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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.
I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella (US, 5th Feb, UK, 7th Feb, women’s fiction)
Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.
So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour. That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time. Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves. Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?
The Valentines: Happy Girl Lucky, by Holly Smale (UK, 7th Feb, YA fiction)
Sisters Hope, Faith and Mercy have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it. Except real-life isn’t like the movies. Even if you’re a Valentine…
Fierce Fragile Hearts, by Sara Barnard (UK, 7th Feb, YA fiction)
Fierce Fragile Hearts is the stunning companion novel to Sara Barnard’s YA bestseller Beautiful Broken Things. It is about leaving the past behind, the friends who form your future, and learning to find love, in all its forms. Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting again. Again. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?
Unstoppable, by Dan Freedman (UK, 7th Feb, YA fiction)
Secrets and lies . . . secrets and lies . . . Fourteen-year-old twins, Kaine and Roxy, used to be close, but now they can hardly bear to be in the same room. Roxy hates the way her brother behaves – Kaine might be brilliant at football but he’s always in trouble and cares nothing about his family. And Kaine despises the way his supposedly-perfect sister, dominates their parents in her ambition to reach Wimbledon. But the twins are both hiding dangerous secrets of their own, secrets that could destroy everything they are working towards – and both Roxy and Kaine’s survival hangs precariously in the balance.
Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle, by Clare Hunter (UK, 7th Feb, memoir/non-fiction)
For the mothers of the disappeared in 1970s Argentina, protest was difficult. Every Thursday they marched in front of government buildings wearing headscarves embroidered with the names of their lost children. Through sewing, they found a way to campaign. In Tudor England Mary, Queen of Scots was under house arrest and her letters were censored, so she sewed secret treason into her needlework to communicate with the world outside.n an eloquent blend of history and memoir, Threads of Life is an evocative and moving book about the need we all have to tell our story.
Childless Voices: Stories of Longing, Loss, Resistance and Choice, by Lorna Gibb (UK, 7th Feb, non-fiction)
From the playgrounds of Glasgow to the villages of Bangladesh; from religious rites to ancient superstitions; from the world’s richest people to its powerless and enslaved, Lorna Gibb’s masterful Childless Voices paints a global portrait of people without children. Brilliantly grouped by thematic commonality (Those who long, Those who were denied, Those who Choose, etc) the book is a testament to the power of listening, and the power of sharing stories. It is an essential, moving and surprising book on a subject which touches everyone.
The Lost Properties of Love (UK, 7th Feb, non-fiction)
This is a book about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, in The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover, the reality about motherhood and marriage, with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons to muse on the messiness of everyday life.
All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, by Katharine Smyth (UK, 7th feb, non-fiction)
Katharine Smyth was a student at Oxford when she first read Virginia Woolf’s modernist masterpiece To the Lighthouse in the comfort of an English sitting room, and in the companionable silence she shared with her father. After his death – a calamity that claimed her favourite person – she returned to that beloved novel as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief. Braiding memoir, literary criticism and biography, All the Lives We Ever Lived is a wholly original debut: a love letter from a daughter to her father, and from a reader to her most cherished author.
The Face Pressed Against a Window, by Tim Waterstone (UK, 7th Feb, memoir)
In this charming and evocative memoir, Tim Waterstone recalls the childhood experiences that led him to become an entrepreneur and outlines the business philosophy that allowed Waterstone’s to dominate the bookselling business throughout the country. Tim explores his formative years in a small town in rural England at the end of the Second World War, and the troubled relationship he had with his father, before moving on to the epiphany he had while studying at Cambridge, which set him on the road to Waterstone’s and gave birth to the creative strategy that made him a high street name.
Kill [redacted], by Anthony Good (UK and US, 7th Feb, literary fiction)
Michael lost his wife in a terrorist attack on a London train. Since then, he has been seeing a therapist to help him come to terms with his grief – and his anger. He can’t get over the fact that the man he holds responsible has seemingly got away scot-free. He doesn’t blame the bombers, who he considers only as the logical conclusion to a long chain of events. No, to Michael’s mind, the ultimate cause is the politician whose cynical policies have had such deadly impact abroad. His therapist suggests that he write his feelings down to help him forgive and move on, but as a retired headteacher, Michael believes that for every crime there should be a fitting punishment – and so in the pages of his diary he begins to set out the case for, and set about committing, murder.
We Must Be Brave, by Frances Liardet (UK, 7th Feb, US, 26th Feb, literary fiction)
December, 1940. As German bombs fall on Southampton, the city’s residents flee to the surrounding villages. In Upton village, amid the chaos, newly-married Ellen Parr finds a girl sleeping, unclaimed at the back of an empty bus. Little Pamela, it seems, is entirely alone. Ellen has always believed she does not want children, but when she takes Pamela into her home the child cracks open the past Ellen thought she had escaped and the future she and her husband Selwyn had dreamed for themselves. As the war rages on, love grows where it was least expected, surprising them all. But with the end of the fighting comes the realization that Pamela was never theirs to keep…
A Love Story for Bewildered Girls, by Emma Morgan (UK, US ebook and audio only, 7th Feb, fiction)
When Grace meets a beautiful woman at a party, she falls suddenly and desperately in love. At the same party, lawyer Annie meets the man of her dreams – the only man she’s ever met whose table manners are up to her mother’s standards. And across the city, Violet, who is afraid of almost everything, is making another discovery of her own: that for the first time in her life she’s falling in love with a woman.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, by Ruth Hogan (UK, 7th Feb, commercial fiction)
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning. Now, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all …
Late in the Day, by Tessa Hadley (UK, 14th Feb, literary fiction)
Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been close friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia. Zach is dead.
In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach was the sanest and kindest of them all, the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.
Blood Orange, by Harriet Tyce (US, 19th Feb, UK, 21st Feb, thriller)
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle. Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself. But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race, by Mariam Khan (UK, 21st Feb, essays)
Taking one of the most politicized and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It’s Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won’t see represented in the national news headlines: seventeen Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. Funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, each of these essays is a passionate declaration, and each essay is calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia. What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa. Here’s what it’s really about.
If Only I Could Tell You, by Hannah Beckerman (UK, 21st Feb, commercial fiction)
Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected. As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?
Stubborn Archivist, by Tara Rodrigues Fowler (UK and US, 21st Feb, literary fiction)
When your mother considers another country home, it’s hard to know where you belong. When the people you live among can’t pronounce your name, it’s hard to know exactly who you are. And when your body no longer feels like your own, it’s hard to understand your place in the world. This is a novel of growing up between cultures, of finding your space within them and of learning to live in a traumatized body. Our stubborn archivist tells her story through history, through family conversations, through the eyes of her mother, her grandmother and her aunt and slowly she begins to emerge into the world, defining her own sense of identity.
The Burning, by Laura Bates (UK, US ebook only, 21st Feb, YA fiction)
There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’. At least that’s what she thinks … until the whispers start up again. As time begins to run out on her secrets, Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft centuries earlier. A girl whose story has terrifying parallels to Anna’s own… The compelling YA debut from Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and bestselling author of Girl Up.
The Paper Florist: Create and display stunning paper flowers, by Suzi McLaughlin (UK, 25th Feb, non-fiction/crafts)
Suzi McLaughlin’s step-by-step tutorials cover a beautiful array of flowers including bluebells, peonies, poppies, cherry blossom and more, and will teach everything you need to know. Make delicate lifelike flowers, or let your imagination run wild and use Suzi’s techniques to create playful hybrids. Adorn your home with colour and style with just a few simple steps.