Welcome to the latest episode of The Readers. This fortnight Gavin is back as a) Thomas is on holiday and b) Simon and Gavin haven’t done their biannual discussion of the books that they are looking forward to in the next six months… so they rectify that, and talk some bookish bingo.
Bookish Bingo via Books on the Nightstand () You will more than likely have heard of the wonderful idea Ann and Micheal have had on Books on the Nightstand but Simon wants to share it with you all just in case you have missed it. So if you would like to join in with Books on the Nightstand Bingo you can do HERE. And here is Simon’s card so you can check he keeps to what he has promised.
A Book Forecast for the Fall () In their now routine biannual special, Gavin and Simon take a look at the books that they are looking out for in the next six months. Note – these may be subject to change both in release date and in whether they are the best books Gavin and Simon read in the fall, but hopefully it will give you lots to read in the next few months either way…
July – Simon
The Disappearance of a Boy – Neil Bartlett
Reggie Rainbow has found the perfect profession for someone who likes to keep himself to himself: it’s his job to make sure that some things stay out of sight and out of mind. Reggie Rainbow is an angry young man who treads the backstage corridors of down-at-heel theatres for a living. Childhood polio has left him with a limp, but his strong arms and nimble fingers are put to perfect use behind the scenes, helping the illusionist Mr Brookes to ‘disappear’ a series of glamorous assistants twice nightly. But in 1953, bookings for magic acts are scarce, even in London. So when Mr Brookes is unexpectedly offered a slot at the Brighton Grand, Reggie finds himself back out on the road and living in a strange new town. The sea air begins to work its own peculiar kind of magic, and, as the bunting goes up in the streets outside the theatre for the Grand’s forthcoming Coronation spectacular, Reggie begins to wonder just how much of his own life is an act – and what might have happened to somebody who disappeared from that life long ago.
The Silent History – Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett
A generation of children are born without speech, without comprehension, without language entirely. At first, they are just medical curiosities. But their numbers swell, and soon they grow into an established underclass, occupying squats and communes around the world. To some they are seen as a threat; to others, as a salvation. Some suspect they may have other abilities beyond our understanding. The children cannot tell you their story. Instead we rely on The Silent History, a collection of testimonies from those touched by the phenomenon. Parents, doctors, opportunist inventors, cult leaders, and vigilantes, recall what they have endured and what they have inflicted on others. They will take you from a recognisable present to a real and unsettling future. You will not want to look away.
The Girl in 6E – A R Torre
Deanna has not left her apartment in years. She’s ruled by the need to kill, so she separates
herself from any potential victims by avoiding all physical contact and operating entirely through the digital realm. But when her job as a webcam girl means she unintentionally uncovers the identity of a kidnapper, she’s forced to leave the safety of apartment 6E as she races to save a young girl’s life. Previously self-published in an altered form with a phenomenal online following, this is a game changing novel that pushes the boundaries of erotic and thriller fiction.
July – Gavin
Jani and the Greater Game – Eric Brown
It’s 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist – and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite – discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule but at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russians and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology…This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game. Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever…Jani and the Greater Game is the first book in a rip-roaring, spice-laden, steampunk action adventure series set in India and featuring a heroine who subverts all the norms.
Hild by Nicola Griffith
‘You are a prophet and seer with the brightest mind in an age. Your blood is that of the man who should have been king …That’s what the king and his lords see. And they will kill you, one day’
Britain in the seventh century – and the world is changing. Small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. Edwin, King of Northumbria, plots his rise to overking of all the Angles. Ruthless and unforgiving, he is prepared to use every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Into this brutal, vibrant court steps Hild – Edwin’s youngest niece. With her glittering mind and powerful curiosity, Hild has a unique way of reading the world. By studying nature, observing human behavior and matching cause with effect, she has developed the ability to make startlingly accurate predictions. It is a gift that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her. It is also a valuable weapon. Hild is indispensable to Edwin – unless she should ever lead him astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, for her family, for her loved ones, and for the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can see the future and lead men like a warrior. In this vivid, utterly compelling novel, Nicola Griffith has brought the Early Middle Ages to life in an extraordinary act of alchemy. Drawn from the story of St Hilda of Whitby – one of the most fascinating and pivotal figures of the age – Hild transports the reader into a mesmerising, unforgettable world.
After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry
One hot summer’s day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind. He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London. When his car breaks down and he becomes lost on an isolated road, he goes looking for help, and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house. Its residents welcome him with open arms – but there’s more to this strange community than meets the eye. They all know him by name, they’ve prepared a room for him, and claim to have been waiting for him all along. As nights and days pass John finds himself drawn into a baffling menagerie. There is Hester, their matriarchal, controlling host; Alex and Claire, siblings full of child-like wonder and delusions; the mercurial Eve; Elijah – a faithless former preacher haunted by the Bible; and chain-smoking Walker, wreathed in smoke and hostility. Who are these people? And what do they intend for John? Elegant, gently sinister and psychologically complex, After Me Comes The Flood is a haunting and hypnotic debut novel by a brilliant new voice.
The Child Eater by Rachel Pollack
On Earth, the Wisdom family has always striven to be more normal than normal. But Simon Wisdom, the youngest child, is far from normal: he can see the souls of the dead. And now the ghosts of children are begging him to help them, as they face something worse than death. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how. In a far-away land of magic and legends, Matyas has dragged himself up from the gutter and inveigled his way into the Wizards’ college. In time, he will become more powerful than all of them – but will his quest blind him to the needs of others? For Matyas can also hear the children crying. But neither can save the children alone, for the child eater is preying on two worlds…
Mother Island by Bethan Roberts
How does it feel to come home from work one evening and find your two-year-old son gone? How does it feel to steal another woman’s child? To take a boy from his mother, and try to make him yours, make things right? This is the story of two women, Nula and Maggie, joined by old family history and love for the same little boy.
August – Simon
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine’, and Oumi, ‘blue sea’, while the girls’ names were Shirane, ‘white root’, and Kurono, ‘black field’. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it. One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want
to see him, or talk to him, ever again. Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.
The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. For with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.
August – Gavin
My Real Children by Jo Walton
The day Mark called, Patricia Cowan’s world split in two. The phone call. His question. Her answer.
A single word. ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’ It is 2015 and Patricia Cowan is very old. ‘Confused today’ read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War – those things are solid in her memory. Then that phone call and.her memory splits in two. She was Trish, a housewife and mother of four. She was Pat, a successful travel writer and mother of three. She remembers living her life as both women, so very clearly. Which memory is real – or are both just tricks of time and light? My Real Children is the story of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives – each with its loves and losses, sorrows and triumphs, its possible consequences. It is a novel about how every life means the entire world.
September – Simon
Stone Mattress; Thirteen Tales – Margaret Atwood
A man bids on an auctioned storage space and has quite a surprise. A woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire. An elderly lady with Charles Bonnet syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly-formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence. In these thirteen tales, seven previously unpublished, Margaret Atwood ventures into territory earlier explored by fabulists and concoctors of dark yarns such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle – and also by herself, in her award-winning novel Alias Grace.
Rooms by Lauren Oliver
A rich elderly bachelor named Richard Walker has died, leaving behind a country estate with its rooms alternately full of junk, mementos and valuable possessions. But the house isn’t left uninhabited. Two ghosts walk its corridors. Our narrator Alice, once a resident of the house, and companion to a fellow spirit she now loathes, is desperate to be free; she longs to set the house on fire, burn it down, move on into the wider world. When she feels some of her earthly powers coming back, the house and all its new dwellers may be in danger.
The Children Act – Ian McEwan
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.
September – Gavin
How to be Both – Ali Smith
Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith’s novels are like nothing else. How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.
Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family-bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna-have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself-in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb. The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide-with cataclysmic results.
October – Simon
Death Sentences by Otto Penzer and Ian Rankin
Sigmund Freud deals with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronts a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin has a fatal weakness for rare books; who knew literature could be so lethal? Here are fifteen short stories to die for from the world’s best crime writers. Death Sentences includes original, specially commissioned stories about deadly books from Jefferey Deaver, andrew taylor, Laura Lippman, C.J. Box, Anne Perry, Ken Bruen, Thomas H. Cook, Micky Spillane & Max Allan Collins, Nelson DeMille and John Connolly.
October – Gavin
Death Sentences: Stories of Deathly Books, Murderous Booksellers and Lethal Literature
‘What treats you have in store!’ IAN RANKIN. Sigmund Freud deals with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronts a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; deadly secrets deep in the London Library: who knew literature could be so lethal? Here are 15 short stories to die for from the world’s best crime writers. With an introduction from Ian Rankin, DEATH SENTENCES includes original, specially commissioned stories about deadly books from Jeffrey Deaver, Andrew Taylor, Laura Lippman, C.J. Box, Anne Perry, Ken Bruen, Thomas H. Cook, Micky Spillaine & Max Adam Collins, Nelson DeMille and John Connolly.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
‘I am with you always, even unto the end of the world…’ From the author of Under the Skin and The Crimson Petal and the White, the first novel from Michel Faber in fourteen years is a wildly original tale of adventure, faith and the ties that might hold two people together when they are worlds apart
Peter Leigh is a husband, a Christian, and now a missionary. As The Book of Strange New Things opens, he is set to embark on a journey that will be the biggest test of his faith yet. From the moment he says goodbye to his wife, Bea, and boards his flight, he begins a quest that will challenge his religious beliefs, his love and his understanding of the limits of the human body.
This momentous novel is Faber at his expectation-defying best. It is a brilliantly compelling book about love in the face of death, and the search for meaning in an unfathomable universe.
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Sherlock Holmes is dead. Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place. Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace. Author of the global bestseller THE HOUSE OF SILK, Anthony Horowitz once more breathes life into the world created by Arthur Conan Doyle. With pitch-perfect characterisation and breath-taking pace, Horowitz weaves a relentlessly thrilling tale which teases and delights by the turn of each page. The game is afoot…
November – Simon
The History of Strange Things – Michel Faber
Peter Leigh is a husband, a Christian, and now a missionary. As The Book of Strange New Things opens, he is set to embark on a journey that will be the biggest test of his faith yet.
From the moment he says goodbye to his wife, Bea, and boards his flight, he begins a quest that will challenge his religious beliefs, his love and his understanding of the limits of the human body. This momentous novel is Faber at his expectation-defying best. It is
a brilliantly compelling book about love in the face of death, and the search for meaning in an unfathomable universe.
Life, Love and the Archers – Wendy Cope
A book for anyone who’s ever fallen in love, tried to give up smoking, or consoled themselves that they’ll never be quite as old as Mick Jagger. With her sharp eye for human foibles and unfailing sense of humour, Wendy Cope has long been one of the nation’s best-loved poets. Now, thanks to this carefully curated prose collection consisting of a lifetime of published and unpublished work, readers can meet the Enid-Blyton-obsessed schoolgirl, the ambivalent daughter, the amused teacher, the sensitive journalist, the cynical romantic and the savagely funny television critic. Reflecting on everything from daring to write poetry to weddings, Cope proves that she’s a master of the one-liner as well as the couplet, the telling review as well as the sonnet.
Dear Reader – Paul Fournel
Meet Robert Dubois. Cheek resting on a pile of manuscripts, the ageing and perhaps too comfortable publisher of Robert Dubois Books is alone one evening in his office. In walks a pretty intern with an e-reader. For a man who thought he had seen it all, this is a revolution.
Can text really live without paper? As Dubois gets to know his new machine and carries on with his publisher’s life, author lunches and bookshops visits, the reader tucked under his arm tells him of the new paperless world to which he might not belong. Don’t be fooled, Dubois hasn’t given up. Late at night, he secretly plots new forms of literature with a group of interns, with whom he shares his immoderate and timeless love of books and reading…
November – Gavin
The Dark Defiles – Richard Morgan
Compared to Michael Moorcock and Joe Abercrombie alike, Richard Morgan’s fast moving and brutal science fantasy reaches its final volume as Ringil comes to his final reckoning and sees the world tipping into another war with the dragon folk. And, most terrifying of all, the prophecy of a dark lord come to rule may be coming true very close to home… THE DARK DEFILES is a supremely fast moving 240,000 word epic. A massive yet tight story that both shines a light on some mysteries from earlier volumes and reveals deeper mysteries yet. We encounter the artifacts of an ancient race, learn the true story of the ghostly Dwenda and follow three old friends as they face their greatest test yet.
Hopefully there is something you like up there but we’d also like to hear from you. What books are you looking forward to?