Bookcase

Stourbridge News: Bookcase Bookcase

A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.

By Kate Whiting


New fiction

Citadel by Kate Mosse is published in hardback by Orion, priced £20 (ebook £10.99). Available October 25.

Citadel is the final book in Kate Mosse's Languedoc Trilogy - following the best selling Labyrinth and Sepulchre.

Set during the Second World War between 1942 and 1944, it is the story of Sandrine Vidal, who is drawn into the world of the resistance in Carcassonne. Her network, codenamed "Citadel", consists of ordinary French women, like her sister Marianne and best friend Lucie. Fighting alongside them are the men who love them, including Raoul Pelletier, a member of Maquis, the rural resistance, who falls for Sandrine.

They battle the enemy who are not only the Germans, but the collaborationist French Militia and the mysterious Leo Authie, member of the Deuxieme Bureau.

Running parallel to their story is the tale of Arinius, a young monk and his wife Lupa, who live in the Carsac Plains in Gaul, AD 342 to 344. They face similar battles from an invading army. Arinius is the guardian of a secret Codex, a powerful and magical religious text. In the 1940's the guardian of this Codex is Audric Baillard, a man who is being hunted, but by who?

The two worlds collide in a dramatic battle at the foothills of the Pyrenean mountains.

This book is a wonderful, epic tale of passion, loyalty, courage and betrayal that grips the reader from the first sentence to the very last heartbreaking chapter (be warned, tissues may be required!).

8/10

(Review by Laura Wurzal)


I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £13.99 (ebook £7.99). Available October 25.

Some horror novels manage to convey a creeping sense of dread, some the teeth-on-edge feeling of disgust, and others real fear at a malevolent spirit at work. This one does all three, and does it with such conviction that it's hard, even when the pages are closed and all the lights on, to remember it's not real.

During Iceland's long, cold winter, a group of young people head to a remote village to renovate a cottage, little knowing that dry rot is the least of their worries. Back in the city they have left, a psychologist tries to forget the son that he lost three years before, until he's confronted with an awful truth.

This is the first foray for the unpronounceably named author into horror, being most famous in her native Iceland for detective novels, but it's no gauche debut to the genre. This is a fast-paced, stomach-churning ghost story that will rattle your cage and leave you well and truly spooked.

9/10

(Review by Sarah Warwick)


A Farewell To Arms: The Special Edition by Ernest Hemingway is published in hardback by William Heinemann, priced £20. Available now.

The original text of Hemingway's meditation on war and love is among the most powerful novels of the 20th century. It is the story of an American medic on the Italian front in the First World War and of his tragic romance with a British nurse. It is also a fine demonstration of the clean, firm and deliberate writing style for which the author is known.

What makes this edition 'special' is the inclusion of Hemingway's early drafts, his notes, and the endings he considered for the novel.

The book is introduced by three generations of the Hemingway family: the author himself, typically assertive, his son Patrick and his grandson Sean. Each provides the reader with a different, and equally valuable, angle to understand the novel.

This edition is for the more literary inclined. The story itself is, however, one that everybody should read. It is masterful (and beautiful).

10/10

(Review by Zachary Boren)


Astray by Emma Donoghue is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.40). Available October 25.

The latest work from the Booker-nominated author is not a novel but a collection of short stories spanning from 1639 to 1967.

Each story is based on real-life accounts from old newspapers and diary entries. The first story, about a woman forced into prostitution, is set in Victorian London and based on letters written by Charles Dickens. Other stories are set in places including America and Ontario, Canada.

The hardships suffered by women play at the centre of the stories. In one account, a hell-raising cowgirl called Mollie Monroe is raped by a man she meets in a saloon.

Astray is ambitious but the stories portray only two-dimensional sketches of the characters and history. It does, however, still make for an interesting read.

6/10

(Review by Daisy Wyatt)


The Kennedy Conspiracy by Michael White is published in paperback by Arrow, priced £6.99 (ebook £4.74). Available now.

Michael White's latest novel, The Kennedy Conspiracy, centres around the assassination of John F Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. And far from being 'yet another theory-ridden plot', the story takes on a new twist to the tale.

British journalist Mark Bretton lives in New York and leads an average life. But little does he know that the nightmares he has been suffering are about to expose a 50-year-old secret that would shock the world.

When he is sent to write a piece on Professor Abigail Marchant who is researching reincarnation, he is initially sceptical of the notion that another human being could have lived a previous life. But after undergoing one of Marchant's experiments everything he believes is about to change and lead him into a deadly world of corruption.

Flicking between the past and present this book will take you on a breathtaking journey of suspense and intrigue.

9/10

(Review by Philip Robinson)


Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents The Art Of The Short Story is published in hardback by William Heinemann, priced £20 (ebook £12.60). Available October 25.

Literary magazine The Paris Review presents 20 of the favourite short stories to grace their pages, chosen and introduced by 20 contemporary authors of the field, in an effort to elucidate the methodology and intricacies of writing short fiction.

Snapping between multiple genres, from heart-filled romance to darkly surreal via playful and comic, the tales within are told with individual and distinctive styles that perfectly demonstrate the versatility of the format. The introductions serve as handy perspectives, but rather than telling you exactly what you're reading they invite you to make your own assessments.

The selection is perfect, allowing the reader to understand that this form of storytelling is boundless. Its purpose is to promote and spread the appreciation for the art, and to encourage you to delve into the world of short fiction, as it is a medium just as important and deserving as any other.

9/10

(Review by Wayne Walls)


Children's book of the week:

Billy Chrismas by Mark A. Pritchard is published in paperback by Alan Squire in association with Santa Fe Writer's Project, priced £14.50 (ebook £7.01). Available now from www.amazon.co.uk for £11.02 in paperback.

It's the week before Christmas and nearly a year since teenager Billy Christmas's dad mysteriously disappeared on Christmas Day. With his mum bereft and suffering from depression, Billy hopes to bring a little festive cheer to their lives by bringing home a Christmas tree. But this is no ordinary tree, it's even come with 12 of its own special decorations.

The tree comes to life every day after midnight and gives Billy a task connected to each of the decorations, which when completed will renunite him with his lost father. But the tasks, from chopping up his garden fence to fighting the school bully, seem destined to get him into trouble. And as Christmas gets nearer, there's no guarantee Billy's father will be found.

Pritchard's debut novel is a magical treat in the grand tradition of children's Christmas tales - he's a natural storyteller, whose characters will engage and delight even the most hard-hearted scrooge.

8/10

(Review by Kate Whiting)


Non-fiction

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20 (ebook £10.99). Available now.

No it isn't! Most of us, during the course of this book, will identify with some of the embarrassing and awkward moments recounted by Miranda Hart as she discusses many of life's perplexing issues.

Hart has firmly established herself as one of the country's leading comedy actors, appearing in several sitcoms before penning her own for the BBC in 2009. Building on the success of Miranda, she has now produced a 'Miran-ual' - a much-needed guide to navigating life's rocky path.

Alternating between dialogue with the reader - her Dear Reader Chum - and her younger 18-year-old self, Miranda covers a number of topics including holidays, dating, health and exercise, providing us with many a laugh along the way.

So, if you feel like you're the only one who struggles to negotiate the intricacies of life with ease, pick up this book and discover that it isn't just you!

7/10

(Review by Rachael Dunn)


I Can Make You Hate by Charlie Brooker is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £16.99 (ebook £7.55). Available now.

Charlie Brooker returns with his latest collection of articles from the Guardian and beyond.

For most readers, especially those familiar with his previous books, Brooker may seem like the angriest man alive, but his takedowns of reality TV and his general take on the world never fail to raise a smile.

In the last couple of years Brooker's popularity has grown and his articles have expanded to take in everything from fatherhood (he and TV presenter wife Konnie Huq have a seven-month-old son) to a memorable article that describes David Cameron as a lizard. Unlike his earlier books, everything here is presented in chronological order and this lends the book a feeling of progression that, in his other books, was missing.

For fans this is another essential purchase, but it also serves as an ideal introduction to Brooker for those still wondering what the fuss is all about.

8/10

(Review by Chris Gray)


Events Dear Boy, Events: A Political Diary Of Britain From Woolf To Campbell, edited by Ruth Winstone, is published in hardback by Profile Books, priced £25 (ebook £12.34). Available now.

Ruth Winstone, editor of Chris Mullin's trilogy of diaries, receives an 'irresistible' opportunity to edit a political diary of Britain and along with the opening of a door for her, a dream is realised for anyone who has a fondness for the unbridled truth and emotion that emanates from the pages of journals and diaries.

From the post Great War period to the Cameron years, the diaries are impeccably chosen and create a compelling route through history. As a picture of the reality behind the smoke screens becomes clearer, it incidentally portrays a more fragmented and often unstable landscape than we may have realised at certain junctures.

Masterfully edited, Events moves seamlessly through the decades, and the outcome is one of the most culturally and politically relevant pieces of literature of the year.

10/10

(Review by Tinashe Sithole)


Paper: An Elegy by Ian Sansom is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £14.99. Available October 25.

The global appetite for paper is increasing. Paper is everywhere. In Paper: An Elegy, Ian Sansom asks us to imagine a world where there is no paper. From the more obvious books, letters, and diaries, through official documents, to tea bags, money, playing cards and the ephemera of everyday life, Sansom states his claim that we are paper people.

Not only is our entry into the world marked by a piece of paper, and our exit by another, paper is the very medium through which our world is constructed. However, sales of ebooks outstrip those of traditional books, archives are being digitised, and who prints photographs anymore? Sansom self-consciously probes the place of paper in everyday life, on the very material whose status he questions.

The success of this book is its light-hearted and informative nature, for example vignettes on the history of toilet paper, sit alongside the history of Chinese paper making.

7/10

(Review by Liz Ellis)


Best-sellers for the week ending October 20

Paperbacks

1 Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

2 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson

3 The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year, Sue Townsend

4 A Street Cat Named Bob, James Bowen

5 Thinking, Fast And Slow, Daniel Kahneman

6 Perks Of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

7 The House Of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel, Anthony Horowitz

8 Deborah Levy, Swimming Home

9 Fifty Shades Of Grey, EL James

10 Billionaire Boy, David Walliams


1 Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel

2 The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling

3 Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver

4 Is It Just Me? Miranda Hart

5 Still Standing: The Savage Years, Paul O'Grady

6 Ratburger, David Walliams

7 On The Map, Simon Garfield

8 Emerald Star: Hetty Feather, Jacqueline Wilson

9 Guinness World Records 2013

10 Heroes Of Olympus: The Mark Of Athena, Rick Riordan

 

:: Note to editors: This is a resend of Book Reviews column transmitted Wednesday, October 24, adding the latest book chart from Waterstone's

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