Shelf Por­traits

Bath Chronicle - - BOOKS -

He­roes

by stephen Fry

is pub­lished in hard­back by Michael Joseph, priced £20 (ebook £9.99)

» The se­cond in­stal­ment of Stephen Fry’s foray into the ex­u­ber­ant world of Greek mythol­ogy tack­les the he­roes, from Perseus to Bellerophon, and is just as de­light­ful and dif­fi­cult to put down as the first. Any Clas­sics stu­dents who read their Homer and their He­siod will know the Greek sto­ries, while bril­liant in their de­tail, depth and sense of epic ad­ven­ture, are not al­to­gether light or easy read­ing. Just as in Mythos, He­roes man­ages make the sto­ries re­lat­able without skimp­ing on the won­der­ful gory de­tails, or sac­ri­fic­ing the tra­di­tional truths of the myth. Heroic sons of Zeus be­come per­son­able boys-next-door and malev­o­lent kings have their mo­tives laid bare through satir­i­cal and witty con­ver­sa­tion, typ­i­cal of Fry. It’s rich, it’s funny and once again you’ll feel like you’ve learned a lot along the way. With the au­dio­book read by Fry, lis­ten­ing is as de­light­ful as read­ing, too.

10/10 Re­view by edd dra­cott

And so It be­gins

by rachel Ab­bott

is pub­lished in hard­back by wild­fire, priced £12.99 (ebook £4.99)

» Two mur­ders in the same house, an abused woman and a life­long am­bi­tion for re­venge - if you’re a fan of Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train, Rachel Ab­bott’s And So It Be­gins won’t dis­ap­point. Grip­ping from the start, each un­nerv­ing twist leads you deeper into this psy­cho­log­i­cal crime thriller. Evie Clarke ends an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship in an act of vi­o­lence, but as she stands trial for mur­der, the court­room un­earths deeper truths about her life - or is ev­ery­thing a lie? Sergeant Stephanie King and DI Gus Brodie must un­tan­gle the re­al­i­ties from the com­plex fam­ily dy­nam­ics be­tween Evie’s part­ner Mark and his sis­ter Cleo, in which ev­ery­one seem­ingly walks the line be­tween be­ing in­no­cent and guilty. Switch­ing

be­tween the per­spec­tive of venge­ful Evie, over­bear­ing older sis­ter Cleo, and de­ter­mined po­lice sergeant Stephanie, Ab­bot cranks up the in­ten­sity, leav­ing you guess­ing un­til the fi­nal few pages. 8/10

Re­view by Re­becca Wil­cock

Haz­ards of time travel

by Joyce carol oates

is pub­lished in hard­back by Fourth es­tate, priced £16.99 (ebook £9.99)

» Pro­lific Amer­i­can nov­el­ist Joyce Carol Oates, au­thor of the Mar­i­lyn Mon­roein­spired novel, Blonde, turns her at­ten­tion to sci-fi in her lat­est ef­fort, Haz­ards Of Time Travel. We open with Adri­ane Strohl mak­ing her high school vale­dic­to­rian speech. But this is not just any high school: We are in 2039, where books don’t ex­ist and even the smartest stu­dents strive hard to ap­pear medi­ocre for fear of be­ing va­por­ised for thought crime. When Adri­ane’s speech, con­sist­ing en­tirely of ques­tions, is deemed sedi­tious, she is tele­trans­ported back in time to 1959, where she must live as ‘Mary Ellen En­right’. There she must come to terms with things she’s never seen be­fore trees, smok­ing, fla­grant sex­ism - un­able to re­veal her true self to any­one. That is, un­til she be­comes in­fat­u­ated with her col­lege Pro­fes­sor Ira Wolf­man. Lovers of Mar­garet At­wood will ap­pre­ci­ate Oates’ cri­tique of Amer­i­can cul­ture, but will likely find her char­ac­ters a lit­tle on the flat side.

6/10 Re­view by Rachel Far­row

Amer­i­can over­dose: the opi­oid tragedy In three Acts

by chris mc­greal

is pub­lished in pa­per­back by Faber & Faber, priced £12.99 (ebook £9.99)

» Amer­i­can Over­dose is writ­ten by Us-based Guardian jour­nal­ist Chris Mc­greal. Di­vided into three acts, it looks at the opi­oid cri­sis in the United States, deal­ing with the ori­gins of the drugs in­volved, their pro­lif­er­a­tion, ef­forts to

com­bat the prob­lems, and what the fu­ture holds for those caught up in the trade. Mc­greal delves deep into the story be­hind pre­scrip­tion painkillers (with a fo­cus on Oxycon­tin) that have left fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties in ruin, and many peo­ple in the grip of ad­dic­tion. We meet the good, the bad and the ugly char­ac­ters in­volved. There are peo­ple who spot­ted the prob­lems and tried to stop them; rogue doc­tors and phar­ma­cists who cashed in with un­scrupu­lous pre­scrib­ing and dis­pens­ing, and then there are the peo­ple who have lost loved ones to ad­dic­tion and its con­se­quences. It is a rivet­ing read, and as well as paint­ing a de­tailed pic­ture of this cri­sis and its his­tory, it can also be seen as a warn­ing of what can hap­pen when health­care is run like an in­dus­try.

8/10 Re­view by Ryan ward

di­ary of A Wimpy KID: the melt­down

by JEFF Kin­ney

is pub­lished in hard­back by Puf­fin books, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.99)

» In this 13th book in the best-sell­ing Wimpy Kid series, Greg and his trusty best friend Row­ley get up to their usual crazy capers, but this time it turns in to a bat­tle for sur­vival as a neigh­bour­hood snow­ball fight goes feral. A sud­den cold snap shuts down Greg’s school and, snowed in and with noth­ing bet­ter to do, the lo­cal kids soon see this win­ter won­der­land be­come a win­ter bat­tle­ground. Ri­val gangs fight over their ter­ri­tory and friends make and break al­liances in an epic fight of modern-day Lord Of The Flies pro­por­tions. Award­win­ning au­thor Jeff Kin­ney dishes up his usual dry hu­mour in this hi­lar­i­ous lat­est in­stal­ment, with many a laugh-out-loud mo­ment thanks to Greg’s bad ideas and lov­able mid­dle school neu­roses.

8/10 Re­view by holly wil­liams

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