The Echo by James Smythe
The sequel to Smythe’s stunning and claustrophobic 2013 novel The Explorer, about a deep space mission that goes badly wrong, The Echo is set 20 years later when a spaceship is sent to explore the anomaly where the first ship disappeared. Is it inevitable that the second mission will meet the same fate? I’m shivering with anticipation!
Chosen by: Annabel Gaskell from Annabel's House of Books. Follow Annabel on Twitter: @gaskella
Road Ends by Mary Lawson
There are several books I’ve heard great things about already, but my choice would be Road Ends by Mary Lawson. Her last novel The Other Side of the Bridge is one of my very favourite books (I loved her Crow Lake too), so I am incredibly excited that after eight years there is a new book on the way from her! Road Ends is again set in Canada, this time in the 1960s, and promises what sounds like another very absorbing, tender story.
The Lie by Helen Dunmore
Set in Cornwall in 1920, Helen Dunmore’s The Lie returns to Zennor in Darkness territory, telling the story of Daniel, haunted by his experiences in the trenches and facing the awful consequences of a lie. We are about to be deluged with books on the First World War, both fiction and non-fiction, but Dunmore’s talent is such that I’m sure that The Lie will be the among the very best novels for 2014.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
In Emma Healey’s debut novel, protagonist Maud makes cups of tea and forgets about them; she often wakes up at home to find it doesn’t feel like home. Suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s, one thing she is sure about is that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing – yet everyone else has forgotten her so how can she solve the mystery? Elizabeth is Missing sounds like it is going to be heartbreakingly brilliant. Very excited indeed.
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
The book I’m most looking forward to in 2014 is Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. I loved Salvage the Bone and this memoir promises to be just as powerful. It’s received amazing reviews in the US and I’m looking forward to discovering how she overcame so much personal adversity.
Babayaga by Toby Barlow
Toby Barlow wrote Sharp Teeth, a novel-length prose poem featuring contemporary werewolves, which surprisingly worked its way inside the mind. Babayaga isn’t a poem but does feature postwar Paris, star-crossed love, Cold War espionage and bloodthirsty witches and a police inspector turned into a flea. What’s not to be intrigued and excited about?
Mrs Mo's Monster by Paul Beavis
Gecko Press, April
I think the secret for exceptional books in 2014 is the letter 'M': Mrs Mo's Monster by Paul Beavis, and Mi and Museum City by Linda Sarah (from Phoenix Yard Books) are both utterly marvellous débuts. The former is breathtakingly brilliant at using perspectives I've not seen before; the pages seem 3D, just bursting with pace and humour. The latter has whimsical maps to muse over for hours and hours and just oozes charm and imagination.
The Worst Girlfriend in the World by Sarra Manning
The book I'm most looking forward to reading next year is The Worst Girlfriend in the World by Sarra Manning . I cannot wait to read this book purely because it is written by Sarra Manning. I have been a fan of her work since I was a teen and read her Diary of a Crush serial in Just Seventeen magazine. I love both her YA and adult titles as they are always thoughtful and leave me with lots of think about when I'm done.
The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric
I have loved Michelle Lovric’s dark, rich, historical novels, and, after travelling to Venice and to Latin America with her, I am so excited to discover the stories she will tell and the pictures she will paint of 19th-century Ireland, in the wonderfully titled The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters.
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas
In 2014, I'm most looking forward to reading Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas' Barracuda, his first novel since the incredibly powerful — and divisive — The Slap. Friends in Australia are already raving about it.