September Book Haul

Saturday, 29 September 2018


Another month over which means it is time for another post that illustrates how I am trying to singlehandedly fuel the bookish economy.

How to Stop Time
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life. So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher--the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city's history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.


Sleeping Beauties
In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

When Jill's parent came out as transgender, Jill pushed through the male-dominated landscape of Hollywood to create the groundbreaking and award-winning Amazon TV series Transparent. Exploring identity, love, sexuality, and the blurring of boundaries through the dynamics of a complicated and profoundly resonant American family, Transparent gave birth to a new cultural consciousness. While working on the show and exploding mainstream ideas about gender, Jill began to erase the lines on their own map, finding their voice as a director, show creator, and activist. She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy moves with urgent rhythms, wild candor, and razor-edged humor to chart Jill's evolution from straight, married mother of two to identifying as queer and nonbinary. This intense and revelatory metamorphosis challenges the status quo and reflects the shifting power dynamics that continue to shape our collective worldview. With unbridled insight that offers a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #metoo movement and its aftermath, Jill captures the zeitgeist of a generation with thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine’, and Oumi, ‘blue sea’, while the girls’ names were Shirane, ‘white root’, and Kurono, ‘black field’. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it. One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn't want to see him, or talk to him, ever again. Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago. 

Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on. In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O'Farrell. It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose? 

A new collection of four never-before-published stories from Stephen King. 1922: The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father. Big Driver: Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences. Fair Extension: Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay. A Good Marriage: Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage.

No one loves and quarrels, desires and deceives as boldly or brilliantly as Greek gods and goddesses. In Stephen Fry's vivid retelling we gaze in wonder as wise Athena is born from the cracking open of the great head of Zeus and follow doomed Persephone into the dark and lonely realm of the Underworld. We shiver when Pandora opens her jar of evil torments and watch with joy as the legendary love affair between Eros and Psyche unfolds. Mythos captures these extraodinary myths for our modern age - in all their dazzling and deeply human relevance.

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.  Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over. 

Set in a remote valley in Wales, this is 1974, and Tirzah is sixteen, pretty, witty and wise. Brought up in a staunchly religious family, she has lived a sheltered life. But then she meets a boy. As she begins to struggle against the confines of her community, juggling everyone’s expectations and trying to find her own way in the world, life takes an unexpected turn and Tirzah realises that there are many ways to be free. Drawing on Welsh mythology and with an almost fable-esque quality, Tirzah and the Prince of Crows is an intensely immersive, layered and powerful novel about life choices and the healing power of love.

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy... Malcolm's father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust--and the spy it was intended for finds him. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; an Egyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl--just a baby--named Lyra. Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of this truly exceptional woman, and provides new insights into her intimate world. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman-- and the queen--in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent past era.

A new mother becomes convinced that her children are not her own… Lauren, a new mother, is exhausted by the demands of her twin boys. Since coming home from the hospital, she rarely leaves the house. But it isn't only new motherhood keeping her there. Lauren knows someone is watching them and someone wants her babies. It started with an incident at the hospital and an emergency call in the middle of the night. No one believes her -- not her husband, not the police -- until one day in the park when everything changes. Is Lauren mad or does she know something no one else does? A gripping novel that gets to the heart of a mother’s worst fears, and how often they are ignored.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at the heart of this particular house. On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive maelstrom. For someone in Number 4 Euston Square must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. Someone in that house had killed her. How could the murderer prove so amazingly elusive? Bestselling author, Sinclair McKay delves into this intriguing story and sheds light on a mystery that eluded the detectives of Scotland Yard. 

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent, harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations, where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress... Huxley's ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

Late Air*
Murray has always known how to suppress his pain. In the shadows of a predawn run, a man tries to escape what he can’t control: His failed marriage. Grief. Even his own weakness. Murray is a college running coach insistent on his relentless training regimen and obsessed with his star athlete—until he finds her crumpled and unresponsive during a routine practice one morning. Unable to avoid or outrun reality, Murray is forced to face the consequences of a terrible accident from the past…and his own increasingly tenuous grip on life.

Kim Lord is an avant-garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing, implicating a culture that is too accustomed to violence against women. As the city’s richest art patrons pour into the Rocque Museum’s opening night, all the staff, including editor Maggie Richter, hope the event will be enough to save the historic institution’s flailing finances. Except Kim Lord never shows up to her own gala. Fear mounts as the hours and days drag on and Lord remains missing. Suspicion falls on the up-and-coming gallerist Greg Shaw Ferguson, who happens to be Maggie’s ex. A rogue’s gallery of eccentric art world figures could also have motive for the act, and as Maggie gets drawn into her own investigation of Lord’s disappearance, she’ll come to suspect all of those closest to her. Set against a culture that often fetishizes violence, Still Lives is a page-turning exodus into the art world’s hall of mirrors, and one woman’s journey into the belly of an industry flooded with money and secrets.

Vanity Fair
No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles - military and domestic - are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure.

The year is 1984, and life in Oceania is ruled by the Party. Under the gaze of Big Brother, Winston Smith yearns for intimacy and love – “thought crimes” that, if uncovered, would mean imprisonment, or death. But Winston is not alone in his defiance, and an illicit affair will draw him into the mysterious Brotherhood and the realities of resistance. Nineteen Eighty-Four has been described as chilling, absorbing, satirical, momentous, prophetic and terrifying. It is all these things, and more.

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts)*
Meet Jack Rothman. He's seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys - sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, 'it could be worse'. He doesn't actually expect that to come true. But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he's been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack's secret admirer knows everything: where he's hanging out, who he's sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they'll force him. As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous... 

Head on over to http://bit.ly/2y7JSWV for these books, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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