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.
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.
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?