Christmas Gift Guides – Fiction Highlights (Christmas 2022)

Christmas 2022 is nearly upon us, so to help with some last minute gift inspiration we’ve put together a series of themed Gift Guides rounding up a selection of our favourite new releases – with a little something for everyone!

Next up: Fiction Highlights!



THE BULLET THAT MISSED (The Thursday Murder Club)

By Richard Osman

Publisher: Viking

A new mystery is afoot in this delightful third instalment in Richard Osman‘s multi-million-copy bestselling whodunnit series, Thursday Murder Club, an absolute must read for any good book lover this Christmas!

It is an ordinary Thursday and things should finally be returning to normal.

Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club is concerned. A decade-old cold case leads them to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers.

Then, a new foe pays Elizabeth a visit. Her mission? Kill . . . or be killed.

As the cold case turns white hot, Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun), while Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim chase down clues with help from old friends and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

As cosy, gripping whodunnits go, THE BULLET THAT MISSED has it all: warm, gentle humour, razor sharp wit, and a complex twisting mystery. Fans of the series – and newcomers alike – will not be disappointed. A great gift for Christmas!



FAIRY TALE

By Stephen King

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Now in his 75th year, master storyteller Stephen King is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon, and this magnificent new novel is vintage King at his very best. The announcement of any new Stephen King novel always becomes something of a major literary event, and FAIRY TALE was no different. Thankfully, however, it proves a spellbinding, fan-pleasing new novel that more than lives up to the anticipation.

Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was seven, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself – and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.

Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.

Sit by the fire, grab a blanket, and immerse yourself in this exceptional new novel this Christmas. Storytelling at its absolute finest!



THE EMPIRE

By Michael Ball

Publisher: Zaffre

Michael Ball brings his trademark warmth and theatricality to this dazzling debut novel, unfolding amongst the glitz and glamour of a prestigious London theatre in the halcyon days of the 1920s.

1922. When Jack Treadwell arrives at The Empire, in the middle of a rehearsal, he is instantly mesmerised. But amid the glitz and glamour, he soon learns that the true magic of the theatre lies in its cast of characters – both on stage and behind the scenes.

There’s stunning starlet Stella Stanmore and Hollywood heartthrob Lancelot Drake; and Ruby Rowntree, who keeps the music playing, while Lady Lillian Lassiter, theatre owner and former showgirl, is determined to take on a bigger role. And then there’s cool, competent Grace Hawkins, without whom the show would never go on . . . could she be the leading lady Jack is looking for?

When long-held rivalries threaten The Empire’s future, tensions rise along with the curtain. There is treachery at the heart of the company and a shocking secret waiting in the wings. Can Jack discover the truth before it’s too late, and the theatre he loves goes dark.



THE FALL OF NUMENOR: and Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Publisher: HarperCollins

A treat for Tolkien fans everywhere, THE FALL OF NUMENOR collects together all the author’s writings on the Second Age of Middle-earth for the very first time, and in one beautifully illustrated volume, making it the ideal gift for Lord of the Rings fans young and old this Christmas!

Tolkien famously described the Second Age of Middle-earth as a ‘dark age, and not very much of its history is (or need be) told’. And for many years readers would need to be content with the tantalizing glimpses of it found within the pages of The Lord of the Rings and its appendices, including the forging of the Rings of Power, the building of the Barad-dûr and the rise of Sauron.

It was not until Christopher Tolkien published The Silmarillion after his father’s death that a fuller story could be told. Although much of the book’s content concerned the First Age of Middle-earth, there were at its close two key works that revealed the tumultuous events concerning the rise and fall of the island of Númenor.

Now, adhering to the timeline of ‘The Tale of Years’ in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, editor Brian Sibley has painstakingly assembled Tolkien’s various published texts into one comprehensive chronicle of the Second Age of Middle-earth, accompanied by new pencil and watercolour illustrations by the doyen of Tolkien art, Alan Lee.



MARPLE: TWELVE NEW STORIES

By Various

Publisher: HarperCollins

The ideal book to just dip into this festive season, MARPLE: TWELVE NEW STORIES is a brand new collection of short stories featuring the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie‘s legendary detective Jane Marple, and comes 45 years on from the posthumous publication of her final Marple novel, Sleeping Murder.

Twelve bestselling authors reimagine the iconic Miss Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.

Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage.

This collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.



THIS WILD, WILD COUNTRY

By Inga Vesper

Publisher: Manilla Press

The follow up to their sensational debut The Long, Long Afternoon, this captivating new novel from gifted storyteller Inga Vesper is a haunting and mysterious cross-generational tale of secrets, betrayal and the American Dream, all set in an isolated Gold Rush town in the remote American West.

Driven by powerful female characters, filled with intrigue and crafted with the same level of skill that made Vesper’s claustrophobic debut so thrilling, THIS WILD, WILD COUNTRY is another brilliant slice of immersive escapism perfect for these cold wintery nights!

Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery.

1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .

  1. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.

Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .



BABEL

By R.F. Kuang

Publisher: HarperVoyager

New York Times bestselling author R.F. Kuang delivers a stark and sweeping fusion of fantasy and historical fiction in this thrilling tale of language, resistance and the cruelty of empire.

Oxford, 1836. The city of dreaming spires. It is the centre of all knowledge and progress in the world. And at its centre is Babel, the Royal Institute of Translation. The tower from which all the power of the Empire flows. Orphaned in Canton and brought to England by a mysterious guardian, Babel seemed like paradise to Robin Swift. Until it became a prison… But can a student stand against an empire?



ACT OF OBLIVION

By Robert Harris

Publisher: Hutchinson Heinemann

If you’re looking for an absorbing historical thriller this Christmas then look no further than ACT OF OBLIVION, the tense and riveting new page turner from the great Robert Harris.

1660. Colonel Edward Whalley and his son-in-law, Colonel William Goffe, cross the Atlantic. They are on the run and wanted for the murder of Charles I. Under the provisions of the Act of Oblivion, they have been found guilty in absentia of high treason.

In London, Richard Nayler, secretary of the regicide committee of the Privy Council, is tasked with tracking down the fugitives. He’ll stop at nothing until the two men are brought to justice. A reward hangs over their heads – for their capture, dead or alive.

Meticulously crafted, very well paced, and written with Harris’s familiar intelligence and eye for detail, ACT OF OBLIVION is a fascinating tale and just a brilliant read!



OUR MISSING HEARTS

By Celeste Ng

Publisher: Abacus

One of the year’s most anticipated titles, and the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick for October 2022, Celeste Ng‘s eagerly awaited follow up to the bestselling Little Fires Everywhere is an inspiring new novel about a mother’s unbreakable love in a world consumed by fear.

Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in Harvard’s library. He knows not to ask too many questions, stand out too much, stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve ‘American culture’ in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic – including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.

Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is drawn into a quest to find her. His journey will take him through the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.

Thought-provoking and often heartbreaking, OUR MISSING HEARTS isn’t always an easy read, but it’s gripping, full of suspense, and a hugely rewarding one. Highly recommended!

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