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The Best Books to Look Out For in August 2018

Posted on 10th August 2018 by Martha Greengrass

From harvest nights All Among the Barley to the Eastern Horizons we round up August's new books.

As the weather finally breaks and we welcome back that (almost forgotten) British staple, the cardigan, our August round-up includes a blend of summer reading and a selection of titles that herald the excitement of autumn’s publishing windfall.

Fiction

A new Pat Barker is always a cause for celebration and her latest - much-anticipated - novel The Silence of the Girls more than lives up to its promise. A re-telling of The Iliad from the perspective of captured queen Briseis, it’s a fiery story that considers the human cost of war and what it means to be a woman without a voice. It comes alongside three other new historical novels, each with a very different flavour. Best-known for his 2011 Costa Award-winning novel of revolutionary Paris, Pure, Andrew Miller returns this month with tightrope-taut Napoleonic-era thriller Now We Shall Be Entirely Free. Following army renegade deserter Captain John Lacroix - a man haunted by a past that dogs his every step - it’s an action-packed novel that tests the true price of liberty as summer draws to a close. Summer’s ending also colours the tone of Melissa Harrison’s haunting novel All Among the Barley, her first fictional work since her Women’s Prize-longlisted At Hawthorn Time.  Set amidst a rural farming community in Suffolk on the cusp of the Second World War, it’s a novel tinged with the inevitability of change as old traditions give way to a new world. Harrison – who is also known for her natural history writing – infuses her novel with a sense of seasonal transience and the result, as Jon McGregor writes, is ‘a masterpiece’. From Suffolk we move to the wilderness of 1940’s Cornwall and Kate Riordan’s compelling Rebecca-inspired thriller The Stranger, now available in paperback. Combining a close-knit community, a mysterious floating body and a character the author describes as ‘inevitably stalked by Trouble with a capital T’; it’s a recipe for a gloriously wicked page-turner.

It’s all a far cry from the near-future imagined by Sam Byers in his blackly funny novel Perfidious Albion. Taking on our most divisive fears, from big-tech takeovers to social media overload and the divisions of a post-Brexit nation, as the New Statesman comments ‘Byers has a sharp sense of the way the wind is blowing; it’s a cold breeze indeed, and he directs it right down the reader’s neck’. From a cold breeze, to a brisk winter chill and the dark (and very funny) slumberland imaginings of Jasper Fforde’s brilliant new novel Early Riser. Set in a country where seasonal hibernation is a necessity – fuelled, of course, by Horlicks and copious quantities of Tunnocks’ Teacakes – as the Scotsman posits, ‘when the plot is thundering along, peppered with jokes, lively dialogue and silly names... you just sit back and enjoy the ride’. 

Our fiction selection wouldn’t be complete this month though, without recognising Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer. Taking the form of a letter from a Syrian father to his son on the eve of a life-threatening sea-crossing, the book is published to mark the anniversary of the death of three-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi. A moving and powerful tribute to the displaced families affected by war, Khaled Hosseini will donate all author proceeds from the book to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund life-saving relief efforts around the globe.

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Pat Barker brings her profound, Booker Prize-winning ability to regard the hidden story of history’s greatest conflict: the Trojan War. Briseis – sometime queen, now slave in a shattered empire – sets on finding freedom and rediscovering her own remarkable story.
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From the author of Costa-shortlisted and Baileys-longlisted At Hawthorn Time comes a major new novel. Set on a farm in Suffolk just before the Second World War, it introduces a girl on the cusp of adulthood and a rural community on the brink of change. In the autumn of 1933, the arrival of a glamourous outsider to a Suffolk village threatens to tear apart the fabric of one woman’s ordinary life.
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Now We Shall Be Entirely Free begins one rainswept winter's night in 1809, when an unconscious man is carried into a Somerset house. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain's disastrous campaign against Napoleon. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he sets out instead for the Hebrides, unaware that he has far worse to fear as another enemy creeps closer.
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Cornwall, 1940. In the hushed hours of deepest night a young woman is found washed up on the rocks. Was it a tragic accident? Or should the residents of Penhallow have been more careful about whom they invited in? As the threat of invasion mounts, tensions between the close-knit residents rise until dark secrets start to surface. And in a house full of strangers, who do you trust?
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Welcome to Edmundsbury, a small town in England, some time in the recent future. Brexit has happened and is real. Fear and loathing are on the rise. Grass-roots right-wing political party England Always are fomenting hatred. As tensions mount, lives begin to unravel. Things are changing. No-one is quite who they appear. The future has arrived, and it is not what anyone imagined.
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A heart-wrenching story from the international bestselling author of The Kite Runner, brought to life by Dan Williams's beautiful illustrations. On a moonlit beach a father cradles his sleeping son as they wait for dawn to break and a boat to arrive...
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You are Charlie Worthing and it's your first season with the Winter Consuls, the group of misfits responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams - such nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact of the sleeping mind. So long as you remember to wrap up warmly, you'll be fine... won't you?
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Crime

Our crime selection is led by a new turn from the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, in his third outing from author Sophie Hannah, The Mystery of Three Quarters. Combining classic Christie plotting – we defy a reader to guess the ending – and an expert understanding of the nuances of Poirot’s character and methods, it’s a deeply satisfying slice of classic detective fiction. There’s more classic sleuthing on offer too in The Way of All Flesh - albeit with a good deal more accompanying gore. A new venture from bestselling author Chris Brookmyre and consultant anaesthetist Dr Marisa Haetzman (writing as Ambrose Parry) it brings the underbelly of Victorian Edinburgh to life with real energy – here’s hoping there are sequels to come. Meanwhile, for fans of Sue Grafton’s much-loved Kinsey Millhone series, the publication of her excellent final novel Y is for Yesterday marks the end of an era. As Grafton’s daughter movingly expressed, ‘as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y’. 

We round off our crime picks with two of the year’s choicest thrillers. Earning early comparisons with the work of Stephen King, C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man is a truly creepy debut. Framed around a series of chalk drawings that lead – seemingly inevitably – to the discovery of a corpse, as the Daily Express comments, this one ‘will keep you up all night with all the lights on’. Belinda Bauer has earned a reputation for novels that bend genre boundaries and her latest, Snap, is no exception. Following the long-term repercussions of a life-changing decision that leaves three children abandoned by a roadside, it’s a thought-provoking study of action and consequence that lingers long in the imagination. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018, it’s already one of the year’s most talked-about books.

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Following on from the success of The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, Sophie Hannah picks up the mantle of the Queen of Crime once more. The world's most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot - the legendary star of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express - returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930's London.
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Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder. In the Old Town a number of young women have been found dead, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. Medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship, meanwhile housemaid Sarah Fisher has all of Raven's intelligence but none of his privileges. Together they find themselves propelled headlong into Edinburgh's underworld.
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The alphabet mysteries continue with a harrowing case for private investigator Kinsey Millhone.
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It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when young Eddie met Mr Halloran - the Chalk Man. He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body. Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. Is history repeating?
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Praised as 'the best crime novel I've read in a very long time.' by Val McDermid, Snap is a whip-sharp investigation into the devastating long-term impact of a single decision. Eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. But she never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.
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Science Fiction & Fantasy

Three choices this month that run the gamut from fantasy’s origins to the frontiers of space and the frightening possibilities of a nightmare future. The first part in the Winternight Trilogy, Katherine Arden’s Russian folklore-inspired The Bear and the Nightingale quickly became one of the most talked about fantasy novels of recent times, earning comparisons with The Night Circus and His Dark Materials. She continues her fairy tale vision in the equally spellbinding sequel The Girl in the Tower – now available in paperback. Meanwhile, fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power should cast their eyes upon Christina Dalcher’s Vox. Set in an alternative reality where woman’s lives are so closely controlled that they are only allowed to speak a hundred words a day, it’s a powerful new take on dystopia for the #metoo age.  Readers who enjoyed the castaway-in-space adventure of The Martian may find their next read in S.J. Morden’s One Way. Best described by the Financial Times as an ‘Agatha-Christie-in-space thriller’, Morden’s science fiction thriller ‘accelerates to warp speed and becomes an engrossing whodunit'. It’s a cocktail that proves hard to beat.

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The second part in Katherine Arden’s sweeping fairy tale series The Winternight Trilogy, For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic… But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, she may be the only way to save her city from threats both human and fantastical…
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Vox
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Silence can be deafening. Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins. Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you're a woman.
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A blend of classic mystery, Orange is the New Black and Andy Weir’s The Martian, One Way is a science-fiction thriller like no other. Frank Kittridge is serving life for murdering his son's drug dealer, so when he's offered a deal by Xenosystems Operations he takes it. As the convicts set to work on Mars, the accidents multiply. Until Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents.
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Non-Fiction

Already one of our favourite books this year, The Colour of Time, is a revolutionary window into history. Combining the talents of artist Marina Amaral – whose expert work re-colouring black and white photographs is utterly breath-taking – with accompanying commentary by historian Dan Jones it’s a book quite unlike any other. It’s well matched by Sir Ian Kershaw’s peerlessly researched new history of modern Europe, Roller-Coaster, the follow-up to his bestselling first volume To Hell and Back. One of the greatest historians of twentieth-century Europe, Kershaw brilliantly demystifies the tumultuous period between 1950 and 2017 and offers lessons for the present about the ideology of Europe and what it means to be European.

From the past to an uncertain present. Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is the bridge between his bestselling books on his macro-vision of the world: Sapiens and Homo Deus. Taking on the biggest challenges facing humanity today, it asks essential questions about how we understand a world changing under our feet. It’s a manifesto that’s complemented by Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze, the author of the seminal work on economics, The Wages of Destruction. The definitive history of the 2008 global financial crash, it offers salient lessons about the causes and consequences of hubris, malice and incompetence on an international scale. 

It’s a very different view of the world from that offered in two biographies which share a parallel message about the drive of childhood ambition and the possibilities that open up when you widen your horizons. In 1984 Tom Gregory was only just learning how to swim in Eltham council baths, four years later – at the age of 11 - he would become the youngest person ever to swim the Channel, fuelled by his mum’s shepherd’s pie and a determination to succeed fostered by his extraordinary swimming coach, John Bullet. A book about the relationship between Tom and John, A Boy in the Water is also a deeply poignant story of an ordinary person who inspired others to achieve the extraordinary. As Tom commented in a BBC interview: ‘This isn't false modesty, but the Channel swim wasn't about me… It only happened because of the courage and vision of John. I guess I was the lucky one who got the challenge.’  Like Tom, the explorer Levison Wood credits his globe-crossing achievements, in part, to childhood inspiration. Now in paperback, Eastern Horizons tells the incredible story of how he hitch-hiked from England to Peru to Pakistan at the age of just 22. A deeply personal story of luck, bravado and an unquenchable thirst for exploration, it is much more than your ordinary travelogue. 

We end our selection with a few books that are perfect for those not quite yet ready to wave goodbye to the sunshine. Clarence Ellis’s delightful shoreline companion, Pebbles on the Beach, has been a quick favourite with booksellers and readers alike. Introduced by Robert Macfarlane, it’s both a fact-filled guide to pebble collecting and a testament to the joy of the simple pleasures that never lose their charm. There are comfort food consolations too from Jamie Oliver and Ella Mills, as they return to whet appetites with new cookbooks Jamie Cooks Italy and Deliciously Ella The Plant Based Cookbook. Packed full of crowd-pleasing recipes and family favourites, they offer the perfect food to take you from warm days to cooler nights.

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The Colour of Time spans more than a hundred years of world history from the reign of Queen Victoria and the US Civil War to the Cuban Missile Crisis and beginning of the Space Age. It charts the rise and fall of empires, the achievements of science, industry and the arts, the tragedies of war and the politics of peace, and the lives of men and women who made history.
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From one of Britain's most distinguished historians this is the definitive history of a divided Europe, from the aftermath of the Second World War to the present. Ian Kershaw has created a grand panorama of the world we live in and where it came from. Drawing on examples from all across the continent, Roller-Coaster will make us all rethink Europe and what it means to be European.
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Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus looked to the future. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century explores the present. Yuval Noah Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today's most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change.
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The definitive history of the Great Financial Crisis, from the acclaimed author of The Wages of Destruction. In September 2008 the Great Financial Crisis, triggered by the collapse of Lehman brothers, shook the world. A decade later its spectre still haunts us. Adam Tooze follows the trail like no previous writer and has written a book compelling as history and as political horror story.
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The poignant, life-affirming story of a determined boy, a visionary coach, and how the dream of a record-breaking Channel swim became reality. This is the story of a remarkable friendship between a coach and a boy, and a love letter to the intensity and freedom of childhood.
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Inspired by advice he received in a letter 22-year-old Levison Wood decided to hitch-hike from England to India through Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but he wasn't the conventional follower of the hippy trail. Eastern Horizons is a true traveller's tale in the tradition of the best of the genre, populated by a cast of eccentric characters; from mujahideen fighters to the Russian mafia.
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Pebble-hunting is a pleasant hobby that makes little demand upon one's patience and still less upon one's physical energy. One of the true delights of the pebble-seeker is to read the stories in the stones - to determine whence and by what means they came to be there. Understanding the humble pebble makes a trip to the beach, lake-side or river bank simply that little bit more fascinating.
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Jamie returns to cooking the food he loves most in his new cookbook. Getting right to the heart of the Italian kitchen Jamie Cooks Italy shows you that truly authentic Italian cooking is simple, beautiful and achievable. Whether cooking for yourself or cooking for friends and family, the aromas and tastes will transport you straight to the landscapes of Italy. Viva Italia!
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In her latest book, Ella shares the most in-demand recipes from her deli and reflects on her journey from food blogger to bestselling author and entrepreneur. With diary excerpts that document the incredible journey that Deliciously Ella has taken and over 100 tried-and-tested irresistible recipes for every day, using simple, nourishing ingredients, this stunning book will be a must-have.
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Comments

TheBookTrail

So many good books out this month - The Vox, The Way of All Flesh, The Stranger in PB AND there's a special Levison Wood journey to go on! Is it Christmas? ;) View more

TheBookTrail
12th August 2018
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