Some things never change, and my monthly book haul is one of those things, so let’s get right to it…
*As per FTC rules, all books in the ‘From Publishers’ section of this post were given to me for free by publishers*
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Knopf)
George Washington Black, or “Wash,” an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation, is terrified to be chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant. To his surprise, the eccentric Christopher Wilde turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning–and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything. What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic. What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self. From the blistering cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, from the earliest aquariums of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black tells a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again, and asks the question, What is true freedom?
The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby (No Exit Press)
Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.
Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?
The Lingering by SJI Holliday (Orenda Books)
Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.
When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…
At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.
Halcyon by Rio Youers (Titan Books)
Halcyon is the answer for anyone who wants to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.
A self-sustaining community on a breathtakingly beautiful island, Halcyon is run for people who want to live without fear, crime or greed. Its leader has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing, and believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.
On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. Yet he soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon s perfect veneer. As the founder captivates his young family, Martin sets out to discover the truth of the island, however terrible it might be, where something so perfect hides unimaginable darkness beneath…
Still Lives by Maria Hummel (Quercus Books)
Kim Lord’s face looked back at me, disguised in paint and the features of a murdered woman.
Revered artist Kim Lord is about to unveil her most shocking show yet: Still Lives, a series of self-portraits in which she impersonates the female victims of America’s most famous homicides, from Nicole Brown Simpson to the Black Dahlia.
As celebrities and rich patrons pour into L.A.’s Rocque Museum for the opening night, the attendees wait eagerly for Kim’s arrival. All except Maggie Richter, museum editor and ex-girlfriend of Greg Shaw Ferguson, Kim’s new boyfriend. But Kim never shows up to her party and the crowd’s impatience slowly turns to unease.
When Greg is arrested on suspicion of murder, it seems that life is imitating art. Has Kim suffered the same fate as the women in her paintings? As Maggie is drawn into an investigation of her own, she uncovers dark and deadly truths that will change her life forever…
Hush Hush by Mel Sherratt (Avon.)
A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?
Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen (Quality Black Books)
“Black girls must die exhausted” is something that 33-year-old Tabitha Walker has heard her grandmother say before. Of course, her grandmother (who happens to be white) was referring to the 1950’s and what she observed in the nascent times of civil rights. With a coveted position as a local news reporter, Marc– a “paper-perfect” boyfriend, and a standing Saturday morning appointment with a reliable hairstylist, Tabitha never imagined how this phrase could apply to her as a black girl in contemporary times – until everything changed.
An unexpected doctor’s diagnosis awakens Tabitha to an unperceived culprit, threatening the one thing that has always mattered most – having a family of her own. With the help of her best friends, the irreverent and headstrong Laila and Alexis, the former “Sexy Lexi,” Tabitha must explore the reaches of modern medicine and test the limits of her relationships to beat the ticking clock on her dreams of becoming a wife and mother.
She must leverage the power of laughter, love, and courageous self-care to bring a healing stronger than she ever imagined – before the phrase “black girls must die exhausted” takes on a new and unwanted meaning in her own life.
No Way Out by Cara Hunter (Penguin)
It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked.
The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.
Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?
Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.
Because this fire wasn’t an accident.
It was murder.
Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb
After the end of her marriage, Kate Granger has retreated to her parents’ home on Lake Superior to pull herself together—only to discover the body of a murdered woman washed into the shallows. Tucked in the folds of the woman’s curiously vintage gown is an infant, as cold and at peace as its mother. No one can identify the woman. Except for Kate. She’s seen her before. In her dreams…
One hundred years ago, a love story ended in tragedy, its mysteries left unsolved. It’s time for the lake to give up its secrets. As each mystery unravels, it pulls Kate deeper into the eddy of a haunting folktale that has been handed down in whispers over generations. Now, it’s Kate’s turn to listen.
As the drowned woman reaches out from the grave, Kate reaches back. They must come together, if only in dreams, to right the sinister wrongs of the past.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and works on Wall Street; he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to a head-on collision with America’s greatest dream – and its worst nightmare – American Psycho is a bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to confront.
American Psycho is one of the most controversial and talked-about novels of all time – a multimillion-copy bestseller hailed as a modern classic.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
A classic collection of stories – all told on the skin of a man – from the author of Fahrenheit 451. If El Greco had painted miniatures in his prime, no bigger than your hand, infinitely detailed, with his sulphurous colour and exquisite human anatomy, perhaps he might have used this man’s body for his art. . .Yet the Illustrated Man has tried to burn the illustrations off. He’s tried sandpaper, acid, and a knife. Because, as the sun sets, the pictures glow like charcoals, like scattered gems. They quiver and come to life. Tiny pink hands gesture, tiny mouths flicker as the figures enact their stories – voices rise, small and muted, predicting the future. Here are sixteen tales: sixteen illustrations. . .the seventeenth is your own future told on the skin of the Illustrated Man.
The Wife by Alafair Burke
In our age of accusations, blurred lines, and shifting allegiances, what would you do?
When Angela meets Jason Powell, a brilliant university professor, she assumes their romance to be a fling. But when they marry the following summer and move to Manhattan, Angela feels she’s been given the chance to escape her past. Six years later, however, Jason, by now a celebrated liberal figurehead, faces serious allegations made by one of his young college interns, and Angela’s seemingly perfect life is under threat . . .
Dracul by Dacre Stoker & JD Barker
Dracul reveals not only the true origins of Dracula himself, but also of his creator, Bram Stoker . . . and of the elusive, enigmatic woman who connects them.
It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey’s tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun – and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night – a night that will prove to be the longest of his life.
Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point – and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true.
Inspired by the notes DRACULA’s creator left behind, Dracul is a riveting, heart-stoppingly scary novel of Gothic suspense . . .
You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart
Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths–and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.
Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.
Panic Room by Robert Goddard
WHAT REALLY LIES WITHIN?
High on a Cornish cliff sits a vast uninhabited mansion. Uninhabited except for Blake, a young woman of mysterious background, currently acting as housesitter.
The house has a panic room. Cunningly concealed, steel lined, impregnable – and apparently closed from within. Even Blake doesn’t know it’s there. She’s too busy being on the run from life, from a story she thinks she’s escaped.
But her remote existence is going to be threatened when people come looking for the house’s owner, rogue pharma entrepreneur, Jack Harkness. Soon people with questionable motives will be asking Blake the sort of questions she can’t – or won’t – want to answer.
WILL THE PANIC ROOM EVER GIVE UP ITS SECRETS?
Everything and Nothing by Araminta Hall
A family near breaking point hire a nanny with secrets of her own in this gripping novel from an exciting new talent.
On the surface, Ruth and Christian seem like an ordinary working couple with two kids – and a home in chaos. As the cracks in their marriage widen, they decide to get their very own super-nanny, Aggie. Quietly efficient, she brings calm and order, and the children adore her.
But why is Aggie so eager to gain their trust? Is there something sinister about her efforts to create the perfect family? And what is she really doing in their home?
‘Everything and Nothing’ builds to a mesmerising climax in a story that is, at its heart, about thwarted and damaged love.
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
As a girl, Clara del Valle can read fortunes, make objects move as if they had lives of their own, and predict the future. Following the mysterious death of her sister, Rosa the Beautiful, Clara is mute for nine years. When she breaks her silence, it is to announce that she will be married soon to the stern and volatile landowner Esteban Trueba.
Set in an unnamed Latin American country over three generations, The House of the Spirits is a magnificent epic of a proud and passionate family, secret loves and violent revolution.
The Corset by Laura Purcell
Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?
Dorothea and Ruth.
Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.
Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted to have the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.
The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.
Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?
The Haunting of Ashburn House by Darcy Coates
People whisper rumors about a family murdered at Ashburn House. They say its old owner, Edith, went mad in the building, and that restless ghosts walk the halls at night.
When Adrienne arrives on the gothic house’s doorstep, all she has is a suitcase, twenty dollars, and her pet cat. She doesn’t know why her estranged Aunt Edith bequeathed Ashburn to her, but it’s a lifeline she can’t afford to refuse.
Adrienne doesn’t believe in ghosts, but it’s hard to rationalize what she sees. Strange messages have been etched into the wallpaper. Furniture moves when she leaves the room. And a grave hidden in the forest hints at a terrible, unforgivable secret.
Something twisted and evil lives in her house, and Adrienne must race to unravel the decades-old mystery… before she becomes Ashburn’s latest victim.
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Years after the Salem witch trials one witch remains. She just doesn’t know it… yet.
Growing up Lydia Montrose knew she was descended from the legendary witches of Salem but was warned to never show the world what she could do and so slowly forgot her legacy. But Willow Hall has awoken something inside her…
1821: Having fled family scandal in Boston Willow Hall seems an idyllic refuge from the world, especially when Lydia meets the previous owner of the house, John Barrett.
But a subtle menace haunts the grounds of Willow Hall, with strange voices and ghostly apparitions in the night, calling to Lydia’s secret inheritance and leading to a greater tragedy than she could ever imagine.
Can Lydia confront her inner witch and harness her powers or is it too late to save herself and her family from the deadly fate of Willow Hall?
The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes
On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.
The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.
Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead.
Brimming with lust, mistrust and guilt, The Murder of Harriet Monckton is a masterclass of suspense from one of our greatest crime writers.
Autumn by Ali Smith
Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer.
Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever . . .
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Perfect families, perfect houses, perfect lives.
Three mothers, Jane, Madeline and Celeste appear to have it all . . . but do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control.
Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She’s got her little boy in tow – plus a secret she’s been carrying for five years.
On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline – a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one – and Celeste, the kind beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably ill at ease. They both take Jane under their wing – while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.
But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates: playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies.
It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder?
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Six responsible adults, two best friends – and one day that changes everything.
‘This is a story which begins with a barbecue in the suburbs. . .’
By the end of it a lifelong friendship will be in tatters, a marriage on the rocks and an innocent bystander dead.
In just one evening six lives will change for ever . . .
A collection of secondhand Stephen King books from Rosie – @mrsbunnymum
In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family by Fox Butterfield (Knopf)
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist: a pathbreaking examination of our huge crime and incarceration problem that looks at the influence of the family–specifically one Oregon family with a generations-long legacy of lawlessness.
The United States currently holds the distinction of housing nearly one-quarter of the world’s prison population. But our reliance on mass incarceration, Fox Butterfield argues, misses the intractable reality: As few as 5 percent of families account for half of all crime, and only 10 percent account for two-thirds. In introducing us to the Bogle family, the author invites us to understand crime in this eye-opening new light. He chronicles the malignant legacy of criminality passed from parents to children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Examining the long history of the Bogles, a white family, Butterfield offers a revelatory look at criminality that forces us to disentangle race from our ideas about crime and, in doing so, strikes at the heart of our deepest stereotypes. And he makes clear how these new insights are leading to fundamentally different efforts at reform. With his empathic insight and profound knowledge of criminology, Butterfield offers us both the indelible tale of one family’s transgressions and tribulations, and an entirely new way to understand crime in America.
First You Write a Sentence by Joe Moran (Viking)
The sentence is the common ground where every writer walks. A poet writes in sentences, but so does the unsung author who came up with Items trapped in doors cause delays. A good sentence can be written (and read) by anyone if we simply give it the gift of our time, and it is as close as most of us will get to making something truly beautiful.
Enter acclaimed author Professor Joe Moran. Using minimal technical terms, First You Write a Sentence is his unpedantic but authoritative explanation of how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations of extraordinary grace. Using sources ranging from the Bible and Shakespeare to George Orwell and Maggie Nelson, and scientific studies of what can best fire the reader’s mind, he shows how we can all write in a way that is clear, compelling and alive.
Whether dealing with finding the ideal word, building a sentence or constructing a paragraph, First You Write a Sentence informs by light example: much richer than a style guide, it can be read not just for instruction but for pleasure and delight. And along the way it shows how good writing can help us notice the world, make ourselves known to others and live more meaningful lives. It’s an elegant gem in praise of the English sentence.
Speeches of Note by Shaun Usher (Hutchinson)
Discover speeches that altered the course of history, like NELSON MANDELA’s on the day he became South Africa’s first black President, and outpourings of much-needed change, such as the impassioned, impromptu appeal for women’s rights from SOJOURNER TRUTH, an African-American woman born into slavery. Expect the gloriously unexpected, as KERMIT THE FROG takes to the podium, and celebrate lives well-lived, including TILDA SWINTON’s tribute to ‘every alien’s favourite cousin’, DAVID BOWIE.
While some speeches are heard by millions, some remain unspoken: the secret draft prepared for QUEEN ELIZABETH II during a military exercise for World War III, and PRESIDENT NIXON’s chilling public announcement should NEIL ARMSTRONG and BUZZ ALDRIN become stranded on the Moon.
Surprising, inspiring and shocking; moving, comforting and enlightening.
SPEECHES OF NOTE: seventy-five extraordinary ways to step into someone else’s shoes.
Scrapbook of an Unfound Songstress by Vicky Nolan (from the author)
You’re a 15-year-old schoolgirl who has big dreams of becoming a pop star, and then one day you get your lucky break. Polydor records sends you to Copenhagen to make pop music – to make you a recording artist. You get back home and your future is looking brighter than ever – until the High Court writ hits the door mat – you’ve fallen out with your management and they have decided to sue. No, this isn’t a dream, this is now Vicky Nolan’s reality and fast becoming a nightmare, and all while still at school at the sweet age of sixteen.
Read about the trial, the family, Hollywood, London town, the glamour, the dog (eh?) and most importantly, the music. Curiouser and curiouser?
We always talk about ‘making it’ and fulfilling your dreams. The question is, what if you don’t? What happens next? Ultimately, this book speaks about life and family; its hopes and disappointments, its ups and downs. Scrapbook of an Unfound Songstress is in some way a story that speaks to us all, because in the end, the best stories are always true.
My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen
So, this is me. Lily Allen.
I am a woman.
I am a mother.
I was a wife.
I have taken drugs.
I have loved and been let down.
I am a success and a failure.
I am a songwriter.
I am a singer.
I am all these things and more.
When women share their stories, loudly and clearly and honestly, things begin to change – for the better.
This is my story.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell (from Bibliobeth)
I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Insightful, inspirational, gorgeously written, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.
A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Timesbestselling author Maggie O’Farrell. It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?
Mindhunter by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker (from @mrsbunnymum)
FBI Special Agent and expert in criminal profiling and behavioural science, John Douglas, is a man who has looked evil in the eye and made a vocation of understanding it. Now retired, Douglas can let us inside the FBI elite serial crime unit and into the disturbed minds of some of the most savage serial killers in the world.
The man who was the inspiration for Special Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs and who lent the film’s makers his expertise explains how he invented and established the practice of criminal profiling; what it was like to submerge himself mentally in the world of serial killers to the point of ‘becoming’ both perpetrator and victim; and individual case histories including those of Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and the Atlanta child murders.
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation – Adapted by Ari Folman, Illustrated by David Polonsky (Pantheon)
A timeless story rediscovered by each new generation, The Diary of a Young Girl stands without peer. For both young readers and adults it continues to capture the remarkable spirit of Anne Frank, who for a time survived the worst horror the modern world has seen—and who remained triumphantly and heartbreakingly human throughout her ordeal.
Adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky, and authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, this is the first graphic edition of The Diary and includes extensive quotation directly from the definitive edition. It remains faithful to the original, while the stunning illustrations interpret and add layers of visual meaning and immediacy to this classic work of Holocaust literature.
Did you see any books that take your fancy?
Did we haul any of the same books?