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!
May 2018 Debut of the Month Our narrator Jasper is thirteen years old. He has synaesthesia which means he hears sounds, voices etc as colours and recognises individual by those colours and not by any physical appearances. We spend nearly a hundred pages learning about the disadvantages of such a condition becoming aware of many of the lad’s traits which are similar to autism. He lives in a confused world misinterpreting interactions and events and “blowing up” in panic attacks. It makes for harrowing reading. A couple of years ago his mother died and shortly after her his grandmother. His father finds the boy difficult to deal with. Now something has happened. Jasper thinks he has killed his neighbour Bee. Jasper is a very unreliable narrator. To discover what happened he has to recreate the colours of the last day of Bee’s life and try to match them to the events of that day. He spends a lot of time surmising and then painting naturally in those colours. The investigating police officer, “Rusty Chrome Orange” is a saint who eventually the boy learns to trust, but the poor lad is suspicious of everyone else, even at one time, his father. How it all works is naturally steeped in colour. Interesting.
May 2018 Debut of the Month A poignant, inspiring debut to really immerse yourself in, to feel and become a part of. Hero De Vera originally from the Philippines, joins her Uncle and his family in California, she arrives with secrets, and enters a house with secrets, can the family unite as one? The prologue sets the stage, another woman, not Hero, speaks. Elaine Castillo placed me entirely into an unknown world, her words took me there so completely I felt empathy, warmth, remorse resonating through me. Each central character has a distinctive voice, the different women take centre stage, strong, vibrant, hurting, resilient. The feeling of not belonging, of fear, sat uncomfortably within me, slicing through my thoughts. I felt as though I was being told a direct recollection of events, as though I was sitting by their side, listening, and becoming one with the words. Provoking thoughts and feelings ‘America is not the Heart’ is a fascinating, often painful, yet entirely stimulating read. ~ Liz Robinson
April 2018 Debut of the Month Ahh, this is just so, so lovely… a debut that made me smile, weep, and smile some more. Rosemary is 86, she has lived in Brixton all her life, watching as Brixton has changed a building at a time, from fruit and veg shops to trendy bars. 26 year old journalist Kate is surrounded by people, yet feels completely and utterly alone, when the local lido is threatened by closure, an alliance and unexpected friendship is formed. Libby Page has a lovely quick-witted, gently quirky writing style, surprising me with observations and unexpected detail (adored the fox!). I loved travelling through memories, getting to know Rosemary and Kate, and seeing the small snapshots of the lives they touch. While it is a truly beautiful read, part of the beauty is in the emotion I felt, pain and heartache is embraced, hugged, soothed. ‘The Lido’ is a deliciously warm and entertaining slice of wonderful, and I absolutely adored it.
April 2018 Debut of the Month Oh my word, this is an eyebrow raising, mouth openingly good read. A contemporary tale about three women, muddling and battling their way through this world as best they can. Emotional growing pains can occur at any age, life doesn't run smoothly, and these three women hold out the hand of friendship to all of us. We see and feel deeply hidden thoughts, witness shockingly embarrassing moments, and I found myself wincing at their pain, snorting with laughter, and cheering them on. Dawn O’Porter has written a stonkingly good read, I stayed up well past my bedtime into the early hours in order to finish it in one sitting. My feelings went into free fall and occasionally tied themselves up in knots as I read. ‘The Cows’ slams with impact, slaps adversity in the face, and offers supportive understanding in our modern world. Highly recommended!
April 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Falling Angels | Rising Hope | Falling in Love Compelling magic realist debut in which a fallen angel named Teacake helps heal a teen girl’s grief. Across the world angel-like Beings are falling from the sky. Their winged bodies seep golden blood on impact with the earth, and then they die. In the aftermath of the first sightings, the world exploded in an apocalyptic frenzy, yielding religious cults and angel-exploiting money-makers. Alongside this, Jaya is also dealing with a personal apocalypse – the sudden death of her mother. While Jaya struggles with her guilt-ridden grief, and with losing contact with Leah, the best friend who might also have been her girlfriend, she’s also irritated by her dad’s fanatical angel-chasing. But, as things turn out, it’s Jaya who’s there when an angel falls, and, for the first time, this angel survives. Angels don’t exist in Jaya’s mum’s Hindi religion so she pushes aside any thoughts that this is somehow a sign. But amidst the frenzy of the Edinburgh festival and the aggressive fanaticism of the Standing Fallen cult, Jaya does everything she can to protect this shimmering rose-gold Being from harm. The angels are never explained, or fully understood, but that isn’t necessary, for this isn’t about hard scientific facts, this is about matters of the soul. It’s a charming debut, radiant with humanity and heart.
March 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: High Fantasy | Hidden Heritage | Political plotting | This exuberantly ambitious fantasy debut set in an alternate 16th century sees seventeen-year-old Brienna embroiled in treasonous plots and passionate encounters galore. With her mother dead and a father whose identity is unknown to her, Brienna’s grandfather’s sends her to an esteemed boarding house at which students study the passions (art, music, dramatics, wit and knowledge). Brienna is aware that this is not the kind of place a girl like her usually attends – “it wasn’t designed for girls who were lacking, for girls who were illegitimate, and certainly not for girls who defied kings” - but here she finds herself desperate to discover and perfect her passion in order to be selected by a wealthy patron. She struggles to see her true passion emerge, and so winds up choosing knowledge. She also winds up without a patron, and left with little choice but to accept a belated offer from a disgraced mysterious lord. It’s not long before Brienna discovers that the lord sought her out for a very specific reason and she’s faced with high-stakes dilemmas that threaten the very stability of two lands. Brienna’s first-person voice is lively and engaging, as is the highly visual writing, fascinating magic system, compelling court intrigues and dashes of romance. Fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cassandra Clare will surely welcome this tantalising trilogy opener.
March 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Thrilling fantasy and West African folklore An exceptional fantastical debut that weaves dark magic, powerful female protagonists and West African folklore into a richly rewarding novel, the first in what promises to be a truly epic trilogy if this opening installment is anything to go by. There was a time when Orisha was alive with magic but, under the command of a new king, those with magical gifts are now targets, and the fabulously rebellious, outspoken Zélie has been orphaned. Her heritage is of the Reaper Clan. Her mother was able to summon souls, and now Zélie, who has retained her magic, seeks justice for her mother’s death. Fuelled by thoughts of “the way her corpse hung from that tree” and “the king who took her away”, she’s determined to rise, and nothing will stop her. And so Zélie must seize control of her powers and venture forth to fight the crown prince. Throughout, the world-building and evocation of clan magic is astoundingly detailed, conjured with a vibrant visual sensibility, and Zélie is a one-of-a-kind young woman whose journey exhilarates, astounds and inspires. A message from the author: Dear Reader, There are so many things I want to say to you, but the most important is simple: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Children of Blood and Bone is the book of my heart in every way, shape, and form. It holds the magic and adventure that have made me an avid lover of fantasy and storytelling my whole life. It has thediverse cast I have always wanted to see in my favorite stories, but never got to. But above everything else, this story has my heart because it’s given me something to hold onto during very dark chapters in my life. This book was written during a time where I kept turning on the news and seeing stories of unarmed black men and children being shot by the police. I felt afraid and angry and paralyzed and helpless, but this book was the one thing that helped me feel like I could do something about it. I told myself that if just one person could read it and have their hearts or minds changed, then I would’ve done something meaningful against a problem that often feels so much bigger than myself. And now this book exists and you are reading it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There are so many things I hope for this story, but I there want to end this letter with all the things I hope it gives you. I hope Children of Blood and Bone brings you an epic fantasy adventure like nothing you’ve ever experienced. I hope you see a glimpse into my Nigerian heritage and the beautiful cultures and people Africa holds. I hope this story makes you want to pick up a staff and ride on the back of a giant lionnaire. I hope if you’ve never seen yourself as the hero of a story, this book hanges that. I hope this novel makes you think and feel. I hope it propels you to help those who suffer the fate of the maji in the world around us.But most of all, I hope this book is only the beginning of our adventures together. Sending my love and appreciation, Tomi.
March 2018 Debut of the Month Told over a period of three weeks, with forays into the past, this thrilling debut gathers tension into a knotted tangled ball, before hurling it sky high. Set in Australia, a teacher is found murdered in the town lake with roses scattered in the water above her. Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock ignores connections to the past in order to pursue the case, yet years old secrets start to push forward and batter at her mind. Sarah Bailey allows Gemma her own voice, she speaks with a simple intensity, her words have a gritty almost dispassionate feel, yet passion is clearly simmering in the background, edging ever closer to the forefront. Other characters are occasionally allowed voice, giving further insight into Gemma. As information is slowly revealed, and the policing team struggle to place all the pieces, I felt the links closing in. The Dark Lake simmers with tension, infatuation, secrets, and lies, ensuring an absorbing, provocative read ~ Liz Robinson
February 2018 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: angry, witty and ultimately life-affirming coming-of-age story The Taste of Blue Light establishes Lydia Ruffles as an exciting and original new voice in YA. We first meet her central character Lux Langley at her school’s end of year party, the kind of wild, uninhibited bacchanal that Richdene Art School is famous for. She seems to be everything many teens long to be – bold, confident, popular. But something happens that turns her summer bad, so that ever after it tastes to Lux ‘of tequila and ash’. What that something is, we don’t know; Lux can’t remember but she’s desperate to find out. It makes for powerful, sometimes painful reading, and indeed could almost be too angst-ridden but for Lux’s sharp, sarcastic teen voice which grips and intrigues with equal measure. Readers who enjoy this should be directed to The Catcher in the Rye or Plath’s The Bell Jar. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Anne McNeil, senior publisher at Hachette Children’s Group: “We are incredibly proud to be publishing Lydia; her voice is vividly unique. Whilst The Taste of Blue Light is by no means the same story as The Bell Jar, Lydia’s main character, Lux, has parallels with Plath’s Esther. Both are young women who are privileged in the opportunities presented to them, but both women feel out of place and suffocated, and unable to touch upon why they feel the way they do.”
February 2018 Debut of the Month | In a Nutshell: Electrifying folkloric thriller Blending folkloric fantasy with contemporary romance, this immersive multi-layered novel heralds the arrival of a unique new voice in young adult fiction. Each Christmas, Wren is hunted in a twisted, tormenting re-enactment of an old game. But the village bullies don’t realise that Wren is part of the Augur family, formerly powerful kinfolk whose magical influence was all but obliterated by the Judges. When Wren is captured in the hunt and a boy claims a lock of her hair, she must become a spy in the house of the most powerful Judge of all. Straddling ancient Celtic mythology and the 21st century, the exhilarating storyline teems with tension as Wren lies, steals and searches her heart and soul while summoning up magic to save her family. The language is lyrical, the concept unique and, while comparisons are tricky to make, I’d recommend this highly to fans of Frances Hardinge’s thought-provoking fantasy. ~ Joanne Owen
February 2018 MEGA Debut of the Month This tender tale of tragic loss, deep love and profound desperation is contemporary fiction at its best - a monumentally memorable debut that is at once brutally heartbreaking, wholly honest, and rich in humanity. Rob and Anna met as Cambridge undergraduates, he a working class boy with a magnificent generous-hearted taxi driver for a dad, while she was raised in a missionary household by her upright mother and serial-adulterer father. Rob and Anna’s love was instant and wondrous, and marriage came soon, followed by Jack, the loving, thoughtful son who makes everyday special. Life is sweet – alongside the daily magic that Jack brings into their lives, there are bikes rides on Hampstead Heath, idyllic family holidays – until Rob and Anna wonder whether their beautiful son might have something wrong with him. Pulling no punches, leaving no truth unturned, no emotion unexplored, this remarkable exposition of love and the complex depths of the human heart is raw, authentic and, quite simply, sublime.
February 2018 Debut of the Month. A wonderfully intense and dramatic thriller, one that highlights the background, exposes the concealed, yet is action-packed and constantly moving. Nora Watts gave up her child, 15 years later that child is missing, and as the circumstances begin to twist around her, Nora has to revisit her past. Set in British Columbia, in the back streets and under-belly of Vancouver, and the vast icy mountain interior, the surroundings are a dramatic crucial element to the story. Nora is a truly distinctive character, tenacious, difficult, solitary, and she tells her own story, permitting you access to her uppermost thoughts. Sheena Kamal allows explanations to wait, encouraging you to get a feel for Nora by her actions and not her past. At times descriptive detailing surprised me, before connecting deeply within, at others I felt my mind racing to catch up, to understand. ‘Eyes Like Mine’ assails senses, stimulates thoughts and reasoning, and is a powerful, captivating read. ~ Liz Robinson
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