As the February weather forecast is looking quite wet, what better way to prepare for those drab evenings than stock up on good books? This month's offerings are full of magic, otherworldliness and intrigue!
With her follow-up to the brilliant kidnap thriller The Girl in the Red Coat, Kate Hamer has taken a different turn but it’s just as dark. Thirteen-year-old Ruby learns she’s adopted and she couldn’t be happier. So begins a quest for truth, identity and family. The book is set in the Forest of Dean, and the forest becomes a central character in the novel, a forceful and powerful presence throughout.
The Doll Funeral is published by Faber and Faber
The author of seven previous books, including two bestselling history titles, Katie Hickman is a true master of historical fiction. Her latest work, The House at Bishopsgate, reaffirms this title. Set in 1611, it tells the story of a rich merchant who returns to England after ten years in the Orient, bringing with him his wife and a legendary diamond. But something's not quite right, as there's a lingering darkness between the couple.
This intriguing premise hooks you from the very start, unravelling slowly and elaborately through Hickman’s beguiling storytelling. It’s both a gripping and unsettling tale, interwoven with an air of dismal mystery throughout.
The House at Bishopsgate is published by Bloomsbury
by Alain de Botton
A philosophical novel from one of the country’s celebrated philosophers challenging our understanding of love and the realism of romance. Lebanese architect Rabih Khan and Scottish surveyor Kirsten McClelland meet, marry and have kids. But their relationship isn’t all happily-ever-after. It’s the small issues that blow up in their faces and this is the territory that de Botton loves. Life can be so simple if only we knew how to talk to each other.
The Course of Love is published by Penguin Random House
by Laura McVeigh
“If you lost everything you loved, how would you begin again?” asks Laura McVeigh’s debut novel. Following 15-year-old Samar and her family fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1990s, Under the Almond Tree describes their lives aboard the Trans-Siberian Express as it travels across Russia.
It’s a story of the tragic effects of war and displacement, but also resilience and survival in the face of an uncertain future. Despite the serious, weighty topics, it’s also an incredibly entertaining and effortless read. The young narrator Samar is a strong, forward-looking individual, making the most of life even under the most terrible of circumstances. With her copy of Anna Karenina in hand, and her thoughtful insights and observations, she makes for fascinating company.
Under the Almond Tree is published by Two Roads
by Brenna Hassett
Archaeologist Brenna Hassett explains how what we think of when we envision our ancestors’ life (palaeo diet, anyone?) reflects more on where we think we’re going wrong with our lives today than anything that actually happened thousands and thousands of years ago.
More specifically, she tries to answer the question of why our travelling hunter-gatherer ancestors decided to settle down some 12,000 years ago and how it began our experiment with the metropolis—the experiment that uleashed death, diseases and many other misadventures upon us as we transitioned from a mobile to a largely settled species.
This fascinating subject matter (especially for us city dwellers squished on a train during our morning commute) and Hassett's approachable, self-deprecating voice make this a fun, addictive read.
Built on Bones is published by Bloomsbury
by Elif Shafak
One of Turkey’s best literary writers, Elif Shafak doesn’t shy away from issues affecting society and the individual in her books and essays. This, her tenth novel, is a story about three women, politics, God, identity and the acceptance of doubt. Peri is caught between two worlds, her father’s secularism and her mother’s Islamic piety. At Oxford, she meets is befriended by Shirin, an Iranian atheist and Mona, an Arab American feminist who dons the hijab. Three women with different approaches to life and ideas about religion. And then Peri falls in love…
Three Daughters of Eve is published by Penguin Random House
by Neil Gaiman
It’s hard not to get excited about a new Neil Gaiman book, considering what a literary rock star he’s become. His latest work is an incredibly Gaiman-esque project as it explores one of the greatest sources of his inspiration: Norse mythology.
With great gusto and excitement, Gaiman blends and retells the tales of Norse gods such as Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya. So if you want to know how Thor’s hammer was stolen or how Odin obtained the mead of poetry for the gods; or just want to be transported to a whole other world on a cold February night—this book is for you.
Norse Mythology is published by Bloomsbury
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