Best Festive Reads for the Holidays

Our team from the Murray Centre Library have put together a Christmas reading list of their recommended books From Christmas classics to ‘must reads’ for any time of the year.

With books suitable for all ages and tastes – what better way to spend the festive break than by discovering a new story?

23 December 2021

11+ READS

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

 

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms – but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.

Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).

The fabulously festive fifth mystery from the bestselling, award- winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

 

In this moving story two teens fall in love with just one minor complication—they can’t get within five feet of each other without risking their lives.

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control – even though her out of control lungs have sent her to the hospital most of her life. What Stella needs to control most is keeping away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to control is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he can unplug all the machines and travel the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on her, Stella could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock

 

Sat on the bus days before Christmas, Maya sees a couple arguing violently in the middle of a crowded Regent Street. They see her watching, she looks away, and the woman disappears. Maya goes to the police, who shrug and send her away. Then a body turns up…

Now convinced she is a vital witness to a crime, the police send Maya into hiding in rural Wales. She resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery. Then the snow comes and no one can get out. But what if someone can still get in?

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie

 

An English country house at Christmas time should be the perfect place to get away from it all. However, nothing is ever simple for Hercule Poirot, as he finds not one but five baffling cases to solve.

First comes a sinister warning on his pillow to avoid the plum pudding. Then the discovery of a corpse in a chest. Next, an overheard quarrel that leads to murder! The strange case of a dead man’s eating habits…and the puzzle of a victim who dreams of his own suicide.

Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Adèle Geras

 

The Golden family has congregated for Christmas in their large, old family home. Laurie has invited his friend Carlo. He hopes for a chance to tell him his deepest feelings, but Carlo wants to spend time with Laurie’s sister, the beautiful yet aloof Marianne.

Meanwhile, their cousin, Ellie, is struggling to cope with her miserable mother and the fact that her father is absent. Outside the house the air is soft with snow; inside it crackles with tension as another family tradition becomes evident – keeping secrets. Some are tragic, some selfish and some embarrassing. Cut off from the outside world, will anything in the family ever be the same again?

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter

 

When life is funny, make some jokes about it.

Billy Plimpton has a big dream: to become a famous comedian when he grows up. He already knows a lot of jokes, but thinks he has one big problem standing in his way: his stutter. At first, Billy thinks the best way to deal with this is to never say a word. That way, the kids in his new school won’t hear him stammer. But soon he finds out this is NOT the best way to deal with things. (For one thing, it’s very hard to tell a joke without getting a word out.)

As Billy makes his way toward the spotlight, a lot of funny things (and some less funny things) happen to him. In the end, the whole school will know – if you think you can hold Billy Plimpton back, be warned: The joke will soon be on you!

There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar

 

Bradley Chalkers is the oldest kid in the fifth grade. He tells enormous lies. He picks fights with girls. No one likes him – except Carla, the new school counsellor. She thinks Bradley is sensitive and generous, and knows that Bradley could change, if only he weren’t afraid to try. But when you feel like the most-hated kid in the whole school, believing in yourself can be the hardest thing in the world…

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road. When he was seven, he encountered a remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean), the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touch paper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie – magical, comforting, wise beyond her years – promised to protect him, no matter what.

A ground-breaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

 

PLACES, EVERYONE!

This is a graphic novel about a girl called Callie who loves theatre. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members refuse to work together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

 

When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet…

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

13+ READS

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

 

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry. When a family reunion is marred by murder – and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case.

The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded all four sons – one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive – and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heart-warming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces he’s cutting off their allowances and changing his will. Poirot is called in the aftermath of Simeon Lee’s announcement.

First Day of my Life by Lisa Williamson

 

There are three sides to every story…

It’s GCSE results day. Frankie’s best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie’s determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they’re both in for a shock…EVERYTHING is about to change.

The Yearbook by Holly Bourne

 

The dramas, the traumas, the rumours – it’s time to expose it all. The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Mean Girls in this scathingly funny and relatable high-school takedown from the queen of UKYA.

Most likely to…be forgotten.

Working on the school newspaper, Paige is used to dealing with fake stories. How popular girl Grace is a such an amazing person (lie) – how Laura steals people’s boyfriends (lie) – how her own family are so perfect (lie).

Grace and her friends pick their “best” high-school moments for Paige to put in the all-important Yearbook. And they’re not just fake. They’re poison.

Paige has had enough of all the lies in her life. And with the help of Elijah – the only boy who could ever understand her – she’s going to reveal the truth.

Endgame by Malorie Blackman

 

A breath-taking conclusion to Malorie Blackman’s ground-breaking Noughts and Crosses dystopian series. Set twenty years after the original story that charted the deeply forbidden romance between Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a Nought).

The first Nought Prime Minister, Tobey Durbridge, is about to go on trial for the murder of notorious ganglord, Dan Jeavons. Tobey insists he is being framed.

There were ten seats at Dan’s dinner party the night he was killed and each guest had their own reasons for wishing him dead.

Sephy Hadley was one of the guests that night. Haunted by the idea that she didn’t do enough to stop the death of her first love, Callum McGregor, Sephy will not sit quietly and wait for accusations to fall on her now. She has her children to protect.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

 

From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series. Following High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel.

All Magnus wanted was a lavish vacation across Europe with Alec, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before they cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been side-tracked, demons are now dogging their every step. It is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec must trust each other more than ever – even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

The Seven Sisters – Maia’s Story by Lucinda Riley

 

Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis” – a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva – having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage – a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to complete his vision. Izabela – passionate and longing to see the world – convinces her father to allow her to accompany him and his family to Europe before she is married. There, at Paul Landowski’s studio and in the heady, vibrant cafes of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again.

In this sweeping, epic tale of love and loss – the first in a unique, spellbinding series of seven novels – Lucinda Riley showcases her storytelling talent like never before.

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

 

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians – including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

 

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the colour of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki – near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be – not even Deka herself.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

 

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: they’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: there’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure – to live a lifetime in a single day.

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

 

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heart-breaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

16+ READS

Three Sisters by Heather Morris

 

A promise to stay together. An unbreakable bond. A fierce will to survive.

From international bestselling author Heather Morris comes the breath-taking conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz trilogy.

When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together.

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

Rich in vivid detail, and beautifully told, Three Sisters will break your heart, but leave you amazed and uplifted by the courage and fierce love of three sisters, whose promise to each other kept them alive. Two of the sisters are in Israel today, surrounded by family and friends. They have chosen Heather Morris to reimagine their story in her astonishing new novel, Three Sisters.

Medusa by Jessie Burton

A dazzling, feminist retelling of Greek myth from the internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist, stunningly illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill.

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal and destiny itself.

Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill. This astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation.

The Promise by Damon Galgut

 

**WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 2021**

A tour de force… A spectacular demonstration of how the novel can make us see and think afresh,‘ Booker Judges 2021

The Promise charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for – not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land… yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.

The narrator’s eye shifts and blinks: moving fluidly between characters, flying into their dreams; deliciously lethal in its observation. And as the country moves from old deep divisions to its new so-called fairer society, the lost promise of more than just one family hovers behind the novel’s title.

In this story of a diminished family, sharp and tender emotional truths hit home. Confident, deft and quietly powerful, The Promise is literary fiction at its finest.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

 

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.

Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.

By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

 

From the best-selling author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day, a stunning new novel – his first since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature – about the wondrous, mysterious nature of the human heart.

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

Loveless by Alice Oseman

 

The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

This wise, warm and witty story of identity and self-acceptance sees Alice Oseman on towering form as Georgia and her friends discover that true love isn’t limited to romance.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

 

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Number 10 by C.J. Daugherty

 

Eight months ago, Gray Langtry’s mother became prime minister…now someone wants her dead.

Gray’s life has been in turmoil ever since her mother was chosen to lead the country. They left their home and moved into Number 10 Downing Street. Everywhere she goes, she must be accompanied by bodyguards. The media won’t leave her alone – she’s on the cover of every tabloid, and her behaviour, her appearance, the length of her skirts… everything is constantly judged.

Worse, the scars from her parents’ divorce and her mother’s abrupt remarriage are still raw. She doesn’t like her stepfather. She doesn’t like this life. None of it was her decision. When she’s photographed drunk outside a London nightclub, it makes headlines. Gray is grounded and given new bodyguards – younger, cooler, and harder to fool than the last batch.

The threat. It’s Julia, the new bodyguard, who tells her that a new terrorist organisation issued a threat, and the threat is credible. They say they’re going to kill her mother and Gray. When Gray tries to find out more though, no one will tell her. Her mother never

mentions it and her bodyguard is forbidden to say more. Locked up in Number 10 night after night, Gray decides to find answers. If someone wants to kill her, she deserves to know why.

One of the few people who understands what’s happening is Jake McIntyre – the son of her mother’s political enemy. Convinced he’s working for his father, her mother forbids her to spend time with him. But Gray believes he might be able to help her learn the truth. One night, while sneaking through dark government halls, she gets far more than she bargained for. She realises the situation is much worse than even her mother’s security team suspects. But will anyone believe the prime minister’s wild child daughter?

Afraid for herself, her mother, and her country, Gray is determined to find proof. But she must move fast. The clock is ticking.

Number 10 is book 1 in a new spinoff series set in the world of CJ Daugherty’s international bestselling Night School series.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

 

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

 

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations – a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband – and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

PARENT READS

Soldiers by Max Hastings

 

From bestselling author and guest speaker at Downe House, Max Hastings, a collection of the most extraordinary stories of war, courage, tragedy, strategy and survival.

Soldiers is a collection of the very best stories about soldiers. In his almost sixty years of military study and his work in the midst of modern conflicts as a foreign correspondent, these are the stories that left a mark.

In these pages you will find heroes and cowards; triumphs, tragedies and comedies. It illustrates, mostly through people’s own words, what it’s been like to fight in wars, to live and die as a warrior, from Greek and Roman times through to today’s Iraq and Afghanistan.

The characters include the Black Prince and Cromwell, Wellington at Waterloo, Siegfried Sassoon at the Somme, George Orwell in the Spanish Civil War and Evelyn Waugh as a commando. But there are also Americans, Frenchmen, Israelis, Russians, not to mention the women warriors of Dahomey, Queen Boudicca and the women who serve today in the US Marines. There are more than 300 stories in all, and an astounding variety of soldiers’ experiences through the ages. Many have been responsible for wonderful achievements but a few, also, for dreadful crimes. Some relate horrors, while others tell terrific jokes. In modern writing, we hear from the titans of historical writing with Ben Macintyre and Anthony Beevor.

The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall

 

In this revelatory new book, Marshall explores ten regions that are set to shape global politics in a new age of great-power rivalry: Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Greece, Turkey, the Sahel, Ethiopia, Spain and Space.

Find out why Europe’s next refugee crisis is closer than we think as trouble brews in the Sahel. Why the Middle East must look beyond oil and sand to secure its future; why the eastern Mediterranean is one of the most volatile flashpoints of the twenty-first century. Also, why the Earth’s atmosphere is set to become the world’s next battleground.

Delivered with Marshall’s trademark wit and insight, this is a lucid and gripping exploration of the power of geography to shape humanity’s past, present – and future.

A History of the World in 25 Cities by Tracey Turner & Andrew Donkin

 

A stunningly illustrated book of extraordinary city maps, telling the story of human civilisation throughout history.

Co-written by award-winning children’s authors Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin. In consultation with specialist curators at the British Museum, readers can visit cities from every continent on Earth. From the walled city of Jericho built over 10,000 years ago, to the modern-day metropolis of Tokyo.

Featuring vibrant, beautifully detailed artwork from Libby VanderPloeg, each carefully researched map takes readers on a city tour at a unique moment in time. From exploring Athens in ancient Greece during the birth of democracy, to walking the beautiful lamplit streets of medieval Benin, deep in the West African rainforest. Readers can even visit China’s long-lost capital city of Xianyang – a city for which no original map exists, which was painstakingly recreated with support from the British Museum’s fantastic team of experts.

Each map is followed by two gorgeously illustrated pages of fascinating information about what life was (or is like) like for the inhabitants of each city at the time, including a bite-sized look at each city in numbers. Packed with countless facts for curious readers to return to again and again.

401: The Man who Ran 401 Marathons by Ben Smith

 

The story of Ben Smith, who decided to run 401 marathons in 401 days.

People thought he was mad, until they heard his story, then they began to understand. Having endured years of bullying as a child, Ben tried to take his own life. In adulthood, Ben struggled to feel content with the life that was mapped out for him. But having found his passion in running, Ben sold his possessions, escaped his old life and set off on what seemed like an impossible mission – The 401 Challenge.

During his 10,506.2-mile odyssey criss-crossing the UK, Ben ran in 309 different locations, accompanied by more than 13,500 people. He visited 101 schools, burned an estimated 2.4 million calories, wrecked his back and braved every extreme of the British weather, while raising £330,000 for charity, touching the lives of millions. This is the inspiring journey of a previously lost and broken man who discovered that anything is possible, if only you choose to search for what makes you truly happy.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

 

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice.

When Theseus, the Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. Will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?

Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne forges a new epic. One that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

 

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. While there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favourite books in her store. Then, one day a man enters the shop and comes up to the register with a few of her favourite books. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknown to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia – trains and make their way toward the United States, the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

 

This is the new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young – but life is catching up with them.

They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

 

Short-listed for this year’s Booker Prize, this genre-defying book is about a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. She is overwhelmed by navigating the new language and etiquette of what she terms “the portal,” where she grapples with an unshakable conviction that a vast chorus of voices is now dictating her thoughts.

When existential threats – from climate change and economic precariousness to the rise of an unnamed dictator and an epidemic of loneliness – begin to loom, she posts her way deeper into the portal’s void. An avalanche of images, details, and references accumulate to form a landscape that is post-sense, post-irony, post-everything. “Are we in hell?” the people of the portal ask themselves. “Are we all just going to keep doing this until we die?”

Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: “Something has gone wrong,” and “How soon can you get here?” As real life and its stakes collide with the increasingly absurd antics of the portal, the woman confronts a world that seems to contain both an abundance of proof there is goodness, empathy, and justice in the universe, and a deluge of evidence to the contrary.

Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

 

Bringing sixteenth-century Languedoc vividly to life. A gripping story of love and betrayal, mysteries and secrets; of war and adventure, conspiracies and divided loyalties.

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE. But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse. Facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further. Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power.

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