What’s new on the bookshelves

New books from Robin Sharma, John Dufresne and Peter Brown
New books from Robin Sharma, John Dufresne and Peter Brown

Bestselling author Adele Parks’s latest novel, Spare Brides, and Terms & Conditions, the fantastic debut from Robert Glancy.

Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy (£12.99, ebook £10.99).

Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure, Terms & Conditions tells the story of Frank Shaw, a lawyer who specialises in small print.

He’s the master of mitigating risk and worst-case scenarios, though he isn’t quite prepared for what occurs when one happens to him.

Following a serious car accident he suffers amnesia, but as his memories return and chaos ensues, he realises there’s more to life than meticulously written terms and conditions.

The novel itself is filled with footnotes which is a quirky, if sometimes slightly difficult-to-read, concept but it really brings to life the world that Frank inhabits.

There are also frequent comical emails from his globetrotting brother Malcolm. While it might seem that the book is full of gimmicks, they never feel forced or unnatural within the text.

Terms & Conditions is Robert Glancy’s literary debut, but it’s an assured first novel; engaging, absorbing and incredibly life-affirming. Hopefully it will find the wide audience it deserves.

Spare Brides by Adele Parks (£13.99).

1920s England, still damaged by the effects of The Great War, is the backdrop for Spare Brides, the latest book by Teesside-born author Adele Parks.

Spare Brides, with its four female protagonists – Ava, Beatrice, Lydia and Sarah – paints a picture of burgeoning feminism, of the warranted yet painful decline of the aristocracy, of emotions and ambitions unfulfilled, of love, friendship and passion conquering desperate situations.

Parks weaves a tale of glitter and coldness, of pearls and disdain, of poverty and magnitude, as she guides us into the lives of her characters.

And with the addition of a dashing yet damaged hero in Sergeant Peter Trent, lover and saviour of Lydia, you’re invited into a world that gives more than it takes.

It may have a modicum of a posh soap opera about it; a literary Downton Abbey, but Spare Brides ultimately offers a warm embrace of hope and satisfaction.

A Pleasure And A Calling by Phil Hogan (£14.99, ebook £6.02).

This is the fourth novel by Phil Hogan, a British-born author and journalist, whose previous books have covered adultery, divorce and sibling rivalry.

This offering takes us on a creepy and unexpected journey, following the life of an unassuming estate agent.

Told in bite-size chapters which gradually come together to reveal the true nature of the story’s main character, this is an original and fascinating reading experience.

Right from the start, the reader’s drawn into estate agent Mr Heming’s world, a world where he remains, in the main, unnoticed by others, but those he is drawn to become the focus of his obsessive attentions.

This is a story that will remain with the reader long after the book is finished, and will leave them questioning those around them, with whom they place their trust.

It also shows how the actions of one person can, in time, have quite unrelated, but devastating, consequences for others.

And one thing’s for sure, it leaves you feeling that the next time you trust an estate agent with a set of keys, you’ll change the locks afterwards!

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood (£12.99, ebook £4.31).

The shambolic marital record of Ernest Hemingway, one of the 20th century’s most iconic novelists and war correspondents, is ingeniously explored in this novel.

Author Naomi Wood has elegantly blended fact and fiction, as she imagines what life with him was like for his four long-suffering wives.

Much of her entertaining and well-researched book is undoubtedly factual.

Hemingway was a heavy drinker and a difficult and often uncouth man.

He lumbered through life and around the world, without paying much attention to the feelings of others, as he pursued headline stories in war zones.

His first wife was Hadley Richardson, whom he married in 1921 and divorced in 1927. He then married Pauline Pfeiffer.

After their divorce, he married the journalist Martha Gellhorn in 1940.

There was another divorce, and then he married Mary Welsh, who was still his wife when he died in 1961.

Hemingway was brave and tough but also a show-off and self-publicist who treated his wives abominably.

His literary and journalistic achievements were substantial, however, and his name lives on, even if his books are not often read these days.

No Regrets, Coyote by John Dufresne (£10, ebook £6.49).

In the vein of a typical noir thriller, No Regrets, Coyote is an engaging romp into the seedy criminal underbelly in the ironically nicknamed ‘Sunshine State’.

It’s a slow-burning American crime page-turner about a mild mannered therapist called Wylie ‘Coyote’ Melville, living in Eden, South Florida.

Asked by his friend and local Detective Sergeant to give his expert opinion on the brutal slaughter of a father, his wife and three young children, Wylie expresses his doubts at the police official account of events.

Against the advice of his friends he starts his own investigation and, in the process, becomes a target himself, which means he really needs to find out who’s behind the killings – and fast.

Dufresne has a wonderful ability to convincingly conjure scenes and characters, bringing to life the squalid town of Eden and its corrupt residents.

It’s an engrossing tale and Coyote’s an engaging protagonist, but the complex narrative and vast multitude of characters make it confusing and difficult to follow at times.

Fans of the crime suspense genre will enjoy this entertaining read, but it’s certainly not one for those looking for an uncomplicated novel.

Family Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma (£9.99, ebook £4.50).

Leadership expert Robin Sharma, the author behind The Monk Who Sold His Ferarri, brings back his lawyer-turned-monk character Julian Mantle to explain how to nurture a family.

The story is told through the eyes of Julian’s sister Catherine, who is neglecting her loved ones to achieve success in business.

But surviving a plane crash gives her a wake-up call to reassess her life – and her brother helps her move forwards.

The wisdom Sharma shares through Julian is profound and life-changing.

Tips include taking time out to work out a vision for the family’s future, setting goals to achieve it and journaling the family’s journey.

But his advice to rise at 5am to reflect and be at one with nature sounds a bit tough, as does reading to children for 30 minutes a day.

The book is cheesy in parts but is easy to read and will encourage parents to be great leaders.

The Dark Box: A Secret History Of Confession: Confession In The Catholic Church by John Cornwell (£16.99, ebook £10.79).

The Dark Box of John Cornwell’s title refers to the place that is perhaps the greatest source of fascination for non-Catholics: that secretive confessional stall where one’s various sins are divulged to a priest waiting to absolve you with an abundance of Hail Marys.

It has not always been so, however; until the 16th century, the penitent sinner knelt before their confessor, until the Vatican deemed this too rife with temptation, and introduced the dark, enclosed confessional box.

This is the springboard for Cornwell’s survey and history.

The proximity of these confessors with their ‘bestial appetites’ to unseen women and young boys resulted in an increase in complaints about misconduct, and Cornwell draws on his personal experience to highlight the problem across the ages.

Yet his position is never one of polemic – his current ambivalence towards religion stops this book standing as a tirade against Catholicism, and instead stands as a balanced account of confession.

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (£6.99).

Mr Tiger lives in a world where everyone around him is buttoned up and obsessed with being proper.

Even though Mr Tiger wears a very proper suit and very proper bowler hat and very properly extends his curtsies to his fellow creatures, he feels properly out of place.

Fed up, he decides to stop walking around on his hind legs and starts pouncing around as nature intended.

Finally happy, Mr Tiger starts embracing his wild side by roaring and losing his stiff clothes, but as he does so, he becomes alienated from his old friends and decides to move to the wild.

While Mr Tiger feels truly free in the wild, he realises that he misses the company of his community and heads back, only to find that everyone else has started to tune in to their wild side.

Although short in words, the glorious India ink and watercolour illustrations make this an enjoyable read.