Library Loot (28 June 2012)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

This week’s library haul seems to consist of books by new-to-me authors. Definitely looking forward to them.

Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

It’s apparently Helprin’s birthday, according to the Writer’s Almanac. And I’m not sure if I had heard of Helprin before this, but hey after reading this description: “It is set in an alternative Belle Époque New York City; the main character is an orphan and burglar named Peter Lake who is protected by a flying horse.” I was sold.

New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake—orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side.

Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying.

Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and beseiged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.

Seven Years – Peter Stamm

Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women—and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?: A Novel

With a title like that, how could I pass this by? This is one of the longlisted books for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards.

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? opens with the line: “The person you love is 72.8% water, and it hasn’t rained for weeks.” From there, Brage Award–winning author and playwright Johan Harstad’s debut—previously published to great success in eleven countries and now making its first English-language appearance—tells the story of Mattias, a thirty-something gardener living in Stavanger, Norway, whose idol is Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon: the man who was willing to stand in Neil Armstrong’s shadow in order to work, diligently and humbly, for the success of the Apollo 11 mission. Following a series of personal and professional disasters, Mattias finds himself lying on a rain-soaked road in the desolate, treeless Faroe Islands, population only a few thousand, a wad of bills in his pocket and no memory of how he had come to be there—that’s when a truck approaches him, driven by a troubled, fantastic man with an offer that will shortly change Mattias’s life. And so, surrounded by a vivid and memorable cast of characters—aspiring pop musicians, Caribbean-obsessed psychologists, death-haunted photographers, girls who dream of anonymous men falling in love with them on bus trips, and even Buzz Aldrin himself—launches Buzz Aldrin, What Happened To You In All The Confusion?, the epic story of Mattias’s pop-saturated odyssey through the world of unconventional psychiatry, souvenir sheep-making, the Cardigans, and space: the space between himself and other people, a journey maybe as remote and personally dangerous as the trip to the moon itself.

Wee reader’s loot:

Otis – Loren Long

How Artists See Jr.: Babies – Colleen Carroll

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?
What did you get at your library this week?

The Storm

“They looked alike. Everyone thought so. They were tall girls with narrow, strong shoulders, always a little bent, which gave them a worried appearance that was quite misleading. And if they had turned round at that moment the double portrait would really have been striking: dark hair, almost chestnut-black, falling smoothly down their backs, exposing delicate little ears, and cut in a straight fringe that concealed the forehead  completely. Nobody would ever see their foreheads. But everything could be read in the two pairs of eyes: merriment, sadness, mockery, indifference, passion, and also the speed of their shifting moods, yet what conveyed itself most clearly was that the two sisters appeared to see the world in exactly the same way, and to judge it.”

Lidy and Armanda are sisters. Lidy, 23,  is married with a young daughter, and Armanda is just 18 and somehow manages to persuade her sister to exchange lives for a day. Lidy leaves for Zeeland to attend a birthday party, Armanda stays in Amsterdam to look after Nadja and Sjoerd. How are they to know that this is the very night of the storm of 31 January 1953 that would sweep away “1,836 people, 120,000 animals, and 772 square miles of land at one stroke”?

“The sound of a storm defies words. Or rather, the effect it has. The world makes noises. There isn’t a moment of peace in which it isn’t creaking or rustling or banging or talking and uttering every possible nuance of a lament until sometimes it even sings. Some of these noises can wait a little, but others are absolutely urgent.”

It is an odd feeling, reading this book.
The chapters alternate between present and past of sorts. The music of Lidy’s story is slow, gradual, as she awaits the storm, the flood. The time ticks by slowly as the floodwaters rise, and her fate looms. The chapters with Armanda stride on briskly, first it is just as the storm hits, then the aftermath and the tragedy, and then 18 months later at Lidy’s memorial service.

I suppose that is the intention. For you to grieve along with Armanda and the rest of the loved ones, then be struck as you return in the next chapter to Lidy waiting for the flood, high up in that attic room, knowing there is nothing she or anyone else can do. As a result, your heart is pulled towards Lidy waiting her death. But Armanda’s life too has changed, she has outlived her sister, but feels haunted by her presence:

“Do you know what I sometimes still think? Lidy’s just gone for a day, and she’s relying on me to live her life for her, all organized and proper, and that’s exactly what I’m damn well doing.”

The Storm, or De Verdronkene,  was an emotional, unforgettable read. As Irisonbooks puts it, it “has that emotional quality which means you will find yourself thinking about it for days after you have read it”.

Magriet de Moor’s other translated works

First Grey, Then White, Then Blue (1994)
The Virtuoso (1996)
Duke of Egypt (2001)
Kreutzer Sonata (2005)
The Storm (2010)

Library Loot (June 14, 2012)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

We got to the library only to find the parking lot pretty darn full! The kids’ section was packed with plenty of school-age kids which kind of made it difficult for wee reader to do his usual roaming but still he had fun. And I got to pick up some loot – a little less this week as I’ve got a full load of e-books going on too.

Chew Volume 1: Tasters Choice – John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory

Can’t wait to read this

Tony Chu is a detective with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he’s a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn’t mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why. He’s been brought on by the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, to investigate their strangest, sickest, and most bizarre cases.

Duke of Egypt – Margriet de Moor
Hmmm apparently I had requested this from another library a while previously, and the hold came in. Completely forgot! Now I have two de Moor books (well one is an e-book).

Young, flame-haired Lucie raises horses on her father’s farm. One summer day, she meets a dark, handsome stranger, Joseph, and it is love at first sight. But their union is as improbable as their love is deep. For Joseph is a wanderer, a full-blooded gypsy, a man for whom all Europe is a stomping ground. Despite their cultural differences, they marry – have three children, and lead a normal life – with one exception: each spring, their life is suspended as Joseph returns to his other family, the gypsies, scattered to the four corners of Europe.

Wee reader’s loot

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly – Mary Ann Hoberman (Author), Nadine Bernard Westcott (Illustrator)

What did you get at the library this week?


So the first couple of pages of Villain don’t exactly make you want to jump into the fray. Because it reads like a rather boring travel guide, written by somebody who is rather into transportation and roads. You can know all you need to know about the tolls for vehicles between Nagasaki and Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Hakata.

I went along with it, and then comes the trigger. The last paragraph (of the first section) tells the reader of an arrest, of a crime, essentially spelling it out for you.

And that’s the thing I realise about Japanese crime fiction, at least the three that I have read so far (Out, The Devotion of Suspect X). That it is not about the mystery, it’s not technically a whodunnit, because you already know whodidit. Because it’s right there in your face, in the first few sections, the first few pages even. These books are more about the ‘why’, and the effect the murders have – on the murderers themselves, the victim’s family and friends, the other suspects.

Villain, by Shuichi Yoshida, brings out a different part of Japan, one of love hotels and online dating, and ageing seaside villages full of elderly residents. It is a quite ugly, rather lonely view of Japan.

“The scenery flowing past changed, but they never seemed to get anywhere. When the interstate ended, it connected up with the prefectural highway, and past that were city and local roads. Mitsuyo had a road atlas spread out on the dashboard. She flipped through the maps and saw that the highways and roads were all color-coded. Interstates were orange, prefectural highways were green, local roads were blue, and smaller roads were white. The countless roads were a net, a web that had caught them and the car they were in.”

Told from multiple viewpoints especially towards the end of the book, Villain shines when the focus is on the victim’s father, who struggles to come to terms with his daughter’s death, and his painful realisation that he didn’t really know his child at all.

Villain was an engrossing, thought provoking read, and leaves you wondering, who – or perhaps what – is the real ‘villain’ here.

Library Loot (25 April 2012)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

That wondrous smell of oxtail stew cooking in my crockpot is wafting around the study as I type this and it’s making my mouth water. So erm, I shall go and see whether it’s ready to eat. Meanwhile, here’s what I got at the library this week.

The Book About Blanche and Marie: A Novel – Per Olov Enquist, translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally

From one of the world’s most acclaimed authors comes a tale that explores the complex relationship between Blanche Whitman, the famous hysteria patient of Professor J.M. Charcot, and Marie Curie, Polish physicist and Nobel Prize winner.

A Celibate Season – Carol Shields, Blanche Howard
It seems like ages since I’ve read anything by Shields, and this one sounded pretty interesting.

Carol Shields, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Blanche Howard, winner of the Canadian Booksellers’ Award, teamed up to write this delightful epistolary novel that probes the inner life of one couple’s rocky marriage. Faced with a job-related ten-month separation, Jocelyn and Charles choose to maintain contact through letters — an economic decision that paves the way for two very different and very entertaining sides of the same story. As the months progress, the couple’s letters grow less frequent and more revealing — and their “season of celibacy” becomes more of a challenge than either Jocelyn or Charles had imagined. Posing important and timely questions about commitment, monogamy, and the pressures of career and money, this insightful novel by two extraordinary writers offers a perceptive and hopeful look at how men and women really communicate.

The Lions of al-Rassan – Guy Gavriel Kay

This will be the second book of Kay’s to grace my shelves, and I just loved the first (Tigana) so I can’t wait!

The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan — poet, diplomat, soldier — until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.

Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites’ most celebrated — and feared — military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.

In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve — for a time — the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate — and increasingly torn by her feelings — is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.

Hauntingly evocative of medieval Spain, The Lions of Al-Rassan is both a brilliant adventure and a deeply compelling story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when hardening beliefs begin to remake — or destroy — a world.

An Overdrive e-book
The Iron King – Julie Kagawa
I’m not really liking Meghan Chase but am having fun exploring the faery world.

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Wee reader’s loot!

Clifford Cares – Norman Bridwell

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z – Lois Ehlert

Hey! Wake Up! – Sandra Boynton

Mama, Where are You? – Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Rick Peterson

Grandpa Green – Lane Smith

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

What did you get at your library this week?

Library Loot (18 April 2012)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

I had four books waiting for me on the hold shelves and managed to pick up a good number of books for wee reader today, as the board books area was stocked with fun books. And wee reader just couldn’t get enough of those books – he kept wandering out of the area where the baby programme was and heading over to the board books to pat them.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 7: Twilight (Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Dark Horse)) – Joss Whedon et al
And it’s the last two books in season 8! Sad but true.

Buffy Summers and her Slayer army have suffered heavy losses throughout Season Eight and faced scores of threats new and old, but the one mystery connecting it all has been the identity of the Big Bad Twilight! In this penultimate volume of Season Eight, New York Times bestselling novelist and comics writer Brad Meltzer (The Book of Lies, Identity Crisis) joins series artist Georges Jeanty in beginning the buildup to the season finale in the story line that finally reveals the identity of Twilight! In the aftermath of the battle with Twilight’s army, Buffy has developed a host of new powers, but when will the other shoe drop, and will it be a cute shoe, or an ugly one? Still reeling from the losses of war, Willow goes looking for missing allies, and discovers a horrifying truth about several of the Slayer army’s recent ordeals. Adding to the mayhem is the unexpected return of Angel, in his Season Eight debut! This volume also features two stories from series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon! In the Willow one-shot, Whedon and Fray artist Karl Moline reveal for the first time what Buffy’s witchy best friend was up to between Seasons Seven and Eight, with a mind-blowing cameo by a frequently requested character. And in “Turbulence,” Joss spotlights the complicated relationship between Buffy and Xander with a conversation that changes it forever.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 8: Last Gleaming – Joss Whedon et al

The Season Finale is here, and Buffy must face the ultimate betrayal! Seems like a perfect time for Spike to come back.

Series creator Joss Whedon writes the final story arc of Buffy Season 8, taking his greatest characters to places only he can! Teamed with series artist Georges Jeanty, Joss reunites the dysfunctional gang of Buffy, Angel, and Spike, in the thick of it together for the first time since Season 3, and gives the Scoobies their gravest challenge ever – defending reality itself from an onslaught of demons. It’s the biggest Buffy finale ever!

Villain – Shuichi Yoshida, translated by Philip Gabriel
After reading The Devotion of Suspect X, I was interested in reading this book, thanks to JoV.

A chilling and seductive story of loneliness, desperation, and murder, Villain is the English-language debut of one of Japan’s most popular writers.

A woman is killed at a ghostly mountain pass in southern Japan and the local police quickly pinpoint a suspect. But as the puzzle pieces of the crime slowly click into place, new questions arise. Is a villain simply the person who commits a crime or are those who feel no remorse for malicious behavior just as guilty? Moving from office parks and claustrophobic love hotels to desolate seaside towns and lighthouses, Shuichi Yoshida’s dark thriller reveals the inner lives of men and women who all have something to hide.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction – Alan Jacobs

In recent years, cultural commentators have sounded the alarm about the dire state of reading in America. Americans are not reading enough, they say, or reading the right books, in the right way.
In this book, Alan Jacobs argues that, contrary to the doomsayers, reading is alive and well in America. There are millions of devoted readers supporting hundreds of enormous bookstores and online booksellers. Oprah’s Book Club is hugely influential, and a recent NEA survey reveals an actual uptick in the reading of literary fiction. Jacobs’s interactions with his students and the readers of his own books, however, suggest that many readers lack confidence; they wonder whether they are reading well, with proper focus and attentiveness, with due discretion and discernment. Many have absorbed the puritanical message that reading is, first and foremost, good for you–the intellectual equivalent of eating your Brussels sprouts. For such people, indeed for all readers, Jacobs offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice: read at whim, read what gives you delight, and do so without shame, whether it be Stephen King or the King James Version of the Bible. In contrast to the more methodical approach of Mortimer Adler’s classic How to Read a Book (1940), Jacobs offers an insightful, accessible, and playfully irreverent guide for aspiring readers. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of approaching literary fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and the book explores everything from the invention of silent reading, reading responsively, rereading, and reading on electronic devices.
Invitingly written, with equal measures of wit and erudition, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction will appeal to all readers, whether they be novices looking for direction or old hands seeking to recapture the pleasures of reading they first experienced as children.

Wee reader’s loot:

Animals (Baby Touch and Feel) – Dawn Sirett

Peter Rabbit: Show Me Your Ears – based on the original tales by Beatrix Potter

One Blue Fish: A Colorful Counting Book – Charles Reasoner

Pony Brushes His Teeth – Michael Dahl

Commotion in the Ocean – Giles Andreae (Author), David Wojtowycz (Illustrator)

Move! – Robin Page (Author), Steve Jenkins (Illustrator)

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?
What did you get at your library this week?

The Yellow Wind

“One morning, soldiers came to the house and notified her that she had fifteen minutes to get all her belongings and her daughters out of the house, after which the house would be leveled. Sometimes, when I hear about the destruction of houses in the West Bank, I wonder what I would remove from my house during that quarter hour – the basic necessities, I suppose; bed linens and cooking utensils. But what about the photograph albums? And my manuscript? And books? And old letters? How much can you get out in a frenzied fifteen minutes?”

In 1987, Israeli novelist David Grossman spent three months on the West Bank, journeying to Palestinian camps and Jewish settlements, talking to university students, army reservists, villagers, prosecutors, everyday people, ordinary people living divided, exiled lives. As he explains:

“I wanted to meet the people who are themselves the real players in the drama, those who pay first the price of their actions and failures, courage, cowardliness, corruption, nobility. I quickly understood that we all pay the price, but not all of us know it.”

The ‘Yellow Wind’ refers to “the wind that will come from the gate of Hell (from the gates of Paradise comes only a pleasant, cool wind) – rih asfar, it is called by the local Arabs, a hot and terrible east wind which comes once in a few generations, sets the world afire, and people seek shelter from its heat in the caves and caverns, but even there it finds those it seeks, those who have performed cruel and unjust deeds, and there, in the cracks in the boulders, it exterminates them, one by one”.

It is an emotional, painful read and as with Grossman’s fiction (at least with To The End of the Land, the only other of his works I’ve read) well written.


Hitting the beach


It’s grey and dripping outside and it’s been this way pretty much the whole day. What a contrast to the warm and sunny weekend we had in Pismo Beach with wee reader and his grandparents.


Unfortunately we had forgotten that it was spring break/Easter weekend and the place we stayed at was pretty packed with youthful patrons. Which meant people moving around throughout the night and in our case, a little fella not adjusting well to his new environment and decidedly not sleeping through the night. I felt like I needed a holiday from this holiday! But it wasn’t just about the sleep (or not-sleep), we explored the coastal towns of Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, and had plenty of great seafood.



And of course I got to do some reading!

I started and finished The Devotion of Suspect X, which was a fast, interesting read. The plot (saying anymore would probably ruin it for you, but as you can guess, there’s a dead person and it’s a who-dunnit) and the intellectual skirmishes between mathematics genius Ishigami and his university schoolmate Yukawa are engaging. The climax is quite gasp-worthy as is the character of Ishigami. But I have to say that the writing is nothing much to shout about – I keep comparing it to Natsuo Kirino’s Out (the only other Japanese crime novel I’ve read so far) and just felt I got so much more out of that one, a greater sense of character and place, for starters. There is such a coldness about The Devotion of Suspect X. Everything seemed so sterile and it just seemed like it needed a bit more meat. Still it was a fun read (if you find it fun to read about murders and cover-ups).

Read in March 2012

Surprise surprise! I actually reviewed ALL of the non-fiction reads in March! Erm and just three other books.

So here’s what I actually reviewed:

All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
The Winter Queen – Boris Akunin
The Last Brother – Nathacha Appanah
The Fourth Star: Dispatches from inside Daniel Boulud’s Celebrated Restaurant -Leslie Brenner
Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting – Pamela Druckerman
Is that a Fish in your Ear? Translation and the meaning of Everything – David Bellos

And some brief thoughts on those I didn’t!
Destiny and Desire – Carlos Fuentes
A complicated, bizarre book (it is the story told by a decapitated head). A difficult read that takes the reader through modern day Mexico.

Delirium – Laura Restrepo
Another complicated read, delirious yes but at least heads were intact.

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1) – Kelley Armstrong
A fun read. Although recently I’ve been wondering if reading e-books (like this one) make for a different experience than the printed version. That is, would I have rated this book higher if it were a printed read?

The Descendants – Kaui Hart Hemmings
All I knew about this book was from the trailer of the movie adaptation. Two things: George Clooney; Hawaii.
Well the book was more than that. A great story of a father’s relationship with his two daughters, and coming to terms with a tragedy.

Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
Ah I am falling for Elizabeth Gaskell! Now I feel the need to go read everything else she has written.

Winter’s End – Jean-Claude Mourlevat
I liked the way the story was built up, how the reader is equally in the dark as the protagonists (orphans living in boarding schools who have no idea what the world outside is like). And the fact that it is a translated book. But I would have preferred more details and history about the oppressive government.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld – Patricia A. McKillip
Review to come!

Graphic Novels
Blacksad – Juan Diaz Canales
I’m not fond of anthropomorphism but this series set in 1950s America is rather fascinating. Blacksad is a cat, a hardboiled detective. And the stories weave in racism, Communism, and of course crimes and conspiracies.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (Vol 1) – Jacques Tardi
The Arctic Marauder – Jacques Tardi
Tardi has this rather odd way of depicting humans – they all seem to be born of the same facial mold. I was constantly confused by the characters in Adele Blanc-Sec. Less so in The Arctic Marauder, which was overall a more interesting, Jules Verne-ish read.

The Last Temptation – Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Michael Zulli
I usually enjoy most of Gaiman’s graphic novels, but this needed more backstory. It was a rather simple storyline, perhaps because it was a collaboration with Alice Cooper?


Library Loot (28 March 2012)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire fromThe Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Under the Poppy – Kathe Koja

I thought this sounded like a rather interesting novel, plus it’s set in Belgium, a place I’ve visited but don’t think I’ve read much about.

From a wartime brothel to the intricate high society of 1870s Brussels, Under the Poppy is a breakout novel of childhood friends, a love triangle, puppetmasters, and reluctant spies.

Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert, but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes to town, louche puppet troupe in tow, the lines of their age-old desires intersect against a backdrop of approaching war. Hearts are broken when old betrayals and new alliances—not just their own—take shape, as the townsmen seek refuge from the onslaught of history by watching the girls of the Poppy cavort onstage with Istvan’s naughty puppets . . .

Under the Poppy is a vivid, sexy, historical novel that zips along like the best guilty pleasure.

Nominated for the IMPAC Award. Winner of the Gaylactic Spectrum Award.

The Devotion of Suspect X – Keigo Higashino

(I’m not going to copy-paste the blurb here as I don’t really want to know what this book is about!). Instead, I’ll just say that I first heard of this book from Bibliojunkie, who said: “The story is a puzzle embedded in a bigger puzzle. A story that challenges the reader’s blind spot.” And I was like, ooh!

Photographing Fairies – Steve Szilagyi
For Once Upon a Time VI

It all begins in the 1920s, when a blustering country policeman, Constable Michael Walsmear, literally punches his way into American photographer Charles Castle’s London studio. Walsmear has what he claims are photographs of fairies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whom Castle approaches to verify the pictures, offers a large sum of money to have Walsmear’s photographs destroyed. But even more than cash, Castle wants the truth. His quest takes him to Burkinwell, a seemingly peaceful country village seething with secrets. Armed with a camera, he encounters gypsies and wild dogs, the innocent girls of the photos and the murderous thieves who threaten them, a beautiful garden and unspeakable sexual practices. He also discovers the most shocking truth of all: that absolute purity and utter depravity are folded together in the human heart.

The Yellow Wind – David Grossman
I loved Grossman’s To the End of the Land and have been interested in reading some of his non-fiction.

The Israeli novelist David Grossman’s impassioned account of what he observed on the West Bank in early 1987—not only the misery of the Palestinian refugees and their deep-seated hatred of the Israelis but also the cost of occupation for both occupier and occupied—is an intimate and urgent moral report on one of the great tragedies of our time. The Yellow Wind is essential reading for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of Israel today.

An Overdrive e-book

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy) – N.K. Jemisin
For Once Upon a Time VI

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together

For wee reader:

Curious George Color Fun – H.A. Rey

All of Baby, Nose to Toes – Victoria Adler, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

Spot Goes to the Farm – Eric Hill

Paddington Bear All Day – Michael Bond, illustrated by R.W. Alley

Maisy’s Train – Lucy Cousins

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
See more Library Loot here.