It’s getting to that time of year again, where the excitment builds and we can’t wait to see what treats are in store. I am of course talking about the release of publishers catalogues for next year. So I’ve looked through these which much the same eagerness as when I am armed with the Christmas Radio Times and a red pen. I’ve picked out some highights of the first six months of 2018 so you don’t have to (I know, I’m too kind).
First up I’m putting Transworld’s 2018 catalogues under the microscope. Transworld publish under a number of imprints including Bantam and Doubleday.
As 2018 opens the New Year means new books about to be released upon the market. January sees the publication fo Need to Know by Karen Cleveland. The debut from a former CIA operative, Need to Know tells the tale of Vivian Miller, assigned to idenitify Russian sleeper cell agents. Finding a file of deep cover agents she is shocked to see a face she recognises. Vivian has to decide where her loyalties lie and who she can trust.
January also sees the publication of Turning for Home by Barney Norris. Each year, Robert’s family gather to celebrate his birthday, as they have done for decades. However this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of the last year and neither does his granddaughter Kate. Neither are sure they can face the party but this time it may be the most important gathering yet.
Hearts And Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote by Jane Robinson coincides with the women’s vote centenary in 2018. This is the story of the women’s march on London in 1913 and of the hundreds of women, the suffragists, campaigners for the vote, on a six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Jane Robinson has drawn from diaries, letters and unpublished accounts to take a closer look at the march.
Also out this month is In Shock: How Nearly Dying Made Me a Better Intensive Care Doctor by Dr Rana Awdis. When she was seven months pregnant, intensive care doctor Rana Awdish haemorrhaged nearly all of her blood volume resulting in her losing her unborn first child and spending months fighting for her life in her own hospital, enduring a series of organ failures and multiple major surgeries. Awdish faced something even more unexpected survival battle: seeing her fellow doctors’ failure to see and acknowledge the pain of loss and human suffering, caused by a self-protective barrier in built in medical training. In Shock is her account of her journey from doctor to patient.
On to the shortest month which can soon be whiled away with new books. In Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella, Sylvie and Dan have been together ten years and are happy and content with their lives. But then someone mentions they could have another sixty-eight years toegther and panic sets in. They set about creating little surprises for each other, with comical results. But the surprises turn to shocking discoveries and a scandal from the past makes them wonder if they know each other after all.
The Accidental President by A J Baime takes a look at President Harry Truman’s first four months in office when he suddenly becomes President after the death of Roosevelt. He finds himself having to face Germany, Japan, Stalin and the atomic bomb, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
Spring approaches and as the days get longer it feels like there’s more time to fit a bit of reading in. In How I Lose You by Kate McNaughton. Eva wakes one morning to find her live with Adam over. As Eva comes to terms with this the reader sees the story of Eva and Adam told in reverse and as we discover more about Eva and Adam, Eva discovers more about her own story too.
Also out this month is Panic Room by Robert Goddard. High on a Cornish cliff sits a vast mansion inhabited only by Blake, a young woman with a secret in her past. In the house there is a panic room, so concealed that even Blake doesn’t know it’s there. Blake exile is disrupted when people come looking for Jack Harkness, the owner of the mansion. Soon people will start asking questions, questions Blake can’t or won’t answer. And what is in the panic room?
Fans of Trisha Ashley will be pleased to hear that The House of Hopes and Dreams is out this month. Carey Revell unexpectedly inherits Mossby, the ancestral home. The house is rundown and needs work. And there happen to be some resident relatives who don’t want to leave. Interior designer Carey thinks the house would be perfect for a renovation show. Angel Arrowsmith is suddenly bereaved and has nowhere to go, until old friend Carey helps. Angel moves into Mossby but the house has a secret. Will it put paid to any happiness or can Carey and Angel make Mossby home?
The 15th Bryant and May novel, Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler is also published in March. Set in 1969 during a country house weekend, Arthur Bryant and John May, engaged in protecting a whistle-blower, have to track down a killer before more guests at Tavistock Hall are murdered.
March also sees the publication of From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan. In it, the lives of three men are drawn together from Syria to Ireland. Each are searching for a version of home and a poweful reckoning will bring them together unexpectedly.
The second novel from Sirens author Jospeh Knox, The Smiling Man is published this month. Detective Aidan Waits
returns, hunting down the identity of a murder victim, named The Smiling Man, found with his teeth filed down and his fingertips altered. To discover the smiling man’s identity, he must finally confront his own.
Truth: A User’s Guide: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality by Hector MacDonald takes a look at how there are more sides to something than true or false. The book looks at how a truth can be selected to inspire and encourage or to give a false impression without actually lying.
The Wood : The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel is book about a wood, Cockshutt Wood both historically and presently. John Lewis-Stempel managed the wood for four years and the book is a diary of the final year
Transworld are showering us with books in April including Never Greener by Ruth Jones. The debut novel from actor and screenwriter Ruth Jones is a tale about how the grass may not always be greener and that the best we have may be what we have now.
The Hunger by Alma Katsu also out in April is based on the Donner party, the now infamous group pioneers lost in the mountains. Struggling to survive the group find disagreements turn to violence and then children start to disappear. The survivors begin to turn on each other and some start to realise that they face a threat from something other than nature.
Mercury Falling by Robert Edric is set in the Fenlands in 1954 where it has been a tough winter; the temperatures have fallen too low too quickly and the floods are the worst in living memory. Whilst most have lost everything, for a few it is a chance for a new start. For Jimmy Devlin, it’s a little of both. Ejected from his home, the prospect of work digging urgently needed drains may be the opportunity he’s been waiting for. But Jimmy has a knack for finding trouble and he gets caught up in the wrong business with people from a passing fairground. On the run from the law, he has nowhere else to turn.
Still in April and American By Day by Derek B. Miller is published. Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway to go to the USA where her missing brother is implicated in the death of a prominent African-American academic. It is election season, 2008, and Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, impact everyday life. In order to find her older brother, she needs the help of the local police who appear to have already made up their minds about the case. Working with – or, if necessary, against, Sheriff Irving ‘Irv’ Wylie, she must negotiate the local political minefields and travel the Adirondacks to uncover the truth.
Another famous face debuting their first adult novel this month is Simon Mayo with Mad Blood Stirring. Based on a true story, Mad Blood Stirring takes place at Dartmoor Prison in 1815. On New Year’s Eve 1814 bedraggled American Sailors arrive at the prison, sustained by the rumour that the war is over. Inside the prison the blocks have been segregated; six white, one black. Joe Hill is the one to let the prison know that the war is over. Little does he know that this will be the fuse to ignite the powder keg of pent up frustration.
More non-fiction and The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Barbara K. Lipska.
This is the true story of a renowned neuroscientist, an expert on mental health disorders, whose brain tumours caused her to lose her mind. In January 2015Barbara Lipska’s melanoma spread to her brain. It was, in effect, a death sentence. She had treatment and entered a clinical trial. And then her brain started to play tricks on her. She began to exhibit paranoia and schizophrenia-like symptoms. She forgot things. She became disinhibited, unaware of her inappropriate behaviour. Little things became an obsession, but she ignored the fact that she was about to die. And she remembers every moment with absolute clarity. This is the account of Dr Lipska’s own brain gone awry.
Another fascinating sounding book out in the first half of the year is All That Remains by Professor Sue Black. Sue is one of the world’s leading forensic scientists and here she recounts stories from her professional life, describing the many faces of death she sees and detailing what our remains can tell us and how and using key cases to explore how forensic science has developed, and what her work has taught her.
Finally also out in April is First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A new story about anxiety by Sarah Wilson. Sarah Wilson has helped over 1.5m people across the world to quit sugar, now she is turning to anxiety, something she has suffered from for a long time. SHe looks at the triggers and treatments, fashions and fads. There are also interviews with fellow sufferers, mental health patients, and philosophers.
Next up May which sees the publication of Meet Me at the Museum by Ann Marie Youngson. Professor Kristian Larsen answers a letter about ancient exhibits little expecting a response. The author of the letter, Tina Hopgood little expected one either. The pair begin to share stories and interests and as they do so begin to give each other the hope for new beginnings in their lives.
Also out this month is The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet. Caroline and Francis are offered the chance to houseswap. Keen to get away from home in an attempt to rebuild their marriage they agree. However, the house is sinister and remarkably empty. Slowly Caroline begins to find signs of habitation. But the closer she looks the more she realises these are things from her life. The person they swapped houses with would appear to be someone from Caroline’s past. Someone she’s keen to forget but who is determined to ensure she won’t.
Curtis Sittenfeld, the best selling author of Eligible and American Wife debuts a collection of short stories this month with You Think It, I’ll Say It. Stories include ‘The World Has Many Butterflies’, where a married woman flirts with
a man she meets at parties by playing You think it, I’ll say it, putting into words the things she guesses he’s thinking
about the other guests. However she is in for a shock when, in time, she finds out what was really in his mind. There is also ‘The Nominee’ following Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. The theme of the stories is how people misread others and how we tend to deceive ourselves.
Fans of Belinda Bauer will be pleased to hear that her latest novel is published this month. In Snap eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you. Jack is still in charge, looking after his sisters, making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and in charge of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. But the truth can be a dangerous thing . . .
Paula Daly fans will have to keep their eyes open for her latest book this month. Open Your Eyes tells the tale of Jane and her family. Jane hates confrontation. Given the choice, she’ll always let her husband, Leon, fight their battles. But then Leon is brutally attacked in their driveway in front of their two young children. With Leon in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.
Ultimatum by Frank Gardner sees the return of SIS officer Luke Carlton. Deep within a cave system in Iran, scientists are hard at work on a secret device, acting on the orders of a renegade group within the hardline Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Their work contravenes the international nuclear pact,the intention to sen Iran into the elite club of nuclear-armed nations, create chaos in the Middle East and threaten the West’s oil supplies. MI6 have an agent in deep cover inside the programme. But he needs to get out of Iran by crossing the border into Armenia. Luke Carlton heads to a remote Armenian monastery to debrief him. But the mission goes terribly wrong. An opportunity to recruit someone
with close personal access to the leader of the IRGC hardliners arises. Luke is chosen to bring her in. When a senior British government minister on an official visit is kidnapped, his close protection officer killed and Britain faced with an ultimatum, Luke Carlton has got less than 48 hours to fix things.
Caged Bird by Katy Morgan-Davies tells Katy’s tale. Katy was born into an abusive cult in South London, her father the leader of the cult, who believed himself a god and leader of the world. Caged Bird tells of Katy’s life in captivity until her escape aged thirty and how she learned to live in the outside world once she had escaped the confines of her father’s house.
Also out this month is The Life of Stuff: A memoir about the mess we leave behind by Susannah Walker. When her mother died Susannah Walker was unaware of how much of a hoarder her mother had become. Susannah set out to find who she had really been through the possessions she’d hoarded, uncovering a lifetime of losses and sadness, dead children, divorce and alcohol. The Life of Stuff is a memoir about grieving and hoarding possessions to protect against the losses of life.
Still in May and another non-fiction title. In Your Defence: Stories of Law and Life by Sarah Langford is a barrister’s account of her life at the bar and eleven cases that demonstrate the strengths, weakness and realities of our legal system and to reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts.
May also sees the publication of There Are No Grown-Ups :And other things it took me forty years to learn by Pamela Druckerman. Pamela Druckerman, author of French Children Don’t Throw Food, reveals what she has learnt about life since turning forty. There are no grown-ups. Everyone else is winging it too. Does it ever feel like everyone – except you – is a bona-fide adult? Do you wonder how real grown-ups get to be so mysteriously capable and wise? Featuring frank personal stories, Druckerman navigates the unexplored zone between young and not-so-young in this midlife coming-of-age story, about a quest for wisdom, self-knowledge and the right pair of pants. It’s a book for readers of all ages about – finally becoming yourself.
On to June and Homecomings by Marcia Willett is published. By the harbour’s edge, stands an old granite house. It belonged to Ned’s parents; then Ned settled here after a life at sea. His nephew Hugo moved in too, swapping London for the small Cornish fishing village where he’d spent so many happy holidays. Other friends and relations are drawn to the house including Dossie, who’s lonely after her parents died and her son remarried. Then there’s cousin Jamie, who’s coming home after his career as an RAF pilot was cut short. As others arrive and old friends are reunited, secrets will be revealed, relationships will be made and tested and romance is kindled. The house by the harbour wall offers a warm welcome, and – despite its situation at the very end of the village – the chance for a new beginning . . .
The Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks is also out this month. Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will die on the marsh to repay the mistakes of her childhood. On New Year’s Eve, aged eighty-six, Virginia feels that time has come. In 1939, Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new adoptive parents, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, at their mysterious house, Salt Winds in the Essex marshes. It’s a new life for Virginia, but she soon realises that all is not right between Clem and Lorna – and that their wealthy neighbour Max Deering has an unhealthy interest in the family. Then when a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, Clem goes onto the deadly sands to rescue the airman. It is the start of when begin to go wrong…
Finally also out in June is Alone Time: Four seasons, four cities and the pleasures of solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom. Apparently the average adult spends about a third of his or her waking time alone but research suggests we aren’t very good at using, never mind enjoying, alone time. Travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom decided to explore the joys and benefits of being alone in by travelling alone in four seasons to four cities – Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York. Through her observations and anecdotes, and by drawing on the thinking of artists, writers and innovators, she discovers the pleasures and magic of going solo.
So there we have it, plenty of titles to help the 2018 TBR grow to guarantuan proportions.
I’m lucky enough to have copies of these three already. Have any caught your eye?