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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Five new books to read this week

The Mayor of London has released his first book…


1. Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal is published in hardback by HarperCollins. Available now

Balli Kaur Jawal takes you into the world behind the glitz and glamour of Singapore’s elite families and introduces a murder mystery involving three Filipina domestic workers who toil as cleaners, maids and caregivers. Used to being in the shadows, Donita, Angel and Cora keep themselves to themselves. But when fellow maid Flor is arrested for murder, the secrets these workers hold start bubbling to the surface – much to the chagrin of their employers, who would rather keep their sordid lives out of the public eye. With the suspicion that there is more than meets the eye, Cora, Donita and Angel start looking for clues. As they get closer to the truth the trio are each under the threat of deportation and personal danger as their superiors try and keep their secrets quiet. Jawal has created an absorbing and subtle mystery via the dark themes of people trafficking, domestic slavery and oppressive power struggles behind closed doors.
(Review by Rachel Howdle)

2. Whips By Cleo Watson is published in hardback by Corsair. Available now

Sex scandals, scheming MPs, lies, cover ups, ambitions to be Prime Minister, parties, drinking. No, not a story about politics today, but a new novel based on life in Westminster. Author Cleo Watson worked in 10 Downing Street under Theresa May and Boris Johnson so had a front row seat at the heart of government while recent dramas unfolded. Whips starts with Bobby Cliveden trying enrol her local MP into supporting her campaign against the closure of a mental health unit. She ends up working for him in London, meeting up with university friends Jess, a newly promoted political journalist, and Eva, a junior Downing Street aide. Their lives collide in a complicated web of a leadership contest, back-stabbing politicians, reputations won and lost, dangerous gossip, and a fair sprinkling of sex. The author insists none of her characters are based on real people – but anyone who has worked in Parliament might vaguely recognise some of the storylines. You’ll love the way the novel bursts open some of the goings on in the Westminster bubble.
(Review by Alan Jones)

3. Mister, Mister by Guy Gunaratne is published in hardback by Tinder Press. Available now

Mister, Mister is the eagerly anticipated second novel by the author of In Our Mad And Furious City, Guy Gunaratne. It follows main character Yahya Bas from his bleak beginnings in East Ham in London to eventually ending up in a detention centre after he returned from Syria to look for his elusive biological father and how he eventually came to be radicalised. This book is a necessary look at the rise in Islamophobia in post-9/11 and 7/7 Britain. But it is difficult to get into the story, because the structure of short numbered passages feels overambitious. This seems like a missed opportunity to really delve into the issues which marked the turn of the century in the UK.
(Review by Lauren Gilmour)


4. Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency by Sadiq Khan is published in hardback by Hutchinson Heinemann. Available now

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s timely new book brings the devastating impact of air pollution on people’s health into focus, and challenges the idea that tough climate change policies will bleed votes. Through the story of Ella Roberta Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who died after having a severe asthma attack caused by air pollution, Khan delivers a clear and powerful message – that pollution can kill. He goes on to relate his personal experience of developing the respiratory condition while training for the 2014 London Marathon and outlines seven obstacles to tackling climate change, including fatalism, apathy, cynicism, deprioritisation, hostility, cost and gridlock. Breathe succeeds in its mission to hammer home the risks of air pollution and almost makes reading about political processes enjoyable. While its reliance on opinion polls to confirm voters’ support for climate change policies and carefully crafted statistics are not always convincing, Khan’s call to action is worth its weight in words.
(Review by Tom Campbell)

Children’s book of the week

5. The Sun And The Star (The Nico Di Angelo Adventures) by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro is published in hardback by Puffin. Available now

Anyone who is a fan of the brilliant Percy Jackson book series will love this new offering from Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro. The Sun And The Star tells the story of Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, who is a loner, keeping his feelings to himself and suffering the loss of his mother and sister. It is only through the power of his relationship with Will Solace that life changes for the better and Nico learns how to move beyond the horrors he has witnessed. As the pair journey together, they must face the terrors of Tartarus – the lowest part of the underworld – in order to save a friend. Will their relationship be tested to its core? One thing is for sure, this book is full of teachable moments for pre-teens and teens, including how pain and loss can help us learn and build resilience.
(Review by Jane Kirby)


1. Yellowface by Rebecca F Kuang
2. Killing Moon by Jo Nesbo
3. Atlas by Lucinda Riley & Harry Whittaker
4. The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi
5. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
6. Happy Place by Emily Henry
7. The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan
8. The Making Of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks
9. Uhtred’s Feast by Bernard Cornwell & Suzanne Pollak
10. Henry VIII by Alison Weir
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. The Extra Mile by Kevin Sinfield
2. Bored Of Lunch by Nathan Anthony
3. Johnson At 10 by Anthony Seldon & Raymond Newell
4. Eject! Eject! by John Nichol
5. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken
6. The Future Of Geography by Tim Marshall
7. How Westminster Works… And Why It Doesn’t by Ian Dunt
8. The Wager by David Grann
9. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell
10. The Russo-Ukrainian War by Serhii Plokhy
(Compiled by Waterstones)

1. The Couple At No. 9 by Claire Douglas
2. Killing Moon by Jo Nesbo & Seán Kinsella
3. Atomic Habits by James Clear
4. Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken
5. Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth I by Tracy Borman
6. But What Can I Do? by Alastair Campbell
7. Spare by The Duke of Sussex
8. How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
9. The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish
10. Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
(Compiled by Audible)

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