Pen To Print

Click "Enter" to submit the form.

Saturday Spotlight: New Book Releases January 2024

By Claire Buss, Deputy Editor, Write On! 

At Write On! and Pen to Print, we want to help connect authors and readers, playwrights and audiences, so we’ve created a Spotlight page on the last Saturday of the month, showcasing some of the exciting new reads and plays available. The curated list is based on books and plays that you send us, so if you’re an author or a playwright and you’d like your book or play in the spotlight, reach out to us at Whether you’re an indie author, with a small press or mainstream publisher, established or brand new playwright, we’d love to hear from you and shine a light on your new work.

Write On! offers other opportunities for writers as well. If you’d like us to feature an extract from your book or a short story, please send the extract, book cover and blurb to with the subject: Write On! Showcase (ensuring you have your publisher’s permission, of course).

Pen to Print are also looking for short videos from people reading a passage from their favourite book, or authors reading extracts from their own books. These videos will be featured on the Pen to Print YouTube channel and across our social media. Please send in your videos or links to with the subject: Video Stories.


God Complex by Rachael Allen 

God Complex is a sweeping and corrosive epic, a narrative poem that tells the story of the breakdown of a relationship against a backdrop of progressive environmental degradation.

A grieving body moves through states of toxicity, becoming an instrument for measuring the impact of pollutants. an entwining of human and non-human, built environment and natural landscape blurs perspective and distorts logic, creating an erratic decline into disorder. Loss is divined everywhere: in human relations, in the ruptures of class and privilege, and the poisoning of the planet.

It is through a purgatorial leavening of pain that the narrator comes to terms with the delicate, shifting states of the ecological systems that merge with and surround us to create new forms of being and devotion. The result is visionary – a book that vibrates with urgency and feeling.

Available to buy here

The Rag Maiden by Libby Ashworth

One woman dreams of a better life for her family – but how do you find it when all you’ve ever known is poverty?

Ireland, 1848

The potato famine has left the Cavanah family destitute. Kitty and Peter manage to secure tickets for America, seeking hope in an unknown land.

But still fortune will not favour them. On a terrifying crossing of the Irish Sea, Peter vanishes, and with him their tickets.

Now, Kitty and her young family are stranded in Liverpoo, with not a penny to their name. Facing prejudice and distrust, they move to Blackburn, where the welcome is no warmer, but Kitty at least can gather rags and scraps to exchange for a coin or two.

She refuses to give up hope – on finding Peter and on getting to America.

Yet Kitty knows they are just one bad day away from the evils of the workhouse.

How Do Meerkats Order Pizza? by Brooke Barker

In this uproariously funny and charmingly illustrated book, readers are introduced to incredible animals and the bizarre things human scientists do to understand them.

Did you know that crows never forget a face? Or that jaguars have a favourite perfume? Have you ever wondered how to pet a yeti crab? Or whether dogs can tell if you’re smiling? And just what is a burrowing bettong?

From crafting fake poo to slurping up bugs with a straw, there’s nothing these amazing scientists won’t do to help us learn more about the animals around us. Packed with fascinating facts, this hilarious book reveals secrets like why roosters crow,  how meerkats make decisions as a group – and how humans can better understand the wild creatures we share the planet with.

The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

Her decision changed history.
Now her family must survive it.

British Malaya, 1930s
Discontented housewife Cecily is seduced by Japanese general Fujiwara and the glorious future he is promising for ‘independent’ Malaya, free from British colonialism. As she becomes further embedded as his own personal spy, she unwittingly alters the fate of her country by welcoming in a punishing form of dictatorship under the Japanese in WWII.

Japanese-occupied Malaya, 1945
Cecily and her family are barely surviving. Her children, Jujube, Abel and Jasmin, are surrounded by threat, and look to their mother to keep them safe. But she can’t tell them about the part she played in the war – and she doesn’t know how to protect them.

Can Cecily face up to her past to save her children? Or is it already too late?

Available to buy here
Connect with Vanessa Chan

The Real Thing by Terry Eagleton

A clear-sighted and entertaining defence of literary realism, and an account of its key practitioners.

Realist fiction is one of the most enduring artforms history has ever witnessed. By describing the intricate inner life of its characters, or widening its focus to set their experiences in context, it can evoke the reader’s sympathies as few other forms can. Yet it is also by and large a product of the middle classes: boldly individualist and fascinated by money, property, marriage, and inheritance.

Can such realism survive in the postmodern age?

Acclaimed critic Terry Eagleton explores realism’s complex history, practice, and politics. Spanning several centuries, and including writers such as George Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, and Iris Murdoch, Eagleton offers a witty, entertaining defence of a form which offers both panoramic scope and individual nuance in an increasingly fragmented world.

Available to buy here

Where We Come From by Aniefiok Ekpoudom

I met people who never quite fit in where they were supposed to, who found solace, salvation and meaning in these sounds, these words.

Something is happening in Britain, trembling the tracks as it unfolds. Recent years have borne witness to underground genres leaking out from the inner cities, going on to become some of the most popular music in the nation.

In this groundbreaking social history, journalist Aniefiok Ekpoudom travels the country to paint a compelling portrait of the dawn, boom and subsequent blossoming of UK rap and grime. Taking us from the heart of south London to the West Midlands and South Wales, he explores how a history of migration and an enduring spirit of resistance have shaped the current realities of these linked communities and the music they produce. These sounds have become vessels for the marginalised, carrying Black and working-class stories into the light.

Vividly depicted and compassionately told, Where We Come From weaves together intimate stories of resilience, courage and loss, as well as a shared music culture that gave refuge and purpose to those in search of belonging. Ekpoudom offers a rich chronicle of rap, identity, place and, above all, the social and human condition in modern Britain.

Available to buy here
Connect with Aniefiok Ekpoudom

The City Of Today Is A Dying Thing by Des Fitzgerald

Cities are bad for us: polluted, noisy and fundamentally unnatural. We need green space, not concrete. Trees, not tower blocks. So goes the argument. But is it true? What would the city of the future look like if we tried to build a better life from the ground up? And would anyone want to live there?

Here, Des Fitzgerald takes us on an urgent, unforgettable journey into the future of urban life, from shimmering edifices in the Arizona desert to forest-bathing in deepest Wales, and from rats in mazes to neuroscientific studies of the effects of our surroundings. Along the way, he reveals the deep-lying and often controversial roots of today’s green city movement, and offers an argument for celebrating our cities as they are – in all their raucous, constructed and artificial glory.

Available to buy here

God In My Rucksack by Elizabeth Freeman

This book is the second  part of my journey and is number two in the series Share My Journey.

The first book, Overland By Bus London To Bombay 1966, told that adventure from my diary and letters.

In this second book, I continue my journey, alone, in India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaya to Australia, on a shoestring budget and a small prayer to God: “Please keep me safe, and help me find somewhere safe to stay each night.”

You’ll be amazed at how that prayer was answered. I met up with a childhood friend in Australia and we went to New Zealand on a working holiday.

A chain of events and people I met, resulted in me attending a Bible School. Not all prayers are answered the way we want, just because we ask, as you will read!

Available to buy here

The Vast Extent by Lavinia Greenlaw

An expansive, wonder-filled collection exploring art, science and travel.

From the celebrated poet, novelist and memoirist, The Vast Extent is a constellation of ‘exploded essays’ about light and image, seeing and the unseen. Each is a record of how thought builds and ideas emerge, aligning art, myth, strange voyages, scientific scrutiny and a poet’s response so that they cast light upon each other. Ranging across caves, seasickness, early photography, boredom, wonder, mountains, mice, the body and its shadow, from the Arctic at midwinter to a shingle spit in Norfolk at midsummer, Lavinia Greenlaw invites us to travel such questions as how we might describe what we’ve never seen before, or what helps us to see more clearly or persuades us to see what’s not there. Art, science, technology, vision and memory inform one another in this original and illuminating work.

Available to buy here
Connect with Lavinia Greenlaw

Murder On Lake Garda by Tom Hindle

One happy couple.
Two divided families.
A wedding party to die for.

On the private island of Castello Fiore, surrounded by the glittering waters of Lake Garda, the illustrious Heywood family gathers for their son Laurence’s wedding to Italian influencer Eva Bianchi.

But as the ceremony begins, a blood-curdling scream brings the proceedings to a devastating halt.

With the wedding guests trapped as they await the police, old secrets come to light and family rivalries threaten to bubble over.

Everyone is desperate to know . . . Who is the killer? And can they be found before they strike again?

Available to buy here
Connect with Tom Hindle

Normal Women by Ainslie Hogarth

New mother Dani has a lot going on. She’s just moved back to her hometown, where her father was once known as the Garbage King: she’s fed up with not being a manicure-sporting, perfectly coiffed ‘Normal Woman’ and, most of all, she’s worried that her seemingly healthy husband, Clark, will drop dead, leaving her and her new baby, Lotte, destitute.

And then Dani discovers The Temple. Ostensibly a yoga centre, The Temple and its guardian, Renata, are committed to helping people reach their full potential. And if that sometimes requires sex work, so be it. Finally, Dani has found something she could be good at, even great at: meaningful work that will protect her and Lotte from poverty, and provide true economic independence from Clark. But just as she’s preparing to embrace this opportunity, Renata disappears, leaving Dani to step into another role entirely: that of detective.

Darkly comic, sharply witty and fiercely smart, Normal Women asks how our societies truly value female labour and what independence really means.

Available to buy here

Local by Alastair Humphreys

A search for nearby nature and wildness.

After years of expeditions all over the world, adventurer Alastair Humphreys spends a year exploring the small map around his own home.

Can this unassuming landscape marked by the glow of city lights and hum of busy roads hold any surprises for the world traveller, or slake his wanderlust? Could a single map provide a lifetime of exploration?

Discovering more about nature and wildness than in all his years in remote environments, he learns the value of truly getting to know his neighbourhood.

An ode to slowing down, Local is a celebration of curiosity and time outdoors, as well as a rallying cry to protect the wild places on our doorstep.

Available to buy here
Connect with Alastair Humphreys

The Library Of Heartbeats by Laura Imai Messina

To find what you’ve lost, you must listen to your heart…

On the peaceful Japanese island of Teshima there is a library of heartbeats, a place where the heartbeats of visitors from all around the world are collected. In this small, isolated building, the heartbeats of people who are still alive or have already passed away continue to echo.

Several miles away, in the ancient city of Kamakura, two lonely souls meet: Shuichi, a 40-year-old illustrator, who returns to his home town to fix up the house of his recently deceased mother, and eight-year-old Kenta, a child who wanders like a shadow around Shuichi’s house.

Day by day, the trust between Shuichi and Kenta grows until they discover they share a bond that will tie them together for life. Their journey will lead them to Teshima and to the library of heartbeats…

Available to buy here
Connect with Laura Imai Messina

The Principle Of Moments by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

6066: In Emperor Thracin’s brave new galaxy, humans are not citizens but indentured labourers, working to repay the debt they unwittingly incurred when they settled on Gahraan, a desert planet already owned by the emperor himself. Asha Akindele knows she’s just another voiceless cog working the assembly lines that fuel his vast imperial war machine. Her only rebellion: studying stolen aeronautics manuals in the dead of night. But then a cloaked stranger arrives to deliver an impossible message, and her life changes in an instant.

1812: Obi Amadi is done with time-travelling. Never mind the fact he doesn’t know how to cure himself of the temporal sickness he caught whilst anchoring his soul to Regency London, the one that unmakes him further with every jump. Or if the prince he loves will ever love him back. Or why his father disappeared. He is done. Until he hears about the ghost of a girl in the British Museum. A girl from another time.

When Obi’s path tangles with Asha’s and a prophecy awakens in the cold darkness of space, they must voyage through the stars, racing against time, tyranny and the legacy of three heroes from an ancient religion who may be awakening; reincarnated in ways beyond comprehension.

Available to buy here
Connect with Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson

Kubrick: An Odyssey by Robert P. Kolker

The enigmatic and elusive filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has not been treated to a full-length biography in over 20 years. 

Kubrick: An Odyssey fills that gap. It is based on access to the latest research, especially into his archive at the University of the Arts, London, and other papers, as well as new interviews with family members and those who worked with him. It offers comprehensive and in-depth coverage of Kubrick’s personal, private, public and working life. We discuss not only the making of his films, but also about those he wanted but failed to make, such as: Burning SecretNapoleonAryan Papers and A.I. We discover what he was doing when he was not making films. This biography will puncture a few myths about the allegedly reclusive filmmaker, who created some of the most important works of art of the twentieth century.

Available to buy here

The Woman On The Ledge by Ruth Mancini

A woman falls to her death from a London bank’s 25th-floor roof terrace.

You’re arrested for her murder.

You tell the police you only met the victim the previous night at your office party. She was threatening to jump from the roof, but you talked her down.

You’ve got nothing to do with this tragedy.
You’re clearly being framed.

So why do the police keep picking holes in your story?
And why doesn’t your lawyer seem to believe you?

It soon becomes obvious that you’re keeping secrets.

But who are you trying to protect? And why?

Available to buy here
Connect with Ruth Mancini

Toy Fights by Don Paterson

Don Paterson was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1963. He spent his boyhood on a council housing estate.

When he wasn’t busy dreading his birthdays, dodging kids who wanted to kill him in a game of toy fights,
working with his country-and-western singer dad, obsessing over God, origami, sex or Scottish football cards, he was developing a sugar addiction, playing guitar and descending into madness.

While he didn’t manage to figure out who he was meant to be, the first 20 years of his life  – before he took a chance, packed his guitar and boarded a train to London – did, for better or worse, shape who he would become.

Available to buy here

Ghost Drum by Susan Price

Part of our collection of Young Adult Classics, this stunning Carnegie-winning tale takes us to a world of darkness and ice, where a shaman and a prince fight for their freedom.

In the darkest hour of a freezing Midwinter, a night-walking witch adopts a newborn baby and carries her off in her house on chicken legs. She names her Chingis and teaches her the Three Magics. She grows into such a powerful witch that she rouses the jealousy of Kuzma, the bear-shaman.

The Czar of this cold realm fears his newborn son, Safa, will outdo him, and so imprisons the baby at the top of a tall tower, to live and die there without ever glimpsing the real world. Loneliness and confinement drive him to rage and despair until Chingis hears the crying of his trapped spirit and frees him.

But now their enemies unite against them, with steel and deadly magic. Chingis and Safa’s quest for freedom will take them through the Ghost World into the Land Of The Dead.

A timeless and atmospheric tale of fierce magic.

Available to buy here

Come And Get It by Kiley Reid

Everything comes at a price. But not everything can be paid for…

Millie wants to graduate, get a job and buy a house. She’s slowly saving up from her job on campus, but when a visiting professor offers her an unusual opportunity to make some extra money, she jumps at the chance.

Agatha is a writer, recovering from a break-up while researching attitudes towards weddings and money for her new book. She strikes gold when interviewing the girls in Millie’s dorm, but her plans take a turn when she realises that the best material is unfolding behind closed doors.

As the two women form an unlikely relationship, they soon become embroiled in a world of roommate theatrics, vengeful pranks and illicit intrigue, and are forced to question just how much of themselves they are willing to trade to get what they want.

Available to buy here
Connect with Kiley Reid

Was It For This by Hannah Sullivan

Hannah Sullivan’s first collection, Three Poems, won the T. S. Eliot Prize and the inaugural John Pollard International Poetry Prize. Was It for This continues that book’s project, offering a trenchant exploration of the ways in which we attempt to map our lives in space and time.

But there is also the wider, collective experience to contend with, the upheaval of historic event and present disaster. Tenants, the first poem, is an elegy for Grenfell, written from the uneasy perspective of a new mother living a few streets away. Elsewhere, from the terraces and precincts of seventies and eighties London to the late-at-night decks of American suburbs, intimately inhabited geographies provide reference points and sites for revisiting.

Nothing is too small or unlovely to be transfixed by the poet’s attention, from the thin concrete pillars of a flyover to an elderly peacock’s broken train. There is a memorialising strain in the forensic accumulation of detail, but there is also celebration, a keen sense of holding on to and cherishing what we can.

Available to buy here

Under The Hornbeams by Emma Tarlo

“I’m not homeless; this is my home!”
Nick points to the branches of the hornbeam under which we are standing, its leaves still glistening in the aftermath of the morning rain. On one of the lower branches sits a robin, joining our conversation. It seems to be saying: Why should anyone want to leave this place?

Nick and Pascal live and sleep outside in central London. They are an unusual duo: Nick is an avid reader of history and philosophy able to converse on any topic; Pascal is quiet, spending much of his time lying still, communicating silently with birds and animals. They have lived alongside each other in London’s streets for nearly two decades, yet do not identify as homeless. For the past five years they have taken shelter under the hornbeam trees in Regent’s Park.

Emma Tarlo first meets Nick and Pascal when out walking. Gradually, through the sharing of food, conversation and life stories, they develop a friendship. Emma is impressed by their unique way of experiencing both the hardship and pleasures of life outside and their conversations under the open sky prompt her  to question many things in her own life, transforming her understanding of what freedom might look like.

Under The Hornbeams follows the seasons of a single year through sun, wind, rain and snow. Returning to the park almost daily, Emma meets the community of people, dogs and birds who gravitate around Nick and Pascal and discovers the precarious networks of giving and receiving that exist undetected in London’s streets. The result is a life-affirming story that pays homage to the power of human connection and upturns many of our preconceptions about home, family, work and community. This is a book that will stay with you long after reading.

Available to buy here

Hard By A Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili

Tbilisi’s littered with memories that await me like landmines. The dearly departed voices I silenced long ago have come back without my permission. The situation calls for someone with a plan. I didn’t even bring toothpaste.

Saba’s father is missing, and the trail leads back to Tbilisi, Georgia.

It’s been two decades since Irakli fled his war-torn homeland with two young sons, now grown men. Two decades since he saw their mother, who stayed so they could escape. At long last, Tbilisi has lured him home. But when Irakli’s phone calls stop, a mystery begins…

Arriving in the city as escaped zoo animals prowl the streets, Saba picks up the trail of clues: strange graffiti, bewildering messages transmitted through the radio, pages from his father’s unpublished manuscript scattered like breadcrumbs. As the voices of those left behind pull at the edges of his world, Saba will discover that all roads lead back to the past, and to secrets swallowed up by the great forests of Georgia.

In a winding pursuit through the magic and mystery of returning to a lost homeland, Hard By A Great Forest is a rare, searching tale of home, memory and sacrifice; of one family’s mission to rescue one another, and put the past to rest.

Available to buy here

The House Of Broken Bricks by Fiona Williams

Ain’t nothing wrong with being broken. Nothing at all. You’re like these houses, not a whole brick in ’em and look how strong they are.

As Tess traces the sunrise over the floodplains, a light that paints the house a startling crimson, she yearns for the comforting chaos of life as it once was. Instead of Max and Sonny tracking dirt through the kitchen – Tess and Richard’s ‘rainbow twins’ – Tess absorbs the quiet. The nights draw in, the soil cools and Richard fights to get his winter crops planted rather than deal with the discussion he cannot bear to have.

Secrets and vines clamber over the broken red bricks and although its inhabitants seem to be withering, in the damp, crumbling soil Sonny knows that something is stirring… As the seasons change and the cracks let in more light, the family might just be able to start to heal.

This is the story of a broken family, what they see and what they cannot say laid bare in their overlapping perspectives. It is a tale of life in the cracks, because in the space for acceptance, of passing and of laying to rest, the possibilities of new energy, light and love, are seeded.

Available to buy here
Connect with Fiona Williams

That Self-Same Metal by Brittany Williams

Joan touched her fingers to the blade, felt the metal sing to her. It whispered its secrets…

Sixteen-year-old Joan Sands is a gifted craftswoman and an exceptional swordsmith.

So skilled is her technique that she is one of very few women employed at the Globe Theatre, directing William Shakespeare and his troupe of actors in fierce scenes of combat. Of course, it helps that Joan is blessed with the power to control metal, thanks to Ogun, head deity of all Orishas.

But when a pact between the ancient Yoruba spirits and Fae is broken, only she can save the streets of London from peril. Joan must find a way to defeat them in battle by herself…

Maybe her twin brother James, blessed with gifts from Oya, can be of some help? And, despite the simmering tensions of a love triangle between herself, Rose, and Nick, Joan has a community of people to protect and who will protect her in return.

Available to buy here

Remember, if you’re an author and you’d like to see your book in our Saturday Spotlight, email: and send us the details of your new novel.

For details of Penguin RandomHouse new releases, visit their website here.
For details of Hachette new releases, visit their website here.
For details of HarperCollins new releases, visit their website here.
For details of PanMacmillan new releases, visit their website here.
For details of Simon & Schuster new releases, visit their website here.

Disclaimer: Amazon links are given for ease but please remember there are a number of other online retailers operating, including hive (which helps to support independent book shops), Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play and Nook as well as online stores for bookstores such as Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and WHSmiths

Issue 19 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets. You can find previous editions of our magazines here.

You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo, or find us on

We want to help connect authors and readers, so our Saturday Spotlight page showcases some of the exciting new reads available each month.