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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.

The to-do list and other debacles.jpgThe To-Do List and Other Debacles, by Amy Jones (UK, 4th July, memoir)

Are you a woman? Do you make to-do lists to stop you losing your mind? Have you ever cried in the toilets at work, had a meltdown in the supermarket, or gone off the rails at a hen party? And have you ever been saved from any of the above by your truly brilliant friends? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then this is the book for you. A moving, funny and brutally honest memoir of one woman’s millennial misadventures, The To-Do List and Other Disasters follows Amy Jones on her journeys through friendship, marriage and mental health disasters in a story that’s as relatable as it is riotous.

live a little.jpgLive a Little, by Howard Jacobson (UK, 4th July, US, 10th September)

At the age of ninety-something, Beryl Dusinbery is forgetting everything – including her own children. She spends her days stitching morbid samplers and tormenting her two long-suffering carers, Nastya and Euphoria, with tangled stories of her husbands and love affairs.  Shimi Carmelli can do up his own buttons, walks without the aid of a frame and speaks without spitting. Among the widows of North London, he’s whispered about as the last of the eligible bachelors. Unlike Beryl, he forgets nothing – especially not the shame of a childhood incident that has hung over him like an oppressive cloud ever since. There’s very little life remaining for either of them, but perhaps just enough to heal some of the hurt inflicted along the way, and find new meaning in what’s left. Told with Jacobson’s trademark wit and style, Live a Little is in equal parts funny, irreverent and tender – a novel to make you consider all the paths not taken, and whether you could still change course.

a half bakedA Half Baked Idea: How grief, love and cake took me from the courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu, by Olivia Potts (UK, 4th July, US, 25th July, memoir)

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake, badly. She was trying to impress the man who would later become her husband. So she ate the cake, completely unaware that, 275 miles away, her mother was dying. Afterwards, grief pushed Olivia into the kitchen. And so she concocted a plan: she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar and enrolled on the Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie, with all its challenges, frustrations and culinary rewards – and a mind-boggling array of knives to boot. Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother’s shepherd’s pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.

The bookish life of nina hillThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman (UK and US, 9th July, fiction)

Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, an excellent trivia team and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. So when the father she never knew existed dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. And if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny and interested in getting to know her… It’s time for Nina to turn her own fresh page, and find out if real life can ever live up to fiction..

The most difficult thing.jpgThe Most Difficult Thing, by Charlotte Philby (UK, 11th July, political thriller)

On the surface, Anna Witherall personifies everything the aspirational magazine she works for represents. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has a beautiful home and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create. As Anna finds herself drawn into the dark and highly controlled world of secret intelligence, she is forced to question her family’s safety, and her own. Only one thing is certain: in order to protect her children, she must leave them, forever. And someone is watching. Someone she thought she could trust. Someone who is determined to make them all pay.

Sweet sorrowSweet Sorrow, by David Nicholls (UK, 11th July, fiction)

On the surface, Anna Witherall personifies everything the aspirational magazine she works for represents. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has a beautiful home and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create. As Anna finds herself drawn into the dark and highly controlled world of secret intelligence, she is forced to question her family’s safety, and her own. Only one thing is certain: in order to protect her children, she must leave them, forever. And someone is watching. Someone she thought she could trust. Someone who is determined to make them all pay.

the carerThe Carer, by Deborah Moggach(UK 9th July, US audio only 11th July, fiction)

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps? Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane – changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.

expectationExpectation, by Anna Hope (UK and US, 11th July, literary fiction)

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends. Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

 

nightingale pointNightingale Point, by Luan Goldie (UK, 25th July, fiction)

Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after. Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years. Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight. Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things. Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out. It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.

headline and hedgerowsHeadlines and Hedgerows, by John Craven (UK, 25th July, memoir)

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, John was, to children and parents alike, a friendly guide to the big wide world and to adulthood, breaking such news as the Challenger shuttle disaster in 1986 on Newsround. Since then, having presented Countryfile from across the breadth of Britain, John has introduced us to the people, landscapes and animals which make it so special. He has done for our countryside what Attenborough has done across the world, and now we get to hear the story of this national treasure.

please miss, we're boysPlease Miss, We’re Boys, by Susan Elkin (UK, 28th July, memoir)

  1. Susan Elkin is just 21-years-old when she is sent straight out from a sheltered teacher training college into the depths of a challenging inner London boy’s secondary school.
    Her skirts are short, her experience nil and her naivety boundless. The Deptford boys she has to deal with are often knowing, coarse and brash but also vulnerable and in desperate need of some decent teaching. Gradually with the support of a bunch of eccentric, forthright but mostly caring colleagues she finds ways of persuading some of the boys, some of the time, to sit down, calm down, trust her and do some work. Please Miss, We’re Boys, a snapshot of the late 1960s and Deptford before the tower blocks moved in, is an amusing personal account of classrooms as they once were (but shouldn’t have been) as well as the colourful personalities who stalked the school including the inimitable Geoff Miles.

can i have a word.jpgCan I Have a Word, by Nick Fawcett (UK, 11th July)

Can I Have a Word? is the ultimate strategy book for word-game lovers. It introduces the reader to a host of weird and wacky words that will not only help them to become better word-game players but also enhance their enjoyment of competing. It covers key word-game themes, the mastery of which is vital for success.Readers will find this amusing, light-hearted book immeasurably enriches their vocabulary, enabling them, without the drudgery of studying a dictionary, to recall all kinds of unusual and interesting words just when they need them most.