Book of the Month, October 2017: Ruth Emmie Lang, Naomi Alderman and More
Last month was a pretty good one for reading if you count reading only one book an accomplishment (Psst, I do)! I read my Book of the Month choice for September, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and was completely blown away by how much of an amazing follow-up it was to Everything I Never Told You. Ng’s sophomore novel was impeccably clean, honest, gripping, tear-inducing. A razor-sharp purview on Chinese spirit and pride in the face of Eurocentric expectation.
With that, I am especially excited about this month’s selections, even if I own more than half of them already…LOL Still, let’s get to them, eh?
These are Book of the Month’s October 2017 Selections
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The Power, Naomi Alderman
“What if I could go anywhere I wanted? What if I never felt fear? I know that what ifs are pointless and yet… how sweet that vision of paradise seemed.” Judge, Laia Garcia
In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
Thoughts: I’ve been hearing about this one for months now, and recently received my copy in the mail from BookDepository already. Most of the hype I’ve listened to was because of BookTube, namely Mercedes. Also, you might be surprised that Alderman bagged the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for The Power just recently.
Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan
“The most surprising aspect of Egan’s latest is how resolutely classic a novel it is.” Judge, Kristin Iversen
Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career as a Ziegfield folly, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a night club, she chances to meet Styles, the man she visited with her father before he vanished, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life.
Thoughts: Already own this one, too! I received it as an ARC but I’m not quite sure it’s something that’s up my alley. I’ve heard good things about Egan’s writing, and I’m aware that she won the Pulitzer for Fiction years ago for A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I’ve yet to read myself. Nonetheless, I think this one could be good. I’ll look into it.
The Dark Lake, Sarah Bailey
“The murdered woman was beloved by all – but no, as it turns out, she was not so well-liked, and why is that?” Judge, Nina Sankovitch
The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.
As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?
Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.
Thoughts: Own this one, too! You know how I love a good mystery, and Bailey’s Dark Lake sounds really eerie. I also like the fact that the detective seems to have some shared history with the victim in some way.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, Ruth Emmie Lang
“This wonderful, whimsical, warm-hearted novel is filled with subtle and not-so-subtle nods to the books I loved as a child.” Judge, Steph Opitz
Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.
That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit. As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places. From freak storms to trees that appear to grow over night, Weylyn’s unique abilities are a curiosity at best and at worst, a danger to himself and the woman he loves. But Mary doesn’t care. Since Weylyn saved her from an angry wolf on her eleventh birthday, she’s known that a relationship with him isn’t without its risks, but as anyone who’s met Weylyn will tell you, once he wanders into your life, you’ll wish he’d never leave.
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.
There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.
Thoughts: I’m not a big fantasy or sci-fi fan, but this book certainly sounds like something I wouldn’t mind reading a couple pages through during a book shopping trip. Not necessarily sure if this will be the one I want to grab this time, but I’ll have to check it out at the library for sure.
After the Eclipse, Sarah Perry
“I think what affects me most is her need to search for who her mother was through police records, court documents and the friends and family her mother left behind.” Guest Judge, Gabourey Sidibe
When Sarah Perry was twelve, she saw a partial eclipse of the sun, an event she took as a sign of good fortune for her and her mother, Crystal. But that brief moment of darkness ultimately foreshadowed a much larger one: two days later, Crystal was murdered in their home in rural Maine, just a few feet from Sarah’s bedroom.
The killer escaped unseen; it would take the police twelve years to find him, time in which Sarah grew into adulthood, struggling with abandonment, police interrogations, and the effort of rebuilding her life when so much had been lost. Through it all she would dream of the eventual trial, a conviction—all her questions finally answered. But after the trial, Sarah’s questions only grew. She wanted to understand her mother’s life, not just her final hours, and so she began a personal investigation, one that drew her back to Maine, taking her deep into the abiding darkness of a small American town.
My October Pick: I am a huge sucker for murder memoirs (I know how sick that sounds, judge me all you want) and the fact that Perry, an author of fiction, is deciding to take on her mother’s untold narrative is intriguing and brave. Also, I’ve got a few memoirs of the same sort on my bookshelf right now that I want to get into, so Perry’s will make an excellent addition. I’m definitely grabbing this as my pick. Sounds incredible.
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