Bookcase

Stourbridge News: Bookcase Bookcase

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

By Kate Whiting


New fiction

Perfect Strangers by Tasmina Perry is published by in hardback by Headline, priced £12.99. Available now.

Sophie Ellis is mourning the sudden demise of her father. She finds employment as a personal trainer and is swept off her feet in a whirlwind romance.

But things go wrong when her businessman lover Nick Cooper is found dead in a hotel room and Sophie becomes a prime suspect in a murder investigation.

She is forced to go on the run, not only from the police but dangerous criminals who seem to believe she has something valuable in her possession.

Meanwhile, American reporter Ruth Boden is in search of a story that will make her career.

A veteran journalist with a good track record, she relies on her instinct and years of experience to fish for news.

When Nick's body is found, Ruth believes she's stumbled on an exclusive of a lifetime.

British novelist Tasmina Perry's glamorous chase thriller takes us from glitzy London to enchanting Paris, the busy streets of the United States and the breathtaking Scottish highlands.

A great summer holiday read!

6/10

(Review by Nilima Dey Sarker)


Leaving The Atocha Station by Ben Lerner is published in hardback by Granta, priced £14.99. Available now.

Adam Gordon, a young American poet on a literary fellowship in Madrid, is the main character in this well-crafted book that those who have lived abroad will no doubt identify with.

In a first novel that feels like it must be at least semi-autobiographical (Ben Lerner was a Fulbright poetry scholar in Spain), Adam spends his time getting to grips with the wine, women and song of his adopted city while procrastinating over his work and largely failing to understand much about anything.

Hailed by Jonathan Franzen as "hilarious and crackingly intelligent", Lerner's tale is deeper than just a comic novella about the daily life of a confused and horny student in a foreign city.

Indeed, he manages to convey, with the lightest of touches, the worldly truth that the truly profound and the totally mundane are sometimes a feather-width apart.

7/10

(Review by Sarah Warwick)


Artemis Fowl And The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer is published in hardback by Puffin Books, priced £12.99. Available now.

Those unaware of the previous exploits of teenage criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl will struggle to understand this final instalment in Eoin Colfer's series, but for everyone else it is a pleasantly reminiscent last hurrah.

This eighth book sees the eponymous protagonist - now a staunch ally of the fairy People - return to the original story's location: Fowl Manor in Ireland.

Rather than Artemis kidnapping a fairy, this time his power-crazed pixie nemesis Opal Koboi has invaded and is trying to destroy the world.

With familiar faces Holly Short, Butler, Foaly and Mulch Diggums joining Artemis's four-year-old twin brothers, Fowl Manor becomes the battleground to save humans and People alike.

Colfer keeps the quickfire dialogue, machismo, techno-speak and sarcastic humour that trademarks the series, and while some of the jokes are growing old by now - particularly the scatological dwarf trivia - the triumphant conclusion means all is forgiven.

7/10

(Review by Natalie Bowen)


The Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer is published in hardback by Atom, priced £10.99. Available now.

Fairy tales are enjoying a revival on the big screen, with Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Jack And The Beanstalk and Hansel And Gretel all being given the modern treatment.

Chris Colfer, better known as Glee's Kurt Hummel, has decided to join the trend with his debut novel, which sees twins Alex and Conner Bailey accidentally falling into the Land Of Stories, where fairy tales are real.

In modern-day story land, Goldilocks is a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom after banishing wolves, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother.

Stuck in the fantasy kingdom, the only way that Alex and Conner can return to their land is by collecting the special ingredients needed to make a Wishing Spell.

But with the Evil Queen, Cinderella's stepmother, hot on their heels to find the same mementoes, their quest becomes a big challenge.

Packed with thrills and adventure, this book is an exciting read, whether you are eight or 80.

7/10

(Review by Shereen Low)


Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway is published in hardback by Granta Books, priced £15.99. Available now.

Just when you thought the detective genre had nowhere left to go, acclaimed author Keith Ridgway takes the linear police procedural narrative and turns it inside out and upside down.

What's left is a surreal kaleidoscope of characters and mysteries that lead you round in never-ending circles.

The two police protagonists - Hawthorn and Child - are an intriguing double-act who are always out of focus.

Hawthorn, a gay detective who sees dead people (or does he?) gets more of a voice, while we barely get to grips with Child - instead we follow the sad and crazy people caught up in the crimes they're attempting to solve.

It's a tough portrait of London life, but also an exploration of what makes a mystery and why we're all so fascinated by them.

Maddening in a Twin Peaks way, there's no resolution to any of it; but you could go on reading it forever.

8/10

(Review by Emily Shelley)


Pierced by Thomas Enger is published in hardback by Faber and Faber, priced £14.99. Available now.

Thomas Enger's first novel, Burned, could have had 'Bandwagon alert' stamped on the cover.

In the same vein as Nesbo and Larsson's Nordic noirs, a world-weary Oslo journalist gets to grips with organised crime.

On its own merits, the second in the series about investigative reporter Henning Juul comes with much recommendation.

Henning, still grieving for the loss of his son in an unexplained fire, is offered a deal by a convicted murderer - I'll tell you who torched your flat if you clear my name.

It's a challenge he can't refuse and it takes him on a journey into an underworld of hitmen, lap dancing clubs and dodgy gyms.

While there's far too much scene-setting at the outset, and the characters are never much more than two-dimensional, once the pace picks up, it proves to be a good story, well told and well translated.

6/10

(Review by Emily Shelley)


Come To The Edge by Joanna Kavenna is published in hardback by Quercus Press, priced £12.99. Available now.

Having been cast aside for a younger woman, the narrator of this novel becomes a proud owner of her very own suburban bubble of bliss, leaving behind her job, her home, and her unfaithful husband.

Retreating north to reclaim a semblance of happiness for herself, she becomes drawn into an assault on the observable imbalance of wealth and quality of life that blights the rural valley, under the command of her eccentric, flame-haired, survivalist landlady, Cassandra White.

With an abundance of unused second-homes belonging to bankers and rich city folk, and several poor and elderly villagers without homes, the solution to this unjust predicament is surely obvious.

Come To The Edge is Joanna Kavenna's fourth published novel and is certainly a note-worthy addition to her steadily expanding repertoire.

Named as one the Telegraph's 20 British writers under 40 to watch in 2010, and the winner of the 2008 Orange New Writers' Prize for her debut The Birth Of Love, Kavenna delivers a brilliantly executed satire that is both sharp and poignant.

An addictive read.

9/10

(Review by Natsayi Sithole)


Non-fiction

Underworld London: Crime And Punishment In The Capital City by Catharine Arnold is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster, priced £14.99. Available now.

The goriest Hammer horror film seems tame beside this history of law-breaking and legal retribution in London. One's awareness that it is all true makes for compulsive reading.

Historian Catharine Arnold has already published four excellent social histories on sex, madness, debauchery and death in the capital and she maintains her usual high standard here, never flinching from grisly facts.

We learn, in detail, about religious dissenters burned alive at Smithfield; heads of traitors on display in the streets and at London Bridge; huge crowds of boisterous onlookers attending public hangings of men and women at Tyburn - now Marble Arch - and in later years at Newgate prison.

Above all, we see vividly how London became a cesspit of crime, with street robbery, burglary, pick-pocketing and prostitution on a vast scale, right up to the 20th century.

9/10

(Review by Anthony Looch)


Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes by Tim Spector is published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £20. Available now.

The nature versus nurture debate has been rehearsed throughout the decades and the discovery of DNA seemed to strengthen the case for the role of genetics in shaping personality.

However, as Tim Spector points out in Identically Different, identical twins - with matching DNA and similar environments - can often have striking differences.

Spector reels off many examples of identical twins with non-identical outcomes in life - from cancer diagnoses to weight gain, from sexual orientation to success in boxing.

As well as subtle changes in environment, he also argues that while genes may be important, the interplay with the cells that host them is also key - and, what's more, the resulting impact could potentially be passed on down the generations.

It's an interesting read - although quite example-heavy. And as many questions remain unanswered, the debate over the extent to which we can shape our own destinies looks set to continue.

7/10

(Review by Claire Ennis)


Walking With Sausage Dogs by Matt Whyman is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £18.99. Available now.

Walking with Sausage Dogs is the latest offering from best-selling author Matt Whyman, and follows on from memoir Pig In The Middle.

After his wife Emma persuaded him to get two mini pigs - which ended up not so mini - Whyman thought his animal to house ratio was perfect.

With four rabbits, two pigs, chickens and a dog, not to mention four children, Whyman is dead set against the idea of adding to the fold when Emma falls in love with a dachshund puppy.

After much resistance, Whyman caves in and one night arrives back home with an elongated bundle of fur named Hercules.

Whyman is a talented writer with a knack of drawing you into his vivid memoir. Walking With Sausage Dogs is a fabulous read, especially for parents and animal lovers, often hilarious at times and full of irony throughout.

7/10

(Review by Lyndsey Cartwright)

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree