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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 blackwells.com, which has free international delivery, including to the US, though you may also have some luck with wordery.com and bookwitty.com, as well as bookdepository.com, which is owned by Amazon.
Little Darlings, by Melanie Golding (US, 29th April, UK, 2nd May, thriller)
Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate. When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later. Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?
The Science of Fate: Why Your Future is More Predictable Than You Think, by Hannah Critchlow (UK, 2nd May, non-fiction)
Leading neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow draws vividly from everyday life and other experts in their field to show the extraordinary potential, as well as dangers, which come with being able to predict our likely futures – and looking at how we can alter what’s in store for us. Lucid, illuminating, awe-inspiring The Science of Fate revolutionises our understanding of who we are – and empowers us to help shape a better future for ourselves and the wider world.
Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers, ed. Kit de Waal (UK, 2nd May, essays)
Common People is a collection of essays, poems and memoir written in celebration, not apology: these are narratives rich in barbed humour, reflecting the depth and texture of working-class life, the joy and sorrow, the solidarity and the differences, the everyday wisdom and poetry of the woman at the bus stop, the waiter, the hairdresser. Here, Kit de Waal brings together thirty-three established and emerging writers who invite you to experience the world through their eyes, their voices loud and clear as they reclaim and redefine what it means to be working class.
Hard Pushed, by Leah Hazard (US, 1st May ebook, UK, 2nd May, non-fiction)
Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all. Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah’s fellow midwives – there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives.
Who Owns England?: How We Lost Our Green and Pleasant Land, and How to Take It Back by Guy Shrubsole (UK, US audio and ebook, 2nd May, non-fiction)
From secret military islands to tunnels deep beneath London, Shrubsole unearths truths concealed since the Domesday Book about who is really in charge of this country – at a time when Brexit is meant to be returning sovereignty to the people. Melding history, politics and polemic, he vividly demonstrates how taking control of land ownership is key to tackling everything from the housing crisis to climate change – and even halting the erosion of our very democracy. It’s time to expose the truth about who owns England – and finally take back our green and pleasant land.
Faber & Faber: The Untold Story, by Tony Faber (UK, 2nd May, US, 13th August, non-fiction)
The names of T. S. Eliot, William Golding, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney are synonymous with the publishing house Faber & Faber, founded in Bloomsbury in 1929. But behind these stellar literary talents was a tiny firm that had to battle the Great Depression, wartime paper shortages and dramatic financial crises to retain its independence. This intimate history of Faber & Faber weaves together the most entertaining, moving and surprising letters, diaries and materials from the archive to reveal the untold stories behind some of the greatest literature of the twentieth century.
Don’t Touch My Hair, by Emma Daibri (UK, US audio, 2nd May, non-fiction)
Straightened. Stigmatised. ‘Tamed’. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never ‘just hair’. The scope of black hairstyling ranges from pop culture to cosmology, from prehistoric times to the (afro)futuristic. Uncovering sophisticated indigenous mathematical systems in black hairstyles, alongside styles that served as secret intelligence networks leading enslaved Africans to freedom, Don’t Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.
Toffee, by Sarah Crossan (US, 1st May, UK, 2nd May, YA)
Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there – and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself – where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?
You Got This: A fabulously fearless guide to being YOU, by Bryony Gordon (US, ebook, 1st May, UK, 2nd May, YA non fiction)
I wanted to be a unicorn. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an astronaut. But the thing I really wanted to be more than anything else, was a little less like me. It was only recently that I realised not wanting to be me was at the heart of every dumb decision I ever made. And so now I am writing this book containing all the life lessons I wish someone had taught me. A book for the teenage girl in me. And for every teenage girl out there. Because the most powerful thing you can be when you grow up is yourself.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson (UK, 2nd May, YA)
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . . ?
We Are Not Okay, by Natalia Gomes (UK, 2nd May, YA)
Lucy thinks she’s better than the other girls. Maybe if she’s pointing fingers at everyone else, no one will see the secret she’s hiding. Ulana comes from a conservative Muslim family where reputation is everything. One rumour – true or false – can destroy futures. Trina likes to party. She’s kissed a lot of boys. She’s even shown her red bra to one. But she didn’t consent to that night at Lucy’s party. So why doesn’t anyone believe her? Sophia loved her boyfriend. She did anything for him, even send him photos of herself. So why is she the one being pointed at in the hallways, laughed at, spat at when it was him who betrayed her trust?
Summer of No Regrets, by Kate Malinder (UK, 2nd May, YA)
After their exams, four sixteen-year-old best friends pledge to live a summer regret-free, doing what they want to do however much it scares them: Sasha agrees to spend the holiday with her father in Geneva, having not seen him for six years, but is not expecting his new girlfriend, or the young man in the cafe. Shy Hetal decides to go to science camp, and finds a new competitive spirit. Nell gets a summer job, but after her accident her mother is scared to let her out of the house – so to do what she wants she will have to lie to her parents. Cam goes to look for her birth father, scared of the future when she can no longer stay with her foster family. What will she find? As all these choices become difficult, even dangerous, they will need to turn to each other for the strength to face the future.
Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo (UK, 2nd May, linked short stories)
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
Ellie and the Harpmaker, by Hazel Prior (UK, 2nd May, US, 5th August, commercial fiction)
Meet Ellie. She’s perfectly happy with her home and her husband and her quiet life. Happy enough, anyway. Which is why she’s so surprised to find herself drawn to an extraordinary stranger who gives her a gift – and a fresh perspective. Meet Dan. He thinks that all he needs to be content is the time and space to carry on making harps. But the last thing he expects is for Ellie – and her cherry-coloured socks – to whirl into his life, bringing a string of surprises to his ordered existence. Sometimes it takes a chance encounter to discover what your life can be…
The Doll Factory, by Elizabeth MacNeal (UK, 2nd May, US, 12th August, historical fiction/thriller)
London. 1850. The greatest spectacle the city has ever seen is being built in Hyde Park, and among the crowd watching two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning. When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love. But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening…
The Porpoise, by Mark Haddon (UK, 9th May, US, 17th June, literary fiction)
A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash. She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world. When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail… So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears. A novel that leaps from the modern era to ancient times; a novel that soars, and sails, and burns long and bright; a novel that almost drowns in grief yet swims ashore; in which pirates rampage, a princess wins a wrestler’s hand, and ghost women with lampreys’ teeth drag a man to hell – and in which the members of a shattered family, adrift in a violent world, journey towards a place called home.
What Red Was, by Rosie Price (UK, 9th May, US, 26th August, literary fiction)
Through their four years at university, Kate and Max are inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But loving Max means knowing his family, the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease and quiet repression. Theirs is not Kate’s world. At their London home, just after graduation, her life is shattered apart in a bedroom while a party goes on downstairs.
Think Like a White Man: Conquering the World . . . While Black, by Dr Boulé Whytelaw III and Nels Abbey (UK, 16th May, humour)
By following the White Man Commandments – namely, that winning justifies anything and everything – you too can achieve success beyond your capabilities. With lessons on the value of shock and awe, putting compassion on the back-burner and pretending racism doesn’t exist, Think Like a White Man teaches you how to understand, overcome and overthrow the White Man in the whiter-shade-of-pale world of work.
You Can Take Her Home Now, by Anna Jefferson (UK, 16th May, commercial fiction)
Emily is sure she’s getting this baby stuff all wrong. Why does everyone else look like they’re smashing motherhood when she’s barely made it out of her maternity leggings and out of the house? Her other half tries to say all the right things (can’t he just keep making her toast?). Her mum is brilliant (but on the other side of the country). Her two new mum-friends seem to feel like misfits too – but there’s really just one person she wants to open up to . . . only Emily hasn’t spoken to her for fifteen years. Lonely but not alone, Emily’s about to discover that when you’re starting a family, what you really need are your friends.
Pen in Hand: Reading, Rereading and other Mysteries, by Tim Park (UK, 23rd May, non-fiction)
How can other people like the books we don’t like? What benefit can we get from rereading a work? Can we read better? If so, how? These and many other questions, ranging from the field of writing to that of reading and translation, are given a comprehensive answer in a series of stimulating and challenging literary essays that will be a perfect read for all book explorers and practitioners of the pen. After delighting us with his novels and many volumes of non-fiction, Tim Parks – who is not only an acclaimed author and a translator, but also a celebrated literary essayist – gives us a book to enjoy, savour and, most importantly, reread.
Bonnie and Stan, by Anna Stuart (US, 23rd May, UK, 30th May, commercial fiction)
Bonnie and Stan are soulmates. They met during the Swinging Sixties, to the soundtrack of The Beatles and the Merseybeat scene. Now they’ve grown up and grown old together, had children and grandchildren. They are finally building their dream home, when disaster strikes. Stan is running out of time, and can’t bear the thought of leaving Bonnie alone. Alongside his teenage granddaughter Greya, he forms a plan to find Bonnie a new love of her life. And she must never find out…
Meat Market, by Juno Dawson (UK, 30th May, YA)
Jana Novak’s history sounds like a classic model cliché: tall and gangly, she’s uncomfortable with her androgynous looks until she’s unexpectedly scouted and catapulted to superstardom. But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous. And there are unexpected predators at every turn. Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights. But the further you rise, the more devastating your fall …
The Book Club, by CJ Cooper (UK, 30th May, thriller)
The book club was her idea, of course. Alice’s. It was her way into our group. A chance to get close. I knew from the day she arrived that she couldn’t be trusted. And I was right. Because Alice didn’t come to the village for peace and quiet. She came for revenge.
Are We Nearly There Yet?, by Lucy Vine (UK, 30th May, US audio 27th June)
Alice is turning thirty and is stuck in a rut. Her friends are all coupling up and settling down, while she’s still working as a temp, trying (and failing) not to shag her terrible ex, getting thrown out of clubs, and accidentally sexting her boss… She decides to throw caution to the wind and jets off on a round-the-world adventure to #FindTheFun and find herself. Of course, she’s no more likely to find the answer to true happiness on the beach in Thailand than she is at the electric beach in Tooting, but at least in Thailand there’s paddleboard yoga. Can Alice find happiness on her travels? Or is she more likely to lose herself all over again…?