5 new books to read this week

5 New Books To Read This Week
This week’s book picks include The Change by Kirsten Miller and The Queen Of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan.
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Prudence Wade, PA

Dive into a new book this week with our latest crop of releases…


1. The Queen Of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan is published in hardback by Doubleday. Available August 18th



The Queen Of Dirt Island is a dark and moving novel from one of Ireland’s most underrated talents. Set in Tipperary from the 1980s onwards, the novel tells the story of the female members of the Aylward family. Despite its relatively short length, it is an epic story, spanning four generations of the family – featuring gunrunning, grief and betrayal. At its heart, it’s about the relationships between the different women, and the stories that bind them together. Ryan’s prose is tightly constructed and lyrical. Chapters are often short, self-contained and devastating, giving the effect of a cinematic montage of the women’s lives. The Queen Of Dirt Island is a masterful account of the loves and losses of the Aylward women.
(Review by Luke O’Reilly)

2. The Change by Kirsten Miller is published in hardback by HQ. Available August 18th



In her first foray away from YA, Kirsten Miller tells the story of three women starting their third phase of life. The Change is a powerful buddy story of a trio of women who have had enough of being shrinking violets, and want to step above the noise and misogyny. Former nurse and widow Nessa is looking to start again and begins to accept that the voices she is hearing in the dead of night need help. Harriett is about to turn 50 – her advertising career and marriage have imploded, and our third in this powerful trio is Jo, a former executive and gym owner who came into her own when she embraced her menopause’s power. Everywhere this group looks, they see injustice. Empowered by their own metamorphosis, they work together to make things right. The Change is a bewitching and satisfying mystery and thriller – Miller has successfully straddled the readability of YA and introduced more adult themes. A compelling summertime read.
(Review by Rachel Howdle)

3. Acting Class by Nick Drnaso is published in hardback by Granta. Available August 18th

If you were to describe Acting Class in a word, it would undoubtedly be ‘unsettling’. A follow up to Sabrina – the first graphic novel to be nominated for the Booker Prize – it tells the story of a bunch of misfits from all walks of life, who join an acting night class in search of the missing something in their lives. It’s led by a dark and manipulative teacher, who seems to have ulterior motives. There’s no doubt Acting Class is captivating – with no chapter breaks you race through each page, with Drnaso building a deeply claustrophobic worldview. However, it can be hard to fully get to grips with – the sheer amount of characters and the fact they all look so similar makes it hard to distinguish between them, particularly as the action jumps from person to person at lightning pace. As reality and this horrifying world of make-believe the teacher has created start to collide, you feel just as trapped as the students.
(Review by Prudence Wade)


4. None Of The Above by Travis Alabanza is published in hardback by Canongate Books. Available now

Travis Alabanza is a hugely talented performer, one who can evoke great emotion in the words they speak. None Of The Above is their memoir – and they have a lot to cover, despite being only 26 years old. From coming to terms with their gender identity as a young black working class person in Bristol, to navigating constant vitriol for how they look and identify, it paints a pretty bleak picture of life for those who identify outside of the gender binary – and emphasises how the structures in place impact us all. However, some of the message gets lost in the format of the book, which is organised around seven phrases people have said to them over the years. It’s a powerful concept, but unfortunately the content gets a bit muddied – instead of having distinct sections dealing with different topics or parts of their life, it all seems to overlap. Alabanza has plenty to say and their stories are definitely moving, but None Of The Above would have benefited from either a tighter concept or clearer editing, to really make the message shine through.
(Review by Prudence Wade)

Children’s book of the week

5. These Are The Words by Nikita Gill is published in paperback by Macmillan Children’s Books. Available August 18th

These are poems with a tactile purpose: Nikita Gill reaches out a hand to reassure those who ‘have survived’ – the ridiculed, the hurting, the healing. And thanks to poets such as Rupi Kaur, there is a teenage audience waiting with open ears. But if you come to poetry to be challenged, this is not the place for you. It’s quintessentially a safe book. Your beliefs are safe. You are safe, too, from complication and ambiguity. The tone of relentless encouragement might leave the reader feeling like they’ve finished a compilation of greetings cards. Some of the poems feel a bit structurally amorphous, and Gill could be served better by her editor. Ultimately, it is a book that will comfort many, much as it infuriated this reviewer.
(Review by Rachel Farrow)

Book charts for the week ending August 13th

Hardback (Fiction)
(Compiled by Waterstones)
1. Girl Crush by Florence Given
2. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
3. The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell
4. The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh
5. Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
6. The House Of Fortune by Jessie Burton
7. Murder Before Evensong by Reverend Richard Coles
8. Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
9. The Night Ship by Jess Kidd
10. Lore Olympus Volume Two by Rachel Smythe

Hardback (Non-fiction)
1. Jane’s Patisserie Celebrate! by Jane Dunn
2. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
3. Revenge by Tom Bower
4. Intensity: Inside Liverpool FC by Pep Lijnders
5. Femina by Janina Ramirez
6. The Girls Bathroom by Cinzia Baylis-Zullo & Sophia Tuxford
7. House Arrest by Alan Bennett
8. The Hong Kong Diaries by Chris Patten
9. The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland
10. Killer In The Kremlin by John Sweeney
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Audiobooks (Fiction & Non-fiction)
1. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
2. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith
3. Agatha Raisin by M. C. Beaton
4. The Key To Rebecca by Ken Follett
5. This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes
6. Atomic Habits by James Clear
7. The Narrator by K. L. Slater
8. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
9. The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith
10. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
(Compiled by Audible)

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