The Big Book Season: 28th August

Thursday 28th August. A day like any other. Or is it? Today is the first of a flurry of big book publishing days. Read on for our round-up of the best new books hitting the shelves today.

Jamie’s Comfort Food
by Jamie Oliver

Jamie's Comfort FoodAfter Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals, and then Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, comes… 5 Minute Meals?

No! No more short cuts this time as Jamie shares 100 tried and tested recipes – as well as tips, techniques and tricks – that are sure to bring a smile to your face, and subsequently your guests’. The focus this time round is on food to share – with family, friends, or just a quiet night in. Yes, it might take a bit more time to make these meals but it’s well worth it, and Jamie’s trademark down-to-earth style makes it almost fool-proof to create everything from moussaka and katsu curry to sticky toffee puddings and pear tarte tatins.

Jamie’s Comfort Food is a return to the simple joy and passion of The Naked Chef – this is cooking for fun for those who love the process as much as the result.  It’s proper pukka stuff. Check back on Waterstones blog this weekend for an exclusive recipe! – Dan

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Personal
by Lee Child

Personal“Right there, centre of the page, a boxed column inch, five words printed bold: Jack Reacher call Rick Shoemaker.

After that film, finally it’s the return of the reader’s Reacher in a globe-trotting adventure which sees him in our very own backyard.

When an unknown shooter takes aim at the French President, only one man can track him down. Tom Cruise? Obviously not – why send a boy to do a man’s job. The trail takes our Jack from Paris then on to London in a very “personal” journey. See what they did there?

If you’re already a Jack Reacher fan, you know what to expect – action, adventure, intrigue – but there’s much more at stake this time round. If you’ve yet to discover Lee Child’s series, check out our round up – or just dive straight in with this brand new book. – Dan

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The Dying of the Light
by Derek Landy

The Dying of the Light standardDerek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series is a global phenomenon. We don’t need to tell fans how exciting it is that the ninth and final book is finally out (!!!), and if you’ve never read them it’s probably best to start at the beginning.

So here’s “Skulduggery Pleasant Addict” – who we presume is a fan – setting the scene in her Waterstones.com review of the first book in the series:

“A young unexposed but exceptional and stubborn girl inherits fortunes from her uncle and in his mansion is attacked by someone throwing fire and she is propelled into the world of sorcerers and magic. The book captures readers from all backgrounds as it shows Stephanie transformed from living a boring life to an exciting life full of magic and fighting, something we all desire. It is full of persona, humor and wit and puts a spin on magic that has never been done before. Give this book and then the series a chance and you won’t regret it.” – Skulduggery Pleasant Addict

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The Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters

The Paying GuestsI’d like to start with a confession and an apology. In 2011 when I was bookselling at the Oxford St Plaza bookshop, me and some fellow booksellers cheekily emailed Sarah’s publisher to ask if she would mind popping by the shop to sign some of her books. There was no new book to promote (The Little Stranger had been published 2 years previously) but we had made it our mission to meet her, and nothing stands between a Bookseller and their favourite authors (apart from maybe security and the temptation of biscuits)… So imagine our surprise a couple of days later when Sarah turned up. She was lovely, despite our interrogation, and revealed that she was busy researching her next book which was to be set in the 1920s London. Fast-forward 3 years and our wait is finally over, it’s here!

It’s 1922 and a shell-shocked London is still trying to make sense of the horrors of the Great War, one things for certain though, this definitely isn’t the 1920s of Evelyn’s Waugh’s Vile Bodies. Emerging from the fallout of WW1, Frances and her mother, Mrs Wray are forced to take in a couple of lodgers into their Camberwell house, however, in typical Sarah Waters fashion, as the couple settle into their new home tensions gather and passions unfurl and it all goes a bit, well dark. I don’t want to give anything way, so just read it, OK?

A beautifully written, painstakingly researched novel, which will have you guessing right to the last page, The Paying Guests is something to be savoured. – Kerry

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Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes
by Tom Kerridge

Tom Kerridges Best Ever DishesIt’s only a year since Tom Kerridge’s first book – Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food – came out but yet much has changed. The newly svelte Mr Kerridge is very much a household name thanks to his eminently watchable TV shows, and the announcement of a new book from him has had our stomachs growling for months in anticipation.

Kerridge’s personality is apparent not only in the light-hearted yet passionate prose but also in the subtle twists he gives old favourites like cottage pie, strawberry tartletts and even Sunday roasts.

We’re sharing two recipes from the book on Waterstones.com/blog this weekend – so be sure to check back then to really get a flavour of what the book is about. And Tom, if you need a new taster, I’m there. – Dan

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Messenger of Fear
by Michael Grant

Messenger of FearI started reading this one evening, reluctantly put it down as I needed to sleep, picked it up as soon as I woke the next morning and was then over an hour late getting up as I just had to finish it.

The story has major themes of good and evil, retribution and redemption. Mara wakes in a mist not knowing whether she is dead or alive. A handsome boy appears and says that he is the Messenger and she is to be his apprentice. Mara discovers that if someone has carried out an evil act and got away with it, the Messenger will redress that situation. He makes you play the game, in itself a terrifying experience. If you win, you walk away, if you don’t, you will have to face your greatest fear, which may well leave you completely broken to live in The Shoals, amongst other broken spirits.

Mara and The Messenger’s characters are slowly developed as we learn more about them, but equally intriguing are the other characters in this story, Oriax and Daniel, of whom we will surely learn more later in this new series from Michael Grant. Some scenes are scary ones that you read reluctantly not wanting to absorb what is really happening. The ending is well disguised. This is an un-put-downable read which races along and leaves you hungering for more. Gill Perry, Waterstones Exeter 

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The Broken Eye
by Brent Weeks

The Broken EyeThe arrival of the third volume in fantasy master Brent Weeks‘ Lightbringer series – The Broken Eye is something of a mixed blessing. Originally this was set to by the final book in a trilogy – so fans would have got some closure on high priest, emperor and Prism, Gavin Guile’s exploits.

Yet, there are now to be four books in the series – but look at it this way, that means there’s a whole other book to look forward to. And in the meantime, there’s plenty to be going on with here as Gavin enslaved and without his Prism powers, is helpless to protect his son Kip, who finds himself in the middle of not only the all encompassing civil war, but a secret conflict between the noble houses and the assassins known as The Broken Eye…

Yes, this will most definitely keep you going for the time being. – Dan

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Stone Mattress
by Margaret Atwood

Stone MattressNOT short stories – these are “Nine Tales” from the author of Alias GraceMaddAddam andThe Handmaid’s Tale which easily rank alongside these full length works both for their inventiveness but also the depth and quality of their prose.

These are “tales” – almost fables – which marry science fiction with the supernatural whilst managing to maintain an air of realism in character and place which makes them accessible and engrossing. So we are introduced to a woman whose genetic abnormality sees her mistaken for a vampire whilst a widowed fantasy author is guided to safety through a winter storm by the voice of her dead husband.

Don’t forget to read our Q&A with the author – with questions sourced from our Twitter followers. – Dan

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What do you think?