16 August 2023

5 new books to read this week

16 August 2023

Life After Life writer Kate Atkinson is back with a collection of short stories…


1. Normal Rules Don’t Apply by Kate Atkinson is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £18.99 (ebook £9.99). Available August 24

Normal rules definitely don’t apply to this collection of interlinked stories, where the ordinary and the fantastical sit happily side-by-side. All kinds of stories are inside these tales – fairy stories, creation myths, fantasy, Bible stories, tabloid headlines, soaps, movies and crime. Atkinson’s sly humour percolates all the way through, but there’s also humanity, hope and forgiveness, counter-balanced by the end of the world, greed and unkindness. Even in short stories, Atkinson’s characters are three-dimensional and finely drawn – and not always nice. The simplicity of the short story form belies the book’s multi-layered approach. As soon as you get to the end, you’ll be tempted to just start at the beginning again to see the nuances you missed first time round, and tease out the threads that run between each tale.9/10(Review by Bridie Pritchard)

2. The Book Of Fire by Christy Lefteri is published in hardback by Manilla Press, priced £16.99 (ebook £12.99). Available August 17

Given the recent wildfires which have ravaged parts of Greece, the subject matter of Christy Lefteri’s latest novel could not be more timely. The Book Of Fire deals with the devastation caused by a fire that wipes out lives and homes and destroys the environment in a small Greek village. This is an emotive, character-driven novel which clearly demonstrates the impact – both physically and emotionally – that such a major event has on one family. Written from the perspective of the woman in the family – Irini – Lefteri’s evocative tale leaves you questioning how you would deal with such loss, and the decisions you would make in the wake of such a disaster.8/10(Review by Alison Kershaw)

3. Shark Heart: A Love Story by Emily Habeck is published in hardback by Jo Fletcher Books, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Shark Heart follows the story of newlyweds Wren and Lewis who, just weeks after their wedding, discover that Lewis is transforming into a great white shark. Over the next nine months, the couple come to terms with the fact that their first year of marriage will also be their last. In Emily Habeck’s debut novel, she encourages you to suspend your disbelief while we follow Wren and Lewis through his surreal diagnosis as he begins to physically transform into a shark. Throughout the book, the text shifts between prose and play scripts as the couple wade through denial and eventual acceptance of their fate. Despite the magical realism, at its core, Shark Heart is a book about loss and inevitable change in life. It will make you cry, but also leave you feeling hopeful as it explores the joy found after grief.8/10(Review by Rikki Loftus)


4. Code Of Conduct: Why We Need To Fix Parliament by Chris Bryant is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing, priced £14.99 (ebook £10.49). Available August 17

A seemingly never-ending run of scandals emanating from Westminster has prompted a string of books diagnosing what is wrong with British politics and suggesting possible fixes. This latest contribution differs from others in that it is by a sitting MP and the current chairman of the Commons Standards Committee – an author intimately acquainted with the workings of Westminster and its disciplinary system. Bryant’s position means the book is peppered with behind-the-scenes anecdotes – he is an engaging storyteller, both in person and on the page – and his conclusions carry considerable authority. But those conclusions are broadly in line with other books on this subject, blaming things like the electoral system, the centralisation of power, and Westminster’s confused panoply of standards bodies for our political ills. He is not necessarily wrong in that, but readers may find they have heard some of this before.7/10(Review by Christopher McKeon)

Children’s book of the week

5. Whisper, Shout: Let It Out! by Madhvi Ramani, illustrated by Anuska Allepuz, is published in paperback by Two Hoots, priced £7.99 (ebook £6.49). Available August 17

Writer Madhvi Ramani and illustrator Anuska Allepuz present a beautiful picture book for pre-school age children, celebrating the power and glory in speaking for yourself and using your voice. Onomatopoeic words swoop across Allepuz’s stunning artwork, encouraging readers to sing, hum, shout, stomp and fill the air with the noise of their exclamations, unapologetically embracing the space around them and making it theirs with their sound. A confidence-boosting read for young audiences that would work perfectly in a playgroup or childcare setting too, Whisper, Shout: Let It Out! is empowering – but it’s also brief and rather light on narrative, so unlikely to be one your children want to revisit often.7/10(Review by Holly Cowell)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros2. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell3. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang4. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett5. Kill For Me Kill For You by Steve Cavanagh6. Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong7. What You Are Looking For Is In the Library by Michiko Aoyama8. The List by Yomi Adegoke9. The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook For Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson10. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Abroad In Japan by Chris Broad2. Jane’s Patisserie Everyday by Jane Dunn3. Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own4. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken5. Pax by Tom Holland6. The Wager by David Grann7. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy8. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell9. Earth by Chris Packham & Andrew Cohen10. Surviving to Drive by Guenther Steiner,(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell2. Atomic Habits by James Clear3. Rememberings by Sinéad O’Connor4. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken5. Mythos by Stephen Fry6. The Lie In Our Marriage by Anna-Lou Weatherley7. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman8. The Trial by Rob Rinder9. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus10. Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Stephen Fry – introductions, Arthur Conan Doyle(Compiled by Audible)

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