August 2018 Book Highlights

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Here’s our round-up of fantastic and fantastical reading for August.

We take in Adult Fiction, fantastical and general, creative and socially minded Non-Fiction, Children’s and YA and Graphic Novels. Whether you’re a general or genre reader or a bookshop looking to make sure your customers aren’t missing out we try to balance an inclusion of the biggest titles with slipstream / crossover hits and those hidden gems for all concerned.

Selections are by Tim Bayley and are drawn from publisher submissions, The Bookseller magazine’s own monthly highlights, Buyer’s Guides and more.

NB. We believe in supporting bricks and mortar stores whether online or in person and a tiny snippet of any purchase comes our way to go towards site upkeep so any and all support very much appreciated!

So relax and browse on and check out the great reads in print coming your way in August.


Tim Bayley


Fantastic & Fantastical Fiction

Kicking off… Jaspe Fforde is back! What leftfield coherent madness is he serving up this time in EARLY RISER? Something involving the human race hibernating in winter, our protagonist Charlie Worthing being responsible for caretaking our sleeping minds finds himself involved in viral dreams that come true and kill. Comes with stamp collecting murderers…

One of the big tales of legend of Middle Earth is presented in THE FALL OF GONDOLIN by Tolkien’s son and collaborator on the great established work, fleshed out from JRR’s notes and writings. Features the tragic fall of a great elven city before Morgoth’s armies of balrogs and orcs…

Then there’s BALL LIGHTNING, the latest from the award-winning author of The Three Body Problem. A scientist dedicates his life to understanding the phenomenon that killed his parents, but what will he do when individuals and factions with less than pure motivations circle, drawn by the possibility of weaponising it’s destructive potential? Major lead for and from Head of Zeus…

Up next is a pair from Gollancz, firstly Simon Ings THE SMOKE: human-centred London-based SF on ‘love, loss and loneliness in an incomprehensible world’ (which seems to be set between London, Yorkshire and the stars…) We’ve only read Ings’ Headlong but that was stunning.

Onto sequels. We thoroughly enjoyed Adam Roberts Real-Town Murders, a smart SF mystery thriller with loads of heart, which takes place in a future where most people essentially live online in VR. Absolutely a self-contained work but we couldn’t be happier to have our suspicions confirmed seeing a standalone return to the word and lives of Alma & co in BY THE PRICKING OF HER THUMB. This time it sounds like one of the world’s four richest people has been murdered, the main question being WHICH ONE?

Then comes THE GIRL IN THE TOWER, the follow-up to the very well received Bear and the Nightingale. It’s a Russian-set adult fairy tale with a female lead who’s chosen a third way aside from marriage to a man or marriage to the church: Magic…

And from Anna Stephens, the hardback sequel to Godblind which was acclaimed as amongst the most exciting debuts of 2017: DARKSOUL. Dark gods walk the world and besiege its last hope in this follow up grimdark work…

Rounding up, the latest flawed heroes drama from Jen Williams continues with a quest to find a way of uniting mankind’s defence, reincarnated war-beasts who’ve been reborn a little too soon… The next helping of The Winnowing Flame: THE BITTER TWINS

Bibliographic Information (More Highlights follow)

Early Riser * Jasper Fforde * 9781473650224 * HB * £14 * Hodder

Fall of Gondolin * JRR Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, Alan Lee (Ill) * 9780008302757 * HB * £14.99 * Harpercollins

Ball Lightning * Cixin Liu, Joel Martinsen (Translator) * 9781786694683 * HB * £18.99 * Head of Zeus

The Smoke * Simon Ings * 9780575120105 * PB * £8.99 * Gollancz

By the Pricking of Her Thumb * Adam Roberts * 9781473221499 * HB * £16.99 * Gollancz * Real-Town Murders * 2

The Girl in the Tower * Katherine Arden * 9781785031076 * PB * £8.99 * Del Rey * Winternight * 2

Darksoul * Anna Stephens * 9780008215941 * HB * £14.99 * Harper Voyager * Godblind * 2

The Bitter Twins * Jen Williams * 9781472235213 * PB * £8.99 * Headline * The Winnowing Flame * 2



Onto our somewhat eclectic mix of Non-Fiction highlights…

Always nice to know that the use of expletives is a good idea. As a publisher Profile sit on that lovely edge of popular publishing with and critical thought so when they promise a ‘spirited and hilarious defence of our most cherished dirty words’ in Emma Byrne’s SWEARING IS GOOD FOR YOU, you can take them at their word and look forward to a good read…

We do just like to keep an eye out for the latest on the big city within our remit and August sees this work on its Roman period, Richard Hingley’s LONDINIUM. It’s from Bloomsbury’s academic side which means us lay readers will skim-read parts, but doesn’t mean it won’t be readable, informative and fascinating, and an opportunity to step back a millenium or two and better imagine walking those ancient streets and the life that took place within them…

Meanwhile Bloomsbury’s trade arm serve up a big music title: CAN’T STAND UP FOR FALLING DOWN. Allan Jones collected Uncut columns of his encounters as a music journalist hits mass marked paperback. Encounters? Who with? Oh you might possibly have heard of a few of them. David Bowie, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Smiths, R.E.M., Pearl Jam… Includes ‘backstage brawls and drug blow-outs, to riots, superstar punch-ups, hotel room confessionals and tour bus lunacy’

We also like to keep an eye out for those titles that explore the wider picture of the fantastical fictions we love. Not by any means the first title to look at philosophy through comic characters but the big two who’ve clashed ideologically on more than a few occasions offer particularly fertile ground for thought. And looking at some of the essay titles collected in IRON MAN VS CAPTAIN AMERICA AND PHILOSOPHY (click link) the eds have made sure to go significantly deeper than the obvious initial questions on liberty vs security…

Swearing Is Good For You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language * Emma Byrne * 9781781255780 * PB * £8.99 * Profile

Londinium: A Biography: Roman London from its Origins to the Fifth Century * Richard Hingley * 9781350047297 * PB * £25.00 * Bloomsbury Academic

Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down: Rock’n’Roll War Stories * Allan Jones * 9781408885925 * PB * £9.99 * Bloomsbury

Iron Man Vs Captain America and Philosophy * Nicolas Michaud and Jessica Watkins (Eds) * 9780812699760 * PB * £14.99 * Open Court Press



Okay, doubtless we’ll have some bigger titles from the indies and other bigger publishers next month as we generally do, but a couple from Marvel stand out in August. First up is a prequel to Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan, OLD MAN HAWKEYE, the alternate future tale of alternate future Wolverine’s companion. The ex-superhero master archer pursues long-desired vengeance for his former comrades before he goes blind…

And then lead Black Panther scribe, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coathes, reimagines the secret origin of the character in RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHER (link to come). The Black Panther is, as we know, just massive at the moment, so this is an easy one for regular-reader fans, more casual readers slash fans of the film, and (naturally) retailers…

Old Man Hawkeye * Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto * 9781846539091 * PB * £13.99 * Panini / Marvel

Rise of the Black Panther * Ta-Nehisi Coates, Evan Narcisse, Paul Renaud * 9781846539084 * PB * £13.99 * Panini / Marvel





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