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!
I love it when a book that is written to entertain provides an insight into a world I am not familiar with or to places I have never been. This cleverly written thriller does both. As we learn about the world of competitive cycling, Solomons takes us on a descriptive journey through Serbia and the Balkans where we meet people who are still recovering from, and suffering the effects of, a war that only ended in 1995. Serbia, we discover, is a country of great beauty but with dark secrets born of a violent past. Combine a Wallender-style detective with a former Olympic cyclist and you have a recipe for fireworks. As the body count climbs, The Bone Road doesn’t disappoint.
If you were offered a chance to cure your child's disease, would you take it? The Willows have been through a lot. Louise has devoted her life to caring for her disabled youngest daughter. Pete works abroad, almost never seeing his loved ones. And their eldest, Eliza, is burdened by all the secrets she's trying to keep from her overloaded family. Meanwhile, Patience observes the world while trapped in her own body. She laughs, she cries, she has opinions and knows what she wants. But those who love her most - and make every decision about her life - will never know. Or will they? When the Willows are offered the opportunity for Patience to take part in a new gene therapy trial to cure her Rett syndrome, they face an impossible dilemma. Are the very real risks worth the chance of the reward, no matter how small?
The perfect beach read, Shape of a Boy is a laugh-out-loud travel memoir featured in National Geographic Traveller’s best travel books of 2022 Shape of a Boy is a hilarious and eye-opening travel memoir by the mother of three boys as she documents her travels with her family around the world. 'Have kids, will travel' is veteran travel journalist Kate's mantra. Her intrepid spirit is infectious in this warm, engaging account of her family's adventures and misadventures. She shares the life lessons learnt on their travels, from overcoming disappointment in Thailand to saying sorry in Japan, discovering perseverance in Borneo and learning about conservation in Malaysia. From the jungles of southeast Asia to the waterfront in Havana and the blazing heat of Egypt, Shape of a Boy captures the essence of being a parent in the thick of it and learning on the hoof. Inspirational for anyone who has dreaded travelling with a baby, toddler, or teen, it is a life-affirming read for every wannabe-traveller. Kate's vivid evocation of the highs and lows of family time make you belly-laugh and bring a lump to your throat. This is a must-read for every wannabe-traveller grounded by lockdown and for every parent who has dreaded travelling with a baby.
Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new crime series introducing investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo. When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings - and their killers - are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why. As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son's murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth. Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?
Heralding the arrival of a new, crisply lyrical voice in fiction, devotees of novels that centre women’s experiences with wisdom and fresh, thoughtful perspectives will find Tomi Obaro’s Dele Weds Destiny debut utterly un-put-down-able. It follows the interlocked lives of Zainab, Funmi and Enitan, who first meet as students at university in northern Nigeria. Bound by this seminal experience, a time when all three young women made huge leaps in discovering who they were, their lives diverge on different paths around the world, and they’re now reunited at the wedding of Funmi's daughter, Destiny, with each character brilliantly nuanced. As for those divergent paths, which we follow alongside the 2015 context of Destiny’s wedding, Funmi lives in luxury as the wife of a big businessman, New York-based Enitan is separating from her husband (a white man she eloped with), and Zainab is a single mother to four sons. As seen during their reunion, the women exemplify tremendous differences in status and experiences, and yet their connections still hold, with their daughters further revealing generational connections and divergences that ring with universal truths about life, experiences of friendship, and what it means to feel at home.
Read the powerful account of one woman's fight to reshape her identity through connection with nature when all normality has fallen away. When lifelong bird-lover Hannah Bourne-Taylor moved with her husband to Ghana seven years ago she couldn't have anticipated how her life would be forever changed by her unexpected encounters with nature and the subsequent bonds she formed. Plucked from the comfort and predictability of her life before, Hannah struggled to establish herself in her new environment, striving to belong in the rural grasslands far away from home. In this challenging situation, she was forced to turn inwards and interrogate her own sense of identity, however in the animal life around her, and in two wild birds in particular, Hannah found a source of solace and a way to reconnect with the world in which she was living. Fledgling is a portrayal of adaptability, resilience and self-discovery in the face of isolation and change, fuelled by the quiet power of nature and the unexpected bonds with animals she encounters. Hannah encourages us to reconsider the conventional boundaries of the relationships people have with animals through her inspiring and very beautiful glimpse ofwhat is possible when we allow ourselves to connect to the natural world. Full of determination and compassion, Fledgling is a powerful meditation on our instinctive connection to nature. It shows that even the tiniest of birds can teach us what is important in life and how to embrace every day.
An enthralling, rewarding, and ever so satisfying debut crime thriller. Covering ten hours, from beginning to end, a far-right extremist takes nine people from an immigrant support group hostage. Author John Sutherland is a retired Borough Commander with the Metropolitan Police, during his time in the job he was a hostage negotiator, in other words he knows his stuff. Not only that, he is also a gifted, passionate, and compassionate speaker and I’ve listened to his inspiring words on several occasions at Literary Festivals. This may be his debut novel, but he already has two non-fiction books to his name, Blue: A Memoir and Crossing the Line are both fascinating books about policing. When I knew he was venturing into fiction I grabbed a proof just as fast as I could with one question on my mind, could his knowledge and abilities translate into a novel? Yes, yes they can. If you’ve read his books, newspaper articles or his blog, heard him on the TV, at talks or worked with him then you will know he is principled, honourable, thoughtful, and that clearly comes across in his writing. Yet being from the policing family means he has seen it all, experienced the highs and lows that this job throws at you. So while the tone is unmistakably him, calm with no fuss or bluster, it feels real, right up in your face real. The three main characters have equal billing, concentrating in turn on their lives, who they are, what makes them tick. There is a straightforward clarity to the writing that ensures the words hit with intensity. As the story gained momentum, as the lives of these people began to really matter to me, I couldn’t put the book down. At one point I cried, and I know how good a book is by how it makes me react, how it makes me feel. So, this novel joins our LoveReading Star Book community, it also sits as a Liz Robinson Pick for its month of publication. For those of you who have been waiting, hand-on-heart, it’s worth it. The Siege is not only thrilling and entertaining, it’s also engaging and meaningful, and comes with the hugest of ticks in the must-read box from me.
A debut that sings, in fact roars with strong vibrant themes, beautiful storytelling, and fabulous characters. Three women sit centre stage as the trials begin to find the next rulers of the Empire, each has different coloured blood and were born to very different roles. This is the first in the The Final Strife series, and Author Saara El-Arifi has created the most compelling world with roots in Ghanian folklore and Arabian myths. A vivid energy crackles into life from the start. The sense of place is immense, I saw, I felt, I believed. The three very different young women who lead in the story, in such different ways, have fascinating characters. The story flows through some thought-provoking topics, from oppression and rebellion through to drug addiction. Love can be found in its many guises including friendship as well as romance. While tyranny rules, this in an inclusive land in terms of relationships and diversity. I would say this is definitely not for younger teens due to content, but is suitable for those heading towards their twenties as well as adults. This first book sets up the continuing story rather wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where we head next. A LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, The Final Strife, so very clever, bold and provocative has set aflame a new world that promises much, highly recommended.
Of the many books birthed in the pandemic, Lily Lindon’s Double Booked is perhaps one of the funniest. Dubbed a queer romcom, the book is also a coming-of-age story for those who’ve outgrown their teens and are well on the way to adulthood. It makes Double Booked a refreshing take on self-discovery, a subject normally the preserve of the very young. We follow Gina as she takes on another self, George, in an attempt to live two different lives. Alongside the funnies is plenty of fizz. There’s an infectious energy to Lindon’s writing and every pages brims with real-life chat/goss/angst/love. As an editor working in publishing and someone who honed her comedic chops at Cambridge’s famous Footlights, the author is somewhat ‘double booking’ herself – and it’s paid off wonderfully. The LoveReading LitFest invited Lily Lindon to the festival to talk about Double Booked. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she's thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They've only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella's desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW. It's hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career. Dark, funny and furiously entertaining, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
Sparked by a real-life police abuse scandal in Oakland, California, Leila Mottley’s intensely affecting Nightcrawling debut, written when she was just seventeen, burns with brutal truths and a raw beauty that lays bare an astounding spirit of love and survival. Though not quite 18, Kiara has long had to play an adult role in life. Her former Black Panther father is dead, as is her little sister. Her mama is in a halfway house “prison without the bars”, while her older brother clings to a dream of making it in rap music. So, it’s fallen to Kiara to take responsibility for paying rent and putting food on the table. What’s more, she also cares for Trevor, a ten-year-old child whose mother keeps going AWOL. Trapped in poverty, and unable to get a job, Kiara is forced to nightcrawl. “It’s just a body,” she tells herself. After being picked up by a couple of cops, Kiara is forced to have sex with them and their colleagues. Though she had no choice, she wishes she’d never given them her number - “they only want me to show themselves they can have me…These are the men who load their guns and point them with a grin, and find a girl in an alley and decide she is theirs”. Later, when one of the cops is found dead, Kiara finds herself at the heart of an investigation into police corruption and sexual exploitation, but being named as a key witness puts everything and everyone she knows into danger. As the case exposes the adultification of Black girls and the corrupt core of an unjust system, Kiara keeps on caring for Trevor, keeps on trying to help her brother, keeps on living and loving.
Meet Gilda. She cannot stop thinking about death. Desperate for relief from her anxious mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local church and finds herself abruptly hired to replace the deceased receptionist Grace. It's not the most obvious job - she's queer and an atheist for starters - and so in between trying to learn mass, hiding her new maybe-girlfriend and conducting an amateur investigation into Grace's death, Gilda must avoid revealing the truth of her mortifying existence. A blend of warmth, deadpan humour, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration - and the expiration of those you love - is the only certainty.
Romantic love, family love, friend love, and selflove — Ebony LaDelle’s Love Radio debut is an uplifting joy, with two adorable teen characters teetering on the cusp of adulthood while dealing with big problems from the past, and questions about the future. Dani definitely isn’t looking for love. Not after what happened when her former friend left her alone with that college boy. And not when she’s so set on going to college and becoming a writer. A writer with the impact of her heroines, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and bell hooks. Meanwhile, Prince (AKA DJ LoveJones), is obsessed with music, and offers love advice on his hugely popular radio show around caring for his sick mom and adorable little brother Mook. When they meet, the fiery sparks can’t be ignored, so Dani agrees to giving Prince three dates to convince her not to swear off love. Cue a stack of sweetness from Prince (the dates he comes up with are so, so thoughtful), and Dani doing a whole lot of soul-searching. Alongside delivering a beautiful, exhilarating love story, the author weaves in Black history, and shows the power of kids seeing themselves represented in books. It also offers gorgeous representations of family love, support, respect and fun gatherings that allow everyone to thrive. All of which means Love Radio is inspirational, empowering, and super-sweet — what’s not to love?
What a dazzling debut this is. Founded on the alluring concept of a glamourous hotel that changes location each night, Emily J Taylor's Hotel Magnifique presents readers with a sumptuous world of magical soirées and shows. It’s a story that’s shot-through with intrigue, mystery and menace as two sisters longing for a better life discover that the grass might not be greener, however bright it gleams. When Hotel Magnifique comes to her bleak hometown, 17-year-old Jani devises a plan to make sure she and her sister enter it. Her sister gains employment as a singer, while Jani enters a lowlier profession. Within the hotel’s opulent walls, the sisters are separated by their roles, and Jani is quick to catch onto the fact that the contracts they’ve signed might mean more than they’d bargained for. With distrust lurking in every shadow, and a sense of time running out, this sweeping story is a spellbinding read, and comes recommended for fans of the Lady Helen Dark Days Club series and The Night Circus.
Charged with sexual and moral tensions, Julia May Jonas’ Vladimir debut is tantalisingly provocative from start to finish. Its complex, fallible characters are nigh unforgettable as they storm, teeter and flounder on multiple brinks of human experience. Shot-through with dark humour, with a cunning, unexpected sense of hubris rearing forth in the feverish finale, Vladimir is a tragi-comic gem of our times, and incredibly compelling as it lays bare extra-marital affairs with dubious imbalances of power, fulfilling desire through devious means, and middle class, middle-age crises. “When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me”. “I’ve always felt the origin of anger in my vagina and am surprised it is not mentioned more in literature”. These are the kinds of declarations made by the novel’s narrator, a middle-aged English professor at a liberal college in the US. Though long accepting of her husband’s affairs (they’ve always had an open agreement about extra-marital sex), he’s now facing accusations of sexual misconduct from former students. Since they teach at the same college, his actions are making her life pretty difficult. At the same time, “trapped in the prison of vanity”, she develops an obsession with a younger novelist. Through the extraordinary escalation of the narrator's infatuation, we see the extremities of manipulation, desire, and the desire to be desired. She becomes, in her words, an “evil puppeteer”. But this is no straightforward story of affairs and lust. The novel careers to a crazy, unexpected, and quite brilliant denouement, with a sense of tenderness and gallows humour through the darker subject matter. At once edgy, playful and serious, Vladimir is a compulsive triumph.
A dashing and absolutely delicious tickle on your reading tastebuds, this historical debut novel comes with lively romance and sharp wit. With her family in danger of being made homeless, Kitty Talbot the eldest of four sisters, heads to London to bag herself a man with a fortune. While set in 1818’s high society, this is less vapours and vulnerability and more unwavering tenaciousness from the leading lady. Sophie Irwin creates a vivid setting and vivacious tone, I found myself in Georgian London, yet Kitty could be running round the streets today. Kitty is an absolute delight, she is essentially on war footing and determined to save her family and home, nothing less than the richest of rich men will do. I read this in one heady sitting, light, bright, and fun yet with bite, I’ve chosen this debut as a Liz Pick of the Month. With everything you’d expect from a Regency romance yet refreshingly different, A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting is a colourful, charming, and sparkling read.
Navigating loss, love and family strains while standing out as a brown girl in a predominantly white school isn’t easy for Ellie, a budding songwriter and music aficionado. A beautiful, funny ode to finding the strength to sing up and stand out, Ellie Pillai is Brown is sure to chime with readers who also feel they don’t quite fit in, with QR codes peppered through the book bringing Ellie’s songs to life, and adding extra depth to the experience. Ellie Pillai is a girl who know what she loves — music. And, against her parents’ wishes, she’s set on making a go of her drama GCSE, determined to find a way to overcome feeling invisible. While her family are mourning the loss of her little brother, which has left Ellie and her mum terribly distant from each other, Ellie has the stable support of her best friend. But her life is well and truly shaken up when a new boy and his twin sister arrive at her school. While handsome Ash is the only person who gets all her music references and understands the power of a playlist and finding the right song for every situation, it looks like he’s hooked up with her best friend, so Ellie tries to put him out of her mind. At the same time, Ellie’s new drama teacher instils her with confidence: “I think you have presence, something special about you. Something different”. If only Ellie can stop putting herself in a box and making herself small. Exploring grief, consent, family expectations, self-confidence, first love, same sex love and mental health through its well-drawn cast of characters, Ellie Pillai is Brown strikes a smart balance between humour and emotion.
Fabulous First-time Fiction
Reading a fabulous debut is a truly thrilling reading experience. It can feel as though you are discovering a treasure hoard for the fervent bibliophile. Not only do you hold in your hands a gem of a book, but all the books yet to come. If you've been in at the start of a great series you’ll know exactly what we mean. You can rely on LoveReading to tell you about the debut’s that have called out to us, that give us that tingle of revelation. So do keep an eye out for our debut section on the site and in our newsletters where we highlight our favourites of the month. Our competition page is also a good place to haunt too!
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