Bantam, £20, pp416
Actor and author Ruth Jones’s third novel tells a story of conflict between four generations of Welsh women. Matriarch Grace has been estranged from daughter, Alys, for decades. Alys abandoned her own daughter, Elin, years before, and now Elin’s daughter, Beca, is facing emotional dilemmas too. Rich in warm, engaging characters and a judicious mix of humour and pathos for which Jones is renowned, it’s a compassionate, wise and life-affirming book.
The Modern Bestiary: A Curated Collection of Wondrous Creatures
Wildfire, £16.99, pp256
In a series of 100 short and accessible essays, zoologist and science communicator Joanna Bagniewska introduces us to some of the strangest and most compelling creatures in the natural world. From jellyfish capable of reversing the ageing process to tarantulas that keep frogs as pets, by way of blood-spurting lizards and booby siblicide, it’s an illuminating compendium of some weird and wonderful creatures.
The Red Planet: A Natural History of Mars
Elliott & Thompson, £9.99, pp256 (paperback)
With a PhD in geology and a background as a sci-fi writer, Simon Morden is well placed to write this absorbing history of Mars. Acknowledging early on that some of the book will necessarily be conjecture, albeit based on his favourite scientific theories, the author poses questions about the red planet’s 4.5bn-year existence, including what happened to its water and whether there’s any possibility the planet once harboured life. Impassioned and thought-provoking, it’s a highly readable work of popular science.
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