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January 2020

Highfire by Eoin Colfer
24th January 2020

Meet Vern the last dragon in the world, lurking deep in the Louisiana swamps in Eoin Colfer's new fantasy novel Highfire


Highfire by Eoin Colfer


Having written children's books for over twenty years, most notably the hugely successful Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer publishes his first adult fantasy novel Highfire, and what a ride it is!
Bold, break-neck, surprising, and funny, this is a brave new direction for Colfer and sure to delight readers with the crazy-yet-charming characters and brave world-building. Here you can read an exclusive extract from the beginning of the novel, introducing Squib, the poor Cajun teenager soon to meet Vern the dragon, living in the swamp close by....



Squib often felt hard done by fortune-wise. Everybody got some luck, a bone tossed their way by Mother Nature. Squib’s boon was common among Cajun folk in that the maringouins had never taken a shine to him. Maybe it was the French blood from way back, but more likely the Caribbean had more to do with the situation. Squib never could fathom how a person could even tolerate the bayou after sunset with the mosquitoes ripping chunks out of their flesh. You see those tourists in the morning wandering around welted like they got themselves tortured. Some Guantanamo-looking shit. Nothing took the cool out of a college calf tattoo like half a dozen septic lumps. Squib got maybe a handful of bites a season, and even then, it was usually some zirondelle on a rampage.

So that was his luck.

Unblemished skin.

Hard to turn a fella’s life around on that, less’n he got spotted hanging at the mall by some model scout. And that wasn’t over-likely. Squib didn’t really hang per se. He was a not-enough-hours‑​in‑the-day kind of guy. Always working, making a buck.

His Cajun skin made setting crawfish traps more comfortable, at least. Squib would motor up the bayou towards Honey Island and float half a dozen of those cages near telltale lily pads, then spend a few hours trawling with a scoop net until his traps were bursting at the wire. In all his years night fishing, Squib had only ever been bit the one time, and then it wasn’t no mosquito but a moccasin that got itself tangled up in a cage. The snake must have been jizzed out, though, because Squib suffered no more than a nub of swelling around the teeth marks.

Tonight I got bigger fish in my sights, thought Squib, going all melodramatic. A life of crime.

Squib knew that he was stepping over some kind of threshold and there wouldn’t be no crossing back, but Regence Hooke was a devil in a tasselled cap who had his sights set on Elodie Moreau, so it was up to him to buy them some distance.

Maybe if we’re living in the middle of a development with plenty of witnesses, then Hooke might settle down some and back off.

Squib’s warped reasoning was based on a child’s understanding of evil men. He couldn’t know that specimens like Regence Hooke didn’t get settled down; they got riled up.

The only time Hooke ever settled down was with a blister pack of Benzedrine, a quart of Old Forester’s, and a hooker at the door.


Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer is the author of the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl series, which has been translated into over forty languages. A Disney film adaptation will be released in 2020, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Eoin's books have won numerous awards including The British Children's Book of the Year, The Irish Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and The German Children's Book of the Year. Born in Ireland, Eoin was educated at Dublin University and qualified as a primary teacher, before turning his hand to writing in 2001.



Big Sky: The Return of Jackson Brodie
23rd January 2020

Big Sky: The Return of Jackson Brodie

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Jackson Brodie is back, and now in paperback! Whether you’re a long-term fan of Kate Atkinson’s detective or this is the first you’ve heard of him, the arrival of Big Sky is cause for celebration—it is perfect to read as a stand-alone novel as well as being the long-waited next instalment in Kate Atkinson's masterful series.

Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village in North Yorkshire and is settling into the relatively straightforward life of a private investigator, looking into unfaithful spouses and the like. But life never stays uneventful for long around Jackson…​Read an extract from the novel, below.




‘So what now?’ he asked


‘A quick getaway,’ she said, shucking off her fancy shoes into the passenger footwell. ‘They were killing me,’ she said and gave him a rueful smile because they’d cost a fortune. He knew - he’d paid for them. She had already removed her bridal veil and tossed it onto the back seat, along with her bouquet, and now she began to struggle with the thicket of grips in her hair. The delicate silk of her wedding dress was already crushed, like moth wings.  She glanced at him and said, ‘As you like to say – time to get the hell out of Dodge.’


‘OK then. Let’s hit the highway,’ he said and started the engine.


He noticed that she was cupping the bowl of her belly where she was incubating an, as yet, invisible baby. Another branch to add to the family tree. A twig. A bud. The past counted for nothing, he realized. Only the present had value.


‘Wheels up then,’ he said and put his foot down on the gas.


On the way, they made a detour up to Rosedale Chimney Bank to stretch their legs and look at the sunset that was flooding the vast sky with a glorious palette of reds and yellows, orange and even violet. It demanded poetry, a thought he voiced out loud and she said, ‘No, I don’t think so. It’s enough in itself.’ The getting of wisdom, he thought.


There was another car parked up there, an older couple, admiring the view. ‘Magnificent, isn’t it?’ the man said. The woman smiled at them and congratulated the ‘happy couple’ on their wedding and Jackson said, ‘It’s not what it looks like.’



Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of the world’s foremost novelists. She won the Costa Book of the Year prize with her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Her three critically lauded and prizewinning novels set around World War II are Life After Life, A God in Ruins (both winners of the Costa Novel Award), and Transcription. Her bestselling literary crime novels featuring former detective Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog became a BBC television series starring Jason Isaacs. Jackson Brodie returns in her new novel Big Sky.

Read an interview with Kate Atkinson about her previous novel, Transcription, on her author page.




When Sadness Comes to Call: Eva Eland on difficult emotions
21st January 2020 - Eva Eland

When Sadness Comes to Call: Eva Eland on difficult emotions

When Sadness Comes to Call by Eva Eland

When Sadness Comes to Call is a gentle and poignant picture book now published in paperback format, written to help children cope with difficult emotions. Eva Eland’s debut has a strong positive message of acceptance, encouraging the reader to acknowledge all emotions, even those perceived as negative, such as sadness. By allowing these feelings in, we can better understand and process them. Eland weaves practical tips through this uplifting and hopeful story, and the book is full of empathy. The illustrations work perfectly with the text, drawn in a reassuring and calm colour palette. And coming soon is Eland's next book Where Happiness Begins, which is published in March and is available to pre-order now.
Below, Eland talks about her inspiration for
When Sadness Comes to Call, and how important accepting our emotions is for our well-being.


The idea for this book is quite old already. I have really small thumbnails and notes that I jotted down in an hour or so, dating back to 2012 - which are almost like a very (very) rough blueprint of ‘When Sadness Comes to Call’. I called it: ’An unwanted guest - a manual’, and at the time I wasn’t thinking yet of venturing into writing and illustrating children’s books. I imagined it as a little booklet or foldable poster, almost like one of those IKEA manuals.


I revisited the idea in 2016, during my education at the Children’s Book Illustration master at the Cambridge School of Art and it went through many different forms and stages since. It’s interesting to me however that the shape and character of Sadness never changed much, besides some experimentation in between. It just arrived and lingered around until it made its way into the book. During the course, it wasn’t even my initial idea to make a book about sadness. All I was sure of from the beginning was that I wanted to make something comforting - and explore with image making and storytelling how I could achieve that.


I did, however, write at the time: “The intrinsic motivation to make a sequence about dealing with difficult emotions is that I believe that by taking more responsibility for our feelings, instead of banning them to our unconscious where they might start a life of their own, enables us to understand ourselves and others better. Instead of having the feeling we need to hide parts of ourselves, as if we are partly in disguise, we can stay true to what ‘is’, in the moment. Making it easier to truly connect, with ourselves, and with others. To give children the opportunity to explore such feelings within the safety of a book and simultaneously giving adult and child a tool to start a conversation about difficult subjects.”


It pretty much sums up what I still think is one of the powerful aspects picture books. We can see ourselves reflected in them, or they can provide pathways into territories that might otherwise remain unlocked, forgotten or simply be too intimidating. Offering carers of children an opportunity to explore difficult subjects with children. By reading a book together about a subject like sadness, I think you also give the child a very clear signal that it’s OK to feel sad, or scared sometimes. You can let them know that everyone feels like that at times, and that it is not something to be ashamed of.


By demystifying strong emotions like sadness and by understanding them better, we can also let go of the fear of them. Just like the child on the cover, we can adopt an attitude of curiosity and kindness towards our emotions. Emotions can tell us a great deal about ourselves and our needs - and we might as well attend to them. And when we can listen to our emotions and take care of them, we might discover how they also take care of us in a way.


As sadness comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and we all have our own stories and ways of coping with it, I deliberately created very minimal artwork and short sentences to create enough space for the reader, so they can make the story their own and explore their personal relationship with sadness.


Judging from all the responses so far, it seemed to have worked, though sometimes it’s still hard to believe that I (together with my editor Libby Hamilton and art director Beccy Garrill at Andersen Press - and before that with help of some excellent guidance from tutors at the Cambridge School of Art) managed to make something that resonates so strongly with others.


Of course I already realised that sadness is a very universal emotion - but in the process of making this book I also learned to understand this feeling better for myself and in embracing my own sadness (sometimes!) and having conversations about emotions with others, I have never felt more connected with others as well. If we can see our own sadness without fear or judgment, we can also see it in others, without fear and judgment. It made me understand on a deeper level, that beyond all our differences, we really have so much more in common than things that separates us, and in learning to understand ourselves and our emotions from an early age on, we can develop more empathy, love and kindness, towards ourselves and others.


To encourage children to explore their emotions in a healthy way is very important I think, and it’s wonderful to see so many books out there now that help with this - books I would’ve loved to have read when I was a child.


Eva Eland author photograph Credit signefotar

Eva Eland is a Dutch author and illustrator who lives in England. She earned an MA with distinction in children’s book illustration from the Cambridge School of Art, and has also studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the School of Visual Arts in New York. When Sadness Comes to Call is her first picture book. Eva grew up in Delft, Netherlands, and now lives in Cambridge with her fiancé.



Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
15th January 2020

Two families. One desperate to remember, the other to forget. Read an exclusive extract from Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha


In her scorching debut Your House Will Pay Steph Cha deftly uses a defining moment in recent American history to build a story of such depth, and with a range of strong characters, that you will be hooked from the beginning. Powerful and urgent, this is a relatable, humane and moving story of connected lives, and the troubles people navigate for the sake of their families, and you can read an exclusive extract here




Shawn had been dealing with cops since he was a child: talking to them, ignoring them, avoiding them when he could. They were never not part of his life. Palmdale wasn’t like South Central back in the day, but even here, squad cars always patrolled the neighborhood, rolling down their windows to talk to anyone who looked worth talking to. Sometimes it felt like they were out fishing, putting out lines in active waters, just to see who they could reel in. So far, though, the Palmdale cops hadn’t given Shawn much trouble. Could be he’d aged out of the deepest part of the hood pool; it wasn’t like it was when he was younger, when a cop would sooner put him against a wall than say hello. Maybe it was that he was rarely out without a woman or a baby these days. Made it harder to imagine him getting in trouble. And that’s what it came down to, in a way— people were lazy, they reached for the first thing that came to mind and held on to it like it was true. These cops were white boys: healthy, clean- cut, beef- eating kids in starched uniforms who’d been taught to fear black boys with tattoos and baggy pants. They were the same kids who quoted Samuel L. Jackson and thought they’d like to have Morgan Freeman for an uncle.

Shawn could tell right away that Detective Maxwell wasn’t one of those cops. He wasn’t young, he wasn’t in uniform, and he’d driven a long way to talk to Shawn.

“Nice place,” he said, nodding his head as he scanned the kitchen, still cluttered from dinner. He was a man who commanded a room; there was something aggressive even in the way he looked around, as if he meant to see more than anyone wanted to show him.

Jazz set coffee down in front of him. Shawn almost smiled. She was playing the polite hostess, but she’d chosen the ugly mug she’d gotten in a white elephant exchange, the one shaped like a shaggy cat’s paw. They never used that mug; Jazz would die before pulling it out in front of good company. Maxwell said his thanks and took a sip, showing Shawn the pink paw print painted across the bottom.

When Jazz sat down next to Shawn, Maxwell smiled indulgently, like he knew the game she was playing and had let it go on long enough. “Actually, Mr. Matthews,” he said, “I was hoping we could have a word alone.”

“I’d rather stay,” said Jazz.

He kept his eyes locked on Shawn. “I’m asking nicely, aren’t I?”

“Does he need a lawyer?”

“Don’t see why he would. This is a casual conversation, in the comfort of his own home,” Maxwell answered lightly. “Does your girlfriend always speak for you?”

It was a transparent play— get the black guy to talk by insulting his manhood. That told him something, at least: Maxwell thought he was stupid.

“I’m alright,” he said to Jazz. “You should check on Monique anyway.”

She kissed his head and went to her daughter’s room, leaving the two men in silence. The detective finished his coffee before speaking again.

“Do you know why I’m here?”

“I have a pretty good guess,” said Shawn.



Steph Cha

Steph Cha is the author of the Juniper Song crime trilogy, Noir Editor at The Los Angeles Review of Books, a contributing book reviewer for The Los Angeles Times and a regular panelist at crime and literary festivals. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two basset hounds. Your House Will Pay is here UK debut.
Author photo © Maria Kanevskaya


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
7th January 2020

Already earning huge advance praise, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid really is the first must-read novel of 2020


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid


Smart and insightful, with engaging characters and word-perfect, fiery dialogue, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is soon to be the debut novel everyone is talking about.

Here you can read an exclusive Q&A with Kiley Reid, followed by two short extracts, one for each of the two main characters, to really give you an insight into these two women at the heart of this skillfully interwoven tale of race relations, motherhood, age and friendship.


Could you tell us a little about your debut novel, Such a Fun Age, please?

Such A Fun Age starts on a Saturday night in Philadelphia. Emira Tucker is a 25-year-old babysitter and she's with her friends at a party when her employer, Alix Chamberlain, calls and asks her to babysit while she deals with a family emergency. Emira is in need of the cash so she says yes, and she takes three-year-old Briar to the grocery store to pass the time. But then, a customer and a security guard, upon seeing a black woman with a white child, accuse her of kidnapping. Emira is humiliated, a bystander films the incident, and Alix sets out to right the night's wrongs. But from there it turns into a comedy of good intentions as Alix and Emira learn that they have something in common. 

Emira and Alix are such different characters, yet you've written them with such nuance and depth; was it difficult to balance the progression of both characters, along with the entwined plot strands?  

There were certain scenes where it was difficult to know which woman's point of view would be the most enjoyable to the reader and important to the story. But even when I had to delete some pages and change the point of view, exploring how the other woman would respond to the moment was always beneficial. 


With Lullaby by Leila Slimani, Devotion by Madeline Stevens, and now Such a Fun Age, all published with the last 18 months and featuring a nanny or babysitter as the central character, while the novel explores bigger themes and issues, what is it about childcare that makes it such a springboard into great fiction? 

Childcare, especially within the United States, is such a ripe opportunity to explore ownership and family dynamics. I love reading and writing about characters that struggle to be within and without a tiny micro-culture, and caregivers are a perfect example. They may spend more time at a home that isn't theirs. A child may accidentally call them 'Mom.' And in a country where the violence of slavery was born from a twisted view of ownership, I think it's fascinating to explore how facets of slavery can still exist for childcare givers. 

With this being your debut novel, and being a writer at the start of your career I was wondering if you could tell us about a book or author that inspired you to become an author?

There are so many authors and books I've been inspired by, especially as I've found my footing as a writer. A few that stand out are Megan Martin and her chapbook Nevers, Marisha Pessl's novel Special Topics In Calamity Physics, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, and my favorite childcare giver in a novel is definitely Ida Rhew in Donna Tartt's The Little Friend.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?

I'm very excited to work on the film adaptation of Such A Fun Age. I've recently moved to Philadelphia and building community here is a big priority. And after book tour, novel number two.

Sometimes, when she was particularly broke, Emira convinced herself that if she had a real job, a nine‑to‑five position with benefits and decent pay, then the rest of her life would start to resemble adulthood as well. She’d do things like make her bed in the morning, and she’d learn to start liking coffee. She wouldn’t sit on the floor in her bedroom, discovering new music and creating playlists until three a.m., only to put herself to bed and think, Why do you do this to yourself? She’d try out a new dating app, and she’d have more interesting interests to write about: activities other than hanging out with Zara, watching old music videos, painting her nails, and eating the same dinner at least four nights a week (a Crock-­Pot meal consisting of shredded chicken, salsa, and cheese). If Emira had a real job, she’d look at her wardrobe full of clothes from Strawberry and Forever 21 and decide it was past time for an upgrade.

Emira constantly tried to convince herself that she could find another child, a little girl with nice parents who needed her full time. They’d keep her on the books and she could say she paid taxes. They’d take her on vacations and consider her part of the family. But when Emira saw other children, anyone who wasn’t Briar Chamberlain, she felt viscerally disgusted. They had nothing interesting to say, their eyes had dead, creepy stares, and they were modest in a way that seemed weirdly rehearsed (Emira often watched Briar approach other toddlers on swings and slides, and they’d turn away from her, saying, “No, I’m shy”). Other children were easy audiences who loved receiving stickers and hand stamps, whereas Briar was always at the edge of a tiny existential crisis.

Underneath her constant chatter, Briar was messy and panicky and thoughtful, constantly struggling with demons of propriety. She liked things that had mint smells. She didn’t like loud noises. And she didn’t consider hugging a legitimate form of affection unless she could lay her ear against a welcoming shoulder. Most of their eve‑ nings ended with Emira paging through a magazine while Briar played in the bathtub. Briar sat with her toes in her hands, her face a civil war of emotions, singing songs and trying to whistle. She’d have private conversations with herself, and Emira often heard her explain to the voices in her head, “No, Mira is my friend. She’s my special friend.” Emira knew she had to find a new job.


Alix also found herself reorganizing her lifestyle around Emira, despite the fact that she didn’t have an explicit reason to. If Alix went shopping, she took the tags off clothes and other items immediately so Emira couldn’t see how much she’d spent, even though Emira wasn’t the type to show interest or ask. Alix no longer felt comfort‑ able leaving out certain books or magazines, because she feared Emira eyeing her Marie Kondo book and subsequently thinking, Wow, how privileged are you that you need to buy a hardcover book that tells you how to get rid of all your other expensive shit. Sometimes, Alix found herself pretending - in front of Emira - that she was about to eat leftovers for dinner. In reality, she’d be thinking to herself, Just order the sushi. Just text Peter and ask him what he wants. What point are you trying to prove by eating leftovers? But still, she’d wait till Emira closed the door behind her to go to her computer, ask Peter if he wanted the usual, and place her order via Seamless.

In the beginning, Alix would search Emira’s name on the Internet and Instagram, to see if she’d finally gotten an account (she’d convinced herself that this was a safety precaution concerning her children), but now Alix had taken to looking at her own Instagram account while imagining she was Emira and viewing it with fresh eyes. She’d slowly scroll through her own feed, and guess which pic‑ tures Emira would click on. Emira never hinted that she felt this way, because why would she, but Alix often felt that Emira saw her as a textbook rich white person, much in the same way that Alix saw many of the annoying Upper East Side moms that she and her girl‑ friends had always tried to avoid. But if Emira would only take a deeper look, if she gave Alix a chance, Alix knew that she would begin to think otherwise.

Alix fantasized about Emira discovering things about her that shaped what Alix saw as the truest version of herself. Like the fact that one of Alix’s closest friends was also black. That Alix’s new and favorite shoes were from Payless, and only cost eighteen dollars. That Alix had read everything that Toni Morrison had ever written. And that out of her group of friends, Alix and Peter actually had the smallest salaries, and that Tamra was the one who always flew first class. Alix often and unsuccessfully tried to drop these bits of information, but tomorrow, if things went Alix’s way, Emira could see all this in person.



Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was awarded the Truman Capote Fellowship. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a babysitter for six years.

Meaty by Samantha Irby
1st January 2020

Don't be blue this January. Don't be a vegan either. Meaty by Samantha Irby is what's really going to get you through


Meaty by Samantha Irby


2019 was set off by the rocket that is We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, a collection of essays and musings so personal, so revealing, so sharp and so damn funny, it became an instant Foyles favourite with both staff and customers. Now Irby is back with her second collection Meaty, and once again our first steps into the new year are going to be followed by laughter, knowing head-nods and the occasional hiss of sucking teeth, in wince-worthy understanding. Here you can read an exclusive piece taken from the collection to give you a real taste of the (Meaty) flavour.

(and FYI you won't have to wait a full twelve months for Irby's next essay collection Wow, No Thank You as it's coming in April and you can pre-order now!)



would dying alone really be so terrible?


I tell anyone who is interested that my ideal long-term romantic relationship is one in which my manfriend and I have separate apartments in the same building. Or in buildings across the street from each other. Or buildings on opposite sides of town. Or opposite sides of the state. I have very little interest in joint cohabitation. Seriously, almost none, save for the fact that if a dude had a big TV and was willing to pay for premium cable and give me seventy-thirty ownership of the remote, THEN I would maybe consider it. I mean, come on. His and Hers houses?! TOTAL JAM.

I don’t know, man. I’m just not big on spending every waking minute with someone you show your privates to. People are boring. I’m fucking boring. My funny runs out; my cute runs out; my smart sometimes hiccups; my sexy wakes up with uncontrollable diarrhea. I have a fucking attitude. And a sharp, nasty edge. I’m impatient. I like the whole fucking bed. I hate anyone touching and moving my artfully disheveled possessions all the time. I’m a downright terrible sharer, and I can’t guarantee that I won’t write my name on something in the refrigerator I don’t want you to eat.

I have neither the time nor patience to fix thirty-plus years of all my gross shit. My snoring, my shitting all the time, my only flushing the toilet after I’ve peed in it a bunch of times, my irregular mopping, my gross litter box, my dinner in bed, my counter covered with pill bottles, my cat food everywhere, my cat hair everywhere, my piles of filthy laundry, my dozens of dirty-ass Birkenstocks scattered all over. Sometimes Helen gets maxi pads out of the bathroom trash and chews them. Sometimes I let food go bad and take way too long to throw it out. Sometimes I drink out of the same water glass for, like, three days without washing it. BARF.

I want to still have time to sit staring at the wall for hours with both my headphones and the television on, zoning. I want to watch porn by myself, because a dude just won’t let you take five minutes to masturbate without his dick thinking it’s an invitation, and then that five minutes becomes twenty-five minutes (if you’re lucky) of heat and sweat and effed-up hair and having to remake the bed and being late for work and even then, after all that grunting and shoving and groaning, you might STILL have to get your vibrator out while this motherfucker passes out on top of the shirt you’d taken out to wear to the offce. 

I stand in my kitchen with an open container of Nutella and an open container of honey-roasted Skippy peanut butter, and I dip a butter knife first in one and then the other, then I try to lick it off in such a way that each glob is a fifty- fifty mixture of each. I can’t do that horrifying shit if I live with some foxy dude. I mean really, do you think he’s going to lie there looking all hot and awesome and still want to rip me out of my chonies after watching that? The answer is no. No, he will not. But I still want to do it. So that means no living together. Because I can keep my apartment clean and safe and inviting for a night, for a weekend, for maybe even a week, but that day-to-day shit ain’t happening. I am obviously going to die alone, in giant panties that come up to my chin, with crumbs under my tits, and a half-eaten cat face.



Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby is a New York Times-bestselling author and writes the blog "bitches gotta eat."



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