1. The one that JK Rowling wrote
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
So we’ve just about recovered from the excitement of hearing Harry Potter author JK Rowling wrote a really good murder/mystery (The Cuckoo’s Calling) under a pseudonym and now the second in the series is here. Cormoran Strike, her incredibly tall, war-veteraned, one-legged private detective with the interesting name, is back with his sidekick Robin Ellacott after solving the celebrity murder in the first book. This time he is investigating the gruesome murder of a cranky, rather nasty writer with far too many enemies. It’s a good old-fashioned whodunit to keep you hooked, well, unless whodunits are not your thing then you had better move on to number 2.
Buy it here
2. The one that’s a thriller and not a horror story
Mr Mercedes by Stephen King
Horror and fantasy writer Stephen King has stepped into a different genre and written a suspense novel and it’s high on the list of books I shall be reading this month. First I must confess that I adore Mr King and everything he puts on paper and some of his best books have not had any supernatural horror stuff in it, think of Misery about an author held prisoner by a mad fan. In this one, a crazed man drives his Mercedes-Benz into a crowd of people killing and wounding many. The investigating policeman is now retired but still bothered about not solving this one when he gets a letter, supposedly from the killer, taunting him about the case. And the chase is on. Actually I think I need to move this one up the book queue . . .
Buy it here
3. The one that’s a thriller that is a horror story
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Cape Town author Lauren Beukes freaked us out with last year’s highly praised The Shining Girls (add it to your list if you haven’t read it) that had Leonardo DiCaprio snapping up the rights to adapt it for TV. So expect another scary ride with her new thriller/horror Broken Monsters set in Detroit. Detective Gabi Versado hunts monsters and has seen all sorts of evil but her new case involving a serial killer who dreams of “violently remaking the world” is something terrifyingly new. And while she is busy with work her teenage daughter is flirting with a predator online. It sounds like the kind of book I will be reading with the lights on and every noise will sound like serial killers trying to get into the house. But every list needs a good scare-you-silly read.
Buy it here
4. The one about a boy and an ice cream van and something upsetting
We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
I read a sampler of this book a few weeks ago and just wanted to keep reading but annoyingly had to wait for it to be released. It’s finally going on sale! It’s set in Las Vegas and told from the point of view of a couple of characters whose lives intersect. The story kicks into motion when Bashkim, an eight-year-old boy whose Albanian family is trying to make ends meet with their ice cream van, writes a letter to Luis, a traumatised US soldier in Iraq as part of a school pen pal project. The reply he receives draws together the lives of the child, the soldier, a housewife whose marriage is ending and an advocate. It sounds riveting. The reviews for this one have been good and in any case we would not recommend something that did not have the potential to be amazing.
Buy it here
5. The one that is an intriguing mystery
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Maud is getting more and more forgetful as she moves closer to 90. She can’t remember things she has just bought or who her daughter is but she is convinced her friend Elizabeth has disappeared though she has also forgotten she has told the police about this more than once. Maud finds a compact in her garden which leads to her increased worry about Elizabeth and has her remembering her childhood in London just after World War 2 when her newly married sister Sukey disappeared. Is there a connection between the two missing women and is Elizabeth even missing? The unreliability of Maud of the narrator makes this an interesting take on a mystery and it has this wonderful line on the cover: “How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?” I think we are going to like this one!
Buy it here
6. The one that’s about Nelson Mandela
Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange
You’ve probably heard about this one and the reviews have been good so let’s add it to our list of winter reads. Zelda la Grange, who spent 19 years as the right hand woman to the late former president Nelson Mandela, shares her thoughts and stories about her time with this amazing man and the lessons he taught her through observing him in action and things he said. I can probably stop typing now as we just have to read it (the paperback is out this week).
Buy it here
7. The one about family secrets
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
It’s the 35th anniversary of Jim and Franny, their daughter Sylvia has just graduated from high school and they are going on holiday with son Bobby and his girlfriend as well as Franny’s friend Charles and his husband to celebrate. They arrive in Mallorca, Spain, and secrets start spilling out and relationships are affected. Reviews have said there is some humour in it and I love reading about other people’s holidays so let the voyeuring begin.
But it here
8. The one about a mysterious boy
Boy21 by Matthew Quick
This is by the author of Silver Linings Playbook on which the award-winning movie starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper was based. Boy21 is about Finley, who lives for basketball and his spot on the high school basketball team which keeps him going when life seems too much to deal with. Everything changes with the arrival of troubled Russ, who prefers to be called Boy21. He is one of the best high school basketball players in the country and says he is from outer space. Despite the odds the two become friends and start changing each other’s lives. But there is more to Russ than we know and why does he think he is from outer space? It all sounds rather intriguing.
Buy it here
9. The one about teens, love and tears
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
It’s not new (it was published in 2012) but the movie based on the young adult book is in cinemas now. Plus every winter reading list needs at least one book that has you sobbing so here you go. Hazel (16) has thyroid and lung cancer and reluctantly goes to a cancer supporters’ meeting where she meets the charming former basket player Augustus (17) who had to have a leg amputated because of cancer. They fall in love and prove they are not just cancer survivors. It’s sweet and funny and witty and sad. It’s just a wonderful read.
Buy it here
10. The one about witches and vampires who do not sparkle
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
This is the last book in a trilogy and seems out of place on the list but it’s top of my winter reads so I have to share. For anyone who likes a fantasy tale with witches and vampires and a touch of time-travelling that involves William Shakespeare then keep reading, this one will be good and you are so lucky, I envy you, because you get to start with book one, A Discovery of Witches. And in book one, we meet Diana, an academic at Oxford University and a powerful witch fighting her witchiness, who opens an ancient alchemy book brimming with magic. This draws other magical creatures to Oxford, including gorgeous vampire Matthew and things get horribly dangerous. Now I need to be careful here to not give the story away if you are starting the trilogy. Matthew and Diana have to figure out her connection to this ancient book and why everyone wants it and in book two, Shadow of Night, they go back in time. In book three they are figuring things out and everyone and everything is set for a final showdown. And I cannot wait.
Buy A Discovery of Witches (book one) here
Buy Shadow of Night (book two) here
Buy The Book of Life (book three) here