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View Poll Results: Whose debut will we witness in August?
The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin 2 33.33%
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 3 50.00%
Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym 2 33.33%
I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume 5 83.33%
Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout 3 50.00%
Every Day is Mother's Day by Hilary Mantel 2 33.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-07-2019, 08:00 AM   #1
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Vote for August 2019 • First Things First: Debuts


Let's select the book we'll read and discuss in August 2019!

We love new participants. We're happy for you to vote, but we'd like to request that you not vote unless you plan to join the discussion whatever the selection, in the interest of a vibrant conversation. So if you haven't posted in a book club thread yet, do please say a quick hello here or in the Welcome thread.


This is a poll. Vote for as many books as you'd like. Questions? FAQs | Guidelines Or just ask!

Choices:

The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
US$12.99 | CA$13.99 | AU$12.99 | UK£8.51 | OverDrive | Audible
Spoiler:
Quote:
Moscow, May 1876: What would cause a talented young student from a wealthy family to shoot himself in front of a promenading public in the Alexander Gardens? Decadence and boredom, most likely, is what the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Police thinks, but still he finds it curious enough to send the newest member of the division, Erast Fandorin, a young man of irresistible charm, to the Alexander Gardens precinct for more information.

Fandorin is not satisfied with the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case, nor with the preliminary detective work the precinct has done—and for good reason: The bizarre and tragic suicide is soon connected to a clear case of murder, witnessed firsthand by Fandorin. There are many unresolved questions. Why, for instance, have both victims left their fortunes to an orphanage run by the English Lady Astair? And who is the beautiful “A.B.,” whose signed photograph is found in the apparent suicide’s apartment? Relying on his keen intuition, the eager sleuth plunges into an investigation that leads him across Europe, landing him at the deadly center of a terrorist conspiracy of worldwide proportions.
290 pp.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Amazon $13 | Amazon & Kobo CA $0.99 | GoodReads
Spoiler:
Quote:
In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
337 pp.

Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
Amazon US $9.99 | Kobo US $14.39 | Kobo AU $12.99 |Kobo NZ $16.99 | Kobo UK £3.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
A novel of two sisters in postwar England that lets you “step into the Jane Austen–like lives of Harriet and Belinda Bede” (The Christian Science Monitor).

Belinda and Harriet Bede live together in a small English village. Shy, sensible Belinda has been secretly in love with Henry Hoccleve—the poetry-spouting, married archdeacon of their church—for thirty years. Belinda’s much more confident, forthright younger sister Harriet, meanwhile, is ardently pursued by Count Ricardo Bianco. Although she has turned down every marriageable man who proposes, Harriet still welcomes any new curate with dinner parties and flirtatious conversation. And one of the newest arrivals, the reverend Edgar Donne, has everyone talking.

A warm, affectionate depiction of a postwar English village, Some Tame Gazelle perfectly captures the quotidian details that make up everyday life. With its vibrant supporting cast, it’s also a poignant story of unrequited love.
Quote:
It was odd that Harriet should always have been so fond of curates. They were so immature and always made the same kind of conversation. Now the Archdeacon was altogether different . . . '

Together yet alone, the Misses Bede occupy the central crossroads of parish life. Harriet, plump, elegant and jolly, likes nothing better than to make a fuss of new curates, secure in the knowledge that elderly Italian Count Ricardo Bianco will propose to her yet again this year. Belinda, meanwhile has harboured sober feelings of devotion towards Archdeacon Hochleve for thirty years.

Then into their quiet, comfortable lives comes a famous librarian, Nathaniel Mold, and a bishop from Africa, Theodore Grote - who each take to calling on the sisters for rather more unsettling reasons.
272 pp.

I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
Amazon $10 | GoodReads
Spoiler:
Quote:
I am a cat. As yet I have no name.

So begins one of the most original and unforgettable works in Japanese literature.

Richly allegorical and delightfully readable, I Am a Cat is the chronicle of an unloved, unwanted, wandering kitten who spends all his time observing human nature - from the dramas of businessmen and schoolteachers to the foibles of priests and potentates. From this unique perspective, author Sōseki Natsume offers a biting commentary - shaped by his training in Chinese philosophy - on the social upheaval of the Meiji era.

I Am a Cat first appeared in ten installments in the literary magazine Hotoguisu (Cuckoo), between 1905 and 1906. Sōseki had not intended to write more than the short story that makes up the first chapter of this book. After its great critical and popular success, he expanded it into this epic novel, which is universally recognised as a classic of world literature.
480 pp.

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout
Kobo CA $9 | Kobo US $5 | Kobo AU $10.22
Spoiler:
Quote:
As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man. When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he's getting dreadfully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president. As for Wolfe, he's playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda -- whistling a seductive tune he hopes will catch a killer who's still got poison in his heart.
285 pp.

Every Day is Mother's Day by Hilary Mantel
Kobo: $US7.99, $C11.99, $A12.99, £3.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
From the author of the Man Booker prize-winners Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies comes a story of suburban mayhem and merciless, hilarious revenge. Barricaded inside their house filled with festering rubbish, unhealthy smells and their secrets, the Axon family baffle Isabel Field, the latest in a long line of social workers. Isabel has other problems too: a randy, untrustworthy father and a slackly romantic lover, Colin Sidney, history teacher to unresponsive yobs and father of a parcel of horrible children. With all this to worry about, how can Isabel begin to understand what is going on in the Axon household?
274 pp.

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Old 07-07-2019, 03:45 PM   #2
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I didn’t think that I had heard of the Akunin series before and was surprised to see that I had previously wishlisted it at my library. Thanks for bringing it to my attention again!
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:16 AM   #3
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I don't like to vote for more than half the choices, so it took some thought for me to narrow it down to three.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:28 AM   #4
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I didn’t think that I had heard of the Akunin series before and was surprised to see that I had previously wishlisted it at my library. Thanks for bringing it to my attention again!
Ah, yes, the ever-lengthening wishlists! Some of my library ones are entirely out of hand, but I figure they serve a purpose when I'm just looking for "something," especially an audiobook, for immediate consumption. At least only I know the absurdity of them! The wishlists that annoy me slightly are the to-read lists of my Goodreads friends and others, some of which extend literally into the thousands. At some point (reached long ago), they stopped serving a purpose, at least so it seems to me, and they make it useless to compare books according to the Goodreads algorithm (which can be quite handy to see if someone's taste is similar to your own). But of course it's their business.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:25 PM   #5
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I don't like to vote for more than half the choices, so it took some thought for me to narrow it down to three.
I just noticed that everyone who's voted so far has voted for exactly half the choices, so I assume it's a sentiment that's shared. There have been four different combinations of three; Team Canada voted in tandem.
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Old 07-08-2019, 06:43 PM   #6
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I just noticed that everyone who's voted so far has voted for exactly half the choices, so I assume it's a sentiment that's shared. There have been four different combinations of three; Team Canada voted in tandem.
Purely coincidence -- no coordination. But I find Victoria and I have somewhat similar tastes, so not totally surprising. (Too bad she wasn't with us during the discussion around the Halifax Explosion. Would have been interesting to have a more local view on it. Though perhaps we might have had a better book for the anchor. )
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:11 PM   #7
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Purely coincidence -- no coordination.
Maybe it's something in the water? Although you're almost as far apart as possible without falling off the continent at either end.

I was kidding, of course. I wasn't implying collusion, although there's no reason not to collude if you'd like.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:56 PM   #8
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Can’t take your eyes off those those canucks for a second Actually this is the first time I consciously limited my votes to just half. I hadn’t thought about it until it was mentioned last month, and it does force you to weigh the choices more carefully. I had to go back to the descriptions and reviews a few times to decide between a close tie.

A neat benefit to investing that time is that I decided to read some of the books soon, whether chosen or not, including one that didn’t make my final vote (the Russian Mystery).

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Old 07-08-2019, 09:11 PM   #9
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I am abstaining again this month ... at this point it looks like I will be away when this comes up for discussion.
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:31 AM   #10
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I Am a Cat it is, with near universal support.
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:48 AM   #11
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I was the one who didn't vote for it, as it is expensive to buy in Oz and I was having difficulty in finding a library copy. Luckily I now have one, so shall certainly be joining in on what sounds to be quite an intriguing and different book.
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:30 AM   #12
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I love seeing Japanese literature win! I might read this in a side-by-side Japanese-English text.
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:49 AM   #13
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Didn't vote because I'm not going to read this. I looked at a sample, and I'm not going to read something that appears to include an animal being abused and mistreated by humans. I was put off by the sample, and some reviews I skimmed seem to indicate much worse to come, yet this book is supposed to be funny? Nope, not going there.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:35 PM   #14
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I'm looking forward to this. Originally I was put off as anthropomorphic tales are not for me, but when I read that it was social satire, East meets West, I changed my mind. I also tend to like turn-of-the-last century novels, but I doubt I've ever read one from Japan.
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Old 07-10-2019, 01:33 PM   #15
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I'm quite curious about this one myself. The Japanese fixation with cats is well known, so telling a tale from that viewpoint should be interesting. My one concern is that the differences in culture -- both geographic and temporal -- will make us miss too much of what's going on. But I'm game to give it a try.
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