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
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.
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
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.
John Murray Press
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.
Hodder & Stoughton
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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
Hot Key Books
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Hodder & Stoughton
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
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
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 …
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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 – 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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Chatto & Windus
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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…?
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
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
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
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’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
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
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
Head of Zeus
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.
NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, April 2016
With so many strong and intriguing books publishing in April, putting together our top ten was surprisingly difficult this month. There are some very well-known names on the list, alongside some that are just starting out – but all are worthy of your attention.
Our top selection, They Are Trying to Break Your Heart by David Savill, is a debut novel of rare grace and subtlety – one that I think might be a dark horse for many of the literary prizes this coming year. And if you want something a little different to your usual fare, do have a look at Annie Dillard’s The Abundance, a collection of essays that will make you think about things just a little differently.
BOOK OF THE MONTH
They Are Trying to Break Your Heart
In 1994, Marko Novak’s world is torn apart when his best friend is killed during the shelling of their Bosnian home town. Marko flees to England, hoping to put his broken homeland, and the part he played in the loss of his friend, behind him. Ten years later, and a tsunami approaches Thailand, a disaster that will reopen Marko’s past, and fracture his present. This ambitious, powerful, yet understated novel is everything you might hope for from a modern novel – and introduces a novelist of huge talent.
Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All
Jonas Jonasson’s multimillion-copy bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is one of the most loved of recent novels – and this superb follow up is a worthy successor. Take one violent killer, a dilapidated Swedish hotel, five thousand missing kronor, two shrewd business brains and several crates of Moldovan red wine, and you’ll get the unique recipe for another Jonasson bestseller.
The Missing Hours
The author of the hugely successful Falling and Hidden returns with another masterclass in psychological suspense. The Missing Hours’ premise is simple: one moment, Selena Cole is in the playground with her children; the next she has gone missing. But the strange part is that she’s back within a day, and with no knowledge of where she’s been. With this, Emma Kavanagh weaves a complex and gripping mystery that will captivate until its surprising denouement.
The Sign of One
There has already been a lot of interest in this brilliantly jacketed slice of YA SF. Wrath is a dump planet for human outcasts, and home to sixteen-year-old Kyle. But hope comes in the form of Sky, a rebel pilot with trust issues. Together they run away, but Kyle has no idea of the forces following him, and why he warrants this level of pursuit. Tense, well-plotted and with great characters, this is set to be a big new YA series.
V For Violet
Hot Key Books
The early 1960s setting of V for Violet is stunning realised in this wholly convincing tale of love and mystery set just before the Beatles make the sixties swing. Violet’s life in London is one of dreams of stardom, until she meets Beau. He’s a rocker with a motorcycle and life seems so glamorous – until girls begin to go missing. And Violet begins to wonder whether her brother might somehow be involved . . .
Anthony McGowan, award-winning author of The Knife that Killed Me, has already praised Martin Stewart’s Riverkeep, comparing it to such classics as The Wizard of Earthsea and Gormenghast – and it’s hard not to agree. Wulliam’s father is possessed by a dark spirit, and the only hope to save him is to find the great sea-beast known as the mormorach – a quest that will take him down into the darkness of the world.
Tastes Like Fear
The DI Marnie Rome series continues to go from strength to strength. In Tastes Like Fear, her third case, Rome is investigating the disappearance of a young girl. But as she gets closer to unravelling the mystery of her whereabouts, she realises she is up against a criminal more dangerous than any she has faced. His name is Harm. And he will stop at nothing to protect his ‘family’.
Annie Dillard illuminates the seemingly ordinary moments of a life lived fearlessly – as a breathless teenager, as a roving young adult and as an experienced woman – with her unique wit, boundless curiosity and fierce, undeniably singular voice. This collection of essays showcases her undeniable talents, and why she is regarded as one of the US’s most important writers.
The Course of Love
Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton is best known for his pioneering non-fiction, but he started as a novelist, and now finally he returns to fiction. The Course of Love takes us from the first thrill of lust, to the joys and fears of real commitment, to the deep problems that surface slowly over two shared lifetimes. Playful, wise and profoundly moving, it is the story of a marriage told in the way only Alain de Botton can.
If you’ve never read Nicola Barker before, you are missing out on one of the most dazzlingly inventive, wildly funny and uncategorizable writers at work today. The Cauliflower® is the mischievous and unruly story of Sri Ramakrishna – godly avatar, esteemed spiritual master, beloved guru – and his long-suffering nephew Hriday. Oh, and cauliflower. Delicious and devious.
NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books, March 2016
We’ve been looking ahead to 2016 for a few months now, so it seems odd to be saying happy New Year – but we’ll say it anyway! You might also have noticed that we’ve had a bit of a spring clean in your profile, so do please take a look and update your role and birthday if you haven’t already.
There’s real excitement abound for our March titles, which sees a departure for a bestselling novelist, a book that could change the way you eat lunch, the return of one of the UK’s most exciting young novelists and a fantastical trip through the world of the great Bard. It’s an eclectic mix, and one that we hope will brighten your January.
BOOK OF THE MONTH
HarperCollins Children’s Books | Teens & YA
Since the publication of P.S. I Love You in 2004, Cecilia Ahern has become one of Ireland’s bestselling and most beloved novelists – but Flawed marks a radical departure from her usual contemporary romance. This is the story of Celestine North – model daughter, perfect student, girlfriend of the impossibly cute Art Crevan – whose one simple act of kindness threatens to shatter her idyllic life. In a society that demands obedience, her help of one of the flawed – people deemed by the state to be untouchable – is a crime. But Celestine takes a stand, with devastating consequences. You will not read a more persuasive, convincing and gripping YA novel this year.
Fourth Estate Literary Fiction
One of the boldest and most interesting of new writers, Anjali Joseph’s latest novel – after her much lauded Saraswati Park and Another Country – is confirmation of her gifts for observation, character and compassion. This is a luminous tale of two lives lived in very different situations, Claire is a young single mother working in England, Arun is an older man in a western Indian town. The story that emerges is both touching and melancholic, beautiful and unusual. Sure to be everywhere come awards season in 2016.
Jonathan Cape General Fiction (Adult)
Curtain Call, Anthony Quinn’s break-out novel introduced him to a whole new audience – and Freya seems set to further cement his reputation as one of our most interesting historical novelists. We first meet the eponymous Freya in the wake of the wild VE-day celebrations and follow the course of her life up to the swing of the 1960s. Quinn’s depiction of an ordinary woman in extraordinary times is excellent, and his eye for period detail second to none.
The Summer Before the War
Bloomsbury General Fiction (Adult)
Helen Simonson arrived fully formed on the literary scene with the bestselling Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. The Summer Before the War has the same kind of slow-burning intensity of her previous book, but with the pervading unease of the impending Great War affecting a close-knit community in Sussex. The characters, especially the headstrong Beatrice Nash, are drawn with affection and ease, making this a truly absorbing novel.
Trust No One
Pan Books Mystery & Thrillers
From one of the most promising of emerging crime writers comes the third book in the Lockyer & Bennett series. DS Jane Bennett and DI Mike Lockyer are called in to investigate one of the South London murder squad’s most difficult and distressing cases yet – where family and friends come under scrutiny in the hardest of circumstances.
Death in Profile
Urbane Publications Mystery & Thrillers
This debut crime novel is an ingenious blend of modern detective work and ‘Golden Age’ crime writing – making for a distinctive mystery novel. Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective – as a crack team try to solve a series of murders in London’s genteel Hampstead.
We've Come to Take You Home
Cameron Publicity Mystery and Thrillers
This is a time-bending story of a friendship forged in the most unusual of manners, from a writer of great skill and clarity. When Sam Foster’s father is admitted to hospital with a suspected brain haemorrhage, however, the dreams that plague her seem to be more real, more terrifying than mere imagination. And then she meets Jessica Brown…
The English Girl
Orion General Fiction (Adult)
Katherine Webb has become one of the most popular writers of contemporary fiction after a string of hits, including The Legacy. The English Girl is her most ambitious yet, centring on Joan Seabrook, a fledgling archaeologist, whose dream trip to Muscat is interrupted by a chance encounter with the extraordinary and reclusive Maude…
Monstrous Little Voices
Abaddon Sci Fi & Fantasy
Five of the most exciting names in genre fiction today – Jonathan Barnes, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Emma Newman, Foz Meadows and Kate Heartfield – delve into the worlds Shakespeare created to weave together a story of courage, transformation and magic. A bravura accomplishment quite unlike anything you’ve read before.
The Right Bite
Nourish Cooking, Food & Wine
It’s incredible that no one has thought of such a clever book before: a one-stop guide to what to eat when you’re at a bar, restaurant of café and healthy options are limited. With accessible, practical advice for all those everyday occasions, The Right Bite will show you how to make smarter, more informed culinary choices.
Top Ten UK Books… coming in February 2016
After a brief interlude to look back at 2015, we’re back to showcase the titles we’re looking forward to in the New Year – and there really are some stunning books on the way.
Earlier this year, the US side of NetGalley was going crazy for Anna North’s The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, and now we have the opportunity to sample its delights. Closer to home, it’s great to welcome back Anna Hope, author of Wake; and to discover a brilliant piece of dystopian futurism in Graft by Matt Hill. We hope you’ll find something that will take your fancy.
We’d like to wish you all the very best for the holiday season. We hope you get plenty of time for reading!
BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
This bold, intelligent and original novel is already shaping up to be one of the word-of-mouth successes of 2016 – thanks to thunderous praise from the US, where it was published earlier this year. Centring on the titular Sophie Stark, we see her life as a genius of the film world from six different vantage points, giving us an unforgettable portrait of a truly enigmatic character. The writing and execution are exquisite, and this should be a candidate for many prizes in the UK this year.
Two years after her arresting and hugely popular debut, Wake, Anna Hope returns with another exquisite slice of historical fiction, this time set in the famous heatwave of 1911. Vividly realised, The Ballroom centres on an asylum close to the Yorkshire Moors. It is a place of desperation and heartache, but a yearly dance offers some form of respite. And for John and Ella, the dance will transform their lives forever.
Mend the Living
Maylis de Kerangal
From one of France’s most acclaimed and innovative writers comes a novel that is both epic and intimate, both intelligent and emotionally engaging. It is the story of Simon Limbeau, or more accurately, the story of his heart as it moves from an accident to surgery over the course of twenty-four hours. Gripping and beautifully written, Mend the Living is a novel quite unlike any other, and one that should make de Kerangal’s name in the UK as respected as it is in her native France.
As novelist Brock Clarke – an early evangelist for this smart yet gritty debut novel – said, Sweetgirl is ‘far, far funnier than it has any right to be’, which makes sense when you read the plot. Sixteen-year-old Percy James is blessed with a meth-addicted mother and a dirt poor existence – until a blizzard threatens to take even that from her. The voice of Percy is stunningly real, and this is a novel that sucks you in despite its seemingly downbeat story.
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’ series of police procedurals featuring Bill Slider is one of crime fiction’s most consistent delights. Set in West London, each book shows the wider aspect of a detective’s work, while also offering some fiendish mysteries. In this case, Slider has to untangle three events that may or may not be connected.
This slice of Mancunian neo-noir is both tense and thought-provoking, casting a light not only on what is to come, but what is actually already here. Manchester, 2025. Local mechanic Sol steals old vehicles to meet the demand for spares – until Sol finds himself caught up in a nightmarish trans-dimensional human trafficking conspiracy. Science Fiction at its most astute.
The Turning Tide
If the name Brooke Magnanti sounds familiar and you’re not sure why, it may be because you recognise her alter-ego, Belle de Jour, author of Diary of a London Call Girl. This is a very different proposition, however; a devastating and tightly woven thriller about a woman with a seemingly normal life, until she decides to cross the line. A chilling novel of secrets and deception.
Many thrillers come with praise from other crime writers, but few could hope to match the advance excitement that has already greeted Orphan X. Lee Child, David Baldacci, Tess Gerritsen, Jonathan Kellerman, Lisa Gardner and Robert Crais have all acclaimed it as one of the best thrillers for years – and it’s easy to see why. If you like Bourne and Reacher, it’s a must-read.
Salt to the Sea
Based on an inspirational story from World War Two, this is an evocative and consistently enthralling tale for young adults. It’s early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories…
There's a Dragon in my Dinner!
This is a truly wonderful children’s tale, full of humour and hilarious illustrations. As Eric empties the cartons from Friday night’s Chinese takeaway, he catches a flash of green and spots a puff of smoke. So Pan – a Mini Dragon – enters his life, and proceeds to turn it upside down. How is Eric going to explain the trail of devastation caused by one creature not much bigger than a spring roll?
NetGalley UK’s Top Ten Books of the Year 2015
At NetGalley we spend much of the year looking to the future and the books our members are going to be talking about the most – but as we move into December, it’s the perfect time to look back at the best of 2015. Though whittling down our favourites to just ten was a monumental struggle!
There were many books we would have loved to have included – honourable mentions to Anne Enright’s The Green Road, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, The House of Hidden Mothers by Meera Syal and Normal by Graeme Cameron to name just four – but in the end, after much discussion, we arrived at our ten. We hope you get a chance to read them all!
Most of these books are now in stores and no longer available for request in NetGalley. However, you can still Wish for them! These publishers have agreed to grant random wishes on or before 14 December. Best of luck!
BOOK OF THE YEAR
A Little Life
No other book in 2015 quite captured the literary world’s imagination like A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Some early readers talked of wanting to set up support groups after having finished it such was its emotional intensity. For many it resonated as a depiction of true friendship in the face of the worst in humankind, though it’s fair to say that Yanagihara’s second novel was hugely also hugely divisive. As a consequence it was – and remains – one of the most talked about books of the year, and our instant choice for book of the year.
The Kind Worth Killing
Faber & Faber
In a year of brilliant crime novels – probably one of the best in recent memory – it took a lot to stand out against such megasellers as The Girl on the Train. Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing, however, did exactly that. As a thriller it is close to perfection: cinematic, sweeping and with a very knowing nod to the great Alfred Hitchcock. Gripping, compelling and deftly written, this is crime fiction at its very best.
Like The Hunger Games and Divergent series before it, Red Queen immediately stood out as something a little special. The divided realm of red and silver bloods was at once classic as well as strikingly new. One of the most requested titles on NetGalley UK, it has gone from strength to strength, with everyone clamouring for book two, Glass Sword, coming in February. Proof that dystopian fiction, when done this well, is still as gripping as ever.
This account of John Lennon’s fictional 1978 trip to visit the island he owns off the coast of Ireland was described by its author – the phenomenally talented Kevin Barry – as a bit ‘nutty’. And it is. It also happens to be one of the most affecting, well-written and innovative novels you’ll read this, or indeed, any year. Voice, character and place combine to create a Lennon at once recognisable, but also entirely Barry’s own.
Lisa Jewell is still perhaps best known for the genre-defining Ralph’s Party, but her novels get better each year – and The Girls is her best to date. She is one of our most acute observers of contemporary life and this is a dazzling and absorbing tale of secrets and deception, full of compelling, expertly realised characters and a real sense of the magic in normal life.
When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow
The Aardvark Bureau
Sentence for sentence, book for book, there is no funnier writer at work in the UK today than Dan Rhodes. His comedy can be broad, can be gentle, or linguistically cunning, but it is also seriously concerned with the world around him. This controversial tale of Professor Richard Dawkins visiting the WI in Upper Bottom is a wintery delight, one perfect for Christmas reading.
One of Us
The most harrowing book on our list is also one of the most important. Asne Seierstad’s account of the Anders Breivik massacre and the subsequent trial is clear-eyed and full of devastating insight into evil and its aftermath. The writing is superb, brilliantly bringing the tragedy into sharp relief, telling a story that is not just about violence, but also community versus isolation, hope versus rejection and love versus bigotry.
The Grace of Kings
Head of Zeus
One of the world’s most acclaimed voices in SF and Fantasy, Ken Liu published his debut novel just in time to be included in this roundup – and we’re delighted he did. The whole world seems to be seeking the next Game of Thrones, but The Grace of Kings is not just a pale version of George R.R. Martin – this is every bit as innovative as Liu’s short fiction. The essential work in the genre this year.
In a Dark, Dark Wood
One of the most reviewed titles on NetGalley UK this year was Ruth Ware’s debut crime novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood. The hen-do setting is inspired, and the depiction of a truly toxic friendship is as fun as it is deadly. Ware’s keen eye for telling detail makes for one of the most intriguing books of the year.
Sarah Crossan’s One is the heart-breaking and uplifting story of Grace and Tippi – conjoined twins – and their trials as they try to integrate into society. This is storytelling at its very best, with characters it is impossible to forget. The sensitive nature of the plot is handled beautifully throughout, making for an astonishingly moving novel.