Digital Spy's publisher Hearst UK has revealed the winners for its Big Book Awards 2019, highlighting the finest emerging fiction and non-fiction titles in UK publishing.
For the 2019 awards, each of the magazines and websites taking part had its own shortlist of books – ranging from beautifully illustrated children's literature to in-depth, immersive long reads.
And now, we can reveal the Book of the Year for each of those brands, as chosen by a combination of magazine editors and Hearst's readers.
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King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo (Orion Children’s Books)
This epic fantasy is the first in a two-part miniseries or 'duology', and it sees Nikolai, a king and war hero, battling demonic magic within following a devastating civil war. This is such an immersive book, and the world Leigh has created here is so carefully and lovingly crafted.
Like other stories in Leigh's 'Grishaverse', elements of magic, fantasy, superpowers and technology all combine, and you'll also find Game of Thrones-esque politics, constantly shifting power dynamics, heaps of intrigue, and some superb one-liners among its pages. We had a feeling our readers would love it for all those reasons. Our congratulations to Leigh – and roll on, part two…
Call Me Star Girl, Louise Beech (Orenda)
During her last show on the airwaves, a radio host takes a call from a man who claims to have vital evidence in an unsolved murder case.
Best described it as "a smart, complex and beautifully written psychological thriller, with a raw intensity at its heart.
"Twisty, addictive and completely compelling, this powerful story will keep you hooked and leave you haunted."
Ayesha At Last, Uzma Jalaluddin (Atlantic)
Ayesha, a teacher who dreams of being a performance poet, finds herself attracted to straightforward Khalid in this Pride and Prejudice-inspired romance set in a Muslim community in Toronto. This is Uzma's debut novel, and former Sony exec Amy Pascal’s company Pascal Pictures is already making plans for a movie based on the book.
Cosmopolitan described Ayesha at Last as "a clever homage to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that you'll love, even if you never got round to reading the original".
The Garden of Lost and Found, Harriet Evans (Headline)
Juliet is given the key to her family's ancestral home – and explores a century-old family secret – in this widely-acclaimed novel. Good Housekeeping praised The Garden of Lost and Found as "a sweeping tale that is by turns sad and full of heart, with characters that really get inside your head and stay there".
Testament by Kim Sherwood (riverrun)
Kim's acclaimed first novel tells the story of Eva as she uncovers the deepest secrets of her late grandfather, who endured the horrors of the Holocaust before coming to England as a refugee.
Harper's Bazaar praised Testament as "ambitious in its scope", adding that "this impressive debut novel skilfully interweaves the stories of multiple generations, moving seamlessly between eras and geographies. Sherwood tells a moving tale of love, loss and finding peace with the past".
Her Last Promise, Kathryn Hughes (Headline)
Years after losing her mother, Tara discovers that someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box – and its contents will change everything she thought she knew, as she heads to Spain to search for the answers to a mystery that has spanned 40 years.
Prima hailed Her Last Promise as "storytelling at its finest with characters that come alive and a plot that dances with intrigue. An absolutely first-class read that does not disappoint."
In Search of Silence, Poorna Bell (Simon & Schuster)
After Poorna's husband Rob took his own life in 2015, she wrote this personal memoir – the follow-up to Chase the Rainbow – in which she reflects on her life's journey over the past few years and asks questions about expectation, happiness, sadness and self-worth. Poorna herself says the book is all about "living an actively-chosen, meaningful life".
Red said that In Search of Silence is "a beautiful, moving book which rewrites the template for what it means to live a happy life".
I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree by Fiona Waters, with illustrations by Frann Preston-Gannon (Nosy Crow)
Named after the first line of Judith Nicholls' poem Windsong, this beautifully-illustrated book features a nature poem for every day of the year (and there are 366, so no need to worry if it's a leap year).
Red praised this collection as "a very special book, with a nature-themed poem per day – one to hand down through the generations".
Swimming Against the Storm by Jess Butterworth (Orion Children’s Books)
In this adventure, two siblings, Eliza and Avery, fight to save their Louisiana home from rising sea levels and go in search of a dangerous, legendary creature that has never been seen before.
Red said that "this wonderful story – about two sisters' fight to save their home from rising water levels – is a tale with deep substance. It couldn't be timelier."
Vagina: A Re-Education by Lynn Enright (Allen & Unwin)
Lynn's debut book includes personal stories as she seeks to provide her audience with the information they need about their own bodies, tackling social taboos around issues from sexuality to reproduction on the way.
Women's Health said that "by shining a long-overdue spotlight on the vagina, Lynn Enright gets to the heart of some of the most urgent issues in female health right now, from the truth about HRT to the gender pain gap. Vagina is vital reading for those who are in possession of one – and those who aren't."
Each Big Book Awards category was hotly contested, and here were the shortlisted nominees for each title:
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