Five new books to read this week

Five New Books To Read This Week
From a sinister small-town mystery set in Northern Ireland to an exploration on why we can’t focus, take a look at this week’s new releases…
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By Prudence Wade, PA

From a sinister small-town mystery set in Northern Ireland to an exploration on why we can’t focus, take a look at this week’s new releases…


1. The Raptures by Jan Carson is published in hardback by Doubleday. Available now



We arrive in The Raptures at a small Northern Irish village in July, and schoolgirl Hannah is relieved it’s the start of the summer holidays, oblivious that everything around her is about to change. One by one, her classmates succumb to a mysterious illness, and Hannah is plagued with survivor’s guilt. For each child who dies, hysteria among the villagers grows. They want answers. Why are the children getting sick? How many more are going to die? As the plot unfolds, Jan Carson’s empathic writing will lead you to love each resident and feel their loss. This book is witty, surprising, and at times heart-rending, as it takes an honest look at people at their most desperate, and a community ready to burst at the seams.
(Review by Rikki Loftus)

2. Wahala by Nikki May is published in hardback by Doubleday. Available now



One of the most anticipated debuts of the year, Nikki May’s Wahala follows the lives of three mixed-race friends in London after a sinister presence enters their lives. The book has already drawn comparisons to Sex And The City, but it’s a soapy thriller that shares more of its DNA with Big Little Lies than with Carrie and friends. From the get-go, the novel draws you into the Nigerian-British world of Ronke, Simi, and Boo. Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, with May adeptly exploring the inner workings of each woman’s mind. Ronke is desperate for a husband, Simi is battling to be taken seriously in the fashion industry, and Boo is trying to find her identity after becoming a mother. Into the mix walks Isobel, a Nigerian-Russian childhood friend of Simi’s with a dark past. May prefers to tell rather than show – with characters endlessly analysing themselves in their inner monologues. Initially grating, this adds to the novel’s claustrophobic atmosphere as the plot develops.
(Review by Luke O’Reilly)

3. A Time Outside This Time by Amitava Kumar is published in hardback by Picador. Available now

A Time Outside This Time tells a story we are all too familiar with, as Amitava Kumar tries to grasp how we find the truth when we are surrounded by a plague of fake news, biased reporting, and questionable world leaders. Blurring lines between fiction and reality, the novel paints a picture of America and the narrator Satya’s homeland, India, including tweets by former US President Donald Trump. Satya is at a prestigious writer’s retreat in Italy at the start of the pandemic, and while his fellow writers find the outside pressures unbearable, he is inspired by the relentless misinformation and works on his book Enemies Of The People. Despite Kumar’s crisp writing, the novel can be sometimes slow, voicing the narrator’s unfiltered thoughts in eight chapters and over the span of four years. Overall, it’s a book worth reading, but perhaps not the best dystopian novel of recent times.
(Review by Martina Betteto)


4. Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing. Available now

When reading the first chapter of Stolen Focus, the latest exploration of a pressing modern crisis by the former Independent columnist Johann Hari, you’ll likely find yourself distracted by life multiple times. Your phone will ping incessantly, children might pester you, and with work woes swirling around your head, soon your mind might be wandering helplessly far away from the pages of what is a fascinating study of our crashing inability to pay attention to one thing at a time. Hari’s research journey includes a self-imposed digital detox on Cape Cod and a trip to a Colombian village, where the sight of children playing in the street – happily, somehow, despite the lack of screens – takes him aback perhaps more than it should. It is an urgent notification, an alarm warning us about the dangers of stress and spreading ourselves too thinly. Put down your smartphone and pay attention.
(Review by James Cann)

Children’s book of the week

5. When The War Came Home by Lesley Parr is published in paperback by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. Available now

This second novel from the author of The Valley Of Lost Secrets is just as good as the first. Suitable for children from about the age of eight, the story follows Natty as she is forced to move to a new village after her mother loses her job. There, with the help of her extended family, Natty learns the effects of the First World War are still having a strong hold over some of the young men. Soldier Huw cannot get terrible sights and sounds out of his head, while Johnny does not know who he is despite the kindness of strangers. As Natty battles to help the men, unravel a mystery and fight for everything she believes in, she learns friendship will take her a long way. Full of easy-reading dialogue, the novel is a good one to read aloud to children if they don’t fancy having a go themselves.
(Review by Jane Kirby)

Book charts for the week ending January 8th

1. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
2. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
3. Better Off Dead by Lee Child & Andrew Child
4. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
5. Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
6. Silverview by John le Carré
7. The Appeal by Janice Hallett
8. Never by Ken Follett
9. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
10. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. The Lyrics by Paul McCartney
2. This Is Vegan Propaganda by Ed Winters
3. Pinch Of Nom Comfort Food by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson
4. The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
5. And Away… by Bob Mortimer
6. Windswept & Interesting by Billy Connolly
7. Private Eye Annual: 2021 by Ian Hislop
8. Big Panda And Tiny Dragon by James Norbury
9. Diddly Squat by Jeremy Clarkson
10. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
2. Windswept & Interesting by Billy Connolly
3. Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman
4. This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes
5. Will by Will Smith & Mark Manson
6. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
7. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
8. And Away… by Bob Mortimer
9. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
10. Blood Of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
(Compiled by Audible)

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