In this special category you can discover and start reading books before they are published! Click on a cover to find out more of what will be the hot books of the coming months.
September 2018 Book of the Month From the creator of the mega-selling Cherub series comes the author’s first foray into standalone fiction, a killer-concept, Vegas-set page-turner in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity. Fourteen-year-old Brit boy Harry is a something of a fish out of water in his Vegas high school. His photojournalist mum died when he was seven, and she’s given him “an urge to follow her path”, which is why Harry grasps his first big opportunity when there’s an explosion at his school and he riskily films the aftermath. As his footage goes viral and starts earning him big bucks, thirteen-year-old Charlie is in the frame for the attack. Described as “low-rent trailer trash” by Harry’s friend, she’s a science geek with a rough home life and a history of making explosives. Harry sees her as a “beautiful freak”, though, and over the course of the next eight years their lives crisscross at a pivotal point in human history. With gene-editing tech developing at a rapid pace, everyone wants in on procedures that can enhance their body and brain. But, with the terrorist-created Killer T virus spreading like wildfire, and a crazily huge ransom demanded for the release of a cure, society is sinking into a hot mess of modified monsters, death and violence, with Charlie and Harry trying to hang on to doing the right thing. Charlie and Harry are the kind of fully-formed characters whose stories you’re desperate to follow. They’re complicated, authentically flawed, and the sparky tension between them is tinglingly tangible. This is truly gripping tale, big in scope, big in action and big in emotional impact. - Joanne Owen A Piece of Passion from Felicity Johnston, Commissioning Editor; It's always so exciting to see a bestselling author do something different. KILLER T has all the hallmarks of Robert's writing - brilliantly observed characters, cool gadgets, corruption, blackmail and suspense - but it will also surprise you. At its heart, KILLER T is a love story, set in a world just a few years ahead of our own - but then slowly, slowly, slowly, Robert ups the stakes, until the effects of technology and gene modding become frightening and all too real. It's meticulously crafted, with the energy of CHERUB - and also the sort of satisfying story arc that only a true standalone can provide. Oh, and you'll never look at a wasp the same way again!
“All children are afraid of the dark,” says ten-year-old Mafalda sagely, and she knows this more than most, for her world is misting over. At some point in the next six months she will lose her sight to Stargardt Disease. Mafalda tries to get on with life but, as the days pass, the mist’s darkness descends ever faster, leaving her increasingly lonely. The novel’s universal, book-for-all-ages power has echoes of The Little Prince. Indeed, de Saint-Exupéry’s classic is referenced here by the inspiring one-of-a kind Estella, a school caretaker Mafalda befriends, who advises her to find her rose, “the thing that’s essential to you”, just like the Little Prince. Mafalda measures her vision in paces from a very special cherry tree. And, movingly, the book’s five parts are headed with titles that point to the deterioration of her sight, starting with Part One Seventy Metres, the distance from which she can see the cherry tree as the novel begins. Estella delivers further vital advice later in the novel: “To live in fear is not to live at all”, and it’s Estella who helps make a truly magical, heart-rending ending. Readers of all ages will be drawn deep into Mafalda’s poignantly pitch-perfect narrative. Younger readers will identity with, for example, how she knows when her parents are discussing something important but can’t quite grasp the meaning, while adult readers will fill in the blanks Mafalda is left puzzling over. Inspired by the author's own experience of Stargardt Disease, this is a dazzlingly tender and timeless tale of love and courage. - Joanne Owen
A bang up-to-date, bright, hugely entertaining read set in the world of social media. Digital marketing agency owner and ultra competitive Annie and her business may be up for three awards, however they still need their clients to pay on time, otherwise the business may be over before it can really establish itself. A rather demanding bet, to make a stranger famous on instagram in just 30 days, leads Annie into a Pygmalion dance of discovery. Lindsey Kelk really does have the most delightfully amusing and engaging writing style. I often found myself smirking and at several points actually snorting with laughter. The supporting characters surrounding Annie are wonderful in their own right, and help create an all-embracing world. The romance element forms beautifully, in no particular rush, allowing time to get to know Annie and friends and really care about them. ‘One in a Million’ is lively, lovely, friendly and absolutely perfect if you like your romance served with wit and humour.
A beautifully constructed, absolute dream of a read. Three women (including the wickedly wonderful Emily from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’) join forces when one of them is set up, publicly discarded and viciously humiliated by her husband. Emily, Miriam and Karolina live what may appear to be a charmed jet-setting, party-licious life, however there is a very long way to fall when the knives are out. I absolutely adore Lauren Weisberger’s novels, they read as a master class in setting the scene and creating an eloquently enjoyable and pointedly wicked read. Each chapter focuses on one of the women, so perfectly describing their life I could not only picture myself there, I was there. My eye-popping disbelief mounted at the tactics, the lifestyle, and I seethed away, joining ranks, willing them on. A quick note, just in case you’ve already hunted this down and read it, ‘The Wives’ was published in the USA as ‘When Life Gives you Lululemons’. ‘The Wives’ is a hugely entertaining, read in one sitting, smoking-hot loaded gun of a read - and I highly recommend it.
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.
“If you saw us you’d probably hate us...The perfect little family, living the perfect little life”, explains Merry, one of the three flawed narrators of this gripping debut. She and husband Sam have left New York and set up home in a picture-book-perfect little red wooden house in rural Sweden “What more could I hope for. What more could I need?” she asks rhetorically. Sam praises his perfect “busy little wife” who’s seemingly taken to rustic domesticity and motherhood like it’s all she was born for, but the cracks are visible from the early chapters. Sam is the epitome of toxic masculinity and controls Merry’s every move, while a visit from Merry’s high-flying, egoistical childhood friend disclosures her own desperate troubles. Teeming with duplicity, treachery and tragedy, this strident debut chills to the bone.
An exciting change of direction by Sarah Morgan has led to a deliciously entertaining and heartfelt read. Sisters Lauren and Jenna find that a life based on a secret can be a very destructive thing, yet love, compassion and honesty are waiting in the background, ready to be called. I’ve always loved Sarah Morgan’s novels, they’ve been beautifully simple and full of romance, now she has added a real depth, creating a world surrounding, yet entirely part of the story. The characters within this family, from teenager Mack to grandmother Nancy have a real energy and feel relatable. This is a standalone read, one that you can properly sink into, become a part of and enjoy. I feel as though Sarah Morgan has kept the best of her previous writing, and added a new, more poignant and expressive dimension. A relationship tale with romance and family drama, ‘How To Keep A Secret” is a warming delightful read.
An absorbing, twisting, uneasy reflection of a marriage, as it is being lived with an untold secret at its heart. Kate and Paul have been married for ten years, as they celebrate their anniversary Kate looks back to the time they met as children, and to what could lie ahead in their future. Holly Seddon has become a must-read author for me, each book has had different themes, even edged into different genres, yet the undeniable authenticity of each really shines through. Her writing feels heartfelt, honest, and she has the ability to create such tangible characters, I could turn to them, talk to them, explore their thoughts and feelings. I felt as though Kate was being candid as she spoke, yet information arrives gradually, slowly revealing truths, creating a feeling of uncertainty, building tension. I found myself holding my breath as the ending neared, wanting to know, yet almost afraid to reach for the answers. ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is a cracking read, stimulating, engaging and also rather beautiful, I loved it.
A scorching and beautifully written epic tale set in 1348, a time that sends a jagged screech of fingernails down the blackboard of history. Step away from the present into the midst of the Black Death, to overwhelming fear and confusion. The moated centre of one estate in Dorset appears to offer sanctuary, yet the treacherous play of human emotions wreaks havoc. I am a fan of Minette Walters, she has the ability to look behind and beyond the obvious, and she is eminently suited to this new genre. A lot of characters are introduced, yet there is no confusion, each was clear in my mind, known to me and vibrantly alive. The descriptions took me directly through the words and into this compelling story. ‘The Last Hours’ is the first of two novels, it quickly puts down roots and takes hold, ensuring a gripping, striking and remarkably readable tale.
I first came across the author with The Keep, a hypnotising duel-time, multi-narrative work. Then came her Pultizer Prize winning A Visit From the Goon Squad, an impressive novel which spans decades through the lives of complex characters. So I was really surprised to find this, her first 'historical' novel follows a linear pattern, a more conventional read than I was expecting, but nonetheless totally absorbing. Beginning in the Great Depression and closing at the end of WWII, it concentrates on Anna, her father and initially her very disabled sister. Her father is mixed up in organised crime, working for gangster Dexter Styles, whom Anna first meets when she is twelve, their paths cross dramatically again when she is in her twenties. She works as a diver in the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the first woman to do so, and we are presented with a heroine fighting for recognition and breaking the mould of what is expected for a young woman at that time. I loved it. Highly recommended.
Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself. Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought-provoking novel.
To those around her she was a loyal subject. In her heart she was a traitor. The Queen of the title is Elizabeth Mortimer 1371-1417, married to Sir Henry Percy (known as Hotspur) and upon his death to Thomas de Camoys. This is another of the author’s excellent retelling of the lives of medieval women. Written in the first person, this untangles history in a highly readable manner. It seems Elizabeth loved her first husband who assisted Henry IV to dethrone Richard II and was killed in battle. But in fact Elizabeth wanted her nephew, eight-year old Edmond, to become King but she kept this to herself. Upon Hotspur’s death he was pronounced a traitor and Elizabeth arrested. The King then gave her a choice, marry de Camoys or go into a nunnery. She married de Camoys, he was in his sixties, and the books ends with her settling into a harmonious relationship. I think the strength of this is that it is written in the first person, highly enjoyable.
Get Ahead of the Crowd
One of the real treats of working in the book world is being one of the few who get to read books before they are officially published. Uncorrected proofs, as they are termed, are the editions of the books produced in small numbers and sent to book reviewers and the book buyers of large book chains.
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Each month we will feature a small selection of books that are due to be published officially in the coming months.
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You will be able to download and print off an opening extract of these books and decide whether you like it enough to pre-order it and be sent it the minute it’s published.