At Mailbox Monday, we encourage participants to not only share the books they received, but also to check out the books received by others. Each week, our team is sharing with you a few Books That Caught Our Eye from that week’s Mailbox Monday.
The new year is moving along quickly already. This week all three of us had Serena’s first choice, Patient Zero, on our short lists.
We encourage you to share the books that caught your eye in the comments.
Patient Zero by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen
found at Sam Still Reading.
From the masters of storytelling-meets-science and co-authors of Quackery, Patient Zero tells the long and fascinating history of disease outbreaks – how they start, how they spread, the science that lets us understand them, and how we race to destroy them before they destroy us.
Written in the authors’ lively and accessible style, chapters include page-turning medical stories about a particular disease or virus – smallpox, Bubonic plague, polio, HIV – that combine ‘Patient Zero’ narratives, or the human stories behind outbreaks, with historical examinations of missteps, milestones, scientific theories, and more.
Learn the tragic stories of Patient Zeros throughout history, such as Mabalo Lokela, who contracted Ebola while on vacation in 1976, and the Lewis Baby on London’s Broad Street, the first to catch cholera in an 1854 outbreak that led to a major medical breakthrough. Interspersed are origin stories of a different sort – how a rye fungus in 1951 turned a small village in France into a phantasmagoric scene reminiscent of Burning Man. Plus the uneasy history of human autopsy, how the HIV virus has been with us for at least a century, and more.
“This could take me a long time to read, but it is fascinating to learn about medical breakthroughs and how we deal with diseases over time”
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
found at Book Dilettante.
Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars: same year at Yale, same debut year in publishing. But Athena’s a cross-genre literary darling, and June didn’t even get a paperback release. Nobody wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.
So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers to the British and French war efforts during World War I.
So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song–complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.
But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves.
“I want to read this just from the blurb and the cover and the title sealed it.”
Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases, by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen
found at Sam Still Reading
“A very timely history of disease outbreaks, from the authors of Quackery: stories of outbreaks (and their patient zeros), plus chapters on the science, culture, and cures for different types of epidemics and pandemics. Popular reading on a timely topic.”
“This sounds like an important book to read today, plus it looks easily accessible. Definitely one of the nonfiction I want to read this year.”
An Ungrateful Instrument by Michael Meehan
also found at Sam Still Reading.
‘I want to tell a story. A long but simple story. A tale of long recovery. A tale of love. A tale of lost and found.’
In his remarkable new novel, award-winning Australian author Michael Meehan sensitively explores the links between generational conflict, family, and the creative act.
At its heart, An Ungrateful Instrument is a novel that portrays a son’s struggle to be more than a mere instrument of the father’s ambition. Antoine Forqueray and later his son Jean-Baptiste, were each brought up as child prodigies to the court of Louis XIV. Together, they were said to be the only musicians in France who could play the father’s brilliant, eccentric music for the viola da gamba.
In an imaginative masterstroke the story is told by Jean-Baptiste’s highly attuned mute sister, Charlotte-Elisabeth. Threaded throughout, deep in a forest an old man creates the gift of a special viol for the boy, Jean Baptiste.
This is a novel that can almost be heard like music, as it soars in language, theme, and a wisdom that both embodies and transcends its period setting.”
“Wow, so neat that someone wrote a historical novel on these famous Louis XIV’s musicians! I love art and French history, perfect!”
The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
found at Book Reviews by Linda Moore.
Make a wish. . . .
Lucy Hart knows better than anyone what it’s like to grow up without parents who loved her. In a childhood marked by neglect and loneliness, Lucy found her solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, she is able to share her love of reading with bright, young students, especially seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, left orphaned after the tragic death of his parents. Lucy would give anything to adopt Christopher, but even the idea of becoming a family seems like an impossible dream without proper funds and stability.
But be careful what you wish for. . . .
Just when Lucy is about to give up, Jack Masterson announces he’s finally written a new book. Even better, he’s holding a contest on his private island where four hand-picked readers will compete to win the only copy. At age thirteen, Lucy fled her unhappy home and showed up on Jack Masterson’s doorstep, hoping to live with her favorite author. Thirteen years later, a sky-blue envelope arrives with Lucy’s name on it, postmarked “Clock Island.”
For Lucy, a chance to read the first Clock Island book in years is a prize worth fighting for, but the possibility of winning, selling the manuscript, and securing a better future for her and Christopher means everything.
But first, Lucy must contend with ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and the distractingly handsome (and grumpy) Hugo Reese, illustrator of the Clock Island books and Jack’s only friend. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.
. . . You might just get it.
“Of course, I love this cover. Then I was drawn by the plot with a mysterious book.”
The Good Luck Café, Somerset Lake #4, by Annie Rains
found at Siver’s Reviews.
Moira Green is perfectly content with her life. She has a rewarding career and plenty of wonderful friends, including the members of her weekly book club. Then everything in her life goes topsy-turvy when the town council plans to demolish the site of her mother’s beloved café to make room for much-needed parking. Moira is determined to save her mother’s business, so she swallows her pride and asks Gil Ryan for help.
Moira and Somerset Lake’s mayor were good friends once, the kind who could laugh at everything and nothing at all. Until one night changed everything between them. And now, with Gil supporting the council’s plans, Moira is forced to find another way to save Sweetie’s—and it involves campaigning against Gil. Going head-to-head in a battle of wills reveals more than either of them are ready for, and as the election heats up, so does their attraction. But without a compromise in sight, can these two be headed for anything but disaster?
“This is a lovely cover and sounds like a good romance.”
What books caught your eye this week?