It’s a while since I’ve done a monthly hot picks but now I’m back in the blogging habit I’m going to try to post my top picks from the new releases each month. There are some crackers on my ‘to read’ pile this month. Look out for these lovely books!
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (Atlantic Books February 4th )
I read this when it was released as an ebook last year and absolutely loved it. Magic, mystery, love, romance, tarot and a family curse – it will have you hooked! And the lead character is a librarian!
Simon Watson lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a travelling carnival and seldom calls. On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. The book tells the story of two doomed lovers who were part of a travelling circus more than two hundred years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes and sketches. He is fascinated, yet as he reads Simon becomes increasingly unnerved. Why do so many women in his family drown on 24th July? And could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in years, risk the same terrible fate? As 24th July draws ever closer, Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before it’s too late.
The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky (TOR 11th February)
This is such a beautiful book with its black and gold foil cover – look out for my interview with Adrian next week.
In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming
Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She refuses to disown half her soul, so escapes, rescuing a prisoner of the Wolf clan in the process. The killer Broken Axe is set on their trail, to drag them back for retribution.
Maniye’s father plots to rule the north and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. Strangers from the far south appear too, seeking allies in their own conflict. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger, and a darkness falling across the land. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. A time of testing and broken laws is near, but what spark will set the world ablaze?
The Stylist by Rosie Nixon (MIRA 11th February)
Hello! editor Rosie Nixon uses her insider celebrity knowledge to write a sparkling debut novel about fashion, celebrities and the red carpet.
When fashion boutique worker Amber Green is mistakenly offered a job as assistant to infamous, jet-setting ‘stylist to the stars’ Mona Armstrong, she hits the ground running, helping to style some of Hollywood’s hottest (and craziest) starlets. Over the next few weeks, awards season spins into action with The Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the big one, The Oscars. Mona is in hot demand and Amber’s life turned upside down as dazzling designer gowns are paraded on red carpets in Los Angeles, London and back. Romance, red carpet crises, and crushing hangovers on both sides of the Atlantic ensues. Meanwhile Mona is unravelling faster than a hemline. What is Mona’s secret? How will Amber keep her head? And what the hell will everyone wear?
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (Atom 11th February)
This book has already won or been shortlisted for several awards – I can’t wait to read it.
Everyone wanted to break me. But stars aren’t broken, they explode. And I was the ultimate supernova.
My name was Jude. They called me Judy. I was beautiful either way.
School was basically a movie set. We were all just playing our parts. The Crew, the Extras, the Movie Stars. No one was ever real . . . especially me. I didn’t fit any category.
All the girls watched me – I could walk so much better than them in heels, and my make-up was alwaysflawless.
All the boys wanted to, well, you know . . . even if they didn’t admit it.
They loved me, they hated me, but they could never ignore me.
I only had eyes for Luke. A red carpet rolled out from my heart towards him and this year, on Valentine’sDay, I was going to walk that carpet and find my mark next to him. It would be like a dream.
But my dream was going to turn into a nightmare.
This is my story.
The Glittering Art of Falling Apart (Orion, 11th February)
I love the title for this book – sounds like a great time slip novel!
1980s Soho. Parties, love affairs and secrets . . .
1980s Soho is electric. For Eliza, the heady pull of its nightclubs and free-spirited people leads her into the life she has craved – all glamour, late nights and excitement. But it comes at a heavy cost.
Cassie is fascinated by her family’s history and the abandoned Beaufont Hall. Why won’t her mother talk about it? Offered the chance to restore Beaufont to its former glory, Cassie jumps at the opportunity to learn more about her past.
Separated by a generation, but linked by a forgotten diary, these two women have more in common than they know . . .
The Double Life of Mistress Kit Kavanagh by Marina Fiorato (Hodder, 11th February)
This sounds like a great historical romance read.
Dublin 1702. Irish beauty Kit Kavanagh has everything she could want in life. Newly married, she runs a successful alehouse with her beloved husband Richard. The wars that rage in Europe over the Spanish throne seem a world away.
But everything changes on the night that Richard simply disappears. Finding the Queen’s shilling at the bottom of Richard’s tankard, Kit realizes that her husband has been taken for a soldier.
Kit follows Richard’s trail across the battlefields of Italy in the Duke of Marlborough’s regiment. Living as a man, risking her life in battle, she forms a close bond with her wry and handsome commanding officer Captain Ross.
When she is forced to flee the regiment following a duel, she evades capture by dressing once more as a woman. But the war is not over for Kit. Her beauty catches the eye of the scheming Duke of Ormonde, who recruits her to spy upon the French. In her finery she meets Captain Ross once again, who seems just as drawn to the woman as he was to the soldier.
Torn between Captain Ross and her loyalty to her husband, and under the orders of the English Crown, Kit finds that her life is in more danger now than on the battlefield.
Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Cate Woods (Quercus, 11th February)
I saw Paige Toon recommending this earlier today – it sounds like a great debut from Cate Woods.
Percy James has everything a girl could want: a comfy flat, a steady relationship and a truly lovely group of friends. Then she is approached by Eros Tech. Eros is ‘the future of love’ – an agency that brings together soulmates using phone data. Percy has been identified as a match for one of Eros’s super wealthy clients. The only problem is she already has a boyfriend . . . but what if this is *destiny*? Would you – could you – pass up a chance to meet your one true love?
A Summer at Sea by Katie Fforde (Century, 11th February)
I’m a big fan of Katie’s books and this is my favourite cover of hers yet!
Emily is happy with her life just as it is.
She has a career as a midwife that she loves . She enjoys living on her own as a single woman. But she’s also feels it’s time for a change and a spot of some sea air.
So when her best friend Rebecca asks whether she’d like to spend the summer cooking on a ‘puffer’ boat just off the Scottish coast, she jumps at the chance.
But she barely has time to get to grips with the galley before she finds herself with a lot on her plate.
Rebecca is heavily pregnant and is thrilled to have her friend on board doing most of the work. Then there’s Emily’s competitive and jealous kitchen assistant who thinks she should be head-cook, not Emily.
And there’s Alasdair, the handsome local doctor who Emily is desperately trying not to notice.
Because if she falls in love with him, as he appears to be falling for her, will she ever want her old life back again?
13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough (Gollancz, 18 February)
I’ve already read the first couple of chapters of this and I don’t want to stop – gripping stuff!
I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?
The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jefferies (Viking, 25th February)
Number one best-selling author Dinah Jefferies is back with a new novel set in Vietnam and it sounds brilliant!
1952, French Indochina. Since her mother’s death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule – and her own family’s involvement shocks her to the core…
Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she’s always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem?
The Silk Merchant’s Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.
What are you looking forward to reading this month?