Must Reads 29th March 2019

Sun is shining in the window, birds are singing and have just heard some Geese flying over - what a beautiful morning!  Here are my pick of books added to my To Be Read List today...

New Boy at the Academy by Sam Hawk
Tales from the Academy Book 1
(Teen / YA)
Timmy had no clue that the first day of 10th grade at the Academy would rock his world. He thought it would be just like last year, with its endless bullying and recesses spent re-shelving books in the library with his best and only friend Carleen. The sissy boy and the fat girl had bonded over their shared outcast status. But Carleen shows up filled with sassy confidence and declares they’re going to rule the school. By Christmas, the freaks and nerds would be the cool kids, and the mean girls and jocks would be the outcasts. Something had happened to her over the summer, but what?
And then, the two of them lay eyes on the new boy at the Academy. Doug has auburn feathered hair, veiny biceps, and green eyes the color of Sprite bottles. Plus, he’s come all the way from exotic Los Angeles, California. He rocks out to Patti Smith while Timmy loves ABBA. How does someone so cool end up in tiny, conservative Edgewood, South Carolina?
When Carleen immediately declares Doug a fox and her new prospective boyfriend, Timmy is shocked at his jealous reaction. He’s not supposed to like boys in that way, is he? Doug stirs up weird new emotions deep inside him as Timmy embarks on the adventure of his life. He and his hometown will never be the same.

(Women's Fiction)
 
What happens when a baby goes missing?
Twenty-two years ago, Erin and Vicky’s parents were killed in an explosion.
Now grown up, Erin and Vicky – who have been separated – are unaware they are siblings. But when Vicky is called to her great-aunt’s deathbed, she learns that she isn’t alone after all.
But where is Erin? Vicky’s search begins…
Elsewhere, Christine has problems of her own. In the first week of her new job, she makes a disturbing discovery, and is struggling to come to terms with impending motherhood.
Vicky is almost ready to give up her search when an old foster mother calls with shocking news.
What links Vicky and Christine?
Will Vicky ever find her sister?
And can Christine’s baby escape the past that befell her mother?

(General Fiction)
 
In his riveting new novel, internationally bestselling New York Times Notable author and Prix Medicis Ãctranger winner David Vann reimagines his father’s final days. Halibut on the Moon traces the roots of mental illness in one man’s life as he attempts to anchor himself to the places and people that once shaped his sense of identity.
Middle-aged and deeply depressed, Jim arrives in California from Alaska and surrenders himself to the care of his brother Gary, who intends to watch over him. Swinging unpredictably from manic highs to extreme lows, Jim wanders ghost-like through the remains of his old life attempting to find meaning in his tattered relationships with family and friends. As sessions with his therapist become increasingly combative and his connections to others seem ever more tenuous, Jim is propelled forward by his thoughts, which have the potential to lead him, despairingly, to his end.
Halibut on the Moon is a searing exploration of a man held captive by the dark logic of depression and struggling mightily to wrench himself free. In vivid and haunting prose, Vann offers us an aching portrait of a mind in peril, searching desperately for some hope of redemption.

(Non-Fiction / Health, Mind & Body)
 
You’re probably never going to be a saint. Even so, let’s face it: you could be a better person. We all could. But what does that mean for you?
In a world full of suffering and deprivation, it’s easy to despair - and it’s also easy to judge ourselves for not doing more. Even if we gave away everything we own and devoted ourselves to good works, it wouldn’t solve all the world’s problems. It would make them better, though. So is that what we have to do? Is anything less a moral failure? Can we lead a fundamentally decent life without taking such drastic steps?
Todd May has answers. He’s not the sort of philosopher who tells us we have to be model citizens who display perfect ethics in every decision we make. He’s realistic: he understands that living up to ideals is a constant struggle. In A Decent Life, May leads readers through the traditional philosophical bases of a number of arguments about what ethics asks of us, then he develops a more reasonable and achievable way of thinking about them, one that shows us how we can use philosophical insights to participate in the complicated world around us. He explores how we should approach the many relationships in our lives - with friends, family, animals, people in need - through the use of a more forgiving, if no less fundamentally serious, moral compass. With humour, insight, and a lively and accessible style, May opens a discussion about how we can, realistically, lead the good life that we aspire to.
A philosophy of goodness that leaves it all but unattainable is ultimately self-defeating. Instead, Todd May stands at the forefront of a new wave of philosophy that sensibly reframes our morals and redefines what it means to live a decent life.

Love, Death, & My Transformation from Control Freak to Human Being
(Biography & Memoir / Health, Mind & Body)
 
Lydia Slaby was 33 years old and had everything she believed would make her happy: three fancy private school degrees, a successful husband who was in the inner circles of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, a high-paying job as an attorney - even an enviable yoga practice. But under the surface Lydia’s life was in free fall. Her new marriage was one argument after another, she had a job she never wanted, and for some reason she had begun to rapidly lose weight, eventually turning a strange shade of yellowish-green. When she made a doctor’s appointment to talk about the toll of extreme stress, she was instead admitted with a diagnosis of lymphoma. As a cancer survivor, Lydia tries to piece back together her marriage, her career, and her own worth. It’s an imperfect rebirth, but perfection is something she must abandon if she is to find a new, calm, healthy life.

(Children's Fiction)
 
Every summer morning, Ellie and her Nonna go to the beach. They swim and build sandcastles, and while Nonna reads, Ellie watches the other children play. One day Ellie builds up the courage to approach an older girl playing on her own in a beached rowboat. Piper has a gift, an imagination so great that she whisks Ellie off on grand adventures, going high in the air, deep below the ocean and everywhere in between in their little blue boat, their magic boat. When Piper has to leave, Ellie discovers she has her own vivid imagination.

(Literary Fiction)
 
A candid, ultimately buoyant debut story collection about the realities of the "baby years," whether you're having one or not
The women in Polly Rosenwaike's Look How Happy I'm Making You want to be mothers, or aren't sure they want to be mothers, or - having recently given birth - are overwhelmed by what they've wrought. Sharp and unsettling, wry and moving in its depiction of love, friendship, and family, this collection expands the conversation about what having a baby looks like.
One woman struggling with infertility deals with the news that her sister is pregnant. Another woman nervous about her biological clock "forgets" to take her birth control while dating a younger man and must confront the possibility of becoming a single parent. Four motherless women who meet in a bar every Mother's Day contend with their losses and what it would mean to have a child.
Witty, empathetic, and precisely observed, Look How Happy I'm Making You offers the rare, honest portrayal of pregnancy and new motherhood in a culture obsessed with women's most intimate choices.

Trauma, Story & Indigenous Healing
(History)
 
Exploring intergenerational trauma in Indigenous communities  -  and strategies for healing - with provocative prose and an empathetic approach
Indigenous peoples have shockingly higher rates of addiction, depression, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions than other North Americans. According to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, these are a result of intergenerational trauma: the unresolved terror, anger, fear, and grief created in Indigenous communities by the painful experiences of colonialism, passed down from generation to generation.
How are we to turn this desperate tide? With passionate argumentation and chillingly clear prose, author and educator Suzanne Methot uses her own and others’ stories to trace the roots of colonial trauma and the mechanisms by which trauma has become intergenerational, and she explores the Indigenous ways of knowing that can lead us toward change.

(General Fiction)
 
A provocative, exuberant novel about time, memory, desire, and the imagination from the internationally bestselling and prizewinning author of The Blazing World, Memories of the Future tells the story of a young Midwestern woman’s first year in New York City in the late 1970s and her obsession with her mysterious neighbour, Lucy Brite.
As she listens to Lucy through the thin walls of her dilapidated building, S.H., aka “Minnesota,” transcribes her neighbour’s bizarre and increasingly ominous monologues in a notebook, along with sundry other adventures, until one frightening night when Lucy bursts into her apartment on a rescue mission.
Forty years later, S.H., now a veteran author, discovers her old notebook, as well as early drafts of a never-completed novel while moving her aging mother from one facility to another. Ingeniously juxtaposing the various texts, S.H. measures what she remembers against what she wrote that year and has since forgotten to create a dialogue between selves across decades. The encounter both collapses time and reframes its meanings in the present.
Elaborately structured, intellectually rigorous, urgently paced, poignant, and often wildly funny, Memories of the Future brings together themes that have made Hustvedt among the most celebrated novelists working today: the fallibility of memory; gender mutability; the violence of patriarchy; the vagaries of perception; the ambiguous borders between sensation and thought, sanity and madness; and our dependence on primal drives such as sex, love, hunger, and rage.

(Teen & YA)
 
Tess Goodwin’s life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated.
Although she chooses to spend most of her free time playing chess with her best friend Zander, the farm-boy from next door, her skills as a bovine midwife and tractor mechanic ensure that she fits in with the other kids at East Chester High. But when her veteran father reenlists in the Army, moving her family halfway across the country to North Carolina, Tess is forced out of her comfort zone into a world she knows nothing about.
Tess approaches the move as she would a new game of chess, plotting her course through the unfamiliar reality of her new life.
While heeding Zander’s long-distance advice for making new friends and strategizing a means to endure her dad’s imminent deployment to the Middle East, she quickly discovers how ill-equipped she is to navigate the societal challenges she encounters and becomes convinced she’ll never fit in with the students at her new school.
When Leonetta Jackson is assigned as her mentor, she becomes Tess’s unexpected guide through the winding labyrinth of cultural disparities between them, sparking a tentative friendship and challenging Tess to confront her reluctant nature.
As the pieces move across the board of her upended life, will Tess find the acceptance she so desperately desires?


If you liked this post have a look at my complete list of Reading Lists or my complete list of What I Learned full review posts.

Happy Reading!

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