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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!
The influence of Malory Towers as a child made me wish I went to boarding school instead of a boring day school. Midnight feasts, all your friends with you in your dormitory; surely it must be like one big slumber party? Reading Prep would have cured me of that longing. At the beautiful and prestigious Massachusetts school, Ault, things aren't all jolly hockey sticks and pillow fights. Instead we're transported to an institution with a rigid social hierarchy and taken on a dark teenage journey. Worth a read for the spot on adolescent voice of the main character, Lee Fiora.
Plenty of plot, an unusual scenario and a touch of sardonic humour in an interesting style. A young girl survives nearly drowning but remains in a coma while strange things occur around (or because of) her. On a sideline there is rape, murder, infidelity and teenage angst. Well worth investing in.Similar this month: None but try Patricia Tyrrell.Comparison: Ben Sherwood, Ann Tyler, Alice Sebold.
An excellent book through all its twists and turns, it fluctuates between childhood and now, eventually revealing a shocking and unexpected death. Itâ€™s a tale of the past overshadowing the present, of loss, of reconciliation and hope all bound round a terrific plot. Highly recommended.Comparison: Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Christina Schwarz.
A hugely charismatic football player who would have been a star in the 70s if it were not for the fact that he is black, makes a dreadful mistake and is imprisoned. Seen through the eyes of his son we are given an extraordinary story which is basically about accepting the past. Sensitive, beautifully written and unusual in its subject matter, this is a perfect gem and recent winner of a Commonwealth Writers' Best First Book Award. A lovely book.Similar this month: None.Comparison: Diana Evans, Pete Dexter.
After what Damien Hirst did to sheep perhaps some readers will agree with how the serial killer, in this grippingly nasty thriller, treats his victims who are all part of New Yorkâ€™s art community. Not one for the squeamish, itâ€™s an engrossing read that keeps you guessing.
A totally absorbing read. Emotionally charged tale of love and friendship, families, mothers and daughters, and tragedy. If you haven't tried Marcia Preston do.
A first-time author who hails from the publishing industry having been an editor at Penguin and now working for Headline, so she really knows what works in this genre. I loved it. A complex family, a fast-paced plot, descriptions of country living you can see, smell and taste, amazing characters and a multitude of interlinking events – it’s a book to treasure.Similar this month: Kate Kerrigan.Comparison: Judith Lennox, Penny Vincenzi, Sara MacDonald.
A gritty examination of the underbelly of 1950s Soho. Gangsters, drugs, crime and sex provide the background to this novel set around an illegal drinking den populated by a host of colourful characters. It's certainly a far cry from the 50s stereotype of pinafore-clad housewives in suburbia. Great dialogue a good pace, and characters with a lot of depth make this a worthwhile read.
If you want a beautifully written prize-winning novel whilst at the same time a look into the future from an exciting debut novelist then this is the one for you. Itâ€™s a world, almost too terrible to contemplate and yet it carries you along almost like a drug. Itâ€™s imaginative, itâ€™s gripping and at times quite breathtaking. If you as a reader want to be challenged then look no further.
This is a stunning debut. For all those fans of thrillers set in wartime this will stand up well against the likes of Robert Harrisâ€™ Fatherland and Jack Higginsâ€™ oeuvre. Scarrowâ€™s characterisation is excellent and his ability to plait together both the past and the present into an utterly gripping read tells me a big new star is born. His take on a â€˜what ifâ€™ scenario towards the latter end of World War II shows considerable imagination and yet the author has made us feel it just might be true. With considerable filmic qualities Iâ€™d lay a bet it wonâ€™t be long before we see it on screen.
The events in this novel are based on what happened to a pupil of the author and knowing that makes it even more frightening than if it were imagined. It is the tale of a 16-year old white boy in Zimbabwe revenging the horrific slaughter of his parents. Harrowing, powerful and unforgettable.Similar this month: None but try Ben Elton.Comparison: Andre Brink, J M Coetzee, Doris Lessing.
This review is provided by bookgroup.info.â€œThere are days of slow chugging through the wheat. I look out of the window at the engine as it rounds a bend. Living on a train is like living inside the body of a snake. We are always leaning into the curves, always looking forwards, or backwards, never aroundâ€¦â€¦â€¦..â€ So begins this extraordinary first novel by Carrie Tiffany. It is 1934 and the government â€˜Better Farming Trainâ is bringing expert scientific advice to the smallholders and farmers of the vast Australian countryside. Skilled persons, who teach and advise these small town folk, staff the train. They are there to instruct that, in order to increase productivity, it is the farmersâ patriotic duty to use the application of science in their daily lives. Among these experts are our two main protagonists â€“ the narrator, Jean Finnegan (seamstress) and Robert Pettergree (agronomist). In the stifling, claustrophobic atmosphere of the train their fate is sealed after an unexpected, passionate encounter amid the heady drone of the bees in the â€˜honey carâ. Bound by this action (though they donât speak of it again) the two are married and set up home in the Mallee a remote and unforgiving region. Here they live an impoverished existence - both emotionally and materially. While Robert experiments with his â€˜super-phosphateâ and scientific wheat production methods, Jean dutifully records the yields and quality of the bread produced. Their home is a laboratory, their lives an experiment. A series of calamitous crop failures turn the region into a dust-bowl and Robert is blamed (and blames himself) for the tragedy that follows. This is a captivating book beautifully written in simple spare prose and, in a rather nice editorial quirk, the text is interspersed with photographs - as though placed there by Jean herself. The Lovereading view...An enchanting and wise novel about the rocky terrain of both a hostile landscape and the human heart. Shorlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006.
Fabulous First-time Fiction
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