What’s new on the bookshelves

Book Cover Handout of The Collector by Nora Roberts, published in hardback by Piaktus. See PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Piaktus. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. BOOK_Book_Reviews_115457.JPG
Book Cover Handout of The Collector by Nora Roberts, published in hardback by Piaktus. See PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Piaktus. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature BOOK Book Reviews. BOOK_Book_Reviews_115457.JPG

The latest novel from Nora Roberts, Exposure by mother and son team Kathy and Brendan Reichs and Michael Laub’s powerful Diary Of The Fall.

The Collector by Nora Roberts (£16.99, eBook £5.96).

Nora Roberts brings us a romance wrapped up in a thriller that would equally be at home under her nom de plume JD Robb.

Lila Emerson is a professional house-sitter and a successful young adult author.

As part of her daily routine Lila, with her binoculars for company, takes in a spot of people watching.

She begins to watch a soap opera lifestyle unfold in the apartment block opposite.

One day a heated relationship appears to go a step too far when she sees a young model-type woman plummet to her death from her window.

Lila reports this to the police, and puts her own life in jeopardy.

While giving her witness statement, Lila meets Ash, the brother of a second victim.

She finds herself part of a larger mystery.

What were they protecting? Why has the killer now set their eyes on her?

As Ash and Lila grow reliant on each other, can they solve the mystery?

Marrying romance and a proper feel of danger, The Collector keeps you guessing all the way.

Diary Of The Fall by Michel Laub (£14.99, eBook £6.02).

Michel Laub takes us through the defining moments in the lives of three generations of men from the same family in his short new novel Diary Of The Fall.

The narrator can’t get past the guilt he feels for a schoolboy prank gone wrong and is blaming all of his problems as an adult on this one event from his childhood, while he explains more about what he knows of his father’s and grandfather’s lives.

His grandfather escaped Auschwitz and headed to Brazil to start a new life, where the rest of the story is set.

After his death, the family discovered an encyclopaedia-style diary of his life after the concentration camp, giving some clues to the secrets he never told anyone.

When the narrator’s father develops Alzheimer’s, he begins writing his own obsessive diaries and, in turn, his son diarises everything he finds out through reading his family’s notebooks.

What starts off looking like a series of unrelated, numbered points turns out to be a family’s life story, taking in cultural identity, the childhood traumas of each character, and how a relative’s history echoes down the generations. A powerful novel.

The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert (£14.99, eBook £7.49).

Rachel Seiffert broke through with her Man Booker-shortlisted novel The Dark Room, and her latest offering, The Walk Home, boasts the same ambition and power for which her debut novel was so praised.

This deeply moving tale centres around Protestant and Catholic rivalries in Glasgow – in part during the Troubles in the 1990s and in part, as it is today.

In the first of the two eras, newly-wed couple Graham and Lynsey move to Glasgow with their young son Stevie, to start a life near Graham’s family.

But Lynsey soon realises the religiously-divided world she fled in Ireland exists in her new life and those tensions soon prove too much for the couple’s marriage to bear.

Fast-forward 20 years and we are thrown into Stevie’s world as he secretly returns to Glasgow for the first time since he cut and run from his family.

Stevie is now an adult, but the dark shadow he left behind still looms over him and that won’t change until he admits he is home.

The phonetically-written dialect takes some getting used to, but it ultimately only adds to the brilliant portrait of Scottish life which Seiffert creates.

Through an intricate study of each character, this novel examines what happens when people leave their families behind and whether we are really ever free of the past which moulds our future.

As heart-breaking as it is heart-warming, this delicate and powerful novel will stay with you long after the final page.

Exposure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs (£12.99, eBook £6.02).

Bestselling author of the Bones novels, Kathy Reichs joins up with her son Brendan for the fourth novel in the Virals series.

It’s based around the adventures of Victoria ‘Tory’ Brennan, great-niece of Temperence from Reichs’s long-running series of murder mysteries, and her school pals.

Tory, Hi, Ben and Shelton aren’t your average teenagers though.

After an experiment went wrong, the friends were infected with a virus which changed their DNA, heightening their senses and turning them into a pack of ‘Virals’.

When a twin brother and sister go missing from school, the friends take it upon themselves to find out where they went.

Able to tap into their wolf-like senses, and with some forensics knowledge, picked up by Tory from her aunt, the pack decides to hunt down the culprit.

But not before her best friend is also abducted in the midst of a flawed manhunt.

Even though Exposure is part of a series, this book stands well alone and is an engaging read.

My Biggest Lie by Luke Brown (£12.99, eBook £6.69).

Luke Brown’s debut novel introduces us to self-absorbed book publisher Liam, a borderline drug addict with a life to match.

From the start, we learn Liam has lost his girlfriend, home and job.

He’s also implicated himself in the death of his company’s director.

Although he hasn’t caused the death, he feels a kind of responsibility for it, which is apparent throughout the book.

To make a fresh start, Liam moves to Buenos Aires to write his novel, but he soon discovers it’s the perfect place to continue his hedonistic lifestyle.

All the while he writes a notebook filled with unsent letters to his ex-partner showing his realisation that he has been living a lie all his life.

Brown doesn’t hold back with the drugs and drinking references in this witty yet, more often, annoying first-person view of one man’s phoenix-style rise from the ashes of a spoilt life.

The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World From Scratch by Lewis Dartnell (£20, eBook £8.03).

How would you rebuild civilisation if there was a global catastrophe?

That’s the question posed by astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell in this manual for survival, which brings to life how the world would look for those who are left.

He covers topics from agriculture to medicine, clothing and transport.

Good news is there’s a grace period during which scavenging should keep people alive.

Bad news is that years down the line survivors would need to be cultivating five acres of crops to sustain up to 10 people, processing 2,000 litres of mould juice a day for penicillin so they don’t die from a scratch, making material for clothes and fermenting or distilling their own fuel.

It’s a fascinating and fun read and Dartnell uses layman’s terms to describe how best to do all of this, but not in detail - so start studying advanced biology, chemistry and physics... or move in next door to the author.

Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create The Modern World by Mitchell Stephens (£18.99, eBook £13.91).

Authors of academic works on subjects like religion and atheism often struggle to keep readers interested as it’s too easy to go off on tangents.

New York University professor Mitchell Stephens sidesteps this pitfall by using his journalism background: his book is a lively history of major philosophers, non-believers and controversy-seekers from Ancient Greek Skeptics to modern ambivalence, including the John Lennon lyric used for its title.

He probes the human tendency to worship deities and links disbelief with periods of development such as Athenian democracy, the Enlightenment in France and the Industrial Revolution.

Stephens argues that a powerful religion, such as the Catholic Church during the Dark Ages, controls and discourages innovation, and even autocratic regimes that shun God copy the techniques of organised religion to maintain influence.

It is an interesting, provocative argument that gives plenty of food for thought, as it’s impossible not to take sides.

Love Monster And The Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright (£6.99, eBook £3.49).

If you’re looking for an alternative to buying chocolate eggs for pre-school children this Easter, Love Monster And The Last Chocolate by Rachel Bright is a great place to start.

Bright has written about the friendly red monster before but in her latest tale, she puts him in a pickle.

Having just returned from his holiday, Love Monster is over the moon when he finds a box of chocolates on his doorstep.

Dreaming that the box is filled with his favourite chocolate, the Double Chocolate Strawberry Swirl, he decides it’ll be easier if he gobbles the whole lot himself.

He’s just about to rip open the box and enjoy his treat when he has visions of his friends and comes to the conclusion that it’d be nicer to share the chocolates with them instead of gorging alone.

Love Monster And The Last Chocolate is full of funny illustrations that’ll keep adults and children amused, with the added bonus of hopefully prompting children to share any of their Easter chocolate booty with you.