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I take the titles for these monthly posts from a number of sources, including the highlighted books on The Bookseller, my own knowledge of authors to watch, and various lists around the web, and while I can’t claim to have read them, they definitely seem to have merit — or, at least, buzz. Unless indicated otherwise, descriptions are taken from Goodreads, Amazon, or the publisher’s site.
The most reliable place to find UK books in the original British English and at the date at which they come out in the UK is bookdepository.com, though you may also have some luck with wordery.com and bookwitty.com.
Oh My Gods, by Alexandra Sheppard (UK, 3rd January, US, ebook only, 3rd January, YA)
Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic. But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic. She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London! Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus. She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life. Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?
Lark, by Anthony McGowan (UK, 3rd January, YA)
Things are tense at home for Nicky and Kenny. Their mum’s coming to visit and it will be the first time they’ve seen her in years. A lot has changed since they were little and Nicky’s not so sure he’s ready to see her again. When they head for a trek across the moors to take their minds off everything, a series of unforeseen circumstances leaves the brothers in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. There might even be a chance that this time not everyone will make it home alive…
Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant, or dyslexic readers aged 13+.
Paper Avalanche, by Lisa Williams (UK, 3rd January, YA)
Ro Snow is the girl no-one notices – she doesn’t go to parties and she doesn’t have friends over. Besides, even if anyone tried to call on her they’d discover that no. 56 Arcadia Avenue isn’t her house at all – it’s her decoy house. Because her real home, a few doors down, is a tip of rubbish and paper and she can’t remember the colour of the carpet it’s been so long since she’s seen it. Her mum, Bonnie, is a hoarder and Ro lives in terror of social services finding out about the squalor she is forced to live in. But when Noah moves in next door, Ro can’t hide the truth from him and she finds herself opening up for the first time in her life. And then there’s the new girl at school, the adorable and persistent Tanvi who can see that carefully hidden something-special in Ro too. And it’s not long before Ro’s carefully constructed castle of loneliness is crumbling down around her, but if she’s out in the open, so is her painstakingly guarded secret …
Salt On Your Tongue: Women and the Sea, by Charlotte Runcie (UK, 3rd January, US, 5th March, memoir)
In mesmerising prose, Charlotte Runcie shows how the sea has inspired, fascinated and terrified us, and how she herself fell in love with the deep blue. Navigating through ancient Greek myths, poetry, shipwrecks and Scottish folktales, Salt On Your Tongue is about how the wild untameable waves can help us understand what it means to be human.
All The Lonely People, by David Owen (UK, 10th January, YA)
Everyone tells Kat that her online personality – confident, funny, opinionated – isn’t her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Delete, Disappear.With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she? She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat’s world. It’s different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen – but he’s in too far to back out now. As soon as Kat disappears from the online world, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.
Just Eat It: How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food, by Laura Thomas (UK, 10th January, non-fiction)
This anti-diet guide from registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD can help you sort out your attitude to food and ditch punishing exercise routines. As a qualified practitioner of Intuitive Eating – a method that helps followers tune in to innate hunger and fullness cues – Thomas gives you the freedom to enjoy food on your own terms.
The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, by Anstey Harris (UK, 10th January, women’s fiction)
Between the simple melody of running her violin shop and the full-blown orchestra of her romantic interludes in Paris with David, her devoted partner of eight years, Grace Atherton has always set her life to music. Her world revolves entirely around David, for Grace’s own secrets have kept everyone else at bay. Until, suddenly and shockingly, one act tips Grace’s life upside down, and the music seems to stop. It takes a vivacious old man and a straight-talking teenager to kickstart a new chapter for Grace. In the process, she learns that she is not as alone in the world as she had once thought, that no mistake is insurmountable, and that the quiet moments in life can be something to shout about …
Music Love Drugs War, by Geraldine Quigly (UK, 10th January, US, 10th January, ebook only, literary fiction)
The end of the school year is approaching, and siblings Paddy and Liz McLaughlin, Christy Meehan, Kevin Thompson and their friends will soon have to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. But it’s hard to focus when there’s the allure of their favourite hangout place, the dingy ‘Cave’, where they go to drink and flirt and smoke. Most days, Christy, Paddy and Kevin lie around listening to Dexys and Joy Division. Through a fog of marijuana, beer and budding romance, the future is distant and unreal. But this is Derry in 1981, and they can’t ignore the turmoil of the outside world. A friend is killed, and Christy and Paddy, stunned out of their stupor, take matters into their own hands. Some choices are irreversible, and choosing to fight will take hold of their lives in ways they never imagined.
The Man With No Face, by Peter May (UK, 10th January, US, 5th March, thriller)
1979. Jaded Edinburgh journalist Neil Bannerman is sent to Europe, intent on digging up dirt. Yet it is danger he discovers, when two British men are found murdered. One victim is a journalist, the other a Cabinet Minister: the double-assassination witnessed by the former’s autistic daughter. This girl recalls every detail about her father’s killer – except for one.
Professor Chandra is an expert at complex problems. There’s just one he can’t crack: the secret of happiness. In the moments after the bicycle accident, Professor Chandra doesn’t see his life flash before his eyes, but his life’s work. He’s just narrowly missed out on the Nobel Prize (again) and even though he knows he should get straight back to his pie charts, his doctor has other ideas. All this work. All this success. All this stress. It’s killing him. He needs to take a break, start enjoying himself. In short, says his doctor (who is from California), Professor Chandra should just follow his bliss. He doesn’t know it yet, but Professor Chandra is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
The Binding, by Bridget Collins (UK, 10th January, US, 16th April, literary fiction)
Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded. Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.
The Wall, by John Lanchester (UK, 17th January, US, 5th March, literary fiction)
Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he’s lucky, if nothing goes wrong, he only has two years of this, 729 more nights. The best thing that can happen is that he survives and gets off the Wall and never has to spend another day of his life anywhere near it. He longs for this to be over; longs to be somewhere else. He will soon find out what Defenders do and who the Others are. Along with the rest of his squad, he will endure cold and fear day after day, night after night. But somewhere, in the dark cave of his mind, he thinks: wouldn’t it be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if you had to fight for your life?
Kick the Moon, by Muhammad Khan (UK, 24th January, YA)
Fifteen-year-old Ilyas is under pressure from everyone: GCSEs are looming and his teachers just won’t let up, his dad wants him to join the family business and his mates don’t care about any of it. There’s no space in Ilyas’ life to just be a teenager. Serving detention one day, Ilyas finds a kindred spirit in Kelly Matthews, who is fed up with being pigeonholed as the good girl, and their friendship blows the social strata of high school wide open. But when Kelly catches the eye of one of the local bad boys, Imran, he decides to seduce her for a bet – and Ilyas is faced with losing the only person who understands him. Standing up to Imran puts Ilyas’ family at risk, but it’s time for him to be the superhero he draws in his comic-books, and go kick the moon.
The Hunting Party, by Lucy Foley (UK, 24th January, US, 12th February, crime/thriller)
In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year. The beautiful one, the golden couple, the volatile one, the new parents, the quiet one, the city boy, the outsider, the victim. Not an accident – a murder among friends.
Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield (UK, 24th January, US, 4th December ’18, literary fiction)
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child. Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can it be explained by science?
Quicksand Tales: The Misadventures of Keggie Carew, by Keggie Crew (UK, 31st January, memoir)
Ever been talked into buying a camel? Or become a burglar by mistake? Or accidentally drugged a friend on a blind date? Keggie Carew has an unerring instinct for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, of putting her foot in it, and making a hash of things. From the repercussions of a missing purse, to boiling a frog, or the holiday when the last thing you could possibly imagine happens, Keggie has been there. She also has an enviable talent for recycling awfulness and turning embarrassment into gold. In prose that will make you laugh, wince and curl your toes, Keggie Carew shares her most humiliating, awkward, uncomfortable, funny, true, terrible and all-too-relatable moments. You will be glad none of it happened to you.