Hidden Gems

We usually focus on new releases for our book reviews, but this time we’ve scoured the back catalogues for a few gems you might have missed.

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel 

From Kirsten – child actor turned travelling thespian – to aspiring doctor Jeevan, this novel tells the individual stories of several people before, during and after a pandemic that wipes out most of the population. Gripping, beautiful and all too plausible, Station Eleven is a must for fans of Margaret Atwood, Erin Morgenstern and Suzanne Collins.

The Crow Road – Iain Banks

The Crow Road covers some pretty big themes – love, death, religion, drugs and fractured families being just a few of them. Prentice McHoan returns home for his grandmother’s funeral and soon gets drawn into trying to solve the mystery of his Uncle Rory’s disappearance. It’s a dark, intense novel and far from an easy read, but the wit and sheer beauty of the writing could well make it one of your all-time favourites.

Why Mummy Drinks – Gill Sims

Gill Sims is the author of a hugely successful Facebook blog – Peter and Jane’s Mummy. Why Mummy Drinks was released last autumn and quickly became a bestseller. Written in diary format, it tells the story of Ellen, a 39 year old mum of two, who’s trying to balance work and children, while navigating playground politics, irritating in-laws and an ex-boyfriend. The ensuing drama is extremely funny and very relatable if you’re a parent who isn’t quite ready to hang up her dancing shoes.

Harry Potter series – JK Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

There can’t be many people who haven’t heard of the boy wizard by now. If you’re a fan, you might want to consider upgrading your paperbacks for the hardbacks illustrated by Jim Kay. One is being released each year, starting with The Philosopher’s Stone in 2015, so the first three are currently available to buy. Kay’s illustrations are superb and incredibly detailed. Prefer e-readers? Check out the Kindle in Motion editions, which animate parts of the illustrations, so you can watch Harry fly through the air in hot pursuit of the golden snitch while you’re reading.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie

If last year’s hit film Murder on the Orient Express has tempted you to dip into the works of Agatha Christie, why not start with her very first novel? Published in 1920 and set during World War I, it introduces readers to the brilliant mind of Belgian refugee Hercule Poirot. The murder of a woman has everyone pointing the finger at one man. It’s down to Poirot to find out the real culprit before it’s too late. While The Mysterious Affair at Styles is not considered Christie’s finest work, there are still plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked.

Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge

Cuckoo Song was first published in 2014, the year before Frances Hardinge’s Costa Award-winning novel The Lie Tree. Eleven year old Triss wakes up from an accident to find things aren’t as they were. She can’t satisfy her immense hunger for a start; her sister is terrified of her; and even her dolls have turned against her. Is she going mad, or is the truth even more terrifying? A thoroughly enjoyable, fantastical read, Cuckoo Song is sure to prove a hit with fans of Neil Gaiman and Angela Carter.