Tuesday, 28 April 2015

What to read in May & June 2015

New books for May and June 2015
23 new books to read in May & June 2015

The Predictions by Bianca Zander - 5 May
‘Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It's the epitome of 1970s counterculture - at least in theory. But Gaialands's strict principles are shaken when new arrival Shakti harnesses her divination powers in a ceremony called the Predictions. Poppy is predicted to find her true love overseas, so when her boyfriend, Lukas, leaves Gaialands to fulfill his dream of starting a punk band in London, she follows him. In London, Poppy falls into a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants?’

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato - 5 May
‘A frightening, whip-smart adventure through Chicago begins when pop star Molly Metropolis disappears before a major performance and two young women set out to find her. At first, the mystery of her disappearance is a light-hearted scavenger hunt. But then they become ensnared in her secret society. As they follow clues through the dark underbelly of Chicago, they both realise that they're in greater danger than they could have ever imagined.’

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh - 7 May
The first time I saw you, you were standing at the far end of the playing field. You were looking down at your brown straggly dog, but then you looked up, your mouth going slack as your eyes clocked her. Alice Taylor. I was no different. I used to catch myself gazing at the back of her head in class, at her silky fair hair swaying between her shoulder blades. If you'd glanced just once across the field you'd have seen me. You'd have known you'd given yourself away. But you didn't. You only had eyes for Alice.

The Cellar by Minette Walters - 7 May
‘Muna’s fortunes changed for the better on the day that Mr and Mrs Songoli’s younger son failed to come home from school. Before then her bedroom was a dark windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. She’d grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family; to being a slave. But Muna is far cleverer - and her plans more terrifying - than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine...’

The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May by Mark Z. Danielewski - 12 May
‘Ranging from Mexico to Southeast Asia, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, The Familiar portrays nine lives hanging in the balance, each of them called upon to make a terrifying choice. At the very heart, though, is a twelve-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous... which will change not only her life and the lives of those she has yet to encounter, but this world, too - or at least the world we think we know and the future we take for granted.’

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North - 19 May
‘Told in a chorus of voices belonging to those who knew her best, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is an intimate portrait of an elusive woman whose monumental talent and relentless pursuit of truth reveal the cost of producing great art, both for the artist and for the people around her. She uses stories from the lives of others to create movies that bring her critical recognition and acclaim; but as her career explodes, Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her art leads to the shattering betrayal of the people she loves most.’

The Odd Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick - 19 May
‘A memoir of self-discovery and the dilemma of connection in our time, The Odd Woman and the City explores the rhythms, chance encounters, and ever-changing friendships of urban life that forge the sensibility of a fiercely independent woman who has lived out her conflicts, not her fantasies, in a city (New York) that has done the same. It's written as a narrative collage that includes meditative pieces on the making of a modern feminist, the role of the flâneur in urban literature, and the evolution of friendship over the past two centuries.’

Day Four by Sarah Lotz - 21 May
‘The trip of their dreams becomes the holiday of their nightmares: Day Four is Sarah Lotz's extraordinary, unmissable follow-up to The Three. Four days into a five-day singles cruise on the Gulf of Mexico, the ageing ship Beautiful Dreamer stops dead in the water. With no electricity and no cellular signals, the passengers and crew have no way to call for help. But everyone is certain that rescue teams will come looking for them soon. All they have to do is wait...’

In My House by Alex Hourston - 21 May
‘Maggie lives a life of careful routines and measured pleasures. But everything changes when, walking through Gatwick a few days shy of her fifty-eighth birthday, a young woman approaches her and whispers a single word: ‘Help.’ Maggie responds, and in that moment saves a stranger. But when the story gets picked up by the papers, Margaret is panicked by the publicity, as well as the strange phone calls she begins to receive. Meanwhile, Anja makes contact. She wants to thank her rescuer, but quickly insinuates herself into Maggie’s life...’

The Followers by Rebecca Wait - 21 May
‘When Stephanie first meets Nathaniel, she is a struggling single mother and he is a charismatic outsider. In deciding to join the small religious cult he has founded high on the moors, Stephanie thinks she is doing the best for her daughter, Judith: a new home, a new life, a new purpose. But from the moment they arrive, the delicate dynamic of Nathaniel's followers is disturbed, and as Stephanie slowly surrenders herself to Nathaniel's will, tensions deepen, faith and doubt collide, and a horrifying act of violence changes everything...’

Girl at War by Sara Nović - 21 May
‘Growing up in Zagreb in the summer of 1991, 10-year-old Ana Juric is a carefree tomboy; she runs the streets with her best friend, Luka, helps take care of her baby sister and idolises her father. But when civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, she is lost to a world of genocide and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival. Ten years later she returns to Croatia, a young woman struggling to belong to either country, forced to confront the trauma of her past and rediscover the place that was once her home.’

Death is a Welcome Guest by Louise Welsh - 4 June
‘Magnus McFall was a comic on the brink of his big break when the world came to an end. Now, he is a man on the run. Thrown into unwilling partnership with an escaped convict, Magnus flees the desolation of London to make the long journey north, clinging to his hope that the sickness has not reached his family on their remote Scottish island. He finds himself in a landscape fraught with danger, fighting for his place in a world ruled by men like his fellow traveller Jeb - practical men who do not let pain or emotions interfere with getting the job done. This is a world with its own justice, and new rules - where survival is everything...’

Stallo by Stefan Spjut - 4 June
‘In the summer of 1978 a young boy disappears without trace from a summer cabin in the woods. Twenty-five years later, Susso runs a much-maligned web page, one dedicated to searching for creatures whose existence has not yet been proven: the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot. When an old woman claims that a small creature has been standing outside her house, observing her and her five year old grandson for hours, Susso picks up her camera and leaves for what will become a terrifying adventure into the unknown...’

Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen - 4 June
‘The enigmatic billionaire founder of Tetration, the world’s most powerful tech company, hires a failed novelist, Josh Cohen, to ghostwrite his memoirs. The mogul, known as Principal, takes Josh on a mind-bending world tour from Palo Alto to Dubai and beyond, initiating him into the secret pretext of the autobiography project and the life-or-death stakes that surround its publication. Insider tech exposé, leaked memoir-in-progress, international thriller, family drama, sex comedy, and biblical allegory, Book of Numbers renders the full range of modern experience both online and off. Embodying the internet in its language, it finds the humanity underlying the virtual.’

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry - 4 June
‘New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a young cleaner, finds an abandoned newborn baby. Odile Church is the girl-on-the-wheel, a second-fiddle act in a show that has long since lost its magic. And Alphie wakes up groggy and confused in Blackwell's Lunatic Asylum. On a single night, these strangers' lives will become irrevocably entwined, as secrets come to light and outsiders struggle for acceptance. From the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular sideshow to a desolate asylum, Leslie Parry makes turn-of-the-century New York feel alive, vivid, and magical... The Night Circus meets Water For Elephants.’

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango - 4 June
‘Henry Hayden appears to have a perfect life: he's a famous novelist with more money than he can spend, a grand house in the country, a loyal, clever wife. But Henry has a dark side, a carefully maintained lie he will stop at nothing to protect. In thrall to paranoia and self-interest, Henry makes a fatal error that could cause the whole dream to unravel and, despite his Machiavellian efforts, events swiftly spin out of control as lie is heaped upon lie, menace upon menace. And it turns out that those around him have their secrets too...’

The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus - 4 June
‘Cecilia Somner's fate hangs in the balance. A larger-than-life heiress to a robber baron's fortune, once known for her cruel wit as much as for her tremendous generosity, CeCe is now in opulent decline. Along with her troubled son, George, and his outsider wife, Iris, CeCe must face the Somners' dark legacy and the corrupting nature of wealth. The secrets and lies between the Somners grow entangled, culminating in a crime as unforgettable as it is unexpected. While no riches can put things right for the family, when all is lost, they learn what life beyond the long, shimmering shadow cast by their dynasty may become...’

Louisa Meets Bear by Lisa Gornick - 9 June
‘When Louisa and Bear meet at Princeton in 1975, sparks fly: they dive headfirst into a passionate but explosive affair that will alter the course of their lives, changing how they define themselves in the years and relationships that follow. Reading Louisa Meets Bear is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, as we uncover the subtle and startling connections between new characters and the star-crossed lovers. We meet a daughter who stabs her mother, a wife who sees herself clearly after finding a man dead on her office floor, a mother who discovers a girl in her teenage son's bed, and more, in a gripping collection of linked stories.’

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar - 16 June
‘These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories from Mia Alvar, a remarkable new literary talent, vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere - and, sometimes, turning back again. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s powerful debut collection explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined.’

The Insect Rosary by Sarah Armstrong - 18 June
‘All families have secrets, but Bernadette's are more dangerous than most. On holiday in Northern Ireland in 1982, she and her older sister discover their family is involved with disappearances and murder. Thirty years later Nancy makes a disastrous return to the farm with her own family. The events of the past gradually and menacingly reveal why those sisters have not spoken to each other since that last disturbing summer together...’

The Four-Dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World by Laurence Scott - 18 June
‘What does it feel like to be four-dimensional? How do digital technologies influence the rhythms of our thoughts, the style and tilt of our consciousness? What new sensitivities and sensibilities are emerging with our exposure to the delights, sorrows and anxieties of a networked world? And how do we live in public, with recoded private lives? Tackling ideas of time, space, isolation, silence and threat - how our modern-day anxieties manifest online - and moving from Hamlet to the ghosts of social media, from Seinfeld to the fall of Gaddafi, from Twitter art to Oedipus, The Four-Dimensional Human is a highly original and pioneering portrait of life in a digital landscape.’

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler - 23 June
‘Simon Watson lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller, sent to him because it is inscribed with the name of his grandmother. The book tells the story of two doomed lovers who were part of a travelling circus more than two hundred years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes and sketches. He is fascinated, yet as he reads Simon becomes increasingly unnerved by the story's parallels to his own family...’

Music for Wartime: Stories by Rebecca Makkai - 23 June
‘The author of The Hundred-Year House returns with a collection of short stories marked with her signature mix of intelligence, wit, and heart. A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, while her own relationship falls apart. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a young boy has a revelation about his father’s past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. In an unnamed country, a composer records the folk songs of two women from a village on the brink of destruction. These wide-ranging and deeply moving stories will delight readers of Lorrie Moore, Jim Shepard, and Karen Russell.’

I can't believe a) it's almost the end of April and b) it's time for one of these posts again! So May & June are big months for new books, although some titles originally due to launch within these two months have been put back since I originally wrote about 2015 books. Most importantly, the new Scarlett Thomas novel will now be out in July instead, and Hannah Richell's The Peacock Room seems to have vanished off the face of the internet.

I've read a few of these already: Things We Have in Common and In My House are fantastic debuts, and I also enjoyed The Predictions and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark. Most-anticipated book of May/June, for me, is a dead heat between Death is a Welcome Guest and The Ghost Network; the former is the sequel to one of my favourite books from last year, and the latter I've been absolutely dying to finish ever since I read an extract from it.

What will you be reading in the next couple of months? Any more May/June releases you're looking forward to?

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much. Love this segment each month. I do find that in Australia we are a month or two behind in the new releases (which doesn't surprise me) but I just go back to your previous month review. I reserve new releases at the library usually based on your reviews.