So 3 September 2020 is set to be a bookish explosion. Over 600 books are to be published on the first Thursday in September, many pushed back from previous publication dates because of a pesky invisible virus that has brought the world to its knees. Demand for books has never been so high as people fall back on books to bring comfort in an uncertain time, or find for the first time the wonder they can bring.
Of those 600, about 250 (give or take) are commercial fiction or non fiction, by that I mean non text books, manuals or other guides to life and work. So I thought it might be an idea to show case as many of them as I can in one post, though that will certainly not include all of them. I’ve tried to include a variety of books and topics, not necessarily just the books I personally would read. Call it a shopping list if you will (because I am).
Your local independent bookshop will be primed and ready to go, so grab a pen and paper and get read to make a must read list. First up is fiction. I’ve split it into two separate posts to make it easier to read. Come back tomorrow for the non-fiction list.
The Night of the Flood by Zoe Somerville, published by Head of Zeus.
Her heart beat hard. There was a crazed beauty to the storm. It was almost miraculous, the way it took away the mess of life, sweeping all in its path…
No-one could have foreseen the changes the summer of 1952 would bring. Cramming for her final exams on her family’s farm on the Norfolk coast, Verity Frost feels trapped between past and present: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and her strange new desire to escape.
When Verity meets Jack, a charismatic American pilot, he seems to offer the glamour and adventure she so craves, and Arthur becomes determined to uncover the dirt beneath his rival’s glossy sheen.
As summer turns to winter, a devastating storm hits the coast, flooding the land and altering everything in its path. In this new, watery landscape, Verity’s tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives forever.
Keep a look out for a Q&A with Zoe next week.
The Dickens Boy by Thomas Keneally, published by Hodder and Stoughton.
In 1868, Charles Dickens dispatches his youngest child to Australia. Like his brother Alfred before him, sixteen-year-old Edward is expected to learn to apply himself in what his father considers to be the new land of opportunity.
Posted to a remote sheep station in New South Wales, Edward discovers that Charles Dickens’ fame has reached even there, as has the gossip about his father’s scandalous liaison with an actress. Amid colonists, ex-convicts, local tribespeople and a handful of eligible young women, Edward strives to be his own man – and keep secret the fact that he’s read none of his father’s novels.
Conjuring up a life of sheep-droving, horse-racing and cricket tournaments in a community riven with tensions and prejudice, the story of Edward’s adventures also affords an intimate portrait of Dickens’ himself. This vivacious novel is classic Keneally: historical figures and events re-imagined with verve, humour and compassion.
East of Acre Lane by Alex Wheatle, published by Avon.
East of Acre Lane is the fast-paced and razor sharp story of a young man trying to do the right thing and establishes Alex Wheatle as the exciting new voice of the urban experience.
When East of Acre Lane was first published in 2001, Alex Wheatle instantly became one of the key commentators on contemporary black culture and was featured in BBC news, radio, numerous papers and Channel 4. The BBC have already optioned ‘East of Acre Lane’ to be made into a film.
Set in 1981, the year of the Brixton riots, the novel is a gripping thriller in a society on the edge of explosion. Wheatle focusses on Biscuit and his posse as a way to introduce the whole community. Biscuit lives with his mother, brother and sister. He helps out by hustling on the frontline for the south London badman, Nunchaks. He doesn’t want to be doing this for the rest of his life but it’s difficult to get out of the trap.
As the patience of the community breaks and the riots begin to erupt, Biscuit has to make a choice that could change his life forever.
Love Orange by Natasha Randall, published by Quercus.
While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.
Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…
We Are Family by Nicola Gill, published by Avon.
I have a Q&A coming up with Nicola this week.
The Foundling by Stacey Hall, published by Zaffre.
Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.
Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.
Keep a look out for my Q&A with Stacey this week.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, published by Viking.
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?
My review will be up on 22 September but please do add this funny, warm and highly entertaining book to your must read list if you can.
Good Husband Material by Trisha Ashley, published by Avon.
Tying the knot can leave you in a tangle…
James is everything Tish has ever wanted in a husband – he’s handsome, dependable, and will make an excellent father. Unlike Tish’s first love, the disreputable Fergal, who abandoned her for a music career and now lives a lavish celebrity lifestyle. Fergal broke her heart and James helped to mend it.
Tish and James have just bought a cottage in the country. The next step? Kids and a lifetime of domestic bliss. Well, that’s the plan. And even if James has a slight tendency to view the village pub as a second home, their relationship is still in pretty good shape after seven years of marriage … So why is marriage to Mr Right making her long for Mr Wrong?
The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson, published by Head of Zeus.
One house, two women, a lifetime of secrets…
Following the death of her mother, Becky begins the sad task of sorting through her empty flat. Starting with the letters piling up on the doormat, she finds an envelope post-marked from Cornwall. In it is a letter that will change her life forever. A desperate plea from her mother’s elderly cousin, Olivia, to help save her beloved home.
Becky arrives at Chynalls to find the beautiful old house crumbling into the ground, and Olivia stuck in hospital with no hope of being discharged until her home is made habitable.
Though daunted by the enormity of the task, Becky sets to work. But as she peels back the layers of paint, plaster and grime, she uncovers secrets buried for more than seventy years. Secrets from a time when Olivia was young, the Second World War was raging, and danger and romance lurked round every corner…
The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley, published by HQ.
This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.
Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.
Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.
Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide and time is running out…
The Girl from the Hermitage by Molly Gartland, published by Lightening Books.
It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating wallpaper soup and dead rats. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could provide a safe haven, as long as Mikhail can survive the perils of a commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.
Three decades on, Galina is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she starts that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and her world changes out of all recognition.
Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist era, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia as well as a compelling page-turner.
A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington, published by Quercus.
This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…
Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.
Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?
Keep a look out for my review on Thursday 3 September, the big day!
Someday at Christmas by Lizzie Byron, published by Coronet.
Shell Smith is the most popular make-up artist on the ART counter at Duke & Sons, a beautiful but old-fashioned department store in her hometown. But whilst Shell’s love life is looking up, now that her long-time crush Nick is back in town and business is booming in the beauty department, the rest of the store is noticeably quiet . . .
The owner’s grandson Callum has come up with some creative ways to keep Duke & Sons afloat this Christmas, including allowing a production company to film a romcom after hours. When Shell discovers the secret, Callum recruits her to help out and, in the process, Shell finds there is more to Mr Duke Jr. than sharp suits and a business-like demeanour.
If I Could Say Goodbye by Emma Cooper, published by Headline.
Jennifer Jones’ life began when her little sister, Kerry, was born. So when her sister dies in a tragic accident, nothing seems to make sense any more.
Despite the support of her husband, Ed, and their wonderful children, Jen can’t comprehend why she is still here, while bright, spirited Kerry is not.
When Jen starts to lose herself in her memories of her sister, she doesn’t realise that the closer she feels to Kerry, the further she gets from her family.
Jen was never able to say goodbye to her sister. But what if she could?
Would you risk everything if you had the chance to say goodbye?
Kicking Off! by Eve Ainsworth, published by Uclan Publishing.
It’s 1917, and Britain is at war. Shy teenager Hettie wants to help the war effort, and signs up to work in the local Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory. She’s nervous, but she has no idea quite how much her life is about to change … For, inside this factory are young women who are about to make sporting history. Can Hettie find the courage to join them, and in doing so, find her own place in the world?
The Reluctant Wizard by A. A. Warne, self-published.
By day, wizards rule the world. At night, warlocks seek to destroy it. Now, one boy will challenge them both.
Eli never wanted to be a rebel. All he wants is an end to the famine and war threatening his community. To save his mother and baby brother from marauding warlocks, Eli is forced to make a heartbreaking decision. He must travel to Terra Magicae, the mysterious land of the wizards, to study magic. In exchange, the wizards will protect his family, but this protection comes at a price: once Eli enters the Grand Wizardry Academy, he may never come home.
Full of lush landscapes and magical marvels, Terra Magicae is more wondrous than Eli ever imagined… and more dangerous. At first, Eli’s struggles to fit in at the Academy seem ordinary. But the more he questions the wizards, the more he suspects a sinister purpose behind their bizarre rules and tests. For a dark secret lies at the heart of this mystical land, one so terrible it threatens not only the students at the Academy but the lives of everyone Eli loves.
To save them all, Eli must step into the midst of the battle between the wizards and warlocks and defy both sides. He must become the rebel he was always meant to be.
For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley, published by Orion.
Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…
Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.
So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late.
But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…
You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley, published by Orion.
You can trust me.
But can I trust you?
Olivia is the domestic goddess who has won millions of followers by sharing her picture-perfect life online. And now she’s releasing her tell-all autobiography.
For professional ghostwriter Nicky it’s the biggest job of her career. But as she delves deeper into Olivia’s life, cracks begin to appear in the glamorous façade. From the strained relationship with her handsome husband, to murky details of a tragic family death in her childhood, the truth belies Olivia’s perfect public image.
But why is Olivia so desperate to leave an old tragedy well alone? And how far will she go to keep Nicky from the truth?
A Mother’s Sacrifice by Jennie Felton, published by Headline.
Will she be able to save her children?
Martha Packer is much loved by everyone in the village of Hillsbridge. As the landlady of The Three Feathers, she runs a respectable establishment and is known for her generosity and care for her family and others around her – she even took in two orphan girls to save them from a life of cruelty in the workhouse.
So when Martha announces that she has killed her son, Garth, the community is shocked. Garth was undoubtedly a bad seed, but they knew how much Martha adored her first-born. What could have driven Martha to such extreme actions?
Martha refuses to give a reason but her other children cannot believe their mother is capable of murder and they begin to believe that she is protecting someone – maybe even one of them…
Dawn Rising by Lisa M. Green, published by Trident Publishing.
Once upon a time, a girl was born. A hundred years later, she grew up.
Aurianna must rewrite the past in order to save the future. She was supposed to be the answer to an enigmatic prophecy discovered on the night of her birth. But a terrible curse changed her life forever.
That is, until a mysterious stranger arrives to break the spell. He awakens Aurianna to the truth of her past and the powers she never knew she had.
When he sweeps her back in time, she discovers there is more to her life than she ever imagined. The world she encounters is both strange and familiar. But learning to control her newfound elemental powers will be the least of her problems.
She must race against time to uncover the truth about a catastrophe that will leave the world broken, divided, and at war.
Aurianna just wants answers. But the people need a savior.
Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite, published by Bookouture.
He sees her. The one. The sunglasses don’t fool anyone, she is clearly upset, her nose and lips swollen from crying. They are two lost souls and he knows his love can help her. After all, she is not the first girl he has followed home…
Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He pays attention, he buys flowers. He knows everything about Laura and looks after her every need. He cooks, he cleans – he even does the dishes without being asked.
But Laura has never met Adam. Still grieving after a devastating car crash that killed her family, she’s forgetful and struggling to pull her life together. She’d be horrified to know the depth of this unsettling fantasy in which she is the star. But there’s no denying the chill she feels every time she finds another elaborate bouquet on her doorstep, or wakes in the night sensing she is not alone.
Adam has been watching her every move, and now it’s time to act. Except, there’s one little detail he’s missed: Laura has been watching him too.
After everything she’s been through, Laura’s ready to fight back and stop being the victim in her own life story. But in Adam’s world, there are no happy endings…
Charlotte by Helen Moffett, published by Zaffre.
Everybody believes that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is unmarried, plain, poor and reaching a dangerous age.
But when she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her fortunes change. Her best friend Lizzy Bennet is appalled by her decision, yet Charlotte knows this is the only way to provide for her future.
What she doesn’t know is that her married life will propel her into a new world: not only of duty and longed-for children, but secrets, grief, unexpected love and friendship, and a kind of freedom.
The Bench by Saskia Sarginson, published by Piatkus.
It begins at the end.
It begins on a bench, on a heath, where a woman waits for a man.
Ten years ago, they made a pact:
On this bench, on this day, they will end a love affair that’s spanned three decades, or start again.
They should never have met. They should never have fallen in love.
But they did, until a lie separated them for a lifetime.
Can they fix the mistake, forgive the lie, erase the years in-between?
Can what was lost ever truly be found?
Wrecked by Louisa Reid, published by Guppy Books.
Joe and Imogen seem like the perfect couple – they’ve been in a relationship for years and are the envy of their friends at school. But after accidentally becoming involved a tragic fatal accident, they become embroiled in a situation out of their control, and Joe and Imogen’s relationship becomes slowly unravelled until the truth is out there for all to see … Structured around a dramatic and tense court case, the reader becomes both judge and jury in a stunning and page-turning novel of uncovering secrets and lies – who can be believed?
The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie, published by Welbeck.
Deceit runs in the family . . .
Chris Morrison is facing his worst nightmare.
His wife is in a coma.
His daughter is missing.
And the only thing more unsettling than these two events . . . is what might connect them.
Some secrets can change a family for ever.
Our Story by Miranda Dickenson, published by HQ.
Otty has just landed her dream job. She’s about to join the writing team of one of the most respected showrunners in TV. And then the night before her first day, she’s evicted from her flat.
Joe has been working with Russell for years. He’s the best writer on his team, but lately something has been off. He’s trying to get his mojo back, but when his flatmate moves out without warning he has other things to worry about.
Otty moving into Joe’s house seems like the perfect solution to both their problems, but neither is prepared for what happens next. Paired together in the writing room, their obvious chemistry sparks from the page and they are the writing duo to beat. But their relationship off the page is an entirely different story, and neither of them can figure out why.
And suddenly the question isn’t, will they, or won’t they? It’s why won’t they?
An epic and modern love story for our times, we will all see ourselves reflected in Otty and Joe. We are our own biggest barriers and this novel explores what happens when we get out of our own way. And it is glorious.
Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah, published by HQ.
ARE YOU READY TO START THIS CONVERSATION?
Kamran Hadid feels invincible. He attends Hampton school, an elite all-boys boarding school in London, he comes from a wealthy family, and he has a place at Oxford next year. The world is at his feet. And then a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter and he must ask himself a horrific question.
With the help of assault counsellor, Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…
Powerful, explosive and important, Truth Be Told is a contemporary courtroom drama that vividly captures today’s society. You will not stop thinking about it for a long time to come.
The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves, published by Macmillan.
Driving home during a swirling blizzard, Vera Stanhope’s only thought is to get there quickly.
But the snow is so heavy, she becomes disoriented and loses her way. Ploughing on, she sees a car slewed off the road ahead of her. With the driver’s door open, Vera assumes the driver has sought shelter but when she inspects the car she is shocked to find a young toddler strapped in the back seat.
Afraid they will freeze, Vera takes the child and drives on, arriving at Brockburn, a run-down stately home she immediately recognizes as the house her father Hector grew up in.
Inside Brockburn a party is in full swing, with music and laughter to herald the coming Christmas. But outside in the snow, a young woman lies dead and Vera knows immediately she has a new case. Could this woman be the child’s mother, and if so, what happened to her?
A classic country house mystery with a contemporary twist, Ann Cleeves returns with a brilliant Vera novel to savour.
Dog Man 9: Grime and Punishment by Dav Pilkey, published by Scholastic.
The next great Dog Man adventure from the worldwide bestselling author and artist Dav Pilkey. You’ll howl with laughter!
The Supa Buddies bamboozled the baddies, but all’s not right in the world. Dog Man has a new problem to pound, and he’s going to need his entire pack to help him. Will he go barking up the wrong tree?
Dav Pilkey’s wildly popular Dog Man series appeals to readers of all ages and explores universally positive themes, including:
- and the importance of doing good.
Us Three by Ruth Jones, published by Bantam Press.
Friends forever is a difficult promise to keep…
Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may.
After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt – there’s simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep . . .
Packed with all the heart and empathy that made Ruth’s name as a screenwriter and now author, Us Three is a funny, moving and uplifting novel about life’s complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all.
House of Correction by Nikki French, published by Simon & Schuster.
She’s a murderer.
Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees – why else would his dead body be found in her shed?
So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial.
Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn’t fit in then, and she doesn’t fit in now.
That day is such a blur, she can’t remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important… She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder.
And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself.
So she must fight. Against the odds.
For her life.
Call of the Raven by Wilbur Smith and Corban Addison, published by Zaffre.
The son of a wealthy plantation owner and a doting mother, Mungo St John is accustomed to the wealth and luxuries his privilege has afforded him. That is until he returns from university to discover his family ruined, his inheritance stolen and his childhood sweetheart, Camilla, taken by the conniving Chester Marion. Fuelled by anger, and love, Mungo swears vengeance and devotes his life to saving Camilla – and destroying Chester.
Camilla, trapped in New Orleans, powerless to her position as a kept slave and suffering at the hands of Chester’s brutish behaviour, must learn to do whatever it takes to survive.
As Mungo battles his own fate and misfortune to achieve the revenge that drives him, and regain his power in the world, he must question what it takes for a man to survive when he has nothing, and what he is willing to do in order to get what he wants.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley, published by Harper Collins.
On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.
The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.
All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .
How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith, published by Little, Brown.
As the temperature rises in Gaborone, Precious Ramotswe, founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, wonders whether the heat could be the reason that business is particularly slow. Luckily, a slower pace in life is her natural preference, unlike her colleague Mma Makutsi, who is alert to every passing observation and inclined to making snap decisions. With fewer cases to handle, Precious has time to contemplate her new neighbours, a couple who, by the sounds of it, have a rather volatile relationship . . .
But then a distant cousin of Mma Ramotswe’s comes to the agency with a plea for help, and the ladies decide to pursue the issue together. Armed with Mma Ramotswe’s circumspection and Mma Makutsi’s sharp eye, they proceed with confidence and open hearts. What, after all, could be more straightforward than a family matter?
Meanwhile, their colleague Charlie is behaving oddly, borrowing Mma Ramotswe’s van and returning it in an unusual condition. Digging a little deeper, the explanation is both strange and extraordinary, and takes Charlie, along with Mma Ramotswe’s husband, Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, on a hair-raising night-time expedition.
In the end, Precious is reminded of the need to view a picture from every angle, to accept the imperfections in people and situations, and then find a solution – preferably over a delicious slice of her friend Mma Potokwani’s fruit cake.
Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh, published by Orion.
Two sisters on trial for murder. They accuse each other.
Who do YOU believe?
‘911 what’s your emergency?’
‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’
‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’
One of them is a liar and a killer.
But which one?
You can read an extract here.
Sidewise in Time by Murray Leinster, published by Orion.
Ten selected short stories from the master of pulp, Murray Leinster – pen name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, whose prolific career spanned the first six decades of the 20th Century. The Golden Age Masterwork of Sidewise in Time includes the Hugo Award-winning novella “Exploration Team”.
Full contents include:
Sidewise in Time
The Runaway Skyscraper
The Mad Planet
A Logic Names Joe
If You Was a Moklin
Don’t forget to check Part 2 of the fiction list. It’s the next post on.