#5Books: Book recs from Literary Bites

#5Books for the week ending 16 Feb 2019

This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending Literary Bites, a preview of Harper Collins Australia spiffy new titles you ought to be reading.

It was held in their offices overlooking a gorgeous view of the city. And a park. I have to confess I was distracted by the crowd and the conversations as I wandered around trying to insert myself into conversations and hopefully not be as obviously nervous as I felt. I get tongue-tied and it gets ugly. And clumsy.

Anyhoo, I met the lovely events lady from Kinokuniya Books in Sydney, another lady from Oscar and Friends, and also Berklouw Books. There was another lovely lady too, but I couldn’t hear her name because my hearing in crowded situations like that sucks. Monumentally.

So, there was a lovely view, canapes to die for, lovely people to meet and of course books. Which is why we can call this #5Books post — all Harper Collins all the time — along with the authors that were present.

The Scholar 

When DS Cormac Reilly’s girlfriend Emma stumbles across the victim of a hit and run early one morning, he is first on the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him. The dead girl is carrying an ID, that of Carline Darcy, heir apparent to Darcy Therapeutics, Ireland’s most successful pharmaceutical company. Darcy Therapeutics has a finger in every pie, from sponsoring university research facilities to funding political parties to philanthropy – it has funded Emma’s own
ground-breaking research. The investigation into Carline’s death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself. Cormac is sure she couldn’t be involved, but how well does he really know her? After all, this isn’t the first time Emma’s been accused of murder..

Dervla McTiernan was one of the authors present, and yes, I might have had some issues with The Ruin, but when she said Maude was her favourite character in the first book, all was forgiven and I was ready for anything she was going to say — Maude is hands down one of the strongest, most striking characters I’ve read in a long time, and I desperately wanted so much for her in The Ruin, but obviously she didn’t get them. All.

But this is actually about The Scholar which delves into the Cormac and Emma’s relationship, and I the premise holds some delicious possibilities for their relationships and the questions that arise of the case. (I’m half inclined to think Emma needs to be smacking Cormac for doubting her afgter a year or so together, but you know, hiding a former murder charge is kind of a biggie)

The Binding

Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

I have just one word for this one: magical. The idea that books can capture a memory (though, that’s kind of what journal writing is for me), just sounds wonderful, and there are things I would sure like to forget. However, bit of a shock for Emmett to find his name on a book already containing a memory and stored away, yes? 

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recount of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The first thing I thought of when I saw this cover was in fact The Virgin Suicides, and then I thought there was no way this would be my kind of read, only it turns out it kind of is — well more mystery than coming of age but this combination is, I think, going to work well. Also how utterly cool does Tikka sound?! 

Interesting sidenote: this book was inspired by the author’s run in with Bryan Brown, and a question he asked — which was actually really funny, but I can’t quite recall the details. However I do remember laughing so hard when McLean, a former ghostwriter mentioned that she learned all sorts of wonderful things as a ghostwriter including people’s sexy secrets!

The Other Half of Augusta Hope 

‘What a word it is – home – a million meanings packed up in a giant handkerchief and hanging from a pole which we carry across our shoulder.’

Meet Augusta Hope, from Hedley Green, and Parfait, from Burundi: two extraordinary people who dream of escaping their very different lives. Through Augusta and Parfait’s intertwining stories, this astonishingly moving debut explores the meaning of home and the different places we find love, how we cope when we lose it and the role of fate in helping us find it again.

I’m going to cry. I just know it.

After the Flood

An unforgettable, inventive, and riveting epic saga with the literary force and evocative imagination of Station Eleven, Zone One, and The Road, that signals the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.

A little more than a century from now, the world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, starting with the great coastal cities, rising floodwaters have left America an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water. Civilization as it once was is gone. Bands of pirates roam the waters, in search of goods and women to breed. Some join together to create a new kind of society, while others sail alone, barely surviving.

Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious and feisty eight-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting small hamlets and towns on dry land only to trade for supplies and information. Just before Pearl’s birth, when the monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska, Maya’s oldest daughter, Row, was stolen by her father.

For eight years Myra has searched for the girl that she knows, in her bones and her heart, still lives. In a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment of raiders on the coast of what used to be Greenland. Throwing aside her usual caution, she and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas to rescue the girl, now thirteen.

On the journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship, a band of Americans like them. In a desperate act of deceit and manipulation, Myra convinces the crew to sail north. Though she hides her true motivations, Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers, men, women, and children who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world.

But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten to capsize their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.

A compulsively readable novel of dark despair and soaring hope, After the Flood is a magnificent, action-packed, and sometimes frightening odyssey laced with wonder—an affecting and wholly original saga both redemptive and astonishing.

Whew. I know I’m mixing my mediums here, but the minute I read Myra and Pearl, I flashed to Malorie and Girl in Bird Box. But more than that, Myra and Pearl sound like brilliant characters, and stuck on a floating vessel where no one can get off while Myra manipulates everyone? WANTS. Did I mention how they said at the event that this was influenced by Viking sagas?

That’s all for this week! What are you hanging out for this week?

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