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Old 07-01-2019, 07:10 AM   #1
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Nominations for August 2019 • First Things First: Debuts


Happy Canada Day to our Canadians!

It's time for us select the book that the New Leaf Book Club will read in August 2019. The theme is First Things First: Debuts.

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 EDT, July 7, 2019. 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 August 15, 2019. Don't forget to show up for the discussion of the July selection, The Natural, on July 15.

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 Winter Queen by Boris Akunin [issybird, Bookpossum, gmw]
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 [Dazrin, gmw, Bookworm_Girl]
Amazon $13 | 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 [Catlady, Bookpossum, Bookworm_Girl]
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 [Dazrin, CRussel, Victoria]
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 [Victoria, CRussel, Dazrin]
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 [Bookpossum, issybird, Catlady]
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.

Last edited by issybird; 07-06-2019 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Through post #58.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:12 AM   #2
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Choices with one or two nominations:

**Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh [CRussel, Victoria]
Amazon $2.99 | Amazon(CA) $9.99 | Audible WhisperSync $7.49 | AudibleUK
Spoiler:
From Goodreads:
Quote:
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.
From Amazon:
Quote:
The groundbreaking novel that launched Cherryh's eponymous space opera series of first contact and its consequences...

It had been nearly five centuries since the starship Phoenix, lost in space and desperately searching for the nearest G5 star, had encountered the planet of the atevi. On this alien world, law was kept by the use of registered assassination, alliances were defined by individual loyalties not geographical borders, and war became inevitable once humans and one faction of atevi established a working relationship. It was a war that humans had no chance of winning on this planet so many light-years from home.

Now, nearly two hundred years after that conflict, humanity has traded its advanced technology for peace and an island refuge that no atevi will ever visit. Then the sole human the treaty allows into atevi society is marked for an assassin's bullet. THe work of an isolated lunatic? The interests of a particular faction? Or the consequence of one human's fondness for a species which has fourteen words for betrayal and not a single word for love?
430 pp.

**The Road Through the Wall [Catlady, issybird]
Amazon US $11.99 | Kobo US $11.99 | Kobo CA $13.99 | Kobo AU $14.99 | Kobo NZ $20.34 | Kobo UK £2.99 | OverDrive
Spoiler:
Quote:
In Pepper Street, an attractive suburban neighbourhood filled with bullies and egotistical bigots, the feelings of the inhabitants are shallow and selfish: what can a neighbour gain from another neighbour, what may be won from a friend? One child stands alone in her goodness: little Caroline Desmond, kind, sweet and gentle, and the pride of her family. But the malice and self-absorption of the people of Pepper Street lead to a terrible event that will destroy the community of which they are so proud. Exposing the murderous cruelty of children, and the blindness and selfishness of adults, Shirley Jackson reveals the ugly truth behind a 'perfect' world.
210 pp.

*The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden [gmw]
Goodreads | Kobo AU $12.99 | Kobo US $11.99 | Kobo CA $13.99 | Kobo UK £1.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
Beware the evil in the woods. . .

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods. . .
323 pp.

*The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco [Bookworm_Girl]
Amazon US $2.99 (Free with Amazon Prime) | Amazon UK £4.49 | Amazon CA $3.99 | Amazon AU $9.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
Umberto Eco’s first novel, an international sensation and winner of the Premio Strega and the Prix Médicis Étranger awards

The year is 1327. Benedictines in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”
536 pp.

Last edited by issybird; 07-06-2019 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Through post #58.
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Old 07-01-2019, 08:21 AM   #3
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I would like the nominate Hilary Mantel's first published novel, Every Day is Mother's Daywhich I read a little while ago. From Kobo:

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?
The book is by turns grim and hilarious, and Mantel's experiences as a social worker give it a feeling of authenticity.

Prices from Kobo: $US7.99, $C11.99, $A12.99, £3.99.
274 pages.

Last edited by Bookpossum; 07-02-2019 at 08:34 AM. Reason: Inserting the books's title, which I managed to omit - sorry!
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Old 07-01-2019, 11:33 AM   #4
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Well, I'm going to be unavailable for most of the nomination process and all of the voting process this time around (which is great for the theme I suggested, oops) so I'm going to nominate a couple books and just let them ride.

Let me start with my thought process first. We've had 18 total book selections so far for the New Leaf Book club (including The Natural). Of which 9 are books from the UK, 7 are from the US, and 1 each from Canada and France. Looking at all book club selections, we have selected books from the UK or US 70% of the time. So, while there are a lot of good books by US/UK authors that I would love to read and discuss, I'm going to pick what I think will be great books by authors from other countries.

First, from Sweden:
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
337 pages, Sweden, 2012
Amazon ($13) | GoodReads
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?
I will try to get back on later with another selection.
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Old 07-01-2019, 02:39 PM   #5
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I'd like to nominate the first book in one of the all time great SF series, C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner. This book and series examines how two biologically different species co-exist on the same planet. And how, after a devastating war caused by the difference in how their brains work, they learn to avoid war by interacting only through a single human "translator", the Padhi, who lives with the Atevi (the native bipedal species) while the entire rest of the human species on the planet lives on Mospheira, a large island off the coast of the mainland. (Think Australia off of Asia, or possibly Greenland off of North America.)

This is both classic "First Contact" SF, and an examination of how technology interacts with the world and the species on it.

430 pages

From Goodreads:
Quote:
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.
From Amazon:
Quote:
The groundbreaking novel that launched Cherryh's eponymous space opera series of first contact and its consequences...

It had been nearly five centuries since the starship Phoenix, lost in space and desperately searching for the nearest G5 star, had encountered the planet of the atevi. On this alien world, law was kept by the use of registered assassination, alliances were defined by individual loyalties not geographical borders, and war became inevitable once humans and one faction of atevi established a working relationship. It was a war that humans had no chance of winning on this planet so many light-years from home.

Now, nearly two hundred years after that conflict, humanity has traded its advanced technology for peace and an island refuge that no atevi will ever visit. Then the sole human the treaty allows into atevi society is marked for an assassin's bullet. THe work of an isolated lunatic? The interests of a particular faction? Or the consequence of one human's fondness for a species which has fourteen words for betrayal and not a single word for love?
Amazon -- $2.99
Amazon(CA) -- $9.99 CAD

Audible -- WhisperSync $7.49
AudibleUK
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Old 07-01-2019, 06:16 PM   #6
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I second Foreigner. It’s a series I’ve always heard good things about, and the reviews sound very promising.

I have given this month’s theme thought, but just haven’t come up with a book that I feel good about nominating. However, I’ll keep ruminating.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:21 PM   #7
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Like Dazrin, I think opening out our choices from the Anglophone would be good - and then I tend to end up nominating one anyway. I had an Irish nomination in mind, but I shall think a little harder about it first.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:01 PM   #8
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I've had so little time for reading that I still haven't finished the book I picked up after reading The Riddle of the Labyrinth. I haven't given this month's theme much thought yet and not sure if I will nominate anything - but will try to use my votes one way or another.

The possible problem with simple author-origin is that it doesn't pick up more complex situations. Isaak Azimov started out Russian but his family migrated to America when he was very young. Arthur C. Clarke was ostensibly British but spent most of his life in Sri Lanka. Aliette de Bodard is a French-American of French/Vietnamese descent, born in the US, and grew up in Paris. Australia is proud to claim Kate Morton as our own, but she now lives in London with her family, and her writing seems much less oriented around Australia than - for example - Arthur Upfield who started British and came to Australia. (That is not intended as a criticism of Morton, I love her writing.)

And that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure that together we could come up with quite a list of authors with interesting backgrounds.

None of that negates the desire to push ourselves outside the usual comfort zones a bit.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by gmw View Post
None of that negates the desire to push ourselves outside the usual comfort zones a bit.
I think that's more my intention. I did almost (may still) nominate a book by someone who was born in the US to first generation immigrants. But from an east-Asia background rather than a western Europe background. That should help us get a new perspective/world view.
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Old 07-02-2019, 12:28 AM   #10
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Ok, my second nomination comes from Japan. Not a new country overall but an interesting and influential novel for our consideration:

I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
480 pages, Japan, 1905
Amazon ($10) | GoodReads

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.
Spoiler:
I with this book was not from a (Vietnamese-)American. It sounds interesting too: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
384 pages, Vietnam, 2015
Amazon ($10) | GoodReads
Quote:
The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.

Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2016), California Book Award for First Fiction (Gold) (2015), PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2016), Edgar Award for Best First Novel (2016), The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize (2015)
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2016), Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature for Adult Fiction (2015), International DUBLIN Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2017)
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:33 AM   #11
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I'll second Hilary Mantel's Every Day is Mother's Day.
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:58 AM   #12
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And that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure that together we could come up with quite a list of authors with interesting background.
My favorite current example is Ben Pastor, an Italian woman writing under a man's name in English about a German army officer; her novels are then translated into Italian by someone else. It's infuriating that the books in Italian come out faster than the English ones, which are released in a slow trickle. I'm considering nominating one of her books, either the first to be published or the first in the chronology - probably the latter. There's no hard-and-fast rule to apply to that conundrum, which is situational; sometimes there's no ideal solution. (I'm looking at you, Sharpe.)
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:16 AM   #13
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My favorite current example is Ben Pastor, an Italian woman writing under a man's name in English about a German army officer; her novels are then translated into Italian by someone else. It's infuriating that the books in Italian come out faster than the English ones, which are released in a slow trickle. I'm considering nominating one of her books, either the first to be published or the first in the chronology - probably the latter. There's no hard-and-fast rule to apply to that conundrum, which is situational; sometimes there's no ideal solution. (I'm looking at you, Sharpe.)
Oh, this sounds interesting!
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:29 PM   #14
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Oh, this sounds interesting!
I'm undecided between nominating one of Pastor's Martin Bora series or the first in Boris Akunin's (Russian) Erast Fandorin series, but I'm leaning toward the former.
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Old 07-03-2019, 12:00 AM   #15
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I'm undecided between nominating one of Pastor's Martin Bora series or the first in Boris Akunin's (Russian) Erast Fandorin series, but I'm leaning toward the former.
Without meaning to sway you in any way (well, maybe a little) as interesting as Ben Pastor sounds, the books are very expensive on Kobo AU ($17.57), whereas Boris Akunin's books are merely normally expensive ($12.99).
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