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2017 was a fantastic year for new title publishing. So many good books were published it’s quite possible even the most dedicated of readers missed a few. Below are favourites chosen by our book experts. We hope you enjoy the selection.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | December 2017 Debut of the Month Beautifully written, this stunning, unusual debut weaves its way through an intense, all-encompassing first love. A love forbidden by the times in which they live and yet one that they’ll risk everything not to lose. Hold Back the Stars is set in a future where the world has been ravaged by war and a new society introduced. The earth is now peaceful but this comes at a price. There are rules and one of the rules is that you don’t fall in love until you reach the appropriate age. Yet the heart rarely follows rules and when Carys and Max meet its ten years before either should be thinking of settling down. They are young, rebellious and maybe the system no longer works for their generation. Throughout the novel Carys and Max are desperately trying to find a way to survive after their ship is damaged and they are stranded in space and rapidly running out of both air and options. I loved discovering their relationship as Khan dips in and out of their past moving us towards the moment that brought them to be being in space and the catastrophic situation they find themselves in. It is intense and Khan conjures up the sheer vastness of space and their desperation as they watch the minute’s tick away taking them closer to death. Yes this is a novel about survival but ultimately it is a unique love story about how true love can turn our world upside down and also, maybe it can be the very thing that saves us too. ~ Shelley Fallows Click here to read a Q&A about this book.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Book of the Month In the hinterlands of America, a man completes his jail sentence for accidental murder and returns to his home town, where relatives of the boy he killed whilst drunk driving are set on revenge. The sad lives of people caught in a circle of despair is captured with poignant accuracy as well as the slippery slope that leads them there despite all their best intentions. A novel about the day to day life and travails of ordinary people eager for redemption or, at any rate, a chance at a normal life, this is both moving and gripping as the assorted characters reach out for a safety raft of sorts despite all the indignities circumstances heap on them and they struggle to retain dignity and principles. A harsh but beautiful thriller that has you cheering under your breath for its wounded, fallible protagonist throughout and a considerable achievement, with echoes of WINTER'S BONE in its celebration of the human spirit. And lest I make Farris Smith's novel sound too worthy, may I add it grips like a vice... ~ Maxim Jakubowski
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. The first adult novel by an acclaimed children's book author, Sweet Pea hits all the right buttons. A dark, twisted read about a female serial killer with dollops of humour, sarcasm and a lightweight approach to a serious subject that shouldn't work but does! Rhiannon loves her pet dog and her doll house and works in a menial position at her local newspaper. She also kills people in imaginative ways. None of them are actually innocent; well, maybe one was... Her boyfriend is cheating on her with a friend to his peril. You can't help but smile along with Rhiannon as her diary unfolds, bitchy, sarcastic, lethal. Skuse is clever and maintains just the right balance of immorality, belly laughs, sinister actions and eye-opening commentary on the absurdities and pettiness of everyday life to, keeping you gripped and on the hook, both smiling and squirming. I'm looking forward to her next 'grown-up' book, as this one will be hard to beat! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Oooh, this is a truly cringe-inducing, yet addictive, whammy of a read. ‘Sweetpea’ is the diary of a serial killer, Rhiannon may look sweet and innocent, but inside that shell, is a plotting, deviously twisted mind. The first chapter shocked me, in fact every chapter shocked me, I blurted with laughter and then burned with guilt at my reaction as words spilled from Rhiannon’s mind onto the page. If you find the thought of an evil-thinking, murdering psychopath, who tosses imaginative profanities like litter a little off-putting, then do think twice before opening this book. If you do peek, be warned, I found it impossible to put down, this is a psychopath whose words struck a chord and made me wonder at my own propensity for wickedness. This is the first novel for adults from C. J. Skuse, and I think she must have an evil little monster residing in her pen, yet as information was revealed, my thoughts halted, coiled, altered. ‘Sweetpea’ is a wonderfully surprising novel, obvious, a shock-fest, in your face… yet incredibly subtle and thought-provoking too, I loved it, I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Shortly after the Russian revolution, a White Russian count is spared execution because of a subversive poem he wrote defying authority before the fall of the Czar and is, instead, exiled to an attic room in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow, where he once enjoyed a luxurious suite and all the amenities that wealth could provide. As he adapts to his house arrest, we follow his encounters with the motley denizens, employees and visitors of the hotel and watch how his state of mind changes alongside the Russia outside the walls of the hotel. Both meditative and, at times, truculent, this also forms a parallel history of Russia over the following forty years or so until the death of Stalin and for a narrative isolated inside a closed locale becomes amazingly broad in scope, reflective, expansive and so often terribly moving, albeit with much wit and humour. Unforgettable characters, both fictional and real life, a web of subtle relationships: all human life is here and a triumphant follow-up to Towles' debut novel which had been set in the glitter of New York in the 1930s. Long but wonderfully rewarding, this will make you laugh, cry and smile, an epic that never even moves outside the hotel's lobby! Loved it. ~ Maxim Jakubowski February 2017 MEGA Book of the Month. The Lovereading view... Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the gentleman of the title, is not executed with his fellow aristocrats for he had already left Russia at the start of the Revolution and he returns in 1918. This mystifies the Bolshevik tribunal he stands before in 1922. He wrote a poem which is deemed a call to arms, but for which side? So he is placed under house arrest for life. Conveniently his address for the last four years has been The Hotel Metropol, the best in Moscow. Now moved to humble rooms in the old servant quarters in the belfry, he nonetheless has the run of the beautiful establishment, the restaurants and bar. He makes friends with the servants and guests alike and is dubbed by an old student friend who has suffered in the Gulag, “the luckiest man in Russia”. Intrigue, romance and friendship pepper the years as we follow the Count from 1922 to 1954, a time of huge change as a new Russia is created. With a nod towards the period in its style and lots of philosophy, I wouldn’t say this was compulsive but it is strangely hypnotic, one is certainly drawn to it although it isn’t an easy read. It is a comfortable book to be with despite its horrific span in history for imprisoned in his hotel, Rostov is indeed one of the luckiest in Russia. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Click here to read a Q&A with the author about this book.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Debut of the Month Shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017. A simply sensational and thrilling debut! Met police detectives William Oliver Layton-Fawkes and Emily Baxter find themselves smack bang in the middle of the hunt for a serial killer. A hammer hard prologue slapped my awareness, and from that moment on, I didn't want to put this book down, even for a single second. Daniel Cole handles the case and the characters with aplomb, this feels different, fresh, exciting. In the midst of the mayhem I found myself snorting with laughter, a moment later I wrinkled my face in horror and disbelief. An overflowing fistful of danger, gripping urgency, and the intricate twisting storyline certainly kept me on my toes. ‘Ragdoll’ is a humdinger of a tale that smashes into your senses, wreaks havoc in your mind, and leaves you wanting more. I really can’t wait to see what Daniel Cole comes up with next! ~ Liz Robinson A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. There are a lot of serial killer novels out there, for which Hannibal Lecter must take much of the blame, but Daniel Cole's powerful debut deserves a (bloody) place in the sun or, at any rate, in the autopsy lab! A puppet-like body is discovered made up of the dismembered parts of six different victims, hence the 'ragdoll' appellation given to it by the media. Once disgraced Met cop William Fawkes is assigned the case together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and they appear powerless when the killer taunts them by announcing the names of his future victims. As Fawkes seeks a form of redemption with the support of his team, the pace of the story accelerates exponentially and will leave you breathless all the way to a most intense finale. Gory and ultra-realistic, dark, populated by flawed characters and just not the villain, this is a splendid addition to the genre and well worth the nail-biting detour if you have a strong constitution! ~ Maxim Jakubowski A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... I have been on the hunt for a gripping police procedural for over a year, a detective to follow in the footsteps of Rebus and Grace. When RAGDOLL landed on my desk I knew this was the one to go for. It has all the hallmarks of a great crime novel (crooked lead, twisty plot, high body count) with the rocket-pace of the best thriller writing. And what made it stand out was the terrific dark humour, the razor sharp interactions between our lead detectives Fawkes and his colleagues. Daniel’s inspiration is Robert Galbraith, and that shows in the writing. This is the next big thing in crime fiction, and I can’t wait for readers to fall head over heels for it like I did. ~ Sam Eades, Editorial Director, Orion Books
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Another fabulous addition to the mind-blowingly good ‘D.I. Marnie Rome’ series. Marnie and Noah find themselves slap in the middle of the deeds of a deviously twisted mind. Pain and suffering slyly join hands as the past haunts the present. Sarah Hilary’s crime series is one of my favourites, I have stalked and hunted down the publication dates since I read her award winning debut novel, ‘Someone Else’s Skin’. So my expectations were high, and I can say with absolute conviction that ‘Quieter Than Killing’ more than delivers. I forgot I was meant to be reviewing, and just read. The words wormed their way inside my mind, creating uncomfortable spaces. At times there were parts that almost physically hurt, yet I couldn’t stop reading. This is cracking, tension-filled, compelling writing, and my mind is still chitter chattering to itself as I think back over the story. So, do I recommend ‘Quieter Than Killing’, yes, yes, yes, of course I do! ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | Not a thriller by any means, unless the quest by a twin sister to discover what happened to her other half in the horror of the concentration camps might qualify it as such, young American author Konar's literary novel aims straight for the heart, a lyrical evocation of both the bonds between siblings, the power of dreams and hope but also of the abominable power of ordinary evil which the Nazis released into the world. The sad tale of identical twins Pearl and Stasha Zagorski and how their personalities (and mutilated bodies) were modified by Doctor Mengele in the horrors of Auschwitz becomes an elegy to beauty and the invisible language of children. Despite the terrible nature of the subject, Konar manages to bring a new sensibility to it and turns this poignant story of an aspect of WW2 which should never be forgotten into a curious and moving fairy tale of sorts, and a salutory reminder. Like a flower on the scorched grounds of hell, this is a story about the human spirit, in the tradition of Primo Levi and The Child Thief, which should be praise enough. ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... A very special, rather beautiful, and truly unforgettable novel, this is a story that has become a part of me, and is now lodged in my soul. 13 year old twins, Pearl and Stasha are star ‘attractions’ at Mengele's Zoo. In the midst of the nightmare of Auschwitz, they witness the very worst and best of humanity in conditions that are almost impossible to comprehend. Each girl tells their own story, each child’s voice, views from a position of innocence and experience, a world of confusion, horror, and love. While this is deeply unsettling, uncomfortable, and my brain often wanted to skirt some of the searing truths, it is also a touching, stunning read. Affinity Konar writes with an exquisite hand, sparks of affection and passion flame through the darkness. ‘Mischling’ darts through thoughts like a dream of a memory, waking them to a harrowing age old horror, yet also displaying the true wonder of humanity, the love our hearts can hold. ~ Liz Robinson February 2017 Debut of the Month.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A book to make you think and feel, this is an important, beautiful, spellbinding treasure. Words from nature are disappearing, being removed, left to one side to be forgotten. Some words are in real danger of being lost forever, this book reveals those words, sings them, shows them, reminds us how to love them. Spell-weavers Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris have created a bewitching ode to nature, reminding us of the danger of absence, highlighting beauty, whispering to our soul. It feels as though the words, the poems, and vividly beautiful pictures are as one, the essence of the word, of the being, escapes the page to wrap itself around you. ‘The Lost Words’ is suitable for all ages, and should find a special place in all homes, all libraries, all schools, all hearts. Do read the spell-poems out loud, listen, look, feel, touch, allow your awareness to open and receive these gifts. I found myself entranced, I fell completely under the spell of ‘The Lost Words’, I simply can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Book of the Month A beautiful, and heart-achingly touching read, step outside of yourself, and into Catherine’s world. A world where a slice of Catherine has been missing since she was nine years old. Set after the devastating Hull floods in 2007, a crisis helpline sits at the centre of the story. Catherine was a bewitching, intriguing, puzzle. As her missing memories began to unfurl, the tale weaved through time, unsettling and thoroughly provoking my thoughts. My heart both cried and soared as I read, Louise Beech writes with quiet, subtle, painful beauty. Her ability to create hope in loss, to reach into darkness and find flashes of light is magical. Memorable, sorrowful, fascinating and yet full of love, Maria In the Moon has possessed my thoughts and taken up residence in my soul - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Book of the Month An absolute belter of a novel, amusing, poignant, and hugely entertaining. This is a follow-up to the bestseller I Don’t Know How She Does It, however it could be read without prior knowledge of Kate Reddy's earlier life. Kate herself is fast heading towards 50 and invisibility, life however refuses to listen and keeps setting devious traps. I don't believe that you have to have passed or be nearing 50, to be a parent or even a woman, to be captivated by this tale of family drama. Allison Pearson writes with a witty, exceedingly realistic pen and I found myself nodding along, both smirking and wincing as I read. How Hard Can It Be captures life, proper gutsy, difficult, yet wonderful life, and while making you smile, also makes you think, I loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Herron's Slough House series just keeps on getting better and better, both on the sly humorous front and with the Machiavellian variations it offers on the levels of deception that operate within the British secret service. This is John le Carre territory with added dollops of sheer mischief as well as pathos as familiar, larger than life characters navigate another tortuous case, with the monstrous but endearing boss of the disgraced spy unit Jackson Lamb as ever pulling invisible strings and his ill-assorted team barely keeping their head above the water level. River Cartwright's grandfather who was once one of the stars of the great game is now old and senile and presents a danger to the new powers-that-be, while on the other side of town a terrorist attack on a shopping center triggers a whole series of new threats. Is there a connection between the two events and how will our motley group of losers come out of it all alive? Or will they? Great stuff. More, please! ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Whoo hoo! The Slough House misfits return, with the fourth of the series, and the horrendously brilliant Jackson Lamb at the warped helm. Former spook David Cartwright may be retired, his grandson and Slough House resident River may be worried about his health, however you wouldn't want to underestimate this old man’s capabilities, oh no… If you've not yet discovered the seriously wicked pen of Mick Herron, do start at the beginning with ‘Slow Horses’, as although this could be read as a standalone, you wont get the best result if you step into the middle of this fabulous series. Mick Herron has created a deviously twisted world, it sticks two fingers up at, well, everyone really, as the team manage to create as many issues as they solve. The intricate layers build slowly in what is actually a fast moving story, so don't get left behind, as you may feel a bit daft when you catch up. There are plenty of smirky laughter blurting moments, as well as wince and whimper inducing ones, along the way. ‘Spook Street’ is a wonderfully crooked, scalding hot, absolute crackerjack of read, and it’s part of a series that just shouldn't be missed.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Debut of the Month Surprising, vivid, and eloquent, this is a truly beautiful debut. Joan Ashby is a talented, award winning writer, and while marriage and family press pause in the story of her career, words demand access to the page. Author Cherise Wolas paints a vibrant and personal picture of Joan using a variety of methods including magazine articles and short stories. My mind was immediately captivated by the strength and purity of the writing, and I fell in love with this tale. The fictional world within fictional world caused my thoughts to fracture and reconnect, and asked my consciousness to think in a different way, to stop and consider. ‘The Resurrection of Joan Ashby’ displays life in all its wonderful confusing glory, the hidden, the echoes, the hurt and love. If I had to choose to be a book, to live within the pages, this is one that I’d most certainly pick. A wonderful debut and highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
Each year thousands of new titles are published and each month we select those that we feel our members and browsers will enjoy as much as we do.
More often than not they are not the obvious bestsellers but bubbling under and debuts.
Below, after much debate in the office, and the help of our resident book expert Sarah Broadhurst, are the ones we think are the best of the year.
Almost all of them are available in a selection of formats including eBooks for both KOBO and iPad.
So, browse away and make sure you haven't missed out on our 'must reads' of 2017.
Don't forget too, that it's worth checking out other areas of the Lovereading site for little gems that we've featured over the last year.
As well as our unrivalled selections of fiction, we also have non-fiction expert reviews to make Lovereading the one stop shop for finding your next read in whatever format you choose. Here are some suggestions to take a peek at: For armchair sports books there’s nowhere better than our Sports Books selection, if it's topicality you're looking for then take a look at The Real World or if it's History or Popular Science then we can guide you in those areas too.
For Home birds we have Cookery and Arts & Crafts. Finally, if you're still stuck then our most visited area of the site is a must for you to look at - Book Awards - it's positively choking with stunning reads.