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Our Preview of 2019: The Best Books to Look Out For

Posted on 2nd January 2019 by Martha Greengrass

As we enter 2019, we take a look at just some of the brilliant new reading coming in the year ahead.

Fiction

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In this electrifying sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalised readers for 33 years: What happened to Offred? Since 1985, Margaret Atwood's vision has only grown in significance, becoming a rallying call around the world. Now The Testaments finally reveals, for the very first time, Margaret Atwood's vision of Gilead's future.
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A decade after his phenomenal bestseller One Day, David Nicholls returns with a bittersweet and brilliantly funny coming-of-age tale. Told over one life-changing summer, it explores - with genuine tenderness - the transformative impact of first love in an ordinary life. An expert at evoking what it truly feels like to be young and alive, Nicholls' novel promises to be something very special.

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In his first novel since 2015’s Flood of Fire, pre-eminent Indian author Amitav Ghosh takes readers on an epic journey in the company of a reclusive rare book dealer who finds himself swept up in a world on the move. Engaging with the issues of climate change and diaspora that have driven his recent non-fiction, it is a novel that engages powerfully with the most pressing of contemporary concerns.
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One of America's most adept chroniclers of everyday life, there are few novelists who get under a character's skin more thoroughly than Elizabeth Strout. In Olive Again she returns to her finest creation, spiky, obdurate and disarmingly human anti-heroine Olive Kitteridge for a fine chronicle of late love and generational division, set in the coastal Maine community that Strout has made her own.

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Borne in on a breeze of magic, mystery and (of course) chocolate, Joanne Harris ends a seven-year break from her Chocolat series as new eddies stir the sleepy village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes as Viannne Rocher returns. As new rivalries emerge, conflict threatens to erupt into violence - perhaps even murder - in a novel that is both a treat for fans and an ideal doorway for new readers.
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“This is a novel I have been wanting to write for a long time, a fist of light against a wall of darkness.” Ben Okri’s most significant novel since his Man Booker Prize-winning masterpiece The Famished Road, The Freedom Artist weaves together ancient myth and modern politics for an impassioned story primed for the post-truth age. A story of love and loss, fiercely told and impossible to ignore.
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Having captured the dying embers and slumbering promise of Autumn and Winter in 2017 and 2018, Ali Smith turns to new beginnings for the third novel in her peerless seasonal quartet. Interweaving mythical, ancient and primal ideas about the years’ changing faces with a startling immediacy that is fresh, funny and poignant Spring captures - wholly and ineffably – the moment we are in.
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One of the most exciting new voices to emerge in print in the last decade, Max Porter’s evocative, original and desperately moving first novel, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, won a host of accolades. His second novel, Lanny, is no less astonishing. Infused with folklore and lyricism it’s a gripping meditation on imagination's deep-rooted influence on communities and individuals.
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Already tipped for prize lists in 2019, Marlon James’s follow-up to his Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fever-pitched combination of magic, myth and history pitched as ‘an African Game of Thrones’ by the Guardian. The first in a trilogy, set in an alternate world founded on brutal power struggles, it’s a thrilling ride.

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Having reached the seventh instalment of his urban fantasy series, The Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch gives Peter Grant a much-needed break as he explores the world of magic beyond England’s confines. Set in Trier, October Man transports his cocktail mix of real observation and brilliant imagination to an inviting new locale, throwing in a cast of colourful new characters for good measure.

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In a change of pace from her bestselling series The Bone Season, author Samantha Shannon offers up a new standalone high-fantasy epic, led by an impressive cast of memorable female characters. Set in an impeccably realised world of dragons, warring factions and underground rebellion, The Priory of the Orange Tree has all the hallmarks of a fantasy classic.

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Debut Voices

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Strikingly original from its first page, Bridget Collins’ inaugural novel begins with a truly brilliant premise: that books might be used to hide everything you might want to forget. Already a hit with our booksellers, and leading the pack of 2019’s most anticipated debuts, it's a supernaturally tinged tale of forbidden love, buried secrets and unspeakable betrayal that is simply unforgettable.

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Sharp, menacing and darkly funny, this first novel from Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite is a breathe of fresh air. Not just an inventive take on the serial-murder thriller, the novel is also a tender examination of sibling relationships in an oppressively patriarchal society; a story that turns the tables on the woman-as-victim trope. An addictive - and hugely satisfying - read.
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The debut novel from the creator of the television phenomenon The Killing. Welcome to the dark world of Thulin and Hess, mismatched detectives on the trail of a brutal, bizarre murder. Simultaneously, a senior politician grieves over her missing daughter: are the events connected? Søren Sveistrup ramps up the character and tension in an accomplished thriller.

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A riveting exploration of female sexuality and desire, and the often yawning chasms between enticing fantasy and cruel reality, Three Women is suffused both with erotic yearning and raw honesty, and serves as a vital document of twenty-first century sexual politics.

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In a Victorian London so richly evoked that you can practically taste the fog, Iris Whittle struggles to make her way in the world. Two men both yearn to possess her in their own different ways; pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost seeks a model, whilst taxidermist Silas Reed has altogether more sinister designs. A darkly atmospheric debut from Elizabeth Macneal.

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One of the year’s most exciting debuts, The Confessions of Frannie Langton draws on the gothic tones of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea for an enthralling historical mystery. Moving from the plantations of Jamaica to the drawing rooms of 1820’s London, Collins’ novel spins out a darkly hypnotic story of slavery, freedom and of the wonderful and dreadful secrets bodies give up under darkness.

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Crime & Thrillers



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Fans of Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series will rejoice that her smoke-and-mirrors detective is back after a nine year hiatus for his fifth outing. Atkinson’s novels eschew genre pigeon-holing and her ‘detective fiction’ is no exception. Readers will be eagerly anticipating the mix of fiendish plotting, twisting paradox and playful, inventive storytelling that makes her novels such a joy to devour.

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Like John le Carre but with better gags, Mick Herron continues to reinvigorate the spy thriller with the sixth full length outing for Jackson Lamb and the ‘slow horses’ of Slough House. Events are moving ever closer to home for the washed-up spooks and, this time, nobody is safe.

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The third installment in this exciting and atmospheric crime series really gets under the skin of maverick detective Aidan Waits, with a descent into nightmarish noir courtesy of an expiring serial killer. Knox does hard-boiled with a scintillating modern slant that hooks the reader from the first page.
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Plunging readers once again into the expertly realised world of 17th-century England, Andrew Taylor returns with the third instalment of his phenomenally popular series. Taylor hit his stride with The Fire Court, fleshing out his central players, James Marwood and Cat Lovett. Now, with Marwood charged to cover-up a murder and Cat the main suspect, the stakes have once again been raised.

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One of 2017’s most politically charged and daring thrillers, Sam Bourne’s To Kill the President proved an eerily prescient companion to the inauguration of the Trump presidency. Now, Sam Bourne is back with an explosive game of cat-and-mouse for the post-truth era. Taking on the hot-topics of Black Lives Matter protest, Holocaust denial and deception at the highest level, expect sparks to fly.

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Having proved herself a leading new voice with her global bestseller The Dry and 2018’s eerie Force of Nature, Australian author Jane Harper returns to make it a hat-trick with The Lost Man. Set against the unforgiving, sun-beaten backdrop of the Australian outback, it offers a gripping trail of sibling relationships riven by malice and death.

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The last novel from author Philip Kerr, who sadly died in 2018, Metropolis is a fitting swansong for his iconic anti-hero Bernie Gunther, taking the detective back to his origins. Set in the heyday dying hours of the Weimar Republic, this is Gunther amidst the bubbling underbelly of Babylon Berlin, pitted against a force determined to cleanse the city whilst Hitler’s ascendancy waits in the wings.

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Non-Fiction Highlights

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Following the acclaim of Bedsit Disco Queen and Naked at the Albert Hall, Tracey Thorn continues her knowing, tenderly-executed excavation of her past, this time diving in to that strange, unique cradle of British creativity – Green Belt suburbia. From the boredom, to the yearning, to the growing inner rebellion, this is the rite of passage that was a song to so many.

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In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis captured and skewered the zeitgeist of a generation. Now that same, mercurial mind takes a long look at the now and finds much of it broken. In his first work of non-fiction, Ellis mercilessly takes on the cultural tropes that so fill our phones and minds and calls their bluff: funny, acerbic, White is an important and daring mirror to our dangerous vanity.
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In the company of economist Francis Green, David Kynaston (Modernity Britain, Till Time’s Last Stand) provides a provocative analysis of Britain’s private, fee-paying schools. Engines of Privilege describes nothing less than an educational apartheid, where successive generations of a wealthy elite are destroying all notion of social mobility and promoting a serious democratic deficit.

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In his first book, key Brexiteer and outspoken Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg picks up the somewhat soiled narrative of the Victorian age, and finds instead a country emboldened by ambition and self-belief. On the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, The Victorians sets out a case to recall the spirit behind an Empire, and asks how Britain can ignite that flame once again.
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The bestselling author of The Shock of the Fall is also a former mental health nurse, and Heartland is his attempt to convey the complexity and nuance surrounding that most misunderstood of conditions – schizophrenia. Written with the grace of a novelist and the clarity of an expert, this is a profoundly important and timely work.
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Putting Brian Cox’s sweeping storytelling abilities front and centre, The Planets is a history of our immediate universe that reads like an epic novel. With the aid of regular contributor Andrew Cohen, Cox paints a picture of the rise and fall of interstellar bodies and the grand narrative of the cosmos, in this lavishly produced publication.
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The New York Times. The Washington Post. BuzzFeed. VICE. Two are behemoths of the paper age, two are media upstarts driven by the need to own the news. Over a decade, former executive editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson follows their respective fortunes as they ride the dramatic peaks and troughs of a radically shifting media industry.

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Washington, D.C. 2007: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett and Christopher Hitchens embark on a discussion that will, in time, receive millions of views on YouTube. Accompanied by an introduction by Stephen Fry, The Four Horsemen is the written record of the conversation that became a touchstone of the new atheist movement. Includes additional material from the surviving three.
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Sending the nation’s nicest man into a top secret surveillance state proves an inspired move, as the former Python turned explorer teases out revelations and trivia from his thoroughly charmed escorts. Probably the fullest and most enlightening account of the Satlinist society we are ever likely to get, North Korea Journal brings Palin’s piercing insight and flair for empathy to the fore.
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The award-winning author behind Landmarks, The Lost Words and The Old Ways returns to consider that truly hidden ocean of our landscape: the secrets beneath our feet. Regarding vast, underground networks of tree communication, Bronze Age burial chambers or remote Arctic sea-caves, Macfarlane is peerless in deploying his unique command of language to illuminate the unknown.
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Cookery, Health and Lifestyle

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A landmark publication, Nigel Slater’s Eat has become the touchstone for his trademark style of cookery: quick recipes and easy ingredients that come from pan to plate with minimum fuss. It is food you want to eat. Now Slater returns with a two-volume vegetable-based follow-up (the second volume is published in September) that brings the Eat ethos to how we cook today.
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The second half of Slater’s follow-up to the seminal Eat, this sumptuous volume crafts quick and easy vegetarian recipes from judiciously chosen seasonal ingredients. Lucidly written, accessibly structured and handsomely presented, Greenfeast is Slater at his culinary best.

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Having re-written the rule-book for meat-free cooking, the BOSH! boys are back. Containing 140 fresh and innovative new recipes from quick suppers to feasts to impress a crowd, BISH BASH BOSH! is vegan food as you’ve never seen it before. Our exclusive edition contains six bonus recipes and eye-catching sprayed edges. It’s enough to tempt even the most hardened carnivore to eat their greens.
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Already an Instagram star, Mrs Hinch has taken the nation by storm with her treasure-trove of cleaning hacks to transform your home. With the help of her cloth family, Mrs Hinch will help you turn your house into a home. Whether you're a daily duster or looking for a monthly makeover, Hinch Yourself Happy shows you how to create not only a cleaner house, but a calmer you.
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A must for both novice and experienced home-cooks this debut cookbook is packed with flavourful and satisfying meals - all of which are compatible with the principles of Weight Watchers and Slimming World.
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Children's, Teen and YA Fiction

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The voice of a generation, Angie Thomas claimed 2018’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with her internationally acclaimed debut thriller, inspire by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give. Her second novel is equally unmissable: delivering a fierce story of hip hop ambition, inequality, and the fight to have your voice heard.
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The sequel to Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year category winner Children of Blood and Bone, this is another thrilling adventure packed with cinematic set pieces and credible, involving characters. Yet, in its portrayal of race and civil war, there is real emotional and political depth here too.
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A new Jacqueline Wilson is always a cause for celebration and in this new standalone novel, she transports readers to the glamour and decadence of Britain’s Roaring Twenties. Quick-step lively and full of winning characters, it’s also a sensitively told story of class division and family loss that will catch junior readers in its spell.
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A fun-filled, crumpet-laden, festive delight, Tom Fletcher’s rhyming classic The Christmasaurus captured the hearts of children (and adults) everywhere. Packed with a host of magical surprises and superbly illustrated by Shane Devries, the much-anticipated sequel – which sees William on a brand new mission to protect Christmas – is one worth waiting for.

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From our friends at Walker Books, Flights of Fancy is a simply rapturous celebration of 20 years of the Waterstones Children's Laureateship. Brimming with stories, poems and pictures from all ten honourees, this gorgeous volume perfectly captures each’s Laureate’s love for their craft and their dedication to their position. 50p from every copy sold goes to the reading charity Booktrust.
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Like a diminutive Doctor Dolittle, young Evie can talk to the animals. It’s a habit that has landed her in trouble before but when an alarming number of animals start to go missing, Evie realises that she is the only one who can solve the mystery. Another winning children’s tale from the delightful Matt Haig.

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Bestselling author and Waterstones favourite Katherine Rundell returns with another exquisitely crafted story about resourceful children let loose in a beautifully rendered locale. The setting is prohibition-era New York and our hero is Vita, determined to claim back her grandfather’s home from the clutches of the mafia. Good old fashioned storytelling that feels as fresh as a daisy.

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Comments

Angela Heward

I recently bought the lost man by Jane harper - both of her previous books were great and her description of outback Australia lends a sense of isolation and menace that continues in this book. There is a link between the books but they are not sequels. Highly recommended- I read it in one sitting - it’s a real page turner.
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Angela Heward
26th April 2019
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