Books

Books: Five new releases to read this week...

This week's bookcase includes reviews of Fight Night by Miriam Toews and With A Mind To Kill by Anthony Horowitz...

Fight Night by Miriam Toews

Fiction

Fight Night by Miriam Toews is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.99). Available June 2

Fight Night is absurd, overwhelming, traumatic, touching – and totally delightful. It’s a love letter to the women in one family, with nine-year-old narrator Swiv recounting life with her heavily pregnant actor mother Mooshie and elderly grandmother Elvira. It moves at a fast pace – which might initially make your head spin, as Swiv jumps from topic to topic, going on mini adventures with her extremely fun grandmother (who is a brilliantly written character and a total badass). While it doesn’t always have a clear cut plot, it deals with some big issues – such as suicide, alcoholism and depression – with realism, dark humour and a lightness of touch. It’s a joy to read, and the colourful and beautifully drawn characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished.

9/10

With A Mind To Kill by Anthony Horowitz is published by Jonathan Cape, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available May 26

With A Mind To Kill by Anthony Horowitz

With A Mind to Kill is Anthony Horowitz’s third Bond book, and is a fast-paced thriller centred on a dangerous mission even our hero isn’t sure he can complete. It opens with the funeral of M, head of the intelligence service, with Bond in custody accused of his boss’s murder. The plot thickens when Bond goes behind the Iron Curtain to join a group of former Soviet intelligence agents, who want to enrol the British spy into a daring plan that will change the balance of world power. Bond fans are in for a treat as he enters the lion’s den, having to draw on all his powers to overcome the enemy. Readers will love the way Horowitz stays loyal to the winning formula of Bond creator Ian Fleming, confronting an old enemy with new energy.

8/10

You Made A Fool Of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.99). Available May 26

You Made A Fool Of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Anyone who’s read Akwaeke Emezi’s previous books – the beautiful and heartrending Freshwater and The Death Of Vivek Oji – will be in for a surprise with their latest offering. While You Made A Fool Of Death… covers some similar themes as the other books – including violent loss and love – at its core, it’s much more of a popcorn romance novel. Feyi is a young artist with a sad past, meaning new romance is hard for her – she tries to turn over a new leaf by going with a potential suitor to his island home, staying in his wealthy father’s house. Things become complicated when she finds herself falling for the wrong man – quite a classic romance trope, meaning the book feels quite predictable. While Emezi’s signature arresting style is there, the content isn’t – they spend a bit too much time discussing how beautiful the main characters are, which can get a bit dull. It’s no doubt readable and you do connect with the characters, but Emezi possibly suffers by comparison to their previous books – and You Made A Fool Of Death… likely won’t stay with you quite as long.

6/10

NON-FICTION

Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver is published in hardback by Manilla Press, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Managing Expectations by Minnie Driver

Celebrity autobiographies are always a very mixed bag, but this one from the actress who made her name in Circle Of Friends and Good Will Hunting is a shining star among them. It’s a collection of essays of key moments in Minnie Driver’s life, written with razor-sharp wit and tear-jerking pathos, from her parents’ break-up to her wayward hair and her experiences in acting, as she dived from one successful movie, which she thought would secure her career, to faking orgasms for a chocolate ad to keep the wolf from the door. Her Oscar nomination for Good Will Hunting was robbed of its joy because of her ex Matt Damon, who arrived at the event with his new girlfriend. But self-pity never washed with her mother, a stoic, funny, positive figure who wouldn’t tolerate complaints about life being unfair, which makes the final chapter so heart-wrenching, as news of her diagnosis of terminal cancer leaves Driver literally on her knees in front of her shopping trolley in Waitrose. You’ll want to read this book twice, laughing at the acutely sharp observations and holding back tears as the final chapter comes to its close. We hope this actress writes more.

10/10

CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE WEEK

Clarice Bean: Scram! by Lauren Child is published in hardback by HarperCollins Children’s Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99). Available May 26

Lauren Child knows what goes through a child’s mind, and how to transfer those thoughts to the page. In her latest instalment of the Clarice Bean series, she delivers another snapshot of the topsy-turvy world of the title character. Clarice and her extended family adopt a stray dog, with the young girl forming alliances with siblings and somehow manipulating situations to her advantage so everything turns out just fine in the end. Child made her name with the Charlie And Lola picture books, and Clarice has firmly become a new favourite. You’ll be left trying to work out if Clarice and family ate horrid spaghetti or something else entirely – see for yourself by reading this entertaining tale.

9/10

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