NeedaBook https://www.needabook.online What are the Best Books, Best Selling Books, Best Nonfiction Books to read, Best Book Selling Website, Great Books to read, Top Selling Authors Sat, 19 Oct 2019 12:41:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 https://i1.wp.com/www.needabook.online/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/cropped-cropped-Books-160-x-160-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 NeedaBook https://www.needabook.online 32 32 124549174 The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes https://www.needabook.online/the-coroners-daughter-by-andrew-hughes/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 12:41:48 +0000 https://needabook.online/the-coroners-daughter-by-andrew-hughes/ A The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes May 9, 2017 · Pegasus Books Historical: EuropeanMystery/Thriller CW/TW warnings inside CW/TW – violence, graphic – but, dispassionate – descriptions of autopsies, a nasty incident of animal cruelty [...]

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A

The Coroner’s Daughter

by Andrew Hughes
May 9, 2017 · Pegasus Books
Historical: EuropeanMystery/Thriller

CW/TW warnings inside
CW/TW – violence, graphic – but, dispassionate – descriptions of autopsies, a nasty incident of animal cruelty towards the end of the book

Recently, I treated myself to a trawl through Bikini Books, a legendary secondhand bookstore in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa. It is the kind of shop that gifts you with surprises, if you take the time to look. One such book was The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes. It is a whodunnit with the coroner’s daughter, Abigail Lawless, taking up the investigator’s mantle when those in authority aren’t brave enough to wade into uncertain waters. This book gifted me with a fearless female protagonist, a satisfyingly twisty plot and the gentle glow of a romantic subplot.

In honour of Abigail’s scientific principles, I present to you…

A Treatise in Five Parts on the Glory of The Coroner’s Daughter by Andrew Hughes.

Abigail Lawless is one of life’s unashamed individuals and I love it.

In support of this claim, I present the opening line of the book:

For my eighteenth birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar.

Abigail Lawless is, as mentioned above, the coroner’s daughter. Compounded by the (long) illness (and subsequent death) of her mother, Abigail develops particularly close ties to her father. She shares his scientific interests and her curiosity in this field occasionally borders on compulsion. His ‘workroom’ (aka the coroner’s morgue) is in a building at the rear of their house and it is a place with which Abigail is intimately acquainted.

But there is more than her interest in forensic science to set Abigail apart. Abigail is out of the ordinary because she has empathetic, sincere relationships with people from all walks of life. Her curiosity and care for others sets her apart from most of her peers.

Having been brought up in an unconventional way in an unconventional home and with an unconventional father, Abigail is destined to be out of the ordinary. Abigail’s involvement in this story – which would have turned out very differently had she not been involved – shows us that it is her individuality that allows justice to prevail.

The plot is SuRpRiSiNg

Full disclosure: I speed-read the last few pages of the book because I NEEDED to know what happened. In retrospect, taking a bit more time and reading at a normal human speed would have helped me enjoy the ending a whole lot more. Resist the temptation to fly through it. Trust me, there is an (implied) HEA.

The plot focuses on the mystery of Miss Emilie Casey’s alleged suicide and – prior to that – the murder of her newborn infant. The forensic evidence in both cases is inconclusive, which limits Mr Lawless’ findings. Abigail’s curiosity prompts her to gather additional information that casts the case in a wholly different light.

While Abigail wants the truth, there are powerful forces working against her. Miss Casey was a maid working in Mr Nesham’s home. Mr Nesham, along with Dr Labatt and Judge Gould, are all leaders in The Brethren, an evangelical church led by a Mr Darby. They do not wish for these deaths to become a public matter and so pressure is applied. Abigail’s father operates only within the bounds of the forensic evidence, but Abigail runs afoul of these powerful men with her incisive questions and ceaseless digging. What initially seems a simple act (hiding a “scandalous” event) is actually a many-layered saga of competing ideologies, personal hurts and revenge.

A creeptastic setting

The story takes place in Dublin in 1816 – the year when there was no summer. For a variety of reasons (some of which Abigail herself theorises) the weather remains cold and miserable through July and August.

Add the eerie weather to the visceral descriptions of Dublin in 1816 and you’ve got yourself a bit of magic. This book hits that sweet spot: enough description to paint a vivid picture for the reader, but not so much that you get bounced out of the story by tedium or boredom. The grit and grind of life in 1816 is present and vivid, but Abigail’s matter-of-fact, rather optimistic outlook prevents it from becoming too dreary or depressing.

In fact, there is a softness to how the plot unfolds: the ordinary ins-and-outs of life find their way into the story. Yes, the whodunnit plot is THRILLING, but there is also time in the day for Abigail to find a tailor to alter a dress for the upcoming ball, and walk with her friend in the park. While most events in a suspense novel are there to drive the plot forward, in this novel, we have these quiet moments of daily life which do not (as you might suspect) serve as a distraction from the main plot, but rather add to our understanding of the time and characters. We see how these characters lead full lives outside of the tragedy that they are investigating and the ways in which this bigger picture impacts upon their choices.

Mr Lawless is a Good Dad

I realise that the bar is often set so low for fathers in fiction and media such that mediocrity is all too often applauded. We need not fear that in this case. I present two examples of Mr Lawless being a good dad.

Example, The First: he lives by a principle which toy manufacturers and clothing stores are only starting to embrace.

I was thirteen when I first accompanied Father to an inquest. He had been reluctant to allow it, but it had been a principle of his, as far as practicable, not to deny a request from his daughter that he would have granted a son.

Mr Lawless is not perfect. He tries, from time to time, to encourage Abigail’s interest in more ‘feminine’ matters, but his efforts in this regard are half-hearted at best. I present to you Fact, The Second: Mr Lawless encourages his daughter’s academic pursuits:

I slipped from the bench and held my letter out. “Can you sign this?”

“What is it?” he said, reaching for his spectacles.

“A letter to the editor of the Royal Society.”

“Your observations on the sunspots?”

“Among other things.”

Once the glasses were perched on his nose, he took the page and held it close to his face. “Abigail, did I not forbid you from writing to the Royal Society?” His lower lip protruded as he tilted the page towards the light. “After last time.”

“No, you only forbade me from forging your name.”

“Oh, yes. That was it.”

Yes, Abigail corresponds with the Royal Society and signs the letters with her father’s name in order for them to be published (which they are and which receive many fervent replies).

Abigail has a beta (male) friend

Ewan Weir is the coroner’s assistant. He is in his second year of medical school and works with Mr Lawless to gain practical experience. His most endearing characteristic? He doesn’t really want to change Abigail either.

He leaned back and regarded me, the cloth still in his fingers. “Abigail, why do you feel you must do everything alone?”

“Because no one offers help. They insist that I stay where I belong.”

He held my eye for a moment, then bowed his head and applied more iodine to the cloth. I thought of Ewan coming back to me in the Rotunda, showing me Father’s files, even here now, tending my wound, and I realised that he had done more than most would be willing; probably more than he should.

Neither Ewan nor Mr Lawless are feminist paragons and at times they slip into the formidable groove of societal expectations. Sporadically, both Ewan and Mr Lawless ask Abigail to alter her behaviour, either to keep her safe, or as a feeble attempt at making Abigail ‘conform’. These lapses are never louder than the truth of their love for Abigail and their full-hearted acceptance of her. And at times, even Abigail doubts her actions. However, she gives these doubts short shrift and we are left certain in our exaltation of her formidable spirit.

In conclusion, if you would like to disappear into another world where good prevails and strong women are admired then this is the book for you.

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Book Beat: Graphic Novels, Nobel Winners, & More https://www.needabook.online/book-beat-graphic-novels-nobel-winners-more/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 12:41:46 +0000 https://needabook.online/book-beat-graphic-novels-nobel-winners-more/ Welcome to Book Beat! Think of Book Beat as Hide Your Wallet, Part Two! In Hide Your Wallet, we talk about books coming out in a particular month that we really want to read. But there’s more [...]

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Welcome to Book Beat! Think of Book Beat as Hide Your Wallet, Part Two!

In Hide Your Wallet, we talk about books coming out in a particular month that we really want to read. But there’s more to good books than just new releases!

Book Beat aims to highlight other books that we may hear about through friends, social media, or other sources. We could see a gorgeous ad! Or find a new-to-us author on a list of underrated romances! Think of Book Beat as Teen Beat or Tiger Beat, but for books. And no staples to open to get the fold-out poster.

A River of Royal Blood

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Author: Amanda Joy
Released: October 29, 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: ,
Series: A River of Royal Blood #1

An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

Source: @AmandaJoyWrites on Twitter

We featured this one on the latest Hide Your Wallet, but if you need more of a reason to check this one out, the author lists:

✨ slow burn romance
✨ an ancient fey tutor
✨ one blood moon
✨ wild, vicious magick
✨ a HELLA messy royal family

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

Bloodlust & Bonnets

Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern

Author: Emily McGovern
Released: September 17, 2019 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: , ,

Set in early nineteenth-century Britain, Bloodlust & Bonnets follows Lucy, an unworldly debutante who desires a life of passion and intrigue—qualities which earn her the attention of Lady Violet Travesty, the leader of a local vampire cult.

But before Lucy can embark on her new life of vampiric debauchery, she finds herself unexpectedly thrown together with the flamboyant poet Lord Byron (“from books!”) and a mysterious bounty-hunter named Sham. The unlikely trio lie, flirt, fight, and manipulate each other as they make their way across Britain, disrupting society balls, slaying vampires, and making every effort not to betray their feelings to each other as their personal and romantic lives become increasingly entangled.

Both witty and slapstick, elegant and gory, Emily McGovern’s debut graphic novel pays tribute to and pokes fun at beloved romance tropes, delivering a joyous, action-packed world of friendship and adventure.

Source: Our Slack!

This was being discussed on our Slack with lots of “oohs” and “aahs.” The author is most known for the My Life as Background Slytherin webcomic.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

Author: Olga Tokarczuk
Released: August 13, 2019 by Riverhead Books
Genre:

An ingenious variation on murder noir, set in motion by a string of bizarre deaths in an isolated village, from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Man Booker International Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award.

In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the long, dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and serving as caretaker for the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is only amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. She’s devastated when her two beloved dogs disappear. Then her neighbor, Bigfoot, turns up dead. As corpses pile up in increasingly strange circumstances, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind . . .

A deeply satisfying and inventive thriller-cum-fairy tale from one of Europe’s “major humanist writers” (The Guardian), Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the tug between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice?

Source: My shopping trip to Porter Square Books

The author recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018. It was a staff pick at a local bookstore with these comments:

John Wick by way of Murder She Wrote but with Eastern European melancholy and maybe John Wick is a witch.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

Het Vet: Witches in Training

Het Vet: Witches in Training by Sam Davies

Author: Sam Davies
Released: December 12, 2018 by BOOM! – KaBOOM!
Genre: , ,
Series: Hex Vet #1

In a world where magic is an ordinary part of daily life, two young apprentice veterinarians pursue their dreams of caring for supernatural creatures.

Have you ever wondered where witches’ cats go when they pull a claw? Or what you do with a pygmy phoenix with a case of bird flu? Nan and Clarion have you covered. They’re the best veterinarian witches of all time—at least they’re trying to be. But when an injured spectral wolf beast from another realm stumbles into their lives, Nan and Clarion have to put down their enchanted potions and face the biggest test of their magical, medical careers…outside of the clinic.

Hex Vet: Witches in Training is the debut original graphic novel from acclaimed cartoonist Sam Davies (Stutterhug) and explores a truly spellbinding story about sticking together and helping animals at all costs.

Source: LadiesofComicazi on Instagram

Ladies of Comicazi is my local comic and tabletop gaming group for women and I saw this adorable middle grade graphic novel come across their IG page.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

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Podcast 373, Your Transcript is Ready! https://www.needabook.online/podcast-373-your-transcript-is-ready/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 12:41:44 +0000 https://needabook.online/podcast-373-your-transcript-is-ready/ The transcript for Podcast 373. Being Purveyors of Hope: Diversity, Education, Inclusion, and Romance with Consultant Sunny Lee-Goodman has been posted! This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks. ❤ [...]

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Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast

The transcript for Podcast 373. Being Purveyors of Hope: Diversity, Education, Inclusion, and Romance with Consultant Sunny Lee-Goodman has been posted!

This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

❤ Click here to subscribe to The Podcast →

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‘I Can’t Just Stand on the Sidelines’: An Interview with Naomi Oreskes https://www.needabook.online/i-cant-just-stand-on-the-sidelines-an-interview-with-naomi-oreskes/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 12:41:41 +0000 https://needabook.online/i-cant-just-stand-on-the-sidelines-an-interview-with-naomi-oreskes/ Claudia Dreifus: I heard that you grew up in a political family. True? Naomi Oreskes: I did. And for a long time, I didn’t want to be political. My parents were very involved in the [...]

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Claudia Dreifus: I heard that you grew up in a political family. True?
Naomi Oreskes: I did. And for a long time, I didn’t want to be political. My parents were very involved in the civil rights movement. I always tell people, “When I grew up, the mall was a place you went to protest, not to shop.” As a child, I was proud of my parents, but there was something about their lives that was exhausting. Part of me just wanted the have the right to just play the piano or read poetry, and not to feel as though I was personally responsible for saving the world all the time. Do you know the novel Burger’s Daughter, by Nadine Gordimer? It was about the doubts of the child of two activists during the apartheid era in South Africa. I really related to the central character.

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Staff Picks: Freedom, Frailty, and Four Damn Cellos https://www.needabook.online/staff-picks-freedom-frailty-and-four-damn-cellos/ Sat, 19 Oct 2019 12:41:39 +0000 https://needabook.online/staff-picks-freedom-frailty-and-four-damn-cellos/ Aria Aber. Photo: Nadine Aber. Jack Gilbert’s masterful poem “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” ends with lines that remind us of the very limits of language: “What we feel most has / no name but amber, [...]

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Aria Aber. Photo: Nadine Aber.

Jack Gilbert’s masterful poem “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” ends with lines that remind us of the very limits of language: “What we feel most has / no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.” Hard Damage, Aria Aber’s debut poetry collection, pushes against those same limits, asking a great deal from the reader—emotionally as well as intellectually—while also allowing for comprehension and, ultimately, meaning. Aber’s work here is often about the very notion of what language can do when faced with a shifting geography that requires us to describe both the self and the world: Berlin, Afghanistan, Wisconsin, the gods of Olympus, the guitarist John Frusciante, the German language, the mujahideen, and, during a particularly striking section, Rainer Maria Rilke. Aber is not afraid of erudition or the hard labor of crafting poems that peel open in layers; at times, reading her work reminded me of poets who have worked across similarly broad linguistic topographies: Carolyn Forché, Frank Bidart, Paul Celan, Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens, and others. But Aber’s work here is hardly derivative of those masters. She is her own poet, her own voice, and her debut is my favorite volume of poetry this year. —Christian Kiefer 

I always feel terrifically small in SoHo—all those fashionable people and fancy stores and imperious cast-iron buildings. Last night I followed the long and lonely streets to the Drawing Center to see “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists” and to focus, I hoped, on something larger than myself. The show highlights the drawings of incarcerated artists around the world and throughout history—from Gustave Courbet, imprisoned during the Paris Commune, to Valentino Dixon, who was released from Attica in 2018—with a particular emphasis on how these artists “used the pencil to envision their freedom.” While this freedom takes many forms, I was particularly struck by pieces that imagined it architecturally: Herman Wallace’s drawings of his dream home, Henry Fukuhara’s rendering of a vast and colorful hydroelectric dam, and a hand-lettered and hand-illustrated manuscript titled “Yemen Milk & Honey Farms Limited Feasibility Report.” Drafted by Mansoor Adayfi, Abdualmalik Abud, Saeed, and Khalid Qasim—then detainees at Guantánamo—the manuscript envisions a sheep-farming business, including detailed diagrams for facilities that could house up to five thousand animals. Their vision is thorough and impressive. I could only hope to imagine, if subjected to such severe confinement, an environment so expansive and full of purpose. —Noor Qasim

 

Ron Carter performing at the 2007 European Jazz Expo. Photo: Laura Manchinu (CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)). Via Wikimedia Commons.

 

This month, I did something I never do: go to Times Square twice in a week. My usual commute, social calendar, and low-grade agoraphobia have me spending more time on the edges of this island, but I braved the slow-walking crowds and the glaring billboards to make my way to Birdland. You see, October is Ron Carter month at the iconic jazz club, and Carter, a bassist with something like two thousand albums in his discography (which dates back to the early sixties and his time with the Miles Davis Quintet) is a living legend. My first visit, a Saturday night, was for the last of a string of performances by Carter’s big band. I’ll step into traffic for a good saxophone solo, and Carter’s group had great ensemble work along with standout soloists. In this configuration and others, Carter has an unparalleled ability to be both the star of the show and a generous collaborator, providing the backbone—and backbeat—for the ensemble. I returned a second time for the Golden Striker trio, with the pianist Daniel Vega and the incomparable guitarist Russell Malone: brilliant again. For ninety minutes, I forgot drums exist (sorry, drummer friends). Carter’s four-week residency continues this weekend with a quartet featuring the saxophonist Jimmy Greene; next week, he’ll round out the month with his nonet, which includes, inexplicably and excitingly, four damn cellos. Run, don’t walk. Or at least walk as quickly as the Times Square crowds will allow—Ron Carter is worth it. —Emily Nemens

Binaries snag at Saul Adler, the protagonist of Deborah Levy’s latest novel, The Man Who Saw Everything: East versus West, male versus female, bourgeois versus proletarian. Saul, a twenty-eight-year-old historian on his way to study male tyranny in 1988 East Berlin at the beginning of the novel, is a peculiar, slippery character himself, a male muse who chafes under the gaze of his photographer girlfriend; he falls in love with his translator, Walter, and inadvertently betrays him to the Stasi. These may sound like spoilers, but they’re not, not really; halfway through the novel, time folds in on itself, and 1988 East Berlin suddenly becomes 2016 London, post–Brexit vote. I’ve very much enjoyed many of Levy’s previous works, both fiction and nonfiction, but there’s something about The Man Who Saw Everything that captures the enormity of history, the frailty of time, and the question of Europe in a way that’s hard to describe. The word specter comes up frequently in the novel, as in the specter invoked by Marx and Engels and also Saul himself, but Levy shows us that for even those of us born after the Wall fell—and I am a member of that generation—the specter of history, of war, of borders and their ensuing binaries, still haunts us. —Rhian Sasseen

This past weekend I saw the U.S. premiere of Ebs Burnough’s documentary The Capote Tapes at the Hamptons International Film Festival. The film, which explores the life and lore of the late writer, is constructed around a series of reel-to-reel recordings made by George Plimpton in the nineties—interviews that were eventually compiled into the brilliantly subtitled oral history Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. Those interviewed include Norman Mailer, Dick Cavett, André Leon Talley, and Capote’s close friend Dotson Rader, who offers a peerless impersonation of Capote’s toddlerish voice and states, with complete humorlessness, that Truman never believed anyone loved him. Particularly memorable for me is the footage of Capote wandering the desolate back roads of Kansas, hands clasped politely behind his back, while reporting In Cold Blood. There is something mesmerizing and lonely about his small frame against that vast landscape. Much of the film confirmed dimensions of Capote’s identity I was already familiar with—the literary legend, the eccentric, the raconteur—but these clips revealed a different, more private side of his character: the journalist, the addict, the self-isolating storyteller. While the film does discuss Capote’s celebrity and suicide, it’s not salacious. There are no big twists. Rather, like a dinner party where a group of (very eloquent) people discuss an old friend, The Capote Tapes offers a collaborative portrait of the famed artist—one cobbled together from the voices of those who knew and loved him. —Cornelia Channing

 

Truman Capote. Photo: Roger Higgins for the New York World-Telegram and Sun. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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