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Istanbul

Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by 

Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle, where the idea is as potent as the historical fact. From the Qu’ran to Shakespeare, this city with three names – Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul – resonates as an idea and a place, and overspills its boundaries – real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between the East and West, it has served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was known simply as The City, but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a story.

In this epic new biography, Hughes takes us on a dazzling historical journey through the many incarnations of one of the world’s greatest cities. As the longest-lived political entity in Europe, over the last 6,000 years Istanbul has absorbed a mosaic of micro-cities and cultures all gathering around the core. At the latest count archaeologists have measured forty-two human habitation layers. Phoenicians, Genoese, Venetians, Jews, Vikings, Azeris all called a patch of this earth their home. Based on meticulous research and new archaeological evidence, this captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul is visceral, immediate and scholarly narrative history at its finest.

(Description courtesy of Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

 

Life to KillA Life to Kill by Matthew Hall 

The day they’ve all been waiting for is at hand. The last British combat soldiers in Helmand are counting the minutes until their departure for home. For their excited families in Highcliffe, it spells the end of an agonizing six month wait. But in the final hours, disaster strikes. Nineteen-year-old Private Pete ‘Skippy’ Lyons is abducted and the patrol sent out to locate him is ambushed. One killed, two injured. One still missing in action . . .

Their loved ones are left desperate for answers the Army won’t provide. How could Private Lyons have been snatched from a heavily fortified command post? And why are officers trying to disguise what happened during the mission to save him? Their only hope lies with Coroner Jenny Cooper, who must take on the full might of the military to stop the truth being buried along with the boy soldiers. But in a town filled with secrets and rumours, it’s not only the Army that has something to hide.

(Description courtesy of Pan Macmillan)

 

Norse

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction. Now he reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales. Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman’s prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.

(Description courtesy of Bloomsbury)

 

 

Doll funeral

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed. I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he’d give me a medal for lying.

I wasn’t lying. I’m a hunter for lost souls and I’m going to be with my real family. And I’m not going to let Mick stop me.

(Description courtesy of Faber & Faber)

 

Armitage

The Unaccompanied by Simon Armitage

After more than a decade and following his celebrated adventures in drama, translation, travel writing and prose poetry, Simon Armitage’s eleventh collection of poems heralds a return to his trademark contemporary lyricism. The pieces in this multi-textured and moving volume are set against a backdrop of economic recession and social division, where mass media, the mass market and globalisation have made alienation a commonplace experience and where the solitary imagination drifts and conjures.

The Unaccompanied documents a world on the brink, a world of unreliable seasons and unstable coordinates, where Odysseus stalks the aisles of cut-price supermarkets in search of direction, where the star of Bethlehem rises over industrial Yorkshire, and where alarm bells for ailing communities go unheeded or unheard. Looking for certainty the mind gravitates to recollections of upbringing and family, only to encounter more unrecoverable worlds, shaped as ever through Armitage’s gifts for clarity and detail as well as his characteristic dead-pan wit. Insightful, relevant and empathetic, these poems confirm The Unaccompanied as a bold new statement of intent by one of our most respected and recognised living poets.

(Description courtesy of Faber & Faber)

 

Swimming LessonsSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Gil’s wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.

A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil’s books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?

The second novel from the author of Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize and was a 2016 Richard and Judy Book Club Pick.

(Description courtesy of Penguin)

 

 

TrainsNight Trains by Andrew Martin

Night trains have long fascinated us with the possibilities of their private sleeping compartments, gilded dining cars, champagne bars and wealthy travellers. Authors from Agatha Christie to Graham Greene have used night trains to tell tales of romance, intrigue and decadence against a rolling background of dramatic landscapes. The reality could often be as thrilling: early British travellers on the Orient Express were advised to carry a revolver (as well as a teapot).In Night Trains, Andrew Martin attempts to relive the golden age of the great European sleeper trains by using their modern-day equivalents. This is no simple matter. The night trains have fallen on hard times, and the services are disappearing one by one. But if the Orient Express experience can only be recreated by taking three separate sleepers, the intriguing characters and exotic atmospheres have survived. Whether the backdrop is 3am at a Turkish customs post, the sun rising over the Riviera, or the constant twilight of a Norwegian summer night, Martin rediscovers the pleasures of a continent connected by rail. By tracing the history of the sleeper trains, he reveals much of the recent history of Europe itself. The original sleepers helped break down national barriers and unify the continent. Martin uncovers modern instances of European unity – and otherwise – as he traverses the continent during ‘interesting times’, with Brexit looming. Against this tumultuous backdrop, he experiences his own smaller dramas, as he fails to find crucial connecting stations, ponders the mystery of the compartment dog, and becomes embroiled in his very own night train whodunit.

(Description courtesy of Profile Books)

 

Furies

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

(Description Courtesy of Penguin)