Five new books to read this week

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

Historian Tom Holland is back with his account of the Roman Empire’s golden era…


1. The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing. Available now



In The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers, Bob Comet is a quiet man who, at 71 years old, has devoted himself to books after enduring a heart-rending loss that drove him towards a life of solitude. But when a chance encounter jolts the retired librarian out of his shell, he must revisit that tragedy and re-examine the decision to see out his days reading alone. DeWitt paints a wonderful picture of the taciturn and steady Bob, as the novel colours in the chapters of his life in a clever and droll depiction of an introvert who does not recognise his real impact on the world. The Librarianist is a funny, tender and life-affirming book about a man who, although he might prefer to live inside the pages, realises his story remains unwritten.
(Review by James Cann)

2. Kala by Colin Walsh is published in hardback by Atlantic Books,. Available now



Growing up with a group of friends in a small seaside town on the west coast of Ireland sounds idyllic. But Kinlough holds dark memories for six teenagers after one of them – Kala – disappeared without trace. Years later, the friends are reunited – just as human remains are found in some woods, and two more girls go missing. There are good people and evil people in the story that follows the hunt for a killer – and a truly stunning twist in the tail, which will keep you reading the book until the early hours to discover what happened. The story is mainly told through separate chapters by three of the friends – Joe, Kala’s former boyfriend who is now a famous musician; Helen, who works as a freelance journalist in Canada; and Mush, who has stayed in Kinlough to work at his mother’s cafe – giving the story welcome variety and changes of perspective.
(Review by Alan Jones)

3. Penance by Eliza Clark is published in hardback by Faber & Faber. Available now

A 16-year-old girl is murdered in a seaside town, and her attackers are three other teenage girls. Add in some internet forums, a few insensitive podcast hosts and a former journalist in need of a bestselling book and the theories will grow. Eliza Clark’s new novel Penance has shades of American high school films Mean Girls and Heathers, told from the viewpoint of unreliable narrator Alec Z Carelli, a hack embroiled in a phone hacking scandal with some past trauma of his own. The book is a page-turner with some insightful descriptions of the characters found in a small town. At times, it is unclear if it is seeking to make a point about society’s fascination with true crime – or just tap into it.
(Review by Eleanor Barlow)


4. Pax: War And Peace In Rome’s Golden Age by Tom Holland is published in hardback by Abacus. Available now

This latest volume from historian Tom Holland follows the Roman Empire’s grandest phase and greatest extent. Starting with the death of Nero and the bloody civil war that saw four more emperors crowned within a year, Holland recounts the rule of the Flavians, Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian, with all the narrative relish that marked his earlier works. He has a talent for drawing out the character and concerns of the age, whilst neither omitting nor being overwhelmed by the facts and dates. His account of the eruption of Vesuvius is dramatic, moving and rivals the set-pieces of the classical historians. Sometimes a seasoned reader might want to stop and dwell, rather than continue to be swept along by Holland’s exuberant prose, but as an overarching narrative of Rome’s Golden Age, his book is a triumph.
(Review by Joshua Pugh Ginn)

Children’s book of the week

5. Plants To The Rescue! by Dr Vikram Baliga, illustrated by Brian Lambert, is published in hardback by Neon Squid. Available now

This is a wonderful read with fabulous colourful illustrations. It’s a very educational book, which although aimed at children under 10, will appeal to various ages – especially if you are interested in plants, wildlife and the environment. The author is obviously very enthusiastic about plants, bringing to light the many wonderful ways they can help us progress and hopefully reduce the effects of climate change, together with how we can use plants as alternatives to reduce waste, and increase food production and natural medicinal aides. Throughout the book, we are shown the potential for using plants as a clean source of fuel, replacement for plastics, even hair extensions. The list goes on.
(Review by Joanne Brennan)


1. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
2. Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs
3. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang
4. The Ghost Ship by Kate Mosse
5. A Death In The Parish by Reverend Richard Coles
6. The Trial by Rob Rinder
7. Penance by Eliza Clark
8. Wait For Me by Santa Montefiore
9. The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer
10. Four Seasons In Japan by Nick Bradley
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. Pax by Tom Holland
2. What About Men? by Caitlin Moran
3. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken
4. Hitler, Stalin, Mum And Dad by Daniel Finkelstein
5. The Wager by David Grann
6. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse: The Art Of The Movie by Ramin Zahed
7. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell
8. The Extra Mile by Sinfield, Kevin
9. The Future Of Geography by Tim Marshall
10. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. The Trial by Rob Rinder
2. Atomic Habits by James Clear
3. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken
4. Death Comes To Marlow by Robert Thorogood
5. Mythos by Stephen Fry
6. Smoke And Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
7. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien
8. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
9. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
10. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
(Compiled by Audible)

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