Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!
I bought these books:
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I’ve been wanting to read this book since it was first published last year so when I saw the price had dropped to £3.99 on the ebook I decided to treat myself. I hope I can read this one soon.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.
In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world.
When We Rise by Cleve Jones
I recently read How to Survive a Plague and Cleve Jones is mentioned quite a lot in that book so when I saw him on Newsnight this week I knew I had to get hold of this book as soon as possible. I was really pleased when I found it on Amazon so I bought the kindle version and I plan on reading this very soon.
Born in 1954, Cleve Jones was among the last generation of gay Americans who grew up wondering if there were others out there like himself. There were. Like thousands of other young people, Jones, nearly penniless, was drawn in the early 1970s to San Francisco, a city electrified by progressive politics and sexual freedom.
Jones found community – in the hotel rooms and ramshackle apartments shared by other young adventurers, in the city’s bathhouses and gay bars like The Stud, and in the burgeoning gay district, the Castro, where a New York transplant named Harvey Milk set up a camera shop, began shouting through his bullhorn, and soon became the nation’s most outspoken gay elected official. With Milk’s encouragement, Jones dove into politics and found his calling in ‘the movement.’ When Milk was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1978, Jones took up his mentor’s progressive mantle – only to see the arrival of AIDS transform his life once again.
By turns tender and uproarious – and written entirely in his own words – When We Rise is Jones’ account of his remarkable life. He chronicles the heartbreak of losing countless friends to AIDS, which very nearly killed him, too; his co-founding of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation during the terrifying early years of the epidemic; his conception of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest community art project in history; the bewitching story of 1970s San Francisco and the magnetic spell it cast for thousands of young gay people and other misfits; and the harrowing, sexy, and sometimes hilarious stories of Cleve’s passionate relationships with friends and lovers during an era defined by both unprecedented freedom and possibility, and prejudice and violence alike.
When We Rise is not only the story of a hero to the LQBTQ community, but the vibrantly voice memoir of a full and transformative American life – an activist whose work continues today.
The Tiny One by Eliza Minot
I’ve had my eye on this book for quite a while and decided to treat myself to a print copy this week. It was a bargain price for an American paperback so I’m really pleased with it. I’ll be reading this as soon as I can manage to hold a book again.
Via Mahoney Revere is eight years old when her mother is killed in a car accident. Confused by anguish, bewildered by her mother’s absence, and mystified by the notion of death itself, Via retells the day of her mother’s death in minute detail, trying to discern the crack in the world through which her mother must have slipped. She takes us through the seemingly ordinary moments of her day, from a cold-cereal breakfast to math class, when she is called to the principal’s office to hear the news. Every small event of the tragic day calls up earlier memories from Via’s young life, resulting in a beautifully patterned portrait of a comfortable childhood guarded by a warm and loving mother. Via attempts to grasp ” how something so big could fit into such a little thing as a day.”
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
I’ve seen some great reviews of this book recently so I bought the ebook (it’s a bargain at the moment at just £1.99). I started reading this last night and am already intrigued!
When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.
One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.
What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.
Before Everything by Victoria Redel
I hadn’t heard anything about this book but it showed up on Amazon when I was buying my other ebooks and I loved the sound of it so decided to 1-click this one too. I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one as I think it’ll be an emotional read but I do want to read it soon.
Anna, Molly, Ming, Caroline, Helen: the Old Friends.
Since adopting their official name aged eleven, they have seen each other through careers, children, illnesses, marriage, divorce, addiction, fame, fall outs.
But now, Anna – fiercely loved mother and friend, and the Old Friends’ glue – is diagnosed with cancer again, and this time, tired of recoveries and relapses, pitying looks and exhausting regimes, she simply says: no more.
As her health declines, the politics of the still lived-in world merge with memories of the past while each Old Friend tries to accept the truth of what is happening: they are losing someone they cannot imagine life without.
Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of wonderful women.
End of sixth grade they made it their official name. It was a joke one afternoon but they liked the way it sounded. Permanent. The Old Friends. This way, the five girls agree, it’s just a fact. And ours forever.
Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
I’ve been wanting this book for a while too so when I spotted it in the kindle summer sale I snapped it up! I’m hoping to have the brain power to read this one soon as I really want to read it as soon as possible.
Written in startlingly beautiful prose, HARMLESS LIKE YOU is set across New York, Berlin and Connecticut, following the stories of Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old.
HARMLESS LIKE YOU is an unforgettable novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships and familial bonds, offering a unique exploration of love, loneliness and reconciliation.
The No-Spend Year by Michelle McGagh
It seems quite ironic that I bought this book this week when I’ve been on yet another book buying spree but I love the sound of this and am really excited to read it as soon as I can.
Personal finance journalist, Michelle McGagh, takes on a challenge to not spend money for a whole year in an engaging narrative that combines personal experience with accessible advice on money so you can learn to spend less and live more.
Michelle McGagh has been writing about money for over a decade. You’d think that would make her a whizz with her own cash, right? Wrong!
Spending with abandon and ignoring bank statements were her modus operandi. Just because she wasn’t in serious debt, apart from her massive London mortgage, she thought she was in control. She wasn’t.
Something needed to be done but rather than cut back here and there, Michelle’s approach was more radical. She set herself a challenge to not spend anything for an entire year. She pays her bills and she has a minimal budget for her weekly groceries and household essentials but otherwise Michelle doesn’t spend any money at all. She is finding creative ways to get the things she needs, to travel and to still be able to enjoy her time. Not only has she saved money but she is happier: no longer feeling the desire to buy things all the time or feeling the pressure of being sold to. Her relationship with money, with things, with time, with others has changed for the better.
The No Spend Year is Michelle’s honestly written and personal account of her challenge. But it is more than that, it is also a tool for life that will help you get to grips with your own financial situation. She talks about money in an accessible, unintimidating and often entertaining way and interspersed throughout are really brilliant personal finance tips and life hacks about interest, mortgages, savings , pensions and spending less to help you live a more financially secure life too.
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
I’m a huge Sarah Waters fan and have loved all of her novels. I’ve already read this one but I lost my print copy a long while ago so I’ve replaced it with the kindle version. I’d really like to re-read this one at some point soon.
Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl – I knew it at once! – that I had ever seen.
A saucy, sensuous and multi-layered historical romance, Tipping the Velvet follows the glittering career of Nan King – oyster girl turned music-hall star turned rent boy turned East End ‘tom’.
Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County by Kristen Green
I’ve seen this book around online recently and liked the sound of it so I decided to just get it. It’s a gorgeous American hardback book and I definitely want to read this one before too long.
Combining hard-hitting investigative journalism and a sweeping family narrative, this provocative true story reveals a little-known chapter of American history: the period after the Brown v. Board of Education decision when one Virginia school system refused to integrate.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The community’s white leaders quickly established a private academy, commandeering supplies from the shuttered public schools to use in their all-white classrooms. Meanwhile, black parents had few options: keep their kids at home, move across county lines, or send them to live with relatives in other states. For five years, the schools remained closed.
Kristen Green, a longtime newspaper reporter, grew up in Farmville and attended Prince Edward Academy, which did not admit black students until 1986. In her journey to uncover what happened in her hometown before she was born, Green tells the stories of families divided by the school closures and of 1,700 black children denied an education. As she peels back the layers of this haunting period in our nation’s past, her own family’s role–no less complex and painful–comes to light.
How to Live: A User’s Guide by Peter Johns
This showed up on the recommendations as I was adding the above book to my basket and as it was only £1 I bought it on a whim! It sounds like an inspiriting read and it’s a short book so I hope to squeeze this in soon.
What do you give your daughter for her eighteenth birthday? After considering dresses, pets and parties, this father gave his daughter what would almost certainly have been close to the bottom of her wish list. He wrote a book for her.
In many ways Meg is an ordinary girl, but in one way she is different from most others: at the age of nine she was diagnosed with cancer. This took the form of a tumour that, by the time of her diagnosis, already filled most of her chest cavity. Later, despite months of chemotherapy, a second tumour started to grow. Normally this development is fatal and her parents were told as much. Only a bone marrow transplant and long sessions of full body irradiation saved her life, a result that her doctors had initially thought to be so improbable that there was an initial resistance into even making the attempt.
The title of this book, ‘How to Live’, therefore has a subsidiary meaning. It was written for someone who was once not expected to live, but who turned into a normal teenager full of bombast, anxiety, humour and stress. Her father, Peter Johns, based the book on his own imperfect – though eventually successful – life and what he has learnt from it.
It is a book that was written for Meg, but it is also a book for everyone.
Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings
This is another book that I’ve seen good reviews of recently so decided to buy it when I spotted it on a sale this week. It sounds like quite a heavy-going novel but also one that hooks you in. I’m not in the right mindset to read this just now but I will read it in the coming months.
In 1950s England, six-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy; she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.
As Gracie grows older she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy, with whom she escapes into the poetic fantasy worlds they create.
But will fantasy be enough to save Gracie? Just how far will Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour go?
The story weaves between these events and the visits Billy pays many years later to an old friend, confused and dying in a hospice. It is here that he is forced to revisit the events of the past.
Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.
Recovered by Adrian James
I don’t remember where I first heard about this book but it was on my wish list and this week it was free for a few days so I grabbed it. I really like the sound of this one and it sounds a bit different to what I’ve been reading lately so I may read this soon as some escapism.
Jem, Scott and Christy are three friends in Cinnamon Twist, a struggling original band based in Northern England. Desperate for cash, they agree to some gigs playing covers to earn some quick money. This leads to a life-changing offer that proves impossible to turn down, testing their friendship and beliefs fundamentally.
This is a fun, fast-moving book. It explores how family, relationships and friendship become compromised by ambition and greed.
I received two review books:
The Break by Marian Keyes
I LOVE Marian Keyes’ novels and have been a fan since her first book came out but somehow I had no idea that she had a new novel due out later this year. I was browsing NetGalley a couple of days ago and happened to spot it so immediately requested. I actually squealed when I got approved to read it and I can’t wait to read this!
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.
He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .
However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?
The Break isn’t a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.
Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran
I’m on the blog tour for this novel in a couple of weeks time so will definitely be reading this very, very soon and I’m really looking forward to it.
A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…
A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past. Perfect for fans of BA Paris and Sue Fortin.
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…
So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.
My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.