I’ve had one of those crappy weeks where you’re too sick to have any energy to do anything other than get through your job and keep putting dinner on the table. My infected tonsils might have cleared up come Monday (four days of tonsil pain, yay!), but then the head cold set in for good. I’ve still got, well, some symptoms that I won’t describe especially if you’re eating.
The boys (hubby and toddler) have gone off to the cottage and I’m facing the next couple of days by myself – my choice to stay behind so I could get some rest, which you simply can’t get if you have a toddler. Or a child of any age, really. Just wish my brain would unfog – oh and some warmth and sunshine would be nice too! But that would be asking for too much. The important thing for me is to not spend the weekend staring at the computer. So much time just zips by when you’re clicking on links! It’s nuts.
As a humorous diversion, here is what Hugh gets up to when he fishes stuff out of the recycling bin (in case you’re wondering, he’s 20 months old now – I know, still not much hair!):
Bristol House by Beverly Swerling – Fiction; Historical Fiction.
Received for review from the publisher (release date: 9th April). I will also be hosting a giveaway of this book. I absolutely loved Swerling’s City of Dreams which I read way back in 2002, and I have three more of her books from that series to catch up on. This is something different, with two parallel story lines. In the present day in London is Annie Kendall, researching artefacts from the Holy Land. Her flat hosts the ghost of a Carthusian monk, which Annie ignores. Then she meets Geoff Harris, a well-know TV personality who looks a lot like ghost in her flat. “Why have both these figures come into her life, and what do they want?” This is described as a “haunting supernatural thriller” that goes back in time to the Tudor period.
Pictures at an Exhibition by Camilla MacPherson – Fiction; Historical Fiction.
“London, 1942: With bombs raining down on London, the National Gallery’s most treasured paintings have been hidden away. The authorities have decided that only one masterpiece will be displayed each month. And each month, Daisy Milton writes to her cousin Elizabeth to tell her about the paintings, her life – and the man she loves. London, present day :A terrible tragedy has left Claire’s marriage to Rob in tatters and there seems little hope of reconciliation. Then she finds Daisy’s letters, written to Rob’s grandmother, and gradually, picture by picture, month by month, Daisy’s world in the 1940s becomes more real to Claire than her own. Slowly, too, she begins to notice intriguing parallels between both their lives. But Daisy is from another time, and unless Claire can find a way to make sense of the past, she risks losing everything that she cares about in the present.”
The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf – Historical Fiction.
Received from the publisher for review via TLC Book Tours. “Meet Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man of means. The year is 1751, and Mr Hart leaves his Berkshire home for London to lodge with his father’s friend, the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding, and study medicine at the great hospital of University College. It will be a momentous year for the cultured and intellectually ambitious Mr Hart, who, as well as being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, a psychopath. His obsession is the nature of pain, and preventing it during medical procedures. His equally strong and far more unpredictable obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. Desperate to understand his own deviant desires before they derail his career and drive him mad, Tristan sifts through his childhood memories, memories that are informed by dark superstitions about faeries and goblins and shape-shifting gypsies. Will the new tools of the age-reason and science and scepticism-be enough to save him?” My review will be up on 24th April.
The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker – Fiction.
“When his twin brother dies in a car accident, Helmer returns to the small family farm. After his father has been transferred upstairs, Helmer sets about furnishing the house. ‘A double bed and a duvet’, advises Ada, who lives next door. Then Riet appears, the woman once engaged to marry his twin. Could Riet and her son live with him for a while?”
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li – Fiction; Short Stories.
To read in October for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge (China) – I had this sent directly to Tassie. I have one of Li’s other books, The Vagrants, which I might read ahead of time or add to my suitcase, it’s not too big. This collection of short stories covers a wide range of China’s population.
The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China From the Bottom Up by Yiwu Liao – Non-Fiction.
To read in October for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge (China) – I had this sent directly to Tassie, too. “The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities… The Corpse Walker reveals a fascinating aspect of modern China, describing the lives of normal Chinese citizens in ways that constantly provoke and surprise.”
A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – Fiction.
I got this for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge in April (South Pacific Islands), though I’m not 100% sure how much of it is set there – something I read led me to believe it’d be a good fit but now I’m not sure. This has just recently come out in North America in hardback but I got the UK paperback which is already out. “Within the pages of this book lies the diary of a girl called Nao. Riding the waves of a tsunami, it is making its way across the ocean. It will change the life of the person who finds it. It might just change yours, too.”
The Great Lover by Jill Dawson – Historical Fiction.
To read in April for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge (South Pacific Islands) – when I originally read about it it mentioned that it was set there but I’m not sure how much of it is. “In the summer of 1909, seventeen-year-old Nell Golightly is the new maid at the Orchard Tea Gardens in Cambridgeshire when Rupert Brooke moves in as a lodger. Famed for his looks and flouting of convention, the young poet captures the hearts of men and women alike, yet his own seems to stay intact. Even Nell, despite her good sense, begins to fall for him. What is his secret? This captivating novel gives voice to Rupert Brooke himself in a tale of mutual fascination and inner turmoil, set at a time of great social unrest. Revealing a man far more complex and radical than legend suggests, it powerfully conveys the allure – and curse – of charisma.”
The Bungalow by Sarah Jio – Historical Fiction.
To read in April for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge in April (South Pacific Islands). “In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiance, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.”
Philida by André P Brink – Historical Fiction.
“The year is 1832 and the Cape is rife with rumours about the liberation of slaves. Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master. Francois has reneged on his promise to set her free and his father has ordered him to marry a white woman from a prominent family, selling Philida on to owners in the harsh country in the north. Unwilling to accept this fate, Philida tests the limits of her freedom by setting off on a journey. She travels across the great wilderness to the far north of Cape Town – determined to survive and be free. This title is longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012.”
What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Bobs by Katie Quinn Davies – Cookbook.
“Renowned food photographer Davies shares her favorite simple dishes with a dazzling collection of recipes and beautiful images. Showcasing her extraordinary eye, this debut cookbook is a unique combination of food diary and how-to, with tips, tricks, and photos.” This book is very stunning, but the recipes almost always use some weird random ingredient or two that I never have. Still, it’s the kind of thing I like to make an effort for.
Hot Under the Collar: Tales of Submission & Domination edited by Elizabeth Coldwell – Erotica; Short Stories; Anthology.
A random find while browsing the internet I think. I may actually have come across it on The Book Depository, come to think of it. Another collection of erotic short stories to add to my pile of same, which I’m lagging behind on.
The Secret Life of a Submissive by Sarah K – Erotica.
Received for review from the publisher via TLC Book Tours. Yes, another one! It’s not that there weren’t stories about BDSM already out there before EL James hit the jackpot, but you know what publishers are like when they smell a new trend. I don’t really believe that these are true memoirs, so I approach them as fiction unless convinced otherwise.
Temptation by Leda Swann – Historical Erotic Romance.
I read one of Swann’s other books a year or so ago and enjoyed it, so when I saw this one on a sale table at Chapters recently (a 3 for $10 sale – how do you resist that??) I decided to try another one. “A deliciously steamy novel from one of the hottest stars in historical erotica, Leda Swann’s Temptation continues the sensuous saga of the Clemens family, whose boudoir exploits were previously recounted in Mistress, Captive, and The Price of Desire. An author who continues to enjoy serious buzz on the popular Ellora’s Cave, Swann once again takes romance to blistering new heights in this titillating tale of a proper miss whose ‘pen pal’ correspondences with a sexy soldier get progressively more explicit, leading them both into shocking and scandalous Temptation.”
Bound By Her Ring by Nicole Flockton – Romance.
E-book from Amazon. I love a good story about people losing their memory, especially when they lean towards romance/chick-lit. “Luciano Morelli has perfected a plan to get revenge on his runaway wife; confronting her at the opening gala for her father’s hotel. What he didn’t plan on was the flaring of emotions the moment he sees her again. Jasmine Anderson has no memories of her husband. Her only link to him is the wedding rings she wears. Luciano storms back into her life announcing he is her husband, demanding she join him on a business trip or see her father’s livelihood crumble. Passion reignites as they rediscover what first drew them together. But more than just memories are lost. Can their bond be rebuilt or will secrets infect their already shattered trust?”
Unsticky by Sarra Manning – Romance.
After Angie put this on her very very short list of much-loved romance authors (and it’s one I’d never heard of before), of course I had to get it and I’m itching to read it. “Money makes the world go round – that’s what twenty-something Grace Reeves is learning. Stuck in a grind where everyone’s ahead apart from her, she’s partied out, disillusioned, and massively in debt. If she’s dumped by another rock-band wannabe, squashed by anyone else at her cut-throat fashion job, or chased by any more bailiffs, Grace suspects she’ll fall apart. So when older, sexy and above all, wealthy art-dealer Vaughn appears, she’s intrigued against her will. Could she handle being a sugar daddy’s arm-candy? Soon Grace is thrown into a world of money and privilege, at Vaughn’s beck and call in return for thousands of pounds in luxurious gifts, priceless clothes – and cash. She’s out of her depth. Where’s the line between acting the trophy girlfriend, and selling yourself for money? And, more importantly, whatever happened to love?”
The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean – Fiction.
I wanted to get this the first time I came across it in a bookshop a year or so ago, but (hurrah!) showed some restraint. Then it turned up on that 3 for $10 sale table at Chapters and it all seemed rather serendipitous (I won’t mention the number of times I’ve bought a book at full price only to find it on a Chapters sale table a few months later for a measly $10, grrr). “Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in “vagueness studies,” and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary. Just when she’s about to test Gary’s feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke. Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother’s vintage clothing store. The store has always been a fixture in Dora’s life; though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman’s spirit. While working there, Dora befriends Mimi’s adorable contractor, Conrad. Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint? And why did Mimi start writing down–and giving away–stories of the dresses in her shop? When Mimi dies, Dora can’t get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists. But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there. Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?”
April & Oliver by Tess Callahan – Fiction.
The third book I picked from the 3 for $10 sale table, this one randomly and rather quickly as Hugh was starting to run amok amongst the shelves and I figured it was time to leave. “Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April’s brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April – and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to ‘save’ his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own – secrets he hasn’t shared with anyone, even his fianc . But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April’s life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral…towards salvation.”
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver – Non-fiction; Memoir.
Sent directly to Tassie – my mum started reading it (has probably finished already, she’s very fast) and was enjoying it. “Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life – vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.”
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – Fiction.
Sent directly to Tassie. I’ve never read this. I know, it’s something of a modern classic and seems to be widely studied at North American universities. Actually my husband has a copy from his days at Bellmont University in Nashville but he has a habit of heavily marking up books and I just can’t read them like that, so I decided to get my own copy. This is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.
The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper – Fantasy; Horror.
I won this from a Goodreads giveaway – yay my first time! (Actually I have won a book from them before but it never arrived.) “Professor David Ullman is among the world’s leading authorities on demonic literature, with special expertise in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. Not that David is a believer – he sees what he teaches as a branch of the imagination and nothing more. So when the mysterious Thin Woman arrives at his office and invites him to travel to Venice and witness a ‘phenomenon’, he turns her down. She leaves plane tickets and an address on his desk, advising David that her employer is not often disappointed. That evening, David’s wife announces she is leaving him. With his life suddenly in shambles, he impulsively whisks his beloved twelve-year-old daughter, Tess, off to Venice after all. The girl has recently been stricken by the same melancholy moods David knows so well, and he hopes to cheer her up and distract them both from the troubles at home. But what happens in Venice will change everything. First, in a tiny attic room at the address provided by the Thin Woman, David sees a man restrained in a chair, muttering, clearly insane … but could he truly be possessed? Then the man speaks clearly, in the voice of David’s dead father, repeating the last words he ever spoke to his son. Words that have left scars – and a mystery – behind. When David rushes back to the hotel, he discovers Tess perched on the roof’s edge, high above the waters of the Grand Canal. Before she falls, she manages to utter a final plea: ‘Find me.’ What follows is an unimaginable journey for David Ullman from skeptic to true believer. In a terrifying quest guided by symbols and riddles from the pages of ‘Paradise Lost’, David must track the demon that has captured his daughter and discover its name. If he fails, he will lose Tess forever.”
Children of the Underground by Trevor Shane – Speculative Fiction; Dystopian Fiction.
Received for review from the publisher. The sequel to Children of Paranoia, which I’ll be reading soon. “Even if you have choices, sometimes you only have one worth making. The war had been raging for as long as anyone could remember. The secret, endless war between two opposing sides – one good, one evil. Neither side knows which is which; it is kill or be killed in an invisible conflict where assassination is the weapon of choice. When she was just seventeen, Maria was pulled into this secret war and they killed her lover and stole her child. Now they are telling her to go home. To ignore what she knows is going on in the shadows all around her. They told Maria to forget all she’d lost. The trouble is, some things simply can’t be forgotten. Now, with a loose-cannon killer at her side, Maria is going to do whatever it takes to get back what belongs to her. And that means starting a war of her own…”
Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers – YA Fantasy; Historical Fiction.
I’ve had my eye on this since it came out and have been keeping tabs of what blogging friends say – it was generally quite positive so when the paperback came out I picked up a copy. “Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?”
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier – YA Fantasy.
I realised I hadn’t read anything by Larbalestier except for Liar, which I loved, and I wanted to read more. I picked this book, the first of a trilogy, partly for the setting. “For fifteen years, Reason Cansino has lived on the run. Together with her mother, Sarafina, she has moved from one place to another in the Australian countryside, desperate not to be found by Reason’s grandmother Esmeralda, a dangerous woman who believes in magic. But the moment Reason walks through Esmeralda’s back door and finds herselfon a New York City street, she’s confronted by an unavoidable truth–magic is real.”
Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson – YA Fiction.
I heard about this book thanks to Tanya at Girlxoxo – I had it sent directly to Tassie and my mum read it in a day and really enjoyed it, which is always good to hear. She described it as supernatural – I’m not entirely sure what genre it falls into and won’t until I read it. “Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her. Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori – the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?”