July is shaping up to be a fantastic month to be a reader! There are lots of exciting titles due out this month, but we’ve hand-selected a few you may not have heard of and some you may have been anticipating.
We hope you like shifting narratives, magic, and very long titles…
Paperback Fiction Pick:
In 1990, three boys are born, unrelated but intertwined by circumstance: Dayo, Iseul and Youssef. They are adopted as infants and live in a shared bedroom perched atop a mosque in Staten Island. The boys are a conspicuous trio: Dayo is of Nigerian origin, Iseul is Korean and Youssef indeterminately Middle Eastern, but they are so close as to be almost inseparable.
Nevertheless, Youssef is keeping a secret from his brothers: he has an imaginary double, a familiar who seems absolutely real, a shapeshifting creature he calls Brother. The boys’ adoptive father, Imam Salim, is known for his radical sermons extolling the virtues of opting out of Western ideologies. But he is uncharismatic at home, a distant father who spends evenings in his study with whiskey-laced coffee, writing letters to his former compatriots back in Saudi Arabia.
Like Youssef, he too has secrets, including the cause of his failing health, the reason for his nighttime excursions from the house and the truth about what happened to the boys’ parents. When Imam Salim’s path takes him back to Saudi Arabia, the boys will be forced to follow. There they will be captivated by an opulent, almost futuristic world and find traces of their parents’ stories.
But they will have to change if they want to survive in this new world, and the arrival of a creature as powerful as Brother will not go unnoticed.
This is a bold and stylistic novel, filled with vivid description and deeply explored characters.
The writing is bold and genre-bending, playing with dreams and hallucinations as part of the storytelling and dipping between the past and the present.
Brother Alive explores a wealth of topics including family flaws, revealed secrets, sexual awakening, government control and religious oppression. It asks huge questions and awaits answers, hopefully broadening reader horizons.
- Ambitious readers who like to explore social and cultural topics through fiction
- Fans of complex, intricately woven narratives
Hardback Fiction Pick:
In the summer of 1877, Bridget is orphaned when her unreliable father succumbs to a snakebite as they’re crossing the Kansas prairie. Arriving in Dodge City as a penniless orphan, she’s quickly recruited for work at the Buffalo Queen brothel and befriends her bookish mentor Constance, securing her home and employment as the favourite of Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Bonnie. As winter creeps in from the plains, female gunfighter Spartan Lee rides into town, and Bridget falls in love with her the moment their paths cross.
Their affair threatens the balance of power at the Queen, but is interrupted when an old flame returns to the brothel, setting off a series of double-crosses that result in the destruction of the Buffalo Queen and a searing heartbreak for Bridget.
Their lives in ruins, Bridget, Constance and Lila resolve to take revenge on those who wronged them – but will they succeed in their mission?
In a misogynistic world of outlaws and gunfights, nothing is certain…
It’s about time that the Western genre got some modern reimaginings, and Lucky Red is a fabulous place to start.
This deftly plotted novel that follows a classic Western structure: a protagonist down on their luck, trying to make a name for themselves, fall in love, and enact a touch of revenge along the way. Claudia Cravens flips this narrative with Bridget, who has no choice but to take work in a brothel to support herself, allowing us an insight into the freedoms and restrictions that go along with that particular path for women in this era.
Witty, exciting, empowering and sapphic – every plot hook and word choice is a great one.
- A well-paced, enticing summer read
- Readers looking for a book with LGBTQIA+ representation and romances
- Someone looking to try a new genre – we don’t get a lot of Westerns in contemporary fiction!
Paperback Non-fiction Pick:
Imagine you had a crystal that lit upon your command: magic must be at work, and you must surely be a wizard. But what if you discovered that you routinely cast such spells? Are the spells no longer magic… or are you a wizard?
The modern term for wizardry is condensed matter physics.
It is the study of the world around us – the states of matter and how they emerge from the quantum realm. Thanks to its practical magic we can make lasers which cut through solid metal, trains which hover in mid-air, and crystals which light our homes. It is one of the best-kept secrets in science; a third of all physicists work on it, yet its story has never been told.
The Magick of Matter will revolutionise what you know about physics and reality; you’ll never see the world in the same way again.
‘Join Felix Flicker as he introduces the magic of condensed matter physics. It will be a journey that reveals the subtle spells that conjure crystals from chaos and create new particles that have never before existed.’
Calling on magick and evoking the names of wizards is definitely the right way to get us bookish lot interested in physics!
Reframing tricky concepts in a humorous and compelling way, The Magick of Matter has both physicists and the everyday curious reader in mind.
- Adventurous non-fiction readers
- Beginner physicists looking to learn in an accessible way
Hardback Non-fiction Pick:
Witchfinder General, Salem, Malleus Maleficarum. The world of witch-hunts and witch trials sounds archaic and fanciful, these terms relics of an unenlightened, brutal age. However, we often hear ‘witch-hunt’ in today’s media, and the misogyny that shaped witch trials is all too familiar.
Three women were prosecuted under a version of the 1735 Witchcraft Act as recently as 2018. In Witchcraft, Professor Marion Gibson uses thirteen significant trials to tell the global history of witchcraft and witch-hunts. As well as exploring the origins of witch-hunts through some of the most famous trials from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, it takes us in new and surprising directions.
It shows us how witchcraft was reimagined by lawyers and radical historians in France, how suspicions of sorcery led to murder in Jazz Age Pennsylvania, the effects of colonialism and Christian missionary zeal on ‘witches’ in Africa, and how even today a witch trial can come in many guises. Professor Gibson also tells the stories of the ‘witches’ – mostly women like Helena Scheuberin, Anny Sampson and Joan Wright, whose stories have too often been overshadowed by those of the powerful men, such as King James I and ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins, who hounded them. Once a tool invented by demonologists to hurt and silence their enemies, witch trials have been twisted and transformed over the course of history and the lines between witch and witch-hunter blurred.
For the fortunate, a witch-hunt is just a metaphor, but, as this book makes clear, witches are truly still on trial.
‘For the fortunate, a witch-hunt is just a metaphor, but, as this book makes clear, witches are truly still on trial.’
A fascinating book, vividly recounting the stories of thirteen witch trials and delving into the real global history of witchcraft.
Crucially, Marion Gibson uses these case studies to demonstrate how the fear of the unknown (and of powerful women) had and still has the capacity to marginalise individuals and cause deep cultural unrest.
- Anyone after a vibrant, feminist non-fiction read
- Readers looking for a fresh voice in a deeply-analysed subject of history
- Honestly just anyone interested in witches on any level, because the history is deeper and more fascinating than you could imagine
Young Adult Fiction Pick:
A year ago, before the revolution, Salama watched her brother marry her best friend, Layla, and wondered when her own love story might begin. Now she works at the hospital – helping those she can, closing the eyes of those she can’t. Layla and her unborn baby are all Salama has left.
Unless you count Khawf. But he’s a hallucination; a symptom of the horrors she’s seen. Every day he urges Salama to leave.
Every day she refuses. Until she crosses paths with Kenan, the boy with the vivid green eyes, who wants to stay and risk his life for everything Syria could be…
Are you ready to have your heart ripped out?
It would be cruel to pretend that this book isn’t deeply affecting, but it is also deeply relevant and necessary. Salama is torn between a sense of duty to remain in her hometown, and her desire to care for and protect her pregnant best friend by attempting to escape. Her fears, and the descriptions of the horrors she faces, are real for many and important to bear witness to even through fiction.
However it isn’t all heartache and tears (I promise) – Salama meets Kenan and their love story brings light and hope to their landscape.
It is emotional and earnest and an absolute must-read in my opinion.
- Young adult readers aged 14/15+, but be wary of the darker themes with younger readers
- Universally written so will also appeal to adult readers
- Fans of stories that shine a light on dark truths, things based on reality
- Lovers of stories that will stomp on your heart, but with a glimmer of hope
Children’s Fiction Pick:
Glorious, powerful, magic; a city of twists, turns and tricksters; extraordinary secrets which only one girl can uncover…
Welcome to the world of Arkspire. Arkspire is a city obsessed by magic. The five Arcanists – a group of all-powerful magicians – have protected the great city for as long as anyone can remember.
Within the hustle and bustle of these cobbled streets lives Juniper Bell, a thief who’d do anything for her family – even her unbelievably annoying sister, Elodie. Then one night, something incredible happens. A mysterious stolen relic (nothing to do with Juni, ahem…) explodes, revealing a mysterious creature, Cinder – who appears to ‘bond’ with Juni.
The only creatures like that are allegedly dangerous enemies of the Arcanists…
…and it’s not long before they turn their attention to Juni. Soon Juni, Cinder and everyone she loves are pulled into an extraordinary world of magic, power and prestige – but also grave danger. It seems the world Juni thought she knew is nothing but a lie – and now only Juniper and Cinder can bring it down.
Arkspire is the heart-stoppingly exciting first book in a magical new children’s fantasy series, set in a city obsessed with magic.
This book introduces some fantastic characters with firey and fun personalities that you will root for from beginning to end. The plot is fast paced and interesting, with some high-stakes moments and a brilliant sense of humour.
- strong readers aged 9+
- Fans of action-fantasy adventures like Fireborn and Skandar
- Lovers of tough, rebellious protagonists with a softer side