Bookcase

Droitwich Advertiser: Bookcase Bookcase

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

By Sarah O'Meara, Press Association.

New fiction.

Recipe For Love by Katie Fforde is published in hardback by Century, priced £16.99. Available now.

The best-selling author returns with another romantic tale.

Aspiring chef Zoe Harper wins a place on a televised cookery competition. She is convinced this is her chance to fulfil her ambition of owning a small deli.

Zoe feels she is ready to tackle the tough challenges ahead. But is unprepared for the feelings she develops towards one of the judges, Gideon Irving.

However, she is thrown by the arrival of a devious fellow competitor, Cher, who will do anything to become famous.

As the competition heats up, the pressure gets to Zoe when the challenges get harder and the need to impress the judges reaches boiling point. When her secret affair with Gideon is discovered, Zoe must reassess her priorities.

Can Zoe rein in her emotions to win the competition or will she lose both her dream and Gideon?

Yet another delicious read from the writer who never disappoints.

9/10 (Review by Julie Cheng).

Painter Of Silence by Georgina Harding is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £14.99. Available now.

Georgina Harding's third novel is set in Romania in the early Fifties.

Working as a nurse, Safta comes face to face with a man from her past.

Augustin and Safta grew up together in a manor in the countryside - she the daughter of the house, he the son of the cook.

There are things that Augustin needs to share with Safta about his experiences during the Second World War, but he was born deaf and is mute.

He turns to the form of communication he and his childhood friend relied on years earlier and slowly starts to draw his memories.

This is an unassuming novel that is beautifully written, but the very considered way the story is told also makes it rather slow-paced and lacking in intrigue at times.

However, as Augustin's drawings become bolder towards the end of the novel, the story becomes more and more enthralling.

6/10 (Review by Stephanie Murray).

The Notable Brain Of Maximilian Ponder by JW Ironmonger is published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £12.99. Available now.

Maximillian Zygmer Quentin Kavadis John Cabwhill Ponder aims to document every memory he has ever had, with the ambition of aiding science's understanding of the human brain in this exceptional, quirky debut from JW Ironmonger.

With the help of his best friend Adam Last, the eccentric Max detaches himself from the world for 30 years, and attempts to record everything his grey matter contains.

Narrated initially by Adam, the story is told from dual perspectives, as frequent excerpts from Max's 'Catalogue' are made available.

This structures the story and gives a painful but beautiful insight into Max's psyche, with each memory contributing to his motives for designing the experiment.

The poetically perfect underlying message of the story is found in the often late night (often drug-fuelled) conversations had by the two in the days prior to the study, in which they philosophise and theorise about the human experience.

7/10 (Review by Wayne Walls).

Lost Memory Of Skin by Russell Banks is published in paperback by The Clerkenwell Press, priced £12.99. Available now.

Convicted sex offender the Kid lives under a causeway after being banned from being anywhere near children, one of many disreputables outcast from society with no hope of return.

Slowly he forms a friendship of sorts with the Professor, a university sociologist who believes studying the motives of such criminals is the only way to prevent their behaviour occurring.

But the two men face unexpected choices when the Professor's previous life throws their established links into question.

Acclaimed US author Russell Banks is known for novels exploring difficult moral choices in ordinary, working-class environments, and Lost Memory Of Skin is a forceful, expressively written successor to his literary reputation, with complex characters and distinctive voices.

As the Kid struggles to accept his new world, readers overcoming an instinctive revulsion towards him are left examining their own attitudes and prejudices against offenders, rehabilitation treatments and what it means to be a victim.

7/10 (Review by Natalie Bowen).

New non-fiction.

Style Me Vintage: Clothes - A Guide To Sourcing And Creating Retro Looks by Naomi Thompson is published in hardback by Pavilion Books, priced £9.99. Available now.

Retro styling is here to stay. The popularity of Mad Men, Pan Am and The Hour are all proof that 21st century gals adore the idea of bee-stung red lips, rollered hair, and swooning over men with an unhealthy attachment to hair gel.

With that in mind, Pavilion has published a range of books dedicated to retro dressing-up.

The latest, Style Me Vintage: Clothes, is a brilliant jumping-off point for those whose attempts at second-hand shopping tend to end in disaster.

Taking readers from vintage (pre-1960) to retro (post-1960) fashion, the book acts as a map to perfecting your look from Twenties flapper girl to Seventies disco diva.

Once you've mastered the clothes, there's also hair and make-up books available in the same series, so what's stopping you vintage shopping?

8/10 (Review by Sarah O'Meara).

The History Of The NME: High Times And Low Lives At The World's Most Famous Music Magazine by Pat Long is published in hardback by Portico, priced 14.99. Available now.

While it might not be the culture-dictating juggernaut it once was, the New Musical Express, which celebrates its 60th birthday this month, is still the world's most recognisable music magazine.

Pat Long, former assistant editor, chronicles the NME's origins in the Fifties as a publication for accordion players, through its mid-Seventies heyday when the likes of Charles Shaar Murray and Nick Kent, both effectively interviewed here, were bigger stars than most of the bands they wrote about, and beyond.

Interviews with Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill, Danny Baker, Andrew Collins and Mat Snow are riotously entertaining and informative, matched by Long's easy-going manner, while he pulls no punches with the less flattering material either.

He criticises the paper for failing to get on board with punk, for example, and reports on NME's bizarre identity crisis of the early Eighties with a mixture of infectious wide-eyed wonder and bemusement.

It's an essential read for anyone who has ever picked up a copy of the NME, but even those with no affiliation to the paper will find plenty to enjoy amid the ultimate tale of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

8/10 (Review by Andy Welch).

The Natural Explorer: Understanding Your Landscape by Tristan Gooley is published in hardback by Sceptre, priced £16.99. Available March 15.

Celebrated explorer Tristan Gooley gives a fascinating insight into how to connect with nature and heighten the enjoyment of outdoor discoveries, be they grandiose or modest.

Gooley combines the work of historical travellers and their use of primitive navigation techniques with his own wealth of knowledge and experience.

This comparison demonstrates how the world becomes a richer and more exciting place when seen through many sets of eyes.

Gooley questions the role of the human senses. How would the removal of one change our perceptions? He also covers light, colour and the weather, all everyday occurrences that shape our world.

Are you a traveller or an explorer? This account divorces the two and aims to really open our eyes and, perhaps, point out something that was right under our noses the whole time.

7/10 (Review by Laurence Venables).

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