See also: recommended new physical audiobooks
“Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo - until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.
“Afra has lost her sight, and so they embark on a perilous journey towards an uncertain future in Britain. As they travel, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is his beekeeper cousin Mustafa, who is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
“Nuri and Afra set off through a broken world, on a dangerous journey in which they will confront the pain of their unfathomable loss, and in doing so find a way back to each other again.”
“London. 1850. The greatest spectacle the city has ever seen is being built in Hyde Park, and among the crowd watching two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.
“When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.
“But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening…”
Enlightenment Now: the case for reason, science, humanism, and progress, by Steven Pinker, read by Arthur Morey
“Is modernity really failing? Or have we failed to appreciate progress and the ideals that make it possible?
“If you follow the headlines, the world in the 21st century appears to be sinking into chaos, hatred and irrationality. Yet, as Steven Pinker shows, if you follow the trendlines, you discover that our lives have become longer, healthier, safer and more prosperous - not just in the West, but worldwide. Such progress is no accident: it’s the gift of a coherent value system that many of us embrace without even realizing it. These are the values of the Enlightenment: of reason, science, humanism and progress.
“The challenges we face today are formidable. But the way to deal with them is not to sink into despair or try to lurch back to a mythical idyllic past; it’s to treat them as problems we can solve, as we have solved other problems in the past. This is the case for an Enlightenment newly recharged for the 21st century.”
“To lose your family is heartbreaking.
“To be forgotten by them is unforgivable.
“Cassie and Erin are sisters. They are close – in age, looks and personality – but there is one crucial difference: Cassie is adopted.
“At 17, Cassie sets out to find her birth mother. She is hungry for the truth, but she discovers her adoption was far more complicated than even she could have imagined. In uncovering her real identity Cassie learns her adoptive parents have kept a terrible secret from her her whole life, which now threatens to destroy everything she has ever held dear.”
“During the 20th century, humankind has managed to do the impossible: we have brought famine, plague and war under control. Today, more people die from obesity than from starvation; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed in war. We are the only species in earth’s long history that has single-handedly changed the entire planet, and we no longer expect any higher being to shape our destinies for us.
“As the self-made gods of planet earth, which projects should we undertake, and how will we protect this fragile planet and humankind itself from our own destructive powers? Yuval Noah Harari examines the implications of our newly acquired divine capabilities, from our desperate pursuit of happiness to our dogged quest for immortality.”
“Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her newborn twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.
“When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.
“Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?”
“Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding.
“Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever - a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma.”
“Paul Stewart has returned to Scotland to continue his successful career. His agent and girlfriend, Gloria, has arranged for him to write The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters, a project he relishes but that will have to be delivered in six months. It is not going well, as Paul finds his domestic circumstances unsuited to concentrated hard work: Gloria has now moved in with him (not specifically invited) and has brought with her two extremely vocal and demanding Siamese cats. The cats give Paul no peace.
“Beginning to worry that The Philosophy of Food will never be written, Paul calls on the aid of his cousin, Chloe, who suggests a radical course of action. She has taken a six-month lease on a house in a French village not far from Poitiers and invites him to join her there and get the book finished in peace. He needs no second bidding and it is not long before he escapes to France. Once there, however, Paul finds his fortunes tangled up with the fate of one eating establishment in the village: the infamous Second Worst Restaurant in France…”
“Police detective by day, celebrity food truck chef by night, now Caleb Rooney has a new title: Most Wanted.
“In the Carnival days leading up to Mardi Gras, Detective Caleb Rooney comes under investigation for a murder he is accused of committing in the line of duty – as a Major Crimes detective for the New Orleans Police Department. Has his sideline at the Killer Chef food truck given him a taste for murder?
“While fighting the charges against him, Rooney makes a pair of unthinkable discoveries. His beloved city is under threat of attack. And these would-be terrorists may be local.”
“An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature. A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.
“It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt, and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career, she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together.
“Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings 20 years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.”
“The most difficult case of Detective Jackman’s life. Who are the guilty ones and is anyone really innocent? This time it’s very personal for Jackman.
“Jackman’s sister-in-law Sarah disappears to London and throws herself into the river. What drove her to this? She was a woman with a seemingly happy home life and two beloved sons. DI Jackman and DI Evans dig into Sarah’s life. And Jackman realises he knew almost nothing about his sister-in-law’s past.
“Then, they discover a woman in a neighbouring village died in similar circumstances. What is the connection to a convicted murderer whose family are convinced he is innocent? Who is really pulling the strings?”
“When Cissy Ryan’s real mother comes to claim her from the workhouse, it’s not how she imagined. Her family’s tumbledown cottage has ice on the inside of its windows and is in an isolated, poverty-stricken village in the muddy Irish countryside. But when Cissy is allowed to help neighbour Colm Doyle and his horse named Blue on their milk round one morning, Cissy starts to feel as though friendship could get her through anything.
“It’s Colm who looks in on Cissy’s grandfather when she starts at the village school, and Colm who tells her to hold her chin high when she interviews for a position at the grand Bretton House. But in the vast mansion with its shining floors and sweeping staircase, it’s Master Peter Bretton who captures Cissy’s heart with his dark curls and easy laugh.
“As Cissy blossoms from a skinny orphan into a confident young girl, Colm tells her she’s as good as anyone and she begins to believe anything is possible. But not everyone with a kind smile has a kind heart, and Cissy doesn’t know that further sorrow lies in store for her.
“When Cissy finds herself desperate, alone and faced with a devastating choice, can she find the strength to survive?”
“In the dead of night, Kate receives a phone call. Police have recovered her sister Anya’s clothes and personal belongings at the poolside of a remote hideaway in Mexico – a place she had no idea Anya would be. Anya was last seen getting into a vehicle with a local diving instructor but now he’s missing too.
“Their relationship has been complicated ever since a devastating tragedy blew their family apart, but Kate cannot believe Anya would willingly travel somewhere so isolated with a man she barely knows … would she? In a race against time, Kate must fight to find her little sister before it’s too late.”
“Isobel has it all: a steady relationship, the immaculate home and her dream job. Life, and even death, is completely under her control. For Isobel’s generation death no longer means oblivion, thanks to firms like her employer, Oakley Associates. Isobel is their top Heaven Architect, crafting perfect afterlives for her clients: artificial paradises of the mind built from the memories they treasure most.
“Then Isobel meets handsome client Jarek. Her disciplined life gives way to something passionate and extreme, and Isobel jeopardises everything to embark on an affair with a terminally ill – and married – man. When Jarek posthumously becomes the prime suspect in a murder that took place just before his death, Isobel is forced to prove his innocence.
“Jarek’s afterlife faces termination if the real culprit cannot be found. But as Isobel stumbles upon the darker side of the work she so passionately believes in, she can trust no one with what she finds.”
“1929: Four-year-old Etty and eight-year-old Dorothy are abandoned at Blakely Hall orphanage by their mother, never to see her again. With no other family to speak of, the sisters worship their beloved mam – and they are confused and heartbroken to be deserted by her when they need her the most.
“1940: Etty and Dorothy are finally released from the confines of Blakely Hall – but their freedom comes when the country is in the grip of World War Two and its terrors. Amidst a devastating backdrop of screaming air-raid sirens and cold nights huddled in shelters, the sisters are desperate to put their broken childhoods behind them.
“But trouble lies ahead. Dorothy must bid goodbye to her beloved husband when he’s sent to war and Etty must nurse a broken heart as she falls in love with the one man she can never be with.
“Etty and Dorothy survived the orphanage with the help of one another and neither sister can forget the awful betrayal of their mother, which has haunted them their whole lives. But when a shocking secret about their painful childhood comes to light, will the sisters ever be the same again?”
The comic’s fourth live stand-up show, recorded during his 2010 UK tour.
“When Skye Rogers and her twin brother Red move to Manhattan, rumours of a coming global apocalypse are building. But this does not stop the young elite of New York from partying without a care.
“And then suddenly Skye is invited to join an exclusive gang known as the Secret Runners of New York. But this is no ordinary clique - they have access to an underground portal that can transport them into the future. And what Skye discovers in the future is horrifying…
“As society crumbles and Skye and Red race to figure out how to use their knowledge to survive the impending annihilation, they soon discover that the chaotic end of the world is a fine time for revenge…”
“Hear Katherine Ryan share her love of the Kardashians, Greg James introduce Joe to the world of cricket, and Janice Connolly share her collection of de-cluttering books. Can Lloyd Griffith inspire you with his adoration of fire engines? Or will June Sarpong get you into hula hooping?
“Joe also welcomes members of the public to share their secret passions, as well as inviting a weekly VOP (very obsessed person) to introduce their weird and wonderful collections of curiosities (not for the faint-hearted)!”
“Elizabeth and Mary: cousins, rivals, queens. They loved each other, they hated each other – they could never escape one another.
“Kate Williams’s thrilling new history tells the story of Elizabeth I of England and her betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots. At the end of the Tudor era, here were two women on two thrones. But this was a man’s world and many believed that no woman should govern. All around Elizabeth and Mary were sycophants, spies and detractors who wanted their power, their favour and their bodies. And so they became one another’s closest confidants in the struggle to be both women and queens.
“Alliances were few, but for many years theirs survived – until the forces rising against them, and the struggles of love and dynasty, drove them apart. It was a schism that would end in secret assassination plots, devastating betrayal and, eventually, the signing of Mary’s death warrant in Elizabeth’s hand.”
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Horace Rumpole in this fourth collection of dramatic court cases.
“Sue Black confronts death every day. As a Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology, she focuses on mortal remains in her lab, at burial sites, at scenes of violence, murder and criminal dismemberment, and when investigating mass fatalities due to war, accident or natural disaster. In All That Remains she reveals the many faces of death she has come to know, using key cases to explore how forensic science has developed, and what her work has taught her.
“Do we expect a book about death to be sad? Macabre? Sue’s book is neither. There is tragedy, but there is also humour in stories as gripping as the best crime novel. Our own death will remain a great unknown. But as an expert witness from the final frontier, Sue Black is the wisest, most reassuring, most compelling of guides.”
“The body of a teenage girl is discovered along a desolate highway on the outskirts of Charlotte. Inside her purse is the ID card of a local businessman who died in a fire months earlier.
“Who was the girl? And was she murdered?
“Dr Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist, must find the answers. She soon learns that a Gulf War veteran stands accused of smuggling artefacts into the country. Could there be a connection between the two cases?
“Convinced that the girl’s death was no accident, Tempe soon finds herself at the centre of a conspiracy that extends from South America to Afghanistan. But to find justice for the dead, she must be more courageous - and take more extreme action - than ever before.”
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: an Indian history of the American West, by Dee Brown, read by Grover Gardner
“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown’s classic, eloquent, meticulously documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century. Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the series of battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them and their people demoralised and decimated.
“A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed forever our vision of how the West was won — and lost. It tells a story that should not be forgotten, and so must be retold from time to time.”
“The eight-year-old boy had vanished from the car and, as if by slick, sick magic, had been replaced by a note on the steering wheel reading: ‘You don’t love him’.
“At the height of summer a dark shadow falls across Exmoor; more children are stolen, each disappearance marked only by the same brutal accusation. No explanations, no ransom demands, and no hope. But — still reeling from a personal tragedy — does Policeman Jonas Holly stand any chance of catching the kidnapper? Because there’s at least one person on Exmoor who thinks that, when it comes to being the first line of defence, Jonas Holly may be the last man to trust.”
“Fleur is beautiful, unscrupulous, and has a large wardrobe of black designer suits. With the help of The Times announcements page she gatecrashes the funerals and memorial services of the wealthy, preying on rich, vulnerable men. She charms her way into their lives and onto their platinum credit cards, takes what she can, and then moves swiftly on.
“When Richard, a dull but wealthy businessman, meets Fleur at his wife’s memorial service, he’s bowled over. Gradually Fleur works her spell on Richard’s family - transforming their lives while she moves in on their wealth. But she finds herself lingering longer than she meant to…”
“In Hope and Glory Stuart goes in search of the places, people and events of the century we have just left behind that have shaped the look and character of modern Britain. From the death of Victoria to the demise of New Labour, he takes a single event from each decade of the 20th century that offers up a defining moment in our history and then goes in search of its legacy today.
“The death of a queen, a bloody war, a nation on strike, a first broadcast, a ship coming into land, reaching for the top of the world, an epic football match, a youth rebellion, a pop concert and an election - each event in turn has shaped our national culture and spirit to make us who we are. Some were glorious days, some tragic, even shameful, but each has played its part - from sport to music, politics to war, industrial relations to exploration - in making modern Britain.”
“Meet DI Hillary Greene, a police officer fighting to save her career. Not only has she lost her husband, but his actions have put her under investigation for corruption.
“Then a bashed and broken body is found floating in the Oxford Canal. It looks like the victim fell off a boat, but Hillary is not so sure. Her investigation exposes a dark background to the death.
“Can Hillary clear her name and get to the bottom of a fiendish conspiracy on the water?”
“Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.
“The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-20th-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, revealing a world alongside our own - vast, slow, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world, and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.”
“‘I am the land and the bones of the hills. I am the winter.’
“Temujin, the second son of the khan of the Wolves tribe, was only eleven when his father died in an ambush. His family were thrown out of the tribe and left alone, without food or shelter, to starve to death on the harsh Mongolian plains. It was a rough introduction to his life, to a sudden adult world, but Temujin survived, learning to combat natural and human threats.
“A man, a small family, without a tribe was always at risk but he gathered other outsiders to him, creating a new tribal identity. It was during some of his worst times that the image of uniting the warring tribes and bringing the silver people together came to him. He will become the khan of the sea of grass, Genghis.”
“Fifteen-year-old Maisy Mitcham and her twin brother Duncan lose their mother to an asylum one night in 1960. The twins are sent to their grandmother’s country house, Nightingales. Cold and distant, she leaves them to their own devices, to explore and to grow. That is until the day Duncan doesn’t come home from the woods.
“With their grandmother seeming to have little interest in her grandson’s disappearance, and the police soon giving up hope, it is left to Maisy to discover the truth. And she will start with Grace Deville. A woman who lives alone in the wood, about whom rumours abound…”