New authors as well as some old favourites make the list of newly released books I’m eager to get my hands on.
Willowman by Inga Simpson takes you to the world of cricket and the art of the batmaker. I don’t read a lot of books about sport – in fact I’m not sure I can name a single one – but this one caught my eye. We’ve got a gifted young batter, Todd Harrow, and the special bat made for him by traditional batmaker, Alan Reader. The story seems to be about more than just cricket, though, with some interesting personal journeys, and there’s loads of high praise from the critics, the Sydney Morning Herald scoring it a six.
Prettier if She Smiled More is the new book by Toni Jordan. I loved her last book, Dinner with the Schnabels, and made a note to myself to read Jordan’s backlist. But here she is with a new book before I got started. This is another Australian novel, and follows the fortunes of Kylie, who thinks she has the perfect life, until she has to move home to care for her mother following an accident. Returning to her childhood home gives her pause for thought. I love a book that makes you laugh and cry, and this one’s sure to fit the bill.
One of Those Mothers by Megan Nicol Reed brings me a little closer to home with a novel set in my old Auckland stamping ground. It’s a look at middle class angst and the effects of a terrible secret on a small group of families in the same neighbourhood. The author has used this fodder in her popular newspaper columns over the years, so I can see she’s become a bit of an expert on parental anxiety, guilt and how friendships are impacted by rumour and unease. The book’s already harnessing some great reviews so it’s definitely one for the list.
I am drawn by the premise of The Wakes by Dianne Yarwood, and possibly also the cover. It’s about relationships with two of its main characters recently breaking up with their partners. When Louisa persuades her new neighbour Clare to join her funeral catering business, they meet Chris who is an emergency doctor attending the funerals of both patients and friends. There’s pathos but also humour, as well as reflections on the things that really matter in life. The Wakes is a debut novel from another Australian author and has sparked a lot of interest. I am fairly sure I will love this.
The War Pianist by Mandy Robotham
Moving to the Northern Hemisphere, I spotted Mandy Robotham has a new wartime novel out. I thoroughly enjoyed The Resistance Girl, which I listened to as an audiobook. It had just the right blend of action, tension and light relief and taught me a lot about World War II in Norway. With The War Pianist one main character is Marnie Fern, who gets involved in resistance work when her grandfather is killed in the London blitz. He was helping the Dutch resistance as a war pianist, which was a kind of code for radio operator. Things get tense as the Nazis close in on Marnie and her fellow ‘pianist’ in Amsterdam, Corrie Bakker, on the other end of the wire. This one’s sure to be a page-turner.
The Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor
Time to catch up with one of my favourite mystery series, with the release of the latest of the Fires of London novels by acclaimed historical fiction author, Andrew Taylor. We’ve another rollicking read featuring James Marlow, a civil servant who has become a kind of ‘useful pair of hands’ for the court of Charles II. He always seems to find himself struggling between factions at court and finding unpalatable truths about the murders he investigates. Never far away is Cat Hakesby, the architect who in this book is on the spot when a body is found in one of the almshouses she is restoring. I love the glimpses of the King Taylor slips in, the thrills and tension, as well as James’s relationship problems with spiky Cat, a woman ahead of her time.
The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths
This is book number 15 in Griffiths’s series featuring DI Harry Nelson and forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. I love the characters who almost feel like friends, and in this book their pal Cathbad, a Druid and former tutor at Ruth’s university, is implicated in a murder when bones are unearthed by builders renovating a café. Cathbad disappears – is he on the run or is he in danger? Neolithic flint mines add a touch of archaeological interest and the ongoing issues around Nelson and Ruth’s relationship are sure to keep the plot bubbling along.