THE BOOKS TO BUY FOR MOTHER’S DAY

Whatever her mood or taste in fiction, here are some of the best new releases for your mum this Mother’s Day.

 

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

shininggirlsChicago, 1931. Harper Curtis is a violent drifter who finds a key in the pocket of a coat of a woman he has just murdered.

It opens the door to the House but this house has its own doors opening onto other times. It becomes the perfect vehicle to allow Harper to do what he loves best, murdering the shining girls. It’s not his fault, he just needs to pull the spark out of them.

Chicago 1992. Kirby Mazrachi is struggling to come to terms with the fact that someone tried to murder her. As she tries to find the killer, she unearths evidence of other girls murdered with the same MO. It’s not possible but then, nor is the fact she survived. A serial killer who can cross barriers of time might be mundane in the hands of many writers but not when that writer is Lauren Beukes.

 

Dark Horse by Honey Brown

darkhorseSarah Brennan has lost everything; the man she loves, her dream home and her business is bankrupted.

The last thing she can face on Christmas Day is her family, so she saddles up her mare Tansy, packs some supplies and heads up through the Mortimer Ranges to Devil Mountain to spend the night at Hangman’s Hut.

Sarah knows the area like the back of her hand, she’s been leading trail rides through these mountains for years, but nothing prepares her for a treacherous change in the weather. Trapped on the mountain by a flash flood, Sarah shelters in a workman’s caravan, knowing she has enough skills and supplies to wait out the weather and find her way back the next morning.

Then a stranger arrives out of nowhere. He says he’s nursing a damaged knee but Sarah’s suspicions are aroused when she registers that for a hiker he seems poorly equipped and beyond that he is reluctant to answer her questions. The realisation dawns on Sarah that she is trapped on the mountain with a complete stranger and only her wits to keep her safe. A taut suspenseful psychological drama of the best kind.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

burialbitesIn 1829, in northern Iceland, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death following her part in the murder of two men.

She is sent to the farm of District Officer Jón Jónsson and his family to await her execution. His wife and daughters are horrified at having the convicted woman in their presence and refuse to speak to her. The only person who will speak to her is the young Assistant Reverend Tóti who has been assigned as Agnes’ spiritual guide to assist her come to terms with her impending death.

As summer turns to winter, she slowly reveals her harsh and sad tale to the young minister and as execution day approaches, the family and Reverend are no longer convinced of Agnes’ guilt. Kent’s imagination has been held captive to the real life story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir since she visited Iceland as an exchange student, now she has created a brilliant moving novel around the last woman to be executed in Iceland.

 

The Night Rainbow by Claire King

nightrainbowFive-year-old Pea and her little sister Margot are spending the summer running wild through the meadows that surround their house.

Their father has died in a tractor accident and their mother has returned from hospital without the baby. For the girls, the isolation is splendid but for their mother, who is English, it is too much to bear on top of everything else and she retreats into herself. In their simple way, staying out of maman’s way is only one of the thousand things they do to try and make their mother feel better.

Into their world of make believe enters a man called Claude and his dog Merlin. The girls befriend the ugly man with a limp, encouraging him to watch their shows and play their games. But their new friend Claude is viewed by the villagers with suspicion and there are whispers of secrets best left untold. Pea’s powerful imagination navigates the treacherous paths of adult grief and depression making a fresh and powerful narrative.

 

The Rules of Conception by Angela Lawrence

rulesAt thirty-five Rachel Richards has had enough of dating Mr Wrong, has dumped the man who should have been Mr Right and can’t face getting back into the shark-infested waters that surround dating as a thirty-something.

But she is ready to have baby, it’s what she has always wanted and if she has to go it alone then so be it. After all, how hard can it be? Exploring everything from co-parenting to anonymous sperm donation, Rachel eventually decides to choose a known donor. Just when she thinks life is under control, her dreams start to de-rail.

First her boss becomes loonier and more demanding than ever, a colleague starts showing a less than professional interest in her and well, the rules of conception aren’t as simple as they sound. A funny, uplifting story from single mother and author, Angela Lawrence.

 

Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

closemyeyesGeniver and Art Loxley have been through six failed IVF treatments since they lost Beth who died in utero from complications arising from a chromosomal disorder eight years ago.

It’s been a long a difficult time for Geniver who, as a successful writer, hasn’t written a word in eight years, although Art’s ethical investment company has gone from strength to strength. Geniver has reached a point where she just can’t face another cycle of IVF, despite Art’s urgings. The grief she feels for Beth has worn Geniver too thin to keep trying for another baby. Then a knock on the door changes everything. A stranger stands there telling Geniver that Beth is still alive, that she was taken from Geniver deliberately.

Hope overrides the warning of Art and her friends that this is just some cruel hoax to extract money from the wealthy Loxleys. But Geniver can’t let go of the thought that somewhere out there, her baby girl is still alive. Sophie McKenzie has written a gripping page-turner of the first order.

 

Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller

jacobsfollyIn eighteenth century Paris, Jacob is a peddler of knives, salt cellars and snuffboxes and determined to make something of himself by whatever means possible.

Unfortunately, Jacob dies at the age of thirty-one although somewhat fortuitously, Jacob thinks, he has been turned into an angel, albeit one of those tiny angels that fit on the heads of pins. The truth of the matter is that Jacob can fly, not because he is an angel, but because he is an actual fly. However, even the smallest of God’s creatures can be immeasurably influential and that is what Jacob is about to be.

Into the twenty-first century lives of Les Senzatimore, a volunteer fireman, and the gravely ill Masha flies Jacob. Both of them yearn for change and as unlikely as it seems, that change agent is Jacob. A comic, warm and delightfully uplifting read.

 

The Limit by Riikka Pulkkinen

thelimitFinish writer Rikka Pulkkinen’s debut novel was a bestseller in Finland and the Netherlands and has now been translated into English.

It is the story of four people pushing against the moral and ethical boundaries that constrain us. There is Anja, in her fifties, whose husband must now live in a nursing home since succumbing to Alzheimer’s. He no longer knows who she is and without him, Anja no longer knows who she is either.

On a gorgeous summer day she plans her suicide, gathering vegetables from the garden for a salad to go with her meal, watering the roses and laying out a packet of anti-depressants on the kitchen table.

Anja’s niece Mari is a good girl living a dull life which she escapes from by fantasising about her death, every detailed finessed, the obituaries written, her eternal beauty guaranteed. She begins an affair with her literature and language teacher who is married with two young children of his own. His six-year-old daughter witnesses the affair, observing the shifting lies and truths of the adult world. There is a sparse lyricism to Pulkkinen’s writing that makes her storytelling truly beautiful.

 

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell

theshadowyearWhen Lila suffers a fall, baby Milly is born prematurely and survives only five days.

Stuck in her grief, her marriage to Tom strained taut under the weight of their loss, Lila can make no sense of a solicitor’s letter that informs her that she has been bequeathed a remote cottage in the Peaks District from a mysterious benefactor. Curious and needing to escape from London, Lila convinces Tom to come with her and view this mystery property.

There is something about the place that seems so familiar and rather than sell it on as she originally planned, it becomes Lila’s refuge from real life. As she renovates the cottage with the strange little stick figures painted on the wall Lila wonders who used to live here and why they abandoned the cottage leaving so much behind. Little does Lila realise that the answers to the questions that dog her might be much closer to home that she realises. Hannah Richell blends place and dysfunctional personal relationships into a riveting story of mystery and family tragedy.

 

My Beautiful Enemy by Cory Taylor

beautifulenemyArthur is a seventeen-year-old soldier whose grand vision of covering himself in glory fighting the Japs in the last days of World War II are thwarted when his nerves see him relegated to a post guarding Japanese enemy aliens in the Victorian countryside.

Here he meets Stanley and everything he has every believed about the evil, savage nature of the Japanese people is changed the moment her lays eyes on this beautiful aloof young man. Desperate to conform to society’s expectations, Arthur marries and fathers a child but when he hears that Stanley has been deported to a Japan decimated by war, he abandons his family to rescue him.

Thus begins Arthur’s real war; one that challenges his sense of identity and his need to conceal his sexuality and his profound love for the man who threatens to undermine all that makes Arthur secure. This is a beautifully told story of love, longing and the war within.

 

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