5 new books to read this week

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Plus, the legendary Margaret Atwood is back with her third collection of essays…

fiction

1. Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James is published in hardcover by Hamish Hamilton. Available now

The second novel in Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy chronicles the adventures of Sogolon, a woman with mystical and deadly gifts. Using mythology and history, James spins a vivid and fascinating fantasy world, drawing the reader in from page one. His unique, uncompromising language is key to the immersive effect, often expressing complex concepts and emotions with breathtaking clarity and charm. The Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History Of Seven Killings gives his characters enough humor and wit to counter the buzz of evil throughout the story. The most disturbing common thread is one individual’s seemingly unstoppable power to make people forget their history and even erase lost loved ones. Can the spell ever be broken, or is this world doomed to repeat past horrors?
10/10
(Review by Emily Pennink)

2. One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle is published in hardcover by Quercus. Available now

Katy no longer knows who she is – all her life she has been Carol’s daughter, but now she is gone and Katy feels lost in her immense grief. Katy is flying away for the vacation of her life in Italy – a trip originally planned for the mother-daughter duo – and she can smell her late mother everywhere. When she’s on the Amalfi Coast, she sees someone remarkably familiar – and this seemingly younger, healthier version of Carol takes Katy under her wing and shows her a life she’d never thought of before. Rebecca Serle has crafted a beautiful love story that turns its own pages as you are sucked into the Italian sun. As the reader, you watch the character’s grief slowly fade away and is replaced by something new.
8/10
(Review by Rachel Howdle)

3. Good Intentions by Kasim Ali is published in hardcover by Fourth Estate. Available now

There’s a lot of hype around Good Intentions, with Kasim Ali heralded as the new young writer to watch. It’s perhaps a shame there’s been so much hype around the book – it’s almost impossible to stick to, and it doesn’t quite make the mark. The action takes place over several timelines – today, where Nur (from a Bangladeshi Muslim family in Birmingham) has just told his parents that he has been seeing a black woman for four years (she is also a Muslim, but the race seems to be the big sticking point here) – and Nur’s blossoming relationship with Yasmina, from meeting at college to forming a relationship – while continuing to hide her from her parents, frightened by how they might react. Ali is a talented writer and he is extremely readable, but the jumping timeline is a bit constricted and prevents a lot of things from happening. An interesting look at race, family, and sanity – but one that doesn’t quite follow with a strong enough plot.
7/10
(Review by Prudence Wade)

nonfiction

4. Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood is published in hardcover by Chatto & Windus. Available now

Margaret Atwood’s third collection of essays, spanning nearly two decades, does not fail to impress. More than 50 reflections, lectures, book presentations and literary tributes touch on everything from the zombie apocalypse to Shakespeare, all with the dry wit characteristic of the Canadian author. The pieces are divided into sections, each marked by turning points, such as the aftermath of 9/11, the #MeToo movement, and the pandemic. Atwood doesn’t do sentimentality, but these pieces carry emotional weight. Her candid admission that she went on a book tour when her partner Graeme Gibson died – carrying forward the empty house she faced upon her return – will resonate with many who have suffered loss. For Atwood, perhaps the most burning questions are those around the climate crisis, with stark warnings dotting the collection. This is a topic to be explored again and again, and it is likely to remain relevant for many years into the future.
8/10
(Review by Jemma Crew)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Spectacular Suit by Kat Patrick, illustrated by Hayley Wells, is published in hardcover by Scribe. Available March 10

(Scribe/AP)

The first things that stand out in The Spectacular Suit are the stunning illustrations and vibrant colors. Vibrant blues and reds fly off the page – but that’s not the only reason to pick up the book. It tells the story of Frankie, a young girl who organizes her birthday party. She wants everything to be perfect except that she can’t find the right outfit that really looks like her. She wants a show-stopping costume to really express her personality, but where can she find one at the last minute? It’s a heartwarming, relatable story about a young person trying to find their place – and explores non-traditional gender roles, as Frankie doesn’t feel comfortable in the princess dresses you might expect. she. It’ll be one you’ll come back to at bedtime again and again, and it’s a great starting point for talking about identity and self-expression.
9/10
(Review by Prudence Wade)

Book charts for the week ending February 26:

Hardcover (Fiction)
1. House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas
2. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
3. The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
4. Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman
5. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
6. Kate Heartfield’s Embroidered Book
7. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
8. In Heaven by Hanya Yanagihara
9. The Closed Room by Elly Griffiths
10. Rosie Andrews’ Leviathan
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Hardcover (Non-fiction)
1. Otherlands by Thomas Halliday
2. Pinch Of Nom Comfort Food by Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson
3. Why hasn’t anyone told me this before? by Dr. Julie Smith
4. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
5. Devil in a Coma by Mark Lanegan
6. Roxie Nafousi Manifesto, Roxie
7. Life, Death and Cookies by Anthea Allen
8. It’s Vegan Propaganda by Ed Winters
9. Big Panda and Little Dragon by James Norbury
10. Block, Delete, Move On by LalalaLetMeExplain
(Compiled by Waterstones)

Audiobooks (fiction and non-fiction)
1. Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes
2. Why hasn’t anyone told me this before? by Dr. Julie Smith
3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
4. It’s Gonna Hurt by Adam Kay
5. Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly
6. Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club
7. Rachel’s Vacation by Marian Keyes
8. Happy Mind, Happy Life by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
9. Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
10. The Humans by Matt Haig
(Compiled by Audible)

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