26 July 2023

5 new books to read this week

26 July 2023

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s highly anticipated debut is a blistering and violent critique of the American prison system…


1. Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is published in hardback by Harvill Secker, priced £18.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Sometimes books can be compared with quite random things for clout, but Chain-Gang All-Stars being billed as a mix of Squid Game and The Handmaid’s Tale feels fitting. Set in an alternate America, this enthralling debut follows Chain-Gang All-Stars: a programme where prisoners fight each other to the death in a bid for freedom, all in front of millions of fans. It gives the prisoners a human face, namely with the main characters – fierce warriors and lovers Loretta Thurwar and Hamara ‘Hurricane Staxxx’ Stacker. It’s a hugely imaginative read – the world-building is masterful – while also making a powerful point about incarceration in America today. With an action-packed plot, as Thurwar hurtles towards freedom, sober points are made throughout, with real statistics about the American prison system weaved throughout as footnotes. An unmissable read.9/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

2. The List by Yomi Adegoke is published in hardback by 4th Estate, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Yomi Adegoke’s debut novel The List is being called the book of the summer, and is being co-developed by HBO Max, the BBC and A24 onto the screen – so you might want to add this cautionary tale about the good, bad and ugly parts of the internet to your summer reading list. The book follows a high-profile journalist called Ola Olajide, who is set to marry her fiancé Michael in a month’s time. They are the ‘couple goals’ of their social network and seem to have it all. Until one morning, when they both wake up and see a crowdsourced list of sexual abusers online – with Michael’s name on it. The novel takes jaw-dropping twists and turns, infused with cultural references, and attempts to challenge readers about their response to sexual abuse online, and what accountability even means. It feels like a crucial text.8/10(Review by Yolanthe Fawehinmi)

3. Pet by Catherine Chidgey is published in hardback by Europa Editions, priced £14.99 (ebook £10.99). Available now

Pet is a chilling coming-of-age story set in 1980s New Zealand. It’s 1984, and Justine is caught in the middle of a changing world – her mum recently died of breast cancer, she’s the only child to a struggling single father and hasn’t quite found her place in the world. Teacher Mrs Price has her favourite students who she asks to do little jobs for her. When Mrs Price’s attentions turn to Justine, the girl’s world is rocked once again as her friendships are tested and home life is turned upside down. Does Justine have the inner strength to embrace her moral compass and make herself heard? Pet is an enthralling page-turner, laced with dark ominous themes, examining both the oppressive racism that was rampant in the 1980s and the far-reaching power of the Catholic church.8/10(Review by Rachel Howdle)


4. That Peckham Boy by Kenny Imafidon is published in hardback by Torva, priced £16.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Kenny Imafidon’s memoir provides a personal and readable account of growing up in Peckham, falling into crime, spending six months on remand for a murder he didn’t commit and turning his life around. Imafidon did well at school and was involved in politics even while he was a teenage drug dealer – and after his brush with injustice, he now works on helping underrepresented communities like the one he comes from. There is some reflection, but not much that is deep or revelatory, even if That Peckham Boy does provide an accessible look at a life most readers may not be familiar with.6/10(Review by Christopher McKeon)

Children’s book of the week

5. Rhinos Don’t Cry by Mark Grist, illustrated by Chris Jevons, is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.59). Available now

When was the last time you saw a rhino riding a bike, sliding down a bannister, painting – or even crying? You’ll see all of these delightfully quirky things in poet and rapper Mark Grist’s debut children’s book. Our protagonist is Milo, a little rhino who one day watches a film with his favourite movie star, who proclaims that rhinos don’t cry. Milo takes this to heart – and keeps things bottled up inside, even when his cat Pickles goes missing. But on a chance encounter with his favourite movie star, Milo founds out something amazing – not only can rhinos cry, but every so often it does some good. It’s a lyrically rhyming, easy to read tale with colourful pictures and a sweet underlying message, making it perfect for bedtime.8/10(Review by Prudence Wade)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros2. Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong3. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell4. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang5. Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs6. The Ghost Ship by Kate Mosse7. Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead8. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles9. The Trial by Rob Rinder10. Talking At Night by Claire Daverley(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Beyond The Story: 10-Year Record Of BTS by BTS & Myeongseok Kang2. What About Men? by Caitlin Moran3. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken4. Pax by Tom Holland5. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell6. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy7. The Wager by David Grann8. Future Of Geography by Tim Marshall9. Hitler, Stalin, Mum And Dad by Daniel Finkelstein10. Into The Void by Geezer Butler(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. The Mother by T.M. Logan2. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken3. The Trial by Rob Rinder4. Atomic Habits by James Clear5. Mythos by Stephen Fry6. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell7. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman8. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus9. The Fellowship of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien10. What About Men? by Caitlin Moran(Compiled by Audible)

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