March kicks off Spring with a bang, with an interesting blend of the brand new, the emerging and unsung. There are so many exciting books it’s hard to know where to start, but if you like crime, you must check out the next books from two of the most promising new mystery writers of 2017 – Daniel ‘Ragdoll’ Cole and Joseph ‘Sirens’ Knox. They are going head to head, so be sure to see which one is your favourite.
There’s also a second novel from Chloe Benjamin, whose The Immortalists is already a New York Times bestseller in her native US; while Sal and Asymmetry are debuts to watch. And finally, the superb Samantha Harvey returns with her most ambitious novel to date, The Western Wind. Don’t miss it!
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Picking up a huge amount of buzz in the US, and soon to be a major television series, The Immortalists is shaping up to be one of the biggest books of 2018 – with fans including Karen Joy Fowler, Lorrie Moore, Louise O’Neill and Claire Fuller.
It’s 1969 and the four Gold children head for a grimy New York tenement to see a travelling psychic who claims to know the date anyone will die. Over the following years, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies of the fortune-teller. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them?
A tender, compelling and sweeping novel of siblings, this is one to treasure.
Daniel Cole’s Ragdoll was one of the creepiest, and most reviewed, crime thrillers listed on NetGalley in 2017 – and this follow up further displays the suspense, twists and characters that made Ragdoll such a hit. As London and New York are both hit by a wave of serial killings. DCI Emily Baxter must work with two American agents. But is all what it seems?
A powerful, deeply charged novel of sex, politics and the power of the mind, Asymmentry will be one of the most talked about debuts of the year. A woman falls in love with a much older man. A man waits at an airport to fly to Kurdistan. A celebrated writer appears on Desert Island Discs. These three events shape a narrative of bold invention and seering insight.
The Smiling Man
Few crime novels were as well received as Sirens in 2017 – and Joseph Knox’s The Smiling Man proves that DI Aidan Waits is one of the best new coppers on the beat. Waits is resigned to the night shift, away from major crimes. But then he finds a body, a man beyond recognition, his face set in a smile. And to find the man’s identity, Waits must confront his own…
Children of Blood and Bone
Macmillan Children's Books
Already feverishly awaited, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is billed as the fantasy novel of 2018 – and it does not disappoint. Zeile’s mother, along with other practitioners of magic, was murdered in a purge of her people. With magic within her, Zeile must live in the shadows, hiding her gift from all. But the time has come to rise up, and with that comes great danger, and great adventure.
The books we read as children shape us in a way we can never truly understand, and this pitch-perfect memoir takes us right back to the days of reading by torchlight under the covers, and losing oneself utterly in another world. From the most established classics, to personal favourites, Lucy Mangan gloriously evokes the pleasures of childhood reading, and what we can learn from it.
The Western Wind
A case could be made for Samantha Harvey as the UK’s most underrated writer. Her work is always different, always beautifully written, with a depth of understanding few can rival. The Western Wind looks like it could be the big breakout success she so readily deserves. A man dies in 15th Century Somerset. Was it an accident, murder or suicide? The village priest, John Reve, decides to find out.
Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery
Lauded by Katie Fforde, Milly Johnson and Trisha Ashley, Cathy Bramley is one of the best emerging contemporary romance writers in the UK right now. And this is the perfect place for new readers to begin. Thirty-two-year-old Hetty begins to think her family is taking her for granted. But things are about to change, thanks to a competition to find Cumbria’s finest food…
Chosen by the Observer as one of the debuts of 2018, Sal is a thrilling, emotionally engaging and highly moving novel of survival, protection and the bond between sisters. Sal has packed a knife, watched survival videos on YouTube and is heading to the wilds of Scotland. She’s taking her sister with her too. Her sister is ten. And that was the age Robert started on Sal…
The Wicked Deep
Simon & Schuster Children's
This brilliantly magical and mythical tale of watery fates and bloody revenge is a masterclass in fantasy writing. Centuries ago, the town of Sparrow drowned the Swan sisters for witchery. Each summer since, the sisters have returned from the depths to seek their revenge. But this year, things are different thanks to 17-year old Penny, and a stranger called Bo…
We hope you had a wonderful festive period, and managed to get some reading done over the holidays! We’re really looking forward to another year of great books, and this collection of highlights for February suggests it’s going to be a cracker.
You might have seen our Book of the Month a few times on NetGalley.co.uk – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a book we all love, and we suspect it might be one of the most popular titles of 2018. There’s also a new Julian Barnes novel, The Only Story, which is always a cause for celebration.
Here’s to a brilliant 2018!
Book of the Month
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Sometimes you read a novel’s synopsis and just want to dive in right away – and this is certainly the case for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Who could possibly resist a supernatural twist on an Agatha Christie-style Golden Age murder mystery?
At the end of a glamorous ball, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. But she will not be killed just once. Each day will start the same, repeating itself with her death, unless Aiden can uncover the murderer. But each day, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest – and someone is determined to stop him from ever getting to the truth.
Delivering on every level, this is a standout thriller that you’ll read in one glorious sitting.
The Only Story
The sublime Julian Barnes returns with another elegant, acute and deeply moving glimpse into the human heart. Paul is nineteen and in love, his first love; a love that flies in the face of social convention.But it is merely the beginning of his romantic life, one that will shape and define his years. Beautifully written, tender and surprising, The Only Story is Barnes at his incomparable best.
Force of Nature
Jane Harper’s debut, The Dry, was one of the most garlanded thrillers of 2017 and her follow-up, Force of Nature is similarly replete with tension, suspense and twists. As a team bonding exercise, five co-workers walk out for a hike. But only four return. What happened to Alice? Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has his suspicions; especially as Alice was embroiled in his latest case. Gripping from first to last.
The Gods of Love
The Gods of Love has been described as Neil Gaiman meets Bridget Jones, which gives a flavour of the humour and imagination of this wickedly funny debut. Frida is a divorce lawyer. She is also, though she doesn’t know it, a descendent of Eros. When a deranged man called Dan bursts into her office claiming only she can save the world, Frida must assume the role of humanity’s saviour…
The House of Impossible Beauties
The Harlem Ball scene – immortalised in the classic documentary Paris is Burning – inspires this witty, iconoclastic and moving tale of gay and transgender clubbers inaugurating the first all-Latino House. Between the 70s and 90s in New York City, we meet a vividly depicted cast of characters as they provide an alternative history of the City, of love, and of finding your true self, whatever that might be.
The Word for Woman is Wilderness
Abi Andrews has created a wonderfully immersive hybrid novel: part travelogue, part fiction, part rumination on nature – and it is a superb achievement. Erin is 19 and has barely ever left England – but now finds herself traversing the globe, treking through the Alaskan wildernesss. It’s a journey that will challenge her physically and mentally, as well as bringing her closer to nature and to understanding herself.
The Eye of the North
The Eye of the North is classic Children’s fiction of the highest order, suffused with magic, adventure, strange lands and mythical quests. Emmeline Widget has long believed her parents have meant her harm. But now they have vanished, and Emmeline is forced to head to the frozen north to discover the truth. It’s a mission that will find her run with ice ponies and face the terrifying Northwitch. Ideal for readers of all ages.
The Perfect Stranger
Failed journalist Leah bumps into an old friend, Emmy Grey, and decides to move out to the country with her. It’s an escape that turns strange when a woman is murdered who looks just like Emmy. And sinister when Emmy herself disappears. This unnerving tale of identity, secrets and violence is truly compelling – with enough twists to satisfy any mystery junkie.
In the Pines
The murder ballad has been a staple of songwriters since the turn of the twentieth century, and this exceptional graphic novel from the creative mind of Erik Kriek uses them as a springboard to create a series of stories that chill, surprise and horrify. Get lost in the forests, wander where the wild roses grow and watch for old Stagger Lee in this eerie collection…
The Memory Chamber
The central premise of The Memory Chamber is one of hope: the end of death. Now you can just choose your favourite memories and live them out for eternity. It sounds idyllic. But all is not quite what it seems, as Heaven Architect Isobel realises as she creates a heaven for the man she has fallen in love with. Jarek has secrets. And he is not alone…
A very exciting Books of the Month roundup comes at a very exciting time for NetGalley UK. As I hope you’re aware, www.netgalley.co.uk
went live on Wednesday
– our new home for UK members. Here you’ll find all the books you love, all in one place. And these ten titles are a great reason to sign in and have a look around!
Joanna Cannon – author of the phenomenal bestseller The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – is back with her next warm-hearted, witty and deeply affecting novel, Three Things About Elsie, while our top pick for thrillers in early 2018, Anatomy of a Scandal, is causing quite a stir already with NetGalley members. There’s also some top YA action, including the truly wonderful I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan, and a beguiling new literary novel, Peach by Emma Glass.
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Three Things About Elsie
The Borough Press
84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. But as she waits to be rescued, Florence has other things on her mind than her health. The charming new resident for example. If he is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago? And does his presence mean a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light?
A captivating, engrossing and brilliantly told tale from the bestselling author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep.
Anatomy of a Scandal
Simon & Schuster
Already one of the most reviewed 2018 titles on NetGalley, Anatomy of a Scandal is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest thrillers. When Sophie’s husband is accused of a terrible crime, she is convinced of his innocence and prepared to do anything to support him. But Kate, the prosecuting barrister, is adamant of James’s guilt. Is James telling the truth? Or is there something sinister afoot? A provocative, compelling and suspenseful psychological thriller with real bite.
Hodder & Stoughton
The can-women-have-it-all? question remains one of the bedrocks of contemporary fiction, but this fresh take on modern womanhood is searingly honest, genuinely funny and stylishly original. Olivia and Felix are trying for a baby. They both know Olivia’s cycle and sex is organised with military precision. They’ve even moved to the suburbs. But as her friends procreate around her, nothing’s happening to Olivia. And soon she begins to ask: does happily ever after really have to involve a child?
I Am Thunder
Macmillan Children's Books
An exciting new voice in YA, Muhammad Khan is a teacher in South London who takes his inspiration from the children in his classes. I Am Thunder is his debut, and centres on 15-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer but is being strong-armed by her super-controlling parents into studying medicine and marrying a cousin from Pakistan. Her life seems mapped out, until high-school hottie, Arif, takes an interest in her. But first love can be hard – especially as Arif has a dark, and deadly, secret…
A mesmerising, deeply disturbing and stylistically daring debut, Peach reads almost like an incantation of dread and fear. As the novel opens, Peach is walking home, battered, bruised and bleeding. Her parents do not even notice her condition, and she patches herself up to meet her boyfriend, Green. What follows is a visceral and unflinching journey through one woman’s internal life. Like A Girl is a Half -formed Thing before it, this is a ground-breaking work of experimentation.
For fans of The Red Queen, comes the first novel from a brilliant new YA voice – one set in a fantasy land with very contemporary undertones. In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything – even time, which they extract from blood. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry. To save her father from debt, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family. The truths Jules uncovers there change everything – including, possibly, the future of time itself…
In terms of gritty, streetwise fiction, Mandasue Heller is the only real competition to Martina Cole – and Save Me is her most gripping novel to date. When Ellie Fisher misses her train home, she has no idea that being in the right place at the wrong time will change her life forever. That night she comes across Gareth, a young man about to take his own life, and convinces him that there’s always something left, always something to cling to. It’s a good deed that will put her life in mortal danger…
This Is How It Ends
Eva Dolan is one of the most consistently impressive British crime writers, her Zigic and Ferreira series lauded by the likes of Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. This stand-alone shows all her skills of suspense and plotting, set against the gentrification of our cities. How it begins is with two women in a deserted building with a dead body in a lift shaft. But how will it end?
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Based on the true story of Lale Sokolov – the man who tattooed the numbers on his fellow prisoners’ arms in Auschwitz – this is a harrowing and powerful story of love in a time of absolute darkness, and humanity in the face of the worst kind of brutality. Tender, rich and terrifying, Heather Morris’s novel is a survivor’s tale like no other, and a love story that you will not forget.
Bad Girls With Perfect Faces
The bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls – which NetGalley members loved – returns with another pitch-perfect thriller. Sasha’s best friend is Xavier, but his cheating ex-girlfriend Ivy is back, and Sasha won’t let him be hurt again. So she poses as a hot man online, determined to prove Ivy’s cheating ways. But Sasha gets more than she bargained for…
Our November Books of the Month roundup is full of excitement, cheer and barnstorming reads. The return of Minette Walters with a historical novel is a welcome surprise, and we’re sure it’s going to be a big hit. Also, do look out for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about which reviewers and early readers have been raving. Enjoy!
BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Last Hours
Allen & Unwin
Minette Walters burst onto the scene in 1992 with The Ice House – a novel that introduced her unique blend of psychological insight and brilliant plotting. Twenty-five years later, The Last Hours sees her turn her hand to historical fiction. And it’s just as gripping as one would hope.
June, 1348: the Black Death enters England. In the Dorsetshire estate of Develish, Lady Anne decides to quarantine herself, bringing the serfs inside the walls. But Lady Anne’s plan causes conflicts, fear and uncertainty – and ultimately a dreadful event that threatens the uneasy status quo…
Superbly written and utterly convincing, The Last Hours is a historical epic not to be missed.
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Already a finalist for the US National Book Award, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a genuinely affecting, hauntingly written novel of family, home and hope. Jojo’s mother, Leonie, packs up the kids to drive them to collect their father, lately imprisoned in Mississippi. It’s a journey that will teach Jojo about what it means to be a son, a father and a man, as well as laying bare the battles and scars that his parents have lived. Important, immersive, and utterly distinctive, this is a bravura novel of modern America.
A sensation across Europe, The Mountain is an unusual and beguiling take on the cold case thriller. Distraught and depressed after a crash he caused, Jeremiah Salinger takes his daughter Clara to the Bletterbach – a canyon in the Dolomites. There he discovers that in 1985 three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged by a killer who was never found. Solving the mystery might be the only thing that can keep him sane. An atmospheric thriller for fans of Stephen King and Joël Dicker.
Heather, The Totality
US, CA Edition
Matthew Weiner is best known as the creator of the television classic Mad Men – and his forensic understanding of the dark hearts that lie beneath a veneer of wealth and sophistication are evident in this intense and menacing page-turner. The Breakstone family centre themselves around their daughter Heather, a perfect child with a perfect life. But as Heather grows, so does the darkness that surrounds her. A darkness that comes from home and from the street, where someone is watching…
An Almost Perfect Christmas
Nina Stibbe’s bestselling Love, Nina was full of wry humour, nostalgia and deft characterisation – and this festive book serves up more of her hilarious memories and musings. Stibbe is a natural heir to the late, great Sue Townsend, and An Almost Perfect Christmas cements her reputation as one of the funniest writers around. Whether it’s the dryness of turkey, round robin letters or the perils of re-gifting, Stibbe will show you the yule-tide horrors anew, and ensure you’re still laughing at New Year.
With high-profile endorsements from JK Rowling and Irvine Welsh, Poverty Safari is set to be one of the year’s most important and talked about books on modern Britain. Part memoir, part travelogue, part impassioned plea, Poverty Safari takes the reader deep into the invisible world of the systemically deprived, a world ignored and derided, a world that is caught between apathy and seething anger. It is an anger that society will have to get used to – unless something changes. Urgent, vital and startling, this is a must read.
The Secret of Vesalius
You’ve never seen Barcelona this way before – gothic, dangerous, romantic and diabolical – and The Secret of Vesalius will make you want to board a plane immediately. 1888: Called back to Barcelona from Oxford, expert linguist Daniel Amat is asked to help investigate a series of murders – all of which point to an ancient curse and a 16th Century anatomist, Vesalius. Amat is soon plunged into a deadly pursuit to stop the unravelling of Vesalius’s secret. A breath-taking, genre-busting enigma for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.
The Alphabet of Heart's Desire
It is a bold move to include a literary genius as your central character, but it’s one that Brian Keaney pulls off with aplomb. A young Thomas De Quincey collapses on Oxford Street and is nursed to health far from his safe, rich normal life. There he discovers another world, another realm where pleasure and pain constantly rub against each other. Keaney’s depiction of its denizens is pitch perfect, and its tale of love, desire and addiction utterly compelling.
The third in the Eddie Flynn series – though you can read them in any order – is another tightly, tensely plotted legal thriller with a difference. Former con-man turned criminal attorney, Flynn is the man you want in a crisis, and Leonard Howell is in crisis: his daughter is missing. Flynn vows to bring her home, but soon realises things are not quite what they seem. One of the best new mystery series around, this latest instalment is the best yet.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night
From the bestselling author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops comes a magical, original and enthralling collection of modern fairy stories. Elegantly weaving the traditional with the contemporary, these twelve tales swirl with outsiders, enchantment, ghouls and ghosts, making for a haunting and often unnerving read. Fans of Angela Carter, Louise O’Neill and The Night Circus will down these stories like nectar.
As we inch closer to Christmas, big name authors jostle with the names of the future in our October roundup. There is a wide variety here – from celebrity autobiography to the best in literary fiction, from chilling crime to romance – so find your perfect winter read while the nights are still light!
Book of the Month
After the Fire
When Henning Mankell died in late 2015, the literary world was robbed of one of its most celebrated and prolific writers. His Wallander novels were international bestsellers, and often considered some of the best crime novels in recent memory. After the Fire is Mankell’s final novel, a compelling conclusion to a body of work few can rival.
Retired doctor Fredrik Welin lives a solitary life on a secluded Swedish island. It is a quiet life; quiet until he is woken in the night to find his house on fire. His possessions destroyed and his house in ruins, Fredrik must uncover the truth of the fire – if someone started it, who? And for what reason?
Two Kinds of Truth
The hugely successful television adaptation of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels has given the detective a huge new audience – and Two Kinds of Truth is the perfect example of why the book is even better than the screen. Harry is squeezed by the past and the present as a current murder investigation leads to the dangerous world of Big Pharma, while a killer from Bosch’s past claims Harry framed him. The two cases push Harry to the limit in his quest for the truth. But whose truth is it?
How to be Champion
In a few short years, Sarah Millican has become one of the UK’s most popular and beloved comedians. Her observational, quietly acerbic and utterly distinctive style has been filling arenas up and down the country, and now fills the pages of her hilarious and often moving memoir. Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, Millican’s wry portrait of herself is a mine of comedy gold and How to be Champion is sure to be a big bestseller.
Cara Delevingne is often considered the voice of her generation, and this first novel – written with bestselling writer Rowan Coleman – shows her understanding of the struggles and pitfalls of growing up. Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Rose, and Naomi are misfits, but their band, Mirror, Mirror, holds them together. That is until Naomi is pulled unconscious from the river. The police claim it was a suicide attempt, but her friends aren’t convinced. A powerful coming-of-age story for fans of We Were Liars and The Girls.
Don't Wake Up
Already attracting a huge buzz around it on NetGalley, Don’t Wake Up is shaping to become one of the big breakout thrillers of 2017 – but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. Doctor Alex Taylor remembers going to meet her boyfriend, Patrick, after shift, but nothing more. So why is she on operating table? And what does the man who is not a doctor want with her? And why when she wakes again is there no evidence of the violence he has committed? Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, Alex begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind. And then she meets the next victim…
Edward St Aubyn
Edward St Aubyn’s Melrose novels – soon to be a television series starring Benedict Cumberbatch – cemented him as one of England’s finest prose stylists. Dunbar, his retelling of King Lear, shows all his panache and precision, in a novel of intense and brooding tension. Henry Dunbar has retired and left the family firm to his daughters. It is a decision he soon comes to regret, living out his days in a home with only an alcoholic comedian for company. Modernising any Shakespeare drama is always a fraught business, but Dunbar is an unsettling, powerful and an unqualified success.
Hortense and the Shadow
Natalia & Lauren O'Hara
There are some picture books which transcend their intended market; books that can delight anyone of any age. Hortense and the Shadow is one such book, a beautifully illustrated, beautifully told tale that is both timeless and timely. Hortense hates her shadow. Everywhere she goes, it follows. Everything she does, it does too. And every time night falls it grows tall and dark and crooked. But when Hortense decides her shadow must go, she finds herself alone in the wolfish woods. An exquisite fable of gothic imagination, this is essential reading for everyone who loves fairy stories.
There are few writers who can create real excitement when a new book arrives – but Jeffrey Eugenides is certainly one of them. His masterpieces, The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, are two of the most celebrated novels of the last 25 years, and this new work of fiction shows him to be a master of the short story, as well as the long form. Beautifully written, original and always unusual, Fresh Complaint is a wholly satisfying read – even if you don’t usually get on with stories.
Seven Days of Us
With enthusiastic endorsements from the likes of Marian Keyes, Adele Geras and Rosamund Lupton, this Christmas-set family drama is poised to become a must-read festive treat. The Birch family come together in Norfolk to celebrate Christmas. But when aid worker Olivia is told she needs to stay in quarantine, the whole family are forced to stay home for a week together. No one can leave, no one can enter. And that’s when the secrets begin to emerge…
The Ninth Hour
Alice McDermott is one of America’s most compassionate and engaging writers, her stories of Irish-American life full of life, exuberance, tragedy and conflict. The Ninth Hour follows three generations of a family during the middle of the 20th Century in Brooklyn, their lives bound by the suicide of father Jim. His actions on that fateful day will have ramifications for all, testing the limit of their love, forgiveness and hope. An astonishing novel of power, subtly and grace.
One of the busiest months in the publishing calendar, September is always full of exciting new titles, as well as some surprises – we hope you’ll find plenty of both in this month’s top ten!
Book of the Month
Marian Keyes continues to delight and entertain with her insightful, romantic and always witty take on contemporary relationships – and The Break is Marian at her vintage best.
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. It’s just a break – six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns – if he returns – will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?
This is a peerless novel about fighting for the future, savouring the present, and cherishing the past.
The Golden House
One of the world’s finest writers turns his acute eye to modern America in this heart-breaking and utterly compelling vision of one immigrant family. When powerful real-estate tycoon Nero Golden emigrates to the US under mysterious circumstances, he and his three adult children assume new identities and move into a grand mansion in downtown Manhattan. Theirs is the high life: the high life of money, of art and fashion, a sibling quarrel, an unexpected metamorphosis – and, later, betrayal and murder
The Growing Season
From the highly original writer of the much admired The Comet Seekers comes a speculative novel that asks what would happen if every woman could have a baby? FullLife’s biotech baby pouches have changed the world. Now every woman can have a risk-free guaranteed birth. But not everyone is convinced. A campaigner against the pouches, Eva, soon realises that something strange is happening at FullLife. As does her ex, Piotr, who alongside her searches for the truth. Perfect for fans of The Power.
I Am Behind You
John Ajvide Lindqvist
John Ajvide Lindqvist is best known for Let The Right One In – which was made into two films and a West End stage play – and this is an equally chilling slice of terror and heartbreak. At their holiday campsite, Molly wakes in the night. Around her, everything has disappeared, save for her family and three others. They have been brought to the place of no sun for a reckoning. And here they will be forced to face their darkest fears and face their demons. A disturbing, macabre and gripping horror story, this will set your heart racing.
Bloomsbury Children's Books
The Carneige-winning author of One returns with a devastating and fiercely compelling novel that explores the bonds of love, and the boundaries of trust. Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years. It’s far more than a family rift: Ed is a convicted killer, languishing on death row. But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and this might be the last summer they have together. So the two brothers meet once more, and are forced to confront the unimaginable. Unforgettable and unmissable.
The band Pussy Riot took the world by storm – but not just for their music. For standing up for what they believed in, they were arrested, sentenced and imprisoned in a penal colony in the Urals. Now, Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina recounts that time in a raw, hallucinatory, passionate account of standing up for freedom of speech. As she writes: ‘Revolution is history. If we decided to fall out of it, to disappear, that would mean it would not be our history, but theirs.’ Essential.
After Anna was one of the most well-received crime debuts of the last couple of years, and Copycat builds on the same sense of dread and paranoia. When Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name, she’s intrigued. Then perturbed. The second account is entirely accurate, down to pictures of her kids and husband. But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now – almost as though someone has been watching – that her problems really start…
Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love? A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie, the Baileys Prize-shortlisted author of A God in Every Stone, as a master storyteller of our times.
Bestselling author Isabel Losada brings her unique blend of humour, curiosity and honesty to the bust the still existing taboos around sexuality. This is a brave, funny and often vulnerable quest to find out how we can make our sex life blissful. Irreverent yet open-minded, Sensation is for anyone who has ever been tempted to dip their toes in the deep waters of sexual exploration, but were a little unsure where to begin…
Miss Seeton Quilts the Village
For the first time in almost two decades, Miss Seeton is back on the case! To celebrate the wedding of Sir George Colveden’s son to the daughter of a French count, Miss Seeton lends her talents to help create a quilted ‘Bayeux Tapestry’ of local history. But her intuitive sketches reveal a startlingly different perspective – involving buried Nazi secrets, and links to the mysterious death of a diplomat. The crème de la crème of cosy crime.
As the country swelters, it’s the ideal time to look at the books that will bridge summer reads with the big Autumn titles. Few will be as big as the return of Nicole Krauss, whose Forest Dark is going to be one of the most reviewed novels of the year.
It was a very difficult selection this month, with debuts and established names jostling together, but we were always certain to include A Change is Gonna Come, a wonderful collection of YA from some of the best in BAME writers. Special mentions must also be made to the superb Simon Lelic, whose The House is a chilling slice of suspense, and also the return of Bernard MacLaverty with Midwinter Break – a novel sure to be on many prize lists in 2017. Enjoy!
Book of the Month
Nicole Krauss confirms her reputation as one of the great living American writers in this bravura novel of the changes that life throws at us, and how we deal with the fallout.
Two people walk away from their lives, both convening at the Tel Aviv Hilton. Sixty-eight-year-old Jules Epstein has been disappearing for years, while a novelist leaves her husband and children in Brooklyn. Looking out over the deep blue of the pool, both will embark on a journey that will change them, even more than their departure.
Witty, unusual and deeply moving, Forest Dark is a profound and constantly engaging novel of metamorphosis and empathy, one that will be one of the most praised of 2017.
One of our most inventive and acute mystery novelists returns with a question: What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime? Jack and Syd have found the ideal London home, the kind of place you only dream about. But when they make a grisly discovery in the attic, it turns into a nightmare. Especially when a body is discovered by the back door. Suspense at its very best.
A Change is Gonna Come
A brilliantly fresh collection of stories from some of the most exciting BAME authors on the Teen & YA scene, A Change is Gonna Come features Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla; as well as introducing four brand-new voices: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy. This is timely, essential reading.
My Absolute Darling
Already praised to the rooftops by Stephen King and Celeste Ng, My Absolute Darling looks like one of the most intriguing books of the year. Gabriel Tallent takes us deep into the fractured, unsettling world of 14-year-old Turtle Alveston. It is a world dominated by her father, a world that tells her that her daddy loves her more than anything. And he will do whatever it takes to keep her right there with him…
Train to Nowhere
UK, CA, AU Edition
Described as Nancy Mitford meets Martha Gellhorn, Train to Nowhere is a vivacious alternative take on war, seen through the cool lens of Anita Leslie, daughter of a Baronet and first cousin once removed of Winston Churchill. Through her service during WWII, Leslie describes with clarity and wit the absurdity and horror of the conflict – and women’s place in in it. Unflinching yet compelling it offers a new perspective on the experience of war.
A Man of Shadows
The brilliant, mind-bending return of one of SF’s most acclaimed visionaries. Under the neon skies of Dayzone, private eye John Nyquist takes on a runaway case, leading him to the permanent dark of Nocturna, As a serial killer known as Quicksilver haunts the dark streets, Nyquist starts to suspect the runaway holds the key to the city’s fate. And in the end, there’s only one place left to search: the shadow-choked zone of Dusk.
Sixteen years after his last novel, and twenty after his classic Grace Notes, Bernard MacLaverty returns with a novel of power, subtlety and deep psychological acuity. Midwinter Break follows a retired couple from Scotland to Amsterdam as they undertake a weekend away. It is a time of unconscious reckoning, their safe relationship tested by the past, present and the future. This is the work of a master: true, still and shattering.
The Voynich Manuscript
Probably the world’s most perplexing manuscript – and the most mysterious book ever published, The Voynich Manuscript has intrigued and delighted readers for centuries – written as it is in a language and code that no one has yet been able to decipher. Beautiful and mesmerising, this is your chance to see what has baffled the brightest minds since the 15th Century!
The Susan Effect
Peter Hoeg’s internationally bestselling Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow was the original Scandi-crime thriller, and The Susan Effect is his welcome return to the mystery genre. Susan Svendsen has a talent. People open up to her. They feel compelled to reveal their deepest secrets to her. It’s a talent that could cost her her freedom, her family and ultimately her life.
The Wardrobe Mistress
Natalie Meg Evans
From the much-loved author of the award-winning The Dress Thief comes a compelling love story set amongst the grease-paint and drama of London’s theatre-land. Widow Vanessa Kingcourt is the Wardrobe Mistress at the Farren Theatre. But the theatre has its secrets, ones that come to light as she struggles with her blossoming feelings for the theatre manager, Alistair Redenhall.
As the start of holiday season, July is always a bumper month for fiction – and this year it’s a particularly fine crop. Matt Haig is back with another wise and warm novel, Lisa Jewell continues to be one of the UK’s most intriguing writers, Neel Mukherjee cements his reputation as a writer of consummate skill and invention, while The Upstairs Room introduces a compelling new voice in Kate Murray-Browne.
We think all of these books are going to be big news this summer, so don’t forget to read and review. Talking of which, be sure to check out our recent Reader Spotlight post, which features UK blogger Leonie Byrne. Enjoy!
BOOK OF THE MONTH
How to Stop Time
Matt Haig has become one of the UK’s most beloved authors – and the author of Reasons to Stay Alive and The Humans has done it again with How to Stop Time.
Tom Hazard looks like a normal, forty-something teacher. But as he takes lessons on witch-hunts and wars, he can’t tell his pupils the real truth. He was there to witness it all. Owing to a strange condition, Tom has been alive for centuries, seeing everything from Elizabethan England to Jazz-age Paris. All he wants now is a quiet life. But his past is catching up with him – just as he’s doing the one thing he must never do: fall in love.
Clever, unusual and romantically charged, this is a superb novel of how we change and how we stay the same.
The Upstairs Room
The Upstairs Room is a remarkable debut of unsettling power, introducing a writer of rare skill and empathy. It is supposed to be their dream house: a four-bedroom Victorian terrace in East London. But that dream is slowly turning sour. Richard seems overly interested in their enigmatic lodger, Zoe, while Eleanor is perturbed by the chilling atmosphere of their new home – especially the strange upstairs room, where the previous owner, Emily, has written her name hundreds of times. This is a expertly crafted novel of domestic disharmony and secrets.
A State of Freedom
Chatto & Windus
Neel Mukherjee’s second novel, The Lives of Others, was shortlisted for the Man-Booker Prize 2014, and heralded the arrival of one of the most compelling, sharp and innovative writers in world literature. A State of Freedom is his remarkable follow-up, a deeply affecting, stunningly written novel of India in all its fractured forms. Following five characters as they negotiate the shifting cultural and emotional spaces of their situations, Mukherjee teases out a devastating portrait of people caught between the lives they have and the lives they desire for themselves.
Then She Was Gone
Lisa Jewell first made her name with the iconic rom-com Ralph’s Party – but her more recent books, especially the bestselling I Found You, have combined her unerring sense of character with far darker and disturbing plots. Then She Was Gone is perhaps her most chilling book to date, and is Lisa’s best book yet. Laurel’s daughter, Ellie, disappeared at the age of 15, and a decade later, Laurel is still coming to terms with the loss. Despite this there’s a new man in her life and things seem to be looking up. But then she meets his daughter. And she is the spitting image of Ellie…
Flight of a Starling
Paper Butterflies was one of the most popular Teen & YA titles uploaded to NetGalley in 2016, and Flight of a Starling is sure to be an even bigger hit with readers and reviewers. Sisters Rita and Lo have spent their lives in the air, taking their trapeze act from town to town as part of the family circus. Their life of freedom, and their close family, means they never want to stay anywhere for too long. Until Lo meets a boy, triggering a sequence of events that will rock their circus community….
The Bedlam Stacks
Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street was an internationally bestselling novel of magic and intrigue, and this new novel draws on the same captivating world. India, 1859, Merrick Tremayne is sent to Peru to find chinchona bark, the only cure for the malaria that is plaguing the country. There he discovers a legacy left by two generations of explorers before him, one that will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.
Already creating a huge amount of buzz online and on NetGalley, Sarah Franklin’s Shelter is set to become one of the year’s hottest debuts. It is the Second World War and Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out home to become a ‘lumberjill’ in the Women’s Timber Corps. There she meets an Italian prisoner of war, Seppe; their relationship changing their lives for ever. Both must make a life-defining choice and try to discover their place in a world they hardly now recognise.
City of Saints & Thieves
Natalie C. Anderson
Rock the Boat
This unbearably tense thriller has earned comparisons with The Hunger Games and The Thief Lord, but the compelling and richly drawn setting of Kenya make City of Saints & Thieves stand out as a brilliantly accomplished work in its own right. In the shadows of Sangui City, street-thief Tina patiently plots her revenge on those she believes shot her mother. When an opportunity presents itself, she takes it with both hands. But things do not go quite as planned. And her desire to finally uncover the truth about why her mother was killed, will place her mortal danger…
Watling Street is a thought-provoking, vividly written and witty look at our island through the prism of just one road: one that runs from Dover to Anglesey. Watling Street (now built on as the A2, the A5 and the M6 Toll) is a road of witches and ghosts, of queens and highwaymen, of history and myth, of Chaucer, Dickens and James Bond. Along this route Boudicca met her end, the Battle of Bosworth changed royal history, Bletchley Park code breakers cracked Nazi transmissions and Capability Brown remodelled the English landscape. A fascinating journey well worth taking.
Conn Iggulden’s first foray into the world of fantasy is as breath-taking and as visceral as you might imagine. In the city of Darien, twelve families rule in a time of uneasy peace. Just one act will bring chaos and disorder: a plot to kill a king. It’s an act of treachery that will summon strangers to the city – Elias Post, a hunter, Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home, Arthur, a boy who cannot speak, Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler, Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt – and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all. Sparkling, immersive and utterly spell-binding.
As the promising summery weather is replaced by icy blasts and grey skies, it’s fitting we’re looking forward to the sunny rays of June – and ten superbly different books to lighten your life. We’re really proud of this month’s edition, and we’re very excited to be able to give you the chance to be amongst the first readers of what is one of the literary stories of the year – the second novel from Arundhati Roy. If you are approved, please do remember not to publish your review before 28th May though!
Other highlights include a mind-bendingly imaginative novel from Jeff VanderMeer; the return of Laura Barnett, author of The Versions of Us; and the new YA book from Laura Dockrill. Enjoy!
Book of the Month
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
In 1997, The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize and went on to become both a modern classic. Twenty years later, we can finally read her second novel.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness contains multitudes, spanning the entire Indian subcontinent, taking in the famous and infamous, the poor and the destitute, the loved and the lost. Its cast of unforgettable characters is brought to life with tenderness, understanding, humour and a deep knowledge of the pressures of the modern world. Few novels have been as awaited with such fervour, and few novels are as rich, replete and intensely rewarding as The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
Please note that if you are approved for this title you must not discuss or publish reviews until after 28th May.
The Versions of Us was an instant bestseller when it was first published in 2015, and Greatest Hits is sure to please fans of that novel, while also reaching an even wider audience. The premise is simple, yet intriguing. A reclusive singer-songwriter – who bears something of a resemblance to Kate Bush – is sitting in her home studio, trying to come up with a track-listing for her Greatest Hits album. As she considers each song, we hear her life story: her loves and losses, her hits and misses. It is a clever, warm, wise and consistently engaging novel of the choices – both big and small – that we make in our lives.
Winnie M Li
Already being touted as one of the most promising crime debuts of 2017, Dark Chapter is a compelling, unsettling and partly autobiographical tale of the chance encounters that can change, shape and define the trajectory of our lives. On one of her periodic escapes from the pressures of life in London, Taiwanese-American Vivian is enjoying the sights and sounds of Belfast. Her cosmopolitan life could not be further from the day-to-day struggles of Johnny, a 15-year-old Irish youth, enduring a neglected life on the margins of society. But on a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide as a horrifying act of violence is committed…
One of Us is Lying
Karen M. McManus
A huge word-of-mouth sensation on NetGalley since it was first uploaded a month or so ago, One of Us is Lying is shaping up to be the YA/Crime crossover of the year. It’s like a very modern – and very dark – re-imagining of movie classic, The Breakfast Club, but while in that film the characters come to appreciate each other’s differences, in One of Us is Lying, one of them ends up dead. Simon is the geek who runs the notorious high school gossip app. He is in detention with brainiac Bronwyn, sportsman Cooper, bad-boy Nate and beauty-queen Addy. At the end, Simon is dead. Did one of his classmates really kill him?
From the team that brought you The Girl on the Train, The Widow and The Couple Next Door comes another huge bestseller. Lincoln is a good boy. He does what his mother says. He’s four years old, clever and well behaved. He and his mother are having a lovely day at the zoo. But it all changes in the blink of an eye. A gunman is on the loose and the only thing on Joan’s mind is getting her beloved son to safety. She will stop at nothing, nothing at all to save him, no matter the consequences. Unbearably tense.
No Good Deed
A scabrous, riotously funny cautionary tale from one of the UK’s most unflinching and hilarious writers, No Good Deed is a compelling satire on what it means to be good. When Alan drops a coin in a homeless man’s paper cup, he’s surprised that the man knows his name. It’s his old friend, Craig, who he hasn’t seen for twenty years. Alan doesn’t hesitate to take him home and help him get back on his feet. And Craig doesn’t hesitate to try to and claim Alan’s life as his own – wife, family, job and all…
Jeff VanderMeer is without question one of the finest writers of imaginative fiction at work today – and Borne is another stellar example of his unique vision. In a ruined, nameless city of the future, Rachel survives as a scavenger – but dangers lurk in every corner of her world. On one of her hunts, she discovers Borne, a green lump who might be a discard from the Company, which is rumoured to be creating new genetic mutations. Her discovery will change everything and everyone.
Hot Key Books
The much-loved Laura Dockrill returns to the setting of her incandescent and shimmering mermaid novel Lorali, for a spellbinding tale of power and revenge. Aurabel is a lowly Mer from the wrong side of the trench. After an attack by sea beasts, she is left tail-less and close to death. But her rage and determination means she comes back stronger than ever. Reinvented as a fearless, mechanical-tailed Mer, she seeks vengeance on everyone who has slighted her. Full of passion, imagination, adventure and turmoil, this is a mesmeric fantasy that’s as captivating as a mermaid’s smile.
Party Girls Die in Pearls
This knowing, clever and perfectly rendered novel is part mystery, part retro blowout. So 80s you can smell the hairspray, Party Girls Die in Pearls unfolds at Oxford University, where high society still reigns, and Ursula Flowerbutton is not exactly high society material. However, soon after the beginning of lectures, Ursula finds a body, and is determined to bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper. Ursula enlists the help of glamorous American student Nancy Feingold to unravel the case – and the mystery only deepens. Witty and utterly addictive.
All the Good Things
In this bravura performance, Clare Fisher takes us into the dark and the light of a young mother’s mind. Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison, convicted of a crime so bad she can’t forgive herself. In an attempt to reach her, her counsellor, Erika, asks her to make a list of all the good things in her life. Her first foster father. Flirting at the cinema. The first time she smelled her baby’s head. As we discover more of Beth’s life, we move closer to what she did. What is the truth behind her crime? And can she ever be forgiven?