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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!
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
December 2017 Debut of the Month A beautifully plotted police procedural set in Japan by a new British author, this wonderfully crafted suspense sees a pair of police investigators with highly troubled pasts of their own brought on board to examine a series of strange murders which had defeated a previous, talented cop, only to find the case opposed in house and growing layers of suspicion clouding their dogged efforts. Intricate but rewarding and with just the right touch of the exotic alongside some horrific murders and a story that develops from the far past into the activities of modern cults, religion, contemporary politics and more to keep you in its fierce vice of a ritually-paced story. Evocative and serpentine, this marks the debut of a fresh new voice and a remarkable maverick detective with a difference. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
February 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: All people have bubbles You’ll smile, you’ll gasp, you’ll root for main character Martin throughout and, while it’s only January, I strongly suspect that this radiant story about relishing memorable moments and making sense of the world will remain one of my Books of the Year. This exquisitely insightful, charming tale is all about the unforgettable voice of 16 year-old Proust-obsessed Martin, who’s in France where his mom is directing a movie. He has Asperger’s and struggles with personal pronouns. “Until I was eight years old, I called myself “you” because that's what everyone else called me, and I called other people "I" because that's what they called themselves", he explains. Like his favoured Proust protagonist, Martin lives through memories and through his devotion to fine detail - of taste, smells, landscape and faces. So, when he meets and falls for Alice, he views her as an incarnation of his favourite Proust heroine. While Martin’s relationships with Alice and the other new kids he encounters are far from straightforward, he moves beyond his Proustian absorption in things past and enriches the lives of many others as his own world expands. As one character realises with wry affection, Martin is “truly cool for a robot”. ~ Joanne Owen
3 billion lives at stake. 2 people who can save them. 1 secret hidden in their DNA. A breathtaking debut series about one girl's quest for answers in a genetically and technologically advanced future. There's no gene for RUN LIKE HELL.When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta's death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world's leading geneticist, and humanity's best hope of beating a devastating virus. Then, hidden beneath Cole's genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope: Lachlan created a vaccine.Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world's genetic tech. But it's too late to turn back.As the pieces fit together it's clear there is one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.
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
October 2017 Debut of the Month The author is an American psychotherapist who sets her first novel in a Manhattan mental institute so bringing a large amount of authenticity to this thriller. Samantha, Sam, the golden girl is the obvious therapist to take on the newest, reputedly dangerous patient. At work she can do no wrong, at home she is a mess. In an abusive relationship, an alcoholic and badly lacking in self-esteem we do wonder if this isn’t the case of the blind leading the blind, hence the title. In fact one of her group session patients asks if a therapist should have suffered an addiction to truly understand the patients. Sam’s new, dangerous patient is a total enigma and it is around him the mystery of the novel revolves. With a fantastic twist which socks it to you in the closing lines, this tale, delivered in short, sharp chapters, over five months is a hugely intriguing read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
October 2017 Debut of the Month This exuberant debut about living life to the full with that someone special (who might just happen to have four legs and a tail) races through a riotous rainbow of emotions, and will delight fans of eccentric fictional voices, especially those of the committed canine-lover variety. Forty-two year-old Ted is struggling to recover from breaking-up with a long-term partner, and the only thing that makes life feel worth living is Lily, his twelve-year-old dachshund (that’s eighty-four in dog years). Then, during one of their regular evening discussions, Ted notices that something’s not right with Lily. “It’s not often you see an octopus up close, let alone in your living room, let alone perched on your dog’s head like a birthday hat,” Ted observes. It turns out that the octopus is a hungry tumour that seems set on ending their time together. What follows is a quirky tragi-comic journey through their transformative relationship, as Ted reflects on their life together. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, with a spicy sprinkling of magic realism, this quirky top-dog-dynamo of a debut has much to offer Matt Haig fans. ~ Joanne Owen #NationalPetMemorialDay #NeverFURget #LilyandtheOctopus
January 2018 Debut of the Month Terrific, a two-sitting read if you can give it the space. Twin sisters, chalk and cheese; Callie, the narrator, plain and ordinary, Tilda, beautiful, ambitious and a successful actress. Tilda falls for an OCD controlling hedge-fund manager Felix, very rich. The book opens with Felix’s funeral and then we race through 211 pages finding out how and why he died but we are still a hundred pages from the end. So, does this then become a police procedural tale? No. It follows Callie trying to unearth what really happened, contrary to what the police believed. From the start she has worried about Felix’s influence over Tilda. She becomes active on an internet site, controllingmen.com where she corresponds with a couple of women whose advice she finds useful. Then she meets them, tries to help them and now the book becomes complicated and truly compulsive through to its unpredictable end. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
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
October 2017 Debut of the Month An outstanding feat of literary fiction in which three individuals - oceans and centuries apart - are indelibly connected by their devotion to beekeeping. This is speculative fiction at its smartest, and comes with a powerful message about the interconnectedness of life. In Hertfordshire, 1852, biologist and seed merchant William is creating a new kind of beehive he hopes will bestow great honour upon him and his children. With a skip forward to 2007, and a leap across the Atlantic to Ohio, we meet beekeeper George, who’s battling modern farming, while placing his hopes in his son’s hands. Then, in Sichuan, China in 2098, through Tao we witness a grim vision of a future in which the bees have disappeared, and so she painstakingly hand-paints pollen onto fruit trees. While the protagonists are very different people, leading very different lives, they share an elemental need to do the best for their children, and are driven by a deep-rooted impulse to fight and survive. At once sweeping, and intricately complex, this will make you see the world anew, and want to take action to make it better. ~ Joanne Owen
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