Wow, where has the time gone? It seems only recently that I was sitting here baking telling you about books I was excited about for February 2014. (There wasn’t a feature in March because the books were all fantastic and I forgot amidst reading and writing reviews). These books, chosen by me (and influenced only by bookshop visits, bookshop and publisher websites and author websites, all my personal decisions) are highly ranked in books I’m really looking forward to this month. So let the fun begin!
(Please note that these books are all released in Australia this month, other countries’ publishing date may differ).
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
From the publisher (Harper Collins):
A modern re-imagining of the Gothic Classic Northanger Abbey by the bestselling crime author Val McDermid. The second book in The Austen Project. Seventeen-year-old Catherine ‘Cat’ Morland has led a sheltered existence in rural Dorset, a life entirely bereft of the romance and excitement for which she yearns. So when Cat’s wealthy neighbours, the Allens, invite her to Edinburgh Festival, she is sure adventure beckons. Edinburgh initially offers no such thrills: Susie Allen is obsessed by shopping, Andrew Allen by the Fringe. A Highland Dance class, though, brings Cat a new acquaintance: Henry Tilney, a pale, dark-eyed gentleman whose family home, Northanger Abbey, sounds perfectly thrilling. And an introduction to Bella Thorpe, who shares her passion for supernatural novels, provides Cat with a like-minded friend. But with Bella comes her brother John, an obnoxious banker whose vulgar behaviour seems designed to thwart Cat’s growing fondness for Henry. Happily, rescue is at hand. The rigidly formal General Tilney invites her to stay at Northanger with son Henry and daughter Eleanor. Cat’s imagination runs riot: an ancient abbey, crumbling turrets, secret chambers, ghosts…and Henry! What could be more deliciously romantic? But Cat gets far more than she bargained for in this isolated corner of the Scottish Borders. The real world outside the pages of a novel proves to be altogether more disturbing than the imagined world within…
My thoughts: I love a good Jane Austen re-imagining and I adore that Catherine has a taste for supernatural fiction and she’s at the Edinburgh Festival! I can’t wait to buy this in store (couldn’t find across 4 stores today!)
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
From the publisher (Pan Macmillan):
San Francisco, 1876: a stifling heat wave and smallpox epidemic have engulfed the City. Deep in the streets of Chinatown live three former stars of the Parisian circus: Blanche, now an exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her lover Arthur and his companion Ernest. When an eccentric outsider joins their little circle, secrets unravel, changing everything – and leaving one of them dead.
My thoughts: I love well written historical fiction and I know Emma Donoghue will do this will. Murder, the circus and a heat wave combine for a great autumn read.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
From the publisher (Hachette):
The extraordinary journey of one unforgettable character – a story of friendship and betrayal, loyalty and redemption, love and loneliness and the inevitable march of time.
Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.
Every time Harry dies, he is reborn in exactly the same time and place, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before.
No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, and nothing ever changes. He only knows that there are others like him, living with, but apart, from the rest of us.
As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back through generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So now it’s up to you.’
This is the story of what Harry August does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
My thoughts: I’m holding out for this one to be released next week! I loved Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and the idea of reworking your life. The big mystery is, who wrote this book? Apparently it’s by a well-known British author who usually writes entirely different books.
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
From the publisher (Random House):
A gripping debut psychological crime novel about family lies and dark secrets in an isolated community as a series of women go missing.
People still whisper about Lucy Dane’s mother who vanished years ago from the town of Henbane, deep in the Ozark mountains.
When one of Lucy’s friends is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost women: by the mother she never knew, and the friend she couldn’t protect.
But her search for answers, in a place where secrets are easily concealed, leads her to a chilling discovery.
And with this revelation, she must grapple with the meaning of family, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.
My thoughts: I love a good unsolved mystery and this one sounds just right for a cloudy, grey weekend on the couch with some chocolate.
The Quick by Lauren Owen
From the publisher (Random House):
You are about to discover the secrets of The Quick –
But first you must travel to Victorian Yorkshire, and there, on a remote country estate, meet a brother and sister alone in the world and bound by tragedy. In time, you will enter the rooms of London’s mysterious Aegolius Club – a society of some of the richest, most powerful men in fin-de-siecle England. And at some point – we cannot say when – these worlds will collide.
It is then, and only then, that a new world emerges, one of romance, adventure and the most delicious of horrors – and the secrets of The Quick are revealed.
My thoughts: I’m tending towards creepy books as the weather turns colder and it’s perfectly legitimate to huddle in a corner of the lounge room. This book sounds out of my usual comfort zone but also really interesting.
Marlford by Jacqueline Yallop
From the publisher (Allen & Unwin):
From the critically acclaimed author Jacqueline Yallop comes a deep, beautiful novel of a young girl who finds that there are two edges to love: that which damages, and that which sets you free.
Ellie Barton has spent her young life living in the dilapidated manor house with her elderly father. Her duty is to her aristocratic lineage, something of which she is often reminded by those few people around her. But Marlford, the local village founded by her grandfather, is in decay – subsidence from the old salt mines is destroying the buildings, the books in the memorial library are mouldering, and old loyalties and assumptions are shifting. When two idealistic young men decide to squat in the closed wing of the house, they show her a world much wider than Marlford, and Ellie begins to feel trapped beneath the unbearable weight of history and expectation.
My thoughts: There’s something creepy about derelict old houses and I love how this book blends history and modern life together.
The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes
From the publisher (Allen & Unwin):
A dark and powerful psychological page-turner about an inexperienced teacher who builds a powerful – and ultimately dangerous – connection with her students. We Need to Talk about Kevin meets Notes on a Scandal.
When you open up, who will you let in?
When Alex Morris loses her fiancé in dreadful circumstances, she moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past. Alex takes a job at a Pupil Referral Unit, which accepts the students excluded from other schools in the city. These are troubled, difficult kids and Alex is terrified of what she’s taken on.
There is one class – a group of five teenagers – who intimidate Alex and every other teacher on The Unit. But with the help of the Greek tragedies she teaches, Alex gradually develops a rapport with them. Finding them enthralled by tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge, she even begins to worry that they are taking her lessons to heart, and that a whole new tragedy is being performed, right in front of her…
My thoughts: There’s not enough school-based fiction for adults in my book (if you know any teachers, you know they always have stories – both good and bad) and I think this book will be really gripping…
So in summary, my thoughts have turned to darker, creepier books for autumn. Have you read any of these? What are your top book picks for April?