Bookcase

Droitwich Advertiser: Bookcase Bookcase

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

By Kate Whiting


New fiction

Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann is published in hardback by Picador, priced £12.99. Available now.

It's 1945 and cousins Nick and Helena are on the brink of womanhood as they prepare themselves for their new, post-war lives, full of expectation and hope.

Both women are faced with the less-than-perfect realities of their marriages, in a world still piecing itself back together after the devastation of the war.

The novel unfolds through five perspectives, exploring the intricate and complex relationships of a family desperate to preserve a polished exterior.

New York Times journalist Liza Klaussmann's first novel is nothing less than gripping.

The setting of the glamorous mid-century combined with this tale of secrets and betrayal immediately entraps the reader in pages telling of love, yearning and desperate fear.

Klaussmann's skilled plotting keeps the story alive throughout the novel, carefully feeding the reader with more excitement on each page.

9/10

(Review by Chloe Chaplain)


Ancient Light by John Banville is published in hardback by Viking, priced £16.99. Available now.

Alex fell in love for the first time at the age of 15. Not so unusual you may think, but the object of his requited affection was Mrs Gray, the mother of his best friend.

Now an aged actor in mourning, he recounts the affair that has marked his life: sometimes with astonishing detail, sometimes with frustrating vagueness.

We learn too of his daughter Cass, whose absence haunts his days, as he films a biopic and searches for answers about the leading women in his life.

As a narrator, Alex can be elusive, forcing the reader to sift through half-remembered memories - but on occasion being plunged into the past with the smallest description of a smell, sound or touch.

He brings to life the overwhelming humanness of Mrs Gray and his struggle to reconcile his relationship with her and her son Billy, but all with the manner of a distant relative holding court from a comfortable armchair.

Ancient Light may not be to everyone's taste, but for those who persevere, it proves an elegiac tale of lost love, grief and hope.

8/10

(Review by Lauren Turner)


The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger is published in paperback by Viking, priced £12.99. Available now.

The second novel from Nell Freudenberger has been described as a subtle and poignant portrait of love and expectations in a cross-cultural relationship.

The story centres around a 24-year-old Bangladeshi woman named Amina, a middle-class girl who moves from her home country to Rochester, New York, to marry George, an American she met on a dating website.

An arranged marriage for the 21st century, the story documents Amina's struggles to adjust to her new all-American lifestyle in the first months of marriage, and the difficulties faced in her and George's vastly different cultures.

Will their union survive when they realise they have been hiding pivotal and vital parts of their lives from each other?

With strong three-dimensional characterisation, The Newlyweds encompasses vivid descriptions of Bangladesh and New York, leaving you with a twisting ending you won't be expecting.

7/10

(Review by Lyndsey Cartwright)


Hunter's Rage by Michael Arnold is published in hardback by John Murray, priced £17.99. Available now.

Civil War aficionado Michael Arnold continues his foray into the turbulent era with Hunter's Rage, the third in his Civil War Chronicles.

Royalists and Roundheads continue to clash in a gritty, fateful tale of martial prowess and dark secrets. After Traitor's Blood and Devil's Charge, Arnold throws us into his most vivid and thrilling book yet.

Comparisons to Bernard Cornwell's Napoleonic war hero Richard Sharpe abound in this military drama.

Royalist Captain Innocent Stryker uses all his knowledge and skill while locked in a mortal battle with Parliamentarian cavalry commander Colonel Gabriel Wild in the inhospitable desolation of Dartmoor.

Crackling with the sound of musket fire and punctuated with the roar of cannon, this book brings the Cromwellian conflict to life in an intense battle of wits and weaponry.

It's a riveting read for fans of the Sharpe novels and the conflicts of the period.

7/10

(Review by James Fry)


The Heretic Land by Tim Lebbon is published in paperback by Orbit, priced £8.99. Available now.

Fantasy and horror author Tim Lebbon, whose accolades include winning the British Fantasy Society Award four times, returns with his eagerly anticipated novel The Heretic Land.

Set in a world scarred by a long-ago war, monsters roam the seas around the prison island of Skythe, where unwitting hero Bon is sent for committing heresy.

However, he finds himself a marked man, hunted down by human-like beasts, and must outrun them with his new companions - a mysterious man searching for magic, and an amphibious woman - in a bid to survive.

They head towards the site of a living weapon whose existence has been erased from history, but it clutches at life once again.

An exciting, story-driven read, it becomes more engrossing the deeper the reader is drawn into the Skythian wilderness. It might not reach new literary heights, but it's a must-read for fantasy fans.

6/10

(Review by Ben Major)


Broken Harbour by Tana French is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £12.99. Available now.

Award-winning author Tana French's fourth novel about the Dublin Murder Squad centres around detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a seasoned officer with a high crime-solving rate who takes pride in his work.

To him, half the case is solved by winning the psychological battle with the killer, this means best suit, nicest car and positive attitude.

A half-built, half-inhabited coastal Irish housing estate sets the scene as a seemingly normal family become the victims of a brutal murder. Who would have thought the events surrounding this case would prove to be Kennedy's toughest challenge?

That coupled with the arrival of his mentally unstable sister means this case could be the one that forces him to break all the rules.

It's a page-turner with twists galore.

8/10

(Review by Philip Robinson)


Protection by GJ Moffat is published in paperback by Headline, priced £12.99. Available now.

GJ Moffat weaves four sides of this complicated whodunit into one gripping story.

Primarily, we follow bodyguard Logan Finch as he takes on his toughest assignment - keeping American serial killer Chase Black out of harm's way.

When evidence tampering comes to light, Black is released from prison. But he is soon the target of another killer.

With Black now free, the question remains: who is guilty of the crimes? This is what Jake Hunter, a homicide detective, is wondering.

He was certain of Black's guilt, but as new evidence comes to the surface, he begins to reassess. Can he spot a killer after all?

Protection takes the reader on a journey through America and into the UK. Will the culprit ever be caught and brought to justice?

7/10

(Review by Rachel Howdle)


Non-fiction

Marilyn: The Passion And The Paradox by Lois Banner is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £20. Available now.

Approaching the 50th anniversary of the death of one of the 20th century's most enduring icons, we are privy to another interpretation on Norma Jeane Mortenson, aka Marilyn Monroe.

This time, American author Lois Banner presents a precis on why the screen actress was equally a figure of allure and heightened sexuality, and a vulnerable creature, open to abuse, with a tendency to explore lesbian desires.

It's a heavy tome, but overall the examination of Monroe's family background and her early, constantly disrupted life, plus her adulthood, early death and beatification in the spotlight, is a wonderful read.

It may offend many people who idolise Monroe, or just don't want to believe an alternative history exists, but nonetheless, heroes are there to be examined.

And Banner is more than entitled to offer her thoughts on one of the biggest heroes of them all.

8/10

(Review by Denise Bailey)


Why Is The Penis Shaped Like That? And Other Reflections On Being Human by Jesse Bering is published in hardback by Doubleday, priced £18.99. Available now.

Research psychologist and award-winning columnist Jessie Bering uses the latest scientific research in psychology, biology and neuroscience to produce more than 30 essays to explain the more peculiar, quirky and even squeamish aspects of being human.

He talks about the male anatomy, giving an evolutionary-based explanation for the penis' shape, why testicles are a elaborate temperature-regulator and lists all the mind-altering "drugs" found in human semen.

He studies the female anatomy and behaviour; why they are attracted to homosexual men and are so bitchy to other girls. He looks at homosexuality, why brain damage makes people randy and sleep sex.

He explores the darker side of human sexuality, looking at pedophiles, zoophiles, bestiality, sexual fetishes and cannibalism, and takes a hard look at the strange dark side of human nature, including extreme religion, suicide and free will.

The book is humorous and informative, written in a good, conversational tone. Bering answers the queries that people would secretly love to know about, but would never dare ask.

It's something you can dip into time and time again with lots of thought-provoking facts that will shock and surprise.

8/10

(Review by Laura Wurzal)


Not Me: A German Childhood by Joachim Fest is published in hardback by Atlantic Books, priced £20. Available now.

This story about a respectable, cultured German family living in Berlin throughout Hitler's rise to power is moving and enlightening.

Joachim Fest, one of three sons and two daughters, was born in 1926. He distinguished himself in later years as a journalist, editor and author of highly acclaimed books about Hitler, Speer and the Third Reich.

The Fests, who were Roman Catholic, were always staunchly anti-Nazi. Joachim's father lost his job and was banned from employment because of his public criticism of the regime.

Fest paints an alarming picture of how other Germans were seduced or intimidated into supporting the Nazis.

Amazingly, despite a constant campaign of hate and persecution, many Jews stayed on in Germany when they could have left, because they believed things would improve.

Apart from the loss of one son on the Eastern Front, and despite severe deprivations, the Fest family survived the war and its grim aftermath.

Fest married, had children, achieved great success, and died aged 79 in 2006. It could so easily have been otherwise.

8/10

(Review by Anthony Looch)

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