Books: Five new releases to read this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson and These Days by Lucy Caldwell. Dolly Parton makes her fiction debut in a new book co-written with James Patterson…


Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson is published in hardback by Century, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

She may already be one of the most successful and well-loved celebrities in the world, but at 76, Dolly Parton is proving it’s never too late to add another string to your bow with her first-ever novel. And yes, Dolly fans, it is everything you could possibly hope for. Run Rose Run tells the story of AnnieLee Keyes, a talented young singer who turns up in Nashville with big hopes of becoming a country star. She soon catches the attention of retired mega-star Ruthanna, who decides to help her on her quest. But AnnieLee has dark secrets and is also running away from a dodgy past – which soon catches up with her. Co-written with James Patterson, it’s a hefty 400-odd pages long. But, just like Dolly’s hit songs, you’ll quickly find yourself pulled right in and sailing through it. Dreams, drama and danger, with a generous sprinkling of magic and wisdom at every turn, it makes for a super holiday or bedtime read. There’s also an accompanying album featuring songs from the story, to bring it to life even more.


Abi Jackson

These Days by Lucy Caldwell is published in hardback by Faber & Faber, priced £12.99 (ebook £10.99). Available now

The Belfast Blitz is a lesser-known but no less devastating part of WWII. Lucy Caldwell’s comprehensive research and flowing prose paints a harrowing picture of destruction, as the city barely survives a series of heavy German bombing raids. These Days tells the story of the middle-class Bell family, through which Caldwell explores family ties, romantic relationships, and social disparity. Audrey is engaged to be married, but missing the vigour of true love, while Emma struggles to navigate a secret sapphic love affair alone. As the city’s infrastructure is reduced to rubble, grief and dread become overwhelming, but a steely strength of character shines through – both in Audrey and Emma, as well as the Northern Irish community as a whole. These Days is a moving piece of historical fiction that will captivate your heart.


Rebecca Wilcock

Sell Us The Rope by Stephen May is published in paperback by Sandstone Press, priced £8.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now

It is May 1907, and several figures who will shape the 20th century are gathering in London. Stephen May takes us to the capital’s squalid streets to meet Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky and more, as they attend the 5th Congress of the Russian Communist Party under the watchful eyes of the Tsar’s secret police. May uses less familiar names for these men – Stalin goes by his nickname Koba, Lenin is Ulyanov, and Trotsky is Yanovsky, as they mingle with fictional characters. As Koba meets Elli Vuokko, a (fictional) Finnish activist, he initially comes across as a charming and generous man and, without the moniker which became a by-word for ruthless, bloody dictatorial government, it can be easy to forget the monster he was until his real character is slowly brought out throughout the tale. Current events lend this atmospheric book a different context, a reminder that evil walks among us – often with a smiling face.


Ian Parker


Mother’s Boy: A Writer’s Beginnings by Howard Jacobson is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £18.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

Howard Jacobson’s Mother’s Boy is a laugh-out-loud funny, yet sentimental, memoir from the prolific 79-year-old – who has written a book roughly every two years since his first novel Coming From Behind was published aged 40. Jacobson was born into a working class Jewish family in Manchester in the 1940s. The book details his close relationship with his mother, who supported his ambitions to go to Cambridge and become a writer, as well as his difficult relationship with his father. In between, it describes his early education and career, finishing with the publication of his debut novel. Like all great memoirs, Mother’s Boy is equal parts acerbic, tender, and indiscreet. Jacobson’s comic turn of phrase rarely disappoints, and there are laughs on almost every page.


Luke O’Reilly


Big Hedgehog And Little Hedgehog Take An Evening Stroll by Britta Teckentrup is published in hardback by Prestel, priced £10.99 (no ebook). Available now

With its gentle story and dreamy illustrations, the overwhelming impression you get from Big Hedgehog And Little Hedgehog Take An Evening Stroll is that of calm. Big and Little Hedgehog are making their way home, but they keep on stopping, because there’s so much for the younger one to see. While Big Hedgehog wants to rush home, Little Hedgehog shows the power of slowing down a bit and enjoying what’s around you – whether it’s seeing the sunset, or watching fireflies dance. While not the most groundbreaking tale out there, it makes for perfect bedtime reading – and has a sweet message about the value of enjoying life slowly.


Prudence Wade



1. The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

2. Galatea by Madeline Miller

3. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

4. House Of Sky And Breath by Sarah J. Maas

5. Moon Witch, Spider King by Marlon James

6. Again, Rachel by Marian Keye

7. Daughter Of The Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

8. Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman

9. The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

10. The Man Who Died Twice by Osman

(Compiled by Waterstones)


1. Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood

2. Pinch Of Nom Comfort Food by Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson

3. The Instant by Amy Liptrot

4. Otherland by Thomas Halliday

5. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Dr Julie Smith

6. Fitwaffle’s Baking It Eas by Eloise Head & Fitwaffle

7. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

8. Taste by Stanley Tucci

9. Devil In A Coma by Mark Lanegan

10. Thali by Maunika Gowardhan

(Compiled by Waterstones)