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The Waterstones Roundup: May's Best Books

Posted on 15th May 2019 by Martha Greengrass

From the furthest edge of our solar system to the unexplored depths beneath our feet, let our selection of May's new reading take you somewhere you never expected.

Fiction:

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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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Both a vivid re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Pericles and a strikingly immediate story of loss, broken family and lives at sea in an unforgiving world, Mark Haddon’s new novel is kaleidoscopic storytelling at its most inventive. Fast-paced, playful, and utterly thrilling, The Porpoise blends the mythic and the modern for something breathtakingly original.
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Returning to the country that has inspired some of her best-loved fiction - including the modern classic, The Island – Victoria Hislop’s enthralling new novel explores love across battle lines and the repercussions of splintered loyalty. As Greece is fractured by German occupation, brutal civil war and dictatorship, one woman is forced to choose between her principles and the promise of freedom.
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From the author of the wonderfully escapist Seven Sisters saga comes a tale of lost love and explosive secrets. Forced to sell her beloved but crumbling country pile, the septuagenarian Posy Montague is unexpectedly reunited with a long lost lover who cruelly rejected her. But exactly what are Freddie’s motives and what dark secrets does he have to hide?
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When Kate is inveigled into the wealthy Rippon family she trades her natural shyness for a life of high society and old world glamour. But everything changes when she is raped at a lavish party at the family home. A devastating, and devastatingly authentic, book about sexual assault and the taboos and presumptions that still surround it, What Red Was is raw, powerful fiction at its very best.
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A startlingly ambitious novel The Heavens pinballs through time and space to craft a gripping tale of love, destiny and the blurred lines between dreams and reality. Kate lives in a Utopian version of modern New York but falls prey to vivid dreams set in Elizabethan England. Are these visions just dreams or something more tangible? A fabulous time travel fantasy, perfect for fans of Cloud Atlas.
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This unnerving dystopian thriller - ideal for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale - asks big questions about how much of ourselves we are prepared to trade for a comfortable life. Luxury clinic Golden Oaks houses women carrying babies for the rich and powerful but the women soon come to realise that their surrogacies have a chilling cost. A prescient page turner with much to say about the human condition.
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Form very much reflects subject matter in Jeanette Winterson’s astonishing new novel, as she splices together the iconic narrative of Frankenstein with a modern day dissection of AI and synthetic humanity. The result is a magnificently monstrous fable about body image and horror that encompasses some of the most contentious issues of the day.
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Crime & Thrillers

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Thomas Harris’s first stand alone novel in over four decades, Cari Mora marks the welcome return of a true master of the novelist's craft. With Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, Harris delivered thrillers that rewrote the genre. Now he directs his eye on the shady underground of the Miami Beach waterfront for a tension-soaked novel that turns into an adrenaline-shot struggle for survival.
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With This Storm, the titan of American literary crime delves further into the morass of xenophobia, profiteering and police corruption that erupted after Pearl Harbour. With a bravura cinematic sweep, Ellroy immerses the reader in the complex, murky lives of a group of crooks, chancers and homegrown fascists. Teeming with life and moral ambiguity, This Storm is a stylistic tour de force.
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The 15th Roy Grace novel finds the Brighton-based copper investigating a string of suspicious deaths linked to an online dating scam. Bursting with the kinds of twists and turns that have made Peter James one of Britain’s biggest crime writers, Dead at First Sight is a thrilling ride to the dark heart of the internet.
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A chilling psychological thriller from a premier crime writer, Hunting Evil has a gripping cat- and- mouse game at its core. Notorious serial killer Lucien Folter has escaped from jail and is bent on revenge. He is coming for Robert Hunter, the LAPD officer who sent him down. A one-sitting page turner from a master of the genre.
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The latest novel from former ITV News editor Tom Bradby is a blockbuster thriller dripping with political intrigue and shadowy espionage. An MI6 officer on the edge and a Prime Minister with a damaging secret contend with Russian moles and double agents. The multi-talented Bradby just gets slicker with every book and this is a perfect holiday page-turner.
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Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Stephanie Garber’s tight-rope taut smoke and mirrors trilogy, Caraval, reaches its thrilling conclusion. As the curtains close the cost of Caraval’s magic leave lingering scars for sisters Scarlett and Tella Dragna beginning a final gamble for love and scorching revenge.

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Readers entranced looking for a new fantasy world to explore should look no further than Nocturna, Maya Montayne’s lavishly crafted debut. Set in a Latinx-inspired kingdom, it’s an intoxicating story of shape-shifting identity that explores the legacy of colonial rule. Quick-paced and peopled by well-rounded, engaging characters, this winning new series couldn’t have got off to a better start.
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Tchaikovsky’s ‘hard’ sci-fi space opera Children of Time catapulted him into the literary stratosphere and this follow up certainly doesn’t disappoint. The lurking menace of alien life forms corrupted by humanity forms the backbone of this multilayered, intelligent novel, which sees Tchaikovsky follow proudly in the footsteps of luminaries like Hamilton, Heinlein and Clarke.

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Poetry & Literature

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For all who find getting to grips with the Bard a touch intimidating, Emma Smith is here to help. Her brilliantly informal guide to Shakespeare brings the plays bang up to date, highlighting their relevance to modern society and demystifying their meaning for the lay reader. A truly indispensable companion to our greatest literary figure.
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Over the course of several years, Simon Armitage has written hundreds of poems for various projects, commissions, collaborations and events, which stand outside of his mainstream collections but now form a substantial body of work in their own right. Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic represents the nature and scale of Armitage's work.
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Biography

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By turns moving and life-affirming, Leah Hazard’s insightful memoir illuminates the highs, lows and labour pains of modern midwifery. Anyone who has watched an episode of Call the Midwife will know that it’s not a job for the faint-hearted and Hazard’s account brings home how much more taxing it has become in an era of NHS cuts. An important, highly readable addition to the medical memoir canon.
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Jayson Greene’s heart-wrenching account of his daughter’s tragic and random sudden death approaches the topic with such unflinching honesty and raw poetry that it is impossible not to be deeply moved by his family’s plight. Yet, ultimately, there is an uplifting message within these tender pages about the power of hope and love, and humanity’s ability to overcome the cruelest of life’s events.
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The team behind the hit podcast, My Favourite Murder, deliver the ultimate, unapologetic guide to being a woman today. For their fans – or Murderinos – their brand of humour and honest self-confession will be no surprise and this dual memoir covers topics including eating disorders and depression as well as exploring how they came to create their unique brand of true-crime and feminist ideology.
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As a hardened veteran of the SAS, Ollie Ollerton has faced more ‘break points’ than most of us. The stresses and challenges he has faced are unimaginable to us mere mortals. Yet Ollerton has battled personal demons as well, from depression to drug addiction to alcoholism. This is the inspiring story of how he faced down those demons and built a new life helping others to do the same.
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£18.99 £15.99
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In the electrifying Soldier Spy Tom Marcus revealed the life or death decisions he was forced to make as a counter-terrorism officer. Now, in I Spy, he ups the ante even further. With a blistering account of top secret operations and nerve-shredding confrontations, Marcus immerses us in the murky world of undercover surveillance and proves how frighteningly real the threat to our safety is.
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The iconic post-punk outfit Joy Division have always attracted a more thoughtful level of literature than that afforded to most pop groups. Record Play Pause, the candid autobiography of the Manchester legends’ drummer, is no exception. From a stultifying youth in suburban Macclesfield to musical stardom with New Order, Morris recounts his incredible career with deadpan wit and insight.
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History & Politics

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Noted historian James Holland attacks the myths around the D-Day campaign in this masterly exercise in revisionist history. Whilst the initial offensive may have been a spectacular victory for the allies, what followed was a punitive campaign with appalling loss of life on both sides. With a plethora of testimonies from foot soldiers to senior officers this really is the definitive story.

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Another stirring critique of the modern condition from the former Newsnight editor and author of Postcapitalism. Mason examines the sinister implications of artificial intelligence and the dystopian scenario of a world run by machines that know us better than we do ourselves.
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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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£25.00 £21.00
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Jared Diamond’s new book could scarcely be more pertinent or more essential. Applying the same multi-disciplinary approach that defined Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse, it considers defining national crises and asks what we might learn from them. Nimbly interspersing history, science and politics, Diamond explores the necessity of interdependence to ensuring humanity’s future.
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£20.00 £16.99
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Never has the divide between Britain’s Haves and Have-Nots seemed starker than in Guy Shrubsole’s impassioned study. Shrubsole considers how the country is portioned up, illustrating how ordinary people have been systematically disenfranchised, leaving half of England owned by less than 1% of the population. Part history, part detective story, his book makes for thought-provoking reading.
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The most prescient of modern dystopias is 70 years old this year and, in this meticulously researched and argued ‘biography,’ journalist Dorian Lynskey evaluates just what makes George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four so compellingly relevant to the modern political landscape. A timely reminder of the power that great fiction can wield.
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Coming soon - 06/02/2020
Awaiting publication
The landscape, borders and cultural make-up of Britain have been constantly evolving over the centuries, as Philip Parker’s fascinating cartographical history demonstrates. At a time when nationalism and secession are rapidly mobilizing forces, A History of Britain in 12 Maps raises salient arguments about what being British really means.
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Science & Nature

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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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£25.00 £19.99
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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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Food & Drink

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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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Comments

Virginia Orrey

Come on, Waterstones! Don't waste valuable pixels and reading time by focusing on utter tosh like Thomas Harris' latest nonsense when there are fabulous books by new and as yet not famous authors who need your promotion. On Friday you are hosting the launch party for just such a novel: 'Stealing Roses' by Heather Cooper. Get Heather's book out there in front of readers - it's worth it! View more

Virginia Orrey
22nd May 2019
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