OUR latest book reviews

Star-crossed lovers

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse (Mantle, £20; ebook £8.55) ****

THE first book in a new series of historical novels by best-selling author Kate Mosse, The Burning Chambers is packed with mystery, romance, war and her trademark attention to detail. Set in France in 1562, readers are cast back to the days of the Huguenot "wars of religion", where 19-year-old Minou Joubert - who works at her father's bookshop - finds her world turned upside down shortly after receiving a mysterious letter, saying only "She knows that you live". Without realising she is in grave danger from a long-held family secret, Minou falls in love with a Huguenot convert, called Piet, and becomes embroiled in a terrifying battle between the Protestants and Catholics in Toulouse. As the war draws to a bloody climax, so too does the mystery surrounding her family and bloodline. As with her previous novels in The Languedoc Trilogy, Mosse has filled the story with rich historical facts about the atrocities and religious persecution of the time that both entertains and educates in equal measure.

Holly Williams

Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall (Century, £12.99; ebook 99p) ****

AFTER bestselling debut Everything And Nothing and chilling second novel Dot, Hall has well and truly hit her thrilling stride with Our Kind Of Cruelty. Mike and Verity share a unique connection. From their sexual game the "Crave" to Mike sharing his harrowing childhood, the pair are building an enviable life together - until all of a sudden they are not. As Verity appears to move on, Mike is insistent they are sill destined for each other. Is Mike suffering from a delusion, or is Verity stringing him along? Whatever the answer, someone will end up dead. The twists and turns of the average thriller are absent from this novel; instead the reader will wrangle over what's real and what's imagined. As a courtroom drama unfurls, readers may be left wondering if their interpretation of events is due to their own biases.

Taylor Heyman

Happy Little Bluebirds by Louise Levene (Bloomsbury, £14.99; ebook £12.99) ****

1940s Hollywood couldn't be further from the drab grey world of Woking, so it's a bit of a culture shock when Evelyn Murdoch is plucked from her job in the Postal Censorship department and sent to the US west coast to help the British propaganda war effort. From looking after her batty old mother-in-law to assisting a British agent who never actually appears, Evelyn is kept busy avoiding the Los Angeles German delegation and keeping up with Hollywood's absurd trends. Louise Levene's cinematic satire brings sunshine and glamour and the plot is a bit like a Hollywood film set facade, but there's pace and plenty of wit to keep you entertained until the credits roll.

Rebecca Wilcock

Vanquishing the Goblin King


Eat, Drink, Run. by Bryony Gordon (Headline, £16.99; ebook £8.49) ****

AN uplifting book about how Telegraph writer Bryony Gordon quietened her inner demon - nicknamed Jareth the Goblin King - through exercise. Gordon, who wrote about her struggle with depression and OCD in Mad Girl (one of her two previous memoirs), went out for her first run to try to escape the "18-tonne Black Elephant" of mental illness, which felt as though it was crushing her in her own home. She found the physical pain was not nearly as bad as the mental torture of being inside her own head for those 20 minutes, and started to jog regularly before setting up walking support group Mental Health Mates to meet "like-minded souls". Her work to encourage people to talk about their mental health struggles led to an invitation to meet the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at the launch of the Heads Together initiative and Gordon describes in hilarious detail how she accidentally agreed to do the London Marathon during a conversation with the Duchess of Cambridge. This frank and funny book charts her journey to the finish line and to a place where she finally feels comfortable in her own skin. An entertaining and inspiring read, especially for anyone who shares the nagging self-doubt Gordon battles every day.

Beverley Rouse

Hitler’s Collaborators by Philip Morgan (OUP, £20) ****

HITLER’S rule over much of Europe was made much easier by such political fellow travellers as Quisling in Norway, but there were actually a whole host of less prominent collaborators, including businessmen, civil servants and politicians, who also played a prominent part in propping up the Nazi state. Some of them made money, some of them achieved higher status and some ojust wanted to avoid the bullet or the concentration camp. Not a pretty moral picture by any means, especially when the likes of Schindler risked his own life to thwart Hitler. Fingers can certainly be pointed, especially over the deportation of European Jews to the death in which some French authorities almost matched the efficiency of the SS. But would Britain, with its own Fascist underground in high places, have had a better record in similar circumstances? Thanks to the Few who won the Battle of Britain, we were spared from finding out.

Steve Craggs


You're Safe With Me by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry (Lantana Publishing, £11.99) *****

At night in the jungle, a storm rages and the baby animals are too scared by the thunder, lightning and wind to sleep. But Mama Elephant explains and soothes all their fears, explaining how the natural phenomena help to nourish the natural world. British-Indian writer Chitra Soundar addresses childrens' universal concerns with reassurance, infusing Mama Elephant's parental wisdom with a gentle rhythm that lulls without rhyming and encourages participation. Yet this original tale's most memorable traits are the whorls and lines of Mistry's frankly mesmerising illustrations. They are beautiful to follow with the eye, evocative of a mandala, yet at times so gracefully curving that it takes a few moments to distinguish the creatures from the background. Smaller children may struggle to identify some of the animals, but this could also become a 'hide and seek' game. You're Safe With Me certainly stands out among the simple, brightly coloured drawings that are hallmarks of the genre.

Natalie Bowen



1. Tom Gates: Biscuits, Bands and Very Big Plans by Liz Pichon

2. BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby

3. The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

4. The Order Of Time by Carlo Ravello

5. The Last Hedgehog by Pam Ayres

6. The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story by Christie Watson

7. The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan

8. Factfulness by Hans Rosling

9. The Secret Barrister

10. Lose Weight For Good by Tom Kerridge