French, probably the finest crime novelists not to have yet hit the stratospheric heights she so richly deserves.

You may well also recognise A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart. We think this will be massive later in the year, so do request it if you haven’t already!

Book of the Month

Darktown
Thomas Mullen
Little, Brown
UK Edition
US Edition

Soon to be a major television series starring Jamie Foxx, Darktown is the story of post-war Atlanta, a city riven by an obvious racial divide. Emblematic of this is the 8-strong black police force who are disallowed from not only arresting white people, but also from driving a squad car. The inevitable tensions boil over when a black woman is found murdered having last been seen in the company of a white man – and two black cops, Boggs and Smith, risk everything to expose the truth. This is an absolutely essential thriller, one of the best we’ve read in some time.

Undertow
Elizabeth Heathcote
Quercus
UK Edition

In the crowded field of psychological thrillers, Undertow stands out as a clever and unusual take on the genre. Carmen is happily married to Tom, a successful London lawyer and divorcé with three children. She gets on perfectly well with Tom’s first wife Laura, who is resolutely polite and determinedly respectable, but there remains someone from Tom’s past that casts a shadow: Zena. Zena who was shockingly beautiful. Zena who drowned swimming late one night …

A Boy Made of Blocks
Keith Stuart
Sphere
UK Edition

Alex loves his son, Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Eight-year-old Sam is beautiful, surprising, and autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own. But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other. Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.

The Trespasser
Tana French
Hodder & Stoughton
UK Edition
US Edition

Tana French is one of the very best crime writers around, and her character Antoinette Conway – tough, abrasive, doesn’t play well with others – is one that you really need to meet. Unpopular with her colleagues, Conway has a new partner and what looks like a slam-dunk case of a lovers’ tiff gone wrong. But gradually she realises there’s more going on: someone on her own squad is trying to push them towards the obvious solution, just as Conway is beginning to think otherwise …

The Eskimo Solution
Pascal Garnier
Gallic Books
World Edition

Evoking a very French world of mystery and secrets, Pascal Garnier has long been considered the true heir to Patricia Highsmith – and The Eskimo Solution is one of his finest works. A crime writer rents a house on the Normandy coast. There should be little to distract him from his work besides walks on the windswept beach, but as he begins to write, events in his own life begin to overlap with the work of his imagination.

As Weekends Go
Jan Brigden
Choc Lit
World Edition

Praised by Lisa Jewell as a ‘gorgeous love story, written with a sure touch and a big heart’, As Weekends Go asks the question: What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend? When her friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor, Rebecca could never have predicted she’d meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserves so much more …

Born Scared
Kevin Brooks
Electric Monkey
UK Edition

Elliot is terrified of almost everything. The only thing that keeps his terrors in check are his pills. But there’s a snowstorm and Elliot’s medication is almost gone. His mum nips out to collect his prescription, but does not come back. And so Elliot must face his fears and find her. She should only be 400 metres away. It might as well be 400 miles. The much anticipated new novel from the award-winning author of The Bunker Diary, recipient of the 2014 Carnegie Medal.

The Heartfix
Stella Grey
4th Estate
UK Edition

From the writer of the hugely popular Guardian column Midlife Exwife, comes the full, warts-and-all story of how Stella Grey tried to find a heartfix for a heartbreak. When her husband falls in love with someone else, Stella Grey embarks on a mission: to find love. Her journey is never dull, featuring marriage proposals, invitations to Tangier, badly timed food poisoning and much younger men – but will it be ultimately successful?

Timekeepers
Simon Garfield
Canongate Books
UK Edition

Not so long ago we timed our lives by the movement of the sun. These days our time arrives atomically and insistently, and our lives are propelled by the notion that we will never have enough of the one thing we crave the most. This entertaining and authoritative exploration of how and why time has come to rule our lives from the bestselling author of Just My Type is the perfect way to while away your hours.

Workstorming
Rob Kendall
Watkins
World Edition

This practical and insightful guide to the modern workplace is ideal for everyone hoping to be successful. Rob explains how and why your career path can depend so much on good communication at work. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic with clear steps for action and a key lesson. Using five simple ‘warning signs’ to watch out for, Rob explains how you can change the way you speak and listen in order to achieve a positive outcome.

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NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, August 2016

August is sometimes a slow month in terms of new books, but this year there is a nice blend of original titles and returning big names. Heading the pack is the European sensation, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old, a bestseller that is sure to translate to the British market – do have a read, we think you’ll love it.

Other highly recommended titles include a big break-out fantasy novel in Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight, charming children’s fiction in Wonderboy, and classic crime in William Marshall’s Gelignite. We hope you find something that excites you and that you can recommend for summer reads!

Book of the Month

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old
Hendrik Groen
Michael Joseph
UK Edition

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen – Holland’s unlikeliest hero – has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands, and is certain to be one of the most talked about novels of the year. It’s a story of growing old in both grace and disgrace, and has a charm, wit and insight that makes it one of the most original books you’ll read this year. Unusual, sly and utterly beguiling, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen could be this season’s secret bestseller.

The Angels Die
Yasmina Khadra
Gallic Books
World Edition

This tale of life between the wars in Algeria is a beautifully written and moving novel with a devastating left-hook. At its heart is Turambo, whose hopes of a better future in the city are dashed by a succession of menial jobs. Turambo rages at the injustice surrounding him, but a boxing apprenticeship offers Turambo an alternative to street brawling. Panoramic yet intimate, this is a superb character study of an unforgettable creation.

Nevernight
Jay Kristoff
Harper Voyager
UK Edition
US Edition

Nevernight – an epic, brilliantly intriguing fantasy – is the story of Mia, a girl haunted by the violence she experienced at the age of 10. Six years later, she is hell-bent on revenge, but to have any chance of success she must enter the Red Church, an academy for assassins, where she will have to prove herself against the deadliest of enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons. Gripping and compulsive reading.

Taduno's Song
Odafe Atogun
Canongate Books
UK Edition

Singer Taduno returns from political exile to the country of his birth to find that the dictatorship’s efforts to erase all trace of him have been so successful that he has been entirely forgotten, even by his closest friends and neighbours – while the regime has also imprisoned the woman he loves. He must chose to fight the power, or save the love of his life. A surprising and unusual debut that is unafraid to take on the biggest of themes.

The House on Sunset Lake
Tasmina Perry
Headline Review
World Edition

The House on Sunset Lake from the Sunday Times bestseller Tasmina Perry is a heart-wrenching love story bejewelled with mysteries and dark secrets. Set in the Deep South of America in 2015 and 1995, it traces the tumultuous relationship between Jim Johnson and Jennifer Wyatt, and the dark secrets of the strange and mysterious house where they meet: Casa D’Or. Few writers do this kind of emotional drama as well as Tasmina Perry.

The Hummingbird's Cage
Tamara Dietrich
Orion
UK Edition

Joanna’s life feels impossible. On the outside, her family looks perfect. But behind closed doors, her husband is a controlling monster, intent on breaking her spirit for good. It feels there is no hope, until a stranger offers her and her daughter a way out. But running proves as dangerous as staying. One morning, she wakes in a strange town without her daughter and with no memory of how she got there. Does she have the courage to find her child?

The Perfect Girl
Gilly Macmillan
Piatkus
UK Edition

Zoe Maisey is a musical genius, a virtuoso adored by the world – and yet behind the performances that stun audiences, there is a greater daily show. Because Zoe once was convicted of causing the death of three teenagers. She has served her time, but the past she has tried so hard to bury always threatens to come back to haunt her. And then, one night, her mother dies, and those threats become a reality.

Gelignite
William Marshall
Farrago
Worldwide Edition

William Marshall does not have the reputation his superb police procedurals deserve – but this is set to change with the reissue of his 1976 classic, Gelignite. Set in Hong Kong and featuring DCI Harry Feiffer, a European born and raised in Hong Kong and Senior Inspector Christopher O’Yee, this is mystery writing at its most inventive.

Wonderboy
Nicole Burstein
Andersen
AU, EU, UK Edition

Joseph ‘Wilco’ Wilkes is one of life’s losers – he’s picked on, pushed around, and bullied by the rugby boys at the posh private school he attends on a scholarship. But his life is about to change in this delightful and engaging superhero tale.

 

Happiness and Other Small Things of Absolute Importance
Haim Shapira
Watkins Publishing
Worldwide Edition

Drawing on literary and philosophical sources ranging from Alice in Wonderland and The Little Prince to Leo Tolstoy, King Solomon and Friedrich Nietzsche, Haim Shapira challenges perspectives on happiness and focuses on alternative ways to appreciate what is important. Stirring and deeply thought-provoking.

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NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, July 2016

July’s selection is perhaps even more eclectic than usual, taking in a Booker-Prize winner, a cookery book for inspiring young chefs, a hot YA title, a tale of escape from brutality, and several novels of considerable intrigue.

Our Book of the Month is Dirt Road, the return of James Kelman, perhaps one of Britain’s most innovative and important post-war writers. It’s a moving and brilliantly insightful tale of fathers and sons and we really can’t recommend it highly enough!

Book of the Month

Dirt Road
James Kelman
Canongate
UK Edition

James Kelman won the Booker Prize in 1994 for his novel How Late it was, How Late – an uncompromising, dark, yet often mordantly funny tale of a man driven to the very pits of despair. Dirt Road is less visceral, but just as affecting. Murdo and his broken, battered father Tom leave their Scottish home for a trip to the deep south of America. On the road, they discover where the hopes of youth can conquer the fears of age – and how the bonds of love can be both a salvation and a curse. This is a major novel exploring the brevity of life, the agonising demands of love, and the lure of the open road.

Smoke
Dan Vyleta
W&N
UK Edition
US Edition

Already one of the hottest properties even before publication, Dan Vyleta’s Smoke is set to become one of the biggest novels of the year – and with Stylist saying it fills the ‘hole left by both Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. Yes, really.’ you can see why. In a world where sins and lies appears like smoke rising from the body, Thomas and Charlie are kept at an exclusive school away from such pollution. But then they go to London, and what they see there changes them forever…

I See You
Clare Mackintosh
Sphere
UK Edition

I Let You Go was one of 2015’s most exciting and well-received thriller debuts, and this follow-up more than delivers the same page-turning delights. One afternoon, Zoe Walker is reading the newspaper when she sees a picture of herself buried amongst the adverts. There is a web address and a phone number and nothing more. Everyone says she is being paranoid – but what it if she’s not? What if someone is watching every move she makes?

The Bone Sparrow
Zana Fraillon
Orion Children's Books
UK Edition
US Edition

A beautiful, vivid and deeply moving story about a refugee boy who has spent his entire life living in a detention centre, The Bone Sparrow introduces us to Subhi and his constricted, limited life. Subhi measures himself by how tall he is against the fence – he is now 19 fence diamonds high – and beyond those diamonds lies freedom, and also a boy called Jimmie. Their very different lives lead to a friendship which will make both question their own pasts – and futures.

Paris Mon Amour
Isabel Costello
Canelo
World Edition

In this exceptional debut, Isabel Costello – the host of the Literary Sofa blog – explores what happens when a seemingly ideal relationship is shattered by the discovery of infidelity. Beautifully told through the boulevards and arrondissements of the City of Light, Paris Mon Amour is a sensual novel about inescapable desire and devastating betrayals, about a woman caught between two men, and what happens when there is no way obvious way out.

The Girl Who Beat Isis
Farida Khalaf & Andrea C. Hoffmann
Square Peg
UK Edition

In August 2014, Farida, like any ordinary teenage girl, was enjoying the summer holidays before her last year at school. But school never reconvened: her village was an ISIS target and she was abducted. With courage, clear eyes and determination, Farida confronts the atrocities she faced, and the moment when she and five others escaped their tormentors. Her account of her journey to safety is an important and astonishingly moving true life story, and one that is impossible to forget.

Dadland
Keggie Carew
Chatto & Windus
UK Edition

This is a rare-bird of a book, one that is both hugely exciting as well as being highly emotionally charged. It is the true story of Keggie Carew’s father – a left-handed stutterer who was parachuted behind enemy lines to raise resistance during the Second World War – whose wit and dazzling charm is now slightly dimmed by memory loss. The story of his life – and the life Keggie and her father share – is superbly recreated in this very special memoir. 

The Chrysalis
Catherine Deveney
Old Street Publishing
World Edition

The Chrysalis is a psychologically acute and penetrating novel of the things we would do for love. An old woman, Marianne, is shuffling towards death in a care home – but carrying a deeply held secret. Haunted by the events of one fatal night in an idyllic French town, she decides to take a trip there – and sets off with her carer on an adventure that will affect the present as much as the past.

Everything Love Is
Claire King
Bloomsbury
EU, AU & UK Edition

From the author of the much- loved The Night Rainbow comes another elegantly written, haunting and gripping tale of love and secrets. Baptiste Molino has devoted his life to other people’s happiness, living quietly in a boat in Toulouse. And then two women, one a client, the other a waitress, stir in him the pangs of love – and bring him to confront the truth of his past. Compelling and vivid.

The World In My Kitchen
Sally Brown & Kate Morris
Nourish
World Edition

This is an ingenious, fun and incredibly clever cookbook – one that not only includes delicious recipes, but also lots of activities and tasks for children of all ages to ensure that they grow up with a love of cooking good food. The head chef/sous chef idea is great, as adults do the more complex parts, while the kids do the fun bits. A perfect book to have in the kitchen!

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NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, June 2016

June’s top ten was probably the most difficult to decide upon since we started the UK Books of the Month roundup a couple of years ago. Across all genres, all the titles were incredibly strong and long conversations were had about those we should include. In the end, we hope we’ve captured the very best of an exceptional month!

The Girls by Emma Cline was acquired in huge publisher deals worldwide, and having read it, you can see why – it was our unanimous choice for Book of the Month. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin is perhaps the most anticipated sequel of the year, while The Woman in Cabin 10 sees the return of 2015’s most exciting crime discovery, Ruth Ware. We’d also like to make a special mention for The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray – perfect for fans of David Mitchell and Jonathan Lethem.

We hope you find something special!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

The Girls
Emma Cline
Chatto & Windus
UK Edition
US Edition

This stellar debut novel was inspired by the infamous Manson Family cult – and its blend of coming-of-age tale, obsession, love and violence makes for a heady, compelling cocktail. But it’s the writing – praised by the likes of Jennifer Egan, Richard Ford and Mark Haddon – which makes The Girls such an immersive experience. Woozy, hallucinatory, yet vivid in its depiction of desire and the atmosphere of the late 1960s, this is a novel that will dominate the literary pages, and be one of the most talked about – and read – debuts this year.

The City of Mirrors
Justin Cronin
Orion
UK Edition
US Edition

The Passage Trilogy comes to a thrilling and momentous conclusion in The City of Mirrors – a worthy successor to the hugely popular The Passage and The Twelve. Praised by Stephen King as “a thrilling finale to a trilogy that will stand as one of the great achievements in American fantasy fiction”, Justin Cronin at last reveals the fate of Amy – and the fate of the human race. Unmissable.

The Fireman
Joe Hill
Gollancz
UK Edition

Yes, this is another end-of-the-world novel, but this is a Joe Hill end-of-the-world novel – which means it’s something quite special. A virus arrives out of nowhere. FOX News says it has been set loose by ISIS using Russian technology from the 1980s. MSNBC blames a cult fixated on the Book of Revelation. Wherever it came from, Harper Grayson has just one thing on her mind: survival. A gripping and terrifying epic.

Paper Butterflies
Lisa Heathfield
Electric Monkey
UK Edition

One of the most affecting and unforgettable YAs in recent memory, Paper Butterflies introduces us to a heart-breaking and superbly realised heroine. Trapped and held alone by her stepmother and sister, June dreams of escape. And then one day, in the woods, she glimpses a boy called Blister – and with him, the possibility of freedom. The question is: what will she be prepared do to so she can finally spread her wings?

The Woman in Cabin 10
Ruth Ware
Harvill Secker
UK Edition
US Edition

In a Dark, Dark Wood – the story of a hen party gone horribly, murderously wrong – was the crime debut of 2015, and The Woman in Cabin 10 is a devilish and worthy follow up. Lo Blackwood, recuperating from a broken heart, takes a trip on a boutique cruise. The idyllic surroundings are shattered however when she witnesses a body being thrown overboard. Has she seen a murder? Or is something else going on?

Modern Lovers
Emma Straub
Michael Joseph
UK Edition
US Edition

Emma Straub, author of the best-selling The Vacationers, is one of the sharpest, funniest and intelligent writers about contemporary relationships, and this is her finest book yet. Friends Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe are now approaching their fifties, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity, secrets and revelations are finally let loose can never be reclaimed.

The Museum of You
Carys Bray
Hutchinson
UK Edition

The bestselling and much-loved author of A Song for Issy Bradley returns with a perfectly and exquisitely observed novel of family love and family secrets. Clover loves her father, her father loves Clover; but their relationship is overwhelmed by the absence of her mother. Clover determines to find out about her mother, using all the things she left behind. But what you find depends on what you’re searching for . . .

 

The Lost Time Accidents
John Wray
Canongate
US Edition

It is such an inviting premise – haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar ‘Waldy’ Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time – that you hope the author does it justice. John Wray exceeds even the highest expectations in this ebulliently written, deeply intelligent take on the Great American Novel. Do not be surprised to see this on the Man Booker Shortlist. 

The Man Who Wanted to Know
D.A. Mishani
riverrun
UK Edition

Feted by Henning Mankell, D.A. Mishani creates mysteries in the grand tradition, but with a very modern slant. Set in Israel, his Inspector Avraham Avraham series has rightly become internationally acclaimed, and this is the latest instalment. Avraham has only one clue to a murder: a witness who saw a policeman at the scene. It’s a clue, however, that exposes a wider, stranger series of events. A crime novel to treasure.

Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew
Susan Fletcher
Virago
UK Edition

A historical novel set at the turn of the Twentieth Century in Provence, Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew is a tale of friendship, prejudice and our understanding of others. The hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole is home to the mentally ill. Jeanne is told not to approach the patients, but one man seems worth breaking the promise she made to her husband. It is a decision that will change all of their lives. Beautiful and inspired.

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NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, May 2016

It’s always interesting to see the trends that emerge in the course of a year – and this year, there seems to be a marked interest in the animal kingdom, and how we interact with it. The Sport of Kings is one such novel, set in the world of horse-racing, and one that is really getting a big-book buzz around it. We recommend that you find out why!

Other books that particularly piqued our interest were the return of Suzanne Joinson, author of A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, and Tahmima Anam’s highly anticipated The Grace of Bones; as well as the utterly fascinating, and disturbing, East West Street by Philippe Sands. There’s also a courtroom drama that can’t be missed in The Plea; a gripping family drama in The Last Days of Summer; a highly inventive historical fantasy featuring CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien in The Wolf In The Attic; a tense novel of three women’s secret lives in As if I were a River; an important look at our attitudes to death in The Way We Die Now; and finally a delightful and swooning romance, Love for Lydia. All of the books selected this month are perfect for your pre-summer reads consideration, so request now!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

The Sport of Kings
C. E. Morgan
Fourth Estate
UK Edition
US Edition

Reading the opening page of this stunning novel puts you firmly in the hands of a writer at the very height of her powers. The Sport of Kings is an electrifying tale of the track, but much, much more than that. At its heart are the Forge family, a Kentucky racing dynasty, and their thoroughbred filly, Hellsmouth. Henry and his daughter Henrietta are determined to breed the next superhorse, but things are shaken up by the appearance of Allmon Shaughnessy – an ambitious ex-convict who will change everything, even their view of the past. A spiralling tale of wealth and poverty, racism and rage, this is one of the most visceral and compelling novels you’ll read this year.

The Last Days of Summer
Vanessa Ronan
Penguin
UK Edition

A debut novel of considerable authority, conviction and skill, The Last Days of Summer is the story of the aftermath of a crime. Lizzie Curtis accepts her brother back into her house after his ten-year stretch at Huntsville State Penitentiary, though she doesn’t know whether she’s welcoming home the sibling she once knew, or the dangerous man he became. Her teenage daughter Katie is intrigued by her uncle, but what kind of unknown threats are lurking in his past…?

The Plea
Steve Cavanagh
Orion
UK Edition

Already championed by Ian Rankin as ‘gripping and twisty’ this courtroom drama is brilliantly put together, and features a dynamic and winning central character in former-con-man-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn. When a major client of a shady New York law firm suspected of huge fraud is arrested for murder, Eddie is tasked by the FBI to force him to testify against his council. Eddie’s not the kind of man who defends the guilty, but the FBI has files that could destroy everything he holds dear…

The Wolf In The Attic
Paul Kearney
Solaris
UK, US, CA Edition

This is one of those kinds of plot-lines you can’t quite believe hasn’t been done before, considering how perfect it seems. As many will know, the fathers of modern fantasy, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien were close in their days at Oxford in the 1920s. The Wolf in the Attic takes this premise and introduces Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee, to their cloistered world of academia. The result is magical and completely absorbing, and a novel no fantasy reader will want to miss.

East West Street
Philippe Sands
W&N
UK Edition

Rarely will you have read a more important or beautifully written work of non-fiction as East West Street by Philippe Sands. A personal mediation and a gripping history of the very worst of humanity, it is an exploration of the origins of international law and the pursuit of his own secret family history, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial. Moving, effortless and deeply profound, this is a book not to be missed.

The Bones of Grace
Tahmima Anam
Canongate
UK Edition

One of our most interesting and deft writers returns with a shattering exploration of love, loss, regret and identity – and of the nature of storytelling itself. It is the story of Zubaida, and her search for herself, and the story she tells for Elijah, the love of her life. It is also the story of Anwar, and the story of how we create ourselves anew in the light of love. Will be a hot favourite for many prizes in 2016.

 

The Photographer's Wife
Suzanne Joinson
Bloomsbury
UK Edition

Suzanne Joinson’s first novel, A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, was an international hit, and her second novel, The Photographer’s Wife, takes place in the same shimmering ninety-twenties, but reaches deep into a 1930s on the brink of war. At its heart is Prudence – artist, lover, daughter – an unforgettable character in an uncertain and ever changing world. Superb.

 

As If I Were A River
Amanda Saint
Urbane Publications
World Edition

This striking and well-crafted tale of three generations of women explores the complex bonds and hidden lives of those we think we know well. It is the disappearance of her husband that forces Kate to seek out the truth about her mother – and leads her to her paternal grandmother Una. Compelling and intelligent.

 

Love for Lydia
H. E. Bates
Bloomsbury Reader
World Edition

H.E. Bates is most famous for his stories of Ma and Pa Larkin, including The Darling Buds of May – but this lesser known work is one that true aficionados hold to be one of his very best novels. Reissued with an introduction from Joanna Briscoe, this is a truly beautiful, romantic and autobiographical tale of love, told by a true master.

 

The Way We Die Now
Seamus O'Mahony
Head of Zeus
UK Edition

Our attitude to death is one of the last great taboos. In this thoughtful, moving and unforgettable book on the western way of death, Seamus O’Mahony looks at why we feel incapable of staring death in the face and accepting our own fate. Far from depressing, this will give you a fresh insight on life.

 

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