5 new books to read this week

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Our top book this week transports a famous literary character into the 1990s…


1. Becky by Sarah May is published in hardback by Picador, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

Sarah May’s latest novel is a modern reimagining of the 19th century classic Vanity Fair, propelling the protagonist into the 1990s. Having secured a prestigious scholarship in her youth, Becky Sharp is determined to transform her rags to riches – using her connections to place herself at the heart of society, and progress through the ranks of the newspaper industry. But as she creates drama in her rise to the top, will one wrong move collapse a lifetime of social climbing? The luscious draw of the Nineties glitz, the scandal of the press, and the tangibly descriptive jeopardy throughout makes this a true page-turner. Sharp and often dark, Becky is a delight of clever observations and wit that manages to remain frank and, at times, painful.9/10(Review by Holly Cowell)

2. The Things That We Lost by Jyoti Patel is published in hardback by Merky Books, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Jyoti Patel’s novel – new writers’ prize winner of the rapper Stormzy-backed #Merky imprint – is an absorbing debut. The decades-spanning tale movingly explores the lives of an intergenerational British-Gujarati-Kenyan family in Harrow, London, and deftly handles themes of love, loss and identity. Its compelling story unravels from the perspective of guilt-racked mother Avani, still mourning her dead husband, and her son Nik, a teenager unbalanced by also losing his beloved grandfather, who sets out to uncover the secrecy around his father’s death. Their complex relationship, alongside those with lovers, family and friends, is developed with remarkable sensitivity. There is an immersive and intimate quality about Patel’s writing – from its portrayal of London teenage slang to the detailed depiction of British-Gujarati culture. Her characters have a depth that brings a poignant reality to issues around coping with grief, abuse and racial prejudice, and navigating family and friendship dynamics. An enthralling read.8/10(Review by Tom Pilgrim)

3. Weyward by Emilia Hart is published in hardback by The Borough Press, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available February 2

Emila Hart’s debut novel Weyward links together three women from very different eras. Altha, Violet and Kate live in different centuries, but all have a connection to Weyward Cottage in Cumbria and an unusual affinity with nature, as well as unfortunate associations with violent men. While Altha’s fate lies in the hands of the jury on her 17th century witchcraft trial, Violet struggles with how a lady in the 1940s is supposed to behave, and Kate flees from an abusive relationship in the modern day. Weyward jumps between time periods with ease, and the three relatable characters leave you keen to turn the page and find out more. Fans of witchcraft-themed novels such as Bridget Collins’ The Binding and The Familiars by Stacey Halls are sure to enjoy.8/10(Review by Eleanor Barlow)


4. You Are Not Alone by Cariad Lloyd is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Tonic, priced £18.99 (ebook £13.29). Available now

Unpacking an issue as complex and delicate as grief and making it approachable and digestible is no easy feat, but Cariad Lloyd accomplishes just that with this striking new book. The comedian has seamlessly transferred the taboo-busting conversation of her hugely successful podcast, Griefcast, to the written word, providing a deconstruction of grief that is both personal and probing. Having lost her father to pancreatic cancer aged just 15, Lloyd lays bare her emotions in an honest and upfront manner through recurring vignettes, and is unafraid to tear apart several conventional assumptions of what it means to lose someone important. With rawness in one moment and educative lessons the next, she addresses several broader social concerns within her discussion, including modern technology’s influence on grief, whilst her quotes from famous contributors are particularly poignant. A must-read.9/10(Review by Harry Stedman)

Children’s book of the week

5. There’s Nothing Faster Than A Cheetah by Tom Nicoll, illustrated by Ross Collins, is published in hardback by Macmillan Children’s Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £12.99). Available now

Tom Nicoll and Ross Collins make a bold statement in the title of their latest tale for kids – “There’s nothing faster than a cheetah”. With big, bright pages containing captivating illustrations, readers are taken through an exciting A-Z journey of the animal kingdom, with each page turn exploring what animal, assisted by the silliest sounding form of transport, could possibly be faster than a cheetah. Each animal challenge comes with an imaginative dose of alliteration, be it a giraffe in a jet pack or a gorilla in a go-kart, as we get anticipatingly closer to discovering if anything can outpace a cheetah – surely a rabbit in a rocket? An enjoyable and rewarding read, perfect for reading out loud to your youngster and taking them on a vibrant and sensory adventure that will expand their animal knowledge.7/10(Review by Christopher Henry-Reeve)


HARDBACK (FICTION)1. Godkiller by Hannah Kaner2. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus3. The Cloisters by Katy Hays4. It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover5. Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey6. Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo7. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett8. A Winter Grave by Peter May9. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin10. No Plan B by Lee Child and Andrew Child(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. Spare by The Duke of Sussex2. Bored Of Lunch: The Healthy Slow Cooker Book by Nathan Anthony3. The Story Of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel4. Air-Fryer Cookbook by Jenny Tschiesche5. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy6. The Creative Act by Rick Rubin7. Pinch Of Nom: Enjoy by Kay Allinson & Kate Allinson8. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy9. One: Simple One-Pan Wonders by Jamie Oliver10. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse: The Animated Story by Charlie Mackesy(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. Spare by The Duke of Sussex2. Atomic Habits by James Clear3. A Winter Grave by Peter May4. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters5. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith6. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus7. Promise Me by Jill Mansell8. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman9. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman10. Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry(Compiled by Audible)