Cover to Cover with Lily King’s Euphoria

margaret meadMargaret Mead has long been a hero of mine: cultural anthropologist, adventurer, and all-around fierce role model.

It’s no surprise, then, that Lily King’s Euphoria was on my radar pretty early on in 2014 – and quickly became one of my favourite books of the year.

This fictional account of a female cultural anthropologist is roughly based on Mead’s life and work – with all the drama and dedication that entails. Three anthropologists meet by chance in the New Guinea jungle in the 1930s, sparking competitive instincts in a series of subtle battles for power, for love, for professional and scholarly standing.

And with a lush jungle serving as the book’s background setting, the covers are likewise colourful, vibrant, and lively.

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Top Ten Tuesday: historical fiction meets art history

Top Ten Tuesday - Bayrock, Bookrock - Sidebar crop copyTuesday means it’s time for a list, and this Tuesday is all about the past: historical fiction!

Anyone who knows me (or reads my review guidelines) will know that historical fiction isn’t my favourite genre by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I tend to avoid it completely if I can.

But there are exceptions to every rule, and in this case there’s one weird little niche of historical fiction that I apparently can’t get enough of: art world novels. And here are more of them than you think (although I have snuck in few that are questionably historical. As ever, click a cover to hop over to the Goodreads page.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated releases of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Bayrock, Bookrock - Sidebar crop copy2I’ve been out of the game for a while, but we’re back with a brand-new Top Ten Tuesday hosted as ever by the Broke and the Bookish!

Literally – brand new. These books aren’t even out yet. But I’m excited for all of them. Buckle up, because 2016 is looking shiny and clever – CanLit, magic realism, short stories, translations, and so much more.

Click on a cover for the full Goodreads description and release dates!

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The life and times of a weary hero: All True Not A Lie In It


“I am young and I believe that I know what I ought to do, I believe that I can get free and make my own way. Though it is only Death opening its clothes to me and saying: Look close. 

I’ve been in a weird Wild West / frontier fiction phase* so I was immediately sold on this novel: sharp and searing prose, the life and times of Daniel Boone, and a Giller longlister to boot.

First of all, it has one of the best openings I’ve read all year:

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Hide your kids, hide your wife: The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman

The Winter FamilyBrace yourselves: Giller long-lister The Winter Family is a roaring ride through violence.

The fastest guns in the west? Check. Murderers for hire? Check. Psychopathic soldiers, vengeful slaves, and civil war atrocities? Check, check, check.

Then, of course, we have Augustus Winter himself: the man with the golden eyes and a heart as cold as a Minnesota snowstorm.

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Top Ten Tuesday: a mountain of autumn reading

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It’s Tuesday – and that means it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday list!

This feature is hosted as ever by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s theme is fall to-read lists. Lucky for me, there are a ton of brilliant books coming out in the next few months that I can’t wait to get my paws on. Click on a cover image to pop over to the Goodreads page – and drop down to the comments to let me know if there are any other new releases that I should keep an eye out for.

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Top Ten Tuesday: the elusive releases of 2015

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It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted as ever by The Broke and the Bookish! This week is make-your-own-theme, so I took it as a chance to put together a list of 2015 books that I still haven’t managed to get my hands on – not including this fall’s  line-up of crazy excellent yet-to-be-released fiction. (Hint: that’s next week’s Top Ten Tuesday.)

Click on the cover image to pop over to the Goodreads page!

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Cover to Cover with Us Conductors

“I was Leon Termen before I was Dr Theremin, and before I was Leon, I was Lev Sergeyvich. The instrument that is now known as a theremin could as easily have been called a leon, a lyova, a sergeyvich. It could have been called a clara, after its greatest player. Pash liked “termenvox.” He liked its connotations of science and authority. But this name always made me laugh. Termenvox – the voice of Termen. As if this device replicated my own voice. As if the theremin’s trembling soprano were the song of this scientist from Leningrad.”

If that’s not a great first paragraph, I don’t know what is.

Meet Sean Michaels’ Us Conductors, last year’s Giller Prize winner. This gorgeous novel follows the star-crossed, apprehensive adventures of Lev Termen, a soviet engineer who invents a musical instrument – the theremin – almost by accident. Partially due to the theremin’s growing popularity, and partially due to the Soviet government’s interest in spying on America, Leon Termen finds himself on a whirlwind tour of New York’s 1930s music scene.

The novel documents a crossroads between science and music, electricity and sound, culture and experimentation. Even the title is a pun: “conductors,” after all, could refer to electrical components or orchestra maestros.

This is fertile ground for beautiful covers.

North American hardcover edition

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