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…
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?