John Birmingham’s THE CRUEL STARS

This is the best book John Birmingham has ever written! Think Firefly meets Game of Thrones and then some. It reminded me a lot of John Scalzi but with John Birmingham’s own unique sense of humour, sense of technology and sense of violence. It has everything a rollicking space opera needs; a crazy scientist, a smart-mouthed AI, a captured princess, a band of genetically diverse space pirates, a Navy almost crippled to its knees and Space Nazis. John Birmingham builds his world, almost tears it down and then sends everyone against each other. Wonderfully entertaining. Totally absorbing. I wanted to read the next book in the series the moment I finished. … More John Birmingham’s THE CRUEL STARS

Colson Whitehead’s THE NICKEL BOYS

This is a searing and deeply moving portrait of two boys trying to survive in a world where the cards are stacked against them but do everything in their power to hold their heads high or keep their heads down. It is powerful and inspiring and it is poignant and bitter. Whitehead keeps the violence and brutality just off stage. You know it is there. You know it is vicious and cruel. You know it is depraved. But this novel is not about how graphic the treatment of these boys is but how systemic hope, dreams and the chance at a good and normal life can be taken away from so many. How future possibilities can be hobbled or simply buried and forgotten about.
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Téa Obreht’s INLAND

Téa Obreht’s debut, The Tiger’s Wife, was simply stunning. It heralded a truly extraordinary writer and remarkable storyteller so when I learned there was a new novel coming this year I was very excited. What I didn’t expect was a Western but of course in the hands of Téa Obreht that means a Western unlike anything I’ve read before.
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Karl Marlantes’ DEEP RIVER

It is impossible not to compare this novel to Matterhorn. Both are complete epics that suck you into the harsh and brutal worlds they both depict. They are also both deeply personal and political stories. However there is much more room in Deep River for Marlantes to explore. This novel is richly built and layered with a cast of characters that grows and expands as each sibling slowly and carefully carves out their new lives far from home and then must fight and make sacrifices to keep it. … More Karl Marlantes’ DEEP RIVER

Namwali Serpell’s THE OLD DRIFT

This amazing novel is set in Zambia over two centuries and follows three generations from three families whose lives become coiled together. Namwali Serpell’s debut is not just genre defying but genre encompassing; part-fairy tale, part-historical epic, it is a tragic love story and cutting edge science fiction. This book literally has it all. With echoes of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Richard Powers’ The Overstory this sweeping, drifting story is a perfect commentary on the 21st Century and all its failings including those still to come.
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Dana Czapnik’s THE FALCONER

Every year there are amazing books written and brilliant new writers to be discovered but there is a hint of something extra special going on at the moment. With writers like Lisa Halliday and Sally Rooney I feel we are heralding in a new golden age of novelists. Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry reads like a classic from the Richard Yates era and Sally Rooney’s Normal People is so assured and meticulously insightful you would be forgiven thinking both these writers were midway through their careers not at the start of them. You can add Dana Czapnik’s The Falconer to this list. It is quite simply an extraordinary novel and I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I love this book. … More Dana Czapnik’s THE FALCONER

Adrian McKinty’s THE CHAIN

This is a thriller that bolts out of the gate and doesn’t turn around until you are breathless and on the cusp of collapsing. Rachel is the single mother of a teenage daughter who has just beaten cancer and is on the verge of getting her life back on track after her divorce. That is until her daughter Kylie is abducted on the way to school one morning and Rachel receives a phone call telling her that if she wants her daughter back alive she must pay a ransom and then kidnap another child where she must repeat the process that is being done to her. Welcome to The Chain. The Chain goes on forever. The Chain cannot be broken. … More Adrian McKinty’s THE CHAIN

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s DAISY JONES & THE SIX

This book is an absolute firecracker of a novel. The fuse is lit the moment you open the book. It sparks and crackles as it burns as you get to know each character and the story builds until it explodes with every emotion you can think of; joy, despair, elation, misery, excitement and more. Your pulse literally races as you read this book and you will have a smile on your face one moment and be reaching for tissues the next. You will want to read the whole thing in one go and then sit down and listen to the great music of the era it depicts. … More Taylor Jenkins Reid’s DAISY JONES & THE SIX