Three books by buddies:
A Mother's Guide to Cheating - Kate Long. Excellent as always, finely observed emotions of family life.
My So-called Afterlife - Tamsyn Murray. Teen fiction, lively, fun, and made me cry.
Prestwick - David Hough. Gripping page-turner. Satisfying ending. Am never getting on a plane again.
A book from a small press:
Breeze from the River Manjeera - Hema Macherla (Linen Press). Indian girl comes to England for an arranged marriage. Husband is a brutal pig and his family are even worse. She's treated as a slave, but eventually manages to break free of them and forge her own life. English is not the author's first language so writing this book is quite a feat. Enjoyable story which kept my attention throughout. In places perhaps a tighter edit would have improved it.
A book from a Waterstones promotions table:
Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant. In 16th century Italy a girl is forced into a convent to separate her from the unsuitable man she's fallen in love with. She can sing, and the convent's reputation is built on its muscial prowess. She's a pawn in the church's politics, but she rebels against it, and with the help of the convent's apothecary, eventually gets out. Great characterisation, and an unusual but believable setting. I was completely hooked.