Five new books to read this week

Five New Books To Read This Week
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By Prudence Wade, PA

Shirley Ballas – the ‘Queen of Latin Ballroom’ – has released her dance-themed debut novel…


1. Night Side Of The River by Jeanette Winterson is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape. Available now.


The Night-Side Of The River by Jeanette Winterson
(Jonathan Cape/PA)

Night Side Of The River is a collection of short ghost stories that eerily combines paranormal activity with technology. Jeanette Winterson brings the classic gothic literature theme into the 21st century by imagining what happens when the undead have to find modern ways to reach out to us, sometimes through an app or social media. As Winterson warns, “A ghost has no substance, but it has power – and presence – and it can appear in alternative forms. The Dead will join us,” we follow stories of hauntings that can only happen when technology has taken over. This collection is as hair-raising and suspenseful as it is witty and thought-provoking.
(Review by Rikki Loftus)

2. She’s A Killer by Kirsten McDougall is published in hardback by Gallic Books. Available now.


Novelist Kirsten McDougall’s latest book is funny, thought-provoking, bold and unusual, and billed as a “satirical dystopian cli-fi thriller”. The story is told through the eyes of Alice, a 30-something socially detached near-genius slacker, who hates her job, has an imaginary friend and communicates with her mother in Morse code. In the not-so-distant future New Zealand, where rich “wealthugees” fleeing a global climate crisis are buying land, violence and protests are rife on the streets, food prices are spiralling upwards and water is rationed, lazy Alice remains apathetic and remote. But when the mysterious 15-year-old Erika – clever, assertive and capable – suddenly enters her life, Alice is swept up into the terrifying pursuit of radical change. McDougall’s humour, pointed social observations and shocking plot twists combine with moving insights on self-knowledge, family and friendship to make this a darkly compelling and enjoyable tale.
(Review by Tom Pilgrim)

3. Murder On The Dance Floor by Shirley Ballas is published in hardback by HQ on October 12th. 


Murder On The Dance Floor by Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas uses her expert knowledge as head judge on Strictly Come Dancing to write a gripping debut novel about violence, death and sex in the not-so genteel world of ballroom dancing. The book takes a dramatic twirl when a promising young Eastern European female dancer drops down dead mid tango – and dance legend Lily Richmond turns to former student Susie Cooper, now a private detective, to solve what she is convinced is a murder. The dance detective duo delve deeper into the competitive world of dancing to try to unmask a killer who is keeping two quick steps ahead of them. In an impressive switch of skills from the so-called Queen of Latin Ballroom, the book will delight lovers of crime novels – and probably shock Strictly fans.
(Review by Alan Jones)


4. Emperor Of Rome by Mary Beard is published in hardback by Profile Books. Available now.


Rather than follow the well-trodden path of Roman emperors in chronological order, Mary Beard’s new book, Emperor of Rome, draws on their collective experiences to better understand what life was like at the peak of the power pyramid under a one-man rule. Starting with the often violent “art of succession”, Beard masterfully navigates the traitorous historical evidence, using both fact and fiction to shed light on key aspects of the emperor’s role and daily life, from his palace and official job description, all the way down to the nitty gritty of his deadly dinner parties, sexual fantasies and medicine cabinet. Many of the questions raised by Beard’s historical excavation surrounding the endless struggle for power, self-serving narratives and the lost but important voices of slaves and women, still resonate today. The book appropriately ends with the emperors’ alleged final words, which like much of what we know about the Romans, sound more like a theatre play than reality.
(Review by Tom Campbell)

Children’s book of the week

5. Say My Name by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Khoa Le, is published in hardback by HarperCollins, on October 12th.

Say My Name by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Khoa Le

This is an ode to the beauty and power of a name, from Asian-American author Joanna Ho. In it, she puts the spotlight on a collection of children from different cultures – including Hé Xiao-Guang from China and Tongan Ofa Kivaha Tupoumalohi – diving into the history behind them. These are names that are traditionally seen as ‘difficult’ to pronounce in the West, but Ho emphasises the importance of getting it right (with a handy pronunciation guide at the end for those who need it). The sweeping lyricism of the book is matched by Khoa Le’s sumptuous illustrations, transporting readers to different lands. It’s an important book that will educate many, and hopefully help some children feel less alone.
(Review by Prudence Wade)


1. The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith
2. The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman
3. Throne Of The Fallen by Kerri Maniscalco
4. Yumi And The Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson
5. The Armour Of Light by Ken Follett
6. The Figurine by Victoria Hislop
7. So Late In The Day by Claire Keegan
8. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
9. Traitors Gate by Jeffrey Archer
10. The Secret Hours by Mick Herron
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. Unruly by David Mitchell
2. Scattershot by Bernie Taupin
3. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart
4. Emperor Of Rome by Professor Mary Beard
5. Making It So by Patrick Stewart
6. T.V. by Peter Kay
7. Guinness World Records 2024
8. Great-Uncle Harry by Michael Palin
9. How Does She Do It? by Paris Fury
10. 5 Ingredients Mediterranean by Jamie Oliver
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith
2. The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman
3. Unruly by David Mitchell
4. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart
5. The Diary Of A CEO by Steven Bartlett
6. The River’s Edge by Joy Ellis
7. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
8. Atomic Habits by James Clear
9. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
10. T.V. by Peter Kay
(Compiled by Audible)

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