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Looking to try something new? Check out our Debuts of the Month selection. You never know, one might become your favourite new author and a special discovery!
February 2018 Debut of the Month. Simply superb, this is a dark, gritty and stormingly fast read with real attitude. Formerly of the SAS, John Carr is now working in private security for a Russian, however the past is stalking him, ready to take his legs, and his life. If I tell you that the author James Deegan spent 17 years in the SAS and was described by his commanding officer as one of the most operationally experienced SAS men of his era, it should tell you all you need to know about the validity of his voice. The book begins with the CV of John Carr, it really sets the tone, gives you an understanding of his background, allowing the story to explode from the get-go. James Deegan delivers short punchy sentences, simply told, yet the words took hold of me, dumped me in the middle of the action, made my breath stop and my heart race. Once A Pilgrim bristles with energy and authenticity, it is an addictive, absolute whammy of read and I loved it - highly recommended.
February 2018 Debut of the Month. A debut to make you question everyone and trust no one. Bethany isn’t an innocent, in fact, you could say she is far from that, yet after murder tears her life apart, she has to find the killer in order to prove her innocence. The prologue snared my attention, the story then took off, throwing foreboding, suspicion and doubt in my way. Elle Croft hasn’t created a loveable, sugary sweet main character, you may find yourself wanting to shake Bethany on occasion, to question her motives, her actions, and of course that adds to the energy and tension. This is so entertaining and easy to read, the story just gallops along towards an ending that thunders with intensity. The Guilty Wife is an exciting, and fast paced read, the ending keeps beckoning and demanding your attention, will the last few pages shock you, or confirm your suspicions? ~ Liz Robinson
February 2018 Debut of the MonthA raw, convincing, achingly intimate and individual tale about actions and consequences. 16 years after the death of his brother, Conway wants revenge. When Ray Boy is released from prison, Conway hunts him down in order to kill him, but pulling the trigger isn’t as easy as he thought it would be. There is a sharp edge to the writing, yet the chapters flow from one story to another, initially separate, then linking, writhing and twisting together. William Boyle has created intensely tangible characters, their voices, thoughts and feelings almost become physical, touchable, and are so very, very believable. I highly recommend Gravesend, it is fresh, original, and somehow feels both modern and ancient, as though this story has been lived again and again, and yet is being told for the first time. ~ Liz Robinson
February 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Brave British Muslim keeps her head after losing her heart An important, engaging debut in which a bright British Muslim is drawn down a dark path. Tingling with heart and urgency, and astute on the complexities of radicalisation, this rivetingly authentic read shows that representation really does matter. Fifteen-year-old Muzna has a passionate ambition to become a novelist, but her parents have other plans. Boys, make-up and hair removal are strictly forbidden, and they want her to become a doctor – “#BrownGirlProblems”, as Muzna describes her predicament. When labeled a terrorist by a classmate in her new school, “Guy Candy” Arif sticks up for her, and it’s not long before they strike up a friendship, and more. She starts attending meetings with Arif and his older brother Jameel, and her eyes are opened to the media’s anti-Muslim bias, and to Western demonisation of Islam. The brothers encourage her to pray, and she’s gifted a hijab, which she hides from her parents, since her father insists “it was only the 'ignorant’ who clung to Islamic teachings”. Being sharp-minded and questioning, Muzna is keen to understand different facets of Islam, but she’s conflicted when Jameel says her parents aren’t “real Muslims”, and he can’t be right when he declares “writers of fiction are among the worst of people”, can he? Muzna’s conflicts are sharply evoked, and there are moments that will have you begging her to listen to her friends when they reach out to her. But the truth only fully hits Muzna as time is running out, and she must summon the strength to remain true to the talented, intelligent young woman she is. Inspired by author’s shock at hearing that three British schoolgirls had flown to Syria to join the ‘Islamic State’ in 2015, this is a timely, thought-provoking debut that also packs in powerful universalisms about growing up, falling in love and discovering who you are. ~ Joanne Owen
February 2018 Debut of the Month. A lovely warm and joyful squeeze of a read. When a family bombshell hits, four sisters each tell their own story. We get to know Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae, and because their lives revolve around each other, we not only hear their own thoughts, but how those closet to them feel about them too. I loved the way their lives mingled and unexpected little hits of information floated free. With ups and downs, secrets and drama, these four sisters nudge their way into your heart. From watching her on the telly, I feel as though I know Nadiya and this book is just as I think of her… open, caring, engaging and full of warmth and sparkle. ‘The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters’ champions honesty, bravery, and love, open the cover and let it welcome you into it’s heart. ~ Liz Robinson
February 2018 Debut of the Month. Oh my word, this is an absolutely cracking psychological thriller. Anna is unable to leave her house, she views the world from her window and connects with it on her laptop, when she witnesses a horrific incident in a neighbouring house, turmoil awaits. The first few pages set me on edge, and I remained on high alert throughout the story, doubting and questioning my own reasoning. Even if you suspect, you can’t be confident, and there are plenty of shocks and surprises lying in wait. Set over a few weeks, the short chapters whipped into my consciousness, yet the story reveals itself gradually. A. J. Flynn allows the tension to build, slowly, torturously, and exquisitely. Anna tells her own story, wounded herself, can she be trusted? When the revelations came, they spilled from the page and slapped my thoughts. So clever and focused, yet utterly mind-bending, ‘The Woman in the Window’ is a heart-hammering read and I highly recommend stepping into Anna’s world.
January 2018 Debut of the Month A whole series of impressive endorsements leads one to believe this to be a highly suspenseful thriller when actually it is a well-written, character led drama, an excellent “set up” for a new American detective series. Our hero, Detective Ben Wade, ex of LAPD Homicide, has moved to quieter territory in the hope of saving his marriage. He fails, it hurts. From a damaged youth he now hunts those more damaged than himself, assisted by a woman also with secrets in her past. There is a strangler on the loose but it is a paedophile who dominates most of our detective’s attention. The dual plot, laced with lots of family drama and police procedure, meshes nicely together in a slow build. A fascinating tale. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
January 2018 Debut of the MonthPoppy Parnell is an investigative journalist who digs into a case thirteen years old and produces a couple of podcasts. The first interviews the convicted murderer still claiming his innocence of killing a history professor. The second talks to the detective who was first on the scene and found twin sisters locked in a bedroom. We get the story through the eyes of one twin, now leading a new life with a new name. The media frenzy whipped up by the podcast exposes the vulnerable family with tragic consequences which does eventually allow some reconciliation but not for all. Simply written, highly addictive with the feel of a ‘young adult’ novel about it, this is a debut worth taking note of. Sarah Broadhurst
January 2018 Debut of the Month London 1895, gloriously brought to life in all its grizzly glory. Arrowood is a weathered Private Investigator with a soft heart and a weakness for a drink. He shares the same skies as the famous, revered detective, Sherlock Holmes and yet he can only dream of sharing the same accolades and financial rewards. The cases Arrowood and his long suffering assistant Barnett work are deadly, sleazier and of poor pay. Still carrying the ghost of a disastrous investigation that left a man violently beaten to death, they take on a seemingly straightforward missing person case. Before long a simple investigation turns into a dangerous step into the world of political violence and dealings with the very same crime boss involved in their earlier case. Anxious to keep a distance yet bound by obligation after the death of a young informant, they are soon deeply involved in something deadly. Being a fan of Sherlock Holmes it was wonderful to revisit late Victorian London. The atmosphere Finlay creates is authentic and Arrowood’s animosity towards Holmes adds an interesting twist. Arrowood is a very different detective. Repulsive at times, yet sad and kind-hearted. I couldn’t help but warm to him. His assistant and our narrator Barnett, leads us through the case right to the thrilling climax that had me on the edge of my seat.
When Katharine is found dead at the foot of her stairs, it is the mystery of her life which consumes daughter, Laura.The medical examiner's report, in which precious parts of Katharine's body are weighed and categorised, motivates Laura to write her own version of events. To bear witness to the unbearable blank space between each itemised entry.What emerges is a picture of life lived in the shadows, as well as an attempt to discover how and why her mother died. To make sense of her own grief Laura must piece her mother's body back together and in doing so, she is forced to confront a woman silenced by her own mother and wronged by her husband. A woman who felt shackled by motherhood and unable to love freely.
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.
November 2017 Debut of the Month Yonas and his best friend Gebre have escaped from Eritrea, East Africa, and fled to England, a horrific journey. Once in England they are forced to work unpaid, preparing shellfish. They are told the work is to repay the trafficker. They live in appalling conditions in the factory where they work and survive on little food. Eventually Yonas escapes, Gebre does not. Yonas’ hopes of freedom soon evaporate despite being befriended by some remarkable people. He goes to an organisation which helps immigrants where he applies to remain in England. He is not allowed to earn money while waiting for his case. The whole bureaucratic system is quite startling. Enter the defending barrister Jude and her story, not quite as “life changing” as the publishers imply, [Louise you may wish to cut the last phrase]but a fascinating contrast which deeply affects her. It is a gripping story, initially told in statements which must reflect what is happening to thousands in Europe, good, kind people who are escaping horror but the authorities make it very hard for them. Read this, you certainly can’t fail to be moved. Sarah Broadhurst
Fabulous First-time Fiction
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