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HarperCollins UK

Joining the Dots – Juliet Gardiner

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Joining the Dots by Juliet Gardiner (c) HarperCollins UK

From Britain’s leading social historian, a lyrical look at the changes to women’s lives since 1940, told with examples from her own life. The book provides an intimate, brilliant account of feminism over the last 6 decades.

A young woman wearing a navy-blue duffle coat stood shivering in the vaulted Victorian booking hall of Temple Meads station in Bristol looking uncertainly around her. It was 1st January 1960 and the woman was me. I was sixteen years old, and I had run away from home. Over the next ten years, the world changed around young Juliet Gardiner as it did for most women in Britain. It was the start of a decade that was to be momentous for Britain’s history politically, economically, socially and culturally.

As one of Britain’s best-known social historians, Juliet Gardiner writes here about the span of women’s lives from her birth during the Second World War to the election of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. Using episodes from her own life as starting points to illuminate the broader history in society at large, she explores changing ideas towards birth and adoption, the importance of education for girls, The opportunities offered by university, to expectations of work and motherhood, not to mention her generation’s yearning for freedom.

Everyone has his or her history and at the same time is part of history as this book so perceptively and beautifully demonstrates. As a work of living history, both lyrical and personal, Joining the Dots is an accessible and empowering story of how one mid-twentieth-century woman grew into a world so different from the one into which she was born. It is a story of bed-sits, sexual choice, motherhood and marriage, feminism, family planning and professional ambition.

Ramona Blue – Julie Murphy

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Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (c) HarperCollins UK

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence – Michael Marshall Smith

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Hannah Greens Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith (c) HarperCollins UK

An unpredictable, poignant, and captivating tale for readers of all ages, by the critically acclaimed author of Only Forward.

There are a million stories in the world. Most are perfectly ordinary. This one isn’t.

Hannah Green actually thinks her story is more mundane than most. But she’s about to discover that the shadows in her life have been hiding a world where nothing is as it seems: that there’s an ancient and secret machine that converts evil deeds into energy, that some mushrooms can talk and that her grandfather has been friends with the Devil for over a hundred and fifty years, and now they need her help.

The Party – Elizabeth Day

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The Party by Elizabeth Day (c) HarperCollins UK

A gripping story of obsession and betrayal, privilege and hypocrisy, set in the unassailable heart of the British establishment.

Martin Gilmour is an outsider. When he wins a scholarship to Burtonbury School, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or speak with the right kind of accent. But then he meets the dazzling, popular and wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, and gains admission to an exclusive world. Soon Martin is enjoying tennis parties and Easter egg hunts at the Fitzmaurice family’s estate, as Ben becomes the brother he never had.

But Martin has a secret. He knows something about Ben, something he will never tell. It is a secret that will bind the two of them together for the best part of 25 years.

At Ben’s 40th birthday party, the great and the good of British society are gathering to celebrate in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the hundreds of guests the politicians, the celebrities, the old-money and newly rich Martin once again feels that disturbing pang of not-quite belonging. His wife, Lucy, has her reservations too. There is disquiet in the air. But Ben wouldn’t do anything to damage their friendship. Would he?

The Less You Know, The Sounder You Sleep – Juliet Butler

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The Less You Know, the Sounder you Sleep by Juliet Butler (c) Harper Collins

Based on a true story, The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep is a tale of survival and self-determination, innocence and lies.

We’re waiting. I squeeze my eyes shut and dig my fingers into Masha’s neck where I’m holding her. She digs hers into mine. The curtains slowly open. I can’t see anything because the spotlight is on us, bright as anything and blinding me, but I can hear the gasp go up. They always gasp.’

Dasha cannot imagine life without her sister. Masha is feisty and fearless. Dasha is gentle, quiet and fears everything; from the Soviet scientists who study them, to the other defective’ children who bully them and the healthies’ from whom they must be locked away.

For the twins have been born conjoined in a society where flaws must be hidden from sight and where their inseparability is the most terrible flaw of all.

Through the seismic shifts of Stalin’s communism to the beginnings of Putin’s democracy, Dasha and her irrepressible sister strive to be more than just the together twins’, finding hope and love in the unlikeliest of places.

But will their quest for shared happiness always be threatened by the differences that divide them? And can a life lived in a sister’s shadow only ever be half a life?


Penguin UK

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore – Matthew Sullivan

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstroe by Matthew Sullivan (c) Penguin UK

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, it’s his favorite store clerk who must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this fiendishly clever debut novel.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has inherited his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long-buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. Bedazzling, addictive, and wildly clever, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a heart-pounding mystery that perfectly captures the intellect and eccentricity of the bookstore milieu

The Accordionist by Fred Vargas (c) Penguin UKThe Accordionist – Fred Vargas

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When two Parisian women are shockingly murdered in their homes, the police suspect young accordionist Clément Vauquer, who was seen outside both of the apartments in question. It seems on the surface like an open-and-shut case.

But now Clément has disappeared from public view. His likeness has appeared in the papers and detectives from Paris to Nevers are on his tail. To have a chance of proving his innocence, he seeks refuge with old Marthe, a former prostitute and the only mother figure he has known.

Marthe calls ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler to help Clément. But what Louis uncovers is anything but straightforward, and he must call on some unconventional friends to help him solve his most complex case yet. Not only must Louis try to prove Clément’s innocence, he must solve a fiendish riddle to lead him to the killer…

The Telephone Girls – Jenny Holmes

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The Telephone Girls by Jenny Holmes (c) Penguin UK

1936. George Street, West Yorkshire, houses a gleaming, brand-new telephone exchange where a group of capable girls works the complicated electrical switchboards. Among them are Cynthia, Norma and Millicent, who relish the busy, efficient atmosphere and the independence and friendship their jobs have given them.

But when Millicent connects a telephone call for an old friend, and listens in to the conversation – breaking one of the telephonists’ main rules – she, and then Norma and Cynthia too, become caught up in a story of scandal, corruption and murder.

Soon, the jobs of all three girls are on the line. Norma’s romance is in ruins. And Millicent has entered a world of vice . . .

In tough times, the telephone girls will need to call on their friends more than ever.

Midwinter Break – Bernard MacLaverty

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Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty (c) Penguin UK

Sixteen years on from his last novel, Bernard MacLaverty reminds us why he is regarded as one of the greatest living Irish writers. A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. A holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar – but over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties which exist between them.

Gerry, once an architect, is forgetful and set in his ways. Stella is tired of his lifestyle, worried about their marriage and angry at his constant undermining of her religious faith. Things are not helped by memories which have begun to resurface of a troubled time in their native Ireland. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are – and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.

Bernard MacLaverty is a master storyteller, and Midwinter Break is the essential MacLaverty novel: accurate, compassionate observation, effortlessly elegant writing and a tender, intimate, heart-rending story – but it is also a profound examination of human love and how we live together, a chamber piece of real resonance and power. Forty years on from his first book, Bernard MacLaverty has written his masterpiece.


Random House

Two Nights – Kathy Reichs

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Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (c) Random House

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help. Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

Watch Me Disappear – Janelle Brown

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Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown (c) Random House

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Where the Light Falls – Allison Pataki and Owen Pataki

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Where the ligth falls by Allison and Owen Pataki (c) Random House

Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled—with the help of the guillotine—and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. André, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. Sophie, a young aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle.

As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, André, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely—for themselves and, indeed, for the nation.

Valley of the Moon – Melanie Gideon

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Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon (c) Random House

San Francisco, 1975. A single mother, Lux Lysander is overwhelmed, underpaid, and living on the edge of an emotional precipice. When her adored five-year-old son goes away to visit his grandparents, Lux takes a solo trip to Sonoma Valley—a chance to both lose herself and find herself again.

Awakened at midnight, Lux steps outside to see a fog settled over the Sonoma landscape. Wandering toward a point of light in the distance, she emerges into a meadow on a sunny day. There she meets a group of people whose sweetly simple clothing, speech, and manners almost make them seem as if they are from another time. And then she realizes they are.

Lilac Girls – Martha Hall Kelly

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (c) Random House

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.


Simon & Schuster

Holding – Graham Norton

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Holding by Graham Norton (c) Simon and Schuster

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama but when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke—a former lover of two different inhabitants—the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated sergeant PJ Collins struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

In this darkly comic, touching, and at times heartbreaking novel, perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore—with searing honesty—the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

My Name Is Leon – Kit de Waal

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My Name is Leon by Kit de Waals (c) Simon and Schuster

Leon loves chocolate bars, Saturday morning cartoons, and his beautiful, golden-haired baby brother. When Jake is born, Leon pokes his head in the crib and says, “I’m your brother. Big brother. My. Name. Is. Leon. I am eight and three quarters. I am a boy.” Jake will play with no one but Leon, and Leon is determined to save him from any pain and earn that sparkling baby laugh every chance he can.

But Leon isn’t in control of this world where adults say one thing and mean another. When their mother falls victim to her inner demons, strangers suddenly take Jake away; after all, a white baby is easy to adopt, while a half-black, nine-year-old faces a less certain fate. Vowing to get Jake back by any means necessary, Leon’s own journey will carry him through the lives of a doting but ailing foster mother, Maureen; Maureen’s cranky and hilarious sister, Sylvia; a social worker Leon knows only as “The Zebra”; and a colorful community of local gardeners and West Indian political activists.

Hook’s Tale – John Leonard Pielmeier

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Hook's Tale by John Leonard Pielmeier (c) Simon Schuster

Long defamed as a vicious pirate, Captain James Cook (a.k.a Hook) was in fact a dazzling wordsmith who left behind a vibrant, wildly entertaining, and entirely truthful memoir. His chronicle offers a counter narrative to the works of J.M. Barrie, a “dour Scotsman” whose spurious accounts got it all wrong. Now, award-winning playwright John Pielmeier is proud to present this crucial historic artifact in its entirety for the first time.

Cook’s story begins in London, where he lives with his widowed mother. At thirteen, he runs away from home, but is kidnapped and pressed into naval service as an unlikely cabin boy. Soon he discovers a treasure map that leads to a mysterious archipelago called the “Never-Isles” from which there appears to be no escape. In the course of his adventures he meets the pirates Smee and Starkey, falls in love with the enchanting Tiger Lily, adopts an oddly affectionate crocodile, and befriends a charming boy named Peter—who teaches him to fly. He battles monsters, fights in mutinies, swims with mermaids, and eventually learns both the sad and terrible tale of his mother’s life and the true story of his father’s disappearance.

The Diplomat’s Daughter – Karin Tanabe

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The Diplomats Daughter by Karin Tabale (c) Simon and Schuster

During the turbulent months following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, twenty-one-year-old Emi Kato, the daughter of a Japanese diplomat, is locked behind barbed wire in a Texas internment camp. She feels hopeless until she meets handsome young Christian Lange, whose German-born parents were wrongfully arrested for un-American activities. Together, they live as prisoners with thousands of other German and Japanese families, but discover that love can bloom in even the bleakest circumstances.

When Emi and her mother are abruptly sent back to Japan, Christian enlists in the United States Army, with his sights set on the Pacific front—and, he hopes, a reunion with Emi—unaware that her first love, Leo Hartmann, the son of wealthy of Austrian parents and now a Jewish refugee in Shanghai, may still have her heart.

Fearful of bombings in Tokyo, Emi’s parents send her to a remote resort town in the mountains, where many in the foreign community have fled. Cut off from her family, struggling with growing depression and hunger, Emi repeatedly risks her life to help keep her community safe—all while wondering if the two men she loves are still alive.

As Christian Lange struggles to adapt to life as a soldier, his unit pushes its way from the South Pacific to Okinawa, where one of the bloodiest battles of World War II awaits them. Meanwhile, in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, as Leo fights to survive the squalor of the Jewish ghetto, a surprise confrontation with a Nazi officer threatens his life. For each man, Emi Kato is never far from their minds.

Flung together by war, passion, and extraordinary acts of selflessness, the paths of these three remarkable young people will collide as the fighting on the Pacific front crescendos. With her “elegant and extremely gratifying” (USA TODAY) storytelling, Karin Tanabe paints a stunning portrait of a turning point in history.

The Trouble wiht Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon

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The Trouble wiht Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (c) Simon and Schuster

England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbors blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced, and decide to take matters into their own hands.

Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door to door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover more than they ever imagined. A complicated history of deception begins to emerge—everyone on the Avenue has something to hide.

During that sweltering summer, the lives of all the neighbors begin to unravel. The girls come to realize that the lies told to conceal what happened one fateful day about a decade ago are the same ones Mrs. Creasy was starting to peel back just before she disappeared…

The Strange Case ot dhe Alchemist’s Daughter – Theodora Goss

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The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodore Goss (c) Simon and Schuster

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

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