23 August 2023

5 new books to read this week

23 August 2023

Strictly Come Dancing finalist John Whaite has written a moving memoir…


1. Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine is published in hardback by Viper, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now. 

Delicate Condition is Danielle Valentine’s adult debut and explores the themes of pregnancy, motherhood, loss, not being believed and the desperate sacrifices and consequences we’ll make for what we want. We’re introduced to Anna Alcott, an actor desperate for a family, going through gruelling IVF treatment while balancing her job, husband and public life. She begins to suspect that someone is trying to undermine her efforts, with lost medication and swapped appointments. Her husband starts to doubt her and in desperation she moves from Brooklyn to a remote town. Doctors inform her she’s miscarried and her despair and weakened emotional and physical state drive her conviction that she is still pregnant. Her symptoms, as well as strange experiences, convince her more is at play and she begins to wonder what exactly she’s carrying inside her. It’s shockingly real, twisty and dark. A fabulous read.9/10(Review by Amanda De-Beer)

2. Learned By Heart by Emma Donoghue is published in hardback by Picador on August 24, priced £16.99 (ebook £8.99). 

Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder, returns with a raw and unflinching novel about two girls who fall secretly, deeply, and dangerously in love at boarding school in 19th-century York. The novel follows Eliza Raine, a bi-racial girl sent off to boarding school after her parents die. Here, she meets Anne Lister, wealthy and confident, but also deemed an outsider for entirely different reasons. As the girls grow closer, the bond they share deepens into something more dangerous than friendship. Through a moving exploration of love, loss and identity, Donoghue captures the complex emotions of teenage love with sensitivity and insight at a time when racism was rife, gender norms strictly imposed and homosexuality illegal. Based on a true story, Learned By Heart is a moving portrait of two young women who are willing to risk everything for love.8/10(Review by Scarlett Sangster)

3. The Lie Maker by Linwood Barclay is published in hardback by HQ on August 31, priced £22 (ebook £11.99).

Struggling author Jack Givens can’t believe his luck when he’s approached by US Marshals with a lucrative offer to write false histories for people being hidden in witness protection. His father was spirited away into witness protection after telling him that he wasn’t a good person and had killed people, but Jack thought his new job was at least a chance to find him. He had no idea about the dangers he would face imagining past lives for people he didn’t know, as well as wondering how to tell his journalist girlfriend Lana about the race to find his father before his many enemies did. In classic Linwood Barclay style, the shocks keep coming thick and fast – and just like his previous novels, you’ll be left speed-reading towards the end to discover answers expertly posed by the best-selling Toronto-based crime writer.8/10(Review by Alan Jones)


4. Dancing On Eggshells by John Whaite is published in hardback by Kyle Books, priced £22 (ebook £9.99). Available August 24

The 2012 Bake Off winner and 2021 Strictly Come Dancing finalist has, at the tender age of 34, written his memoir, from growing up in a working-class family in Wigan, where his parents ran a chip shop, to dropping out of Oxford University, the pains of coming out, the years of body dysmorphia, alcohol abuse and bulimia, while his partner Paul patiently tried to help him pick up the pieces. He explores fame – after Strictly his bulimia and boozing escalated and he became gym-obsessed – and how he coped with the downs he experienced when big shows ended. As ever, there is a welcome respite in baking, as he crams in some of the mouthwatering recipes that stick in his memory. There have been messy times, but Whaite seems to have come out of the other side calmer. He quit drinking following a terrible Christmas in 2022 and you get the feeling he’s realising his way forward – and that the next 34 years may not be quite as frenetic as the first.8/10(Review by Hannah Stephenson)

Children’s book of the week

5. How To Spaghettify Your Dog by Hiba Noor Khan, illustrated by Harry Woodgate, is published in paperback by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, priced £8.99 (ebook £7.19). Available now

How To Spaghettify Your Dog… And Other Science Secrets Of The Universe is a wondrous journey through space, time, matter, physics, and all things scientific, that when finished reading, you’ll hopefully have gained some new knowledge from. A perfect read for the scientifically curious, the book comprehensively covers an array of fun, useful and must-know information about the world and the universe we live in, along with some cool and easy experiments to try at home. What’s beautiful about the idea of this book is the imagination of science and its potential possibilities beyond what we already know, with the final note of the book asking its reader to never stop wondering how or asking why. What really stands out are Harry Woodgate’s illustrations – their colour and playful vibrancy help make the subject of science accessible and engaging for young minds.8/10(Review by Christopher Henry-Reeve)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Masters Of Death by Olivie Blake2. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros3. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang4. Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong5. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell6. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett7. What You Are Looking For Is In The Library by Michiko Aoyama8. The Sun And The Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz9. The List by Yomi Adegoke10. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. BOSH! Meat by Henry Firth & Ian Theasby2. Abroad In Japan by Chris Broad, Chris3. Jane’s Patisserie Everyday by Jane Dunn4. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken5. Code Of Conduct by Chris Bryant6. Freddie Mercury: A World Of His Own7. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse: The Art Of The Movie by Ramin Zahed8. The Wager by David Grann9. Pax by Tom Holland10. Toast by Nigel Slater(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. None Of This Is True by Lisa Jewell2. Atomic Habits by James Clear3. Dead Man’s Grave by Neil Lancaster4. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken5. Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Stephen Fry – introductions, Arthur Conan Doyle6. Mythos by Stephen Fry7. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman8. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith9. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus10. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien(Compiled by Audible)

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