Ad is loading...

The 15 Unmissable Books Of 2017 So Far

As voracious readers, we’re almost never without a book on the go – whether we’re engrossed in the latest page-turning thriller (see: Little Deaths) or re-reading a cherished classic ahead of a big screen adaptation (currently: The Handmaid’s Tale). This year, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to read one book a week, sharing the Grazia team’s verdicts online here. Think of it as your reading list for 2017. You're welcome.

1.Homegoing by Yaa Guasi

Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, which traces the effects of slavery on eight generations of one family, is already making headlines. (Amazon, £9.09)

What does Grazia think?

  • **Hannah Flint**

Junior News and Entertainment Editor

Homegoing is hands down the best book I've read in months. Starting in 18th-century Ghana, it follows eight generations affected by the slave trade, with each chapter told from the perspective of a new character to move the story along to the present day. It's a hugely clever novel and I can't wait to see what Yaa Gyasi does next.

Rating: 5/5

  • **Anna Silverman**

Junior Features Writer

This novel, which is about two sisters separated at birth: one of whom is sold into slavery; the other married to a British slaver, tackles 250 years of history in 300 pages. It left me with an understanding of the brutal realities of slavery and the emotional destruction it can leave (in this case) on eight generations of the same family. If it’s an enlightening page-turner you want, this is your book.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Features Director

Every character we encounter in this ambitious debut illustrates perfectly the vast tapestry of life from 18th century Ghana to current day America. From young Effia, whose mother pretends she's infertile so she can be married to a British official, to Sonny, repeatedly imprisoned for his politial protests, every sentence Gyasi crafts is imbued with rich meaning.

Rating: 5/5

2.Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Emma Flint’s atmospheric debut thriller Little Deaths is sending ripples through the publishing world. (Amazon, £9.09)

What does Grazia think?

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia Features Director

A mother wakes to find her two children missing… so far so thriller plot. But Emma Flint’s opulently rendered vision of a mysterious crime set against the sizzling summer of 1965 in Queens is as far from mundane as you can get. Provocative mother Ruth Malone is an enigma to the police and the young reporter covering her case, but a horrifying discovery pulls it all into question.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Melissa Henry**

Grazia’s Editor’s PA

Not your typical crime novel, Little Deaths -inspired by a real case- opens with young single mother Ruth locked up in prison. Portrating her as guilty simply because she drinks, takes care of her appearance and has lovers, the ingrained misogyny and cultural stereotypes of 60s society supersede facr in this tragic story.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Polly Dunbar**

Grazia’s Contributing Editor

Emma Flint’s debut novel about a woman accused of murdering her own children in 1960s New York drew me in from the first, sharply evocative page and kept me gripped throughout. Thanks to Flint’s remarkable eye for detail, the character of Ruth – a chain-smoking, sexually liberated, glamorous single mother, whose louche lifestyle sparks misogynistic judgement by the police and public - leapt from the page and lodged in my imagination.

Rating: 4/5

3.Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Ali Land is getting the world into a thriller frenzy with her book about the daughter of a serial killer. (Amazon, £6.49)

What does Grazia think?

  • **Anna Silverman**

Grazia’s Junior Features Writer

Ali Lan'ds Good Me Bad Me offers insight into the psyche of a damaged, 15-year-old girl, Milly, who was abused, neglected and brought up by a serial killer mother. To sink into her consciousness is both frightening and enthralling. I felt like I battled the voice of her mother in her head with Milly.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia’s Features Director

It’s that time again: everyone’s scrabbling for the new Girl on a Train to get their psychological thriller fix. And 2017’s ‘one’ looks set to be former mental health nurse Ali Land’s Good Me Bad Me. The ‘girl’ at the heart of this gripper is teenager Milly, newly renamed and rehomed after reporting her mother’s murderous tendencies. You’ll be hooked.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Lisa Howard**

Grazia's Production Director

This nastily dripping page-turner makes for voyeuristic reading. The author's past as a child mental health nurse lends authenticity to the devastating effects of the most toxic maternal relationship imaginable. For me, the ending lazily sought a cheap thrill at the expense of a more complex analysis, disappointing in the light of the first two-thirds, which were utterly compelling.

Rating: 3/5

4.The Natural Way Of Things by Charlotte Wood

Charlotte Wood has swept up indie awards with her tale of two women waking from a drugged sleep in a desert prison. (Amazon, £8.99)

What does Grazia think?

  • **Lauren Dudley**

Grazia's Pictures Intern

A heavy, traumatic yet thrilling read, The Natural Way Of Things had me gripped from beginning to end. We are taken through Yolanda and Verla\s brutal kidnapping and down a path of modern misogyny. It strongly appealed to my feminist nature and had me questionning our social standpoints. How protected are we in our Western nature, when social media is so public? An eye-opener in true form.

Rating: 5/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia's Features Director

Welcome a new feminist voice to your thriller bookshelf. Aussie Charlotte Wood will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to work out what’s happening alongside prisoners Yolanda and Verla in this Outback Midnight Express.

Rating: 3/5

  • **Zoe Cronin**

Grazia’s Deputy Chief Sub Editor

Seemingly punished for their sexual experiences, 10 women are enslaved in a nightmare of brutal treatment, meagre rations and enforced manual labour. It makes for a viscerally frim read, but each disturbing page left me avidly trying to unpick why and how this could be taking place under modern Australian society's averted - or even willing - gaze.

Rating: 3/5

5. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith returns with a woman escaping a scandal – and examining how she got there. (Amazon, £12.99)

What does Grazia think?

  • **Jenny Croall**

Grazia’s Production Editor

Dance, as the title suggests, is a common thread, but this sweeping novel is really about the nature of class, racism, the cult of celebrity and, most significantly, friendship. Sharp and authentic, it makes you consider if we can ever really know another person, however close; also, how life often bumps along on a series of misunderstandings. I’m making it sound bleak, but the story of the narrator’s complex love-hate relationships with childhood friend Tracey and her Madonna-esque pop-star employer is hugely enjoyable.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Hannah Wilson**

Grazia Designer

Beautifully captivating, this story follows two childhood friends as they grow up, with the huge differences in the lives they lead and the people they encounter serving as a painful reminder that, even in the 21st century, there is still a huge stigma surrounding race and class.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia’s Features Director

Zadie Smith’s vision of the world as a fellow Londoner is so beautifully familiar, but as she explores the minutae of what makes us the women we become, that inner landscape is as beautifully rendered as her city. And as our narrator flits between her beholden relationships with childhood friend Tracey and Aimee the popstar she assists at a time when she’s scandalised, she becomes ever more real to us.

Rating: 4/5

6. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult takes a gritty turn with her racially charged courtroom drama . (Amazon, £4.99

What does Grazia think?

  • **Anna Silverman**

Grazia’s Junior Features Writer

White supremacists, racism, a gripping courtroom drama – I had to remind myself I was reading a novel not the news. Jodi Picoult creates fascinating, relatable characters in a book that will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about white privilege. Given the current political climate in America, it couldn’t be more pertinent.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Hannah Flint**

Grazia’s Deputy News Editor

Jodi Picoult isnt an author who I'd usually gravitate to, yet I was intrigued by the buzz around this novel. Told from three points of view, small great things tackles racism in America as the main character Ruth is forbidden from treating a white newborn baby - because of her colour. Coming at an incredibly pivotal time in US politics, reading was Sometimes uncomfortable, but for the most part I couldn't put it down.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Fiona Cowood**

Grazia’s Contributing Editor

I was gripped by the first third of this tale of a black maternity nurse, Ruth, being banned from taking care of the newborn son of white supremacist parents. Once the baby dies, and Ruth is tried for murder, the book becomes an exploration of white privilege, which given the current political climate, couldn’t be more timely. It’s a shame that some of her characterisation slips into stereotype.

Rating: 4/5

7. The Wangs Vs The World by Jade Chang

Jade Chang brings the family together for a road trip when the Wangs lose their multi-million dollar empire. (Amazon, £10.38

What does Grazia think?

  • **Zoe Cronin**

Grazia’s Deputy Chief Sub-Editor

When Charles Wang’s American dream – a make-up empire built on an ingredient derived from urine – goes down the, er, toilet, he and his family hit the road in an old Merc, in search of opportunity. As they are flung face-first into life without luxury, the snappy, funny, streetwise Wangs unexpectedly learn more about themselves – and I was with them every step of the way.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Lauren Dudley**

Grazia’s Pictures Intern

Although it was a unique storyline focussed around the financial crisis in 2008, I must admit this read was slightly hit and miss for me. The Wangs VS The World is about a wealthy family losing everything they have, yet for such a tragic storyline, I sadly didn’t feel emotionally invested in the outcome. Despite lovely touches of humour throughout, the subject wasn’t quite calling me.

Rating: 3/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia’s Features Director

When the family’s trusty old Merc quite literally hits a bump in the road – a metaphor for the massive financial crisis they’re on the road escaping - the Wang family would be well within their rights to spin out of control. But this is a unique unit who are getting through things together. Jade Chang’s pithy eye for detail definitely makes her a contender for new Maria Semple plaudits.

Rating: 4/5

8. Goodnight, Beautiful Women by Anna Noyes

Anna Noyes has captured a mesmerising view of womanhood with her collection of short stories. (Amazon, £10.68

What does Grazia think?

  • **Polly Dunbar**

Grazia’s Contributing Editor

Poverty, death and sexual abuse are the dark themes of Anna Noyes’ debut collection of interconnected short stories about women, which take place in Maine, New England. Her prose is beautifully evocative - sample image: ‘he prowls and paces my memory like its borders cage him’ - but the subject matter's a little too bleak for me.

Rating: 3/5

  • **Melissa Henry**

Grazia’s Editorial Assistant

Anna Noyes short stories explore dark and sometimes disturbing issues of love, loss and sexual abuse. Pushing you to the edge of your comfort zone, this is not for the light hearted.Noyes is without certainty a talented writer and hits the right notes with each story ending exactly how a short story should – left to your interpretation.

Rating: 4/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia’s Features Director

Anna Noyes is basically the living embodiment of Hannah Horvath’s ambitions in Girls. Straight out of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she’s written for various literary publications before turning in a book of short stories on the sensual and often strained lives of women along the beautiful Maine coast. She will suck you in.

Rating: 4/5

9. Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan

Katie Khan is taking us to into space with her utopian love story. (Amazon, £5.00)

What does Grazia think?

  • **Polly Dunbar**

Grazia Contributing Editor

I must admit Space Romances are not really my genre. I liked Katie Khan’s premise – a couple adrift in space with only 90 minutes of oxygen left, stranded above a world where love is banned – but I wasn’t mad keen on the style. Sorry. Am sure fans of dystopian fiction will find this much more their cup of tea.

Rating: 1/5

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia’s Features Director

I personally love a slightly YA-ish read, and this is just the ticket if you’re looking to get lost in a breathless love story in space. There’s a political undertone to the story too: Carys and Max live in a future where young people must rotate around various points in what is basically a hyped up EU, which leaves us pining for a better world in the current climate.

Rating: 3/5

  • **Anna Silverman**

Grazia’s Features Writer

If it’s escapism you’re after Hold Back The Stars will take you suitably out of this world. Their flashbacks to their life on the world below make their ‘final’ moments all the more raw and I enjoyed the star-crossed lovers’ relationship but was a bit confused by the mysterious endings.

Rating: 3/5

10. The Good People

Hannah Kent transports us to the 19th century Ireland with a tale inspired by true events. Here’s what Grazia thought of The Good People. £10.49, Amazon

What does Grazia think?

  • **Emily Phillips**

Grazia’s Features Director

Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlisted author Hannah Kent really knows how to build beautiful atmosphere. Nóra Leahy is a woman on the brink after the death of her husband and daughter. Burdened with the care of her troubled young grandson, she’s forced to reach out to two other women to seek help, as the rest of their community spurn them. Gripping.

Rating: 3/5

Melissa Henry

Grazia’s Editorial Assistant

Set in Ireland in 1825, in a small rural community full of Gaelic superstitions and folklore about the lives of a healing woman, a 14 year old girl and a recent widow whose daughter has died leaving her with changeling grandson. All convinced the Good People can help restore the previously healthy little boy with folklore and faith. Beautifully written and very atmospheric, but the authors too much attention to detail meant the characters and plot slightly drifted (along with my mind).

Rating: 4/5

Lisa Howard

Grazia’s Production Director

Densely descriptive, unremittingly grim, this darkly depressing tale of dire poverty is all shade, with barely a chink of light. Authentic, well-crafted, clearly the result of painstaking research, reading The Good people felt like a very worthy endurance test.

Rating: 2/5

11. Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Daniel Cole has us all gripped with his hotly tipped thriller debut. £5.00, Amazon

What does Grazia think?

Emily Phillips

Grazia's Features Director

Bright new prospect on the psychological scene Daniel Cole was formerly an RSPCA officer - both experiences to inspire a rolicking thriller. When a corpse turns up with six different victims' body parts stitched together, Detective Willian 'Wolf' Fawkes rejoins the Met for what he knows will be a career-defining case. I was enthralled from the start.

Rating: 4.5

Jenny Croall

Grazia's Production Editor

I do like a thriller - just not this one. It all felt a bit too cliched. Serial killer who taunts the police? Tick. Ludicrously elaborate murders? Tick. Maverick cop whose life is falling apart, plus a media mogul who's sell his own granny to boost ratings? Big tick! The characters felt one-dimensional, sacrificed to the complicated plot. I'm sure Ragdoll would translate into a Hollywood blockbuster, but it lacked any subtlety or nuance.

Rating: 3/5

Clare Pennington

Grazia's Acting Senior Picture Editor

Being of a nervous disposition, a book with blood splattered over the cover wasn't a natural choice. But a few chapters in, I was enthralled by the cat-and-mouse chase of a deranged killer. I didn't really warm to our grizzly hero, Wolf, though, and struggled to root for him. But it's a gripping read.

Rating: 3/5

12. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

A twisted tale of a terrible female legacy. Here's what Grazia thought of Amy Engel's darkly atmospheric debut. £8.99, Amazon

Emily Phillips

Grazia's features director

I was into the package with this book: the dark family secret, the beautiful brood of women united by a twisted family tree. But when I found out what was uniting them in their desire to run from the Roanoke pile, I felt a bit weirded out (you'll see). It is gnawingly readable, but the subject matter certainly couldn't be called enjoyable.

Rating: 3/5

Rhiannon Evans

Grazia's Comissioning and Special Projects Editor

A 'broken' woman, pulled back to a small town she'd fought to escape, by a family tragedy - there's nothing too original in The Roanoke Girls' plot, but I was intrigued by their 'terrible family secret'. But it is revealed too early on and - I think - feels exploitative by the end. The characters are well-drawn, but the 'twist' was by no means shocking.

Rating: 2/5

Melissa Henry

Grazia's Editorial Assistant

This book is shockingly disturbing (Amy Engel, what's going on in your head?!), but the reason for that is not the core storyline, but more how people around it react, or don't react. I even thought what I suspected to be the 'dark secret' couldn't be the case, until fellow book clubber Rhiannon talked about it, because everyone was being so blasé about it in the book. So normal for something so haunting.

13. Here Comes The Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Capturing the distinctive rhythms of Jamaican life, Nicole Dennis-Benn's Here Comes The Sun sees a band of women battling for independence £12.08, Amazon

What does Grazia think?

Rhiannon Evans

Grazia's Commissioning and Special Projects Editor

Just pages in to the vivid story of Margot, her sister Thandi, and the women in their Jamaican community, you’re immersed in their characters, their world, their dialect and the constant hardships they battle to make a better life for themselves. There’s never been a better time to learn about the lives of women living realities so different to your own – as well as it being page-turningly gripping, the book left me with a lot of food-for-thought.

Rating: 4/5

Clare Pennington

Grazia's Senior Picture Researcher

Hotel worker Margot works in ‘guest services’ and offers a lot more than you’d find on a Premier Inn service menu… Used and abused her whole life, she earns the extra cash to give little sister Thandi a better life – unaware that Thandi is pursuing dreams of her own. While the latter half of the book’s action did feel forced – naively willing the sisters to find happiness kept me hooked.

Rating: 4/5

Maria O'Connor

Grazia's Chief Sub Editor

Luxury hotels, Jamaican sunshine… but don’t be fooled, as Here Comes The Sun is anything but a feelgood holiday read set in paradise. Instead it’s the tale of the tough local women of River Bank, doing anything they can to survive, while fighting to escape the claustrophobic community. It was a slow starter but as I grew to know more about the women and girls, and care about their struggles and secrets, it dragged me in and became a page-turner.

Rating: 3/5

14. Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

With the protagonist - a self-confessed liar - in a coma, Alice Feeney's debut novel is a twisty thriller. Here's what we made of Sometimes I Lie £3.99, Amazon

What does Grazia think?

Emily Maddick

Grazia's Assistant Editor

I found this book gloomy, but compelling. I was totally drawn in by the premise - the fact that Amber, the liar, is in a coma - but as hard as I tried, I couldn't get on board with her character, I found her a bit one-dimensional. Weirdly, though, it didn't stop me from powering through to find out what happens to her.

Ratings: 3/5

Zoe Cronin

Grazia's Deputy Chief Sub Editor

With an openly unreliable narrator and time-zipping plot that continually keeps you on your toes, I galumphed enjoyably through Sometimes I Lie. Yes, it's a little silly, but you can't fault a book that calls you away from the sofa + Telly, as you can't wait til morning to get to the end. And even when you're there, you stil aren't quite sure who to trust...

Rating: 4/5

Jenny Croall

Grazia's Production Editor

Sometimes I Lie nips along at a cracking pace and Alice Feeney keeps the suspense and intrigue tautly balanced. She's got a nice pithy turn of phrase going on, too. Anti-heroine/borderline sociopath Amber isn't especially likeable from the outset, yet I still found myself rooting for her. You'll be kept guessing til the end - and beyond, in my case. Far-fetched but higely enjoyable.

Rating: 4/5

15. The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

Suellen Dainty's psychological drama exposes the dark secrets of a 'perfect' family £6.29, Amazon

What does Grazia think?

Rhiannon Evans

Grazia's Commissioning and Special Projects Editor

The Housekeeper is full of recognisable and well-drawn characters and there’s a constant gothic feeling of doom as recently-dumped Anne Morgan takes a job as a housekeeper for the lifestyle blogger she idolises. The idea of unmasking what lies beneath a seemingly perfect life could’ve been fascinating. But it took too long to get to the climax, the tension was lost and I wanted much more than was eventually delivered.

Rating: 2/5

Caitlyn Hobbs

Grazia's Digital Content Co-Ordinator

I found the overall storyline of the Housekeeper – the dark secrets behind seemingly normal characters – to be an interesting concept, and the characters were very intriguing. However – for me – it was a bit slow. I felt that a lot of the many twists were anti-climatic, and the theme became more about the main characters emotional self-discovery/self-acceptance than the thriller I was expecting. Definitely readable, but I personally didn’t find it hugely gripping.

Rating: 3/5

Henrietta Richman

Grazia Contributor

When Anne’s boyfriend (and boss) leaves her, she takes a job as housekeeper to ‘perfect’ Emma Helmsley. It’s not long before she’s embroiled in the broken family hiding behind a carefully constructed veneer. It takes a while to get going and there wasn’t enough of a ‘thriller’ element for me, but Dainty has drawn some great characters and threw in enough twists to keep me reading till the end.

Rating: 3/5

READ MORE: 7 Books That Are Arguably Better Than The Movie

READ MORE: 5 Books To Help Master Your Inner Critic

READ MORE: 5 Self-Help Books To Inspire You To Be Your Best Self in 2017