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5 new books to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller and The Comfort Book by Matt Haig.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 14 July 2021 10:10

Pick your poison from this week’s books – whether you fancy a warm hug of a read, or a high-octane thriller…

Fiction

1. The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller is published in hardback by Viking, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

The Paper Palace is a constant backdrop in Elle’s life. A run-down holiday home resting on the shore of one of Cape Cod’s unspoilt ponds, it is where she spent her summers growing up: where she had her first kiss, found her first love and where she now takes her own children in the summer months. But there is something darker lurking in the waters of Elle’s past, something that tore her life apart. Over 24 hours we watch Elle’s life unfold, as she prepares for a decision that could change her world forever – to take back what she lost, or to keep living the beautiful lie she spent so long constructing. A family drama, a forbidden love story, a childhood tragedy, The Paper Palace is a stunning literary debut that will eat you up and leave you reeling – you won’t want it to end.9/10(Review by Scarlett Sangster)

2. Hostage by Clare Mackintosh is published in hardback by Sphere, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

A voice in Mina’s head says a lot can happen in 20 hours, as she prepares to join the crew for the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney She was right. What follows is a turbulent series of shocking events and a journey that keeps the reader guessing until the final chapter. Mina discovers a note after the plane takes off, threatening the life of her five-year-old daughter, who is soon to be at the centre of a violent, unfolding drama at home with her policeman father and the family’s nanny. Chapters swing between different passengers on the flight, who have wildly different plans for visiting the Sydney Opera House. We have big expectations for the North Wales-based author’s next book, considering the supersonic storyline of Hostage.8/10(Review by Alan Jones)

3. Gunk Baby by Jamie Marina Lau is published in hardback by W&N, priced £14.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

It’s hard to distill the plot of Gunk Baby, because there really isn’t much of one. It’s told largely from the perspective of Leen, a 24-year-old Chinese Australian woman setting up her own business in the middle of a suburban mall, focusing on Eastern healing – particularly ear cleaning. She falls in with some curious characters who have an anti-capitalist agenda, and starts dubious missions against those they deem ‘bad’. There’s a colourful cast of characters, all told from Leen’s detached perspective – including her friends who start a urine business to trick drug tests, and the militant, cultish Jean Paul. Jamie Marina Lau’s style is captivating – you’re drawn into the stagnant world of this Australian suburbia, and everything seems bizarre and off in a way that makes you feel constantly uncomfortable – but some readers might want more action, and less repetition.7/10(Review by Prudence Wade)

Non-fiction

4. The Comfort Book: A Hug In Book Form by Matt Haig is published in hardback by Canongate, priced £16.99 (ebook £13.59). Available now

Without having read Matt Haig’s previous works, one might expect his new title The Comfort Book, to be more of a methodical, sequenced explainer of how to give oneself comfort. Instead, the reader is met with what Haig calls ‘little islands of hope’; a collection of different stories – some spanning two pages, others simply one sentence – all written to instil a sense of ease and solace in the reader. Due to the format, the first 50 pages can feel slightly disjointed; but once you are fully engrossed, every page of Haig’s smooth prose will inspire you to think. Whether it is about fitting in, facing one’s demons or happiness itself, each short anecdote, quote or simple sentence does just what the book aims to do: give comfort.8/10(Review by Sophie Hogan)

Children’s book of the week

5. How To Be Brave by Daisy May Johnson is published in paperback by Pushkin Children’s Books, priced £7.99 (ebook £4.99). Available now

In How To Be Brave, Daisy May Johnson has created an amusing adventure full of quirks, heroes and footnotes. Calla is the daughter of Elizabeth North, who is the foremost expert on ducks – particularly one very rare species that a young and recently orphaned Elizabeth rescued and nursed back to health at her convent boarding school. Fast forward to now and Elizabeth is given the chance to study ducks in the Amazon. Making sure Calla will be looked after, she packs her off to the same convent she attended. Instead of being the alternative nurturing environment it used to be, where students could learn to fly and maintain a small plane, a cruel headmistress has taken over and is trying to crush the girls’ spirits at every opportunity with lessons like sprout-based algebra and a diet high in kale. It soon becomes apparent there is a hidden motive, and Elizabeth has disappeared. This twisty tale is truly marvellous.8/10(Review by Rachel Howdle)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING JULY 10

HARDBACK (FICTION)1. The Nameless Ones by John Connolly2. Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey3. Klara And The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro4. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid5. The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz6. Sunset by Jessie Cave7. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint8. The Distant Shores by Santa Montefiore9. Uzumaki by Junji Ito10. Animal by Lisa Taddeo(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig2. Vaxxers by Sarah Gilbert & Catherine Green3. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy4. Sista Sister by Candice Brathwaite5. We Need To Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba6. Keep The Receipts: Three Women, Real Talk, No Filter7. The Power Of Geography by Tim Marshall8. Joe’s Family Food by Joe Wicks9. Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given10. The Right Sort Of Girl by Anita Rani(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. The Monster Collection by Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Maria Mellins, Peter Howell2. Trick Of The Dark by Val McDermid3. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman4. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig5. Megamonster by David Walliams6. P. G. Wodehouse Volume 2 by P. G. Wodehouse7. Atomic Habits by James Clear8. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig9. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey10. The Ascent Of Money by Niall Ferguson(Compiled by Audible)

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