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7:00am Saturday 27th October 2012 in Books
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting
One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern is published in hardback by HarperCollins, priced £14.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now.
Irish author Cecelia Ahern adds to her impressive back catalogue of engaging, successful chick-lit with her ninth novel, One Hundred Names.
Set in Dublin, it is the tale of Kitty Logan, an overly ambitious journalist trying to repair her wrecked career. When her editor and mentor Constance dies from cancer, Kitty is tasked with finishing her last story as a tribute, but all Constance leaves is a list of 100 mysterious names.
The ensuing quest to find these people and puzzle out their link is the trunk of the novel but Ahern throws in gentle criticism of modern journalism and public backlash through Kitty's personal life to develop a rounded story.
Taken separately, many of the narrative tropes are cliche, particularly the likeable best friend/ex-lover Steve, and there is plenty of humour and heartbreak, but Ahern avoids cloying sentimentality by focusing on character, just as Kitty learns to do.
(Review by Natalie Bowen)
Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures by Emma Straub is published in hardback by Picador, priced £12.99. Available now.
Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures is the debut novel by New York City author Emma Straub, and follows a woman's life over five decades, from her childhood in sleepy Wisconsin to her rise to Hollywood stardom.
It lifts the lid on all the glitz and glamour of the early 20th century film industry, revealing Elsa's transformation from a nobody into Laura Lamont, the Oscar-winning actress of the 1930s and 1940s, with titillating views into the creation of a star.
But the most satisfying moments in the book spring from her marriages, the second of which is to a powerful producer, who is only one of the many cogs that keep the industry thriving.
Straub nearly pulls off a wonderful novel about a topic that piques most people's interest, but she fails to offer any new insights into the machinations of Hollywood, veering away from the extremes of human nature, and leaving the story feeling a little rote.
(Review by Ben Major)
The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene is published in paperback by Sphere, priced £6.99 (ebook £3.99). Available now.
If you regularly find yourself lusting over a piece of china in a shop or glossy magazine, then former book editor Vanessa Greene's debut novel is for you.
A chapter in and you'll find not only your vintage heaven, but three new friends.
Florist Maggie is heading up the biggest event in her career while also dealing with a blast from the past, her ex-husband.
Meanwhile, mother of two Alison is trying to get her dream business venture off the ground, but financial troubles at home look set to put pressure on her marriage.
Finally there's Jenny, 26 and happily planning the perfect wedding. Then her mum makes a reappearance.
These women are strangers until one Saturday at a Sussex car-boot sale, where they find themselves drawn to one particularly perfect tea service and decide to share it.
As comforting as your favourite brew and a good gossip, you'll want to join the club.
(Review by Laura Temple)
Children's book of the week
Zom-B by Darren Shan is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster, priced £12.99. Available now.
From the prologue of Darren Shan's Zom-B - a gruesomely described zombie attack in an Irish village - one senses that the first book in the Irish-based writer's teenage horror series will not be for the faint-hearted.
From these bloodthirsty beginnings we move to London, and follow a young, troubled teenager known simply as "B". Despite news reports of flesh-eating goings-on in Ireland, Londoners remain sceptical, no one more so than B's father.
But when a bleeding, terrified boy enters B's school gym, it seems reports of the living-dead are no hoax.
What engages most in Zom-B is the B-father relationship at the heart of the novel. Mr Smith is a racist, violent bully, and B must grapple with issues of family loyalty and morality, ultimately deciding who the real monsters are.
Uncomfortable at times, but always gripping, Zom-B is a slice of superior teenage horror with at least one gasp-inducing twist to keep readers hooked.
(Review by Olly Jones)
Camp David by David Walliams is published in hardback by Michael Joseph, priced £20. Available now.
Co-creator of outrageous hit sketch show Little Britain, record-breaking swimmer and star judge on Britain's Got Talent, much-loved funnyman David Walliams has penned a deeply revealing autobiography.
Frank, funny and fiercely moving in parts, Walliams lays his inner demons bare, allowing the reader to glimpse beneath the familiar flamboyant, show-off nature he injects into every public appearance.
Battling depression without realising it as a teenager, many will be shocked to read details of three failed suicide attempts.
In addressing his 'Camp David' reputation head-on comes the confession he struggled with confused sexual desires in his youth and painfully shy attempts at wooing women before finding love with supermodel wife Lara Stone.
It is rare to find an autobiography filled with such warm yet truthful appraisals of showbiz chums, predominantly, of course, Matt Lucas, and some anecdotes will raise both smiles and a few eyebrows.
For fans, comedy lovers or aspiring performers, the story of Walliams's journey to success is both a fascinating and entertaining read.
(Review by Angela Johnson)
First Class: A History Of Britain In 36 Postage Stamps by Chris West is published in hardback by Square Peg, priced £16.99. Available October 18.
Postage stamps are much more than small, sticky, rectangular pictures of the Queen. From the first ever stamp, through to the present day, historian Chris West uses stamps as a window into the history of Britain.
Quirky snippets of post office history, for example the first pillar boxes were green, sit alongside stories from the stamps. From the Penny Black, to the Great Exhibition, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and the dawn of the new Millennium, the history of Britain is told.
West's style is engaging and thought-provoking, for example we learn why the Queen nearly lost her head in 1966, and that it was not until 1982 that the first non-white Briton appeared on a stamp.
History buffs and keen philatelists may find this book a little light, however overall it is a very enjoyable, charming read.
(Review by Liz Ellis)
Blasphemy: The True, Heart-Breaking Story Of The Woman Sentenced To Death Over A Cup Of Water by Asia Bibi is published in hardback by Virago, priced £10.99. Available now.
It's almost impossible not to be moved by the real-life plight of Asia Bibi (Aasiya Noreen), a Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death by hanging after drinking from a well used by her Muslim neighbours.
The gripping story has been told in Bibi's words, with the help of Pakistan-based French reporter Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who has never met or visited Asia in person.
Instead, she relied on Bibi's husband Ashiq, one of the only people allowed to see her in her windowless prison cell, with Bibi's former lawyer reading the rough drafts to her in secret.
With a heavy price over her head (extremists have offered 500,000 rupees for her murder), Bibi pleads for freedom and justice.
After the murders of two public figures who came to Bibi's defence - the Muslim governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer, and Pakistan's Christian Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti - she no longer has a lawyer either: no one dares to represent her for fear of being killed.
A depressing tale, but a must-read.
(Review by Shereen Low)
Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99. Available now.
For those who don't know, Jon Ronson is a man of many talents. An accomplished documentary film-maker and radio presenter, he's still best known as a journalist and non-fiction author.
This anthology of previously published articles, from the Guardian, GQ and other publications, follows last year's acclaimed The Psychopath Test and comprises the best of Ronson's writing from the past decade or so.
As in all of the author's full-length works, the driving force behind each of the 24 pieces here is his fascination with strange behaviour, the human mind and alternative thinking.
Highlights include the writer's visit to the Alaskan theme town of North Pole, where it's always Christmas, to investigate a high school massacre plot; his going behind the scenes of Noel Edmonds's Deal Or No Deal; and an especially disturbing account of the Jonathan King trial.
Humorous, at times disconcerting and often confrontational, the accounts are all composed with Ronson's legendary flair and punctuated with his revealing, anxious asides.
(Review by Dean Haigh)
The True History Of The Blackadder: The Unadulterated Tale Of The Creation Of A Comedy Legend by JF Roberts is published in hardback by Preface Publishing, priced £18.99. Available now.
JF Roberts first chronicled the history of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, so now he's done the same for Blackadder. And it really is the full history, with biographies of cast and crew members right up to 2006, when Richard Curtis scribbled the final few lines of dialogue for a charity auction.
The author has managed to get unprecedented access to all the stars, who give a first-hand account of their input into the show.
They also tell of those infamous rehearsals that led to tense, three-hour debates about the script - and, eventually, fallouts.
But it's a bit too in depth for the casual fan, who may not be so interested to know which school Hugh Laurie attended or all the jobs producer John Lloyd worked on before the series.
It can also be confusing at times as the cast of the book is so large. But, for true buffs, this is not to be missed.
(Review by Caroline Davison)
Best-sellers for the week ending October 13
1 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson
2 The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year, Sue Townsend
3 A Street Cat Named Bob, James Bowen
4 Thinking, Fast And Slow, Daniel Kahneman
5 The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
6 The House Of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel, Anthony Horowitz
7 Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James
8 Fifty Shades Freed, EL James
9 The Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food And Lose Weight
10 Fifty Shades Darker, EL James
1 The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling
2 Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver
3 Ratburger, David Walliams
4 On The Map, Simon Garfield
5 Heroes Of Olympus: The Mark Of Athena, Rick Riordan
6 1356, Bernard Cornwell
7 Emerald Star, Jacqueline Wilson
8 The Bat, Jo Nesbo
9 Guinness World Records 2013
10 Dodger, Terry Pratchett
Note to editors: This is a resend of Book Reviews column transmitted Wednesday, October 17, adding the latest book chart from Waterstone's
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