Circe by Madeline Miller at its core is a celebration of female strength in a man's world – so it is pretty obvious why it’s on the list. Not what I’d normally go for however, this magical, mythical story follows Circe, the daughter of Helios, the Sun God who overcomes banishment to transform herself into a witch.
Set in London in a small stationery shop, Robyn Cadwallader’s Book of Colours, three strangers are drawn together around the creation of a magnificent book. Each of their own desires and ambitions threaten the book’s completion and will change everything they understood about their place in the world.
Recently released as a major motion picture, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a book I remember shelving when I worked at Angus & Robertson. I remember wanting to read it THEN and just never got around to it. It is the story of an English author living in the shadow of World War II and the writing project that will dramatically change her life. A writer as the main character? SOLD. Well, not sold, because I have no money. METAPHORICALLY SOLD.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good parallel story line. The Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning is set in Australia in 2016 and casts back to 1939 Shanghai. Alexandra is returning to Australia to visit her dying grandfather, and with only a few weeks left together, family mysteries are revealed and she is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her family, and herself.
So there is definitely a theme happening here. There is definitely a heavy presence of strong female protagonists in the list thus far, and Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce is no exception. It’s London in 1940 and Emmeline wants nothing more than to be a female war correspondent. Instead, she ends up writing for Mrs. Bird of Woman’s Friend magazine where she fixes problems of lovelorn, grief-stricken readers. With too many problems going unanswered, Emmeline takes it upon herself to respond – in secret.
With her mother in a coma and their family’s quaint bakery failing, Elettra is distraught at the thought of never knowing the woman her secretive mother was. With a necklace inscribed with the name of an island as her only clue, Elettra sets off to find answers, and herself. Plus, with a title like The Little Italian Bakery, it was like Valentina Cebini wrote this for me. Exclusively.
Excuse me? Three generations of women? Elusive Australian town? A CAFÉ?! Is this my life story? No. This is The Kookaburra Creek Café by Sandi Docker. One small town, three lost women, and a lifetime of secrets. Need I say more?
Disclaimer – I love Paris. I love everything about it. Enter, The Yellow Villa by Amanda Hampson. Mis and Ben, an Australian couple in their early thirties have just sold their Sydney flat and purchased an old yellow house in the picturesque village of Cordes-sur-Ciel in South-West France. It is only when they meet their new neighbours that secrets start to be revealed about a scandal they had hoped to leave behind.
First of all, this cover makes me happy. Tangerine by Christine Mangan is a gripping psychological literary thriller (YASSSS). Running into a friend you were once close to is always hard – especially after Lucy had that horrific accident. So when Alice runs into Lucy, and then her husband goes missing, she starts to question everything – her friend, her surroundings, and her state of mind.
You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac is a heartfelt story about the lengths we are prepared to go for the ones that we love. “You and me, we have history. We have a child together. We have kept secrets from each other for far too long. This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.” Yes. Love it already.
The Lido by Libby Page is an uplifting novel being called the feel-good debut of the year. 86 year old Rosemary has been swimming at her local lido all of her life. Kate, 26, has just moved to town and her career as a journalist is waning. So when the lido is threatened to shut down, Kate sees it as the story that will save her, but for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything.
I love a good thriller just like I love my easy reads. I know what I am getting my into – no more, no less. When a small group of mothers head out for a night on the town, none of them expect it when Winnie’s six-week-old-son is kidnapped. When the investigation hits a dead end, the mother’s take it upon themselves to bring baby Midas home. I’m just waiting for Netflix to make a mini-movie from The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy.
Like most of you probably did, I first learned of Shannon’s Kitchen by Shannon Kelly White when Zoe Foster Blake posted something about it on Instagram. My kind of cooking book, Shannon’s Kitchen is rife with swear words, easy meals that you will ACTUALLY make and just the fucking cutest illustrations I ever did see.
I do not read non-fiction. It is a thing. I have never enjoyed it. BUT – lately, I have been read two fiction books that are based around the language of flowers (apparently every flower means something different, and I love the idea of that) and it has only sparked my curiosity. Picardy by Marian Somes is a memoir about how she created a French idyll in an Australian backyard, and how the garden changed her life. France, flowers and a pretty cover – I’m all in.
Now THIS book, Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, was brought to me from a reader of Don’t Ask Leah. She emailed me yesterday – and now we are pals – and mentioned Brown and how she calls vulnerability the antidote to shame. I love that. So I looked her up and read an excerpt of this book and IMMEDIATELY wanted more. 'True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are,’ writes Brown, and at a time where I haven’t felt like I belonged anywhere, this one is up there with books I most definitely NEED (it goes beyond WANT).
I didn’t plan on having two books about missing children, it just happened. Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey seems eerie as fuuuuck. Jen's 15-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police draw a blank. As Lana stays stubbornly silent, Jen desperately tries to reach out to a daughter who has become a stranger.
Again – cannot stress how much I lust over a great book cover. I am PARTICULARLY excited about the sound of Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Check this out: “Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.” YES TO THIS. Mainly yes to the image of the two bottles of vodka. My kinda’ woman.
I surprised myself when I felt intrigued by Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday because it isn’t the kind of read I would normally go for. In NYC, Alice, a young editor starts an affair with world-famous and much older writer, Ezra Blazer. At Heathrow, Amar, an Iraqi-American economist finds himself detained in the airport for the weekend. How is it that these two strangers’ lives intersect? KEEN.
The blurb for Tin Man by Sarah Winman speaks for itself, so I’m just going to leave it right here: It begins with a painting won in a raffle - fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things. And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.
Jessica Knoll writes the kind of book whose TV equivalent is probably Gossip Girl (which I am unhealthily obsessed with). So sure, they aren’t a challenging read, but they fucking get into your bones. The Favourite Sister is a thriller starring competitive sisters whose dark secrets and lies end in murder when they sign onto a reality TV show. Judge me all you want, but I am reading this bad boy and will thoroughly enjoy it.
After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over. In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. The Other Woman Vanishes by Amanda Quick takes readers back to 1930s California where psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda becomes a victim to her own dire prediction and is killed. Where does Adelaide fit in with all of this?
Another magical/mystical/mythical title that I wasn’t expecting to add to my TBR list, What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine follows a highly unusual young woman who ventures into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia. The women are born with the power to kill or resurrect at even the slightest touch.
I was browsing GoodReads earlier and saw that this title that I had never heard of, is being made into a movie starring Rachel McAdams. So obviously, I investigated. Disobedience by Naomi Alderman stars Ronit – an ex-Londoner who has become a cigarette-smoking, wise-cracking, New York career woman, who is in love with a married man. When her father dies and she returns to her childhood city she is forced to face everything she left behind, including her childhood friend Esti…
So there you have it my little bookworms – a nice, long, detailed list of all the books that I cannot afford. And seriously, has there been a BETTER month for New Releases? Seriously. Of all the fucking times in my life, NOW all the authors are like let’s all release GREAT books at the same time.
Again, please send money.