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7:00am Saturday 26th May 2012 in NewsXtra
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting.
Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £20. Available now.
Renowned author Hilary Mantel follows her 2009 Booker-winning novel Wolf Hall with its eagerly anticipated sequel Bring Up The Bodies, which focuses on Anne Boleyn's downfall.
By 1535, Thomas Cromwell has become Chief Minister to King Henry VIII and one of the most powerful men in the country, but his position becomes tenuous when Henry falls in love with Jane Seymour.
Already out of favour with Europe and with many enemies in court, Cromwell uses all of his cunning to find an agreeable solution to the problem, which ultimately leads to the demise of Anne Boleyn - an event that will leave neither Cromwell nor Henry unblemished.
Complete with all the same panache and acuity Mantel used in Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies is a great work of literature that paints a fascinating picture of Tudor life and the final, bloody days of Anne Boleyn.
9/10 (Review by Ben Major).
In One Person by John Irving is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £18.99. Available now.
'Thus play I in one person many people/And none contented'. These aptly chosen words of Shakespeare introduce John Irving's latest provocative exploration of unconventional desire and identity.
In his 13th novel, Irving constructs an intimate portrait of his bisexual protagonist, Billy Abbott.
The narrative of the main character matures as the novel progresses, and he reflects on coming to terms with his sexuality and attraction to men, women and transgenders while at school in New England, but also his later years and the impact of Aids in 1980s America.
Challenging the concept of "normality", the novel is part polemic and part expose of the widely hidden and infinitely multifaceted nature of human desire.
Those familiar with Irving's previous works will find themselves in recognisable territory as he explores well-trodden thematic paths, nonetheless this offering is engaging, relevant and meaningful.
6/10 (Reviewed by Natsayi Sithole).
Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace is published in paperback by Ebury Press, priced £12.99. Available now.
Jason Priestly helps a complete stranger with her bags as she struggles to get into her taxi, and is somehow left holding her disposable camera.
Being that she was a particularly beautiful woman, he decides to do everything within his power to track her down, hoping romance will ensue.
Spurred on by his ever-optimistic flatmate and best friend, Jason ventures across London following clues found in the developed film.
Quirky and down-to-earth characters in ordinary situations make for a very realistic and heart-warming story, made brilliantly funny by dry pop culture and student lifestyle references.
The dingy yet exciting lives Jason and his friends lead are inspiring, as they show the struggles of aspiring to a professional career without highlighting the negatives.
The main focus of the book is to live life now, and seize every moment, as it won't come round again.
9/10 (Review by Wayne Walls).
Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £14.99. Available now.
Michael Logan is off to a flying start after his debut novel Apocalypse Cow jointly won the inaugural Terry Pratchett Prize along with David Logan (no relation), a book set during the outbreak of a virus that leads to most animals transforming into sex-crazed zombies.
The story follows the misadventures of inept journalist Lesley, teenage vegan Geldof and abattoir worker Terry, as they form an unlikely alliance in a bid to escape the ensuing mayhem and blood-thirsty cows, sheep and pets.
But that's not all they have to contend with as a ruthless government agent goes to extreme lengths to cover up the outbreak.
It is a comic, blood-soaked romp through the UK, at times a hilarious social satire, and at others an action-packed gore fest, sure to please fans of the traditional zombie story.
But most of all, it's an accomplished novel by a promising writer.
8/10 (Review by Ben Major).
Heft by Liz Moore is published in paperback by Hutchinson, priced £9.99. Available now.
At first sight, morbidly obese, house-bound Arthur Opp and baseball-mad teenager Kel Keller have little in common.
But through their distinct individual voices in Liz Moore's second novel, we learn of their loneliness and the woman that links the two of them - Kel's mother and Arthur's former pupil Charlene.
Suffering from demons of her own, she pleads with Arthur, with whom she has maintained correspondence throughout the years, to give her son some academic help.
What Moore gives us is a stunning portrait of the different forms loneliness takes, and the secret heartbreak behind every closed door.
Both Kel and Arthur meander through definitions of identity and family, working towards a conclusion that - if not entirely satisfactory - uncovers what lies at the heart of the human condition.
7/10 (Review by Lauren Turner).
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