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First published in AdXtra

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

By Kate Whiting


New fiction

Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £12.99. Available now.

A collaboration between best-selling author Jodi Picoult and her debut novelist daughter Samantha Van Leer, Between The Lines is an enchanting fairy tale written for the young adult market.

Separated into three different parts: the fairy story itself; the perspective of Delilah, a 15-year-old avid reader who is infatuated with her favourite book; and the adventures of Prince Oliver, a storybook character who is desperate to discover the real world.

When Delilah notices that the illustrations within the pages seem to be changing, she initially thinks her eyes are deceiving her, until Prince Oliver takes a chance and tries to make contact - with magical results.

Interspersed with beautifully drawn illustrations, the novel is an original and unique tale. A pleasant change from Picoult's own topical courtroom fare, Between The Lines will most definitely leave you hoping for a happily ever after.

9/10

(Review by Lyndsey Cartwright)


Crossbones by Nuruddin Farah is published in hardback by Granta Books, priced £16.99. Available now.

Nuruddin Farah is back on the bookshelves with his final instalment of the Past Imperfect trilogy.

Like Links (2004) and Knots (2007), Crossbones is set in a violent era in Somalia's history - the civil war in 2006 which saw Ethiopia invade the country to help the Transitional Federal Government in its conflict against the Islamic Court Union.

Against this backdrop of political instability, two brothers arrive in the war-torn country on separate but interlinked pursuits.

Malik, a New York-based journalist of Somali heritage, travels to Mogadiscio to write about the troubled nation.

His sibling Ahl has come to search for his missing stepson, who is allegedly training as a suicide bomber. Their narratives unfold as they are assisted by friends and relatives in their missions.

Farah delves into the gradual erosion of his country in raw detail. The harrowing novel takes a look at Somalia's history and politics amid piracy, kidnapping and violence.

8/10

(Review by Nilima Dey-Sarker)


If This Is Home by Stuart Evers is published in hardback by Picador, priced £12.99. Available now.

Stuart Evers, author of last year's London Book Award-winning short story collection Ten Stories About Smoking, introduces his debut novel.

Here, Evers delivers a stark contrast. The mundane existence of a British youth in a rainy northern town gives way to an inscrutable life he will eventually embrace; that of a high-powered yet shady broker peddling property and dreams.

Haunted by memories of a broken family and the spectre of a lost love, Mark Wilkinson has foregone his prior existence and become a shadowy figure catering for the whims of the very wealthy among the bright lights of Las Vegas. However, his past and present are to fatefully collide.

Drawing on the clarity and simple style he explored in Ten Stories About Smoking, Evers pulls us into a murky world of fractured memories and illicit pleasures.

Gripping and often grotesquely fascinating, the book is a worthy read, though the characters he outlines sometimes lack depth.

7/10

(Review by James Fry)


The Two Deaths Of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey is published in hardback by Bantam Press, priced £14.99. Available now.

Critics are already praising Marcus Sakey's fifth novel - and with good reason.

The story instantly puts you in the mind of a man laying on an abandoned beach in Maine; he's cold, naked and suffering from amnesia.

The only clues as to his identity are a BMW parked nearby, insurance documents with the name Daniel Hayes, and a few instinctive thoughts he can't shake away.

Making his way across the US, the story unfolds in a first-person perspective interlaced with cuttings from a script belonging to a TV show he feels compelled to watch.

As his search begins, he finds himself on the run from the police, and you really feel like you are there with him ever step of the way.

Once started, this book is difficult to put down, as each page offers a new twist.

A modern masterclass in thriller writing

10/10

(Review by Phillip Robinson)


Better Together by Sheila O'Flanagan is published in hardback by Headline Review, priced £13.99. Available now.

This latest offering from best-selling author Sheila O'Flanagan tells the story of Sheridan Gray, a journalist who manages to lose her job, her flat and her boyfriend in the space of a few days.

With nothing left to lose, she seizes the first opportunity that comes her way and leaves the buzz of Dublin for a sleepy town in the country.

She moves into Ardbawn's guesthouse, run by Nina Fallon, a woman trying to cope with the aftermath of her actor husband's affair.

It's not long before Sheridan realises that Ardbawn holds more opportunities, both personally and professionally, than she thought possible.

This is a pleasant, easy-to-read book. Sheridan is a likeable character, although some of her actions do not sit well with her personality and seem to exist purely to further the plot, which has an intriguing mystery element to it.

It is worth overlooking this unrealistic aspect, however, as the novel is overall an enjoyable one to escape into and keeps the reader's interest until the very end.

6/10

(Review by Stephanie Murray)


Life, Death And Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair is published in paperback by Sphere, priced £12.99. Available now.

Comedian and Loose Woman Jenny Eclair has written two other novels.

Her third, Life, Death And Vanilla Slices, is a story told in turn by 72-year-old Jean Collins and her 48-year-old daughter Anne.

While Jean, who's in a coma after being knocked down crossing the road, listens to the gossip of the hospital nurses and entertains herself by recalling happier times, her middle class, pre-menopausal daughter finds herself at her mum's bedside.

But while she's there for her mum, she worries about what her two adolescent sons will get up to while she and her husband, who's on a golfing holiday, are away.

It's hard to relate to Anne at times as her issues do sometimes relate to her privileged lifestyle.

But listening to average Jean talk about her humble past is a hoot.

7/10

(Review by Victoria Burt)


No Child Of Mine by Susan Lewis is published in hardback by Century, priced £12.99. Available now.

In this, her 28th novel, Susan Lewis bravely, and sensitively, tackles the subject of child abuse.

Alex Lake became a social worker after being subjected to abuse by her father, which led to her being adopted.

But she is insistent, like with no other case, on discovering why suspected victim three-year-old Ottilie Crane is so withdrawn.

A beautiful and enchanting child, she lives with her deputy head teacher father and stay-at-home mother.

But Alex senses something is seriously wrong behind closed doors. So, even when her employers say there doesn't seem to be anything to worry about, Alex takes matters into her own hands.

A compelling read, this is the only one of Lewis's books I've been able to put down - but for the right reason.

She captures the disturbing aspects of the subject so well that, for me, it was too realistic to read continuously.

But, as with her other novels, I was desperate to find out what happened at the end. Lewis continues to impress.

7/10

(Review by Debbie Murray)


Non-fiction

The Rolling Stones: 50 by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood is published in hardback by Thames & Hudson, priced £29.95. Available now.

On Thursday July 12, 1962, a young new Blues band called the Rolling Stones went on stage at the Marquee Club in London's Oxford Street.

Fifty years later, Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie have personally produced, introduced, narrated and curated this book to say a big thank you to their fans.

And what a gift it is! Some 350 pages are lavishly packed with more than 1,100 photographs, posters, art-work and rare memorabilia.

There's a collection of bubblegum cards from 1965, newspaper cuttings, including their first mention in the Daily Mirror on June 13, 1963, and even jigsaws.

Iconic photoshoots, contact sheets, transparencies and negatives chart the band's history from that night at the Marquee through to the big stadium tours, ending with their most recent one, A Bigger Bang in 2006.

The book, with candid shots at airports, outside hotels (and courtrooms!), is well written and the input from the band members is witty and revealing.

This is a stunning piece of musical heritage that will give new and old Stone fans plenty of satisfaction.

10/10

(Review by Laura Wurzal)


64 Things You Need To Know Now For Then by Ben Hammersley is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20. Available now.

64 Things brings an interesting and different spin to the usual offerings in the futurology literature department.

Ben Hammersley, guru of the digital age, touches on technology, politics and society in an easy-to-read analysis of some of the key cultural and technological changes of the 21st century.

Hammersley points out the gulf in knowledge between those developing the direction of the web and the policymakers who are attempting slap restrictive legislation over the internet.

This, as he points out, creates a battle between states and the avant-garde revolutionaries .

The topics are well ordered and structured, which helps the book's linearity, while having the simultaneous effect of showing how much of the subject matter is interlinked.

Chapter after chapter, readers will be reflecting on their own experiences in relation to Hammersley's astute observations.

7/10

(Review by Tinashe Sithole)


Wait: The Useful Art Of Procrastination by Frank Partnoy is published in paperback by Profile Books, priced £12.99. Available now.

The queen of putting things off, going for Olympic gold in the category of leaving things to the last minute, I was keen to find scientific justification for my inherent tendency to procrastinate.

Through a wide range of examples including sport, film, business, and first dates, as well as more traditional academic work involving the behaviour of pigeons, Frank Partnoy provides the evidence that procrastination serves us well.

To achieve the best possible outcome, we must wait. For as long as possible. In particular, when apologising for misdemeanours, the greater the transgression, the longer one should wait before apologising.

It's an interesting and informative read, particularly with regarding how we view time in the West, however it is only in a small section of the book that Partnoy directly provides insight into managing delay on a personal level.

OK, here goes... I've left it to the last minute... to procrastinate effectively, one must wait, ponder, then once the decision has been made, act quickly.

7/10

(Review by Liz Ellis)


Life Between The Lines: A Memoir by John Izbicki is published in paperback by Umbria Press, priced £12.99. Available now.

Most journalists of a certain age believe they "have a book in them" but few write it.

John Izbicki, a senior Fleet Street journalist for many years, has bucked this trend and produced a page-turning autobiography.

Born in Berlin in 1930, he was the only child of a happily married Jewish couple, but after his father's small shop was trashed by Nazi storm troopers, the family emigrated to England just as war broke out on September 3, 1939.

Izbicki's story is a heart-warming one, of how a small foreign boy who spoke hardly any English, and whose parents had been impoverished by the Nazis, made good in subsequent years.

He went to university, and eventually became the Daily Telegraph's chief education correspondent, and then its Paris correspondent.

Today he is retired at 81, but still blooming. His book is a treasure-chest of fascinating anecdotes, not least about the old days in Fleet Street, and proves what an asset to Britain so many immigrants have been.

7/10

(Review by Anthony Looch

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