#5Books: Book recs and blog bugs

#5Books for the week ending 26 August 2018

As I write this, I am side-eyeing my blog’s settings bc something was up with this post last week, and I still don’t know what it is. Gremlins I suppose!

So, what’s been happening in your neck of the woods? Over here, in Australia, we have another new Prime Minister, so it must be a Friday.

Honestly, these Australian politicians are a bunch of children stamping their feet and refusing to make things work because they can always change leaders mid-term and that will of course fix things.

UGH. Thank god for books. I would very much like to not read anything about politicians* (*except the President is Missing — I am still curious about that one)

That’s Not What Happened

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah’s story–that she died proclaiming her faith.

But it’s not true.

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn’t say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah’s parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I’m not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did–and didn’t–happen that day.

Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what’s right. I don’t know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . .

It’s interesting isn’t it – we all want to believe in things in moments of grief, and it can blind us to the reality of things…but I’m not sure that’s always a bad thing?

Little

The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud.

In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.

In the tradition of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Edward Carey’s Little is a darkly endearing cavalcade of a novel–a story of art, class, determination, and how we hold on to what we love.

I’ve seen her museums in everywhere I travel, and it’s become one of those enduring, kitschy things that cities have. But, I like how this makes you think of her so differently.

Penelope Lemon: Game On

Penelope Lemon is a recent divorc?e, closet Metallica fan, and accidental subversive to all the expectations of suburban motherhood. After ending her marriage with James, a woodsy intellectual who favors silky kimonos too short for his knobby knees, Penelope finds herself, at forty, living with her randy mother in her childhood home. Broke and desperate for work, she waitresses at Coonskins, a frontier-themed restaurant where the decor is heavy on stuffed mammals and discarded peanut shells.

Despite the pitfalls of balancing parental duties, jobs, and the vagaries of middle-age life, Penelope pushes through one obstacle after another, trying to regain her independence. Whether fumbling through the world of online dating; coping with a bullying situation involving her son, Theo, something of a gastric wonder on the school bus; or wrestling with the discovery of nude photos from her carefree college days that are not quite as “artistic” as she remembers, Penelope gradually emerges as a modern-day heroine who navigates the assorted inanities of life with verve and humor.

Audacious and laugh-out-loud funny, Inman Majors’s new novel holds up a fun-house mirror to the relatable challenges of being a single parent in the digital age. All those who live by the beat of their own drum gain a coconspirator, an accomplice, and a champion in the unstoppable Penelope Lemon.

How funny does this sound!?

The Witch Elm

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Tana French is an author I have always wanted to read, but her Frieda Klein series was one I couldn’t quite get in to. But this standalone looks promising, I think! Have you read Tana French?

All the Hidden Truths

All the Hidden Truths is the story of a tragic shooting at an Edinburgh college and its aftermath. It is narrated by three women at the heart of the story – the mother of a victim and the mother of the shooter, and DI Helen Birch who is tasked in solving the case. The book is both a “knotty crime novel” and a story of grief “trying to make sense of something that defies reason”.

Readers of Kate Atkinson, Denise Mina and Susie Steiner will love it – along with anyone who wants their fiction both moving and gripping.

It’s the three women at the core of this story that grabbed my attention. I think it could be a powerful read.

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