Looking for a really brilliant new book? Check out the pageturners that just dropped this month
Reading is an obvious go-to during lockdowns, but our frazzled brains expect a lot right now. We need a book that we can curl up with for hours and that we won’t get bored of easily. Luckily, it has been a hectic few weeks in the publishing world, and the best new releases of the moment are pure escapism. Whatever your mood is right now, whether you’re craving a mindbending dystopia, heartwarming romance or fast-paced thriller, there’s something on the book shelves for you.
For fans of The Handmaid’s Tale:
W&N, out 26 January
A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, Outlawed is a reimagining of the classic Western with a dystopian twist. Set in the year 1894, life looks good for 17-year-old Ada. She loves her husband, and she enjoys her work as an apprentice to her mother, a midwife. But after a year, and no pregnancy of her own, Ada must make some hard choices. In her town, barren women are hanged as witches. And so she must flee, and so begins a riveting adventure of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their treachorous mission to transform the Wild West. The Hole in the Wall Gang is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women, but their plan to do so may get them all killed.
If you want to make yourself heard on endless Zoom meetings:
Speak Your Truth
Orion Spring, out now
TV, radio and Happy Place podcast presenter Fearne Cotton’s voice is familiar to most. But when her doctor explained that she may need a throat operation followed by two weeks of being unable to speak, Fearne had to face into a period of silence she never experienced before. This ignited some personal reflection on other times in her life when her voice had gone unheard, as a young woman in an industry where loud figures take over. This insightful book opens up questions about how we internalise those messages and silence ourselves by becoming people pleasers and compromisers, often at the cost of our own wellbeing. This is a personal book that will no doubt resonate with many, and hopefully help some to find a renewed sense of confidence.
For a tender, beautifully written read:
We Are All Birds of Uganda
Merky Books, out now
This remarkably accomplished debut is a moving tale of love and loss, told between two continents over a troubled century. In 1960s Uganda, Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he finds his footing, a new regime threatens to sweep everything away. In present-day London, Sameer, a high-flying lawyer is living the life of his dreams, but feels an emptiness. When an unexpected tragedy calls him home, he finds that the missing pieces were in his past, not his future.
If you want to get swept away by a dark, noir mystery:
Little Brown, out now
This is the highly anticipated fourth novel from The Dry author Jane Harper. This crime novel is set in Tasmania, following a man named Kieran Elliott, who is hanted by a reckless mistake from his past. On a visit with his young family to the coastal town he once called home, the guilt washes over him once more, as if no time had passed. His parents are struggling, tied to a community that is dependent on the sea, and too often victim to its merciless nature. All the while, the memory of his absent brother Finn echoes. When a body shows up on the beach, and news of a sunken wreck and a missing girl begin to take over, tightly held secrets threaten to unravel. A gripping plot and an unforgiving, eerie setting make this another must-read from the award-winning author. By the way, The Dry is currently being adapted for the big screen, with Eric Bana set to star.
If you love a thriller led by a determined detective:
Sphere, out now
This book begins with a stark scene; Cara Dunne, a bride-to-be is found hanging in her home, wearing her wedding dress, a lock of her hair removed. Detective Lottie Parker is first on the scene, wondering who would visciously take this woman at what should be the happiest time of her life. That same day, another grim discovery reveals there is something sinister at play here. Another young woman, also a bride to be, is discovered. Her body has been flung from the roof of the hospital where she worked, also clad in a wedding dress, a lock of hair cut off. These personal killings make Lottie convinced that the killer is someone they knew, and when she learns that Fiona’s little girl never came home from a dance class that afternoon, Lottie has to make rash choices to find the murderer.
If you’re craving an uplifting romcom:
Hodder & Stoughton, out now
Blossom is a gentle staffy with a tragic past, waiting in a rescue centre for her forever home, and this might just be her lucky day. The only problem is, not one but two prospective owners have falled for her; Margot, who doesn’t have time for romance, and Will, a micromanager who is afraid to love. At their first meeting at the rescue centre, they reluctantly agree to share custody. But soon their clashing approaches cause trouble, with Will being too strict and Blossom smothering her in affection, and so Blossom starts to act out. Can they put their differences aside to be good co-parents to a happy, well-behaved dog? And meanwhile, does Blossom have her own agenda in mind for her owners?
The one everyone will be talking about:
Picador, out now
With praise from Zadie Smith. Dolly Alderton and Candice Carty-Williams, this sharp, witty novel is quite literally the talk of the publishing world. The novel follows Edie, a girl just trying to survive. Not coping well in her admin job in an all-white office, sleeping with men who are not right for her, she feels like a failure. Painting is the only thing that mattered to her, and she failed at that too. Then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family. His wife has sort-of agreed to an open marriage, and his adopted black daughter doesn’t have a single person in her life to show her how to do her hair. Edie doesn’t know how she found herself crashing into Eric’s home and family, but her life has gotten a whole lot more complicated.