Here’s a novel idea: When do mums ever get time to read? In the bath, in the car before school pickup, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, on our lunch break at the office… Whenever you get a chance to read, here are my picks of winter 2017’s best fiction books to entertain, transport, and interest you. Now, to teach the kids that when Mummy has a book in her hand, they need to go ask Daddy…
FRIEND REQUEST, BY LAURA MARSHALL (HACHETTE $34.99)
We’ve all received a friend request on Facebook from someone we didn’t know, or didn’t remember, from high school. But Louise receives a friend request from former high school classmate Maria… Which isn’t that unusual, except Maria has been dead for 25 years. And Louise had something to do with her death. But nobody knows about that, right? This is a devour-in-a-weekend mystery/thriller that will make you think twice about how deeply social media can delve into our lives — especially if you have something to hide.
THE SHAPE OF US, BY LISA IRELAND (MACMILLAN $34.99)
Mezz, Jewels, Ellie, and Kat are all overweight and looking for a solution. They join an online weight-loss forum and become friends, but over time, as the weight starts to drop for some of them (and not for others), they realise that losing weight might not be the key to happiness. And as their lives take unexpected and sometimes tragic turns, they need each other’s support more than ever. This is a lovely chick-lit novel that will remind you to appreciate your friends.
BUT THEN I CAME BACK, BY ESTELLE LAURE (HACHETTE $19.99)
Eden has just awakened from a coma, and she’s no longer the person she used to be. A former ballet prodigy with a promising future, she’s struggling to come to terms with her body’s new limitations — and facing up to the reality of her life. Eden has a choice: Will she try to go back to being the person she once was, or take a chance? And why is she so drawn to the boy with the chocolate eyes who visits the other girl in a coma across the hall from her room? This coming-of-age story is bittersweet and honest
GATHER THE DAUGHTERS, BY JENNIE MELAMED (HACHETTE $34.99)
On a small, isolated island, a cult lives by its own rules: Boys grow up knowing they’ll be men who rule the home and community, and girls know they’ll be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood. But every summer before that time comes, they’re sent out-of-doors to roam wild and taste freedom. And at the end of one of these summers, one of the younger girls witnesses something she’s never supposed to see. This creepy book is thought-provoking and not for the faint-hearted.
HER MOTHER’S SECRET, BY NATASHA LESTER (HACHETTE $34.99)
In the shadows of World War I, Leonora’s gift for making cosmetics in her father’s chemist shop leads her to New York City, where she intends to start her own company. When she meets department store heir Everett Forsyth, it’s love at first sight — but it’s not to be. Thirty years later, Everett’s daughter Alice, a promising ballerina, receives an invitation to star in a series of adverts for a cosmetics line. But why do her parents forbid it? This love story will transport you.
THE PARTY, BY ROBYN HARDING (SIMON & SCHUSTER $35)
When a girl at Hannah’s sweet sixteen party is tragically injured and disfigured, her parents Jeff and Kim’s cookie-cutter life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb begins to unravel. The injured girl’s mother files a lawsuit, and one by one, Jeff and Kim’s friends start to take sides. Meanwhile, Hannah deals with the ugly aftermath as her peers at school turn on the victim. Who’s at fault? Can enough money ever make it right? This provocative novel will make parents wonder what they’d do.
SINCE WE FELL, BY DENNIS LEHANE (HACHETTE $34.99)
Former TV journalist Rachel had an on-air breakdown and now lives as a virtual shut-in, avoiding everyone and everything. Fortunately, her husband adores her, and helps her regain her confidence and her sanity. But he’s behaving mysteriously, and a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes Rachel to start wondering: Who is he? Does she really know him? What’s he hiding? This psychological thriller has twists you won’t expect, and a pretty butt-kicking ending, too.
ANNE BOLEYN, A KING’S OBSESSION, BY ALISON WEIR (HACHETTE $36.99)
The second novel in the Six Tudor Queens series by historial Alison Weir focuses on the infamous Anne Boleyn, whom I always think gets a bad rap — and it seems the author does, too, because this sympathetic novelisation of Anne’s life shows her motivations in a different light. A woman caught up in other people’s ambitions, who came slowly to the idea that she herself could wield power in an age when women were mere chattels, this fascinating and gripping novel will show you an Anne you never knew before.
JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX, BY JULIE ISRAEL (PENGUIN $23)
It’s been 65 days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On the first day of school, when Juniper borrows one of Camie’s handbags for luck, she finds a mysterious break-up letter inside. It’s addressed to “You”, and dated 4 July — the day of Camie’s death. Juniper starts to investigate, but then she loses something herself: A card from The Happiness Index, a ritual she’s been keeping each day since her sister died. And this card contains a secret of her own, a memory she can’t let anyone else find out. This novel is at times both heartbreaking and heart-warming.
ALEX, APPROXIMATELY, BY JENN BENNETT (SIMON & SCHUSTER $20.99)
Classic movie buff Mink Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by the name “Alex”. Then she moves across the country to live with her dad, in the same California oceanside town where her online friend resides. But she doesn’t tell him — what if he turns out to be a creep in real life? — and instead decides to try to find him on her own, using clues from things he’s told her about himself. Meanwhile, she gets a summer job at a local museum, where she’s heckled daily by annoyingly hot guard Porter. As summer wanes, she needs to decide: Keep looking for Alex, or take a chance with Porter? This enjoyable YA novel is a great weekend read for mums and teens too.