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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!
A stunningly beautiful, courageous read, one that crosses through time to 1612, when witchcraft allegations went hand in hand with fear, power and corruption. This is a work of fiction based on real people, local residents, Pendle witches and all. Let me tell you about the cover of this book, which really is very gorgeous indeed. The green leaves sooth, with fiery bursts of orange-red and gold, I then noticed the fox, the ring, pendant, feather… and last of all, the noose, which of course once I had seen, reached out and became all I could see. I tell you this, because the cover reminds me of how I felt about the book, mysterious, yet almost gentle, I let the words take me, I felt myself floating, and then bites of uncertainty and disquiet started gnaw at my awareness. The persecution of the women hammered home while an otherworldly existence lodged itself in my thoughts, and remains there. Deceptively powerful, moving and provocative, Stacey Hall writes with an eloquent pen. Opening a window into a vivid feast of a read, as a debut novel The Familiars stands out from the crowd.
A hard-hitting punch of a crime thriller is waiting to be discovered, but also within the pages lies a provocative and emotionally stunning read too. This debut was the winner of the 2018 Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award, and believe me, I can completely understand why. Lelle has been driving the silver road looking for his missing daughter for three years, his endless search consumes his very being. Within the first page I knew I had fallen in love with the writing, which is exquisitely translated. The words connected with my very being, I could feel the words, look around me and see my surroundings. Stina Jackson balances the dark and light quite beautifully, while tense and foreboding, there is also a silvery thread of hope to be found that thrums gently in the background. The cover of The Silver Road beckons, it leads to a read that emotionally connects, opens feelings and allows access to thoughts. Oh, and that ending… the ending sent goosebumps shivering down my arms. A highly recommended read indeed and one of my picks of the month.
Gosh, this is an absolute treat of a debut novel, so different, so compelling, so fabulously readable! Circling a past that isn’t actually that long ago, the Cold War battle between the USA and USSR intertwines with the background tale to the novel that became Doctor Zhivago. The prologue wonderfully and thoroughly sets the scene. The story spins and spins again, and as several tales are told from different perspectives, we hear from an unknown voice in the typing pool, from a muse, from a carrier… Women take centre stage, even when in a supportive role. Lara Prescott kept my attention as taut as razor wire throughout, the words ganging up to give my thoughts little shoves. I have been left with a thirst for more information about the history of this time, yet thoroughly satisfied by the tale on offer. The Secrets We Kept is many things, spy story, love story, cold war story, it is also an eloquent, surprising read and highly recommended.
Bea is the kind of open, honest, amusing character readers immediately care about. Told through her wittily illustrated diary, Bea’s tale begins with a(nother) upheaval. She and her family have just moved to their new Chinese takeaway, but her hopes for a fresh start are immediately dashed when she sees there’s no living room, and she has to share a room with little sister Bonny while big brother Simon lives with their grandparents. Bea’s experience of feeling “doubly different” is poignantly portrayed – she’s an outsider at school because she’s Chinese, and an outsider among her wider Chinese family because her own family is dysfunctional, and because she doesn’t speak the same language. Thank goodness, then, that she forms a friendship with fellow outcast, Tina the Goth, who stands up to racist school bullies. But while Bea begins to feel hopeful about her future and takes steps towards realising her dream of working in fashion, she and Bonny are increasingly neglected by their parents, and then there’s Dad’s aggressive outbursts. The mid-1980s setting prompts many amusing references, from ra-ra skirts and Gary Kemp’s perm, to sending drawings to Take Hart and going to Wimpy for a Knickerbocker Glory - but above all this is a highly readable, highly empathetic, impactful novel about familial abuse and neglect, trying to fit in, and finding your way in the world. Based on her own experiences, author Sue Cheung’s big-hearted story will chime with readers of 12+ who know how it feels to fall between cracks and dream of a different life.
Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2010. Set in a Finnish sanatorium where women retreat with problems real and imaginary this debut is dark, claustrophobic, tense and menacing. A dramatic and brilliantly told story but not one to try if you are looking for a light hearted read.
July 2015 Debut of the Month. A fabulous debut novel, You, Me and Other People is clever, wistful and endearing. Beth and Adam have been married for years, secrets also kept for years are set to rampage though and trample over their lives. In alternate chapters over several months we hear from them both, as time passes, shocks, surprises and all the emotions they bring, lie in wait. While Fionnuala Kearney covers heartbreak and despair, this is not a melancholy book, instead it is full of smiles, warmth and hope. The author writes with a beautiful heartfelt balance, it feels as though she has reached into her characters hearts and minds and exposed their inner core. it is difficult to put this wonderful book down, each page encourages you to keep reading and once finished, to look forward with anticipation to the author's next novel. ~ Liz Robinson
September 2015 Debut of the Month. A short, easy to read Choc-Lit romantic mystery with a healthy serving of suspense. The first chapter is intriguing, an attractive mystery man enters Anna’s life, should she follow her heart or her head? Anna’s emotions are at war with her thinking and refusing to listen to reason. Anna is likeable and tells her own tale, however her dilemma means she needs a helping hand in the advice department and of course it’s easy to dispense it from the sidelines. Clare Chase teases the reader with the enigmatic male characters, spinning facts and the background to their stories along the way. Agreeably entertaining, You Think You Know Me builds to a rather alarming and dangerous climax and Anna discovers whether her heart or head has finally won the day. ~ Liz Robinson
Winner of the Romantic Novelists' Association Contemporary Romantic Novel Award 2013. Shortlisted for the The Melissa Nathan Award For Comedy Fiction About Life and Love 2013. This witty, funny book is a story about second chances; can they work or should you let sleeping dogs lie? Ten years after ‘the relationship’ Rachel meets Ben by chance and thinks something is still there but dare she risk opening old wounds and dashing a broken heart? Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you'll be hooked from their first 'hello'. December 2012 Debut of the Month.
July 2015 Debut of the Month. Shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2015. Joe, a bookshop manager in Manhattan, seems an average sort of guy but when the beautiful Beck walks into the book store everything changes. The man becomes seriously obsessed with her and as with all great obsessions, jealousy and possessiveness walk in. All told in the second person narrative this gets very penetrating. The relentless one-way perspective, full of literary and artistic references, makes for a challenging read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
January 2013 Debut of the Month. Why would a mother give up her daughter? Can abandonment ever be an act of love? And could you ever forgive her? Written in the first-person present tense, this is a powerful, intelligent and arresting look at parenting, foster care and the issues of finding your identity.
Mary Blight, our unswervingly entertaining heroine, is a salty-talking, salty-acting woman. She picks over the corpses of those drowned off her craggy Cornish cove looking for treasures, such as the fine boots she pulls from a lady’s feet. And then she sees that the body’s earlobes are missing, leading to the national press reporting on the Porthmorvoren Cannibal, and someone saw blood around Mary’s mouth…But it’s Mary who takes in a washed-up stranger and nurses him back to health with the aid of Old Jinny’s curious cure. The man is a Methodist minister who decides to restore the cove to godliness and, observing Mary’s knowledge of the scriptures, he appoint her as Sunday School teacher, to the chagrin of the villagers who are familiar with Mary’s penchant for carnal pleasures. Mary throws herself into her new role but admits in typically honest fashion “I wanted Gideon to save me, but not so that I could kneel at the throne of King Jesus…I wanted him to help me flee the village so I could parade among all the smots in all my finery in a grand town”. As the villagers scheme against Mary, a nation-wide search for a thief gathers pace, and all the while the writing crackles with energy and atmosphere, making this an exhilarating read with something of a Dickensian spirit in the vibrant characterisation.
Winner of the 'Best of the Best' children's category at the Independent Bookshop Week Awards 2016. June 2012 Debut of the Month. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable. Listen to an audio extract by clicking on the orange arrow below. Wonder by R J Palacio by Random House Audiobooks
Winner of the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown Award Longlist 2016. One of our Books of the Year 2015. November 2015 Debut of the Month. The most impressive thing about this extraordinary book is its atmosphere. You can feel the cold and the desperation of the people trying to live through the ‘wolf winter’, a term used to describe the coldest of winters. We follow a family of new settlers. This is Swedish Lapland in 1717 where the church has a grip on the community but the Lapps still believe in the ancient spirits. When a body is found folk are quick to blame a bear for his death but the new settlers see signs of a knife wound, not a claw. This is very special, a ghostly feel of menace lies just beneath the surface in a long, complicated and gripping tale. Awesome. ~ Sarah Broadhurst HWA Chair judge Andrew Taylor said: "The judges were unanimously impressed by Wolf Winter. Not only is it astonishingly accomplished for a first novel, but it plunges the reader into Swedish Lapland 300 years ago and plays havoc with your emotions. Dark, powerful and beautifully written, it's a worthy winner of the HWA Goldsboro Debut Crown.
February 2015 Debut of the Month. The most impressive thing about this extraordinary book is its atmosphere. You can feel the cold and the desperation of the people trying to live through the ‘wolf winter’, a term used to describe the coldest of winters. We follow a family of new settlers. This is Swedish Lapland in 1717 where the church has a grip on the community but the Lapps still believe in the ancient spirits. When a body is found folk are quick to blame a bear for his death but the new settlers see signs of a knife wound, not a claw. This is very special, a ghostly feel of menace lies just beneath the surface in a long, complicated and gripping tale. Awesome.
Winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2010.Costa Book Awards 2010 Judges' comment: "Kishwar Desai pulls off a remarkable trick, transplanting a country house murder to modern day India in a book that's not afraid to tackle serious themes."
March 2012 New Gen Debut of the Month. Refreshingly free of vampires and werewolves this is a stunning debut novel. Written for teenage readers, categorised YA (Young Adult) in the trade, but don't be put off as it is a great read for any dystopian fan and could be seen as The Handmaid's Tale for a new generation. Genetic engineering gone wrong has lead to a radically different population structure and teenage girls are forced to breed to keep the human race alive. The first in a trilogy and this edition contains a sneak preview of the sequel, Fever, and a brand new short story by Lauren DeStefano: The First Bride.
Fabulous First-time Fiction
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