Looking for some winter reads?

image-medium (30)The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood Jean-Marie d’Aumout is many things. Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover. And chef. This is his story.

The Circle by Dave Eggers “Eggers turns his attention to social-media corporations, and, with a plot worthy of the greatest thriller, imagines a dystopian future where their power runs unchecked,” says Chris White fiction buyer at Waterstones“1984 for the dotcom generation.”

A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli One morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders to track down & bring back for execution ‘one of them’ – a Jew. Having flushed out a young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose virulent anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere. Before long, the group’s sympathies splinter. Each man is forced to confront his own conscience as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, ‘The Lowland’ is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Long awaited brilliant novel which stretches across decades and continents. Aged 13, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend

image-medium (32)Butterflies in November by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir A hilarious and moving road trip around Iceland in an old car, told by a recently divorced woman with a five year-old boy ‘on loan’

Harvest by Jim Crace On the Booker prize shortlist,  A trio of outsiders – two men and a dangerously magnetic woman – arrives on the woodland borders and puts up a make-shift camp. That same night, the local manor house is set on fire. Over the course of 7 days, Walter Thirsk sees the harvest blackened by smoke and fear, the new arrivals cruelly punished, and his neighbours held captive on suspicion of witchcraft. But something even darker is at the heart of his story, and he will be the only man left to tell it

Three Brothers by Peter Ackroyd ‘Three Brothers’ follows the fortunes of Harry, Daniel and Sam Hanway, born on a 60s council estate in Camden Town. Marked out from the start by curious coincidence, each boy is forced to make his own way in the world – a world of dodgy deals and big business, of criminal gangs and crooked landlords, of newspaper magnates, back-biters and petty thieves. London is the backdrop and the connecting fabric of these three lives, reinforcing Ackroyd’s grand theme that place and history create, surround and engulf us

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dotcom boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left

The Rosie Project by Graham Simsion Meet Don Tillman. Don is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman. One thing he already knows, though, is that it’s not Rosie. Absolutely, completely, definitely not

Enon by Paul Harding The Crosby family has lived in the small idyllic town of Enon, Maine, for generations. Now the only remaining Crosby, Charlie tragically loses his daughter, Kate, in a road accident. Paralysed by his loss, Charlie allows his relationship with his wife to rapidly disintegrate, leaving him alone to replay his memories over and over. His despair spreads like a disease and Charlie finds himself living in squalor with a heavy dependency on pain-killers. Unable to lift himself out of wallowing misery, Charlie must find other reasons to live and search for the beauty in love and loss

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver When Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at her local Iowa airport, she literally doesn’t recognise him. Edison’s slovenly habits, appalling diet and know-it-all monologues drive her health-and-fitness freak husband Fletcher insane. Fletcher eventually delivers his wife an ultimatum – it’s him or me. Putting her marriage and two adoptive children on the line, Pandora chooses her brother – who, without her support in losing weight, will surely eat himself into an early grave

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert 5th January 1800. Alma Whittaker is born into a perfect Philadelphia winter. Her father, Henry, is a bold and charismatic botanical explorer whose vast fortune belies his lowly beginnings as a vagrant in Sir Joseph Banks’ Kew Gardens and as a deck hand on Captain Cook’s HMS Resolution . Alma’s mother, a strict woman from an esteemed Dutch family, is conversant in five living languages- An independent girl with a thirst for knowledge, it is not long before Alma comes into her own within the world of botany. But as Alma’s careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton Don’t miss this, it won the Booker Prize

Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson Elijah is 7 years old, with a history of disruptive behaviour. His adoptive mother Nikki believes that she and her husband Obi are strong enough to accept his difficulties – and that her being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son. Deborah, Elijah’s birth mother, is ever present, and her on-going love for her son is a constant reminder for Nikki of something she’s not part of, and that she’s never had

Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. Brilliant

The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed It is 1987 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds but still the dictatorship remains secure. Soon, and through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall. As the country is unravelled by a civil war that will shock the world, the fates of the women are twisted irrevocably together. Intimate, frank, brimming with beauty and fierce love, ‘The Orchard of Lost Souls’ is an unforgettable account of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary times

Maddadam by Margaret Atwood A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers, a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. But Giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack

image-medium (31)The Man with the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-Yi On Wayo-wayo, every second son has to sail into the wide sea as sacrifice to the Sea God on the day he turns fifteen. Atile’i is one such boy. Being the strongest swimmer and best sailor on the island, he sets out to defy destiny. His journey takes him across the ocean to a vast and strange island, one which is built of material he’s never seen before and devoid of any signs of life

Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng When the Great Flood of 1927 devastates Mississippi, eight-year-old Robert Chatham loses everything. Robert’s adventures in the brooding swamplands from hard labour to imprisonment to thwarted love are full of courage, danger and heartbreak. This is story of how a small, hurt boy becomes a tough young man. Set against one of the great American landscapes, ‘Southern Cross the Dog’ is a mesmerizing and savagely beautiful novel

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, ‘The Lowland’ is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date

Crime/Thriller:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdøttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover. Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district office Jøn Jønsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tøti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed

Police by Jo Nesbo  A killer is stalking Oslo’s streets. Police officers are being slain at the scenes of crimes they once investigated, but failed to solve. The murders are brutal, the media reaction hysterical. But this time, Harry can’t help anyone, least of all himself

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris Paris, January 1895. Army officer Georges Picquart witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being humiliated in front of 20,000 spectators baying ‘Death to the Jew!’ The officer is promoted and put in command of shadowy intelligence unit, the Statistical Section. The spy is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil’s Island and his case seems closed forever. But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section.

Solo by William Boyd It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge. A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim.

Prayer by Philip Kerr “An FBI agent’s crisis of faith is turned upside down by a series of deaths that a deeply disturbed woman claims were committed using the power of prayer,” says Jonathan. “A thriller that ticks all the boxes.”

The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas  ‘People will die,’ says the panic-stricken woman outside police headquarters. She has been standing in blazing sunshine for more than an hour, and refuses to speak to anyone besides Commissaire Adamsberg. Her daughter has seen a vision: ghostly horsemen who target the most nefarious characters in Normandy. Since the middle ages there have been stories of murderers, rapists, those with serious crimes on their conscience, meeting a grizzly end following a visitation by the riders

Stormbird by Conn Iggulden Wars of the Roses tale

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of ‘The Shining’, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals

Thank to the Independent for the recommendations

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