Books: Sort your holiday reading list with a fresh batch of new…
1. Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley is published in hardcover by Bloomsbury Publishing, priced at £16.99 (ebook £11.89).
Nightcrawling might be one of the most horrific books you’ll ever read, but don’t let that put you off – it’s traumatic, but hugely powerful. It tells the story of Kiara, 17, in Oakland – her father is dead, her mother is in a halfway house, and her older brother is too busy making music to care for her. Unable to find a job – and wanting to support herself and her neglected neighbor, nine-year-old Trevor – she feels compelled to make money by selling her body. She comes across a brutal network of police officers, who treat her horribly and often don’t pay her. It’s heartbreaking to watch her slowly start to despise herself for what she does, when all Kiara wants is to survive. It’s hard to say which is more shocking – the fact that it’s based on a true story, or that Mottley started writing it when she was just 17. It’s a tough read, but there are glimmers of hope – especially in Kiara’s relationship with Trevor. Mottley’s haunting writing will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
2. London In Black by Jack Lutz is published in hardcover by Puskin Vertigo, priced at £12.99 (ebook £2.99).
Two years after terrorists launched nerve gas at Waterloo station, the unlucky 10% of the population who are genetically vulnerable to an agonizing death when exposed still tremble in fear of copycat attacks. London In Black – Jack Lutz’s frantic debut novel – follows one such “vulnerable”, DI Lucy Stone, as she investigates the brutal murder of the scientist seemingly close to a valuable antidote. Tortured by her harrowing memories and fueled by guilt, Stone relies on the “Boosts” to protect her from the nerve gas, but they soon begin to lose their effectiveness, adding even more tension to a story that unfolds at breakneck speed. Sometimes overly reliant on tried-and-true tropes of police procedurals, with drug addiction, endless twists and profanity aplenty, London In Black is nonetheless engrossing, evocative and will keep you guessing.
3. Either/Or by Elif Batuman is published in hardcover by Jonathan Cape, priced at £16.99 (ebook £9.99).
This sequel to Elif Batuman’s highly acclaimed The Idiot picks up the story of Selin, charting her sophomore year at Harvard, and still trying to come to terms with her life, sexuality, and ambitions. A few regular months of literature-dominated college life in late 1996 become a rollercoaster of parties, booze, and sex, as Selin seeks to find her true identity—helped and sometimes hindered by friends and acquaintances. She wonders if her life could be turned into a novel – and that’s exactly what Batuman did. After a slow start, the book grows increasingly compelling, with witty and hilarious observations on life, ranging from serious questions of whether to live by ethical or aesthetic principles, to the equally serious challenge to find a boyfriend.
4. Endless Forms: The Secret World Of Wasps by Seirian Sumner is published in hardcover by William Collins, priced at £20 (ebook £12.99).
Did you hear the one about the zombie cockroach? Seirian Sumner goes where other conservationists have been reluctant to tread, with his impassioned and often extraordinary defense of the much-maligned wasp. An evolutionary ancestor of the honey bee that has over 100,000 individual species, Sumner patiently makes his case for this most unloved insect – showing that it’s more than just a painful problem at picnics. Consider the emerald jewel wasp, which manipulates its prey (the much larger American cockroach), delivering a sting to the brain that effectively enslaves it, allowing the wasp to drive it to its lair. Other remarkable bites abound, certainly not all to devour on a full stomach. While perhaps a little heavy on the science, Sumner’s extensively researched book should be compelling enough to make you think twice the next time you pick up the fag.
Children’s book of the week
5. The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Beast Beyond The Fence by Marcus Rashford and Alex Falase-Koya, illustrated by Marta Kissi, is published in paperback by Macmillan Children’s Books, priced at £6.99 (ebook £3.99 ).
Everyone loves a good adventure, right? After 12-year-old Marcus loses his favorite football over the school wall, he is invited to join The Breakfast Club Investigators (BCI). Along with Asim, Lise and Stacey, Marcus is ready to brave anything that comes their way to search for his beloved ball, which was a gift from his cousin Lola. The case takes them on daring adventures, with the children working as a team to find the answers they need. A great story about developing young friendships, delving into some of the issues children in this age group may face, and helping them find the tools they need to grow up confidently. It’s brilliant reading – you’ll want to see where their investigations take them next.