The Parisian by Isabella Hammad is published in hardback by Jonathan Cape, priced £14.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

It is startling to think this ambitious tour-de-force was written into life by someone at the start of their literary career. Weaving together history and personal tragedy, this debut novel from Isabella Hammad starts with Midhat, a Palestinian teenager who finds himself studying in France at the outbreak of World War I. Having fallen disastrously in love, the young man returns home and settles down to a life worthy of his father's expectations, while Palestine struggles for independence. But an unexpected betrayal, surfacing years later, threatens to unravel the life he has built. Complicated and panoramic, yet with even the tiniest of details meticulously observed, this debut follows the changing desires of a boy as he is moulded into a man, the irresistible pull of family loyalty and the search for peace, as much within, as on, the global stage. 8/10

The Language Of Birds by Jill Dawson is published in hardback by Sceptre, priced £18.99 (ebook £12.99). Available now

Jill Dawson is an award-winning novelist and poet. The Language Of Birds is based on the story of Lord Lucan and is set in 1970s London. Mandy and Rosemary work as nannies for aristocratic families and the book explores the freedom enjoyed by the young women escaping small villages to enjoy the anonymity of the big city. Both Mandy and Rosemary have had mental health problems and Mandy is sympathetic to her boss Katharine, Lady Morven, who is struggling with depression, while Rosemary is more inclined to side with the charismatic Earl. Dawson brings Mandy's warm, empathetic character fully to life, while Rosemary's gullible, eager-to-please Norland nanny persona is intriguingly irritating. The story is of domestic details, family dramas, private detectives, country house holidays and occasional chilling atmospheres pointing towards tragedy, all brilliantly told. 9/10

The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann is published in hardback by Serpent's Tail, priced £12.99 (ebook £5.69). Available now

The Pine Islands is a funny, strange and sad read. When academic Gilbert dreams that his wife has been unfaithful, he reacts by flying from Germany to Japan. Here he only half-intentionally saves a young man named Yosa from a suicide attempt, and together the two embark on a pilgrimage through some of the country's most ancient sites. Marion Poschmann's writing - translated into English by Jen Calleja - is deliciously vivid in its depiction of the forests, mountains and cities through which they pass. The plot is sparse, which will not suit everyone, but this is a refreshing book for the curious reader. 7/10


The Science Of Storytelling by Will Storr is published in hardback by William Collins, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.99). Available now

The Science Of Storytelling is a new take on the search to discover the secret formula which can elevate writing to its highest level. There have been plenty of previous attempts to explain to would-be authors how successful plots and tropes work, but Storr underpins his findings on fiction with facts from research conducted by neuroscientists and psychologists. Based on a course he teaches, which includes deft examples from everything from Blade Runner to King Lear, he explains that the brain itself is the ultimate storyteller and produces some fascinating examples of how humans have used stories to make sense of the world from the very beginning. The psychology behind why we tell stories, from ancient campfire myths on, and later, the revelations about underlying personality traits that drive characters are fascinating. But it's scientific proof, like brain scans which show heightened neural activity around metaphors, particularly fresh ones, that really hit home, as does evidence that our eyes respond as if the story we are reading is really happening. There are times when you wish Storr could follow some of his own tips to make some sections more palatable, but overall, this is a must-read for any would-be writers. 8/10


Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka is published in hardback by Gecko Press, priced £7.99. Available now

This adorable flip chart book from award-winning Japanese illustrator Tatsuhide Matsuoka is full of humour, and animals' bellies as they leap giddily in the air. It's all about jumping, with Matsuoka (anatomically correctly) drawing the comical 'boings' of grasshoppers, kittens and fish, and, erm, less successfully, snails. Sure, it's not ground-breaking and lacks any kind of plot, but for one to three year olds, it's lovely, funny, and will have them wanting to jump on their beds. Grown-ups, too. 8/10