“The story of England’s medieval queens is vivid and stirring, packed with tragedy, high drama and even comedy. It is a chronicle of love, murder, war and betrayal, filled with passion, intrigue and sorrow, peopled by a cast of heroines, villains, stateswomen and lovers.
“Alison Weir strips away centuries of romantic mythology and prejudice to reveal the lives of England’s queens in the century after the Norman Conquest. Beginning with Matilda of Flanders, who supported William the Conqueror in his invasion of England in 1066, and culminating in the turbulent life of the Empress Maud, who claimed to be Queen of England in her own right and fought a bitter war to that end, the five Norman queens emerge as hugely influential and fascinating characters. This work is a tale of interconnected lives and a rich portrait of English history in a time of flux.”
“Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota and are hanging on to the last vestiges of a faded counter-culture world. The kids at school call her ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. She is an outsider in all things. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for.
“Yet while the accusation against the teacher is perhaps more innocent than it seemed at first, the ordinary family turns out to be more complicated. As Linda insinuates her way into the family’s orbit, she realises they are hiding something. If she tells the truth, she will lose the normal family life she is beginning to enjoy with them; and if she doesn’t, a life is at stake.”
“Celebrated war photographer Kurtiz and her ex-husband Olivier lost their daughter four years ago. Arriving together in Paris after a tip off, Olivier rushes to the Bataclan to track her down. He couldn’t have known this was the night terror attacks would tear the nation apart.
“As news rolls in, Kurtiz finds comfort in Marguerite - a glamorous former actress with her own sad past. Kurtiz is starting to realise the price she has paid for always putting her job before her family, but all she can do now is get through the night ahead with Marguerite by her side, not knowing if she will ever see those she loves again.”
“Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that claims it will change the face of science forever. The evening’s host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a 40-year-old tech magnate whose inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure. Tonight he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence.
“But everyone is left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch’s precious discovery can be revealed. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum’s director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.”
“Martinique, 1765, and brothers Emile and Lucien are charged by their French master, Father Cleophas, with a mission. They must return to Grenada, the island they once called home, and smuggle back the 42 slaves claimed by English invaders at the hospital plantation in Fort Royal.
“While Lucien, barely in his teens, sees the trip as a great adventure, the older and worldlier Emile has no illusions about the dangers they will face. But with no choice other than to obey Cleophas - and sensing the possibility, however remote, of finding his first love Celeste - he sets out with his brother on this ‘reckless venture’.”
“Howard Jacobson’s irresistible journalism reveals the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist in all his humanity. From the tiniest absurdities to the most universal joys and desolations, Jacobson writes with a thunder, passion and wit unmatched.”
“Rupert is consumed by one obsession: that Love Rat, his adored grey horse, be proclaimed champion stallion. He longs to trounce Roberto’s Revenge, the stallion owned by his detested rival Cosmo Rannaldini, which means abandoning his racing empire at Penscombe and his darling wife Taggie, and chasing winners in the richest races worldwide, from Dubai to Los Angeles to Melbourne.
“Luckily, the fort at home is held by Rupert’s assistant Gav, a genius with horses, fancied by every stable lass, but damaged by alcoholism and a vile wife. When Gala, a grieving but ravishing Zimbabwean widow moves to Penscombe as carer for Rupert’s wayward father, it is not just Gav who is attracted to her: a returning Rupert finds himself dangerously tempted.”
“Thanks to some very influential people whose lives he saved, Lucas is no longer working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but for the U.S. Marshals Service, and with unusual scope. He gets to pick his own cases, whatever they are, wherever they lead him. And where they’ve led him this time is into real trouble.
“A Biloxi, Mississippi, drug-cartel counting house gets robbed, and suitcases full of cash disappear, leaving behind five bodies, including that of a six-year-old girl. Davenport takes the case, which quickly spirals out of control, as cartel assassins, including a torturer known as the ‘Queen of home-improvement tools’ compete with Davenport to find the Dixie Hicks shooters who knocked over the counting house. Things get ugly real fast, and neither the cartel killers nor the holdup men give a damn about whose lives Davenport might have saved; to them, he’s just another large target.”
“Rich are the delights of late nineteenth-century Manchester for young siblings Edie and Gnome. They bicker, banter, shout and scream their way through the city’s streets, embracing its charms and dangers.
“But as the pair grow up, it is Gnome who revels in the night-time, while Edie wakes exhausted each morning, unable to quell a sickening sense of unease, with only a dim memory of the dark hours. Confused and frustrated at living a half-life, she decides to take control, distancing herself from Gnome once and for all. But can she ever be free from someone who knows her better than she knows herself?”
The Boy with the Topknot: a memoir of love, secrets and lies in Wolverhampton, by Sathnum Sanghera, read by Zaman Assad
“This is a hilarious and heart-rending reinvention of the modern British memoir. For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar. On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot. And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them.
“Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets.”
“A young woman’s body is found in a remove barn on the Fens. Before she was killed, one of her fingers had been cut off. Who is inflicting this violence and why?
“Can DI Nikki Galena stop them before anyone else suffers?”
“A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years - from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding - that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives - the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness - are inextricable from the history playing out around them.”
“For members of the City Watch, life consists of troubling times, linked together by periods of torpid inactivity. Now is one such troubling time. People are being murdered, but there’s no trace of anything alive having been at the crime scene. Is there ever a circumstance in which you can blame the weapon not the murderer? Such philosophical questions are not the usual domain of the city’s police, but they’re going to have to start learning fast…”
“For the 70s child, summer holidays didn’t mean the joy of CentreParcs or the sophistication of a Tuscan villa. They meant being crammed into a car with Grandma and heading to the coast. With just a tent for a home and a bucket for the necessities, we would set off on new adventures each year stoically resolving to enjoy ourselves.
“For Emma Kennedy, and her mum and dad, disaster always came along for the ride no matter where they went. Whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a brave trip to the south of France, family holidays always left them battered and bruised.
“But they never gave up. Emma’s memoir is a painfully funny reminder of just what it was like to spend your summer holidays cold, damp but with sand between your toes.”
“When a Martian spacecraft lands on Woking Common, mankind is terrorised by aliens in tall, armoured capsules which stalk the countryside on three legs. The machines wreak havoc on London and the Southern Counties, and survivors are driven underground. Scientist John Nicholson (Paul Daneman) tells how he was plunged into a paralysing nightmare of stark terror, savage madness and utter destruction.
“Martin Jarvis, Peter Sallis and Anthony Jackson also feature in this thrilling six-part dramatisation of HG Wells’ book, first broadcast on Radio 4 in 1967.”
“Reacher takes an aimless stroll past a pawn shop in a small Midwestern town. In the window he sees a West Point class ring from 2005. It’s tiny; a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Why would she give it up? Reacher’s a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.
“Reacher tracks the ring back to its owner, step by step, down a criminal trail leading west. Like Big Foot come out of the forest, he arrives in the deserted wilds of Wyoming. All he wants is to find the woman. If she’s OK, he’ll walk away. If she’s not - he’ll stop at nothing.”
“A vicious Serbian gang whose profits come from fake nuclear weapons.
“A disgraced Russian general, with access to the real thing.
“A vengeful Somali warlord, with a cause for which he’d let the world burn.
“A jaded government agency, without the information to stop him.
“Only one man sees what’s coming. And even he might not be able to prevent it…
“Racing breathlessly from uncharted CIA prisons to the skyscrapers of Dubai, from stormbeaten oil rigs off the African coast to the ancient caverns beneath the city of Naples, Marc Dane returns in the incredible new action thriller from the internationally bestselling author of Nomad.”
“Elizabeth’s royal cousin Jane Grey is faced with the choice of death or denying her faith after being forced onto the throne of England. It is left to Elizabeth to measure the threat posed to her by the remaining Grey girls – the famous beauty Katherine Grey and her sister Mary.
“Alternately befriended and snubbed, the two girls thrive as the queen’s companions, learning to judge her moods and avoid her temper tantrums. But they each have a secret: Katherine is in love with an heir to the great family Seymour, and Mary with the queen’s sergeant porter. They come to realise that Elizabeth will never allow either of them to marry for fear of a Tudor heir to the throne.
“Their martyred sister’s advice is clear. ‘Learn you to die,’ Jane wrote in her famous letter to Katherine. But Jane’s tragic story and her fatal choice is only the beginning for her two beloved sisters…”
In the 12th title in the 44 Scotland Street series:
“Changes are afoot in Scotland Street, where small things can be of great consequence. A colossal embarrassment follows Pat Macgregor’s ill-advised coffee with narcissistic ex-boyfriend Bruce. If Matthew, her boss at the art gallery, hadn’t wandered into his local bookshop and picked up a particular book at a particular time, he would never have knocked over his former English teacher or attracted the attention of the police.
“Meanwhile, other residents are moving onwards and upwards. Stuart’s application for promotion and his wife Irene’s decision to study for a PhD in Aberdeen mean alterations to life in serial fiction’s favourite street. But, as Stuart’s son Bertie finds out, sometimes change can lead to sudden, unexpected happiness too.”
“The city of Darien stands at the weary end of a golden age. Twelve families keep order with soldiers and artefacts, spies and memories, clinging to a peace that shifts and crumbles. The people of the city endure what they cannot change.
“Here, amongst old feuds, a plot is hatched to kill a king. It will summon strangers to the city – Elias Post, a hunter, Tellius, an old swordsman banished from his home, Arthur, a boy who cannot speak, Daw Threefold, a chancer and gambler, Vic Deeds, who feels no guilt – and Nancy, a girl whose talent might be the undoing of them all.
“As the sun sets, their arrival inside the walls will spark a series of explosive events. Before the sun returns, six destinies will have been made – and lost – in Darien.
“Welcome to the Empire of Salt, where sword and sorcery is at its finest…”
“Tom Courtney, one of four sons of master mariner Sir Hal Courtney, once again sets sail on a treacherous journey that will take him across the vast reaches of the ocean and pit him against dangerous enemies in exotic destinations. But just as the winds propel his sails, passion drives his heart. Turning his ship towards the unknown, Tom Courtney will ultimately find his destiny — and lay the future for the Courtney family.”