The Maid by Nita Prose and All About Me by Mel Brooks on Bishop's Stortford Independent book reviewer Janet Gordon's must-buy list of new titles
Janet Gordon, who lives in Takeley, reviews best-sellers and debut fiction for the Indie...
A happy new year to all and I hope you all had a wonderful festive period. I know it's been extremely difficult for so many people, having to isolate and spend Christmas and Boxing Day on their own.
Husband and I had pantomime tickets with son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren up at Hackney Empire but that was cancelled, as was an evening out with friends, so Christmas Day was very quiet. It was just Husband and I, along with a recently-widowed friend and, of course, cuddly Rollo Dog and his sister Amber Cat.
We treated ourselves and sat down to gobble turkey and enjoy Daniel Craig's last outing as James Bond in No Time To Die. I'm a cinema phobic – I can't sit still and definitely can't stand the noise of people munching and slurping – so waiting for the film to arrive on Sky was torture! But oh the wait was worth it. What a wonderful film (cue tears and sniffles).
And so, what with all the cooking, wrapping of presents and a last-minute trip out to buy yet another squeaky toy for Rollo after he discovered his present under the tree, unwrapped it and brought it upstairs to show me, it's been difficult to find time to read.
However, if you're looking for terrific reads to buy with your Christmas money or vouchers, then here we go…
The Maid by Nita Prose (Harper Collins £14.99 – out January 22)
There's a real buzz in the publishing world about this debut novel and it's worth all the hype.
How many of us notice the maid who cleans our hotel room? Not many of us – in fact, we only notice when the maid doesn't turn up and clean.
Molly the maid is all alone in the world following the death of her gran, whose mores, idiosyncratic ways and sayings Molly follows implicitly.
Molly prides herself on leaving her allotted rooms absolutely pristine. No matter how messy, how destructive, how appallingly dirty guests leave their room, Molly the maid at the Regency Grand Hotel will make it pristine. It's absolutely her raison d'etre in life. And so she knows so much about you.
But one day Molly discovers Mr Black, the hotel's most infamous and wealthy guest, very, very dead in his bed. Murdered?
This is one big mess Molly just can't whisk away. Molly has, she thinks, friends among the staff and, in trying to make things better and uncover just what happened, she becomes embroiled in dirty behind-the-scenes secrets.
Molly is such an innocent in the world, just trying to do her best, follow her gran's words and keep her home together. The Maid is a wonderfully different type of read and one that you're going to love.
And watch out – film rights have been snapped up by Florence Pugh.
All About Me by Mel Brooks (Century £16.99)
Mel Brooks' autobiography came out in November and surely there can't be anyone who hasn't laughed themselves silly at one of his wonderful comedies such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Silent Movie, to name just three.
Did you know that he actually produced The Elephant Man? And of course he conquered Broadway with The Producers (aka Springtime for Hitler). Who could ever forget the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles, or the monster singing Puttin' On the Ritz in Young Frankenstein.
Here is the story of Melvin Kaminsky, brought up along with his brothers in Brooklyn, New York. It's a fascinating read, bringing along the way Gene Wilder, Anne Bancroft (Mel's wife until she died in 2005) and so many other Hollywood stalwarts. He's a complete one-off.
Blue Running by Lori Ann Stephens (Moonflower Books £16.99)
Blue Running was published in December and is totally different to most books I read.
It's set in Texas where everybody but everybody carries a gun, even young Blue (aka Bluebonnet Andrews), growing up in the town of Blessing as a motherless youngster with an alcoholic father, the deputy sheriff of the town.
Friendless until she meets Maggie. Innocent until charged with the murder of her best friend, although it was an accident. Blue takes off, alone until she meets Jet, a 16-year-old pregnant runaway.
Lori Ann Stephens pulls no punches and it's an uncompromising look at the way in which America operates today.
Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up by Alexandra Potter (Pan £8.99)
Nell feels a failure and wonders how she got to be 40-something without life turning out just how she wanted it to be. Cue wistfully gazing at perfect Insta shots wondering just how to
Then she meets Cricket, an 80-something widow who is quite certain that life is for living and you should just do your own thing, no matter what.
And so Nell's podcast in which she confesses her failures begins to take off.
Breaking Point by Edel Coffey (Sphere £14.99 – out January 20)
Susannah is the most high-flying paediatrician imaginable. Coupled with this busy job, she has two daughters, one of whom is just a baby. Her husband is also successful, but is needy. Susannah is dressed for success.
Everything Susannah does is timed to the nth degree, so when her husband asks her to drop him at his office, instead of baby Louise being strapped into her car seat in the front of the car she is placed in the back. And then her husband changes his office destination.
Susannah is now running late and has taken a call from her secretary informing her that her morning list is over subscribed and she needs to get started ASAP.
Susannah is stressed. The weather is hot and getting hotter. Scorching even. And she arrives at the hospital car park and runs inside.
This is such an emotional read with such tragic and devastating consequences. I couldn't put it down.