Books for Christmas Part 7: No category required - the best new fiction of 2014

Whilst the run-up to Christmas can be frenetic like nothing else, that period between Christmas into New Year can be just the time to carve out some space, and make time to tackle something a bit more weighty than at other times of the year. So our recommends for the best fiction of the year - typically newly published hardbacks from some of our biggest authors - may not just be as gifts for others, but an indulgence for yourself.

This year many of our favourite books refuse to be categorised in narrow terms of crime, science fiction, fantasy or contemporary fiction. So we'll leave it up to you to decide which category they fall into, we just commend them to you!

The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell - £20.00
Holly Sykes’ life seems ordinary when we meet her in 1984. But her life has been punctuated by inexplicable precognition and it will take her a lifetime (and us the whole book) to understand the significance of seemingly unimportant events in her teenage years. As we follow her to the present day, and into a near oil-starved future, The Bone Clocks works brilliantly as metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, with brief lapses in the laws of reality making this kaleidoscopic novel one of the most original, exciting and inventive chronicles of the way our world might be heading. It crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation.

(You should also take a look at the beautiful cover! We reviewed this book in more depth back in the Autumn - and we still have a few signed copies which you can email us to reserve).

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher - Hilary Mantel - £16.99
A brilliant - and rather transgressive - collection of short stories from the double Man Booker Prize-winning author of 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring Up the Bodies'. Hilary Mantel is one of Britain's most accomplished and acclaimed writers. In these ten bracingly subversive tales, all her gifts of characterisation and observation are fully engaged, summoning forth the horrors so often concealed behind everyday facades.

The Children Act - Ian McEwan - £16.99
A respected high court judge known for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity, hides the fact that professional success belies private sorrow – lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. At the same time, she is called on to try the case of a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, who is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life. With his devout parents sharing his wishes, time is running out and her judgment - both professional and personal - has momentous consequences for them both. A modern-day parable of the power of - and limits to - logic and faith.

Lamentation - C J Sansom - £20.00
It's been a four-year wait (yes, Heartstone was published in 2010) but Matthew Shardlake finally returns, as an ageing Henry VIII nears the end of his reign. Summoned to Whitehall Palace by Catherine Parr, he learns that a secret book has inexplicably vanished, the only page having been found clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer. It is the Queen’s confessional and Shardlake's investigations take him into the labyrinthine world of the politics of the royal court; a world he had sworn never to enter again. The theft of Queen Catherine's book proves to be connected to a recent terrible death, while his involvement threatens to bring Shardlake himself to the stake. Sansom keeps up the form that have made the Shardlake books one of the bestselling - and best loved - historically series of recent years.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy - Rachel Joyce - £14.99
When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note to him had explained she was dying from cancer. How can she wait? Told in simple, emotionally-honest prose, with a mischievous bite, this is a novel about the journey we all must take to learn who we are; it is about loving and letting go. And most of all it is about finding joy in unexpected places and at times we least expect. Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was just the beginning...

The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters - £20.00
It is 1922, and in South London, impoverished widow Mrs Wray takes in lodgers. The routines of the house will be shaken in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. This is vintage Sarah Waters: beautifully described with excruciating tension, real tenderness, believable characters, and surprises.

The Secret Place - Tana French - £14.99
When a schoolboy was murdered a year ago, the police got nowhere in the exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen Moran has always longed for. To solve it, he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn't want to hear. One of Nicki's favourites of the year.

Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz - £19.99
With pitch-perfect characterisation and breath-taking pace, Horowitz weaves his second relentlessly thrilling new Sherlock Holmes tale which teases and delights by the turn of each page. The game is afoot...

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion - £14.99
The Rosie Project was a hugely enjoyable, word-of-mouth treat of a book: intelligent, beguiling and unashamedly romantic. The Rosie Effect is the charming and hilarious sequel to Simsion's bestselling debut novel, and confirms Don Tillman as one of the most original and endearing literary characters of recent years. With his typically awkward and confused take, he narrates his life as it spins off in unplanned directions. This is pure, wonderful escapism.

The Taxidermist’s Daughter - Kate Mosse - £18.99
Sussex, 1912. In a churchyard, villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead. Connie Gifford struggles to discover who is responsible, but finds herself under suspicion. What is the secret that lies at the heart of Gifford House, decaying home of the once world-famous museum of taxidermy and what sinister forces are at work?

Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood - £18.99
In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood ventures into the shadowland earlier explored by fabulists and concoctors of dark yarns such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Daphne du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle - and also by herself, in her award-winning novel Alias Grace. In Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood is at the top of her darkly humorous and seriously playful game.

Us - David Nicholls - £20.00
A disintegrating family booked on the trip of a lifetime around Europe gives a brilliant backdrop to explore the bittersweet heart of this family’s failed relationships. David Nicholls brings to bear all the wit and intelligence that graced One Day. A novel about love and family, husbands and wives, parents and children.

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch - £16.99
In the fifth of this bestselling series Peter Grant heads to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops, local gods..and some carnivorous unicorns. The Peter Grant series has been a huge hit with readers at Mostly Books, and Aaronovitch serves up another hugely satisfying dose of quirky magical weirdness to his rapidly increasing and loyal fans.

Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook Terry Pratchett 12.99
Authorised by Mr Lipwig of the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygienic Railway himself, Mrs Georgina Bradshaw's invaluable guide to the destinations and diversions of the railway deserves a place in the luggage of any traveller, or indeed armchair traveller, upon the Disc. Sample the delights of Dimmuck, the pleasures of Little Swelling , the charm of Shankydoodle, and enough cabbage in all its many guises to satisfy the keenest brassica connoisseur.

Miss Carter’s War - Shelia Hancock - £12.99
It is 1948 and for Miss Carter - one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Cambridge - it is a time to fight social injustice, to prevent war and to educate her girls. Through deep friendships and love lost and found, from the peace marches of the fifties and the flowering of the Swinging Sixties, to the rise of Thatcher and the battle for gay rights, to the spectre of a new war, Sheila Hancock has created a powerful, panoramic portrait of Britain through the life of one very singular woman.

Ghost Girl - Lesley Thomson - £7.99
Ten-year-old Mary Thornton is taking her little brother home from school. It is 1966,. But that afternoon will change Mary's life forever. She is about to become the only witness to her brother's murder. Only a year after the death of her father Stella discovers unlabelled photographs of deserted streets amongst her father's possessions. And the first photograph in this odd collection dates back to 1966...

Ancillary Sword - Ann Leckie - £8.99
Breq - the soldier who used to be a spaceship is serving the emperor she swore to destroy. She's been given her own warship, her own crew and ordered to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go: to Athoek Station, to protect the family of the lieutenant she murdered in cold blood. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. The sequel to Ancillary Justice - which swept all before it scooping many of the major SF awards in 2013 - this is intelligent, satisfying science fiction in the tradition of Iain M Banks and Ursula Le Guin.

Treachery - S J Parris - £7.99
Giordano Bruno, a heretic fleeing the Inquisition, finds a new life working as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham. Along with his friend, Sir Philip Sidney, Bruno travels to Plymouth and join Sir Francis Drake on his daring expedition against the Spanish. When a murder occurs aboard Drake's own ship, fear and suspicion grip the fleet and threaten to abort the expedition before it begins. Bruno starts to uncover some very dark secrets...and if he fails to find the murderer, it will not just be Bruno who pays the price, but all of England...

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North - £7.99
Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. 'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,' she says. 'I need to send a message.' This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow. Blisteringly original speculative fiction from a talentd new author.

Trust In Me - Sophie Mckenzie - £7.99
Julia has always been the friend that Livy turns to when life is difficult.When Julia is found dead in her home, Livy cannot come to terms with the news that she chose to end her own life. The Julia that Livy knew was vibrant and vivacious, a far cry from the selfish neurotic that her family seem determined to paint her as. Troubled by doubt but alone in her suspicions, Livy sets out to prove that Julia was in fact murdered. But little does she realise that digging into her best friend's private life will cause her to question everything she thought she knew about Julia. And the truth that Livy discovers will tear the very fabric of her own life apart.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:06 am

    These are good books. But I recommend Closing the Book on Santa Claus by Ron Chandler for a great holiday read.. It is a fictionalized narrative of why a Merry Christmas law is needed for our local schools. The story is about a father who tries to save his daughter’s holiday celebration after it is cancelled at the local school. He organizes a rally at city hall, but unexpected calamity prevails. Mr. Chandler shows why character education is as important to children as the memorization of facts and figures. I would recommend this book to other readers, both adults and children. It also includes four additional stories that will brighten everyone’s holiday season. I have decided to endorse this emerging writer because he reflects the conservative values that we need in our society today.
    Ted Hilliard