Books: Bolu Babalola’s new novel is Reese Witherspoon’s book club July pick…

Emma Styles

Sphere, £16.99 (ebook £9.99)

Accidental Outlaws Nao and Charlie’s paths collide when they are both inadvertently involved in a gold theft – and suddenly find themselves on the run for murder. Leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, the two unlikely traveling companions flee for their lives in their victim’s ute. Each of their harrowing personal stories unfolds as their past catches up with them, and they reluctantly bond through life and death. An absolute triumph of a debut, Emma Styles skillfully captures the character’s courage and tenacity in a thrilling chase through faraway Australia. You’ll be gripped from the first page of this perfectly paced thriller. Styles masterfully weaves dark humor with tension in spades and poignant family drama, introducing two new literary heroines to modern fiction.

Rebecca Wilcock

Honey & Spice

Bolu Babalola

Title Review, £16.99 (ebook £7.99)

Kiki Banjo uses her Brown Sugar radio platform to make sure the women at Whitewell University know how to avoid players and men who will break their hearts. Then she meets Malakai – tall, handsome, handsome, and the new “Wasteman of Whitewell” as far as she is concerned. But when Kiki and Malakai find reasons for each other to get into a fake relationship, her preconceptions about Malakai are tested. Kiki must learn to trust, not only when it comes to men, but also when it comes to her new best friends, after a traumatic time at school. Set in the center of Blackwell, the university’s Afro-Caribbean society, this bubbly, self-assured novel explores a range of issues – such as casual racism from fellow white students and revenge porn – with lightheartedness. Babalola truly captures the exhilarating excitement and connection that comes with first love. The novel, although set in the UK, has a fresh transatlantic feel, making it perfect for fans of Sex Education and Dear White People.

Catherine Lough

The family stays

Lisa Jewell

Century, £16.99 (ebook £9.99)

Although you can read The Family Remains as a standalone novel, it all makes a whole lot more sense if you’ve read the first episode: The Family Upstairs. When human bones are discovered on the banks of the Thames, an investigation is sparked into who was murdered – and it all returns to the first book’s house of horrors. The Family Remains jumps between perspectives, including a young jewelry designer who meets an enigmatic older man, siblings who have just made a lot of money and escape a grim past, and the Inspector trying to do everything replenish. While The Family Remains is good at building tension and drama, slowly feeding in information as the plot reaches its crescendo, the finale falls a bit flat – you’d expect a lot more twists, but there is really nothing unexpected. It makes for an indulgent beach read – but not much more than that.

Caution Wade


sound in sound

Kate Molleson

Faber & Faber, £18.99 (ebook £8.99)

In Sound Within Sound, Kate Molleson aims to introduce us to not only the music of her chosen canon of 20th century classical composers, but also their lives, their passions and their struggles. Despite the potentially brainy subject matter, his tone is conversational, inviting us to share in his enthusiasm for opening the doors of the exclusive classical music club to these “outsiders”. Molleson likes eccentrics, and the more revolutionary, the better. The traditional keyboard is turned upside down, the concept of the octave reversed, women take center stage, and the emerging cities of Africa and South America are the new European salons of the 18th and 19th centuries. This book takes us on a roller coaster ride on a musical journey into the long overdue future. The reader is immediately eager to hear the works mentioned on the page. It’s a nice project and a great read.

victoria barry

Children’s book of the week

The Worries: Shara and the Very Big Slumber Party

Jion Sheibani

Puffin, £7.99 (ebook £4.99)

Jion Sheibani continues his The Worries series with the story of Shara, who tries to keep everything together for her little brother, Keita, when their mother goes on vacation and they stay at Grandpa’s for the first time. However, things begin to fall apart when Shara and Keita are visited by the real-life manifestations of their Worries – including a slimy creature called Scared and a mini dinosaur-style Worry called Reece Sponsable – all set to cause mayhem. Anxious feelings can sometimes be difficult for children to express – The Worries is a brilliant way to visualize these concerns, hopefully opening up important conversations. Although the concept bears a striking resemblance to the Pixar movie Inside Out, it’s still a sweet story with charming illustrations.

Caution Wade

Colin L. Johnson