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7:00am Saturday 12th January 2013 in Books
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting
Intermission by Owen Martell is published in hardback by William Heinemann, priced £12.99. Available January 3.
Owen Martell's novel surrounds you in the New York jazz scene of the early 1960s, focusing on the Bill Evans Trio.
Shortly after a series of ground-breaking concerts at the Village Vanguard, 25-year-old bass player Scott LaFaro dies in a car accident - and Evans disappears.
Aside from the story knitting together the tales of four people connected by the tragedy, Martell uses his writing skills to immerse you in the sights, sounds and culture of a pivotal moment in music history.
While expertly exploring the tragic true story of arguably the greatest jazz pianist of all time, Martell has put himself on the map as one of the most promising writers in the UK to date.
8/10 (Review by Philip Robinson) Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher is published in hardback by Indigo, priced £9.99 (ebook £5.99). Available now.
After an author has had a successful first novel, so successful that it won the Branford Boase Award for the most outstanding debut novel, a Society of Authors' award and was shortlisted for four other major book awards, the pressure to succeed with the second book can be insurmountable.
However, this is something that Annabel Pitcher needn't worry about as her latest offering doesn't disappoint.
Dubbed a book for "young adults" - although this shouldn't discourage as this genre tone is only evident in short snippets - it begins with a bang as the narrator, Zoe, admits she has killed someone.
What makes this book even more intriguing is that she is admitting this to her pen-pal, who happens to be on death row in Alabama. Intrigued? You should be.
Ketchup Clouds twists and turns its way along the road to execution until the 'whodunit' moment is nigh. Pitcher is definitely one to watch.
8/10 (Review by Rebecca Flitton) Gun Machine by Warren Ellis is published in paperback by Mulholland Books, priced £13.99. Available January 3.
There are moments in Warren Ellis's second novel that are quite sensational.
Ellis made his name writing for Marvel comics and went on to author acclaimed graphic novel series such as Transmetropolitan, and he has brought a sensibility from that medium to his prose.
Everything zips. There's colour on the page, in the characters and the language.
The novel is based around an apartment full of guns, each the weapon in an unsolved murder.
Ellis revels in the story's pulp, and his New York City - as seen by Detective Tallow - is a character all of its own.
In the apartment on Pearl Street, Tallow finds the hoard, revealing that someone has been killing people for 20 years.
It's a tangled web of a mystery that involves politics and which Tallow must solve to make it out alive.
7/10 (Review by Zachary Boren) Tenth Of December by George Saunders is published in hardback by Bloomsbury, priced £14.99. Available January 3.
George Saunders, a MacArthur Fellowship recipient and professor at New York's Syracuse University, has written for children and adults, receiving awards for his short stories, including the National Magazine Award for fiction four times, and his latest collection, Tenth Of December, is squarely aimed at adults.
In just some of the gripping stories on offer, a convict faces terrible decisions in a drug-testing facility, a director sends an "inspirational" email to his staff, a boy is caught in two minds about how to act when he witnesses an abduction, and a visitor finds a family's behaviour unpalatable.
Saunders takes a wry and uncompromising look at life in contemporary America, from everyday occurrences to the downright cruel and mind-boggling, providing quirky voices to bring his authentic stories to life.
A strong collection from a master of the short story, it's not to be missed.
8/10 (Review by Ben Major) Children's book of the week: The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant is published in paperback by Faber and Faber, priced £6.99 (ebook £4.28). Available January 3.
The third book by writer and literary scout Natasha Farrant is an elegiac love story set during the month of February 1944, also acting as homage to the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane whose inhabitants were inexplicably murdered by a German military division in June 1944.
Against the backdrop of the Resistance, of teenage angst, jealousy and desire, Farrant offers a quietly powerful tale with an excellent fusion of storytelling and history.
The three teenage protagonists, Luc, Arianne and Romy, form a believable trio and the subsequent description of the destruction of the village of Samaroux completes the action succinctly.
Tales of love and betrayal set during the Second World War are two-a-penny, and stories aimed for this market may easily condescend, but this book is really good, thank goodness.
6/10 (Review by Denise Bailey) Non-fiction The Examined Life: How We Lose And Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz is published in hardback by Chatto & Windus, priced £14.99. Available January 3.
Have you ever wondered what psychoanalysts really think of their patients? For Stephen Grosz, some patients certainly provoke more thought than others, leading him to examine elements of his own life through their own experiences in therapy.
In his first book, he offers a rare insight into the life of the psychoanalyst by assembling a series of anecdotes about past patients from his 25 years of professional experience.
From the bored housewife in denial of her husband's infidelity, to the bipolar twenty-something who will fake his own death to get attention, to the family man who just can't stop telling lies, Grosz highlights some of the most extreme examples of human behaviour and challenges the reader to empathise.
An enlightening read for anyone who's ever considered themselves an armchair psychoanalyst, The Examined Life succeeds in making some of the most complex behavioural issues accessible for any reader.
6/10 (Review by Kathryn Gaw) Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How To Make Changes That Stick by Jeremy Dean is published in paperback by Oneworld, priced £8.99. Available January 3.
New year, new you is the thought that crosses most people's minds during January; lists of New Year's resolutions, things we want to change.
Jeremy Dean, first-time author and owner of acclaimed website PsyBlog, sets out to explain scientific research into how the mind works when it comes to making - and breaking - habits.
It has to be said that not all habits are bad. Getting ready in the morning, brushing your teeth and even automatically reaching for where a knife should be are all habits that we have formed.
But how long does it take to learn a new skill and for that to become habit, or even how long will it take for that urge for a cigarette or chocolate bar to dissipate?
Here, Dean explains the mechanics of how habits are formed and broken in a witty and informative fashion. This is the book you want to learn how to make your resolutions stick.
7/10 (Review by Rachel Howdle) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Visual Companion by Jude Fisher is published in hardback by HarperCollins, priced £12.99. Available now.
Seen The Hobbit film but want more? Author of all three of the best-selling Lord Of The Rings Visual Companions, Jude Fisher is back with an essential accompaniment to director Peter Jackson's latest JRR Tolkien epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
It's a useful book both for seasoned fans of Tolkien and those who have not read the book. The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord Of The Rings and introduces the reader to Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum (and the Ring), Elrond, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman.
Fisher's book reacquaints us with these characters and introduces us to new ones, the Goblin King, Radagast - and, in great detail, the 13 Dwarves who become Baggins's fellow adventurers.
The Quest is explained and there is also a illustrated fold-out map, so the reader can chart the journey from Bag End to Erebor, where Smaug the Dragon lives.
Packed with more than 100 colour photos from the film, including some stunning location shots of Middle Earth, this is a wonderfully produced book that is a must-have for Hobbit fans.
10/10 (Review by Laura Wurzal) Best-sellers for the week ending December 29 Paperbacks 1 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson 2 The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year, Sue Townsend 3 A Street Cat Named Bob, James Bowen 4 Life Of Pi, Yann Martel 5 Thinking, Fast And Slow, Daniel Kahneman 6 Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel 7 F in Exams: The Best Test Paper Blunders, Richard Benson 8 The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey 9 The Hobbit: The Worldwide Bestseller, JRR Tolkein 10 Mr Stink, David Walliams Hardbacks 1 Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, Jamie Oliver 2 Is It Just Me? Miranda Hart 3 1,227 QI Facts To Blow Your Socks Off, John Lloyd & John Mitchinson 4 Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney 5 Fifty Sheds of Grey: A Parody - Erotica for the Not-too-modern Male, CT Grey 6 Bradley Wiggins: My Time: An Autobiography, Bradley Wiggins 7 Standing In Another Man's Grave, Ian Rankin 8 The Casual Vacancy, JK Rowling 9 Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel 10 Private Eye Annual 2012, Ian Hislop