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New books – February 2015 Hot Picks

3 Feb

Hello and welcome to February! I’ve had quite a slow start to my reading year – we’re moving house soon and there’s been lots going on at work so my reading and blogging had to take a bit of a back seat but I’m hoping to pick up the pace again this month! With that in mind, here are the books that I’m hoping to read this month – what’s on your list for February?

ivy laneIvy Lane by Cathy Bramley (12th February, Corgi)

I read this book when it was published as a four-part serial last year. I loved it so much that I can’t wait to get my hands on a paperback of the complete story to add to my favourites shelf. I’ll publish a full review near publication date but I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you’re looking for a lovely story filled with romance and great characters. Look out for the first part of Cathy’s new serialisation Appleby Farm on 5th February too!

From spring to summer, autumn to winter, a lot can happen in a single year . . .

Tilly Parker needs a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude if she is ever to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she seeks out peace and quiet in a new town, taking on a plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution.

But the friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas and gradually draw Tilly in to their cosy, comforting world of planting seedlings, organizing bake sales and planning seasonal parties.

As the seasons pass, will Tilly learn to stop hiding amongst the sweetpeas and let people back into her life – and her heart?

The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn (12th February, Abacus)the may bride

I really enjoyed this historical novel, written in the first person from the point of view of the young Jane Seymour. Tudor history fans will love the new perspective on Jane’s life.

When Edward Seymour brings Katherine Filliol home to Wolf Hall, his sister Jane is captivated by his new bride. Over the course of a long, hot country summer, the two become close friends and allies, while Edward is busy advancing his career at court.

Two years later, the family is torn apart by a dreadful allegation made by Edward against his wife. The repercussions for all the Seymours are incalculable, not least for Katherine herself. When Jane is sent away, to serve Katharine of Aragon, she is forced to witness another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences. Changed forever by what happened to Katherine Filliol, Jane comes to understand that in a world where power is held entirely by men, there is a way in which she can still hold true to herself.

hurricane sistersThe Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank (12th February, Simon and Schuster)

I’m reading this book now and can’t believe I haven’t read a book by Dorothea Benton Frank before – great setting and lots of sassy characters!

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long – for three generations of one family, drama is headed in their direction too. At eighty, determined matriarch Maisie Pringle is a force to be reckoned with. She will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, dreams of a future that keeps them all at odds. This storm season, Maisie, Liz, and Ashley will deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. Can they establish a new order for the future of the family? This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (12th February, Orion)red queen

I’ve heard lots of good things about this debut fantasy and am looking forward to finding out more.

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .

vintage weddingA Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde (12th February, Century)

A new Katie Fforde book is always a treat and this one sounds like a fab spring read.

In a small Cotswold country town, Beth, Lindy and Rachel are looking for new beginnings.

So they set up in business, organising stylish and perfectly affordable vintage weddings.

Soon they are busy arranging other people’s Big Days.

What none of them know is that their own romances lie waiting, just around the corner …

finn fancyFinn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson (13th February, Titan Books)

Randy Henderson’s debut has been likened to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline which I absolutely loved. Randy won the 2014 Writers of the Future Award so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Found guilty of a terrible crime he didn’t commit in 1986, 15-year-old necromancer Finn Gramaraye was exiled to the Other Realm for 25 years. But now he s back in the mortal world and is disappointed to discover that he s middle-aged, DeLoreans can’t fly, and he s been framed for using dark magic, again. All Finn wants is to pick up the pieces of his life and patch things up with his family: his mad scientist father, the ghost of his mother, a sister who is allergic to magic, a younger brother who thinks he s a werewolf and an older brother who is most unhappy to see him. But with just three days to clear his name before he is sent back into exile forever, Finn will need all the help he can get to figure out who wants him gone, and why.

fire sermonThe Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (26th February, Harper Voyager). 

I recently attended a launch event for this brilliant book and heard Francesca talk about her inspiration for it. Set to be a big hit!

When Zach and I were born our parents must have counted and recounted: limbs, fingers, toes. The complete set. They would have been disbelieving – nobody dodged the split between Alpha and Omega.

Nobody.

Born as twins. Raised as enemies.

One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they’re free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they’re not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

The Dandelion Years by Erica James (26th February, Orion)dandelion years

I’ve not read any of Erica James’s novels before but I love discovering new authors and this story promises three of my favourite topics; books, history and romance!

Ashcombe was the most beautiful house Saskia had ever seen as a little girl. A rambling pink cottage on the edge of the Suffolk village of Melbury Green, its enchanting garden provided a fairy-tale playground of seclusion, a perfect sanctuary to hide from the tragedy which shattered her childhood.

Now an adult, Saskia is still living at Ashcombe and as a book restorer devotes her days tending to the broken, battered books that find their way to her, daydreaming about the people who had once turned their pages. When she discovers a notebook carefully concealed in an old Bible – and realising someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to hide a story of their own – Saskia finds herself drawn into a heart-rending tale of wartime love…

summer at beach streetSummer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (26th February, Sphere)

I’m really looking forward to another seaside-set read from Jenny. This book sounds delicious!

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn’t be happier. Because Polly is in love: she’s in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she’s in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she’s in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there’s something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that’s floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend’s fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he’d left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (26th February, Tor) rithmatist

As you may have gathered, I’m aiming to read a lot more fantasy this year and this crossover novel from Brandon Sanderson sounds right up my street!

Joel is fascinated by the magic of Rithmatics, but few have the gift and he is not one of them. Undaunted, he persuades Professor Fitch to teach him magical theory. Joel can’t infuse his protective lines and circles with power, or bring his chalk-drawn creatures to life, but he’s quick to master the underlying geometric principles. His unique skills will soon face an extraordinary test when top Rithmatist students are kidnapped from his Academy.

Since he’s not a magic user, Joel appears to be safe – but he’s desperate to investigate and prove himself. Then people start dying. However, can Joel really stop a killer alone? As even more students disappear, he realizes he’ll need the help of Rithmatist apprentice Melody. Together, they must race to find clues before the killer notices them – and takes them out too.

darker shade magicA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (27th February, Titan)

There’s been quite a buzz about this book on Twitter already and one of my favourite authors, Deborah Harkness described it as ‘wonderful’ which makes me very excited to read it!!

Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

 

New books – January 2015 Hot Picks

4 Jan

Happy New Year! And welcome to a fabulous new reading year. There are lots of excellent new books out to start the year so if you’re holding on to your Christmas book tokens then here’s my ten hot picks for this month to tempt you …

lucy-diamond-untitled-1-978144725778301The Year Of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond (1st January, Pan Macmillan)

I love Lucy’s books so this is the perfect way to start the year!

Because love is always worth the risk…

It’s New Year’s Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There’s music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It’s going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum’s house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who’s keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma’s dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home – all the things they’ve taken for granted are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin (1st January, Black Swan)rabbit hayes

I’m reading this one now and it’s brilliant, heartbreaking and funny. It’s also just been picked as one of the Richard and Judy Book Club Spring Reads!

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end …

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

Miss PrimThe Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera (6th January, Abacus)

I read this book over Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it! Look out for my full review later this week.

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jan
e Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbours, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.

Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn’t suspect that she might find love – nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky, would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery and fireside debate. The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy and the search for happiness.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (15th January, Tor)the-invisible-library-book-one-978144725623601

A fantastic debut filled with books, magic and action packed adventure – highly recommended!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently.

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

SummertimeSummertime by Vanessa Lafaye (15th January, Orion)

If historical fiction is your thing then you’ll definitely want to add Vanessa Lafaye’s debut to your reading list!

Florida, 1935. Heron Key is a small town where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp. Everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, the Kincaid family’s maid and nanny, feels that she has wasted her life pining for Henry, whom she has not seen since he went to fight on the battlefields of France in WWI. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans on a government works project, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past.

When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death in the early hours, suspicion falls on Henry. Old grievances and prejudices threaten to derail the investigation. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. The residents think they’re ready, and so do the soldiers. They are wrong. Nothing in their experience could prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way…

Mobile Library by David Whitehouse (15th January, Picador)mobile library

I love books about books so this one is a must read for me!

Twelve-year-old Bobby Nusku is an archivist of his mother. He catalogues traces of her life and waits for her to return home.

Bobby thinks that he’s been left to face the world alone until he meets lonely single mother Val and her daughter Rosa. They spend a magical summer together, discovering the books in the mobile library where Val works as a cleaner. But as the summer draws to a close, Bobby finds himself in trouble and Val is in danger of losing her job. There’s only one thing to do — and so they take to the road in the mobile library…

Quirky, dark, magical and full of heart, Mobile Library is both a tragicomic road trip and a celebration of the adventures that books can take us on. It’s a love-letter to unlikely families and the stories that shaped us.

now that vive found youNow That I’ve Found You by Ciara Geraghty (15th January, Hodder)

I’m a big fan of Ciara’s books and this new one is no exception! Look out for my stop on her blog tour later this month.

Vinnie is an ordinary man. Ellen is an ordinary woman.

Ellen is unable to move on after a terrible accident that left her mentally and physically scarred.

Taxi driver Vinnie is struggling to cope with bringing up two children on his own.

Everyone deserves to find that one person who’s meant for them, don’t they?

Fall in love with the story of Vinnie and Ellen. Because ordinary lives can be extraordinary.

Frostfire by Amanda Hocking (15th January, Tor) Frostfire-by-Amanda-Hocking-393x600

I enjoyed Amanda Hocking’s Trylle trilogy so I’m excited to read this new series set in the same world.

Will she give up her dream to follow her heart?

Bryn Aven is determined to gain status amongst the Kanin, the most powerful of the hidden tribes. But as a half-blood, winning respect is a huge challenge. Bryn’s almost-human community distrusts people, and those from other tribes are almost as suspect.

She has just one goal to get ahead: to join the elite guard protecting the Kanin royal family. And Bryn’s vowed that nothing will stand in her way, not even a forbidden romance with her boss, Ridley Dresden.

But her plans are put on hold when fallen hero Konstantin starts acting dangerously. Bryn loved him once, but now he’s kidnapping Kanin children – stealing them from hidden placements within human families. She’s sent to help stop him, but will she lose her heart in the process?

first frostFirst Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (29th Janury, Hodder)

I’m such a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen’s books and so excited that she’s written a sequel to Garden Spells – if you haven’t read it yet, there’s still plenty of time to read or re-read before First Frost s published at the end of the month!

Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies, but it’s nothing like she thought it would be, and it’s slowly taking over her life. Claire’s wild sister Sydney, still trying to leave her past behind, is about to combust with her desire for another new beginning. And Sydney’s fifteen-year-old daughter Bay has given her heart away to the wrong boy and can’t get it back.

The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith (29th January, The Borough Press)landa and sea

I’m always attracted to books about the sea so couldn’t resist adding this to my list.

August, 1793. On the hot, humid coast of North Carolina nine-year-old Tabitha fills her pockets with fish bones and shells, to bring the ocean back to her room. The act, perhaps, of a child conceived at sea.

At night young Tab sits with her father by the shore to hear stories of her mother Helen, the pull of the ocean born into them both. John longs to sail the sea as he did before the war, but knows he must stay on steady land for his daughter. But when Tab catches yellow fever John turns to what he knows, and steals her onto a boat bound for Bermuda in the hope the sea air will cure, as Tab’s precious life hangs in the balance.

The same coast twenty years earlier, and Helen is given a slave girl for her tenth birthday. Moll’s arrival is intended to teach Helen discipline but soon the girls are confidantes, an unlikely alliance. It’s an enduring friendship until the arrival of John, a pirate turned soldier. And as the town is threatened in the dying embers of the Revolution, Helen must decide between a life of security on the family plantation and a sea adventure with the man she loves.

 

So there you have it – my first hot picks for the year. What’s on your must read list for January?

 

Event news: Free virtual sci-fi festival – 15th & 16th November 2014

9 Nov

bfivoygerPublisher HarperCollins and the British Film Institute have  announced an exciting collaboration – a Virtual Sci-Fi festival on 15th & 16th November.

The festival takes place as part of the BFI’s major three month celebration of Sci-Fi,Days of Fear and Wonder presented together with O2, which takes place at BFI Southbank and venues across the UK until December. http://www.bfi.org.uk/sci-fi-days-fear-wonder

The aim of the BFIVoyager Sci-Fi festival is to explore the link between science fiction literature and film. The festival will offer a program of events on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and other platforms.

The festival program is based around three themes:

Tomorrow’s World – from post-apocalyptic wastelands to megacities to far-flung dystopia

Altered States – the science fiction of ‘inner space’ mad scientists, mutants, man-machines and mind-bending trips

Contact! – time to explore life from all corners of the universe and across multiple dimensions.

The festival will focus on story-telling and the impact of literature on film and television. Anticipate some friendly rivalry between book versus film as well as conversations such as how science fiction may have changed our future, what’s so appealing about a dystopian world and some of science fictions biggest names discussing their opinions on what comes next.

Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins UK, said, ‘I am thrilled that HarperCollins is collaborating with the British Film Institute on the BFIVoyager virtual sci-fi festival. It is very exciting to be working with such a prestigious organisation.

Heather Stewart, Creative Director of the BFI said: “‘Sci-Fi is all about big ideas – it all begins with the writers, and it’s notable that there are many great women writers working in this genre. We’re pleased to work with HarperCollins to bring the worlds of literature and film into perfect collision in November, opening up the very best of this spectacular genre to online audiences everywhere.

The festival is free to ‘attend and attendees will also be sent two free HarperVoyager ebooks at the end of the festival!

Register now at: http://bit.ly/BFIVoyager