Now that we’ve cleared away the wrapping paper, finally finished off the ham, returned or exchanged the Christmas gifts we didn’t want or need, and — very likely — well and truly broken our New Year resolutions already (‘What me, go to the gym?’), it’s time to acknowledge that we are indeed in 2019, and it might be time to clear out our bookshelves in order to make way for the parade of fabulous reading that is coming our way this year. You only have to look at what’s coming out in the first few months to know that there are some really fantastic books on offer this year, with something for everyone, and every taste.
January is just jam-packed with great reading. If you loved The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, then in early January, run, don’t walk to your local bookshop, as I know you’re going to love The Binding, by Bridget Collins.
A farmer’s son is apprenticed to a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice — but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse. He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. But one day, he makes a discovery: a book with his own name in it … The Binding is an unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love, a homage to the allure and life-changing power of books.
Your New Year might involve a lot of lying by a beach or a pool (well, we can but dream). If that’s your kind of holiday, and you’re after something a bit lighter and purely entertaining to read, then you’re spoiled for choice. In January, Danielle Steel has a riveting new novel, Turning Point, which is bound to be a bestseller. How to Be Second Best by Jessica Dettmann (our first Book of the Monthfor 2019 — you can get it for 30 per cent discount at Booktopia by using the code NCBT18) is a hilarious and heartwarming novel by a sparking new talent about the dramas, delights and delirium of modern family life.
Going from one child to two is never easy for a family, but when Emma’s husband simultaneously fathers a third child with another woman, things get very tricky, very fast. The Woman in The Green Dress by Tea Cooper is a compelling historical mystery set in 19th century Australia, about an opal and a woman in a green dress; a green that is the colour of envy, the colour of poison … Or if your preference is for something darker and twistier, Call Me Evie by JP Pomare promises to be a striking and suspenseful read — a young woman is being held captive by a man named Jim in an isolated beach town. He says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?
In February, look out for Not Bad People, by Brandy Scott — if you like Liane Moriarty, you’ll love this. Deliciously funny and unputdownable, it’s the story of three friends, thirty years’ worth of shared secrets, one impulsive gesture, and a terrible accident. When friendship goes bad, someone has to pay … In March, there’s After the Party, by Cassie Hamer.
An unexpected gift left at her daughter’s fifth birthday party in the form of a little girl pitches Sydney mum Lisa Wheeldon into events both hilarious and life-changing. It’s a funny, moving and clever story that asks what wouldn’t you do to save a child?
If you love crime and thrillers, 2019 is going to make you very happy. From Dervla McTiernan, the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller The Rúin, comes a compulsive new crime thriller The Scholar (March), again set in Galway and featuring DS Cormac Reilly in a high profile and high pressure case that’s uncomfortably close to home. There’s also the creepily compulsive Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox (February). The unsettling literary urban crime novel, The Rip, by Mark Brandi, or if you’re into something darker, look for Hunter, by Jack Heath (March).
And three more recommendations to tuck into your back pocket: The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean (April) is a delight: Tikka Molloy was only eleven and one-sixth years old in the summer of 1992, the summer that the Van Apfel sisters — Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth — disappeared, the summer she never forgot. Blackly comic, sharply observed and totally endearing, it’s The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock. The Land Girls by Victoria Purman is a moving story of love, loss and survival, set against a little-known part of Australian wartime experience, told through the eyes of three women in the Australian Women’s Land Army. And finally, in May, international best-selling author of Tully and The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons returns with The Tiger Catcher — the first novel in her new ‘End of Forever trilogy’ — a sweeping and heartbreaking epic of love, death and destiny.
*Catherine Milne is Head of Fiction for HarperCollins Australia. Remember you can trade your own bestseller tips at the Sunday Book Club group on Facebook.