Jolabokaflod

Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

Contemporary fiction

Please visit our Book Bulletin 2018 crowdfunding project at CrowdPatch to buy recommendations for our Winter 2018 catalogue and to volunteer your skills, experience and contacts. All funds raised will support not-for-profit Jolabokaflod CIC’s forthcoming programme of events.

Time’s Betrayal
David Adams Cleveland
(USA: Fomite Press, @FomitePress, 2017)

Time’s Betrayal is an epic multi-generational family saga covering the years from the battle of Antietam to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The novel chronicles a son’s search for a larger-than-life father, a CIA agent who disappeared in the early 1950s, leaving behind a distraught wife and lovers, not to mention a Pandora’s box of devastating secrets and unanswered questions that baffled all who investigated his fate – a fate as beguiling as it is mysterious. This is also a story about the crumbling edifice of the eastern Establishment after World War II and in Vietnam-era America. A poignant coming-of-age tale, it is related though the eyes of Peter Alden, whose school days are shattered when he overhears a conversation about his father from two CIA colleagues: how John Alden, a world-famous archaeologist turned OSS and CIA officer, who vanished through Checkpoint Charlie, may have been a traitor …

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks)
CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo (ebook)
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | Amazon (ebook) | Goodreads | SapnaOnline
IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus
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Recommended by:
Fomite Press: at BookExpo America

A fomite is a medium capable of transmitting infectious organisms from one individual to another. The activity of art is based on the capacity of people to be infected by the feelings of others.” In his 1897 book What is Art? (Amazon: UK | USA), Leo Tolstoy wrote: ‘The activity of art is based on the capacity of people to be infected by the feelings of others.’ Fomite Press aims to publish books that fulfil these definitions: they want to make beautiful, if sometimes strange, books. 0140446427

Life After Life
(Todd Family: book 1)
Kate Atkinson
(UK: Black Swan, @PenguinUKBooks, 2014; USA: Back Bay Books, @backbaybooks, 2014)

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath … During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
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Recommended by:
Heather Ellis, Deputy Head Teacher, The Southover Partnership, and Director, Seeds

Heather is a long-standing member of the Southover team, having joined the organisation in 2002. She has a background of 15 years teaching art, design and photography in the mainstream secondary sector, working as Head of Department and Head of Faculty. Prior to joining the Southover Partnership she worked as an Art Education Consultant and an Arts Director for art educational charities: training teachers, writing curriculum materials and leading workshops. She serves as a Director of Seeds, a Christian arts and media charity.

A God in Ruins
(Todd Family: book 2)
Kate Atkinson
(UK: Black Swan, @PenguinUKBooks, 2015; USA: Back Bay Books, @backbaybooks, 2016)

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
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Rest of the world: Book DepositoryWordery

Recommended by:
Heather Ellis, Deputy Head Teacher, The Southover Partnership, and Director, Seeds

Heather is a long-standing member of the Southover team, having joined the organisation in 2002. She has a background of 15 years teaching art, design and photography in the mainstream secondary sector, working as Head of Department and Head of Faculty. Prior to joining the Southover Partnership she worked as an Art Education Consultant and an Arts Director for art educational charities: training teachers, writing curriculum materials and leading workshops. She serves as a Director of Seeds, a Christian arts and media charity.

The Museum of You
Carys Bray
(UK: Windmill, @WindmillBooks, 2017)

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be … But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Whitcoulls
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Recommended by:
Alyson Shipley, Wife, Mum

Alyson describes herself as a constant reader, book hoarder and charity-shop grifter (for books, natch). She is not wrong. She is also an influencer and crime fiction superfan whose ‘life is a permanent TBR pile’.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseni
(UK: Bloomsbury, @BloomsburyBooks, 2008; USA: Riverhead Books, @riverheadbooks, 2008)

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Books.ie | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
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New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
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Recommended by:
Simran Deu: at the inaugural Jolabokaflod Gala Party

At the time of making this recommendation, Simran did not send Book Bulletin any information about herself or her projects, so we are unable to promote her interests and/or causes.

Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro
(UK: Faber & Faber, @FaberBooks, 2010; USA: Vintage, @VintageAnchor, 2006)

This novel imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now aged 31, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
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Neil Ruckman, Storyteller, Writer, Exams Consultant and Special Needs Teacher

Neil is a drama practitioner and storyteller wth over 30 years of experience. He has directed a number of plays, including a UK wide tour of Mark’s Gospel. He has performed as a storytelller at a range of arts festivals, including the inaugural International Storytelling Festival in Rome (both solo and with early music group, Fontanella). He has been involved in arts projects and organisations with a faith perspective. including JC2000, Cre8.Ed and Seeds). He currently teaches drama, film studies, creative writing and psychology from primary to university level. He works for a number of exam boards and is a voluntary leader at The Stable (a Christian church).

The Summer Book
Tove Jansson
(UK: Sort of Books, @SortofBooks, 2003; USA: New York Review Books Classics, @nyrbclassics, 2008)

An elderly artist and her 6-year old granddaughter while away the summer together, on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland, their solitude disturbed only by migrating birds, sudden storms and an occasional passing boat. Gradually, the two learn to adjust to each other’s fears, foibles and yearnings for independence, and a fierce yet understated love emerges – one that engulfs not only the summer inhabitants, but the very island itself.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
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Recommended by:
Line Langebek, Screenwriter (film and television) | Agent: Julia Tyrrell Management; IMDb: Line Langebek Knudsen

Screenwriter Line Langebek has worked as a commissioned writer on shorts, documentaries and features in the UK, US, France, Denmark and Norway. Her first produced feature film I’ll Come Running (2008), written with director Spencer Parsons, was produced by Parts and Labor and released through IFC Films in the US, while her short film writing credits include Echoes (2009, starring Joanne Froggatt), He Said (2007, starring Kerry Fox), Cheer Up (2007) and Anonymous (2012). She is currently working on a new TV thriller commission – Obayifo, a Ghanaian vampire story – and When I Could Fly, a story about a woman who starts to levitate. She teaches at Regent’s University London and she is the co-chair of the WGGB Film Committee, together with Andrea Gibb.

Daisy Jones & The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
(UK: Hutchinson, @HutchinsonBooks, 2019; USA: Ballantine Books, @randomhouse, 2019)

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split … Nobody ever knew why. Until now.

They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed.

Making music is never just about the music. Sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin ….

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Books.ie | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Whitcoulls
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Recommended by:
Hutchinson: at The Book Marketing Society

Hutchinson is one of the UK’s oldest publishing imprints, starting life in 1887 as a magazine and book publisher. It has a prestigious history, having first published authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, EF Benson and HG Wells as well as early English translations of Vladimir Nabokov. It continues to be the home for PG Wodehouse’s entire oeuvre. Today Hutchinson has a reputation for intelligent books with a wide appeal ranging across a number of non-fiction and fiction genres.

The Teashop on the Corner
Milly Johnson
(UK: Simon & Schuster, @simonschusterUK, 2014)

Spring Hill Square is a pretty sanctuary away from the bustle of everyday life. At its centre is Leni Merryman’s ‘Teashop on the Corner’, specialising in cake, bookish stationery and compassion. For three people, all in need of a little TLC, it is somewhere to find a friend to lean on.

Carla Pride has just discovered that her late husband Martin was not who she thought he was. Now she must learn to put her marriage behind her and move forward … Molly Jones’ ex-husband Harvey has reappeared in her life after many years, wanting to put right the wrongs of the past before it is too late … Will Linton’s business has gone bust and his wife has left him to pick up the pieces. Now he needs to gather the strength to start again.

Can all three find the comfort they are looking for in ‘The Teashop on the Corner’? As their hearts are slowly mended by Leni, can they return the favour when she needs it most?

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks)
CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | Amazon | Goodreads | SapnaOnline
IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | DymocksWhitcoulls
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Rest of the world: Book DepositoryWordery

Recommended by:
Adele Blair, Blogger, Kraftireader

Adele started writing her Kraftireader blog in 2014, which shares her love of reading, crafting, recipes, music and shopping bargains. She uses the tagline ‘A book and a tea puts a smile on me’, which she loves for the comforting image it projects of sitting down with your favourite cuppa in a nice quiet corner to read a book. Adele’s preferred book genres are contemporary fiction, romcoms, chick lit, historical romance and family sagas.

Chinaman (UK) | The Legend of Pradeep Mathew (USA)
Shehan Karunatilaka
(UK: Vintage, @vintagebooks, 2012; USA: Graywolf Press, @GraywolfPress, 2012)

Where is Pradeep S Mathew – spin bowler extraordinaire and ‘the greatest cricketer to walk the earth’? Retired sportswriter W G Karunasena is dying, and he wants to know.

WG will spend his final months drinking arrack, making his wife unhappy, ignoring his son and tracking down the mysterious Pradeep. On his quest he will also uncover a coach with six fingers, a secret bunker below a famous stadium, a Tamil Tiger warlord, and startling truths about Sri Lanka, cricket and himself.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Whitcoulls
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Recommended by:
June Norris, Retired (Human Resources Administrator), Middlesex University

As June’s eyesight is failing, she loves accessing literature by listening to audiobooks. Current favourites include the ‘Poldark’ series by Winston Graham and the novels of Mary Stewart. She gave this book to her son, Christopher, as a Christmas gift in 2018: he is a cricket fan.

The Road
Cormac McCarthy
(UK: Picador, @picadorbooks, 2009; USA: Vintage, @VintageAnchor, 2007)

A father and his son walk alone through a burned post-apocalyptic America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food – and each other.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Books.ie | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
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Recommended by:
Peter Besson, Author, Filmmaker and Film Trailer Editor, NBCUniversal | Author website: Peter Besson; Interview: Writer’s Digest; IMDb: Peter Besson

By day, Peter is a film trailer editor for Universal Pictures in Los Angeles as well as an award-winning filmmaker. His films have played on television and in festivals all over the world, garnering more than 70 awards. He’s also a writer, and his last three screenplays have placed in the Quarter- and Semi-finals of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships, the most prestigious screenplay competition in the world. The Last Checkout (Amazon: UK | USA) is Peter’s first novel, marking his debut in the world of prose fiction: in 2018 it won the Grand Prize for the Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards and was runner-up in the Del Sol Press Prize for a first novel.

Nineteen Minutes
Jodi Picoult
(UK: Hodder Paperbacks, @HodderBooks, 2013; USA: Washington Square Press, @simonschuster, 2008)

After years of cruel bullying from his classmates, Peter Houghton snaps one morning, and in nineteen minutes, ten residents of the town of Sterling are dead. When the case goes to trial, the reeling town is determined to seek justice for the innocents Peter killed.

But as the trial unfolds, Peter’s testimony casts light on the terrible role the residents of Sterling have played in turning a sweet, loving boy into a killer, and it isn’t long before Sterling’s illusions of innocence find themselves shattered forever …

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
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CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
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Recommended by:
Joanne Carlton, Self-published Author (YA fiction) | Author website: Joanne Carlton
Joanne says: ‘Fabulous author! All her books are great, but this one stands out!’

‘Joanne’ is a successful self-published author of YA fiction. Her most recent books in English are contemporary fiction title Heart-Beat (2017: Amazon: UK | USA), described as a ‘wonderful book about true friendship’, and Kill Me Again (2018: Amazon: UK | USA), a ‘compelling thriller about reincarnation’, and Dust (2019: Amazon: UK | USA). Previously, Joanne has published six successful books (four Young Adult and two thrillers) in Dutch, in Belgium and the Netherlands, under a different pen name.

Ladies’ Man
Richard Price
(UK: Bloomsbury, @BloomsburyBooks, 1998; USA: Picador, @PicadorUSA, 2011)

Kenny Becker just dumped his girlfriend – the reasons are a little complex. Young and newly unemployed, his main assets at the moment are six-pack abs and a healthy libido – he’s ready to get out, find a little action, and maybe find himself too. But New York is no place for the lonely, and with one meaningless sexual encounter after another, Kenny begins to wonder if the singles scene is not itself a complete con job, with his heart and his future at stake.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | FoylesWaterstones | WHSmith
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CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
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IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | AmazonWhitcoulls
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Exclusive Books
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Recommended by:
David Goo, Musician, Writer, ‘Housewife’ | Music website: David Goo (Batov Records); Author website: Bile (Facebook)
David says: ‘This book is painful and hilarious’

David is a musician and writer residing in London with his partner and their son. His forthcoming book, Bile, is about an eponymous anarchy-punk band on a mission to save the world. Think The Commitments meets The Thick of It.

Akram’s War
Nadim Safdar
(UK: Atlantic, @AtlanticBooks, 2016; USA: Atlantic, @AtlanticBooks, 2017)

One night, Akram Khan walks out of his house towards an appointed time and place where he is supposed to detonate a bomb that will end his life and that of many innocent bystanders. As he wanders through the town he encounters Grace, whose life has been marred just as his has, forming an unlikely closeness borne of need and necessity.

Akram tells Grace about his seemingly inexorable journey towards radicalization: a childhood within the tight-knit Pakistani community, his complex friendships among outcasts, his disastrous years in the army, and his empty arranged marriage to a woman who remains a stranger.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks)
CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | AmazonGoodreadsInfibeam | SapnaOnline
IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon |Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Exclusive Books
Rest of the world: Book DepositoryWordery

Recommended by:
Alyson Shipley, Wife, Mum

Alyson describes herself as a constant reader, book hoarder and charity-shop grifter (for books, natch). She is not wrong. She is also an influencer and crime fiction superfan whose ‘life is a permanent TBR pile’.

The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas
(UK: Walker Books, @WalkerBooksUK, 2017; USA: Balzer + Bray, @BalzerandBray, 2017)

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive | Waterstones | WHSmith
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks)
CanadaFindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | Amazon | Flipkart | Goodreads | SapnaOnline
IrelandBookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Books.ie | Dubray | Eason | Kennys
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD Books
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Exclusive Books
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Recommended by:
Amy Baker and Rosy Edwards, Authors and Co-Founders, The Riffraff

The Riff Raff is a writers’ community that supports aspiring writers and champions debut authors via a podcast, monthly events in Brixton, the Riff Raff Manuscript Shakedown (a manuscript assessment and feedback service) and the Riff Raff Mentoring Scheme, which pairs aspiring writers with a contemporary published author within their specific genre for 1:1 coaching and mentoring. Amy and Rosy are Co-Founders, although Rosy has now moved on to pastures new (namely as Communities Producer at Metro, the free London newspaper, moving in-house from her freelance work as a lifestyle journalist). Both ladies are writers: Amy’s first book is the humorous travel memoir Miss-adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking around South America (2017: Amazon: UK | USA); Rosy’s debut title is an account of her hilarious adventures into online dating, Confessions of a Tinderella (2016: Amazon: UK | USA).

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