Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe and fun festive period, and that you’re ready for some new books. I’ve got some fantastic recommendations for you that will start your year off right. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Call Him Mine

Tim MacGabhann

Genre: Thriller

For Fans Of: Mark O’Connell

What’s in the pages? Andrew and his photographer boyfriend, Carlos, are sick of telling just another story: from cartel massacres to corrupt politicians, sifting the dregs of Mexico’s drug war, they think they’ve seen it all.

But when they find a body even the police are too scared to look at, what started as just another report becomes a story they’ve always dreamed of. Until Carlos winds up murdered, leaving Andrew looking for revenge.

Caught in a web of dirty money that stretches from the boardrooms of the United States to the death squads of El Salvador, Andrew must decide whether to save himself – or find out who killed the man he loves.

Why should you read it? I really loved this book, but I have no idea why – I’ve been trying to decipher exactly what I liked about it for a couple of days now and still no luck. This novel is a thriller that grows on you but will hook you right away, it starts with a bang and doesn’t let up until the very last page, but it’s also a novel about grief – and that grief runs throughout the undercurrent of this book.

Then once you finish this novel and you’ve been on a rollercoaster with Andrew while he mourns Carlos’ death and tries to avenge him. You’re left with a big gaping hole in your chest because an incredible book has just wrecked your feelings.

I highly recommend this book if you want to get lost in a world of crime and mystery in the new year!

The Midnight Library 

Matt Haig

Genre: Contemporary Fiction For Fans Of: Claire Nelson

What’s in the pages? Beyond the edge of the universe, there’s a library with an infinite number of books, each a story of another reality. One tells of your life as it is, and another tells the story of a life you could have lived if you had made a different choice.

One night, Nora Seed is faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, undoing all the regrets she has had in life. As she travels through the books in the Midnight Library, she must search within herself to decide what is fulfilling in life and what makes it worth living.

Why should you read it? The Midnight Library is a book about regrets and what we would do if we had the chance to change those regrets without consequence. This is a heartbreaking, tragic book, but it’s also a book full of hope and humour. While those two things wouldn’t usually work side by side when tried by most authors, Haig handles it amazingly well and you don’t even question the duality until you reflect on this book. 

This is a story about feeling grateful for what you have and realising that while life might seem better if you’d made a different choice, you’d probably have regrets either way. It’s a touching narrative that’s similar to It’s a Wonderful Life.

In my opinion, this is an essential read to help people get through lockdown, and it’s Matt Haig at his best. It’s also Dolly Parton’s favourite book right now, and she has excellent taste!

The Secret Commonwealth

Philip Pullman

Genre: Adventure     For Fans Of: Philip Pullman

What’s in the pages? It is seven years since readers left Lyra at the end of His Dark Materials sequence. In the Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue at twenty years old, as she is plunged into a complicated and dangerous world she had no idea existed. 

Lyra and her daemon must travel far beyond her safe world of Oxford, across Europe and Asia in search of a city haunted by daemons and a secret at the heart of a desert, and, of course, Dust.

Why should you read it? Philip Pullman is a genius at his craft and always a joy to read. This book hooks you almost immediately when it opens with a conflict between Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon that threatens to tear them apart. 

This story shows a very different side to Lyra, she’s an adult and has a more complicated arc in this book than in His Dark Materials, where she was a child, and I would even go as far as calling her unlikable. That might be a struggle for a lot of people to come to terms with – and it makes this book unpopular with a many. But I loved this book; it was an adult take on a story that I adored as a child, and it was very welcome.

This is a dark, gritty take on the world and characters we’ve come to know and love in His Dark Materials and the prequel to this book The Belle Sauvage, but as the original fans of those books are now adults, it’s great to revisit that world from an adult’s point of view and have a more serious story to contend with.