Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth
Laura and her flatmate/best friend, Tyler, party hard. Laura's freshly teetotal fiancé, Jim, disapproves. Tyler and Jim can't stand each other. The cracks are starting to show. Perfectly capturing the highs of hedonism, the frustration of torn loyalties and the shame of slinking into your thirties, hungover and with no achievements to your name, this is fast, foul mouthed and unflinchingly honest.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald*
A book-obsessed young Swedish woman arrives in a small, failing town in Iowa expecting to spend a couple of months with her elderly penpal. Instead, she finds herself living alone in the now deceased penpal's house, setting up a bookshop (yes, there are visa issues) and becoming entwined with the lives of the locals. Not the kind of book I would usually pick up - it's sometimes slow and sometimes sentimental and the characters are an assortment of small town archetypes you've met in many a movie - but it worked; it's warm and familiar and all the while brimming with love for books.
Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen
I almost didn't read this. It begins with the first person narrative of a woman who has been kidnapped by a sadist and believes she's about to die. At least, that what it seems like. I wondered what had possessed to me to buy it. A woman talking about being tortured and killed? So not my kind of enjoyment. But I went back and checked the online reviews and they were (almost) all positive; I persevered. And it turned out to be a very clever psychological thriller full of twists and turns. It wasn't until very near the end that I knew what was happening and I was only a few chapters in before I really did want to know.
A Winter Book by Tove Jansson
A collection of seasonal short stories by the bohemian, Finnish creator of The Moomins? This sounded right up my street; I was really looking forward to reading it. Sadly, I was underwhelmed. The writing is beautiful - it feels honest and familiar - but the stories simply didn't hold my attention.
*Provided by publisher or agent for review