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The Waterstones Round Up: May's Best Books

Posted on 20th April 2020 by Mark Skinner

May brings new books from fiction heavyweights Stephen King and Lionel Shriver, as well the eagerly anticipated return to Panem in Suzanne Collins's electrifying Hunger Games prequel and compelling crime writing from Michael Connelly and Jeffery Deaver. In the arena of non-fiction, there is immersive military history from John Nichol and Max Hastings, whilst surprise new national hero Joe Wicks shares his weaning wisdom.

Please Note: Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, publication dates are liable to change at short notice. All publication dates were correct at the time this blog went live. 

Fiction

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Scabrously funny yet blessed with a tender-hearted core, Shriver’s wicked meditation on the cult of fitness and marital sparring is a delightful portrait of retirement and late-blooming obsession. Boasting the author’s typically acute observation of modern American life, The Motion of the Body Through Space is a glorious addition to her canon.

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£14.99
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The latest novel from a beautifully distinctive voice in contemporary fiction captures an endearing, multi-faceted drifter at an emotional crossroads.

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Tender, profound and masterfully nuanced, Alzayat’s debut collection charts the emotional reality of the female migrant experience, exploring identities caught in the crossfire between two cultures.
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£8.99 £7.49
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Rich in metaphor and flawless in tone, The Dutch House sees one of the world’s finest living novelists at the top of her game. Shimmering with melancholy, this extraordinary book takes a scalpel to family dynamics and the irretrievable loss of youthful pride. A novel of jewel-like beauty and emotional insight.
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The twelfth book in the Last Kingdom series is every bit as fresh and accomplished as the first. As Uhtred’s character shifts and eddies, the Saxon world that he inhabits is changing too, and there will be profound consequences for all who are too tied to the past.
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An elegant, irresistibly farcical comic mystery based around a library of rejected manuscripts, Foenkinos’s playful satire is the perfect feelgood read. An ideal novel for bibliophiles everywhere, The Mystery of Henri Pick abounds with Gallic wit and charm.
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Crime & Thrillers

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Nobody mines the dark side of human nature with such compelling elan as Adele Parks and, in Just My Luck, she probes the rifts, bitterness and envy that spring to the surface after a life-changing lottery win. Awash with intrigue and toxic relationships, this gripping thriller fizzes with expertly sustained narrative tension.
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£16.99
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The second installment in the Colter Shaw series, The Goodbye Man finds the survivalist and expert tracker investigating a sinister organisation buried deep in the Washington wilderness.

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Another pulsating outing for Connelly’s never-say-die journalist sleuth Jack McEvoy, Fair Warning uncovers a sadistic serial killer who has hunted undetected for years. Pacy, violent and heart-stoppingly suspenseful, this is one of the world’s premier crime writers on top form.

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The compelling follow-up to Grisham’s bestselling Camino Island combines a devastating hurricane with a brutal, unexplained murder. Set in the tropical environs of Florida and once more featuring bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Bruce Cable, Camino Winds is a brilliantly escapist thriller.
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Effortlessly blending the intimate threat of the domestic thriller with the high stakes tension of the finest espionage novel, Charlotte Philby’s debut provides just the kind of authentic suspense you would expect from the granddaughter of notorious double agent, Kim Philby.
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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

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The unsurpassed master of horror returns with a dazzling new collection, firmly rooted in King’s unparalleled talent for exposing the darkest layers of the human psyche. Containing four exquisite long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to The Outsider, If It Bleeds is a page-turner of the highest order.
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£18.99
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Return to the world of The Hunger Games in a compelling prequel that both informs the original trilogy and stands alone as a powerful, breathlessly exciting science fiction thriller.
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Q
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From the author of the bestselling Vox comes a new, breath-taking dystopian novel filled with fervent magnetism. Dark, impeccably astute and alarmingly plausible, Q is a nightmarish portrayal of a society slowly destroyed by superficiality and fear. Shockingly brilliant and impossible to put down.
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The fourth instalment of Canavan’s majestic Millennium’s Rule sequence, Maker’s Curse finds Rielle facing a threat far deadlier than any she has hitherto encountered. Packed with Canavan’s entrancing prose and exquisite world-building, Maker’s Curse is a magnificent continuation to this sophisticated fantasy series.
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£25.00
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From the author of the bestselling Children of Time, Firewalkers is a powerful adventure set against the terrifying backdrop of a world consumed by fire, where only the super-rich can afford to stay alive. With an unflinching sense of urgency, Tchaikovsky explores crucial questions of right and wrong in this compelling climate crisis and class dystopia.

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£8.99
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The author of the phenomenally successful Alice and The Red Queen returns with the third part in the Chronicles of Alice. Searing and beautifully macabre, Looking Glass consists of four dark novellas, filled with disturbing dreams, fears, magic and murder, set in a universe where nothing is immutable – except disquiet.

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Biography & Sport

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Raw and powerful yet sensitively written, Hodge’s fearlessly honest account of familial dysfunction and the fallout from her younger sister’s tragic early death is a richly rewarding read.
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Suffering appalling injuries during the Manchester Arena bombing and witnessing her best friend’s violent death, Freya Lewis determined that she would not be defined by such an evil act of terrorism. The inspirational story of her recovery, What Makes Us Stronger is a defiant tribute to love, resilience and the people of Manchester.
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Forced to reassess their lifestyles after serious heart scares, Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse rediscovered the reflection and relaxation that angling affords in this feel-good volume full of friendship, fooling around and fishing.
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The hero of Headingley recounts the heroics of the summer in this gripping tale of talent and sporting endeavor. A first-ever World Cup victory followed by the most thrilling of conclusions to an Ashes Test, Stokes played a pivotal part in them both. Read how he achieved the seemingly impossible here.
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Leader of men, toppler of records and all-round thoroughly decent chap, Sir Alastair Cook is a cricketing icon and a sporting role model. Now, for the first time, England's former captain and most capped player reveals the challenges, events and people behind his journey to become one of the nation's elite sportsmen. An authentic British sporting hero in his own words.
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History

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Brought to life by Amaral’s captivating colourisation of historical photographs and Jones’s insightful commentary, The World Aflame is a heart-breaking visual rendition of the war-torn decades that defined the 20th century.
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£20.00
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John Nichol, a Gulf War veteran author of the bestselling Spitfire, charts the story of one of the most famous RAF aircraft of the Second World War – the iconic Lancaster bomber – and the men who flew them. Through the voices of the few remaining RAF veterans, Lancaster recalls the exhilaration and danger of the deadly operations that transformed Britain’s aerial war against Nazi Germany.

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Zoning in on the individual pilots who were responsible for one of the most pivotal entanglements of WW2, Pearson and Gorman’s stunningly produced volume is fitting tribute to the heroes of the Battle of Britain. Boasting extensive contemporary photography and fascinating testimony, The Battle of Britain: The Pilots and the Planes that Made History brings a thrilling aspect of WW2 to life.
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£30.00
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Colourful and exciting, Rady’s authoritative account of the spectacular rise and ignominious fall of the Habsburg Empire encompasses huge swathes of European history and a cast of truly remarkable characters.
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Boldly interrogating the accepted myths surrounding the iconic Dambusters raids of 1943, Hastings contrasts the bravery of the bombers and ingenuity of the engineers with the suffering and devastation the operation caused to the German public. Meticulously researched and compellingly argued, this is a masterful exercise in military revisionism from one of our greatest historians.
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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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Philosophy & Politics

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An extraordinary, uplifting history of the human capacity for kindness. Contesting the idea that we are innately self-seeking and chiefly driven by egotistic goals, Bregman offers an optimistic interpretation of the last 200,000 years of human history. Humankind shows how the recognition of kindness and altruism around us – and within us – can help us to achieve real positive change.

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£10.99
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A brilliantly original angle from which to skewer the iconoclasm of the Trump presidency, Commander in Cheat recounts the absurd claims, unsporting practices and shameful behaviour demonstrated by the US President on the golf course. Reilly’s unimpeachably shocking and hilarious book offers intriguing insights into The Donald’s disregard for rules and regulations of any kind.
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Lifestyle, Nature & Travel

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Inspired by his experiences as a new dad, Joe Wicks has joined forces with leading registered nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed to create the most comprehensive baby food bible for parents. Sharing clear, practical and trustworthy information about weaning and the optimal diet for the little ones, Wicks takes the stress out of what might seem like an intimidating task.
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Nobody understands the nature of resilience as completely as extreme athlete Ross Edgley and now the man who lost his tongue swimming around the UK reveals his secrets, advice and lessons for developing endurance in the face of adversity. No matter the difficulty you are faced with, The Art of Resilience will provide you with the apparatus required to overcome any obstacle.
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The teenage star of BBC’s Countryfile and social media sensation, Dara McAnulty opens up about his autism and its interrelation to his love of the natural world, as well as providing fascinating practical advice and knowledge about British wildlife.
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From Hong Kong to the Scilly Isles, Age of Islands is a deeply fascinating journey around the globe in search of newly emerging islands.
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