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Old 02-01-2020, 06:52 AM   #1
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Nominations for March 2020 • As You Wish: Anything Goes

By this time tomorrow, I'll be on tenterhooks about the morning constitutional of that rodent in Pennsylvania, which means it's time for us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read in March 2020. The theme is As You Wish: Anything Goes.

Everyone is welcome to join the nomination process even if they'd rather lurk during the voting and discussion; if that is still a little too much commitment, please feel free to suggest titles without making a formal nomination. Also, don't sweat the links. It's helpful to check availability and prices before nominating in order to eliminate anything that's out of the question, but ultimately our global members with different gadgets and preferences will have to check for themselves.

The nominations will run through 7 AM EST, February 7, 2020. Each nomination requires a second and a third to make it to the poll, which will remain open for three days. The discussion of the selection will start on March 15, 2020.

Any questions? See below, or just ask!

FAQs for the Nomination, Selection and Discussion process

General Guidelines for the New Leaf Book Club

Official choices with three nominations:

The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett [Victoria, Bookpossum, gmw]
Public Domain in Canada
Spoiler:
Wikipedia:

Quote:
Sam Spade is a private detective in San Francisco, in partnership with Miles Archer. The beautiful "Miss Wonderley" hires them to follow Floyd Thursby, who has run off with her sister. Archer takes the first stint but is found shot dead that night. Thursby is also killed later and Spade is a suspect. The next morning, Spade coolly tells his office secretary, Effie Perine, to have the office door repainted to read simply "Samuel Spade".

"Miss Wonderley" is soon revealed to be an acquisitive adventuress named Brigid O'Shaughnessy, involved in the search for a black statuette of unknown but substantial value.


The Maltese Falcon is a 1930 detective novel by American writer Dashiell Hammett, originally serialized in the magazine Black Mask beginning with the September 1929 issue. The story is told entirely in external third-person narrative; there is no description whatever of any character's internal thoughts or feelings, only what they say and do, and how they look. The novel has been adapted several times for the cinema.

The main character, Sam Spade (who also appeared later in some lesser-known short stories), was a departure from Hammett's nameless detective, The Continental Op. Spade combined several features of previous detectives, notably his cold detachment, keen eye for detail, unflinching, sometimes ruthless, determination to achieve his own form of justice, and a complete lack of sentimentality.

Although Hammett himself worked for a time as a private detective for the Pinkerton Detective Agency in San Francisco (and used his given name, Samuel, for the story's protagonist), Hammett asserted that "Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been, and, in their cockier moments, thought they approached."
213 pp.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Carey Elwes [Dazrin, issybird, Bookpossum]
Amazon US $12.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!
259 pp.

Nation by Terry Pratchett [gmw, Victoria, Dazrin]
US$9.99; CA$11.89; GB£4.99; AU$11.99
Spoiler:
Goodreads
Quote:
Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire.

Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, that all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot, until other survivors arrive to take refuge on the island. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things (including how to milk a pig, and why spitting in beer is a good thing), and start to forge a new nation.

Encompassing themes of death and nationhood, Terry Pratchett’s new novel is, as can be expected, extremely funny, witty and wise. Mau’s ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone’s lives!
367 pp.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal [Dazrin, Victoria, CRussel]
Amazon US $4.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
431 pp.

The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow [Catlady, issybird, Bookworm_Girl]
Amazon U.S., $15.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
The Dollmaker was originally published in 1954 to immediate success and critical acclaim. In unadorned and powerful prose, Harriette Arnow tells the unforgettable and heartbreaking story of the Nevels family and their quest to preserve their deep-rooted values amidst the turmoil of war and industrialization. When Gertie Nevels, a strong and self-reliant matriarch, follows her husband to Detroit from their countryside home in Kentucky, she learns she will have to fight desperately to keep her family together. A sprawling book full of vividly drawn characters and masterful scenes, The Dollmaker is a passionate tribute to a woman's love for her children and the land.
Quote:
"The depth and power and stature of this enormous book are rare indeed in modern fiction." -- The New York Times

"The Dollmaker has vividness and terrific reality. It is a book to make one think...a story of the strength of the human heart against bitter odds....Deeply sincere and moving." -- Chicago Tribune

"A masterwork...A superb book of unforgettable strength and glowing richness." -- The New York Times

"The Dollmaker's depiction of family life -- the entangled bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters -- is unparalleled in modern fiction." -- The Georgia Review
690 pp.

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple [issybird, Bookpossum, Bookworm_Girl]
US$4.99; AU$9.99; CA$11.99; UK£6.49
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:

Quote:
Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi's centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters along the way-from eunuchs to descendants of great Moguls. With refreshingly open-minded curiosity, William Dalrymple explores the seven "dead" cities of Delhi as well as the eighth city-today's Delhi. Underlying his quest is the legend of the djinns, fire-formed spirits that are said to assure the city's Phoenix-like regeneration no matter how many times it is destroyed. Entertaining, fascinating, and informative, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure.
352 pp.

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Old 02-01-2020, 06:52 AM   #2
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Choices with one or two nominations:

**Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh [CRussel, fantasy fan]
AmazonUS $2.99; AmazonCA $9.99; Audible US (WS); AudibleAU
Spoiler:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodreads
The first book in C.J. Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race.

From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the Foreigner series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early space flight to confrontations with other alien species in distant sectors of space. It is the masterwork of a truly remarkable author.
431 pp.

*The Water Rat of Wanchai (apa: The Deadly Touch of the Tigress) by Ian Hamilton [CRussel]
AmazonUS $7.99; AmazonCA $11.99; AmazonAU $12.99; AmazonUK £2.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amazon Canada
Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel
A CBC Bookie Award: Mystery and Thriller, Finalist
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
An Amazon.ca Editors’ Pick

In the first electrifying book of the series, Ian Hamilton introduces us to Ava Lee — the smartest, most stylish heroine in crime fiction since Lisbeth Salandar.

Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads. At 115 lbs., she hardly seems a threat. But her razorsharp intellect and resourcefulness allows her to succeed where traditional methods have failed.

In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Ava travels across continents to track $5 million owed by a seafood company. But it’s in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava’s $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share . . .
400 pp.

**The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton [Bookworm_Girl, gmw]
Amazon US $7.55.
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Quote:
Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
301 pp.

*Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian [Catlady]
Amazon U.S. $12.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
In January 1945, in the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives: an attempt to cross the remnants of the Third Reich, from Warsaw to the Rhine if necessary, to reach the British and American lines.

Among the group is eighteen-year-old Anna Emmerich, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats. There is her lover, Callum Finella, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war who was brought from the stalag to her family’s farm as forced labor. And there is a twenty-six-year-old Wehrmacht corporal, who the pair know as Manfred–who is, in reality, Uri Singer, a Jew from Germany who managed to escape a train bound for Auschwitz.

As they work their way west, they encounter a countryside ravaged by war. Their flight will test both Anna’s and Callum’s love, as well as their friendship with Manfred–assuming any of them even survive.

Perhaps not since The English Patient has a novel so deftly captured both the power and poignancy of romance and the terror and tragedy of war. Skillfully portraying the flesh and blood of history, Chris Bohjalian has crafted a rich tapestry that puts a face on one of the twentieth century’s greatest tragedies–while creating, perhaps, a masterpiece that will haunt readers for generations.
Quote:
"The perfect novel for a book club. . .this book sucked me right in. It’s vivid and heart-wrenching."
—John Searles, The Today Show

"Reading Bohjalian's descriptions of terror and tragedy on the road has just as much impact as seeing newsreels from the end of World War II....While creating suspense, Bohjalian agilely balances the moral ambiguities of war....Right and wrong shift depending on the situation. Ignorance is tolerated and murder is justified. But Bohjalian does posit that one absolute exists: No one wins at war."
—Dennis Moore, USA Today

"Harrowing. . .ingenious. . .compelling. . .Judging who's right or wrong is difficult in Skeletons at the Feast, and one senses that's just the way Bohjalian wants it. . .A tightly woven, moving story for anyone who thinks there's nothing left to learn, or feel, about the Second World War. That Bohjalian can extract greater truths about faith, hope and compassion from something as mundane as a diary is testament not only to his skill as a writer but also to the enduring ability of well-written war fiction to stir our deepest emotions."
—Paula L. Woods, The Los Angeles Times

"Harrowing. . .Bohjalian spins a suspenseful tale in which the plot triumphs over any single sorrow. . .[His] sense of character and place, his skillful plotting and his clear grasp of this confusing period of history make for a deeply satisfying novel, one that asks readers to consider, and reconsider, how they would rise to the challenge of terrible deprivation and agonizing moral choices."
-- Margot Livesey, The Washington Post Book World
386 pp.

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Old 02-01-2020, 01:35 PM   #3
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I'm going to jump in early this month with two nominations.

First, because it needs to be done (and is a good read):

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Carey Elwes
Amazon US | GoodReads
It is available from Overdrive (where applicable)
259 pages, published in 2014

Quote:
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!
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Old 02-01-2020, 01:35 PM   #4
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Second, because I loved this series and it should have some great discussion (it's also cheap right now at $4.99):

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Amazon US | GoodReads
431 pages, published in 2018

Quote:
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
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Old 02-01-2020, 01:54 PM   #5
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I wondered if someone would nominate As You Wish! I haven't read it, but I'll opine that contrary to the usual, the movie of The Princess Bride was far better than the book.
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Old 02-01-2020, 01:56 PM   #6
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I will definitely agree that the movie was far better than the book; I liked this memoir better than the book too though.
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Old 02-01-2020, 02:08 PM   #7
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I’m still cogitating, but in the meantime, I second The Calculating Stars, which sounds interesting. I have to confess that I never crossed paths with The Princess Bride.
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Old 02-01-2020, 02:46 PM   #8
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I’m still cogitating, but in the meantime, I second The Calculating Stars, which sounds interesting. I have to confess that I never crossed paths with The Princess Bride.
It goes against my religion, but in line with what I said above my recommendation would be to watch the movie and skip the book.
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Old 02-01-2020, 03:57 PM   #9
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OK, I'm going to do something I don't usually do -- nominate two books. I honestly don't expect either of them to get "through" the process, but I'm looking at this month as a chance to introduce my friends to two of my favourite, but VERY different, series. So if even one of you takes advantage and tries one of them, I'll feel like I've succeeded.

First up, CJ Cherryh's classic Alien Contact science fiction book, Foreigner. This is the first book in what is now a 20 book series that explores the themes of language and biology as language. The whole concept of alien language and the risks of thinking you actually understand when you don't. But taken beyond just the differences, say, between one of the Latin languages and a First Nations language, but where the alien language lacks the basic concepts of "friend" and "love" because they are biologically non-existent. And the consequences of that, and how to address those consequences and control them. I've found this both a fascinating series, and one which has forced me to look beyond my own preconceptions when dealing with different cultures.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodreads
The first book in C.J. Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race.

From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the Foreigner series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early space flight to confrontations with other alien species in distant sectors of space. It is the masterwork of a truly remarkable author.
AmazonUS: $2.99
AmazonCA: $9.99CAD

The audio book is narrated by Daniel Thomas May, and it's excellent.
AudibleUS: 1 Credit or $7.49 WhisperSync
AudibleAU: 1 Credit

The book is available in Overdrive, but the ebook is sadly not available in Australia. However, I will personally buy our two Australian regulars a copy of the US book and make it available to them in a format they can read if they have issues getting it and it's selected.

Length: 431 pages.
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Old 02-01-2020, 04:32 PM   #10
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Next up, The Water Rat of Wanchai (apa: The Deadly Touch of the Tigress), the first of the Ava Lee series from Ian Hamilton. The Ava Lee books are pure good fun, with Ava being a young, Lesbian, ethnically Chinese, Canadian, forensic accountant skilled in Bak Mei and in the debt collection business. (And just how many boxes does THAT tick?!)

Part of what I like about these books is the various locations that Ian Hamilton, a career diplomat, sends Ava Lee to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amazon Canada
Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel
A CBC Bookie Award: Mystery and Thriller, Finalist
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
An Amazon.ca Editors’ Pick

In the first electrifying book of the series, Ian Hamilton introduces us to Ava Lee — the smartest, most stylish heroine in crime fiction since Lisbeth Salandar.

Ava Lee is a young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads. At 115 lbs., she hardly seems a threat. But her razorsharp intellect and resourcefulness allows her to succeed where traditional methods have failed.

In The Water Rat of Wanchai, Ava travels across continents to track $5 million owed by a seafood company. But it’s in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava’s $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share . . .
AmazonUS: $7.99
AmazonCA: $11.99 CAD(includes a prequel book, The Dragon Head of Hong Kong)
AmazonAU: $12.99 AUD (as The Deadly Touch of the Tigress)
AmazonUK: £2.99 (as The Deadly Touch of the Tigress)

This is available on Overdrive, but there are no Audible versions, sadly. Some of the later books have Audible versions, some don't.

Length: 400 pages
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Old 02-02-2020, 12:34 PM   #11
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I nominate The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow (1954, 690 pp.). I first read this book more than 30 years ago; I reread it several times and it is one of my all-time favorites, though I haven't revisited it in many years.

I suspect I'm wasting a nomination and it won't get much support for quite valid reasons (expensive everywhere but the UK, with a jaw-dropping price in Canada; quite long; no audiobook), but it's a great book nevertheless.

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The Dollmaker was originally published in 1954 to immediate success and critical acclaim. In unadorned and powerful prose, Harriette Arnow tells the unforgettable and heartbreaking story of the Nevels family and their quest to preserve their deep-rooted values amidst the turmoil of war and industrialization. When Gertie Nevels, a strong and self-reliant matriarch, follows her husband to Detroit from their countryside home in Kentucky, she learns she will have to fight desperately to keep her family together. A sprawling book full of vividly drawn characters and masterful scenes, The Dollmaker is a passionate tribute to a woman's love for her children and the land.
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"The depth and power and stature of this enormous book are rare indeed in modern fiction." -- The New York Times

"The Dollmaker has vividness and terrific reality. It is a book to make one think...a story of the strength of the human heart against bitter odds....Deeply sincere and moving." -- Chicago Tribune

"A masterwork...A superb book of unforgettable strength and glowing richness." -- The New York Times

"The Dollmaker's depiction of family life -- the entangled bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters -- is unparalleled in modern fiction." -- The Georgia Review
It is in Overdrive--and I just noticed that Scribd has it too.

Amazon U.S., $15.99

Last edited by Catlady; 02-02-2020 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Fixed error
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Old 02-02-2020, 01:39 PM   #12
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I have no idea what kind of mood I am in today. The books I considered were all over the map in genre. I decided on an award-winning Young Adult novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Amazon US $7.55.

From Goodreads:
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Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
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Old 02-02-2020, 01:44 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I nominate The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow (1954, 690 pp.). I first read this book more than 30 years ago; I reread it several times and it is one of my all-time favorites, though I haven't revisited it in many years.

I suspect I'm wasting a nomination and it won't get much support for quite valid reasons (expensive everywhere but the UK, with a jaw-dropping price Down Under; quite long; no audiobook), but it's a great book nevertheless.
I'm not sure if I'd second this, for all the reasons you mention, but I will echo that it's an excellent book and well worth bringing to people's attention - a cult classic that most don't know.

ETA: only $12.99 in Australia, though.

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Old 02-02-2020, 02:28 PM   #14
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I'm not sure if I'd second this, for all the reasons you mention, but I will echo that it's an excellent book and well worth bringing to people's attention - a cult classic that most don't know.

ETA: only $12.99 in Australia, though.
Oops. I mixed up my countries. It's Canada that has the jaw-dropping price: $33.99.

P.S. But it's only £2.99 in the UK.

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Old 02-03-2020, 12:33 AM   #15
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Well, at £2.99 that isn't so bad. But $33.99? That's insane.
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