Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting BA NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
7:00am Saturday 15th September 2012 in AdXtra
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting
The Light Behind The Window by Lucinda Riley is published in paperback by Pan, priced £7.99. Available now.
After the success of Hothouse Flower, Lucinda Riley returns with a time-split novel, set in England and France in the late Nineties and during the Second World War.
In 1998, orphaned Parisienne Emilie de la Martinieres begins sorting out her wealthy family's estate, which includes a mansion in the south of France.
While there, she meets an English guy called Sebastian, who reveals that his grandmother knew her late father Edouard during the Second World War.
Enchanted by their connection and indebted to Sebastian for his help, Emilie soon falls for him and they marry on a whim.
Meanwhile, Jacques, the old boy who looks after the family's vineyard, recounts his memories of Sebastian's grandmother Constance, who trained as a SOE agent and was posted to Paris in the war.
Discovering her unit in hiding from the occupying German forces, she seeks help from Edouard de la Martinieres and his blind sister, becoming effectively imprisoned in their aristocratic world of entertaining the Germans while secretly helping the Resistance.
As Emilie learns more about her father and Constance, she also discovers unsettling truths about her new husband and his wheelchair-bound brother, who live in a crumbling English mansion.
The present-day plot at times seems incredible but the sections set in the 1940s are far more engaging, making the book an easy, enjoyable read.
(Review by Kate Whiting)
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura is published in hardback by Corsair, priced £9.99. Available now.
Right from the opening line of The Thief, award-winning novelist Fuminori Nakamura gives an impression of foreboding.
There is a feeling right through this excellent tale about a pickpocket that every word is unfolding towards a cleverly crafted conclusion.
Nakamura, winner of several of Japan's top literary awards, draws the tale along to its inevitable conclusion, gripping the interest of the reader with every page.
With a detailed knowledge of what it takes to become a successful thief, Nakamura either spent some time researching with real thieves or he must have garnered the information in some other way. Either way, it is very insightful.
First published in Japan in 2009, the only thing wrong with this book is it took three years before someone thankfully decided to translate it into English.
(Review by Roddy Brooks)
Boneland by Alan Garner is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £16.99. Available now.
Fifty years on from classic Cheshire fantasies The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen and The Moon Of Gomrath, award-winning novelist and folklorist Alan Garner presents "a novel for adults, concluding a trilogy... begun for children".
The protagonist Colin Whisterfield returns, but no longer as a boy hero; now a deeply damaged middle-aged astronomer, he seeks to find his vanished sister through a radio telescope.
He has forgotten the previous books' uncanny events, but remembers everything that has happened to him after age 13.
Meanwhile, in prehistory, another ageing man struggles to perform the rituals that prevent the sky from falling.
It feels unlikely that this eerie, uncomfortable tale, much of it told in staccato dialogue or a dreamlike approximation of caveman stream of consciousness, is the conclusion Garner originally envisaged for the series; sometimes it seems to be dramatising conflicted feelings about the very idea of returning to that world.
Boneland is nonetheless an intriguing read.
(Review by Alex Sarll)
All She Wants by Jonathan Harvey is published in paperback by Pan, priced £7.99. Available now.
Playwright, television screenwriter and now, novelist.
Jonathan Harvey shows his prodigious talent again with this funny, excruciating, poignant story of Jodie McGee, a soap actress, borderline alcoholic and unlucky-in-love local girl done good.
Her unplanned, adventurous life is detailed in flashback, with great aplomb, wit and understanding, and believability.
The supporting characters in this modern parable are equally believable; gay brother 'Our Joey', schoolmates Hayls and Debs, school crush, lover and ex-husband Greg, disturbingly violent lover Stuart, and most importantly, Jodie's mother.
Harvey's love of Northern women and gay characters, not unlike his television characters in Coronation Street or Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, are never stereotypical, but funny and formidable, and although you may feel Jodie, her mum and her brother could be caricatures, Harvey has invested a sense of pride and fortitude in them all.
All She Wants is a wonderful debut from a writer who is sure to just get better.
(Review by Denise Bailey)
Albert Of Adelaide by Howard L Anderson is published in hardback by Serpent's Tail, priced £12.99. Available now.
Albert Of Adelaide is not the sort of debut one would expect from a US defence attorney who has never lived in Australia.
His hero, Albert, is an anthropomorphic platypus who escapes from a zoo and heads into the Outback to find 'Old Australia', where animals live in harmony and there are no humans.
But Old Australia is like The Wind In The Willows crossed with a Western: there are no people, but harmony is in short supply as a gold-prospecting, pyromaniac wombat called Jack soon leaves Albert with a bounty on his head and a crazed possum, deceitful wallaby and pack of dingoes on his tail.
It is a rollicking novel that sticks to its own curious logic - animals using guns and a caste system based on species - with a posse of interesting if somewhat two-dimensional characters, such as the mysterious Famous Muldoon.
Great fun, but definitely not for children.
(Review by Natalie Bowen)
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller is published in hardback by Headline Review, priced £14.99. Available now.
Marked out by critics as the fiction debut of 2012, this dystopian vision of future Colorado by adventure writer Peter Heller is as heart-warming as it is bleak.
Hig, the central character, lives with his dog by the end of a runway, one of the only survivors of a super-flu that took all his friends and family.
He ekes out his hours and remaining plane fuel on fruitless recces of the surrounding country, until one day a sign of life changes everything.
Heller's unique voice - with the authority of one who understands the bare plains of America's wilder west - makes this portrait of loneliness a fitting legacy of dystopian literature.
Hig's plight is sure to stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned.
(Review by Sarah Warwick)
Children's book of the week:
George And The Knight by Sue McMillan and Ellie Jenkins is published in hardback by Far Far Away Books, priced £9.99. Available September 9.
In this charming reworking of the dragon vs knight story, the knight, Lord Badwick, is actually the bad guy.
And George is the mild-mannered dragon who is disowned by his fellow dragons for being a coward.
Luckily, he meets blacksmith's son Alric, who set him to work lighting his dad's fire. It seems George has finally found his place.
Dragon hunter Lord Badwick is sent to the village castle to look after the villagers but instead takes their food and demands new armour from the blacksmith so he can go dragon hunting.
Finally, George must step up and prove he's not a coward, with a little help from the other dragons.
With colourful illustrations by Ellie Jenkins, Sue McMillan's story is one for children to treasure.
(Review by Kate Whiting)
Alfie: My Story by Alfie Boe is published in hardback by Simon & Schuster, priced £18.99. Available now.
For anyone who has heard of Alfie Boe, they will already know that he is a celebrated British singing sensation who has had international success with his operatic voice.
But this book tells the story, in the tenor's own words, of the man behind the music - from his modest beginnings growing up in Lancashire, through playing in local bands, studying at The Royal College of Music, to performing in front of huge audiences.
The youngest of nine children in a happy Catholic family, Alfie grew up in Fleetwood. He hadn't intended to be a singer, but was heavily into music. And when his obvious talent for singing was spotted - his journey to success famously began when he was heard singing while working at a car factory in Blackpool - there was no looking back.
It is his role as Jean Valjean, in the 25th anniversary show of Les Miserables, for which he is most famous, but, as this autobiography proves, there is a lot more to Alfie Boe. And by the end of My Story, you know that there is still a lot more to come.
An honest and down-to-earth account, Alfie uses his obvious Northern charm and humour to tell his story so far, sharing what has made him the likeable singer, and person, that he is.
(Review by Debbie Murray)
Syria: The Fall Of The House Of Assad by David W Lesch is published in hardback by Yale University Press, priced £18.99. Available now.
David W Lesch is a professor of Middle East history at Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas. He formed a personal relationship with Bashar al-Assad and regime insiders, and writes his book with insight and emotion.
Lesch clearly has a love and had a hope for the country upon the succession of Bashar from his father as leader of Syria, like millions of others in this troubled Arab land.
This account is written with personal knowledge of the key players and analysis of all the causes and consequences of the anticipated fall of the Assad regime, as the country continues to revolt in a way unimaginable a decade ago.
It offers 241 fantastic pages of analysis and clear explanation of the Syrian reaction to the uprising, as well as that of the international communities, and the effects of a bloated, inefficient and inherently corrupt public system.
(Review by Tinashe Sithole)
Wives And Stunners: The Pre-Raphaelites And Their Muses by Henrietta Garnett is published in hardback by Macmillan, priced £20. Available now.
Henrietta Garnett's book coincides with a major Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood exhibition at Tate Britain in London (September 12, 2012 - January 13, 2013).
Garnett looks at the friendships and the lives of Victorian artists Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Ruskin, John Millais, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, as well as their wives, lovers and Stunners - a term Rossetti used to describe the beautiful, glamorous, charismatic women who inspired their art.
She tells the story of famous muses Lizzie Siddal (immortalised in Millais's Ophelia), Jane Morris, Effie Gray and Georgie Burne-Jones, as well as looking at the lesser known names of Marie Spartali, Mary Zambaco and Aglaia Coronio.
As well as looking at their tangled love lives, with the help of letters and poetry and correspondence from that time, their bohemian lives are vividly brought to life and the reader sees how they lived, what their houses were like, what they wore and even what they ate.
This book is recommended reading for visitors to the exhibition as well as fans of the Pre-Raphaelites, who will look at many of their paintings in a new light.
(Review by Laura Wurzal)
The Apple Revolution: Steve Jobs, The Counter Culture And How The Crazy Ones Took Over The World by Luke Dormehl is published in paperback by Virgin Books, priced £12.99. Available now.
"Before Apple, computers were seen as these sinister government mainframes that regular people wouldn't have access to," observes Luke Dormehl. "After Apple, suddenly personal computers are these tools of freedom fighting and tools of personal creativity."
In The Apple Revolution, British journalist and film-maker Dormehl gives us a glimpse into how Apple Inc was born and how it became the beating heart of the Silicon Valley.
From the creation of Apple's iconic logo and company motto, to the eureka moment of when the iPod was conceived, 'Thinking Different' and counter culture was always at the heart and soul of co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
In his very detailed thesis, Dormehl finds that what started off as hippie idealism behind humble garage doors in California turned into a billion-dollar venture that has lost some of its counter cultural values but has given wings to the burgeoning iGeneration.
(Review by Nilima Dey Sarker)
Best-sellers for the week ending September 1
1 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson
2 Fifty Shades of Grey, EL James
3 Fifty Shades Darker, EL James
4 Fifty Shades Freed, EL James
5 Thinking, Fast And Slow, Daniel Kahneman
6 The Affair, Lee Child
7 The Stranger's Child, Alan Hollinghurst
8 Bared To You, Sylvia Day
9 Parade's End, Ford Madox Ford
10 Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
1 A Wanted Man, Lee Child
2 Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom Of The Wicked, Derek Landy
3 Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan
4 Lorraine Pascale's Fast, Fresh And Easy Food, Lorraine Pascale
5 Ash, Herbert James
6 The Kingmaker's Daughter, Philippa Gregory
7 Four Children And It, Jacqueline Wilson
8 Guardian Angel, Robert Muchamore
9 The Rise Of Nine, Pittacus Lore
10 NW, Zadie Smith
:: Note to editors: This is a re-send of the book column, including the latest chart from Waterstone's