See also: recommended new physical audiobooks
“Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.
“Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong. As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the North-West, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?”
“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…”
“Twenty-five million dollars in cartel gold lies hidden beneath a mansion on the Miami Beach waterfront. Ruthless men have tracked it for years. Leading the pack is Hans-Peter Schneider. Driven by unspeakable appetites, he makes a living fleshing out the violent fantasies of other, richer men.
“Cari Mora, caretaker of the house, has escaped from the violence in her native country. She stays in Miami on a wobbly Temporary Protected Status, subject to the iron whim of ICE. She works at many jobs to survive. Beautiful, marked by war, Cari catches the eye of Hans-Peter as he closes in on the treasure. But Cari Mora has surprising skills, and her will to survive has been tested before.”
“We all recognise them. Those who exist just on the fringes of society. Who send prickles up the back of our necks. The charmers. The liars. The manipulators. Those who have the potential to go that one step too far. And then take another step.
“Jessamine Gooch makes a living from these people. Each week she broadcasts a radio show looking into the past lives of convicted killers; asking if there was more that could have been done to prevent their terrible crimes.
“Then one day she is approached by a woman desperate to find her missing friend, Cassie, fearing her abusive husband may have taken that final deadly step. But as Jessamine delves into the months prior to Cassie’s disappearance she fails to realise there is a dark figure closer to home, one that threatens the safety of her own family…
“What if the people we trust are the ones we should fear?”
“‘I am a fat person and I love my body. I feel lucky to be able to say that. It has taken a lot of work and a lot of time to get here. I often meet people who are incredibly puzzled that I can love this body. Taking the world into account – how we are taught to see bodies and judge bodies – I understand the confusion. But I am quite sure I can explain it. I want to tell you what I have learned and how I got here.’
“In Happy Fat, comedian Sofie Hagen shares how she removed fatphobic influences from her daily life and found self-acceptance in a world where judgement and discrimination are rife. From shame and sex to airplane seats, love and getting stuck in public toilets, Sofie conquered a negative relationship with her body and provides practical tips for readers to do the same – drawing wisdom from other Fat Liberation champions along the way.”
A Home at the End of the World, by Michael Cunningham, read by Colin Farrell, Jennifer Van Dyck & Dallas Roberts
“‘It was the start of my second new life, in a city that had a spin of its own – a wilder orbit inside the earth’s calm blue-green whirl. New York wasn’t open to the hopelessness and lost purpose that drifted around lesser places…’
“Meet Bobby, Jonathan and Clare. Three friends, three lovers, three ordinary people trying to make a place for themselves in the harsh and uncompromising world of the Seventies and Eighties.
“And as our threesome form a new kind of relationship, a new approach to family and love, questioning so much about the world around them, so they hope to create a space, a home, in which to live.”
“Cairo, 1887. A beautiful September day. Penrod Ballantyne and his fiancée, Amber Benbrook, stroll hand in hand. The future is theirs for the taking.
“But when Penrod’s jealous former lover, Lady Agatha, plants doubt about his character, Amber leaves him and travels to the wilds of Abyssinia with her twin sister, Saffron, and her adventurer husband, Ryder Courtney. On a mission to establish a silver mine, they make the dangerous journey to the new capital of Addis Ababa, where they are welcomed by Menelik, the King of Kings.
“Back in Cairo, a devastated Penrod seeks oblivion in the city’s opium dens. He is rescued by an old friend, who is now in the Italian army and offered the chance to join the military efforts. Italy has designs on Abyssinia, and there are rumours of a plan to invade…
“With storm clouds gathering, and on opposing sides of the invasion, can Penrod and Amber find their way back to one another – against all the odds?”
“Hidden away in an Oxford backstreet is a crumbling Georgian mansion, unknown to any but the few who possess keys to its unassuming front gate. Its owner is the mercurial, charismatic Mark Winters, whose rackety trust-fund upbringing has left him as troubled and unpredictable as he is wildly promiscuous.
“Mark gathers around him an impressionable group of students: glamorous Emmanuella, who always has a new boyfriend in tow; Franny and Simon, best friends and occasional lovers; musician Jess, whose calm exterior hides passionate depths. And James, already damaged by Oxford and looking for a group to belong to.
“For a time they live in a charmed world of learning and parties and love affairs. But university is no grounding for adult life, and when, years later, tragedy strikes, they are entirely unprepared.”
“Beautiful double room to let to single person.
“Lisa, a troubled young woman with a past, can’t believe her luck when she finds a beautiful room to rent in a large house. The live-in owners are a kind and welcoming couple. Everything is fine until she finds a suicide note hidden in her room. But when the couple insist this man didn’t exist and that Lisa is their first tenant, Lisa begins to doubt herself.
“Compelled to uncover the secrets of the man who lived in the room before her, Lisa is alarmed when increasingly disturbing incidents start to happen. Someone doesn’t want Lisa to find out the truth.
“As the four walls of this house and its secrets begin to close in on Lisa, she descends into a hellish hall of mirrors where she’s not sure what’s real and what’s not as she claws her way towards the truth…
“This room has already claimed one victim. Is it about to take another?”
“How do you protect your child if they’re keeping a secret?
“Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling.
“She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died. She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t. She doesn’t know Archie has a secret.
“A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…”
“As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from the orphanage he called home and inducted into a top secret Cold War programme. Trained as a lethal weapon, he and his fellow recruits were sent round the world to do the government’s dirty work. But the programme was rotten to the core. And now the man responsible needs things to be nice and clean. All evidence must be destroyed. That includes Evan.
“To survive, Evan’s going to have to take the fight to his nemesis. There’s just one problem with that. Jonathan Bennett is President of the United States and Evan isn’t his only victim. To save himself - and the country - Evan is going to have to figure out how to kill the most well-protected man on the planet…”
“Six people, one big house and the party that brings it all down…
“Ralph and Smith are flatmates and best mates. Nothing can come between them - until the gorgeous Jemima moves in. They’re both falling for her, but which one of them does Jem want?
“Upstairs, Karl and Siobhan are happily unmarried and have been for fifteen years - until Cheri moves into the flat above, and fixes her sights on Karl. Why should a little problem like his girlfriend get in her way?
“Sooner or later this house is bound to implode. So what could possibly go wrong when Ralph throws his party?”
“Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don’t want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement — just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met.
“But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben’s rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember… or one to forget?”
“Bear Grylls is a man who has always sought the ultimate in adventure. Growing up on the Isle of Wight, he was taught by his father to sail and climb at an early age. As a teenager he found identity and purpose through both mountaineering and martial arts, which led the young adventurer to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya and a grandmaster’s karate training camp in Japan.
“On returning home, he embarked upon the notoriously gruelling selection course for the British Special Forces to join 21 SAS - a journey that was to push him to the very limits of physical and mental endurance.
“Then, in a horrific free-fall parachuting accident, Bear broke his back in three places. It was touch and go whether he would ever walk again. However, only eighteen months later Bear became one of the youngest ever climbers to scale Everest, aged only twenty-three. But this was just the beginning of his many extraordinary adventures…
“Known and admired by millions, Bear Grylls has survived where few would dare to go. Now, for the first time, Bear tells the story of his action-packed life. Gripping, moving and wildly exhilarating, Mud, Sweat and Tears is a must-read for adrenalin junkies and armchair adventurers alike.”
Ladies of Letters.com, by Carole Hayman & Lou Wakefield, read by Prunella Scales & Patricia Routledge
“Taken from the third successful BBC Radio 4 series starring Patricia Routledge and Prunella Scales, these episodes see a trembling in cyberspace as Vera and Irene discover the joys of e-mail.
“There are the usual domestic mishaps to fret about: Irene’s daughter Lesley is refusing to marry the worthy but boring Brian; Vera’s exhausted daughter Karen has abandoned her third baby at the hospital and eloped with a male nurse; and Vera’s gay son Howard and his partner Anthony are trying for a baby - with the help of a surrogate mother and a television crew.
“As Irene and Vera fall in and out of friendship they accuse each other of everything from alcoholism to metal illness (in a loving, caring way, of course). Their hilarious put-downs and gossip give a wonderful insight into the trials of modern family life.”
“It’s been several years since Jess and Hannah Ballard foiled a cataclysmic prophecy that could have destroyed their fellow Durupinen, an ancient clan of women who allow spirits to cross between the worlds of the living and the dead. The girls swore, after the devastation and chaos they endured, they would never get caught up in the inner workings of the Durupinen again.
“They were wrong.
“After breaking the code of secrecy and facing the judgement of the High Council, Jess and Hannah have no choice but to become Trackers, working to take down those who would exploit the spirit world for profit or power. Their first assignment takes them into the deep South, where Jeremiah Campbell, a self-proclaimed spiritual guru, lures wealthy and desperate devotees with promises of a deeper connection with the dead.
“As the girls go undercover, it soon becomes clear that Campbell is not merely the con artist they suspected him to be, and that they, and the spirit world they are sworn to protect, are once again in unimaginable danger.”
“Burly steelworker Jim Butler and his wife Sally are quite content in their little house on Potters Row. Jim’s only complaint is that Sally is too soft-hearted for her own good, always at the beck and call of any neighbour, friend or even stranger. Sally, on the other hand, accuses Jim of being a soft touch for anyone after a drink or two at the Rising Sun. Both accept that neither will ever change and they love each other and their daughter Daisy deeply.
“Theirs is a close-knit family in a close-knit community where gossip - both good and bad - abounds and neighbour looks out for neighbour and friend for friend. And when Sally’s generosity leads to an inheritance it should mean a change of life for the better. Instead it brings danger and difficult choices for them all…”
“You can run from the grave, but you can’t hide.
“Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her. But when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.
“Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head — wanted: dead or half-alive — means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever and that Bones won’t let her get away again.”
“Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.
“Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother - and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.
“Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realise every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe. And somebody would kill to keep it hidden.”
“All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”