An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse, Lake Union Publishing, £8.99
Nonagenarian Molly may be lying in a hospital bed on Christmas Eve 2019, but in her mind she's reliving 1940s London. As a young woman, she worked as an interpreter during WWII and fell in love with someone who helped her forget the ongoing war. Later joining the Resistance, Molly has a secret about which only her sister knows. In the present, unable to move, she thinks back to her life, a life that is anything but ordinary. Filled with sadness and sorrow, there is also hope and affection throughout so have a tissue nearby.
The Unwilling by John Hart, St Martin's Press, £9.49
From the author of Redemption Road comes a novel set at the height of the Vietnam War. Gibby's two brothers went to war and only one, Jason, returned, a changed man hardened by what he'd witnessed. However, Jason wants a relationship with Gibby and suggests a day at the lake. But this chance for bonding is quickly turned on its head when a young woman is found dead, having first been tortured. Told from Gibby's point of view, this crime novel also focuses on family, first love, addiction and anguish in an intense, multi-layered read.
Exit by Belinda Bauer, Bantam Press, £14.99
Death shouldn't be funny but in this novel, there's definitely more than a wry look thrown in its direction. Step forward the Exiteers, a group dedicated to keeping a dying person company as they take their final breath. Felix Pink, a pensioner and widow who misses his wife and son dearly, is one such Exiteer and he's on a normal job. But this standard job is anything but and within a few moments, Felix is doing things he never thought imaginable. He has to figure out what is really going on, what happened at his last job, as well as stay one step ahead of the long arm of the law. It's a quirky read but wholeheartedly enjoyable. At first you think it's in bad taste to be chuckling at some of the writing, given the plot, but it feels like life is being breathed into a genre.
The Shadow Man by Helen Fields, Avon, £7.99
This is a standalone novel from Helen - who is known for her detective series starring DI Luc Callanach - and it is clever. A man, woman and child are locked in a flat, put there by someone who wants them for themselves… and shows no sign of letting them go. This shadow man is a ghostly figure but all too real for his prisoners. It's up to detectives and a specially flown in aide to work out the shadow man's motives and background, and ultimately, what he plans to do with the unlikely trio. It is quick, it is astute and it is shocking in some areas - hand over mouth shocking - but the depth of research and quality of writing is exceptional.
The Never Ending Summer by Emma Kennedy, Cornerstone, £2.99
Bea and Agnes are best friends and, wanting a final adventure to remember, before they start the lives expected of them, flit to London, telling their parents they're going to Europe. Agnes' mother Florence is also craving that spark of excitement, knowing that her marriage is different now her youngest child is flying the nest. The parallel between mother and daughter both wanting to experience the same thing is emotively told. How different will Agnes and Florence feel when they return to their 'normal' lives?
Seasons of War by Derek Landy, HarperCollins Children, £7.99
The 13th novel in the Skulduggery Pleasant series will entertain and impress its loyal fans. Skulduggery and Valkyrie have been sent on a secret mission, to a land unknown to them and difficult to navigate. Valkyrie in particular will have to fight the hardest, and not just against those who want her dead. She must move through darkness in order to see the light, so to speak. A great time to read this novel before the 14th and penultimate book is published in April.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, Usborne Publishing, £8.99
Deka is 16 and lives in Otera, a deeply patriarchal kingdom where a woman's worth is tied to her purity. But when Deka reveals herself as being someone to be feared, despite it not being of her making, she has to face the consequences. Fortunately, she is rescued by a stranger, who offers Deka a choice: be the person she truly is, or not exist at all. Namina has been called the Toni Morrison of YA Fantasy so this is worth reading.