Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Fish That Ate the Whale

The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen

With engaging prose and an engrossing story, Cohen lays out the page-turning life of Sam the Banana Man. He started life on a Russian wheat farm, immigrated to America, and became head of United Fruit during its biggest financial success and largest moral failures.

Cohen can tell a story like nothing else, and this is quite the story to tell. Sam Zemurray is the American dream made real, in the best and worst ways. I didn't know a lot about US involvement in Latin and South America via fruit companies beyond the term "Banana Republic" and it being super shady, and this really helped lay out a lot of what was going on. From the New Orleans docks to Panamanian banana plantations to Manhattan boardrooms, it was a book I could not put down. A perfect blend of fascinating subject and wonderful narrative voice. I have put several other books by Cohen on hold.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Sunday, August 04, 2019

More Holds




Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

From Kirkus: "In the shadow of a violent dictatorship, five queer women find the courage and strength to live their truth... A stunning novel about queer love, womanhood, and personal and political revolution" In takes place in Uruguay in the late 70s.

The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell

I'm very intrigued by the structure of this one--each chapter is told by a different women who loved the same man at different points in his life.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

Historical fiction set in 17th century Iceland (?!) and features tension between Christianity and Nordic religions?




The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bookleg King, the Women who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz Age America by Karen Abbott

Just the subtitle alone sells it, but I also really enjoyed Abbott's Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.

Cold Warriors: Writers who Waged the Literary Cold War by Duncan White

Ok, at nearly 800 pages, the chances of me actually reading this are slim at best, but it does look fascinating--it's about how governments silenced writers or used their writing "as a weapon and a shield" and goes beyond just the US and USSR to include other parts of the Cold War, such as Latin America. This is a subject on my mind, as I am going to read The Secrets We Kept.


The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer

A middle grade book about the fall of communism in Romania. I think I'm drawn to MG (and YA) about the fall of European communism because I was an MG reader when it happened. (I was in 4th grade when the Berlin Wall fell). Excited for this one. (Also, because I'll yell about it every time communism and Romania come up--have you seen the wonderful documentary Chuck Norris vs Communism? It's a fascinating look at the role black market American movies played at the end of the regime)




The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

SHERRY THOMAS WROTE A MULAN BOOK!
SHERRY THOMAS WROTE A MULAN BOOK!
SHERRY THOMAS WROTE A MULAN BOOK!

One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten

Weingarten went back to find out what happened on December 28, 1986--by all accounts a slow news day, but he finds the stories and follows up on them.  PW says "the result is a trove of compelling human-interest pieces with long reverberations."

Chop Suey Nation by Ann Hui

Long-time readers of this site know I love a food history book, especially one on Chinese food (I still recommend Fortune Cookie Chronicles whenever I can). This one looks at Chinese food in Canada. Here for it.

The Spy Killer by Jimmy Sangster

This was originally published in the UK in 1967. The plot description in PW had more twists and turns than I could track, but it only weighs in at 180 pages? I'm intrigued.



Grimm, Grit and Gasoline edited by Rhonda Parrish

Dieselpunk and Decopunk retellings of fairytales. (Apparently dieselpunk and decopunk is like steampunk, but between WWI and WWII). You know how much fairy tale retellings!

The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Ireland, but instead of British imperialism, it's faerie invasions. Also, it's romance.

The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses by Dan Carlin

Hardcore History in book form? Yes, please!







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Monday, July 22, 2019

What I Put on Hold this Month...

When going through my stack of review journals for work, here are the books that I couldn't wait to read for myself! (Warning, this week's stack of review journals included Publisher Weekly's Fall 2019 Adult Announcements, so this is a long post and some of these books won't come out for another 6 months. Also, I didn't list anything I already knew about, which includes everything from the ALA annual conference.)



On Division by Goldie Goldbloom

A Chasidic grandmother is embarrassed by her pregnancy (everyone will know she and her husband are still intimate!) so she hides it, and this secret becomes twisted with another secret--her deceased son was gay.

Singapore Sapphire by AM Stuart

New mystery series set in 1910 Singapore. It's about a British widow, so we'll see how the colonialism is handled, but the setting/time period is pure catnip and Kirkus gave it a star, so I want to at least check it out.

New School Nightmare by Carolyn Nowak

I'm not sure today's middle grade readers are really interested in Buffy or that they'll pick this up. But, *I'm* super into this.




Girl on the Block: A True Story of Coming of Age Behind the Counter by Jessica Wragg

I'm really into the "woman enters old-timey-but-still-around male profession" memoir a la Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter or Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto.

Our Rainbow Queen
by Sali Hughes

I heard once that Queen Elizabeth II wears the same solid color head-to-toe so she's easier to spot in a crowd--she knows she's on the shorter side and people often make an effort to come out and see her and she wants to make it easier on them. I love it and can't wait to flip through this book.

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel ed. by Leo G Mazow

Hopper is my favorite visual artist--something about how he paints that perfect mid-century white American Dream with such desolate bleakness and loneliness. These essays on hotels in his work promises to crack some of that wide open.



You Can HAve it All, Just Not at the Same Damn Time by Romi Neustadt. It's not so much that I want to read this book, but that I think I need to.

The Princess Plan by Julia London. You can't swing a dead cat in Regency Romance without hitting a dozen dukes, but the royal family rarely makes an appearance. This one involves a visiting prince and a gossip columnist. I'll take it.

My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh. Regency Romance. Scientist wallflower heroine. Rake hero. Fake dating. Sold.




Snow: A Scientific and Cultural Exploration by Giles Whittell. I love a microhistory and I love snow, so this looks right up my alley.

Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby Dick by Richard J. King I'm currently reading Moby Dick for work and this look at the novel as nature writing, taking into account what the Melville would and would not have known at the time seems like a nice follow up.

The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel Jose Older. From PW: "[A] ghost of a woman who died in the Cuban Revolution nags her nephew to dig into their family history"



The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith. Turns out the best wines depend on vine witches to help grow the best grapes. I'm intrigued.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason. A space opera involving a teenage princess blessed by fairies. Here for it. I've been reading a lot more sci fi/fantasy lately and I love it when they blend.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain. A Djinn wakes up to find humans have forgotten magic and tries to change that.


Other titles of note--

Philippa Gregory's new one, Tidelands, kicks off a new series (this time about the English Civil War) but gasp! not about royalty.




Book Provided by... no one, yet.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.