Jack Reacher is back in his latest thriller, and a new children’s book looks at British wildlife with fresh eyes…
Fizzing dialogue has long marked Irish novelist Roddy Doyle’s work – stretching back to his glorious Barrytown Trilogy and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, winner of the 1993 Booker Prize. His latest book, Love, brings together two old friends, Davy and Joe, who embark on an unplanned drinking session in their hometown of Dublin. The close mates have drifted apart, and as the night spirals they both want to talk but also avoid sharing truths – why Davy feels guilt towards his father, dying that night in a hospice; why Joe’s love affair with the woman of their shared youthful dreams is not all it initially seems. At times it is a frustrating read, with Davy’s boredom and Joe’s inability to get to the point or just let him go home. However, the fast fluctuations of emotions between them, bawdy humour, nostalgia for times gone by and a deeply moving ending are all worth holding on for. You’re still left with the annoyance at the questions never answered – but that is exactly how a drunken night out with an old, but no longer close, friend can leave you feeling…
(Review by Noreen Barr)
The Sentinel is the 25th book in the Jack Reacher series, but it’s unique in being the first Lee Child has written in collaboration with his brother Andrew – the first of a few before he hands over the reins entirely. The times might be changing but the story most certainly isn’t. Once again we have intelligent, rogue ex-military cop Jack Reacher randomly appear in a town and get caught up in some kind of trouble – trouble only he can solve. And solve it he does, with a lot of brute force and precise calculations born out of years of experience. This time round, he’s in a small town in Tennessee and cyber crime – possibly conducted by the Russians – is on the agenda. Fans of the Reacher series will find much to love in this book – action, drama and many a twist, although the tech explanations do get a bit convoluted. It likely won’t resonate so much with everyone else – the writing is full of cliches, and while it’s an easy read, there’s not much to capture the imagination. One thing’s for sure: it will definitely make another classic action film.
(Review by Prudence Wade)
It’s hard not to have high expectations for Jodi Picoult, who is responsible for bestsellers like My Sister’s Keeper. The Book Of Two Ways poses an initially captivating question: how different would our lives look in a parallel universe where we’ve made different choices? The story starts with the central character Dawn having a near-death experience, causing her to confront the decisions she has made. It then flips between timelines, following her as a young grad student in Egypt, and as a married mum in Boston where she works as a death doula. Picoult has clearly done an impressive amount of research into Egyptology, which is a huge part of the book; her writing is insightful and richly descriptive, but unfortunately, it’s hard to get excited by the topic. Some of the chunkier paragraphs are frustratingly dense with facts and history, making for too much of an information overload.
(Review by Georgia Humphreys)
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the continuing Black Lives Matter movement, many people in a position of power have been re-evaluating their privilege. This is where June Sarpong’s timely book comes in. The TV presenter and writer’s new book is aimed at white people, helping them understand the privilege they hold in society. She goes through a whistle stop tour of the main issues facing black people, covering everything from the American incarceration system to Grenfell and the intersection of race and gender. The book is just over 100 pages, so at times it feels a bit too quick to cover some weighty issues, but it’s well researched and Sarpong provides plenty of resources for you to do further reading. She also comes up with a list of actionable things white people can do to help people of colour, and help defuse the damaging power of privilege. Ultimately, Sarpong says, society will be better when we’re all equal. It’s a slight handbook, but it feels like the perfect jumping off point for white people wanting to do better.
(Review by Prudence Wade)
Children’s book of the week
This charming collection of poems and artwork is the little sister to critically acclaimed book The Lost Words. Both books aim to give children a new appreciation of the natural world, some of which is being forgotten in lieu of technology – or just lost altogether. Author Robert MacFarlane and artist Jackie Morris are determined to put the language of the natural world back into conversations. The poems are beautiful, insightful and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny; and together with the vivid artwork, wild creatures are brought to life on the page. Parents and children are sure to enjoy reciting these poems on walks, and the beautiful volume will be treasured by nature lovers of all ages. This book brilliantly captures enough of nature’s magic to spark curiosity about Britain’s wildlife.
(Review by Nicole Whitton)