I’m a bit behind, as always, but this post is about book club and as we know, the first rule of book club is that there are no rules and so I think that means that I’m not actually behind at all. YAY FOR NO RULES!
Today I’m opening up the discussion on the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club facebook page for last month’s book (The Maid by Nita Prose) and if you don’t do facebook you can feel free to leave your thoughts here. Or just lurk. Lurking is totally encouraged.
And announcing this month’s book, Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal.
Want a little taste?
1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community who view the birthmarks that speckle her skin as a curse, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.
But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own “leopard girl”. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.
In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her?
Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.
It’s like a Dickensian sort of Geek Love. Have you read Geek Love, by the way? Because you should. But first, Circus of Wonders…exploring power, celebrity, exploitation, redemption and agency. I think you’re going to like it.
And if, like me, you sometimes need a giant fucking stack of books to get you through the month (because it’s scary out there without a book) here are my favorite ones coming out next month that you should check out:
Black Cake by Charmain Wilkerson (Estranged siblings deal with their mother’s hidden past–a journey that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California. Very good.)
The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont (heartbreak, revenge and murder in a fabulous reimagination of one of the strangest unsolved mysteries. Fast read, twisty/turny/psychologic thriller)
Defenestrate by Renee Branum (Twins in Prague haunted by an ancestral falling curse)
Perpetual West by Mesha Maren (Lucha libre, Mexican punk rock, complicated relationships)
Violeta by Isabel Allende (sweeping historical fiction about a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the 20th century. Lots of South American history here.)
What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris (coming-of-age novel about an 11-year-old and her sister trying to make sense of their new life with their estranged grandfather after the death of their father and disappearance of their mother. Rough subject but so well-written. Fell in love with these characters.)
Devil House by John Darnielle (Did you know the guy from Mountain Goats is a writer? Me either. Anyway, this looks like horror on the outside but it’s really experimental fiction, I think? Good but when it was over I wanted someone to tell me what it was about.)
Mrs. Death Misses Death by Salem Godden (a stream-of-conscious sort of novel about a troubled young writer who meets death in person. Very dark. Poetic. Makes you work for it.)
A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (adult fantasy. But not “sexy adult”…just “grown up” adult. Childhood enemies team up to discover why girls are going missing from their magical island. Scottish folklore.)
And this actually came out last month but I only just finished it…Wahala by Nikki May (female friendship following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group. I thought it was one thing when it started but boy, there were twists.)
So our first book of the year was set in America and our second is in England and our third is going to be in Trinidad and I thought our next one was in Mexico but I mixed the publishing dates up so I’m still working on April and then in May we’re going to Mexico so it’s basically like we’re traveling the world without leaving our houses. Also, all of this is subject to everything working out perfectly because it’s not uncommon for me to pick a book and then dates get changed and I have to start all over again. I actually found an AMAZING book set in India for April but it might publish too late in April. But even when that happens it just means that I have to read more books to find the best, strange and unique stories to send to you and honestly that is exactly the kind of punishment that I live for.
We’ll be mailing Circus of Wonders to you all this week and if you’ve been thinking about joining us this is the perfect time to. It’s easy to sign up and the $25 a month is almost always less than the actual cover price of the books we choose so technically you are saving money every month all while supporting an indie bookshop, amazing authors and getting fantastic books. EVERYONE WINS! Click here to join.