Looking for something fabulous to read? Check out these fabulous new books for winter 2018 – both upcoming and recently released titles that I have loved. From meddling Irish grandmas to reimaging historical scandals, here are all the new books I think you should check out.
A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen. His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene. Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago. A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?
When a series of women are found murdered in Copenhagen, with a small figurine made out of chestnuts beside them, ambitious detective Naia Thulin is keen to find the killer before they strike again. Unfortunately, she has been lumbered with a new partner, Mark Hess – a burnt-out Europol detective who’s back at his old squad under dubious circumstances. Yet, when a fingerprint is found on the chestnut men of a girl who has been missing for a year, the daughter of a politician, they suddenly realise how vital it is that they find a way to work together.
Eeeek – scary, grim stuff. I’m not very good at reading grisly details, especially at night for obvious reasons, but I couldn’t resist reading the new book by the creator of The Killing. It’s really good – very atmospheric and well-paced. Hess’ backstory and the development of Thulin and Hess’ friendship felt a little underdeveloped and just slotted in at times – this definitely could have been done better. But otherwise, I really enjoyed this and would definitely watch a TV series based on it (has to happen, right?).
She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy by Jill Soloway
When Jill Soloway’s father, whom they had always understood to be male, came out as transgender, everything shifted. For one, the moment became the inspiration to push through the male-dominated landscape of Hollywood and create the award-winning TV series Transparent. Exploring identity, love, sexuality, and the blurring of boundaries, the show gave birth to a new cultural consciousness. But also, by eventually coming out as queer and non-binary, the lines on Jill’s own gender map began to be erased.
Even if you don’t know Jill Soloway’s name, then you probably know their work. They’re the award-winning creator behind the TV show Transparent. They also won a directing award at Sundance for the rather lovely/confronting film called Afternoon Delight and have written for and exec produced shows like Six Feet Under and United States of Tara. On an entirely different note, if the rumours this week are true, Jill is apparently dating the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby of Nanette fame (hello, power couple!). This book tracks the journey from when Jill’s parent came out as trans, inspiring the hit TV show and setting them off on a journey through understanding their privilege, embracing their queerness and discovering their own non-binary identity.
I’m always really interested in stories about people who discover their queerness not in their youth but in middle age or later. Their journeys are so interesting. Jill was rapidly approaching 50 when their parent came out, setting off the chain of events reshaped their life. I really enjoyed how honest Jill was in this book was about some of the decisions they’ve made along the way that they later realised were probably not the best: casting a man to play a trans woman, writing a tv show about this character with no trans writers or actors in the first season, being at the forefront of the #MeToo movement but then finding themselves having a selfish reaction to accusations made towards a man on their own show. More than anything in this book, it is a journey towards Jill discovering their own privilege that shapes this story – in addition to divorcing their husband and embarking on relationships with women and transforming their own identity. A really fascinating read; I’m super interested to see what Jill will create next.
In 1979 Bridget Doyle has one goal left in life: for her family to produce the very first Irish pope. Fired up by John Paul II’s appearance in Phoenix Park, she sprinkles Papal-blessed holy water on the marital bed of her son and daughter-in-law and leaves them to get on with things. But nine months later her daughter-in-law dies in childbirth and Granny Doyle is left bringing up four grandchildren: five-year-old Peg, and baby triplets Damien, Rosie and John Paul.
During Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979, Granny Doyle was struck by a divine desire: that one of her grandchildren would become the first Irish Pope. Sadly for this nanna, her son had only managed to produce was an assertive and quick-witted girl called Peg. So Granny Doyle set a plan in motion, which would backfire in ways she could never have dreamed.
Ah, meddling nannas – there’s nothing quite like them. This was an odd book for me to choose but I quite liked the idea of a grandma getting a little more than she bargained for when trying to shape her family into one she can show off. It’s both a heartwarming and deeply sad story that showcases how much Ireland has and hasn’t changed in the last 40 years, especially when it comes to governing the lives and bodies of women and LGBT+ people.
A privileged man, surrounded by devoted friends and a family he adores?
Or the deranged killer who attacked Claire’s mother and then vanished in thin air?
For thirty years Claire has been obsessed with uncovering the mystery at the heart of her life, and she knows her father’s friends – wealthy, powerful, ruthless – hold the key to the truth.
They know where Claire’s father is. And it’s time their perfect lives met her fury.
Claire doesn’t know where her father is. In fact, no one does since he disappeared the night her childhood nanny was killed. Now a doctor in her 30s, her life is still haunted by the unanswered question: was her father a murderer? Unable to move on, she decides to launch her own investigation and befriend the people who last saw him alive: her father’s friends.
This thriller stays relatively true to the real-life scandal that inspired it: the mystery of Lord Lucan. Up until the end, I found this story very believable – almost understated in the way it built the story to its slightly more improbable ending. If you don’t know anything about Lord Lucan and his recently deceased wife, Lady Lucan, I recommend reading up on it before attempting this book as fact is always much more interesting than fiction. However, I think the writer has done a great job imagining how the child of Lord Lucan could have gone looking for their infamous father now.
When my two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know my name for all the wrong reasons. ‘He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’, Suzanne warned me. But by that point, I’d already had sex with him. Bad sex. Now I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy. He needs to be stopped. But how can one woman stop a bad, famous, powerful man?
Johanna is an 18-year-old music writer in Britpop-era London, famous for her column under the nom de plume Dolly Wilde. She longs to be with her friend John, an up-and-coming indie musician, but only sees her as a pal. After a degrading one-night-stand with a famous comedian, Johanna finds herself the subject of much mirth in the male-dominated entertainment industry. As she quickly discovers, being a semi-famous woman somehow makes it ok to be publicly sex shamed. Where is her user guide for dealing with this?
If you’ve read Caitlin Moran’s amusing memoir/well of wisdom How To Be A Woman, then you’ll recognise that much of the set-up of this story is similar to her own: Johanna is from Wolverhampton, moves to London in the 90s at a young age and writes for a music magazine. I suppose you should write what you know, right? But that does make it a little unnerving at times as you wonder how much of this is based on her life. None of it is though, obviously, as this is fiction (well, I hope to high heavens none of this happened to Moran!).
Johanna is put through a really awful amount of sex-shaming and somehow manages to find her own voice in a situation she is made to feel she has no control and no right to object. This is a very believable scenario, and even though the story is set in the early 90s, it feels very relevant to the misogyny of our digital age (upskirting, revenge porn, hacking and release of personal images, non-consensual filming). Despite the serious subject matter, this is a very lovely read about friendship and support.
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