Five new books to read this week

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

John Boyne’s powerful new novel is our book of the week…


1. Water by John Boyne is published in hardback by Doubleday. Available now



By the time Vanessa Carvin sets foot on the island, she is no longer Vanessa Carvin. She is Willow Hale, or as the villagers know her, the stranger from Dublin, the woman who won’t discuss her past, the woman who is living on her own in a tiny cottage, in a village where no one reads the newspapers. In crossing the water, she has left every part of her old life behind her – her daughter, her house, her ex-husband, her reputation – but she discovers that she can’t escape her thoughts. Vanessa may have been seeking solitude, but with no other voices for company, she is forced to listen to the questions in her head. How much did she know? How much did she refuse to see? But most disturbingly, when we refuse to look for answers, claiming ignorance, how complicit are we in the crimes of others? In the first of a quartet of interlinked stories, John Boyne draws a haunting portrait of a woman on the run from herself. Quietly powerful and effortlessly devastating, this is a book that shines an unflinching spotlight on the actions of institutions and individuals, and reminds us in no uncertain terms that in failing to protect the innocent, we are as guilty as those who stand accused.
(Review by Hannah Colby)

2. Playing Games by Huma Qureshi is published in hardback by Sceptre,. Available now



Hana and Mira, two very different sisters take centre stage in Huma Qureshi’s debut novel, Playing Games. Hana seems to have it all – an amazing job, great husband, the perfect house, but without the baby she yearns for. On the other hand, Mira is a struggling playwright, with a nightmare flatmate and disastrous love life. The sisters’ relationship is hard, having lost their mother over a decade ago, they struggle to understand each other. One evening a fight between Hana and her husband gives Mira the inspiration for her next play. But the question arises, is it OK for Mira to use her sister’s perfect life and now struggling marriage as material? Qureshi skilfully explores the dynamic and emotions of sisterhood and family bonds. You are drawn into the complexities of the two sisters’ lives, feeling an equal measure of frustration and compassion for them both, but always wanting them to open up and understand each other. Beautifully written, it keeps you engaged to the very end.
(Review by Jacqueline Ling)

3. Bird Life by Anna Smaill is published in hardback by Scribe. Available now

Bird Life tells the story of Dinah and Yasuko, who come together to form an unlikely friendship as both deal with their own internal struggles. Dinah, who has come to Japan from New Zealand, is mourning the death of her brother Michael, while Yasuko is trying to maintain a relationship with adult son Jun. The second novel from Booker Prize-longlisted Anna Smaill explores themes such as grief and mental health in a beautifully written way, with a unique insight into the minds of people who experience the world differently. However, once the author has built up the friendship between the two women, the story doesn’t seem to find a clear path and ultimately, the book’s conclusion feels disappointing.
(Review by Eleanor Barlow)


4. Went To London, Took The Dog: A Diary by Nina Stibbe is published in hardback by Picador. Available now

Went To London, Took The Dog: A Diary by Nina Stibbe

Imagine a dinner party with all of Britain’s literary greats, and this is a bit like what Nina Stibbe has presented in her latest non-fiction offering. It follows the trials and tribulations of Stibbe as she takes a sabbatical from her life in Cornwall to live in London, after she left 20 years previously. Expect revealing tales of some of the UK’s best-loved contemporary authors, London’s massive dog poo problem and the importance of ensuring your garden hose doesn’t become too engorged. Initially it comes across as a little self-centred, due to the name-dropping, but it soon begins to provoke some reflection and introspection in the reader. It is observational humour at its finest, and presents a world you become keen to be a part of.
(Review by Lauren Gilmour)

Children’s book of the week

5. King Lion by Emma Yarlett is published in hardback by Walker Books. Available now

King Lion by Emma Yarlett
(Walker Books/PA)

A beautifully written and illustrated story about finding friendship in unlikely places and giving everyone a chance – despite their sometimes grumpy exterior demeanour. Emma Yarlett cleverly explores how people show themselves to the world isn’t always how they feel on the inside through the story of King Lion – who is keen to make friends, but is finding it tricky. It is a perfect introduction for little ones to the complexities of making friends and social interactions, with plenty of options for discussions around the big feelings of loneliness, friendship, and happiness. The hand lettered text is a lovely touch and the colours and illustrations add to the storytelling beautifully. This is sure to be a book that reveals itself a little more each time it’s read.
(Review by Frances Taylor-Cook)


1. The Last Devil To Die by Richard Osman
2. The Secret by Lee Child & Andrew Child
3. The Narrow Road Between Desires by Patrick Rothfuss
4. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
5. The Year Of The Locust by Terry Hayes
6. Good Material by Dolly Alderton
7. The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith
8. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
9. A Stroke Of The Pen by Terry Pratchett
10. The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee
2. Rambling Man by Billy Connolly
3. Private Eye Annual: 2023 by Ian Hislop
4. Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
5. Si Senor by Roberto Firmino
6. The Woman In Me by Britney Spears
7. Guinness World Records 2024
8. How They Broke Britain by James O’Brien
9. Politics On The Edge by Rory Stewart
10. The Plot by Nadine Dorries
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
2. The Woman In Me by Britney Spears
3. The Complete George Smiley Radio Dramas by John le Carré
4. Be Useful by Arnold Schwarzenegger
5. How They Broke Britain by James O’Brien
6. Unruly by David Mitchell
7. Ghost Stories: Stephen Fry’s Definitive Collection by Stephen Fry et al
8. Tackle! by Jilly Cooper, OBE
9. Atomic Habits by James Clear
10. The Twat Files by Dawn French
(Compiled by Audible)

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