Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks has recently been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction…


1. Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry is published in hardback by Faber & Faber

A dense, lyrical and profoundly sad novel, Old God’s Time explores the reverberations of one of the bleakest episodes in Ireland’s history. Tom Kettle, a former policeman now in his 60s, is relaxing into retirement in a scenic coastal town. He spends his time observing his neighbours – an actress in hiding from her vicious husband and a cellist who shoots birds from his balcony – and immersing himself in memories of his beloved wife, June. But his nostalgic reveries are interrupted by a visit from two detectives. They’re working on a cold case, one with special significance for Tom. And as the details emerge, it becomes clear that Tom is hiding terrible secrets – even from himself. This is a beautifully written book, and Tom is an unforgettable character – a gentle, damaged soul who savours small pleasures and the beauty of the world, despite the ugliness of some of the people in it.

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2. Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape

In late 1970s London, young factory worker Yamaye seeks the spirit of her lost mother and spends her weekends dancing the night away with friends at a club called The Crypt. But just as her horizons are expanding, tragic events break the bonds of youth and send her on a very different voyage of discovery. Against the backdrop of race riots, she must escape home, navigate the backstreets of Bristol, and find her way to her Jamaican roots. Yamaye’s connection to the music is deeper than nights in the dancehall – she feels the power of songs passed down to her and though her search for truth sends her riddles and false hope, she can always return to the music. Jacqueline Crooks’ lyrical debut dances to the rhythm of the reggae music that pulses throughout it, in a powerful portrait of black womanhood in late 20th century Britain and beyond.

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3. Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Publishing

This dazzling debut is a character-led journey through New York in the 1960s. 17-year-old Mae gets a job as a typist in Andy Warhol’s famous studio, where she is introduced to the secret world of the artist and his various associates. Not only does this novel show the glamorous side of Warhol’s world, but also the seedy underworld that was kept away from the newspapers and photographers. A little thin on the plot, Mae’s character development through the novel is what will keep you reading, as she makes the change from impressionable high-school dropout, to a stoic cynic, in the space of just a few months. It is a beautifully written debut by Nicole Flattery, who has a promising future ahead of her.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;


4. Hags: The Demonisation Of Middle-Aged Women by Victoria Smith is published in hardback by Fleet

Victoria Smith’s Hags is a brilliantly witty, engaging, and insightful book; a righteous polemic which examines and questions why middle-aged women are hated – and, crucially, what this means for women today. It covers a broad range of themes – everything from care work to sex and beauty – and looks at how it relates to middle-aged women. From early modern witches to today’s ‘Karens’, Smith explores in great depth the ageism and misogyny directed at older women through history, and draws on a multitude of perspectives and experiences, including her own, to examine why these women are treated with such vitriol and disdain. Hags is a punchy, thought-provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable read.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Children’s book of the week

5. I, Spy: A Bletchley Park Mystery by Rhian Tracey is published in paperback by Piccadilly Press

If you know any children who love reading stories set during World War II, then this mystery from Rhian Tracey could be right up their street. I, Spy is an adventure set in Bletchley Park (once the top-secret home of war codebreakers) in 1939, and tells the story of Robyn, a 12-year-old girl who has her heart set on finding out what is really going on behind closed doors. Together with her friends Mary and Ned, Robyn embarks on a journey to discover the truth – including decoding exactly what the tight-lipped adults actually mean. As well as being full of twists and turns, the novel is educational to boot, introducing children to issues such as evacuation and the use of carrier pigeons in intelligence gathering. It also has a simple map at the front of the book – always a brilliant aide to helping children visualise the action.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;