Act Of Oblivion

Robert Harris

Hutchinson Heinemann, £22 (ebook £10.99)

The year is 1660 and two English colonels are on the run in America, accused of high treason. On their trail is a man tasked with bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of Charles I. The stakes could not be higher for the fugitives - faced with a mandatory death sentence of the most grisly and painful kind. Billed as the greatest manhunt of the 17th century, Act Of Oblivion does not disappoint. Harris breathes life into historical events as they may have played out, through his beautifully crafted characters, who are not simply products of the turbulent times. He also achieves what historians often fail to do, by remembering the stoic women left behind to fend for themselves and take care of their families. A gripping thriller and a timely reminder of the dangers of a deeply divided and intolerant society.



Fairy Tale

Stephen King

Hodder & Stoughton, £22 (ebook £12.99)

A boy, his dog, and a shed that hides a portal to a parallel universe - Stephen King's Fairy Tale is a modern take on Jack And The Beanstalk, peppered with a myriad of classic fairy tale legends. After inheriting the shed, the secret and Radar the dog from an old recluse, seventeen-year-old Charlie descends into the world of Empis, where two moons fill the sky and the Grey plague is slowly killing the population with horrific disfigurements. From exiled princesses to child-eating giants and dungeon prisons, Fairy Tale is brimming with folklore reimagined through King's expert imagination. In true fairy tale tradition, King's latest fantasy novel is a story of good vs evil, and Charlie must help the people of Empis escape the tyrannical rule of the Flight Killer.



Girl Friends

Holly Bourne

Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99 (ebook £7.99)

Holly Bourne's latest novel, Girl Friends, follows the life of 32-year-old Fern, a successful writer living in London with her boyfriend, when an old friend from her past, Jessica, re-enters her life. Each chapter flits between present day Fern and her teenage self, unravelling the reasons behind her current mistrust of Jessica and her intentions for reigniting the friendship. With each chapter, you learn more about what made their friendship bloom - while the unease of an unspoken ending to it lingers. Girl Friends is funny, painfully relatable and at times shocking, as Holly Bourne explores the growing pains of teenage girls and learning to let go of the past.




Hysterical: Exploding The Myth Of Gendered Emotions

Pragya Agarwal

Canongate, £16.99 (ebook £13.59)

Why are women seen as the emotional sex? It's a question behavioural scientist Pragya Agarwal tackles in her enlightening book Hysterical. Drawing upon history, data and pop culture, she explores the nuances behind gendered emotions - how they came about, how our society's deeply ingrained stereotypes reinforces them, and more importantly - how they harm us, not just women, but men too. At times the book can be a bit dry, when Agarwal cites a few too many case studies, but on the whole she makes her point clearly. Agarwal is at her best when relating the impact of gendered emotion in her personal life (something that comes up time and time again as the mother of twin girls), and making insightful pop culture references - including mention of the Pixar film Inside Out. Why indeed are anger and fear portrayed by male characters, and joy, sadness and disgust by females?



Children's book of the week

Marcus Rashford (Little People, Big Dreams)

Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Guilherme Karsten

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, £9.99 (ebook £7.99).

Nourish young minds with inspirational tales of real-life achievement with the latest addition to Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara's Little People, Big Dreams series. The series introduces children to icons from politics, film, sport, technology, science and more, through engaging, audience-appropriate narrative and colourful illustrations. The latest addition brings us the tale of a young, working-class boy from Manchester with a real talent for football. He often relied on free school meals, and went on to become a Premier League hero representing his country, and a passionate campaigner for child hunger in the UK, driving huge social change during the Covid pandemic. Beautifully told with vibrant illustrations from Guilherme Karsten, Rashford's story is impressive yet relatable for a young audience, and makes a worthy addition to the series.