New Books August 2018

Fiction

Happiness by Aminatta Forna 
Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his ‘niece’, Ama, who hasn’t called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown – and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilizing into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London’s myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a teeming metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer 
Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world…How do you arrange to skip town? You accept them all. What would possibly go wrong? 

Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Less is a scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, and a bittersweet romance of chances lost.

Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize
A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2017
San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Book of 2017

Ordinary People by Diana Evans
South London, 2008. Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning, on the brink of acceptance or revolution. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her but, in the crooked walls of a narrow Victorian terrace, she begins to disappear. Michael, growing daily more accustomed to his commute, still loves Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Meanwhile out in the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their three children, but the death of Damian’s father has thrown him into crisis – or is it something, or someone, else? Are they all just in the wrong place? Are any of them prepared to take the leap?

Set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s historic election victory, Ordinary People is an intimate, immersive study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and aging, and the fragile architecture of love. With its distinctive prose and irresistible soundtrack, it is the story of our lives, and those moments that threaten to unravel us.

Patrick Melrose Volume 1: Never Mind, Bad News and Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn
Moving from Provence to New York to Gloucestershire, from the savageries of a childhood with a cruel father and an alcoholic mother to an adulthood fraught with addiction, Patrick Melrose is on a mission to escape himself.

But the drugs don’t make him forget his past, and the glittering parties offer him no redemption…

Patrick Melrose Volume 2: Mother’s Milk and At Last by Edward St Aubyn
The once illustrious, once wealthy Melroses are in peril, and Patrick Melrose, now a husband and father, is trying to gather together the pieces of his life. Caught up in the turmoil of broken promises, assisted suicide, adultery and – most tender and terrifying of all – fatherhood, Patrick is still a long way from salvation, but even as the family struggles against the pull of its dark past, a new generation promises new light, new hope and – perhaps – the promise of a brighter future.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006

Redeployment by Phil Klay
In a collection of short stories, Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned.  Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize

 

Non-Fiction

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library by Edward Wilson-Lee 
This is the scarcely believable – and wholly true – story of Christopher Columbus’ bastard son Hernando, who sought to equal and surpass his father’s achievements by creating the first great universal library, harnessing the vast powers of the new printing presses to assemble the world’s knowledge in one place, his library in Seville.

Edward Wilson-Lee has written the first major modern biography of Hernando – and the first of any kind available in English. In a work of dazzling scholarship, The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books tells an enthralling tale of the age of print and exploration, a story with striking lessons for our own modern experiences of information revolution and Globalisation.

The House of Islam: A Global History by Ed Husain
The gulf between Islam and the West is widening. A faith rich with strong values and traditions, observed by nearly two billion people across the world, is seen by the West as something to be feared rather than understood. Sensational headlines and hard-line policies spark enmity, while ignoring the feelings, narratives and perceptions that preoccupy Muslims today.

The House of Islam seeks to provide entry to the minds and hearts of Muslims the world over. It introduces us to the fairness, kindness and mercy of Mohammed; the aims of sharia law, through commentary on scripture, to provide an ethical basis to life; the beauty of Islamic art and the permeation of the divine in public spaces; and the tension between mysticism and literalism that still threatens the House of Islam.

Ed Husain expertly and compassionately guides us through the nuances of Islam and its people, contending that the Muslim world need not be a stranger to the West, nor its enemy, but a peaceable ally.

Robert Kuok: A Memoir by Robert Kuok and Andrew Tanzer
Robert Kuok is one of the most highly respected businessmen in Asia. But this legendary Overseas Chinese entrepreneur, commodities trader who made his first milion on the London sugar market, hotelier of the Shangri-la chain, and property mogul has maintained a low profile and seldom shed light in public on his business empire or personal life. That is, until now. In these memoirs, the 94-year-old Kuok tells the remarkable story of how, starting in British Colonial Malaya, he built a multi-industry, multinational business group. In reflecting back on 75 years of conducting business, he offers management insights, discusses strategies and lessons learned, and relates his principles, philosophy, and moral code.
Kuok has lived through fascinating and often tumultuous times in Asia – from British colonialism to Japanese military occupation to post-colonial Southeast Asia and the dramatic rise of Asian economies, including, more recently, China. From his front-row seat and as an active participant, this keen, multi-cultural observer tells nearly a century of Asian history through his life and times. Readers interested in business, management, history, politics, culture and sociology will all enjoy Robert Kuok’s unique and remarkable story.

Too Many Pills: How Too Much Medicine is Endangering Our Health and What We Can Do About It by James Le Fanu 
The number of prescriptions issued by family doctors has soared threefold in just fifteen years with millions now committed to taking a cocktail of half a dozen (or more) different pills to lower the blood pressure and sugar levels, statins, bone strengthening and cardio protective drugs. In Too Many Pills, doctor and writer James Le Fanu examines how this progressive medicalisation of people’s lives now poses a major threat to their health and wellbeing, responsible for a hidden epidemic of drug induced illness (muscular aches and pains, lethargy, insomnia, impaired memory and general decrepitude), a sharp increase in the number of emergency hospital admissions for serious side effects and implicated in the recently noted decline in life expectancy.

 

Mystery / Thriller

American By Day by Derek B. Miller 
She knew it was a weird place. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic.

America.

And not someplace interesting, either: upstate New York.

It is election season, 2008, and Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, reverberate in every aspect of daily life.

To find her older brother, she needs the help of the local police who appear to have already made up their minds about the case. Working with – or, if necessary, against — someone actually named Sheriff Irving ‘Irv’ Wylie, she must negotiate the local political minefields and navigate the back woods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before events escalate further.

Friends and Traitors by John Lawton
An Inspector Troy novel.

London, 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a European trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod has decided to take his entire family on “the Grand Tour” for his fifty-first birthday: a whirlwind of restaurants, galleries, and concert halls from Paris to Florence to Vienna to Amsterdam. But Frederick Troy only gets as far as Vienna. It is there that he crosses paths with an old acquaintance, a man who always seems to be followed by trouble: British spy turned Soviet agent Guy Burgess. Suffice it to say that Troy is more than surprised when Burgess, who has escaped from the bosom of Moscow for a quick visit to Vienna, tells him something extraordinary: “I want to come home.” Troy knows this news will cause a ruckus in London—but even Troy doesn’t expect an MI5 man to be gunned down as a result, and Troy himself suspected of doing the deed. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy is haunted by more than just Burgess’s past liaisons—there is a scandal that goes up to the highest ranks of Westminster, affecting spooks and politicians alike. And the stakes become all the higher for Troy when he reencounters a woman he first met in the Ritz hotel during a blackout—falling in love is a handicap when playing the game of spies.

Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr
Munich, 1956. Bernie Gunther has a new name, a chip on his shoulder, and a dead-end career when an old friend arrives to repay a debt and encourages “Christoph Ganz” to take a job as a claims adjuster in a major German insurance company with a client in Athens, Greece.

Under the cover of his new identity, Bernie begins to investigate a claim by Siegfried Witzel, a brutish former Wehrmacht soldier who served in Greece during the war. Witzel’s claimed losses are large , and, even worse, they may be the stolen spoils of Greek Jews deported to Auschwitz. But when Bernie tries to confront Witzel, he finds that someone else has gotten to him first, leaving a corpse in his place.

Enter Lieutenant Leventis, who recognizes in this case the highly grotesque style of a killer he investigated during the height of the war. Back then, a young Leventis suspected an S.S. officer whose connection to the German government made him untouchable. He’s kept that man’s name in his memory all these years, waiting for his second chance at justice…

Working together, Leventis and Bernie hope to put their cases–new and old–to bed. But there’s a much more sinister truth to acknowledge: A killer has returned to Athens…one who may have never left.

Human Face by Aline Templeton
Beatrice Lacey is passionate about Human Face, the charity for Third World children she helped to found, and its co-founder Adam Carnegie. She has learned to turn a blind eye to some strange goings on, however; parties for donors who don’t seem the philanthropic type and a merry-go-round of `housekeepers’. It’s best not to think about that. But when the latest housekeeper, Eva, suddenly disappears, the police and DI Kelso Strang are called in. Keen to move on from recent personal horrors, Strang revels in the responsibility the investigation affords, as a former sniper, he has no problems with making solitary decisions. But when he and the team make some fatal errors, Strang has his work cut out to avoid the case ending in disaster and death.

The Old Religion by Martyn Waites
The Cornish village of St Petroc is the sort of place where people come to hide. Tom Killgannon is one such person. An ex-undercover cop, Tom is in the Witness Protection Programme hiding from some very violent people and St Petroc’s offers him a chance to live a safe and quiet life – until he meets Lila.

Lila is a seventeen-year-old runaway. When she breaks into Tom’s house she takes more than just his money. His wallet holds everything about his new identity. He also knows that Lila is in danger from the travellers’ commune she’s been living at. Something sinister has been going on there and Lila knows more than she realises. But to find her he risks not only giving away his location to the gangs he’s in hiding from, but also becoming a target for whoever is hunting Lila.

Vengeance in Venice by Philip Gwynne Jones
An invitation to an exclusive event during the Venetian Biennale gives Honorary Consul Nathan Sutherland the perfect chance to drink prosecco in the sunshine and meet some of the greats of the art world.

And then a world-famous critic is decapitated by one of the installations in the British Pavilion. A terrible accident, it seems, until a postcard is discovered in the victim’s pocket: an image of Judith beheading Holofernes.

But this is not just a one-off. Before long, three more postcards have been sent out with deadly results. As the bodies pile up, Nathan finds himself getting closer and closer to the truth, but when he himself receives an image of Death bearing a scythe, it becomes a race against time to save his own life.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Triest.

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. 

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new.

 

Children’s Fiction

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson
An extraordinary retelling of the Baba Yaga myth. All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with. But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties — and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.

So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her — even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.

The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz
After a frightening car accident, Izzy’s mum is in a coma. Her family is in pieces. Her best friend at school has dumped her. And her nightmares are haunted by a shadowy man stealing all the colours from her world. She’s trying so hard to be brave, but Izzy thinks everything is her fault. Then she meets her new neighbour, Toby, paralyzed after a skateboarding accident, and together they find a nest of cygnets who need rescuing. Particularly the odd one out, called Spike. Will saving Spike save Izzy? Will she and Toby solve the mystery of the colour thief and bring hope and happiness back to Izzy’s life? Written with insight, compassion and empathy – an authentic story about real life and how to survive it.

A heartwarming story about families, friendships,school, nature, hope and self-confidence.

 

Children’s Non-Fiction

Wonders of the World’s Museums: Discover 50 Amazing Exhibits! by Molly Oldfield
Open up this treasure trove of wonders to visit 43 museums and 50 exhibits! Discover the most fascinating and mysterious objects found in museums, from star attractions to unsung exhibits. With Molly Oldfield, research elf of hit television show QI, unearth the astonishing stories of how these treasures were created, found and finally displayed.

Travel back in time to discover an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, encounter China’s mysterious Terracotta Army, sail the seas in a Viking ship, take flight in the world’s first aeroplane, defend World War Two Britain in Churchill’s siren suit, journey to the Moon with Neil Armstrong in the Apollo 11 Command Module and even play in a World Cup Final wearing Pele’s victory shirt. Through stunning photography and glorious illustration, these wonders and many more will bring history, science and culture to life for readers aged 10+, as well as the whole family!

 

Children’s Picture Books

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat
After the Fall follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher who loves to be high up on the city wall. But after his fall, Humpty is terrified of heights and can no longer do his favorite things. He finally pulls together the courage to climb back up the wall. Based on the beloved nursery rhyme, this inspiring and unforgettable picture book will encourage even the most afraid to overcome their fears, learn to get back up—and reach new heights.

Bad Nana, Book #1: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn
Jeanie’s Grandma is BAD. Not bad like a vampire or a gangster or anything, more like… up to no good. Sometimes she can be a bit embarrassing but most of the time she’s REALLY fun, especially when she gets Jeanie involved in her mischievous schemes. Everyone says she’s old enough to know better… but she doesn’t seem to care one bit. In fact, Jeanie thinks she might quite like it!

Bad Nana is a deliciously wicked new series for ages six and up, told through the eyes of 8-year-old Jeanie. Gorgeously illustrated throughout with vibrantly coloured spreads, Bad Nana’s naughty exploits will shock and appal – and make you snort with laughter!

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen
Whilst on a lovely walk in the woods, Billy and her trusty sidekick Fatcat hear a terrible rumble… a terrible rumble coming from a Terrible Beast…

He’s making a Terrible Soup out of all of Billy and Fatcat’s friends!

Luckily, our brave heroine Billy has a trick or two up her sleeve (or in her hair)…

Join Billy on her mission to defeat the Terrible Beast (and save those adorable little bunny rabbits too).

If All the World Were… by Joseph Coelho
A moving, poetic picture book about the love between a grandfather and child. his powerful and ultimately uplifting text is the ideal way to introduce children to the concept of death and dying, particularly children who have lost a grandparent.

Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.

Oh Me, Oh My, A Pie! by Jan Fearnley
A nice old grandma bakes a pie, but – oh me, oh my! – that yummy treat is stolen by a greedy fox, then lost and found by a mouse, snatched by a cat, grabbed by a dog, and plucked away by an owl, before landing back on Grandma’s table for everyone to share, or maybe not…

Sophie Johnson: Unicorn Expert by Morag Hood
Sophie Johnson is an endearing new picture book character, who is just bursting with information and knowledge that she is keen to pass on. She’s a self-confessed unicorn expert (among other things) and has dressed up her toys and pets with their own unique horns. Strange then, that she doesn’t seem to notice the real unicorn who has come into her house.

Space Tortoise by Ross Montgomery
Tortoise is lonely. He’s never seen any other tortoises, and wonders where they could all be hiding.

Then, one day, he looks up and the night sky, and sees a million blinking lights winking at him. “That must be where the other tortoises are – at the top of the sky! I wish I could join them.” But how can a little tortoise get to the top of the sky?

And so begins a magical journey…

A beautiful, moving and heartwarming tale about bravery, kindness and welcoming strangers.