10 additions to my #TBR list

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

 

 

 

So I’ve decided to go via my Goodreads list skipping over some that I had mentioned last week.

The Arsonist – Chloe Hooper

My library doesn’t have much of an Australian authors collection so I may have to see if I can put in a purchase request for this – although it looks like it’s only published in Australia at the moment.

On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno. In the Valley, where the rates of crime were the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs. But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn’t know.

The Arsonist takes readers on the hunt for this man, and inside the strange puzzle of his mind. It is also the story of fire in this country, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element. The command of fire has defined and sustained us as a species – understanding its abuse will define our future.

A powerful real-life thriller written with Hooper’s trademark lyric detail and nuance, The Arsonist is a reminder that in an age of fire, all of us are gatekeepers.

Leap In: A Woman, Some Waves, and the Will to Swim – Alexandra Heminsley

I like swimming so books about swimming always are a plus! This one was via The Captive Reader.

 

Alexandra Heminsley thought she could swim. She really did.

It may have been because she could run. It may have been because she wanted to swim; or perhaps because she only ever did ten minutes of breaststroke at a time. But, as she learned one day while flailing around in the sea, she really couldn’t.

Believing that a life lived fully isn’t one with the most money earned, the most stuff bought or the most races won, but one with the most experiences, experienced the most fully, she decided to conquer her fear of the water.

From the ignominy of getting into a wetsuit to the triumph of swimming from Kefalonia to Ithaca, in becoming a swimmer, Alexandra learns to appreciate her body and still her mind. As it turns out, the water is never as frightening once you’re in, and really, everything is better when you remember to exhale.

 

The Games House – Claire North

The cover of this book hasn’t been revealed yet so this is the German edition

Everyone has heard of the Gameshouse. But few know all its secrets…

It is the place where fortunes can be made and lost through chess, backgammon – every game under the sun.
But those whom fortune favors may be invited to compete in the higher league… a league where the games played are of politics and empires, of economics and kings. It is a league where Capture the Castle involves real castles, where hide and seek takes place on the scale of a continent.

Among those worthy of competing in the higher league, three unusually talented contestants play for the highest stakes of all…

Tailor-Made – Yolanda Wallace

Before Grace Henderson began working as a tailor in her father’s bespoke suit shop in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn, she established a hard and fast rule about not dating clients. The edict is an easy one for her to follow, considering the overwhelming majority of the shop’s clients are men. But when Dakota Lane contacts her to commission a suit to wear to her sister’s wedding, Grace finds herself tempted to throw all the rules out the window.

Dakota Lane works as a bicycle messenger by day and moonlights as a male model. Her high-profile career, gender-bending looks, and hard-partying ways garner her plenty of romantic attention, but she would rather play the field than settle down. When she meets sexy tailor Grace Henderson, however, she suddenly finds herself in the market for much more than a custom suit

What Language Do I Dream In? – Elena Lappin

My life could be described as ‘five languages in search of an author’. I was born into Russian; transposed into Czech, then German; introduced to Hebrew; and finally adopted by English.’ Elena Lappin was born in Russia. Her parents speak Russian to one another, and to their children. Elena speaks Czech to her brother, but he writes in German and she writes in English. What does it mean to be brought up in family that speaks several different languages, and where all members are writers? Elena Lappin explores what it is to be a writer, what language is, and it’s also a wonderful look at the life of a woman who has moved from country to country looking for a language to think in.

 

Unexploded – Alison MacLeod

I used to live in Brighton so I’m always attracted to books set there

May, 1940. On Park Crescent, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news of the expected enemy landing on the beaches of Brighton.

It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton’s Royal Pavilion his English HQ. As the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, and her thoughts become tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.

Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband’s internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn’s and Otto’s mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest.Love collides with fear, the power of art with the forces of war, and the lives of Evelyn, Otto and Geoffrey are changed irrevocably

A Duke by Default – Alyssa Cole

I really liked Cole’s A Princess in Theory, the first book in the Reluctant Royals series! This is the second book.

Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way

New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss
when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory
even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

I quite like the cover of this one

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages–and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money–more than you’ve ever dreamed of–to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your ĂŒberwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery–or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

The Far Field – Madhuri Vijay

I can’t remember where I got this recommendation from. Possibly a booklist?

Gorgeously tactile and sweeping in historical and socio-political scope, Pushcart Prize-winner Madhuri Vijay’s The Far Field follows a complicated flaneuse across the Indian subcontinent as she reckons with her past, her desires, and the tumultuous present.

In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.

 

Dust – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice.

Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany’s mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.

Here is a spellbinding novel about a brother and sister who have lost their way; about how myths come to pass, history is written, and war stains us forever.

Have you read any of these books?


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository, an online book retailer with free international shipping.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

 

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Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR

toptentues

 

Ten Books On My Spring TBR

The Baileys Women’s Prize longlist was announced last week. And it turns out that I’ve read four of the books on it (Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins; Cynthia Bond’s Ruby; Attica Locke’s Pleasantville; Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life). Of course I had to add the rest to my TBR list. And the Man Booker International longlist was also announced recently. I’ve only read Han Kang’s The Vegetarian so all of the rest are on my TBR list!

 

Shirley Barrett: Rush Oh!

Geraldine Brooks: The Secret Chord

Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Jackie Copleton: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

Rachel Elliott: Whispers Through a Megaphone

Anne Enright: The Green Road

Petina Gappah: The Book of Memory

Vesna Goldsworthy: Gorsky

Clio Gray: The Anatomist’s Dream

Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time

Lisa McInerney: The Glorious Heresies

Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen

Sara Nović: Girl at War

Julia Rochester: The House at the Edge of the World

Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability of Love

Elizabeth Strout: My Name is Lucy Barton (I own this one!)

 

Man Booker International

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated by Ann Goldstein

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith

Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal (France), translated by Jessica Moore

Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia), translated by Labodalih Sembiring

The Four Books by Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo/Austria), translated by Roland Glasser

A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar (Brazil), translated by Stefan Tobler

Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (France), translated by Jordan Stump

Death by Water by Kenzaburƍ ƌe (Japan), translated by Deborah Boliner Boem

White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (Finland), translated by Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins

 

Have you read any of these? What would you recommend?

Top Ten books added to my TBR list

toptentuesThis week’s topic brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish is:

 

Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

 Ah the TBR list. Mine – at least on Goodreads – is 1717 books long.

The Faraway Nearby – Rebecca Solnit

I just bought this from Books Inc on Saturday. I’ve not read Solnit’s works before and was kind of drawn to this, plus that ‘clearance’ sticker. It was going for $7.99.

 

 

Yokohama, California- Toshio Mori

 

yokohama

I saw this on Kirkus. I just wish they had used a different font on the cover though!

“originally published in 1949, is the first published collection of short stories by a Japanese American. Set in the fictional community of Yokahama, California, Mori’s work is alive with the people, gossip, humor, and legends of Japanese America in the late 1930s and early 1940s.”

 

 Cinnamon Gardens – Shyam Selvadurai

cinnamongardens

Set among the upper classes in the gracious, repressive and complex world of 1920s Ceylon (Sri Lanka), this evocative novel tells the story of two people who must determine if it is possible to pursue personal happiness without compromising the happiness of others. A young teacher, Annalukshmi, whose splintered family attempts to arrange an appropriate marriage for her, must decide whether the independence she craves will doom her to a life without love and companionship. It is also the story of Balendran who, respectably married, must suppress-or confront-the secret desires for men that threaten to throw his life into chaos. With sensuous atmosphere and vivid prose, this masterfully plotted novel re-creates a world where a beautiful veneer of fragrant gardens and manners hides social, personal, and political issues still relevant today.

 

Mateship With Birds – Carrie Tiffany

mateship

On the outskirts of an Australian country town in the 1950s, a lonely farmer trains his binoculars on a family of kookaburras that roost in a tree near his house. Harry observes the kookaburras through a year of feast, famine, birth, death, war, romance and song. As Harry watches the birds, his next door neighbour has her own set of binoculars trained on him. Ardent, hard-working Betty has escaped to the country with her two fatherless children. Betty is pleased that her son, Michael, wants to spend time with the gentle farmer next door. But when Harry decides to teach Michael about the opposite sex, perilous boundaries are crossed.

Mateship with Birds is a novel about young lust and mature love. It is a hymn to the rhythm of country life — to vicious birds, virginal cows, adored dogs and ill-used sheep. On one small farm in a vast, ancient landscape, a collection of misfits question the nature of what a family can be.

Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River – Alice Albinia

empires

One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a god; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union. Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its banks. In the ruins of these elaborate metropolises, Sanskrit-speaking nomads explored the river, extolling its virtues in Indias most ancient text, the Rig-Veda. During the past two thousand years a series of invaders Alexander the Great, Afghan Sultans, the British Raj made conquering the Indus valley their quixotic mission. For the people of the river, meanwhile, the Indus valley became a nodal point on the Silk Road, a centre of Sufi pilgrimage and the birthplace of Sikhism. Empires of the Indus follows the river upstream and back in time, taking the reader on a voyage through two thousand miles of geography and more than five millennia of history redolent with contemporary importance.

Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed
blackmamba

Longlisted for the Orange Prize and winner of the Betty Trask Award. For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun, a stunning novel set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world.

For Today I Am a Boy – Kim Fu
fortoday

At birth, Peter Huang is given the Chinese name Juan Chaun, “powerful king.” To his parents, newly settled in small-town Ontario, he is the exalted only son in a sea of daughters, the one who will finally fulfill his immigrant father’s dreams of Western masculinity. Peter and his sisters grow up in an airless house of order and obligation, though secrets and half-truths simmer beneath the surface. At the first opportunity, each of the girls lights out on her own. But for Peter, escape is not as simple as fleeing his parents’ home. Though his father crowned him “powerful king,” Peter knows otherwise. He knows he is really a girl. With the help of his far-flung sisters and the sympathetic souls he finds along the way, Peter inches ever closer to his own life, his own skin, in this darkly funny, emotionally acute, stunningly powerful debut.

Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) – Elizabeth Wein

roseunderfire

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to RavensbrĂŒck, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

Lucky Alan and other stories – Jonathan Lethem
luckyalan

As always, Lethem’s work, humor, and poignancy work in harmony; people strive desperately for connection through words and often misdirect deeds; and the sentences are glorious.

A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1 (Otoyomegatari #1) – Kaoru Mori, æŁź 薫

bridestory

Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.

Have you read any of these books? What have you added to your TBR list recently?

Top ten books on my spring TBR list

toptentuesThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is:

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

 

 

On my list are some books that are currently on my bookshelf – hopefully this list will propel me to actually read them soon:

 

Inheritance by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My sister gave this to me for Christmas. It’s set in Singapore between the 1970s and 1990s.

The Making of a Marchioness (Emily Fox-Seton #1) by Frances Hodgson Burnett
My sister-in-law gave me this two Christmases ago! I really ought to get to this one soon.

Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
I bought this at a library book sale a couple of years ago. This is hopefully the year that it will get read!

Then, some new comics:

 

Edward Scissorhands #1 – Kate Leth, Drew Rausch (Artist)
First saw this on Andi’s blog. I was so excited to hear about a comic sequel to the movie!

March Book Two by John Robert Lewis, Andrew Aydin (Goodreads Author), Nate Powell (Artist)
I loved the first book and can’t wait to read this second one about Congressman John Lewis

The Sculptor – Scott McCloud
I keep hearing good things about this one!

 

And last, a mix of books old(ish) and new:

 

The Rice Mother – Rani Manicka
Set in Ceylon and Malaysia. One book I’ve been meaning to read for a few years. I’ve just requested it from the library so I’m definitely going to read it this spring!

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
I feel like I’ve been on hold for this book for ages! I’m almost there I can feel it! (Ok so it’s more like the Overdrive app is telling me I’m Hold Number 2 now)

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
Also something I’ve been waiting to read for a while. Finally got my copy!

The Life of a Banana – P.P. Wong
On the Women’s Prize for Fiction long list. Plus she’s from Singapore, or rather, her parents were and she was born in London.

What’s on your TBR list this spring?

Man Booker 2014 Longlist

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)

As usual, I have yet to read any of these books. But I have had quite a few of them on my TBR list, like those by Richard Flanagan, Karen Joy Fowler, David Mitchell.

How about you?

Books added to my TBR list this week

(All synopses via Goodreads)
NoViolet Bulawayo recommends these three books (BN Review):

buck
Buck – MK Asante

Buck is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of education, art, and love to heal and redeem us.

nervousconditions
Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga

This stunning first novel, set in colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s, centers on the coming of age of a teenage girl, Tambu, and her relationship with her British-educated cousin Nyasha. Tambu, who yearns to be free of the constraints of her rural village, especially the circumscribed lives of the women, thinks her dreams have come true when her wealthy uncle offers to sponsor her education. But she soon learns that the education she receives at his mission school comes with a price. At the school she meets the worldly and rebellious Nyasha, who is chafing under her father’s authority. Raised in England, Nyasha is so much a stranger among her own people that she can no longer speak her native language. Tambu can only watch as her cousin, caught between two cultures, pays the full cost of alienation.

createdangerously
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work – Edwidge Danticat

In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile.

Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, here Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horrors that drove them from their homelands. Combining memoir and essay, these moving and eloquent pieces examine what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis.

After marking The Pirate’s Daughter as ‘read’ via the Goodreads android app, I browsed other similar books and marked these to-read:
loveangermadness

Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy – Marie Vieux-Chauvet, Edwidge Danticat (Introduction), Val Vinokur (Translator), Rose-Myriam Rejouis (Translator)

In Love, Anger, Madness, Marie Vieux-Chauvet offers three slices of life under an oppressive regime. Gradually building in emotional intensity, the novellas paint a shocking portrait of families and artists struggling to survive under Haiti’s terrifying government restrictions that have turned its society upside down, transforming neighbors into victims, spies, and enemies.

In “Love,” Claire is the eldest of three sisters who occupy a single house. Her dark skin and unmarried status make her a virtual servant to the rest of the family. Consumed by an intense passion for her brother-in-law, she finds redemption in a criminal act of rebellion.

In “Anger,” a middle-class family is ripped apart when twenty-year-old Rose is forced to sleep with a repulsive soldier in order to prevent a government takeover of her father’s land.

And in “Madness,” RenĂ©, a young poet, finds himself trapped in a house for days without food, obsessed with the souls of the dead, dreading the invasion of local military thugs, and steeling himself for one final stand against authority.

Sympathetic, savage and truly compelling with an insightful introduction by Edwidge Danticat, Love, Anger, Madness is an extraordinary, brave and graphic evocation of a country in turmoil.

rosesebastopol
The Rose of Sebastopol – Katharine McMahon

In 1854, beautiful, adventurous Rosa Barr travels to the Crimean battlefield with Florence Nightingale’s nursing corps. A headstrong idealist, longing to break out of the rigid confines of life as a young lady, Rosa is determined to make a difference in the world.

For Mariella Lingwood, Rosa’s cousin, the war is contained within the pages of her scrapbook, in her London sewing circle, and in the letters she receives from her fiancĂ©, Henry—a celebrated surgeon who has also volunteered to work within the shadow of the guns. When Henry falls ill and is sent to recuperate in Italy, Mariella impulsively decides she must go to him. But upon her arrival at his lodgings, she makes a heartbreaking discovery: Rosa has disappeared without a trace. Following the trail of her elusive cousin, Mariella’s epic journey takes her from the domestic restraint of Victorian London to the ravaged landscape of the Crimea and the tragic city of Sebastopol, where she encounters Rosa’s dashing stepbrother, a reckless cavalry officer whose complex past —and future—is inextricably bound up with her own. As Mariella’s quest leads her deeper into the dark heart of the conflict, her ordered world begins to crumble and she finds she has much to learn about secrecy, faithfulness, and love

unburnable

Unburnable: A Novel – Marie-Elena John

In this riveting narrative of family, betrayal, vengeance, and murder, Lillian Baptiste is willed back to her island home of Dominica to finally settle her past. Haunted by scandal and secrets, Lillian left Dominica when she was fourteen after discovering she was the daughter of Iris, the half-crazy woman whose life was told of in chantĂ© mas songs sung during Carnival: “Matilda Swinging” and “Bottle of Coke”; songs about the village on a mountaintop and bones and bodies: songs about flying masquerades and a man who dropped dead. Lillian knew the songs well. And now she knows these songs—and thus the history—belong to her. After twenty years away, Lillian returns to face the demons of her past, and with the help of Teddy, the man she refused to love, she will find a way to heal.

Set partly in contemporary Washington, D.C., and partly in post-World War II Dominica, Unburnable weaves together West Indian history, African culture, and American sensibilities. Richly textured and lushly rendered, Unburnable showcases a welcome and assured new voice.

Have you read any of these? What have you added to your TBR list recently?

Adding to the list (12 March 2011)

Here’s what I’ve just added to my virtual TBR list this week. They all sound like amazing reads!

Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight – James Atlee (via the Harvard Book Store newsletter)

“Nobody who has not taken one can imagine the beauty of a walk through Rome by full moon,” wrote Goethe in 1787. Sadly, the imagination is all we have today: in Rome, as in every other modern city, moonlight has been banished, replaced by the twenty-four-hour glow of streetlights in a world that never sleeps. Moonlight, for most of us, is no more.

So James Attlee set out to find it. Nocturne is the record of that journey, a traveler’s tale that takes readers on a dazzling nighttime trek that ranges across continents, from prehistory to the present, and through both the physical world and the realms of art and literature. Attlee attends a Buddhist full-moon ceremony in Japan, meets a moon jellyfish on a beach in Northern France, takes a moonlit hike in the Arizona desert, and experiences a lunar eclipse on New Year’s Eve atop the snowbound Welsh hills. Each locale is illuminated not just by the moonlight he seeks, but by the culture and history that define it. We learn about Mussolini’s pathological fear of moonlight; trace the connections between Caspar David Friedrich, Rudolf Hess, and the Apollo space mission; and meet the inventors of the Moonlight Collector in the American desert, who aim to cure all kinds of ailments with concentrated lunar rays. Svevo and Blake, Whistler and Hokusai, Li Po and Marinetti are all enlisted, as foils, friends, or fellow travelers, on Attlee’s journey.

Pulled by the moon like the tide, Attlee is firmly in a tradition of wandering pilgrims that stretches from Bashƍ to Sebald; like them, he presents our familiar world anew.

The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith (via Silly Little Mischief)

“I have long had a theory that Nabokov knew The Price of Salt and modeled the climactic cross-country car chase in Lolita on Therese and Carol’s frenzied bid for freedom,” writes Terry Castle in The New Republic about this novel, arguably Patricia Highsmith’s finest, first published in 1952 under the pseudonym Clare Morgan. Soon to be a new film, The Price of Salt tells the riveting story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails Carol into a choice between her daughter and her lover. With this reissue, The Price of Salt may finally be recognized as a major twentieth-century American novel.

The Colony – Jillian Weise (via Jessa Crispin’s post on PBS’ Need to Know)

Anne Hatley is a sharp-witted and acerbic young teacher from the South, in need of a reprieve from the drudgery of work and an increasingly tedious relationship. She accepts an invitation to the nation’s largest research colony, where scientists—DNA pioneer James D. Watson among them—hope to “cure” Anne of a rare gene that affects her bone growth: She is missing a leg and walks with a prosthesis. Anne feels fine the way she is, and she strives to maintain her resolve under pressure from her peers and from doctors eager to pioneer an experimental procedure, which would make her the first patient to generate a new leg. Meanwhile, she falls into a reluctant romance with the rakish Nick, possessor of the “suicide gene”; befriends Charles Darwin, who is on site digging through the eugenics archive; and attempts to come to terms with her first love.

The Colony is the story of one young woman struggling to accept who she is, and who she will become. But it is also a novel that mines some of the most polarizing issues of our time—among them, medical ethics, body image, and genetic engineering.

The Light in Between – Marella Caracciolo Chia (via Jessa Crispin’s post on PBS’ Need to Know)

A collection of letters hidden for almost a century is all that remains of the relationship between a restless noblewoman and a tormented painter, brought to passionate life in this novel
Princess Vittoria Colonna met the Futurist painter Umberto Boccioni in June 1916. Their love affair was intense but brief—on August 17, Boccioni died following a fall from his horse. The last letter he had received from Vittoria was found in his wallet. Featuring a Roman princess, a major 20th-century artist, unbridled passion, World War I, and a tragic accident, this fascinating story is full of romance and sweeping drama. Their letters provide the basis for not only a story of a great love, but also the portrait of a remote world and time that the author has reconstructed in all its wonder.

Have you read any of these?