Last updated on Nov 12th, 2020 at 07:11 pm

Planning a summer break should include some rest, relaxation… and reading. Here are some of my best picks from the latest fiction releases to hit the shelves…

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

The brand-new novel from the number one bestselling author of Me Before You, After You and Still Me.

This is a standalone offering from Moyes, so the characters are completely new and it’s set in a different era. But it’s just as beautifully written as her previous bestsellers – and the characters share the same depth and strength of character as our beloved Lou and Will from Me Before You.

I’d go as far as to say that The Giver of Stars is a literary masterpiece – and should be treasured as a modern classic.

Inspired by a remarkable true story, this is the unforgettable journey of five extraordinary women living in extraordinary and perilous times

The plot

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Alice Wright has travelled halfway across the world to escape her stifling life in England. Handsome American businessman Bennett Van Cleve represents a fresh start.

But she soon realises that swapping the twitching curtains of suburbia for newlywed life in the wild mountains of Kentucky isn’t the answer to her prayers. But maybe meeting Margery O’Hara is. The heart and backbone of the small community of Salt Lick, a woman who isn’t afraid of anything or anyone, Margery is on a mission.

Enlisting Alice, along with three other women, all from very different backgrounds, to join her, the band of unlikely sisters battle the elements and unforgiving terrain – as well as brave all manner of dangers and social disapproval – to ride hundreds of miles a week to deliver books to isolated families. Transforming the lives of so many is all the impetus they need to take such risks.

And for Alice, her new job and blossoming friendships become an unexpected lifeline, providing her with the courage she needs to make some tough decisions about her marriage. Then a body is found in the mountains, rocking the close-knit community and tearing the women apart as one of them becomes the prime suspect. Can they pull together to overcome their greatest challenge yet?

A love letter to the power of books and literature and their ability to bring us together and deliver the truth, as well as a tribute to female friendship, The Giver of Stars is the book that Jojo Moyes was born to write.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Eight years after her debut novel, the author of bestseller The Night Circus brings us The Starless Sea, a magical new novel described by Entertainment Weekly as a “sweeping new novel interweaving romantic and fantastical elements.”

Love stories are timeless and universal, whether they are set in the house next door or a secret underground world. And if you graduated from fairy tales to fantasy as you passed from childhood into adulthood, you will lose yourself in the story of Zachary and Mirabel. If you’re a fan of magic and love, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, you will stay up all night to finish The Starless Sea.

The plot

When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library, it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.

Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.

When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.

You are invited to join Zachary and float away on the starless sea: the home of storytellers, story-lovers and those who will protect our stories at all costs.

Durban Poison by Ben Trovato

If you need a REAL laugh – one of those than come from the belly and you have to hold onto the bed to keep from falling off it, laughter that makes tears roll down your face, then buy this book TODAY!

Characters every South African has met – and loved, tolerated or resigned themselves to, digs at everything from corruption to potholes (the two are usually related), and the ability to see the humour in our uniquely South African situation, are what you will love about this collection of slices of life in SA from one of the country’s most brilliant satirists.

Irreverent – and not for the touchy, overly sensitive and those who take life in SA – or themselves – too seriously

This is what the publishers have to say about the latest release by one of our country’s cultural treasures:

“The author derives an almost unseemly amount of pleasure from satirising the foibles and fantasies of our political fabulists. In this collection of wit and venom, he goes further than poking the bears of bureaucracy or lampooning the low-hanging fruitcakes of our world. Frequently turning the gaze on himself, Trovato doesn’t always like what he finds.

From marital failures to travel disasters, from medical emergencies to breaking the law, Trovato bravely and often stupidly goes where many fear to tread.

With an itchy trigger-finger and sights set permanently on roam, Trovato guns for the power-crazed despots, the bankers and the w***ers and all who try to run and ruin our lives. Sometimes he misses and kicks the underdog by mistake, but that’s life for you.”

Ice Cold Heart by P.J. Tracy

P.J. Tracy fans are reunited with detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth, as they join Grace MacBride and the Monkeewrench gang to track down a dark and sinister serial killer in this latest terrifying thriller from New York Times bestselling author P. J. Tracy.

The same evil that dwelt in the hearts of sadistic torturers in wartime concentration camps and shocked the world when war crimes were exposed is evident here: could there be a connection?

Ice Cold Heart will chill and terrify you, and take you down a path to the heart of darkness, but the pull to reach the end and see vengeance served will keep you reading until the killer is caught.

The plot

A woman leaves home to meet up with a friend at an art exhibition, and never makes it home. Her body is found at a friend’s home the next day and she’s been tortured and mutilated. Retracing her steps to the exhibition reveal that her corpse shares chilling similarities to the subjects of the artworks.

When Magozzi and Gino are called to the gruesome homicide, they discover that this was no random attack, and clues reveal that the victim was living a dangerous secret life.

They trace her steps back to the art gallery where she was last seen alive. The gallery seems like a dead end, but the art is disturbing and exploitative. It may very well be inspiring a sadistic killer, because in this instance, art doesn’t imitate life, it imitates death.

Tipped off about a year-old murder that is a mirror-image of Kelly’s crime scene, Gino and Magozzi enlist the aid of Grace MacBride and her eccentric, tech genius partners in Monkeewrench Software to help them decipher the digital trail that might connect the cases.

As coincidences emerge, Magozzi, Gino, and the team have to work around the clock at breakneck pace to unravel a series of clues that form the framework of a larger, more sweeping, and insidious conspiracy than any of them could have imagined. Is Kelly the last person to die or just the most recent? And is there any way to stop it?