Well here we are!
A brand new year and a brand new set of books to get our juices flowing! Aren’t we lucky!
I have had a peruse of the available publisher catalogues online, I have been screenshotting like a demon on Twitter and Instagram and I have been making notes aplenty of some books I am super pumped for in 2021.
Now, the list was quite sizeable up to June/July so I will break it down into blog posts covering each quarter. This post obviously deals with books being published in Jan/Feb/March. I will present them in publication date order and I will apologise now for this post being a little blurb heavy but I haven’t read these books yet so I can’t accurately sum them up for you and I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone! I’m not a huge advocate of including blurbs in blog posts but we work with what we’ve got don’t we!
Luckenbooth by Jenny Fagan- William Heinemann – 14th January 2021
Stories tucked away on every floor. No. 10 Luckenbooth Close is an archetypal Edinburgh tenement. The devil’s daughter rows to the shores of Leith in a coffin. The year is 1910 and she has been sent to a tenement building in Edinburgh by her recently deceased father to bear a child for a wealthy man and his fiancée. The harrowing events that follow lead to a curse on the building and its residents – a curse that will last for the rest of the century. Over nine decades, No. 10 Luckenbooth Close bears witness to emblems of a changing world outside its walls. An infamous madam, a spy, a famous Beat poet, a coal miner who fears daylight, a psychic: these are some of the residents whose lives are plagued by the building’s troubled history in disparate, sometimes chilling ways. The curse creeps up the nine floors and an enraged spirit world swells to the surface, desperate for the true horror of the building’s longest kept secret to be heard.
I think this looks PHENOMENAL. It couldn’t sound anymore gothic and unsettling! You lot know I am HERE for books like this. I am also a huge fan of stories set in one house over decades. My pre-order is in and I CANNOT WAIT!
The Shape Of Darkness by Laura Purcell – Bloomsbury 21st January
Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…
If I’m honest, Laura Purcell could write some words on the back of a fag packet and I’d read it. I have absolutely loved her previous three books and they live very happily on my forever shelf. They are books I would recommend again and again and have bought for various people. I will pick up The Shape Of Darkness as my next read and I can’t wait to dive in!
Insatiable by Daisy Buchanan- Sphere 11th February 2021
Stuck in a dead-end job, broken-hearted, broke and estranged from her best friend: Violet’s life is nothing like she thought it would be. She wants more – better friends, better sex, a better job – and she wants it now. So, when Lottie – who looks like the woman Violet wants to be when she grows up – offers Violet the chance to join her exciting start-up, she bites. Only it soon becomes clear that Lottie and her husband Simon are not only inviting Violet into their company, they are also inviting her into their lives.Seduced by their townhouse, their expensive candles and their Friday-night sex parties, Violet cannot tear herself away from Lottie, Simon or their friends. But is this really the more Violet yearns for? Will it grant her the satisfaction she is so desperately seeking?
I’ve already talked in NB Magazine about how much I’m looking forward to this one. I’m quite often to be found wading in the murky waters of gothic historical fiction but every now and again I like a contemporary story with a bit of a sexy fizz, ya get me? Anyway, I’m fizzing for this one and will be getting to it very soon.
Nightshift by Kiare Ladner – Picador 18th February 2021
When twenty three year old Meggie meets distant and enigmatic Sabine, she recognizes in her the person she would like to be. Giving up her daytime existence, her reliable boyfriend, and the trappings of a normal life in favour of working the same nightshifts as Sabine could be the perfect escape for Meggie. She finds a liberating sense of freedom in indulging her growing preoccupation with Sabine and plunges herself into another existence, gradually immersing herself in the transient and uncertain world of the nightshift worker.
Now this one sounds dark and gritty and just a little bit unsettling which is exactly what gets my blood pumping! I can’t wait to immerse myself in Meggy and Sabine’s nighttime world.
Before My Actual Heart Breaks by Tish Delaney – Hutchinson 18th February 2021.
When she was young Mary Rattigan wanted to fly. She was going to take off like an angel from heaven and leave the muck and madness of troubled Northern Ireland behind. Nothing but the Land of Happy Ever After would do for her. But as a Catholic girl with a B.I.T.C.H. for a Mammy and a silent Daddy, things did not go as she and Lizzie Magee had planned. Now, five children, twenty-five years, an end to the bombs and bullets, enough whiskey to sink a ship and endless wakes and sandwich teas later, Mary’s alone. She’s learned plenty of hard lessons and missed a hundred steps towards the life she’d always hoped for.Will she finally find the courage to ask for the love she deserves? Or is it too late?
This book actually popped up at me when I was Googling another book. I love it when then happens. I love fiction set in Ireland and I think this one could be a bit of a gut wrencher!
Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding – Bloomsbury 4th March 2021
Being Tommy’s mother is too much for Sonya. Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy’s life is in her hands. Once there was the thrill of a London stage, a glowing acting career, fast cars, handsome men. But now there are blackouts and bare cupboards, and her estranged father showing up uninvited. There is Mrs O’Malley spying from across the road. There is the risk of losing Tommy – forever.
Oh you lot know I love a story of a struggling mother. There’s just something about them that (dare I say it) I relate to! I also can’t wait to find out more about ‘Mrs O’Malley spying from across the road’…..
Hot Stew by Fiona Mozley – John Murray Press 18th March 2021
Pungent, steamy, insatiable Soho; the only part of London that truly never sleeps. Tourists dawdling, chancers skulking, addicts shuffling, sex workers strutting, punters prowling, businessmen striding, the homeless and the lost. Down Wardour Street, ducking onto Dean Street, sweeping into L’Escargot, darting down quiet back alleyways, skirting dumpsters and drunks, emerging on to raucous main roads, fizzing with energy and riotous with life.
On a corner, sits a large townhouse, the same as all its neighbours. But this building hosts a teeming throng of rich and poor, full from the basement right up to the roof terrace. Precious and Tabitha call the top floors their home but it’s under threat; its billionaire-owner Agatha wants to kick the women out to build expensive restaurants and luxury flats. Men like Robert, who visit the brothel, will have to go elsewhere. Those like Cheryl, who sleep in the basement, will have to find somewhere else to hide after dark. But the women won’t go quietly. Soho is their turf and they are ready for a fight.
I read and really enjoyed Elmet by Fiona Mozley when I was a judge for the Sunday Times Young Writer Of the Year Award 2018. She’s such a super sharp but emotive writer and I think I will always want to read what she creates. Hot Stew is no exception and I can’t wait to get to it.
Girl In The Walls by A J Gnuse – 4th Estate 18th March 2021
Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what. Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists? And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?
This has been described by Jess Kidd as ‘a uniquely gothic tale of grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’. Just the word gothic and I’m there. I’ve had an early copy of this book on my shelf for so long now and I’m savouring it until closer to publication. I think it’s going to be an absolute belter.
The Good Neighbours by Nina Allan – Riverrun 18th March
Cath is a photographer hoping to go freelance, working in a record shop to pay the rent and eking out her time with her manager Steve. He thinks her photography is detective work, drawing attention to things that would otherwise pass unseen and maybe he’s right . . .
Starting work on her new project – photographing murder houses – she returns to the island where she grew up for the first time since she left for Glasgow when she was just eighteen. The Isle of Bute is embedded in her identity, the draughty house that overlooked the bay, the feeling of being nowhere, the memory of her childhood friend Shirley Craigie and the devastating familicide of her family by the father, John Craigie.
Arriving at the Craigie house, Cath finds that it’s occupied by Financial Analyst Alice Rahman. Her bid to escape the city lifestyle, the anxiety she felt in that world, led her to leave London and settle on the island. The strangeness of the situation brings them closer, leading them to reinvestigate the Craigie murder. Now, within the walls of the Craigie house, Cath can uncover the nefarious truths and curious nature of John Craigie: his hidden obsession with the work of Richard Dadd and the local myths of the fairy folk.
I read The Doll Maker by Nina Allan some time ago which had really creepy dark fairytale-esque stories interspersed in the main narrative. They would have made a fantastic stand-alone short story collection all in their own. The Good Neighbours hooked me in with the photographing of murder houses and the mention of local myths of ‘fairy folk’. YES PLEASE.
So there we have it. Just a selection of the books I’m most looking forward to reading in the next three months.
Have you seen any you like the look of?
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx