Books to look forward to in 2014

You may not be able to focus on anything except Christmas right now, but there are a legion of great reads coming out in the new year, particularly in the first quarter. That's why Spear's, alongside Foyles Web Editor Jonathan Ruppin, have compiled this list of some of the top picks for you for early 2014.

From macabre comedy and gory, middle class cannibalism in Natalie Young's Season to Taste, to the second blockbuster instalment in JK Rowling's crime series and another 'tour de force' from Damon Galgut, we've included something for everyone. Book tokens at the ready!

Season to Taste - Natalie Young (Tinder Press, 16/01, £12.99)

Season to Taste

Tired of living in her other half's shadow, unassuming cake-maker Lizzie Prain caves in the back of her husband's head with a spade after thirty years of marriage. What she does with the body is as grizzly as it is darkly comedic in this work by Natalie Young, author of 2011's intriguing We All Ran into the Sunlight.

Barracuda - Christos Tsiolkas (Atlantic Books, 02/01, £12.99)

Barracuda

When a talented young swimmer fails to handle the pressure of his first big international championship, his entire world begins to crash down around him, forcing him to readdress the relationships in his life and become a better person. "Tender and savage" in equal measure, Barracuda is the third stark work of fiction from Christos Tsiolkas, the award-winning Australian author of 2008's The Slap.

Arctic Summer - Damon Galgut (Atlantic Books, 06/03, £12.99)

Arctic Summer

Depicting the life of British author EM Forster and his inspirational journeys to India in the early twentieth century, Damon Galgut's eighth novel has already been pegged as a 'literary masterpiece'

Taking place in the years prior to Forster's seminal work A Passage to India, Galgut's 'tour de force' book is at once an examination of one of Britain's greatest novelists and an insight into the complex mysteries of the creative process itself.

The Cuckoo's Calling (Sequel) - Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling (Sphere Books, publishing date: TBC)

The Cuckoo's Calling

The highly anticipated sequel to JK Rowling's first mystery novel (released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) has been confirmed by the author herself as set for a 2014 release.

Private Detective Cormoran Strike, the main character of the series, is a war veteran, wounded physically and psychologically by his experiences. In the first novel, he solves the mystery of a model who plunges to her death from her Mayfair balcony in an apparent 'suicide'. The novel catapulted from 4,709th to the number one best-selling novel on Amazon in July this year after it was revealed that it had been written by Rowling under a pseudonym.

Barcelona Shadows - Marc Pastor (Pushkin Press, 02/01, £12.99)

Barcelona Shadows

In early twentieth century Barcelona, the sons and daughters of prostitutes are being murdered by an alleged 'monster', but Inspector Moises Corvo is determined to solve the hidden mysteries that abound. Barcelona Shadows is the first novel in English by Spanish author, who studied criminology and crime policy, and currently works as a crime-scene investigator in Barcelona.

The Night Guest - Fiona McFarlane (Sceptre, 16/01, £14.99)

Centring on themes of love, fear, dependence and power, The Night Guest - from first time author Fiona McFarlane - tells the story of Ruth, a New South Wales widow who lives alone with sons working abroad. Until one day a stranger turns up unannounced, claiming that she's been sent by the authorities to be Ruth's carer, and she soon becomes the central figure in the elderly woman's life. This is a highly anticipated read filled with suspense and ideas about the nature of perception.

The Last Word - Hanif Kureishi (Faber, 06/02, £18.99)

The Last Word

Words have the power to create a legacy and a final impression in The Last Word by writer and filmmaker Hanif Kureishi. Widely considered one of Britain's greatest contemporary writers, in this latest novel Kureishi deals with a fading Indian-born writer whose autobiography is being written by a young energetic admirer of his work. Their conflicts and struggles about the book's message are further exacerbated by a publisher who is only interested in presenting the most salubrious account possible.

Mrs Hemingway - Naomi Wood (Picador, 13/02, £12.99)

Mrs Hemingway

An ambitious period piece, Mrs Hemingway charts the lives of the four wives of one of the most famous writers of all time. The second novel by young British writer Naomi Wood, it paints a picture of complex marriages tarnished by lies and deceit and begs the question of how far each woman will go to retain a marriage to one of literature's most towering figures.

Shotgun Lovesongs - Nickolas Butler (Picador, 14/03, £12.99)

Shotgun Lovesongs

The much talked about debut novel from Wisconsin-raised Nickolas Butler, Shotgun Lovesongs is the story of four men, friends since childhood, back in their rural hometown for a wedding. As they attempt to reignite the bond of friendship, old rivalries and dark secrets threaten to destroy their comradery - and a marriage - forcing the question of whether one, as an adult, can ever truly 'come home'.

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