April Book Haul

Sunday, 21 April 2019


Well, well, well. It has been a while, hasn't it?
It turns out that I buy too many books. I know; a shock to absolutely nobody.
Which means that, creating a blog post that hauls them all (especially when you leave everything to very last second like I do), took far too much time and/or effort. But now that a month has come around where I haven't bought 40+ books, I thought now would be the perfect time to restart an old series and make a concerted effort to bring hauls back to Reminders of the Changing Time.
Although, how long it will last is anyone's guess.



When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

On the steps of New York's City Hall, five ageing Mothers sit in silent protest. They are the guardians of the vogue ball community - queer men who opened their hearts and homes to countless lost Children, providing safe spaces for them to explore their true selves. Through epochs of city nightlife, from draconian to liberal, the Children have been going missing; their absences ignored by the authorities and uninvestigated by the police. In a final act of dissent the Mothers have come to pray: to expose their personal struggle beneath our age of protest, and commemorate their loss until justice is served. Watching from City Hall's windows is city clerk, Teddy. Raised by the Mothers, he is now charged with brokering an uneasy truce. With echoes of James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson and Rachel Kushner, Niven Govinden asks what happens when a generation remembered for a single, lavish decade has been forced to grow up, and what it means to be a parent in a confused and complex society.

A new coming-of-age classic, an early '90s New York-set novel of love, basketball, art and feminism. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Adler, a street-smart, trash-talking baller, is often the only girl on the public courts. Lucy's inner life is a contradiction. She's by turns quixotic and cynical, insecure and self-possessed and, despite herself, is in unrequited love with her best friend and pick-up teammate Percy, son of a prominent New York family who is trying to resist his upper crust fate. As Lucy questions accepted notions of success, bristling against her own hunger for male approval, she is drawn into the world of a pair of provocative female artists living in what remains of New York's bohemia. In her hit US debut, Dana Czapnik memorably captures the voice of a young woman in the first flush of freedom searching for an authentic way to live and love.

It's in the nature of myth to be infinitely adaptable. Each of these startlingly original stories is set in modern Britain. Their characters include a people-trafficking gang-master and a prostitute, a migrant worker and a cocksure estate agent, an elderly musician doubly befuddled by dementia and the death of his wife, a pest-controller suspected of paedophilia and a librarian so well-behaved that her parents wonder anxiously whether she’ll ever find love. They’re ordinary people, preoccupied, as we all are now, by the deficiencies of the health service, by criminal gangs and homelessness, by the pitfalls of dating in the age of #metoo.  All of their stories, though, are inspired by ones drawn from Graeco-Roman myth, from the Bible or from folk-lore. The ancients invented myths to express what they didn’t understand. These witty fables, elegantly written and full of sharp-eyed observation of modern life, are also visionary explorations of potent mysteries and strange passions, charged with the hallucinatory beauty and horror of their originals.

Fading southern belle Blanche Dubois depends on the kindness of strangers and is adrift in the modern world. When she arrives to stay with her sister Stella in a crowded, boisterous corner of New Orleans, her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella's crude, brutish husband Stanley. Eventually their violent collision course causes Blanche's fragile sense of identity to crumble, threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.

A tense, provocative and nuanced novel about a rape accusation in an idyllic commune. I was in my sixth month when the girl came knocking. The girl came empty handed. On the threshold, her hair down, her jeans tight. 'Are you the professor’s wife?' the girl asked me. 'I have to speak to you,' she said. 'The professor raped me,' the girl said.

We are living in the era of the self, in an era of malleable truth and widespread personal and political delusion. In these nine interlinked essays, Jia Tolentino, the New Yorker’s brightest young talent, explores her own coming of age in this warped and confusing landscape. From the rise of the internet to her own appearance on an early reality TV show; from her experiences of ecstasy – both religious and chemical – to her uneasy engagement with our culture’s endless drive towards ‘self-optimisation’; from the phenomenon of the successful American scammer to her generation’s obsession with extravagant weddings, Jia Tolentino writes with style, humour and a fierce clarity about these strangest of times.

An Inspector Calls, first produced in 1946 when society was undergoing sweeping transformations, has recently enjoyed an enormously successful revival. While holding its audience with the gripping tension of a detective thriller, it is also a philosophical play about social conscience and the crumbling of middle class values. Time and the Conways and I Have Been Here Before belong to Priestley's 'time'plays, in which he explores the idea of precognition and pits fate against free will. The Linden Tree also challenges preconceived ideas of history when Professor Linden comes into conflict with his family about how life should be lived after the war.

Deep underground, thirty-nine women live imprisoned in a cage. Watched over by guards, the women have no memory of how they got there, no notion of time, and only vague recollection of their lives before. As the burn of electric light merges day into night and numberless years pass, a young girl - the fortieth prisoner - sits alone and outcast in the corner. Soon she will show herself to be the key to the others' escape and survival in the strange world that awaits them above ground.

Rose Tremain (or Rosie as she was then) grew up in post-war London – a city still partly in ruins, where both food and affection were fiercely rationed. But when she is ten years old, everything changes. She loses her father, her house, her school, her friends and is dispatched to a freezing boarding-school in Hertfordshire. Slowly though, the teenage Rosie escapes from the cold world of the Fifties, into a place of inspiration and friendship, where a young writer is suddenly ready to be born.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead. Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

The Radium Girls of the 1920s. The Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II. Rwandan women of Tutsi and Hutu backgrounds and all-too-similar victims of wartime violence. Girls brought into sex trafficking and persecuted for it. Throughout history, women have continuously had the injustices committed against them extinguished from the collective memory by their perpetrators, supervisors, and guardians. Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization tells the story of women who have been erased, dismissed, and devalued, while putting forth a hypothesis about why the phenomenon occurs and what can be done to change this dynamic. Karyne Messina proposes that projective identification—the mechanism that allows a person or group to get rid of negative feelings, thoughts, or fantasies by attributing them to someone else—can (particularly in political and cultural settings) create a hivemind and lead to dismissal, humiliation, violence, and atrocity against women. With specific reference on the erasure of women’s contributions in society, including the recent election loss by Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the trauma that arises from the many effects of regarding women as a group as "less" or "other," Misogyny, Projective Identification, and Mentalization sets a new agenda for understanding how misogyny is expressed socially.

Here are the voices from the battleground. Meet dollybird Mavis, debutante Kristina, Beryl who sang with the Beatles, bunny girl Patsy, Christian student Anthea, industrial campaigner Mary and countercultural Caroline. From Carnaby Street to Merseyside, from mods to rockers, from white gloves to Black is Beautiful, their stories throw an unsparing spotlight on morals, four-letter words, faith, drugs, race, bomb culture and sex. This is a moving, shocking book about tearing up the world and starting again. It's about peace, love, psychedelia and strange pleasures, but it is also about misogyny, violation and discrimination - half a century before feminism rebranded. For out of the swamp of gropers and groupies, a movement was emerging, and discovering a new cause: equality. The 1960s: this was where it all began. Women would never be the same again.

Sasha Davis has everything a girl growing up in 1950s suburbia could want: beauty, intelligence and an all-star sports captain boyfriend. All she needs to succeed in life is to keep her skin clear and her intelligence hidden under her Prom Queen tiara. But when she drops out of college to marry, Sasha realises her life has become a fearful countdown to her thirtieth birthday - the year when her beauty will have faded entirely, and life as she knows it will end. As Sasha begins to rebel against her perfect, conservative upbringing, she finds herself experiencing an intellectual and sexual awakening that might be her only chance of outrunning the aging process. Alix Kates Shulman's landmark novel follows Sasha's coming of age through the sexual double standards, discrimination and harassment of the 1950s and 60s. Originally published in 1972, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen was the first great novel of second-wave feminism. Five decades later, it remains a funny, honest and heartbreakingly perceptive story of a young woman in a man's world.

Two London couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her but, in the crooked walls of a narrow Victorian terrace, she begins to disappear. Michael, growing daily more accustomed to his commute, still loves Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Meanwhile out in the suburbs, Stephanie is happy with Damian and their three children, but the death of Damian’s father has thrown him into crisis – or is it something, or someone, else? Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, love and ageing. It is the story of our lives, and those moments that threaten to unravel us.

Straightened. Stigmatised. 'Tamed'. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never 'just hair'. This book is about why black hair matters. Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and on to today's Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond. We look at everything from hair capitalists like Madam C.J. Walker in the early 1900s to the rise of Shea Moisture today, from women's solidarity and friendship to 'black people time', forgotten African scholars and the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian's braids. The scope of black hairstyling ranges from pop culture to cosmology, from prehistoric times to the (afro)futuristic. Uncovering sophisticated indigenous mathematical systems in black hairstyles, alongside styles that served as secret intelligence networks leading enslaved Africans to freedom, Don't Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.


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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